Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Afraid to Run??!! An intro to endurance athletics safety education

About 2 weeks ago, on April 15th, I went for a run. It was a run that I will not soon forget. For the 1st time in my life, I was scared to run!

Why was I scared to run?

Two days before(April 13th) at around 5:30 pm, I got a call from 1 of my grad school classmates to inform me that Kaytie Joiner,a fellow classmate, had died just after crossing the finish line of a half marathon earlier that day

I was in complete shock! A very close friend of mine, 27 years old and 3 weeks away from her wedding(the race was part of her bachelorette party weekend), who was an experienced runner with several half marathons under her belt, was gone!

Along with the shock, my brain started processing all the possibles causes of death that I learned in school while studying athletic training and sports medicine...could it have been hyponatraemia(extreme lose of sodium), heat stroke, or hypertrophic cardiac myopathy(also known as HCM, a condition in which an abnormally enlarged left side of the heart causes sudden cardiac arrest).

It turned out to be none of those, it was something much scarier; an undetectable congenital heart defect. That’s why I was scared to run that day! I had also learned about undetectable congenital heart defects in school, but all of a sudden it was starring me in the face! I have a wife,a daughter, 3 puppies...what if I had an undetectable heart defect?

In the nearly 3 weeks since I lost my friend, I’ve realized a few things.

1)Kaytie would not want be to be scared to run! She would want me to continue to enjoy it the way I always have! I intend to do just that! I plan on returning to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon(the site of my very 1st 1/2 marathon) next year to run my 1st stand alone full marathon; I also plan on raising money for a charity along the way....all in honor of my friend!

2)While Kaytie’s cause of death was completely unavoidable, the other 3 conditions that I described earlier (hyponatraemia, heat stroke, and hypertrophic cardiac myopathy) can all be deadly in athletic participation. Over the next few weeks, I will dedicate a few blog posts to educating my fellow endurance athletes friends on the danger of these conditions, and how to avoid them. If you are an endurance athlete, please read them! If  you know endurance athletes, please help spread the information! I think this would be another fitting way to honor my friend!

Stay strong(and run safe),


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Changing Jiu Jitsu Academies

After trying out a class, I joined Paradigm Training Center. There were a few reasons that lead me to joining; 1)it’s very close to work 2) and it had late classes that I could make after work.

However, there were also some downfalls. While the head black belt is very knowledgeable and a good teacher, I didn’t feel that there was very much structure to the Brazilian jiu jitsu program. There was 1 class per night, which would usually consisted of a 5-10 minutes warm up, followed by maybe 10 minutes or so of technique work, then 45 min or so of rolling(the jiu jitsu term for sparring). For me this was a big problem. The academy that I spent the longest time at,Lovato’s Jiu Jitsu, had a very structured curriculum with a fundamentals class focusing on technique(with some rolling) and an advanced class focusing an advanced technique with a lot of rolling; student’s started in the fundamentals class and once they had progressed were able to attend both classes. I wasn’t getting anywhere near this kind of structure at Paradigm. The late time of class, which was initially a positive, quickly turned into a negative. Class time was supposed to be 8pm-9:20. However, class rarely started on time(although the professor was there on time) and class often went to 9:30. This would put me getting home at a little after 10 and getting to bed around 11 or later.  It was hard enough going to class that late, and even harder considering the lack of structure in the class/program.

So, I’ve spent that last week looking into and trying out classes at a few other academies near work that have better hours. A good program structure was also a must. I think that I was so eager and excited to get back to training, that I neglected that aspect of picking a school when I started at Paradigm. Last night, I found what I’m sure will be my jiu jitsu home for quite some time, the Rilion Gracie Academy! As the name implies, the academy is ran by Master Rilion Gracie, who is the youngest son of Grand Master Carlos Gracie Sr.(the creator of Brazilian jiu jitu). He’s only at the academy about 2 weeks a month, (due to splitting time at his other academy in Miami) but when he’s there he teaches all of the classes. When he’s not there one of his black belts teaches. There’s also a brown belt that helps teach as well, which is another quality that was lacking at Paradigm. They have classes from 6-7 pm,7-8 pm (much more tolerable than 8-9:30), and morning classes as well. The program also has separate fundamental and advanced classes.

