While whole foods are a great source of nutrition, but they are not always easy to carry along for a long workout or race. I think a more convenient option is to have a combination of whole foods in an easier to carry package. A great example of this would be Amrita Bars.
Amrita Bars are made with non-GMO and mostly organic ingredients that are identifiable with your own eyes. There are no artificial ingredients and they are the perfect balance of nutrients you need to get your through your race.
One option would be to keep some of the whole foods options, like the ones recommended in this article, in your special needs bag as a little something different to fuel you through the second half of the bike or the run.
Anyway here are some ideas for other whole food alternatives…
Ahhh the old love-hate relationship with tapering continues. While greatly anticipated, this break in training and the general feeling of malaise that comes along with it I did not. I guess you can’t have everything.
The Ironman Lawn…
I was finally able to get my lawn looking somewhat manicured with some extra time on my hands now. I had been cutting the front mostly so that it at least looked well kept from the street. The back was another story. I had cut a few sections so the dog could go do his thing, but most of it had grown so high it was going to seed. When my dog ventured into that territory I would see him occasionally jump high into the air as of the long strands brush up against his belly. Kind of entertaining.
Training-wise things were actually going pretty well. The somewhat shortened workouts had high intensity and I felt good while I was doing them. I had one of my best tempo run workouts of the season on Wednesday with a solid 7:50 pace in Zone 3.
FTP Test Gone Bad…
I had a 3 hour bike planned for Saturday, but I decided to break it up into a 1 hour FTP test on the trainer followed by a two hour easy ride on the road. I wanted to get an accurate assessment of FTP before my race. I felt it was also a good time between resting a bit and race to do it. I was hoping for a little improvement over last year(253 watts), but what I got at the end was nothing like I could have expected.
Obviously a bug in the TrainerRoad iPad app. Despite this issue I was able to calculate my FTP to be around 248 watts based on this test. A little depressing that I lost 5 watts, but really 5 watts isn’t that big a deal really. Perhaps it will help me to chill a bit on the bike. The main reason I wanted to do the FTP test was so I could plug in accurate number on Best Bike Split and get an idea of my race plan for the bike leg. It looks like it will be just a smidge slower than my bike leg last year at Lake Placid. You can check it out here if you are interested…
Bon Voyagey Bike…
On Sunday I had to take my bike down to Keswick Cycle in Glenside to drop it off for the TriBike Transport pickup on Tuesday. I finished up some last minute maintenance, did a final cleaning and removed the pedals. I also ordered the additional gear bag option too, so I loaded a duffle bag with my wetsuit, aero helmet, spare tubs and some tools. The TBT website said only pack aero helmet if in a hard case, so I put it in a cardboard box with some extra packaging materials too. Hopefull that should be ok. I filled out a couple forms at the shop and handed my bike over to the guy at the shop. Bon Voyagey! See you in Coeur d’Alene!
I stopped at a nearby Chipotle for lunch before heading to Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting for our monthly stock-up on organic, frozen fruit. WF was rather crowded, so I was happy to get out of there.
I still needed to do a 1-2 hour run when I got home. It was brutally hot & humid and I was really not into it, so I decided to just run on the treadmill. I tried to load up this FitTrip app on my iPad which shows point-of-view(POV) trail running videos coordinated to your heart rate. Well it didn’t work so well. Downloading the videos took forever and then when they finished it would pop up a message saying it failed! WTF! I eventually got one to download successfully and then it would not connect to my HRM using the ANT+ dongle. Ugh!
I finally gave up and just watched some similar videos on YouTube which worked fine. I had unfortunately wasted a bunch of time trying to get that working. I ended with only about a 7 mile easy run, but I figured that was good enough.
Geekin’ Out on Training
Training volume this week was basically chopped in half. Still managed to miss one of my 3 strength training workouts though. No sense is cramming now right?!
A few red marks on the old HRV training guide this week. Body is recovering a bit so this is expected. Hopefully next week things will pick up a bit.
The PMC chart shows the plan for the taper. The pink line dropping is the fatigue withering away with the form(yellow) increasing. Fitness(CTL in blue) declines a little bit, but it will be worth it.
The HRV timeline took a bit of a nose dive during this first week of taper. It make sense since I felt a little crappy. Things ended on a high note on Monday AM so it looks like recovery/taper is working. Hope that continues until race day.
