2014 Goals & Training/Competition Overview

I’m happy that 2013 is in the past. It wasn’t my best race year and towards the end of the season, I became unmotivated. However, in terms of health & fitness, I’ve been eating (somewhat) healthier & started CrossFit, which changed my way of thinking about endurance training.

2014 Health & Fitness goals

  • Train smarter — Rather than just going out and logging miles, I plan to focus more on improving strength, speed & power. Of course, occasional long-distances are still needed to train pacing, I don’t need to go race-distance every time out. A couple weeks ago I started reading “Power Speed Endurance” by CrossFit Endurance founder, Brian MacKenzie. It talks about the importance of strength & skill training in endurance sports. This book, along with other reading, has inspired me to think differently about how I train.
    "The unkowns" a tough WOD that I didn't finish on veterans day.
  • Make rest & recovery a priority — As I write this, I’m nursing a sore throat which is likely the result of having too much fun & poor nutrition over the holiday break. Although I feel slightly guilty about taking two days off in a row, and kind of wanted to see where my “Cindy” (a CrossFit benchmark WOD, which was what I would have done at C-TOWN today) time was, I know taking it easy is the best thing for my body & training efforts today. I’m sure I could have pushed through it, but I also know it would put more stress on my body, which is already fighting whatever I have, & increase recovery time. In the past, I would have just pushed through and made my illness last longer. I’m also using heart rate variability monitoring to gage recovery & determine when to go hard vs take it easy. This metric has been used by pro athletes for years but until recently, has been too complicated & expensive for amateur athletes. Now apps like Sweetwater SweetBeat ($4.99) & inexpensive heart rate monitors like the Polar H7 ($60) make it much more accessible.
    Sweetwater HRV
  • Continue to improve nutrition — I’ve come a long way from eating fast food daily in college until now. I’m forcing myself to try new, healthy foods and incorporating them into my diet on a regular basis. My diet is still far from optimal, but I want to continue to improve what I eat by making intentional food choices based on nutritional needs.
  • Calendar a training schedule — I typically train based on availability & what I’m feeling that day. I’d like to start being more strategic about what I’m doing & make sure I’m constantly varying the training & challenging myself.
    Bike Trainer & Computer

2014 Training & Competition Outlook

  • January — CrossFit 4-6x / week. At least one workout in each sport per week with a focus on skill.
  • February – May — CrossFit 3x / week & re-start Masters swimming once a week. Train each sport twice per week. Traveling to Vegas for work for about a week in April, will need to plan travel workouts—and might drop in a CrossFit gym there!
  • June — Continued training. Electric Run 5k. This just sounds like a great time!
  • July — Continued training. Fairport Triathlon. Will be a “B” race to get ready for GG9. That said, it’s been a challenging race for me (especially the swim) in the past.
  • August — Taper training. Gay Games 9 (GG9). I plan to compete in Sprint Triathlon + 100m Free Swimming. This is my main event for the year and likely one of the biggest competitions I’ll ever compete in.

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Twelve flavors of Quest Bar in 12 days

I’ve been eating Quest Protein Bars for the past few months. I like them because they don’t contain a lot of the crap ingredients many other protein bars have. They also use whey protein, not soy like many others. I’ve read that men shouldn’t eat soy on a regular basis because it contains estrogen. Although I’ve been satisfied with them, I had only tried one flavor—chocolate brownie. I wondered what the other flavors tasted like so I ordered a sample pack that came with 12 flavors. Here’s my thoughts on each.

Day 1: Apple Pie
Should really be called cinnamon apple as there’s no real crest flavor. Tastes good, texture is a little gritty. I would buy again.
Calories: 170
Fat: 5g
Carbs: 24g/6g active (non-fiber carbs)
Sodium: 290mg
Protein: 20g

Day 2: Banana Nut Muffin
I liked this better. It actually does taste like a banana nut muffin (well, as close as a protein bar could get). I would buy again.
Calories: 170
Fat: 5g
Carbs: 25g/5g active
Sodium: 350mg
Protein: 20g

Day 3: Mixed Berry Bliss
Before unwrapping, I had expected it to be about the color of a mixed berry smoothie—somewhere between red & purple. I therefore had expected it to taste bad, but it didn’t. Not sure why, but I ate it quicker than usual. I guess that’s means it was good! I would buy again on flavor, but I’m not sure I would based on the higher non-nut-butter fat & higher sodium count.
Calories: 200
Fat: 8g
Carbs: 22g/4g active
Sodium: 340mg
Protein: 20g

Day 4: Coconut Cashew
I’m not a huge fan of coconut, but this wasn’t too bad. Kind of tasted tropical. Although edible, I probably wouldn’t buy a full pack of them.
Calories: 170
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 24g/2g active
Sodium: 270mg
Protein: 20g

Day 5: Peanut butter & jelly
This sounded weird and it was. It was like a PBJ sandwich ground up and put into a bar. Won’t be buying again.
Calories: 210
Fat: 10g
Carbs: 21g/4g active
Sodium: 340mg
Protein: 20g

