Category Archives: training

8 Tips to a better open water swim

Oh my God, you do triathlons? I have heard you get kicked in the face.  I heard people punch you in the swim.  I heard people have died!

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Yes all of these things have happened in an open water swim.  However it is not a guarantee they will happen in every race and I have some tips to help you have a better open water swim the next time around.

FYI before you read on, these are in no particular order of importance, they are all important.

1. Sighting

Sighting can be very tricky and I am going to talk about two main points here.  Keep your eyes low and look at the big picture.

Let’s talk about the first one, keeping your eyes low.  If you have had some sort of swim instruction/coaching or you come from a swim background you know that head position is very important for swimming efficiency.  When you lift your head to sight, your legs are going to sink.  It is inevitable. Alligator swimming in swamp water Alligator mississippiensis Anhinga Trail Everglades National Park Florida USA The key here is to use what I like to call “alligator eyes”.  Picture an alligator and how low their eyes are when it comes to the surface.  You are striving to do the same. Keep your eyes low to the water, then turn to breathe and you do not have to sight every time you need a breath.  Some people can sight every 3 breaths and some more.  You need to find what works for you.  Another great thing to do is watch the ITU races the next time they are on TV.  Those folks can swim and you don’t even realize when they are sighting some times.

 

The second tip on sighting that I have is to focus on the big picture.  At least take a glance at the course map that someone took the time to put together.  Once you have an idea of where you going, see if you can preview the course.  If not see if the course is at least set up and you could go take a look at it.  KNOW YOUR COURSE! Next don’t try to find the bout every time you sight.  The best thing to do is take a mental picture of where the buoy is.  From there you can focus on a tree or landmark while you are swimming in that direction.  This way you will never waste time looking around for the buoy thus dropping your legs, slowing down, etc etc.  As you get closer to the mark you will be able to find the mark much easier and focus in on getting around it efficiently.

2.Technique

Obviously all of the technique you have learned/use in the pool should transfer to open water.  There are a few things that are important to keep in mind when transitioning to open water.  Some people have a tendency to swim with their eyes focused forward for two reasons.  One they are too worried about finding that buoy when sighting(not anymore ;]!) and two they are worried about running in to someone’s feet.  If you are swimming your line and sighting, someone isn’t going to just pop up out of nowhere.  The second piece of technique that is helpful in open water, ocean especially, is a high, relaxed elbow during recovery.  Especially important when you are dealing with waves and chop!

3. Goggles

This is quite possibly THE most important aspect of goggles.  Just because you have goggles that are great in the pool, does not mean they will work well for OWS.  I prefer the TYR Special Ops 2.0 during open water.  They have an awesome field of vision and the transition lenses prevent the need for multiple pairs of goggles.  No matter what brand you go with you need to make sure they work for you.  You should also keep in mind that tinted lenses are not great in low light situations and low light goggles will fry your eyes out of your head if it is sunny.  Most people have multiple pairs.  Which even route you decided to go RACE MORNING IS NOT THE TIME TO TEST GOGGLES! As with anything you should test it multiple times before you decide to try it in a race.

4. Drafting

Drafting is 100% legal during the swim leg of a triathlon.  This is the only place it is legal and so some feel as though you should take advantage of that, others feel as though it is inconsiderate.  Here a few things to keep in mind when drafting.  You still need to sight.  If you are drafting off of someone who is swimming all over the course, how much energy are you really saving? You also need to be considerate of the swimmers around you.  If you are drafting off of another swimmer and you keep bumping in to them because of your draft, that is inconsiderate and you are now impacting their race, bad move.  Yes drafting can save you energy on the bike and run if done properly, especially if you are not a confident swimmer, however it can cause a laundry list of problems as well so just keep that in mind.

5. Warm-Up

This is more in regards to the race situation rather than an OWS practice.  If the race allows you to enter the water prior to your wave start or the start of the race, TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY! One you would be a fool not to and two, your body is going to have a chance to get used to the temperature of the water and two you will have a chance to warm up your muscles.  A great pre-race warm up would be a little swimming nice, easy and relaxed.  Follow this with a few pick-ups to get the blood flowing to the muscles and then round out with some easy swimming.  There are times that you are not able to get in the water before the race however if you can, it will really help with the feeling of loosing your breath as soon as you jump in to race.

6. Practice

Unfortunately with swimming there is absolutely no way to get better to increase your comfort level then getting out and doing it.  A pool is WAY different than open water and vise versa.  You just need to get out and practice.  Practice with a wetsuit and without.  Practice stripping it off, putting it on, different goggles, how to sight, etc.  Everything you are going to do on race day should be practice before hand in an OWS setting.

7. The start

The start of an open water race or a triathlon seems to have a lot of mis understanding surrounding it.  People think this is a melee with fists flying and people coming out with black eyes.  This can be the case, however, it can also be avoided just as easily.  If you are not confident, hold back.  You race time with not be impacted all that much it you wait 30 seconds to a minute and then begin your swim.  Starting off to the right or to the left and holding that line will also help prevent this.  If you have a tendency to round very close to the buoy you have probably been hit a time or two.  You don’t get a faster time by swimming closer to the buoy.  You may even gain time because you have to deal with the mess.  Round the mark towards the outside and keep your line and you will be just fine.

8. Tips for athletes without access to OWS

Now for those of you who do not have access to open water, all hope is not lost.  You have the ability to practice some open water situations in the pool.  This will obviously not be identical however practicing this will at least help you more than not doing anything at all.  Practicing swimming lengths of the pool with your eyes closed or with paper in your goggles will help with the low visibility in open water.  Please only attempt this in a lane you have to yourself with plenty of space! Swimming with multiple people in one lane will also be helpful to get used to sharing space.  4 or more adults would be ideal.  Last thing is, if you are a coach, grab a kickboard and give you athletes a love tap every once and awhile.  There will be some contact, although minimal and they need to get used to it.