That’s all for this week. Next week things should get easier and hopefull start feeling great again.
I am going to double up here on the last two weeks of build before my 3 week taper into Ironman Coeur d’Alene. It has been a pretty brutal 2 weeks since I really never had a full recovery week since about 5 weeks ago. I did a couple little 3 day recovery before and after the Todd Wiley Lake Placid camp, but still managed a decent training load for the weekend in between. Despite all this I have been feeling pretty good. A few of my longer workouts were in some pretty hot and humid temperatures and were obviously affected. My performances during the workouts when the weather was cooler surely made up for it.
Swims…I am still using the Finis Tempo Trainer and feeling pretty settled at around 68-70 spm. This is up from around 58-60 when I started using this tool early on in the season. My paces have picked up along with it and I am hoping this carries over to a few minutes gained in my 2.4 mile swim. I did both of my LSD swims at around 1:13 for just under 4000 yards. Given that this is without a wetsuit and no flip turns I think I could manage this time in Ironman which would be a 4 minute improvement over the last two years.
Biking…I have been averaging around 145 miles/9 hours a week on the bike for both weeks. My long rides on the weekends were just over 90 miles long running about 5:30-5:50 depending on the terrain. Most of my weeknight rides were steady state rides in zone 2-3, but I did manage to get one good hill repeat ride in on some of my favorites hills: Dogwood & Centennial!
My long ride on May 20th started out a little rough when a large flying insect fly directly into my mouth while cruising along at around 20mph. Ouch! It partially lodged itself into my mouth since it was partially open. I had to actually spit the thing out and it tasted like crap too! My lip
immediately swelled up to what felt like having a gumball in my lip. Judging for the picture I guess it didn’t look quite as bad as it felt though. I didn’t know what kind of bug it was and wasn’t sure if it stung me or that was just the impact of it on my lip that hurt. Eventually, the swelling subsided and my lip resumed to its normal size again. Why do I always get pelted with creatures when I am riding?
I followed the Dream Come True(DCT) route for the start of my long bike ride June 6. This is a nice somewhat challenging route with a little over 4000′ of climbing over 64 miles. This ride was also not without some wildlife incident as well. While cruising a downhill section of backroad that contained some overgrown shoulder a large doe popped out immediately in front of me broadside. I made some kind of grunt or yell as I came within about 10 feet of the animal and it quickly dashed out of my way. Another close call. Not too long after that I came across a lone fawn standing in the road. He scampered in down the road, heading in the same direction, for a bit before he darted up the steep bank. He was pretty young and no mother to be seen.
Runs…My Sunday long runs consisted of a 21 and 20 miler respectively. The 21 miler was a hot & humid one that I did 4 loops of the Ironton Rail Trail(IRT). The IRT is pretty shaded which helped defer some of the defer some of the sunlight but it was still a hot one. I ended up averaging around a 10:00/mi for the run. The next week I ran at the Lehigh Parkway and it was about 10 degrees(F) cooler and much less humidity. The Parkway is also pretty shaded but has about twice the elevation gain as the IRT. Due to the more temperate climate I was able to average a 9:30 pace over the 20 miles while maintaining a Zone 2 heart rate. More on track with what I would like to do at Ironman this year and a good note to finish on before my taper.
Heart Rate Variability(HRV)
My HRV has remained fairly steadily in the 70’s during this last two weeks. I have been flirting with the low recovery and low activation ranges most of the time, but still in the “ok to keep going area”. This is pretty much expected from where I am at this point. I should be overreaching a bit at this point, with a good 3 week taper coming up.
Compared to Last Year…
Comparing this years training on the Training Peaks Performance Management Chart to last year looks fairly similar. You can see that the last month or so of this year(top chart) I have incurred a bit more fatigue(pink link) with consecutive build weeks and no full recovery week in between. My Fitness(CTL in Blue) has steadily risen to a value of around 112 during my last build week, whereas last year I was up to 120 or so.
If you are a follower of this blog, you probably already know that Amrita Bars have been the foundation of my nutrition for the last couple years. I use them before, during and after races, as well as anytime I need some healthy, real food nutrition. They taste amazing and are extremely healthy. They are plant-based, nut-free, dairy-free, non-GMO and soy-free. They are also a great snack for kids, especially with nut or dairy allergies.
