This was not my first triathlon, and definitely not my first endurance race, but it was my first Ironman 70.3. I knew signing up for this race last summer that I wanted to make the jump from Sprint and Olympic triathlons to the half Ironman races. At that point I had already competed in Obstacle Course Races that lasted for 24 hours, so I knew my body can take the beating. Rather than inundate you with you 10 months of training in and out of the off-season I’m going to provide a snap shot from the past six weeks of my training and nutrition.
My training is designed and monitored by Coach Jon “Mace” Mason , owner and head coach at MPMultisport out of Fort Collins, Colorado. I signed on with Mace last April after I finished my first Olympic distance at SuperSeal 2016, and quickly realized I needed a professional to guide me in this new multi-sport. I have many fitness certifications, and an endurance background, but triathlons are a different animal all together. Each week I provide Mace a snapshot of what my week looks like, and he then populates TrainingPeaks (triathlon training program) with my week’s workouts. The data from these workouts are recorded by a few different mediums: my Garmin 910XT multi-sport watch, Garmin Edge 1000 cycling computer, TrainerRoad (web or computer application based cycling workout program), and occasionally I use ZWIFT (web based virtual cycling program). I complete my run, cycling, swimming, and strength/mobility workouts and they are recorded into Training Peaks where I comment on them, and Mace provides me with professional feedback. We track everything from heart rate and pacing, to Power. He then tailors my workouts to ensure my fitness improves to our goals, without my fatigue going too low resulting in injury or illness from overtraining.
Week 1 (20 Feb - 26 Feb 2017)
This week consisted of 6 hours and 30 min of total training volume:
Swimming - 52 minutes for 3,100 yards
Cycling - 3hrs and 49 minutes for 52.77 miles
Running - 1hr and 9 minutes for 8.87 miles
Strength / Mobility Training - 35 minutes
I had one race during that week, which was the "Race on the Base" in Los Alamitos, CA. This was a reverse triathlon with a 200y pool swim at the end vice the beginning. Sorry there are no pictures, because the whole family raced, and I refuse to buy the Commercially overpriced low-quality photos. I ran the 5K in 19:02, the 13 mile bike in 35:28, and the 200y pool swim in 4:56. I placed 5th in my Age Group, 12th in Gender, and 13th overall out of 407 participants. I ran this race the previous year in 2016, and had a 8 minute and 30 second personal record at this 2017 race. My total finish time was 1:02:05. This race was also the first race of 2017 for me, and my new triathlon bike, “The Black Horizon.” I affectionally call the bike that for what it represents to me. It was my 2017 Marine Corps retirement gift to myself. I’ll provide the details on that a little later. I told myself last year I would not buy a TT bike until I signed up for a 70.3. Last summer I bit the bullet and signed up for Oceanside 70.3, which meant I needed more nutrition clients to save up the funds to pay for this new ride. I’m thankful for the OCR community for signing on with me over the past year to help fund my triathlons. Well part of it anyways.
My food intake average for calories and macros was 2,567kcal, 369g Carbs (57.5%), 83g Fat (29.1%), and 86g Protein (13.4%). At a weight of 66.81kg this meant I consumed 5.5g Carbs p/kg BW (per kilogram of Body weight), 1.24g of Fat p/kg BW, and 1.28g of Protein p/kg BW. I consumed a lower volume of carbs, because the predominate amount of training that week was low-intensity or skill based exercises and the aim was to keep the carbs between 3-5g p/kg BW. The race was a C race, and represented just another training workout, but I did increase my carbs to a 575g on Friday the day before the race, which represented 8.60g p/kg of BW. Not really carb loading the day prior, but more of a top off. In the morning I ate 101g (1.51g p/kg BW) of carbs about 2 hours prior to the race. It was more than adequate for a very short race that last an hour.
