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StaRbuck

24 Jan

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Here she is, my new best girl: StaRbuck. I figured my ride deserved a name worthy of the fastest gal in the galaxy and so she got it. The capital R in the middle of her name started out as a typo but now I like it.

StaRbuck is a 2012 Kestral Talon Tri (Ultegra version) and I got her for a song. She is a step and a half (maybe more like three steps) up from Titita (with whom I am reticent to part) and I have ridden her twice since she arrived. What a totally different experience. Here’s a picture of me riding in aero for the first time. I look like a dork but the bike looks sweet. Because she is.

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But look at those wheels and how they spin!

That is all for now.

Oh and my ass (along with everything else down there) feels like it was beaten with bat wrapped in sandpaper. But that won’t last, right?

Bribe Yourself

23 Apr

After much hemming and hawing, I finally got my ass out on the road. How did I do it? I bribed myself. I incentivized. Whatever. Do what you gotta do to get the job done. I know what they say about rewarding yourself with food but today I didn’t care. I had one last Honey Stinger Waffle and I wanted it. Plus, I knew it would help me out on the bike.

Then I decided today would be the day that I splurged on a new pair of sunglasses. My old, cheap ones went missing two weeks ago and I’ve been putting off buying a new pair. So I walked up to TriJungle before my ride and got a pair of Tifosi Slips:

So far so good. They’re light-weight and pretty comfortable. I know they’re pink but whatever. They come with a set of clear lenses and a set of red lenses. And now I have a fancy case for them so I should be able to keep them scratch-free.

So great. Fully fed and outfitted, I was ready to ride. My legs were definitely tired and I got a little whiny at one point but I just kept reminding myself it was only 45 minutes. Yesterday was 90 minutes and if I could do that, I could certainly stay in the saddle for half the time. There was really no wind today so that was great too. I cycled through my gears as I was supposed to, in order to simulate climbs and headwind and all was well. Until this happened:

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Please ignore the filth and just focus on the fact that my chain is not on either of my gears. This happened right at the base of the bridge on my way back. Like, the worst possible place to have to come to a dead stop. It happened as I was shifting and prepping to tackle the incline. Somebody please explain to me how and why this happened? And why my hands ended up looking like this despite the fact that I cleaned my chain and cassette last week:

I’ve been trying to keep on top of this. I haven’t ridden THAT much since the last cleaning. I will definitely be giving Titita a bath this afternoon. Thanks to the chivalrous dude who stopped to help me fix the issue. These are the moments when it doesn’t hurt to be a lady on a bike.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. Thankfully. This wasn’t a particularly enjoyable ride and I am no less exhausted now that it’s over, I’ll tell you that much. But I was happy to be able to log the damned thing and know that I’m not going to be back in the saddle until Wednesday.

Multiview 12: Coston Perkins

4 Apr

The Florida Running Company store popped up in the Grove while I was away last summer. I was psyched to find it upon my return because I’d just started training for my first half marathon and FRC was offering a bunch of group runs and training support. I only went to one of those runs before I got sucked into Alien Endurance but it was on that run that I met Coston for the first time. Since then, we can’t seem to stop bumping into each other. I see him out in the Grove pacing groups all the time. I see him and his lovely girlfriend at every local single race. Now, whenever I go into the store, he’s the one working and helping me out. Coston is all about the run. He’s got enviable form and is extremely generous with both his time and his knowledge. Here is Coston’s story:

Name: Coston Perkins
Hometown: Tuscaloosa, AL
Current Town: Miami, FL
Sport(s) of Choice: Running, cycling, and triathlon
Longest Distance Covered and on what (feet/bike/skis/snowshoes/etc…): Marathon (running,) Century (cycling,) and olympic triathlon
Occupation: Manager @ Florida Running Company

How long have you been into athletics and specifically running? Did you participate in any other sports as a kid?

I played baseball and football as a kid, but never had any competitive ambitions. I really fell in love with running in 2007 after I ran my first race ever: the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham, AL. It was a rough day. I used to build Mercedes-Benz cars back in Alabama, so I had a free entry. Now I don’t know how I even trained for it. I remember specific short runs around the block, followed by passing out on my apartment floor, but I couldn’t tell you if I even ran over an 8 miler. In the race I made it all the way to mile 19, and that’s when I hit the steepest wall of my life. I ended up finishing the race with an eighty year old man running his one hundredth marathon. His posse revived me with gummy candies and motivation. I ran a 5:41:42 at that one. One year later I improved it to 3:29:15.

You work at my favorite running store (Florida Running Company) and are very active in the local running scene. Is it all running all the time for you? How do you balance your own training with the group stuff?

It feels like running all the time for me. The group runs are great. I’m very against the egotistical, “I’ve gotta get my own training in” idea. Group runs are for fun. It doesn’t really matter to me if I’m running at my general pace or running really slowly, group runs give you time on your feet, form work, and good time. I can usually plan how I want to run with the groups based on what I have to do that week. It’s still about planning. I like to use the group runs as ‘shake out’ runs on quality days. The staff at work tend to want to do the runs as much as me, so we kind of have a rotation as to who gets to run at work.

What do you eat?

