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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.

Multiview 10: Susan Middlebrooks

27 Mar

Susan is my former roommate’s older sister. He is as family as family can get without any blood ties and Susan is too. I’ve always admired Susan’s “get up and go” approach to everything. She always seems to be eager to tackle a challenge while at the same time totally honest about who she is and where she’s at. She’s also sort of constantly happy–and not in a false or annoying way–even maybe when things aren’t so peachy. Just look at that picture of her up there on her bike! In the middle of a race: all smiles. NOBODY smiles in their race pix. Except for Susan. Susan does.

Whenever Susan and I hang out, we tend to do two things: 1) exercise and 2) eat. She was responsible for me running my first 5K: the Country’s Midnight Express in 2006. Not surprisingly, there was a BBQ sandwich waiting for us at the finish line of that one. Susan was also responsible for my first trip to the Bulloch House Restaurant and my first experience with monkey buns. If you care about these sorts of things, you can read about both experiences in my essay 2005: A Southern Food Odyssey. As a thank you to Susan for all the amazing firsts, I took her to her first Bikram class. You can read about that experience below. Here is Susan’s story:

Name: Susan Middlebrooks
Hometown: Chickamauga, Georgia
Current Town: Pine Mountain, Georgia
Sport(s) of Choice: Running, Triathlon, and others!
Longest Distance Covered and on what (feet/bike/skis/snowshoes/etc…): I have run two marathons. The longest bike rides I have completed have been 50-milers.
Occupation: Coordinator of the Burwell Program, a school for children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders (Thus my need for frequent exercise…..)

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

I have not always been athletic and to this day I do not have good eye-hand coordination. In school I was often last to be picked for the team. At the same time, I have always been active. I enjoy the outdoors and would often be outside running around, playing in the woods, etc.

You’ve been running and racing for a really long time and recently started doing triathlons. What made you decide to add swimming and biking to your sports repertoire?

I started participating in sprint triathlons three years ago. It was something I considered for about four years before taking the plunge. The biggest thing holding me back was that I did not own a road bike. I ended up having a foot issue that required two months of no running, so I bought a bike as retail therapy! After I started riding with a group it seemed like the time was right to try tri. I am absolutely enjoying myself and I think diversifying is a good idea as I get older (I will be 40 in June). The hardest things about transitioning to multisport have been figuring out how to fit in the different elements of training and building an efficient swim stroke.

Describe a typical training day both in the on and off season.

For me each day is pretty different. A typical week on season includes about 7 hours of training – three swims, two runs, one or two outdoor rides, and maybe a class like the Plyometric class at our gym or an adult jazz class at the local dance studio. In the off-season I only swim two days and ride outside several times a month rather than weekly. I also focus more on strength training in the off-season and do a 15-mile road race and sometimes a half-marathon in the fall.

What do you normally eat?

I enjoy cooking and try to eat at home most nights. I also carry all of my food with me to work each day. I love fruits and veggies and try to eat locally and in-season as much as possible. At the same time, I have a sweet tooth and no foods are “forbidden.” Let’s just say I am much more regimented with the exercise routine than with the diet! I do try to maintain a balance of about 80 % healthy and 20 % not so healthy. This helps me keep my weight fairly stable.

How do you maintain balance between your training life your and life-life? Do you ever feel like you have to sacrifice one for the other?

I actually met my husband at a road race and he is totally understanding about the necessity of exercise to my mental and physical health. We do not have children, so that makes scheduling a bit easier. Thankfully most of my good friends are also training partners, so the exercise life and social life blend well. One of the reasons I am not currently interested in training for another marathon or an ironman is because I am not willing to commit eight or more hours a week to training.

What are your goals? Either short or long term?

Long term my goal is to exercise for the rest of my life if at all possible! Right now I am working on my swim in hopes of completing my first Olympic distance triathlon in May. I am currently signed up for a sprint triathlon the last weekend in March and will use that as a warm-up race. On April 14th I will be running a 10-k and 5k back-to-back, so doing long runs accordingly to be ready for that. I am also doing my first “mud run” on April 28th, but I am not doing anything specific to train for that – it is going to totally be about having fun with my girlfriends!