Hopefully something here is helpful for you during your open water swimming and race this season.  If you find value here please share with a friend!

All for now.

Keep FSU and Do It For Yourself.

I don’t post on here daily but feel free to find me else where!

Sacrifice

 

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Triathlon, quite possibly one of the most selfish sports of all time.  Think about it, how many sports out there require long hours of solo training away from friends or family?  Am I saying this to scare you? NO! Not at all however this sport takes sacrifice and anyone who is considering joining or stepping up to a longer distance I feel as though this is something that everyone underestimates.  Let’s talk about some ways to keep your friends and family happy while you still hit your goals in things you love.

I am going to give a few tips that will help you balance life, work and your family while you are training this season.  Let’s face it, the spring is right around the corner, they are calling for temps in the 70’s here on the east coast next week.  If you want to have a successful season and keep everything balanced, read on.

Be open with everyone around you.

Whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned vet this is something that EVERYONE should do.  Tell the people around you about your goals and aspirations for the season.  If you show them that you are serious and you have goals set forth they will be more likely to support you through this journey.  Along with this everyone who is around you will not be able to say well this isn’t what I signed on for.  Be up front and open with everyone.

I can remember when I signed up for my first 70.3 and the people around me did not know what exactly that meant in regards to training time.  If I was open about the goals and what my week looked like it made things easier.  Telling someone up front that you need to go ride you bike for 3 hours on a Saturday is much easier to take rather than the morning of just dropping it on them.

 

Include spouse, kids, friends when possible.

This is something that can be more difficult but if you can pull it off correctly, you will win and that’s a promise.  Including people in your workout can be challenging because you have a very specific plan when it comes time to train. However if you can include things like group rides this will make everyone feel involved.  One thing that worked well with my training was to do the indoor or more structured workouts on the trainer while watching tv with my girlfriend. We were spending time together (granted she was relaxing and I was working) but we were still together rather than me disappearing for that time.

 

If you have children, you can include them in the workouts as well! Now I am by no means telling you to take the little juniors out on your Sunday 20 miler.  Use some common sense here but if you have a zone 2 run, your kids could ride their bikes along side of you.  Two people who are super awesome about this are Ironmom Kim and her husband Taylor.  It’s no secret that kids need to get outside more.  Here is your golden chance to get them moving and have fun with them in the process!

 

Have a plan!

Lastly it is super important to have a plan.  If you have a coach, which obviously is the ideal situation, however I understand not a reality for everyone, then take the plan that they give you and share it with everyone who needs to know it.  You can work with your coach on constructing the week if you have things to work around.  We all have lives, coaches understand that and most of us are athletes too.  We get it, but you have to be open with us just like you need to be open with your family and friends. After you have your plan, put it n the calendar, put it on the fridge, put it somewhere that everyone can see it.  Have you kids cross the workouts off or days once they are completed, keep everyone involved and it will make the process more enjoyable for everyone.

 

I understand that this s all easier said than done here, but it is my goal with this post to shed some light on things that you may not have thought of.  I also understand that the balance of this looks something more like a cat on a tight rope over a pool, rather than one of those plate spinners or the guy juggling the chain saws.  However if you are open and keep everyone involved, with time, things WILL get better.  This is not going to happen overnight people.

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The last thing I want to tell you is that no matter what there are a few things that are going to happen.  Number one, you WILL miss a workout.  It is not the end of the world. Don’t try to make it up.  Pick up the next day where you’re supposed to and keep right on moving.  Number two if you have kids, you workout will get interrupted, kids fight or bicker, someone drops something, shit happens.  Get off your bike, handle the issue and get back on.  Guess what, what are you going to do if you get a flat on the bike or you shoe is untied on the run?  You gonna just call it quits right ther?  Nope you’re going to fix the situation and then keep going.  So do just that in training.  Lastly there are going to be times you have to get up early or stay up late.  It’s just part of the game.  How bad do you want it?  You wanna get better?  You wanna hit that goal or crush that PR? The days when you don’t feel like doing it are the days you need to do it most!

 

If you found something of value here, please share with a friend or family member.  It is much appreciated.

 

All for now.

Keep FSU and Do It For Yourself

Don’t Take Nutrition Advice from 150lbs Pro Athlete

Well here we are friends, through the holidays, probably ate to many cookies and not trying to get back on track. No? Just me? Well lucky you!  For me I probably had one to many sweets, ok maybe 5 too many and a few too many beers.  I like beer and donuts, it could be worse.  Post a wonderful run of bronchitis I am not back on track and finding myself carrying around a little extra.  Did this all happen over the holidays? Absolutely not, it was due to my own mistake or course of mistakes that made me sit down and really think about what I was doing.

We’ve all heard it right? That famous phrase that at times infuriates us enough to even harm a small puppy….wait for it……

“Oh you do triathlons, you must be able to eat WHATEVER you want!”