Needless to say, I'm pretty excited and confident that I made the right decision this time!

Stay strong,


Friday, March 21, 2014

Short Course Tri's and Back on the Mat!

Yes, I’m aware that it’s been awhile since my last update, but I finally have some news to report.

First, a quick recap!

Last May I completed my 2 year journey when I crossed the finish line at Ironman Texas!!! After the race, I took a much needed break from any type of training! There were several reason for the break. 

For starters, I spent a solid 4 months training for the race and during that 4 month period I was finishing my last semester of graduate school, which included studying for a national board exam and spending a week of travel interviewing for jobs.

Then there was the time frame around the race itself. 16 days before the race my family and I made the move back to Houston, the very next day my grandfather past away(his funeral would be a few days later,11 days before the race). The day after his funeral, I got married! 3 days after the race I started a new job! So yeah, I needed a break! I also had a few nagging injuries that developed while training for the race that needed treatment and rehab.

For the last few months I’ve been back to training, but nothing specific until a few weeks ago. I’ve made the decision to stick to sprint and olympic distance triathlons as well as 1/2 marathons. I’m not saying I’ll never return to long course racing, but it won’t be any time soon! It’s definitely fun at times, but it’s a lot of work and I have other desires and priorities and the moment. 

A flame for a previous passion of mine has recently been re-lit! Earlier this month I became a member of 
Paradigm Training Center  and got back to training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu(BJJ) and mixed martial arts(MMA) for the 1st time in roughly 3 years!!! 

I trained in Oklahoma City for about 8 months while working on my 1st master’s degree and continued my training for another 5 months or so here in Houston. Shortly before moving to Arkansas for grad school, I decided to take a break from BJJ/MMA to focus on running. Shortly after moving to Arkansas, I wanted to get right back into it. However, there weren’t any BJJ school. Once I got back to Houston there desire to get back to training slowly started to grow; I forced myself to be patient and make sure my injuries from IM TX were healed!

Stay tuned, 2014 should be a fun year for short course racing and jiu jitsu tournaments!!!

Stay strong,


Sunday, October 27, 2013

What I've been up to Post Ironman Texas

Hello everybody!!!

So it’s been quite awhile since my last post(Ironman Texas race report), which is for good reason-I took an extended break after the race!!! Due to the life that the race sucked out of me and getting adjusted to my new job, I took about 1.5 months COMPLETELY OFF. This was followed by about 3 months of minimal and sporadic workouts(maybe 2 times a week). Then about 1 months ago I did an Olympic distance race in which I averaged 17.2 mph on the bike(24.8 miles) and around 10 min/mile for the run(6.2 mi), both of which were AWFUL for me(the swim was cancelled). Needless to say, that got my motivated to get back into shape!

So, a few weeks ago I started my offseason training. My main concern has been correcting some movement deficiencies that contributed to me falling short of my goal during IM TX. While training for IM TX, I neglected some of my strength training and core work, which has come back to haunt me; I lost some critical functional movement(my next post will go into exactly what functional movement is and why it’s important)! My core stability disappeared, and a lack of hip and shoulder stability lead to injuries that made for a rough day in the Woodlands!

My training over the last few weeks has consisted of lifting weight 3-4x a week to regain some of my strength and power, as well as 2 short(but fast) run and bike sessions per week(I waiting for my shoulder to get a little better before returning to swimming). All of my run and bike sessions have been done without my Garmin; during the offseason I like to focus mainly of the fun that comes with training and going off of RPE(rating of perceived exertion,aka how hard it feels)instead of the pressure that can come with trying to keep a predetermine pace.

Yesterday morning I did a 25 mi bike ride and decided to use my Garmin to see where I was at. I avg 19.3 mph! While it’s not the 22+ that I could pull of 6 months ago, it’s a big improvement in 3 weeks. I’ll do a 2-3 mi run on Wednesday with my Garmin to see where I’m at.

I’ll continue the above plan until the 1st of 2013. My goal is get my 20 mi time trial bike ride to 22 mph and my 5k run pace below 6 min/mile(I should also be able to return to swimming at that point as well!

As for 2014, my goal is to break 2 hr 30 min at the Olympic distance by mid year and to break 5 hrs at the 70.3/half ironman distance by the end of the year! If I can reach both of these goals next year, then I’ll set my sights on an 11-12 hour finish at IM TX in May of 2015!