Can you recall a particularly challenging moment in training or racing?

Thankfully I have had very few injuries, but as we all know these setbacks are highly frustrating. This is one of the great reasons to diversify exercise and be willing to try new things. If I had not had a foot issue that sidelined me from running I might have never entered a triathlon. My motto is “do what you can do” when injury strikes.

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

Umm, does me fainting in that Bikram class count?!

Yes. Particularly because it was my fault.

Multiview 9: Jeremy Soule

26 Mar

Jeremy and I have been close friends since my freshman year of college. And yet for some odd reason, I’m having the hardest time writing this intro for him. Odd because, I probably know him the best of anyone I’ve profiled up to this point and yet I can’t find the words to accurately describe him. Perhaps because we met in college when we were both behaving like college kids and therefore any anecdote I share with you know will ultimately a) not be funny to anyone but us; b) get me into trouble; c) get Jeremy into trouble and/or d) have nothing to do with his athletic ability.

Here’s a story that he’ll probably kill me for telling: Jeremy once kept a girl from getting beaten up by her boyfriend in the basement laundry room of his dorm building and he ended up with a concussion and an overnight stay in the hospital. That’s just the kind of guy he is. He’ll go to bat for you and probably take a bat for you. He’s an excellent writer, a loyal friend, a dedicated New Englanduh, and one tough mudder. Here is Jeremy’s story:

Name: Jeremy Soule
Hometown: Brewster, MA
Current Town: Santa Monica, CA
Sport(s) of Choice: Running, casual cycling, softball
Longest Distance Covered and on what (feet/bike/skis/snowshoes/etc…): Cape Cod Marathon on my feets
Occupation: Manager, Employee Communications @ Activision Blizzard; Freelance writer

Gimme a brief history of Jeremy in sports. Have you always been athletic? Did you play sports as a kid and if so, which ones?

Where I’m from, there’s not much of a choice for boys to not be athletic. We’re a passionate region with our professional sports teams. We have one team for each of the four major sports, so it’s sort of engrained in your upbringing. I spent a lot of my time as a kid in our neighborhood cul-de-sac pretending to be Reggie Lewis, Mike Greenwell, Andre Tippett, and Cam Neely. Although my favorite sport was – and still is – baseball, I probably spent the most time playing basketball with my friends. I didn’t start running consistently until I lived in Brooklyn.

You ran the Cape Cod Marathon back when we were in college and, if I recall correctly, aggravated an old knee injury about half way through the race. But you managed to finish. How did you pull yourself together and how did you feel afterward?

Here’s the short, painful story: I was 24 and an idiot, and didn’t put a lot of focus on recovery. I printed a free schedule of mileage from the NYCRRC and stuck to it. It was going well until I hit my 20 mile long run, and felt something give in my right knee. I gutted it out and ran home. This was 10 days or so before the marathon. I promised myself I would finish the marathon, and run the whole way. I put the injury in the denial bucket of my brain and just did short runs. When the marathon started, I felt great. Around mile 15 or 16, that shooting pain returned, especially on hills. I asked my parents – who were checking in with me at various points of the race – to get me some Advil at the 20th mile. It was obviously too late to help me for the race itself, but it was just really painful. A curious thing happened around mile 22 or so: it just stopped hurting entirely. My brain literally gave up on warning me, and said “alright, we’ll finish this, but you’ll pay for it later.” I did end up finishing, and I finished running. If this was going to be my only marathon, I at least wanted that. My time was 4:07 or so.

I was off my feet for a day and a half. I went to a specialist, who said I had “soccer knees.” My patella would slide more sideways than up and down, and it simply caused overwhelming inflammation on my lower meniscus. Luckily, I didn’t tear anything. I’m a little older and wiser now. I ice properly after long runs. I stretch more effectively. I use anti-inflammatories more generously. I’m feeling good, and hope to get my 2nd marathon in this year at some point. I say this fully-well knowing a marathon isn’t the most natural thing to put your body through, even for the sake of fitness, but I love the challenge.