Day 6: Strawberry Cheesecake 
This was more strawberry-cream than cheesecake, but not bad. I’m not a huge fan of cheesecake but I suppose others would like it. Compared to the others, it’s on the lower side of calories, fat, sodium and active carbs.
Calories: 160
Fat: 5g
Carbs: 25g/2g active
Sodium: 105mg
Protein: 20g

Day 7: Cinnamon Roll
I thought this would be strange in a bar, but it was surprisingly good. You can actually taste frosting, even though it isn’t frosted. And, although not quite as good as the real thing, if you’r craving a cinnamon roll, this is a much heather alternative.
Calories: 170
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 24g/2g
Sodium: 300mg
Protein: 20g

Day 8: Chocolate Peanut Butter 
Who doesn’t like chocolate peanut butter? Almost tastes like a candy bar.
Calories: 160
Fat: 5g
Carbs: 22g/4g active
Sodium: 270mg
Protein: 20g

Day 9: Lemon Cream Pie
This kind of tasted like a lemon bar. It was good, but I’m not sure the flavor goes with the texture.
Calories: 170
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 25g/2g active
Sodium: 260g
Protein: 20g

Day 10: Vanilla Almond Crunch
Also good, but a little bland.
Calories: 200
Fat: 9g
Carbs: 22g/4g active
Sodium: 360mg
Protein: 20g

Day 11: Peanut Butter Supreme
Just peanut-butter. If you like peanut butter, you’ll like this for sure. On the higher side of fat, calories, sodium and active carbs. I’d eat as more of a treat every once and a while vs every day.
Calories: 200
Fat: 10
Carbs: 21g/4g active
Sodium: 340mg
Protein: 20g

Day 12: Chocolate Brownie
Since I had been eating these for months, I figured I’d save it for last to see if I liked it any better/worse after comparing the other flavors. After trying all the other flavors, I realized this wasn’t the best. It seems a little chewier than the rest however, if you leave it in a hot car for a while and let it soften up a bit, it tastes much better.
Calories: 170
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 24g/5g active
Sodium: 340mg
Protein: 20g

After my 12 day test, I ordered more of the Berry Bliss. Although not the healthiest, it stood out as tasting the best. I’ll probably switch it up each time now knowing which flavors are good. I’m also eager to try their new flavor that just came out, Double Chocolate Chunk!

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Two races in two weeks

Ok so first I need to confess, I’m really late posting this—been lazy about blogging lately…

This summer I competed in two sprint triathlons, two weekends in a row. Although having only one week in-between isn’t ideal, it wasn’t too bad. That said, neither were my best race.

Lake Metroparks Lighthouse Triathlon | Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fairport Tri 2013 by seanskisez

This was my second time competing in this race. I didn’t really take this race too seriously and didn’t prep as I should have. Usually I stay away from alcohol completely for a week prior to a race and I didn’t follow that rule this time. The Friday prior I had drank a little too much thinking it wouldn’t effect me. The night before I also ate dinner late & went to bed late. The race is about a 40 min drive from home and, of course, I was rushing to get there on time giving me almost no time to prep once I got there. Typically I like to get setup in the transition area, warm up, listen to music & mentally prepare for the race ahead—that didn’t happen. Standing at the starting line, I also started to feel dehydrated. I was already off to a bad start and the race hadn’t even started yet.

During the swim I felt overwhelmed and had to stop and catch my breath a few times. Thankfully there were spots I could stand as the course is just off the beach. I just couldn’t get my breathing pattern down right and I felt overwhelmed by the other competitors around me. This theme of just not feeling right continued throughout the race, although not as bad during the bike & run. I finished the race with a time of 1:35:21, much slower than last year’s time of 1:19:10.

Results (Time | Overall place out of 298 | age group (M 25-29) place out of 12)

(500M swim, 20K bike, 5K run)
Swim+T1 23:29 | 260 | 11
Bike+T2 44:43 | 151 | 10
Run 26:59 | 116 | 9
Overall 1:35:21 | 173 | 10
Full results

Cleveland Triathlon | Sunday, August 4, 2013

I’ve competed in the Cleveland tri five times now (2009 super sprint, sprint distance all other years). Disappointed by my swim in the Fairport tri, I was determined to enter the water confident and ready to race, so I dedicated a good amount of my training the week in between to swimming. It paid off! I placed 3rd in my age group (out of 14) in the swim & felt great. I got to the transition area early enough to warm up & prep for the race. I also made sure to get a good position from the start (as to avoid the starting line wrestling match in the water)! The bike went well too. I felt good the entire ride & finished a respectable 4th in my age group. Then it went down hill. I was feeling great up until the first few meters of the run. A sharp pain started in along the tibia on both of my legs. It continued through the entire run. I finished with a pace of 10:32/mi (my normal pace is around 7:30-8:30). I was able to work out the soreness after a day or two, but I still can’t pinpoint why it happened (which is the most frustrating part).

