Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Outsourcing Part of My Life to India for a Month

One of my favorite books from last year was The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. The book focuses on lifestyle design and leveraging tips & methodologies to escape the 9 to 5 (or in my case, 8 to 6) rat race to ultimately develop a self-sustaining source of income. Tim runs through a number of steps and case studies but the one chapter that really intrigued me was outsourcing tasks to a virtual assistant overseas.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Delicious, Diet Friendly Norcal Margarita

(Norcal Margarita shown with Southwest Bean Omelet & Turkey Sausage)
The hardest part of trying to stick to a sensible diet is cutting out traditional alcoholic drinks we love like the margarita. A margarita at Chili’s is close to 300 calories per glass with a ton of sugar from the margarita mix. It isn’t rocket science to see that a few of theses will get you close to your calories allowance for an ENTIRE DAY.
There are better options for margaritas such as having one made without the syrup and even better, the Skinny Girl Margarita made famous by Bethany of The Real Housewives of New York fame. Recently, I came across another margarita recipe that comes highly recommended from Crossfitters who like to have a drink or two when they are not crushing it in the gym. This one is called the Norcal Margarita and the recipe is pretty simple:
  • 2–3 shots of 100% agave tequila.
  • Juice and pulp from one lime.
  • Shake it all up with some ice.
  • Add soda water to taste.
That’s it! No sugars, low carb and low calories. Here’s a few reasons to really like the Norcal Margarita (source):
  • Tequila is fermented agave juice, which makes it gluten- or and starch-free. Gluten, as nutrition geeks know, is a gut irritant and just generally bad stuff, and starches are way too dense with unnecessary carbs. Rum could likewise work well here.
  • Lime juice blunts the insulin response of the alcohol, maintaining your precious and hard-earned insulin sensitivity.
  • The lime juice also provides a net alkaline load when it gets to the blood stream, which is a good thing. Most other foods provide a net acid load, and it’s nice to balance that out.
  • The carbon dioxide bubbles in the soda water help get the ethanol into your blood more quickly. This has the practical effect of allowing you to drink a bit less for the same effect.
I tried it out today and have to say that it is the real deal and a perfect way to have a drink after a great workout without feeling guilty. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Eating an Entire Value Menu from Wendy’s in 20 Minutes

At the peak of training for the Ironman Arizona, I had a pretty ridiculous appetite due to the volume of training going on. Although I never had the opportunity to try to take down the Ultimate Cheesesteak Challenge at Tony Luke’s, I did get the chance to try a few eating stunts and pretend I was trying to qualify for Wing Bowl.
During a lunch break a couple of months ago, a few co-workers and I headed out to Wendy’s for lunch. I had always wanted to see what it was like to eat an entire value menu from a fast food restaurant and this was the perfect time to give it a shot. Unfortunately, times are tough so the value menus have shrunk considerably compared to a few years ago.
From the menu above, you can see that there isn’t that much food on the value menu for Wendy’s. When I told the cashier I wanted everything on the value menu, he seemed more confused on how to type it all in rather than the motivation behind eating an entire value menu for lunch. It turned out Wendy’s was out of the baked potato so I subbed in a Chili and a Chicken Go Wrap to make it equal.
The order consisted of:
  • Regular Size Chili
  • Chicken Go Wrap
  • Double Stack Cheeseburger
  • Crispy Chicken Sandwich
  • 5-pc Chicken Nuggets
  • Value Sized Fries
  • Medium Frosty
  • Medium Diet Coke
Here’s how it went down:
The full order
5 minutes in: Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Go Wrap, Chicken Nuggets, and some fries done
10 minutes in: Half of Chili, half of doublestack, and most fries done
13 minutes in: Everything done but Frosty and Drink
20 minutes: All Finished!
So there it it, eating an entire Value Menu in 20 minutes. Again, I’ll admit it was not that much food but it was cool to say I’ve done it and cross it off the list.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fueling the Body During an Ironman Pt 2