You admitted that in the last few years it’s been hard for you to get as much exercise as you used to. And yet, you recently ran a sub-2 half marathon and completed a Tough Mudder. So two part question: 1) Why were you slacking? 2) How dare you–I mean, how DO you just decide to run a half-marathon and then do it in under 2?

I was always a late-afternoon or night runner. I used to detest running in the mornings, when my quads felt like unchewed bubble gum. I liked the feeling of being a little looser, the way your body is later in the day, and it’s also nice to burn off the stress of a busy day. Well, that just doesn’t work anymore with my job. I was losing fitness because I was skipping my daily exercise, two, three days in a row. Sometimes I’m there until 8 p.m., and I don’t feel like running, making dinner, and then being wired from my run until 1 a.m. and trying to fall asleep. I run in the mornings now, and I’ve gotten used to it. I do feel better during my day at work sitting on my exercise ball, so it all worked out. As for the half-marathon, I’ve just always been a fast runner for my height! It would probably help me to pace it out slower, but I just don’t know how.

What are your goals? Either short or long term? Are you preparing for upcoming races and if so, how? Do you think you’ll ever run another marathon?

Funny you mention goals; I really do think my various commitments in the past year have helped whip me into the best shape of my life. I say commitments instead of goals because I’m actually glad that registration for long races costs as much as it does. A bunch of people registered for Tough Mudder but didn’t do it. That’s nuts to me! To me, paying in advance for a race is like paying someone to be your personal trainer, but that personal trainer is you. It keeps me on schedule. Instead of skipping a training session, you are more inclined to make time for yourself to do it, instead of “finding” time. That said, my goals are to keep registering for one big event every couple months that will keep my entire body in shape. I used to use just my legs for large muscle fitness, but the endurance challenges keep you honest – I know they did me, as I addressed my upper body for the first time in my life. 25 feet of monkey bars over freezing cold water is no joke! I would like to run another marathon, perhaps later in the year. I just need to take better care of my knees.

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

I remember hitting the wall a lot when I trained for the marathon, and it was a good lesson for me. If you’re out of habit for long-distance training, you’ll still end up hitting the wall once a week when you get back into it. It’s good mental training, that weekly long run. Another challenge for me was just addressing upper body at all for Tough Mudder. Where to begin? How to make it affordable? How often? I did a lot of research on it, found YouTube videos with people arguing, etc.

I have a million stories from Tough Mudder, but keeping my core strong throughout my training, and staying mentally strong during that day really helped me. The obstacles are the spice. Yes, getting electrocuted hurts, but the main challenge is running 10-12 miles up and down gravelly hills at elevation.

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

When I was about to run my first marathon, I must have been stretching nervously at the starting line. A veteran runner said “first time?” I asked him if it was that obvious. He said I picked a hell of a one to be my first, as the Cape Cod Marathon was a very challenging one, as miles 12-20 were extremely hilly. Again, I was 24 and an idiot.

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

I’ve been a cheapskate with my gear forever. I only bought special clothes (non-cotton) for Tough Mudder because they dump you into freezing cold water every two miles, and you don’t want any clothing to absorb water. A guy I ran it with had shoulder-length dreads, and he kept wringing out his hair every so often because it added weight! If you do Tough Mudder, dress like a superhero, skin-tight, non-absorbent material.

I usually dress in shorts, standard cross trainers, and a t-shirt. And I run rain or shine if I’m running that day. (And yes, I know I’m lucky, as it barely rains out here, but it did today!) I usually eat like a fiend after a race, but I don’t really need gels or Gatorade during them. I also hate carrying anything when I run except a single house key and an iPod shuffle. Some people run with their smartphones. I can’t do that. Otherwise, my bike is a piece of crap 10-speed I bought for 100 bucks.

Any advice for the “noobs” out there?