When I first started competing in longer course triathlons, I started getting a very nauseous feeling in my stomach at the end of races due to all the sugary, highly processed gels and gu’s that most people seem to eat. I knew their had to be a better way and started researching things a bit. I read Allen Lim’s book “Feed Zone Portables” and learned about how the cyclists on “The Tour” were having great success with “real” food nutrtion. But, the pro cycling teams had their own chef preparing these for them. With all my training and working would I have time to cook and prep all my training and race nutrition too?
Then one day in February of 2013, I was strolling through the Endurance Sport Expo near Valley Forge, PA and came upon a very sparsely decorated booth. In the booth stood a lone fellow with a brightly colored “Amrita” banner and a bunch of Ziploc bags full of some nutrition bars. His name was Arshad and he was the owner of the company. I tried a couple samples and was immediately impressed. Since going to a plant-based diet 9 months prior, I knew finding any healthy plant-based nutriton was not easy, so I was extremely stoked to find something like this that tasted so good. These bars were so real you could even identify the ingredients of these bars by sight which is not common these days.
Arshad graciously sold me a bag full of all his different flavored bars for only the $10 I had in my pocket(I think they were normally $12-15). I immediately knew this was the magic bullet to my nutrition problem. It was convenient, healthy, real food that I could easily take along in a race or training.
The real test was whether it would work in a race. I tested them in a couple local olympic and half-Ironmans and it worked perfectly. Going into my first Ironman in Lake Placid 2013 I had full confidence that they would work perfectly for me. And they did! I saw many other athletes suffering from GI issues during the later stages of that race from all the artificial and sugary race nutrition that seems to dominate races. I have still not had any issues after finishing two of Ironmans using this product.
So, when Arshad contacted me about joining his Amrita Ambassador team there wasn’t much hesitation in my response. I have always been outspoken about this product and I will continue to do so and spread the word. I am pretty honored too to be listed among some amazing athletes as well. I am defintely not the fastest or most-gifted athlete, but I work hard to try to perform as best as I can and continue to improve. Amrita Bars are key to my progress.
If you are interested in trying these bars or if you already have and want some more, use coupon code “britri15” to 15% off nutrition products over at Amrita Health Foods.
It is hard to believe that one year ago I was first posting my experiment with a whole foods, plant-based diet. Now here I sit one year later and I am still doing it with the same, if not more, fervor that I did back then. Many things have changed during that time which I can firmly credit to this change in lifestyle. I have no intentions of going back to my old ways of eating. Here are the reasons why…
Weight Management. I have been able to more easily maintain a healthy weight and body fat % throughout the entire year. I have been at same weight I was in high school for the last year. This is regardless of whether I am training a lot or taking it easy in the off-season and over the holidays when I typically gain back about 20 lbs.
No Calorie Counting. Maintaining a healthy weight has also been done without the need to log all my food eaten and counting of calories as I have done in the past to maintain weight. This had always been so time-consuming and as soon as I grew tired of doing it, the weight came back instantly. Now I just eat. As long as it is healthy and as close to possible to its original form and not processed I can eat and be happy.
Food is More Nourishing. Eating food closer to its original form provides you with the most essential nutrients you can get. Now eating until you are satisfied takes on a new meaning. Now it is not just that your stomach being packed to maximum density to indicate being satiated, it is more of your body feels properly nourished by all the essential nutrients to properly function. It is a different kind of “full” feeling. One you will never get eating over-processed foods devoid of the essential nutrients and abundant with chemicals.
Consistent Energy Levels. I used to have the usual afternoon crash around 2-3pm and the trip down to the company café for a afternoon caffeine jolt was becoming far too routine. This was mostly due to all the over-processed carbs and sugar which would spike insulin levels causing the lethargy of the afternoon. Now without these types of foods and more whole, vegetables and legumes for lunch I am able to keep an even keel through out the day.
High Volume Training Performance. Last summer I trained from 8 up to 17 hours a week of training until September when I completed my final race. This year I have been consistently training from 10 up to 16 hours(so far, more to come) since the end of January(~5 months). I have been able to do this training without any issues or major fatigue and still perform at my best. I have logged 3 personal best times at races at one Olympic and half-iron distances.