Stay strong,

 "The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It's your mind you have to convince"-Vince Lombardi

 ‎"In the world of endurance sports, exercise isn't just an activity, but a lifestyle."

Friday, July 12, 2013

New ride!

So as you can see I have a new bike! Not only that, but it noticeably looks a little different than my old bike.
My old bike was a 2011 Specialized Allez Sport Comp road bike, a very entry level road bike. Even though I knew I would be using the bike for tri’s, I was stuck buying a road bike(instead of a tri bike) due to a very significant price difference. However, I slowly starting swapping parts(a forward seat post, aero bars, shifters at the end of the aero bars, an aero base bar, aero brake levers, & a few aero hydration upgrades ; aero=short for “aerodynamic). After all the additions and a really good bike fitting the bike was really set up like a tri bike!

So you’re probably thinking, “why the change after all the work you put into the bike?”
It basically comes down to changing my main race distance from half and full ironmans to olympic distance w/ 1 or 2 half ironmans a year(i talked about that decision more in depth in my LAST POST). I also wanted to do more “cycling  only” events.
For starters, pure road cycling races don’t allow tri bikes(which mine would qualify as). Some events, such a as century rides(100 mi) and other organized rides(that aren’t necessarily a race), would allow my bike; however my old bike was set-up so well as a tri bike, that is very uncomfortable to ride in a “road” position for extended periods of time. Another factor is that sometimes olympic distance races can have very technical courses(lots of quick turns as well as quick accelerations and decelerations), which are very hard to handle on a tri bike.
My original idea was to convert the Allez back to the original road bike and get an aggressive fit. This would allow me to do the pure cycling events I wanted as well as the olympic tri’s, and I could throw on the aero bars for 70.’3(not as aero dynamic as the old set up, but a good way to have more of a multipurpose bike). This is actually the set-up that Olympian’s use(a road bike that sometimes include short aero bars)
Well due to the some of the changes I made, it would cost around $700 to convert it back to a road bike, plus another $100 for a bike fit!!! So I took the suggestion of one of the guys at the local bike shop and I sold it! I was able to sell it for about the same amount of $ that it ended up costing me for this-
a 2012 Specialized Tarmac Apex Mid-Compact; I got it for $700 off the regular price because it was last year’s model(but still brand new)! So I ended up with my plan original plan-an aggressive fit and a set of short aerobars to use when necessary!
Tarmac has alot of advantages over the old bike as well:
-SRAM Apex components(shifters, brakes, ect); these are about 3 tiers better than the components on the old bike
-10 speed(old bike had 9); this gives me a bigger variety in gear selection
-CARBON frame(old bike was aluminum); carbon is significantly lighter! My Allez(before I added stuff) weighted in at 21.9 lbs. In comparison, my Tarmac weights in at 17.9 pounds!!! A 4 lbs difference is HUGE!! Why didn't I have this bike when I had to ride though the freaking Ozark mountains while living in Arkansas!!
-Last year Specialized launched The Venge, their newest road racing bike. However, before the Venge, pro cyclist(Tour de France riders) and Olympians sponsored by Specialized rode the Tarmac, and some still do!

Can’t wait to get in my maiden voyage in(most likely tomorrow morning)
Here's some more pics!

Stay strong,
 "The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It's your mind you have to convince"-Vince Lombardi
 ‎"In the world of endurance sports, exercise isn't just an activity, but a lifestyle."

Friday, July 5, 2013

Getting Back In The Saddle!

Hey friends! Long time, no see! Yep, I haven’t posted since my Ironman Texas(IM TX) race review, mainly because there hasn’t been much to write about as far as training/racing is concerned.

If there’s 1 thing that surprised me about IM TX, it’s how mentally,physically & emotionally drained the race left me! For a few weeks(okay, actually about 6),I had absolutely NO desire to workout; so I didn’t. I took time to get used to my new work schedule & enjoyed sleeping in and going on junk food binges!