It still hasn’t completely sunk in that the Ironman is over and done with. My nutrition plan the past few days after the race as involved a lot of burgers and McRibs but that will end after this weekend. As a follow-up to the nutrition plan during the race, here’s feedback on what actually happened during the race and how I felt.
Breakfast/Pre-Race (1040 calories/206 grams carbs/2006 mg electrolytes)
Actual: I woke up around 4:45am and had the first Hammer nutrition bar consumed within 5 minutes. The second was finished right before I left the hotel around 5:20am. I sipped the Gatorade throughout this period along with the EFS Liquid shot on the car ride over to the race. I finished the EFS Liquid shot and had about a third of the Gatorade left.
Right Before Swim
  • 200mg caffeine pill
  • Finish off 32oz Gatorade
Actual: Right before heading into the swim start, I took the caffeine pill and finished the Gatorade. While waiting to enter the water, they had water so I drank about a cup worth before jumping into the lake. Felt good at the swim start, meaning not feeling I was too full or on the flip side, not fueled up enough. 1000 calories seemed like the perfect number.
Transition 1 (280 calories/38 grams of carbs/839 mg electrolytes)
Actual: The swim felt great and I didn’t have any hunger pangs getting out of the water. While I was putting on the bike gear, I started to drink the Zico and eat the Hammer Nutrition bar. I chugged the rest of the Zico before heading into the bike area. I forgot to take the caffeine gum.
Bike (Total: 3100 calories/709 grams carbs/9,098 electrolytes)
  • Hydration: 40 oz of Lime Accelerade (sipped every 15 minutes): 480 calories/84 g carbs/620 mg electrolytes
  • Nutrition: Two 24oz water bottles with 3 Flasks of EFS Liquid Shot in each diluted with water (sipped every 20 minutes) 2,400 calories/600 grams carbs/8,460 mg electrolytes
  • One Hammer Nutrition Almond Raisin Bar (at 3:00 hrs) 220 calories/25 grams carbs/18 mg electrolytes
  • One Stay Alert Caffeine Gum every 2 hours
Actual: I was pretty consistent with sipping the Accelerade every 15 minutes and sipping nutrition every 20 minutes. I ran out of the Accelerade at about the 95 mile mark and had to re-fill the Speedfil with Ironman Perform (Ironman’s version of Gatorade). I drank maybe about 16 oz of this the rest of the race. I had about 6-8 oz left of the EFS Liquid shot mixture. I ate the hammer nutrition bar at around the 2:50 mark. I ended up only doing one piece of caffeine gum. For some reason, I didn’t really enjoy the taste of the gum being mixed with the Accelerade or EFS Liquid Shot. The cooler weather helped a lot with not feeling dehydrated which may have decreased my need for electrolytes as I started to feel bloated toward the end of the bike.
Transition 2 (160 calories/37 grams carbs/941 mg electrolytes/50 mg caffeine)
  • 1 Zico Coconut Water (60 calories/13 grams carbs/821 mg electrolytes)
  • 1 Jelly Belly Sport Bean Packet (100 calories/24 grams carbs/120 mg electrolytes/50 mg caffeine)
Actual: Still had the bloated feeling from the bike. I chugged the Zico and ate the Sport Beans while changing shoes.
Run (2,018 Calories/496 carbs/7557 mg electrolytes)
  • Hydration: One 50 oz Camelback Fairfax (sipped every 15 minutes) with 2 Nuun Hydration Tablets/water: 18 calories/0 carbs/1,437 mg electrolytes)
  • Nutrition: 4 EFS Liquid Shot Flasks (sipped every 20 minutes): 1600 calories/400 grams carbs/5,640 mg electrolytes
  • Jelly Belly Sport Beans (1 pack per hour): 400 calories/96 carbs/480 mg electrolytes/200 mg caffeine
Actual: I was still feeling pretty bloated from the bike nutrition so I didn’t take anything in until about 45 minutes into the run where I started to sip the Nuun about every 10 minutes. I then started to take sips of the EFS Liquid Shot every 20 minutes. About halfway through the run, I started to also take regular water at a few aid stations as well as RC-Cola. I think I went for the Cola for the change in taste and to start getting some caffeine in. At some stops, I would mix the Cola with the EFS Liquid Shot and the result was something that tasted close to Vanilla coke. I didn’t eat the Jelly Belly Sport Beans until about mile 18. Only had one packet. At the end of the race, I had about 6-8oz left of the Nuun in my Camelback and only used one and half flasks of the EFS Liquid Shot. No feelings of muscle cramps, thirst, or “dead leg” after the run was completed.
This was my first stab at an actual Ironman race nutrition plan so I was pretty satisfied with the results. At the end of the race, I felt like I had some left in my body’s energy reserves and didn’t feel like I was overly dehydrated. I’ve mentioned that the race seemed like a blur because I was so focused on the nutrition plan and watching my clock to make sure I was eating/drinking when I needed to. I think this helped to break the race into 10-15 minute mental “chunks” as opposed to thinking of it as a 140.6 mile day. A few lessons learned from this race is that I will have to play around with the electrolyte counts a bit more to avoid the bloated feeling I had at the end of the bike/beginning of the run. I learned that I will have to find another source for caffeine as as the Stay Alert gum wasn’t favorable to the palate when mixed with the Acclerade/EFS Liquid Shot. I also learned that I don’t necessarily need as many calories on the run as I had originally thought. It will be interesting to see the adjustments that will be made when I do a standalone marathon and translate that back to an Ironman race in 2012.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ironman Arizona 2010 Race Recap