I was vegan for several years. Now I favor veggies, but enjoy eating meat and seafood on occasion. For breakfast I usually have a mug of granola and soy milk, followed by a whole 8 cup french press of coffee. Post-workouts I’ll drink Pacific Labs Chocolate Endurox, First Endurance Cappuccino Ultragen, or lots of soy milk. A typical lunch is usually burrito oriented. If I’m at work I can usually get the staff all worked up and mouths watering over Lokal burgers, so we order out. We like that place. Finally, for dinner my girlfriend Ali and I cook a lot of simple meals. Staple foods are homemade pizza, butternut squash ravioli, and Gardein meat-less products.

You mentioned that you recently got back into triathlon. How is that going? How has your training changed? How are you preparing for upcoming races?

I love triathlon. It can be obscene how much money is usually involved compared to running, but it feels so good mixing the training up. I was running 70-88 mpw for the past 6 months; now I’m spending almost half of my total time on the bike, 30% running and 20% in the water and strength. I can’t wait to actually race tri again this summer. Life is much different from when I was in college. I used to skip out on swim training a lot, therefore I sucked at it. I’m much more comfortable in the pool these days, and I hope to have my first decent performance in the water this summer. I’m also looking to do some cycling racing down here. I’m a Cat 4 racer on the bike, and I’d love to be a 3.

Can you recall a particularly challenging moment in training or racing? How did you deal with it?

At the 2009 Collegiate Nationals Triathlon my foot was squelching out blood by the second mile of the 10k. The insoles of my Lunaracers were tearing up my arch. I had the most painful race of my life. I’m proud that I didn’t quit. The shoes were so gross and covered with thick blood at the end. I hardened up a lot that day, but couldn’t walk too well for a couple of weeks. I’ve also gotten into transition to find an air pressure tire explosion flat waiting for me after the swim. I think it’s really important to be able to change a tube quickly. At the Hickory Knob Triathlon in South Carolina, I had the fastest tube changing experience of my life.

Above-referenced bloody shoes.

Any interesting/funny/inspiring stories you want to share from training or racing?

I credited the 2nd place finish at my first cycling race ever to the dogs I would always have to sprint from near my house in AL. Three mean dogs used to chase me up a hill almost every day because I commuted by bike, and it was kind of country. I had lots of power in the cannon back then. I carried noise makers, bb guns, and rocks, but they chased me for several years. While running it was pretty nerve-racking, but on the bike getting chased by dogs has the consequences of crashing out, road rash, getting mauled, and then being run over by the eighteen wheelers that frequently sped through that area. Nonetheless, I became a better cyclist.

Talk to me about equipment/product. What do you wear? What do you ride? What gels do you like?

I love Nike racing flats. The Streak XC will forever be my favorite racing flats. Right now I prefer to train in the Newton Distance. The Cannondale Caad has always been my steadfast steed. I bought a Caad9 with Shimano 105/Ultegra in 2007, and it has been so good to me. I used to use ITU style short aero bars for triathlon. Today the Caad9 is called War Machine, as its clear coat has been beat to hell after five years of training and commuting. My girlfriend and I just got matching black Caad10s with Rival/Force components.

I used to use the Nike T-Speed triathlon shoes, but after I went cycling specific for a while, I prefer Mavic Zxelliums. GU gels carry well while running; Pro bars, GU chomps, PB&Js eat well on the bike, and I drink lots of Nuun. The greatest purchase I ever made, of things I don’t really need, is the Garmin Forerunner 305. Being able to really gauge your effort based on pace and heart rate makes a big difference. Now I have the Forerunner 610 for running, the Edge 500 for my bike, and an FR60 for swimming and strength data. I really want a 910xt, but I have to prove my commitment to the water if I’m going to get one.

Any advice for the “noobs” out there?

Get your gait and form analyzed for running, pay for the professional bike fitting, and master’s swim coaching is the jam. Getting on a training plan is so important. Whether it be downloading a cookie cutter plan from the internet, or hiring a private coach, following a well periodized training plan is the ideal path to healthy running without injury, or even stress from trying to decide what you’ll do that day! I suggest that everyone take the time to understand the training theories of their sport. Read the works of Jack Daniels, Joe Friel, Steve Magness, and others. Maybe take a coaching certification course. It’ll give you insight as to why you’re doing certain workouts, or even why some just aren’t working out. I feel that I’m pretty well equipped to develop my own plan now, but I treat myself almost as a client. I plan my workouts weeks, sometime months, ahead in Training Peaks, and then stick to the plan. If I have hiccups, I adjust, but I adjust with the same principles that I’ve learned for the theories that I’ve studied. Most of all I think having an outside coach is the simplest way to success and planning. I’ve had a couple of amazing, smart coaches before, but now I’m taking a moment to explore what event I want to really focus on long term, and later hire a coach based on that decision.

Anything else you want to tell us about yourself or your sports life?

If you’re not active in some sort of athletics, start. It has completely changed my life. I used to be only interested in brainy things. When I found my passion in running, I gained a new sense of self, and quality of living definitely went up. I have more energy now than I did when I was a teenager, and I’m setting up the greatest retirement plan of all: a healthy body.

Will Tri For Swag

31 Mar

Hello and welcome to the Nautica South Beach Triathlon expo and packet pickup. We put everything on the sand so that your calves get a nice, sturdy workout less than 24 hours before race time. We’ve also made sure to start the check-in at 1PM, right when the sun is highest in the sky. Hope you packed your sunscreen!