Post-Training Energy.This is somewhat related to the High Volume Training Performance above, but after training daily for anywhere from 2 to 6 hours I am still able to function normally with the day-to-day tasks.Previously going for a 4 hour bike ride or a 2.5 hour run on the weekend would put me down napping on the sofa napping for the rest of the afternoon. Now I come home and can be out cutting the grass or other household chores, then out for a some dinner with friends. I do have to admit though, when 10pm rolls around my head is bobbing.
Daily Workout Recovery. Despite long, intense workouts everyday, I am able to get up the next day refreshed and ready to take on that days workout. This is especially evident on the weekends when after doing a 4 hour or longer bike ride and brick run on a Saturday, then follow it up on Sunday with a half-marathon or longer distance run. Looking at my weekly average Heart Rate Variablility(HRV), which is a measure of autonomic nervous system, shows that I am actually increasing my HRV as my training volume increases getting closer to Ironman Lake Placid. HRV is a measure from 0 to 100 with higher score means you are adapting better to whatever stress you are placing on your body. For more on that, read this previous post on HRV.
Race Performance Improvements. In 2012, I improved my time in the Half Ironman distance by just over 5 minutes on a much more difficult course(Ironman 70.3 Muskoka) than the previous years race(IM Miami 70.3). This year, I was able to once again improve all other previous results in the Half-Ironman distance again on a even more difficult course at Rev3 Quassy by another 8 minutes. This adds up to over 13 minutes in improvement overall. Hopefully this also translates into my 1st full distance Ironman Lake Placid results in July.
Biometric Testing Improvements
LDL: 48 point drop(-30%)
Triglycerides: 37 point drop(-40%)
Total Chol: 59 point drop(-25%)
Systolic: –12 mmHg (136 –> 124)
Diastolic: –14 mmHg (94 –> 80)
Cooking More. Since I am eating less processed foods, I am now forced to do more cooking. It seems that in today’s too busy culture no one cooks anymore. This is pretty sad, since cooking is a therapeutic activity that increases your creativity and your knowledge.
I am sure there is more advantages to this lifestyle change that I have overlooked, but this are the biggest ones in my mind.
My eyes peeled open around 4:15am. 15 minutes before my alarm went off. I was happy to have gotten a full nights sleep and feeling pretty fresh. I rolled out of bed and started preparing my pre-race breakfast in the little microwave in our hotel room. Granola with coconut milk, a banana and a cup of Tazo “Awake” black tea. I tried to be quiet and not disturb my wife, but everything seemed so loud. Eventually she awoke.
I had everything prepared the night before, so it was pretty easy to get ready. Just had to eat and get dressed. I did need to make two trips to the car since I had accumulated a bunch of gear from the car. I was happy to see other triathletes vehicles still in the parking lot when I got out there, confirming I was not totally late. We were out of the room by 5:30. The transition area at Rev3 Quassy closed at 6:30am and a half hour drive there gave me a full 30 minutes to get my transition area prepped. There wasn’t much to do really since my bike was already there and I body marked myself already. We had made good time getting there until we made the turn onto the last road into Quassy which backed up 1 mile from the park. Fortunately it moved pretty quickly and we were there in no time. Some people got out of there cars and started walking to the race entrance and their cars actually passed them. By the time we got to the entrance they were re-directing everyone to the overflow lot across the street. Denise dropped me off and I made my way into transition.
I got to my spot and quickly set everything up. I put socks in bike shoes this time, which I don’t normally do, but I thought it may be a good idea with the heat. I also opted for the standard bike helmet as opposed to the aero helmet, to keep a little cooler. The aero helmet will not provide that much benefit on a hilly course like this. I also put my sunscreen pump bottle there too so I could lather up a bit. I carried my wetsuit and swim stuff out of transition with me since I had over an hour until my wave, the last wave of the day. No sense getting heated up that early. I headed over to the Quassy ticket booth to wait for Denise and chowed down one of my PB&J Rice cakes(from Skratch Labs Feed Zone Portables cook book. Yum!). I tried texting Denise but the cell waves were quite congested and the message never got through. I resent as a text message and waited. By now the toilet was a calling so I jumped in line for the Port-O-John. They were well stocked and lines were not too long, so I was in there pretty quickly. Much better than the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon and Steelman Tri last year.