However, that slowly wore off and now I’m back to working out again. I had done a few shorts workouts the week before last, but the spark was really brought back when the Tour De France started last Saturday! I woke up early to watch stage 1, and after 1 hour of watching it on the couch, I was watching the next hour while riding my bike on my trainer!  I’ve also got back to lifting weights & running. In the coming weeks I'll be signing up for a membership at a local gym with a pool and get back to swimming as well.

You may or may have now noticed that earlier I said I was “working out again”, not “training”. That’s because I’m taking a different approach. I’ve done 14 endurance races, & 10 of those were with-in an 18 month period; all but of 2 of them had a specific goal that I was chasing. While I do love pushing myself & chasing a specific goal, it can get very mentally and physically draining. Some of my favorite training cycles are off-season and rest weeks, mainly because during those periods I’ll do my workouts without a set goal time or pace; I still push myself, just without the feedback of a watch. 

That’s exactly what I plan on doing for the foreseeable future! I may pull out my Garmin every other week or so to check my progress, but otherwise I plan on training, and sometimes even racing, without it. I’ll still be pushing my body to it’s limits, but just keeping it simple without chasing a target pace!

I’m also making a few other changes. The main triathlon distance that I will focus on is going to be the Olympic distance(.93 mi swim; 24.8 mi bike; 6.2 mi run), with 1 or 2-70.3/half ironman’s a year. While I enjoyed having 70.3’s & an Ironman as my “A” races, training for those take ALOT of time! Even with clinical hours, my grad school schedule was much more conducive to training than my schedule now(I leave for work at 6:45 am, and get home between 6-6:45). My grad school schedule allowed me to train and have free time outside of training. With my new schedule, I have no problem waking up at 4:45 am and getting in a good 1.5 hours of training before I go to work. To do an Ironman, or even a 1/2 as my main race, I would have to come home and train for another 1-1.5 hours as well; leaving little time for anything else. I may not mind doing that 1 day down the line, but that time isn’t now . I want to train hard and race well, but I also want to be able to spend time with my family, walk my dogs more, as well as spend some more time on the golf course and even on my Xbox 360! Being a high-intensity/low volume athlete,12 hours a week(1.5 each day for Mon-Fri, plus 2 each on Sat-Sun)is plenty to be competitive at the Olympic distance. Also, my longest sessions for that distance are about 2,000 yd in the pool, 40 mi on the bike, and 8 mi on the run. For a 70.3 those #’s would be 2500, 60, and 10, so I can easily test my endurance occasionally when I feel the desire! My favorite run distance is still the 1/2 marathon so you can expect a few of those. While training for IM TX I also feel in love with long bike rides, so there will be a few Century(100 mi) rides as well! That's all for now.

Stay strong,
 "The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It's your mind you have to convince"-Vince Lombardi
 ‎"In the world of endurance sports, exercise isn't just an activity, but a lifestyle."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112 mi, Run 26.2 miles-Brag for the rest of your life!

Ironman Texas Race Report

Swim-2.4 miles

I didn’t quite know what to expect during the swim leg of the race. The goal that I had set earlier in training was 1 hr 25 min-1 hr 35 min(a 2:00 min/100 yd-2:15 min/ 100yd pace). However, that was thrown off a few weeks ago when I developed 2 injuries. 1 was some anterior shoulder instability(I separated my right shoulder playing rugby in grad school and had slacked a bit on maintenance). The other was a hip flexor/groin strain that I’m pretty sure developed from cutting out my lifting a little. Both made swimming excruciatingly painful! I tried aggressive rehab for about 1 week while continuing to swim; it helped a little, but not much. I decided to take a solid 2 weeks off from swimming. Due to moving a week before the race and not having access to a pool, it turned into a 3 week break! I participated in the practice the day before the race to shake out some rust and both my shoulder and hip felt pretty good. The water temp was 77-78 degrees, so it was a non wetsuit swim(you could still wear one, but you started 10 minutes later and were ineligible for awards). As warm as the water was, I decided to go without wetsuit. The Ironman Texas swim is held in Lake Woodlands, which is pretty narrow at some areas. This makes for a lot of contact in the swim. Due to my lack of recent swimming, I decided to start in the back and avoid the mess; it also meant i didn’t have to tread water before the start. My form was pretty good, but my muscular endurance was completely gone after 3 weeks without swimming, which made it pretty rough after about the half way point. I did a pretty good job of focusing on form and staying relaxed by breathing with every stroke and finished the 2.4 mile swim in 1 hr 58 min 56 sec(2:49 min/100 yd pace). That was almost 30 minutes slower than my goal, but I was just glad to be out of the water! I also swallowed a few gulps and it was AWFUL! It usually happens a little in every race, but this water made it feel like I had a sore throat!