I’m being obnoxious. Having to trudge through a little sand under the scorching sun was OK because packet pickup was well organized, uneventful and brief. Just how I like it. The expo, however, was a total disappointment. I expected more from such a big event. How big of an event, you ask?

Those are just the bib numbers for the classic distance. There was another entire board right next to it for the international distance racers. For those interested, my bib number is 2505.

After seeing the transition setup, I think I might need to be pretty flexible with my previously estimated times. Transition is MASSIVE. It’s a good 1/4 mile from the swim exit to my racking position and then another long haul from the rack to the bike out. Luckily, it’s all carpeted. But still, the run from swim to T1 is going to be rough going.

Here’s another thing that sucks: my swim wave does leave until 8:10AM! 8:10AM! This is Miami. It could already be 80 degrees by 8:10AM! By the time I start the race,  I will have been up for four hours. The pros all go off at 6:50, then the international waves start and then the classic waves. My swim cap color is maroon. Ooh la la.

Swag was meh but I really like the shirt because it’s a women’s specific fit..

I got a windbreaker and an awesome back pack with a St.Jude kid (not really) on it for all of my fundraising efforts:

Also, a new hat! Always need hats down here.

And here’s the sorta useless stuff:

It’s tea tree oil shampoo. I will give this is a shot. But there’s nowhere near enough of it for my hair.

Cannondale stickers that I will not be putting on my Trek.

An issue of Men’s Health that I will only read if I finished with this month’s Runners World before getting next month’s.

Some Nautica cologne that I will definitely throw away.

A teeny tiny Cliff Bar. It’s cute but pointless. Except, I guess, if it tastes good, I might buy a box of them. So not pointless from a maketing perspective.

And a mini Zico that I will probably drink today. Because why not? I love coconut water.

I also get a post-race massage and entrance to the VIP brunch because I raised a certain amount of money. All of that is a lovely bonus. The next time I post, I will be done with this craziness.

Multiview 11: Hannah Williams

27 Mar

I met Hannah last summer out in Steamboat. She was a new (and welcome) addition to the office staff at camp, adding an aura of total calm to a place that is often overrun by screaming 10-year olds. Word spread quickly that Hannah was also a really accomplished runner and that she participated in a weekly running group in town. I’d just started getting more serious about my running and thought the group would be good for me. I asked Hannah about it and for the rest of the summer, every single Thursday, she left me a detailed, handwritten note with directions to that evening’s meeting place. I never actually went (Danica did. All the time), partially out of fear of being left in the dust and partially due to work obligations. OK, it was mostly the fear thing. But Hannah consistently reminded me that ability didn’t matter and that I was welcome no matter what.

Hannah is extremely modest, as her profile illustrates. But she has accomplished some amazing things: a 50-mile ultra in super harsh conditions through the High Rockies and back-to-back wins at the Steamboat Pentathlon are just two of her many achievements. This summer, I am committed to attempting to run with Hannah, even if it means eating her dirt. Here is Hannah’s story:

Name: Hannah Williams
Hometown: Steamboat Springs, CO
Sport(s) of choice: Mountain running, ultra-running, Cross-Country skiing and biking
Longest distance ever covered and on what (feet/bike/skis/snowshoes/etc…): 50 miles running, marathon XC-skiing, 60 miles-ish on a bike, 2 miles swimming.
Occupation: Office manager at Honey Stinger

Gimme a brief history of Hannah in sports. Have you always been athletic? 

I grew up participating in sports and being outdoorsy and athletic, but I was never competitive on any level higher than just school sports. I always liked basketball as a kid and wanted to excel in it, but in high school I barely made the team and sat on the bench the whole time my freshman year. My brother saw that I was unhappy because I wasn’t playing and he and the cross-country coach persuaded me to join the cross-country & track teams. I did! And I turned out to be semi-good, so that’s how I got into running. I pretty much quit trying to play all other sports like basketball and volleyball, etc… I decided that I wasn’t good at them 🙂

In certain circles, you’re known as the “Fastest Woman in Steamboat.” How did you get so dang fast? Have you always been fast or is it something you’ve had to work on? 

I don’t think I was the fastest last year or the year before or ever! I guess it depends on who you talk to though. I will say that I think I might have the potential to be one of the fastest! I think almost anyone could have the potential, it just takes the right training, nutrition, mindset, and commitment. It took a long time with proper (or almost proper) training to become the athlete I am today. It didn’t happen with no effort or with mindless effort. It doesn’t come naturally! I have been training pretty regularly and hard for the past couple of years. I do believe I could tweak certain things, break certain habits, etc, be more focused whatever it is, and become faster though. It is amazing how much I’ve improved over the past few years looking back at some old race times.

What’s it like working for one of my favorite sports nutrition companies (Honey Stinger)? Do you have to be a crazy talented athlete to work there? 

It’s so much fun to work at Honey Stinger! It is not a requirement to be an athlete to work there and they certainly don’t discriminate if you’re not, but you might become one if you start working there. There are plenty of us who are into our different sports. And plenty of people who have gotten into sports after they started working there too! I love working there.

What do you eat? 