Well let me be the first to say, no, no I cannot eat whatever I want.  This also leads me to my next point, do not and I repeat DO NOT EVER FOR ANY REASON take nutrition advice from a professional triathlete that weights 150 lbs soaking wet, possibly even holding a brick. 
Awhile back I read an article from a very famous, pretty quick, triathlete.  You may or may not know him.  Mr. Andy Potts. You haven’t? What do you live under an effin rock?!
Now listen, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that everything in the article was bad, nor do I have anything against Andy.  From what I can gather through social media he is an awesome down to earth guy and he is wicked smart when it comes to this sport.  He did however give me just the amount of ammo that I needed to just go off the deep end.  He stated that “if you want a bowl of ice cream, have a bowl of ice cream.”  Now granted for him, he could probably have a bowl of ice cream every night if he wanted and still not gain a pound.  I am no professional in nutrition by any means, but I can gather that Andy Potts logs a little time training.  Maybe, I mean I am not sure, but I just have a hunch that he probably trains twice a day most days.  He is also focusing on the half and full distance race, so he’s burning a few calories here and there.  Still I do not think that this was the point of his article.  I think he was simply implying that you can treat yourself every once and awhile.
For someone like me however, I was looking for any and every excuse to eat whatever I wanted.  I have NEVER been able to do this before, why did I think I could do it now? Oh that’s right because I was a triathlete! I could eat whatever I wanted! WRONG!  This was when I realized that my mood, energy and everything else had decreased significantly.  What was going on?! I was blaming everything I could, when deep down inside, I really knew what I needed to do.  Cut out a few sweets and add a little more greens.
So now here I sit, back on track and focusing on next year.  Do I eat ice cream and donuts still? Yes as a matter of fact I do, but only on as what coach Dave calls it an “earned day”.  Just because I swam doesn’t mean I get a donut, just because I did a long ride doesn’t mean I get a cheeseburger from Five Guys EVERY time. You’re not an effing dog, don’t reward yourself with food!
Do I blame this fully on Andy Potts and him telling me to eat ice cream if I wanted it? Yes, he’s an ahole and I’ll never root for him again.  No absolutely not, he didn’t hold me down and make me eat the ice cream.  I was looking for affirmation that what I was doing was ok and I found it in that article.  That little thing between your ears is crazy powerful.  If you are looking for something, you will in fact find it sooner or later.
My advice to you? Get MyFitnessPal, track your calories and be smart about it.  Your food is your fuel and it will either help you or hurt you.  There are so many articles, blogs and posts out there for you to read and do with it what you may.  My best piece of advice is don’t take everyting for 100% truth, any idiot can sign up for a blog, look at me ;).  And lastly, track your calories and do not over eat.  If you can “afford” some extra go for it, if not you better earn it!
All for now
Keep FSU and Do It For Yourself


I don’t post on here daily but feel free to find me else where!

Super Pants! My Review of the Lava Pants and Lava Shorts

So I told you all I had some exciting news for you and this is the start of it!  I have been blessed to become a part of a great brand Xterra Wetsuits.  I have been racing in their suits since I started and they took really good care of me so I jumped at the chance to become part of their team.

With this I have had the opportunity to test and review two of their awesome training/ racing products their lava shorts and lava pants.  I would like to offer my thoughts on both in order to help you make up your mind on which would be best for your swimming abilities and training.

The Lava Pants
I first got my hands on the lava pants about a year or so ago when I came on with the Xterra team.  I was one of those people who used to pull on a wetsuit about once a week just to get used to have in on, swimming in it and taking it off before my main set.  The pants will ALMOST eliminate the need for that.  I say almost because it is always good to practice in your full suit, especially as a new athlete.  The lava pants however provide a great amount of bouncy when swimming in them.  They really mimic the feeling of swimming with a wetsuit on.  In my training the pants are good for about 10 seconds or so faster than just a normal swim.  They give you a great feel for what is going on with your upper body and move your hips into a nice position.  These are great for a cooler swim when the temps are lower but not quite cool enough for a full suit.  They are also great for active recovery swims where you are taking it easy.
Two things I will say about the lava pants. 1. I find that I do not kick nearly as much when I wear them.  This is OK if I am training for a wetsuit swim but I do not use them during every swim.  2. They are the bottom half of your wetsuit so if your pool temps are on the higher end of the spectrum keep that in mind.  I felt it a few times when swimming indoors.
The Lava Shorts
On to the lava shorts.  I just got my hands on these a few months ago and I really enjoy these for day to day swims.  They elevate the hips very well and are super comfortable.  I feel like I am putting on a pair of jammers when I pull these out of my bag.  These are great for indoor swims, elevating the hips but not interfering with your kick.  They are definitely made for a more experienced swimmer however.  When I first put them on and jumped in I could feel a significant difference from swimming without them but there is also a difference between them and the lava pants.  I like them because I can do my longer sets inside with them and not get hot.  I still get all the benefits of the bouncy factor with them, without getting on during hard working sets.  These however do not mimic the wetsuit position nearly as much as the lava pants however and I would not use them in a race situation.  I would elect to either use the lava pants or my full suit personally.
Xterra has two great products here that both have different purposes but if they are used correctly can really benefit swimmers and triathletes in preparing for their race.  I love both products and use them in my training throughout all different situations.  I cannot say enough about how much I love these two products and how I really appreciate what Xterra has done for me as a customer first and now an athlete.
Another piece of exciting news is that Xterra has opened up a chance for me to share my personal discount code with any athletes who are interested in purchasing these, or any of their products.  If you are interested please do not hesitate to contact me to receive up to 50% off their products!

Hopefully you have found this useful and if you have any questions or you are interested in purchasing please follow the links below to get in contact with me!

All for now
Keep FSU and Do It For Yourself

 

 

A Weekend at the Mirra Compound

This past weekend I had an incredible opportunity that fell together through what I can only describe as good karma.  I had the chance to go visit and train with Dave Mirra who is a legend in the BMX industry and has begun to make a name for himself in triathlon.  I got Dave’s attention on Instagram and we traded comments and likes back and forth for some time.  I had mentioned that I wanted to ride with him and we went back and forth about the idea.  After awhile we decided on a date and things were set for me to head down and ride some bikes with him, I couldn’t believe it.

I can remember my times watching BMX highlights from the X-Games and him being in every single one.  He was and still is an icon in the sport.  I remember going to X-Games in Philly and he tore the vert ramp up, it was an incredible sight. But this was not about X-Games, this was about triathlon and now I had a chance to meet with him and share some knowledge and love for the sport.  I can remember looking up to him in BMX and thinking how he was on a level that not many knew, but this weekend, we were closer to equals, sharing a love for triathlon.

I left early on friday morning after Thanksgiving.  I was eager and anxious to get the weekend started and really wanted to get on the road.  The states and miles ticked by and it was a smooth drive.  I remember turning on a road near Dave’s house and thinking “wow look at that building all the way back there!” I soon learned that “building” was actually his house.  I pulled into his driveway and dave almost immediately came out to great me.  It was surreal and routine all at the same time.  Surreal because I was meeting someone who seemed so untouchable to me at one point and time yet routine because we had talked many times before this and I felt as though I was pulling up to a friends house.