For long-distance racing noobs: Start at the very back of the starting line. I mean behind everyone, and especially behind your average mile pace marker. When the gun goes off, keep your heart rate stable, and stay at your pace. You’ve put yourself in a position to pass every runner in front of you, instead of being passed. It’s a little extra motivation.For endurance challenges, mud runs, spartan races, etc, noobs: Alternate your runs with strength training at home, every other day. You do not necessarily need a gym membership. I did all my strength training with two 30 lbs dumbbells at home. That’s it. Just go on YouTube, or pick up any Men’s or Women’s Health. They have the same stuff in every issue when it comes to core and strength training. If you’re interested in burning calories, strength training, when done right, will burn you just as many as your running or cycling. That’s something I didn’t know when I started. If you’re running something really challenging like Tough Mudder, get in the habit of being able to pull up your own body weight over an obstacle (a pull-up bar, up a tree, up a dumpster, anything!). You don’t have to get all parkour-ish, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind. This is one of the most challenging things about Tough Mudder, especially for a lot of the women in it, who may not be in the habit of working their upper body.

My best general advice? Commit yourself to an event down the road that you cannot currently do. You will get yourself into amazing shape. Let your calendar set your goals for you. Find some weekends every month where you can do 5ks, half-marathons, or endurance challenges.

Video games get a lot of heat for contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic. What are your thoughts on this? As an insider, as well as someone who is both virtually and physically active, what do you think we need to do, collectively, to ensure that our kids are exercising more than their thumbs on a daily basis?

It’s a fair question, and I do work for a video game company. Dehydration has been an issue for some gaming addicts, even more than the problems of obesity and sedentary players – but these problems are very real. During Call of Duty XP, I actually saw very few out of shape gamers, proportionally-speaking. I think multiplayer is so competitive now, more like a sport than a bloodbath, you’re attracting the same people who would be up for a pickup game of hoops. I ran our company’s efforts during Extra Life this year, and we encouraged lots of break time and hydrating.

The future is bright on this problem, though, in my opinion. One of my favorite games for the Xbox 360 is Dance Central. I play it with friends a lot. Like they say in the Kinect ads: your body is the controller. And unlike the Wii, you don’t even have to hold anything. It’s like the menus in Minority Report. If they can marry technology with motion sensors and with 3-D – and you know they will – eventually, we really will be inside of the games playing them. You won’t have a choice. This is how we’ll be playing video games in the future.

I know this was a disappointing major league sports season for you. That’s not a question, I just thought I’d point that out. But feel free to respond if you like.

I have no comment on the 2011 Red Sox historically choking away a wildcard spot. I also have no comment on the Patriots being unable to solve the Giants’ defense scheme for two straight Super Bowls. I won’t get greedy, we’ve had a pretty good decade. (And by “we” I mean me and the rest of New England and my fellow New England transplants.)


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!

Multiview 6: Danica Novgorodoff

20 Mar

Photo Credit: Oana Marian

Danica and I work together at a camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. She comes out to wrangle horses. Danica is about 5’2”. As you probably know, horses are a lot bigger. Last summer, one of our geldings jumped a fence and headed for the hills. Danica chased him down on foot all by herself. Everyone who meets Danica ends up with a crush on her. Men, women, young and old; none are immune to her enigmatic charm. She wakes with the sun, exercises religiously, goes through about a dozen pints of Ben and Jerry’s a week and enjoys a glass of whisky every now and again. She’s a wicked artist, a great writer, and is the reason I got into triathlon. Here is Danica’s story:

Name: Danica Novgorodoff
Hometown: Louisville, KY
Current Town: Brooklyn, NY
Sport(s) of Choice: Triathlons, and mostly running
Longest Distance Covered and on what (feet/bike/skis/snowshoes/etc…): 56 miles on a bike
30 on a horse
26.2 on my feet.
Occupation: Graphic novelist.

Gimme a brief history of Danica in sports. What did you do as a kid? Have you always been athletic? How did you get into running and triathlon?

I started running when I was a little kid; I’d take my dog for long runs or walks. I played softball until high school, and was a competitive horse rider (eventing: jumping and dressage) from 9 years old till 18. I was never exceptionally athletic or competitive. I was on the swim team when I was about 12 and kind of hated it. I always loved just being outdoors.

You ran your first marathon last year after declaring you had no interest in doing one. What made you change your mind? Are you happy you did? Any there others in your future?