What do I eat? Hmmm…well, to break it down, I try to eat healthy, as in whole grains, vegetables, fruit, lean meat, etc. I limit as much as I can anything processed or artificial. I guess eating whole foods is the goal for me. If I can’t understand or pronounce anything in the list of ingredients I won’t buy it. There is no use in eating that kind of stuff. For breads and pasta and rice, it’s always whole grain. I don’t understand the point of eating white bread. It doesn’t even taste good to me. If your going to have calories, make them useful!! There is nothing in white bread other than empty calories, and not many people need empty calories.

I used to try to watch portions and restrict calories and all that. It never worked for me, and I usually ended up gaining weight after going on a diet. So I kind of just decided to eat normal portions of healthy foods and that seems to have worked the best for me. I feel fine about my weight and my body. Throughout the winter I ate ice cream and homemade cookies just about every single night for dessert! It was great. Natural vanilla Breyer’s is the best and homemade whole wheat low-fat cookies! Mmm!

You live and train in a Colorado mountain town. How do you deal with training in freezing temps? 

Freezing temps in the winter definitely make winter running difficult. But really we only get a couple of weeks out of the winter that can be unbearably cold. During that time, I’ll usually stick to spin class or swimming, maybe a run on the treadmill. I probably only run twice or three times a week during the winter. I like to take a little break from it so I don’t get burnt out. There are plenty of winter activities that keep me in shape though. I skate ski, go to spin class, winter hike, take masters swimming classes, do yoga, and Telemark ski. Some of the trails are packed down from people snow biking, cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing so if the conditions are right, it can actually be really fun to go winter trail running in Steamboat. I highly recommend winter trail running to anyone who hasn’t done it. It’s such a beautiful peaceful experience.

I had to include a pic of Hannah in action. Especially because she’s wearing a Nathan hydration vest.

Can you recall a particularly challenging moment in training or racing? How did you deal with it? 

My most challenging moment in racing was during the Run Rabbit Run between miles 36 and 44. It had rained and snowed the whole day and by that time I was freezing cold. I hardly saw anyone that whole stretch. I had been running for about 9 or 10 hours at that point and was pretty drained. It was snowing and wind was blowing and it crossed my mind that I might not be able to finish if I became hypothermic. Being cold sucks, but when you have been cold AND exerting yourself for ten hours straight, that’s another feeling. When you’re that tired and cold and it starts snowing harder and gets windier, it’s a huge mental hurdle to get over and keep going. I have never been that cold in my life. I pushed the thought of not finishing out of my head and just told myself to get to the next aid station at mile 44. As soon as I trotted into the aid station I burst into tears. It was kind of funny actually. I don’t know why I was crying, I guess I was just happy to see people. They gave me some warm water and wrapped me in a sleeping bag until I stopped crying and then I went on my way. I ran the last 6 miles fine and finished with a smile on my face!

Any interesting/funny/inspiring stories you want to share from training or racing? 

Well, I think I have to think about that one a little more. I don’t know why, but falling seems to be really funny when your running or skate skiing. As long as the person doesn’t get hurt, of course. One time I tripped over a speed bump while I was running out of a long drive way…I must have been going too fast. Ha, just kidding. I can’t even count how many times I’ve eaten it skate skiing. One time my friend’s dog ran into a snow boarder while we were running up the mountain and the edge of the snowboard sliced through the dog’s leg and it started bleeding everywhere. That wasn’t good, poor Lucy.

Talk to me about equipment/product. What do you wear? What do you ride? What gels do you like?

I ride a Moots CR road bike and I love it. I also have a custom Moots Mooto X mountain bike, but I’m still learning how to mountain bike…I’m still a novice at that sport. My skate skis are Fischer RCRs. My tele skis are Volkl Aura with the Hammer Head bindings. I usually wear Asics trail shoes, but I just bought a pair of Mizuno which I also love. Sometimes I wear those Five Finger shoes for shorter runs, or hikes. I really like those, they make my feet feel amazing! But not for anything over 4 miles. I also want to try some of those minimalist Merrell shoes. I like the Patagonia baggies shorts for trail running in the summer. I love everything Athleta, Prana, Smartwool. I also love everything Patagonia–we call it Patagucci around here. When I ride, I like to wear my Honey Stinger kit of course! Or Moots kit, depends on my mood. I love exercise clothes! Sometimes on the weekends I sit around and shop online on sites like backcountry.com, Athleta, Running Warehouse, etc. and look for cute work out clothes. I’m a dork.

For energy food when I’m working out I usually stick with Honey Stinger stuff. Pomegranate chews and vanilla waffles are my favorite. If it’s a longer run I’ll go with a Rocket chocolate energy bar for some added protein and nutrients. I’m not too big into energy drinks or mixes, plain water is good enough for me

Any advice for the “noobs” out there? 

Stick with it! Find a group or a club to train with. It makes it so much easier and more fun. If you can’t keep up with them, don’t get discouraged, it takes a long time to build up and learn new skills. I struggled with skate skiing a ton when I first started. I could not keep up with anyone, but I still went to the group skates every week and chased after all my friends while my lungs were burning. I did that for a whole winter and this year I was finally able to keep up with them towards the end of the season.

Your FB wall indicates a recent win and by a very wide margin. What was the race and what did you do to take it?

Oh, the Facebook wall post stuff was for the Steamboat Pentathlon. You can also read more about it here. It consisted of alpine skiing, snow shoeing, skate skiing, biking and running. It’s a fun event in Steamboat every winter. They have a standard course and a short course. Some people do relays and some people do the whole thing by themselves. I did the standard course by myself the past two years.