After I was greeted by his mom, we got some things out of the car and adjusted my brakes, it was time to hit the road for the first time!  We had a nice short ride just to shake out the legs.  I remember looking down at my Garmin a few times and we were holding 21-22mph, so much for easy! It was a nice ride though and we wrapped it up and hit the showers.  We decided to go grab some food and beverage for dinner.  When we got to the store I walked down the beer isle and went to reach for my wallet, only it wasn’t there.  I felt like such and idiot!  How did I leave the grocery store and not bring my wallet?!  We forged on and grabbed some things and headed back to the house.  We hit the hay pretty early because we were doing a big ride the next day.

Saturday morning we were up and at em pretty early.  We mixed our bottle, got changed and hit the road.  It was pretty cool because we were actually riding over to the group ride.  I am not able to do that here in PA so it was nice shaking out before things got under way.  We got to the shop and I met up with some of the local guys.  One guy in particular that I can remember was Justin.  He was also on a beautiful P5 and he instantly came over an introduced himself.  Everyone was very nice and welcoming, I loved it.

We departed from the parking lot and headed out on to the road.  This was my first experience riding in a group and that took a little getting used to.  We were about 10 minutes in to the ride and one of the guys had a flat so we pulled over.  I remember Dave asking if I wanted to go with the other half of the group and they would catch up, I politely declined but probably should have.  Once we got moving again I knew these guys weren’t out just to joy ride.  I was holding on for dear life at 25+ mph for the first hour until I got spit out of the back of the group and caught up with the slower half.  I was a little upset but knew I would never be able to hold that kind of pace for 60 miles.  I ended up putting in about 50 miles with the crew that I caught up with and it was a beautiful ride out on country roads.  Part of me didn’t want to look like a fool and “fan boy” so I decided to leave the GoPro at home for the day.  Looking back I wish I had brought it with me and lived out even just a small part of that “fan boy” that was excited to ride with such a legend.  Oh well, you live and you learn.

Post ride we grabbed some lunch at a local spot and then went back and had a nice nap.  Saturday night we were just hanging enjoying some burgers and brews amongst the boys.  I was glad to see that Justin came over to hang with us for the night, he’s an awesome guy and I really enjoyed sharing some laughs with both him and Dave!  Next thing you know someone mentions heading to the “Buc” which is a local bar and I found myself listening to a southern cover-band and enjoying some brews.  It was an awesome night at a local spot and I really enjoyed seeing this side of Greenville.

The last thing that sticks out in my mind from saturday night was when I was chatting with another guy I met Thomas.  He told me that Dave had mentioned I was coming down and he heard my story a bit but didn’t get the full thing so I gave him the short end and we shared a few laughs back at Dave’s house.  I remember him saying to me that Dave was talking about me coming down almost all week and he was really excited for it.  What an incredible feeling.  At this point I was exhausted so I turned it in for the night.

Sunday I woke up and grabbed some coffee. I knew I had a long drive ahead and I needed to get on the road.  I grabbed some lunch with Dave at Mellow again and then we said our good byes.  It was an amazing weekend and I really can’t thank Dave enough for inviting me into his home and allowing me to tag along for the whole weekend.  There were tons of laughs shared and everyone I met down there was awesome.  I feel like I made some friends that I will never forget down there and I hope that I get the chance to go rip it up again with them down in Greenville.

I would just like to close by saying thank you to Dave, I had a great time hanging and riding bikes and just relaxing over the weekend.  Thank you for inviting me into your amazing home and allowing me to share some great memories with you.  I look forward to doing it again.  Thank you also to Andy and Justin for sharing some laughs and brews with me on Saturday night, you guys really made me feel welcome in Greenville.  Lastly thank you to Thomas for your kind words and support in this continued journey, it is greatly appreciated.

Lastly I will share a picture that I snagged before packing up my stuff, it was one of the only ones I grabbed from the weekend.  Like I said earlier I didn’t want to look like a fool so I didn’t take any pictures but looking back I really wish I would have.  Maybe next time..

All For Now
Keep FSU and Do It For Yourself


I don’t post on here daily but feel free to find me else where!

Challenge Pocono Olympic Distance

After only six short days I was back on the road for another race.  Typically I like my R&R so I wouldn’t set myself up like this but I knew I was doing a sprint the week before and a buddy gave me a code for 50% off this race so I went for it.
Going into this race I looked at the course map and thought eh it doesn’t look like there is too much elevation gain….boy was I wrong.
Let me start by saying this race used to be Rev3 and I did not do it then so I am not sure how it was handled by them.  In 2015 it was taken over by Challenge and so that is what my report/review will be of.  On to it…..
We got up there mid to late morning on Saturday and followed the GPS directions to the INN where transition was.  After packet pickup I started to look around for transition and couldn’t seem to locate it.  This is when I realized that transition and the finish where not in the same general area.  No big deal we asked for directions and jumped in the car.  As I headed to find transition there were no signs, indicators or people telling you where to go.  I just found myself wandering around.  As I turned around for the 3-4 time I passed a park entrance and figured this is where it must be so I turned in.  Half of the entrance was blocked so I needed to wait for cars to pull out so I could go in.  In the meantime a park ranger came by and told me I needed to turn around. I figured there must be another entrance.  There wasn’t.  Clearly he didn’t know I was there to drop off my bike.  I turned in when he left and found transition ok.