I still had not received any response from Denise after emptying out my digestive system, so I went back to waiting. Eventually I got a text back from her and spotted her immediately. She didn’t see me, so I had a little fun texting her while walking right behind her. LOL. We headed over to the beach area and watched the pros and initial age group waves take off. They had a area designated for swim warm-up, so people were swimming away while other waves were going out. Pretty nice. I decided to suit up and head in for a warm-up swim. Water was really nice temp, which they said was around 72 deg F. I was feeling pretty good in the warm-up and the lake was really nice for swimming.
Before I knew it they were calling my wave, so I headed over to the starting coral. We then proceeded over the timing sensor into the coral. I lined up right in the middle of the pack on the right, inner buoy side. I have no idea why I lined up here cause I am usually a back, outside kinda guy avoiding the craziness. Today I for some reason chose to get “in the mix”. Perhaps I am feeling a bit guilty about missing out on the mass swim start at Lake Placid due to the recent swim start changes. The countdown started and then we were off. It was a little hectic getting started but things eventually settled out. As I was spotting the buoys I also glanced for some open water too. I did end up getting a little drafting in with some other swimmers which may have helped my time a bit.
Everything was good until I made the first turn, then it was straight on sun right in the eyes trying to spot the buoys. I could not see anything straight ahead of me except swimmers immediately ahead of me. I thought I could follow them but that is not always a good idea. I remembered that they said that the paddleboarders would be on the inside and kayakers on the outside, so I just kept them at a certain distance a side of me and knew I was good. I got into a nice rhythm and was feeling amazingly good. I really focused on my swim technique and started kicking more than usual. I also really worked on my body rotation to get a little extra torque.
Before I knew it I was at the last turn towards shore. At this time I started getting a gas fume smell or taste from the boats. It was really foul. I also was getting blasted from the sun again, but this time on the left side. I focused on closing my eyes when I breathed to the left side and also took double breaths on the right side. I was starting to see all kinds of psychedelic trails now from the sun glare. Pretty wild. Next I was grabbing sand in my hand and was up and out of the water. I spotted my wife right away and headed over her way while I started unzipping my wetsuit. I forgot to hit the lap button on my watch until in transition and it was reading 34 mins and change…holy crap! That would be my fastest 1.2 mile swim ever. Officially it was 32:45.
Transition was pretty uneventful. I managed to get my socks on without issue and ditching my wetsuit went well too. I made my clackety-clack walk to the other side of transition to head out on the bike. Denise was standing at the turn so I ambled over towards her to have a quick chat as I mounted the bike. She told me to “enjoy those hills!” as I left. “Thanks!” I replied. The course started out with a slight downgrade and I took full advantage of it. I wanted to get my heart rate down since it is always red-lining coming out of T1. We made the first right turn and then it was steady upgrade from there. The course was always either up or down, there was nothing flat for any length of time. My plan, with help from my coach, was to spin easy up the hills and bomb the downhills. I think I did that pretty well. I really tried to let it fly on the downhills keeping in a tuck position and trying not to hit the brakes. I only did so a couple times when I wasn’t sure what was around the next bend. Knowing the course more would have really helped there I think.
The course was very hilly to say the least, but I really liked it. I was enjoying just spinning past people going up those hills. Many people were laboring to breath and I felt like I had mammoth lungs or something. Nutrtion-wise I just kept nibbling away at my Cha Cha Cha ChiaChunks of Energy the whole ride. They are packed with nutrition and don’t give you that rot gut like all the over-processed crap does. I also drank my Hammer Perpetuem too, but I am not sold on that as a single nutrition source. Makes me feel very full. I also was drinking my Skratch Labs hydration drinks and water very consistently. I really feel like I did everything right on the bike. I was hoping to be around 3 hours, but with a course much tougher than Ironman 70.3 Muskoka, 3:11 is not too bad. I did slow down a bit towards the end just to give my legs some reprieve before the run started.
T2 went pretty smoothly as well. I was starting to feel some sunburn on my shoulders so I layered on another coating of sunscreen. Fuel belt, run bib belt and shoes and off on the run. My plan was to head out on a steady pace for the first couple miles until the legs acclimate. Today it took about 3 miles for that happen, which ironically was right as the hills started up. We basically headed out the same way as we did on the bike, but eventually made a different turn. I got into a steady run around 8:00-8:30 pace. I thought I would be able to pick things up a bit, but little did I know how tough this run would be. The worst part was the hill from around mile 3.5 to 5. It was unforgiving to say the least. Just up and up and up again. Not only that it was dirt road which made it worse. I have not seen that many people walking since I was volunteered on the run course at Lake Placid last year. It really made it tougher to keep running when you see people that look much more fit than yourself walking.