[Modest Hannah fails to mention that she WON BOTH TIMES.]

Its my favorite Steamboat event! It’s a pretty tough event, but super fun. I wish more steamboat women would do it though.

Multiview 8: Frank DiPadova

24 Mar

The other night, I made the dumb decision to run with my car key fob stuffed down into my sports bra. I didn’t have a pocket, sue me. Anyway, my sweat fried the poor guy’s tiny little circuits and therefore I couldn’t disengage my car’s anti-theft device, which means I could get into the car but couldn’t actually turn it on. Luckily, Frank was around and ready–with tools–to remove my car battery in the hopes that it would reset the security device. It didn’t come to that, luckily*. But Frank was ready to help and didn’t make fun of me when I couldn’t answer the question: “You got turbo charge in here?!?”

Just as I changed very little about Ale’s profile because I felt that her writing revealed who she is, I’ve done very little tweaking to Frank’s. What you’ll discover about Frank by reading his answers is that he is that rare breed of extremely gifted athlete who is also utterly humble. He is dedicated, he can laugh at himself and he gets great pleasure out of seeing other people succeed. Here is Frank’s story:

Name: Frank DiPadova
Hometown: Point Pleasant, NJ
Current Town: Miami Beach, FL
Sport(s) of Choice: I am a football junkie, especially college, nearing obsession. This whole triathlon thing  has gotten up there too with the obsession level but my true love will always be on the track.
Longest Distance Covered and on what (feet/bike/skis/snowshoes/etc…): Does my 1200+ mile drive from Brooklyn to Ft. Lauderdale count?

Umm…

No…ok then it was the 70.3 miles of swimming, biking, and running in the Miami Man half-Iron
Occupation: Assistant Controller for Holman Honda and Lauderdale Infiniti

Gimme a brief history of Frank in sports. What did you do as a kid? Have you always been athletic?

I can’t remember a time when I was not involved with sports. It started with soccer and little league with a little wrestling mixed in there and progressed to football and track as I got older. I was an avid skier for about ten years going almost every weekend to the Poconos and occasionally to Vermont. Even when I wasn’t playing organized sports I could be found in a pick up basketball game, slinging the ball around the street, or hitting golf balls on the links.

High school was strictly football and track (indoor/outdoor). I actually quit football my senior year to run cross country and focus on track. My dad wanted me to go out for the golf team my freshman year because we would play all the time and I was half-way decent but in the end he was happy I stuck with track. I was one of the state’s top quarter-milers by the time I left high school and I earned a D1 scholarship to Monmouth University where I ran for two years winning a conference championship my freshman year. I then transferred to Virginia Tech where I finished out.

Sometime after my freshman year of high school I participated in a US bobsled fundraiser/recruiting event on the Seaside Heights boardwalk where you push a sled down this track and they time you. I ended up pushing the fastest time and was invited to participate in the national camp and push-sled championships in Lake Placid. So at 18 my skinny ass is standing next to these giants. I mean these dudes were monsters and I’m like alright let’s do this and was able to hold my own. So I competed as a member of the US Olympic bobsled team at the national summer training camp for 3 years but decided not to go back after that for various reasons that are for another conversation.

What the F*!k?!?

OK. Sorry. I’m back. How did you get into triathlon?

I could tell my friend was up to something. We would hang out all the time but all of a sudden we weren’t and he was working out more, especially swimming and running. I finally got it out of him that he was secretly training for the Nautica South Beach tri back in 2008. “Yeah I’ll go watch.” So I went and with drink in hand, yes at eight in the morning, and cheered him on. After watching him cross the line and somewhere in my buzz, I said “I can do that”. But I didn’t want to wait a full year to do it so I searched and searched online and found the Escape to Miami race later that September and signed up. I do not recommend doing the Olympic version as your first ever race. My experience from that day can fill a book on what not to do for a triathlon. But as painful as it was the first thing that popped in my head as I slugged across the finish line was, “When is the next race?” I haven’t looked back since.

How do you feel about qualifying for USAT Age Group Nationals this year? Are you planning on competing and if so, what are you doing to prepare yourself mentally and physically?

It is kind of a mixed bag for me really. On one side I’m super excited about qualifying because it really is a great achievement and I should be proud. But the other side of me thinks that I didn’t necessarily deserve it. You see, I didn’t compete in one olympic distance race all season and the race that got me in was a long sprint that was a smaller field. The race for me was not my best either, in particular the run. I obviously had to still go out and race but for me I need to earn it by beating the guys out there that I know are good. I will not be competing in the race but not for the aforementioned reasons. It’s the weekend before Ironman Canada, which is my main focus, and the timing just does not work out for me. If I am able to qualify next year than I’m there for sure.

Describe a typical training day.

With Ironman Canada coming up my volume has increased significantly and because I work a lot my training has to start early. During the weekdays I pull doubles by hitting the road at 4:30 with either a run or a bike workout and then come back after work to the hit the pool or weights. Sometimes I’ll run after work if the workout calls for it but cycling is always in the morning because there is nobody on the roads and swimming and weights are after work because they are not open early enough for me.