Bike-112 miles
I had some very solid bike training leading up to this race. I had several 100+ mi rides averaging 20 mph! I also logged a lot more elevation on my rides than the IM TX bike course. Due to the swim before and the run after, my goal of the bike was to avg between 18.5-19 mph. The bike started a little rough; the 3 weeks w/o swimming came to haunt me. My upper body was decimated after the swim, making it hard to get in and stay in the aero position(my legs were a little zapped after the swim as well). After about 5-10 miles I was finally able to maintain the aero position and get to work! At the 30 mile mark I was a little under the 19 mph mark(18.7) and feeling good. However, after that it the clouds parted and it got hot and windy! Over the next 26 miles my avg was 16.7, dropping my overall avg to around 17.51; To top it off it was only the half way point and the wind was going to be worse(it was also going to be hotter) heading back into The Woodlands. At that point I realized that 18.5-19 was not going to happen, and neither was my overall goal of 11-12 hours(especially with my swim being 30 minutes off). However, I was having so much fun that my finishing time became secondary. During the 1st 20-30 miles of the race I was motivated by the fact that I had finished the Ironman swim leg, 2.4 miles! I had swam 2.4 miles!!! Once I got to the halfway point on the bike I was basking in the fact that I was in the middle of the Ironman bike leg! It didn’t hurt that the scenery was beautiful and there was some great camaraderie with some athletes that I was playing leap frog with! The last 20-30 miles were downright awful; straight into a headwind, blistering heat, legs cooked, and lower back a wreck! I rode past quite a few other athletes who were receiving medical attention on the side of the road or just pulling over to lay down in the grass and shade(which was VERY tempting, but I resisted)! My finishing bike time was 6 hrs 44 min, a pace of 16.61 mph.

Run-26.2 miles(a marathon)
I had some done some pretty good run training leading up to the race, included a few good brick workouts(where you do a bike session followed immediately by a run). Running is my strongest of the 3 disciplines, but it would not show on this day! The heat on the last 1/2 of the bike and onto the run was awful(101 degrees!). While I had tried running and biking in layers while in Arkansas to prepare, it only helped so much because the warmest it got during my training in Arkansas was low 80’s. As I started the run, my legs felt decent, but the heat was un-relenting! Between the conditions on the bike and the heat on the run, I knew trying to keep a decent pace would be dangerous...people were dropping out of the race like flies!!! So I had to rotate between running and walking, for a total time of 5 hrs 28 min(12:32 min/mile pace). 

It was a long, hard day, and one that I will never forget! As rough as the race was, I had a blast despite falling well short of my goal. Words can’t describe the feeling of coming down the finishing chute, with thousands of strangers cheering you on, and then crossing the finish line(in a time of 14 hr 29 min 45 sec) to hear Mike Reilly say those famous words-YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!

So what’s next?

Well this week is a COMPLETE rest week; nothing but foam rolling and stretching! After that I’ll slowly work my way back into shape! I plan on doing 2 Olympic distance races in September here in Houston and then end my season with a 70.3/half ironman in Austin in October!

And now for the big question-will I do another Ironman?

YES!!!  This was reminiscent of my 1st 70.3 race last year in Kansas; rough conditions changed the focus or the day from a good finishing time to surviving and learning! I came back a few months later for my 2nd 70.3 and shaved 1.5 hours off of my time for a must more satisfactory result!  There's no reason this race can't be the start of the same. If I have really, really good races to finish my season, I might do Ironman Texas again next year! If the rest of the season doesn't go as planned, then I’ll wait until fall of next year or maybe even wait until Ironman Texas 2015! I also have to run the decision by my family, because without their support I don’t even make to the finish line of my 1st Ironman, much less a 2nd.

Stay strong,

 "The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It's your mind you have to convince"-Vince Lombardi

 ‎"In the world of endurance sports, exercise isn't just an activity, but a lifestyle."