Fast forward to race morning and I set up transition and was ready to roll.  We jumped in for the swim and the water felt great.  This was my first time swimming in open water where you could actually see!  Very nice course, until we hit a huge patch of river life and I freaked out.  The seaweed was so high you couldn’t really swim but there were rocks and sketchy bottom so you couldn’t stand up either.  I wish the RD or someone would have at least given us a heads up but I made the best of it.   Off on to the bike.  Now this bike course was like nothing I have done before.  You leave transition and you are almost immediately hit with a huge hill.  This hill was so steep I actually witnessed people fall because they could not go fast enough to keep their bike upright.  From there we went down an on to a road that was closed to traffic.  This road wasn’t closed because of the race though, the road was in such bad shape that cars were no longer permitted to use it, yet we were riding our bikes on it? I was not ok with this.  After that the course opened up and it was very nice. I was not too pleased with the decision to include this road but understand it may have been out of their control, either way I felt like I was placed in a rather unsafe situation. 
Off the bike and on to the run.  I made sure to take in some more nutrition on the bike because of my last olmypic mistake.  (You can read about that here).  On to the run and I took the first mile a little conservative.  Through the first 3-4 I was good.  It was mostly a trail/XC style run course, which was tough.  For whatever reason I lost it through the last few miles and I am hoping to correct this next season.  The run course was tough I will give it that but I still should have had a better performance. 
Coming down the finish I was just excited to be done for the day.  It was very hot out there and a tough course so it felt good to have it come to an end.  As I said before I was not stoked on my showing for this day and it was just a learning experience. 
One thing that was super rad about this race was that I met someone from Instagram who I have been following for some time now.  Shari Ann Nelson is such an awesome individual and I was happy to connect with her in the NormaTech tent.  She is so nice and friendly and I am glad we got a chance to chat.  Thanks for your advice and help! Check her out on facebook and Instagram!

I only have one race left for the season and I am starting to feel all of this training and racing.  Hopefully I can pull it together to go out and do it just one last time.
All for now, until next time

Keep FSU and Do It For Yourself


I don’t post on here daily but feel free to find me else where!

Challenge Atlantic City 70.3

It has become apparent with work and training etc that this blog has somewhat taking a lapse.  I apologize to the readers.  I need to get back in the swing and on this fine Sunday afternoon accompanied by a delicious Iron Hill pumpkin beer I begin to catch up.
First things first we tackle the “race report” for Challenge Atlantic City 70.3.  I put race report in quotations because I do not plan to give a play-by-play style report.  I just want to give you some highlights and how I felt along the way. So on we go.
The weeks leading up to AC 70.3 I was getting tired.  I was training a lot. More than I was typically used to but in my head, I was going further than I was used to.  I vowed to be mindful of over training this season so I purchased a plan from a coach.  Unfortunately it was a “can plan” so I made the best of it.  The final week before the race I was tapering down in beautiful South Carolina.  This was quite possibly the best way to stay calm and collected and unstressed leading in to a race, until the trip home.  I came home Friday, race was Sunday.  AC is a short car ride for me from home so coming home Friday was going to be fine.  I would grab my car, bike etc and head to AC.  Well that was before my flight was delayed a solid 6+ hours, thanks Spirit Airlines.  Once I did get home I made the choice not to leave until Saturday morning, thank god this was an option for me.
Upon Arrival on Saturday I met up with my buddy Brandon and we did our shake out.  After shake out, we hit the expo, grabbed some stuff etc.  It was all business as usual for us at this point.  Him more than me but having someone there who had been there before was super helpful.  While on the bike it started to drizzle, little did we know they were calling for hurricane like conditions.  Down pouring rain,  howling winds, the whole bit.  I was worried about my bike but there was nothing I could do.  I filled my belly with food and hit the hay.

When I woke up I was a ball of nerves but luckily I don’t have a race breakfast that is too hard to consume so I could get some nutrition in me.  We got to the start and I checked the bike, all seemed good. It was go time, my VERY first 70.3.
Swim was the swim, I need so work there and that is my goal this off season.  I headed into T1 and I saw all these people ducking under the ribbon to get to their bikes.  I figured well if they are ducking I am ducking.  Go figure I duck and this guy starts yelling.  Next thing I know he is in my face telling me he will DQ me and that he was going to talk to me team about me.  I laughed at him, went back under the rope and then grabbed my bike and was off. I didn’t even pay him any mind because I knew it would spike my heart rate and getting me all worked up when I didn’t need that.  15 minutes into the bike I went to take in some nutrition.  Nothing came through my straw.  I could feel my heart rate immediately spike.  What was going on.  I realized because I use powder nutrition some powder got stuck in the straw.  Ok no biggy.  I figured it out and kept rolling.  The bike on this course is beautiful and I really enjoyed it.  I made some new friends and joked with some guys along the way.  Overall I really enjoyed this leg.
On to the run and I left T2 feeling great.  One of the guys I was on the bike with all day Chris (read his blog here) gave me some props on the ride and then he took off.  As much as I wanted to hang with him on the run I knew I couldn’t hold that pace.  This is super important when it comes to longer distance racing!  The run was a little touch and go.  It’s just about 100% on the Atlantic City Board Walk.    It is scenic and fun but also stressful because people can be inconsiderate.  I was holding on great through mile 7-8. Then I hit a wall and went in to survival mode.  I think one of two things happened or a mixture of both.  I did not fuel enough on the bike to store up for the run and or didn’t drink enough on the run.  Whatever the case I was sucking down coke and chews like my life depended on it.  Luckily because this course is on the board walk I got to see Jamee, Brandon and Brandi multiple times and they kept me going. I don’t think I have heard Jamee scream this much before, ever!  Also to the girl who would give me a shoutout with every pass on the run course, thank you!
Coming down the finish chute it felt like I was on top of the world, yes I just traveled 70.3 miles on my own, but it was more than that.  It was months of hard work all wrapped into one moment.  The announcer gave me a super nice shoutout but unfortunately I could not hear it.  Either way many thanks! I wish I could have taken in the finish chute a bit more but live and learn.  I also probably should have gone for an IV because I know that would have helped with how I felt, again more knowledge for next time. 