The majority of my food, with the exception of an occasional yogurt and dining out while traveling was all meals made from scratch. Each Sunday I create my menu for the week based on the needs of the family, scheduling, and my workouts. This is recorded into my FitnessPal where I balance it out for my needs, and then I generate a grocery list for only the foods that need to be purchased. Some of these include par stock items, meaning those items that I like to have a certain quantity always on hand for recipes. Through out the week I consumed whole grains each day consisting of brown rice, wheat berries, rolled oats, or whole grain bread. Dairy typically consisted of non-fat plain yogurt or greek yogurt, silken or extra-firm tofu, and a variety of cheeses. Sometimes milk included in recipes. Though a lot of my calcium actually came from low-oxalate vegetables and black strap molasses used in recipes. Each day I had 3-4 servings of fruit, typically a variety including: bananas, tangerines, peaches, figs, grapes, strawberries, and blackberries or raspberries. I had 3-4 servings of vegetables a day consisting of potatoes, lettuce, a variety of beans, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, and yams. My fats came from a variety of nuts, oils, seeds, and avocados. A lot of my protein was the aggregate total of my food, but some additional protein sources came from tofu, salmon, dairy, and eggs. My Certificate of Training in Vegetarian Nutrition from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics definitely helped plan a part in how I designed my meals with the emphasis on plants first.
Week 2 (27 Feb - 5 March 2017)
This week consisted of 9 hours and 51 min of total training volume:
Swimming - 1hr and 38 minutes for 5,671 yards
Cycling - 4hrs and 2 minutes for 63.8 miles
Running - 3hrs and 1 minutes for 22.9 miles
Strength / Mobility Training - 1hr and 10 minutes
For food intake my average calories and macros for the week: 2,938kcal, 395g Carbs (53.8%), 102g Fat (31.2%), and 110g Protein (15%). This week my weight reduced to 65.9kg, this means I consumed 5.99g Carbs p/kg BW, 1.54g of Fat p/kg BW, and 1.67g of Protein p/kg BW. My carb intake was beginning to increase to compensate for the increase in training volume and duration of workouts and intensity. My carbs were now aiming to be between 5-7g p/kg BW. The protein is reflective of athlete who is building strength and needs to recover. I ate on average 5-6x per day, and ensured that my protein was distributed throughout the day to be between 15-25g of protein per meal or snack to maintain protein synthesis evenly throughout the day. Research has shown that optimal protein synthesis occurs between 15-30g of protein, and it is better to spread it out throughout the day. The quality of my food was about the same as the week prior, however I began to add more grains, whole wheat pastas, more vegetables to each day, and started to supplement my long rides with Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem and Recoverite. This would also be the last week I ate Rubios during training. They are great food and very well made, but the sodium content was too high no matter what I ordered.
Week 3 (6 March - 12 March 2017)
This week consisted of 6 hours and 57 min of total training volume:
Swimming - 2hr and 27 minutes for 6,627 yards
Cycling - 1hrs and 46 minutes for 32.5 miles
Running - 2hrs and 4 minutes for 16.5 miles
Strength / Mobility Training - 40 minutes
I had one race this week, which was a fun run for St. Patrick’s day. I told some friends I’d dress up with them in costume to run a 10k race. As you can see from the picture I wore a costume kilt, a hat, and bowtie. Believe it or not it was very difficult to run in that outfit, at least at the pace I was use to running. I completed it with the costume intact (minus the bowtie, which was choking me during the run) in 41:41 at a 6:40 min/mile average. After recieving my finisher medal I ran a cool down mile before routing back to watch my wife and friends finish.
For food intake my average calories and macros for the week: 3,284kcal, 427g Carbs (52%), 120g Fat (32.9%), and 124g Protein (15.1%). At 65.9kg, this means I consumed 6.48g Carbs p/kg BW, 1.82g of Fat p/kg BW, and 1.88g of Protein p/kg BW. Although my training volume was lower this week I continued to increase my carbs, but still stay between the 5-7g p/kg BW. This was partial to build on the training I was doing and that was coming. Each day was balanced with macros, and good quality food. Though I did eat out on four of the days, and each day it cost me at the end of the day resulting in very high sodium intake. As an endurance athlete we often think we need high sodium to replenish the loss in our sweat, and where that is true during the activity it does not grant freedom to eat a high sodium diet. After this week I realized some of my favorite places to eat out were adding up too high in sodium. I needed to take a closer to look at what I was eating, and the choices I intended to make before dining out.