I was running on a mountain in Colorado one morning last summer. I just kept going up and up. The air smelled like woodsmoke and there were wildflowers all up the slope and the light was exquisite and I felt so much gratitude—I just felt like I could run forever. So I thought, why not try it? Outside of that moment, I was feeling sort of emotionally stressed out and thought maybe I could run through it. Run myself to a point of clarity, or just run myself to death. Well, that’s a little dramatic, but I think it worked. By the way, I soon discovered that I could not, in fact, run forever.

I’m happy I did the marathon (in the Hamptons, NY last September), but it was really hard. I sat down on a curb after the finish line and swore it was my first and last marathon. But I’m signed up for the New York marathon next fall.

FYI, this is a picture of Danica after the marathon:

You registered for your first half-Ironman triathlon in October after declaring you had no interest in doing one. What made you change your mind? How are you preparing for it?

My friend signed me up for it! I still don’t know if I want to do it. I haven’t started preparing for it yet—it’s the off season right now. I’m carbo-loading on cookies and hibernating.

Do you think endurance athletes are driven by a masochistic impulse to punish themselves with longer and longer distances? What’s the mind-changing all about do you think?

For me it’s not about masochism. I personally prefer pleasure to pain. It’s more about doing something new, having an adventure, just to see what it’s like. It’s also a social thing—I have a hard time saying no when my friends suggest some crazy race. Plus, it’s just exciting to try to do something—some distance or challenge—that you don’t quite know if you can do. Uncharted territory. I’m always looking for ways to surprise myself.

Describe your typical training schedule.

I don’t really have one—I’ve never been able to follow a strict schedule. I do what I feel like doing on any particular day. I use a legit training plan as a reference guide, but then follow it very loosely. Sometimes I do more than it calls for, sometimes less. Triathlon schedules often instruct you to, say, swim in the morning and run at night. I don’t have time for two workouts a day!  So I just do one longer one. I’m still learning a lot about training, and was amazed to discover that you can actually get faster by doing speed training, which I’d never really liked in the past. Right now I’m doing a lot of long, slow runs. In general I just try to exercise once a day, 6 days a week.

What do you normally eat?

I mostly cook for myself. I’m vegetarian. I eat real food, organic when possible, and plenty of ice cream.

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

I did the Chicago triathlon a couple years ago in humid, 93-degree weather. Having just spent the summer in cool, dry Colorado, the heat was killing me. I was on the run and toward the end there were more people walking than running. There was an ambulance picking someone up. I started hallucinating and getting chills. I thought, I’ll just detach my mind from my body to stop the pain. But then I thought, that’s a terrible idea, because my body could be on the pavement before my mind realizes what’s happening. So I just let it hurt, and slowed way down, and said to myself, “You’re still moving, you’re still moving; it doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you’re still moving.” In that way I was able to run the whole way and though it felt like an interminable run, I actually finished with an OK time.

Any interesting/fun/inspiring stories you want to share from training?

I was planning to do my first 18-mile run in training for the marathon. I asked Hannah Williams, a fast, experienced, and beautiful ultra marathon runner, to suggest a route in Steamboat. She gave me a map of “The Mountain”—the winter ski slopes—and its many trails. Is it very steep? I asked. (What kind of question is that? It’s called “The Mountain” in a town situated in the High Rockies.) No, she said, it’s not too bad.

It was vertical. Really vertical. It was about a 3,000 foot climb, I think. My pace was slower than a stroll. I was cursing Hannah after one mile. It took me forever to get to the top, and no one was up there except a tough German mountain biker who looked at me skeptically and asked if I had enough water. The view of the valley was incredible—I took a photograph at the summit. It started a tradition of taking a picture at the farthest point of each long run—each one being the farthest I’d ever run in my life. I got back down to town an hour late for lunch with my friends. I drank a bloody Mary and I’ve been hooked ever since. There’s nothing like some salt and vodka after the hardest run of your life.

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

I wear Brooks running shoes, or Newtons. I have 4 bikes: a 1-speed rusty Schwinn Breeze (it’s a classic), a 10-speed Giant hybrid that I ride around New York almost every day (I love that bike), a Lemond Reno road bike that I use for most of my training (I really love that bike a lot), and a Giant time trial bike that I race on (it’s a beautiful machine!).