Trying to get enough sleep is a challenge but I find that the more I workout the more alert I feel during the day. Maybe that’s just the delusional over-tiredness but it works. The hardest part of any of this training is getting my feet on the floor when the alarm goes off. After that the rest is easy. Having a social life is a little bit difficult too but its worth it to me. Besides, my friends are my friends because they understand. They think I’m crazy but they support me and that means a lot. I will say that riding that early in the morning is kind of peaceful because the craziness and hectic hustle of Miami Beach has stopped and its just quiet. There is no better way to see the beauty of the beach then when its asleep. It helps me get my feet onto the floor each morning.

What do you normally eat?

I am a creature of habit and continually eat the same things almost everyday until I can’t stand the sight of them anymore. Breakfast lately has been cereal with rice milk, an english muffin with almond butter and jam, and coffee, which is the most important. Every now and then I’ll scrambled three or four eggs in there to mix it up some.

I bring my lunch to work, which helps tremendously in making sure I don’t eat junk. That consists of a turkey, chicken, or roast beef sandwich, fruit (bananas and nectarines, which I’ve been on a big kick with lately until the last batch I got from Publix which were pretty crappy so I might have to switch it up), almonds, cookies (from Greenwise section of course) and other assorted healthy snacks. I will go out once a week as my splurge but find that I can’t do it all the time or else I will feel it. Thank God there is not a Chick-Fil’a near my work or else everything I just said would be right out the window.

Dinner is pretty plain as I don’t have much time to cook. It mostly consists of chicken, vegetables, and rice all thrown in a wok and stir fried up. I do have to get my macaroni fill so I’ll have those once or twice a week. I now eat for fuel not flavor.

You recently started coaching for Alien Endurance. How do you balance the demands of your own training with your new coaching obligations? What do you like about coaching?

It has not been as hard to balance as I thought it would be. I think the best way for me to keep that balance is to coach when its time to coach and train when its time to train. If I’m with a group then its my job to make sure that everyone gets through the workout successfully so I have to focus on what they are doing. I’ll ask for feedback a lot during workouts making sure everyone is ok and see if we need to push it more or hold back some. If my workout is longer than I’ll make it up at another time. My favorite part of coaching is the positive responses I get back from the athletes. If they are happy then I’m happy. It is also great to see people push beyond what they thought they were capable of doing.

You’re in the process of training for Ironman Canada. Have you competed in a full Iron before or will this be your first? How are you prepping for it and do you have any expectations about the race?

This will be my first Ironman and I must say that I have the full range of emotions when thinking about it. I go from super excited to completely nervous and everything in between, so come race day I’ll either harness all that energy and use it for the race or throw it up all over the beach at the start line.

My training volume has increased significantly since we started about three weeks ago. I’ll probably average 20 hours a week for the next 5 months with a few “off” training weeks which I’m sure I’ll be looking forward too. The good news is that I’m not doing it alone and I’m with a great group of athletes that will be able to motivate each other. That is very important. I trained virtually alone for a half-Iron and it was pretty tough. I couldn’t imagine training for a full by myself.

I’d be lying if I said the only expectations were to cross the finish line. While that is the goal I still will be competing against myself and my teammates of course. I have a goal time of under 13 hours. That sounds kind of ridiculous now that I put it in writing to think I’ll be out there for that long. That’s over half a day of moving…a lot. Anyway, I’m budgeting a 1.5 hour swim, 6 hour bike, and 5 hour run. That puts me at 12.5 hours but I anticipate coming in faster on the swim and maybe taking a little longer on the bike. They don’t have hills out there. They have mountains and I’ll be doing some serious climbing. But I like keeping everything in nice round numbers as its easier to mentally understand what I need to accomplish.

Can you recall a particularly challenging moment in training or racing? How did you deal with it?

During my half Iron race I was on the bike and sucking down gels and salt tabs like they were going to rot if I didn’t use them. There is quite a bit of sodium in those, plus all the gatorade I was drinking contained quite a bit too. About halfway through the bike I started getting this pain/cramp in my right side. It wasn’t that bad just yet, just uncomfortable. So when I got off the bike and onto the run I thought you know what I need right now? More gels. So I took some more and that was a bad idea as I could feel the cramping much worse now. Not to mention my legs thought they were still on the bike.

The first four miles were crucial. The whole race was going ahead of plan at this point and now I was thinking I might not make it at all. Those might have been the longest four miles of my life. It wasn’t so much the cramping but the battle going inside my head as I was trying to convince myself to keep going. As I hit the four mile mark I made a decision to suck it up just go and it just all of a sudden clicked and my feet got lighter and the pain subsided. Now when I say lighter I don’t mean that I was galloping like a deer the rest of the way. I just got up to a quick jog as opposed the shuffle run that I was doing prior. Looking at my watch I could see that if I kept up my current pace I would come under my goal time which helped me push a lot of the pain away. The best I felt all day was the last 800m and coming down the finish chute.

Any interesting/funny/inspiring stories you want to share from training or racing?

Any race where my parents, aka the Costanzas, are at is always entertaining. My dad has this super nice camera, giant lens and all so he is fired up to take lots of pics. At the half Iron, for whatever reason, he could not find me, even as I am coming around the first loop and literally feet from him. And there is my mom, yelling at him, “Frank, Frank he’s over there, right behind you!!” “Where?, Where?” “What are you doing? He’s right there, turn around!!” This is all I hear as I’m running by so I’m assuming all the other spectators where treated to this show as well. So as my dad finally finds me as I’m going past him he tells me to stop so he can get a few pics. I’m not stopping are you nuts. And I continue on my way.