All in all this was a phenomenal first 70.3 for me and I couldn’t have asked for a better support crew along the way.  All of my readers and followers for cheering me on along this journey.  My family and sponsors for enabling me to do what I love to do and most importantly Brandon, Jamee and Brandi for your assistance through the whole weekend.  It was incredible and I can’t thank you enough.
Next up for me is the Jersey State Olympic Distance championship race.
Until then, all for now

Keep FSU and Do It For Yourself.

I don’t post on here daily but feel free to find me else where!

Feeling Off in the Off Season

It’s March and as I sit down to write this my entire town is covered in ice scratch that, we are now covered in 7+ inches of snow.  If you know anything about me, you can only imagine the effect this has taken on me haha.  It is killing me, but March comes in like a lion right? I can only hope so.

So let’s get to it.  It’s the off season.  It gets cold, it gets dark, it gets just down right miserable here on the east coast.  I had a plan to combat this though! I was doing more racing this past season so that I could make a bit of a name for myself and apply for a team this off season.  Going into a new season with a new team, a team that I always dreamed of would give me that “high” to carry me through this off season and get me to the spring ready to rock.  As you may have guessed things did not quite go as planned.  I applied to two teams. I will not put the teams on bast but one straight up denied me and the other “never got my application”.  One of the teams is one that I have had my eye on since I started this sport.  Maybe it’s a sign, maybe it’s not right but nonetheless it was a hinge moment for me.  A moment that made me reconsider a few things and a few different approaches.

As you may know I had a GoFundMe account set up at the end of this summer to help off-set the cost of a new bike.  So I began to focus on that and how I could maximize the amount of support I received from family and friends.  It was absolutely incredibly how supportive people are and I am still, to this day, beside myself and cannot thank everyone enough.

Between the let down of not getting on to two teams again and the training break I took after the Marine Corps Marathon things started to spin out of control.  I ended up loosing interest in my training among other things.  Luckily enough I caught myself and I could right it before things got completely out of control and get back on track!

One day a good friend said to me “Yo man, why don’t you apply to Xterra Wetsuits to be an ambassador.”  I figured hey it couldn’t hurt so I did. I applied to them and heard back pretty quickly and after talking with the East Coast regional manager I was in!  This got my brain working.  I started thinking of brands I use and love and I started reaching out to them.  Some I heard back from and others I did not.  It got me back on track though! I am now an ambassador for Xterra Wetsuits, Delmo Sports Elite Events, and Infinit Nutrition.  All brands that I know, use and love and I couldn’t be happier with the results.  If anyone has any questions or needs help I would be happy to assist in any way that I can.

Now at this point you may be thinking wow, this guy is certainly tooting his own horn here.  Confession time…..not my intention at all! I am using this for two reasons, first, according to a very smart man, Jon Acuff, I had what was called a hinge moment.  Something was going on that I didn’t like and I had to change it.  I had two options, I could really let this get to me and just hang it up.  Say you know what forget it, I don’t have what it takes to make it on these teams so why am I even doing this.  As much as I don’t want to admit it, that thought crossed my mind a time or two.  My other option was to find a better way.  That’s what I did. I took the advice from a friend and I ran with it.  You have the same choice.  It could be with your job, relationships, training, or all of the above.  Whatever it is you may do, sit down, think about it, bring it up to people you trust and really put some thought into it.  I promise things will work out if you put the time in and take the time to figure it out.

As for training, Monday marks the start of a 16-week block leading up to my first 70.3 race in Atlantic City.  I am anxious, nervous, and excited all at the same time.  I can’t wait to get things moving and I can’t wait for this season to really get under way.

Thanks for reading and thanks for the support!

All for now.

Keep FSU and Do It For Yourself

“You’re insane, I could never do that” Marine Corps Marathon

It’s December 14 and its almost 2 months post my first ever 26.2 journey.  I have been neglecting this post for long enough but there are some reasons behind that.  I have started to structure my “race reports” different and I don’t want them to be a play by play of all the events leading up to the race.  Instead I am attempting to recreate the feelings leading up to, during and after the race.  This race had a lot of feelings behind it so I wanted to get my thoughts together before I put it all down.  Today someone said to me, “I still can’t believe you ran a marathon!” and I thought there was no better time than the present to get things down on the screen.

Let’s start with a few facts before the race, leading up and in training.  I was a complete rookie and I made every mistake possible so I want to get that all out for people to learn from.  Over the summer, after Atlantic City I began ramping up my running.  My first long run was a 13 miler and I decided to make it 13.1 to complete my first half.  This was a different first half because there were no aid stations, no cheering, just me and the rode.  I packed a couple gels and completed the run in under two hours.  I was thrilled.  From there things went down hill.  For about three weeks in a row I pack the SAME amount of gel or maybe one more and ONE water bottle.  I couldn’t figure out why I was hitting a wall every time and couldn’t get through 2 hours of running.

Fast forward and after many phone conversations with seasoned runners I came to terms with the fact that I was under fueling and under hydrating for the demands of marathon training.  I ordered a bag of custom Infinit Nutrition (check it out here) and waited anxiously for it to arrive.  It came and I threw every time goal out the window at this point and my main goal for the day of the marathon was merely to finish.  Leading up to Marine Corps I had one 18 mile long run and one split 20 mile long run.  This will come into play later.  Unfortunately due to time constraints this was all I could push my body to do in order to recover properly for the marathon.

The race was on Sunday and I left the Thursday before for Washington DC.  The expo was friday and I was advised to get in as early as possible and I am glad I did.  I met some amazing people for the first time who had helped me through training and they reassured me that I was ready and I WOULD finish.  Aside from the normal expo shannanigans it was business as usual.  My cousin had just recently moved to the DC area from California and so I got a chance to see him for the first time in probably about 4-5 years.  He is an active duty Marine so it meant a lot to me to see him before the race.  As we were walking back from a late lunch he said something to me that stuck with me for the rest of the weekend.  He looked me dead in the face and said “Listen I know a lot of people have told you a lot of different things about completing this race.  I am not hear to over load you with any new information, I just want you to remember one thing, don’t ever stop moving.  He looked me dead in the eyes and said listen to me DO NOT STOP MOVING!” This resonated with me and I took it very serious.  Little did I know how useful this would become.