I did end up walking the aid stations after that big hill. It sucked the life out of me. Walking the aid stations also gave me a chance to get all the hydration I could in and put some ice in my hat. It is amazing how much help that is to get you going again. My legs were really feeling it and I was battling in my head to keep on running. I kept thinking to myself how this is good practice for LP in controlling the mind. If I can do it here I can do it in LP. There was one guy, who was running near me and we kept passing each other. We would then push the other one when one was walking. It made such a huge difference to have that support. We ended up finishing right next to each other and he definitely helped me get there and I hope I did the same for him.
Eventually some relief came with a bit of downhills, but they were never real long as there was always a little up interspersed every so often. The worst part was at around mile 9.5 the course went right by the finish before heading out for another 4 miles. How cruel!! The only good thing was the encouragement from some spectators and seeing my wife. But then it was out away from the finish and the hills started up again. The last one was really steep too and it was all I could do to keep from walking. Eventually I caved in to the grade. At the last aid station I grabbed a cup of Coke(the only time I will drink Coke) and some water for a last blast of energy to get me home. As I neared the finish, I could feel the feet picking up again and then all the pain is quickly forgotten. Sort of.
As I entered the finishing chute, I spotted my wife with iPhone camera in hand. I headed over for a high five and then high fived the announcer guy too as I made my way to the finish line. The clock said around 6:47 and I thought “oh crap, I am over 6 hours!” figuring my wave left at 7:45, but realized we were probably late so I had no idea. My watch was saying 5:57 so was a bit disappointed at first. I never saw my official finish time until we were part way home and realized I had a new half-iron distance PR of 5:54, which really made me happy. Also, 2:05 run on a hilly course like that is not too bad for me.
Crossing the finish line I was draped with a icy cold Gatorade towel over my shoulders which was the best thing I ever. It felt so refreshing. I was pretty spent. That was a tough course no doubt. I was also given a finishers ribbon that would have made a rapper jealous. I usually hang those things on my night stand light, but this thing will surely pull the light off. I met up with Denise and we headed over so I could get some food. As we walked over, I spotted a couple people wallowing in what looked like cow troughs. Oh man…Ice bath!!! The water looked disgusting and actually had a oil slick of sunscreen on the top, but I didn’t care. One dude sitting in one said it is gross but feels amazing! I hopped on it and it really did feel good. A girl next me had her friends filling up a cup for her with a pitcher of beer and my wife caught me staring at it. Denise then quietly snuck away to get me one while I chatted with the guy next to me. When she realized they only had Miller Lite she nixed that idea.
After the ice bath, I headed over to the food. They had lots of pasta that looked so good. They even had veggie burgers which I was pretty psyched about. Thankfully the lady behind me asked about them cause they were not readily visible. While standing in line I realized that they had Corona bottled beer so I ended up getting one and it tasted some good. We then headed over to transition, packed up my stuff and made our way home.
This was a true test of my fitness for Lake Placid. Although it was brutally tough, I come away with some confidence for Lake Placid and new 70.3 PR. The other notable thing was that this was my 1-year anniversary of switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet and I am feeling better than ever. The run at Lake Placid is twice the distance, but the hills I feel are more manageable. I still have a lot more training to go, so I know that will only add to the fitness that I already have. Thanks Rev3 Quassy and bring on Ironman Lake Placid!
One of the best side effects of becoming a triathlete for me has been the dietary changes it has prompted me to make. For years I have always struggled with “yo-yo” dieting and the weight fluctuations that come with that. Counting calories and cutting out macro nutrients(fat, carbs, protein) works for a little while, but they are not sustainable over the long haul. The fact is your body needs a balanced intake of all of those nutrients to properly function. By pushing your body’s limitations through triathlon or any endurance sport, you are eventually forced to take a new perspective on the food you eat. Food is looked at more as a fuel to get you through those long or intense workouts and less as some short-lived taste. Continue reading →