So after 5 hours 42 minutes and 18 seconds of racing he comes up with roughly 5 photos of my back. I later hear the rest of the story as my dad blames my mom because he wanted to wait by the bike dismount but she insisted that I already came in and so they left that area. Her version is quite the opposite as she told him to wait over at the swim exit but he didn’t want to listen. So this is how I’m spending my recovery time because I’m not mentally exhausted enough. My dad also blamed it on the fact that I was wearing all black and so was everyone else so it was hard to pick me out and next time suggested I wear really bright colors. He has some work to do before Canada.

This story sounds somehow familiar to me.

Anyway, talk to me about equipment/product. What do you wear? What do you ride? What gels do you like?

As far as clothing goes I don’t have a set product that I stick to for everything. For swimming its Orca, TYR, and Xterra.For cycling its Peal Izumi and Louis Garneau, who by the way make and excellent bib short, and for running its Nike and Puma. I have acquired many t-shirts over the years which I try to put to use if they are not some outrageous color.

I ride a Cervelo P2 and slap on the Hed 3c tri tubular tri spoke wheels for racing. Her name is Lola.

For nutrition it took a number of years and a few times resulting in unfortunate incidents but I’ve found that I work best with Gu and Hammer gels and wash it down with Gatorade. I don’t like the super heavy gels or those with intense flavors. I like to keep it simple because the last thing I want to do racing in Miami weather is take in something that will upset my stomach. Same thing with the Gatorade. Lemon-lime for training and racing. I’ve used various other products and either had bad results or couldn’t take it down because of the taste which leads to bad results. If I am doing a long race in the heat I will add some Endurolytes pills to the mix but not too much.

Any advice for the “noobs” out there?

Do not be afraid to fail. It’s going to happen. It’s inevitable that something will go wrong and you will have a bad race. The good news is that you will probably learn more from that experience because you will replay it over and over in your head and figure out where you went wrong and what to do to correct it. Don’t worry about the things you cannot control. If its windy, its windy for everyone and if its super hot, its super hot for everyone. Focus on what you can control. Also make sure to get to the race early to secure a clean port-o-potty. Usually the ones at the end are the less frequently used. You get there late, forget about it. There are a thousand nervous stomachs rolling through there. You’d be better off going in the woods.

* For full disclosure, I should mention that the reason Frank didn’t have to take my battery out was because Andy did some quick iPhone research and discovered there’s a button in the car that just needs to be pushed when the alarm is engaged. Whoops.

Multiview 7: Andy Clark

22 Mar

I started training with Andy and Alien Endurance in the middle of August. The original plan was for me to train all fall for a sprint in the beginning of December. I was very comfortable with that plan. Then, during a training session around mid-September, Andy pulled me aside and said, “There’s a sprint this weekend and you should do it.” I said, “I can’t swim yet.” He said, “Yes, you can. You’ll be fine.” I hesitated again. Andy said: “You’re ready.”

That phrase? That’s why you work with a coach. Sure, the coach GETS you ready: he tells you what to do in training, pushes you, yells at you to quit taking breaks and get back to work; the coach motivates you and tells you that you’re doing a good job; the coach gets into your psyche and learns how you tick and then becomes expert at manipulating your mechanism. However, the coach’s real job is to tell you what you already know but refuse to acknowledge: that you can do it. So I raced that sprint, and then an Olympic and then another sprint and another and now race 5 is upon us all.

In the time I’ve been involved with Alien Endurance, the group has grown exponentially. Andy has expanded his training programs, group sessions, and even added the informative weekly Alien Endurance University clinics without which I would not yet be on intimate terms with my bike. The growth and popularity of this group, in a town that is notoriously tri-crazy, is a testament to the tenacity of its commander. Here is Andy’s story:

Name: Andy Clark
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Current Town: Miami, FL
Sport(s) of Choice: Triathlon
Longest Distance Covered and on what (feet/bike/skis/snowshoes/etc…): Half-Ironman
Occupation: Triathlon Super Coach

Tell me a little about your history with sports and athletics. How long have you been participating in multi-sport and what got you into it in the first place?

I have been an athlete all my life.  Early days the sports of choice were soccer and baseball until I found out I could hit people and switched to football.  I discovered I was quite good at hitting people as a middle-linebacker and went to college on a football scholarship and received many honors during my collegiate career.  I began my endurance sports career by chasing a girl I was interested in during our ‘jogging dates’!  From there it led to road races, intensive trail running and hiking.  Several years ago my brother bet me I couldn’t complete a triathlon because I was about twice the size of the average triathlete.  Well, I had to prove my brother wrong and along with it found a great new hobby and addition to my fitness business.

Tell me a little about the origins of Alien Endurance. What made you decide to become a coach?