Saturday came around and I wanted to stop back by the expo to exchange a shirt I bought the day before.  We got of the metro at the exit and before we even got to the top of the escalator I could see the line.  I said to my girlfriend “Thank god we came yesterday!” we turned around and got back on the subway.  It was off to some sight seeing for the day.  So we explored DC and saw all of the sites.  Another key mistake on my part.  At the time I did not realize it but later that day I knew I made a mistake.  We walked EVERYWHERE that day and by the end of the day my legs were tired.  Not to the point of exhaustion but I knew that they were tired.  I knew it was a mistake but I couldn’t change it at that point.  I met with my parents, had a wonderful dinner and it was off to bed.

I woke up the next morning full of nerves.  I tried to eat as much as I could but it was a struggle.  With every bite I felt like I was swallowing a boulder. I dropped of a bottle of nutrition with the facebook crew in the lobby that I would exchange around mile 20(another key point) and it was off to the metro.  The rest of my bottle were in a bag with my family and I would exchange them along the route.  We followed the crowds to the start and it was a long walk through the parking lot. From there it was just a waiting game.  I made my way over to the start and I was overcome with emotion.  It was time, I was about to embark on the hardest journey of my life.  I waited to see my mom and sister before I started because they wanted to send me off.  I saw them and then began walking up to the start line.  I was way in the back of the pack for the start.

Largest flag ever used in a jump!
Here we goooooooo!

A few miles in I had to pee so bad.  I didn’t want to stop but it got to a point where I knew I wasn’t going to be able to fight it anymore.  I found a tree, relieved myself and continue on.  I had one bottle in my pack and an extra bag of Infinit just incase I missed my family for a bottle exchange.  The miles ticked by and I felt good. I got to mile 10 and I had some tummy problems and I got nervous.  I thought man if this is an indication for my day, its going to be a long one.  I tried to sip some nutrition and just stay calm.  Luckily it subsided and I was back on track.  I was not going as fast as I wanted to but I knew I had a long journey.  I saw my family around mile 11 and did the first bottle exchange.  They were incredible and I cannot thank them enough for being a part of this journey.   The last thing I want to say about this point in the race was that I was heading back from one of the turn arounds and the “straggler bus” passed me on the other side of the road.  I remember telling myself this was the first and last time you would see this!

After mile 16 or so we made our way out by the Potomac River.  This was the hardest part of the race for me.  The mental game really began.  I just remember seeing mile 18 and thinking, OK I have 8 more to go, I can do this.  If you remember from earlier, 18 miles was my longest run leading up to this race.  So here began the run walk.  I had a bottle from my family and I knew I just needed to make it to the party at mile 20 to see the Red Felt crew.  I started to really look forward to seeing this party.  I remember hitting 19 and thinking ok, one more mile and I will see them, then it is just a 10k to the finish.  I remember seeing people stopping and stretching out.  I wanted to stop and stretch my calves so bad.  I thought “I could stop just for a minute, what’s it going to hurt?” Then I remembered the conversation with Michael, NO!!! NO STOPPING!!!  I hit mile 20 and I couldn’t find them.  Not anywhere…..this hit me hard. I was mad, I was stunned, I just didn’t know what to do.  It got in my head really bad.

I needed to just continue on and finish my race.  I remember being in the middle of the bridge and thinking for the first time, am I even going to be able to finish this.  From miles 20-23 it was a mental game.  “You can do this” to holy cow, how am I ever going to finish this all in the same breath.  When we got back to Crystal City I dumped the bag of nutrition into my bottle and filled it up with water.  I knew I had this in me.  The energy through this city was like nothing I have ever felt before.  They carried me to mile 25 and my walking at this point was minimal.

I remember getting to mile 24 somewhere and people started saying “just one more mile, you got this!”  To those of you who run, you may be able to related to how I felt at this point.  I wanted to smack these people in the face.  DO NOT tell me I have one more mile when in reality I don’t.  It was a false sense of security for me and I did not like it.  I powered through and looked forward to that mile 25 sign.  I remember passing it and reaching up and smacking it.  We were almost there.  For the last mile of the race, I don’t know where it came from but I ran the entire thing.  There were two things I heard about this race.  One I wasn’t sure of and the other I knew was going to be there.  The first was the magical man with the keg of beer around mile 24 or so, but I never found him =/.  The second was the uphill finish.  I rounded the corner of mile 26 and it was there, starring me in the face.  I knew my family was at the top of that hill and still to this day I don’t even remember feeling it.  I ran up the hill so fast to see my mom and girlfriend there.  This is where the tears started.  I remember approaching that finish line and just bawling like a little kid.  I had done it.  From a 300+ pound couch potato to a marathon runner in just over 2 years of blood sweat and tears.  I crossed the line and just stood there for a minute.  I kissed my hands and just threw them up to the sky and said thank you.

When the Marine put that medal around my neck and saluted me saying “Congratulations Sir!” I could have lost it.  I wanted to hug him but I thought that might be weird so I refrained.  I remember them pushing everyone to keep moving when all I wanted to do was sit down!! I found a curb and sat down for a second.  I just wanted to take it all in.  I took off my shoes and got out my phone so that I could find my family.  Having my phone on me the whole race was key.  I could keep in contact with my family and find them after the race.  I did not use it for music because I didn’t want to kill the battery which was key and I also know that service can be touchy throughout the race so I had an iPod for that.  Smartest 50 bucks I have every spent!