Aside from the run, I was generally happy with my race. My overall time was slower than last year on the same course (2012 > 1:33:03), but I’m sure I would have been at least close had it not been for the sharp pain in my legs.

Results (Time | age group (M 30-34) place out of 14)

(0.5mi swim, 16mi bike, 5K run)
Swim 10:21 | 3
T1 3:46
Bike 54:26 | 4
T2 2:33
Run 32:38 | 10
Overall 1:43:45 | 6
Overall place 50 out of 159
Full results

This season I suppose I just wasn’t as motivated as I had been in the past—and it showed in my performance. I think I’ve been a bit bored with tri-specific training & didn’t spend enough time doing it. I plan to compete in sprint triathlon & 100M freestyle swimming in Gay Games 9 when they come to Cleveland in August of 2014. I’m really looking forward to that competition & hoping to come back to tri training in a few months with a renewed motivation for the sport. A few weeks ago I started going to CrossFit and it’s been a great change of pace for me. I look forward to the workouts (even though they kick my ass!) and feel much more motivated to workout than I did prior.

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Supplements

Recent deaths have been linked to the pre-workout supplement Jack3d (pronounced “jacked”) which contains methylhexanamine, or DMAA. Jack3d is intended to give users more energy, motivation, focus and improved mental state while enabling them to lift more or just go harder. Although DMAA is currently legal to possess in the US, it is ban in some countries as well as the World Anti-Doping Agency. There are conflicting reports on whether or not DMAA is actually safe or not, and I’m certainly not an expert so I’m not going to pass judgement on it.

Jack3d
Jack3d

 

I have not taken Jack3d, but I have used the “fat burner” Oxyelite Pro when it contained DMAA, along with a good amount of caffeine. I took it during the day, not close to workouts, and it did provide a boost of energy and kinda made me feel warmer. I took it as directed and did not have any major side effects. Here are some less controversial supplements I’ve tried and how they worked for me.

Protein, Gatorade etc.
Protein, Gatorade etc.

 

Pre-workout
C4 Extreme & ACG3 – The former I received as a sample from GNC about a year ago and the latter I just tried today. I’m lumping them together because the had similar effects. Most notably they contain caffeine & creatine. Both gave me energy and helped me feel good throughout the workout. They both taste like concentrated Kool-Aid, which isn’t bad. I do have to make sure I don’t take too much (I’m small) otherwise I feel a little lightheaded and dehydrated. Otherwise in the right amounts, they work good for me. That said, I don’t use them often.

Gatorade 01 Pro Prime – This stuff is great prior to long endurance workouts. It has a good amount of carbs (30g – aka energy), which is good for prolong activity. My only complaint is that it’s kind of sugary and can mess with my stomach at times, but if I give enough time between taking it and working out, I’m fine. This is also my pre-race fuel. Otherwise, reserved for continuous endurance training lasting over an hour.

During workout
Gatorade 02 Pro Endurance Formula – Along with water, this is generally all I use while training or competing. I typically drink it more so during longer summer workouts when I’m sweating more and therefore need electrolyte replenishment. Compared to normal Gatorade, this has less sugar (and therefore calories, only 50/8oz serving) but more sodium and potassium. I get it in powder form so I can control the concentration. It’s also cheaper and more environmentally friendly versus buying individual bottles. I had come close to passing out due to dehydration during long summer workouts prior to using this (and just drinking water). Lemon-lime is my favorite flavor.

Water – Yep, plain old water is usually all that’s in my Camelbak, especially this time of year when I’m training at lower intensities and not loosing as many electrolytes through sweat. Your muscles also need water to grow. I try for no less than 8 cups per day—usually much more. Oh, and it should also be noted—no soda in my diet! During the day, it’s generally black coffee or water for me.

Post-workout
In general, protein has helped me increase strength and muscle mass by taking it post-strength workout. You could get just as much protein from the right food, but shakes are convenient. The right amount of protein is essential to build lean muscle. Lack of protein tells your body to store more carbs as fat (it goes into somewhat of a survival mode).

GNC AMP 60 – This is a blend of whey Isolates and hydrolysates. Although it worked fine, I realized that I don’t need 60 grams of protein in a supplement when factoring in the rest of my diet. A sports dietitian also told me I was taking in too much protein which could be stored as fat (I believe her words were “you’re not a body builder.”). Currently, I try for about 1g of protein per pound of body weight—which is still a bit more than she recommended.

GNC  AMP Recovery Protein XR – I started taking this because it had a more appropriate amount of protein for me + carbs for recovery. Then I realized, I didn’t need the extra carbs. After a workout, I’m hungry and typically eat food with carbs anyways.

ON 100% Whey Natural – This is what I currently use. It’s less expensive than the GNC brands, works just as well and has the right amount of protein for me (24g). The vanilla flavor isn’t the greatest, but it’s ok. I also like the fact that there are no artificial flavors or dies. Mix it with 6oz of organic skim milk for a little extra protein (6g) and better taste.  I will continue to buy this for the foreseeable future.

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