Outside of Ironman Arizona being my first 140.6 mile triathlon distance race, the 2010 edition brought a number of highlights making it an extraordinarily memorable day. Here are some other notable mentions:
  • Chrissy Wellington demolishing the Ironman women’s record with an overall time of 8:36:13 in winning the women’s title and finishing 8th OVERALL.
  • Timo Bracht setting the course record with a men’s winning time of 8:07:16
  • Jordan Rapp taking 4th place overall, capping a remarkable comeback from a severe car accident back in March where he was unable to run an hour just two months ago.
  • 80-yr old Sister Madonna Buder competing after holding the record of oldest finisher at the age of 77 a few years back.
Morning Before the Race
I got up around 4:45am and starting eating Hammer Nutrition bars as a part of my Ironman nutrition plan. We left just before 5:30am but about 8-minutes into the ride, I realized I left my wetsuit hanging in the hotel room. We went back and I arrived at the race around 6am.
I went over to the transition area and filled up my hydration/nutrition bottles on my bike and then dropped off my special needs bag for the run. Looking back on it, a couple of things that I should have done that I will keep in mind for next time is to check my Garmin 310XT before the race to ensure that it worked properly with the different sensors (bike speed/cadence, footpod, heart rate) since so much of my race plan is dictated by those metrics. It could have been really bad from both a physical and mental perspective to have trained all year knowing heartrate/speed/cadence and not have it during the race. Along the lines of being prepared, I should have filled up an extra bottle of nutrition and set it in the bike special needs bag in the event I would have lost any of the normal nutrition bottles during the race.
After getting my wetsuit on, Carly gave me a kiss for good luck and I headed over to the swim entrance area.
The swim takes place in Tempe Town Lake which actually burst back in July. Fortunately, town officials and crew were able to fix up everything so that the lake was back a month before the race.  The day before the race, there was a practice swim to allow the athletes to become acclimated to the swimming conditions. The water temperature was a “nipply” 61 degrees. Needless to say, the wetsuit was essential.
The morning of the race, the professional athletes started at 6:50am and as soon as they were done, the rest of us had to jump into the lake for a mass start. The cool part of the start was that the crowd could get a great view of it either from the side walkway or the bridge overlooking the lake. Realistically, I know I’m not the greatest swimmer so I opted to start in the middle of the pack off to the side to avoid being trampled over. While we were treading water waiting for the cannon to signal our start, the DJ played songs to keep the athletes motivated. The last three songs I remembered them playing were Ironman by Black Sabbath, Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters, and then Viva La Vida by Coldplay. The canon sounded and the swim was on. The swim was one rectangular counter-clockwise out and back loop with the sight buoys on your left hand side. I thought the swim felt good although I probably wasted energy not being able to hold tight swim lines around the buoys. My Garmin said I swam over 3 miles and it is set to automatically vibrate after each mile so on the third vibration, I had a feeling my time for the swim wasn’t going to be great. On top of that, about quarter mile into the swim, I realized I didn’t put on my 2XU leg sleeves which distracted my focus on the swim for a few minutes while I mentally told myself that I didn’t really need them for the bike and the run.
At the end of the swim, you had to climb out of the water via temporary steps that were set up. Volunteers helped to pull you out and they also had volunteers help to strip your wetsuit off which was nice since I’ve lost a lot of time in previous races trying to get the wetsuit off quickly. A tip for next time is to find the biggest/strongest volunteers to help get the wetsuit off the fastest.
Transition 1
After getting out of the water, there seemed to be a lengthy run back into the transition area to change into the bike gear. Along the way, I fortunately saw Andy along the rails and he had my gear bag with the 2XU leg sleeves. After grabbing my bike gear bag, I found a chair to sit down and catch my breath while starting to put on my biking gear. I also took a few extra minutes wiping grass and dirt off my feet because I was afraid of getting blisters/cuts from putting socks over this. Overall, I didn’t put much planning into the transition and the lengthy time reflected it.
The bike was three loops with the longest stretch taking place along the Bee Line Highway and basically biking through the desert.
I felt pretty good coming out of the water and was easily hitting 20 mph on the first loop. Of course, the good feeling quickly ended out on Bee Line Highway. This back stretch was brutal with the wind that reportedly gusting at 25 mph at times. At one point, it also started to rain hard making it even more tricky. My speed quickly dropped and I was struggling just to hit 18 mph. I also took a couple of pit stops on the bike portion to refill my hydration tank and to also hit the restroom. For those wondering, Yes, you definitely need to take bathroom breaks during a day long race like the Ironman. I’m not hardcore enough to just go in my pants like some of the professional athletes. The rest of the bike race was fighting the wind and some minor cramping/pain from being in the aero-position for so long. When I hit the 100 mile-mark, I noticed my heart rate was well below Z2 so I decided to pick it up a bit and try to finish with a respectable bike time. At this point, it was a huge mental lift knowing that I was just about done with the bike and only had the run portion to go.
Transition 2
Much like the first transition, I seemed to take a lot more time than what I needed. I changed socks over to the Injinji socks, put on the Saucony Kinvara’s, put on the Camelback and headed out while chugging a Zico Coconut water.
The run was three loops around Tempe Beach Park. My main strategy was to employ the 4/1 Run-Walk method that I had success with during my 20-mile training run. My legs did not feel dead from the bike but I was unable to get a quick pace going during the 4-minute run intervals. The other part not going for me was feeling bloated, probably due to all the electrolytes/sodium I was putting down to not cramp up. The run seemed fairly consistent, if slow the entire time. Around the eight mile mark, I remember taking a sip of the Ironman Perform drink which is the equivalent of Gatorade and puking it back up almost immediately. It happened mid-stride without stopping which probably looked impressive for anyone behind me.
Linsey Corbin also wearing Bright Orange Saucony Kinvara’s but running a lot faster than I was. She finished second overall among the women. Also, note the TRX tattoo.
About halfway through, I started to take RC-Cola at all of the aid stations. I think part of it was being tired of drinking the EFS Liquid Shot all day. I still needed the nutrition from the Liquid Shot so I mixed it in with the RC-Cola which ended up tasting like a Vanilla Coke. Although my legs felt fine, the real pain was coming from my feet due to my history with arch problems/plantar fasciitis. My little toes also were hurting probably from bad positioning within the shot. I did notice a big difference with speed when I paid attention to form as opposed to “just running'” When I was more upright with quicker, smaller steps, I seemed to be able to move a lot faster a lot easier. As night fell, they gave us glow in the dark necklaces which I wore up until near the finish when I tossed it into the garbage because I didn’t want it in my finisher picture. Around the 20-mile mark, I started to feel confident that I was going to finish the Ironman. I thought about how quickly the last 12 months flew by, all of the encouragement & support along the way, and looking forward to seeing my family’s faces when I got to the finish line. With about a minute to go, I pulled out my phone and was able to videotape my finish from my perspective. In parallel, Kara Dimarco was able to videotape my finish from the webcast as well.
Finishing the Ironman as recorded from my phone (HTC Incredible)