Post race the only thing I wanted to do was drink my chocolate milk and take an ice bath. Luckily my hotel was less and a quarter mile from the finish.  This was HUGE! The last thing you want to try and do is navigate public transportation after such a large race. Unfortunately I guess do to safety concerns you cannot plug the tub in hotels.  So I settled for a shower and my wonderful 2XU compression tights.  I remember receiving a congratulations text from a friend and she offered some words of wisdom.  I was laying in bed when I got this text and all I wanted to do was stay there.  She said “GET UP!!!” another key piece of advice.  I got up and continued moving as bad as it hurt.  I walked and got food and walked around a bit more.  It hurt but I am so thankful that I did it.  Plus it gave me a chance to go out in my new jacket with my new hardware ;).

I remember walking back to the metro with Jamee and she told me again for the millionth time how proud she was of me.  She has been there from the first day I met her and I am so thankful for that.  I said to her:

You know, I’ll be honest, it did not go the way I planned.  I did not hit my time goal, but there is one thing I did do and that is complete a marathon.  It is something I swore I would never do, it is something some people say they want to do but don’t and its something some people will never be able to say they did.  No one will ever be able to take that away from me.”  

It is completely true what they say, you will never forget your first and I believe it to this day.  Two months later and I still feel the same amount of joy writing this as I did that day.

If you have skipped all the mumbo jumbo in between and got to this point please just read this paragraph.   Years ago I remember talking to someone and telling them I would NEVER run 26.2 miles just for fun.  On October the 26th I did just that.  Something I thought I could never do in a million years.  If you have something that you have always wanted to do and said you never would, please take my advice an consider doing it.  I promise you that you will not forget it.  It will be the most rewarding thing you have ever felt in your entire life.  It was not an easy journey, it was a fight every day, but god I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I made some key mistakes along the way but it has made me better for the next one.

I thank you all in advance for reading this extremely long and over worded post. I hope you find some motivation or inspiration in this to do something that you have always wanted to.  Lastly I thank everyone for their constant support.  Without you I would Have never been able to complete such an amazing task.  I cannot even begin to list the people but you know exactly who you are.

Next up I have some exciting things that I can’t wait to tell you all about!

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks for your support!

Keep FSU and Do It For Yourself!

Atlantic city International Triathlon

So the season has come and gone, are you satisfied with you results? What did you accomplish this season that was a challenge you were focusing on? What are you going to do different for next season?  For me my last race of the season for triathlon was the Atlantic City International Triathlon (my first race ever).  I am going to structure my race “recaps” a bit differently.  I am going to cut out some of the boring details and just focus more on how I was feeling before, during, and after the race.
Atlantic City is a special place for me.  It has a lot of significance.  I have been there in many different points in my life and for many different reasons.  From 21st birthdays, to bachelor parties and now my most recent journey triathlons.  No matter the reason I love going there.  On saturday before the race, I was driving across the bridge and I saw the city and the swim start etc for the race and an instant joy came over me.  I was ready to go for this race.  After pre race check in, bike, marking etc etc I just went to my hotel to settle in.

Race morning came early as always but I was ready to go.  I woke up ready to go.  I was looking for some strong results for this race.  Last year I went 1:05 which was solid for a first timer but this time I was looking for more, I wanted to shave about 5 minutes to get closer to that hour mark for a sprint race.  Unfortunately I knew the bike leg was going to be tough because it was a windy day.  I got all my gear set and was just listening to music, getting in the zone and getting ready.

Unfortunately I was not paying attention and couldn’t hear Steve on the mike too well so I missed being one of the first in the water.  Once I got in I realized it was going to be a challenging swim.  It was dead low tide, there was a ton of sand and it was just a tough swim.  When I rounded the bouys and started heading back I was feeling good.  I went to climb out and sunk into the mud!  Thankfully there were guys there to help us out which was awesome of them.

Candid post swim shot!

On to the bike and I was feeling strong.  I had that hour mark in the back of my head and I knew I just needed to red like the whole time.  The wind on the way out was a bear.  I had zipps on my bike that I borrowed from a friend and I was still only about 30 seconds faster this year because of the tough wind! Coming off the bike I looked down at my watch and I knew I was so far off that hour mark I just had to hammer the run to finish with a solid time.

Bike leg from AC.
The run from t2 to the start of the run course was a bear so I just started easy and then hammered the course.  I knew I wasn’t going to hit my goal but that was out of my control to a point(more on that in a min).  The run is completely flat and I knew I could drop the hammer.  When I crossed the finish line I knew I left it all out there and that is my goal for every race.  When I stopped my watch I was almost scared to look.  1:08 was my final time for the day which was good enough for a 4th place finish in my AG.  It is not what I wanted but it was still better than last year.  Yeas my time was 3 min slower but that 3 min was in the swim alone.  I know from my races this year, my swim is what I really need to focus on this year.  The bike leg is what it is, I can’t change the wind and I was still faster than last year.  
The greatest moment and memory from this race was when Steve called my name to come get my AG medal.  He gave me a huge shoutout in front of the entire crowd for my weight loss and is was incredible!  The crowd erupted with cheers and it was like nothing I have ever experienced.  Yes my times were slower over all but it was a learning experience and I still walked away with two medals.
AG podium shot.
Receiving congrats from the mayor of AC!
The last thing I want to share is this photo.  This is one of my favorite pictures of all time.  Blog family, meet my wonderful and amazing girlfriend.  She is at every start, every transition and every finish line for me.  I can hear her screams louder than anyone on the course.  She has been through so crazy times with me including freezing her toes off on this morning all to cheer me on.  She motivates me and keeps me going through all of the rough training spots.  More importantly she understands the long training hours that are needed to accomplish what I want to do and she supports me every step of the way.  She is the most amazing girl I have ever met and I can’t thank her enough for being there every step of the way.  Love you!
Next on the list is Marine Corps Marathon Recap. My first ever 26.2 so settle in for that one.  
Until then thanks for reading and sharing!
Keep FSU and Do It For Yourself!

I do not post on here on a daily basis but feel free to catch me on other social media!