I prefer GU vanilla gels if I really HAVE to eat them, but I’d go for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich first if I can.

Any advice for the “noobs” out there?

Just do what you love. Keep moving. If you’re out there moving, no matter how fast, whether you’re racing to win or just getting out to see the scenery, you’ve already beat the guy on the couch. Find a sport you’re passionate about. Don’t forget to rest sometimes.

Can you tell us a little about the book you’re working on at the MacDowell colony right now?

It’s a graphic novel set in China: a love story, a ghost story, an adventure and sort of a western. It’s based on an ancient Chinese tradition of ghost marriages, and is about a young man who has to find a wife for his dead brother. It’s called The Undertaking of Lily Chen. I’ve been working on it for about 4 years and it’s past 300 pages now. It’s sort of its own endurance sport.

Check out a preview of The Undertaking of Lily Chen, along with more of Danica’s amazing art, on her website: www.danicanovgorodoff.com

Multiview 5: Alessandra de M Castanho

19 Mar

Ale is a Brazilian, ex-competitive volleyball player. And yes, she looks exactly like the picture your mind just created. She’s got the legs of a gazelle and the speed of a cheetah. I tried to pace with her during the ING half and realized very quickly that it would be wise to let her go. After that race, I started tailing her on training runs because I figured if I could stay like five feet behind her at all times, I’d end up getting faster. Ale is a great coach: motivating, knowledgeable and tough when she needs to be. Also, everywhere she goes in this town, there’s a biker or a runner calling out her name and screaming at her Portuguese. She’s got an awesome accent and a very cool speech rhythm, both of which were magically present in her original written response to these questions. I’ve edited this very little in the hopes that you’ll get a sense of what it’s like to have a conversation with the writer. Here is Ale’s story:

Name: Alessandra de M Castanho (Ale, to those who know her)
Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil
Current Town: Miami, FL
Sport(s) of Choice: Triathlon
Longest Distance Covered and on what (feet/bike/skis/snowshoes/etc…):
Running: 26.2 miles-Nike Women’s Marathon, San Francisco, 2007
Bike: Bike Across Florida, 150 miles, 2007
Triathlon: Half-Ironman-Miami Man 2008 and 2010
Occupation: Content Planning Sr. Manager

Gimme a brief history of Ale in sports. What did you do as a kid? Have you always been athletic? How did you get into triathlon?

Yes, I’ve always been very athletic; I played volleyball in school, started when I was 13 and later on I became part of a team (on a local athletic club in Sao Paulo). Two years later, I was part of a Municipal Team, even receiving a “symbolic” payment (they gave us lunch, the complete uniform, including the tennis shoes and paid for our transportation). I had to quit because I wanted to become a journalist and in Brazil there was no such a thing as a University promoting sports.

Triathlon came to my life seven years ago: I decided to fund raise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and in return, they prepared me for my first race. Little did I know it would become a lifestyle. To make a long story short, on June 12, 2005, I crossed the finish line in Maui, Hawaii and completed my first Olympic distance triathlon. I was 5th in my age group and 13th overall female. Since then, I’ve completed many sprints (always on the podium in 3rd, 2nd and 1st places), Olympic distances (also making to the podium) and two half-Ironman races. I’ve also finished a couple of half marathons (my PR was 1h40min) and a full marathon in San Francisco (in 4h16min). In 2010 I was invited to be part of the Power Bar Elite group, because of my achievements as an athlete and I qualified twice for the USAT National Championship in Burlington, Vermont.

Speaking of which, you’re headed to USAT Nationals this year as an age grouper! Will this be your first time attending? And what are you doing to prepare yourself mentally and physically?

YES! I’m very excited about it 🙂 Last year I was not able to attend and I was very happy (and surprised!!) to have qualified again during Miami Man. I’ve started training for the Nationals but it’s one week prior to the Ironman race [in Canada], so I’m just very excited to be part of the event, and I’m training hard to be fit, strong and in my best shape. I’ve been reading more about nutrition and I wanna become truly an expert on the subject, not only for me, but to help the group! I have also been very good with my strength training (another must!!). I just need to be more attentive to my sleeping hours; I haven’t had much of a rest!