From childhood to college I was fortunate enough to have great coaches that left lasting impressions with me.  They not only taught me about the sports I loved they helped prepare me for life.  To be successful in sports you have to learn qualities such as commitment, dedication, perseverance, and self-confidence.  This is also very true in life.  Since sports and my coaches were such a big part of my life it made sense that I would one way or another incorporate it into my future.  As a coach I strive to impact my athletes in a similar manner my coaches did me.  I know if I achieve even a little piece of this I will have been successful. Alien Endurance was created to fill a need for people who wanted to be a part of something special.  I think everyone deep down inside wants to be athlete.  If they didn’t have the opportunity to be one growing up I want to give it to them!  If they were lucky enough to participate in sports in the early days then I want to provide a way to relive and renew that experience! Alien Endurance is all about being a part of something special- a ‘team’.  Within that team I hope to help everyone accomplish things they once thought impossible!  With the right support (from the team and coaches) anyone now has an avenue to learn and succeed in this sport!

How do you balance your own training with your coaching obligations?

This is tough.  As a coach your athletes have to come first.  On a personal level I feel I have the tools to be a fairly successful triathlete.  The unfortunate side is my training is usually the first thing to get cut out if something has to give.  This has been tough because I’m extremely competitive, and it is difficult to know that I can get much more out of myself if I had the time to train.  The flip side is that the personal satisfaction I receive watching my athletes race significantly trumps my selfish thoughts. I do think part of my obligation as a coach is to also illustrate how even I can make time to train and improve as an athlete. I had previously resigned to the idea that as long as I was a ‘decent’ triathlete that would set a good enough example for my athletes. I’m done with that crap though! “Good enough” is just not good enough anymore!  I can do both and I will prove it!  One of my commitments to myself this year was to rearrange my priorities and life so that I can set aside time to train myself.  It’s funny but as Alien Endurance grows and more athletes join the team it is actually making it easier to budget my own training time.  I have committed to racing Ironman Canada in August this year.  This means 10-22 hours per week of training.  I will make this happen.  I’d like to show that even with a ridiculous work schedule (you’ll see below) that it can be done!

Describe a typical training/coaching day in the life of Andy Clark.

Ready for this??  Here you go! Wake: 4am: breakfast, emails, shower, prep training gear for daily workouts; 5am-1pm: personal work with clients and athletes, squeeze in the short workout of the day (swim, bike, run or wts); 1pm-4pm: admin and train- longer workout of the day (swim, bike, run); 4pm-5pm: try to relax; 5pm-7pm: admin work, prep for group activity that night; 7pm-8pm: group session; 8pm-10pm: admin, prep for next day, read, relax, hang out; 11pm: get into bed!

What do you eat?

4am: Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal, 1 scoop Isopure protein powder (banana flavor!), 1/2 cup raspberries; 7am: usually same as breakfast; 9am: Powerbar; 11am: post-workout/recovery shake; 1pm: usually same as breakfast (yes I love this!); 4pm: post workout/recovery shake; 5pm: sandwich or sushi; 8:30pm: chicken/rice, sushi, or a bar if I’m tired!

You’re getting ready for Ironman Canada in August. Is this your first full Iron distance race? How are you preparing?

Yes, this will be my first Ironman.  Training is usually 15-22 hours most weeks with about 10-12 every fourth week or so which is a rest and recovery week.  In a week there are typically 2 pool sessions, 1 open water session, 2 bikes, 3 runs, 2 brick sessions, and 2 weight training sessions.  Other prep includes studying the course and conditions to be ready for them. Most of my training comes in the middle of the day so the Florida summer will make the low humidity and mid 80s race temperature feel quiet comfortable. The mountains on the bike however are tough to prep for here.  I’m planning trips to Clermont at least once a month beginning in April and computrainer sessions.

Can you recall a particularly challenging moment in training or racing? How did you deal with it?

For me it is without a doubt just learning to swim efficiently.  I was not a swimmer growing up and had no respect for the sport.  My first time in the pool was quite humbling.  I hired a coach and still continue to work extremely hard at improving.  It’s a very technical sport and just takes time to develop the skills necessary to be successful.  It took almost two year before I felt like I was ‘slightly decent’!

Talk to me about equipment/product. What do you wear? What do you ride? What gels do you like?

Bike: Kestrel 4000 LTD with Dura-Ace Di2; Helmet: Louis Garneau Diamond; Cycling Shoes: Louis Garneau Tri-300; Hydration System: X-Lab carbon wing and torpedo mount; Saddle: Adamo Racing II; Pedals: Speedplay Zeros, Chamois Cream: DZNuts!

Tri Clothing: Skins and Orca.

Running Shoes: Newton Distance S (the bright yellow ones!)

Sunglasses: Oakely Radar or Jawbone

Heart Rate Monitor/Watch: Garmin 910

Goggles: Aquasphere Kaiman

Wetsuit: Orca S3.8

Training Sports Drink: Ironman Perform by Powerbar

Gels: Powerbar

Recovery Drink: Gatorade Recovery RTD

Tri Store: TriJungle!

Any advice for the “noobs” out there?

Other than to starting training with Alien Endurance?  To accomplish anything significant the hardest part is always the first step.  Don’t wait for the timing to be right.  Don’t wait to get into better shape.  Don’t wait for your friend to do it with you.  Make a decision to start now and don’t let anyone or anything stop you!  Triathlon is a wonderful adventure and can certainly be a lifelong hobby.  You will learn a lot about yourself and life along the way. You will make many new friends and share wonderful experiences together.  Most importantly you will join an elite fraternity and accomplish something significant!