Special thanks to Kara DiMarco for capturing this!
I was wondering the past month how I would finish. Would it be a struggle or would I come in looking strong. Turns out I had enough juice to jog in with a little bit of a kick. After crossing the finish line, I was given the official finisher’s medal, a hat, and a T-shirt that said Ironman Finisher. Very cool.
Believe it or not, although the race took just over 13 hours, the day was like a blur. I think it is because the majority of the attention was focused on the key metrics I needed to follow such as nutrition/hydration intake intervals, heart rate, and pacing. The first time around, I was more worried about finishing then nailing down a time. In the back of my mind, it would’ve been nice to break 13-hours and it was definitely within reach if I had more urgency during the transitions and didn’t walk so much during the run leg. Don’t get me wrong, it was still incredibly difficult to push my body for such a long time. I can’t express how grateful I am for all of the support from family and friends leading up to the Ironman and even during the race.
Compared to my last couple of marathons, the Ironman was a lot less painful to finish. I think it was because of better preparation and having a nutrition plan in place to thwart cramps. Surprisingly, there were no major injuries  and no blisters from the race. I did get a few rub burns on the underside of my arms, some rub burns on my lower back and very minimal blood blisters on little pinky toes.
With the big race being over, I’ll probably take a few days to let the body recover and then go into winter maintenance mode. It is a weird feeling being razor focused on one race for an entire year and to be done with it. The good news is that there’s always room for improvement. I already have a good idea of my racing plans for 2011 and tentatively have my sights set on Ironman Florida in Panama City Beach for 2012.
Final Stats:
  • Overall Time – 13:20:11 (1271/2500)
  • Swim Time – 1:23:08 (1401/2500)
  • T1 – 14:50
  • Bike Time – 6:19:09 (1026/2500), 17.7 mph pace
  • T2 – 9:14
  • Run Time – 5:13:51 (1377/2500), 11:59 min/mile pace