Describe a typical training day.

Wake up around 5am, have my morning “ritual” that consists of eating something light and allowing my body to “wake up”. Leave my house for whatever is in my schedule and most of the time, come back for a shower, stretch and breakfast!!! If not possible, I’ll shower at the gym and will have my breakfast ready in my lunchbox, so I can eat it right away! I’m usually very hungry in the morning!

What do you normally eat?

Prior to training: almond butter and half of a fruit or if the training is too intense will add a gluten-free waffle to the mix. For breakfast, I’ll have the other half of the fruit with cinnamon, glutamine and a spoon of granola (for crunchy!). Plus a toast with very little “buttery spread” (made with vegetable oil) and 1/4 cup of egg whites (that sometimes can be replaced with a slice of cheese). I’ll usually have a snack at 11-11:30am, which is a short latte with 2% and half of a protein bar (my snacks vary, could be a fruit with cheese or almond butter, pretzels etc). Lunch varies too. The salad bar in Whole Foods is my best friend! I try to go there as much as I can. Dinner: I prepare something at home. I love chicken and roasted potatoes (sweet ones!!) and I like sushi, etc…

Now that I’ve bla bla bla about this subject, I’ve realized that you might wanna know about training only. Sorry. So, during a workout I try to be as “natural” as possible, so I like the Honey Stinger products; I love the Heed from Hammer Nutrition for my long rides and the Elixir for electrolytes (which I always have in my bottles).

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?

Although we train in a group, triathlon is very individual. I can be out there and guide you on a bike ride, or a brick workout but at the end of the day, you will be at your pace and I’ll be at mine, otherwise neither of us will be really training. So, I guess the sport itself allows you to balance coaching and your own training. One of the greatest things about this sport is the people you meet. They are usually very enthusiastic and eager to learn about the disciplines. When I like something you’ll have to ask me to stop talking about it: I can go on and on! Being a coach allows me to speak about it and to help the athletes that are just beginning.

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

(Big sigh) Yes! I’m in! This will be my first one and I’m scared! I don’t know if scared but for sure, anxious! I’ve been focusing on strength, swim and nutrition!! They are my main concerns and my goal: I wanna be the strongest, most efficient in the water and a JEDI when it comes to fuel. I will cross that finish line tired, but strong! Not sick, but happy to have conquered such an accomplishment along side Andy, Frank, Hans and Magui!

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

It was during my first half-Ironman in 2008 at the Miami Man race. At the run, mile 10, I didn’t have anything else to give, and my body was asking me to stop. I was sick of my stomach and dehydrated. I kept on going, and this is why nutrition has become such an important subject to me (and this is why I want to help more with this matter).

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

Funny, yes! It was during a trilogy race. At the swim, I got caught up in the middle of the “turmoil” and one of the girls hit my leg and took my chip off my ankle!! So, I decided to swim back to the shore and call it off. It was when the lifeguard scream at me asking if I was ok. I screamed back saying: “I’m good, just lost my chip.” And he said, “ I found one! What’s your number?”…753… “I have it, wait on!” Then he swam with his board towards me and play the prince charming saying, “Give me your foot!”  Oh well, 12 minutes later, I was leaving my slowest sprint swim to cross the finish line 9th in my age group!

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

I love trisuits, but I’ve been racing in two pieces because of the longer distances; I do have to pee in a half-Ironman and I do stop and go to the bathroom (sorry!). My favorite brands are 2XU, Louis Garneau and Orca.

Shoes: Newtons for run and Adidas on the bike. I ride a beautiful Maserati, also known as the Kestrel 4000 Pro SL. The chewy Honey Stingers are delish! Not a big fan of gels, but lately found the Ignite quite good and they’re gluten free (which for me, during training or racing it’s a must!).

Any advice for the “noobs” out there? Just have fun and listen to your body!

Race and train within your own limits. We are not up for the Olympics anymore and we have to be smart about it, and not get hurt!