Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sponge Bob & Sports Nutrition??

Sports nutrition products are very effective. Since I started using powerbars for training and racing back in the late 1980's, I've always tried the latest and greatest to see how they work.

Now there are chews, gels, fizzy tablets, powders... you name it, creative and entrepreneurial minds have invented a way to package it, make it taste 'good' and get into your cycling jersey pocket for a mid-ride snack.

My favorite product lately has been 'chews', or 'chomps' or 'bites', depending on which manufacturer you prefer. Unlike a gel, they aren't messy and deliver a similar wallop of carbohydrate and electrolytes. I also like the sensation of chewing something more than I do 'drinking/eating' a gel.

So yesterday I was headed out on a ride and discovered I was out of my favorite 'chew' product. It was time to get creative, like MacGyver.

My daughters love fruit snacks and we have a couple boxes of them in the house for snack attacks. Dora and Sponge Bob rule our family entertainment time, so of course, we have Dora and Sponge Bob fruit snacks. I like them too actually... pretty tasty, and according to the box, not horribly bad for you. I mean, beeswax and 'red 40' color are listed in the ingredients along with some other chemical compounds I can't pronounce, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed these are safe and won't make my kids turn into the shape of their fruit snacks.

Upon further investigation, I find that each pouch has 90 calories, 21 gr of carbohydrate and 40 mg of sodium, not to mention 20% USRDA of Vitamin C and is gluten free. Bingo! A convenient substitute for my normal sports performance chews and probably better for me than twizzlers or tootsie rolls. I took a few packages and had one per hour during my 3-hour ride (along with water), and felt fine. As a bonus, they tasted good too.

I'm not recommending that you give up your favorite training nutrition and replacing it with Sponge Bob (oohhh... who lives in a pineapple under the sea....) fruit snacks... but if needed, they'll do in a pinch!

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Race Reports - Tempe International and Memphis in May

The 2010 tri season is now underway! I have to admit, I am really enjoying the feeling of racing again. Although I've spectated (as a coach) at dozens of races over the past decade, I have not been a participant on the race scene since 2005 (when I did a couple Ironmans 'for the fun of it'). My last serious year of focused training and competition was 2003, when I did several short course races in the Mid Atlantic. Before that, I hung up the ole racing flats in 2000, my last year with a pro card when I decided I had a enough of the sport as a competitor due to burnout and 'life' stuff.

Now I'm almost 41 and life has me back in tri-geek mode and starting to remember what I missed when not racing. I decided awhile ago that 2010 would be the year to get back into race mode and 2011 to near my potential as a Masters athlete. 'Race mode' is that almost unexplainable physical, emotional and mental state where you feel strong, fast and can tolerate high levels of discomfort. In this state, you also engineer your life to accommodate your fitness gains by eating better, trying to rest more and train with a greater sense of focus. It's awesome to be in that zone again.

I've raced two triathlons so far this year, over the past two weekends, in my attempt to shake the rust off. The first was the Tempe International Triathlon (Arizona) and the second was the storied Memphis in May Triathlon (TN)... both 'C' races on the scale of priority.

Tempe was a great intro back to the sport. A well run race at a great venue (Tempe Towne Lake), this race attracts a top Arizona field of athletes. My lead up to the race was less than ideal as we shot a new virtual reality video of the Irondistance bike course the day before which had me on the bike for half the day baking in the AZ sun, but the race went well nonetheless. I had some minor hiccups on race day due to my 'rust', including difficulty in transition, tweaking my bike position on my new Kestrel and simply learning how to pace myself again... but that's what first races of the year are all about... debugging the system. I finished a solid 3rd OA in under 2:02 and was pleased... feeling stronger already.

This past weekend , I did the Memphis in May Triathlon, a long standing popular Olympic distance race. It always attracts a strong National caliber field of age groupers and pros, so it's a really good test. The time trial start was interesting, as 1500 or so athletes went off in 3 sec. increments. The conditions of the day were horrific with temps in the 90's and humidity to match.... people were dropping like flies at the finish line. Again, I had some early season rustiness, including difficulty getting into my shoes on the bike and almost falling over followed by cramps in my hamstrings on the hot, hilly run... but did ok with a 1:55:30 finish and winning the Masters division against a tough bunch of competitors.

This week is a recovery week after two weekends of hard racing. My aging body needs it... as it feels sore and tired as it absorbs the new intensity only experienced on the race course. My next race is Eagleman Ironman 70.3 in mid-June... a race I won 3-times back "in the day" (mid-late 1990's). I don't have any illusions of winning or even placing in the top tier for that matter, but I am hoping that I can continue to shake the rust off and have a respectable finishing time compared to when I was 28. We'll see!

In the meantime, I'm enjoying my little 'comeback' and I'm really jazzed about the sport. I find that many age group athletes who focus on long course typically neglect doing short course races... and I think that's a mistake. Remember to race yourself in to your best form and to build some speed. Not to mention the fact you'll enjoy your training and the sport even more, having fun with short term race goals throughout the year.

That's all for now... thanks for reading. See you at the races!!

- Coach Troy