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fueling The Body During an Ironman Pt 1

They say that an elite Olympic swimmer like Michael Phelps puts down 12,000 calories per day during his peak training. I won’t be putting down quite as many calories during the Arizona Ironman but I’m targeting putting down just over 6,500 calories during the race to ensure the body has enough nutrition and stays properly hydrated to get me through the day. The nutrition plan is a culmination of training throughout the summer and figuring out what works well and is easy. It really hit me how important nutrition is for longer distance races (Olympic-distance and greater) when I collapsed at the finish line at the Philadelphia Triathlon back in June due to severe dehydration/electrolyte deficiency. That experience was the catalyst of paying closer attention to nutrition and starting to develop a plan. You can put countless hours in training but without a nutrition plan, you are handicapping your ability to perform at your peak. For Pt1, I wanted to share my targeted nutrition plan for the Ironman race. I will follow-up with a Pt2 with what actually happened during the race, how I felt, and things I would change for the next Ironman.
Breakfast/Pre-Race (1040 calories/206 grams carbs/2006 mg electrolytes)
Two Hammer Nutrition Almond Raisin Bars: 440 calories/50 grams carbs/36 mg electrolytes
32oz Gatorade: 200 calories/56 grams carbs/560 mg electrolytes
1 Flask EFS Liquid Shot: 400 calories/100 g carbs/1410 mg electrolytes
Right Before Swim
200mg caffeine pill
Finish off 32oz Gatorade
Random Sips of Tempe Town Lake Water (? calories/? carbs/? electrolytes)
Transition 1 (280 calories/38 grams of carbs/839 mg electrolytes)
Zico Coconut Water (60 calories/13 grams carbs/821 mg electrolytes)
1 Hammer Nutrition Almond Raisin Bar (220 calories/25 grams carbs/18 mg electrolytes)
Stay Alert Caffeine Gum
Bike (Total: 3100 calories/709 grams carbs/9,098 electrolytes)
Hydration: 40 oz of Lime Accelerade (sipped every 15 minutes): 480 calories/84 g carbs/620 mg electrolytes
Nutrition: Two 24oz water bottles with 3 Flasks of EFS Liquid Shot in each diluted with water (sipped every 20 minutes) 2,400 calories/600 grams carbs/8,460 mg electrolytes
One Hammer Nutrition Almond Raisin Bar (at 3:00 hrs) 220 calories/25 grams carbs/18 mg electrolytes
One Stay Alert Caffeine Gum every 2 hours
Transition 2 (160 calories/37 grams carbs/941 mg electrolytes/50 mg caffeine)
1 Zico Coconut Water (60 calories/13 grams carbs/821 mg electrolytes)
Jelly Belly Sport Bean Packet (100 calories/24 grams carbs/120 mg electrolytes/50 mg caffeine)
Run (2,018 Calories/496 carbs/7557 mg electrolytes)
Hydration: One 50 oz Camelback Fairfax (sipped every 15 minutes) with 2 Nuun Hydration Tablets/water: 18 calories/0 carbs/1,437 mg electrolytes)
Nutrition: 4 EFS Liquid Shot Flasks (sipped every 20 minutes): 1600 calories/400 grams carbs/5,640 mg electrolytes
Jelly Belly Sport Beans (1 pack per hour): 400 calories/96 carbs/480 mg electrolytes/200 mg caffeine
Total for the Day: 6598 calories/1486 grams carbs/20,441 mg electrolytes)

Individual Stats
Accelerade: (Per scoop per 12oz water): 120 calories/21 g carbs/155 mg electrolytes
EFS Liquid Shot Vanilla (Per flask): 400 calories/100 g carbs/1410 mg electrolytes
Nuun Hydration Tablet (one tablet w/ 16oz water): 6 calories/ 0 carbs/479 mg electrolytes
Jelly Belly Sport Beans (per packet): 100 calories/24 g carbs/120mg electrolytes 50 mg caffeine
Hammer Nutrition Almond Raisin Bar (per bar): 220 calories/25 g carbs/18mg electrolytes
Stay Alert gum: 100 mg caffeine per piece