Week 4 (13 March - 19 March 2017)
This week consisted of 9 hours and 29 min of total training volume:
Swimming - 2hr and 2 minutes for 7,181 yards
Cycling - 4hrs and 7 minutes for 75.2 miles
Running - 2hrs and 29 minutes for 18.9 miles
Strength / Mobility Training - 52 minutes
This week I competed in the Ironman SuperSeal Olympic distance triathlon, which took place in the Silver Strand of Coronado, CA. This was my second year competing in this race, and I had a 22 minute PR from last year’s SuperSeal, and a 12 minute PR from my last Olympic distance triathlon back in August of 2016 at the USAT National Championships in Omaha, NE. I finished the 2017 SuperSeal in 02:28:08, with a 1 mile swim time of 0:29:18, Transition 1 of 0:03:10, 24.9 mile Bike of 01:11:00, Transition 2 of 0:01:21, and a 10K run in 0:42:50. I also PR’d in each leg of the triathlon in respects to their individual piece of the multipart. 42:50 run is not my 10K PR, but it is in an Olympic triathlon, so great improvement all together. Last year I competed in the military division for all races, but this year I am only competing in open Age-Group to make it easier to see how I compare against a larger body of peers. I finished 24th/100 in Age Group, 99/596 in Gender, and 108/849 Overall. This was a B race, and was important, but still represents a race I’m training though.
For food intake my average calories and macros for the week was 2,560kcal, but when you count my race day nutrition it was: 2,784 kcal, 415g Carbs (59.6%), 72g Fat (23.3%), and 119g Protein (17.1%). At 65.22kg, this means I consumed 6.36g Carbs p/kg BW, 1.1g of Fat p/kg BW, and 1.82g of Protein p/kg BW. With a race this week and the training volume increasing in preparation for Oceanside 70.3 my carbs stayed between the 5-7g p/kg BW, but I changed my protein and fat difference to continue to lean down for Oceanside, and maintain the volume and intensity of training. With the exception of race day sodium intake, all other days averaged out to 1,360mg per day. On race day I consumed 3,827mg of sodium, which spread out throughout the day.
Week 5 (20 March - 26 March 2017)
This week consisted of 11 hours and 30 min of total training volume:
Swimming - 2hr and 14 minutes for 7,078 yards
Cycling - 7hrs and 25 minutes for 113.55 miles
Running - 1hr and 51 minutes for 14.34 miles
No race this week, but we began week 1 of the building phase of our training for the May’s A race, so we had 3 Bricks that made up the volume of training for the week. They consisted of 2 bike/run bricks and 1 swim/bike brick.
For food intake my average calories and macros for the week: 3,008 kcal, 436g Carbs (58%), 80g Fat (23.9%), and 136g Protein (18.1%). At 65.22kg, this means I consumed 6.69g Carbs p/kg BW, 1.23g of Fat p/kg BW, and 2.09g of Protein p/kg BW. With no race this week and the training volume increasing in preparation for Oceanside 70.3 my carbs stayed between the 5-7g p/kg BW. Though I changed my protein and fat difference to continue to lean down for Oceanside, and maintain the volume and intensity of training. I continued to monitor my sodium intake and keep it moderately low. Ideally below 2000mg, but I still had a few days with it going over 2,000mg. A healthy range is between 1,500 to 2,500mg. I generally shoot for 2,000mg or less on days where I do not have endurance events lasting longer than an hour. I also took note that although many whole grains are very beneficial, you have to watch how much sodium is in them. Many are very high in sodium considering the portion you’re eating. I began to buy sprouted whole grains with no added sodium, which resulted in a serving being less than 100kcal and next to nothing for sodium intake. Consuming most of my protein from non-meat sources also helped keep the sodium levels down.
Week 6 (27 March - 2 April 2017)
This week consisted of 8 hours and 49 min of total training volume:
Swimming - 2hr and 14 minutes for 8,152 yards
Cycling - 3hrs and 46 minutes for 66.53 miles
Running - 2hr and 09 minutes for 16.61 miles
Strength / Mobility Training - 40 minutes
Monday I consumed 3,026kcal, 425g Carbs (56.1% of total calories and 6.51g p/kg BW), 94g Fat (28% of total calories and 1.44g p/kg BW), and 120g Protein (15.9% of total calories and 1.8g p/kg BW). Tuesday I increased to 3,231kcal, 470g Carbs (58.2% of total calories and 7.20g p/kg BW), 95g of Fat (26.5% of total calories and 1.45g p/kg BW), and 124g Protein (15.3% of total calories and 1.9g p/kg BW).
By Wednesday my weight at decreased to 64.31 kg, and my total caloric intake was 3,814kcal, 561g Carbs (58.8% of total calories and 8.72g p/kg BW), 122g Fat (28.8% of total calories and 1.89g p/kg BW), and 118g of Protein (12.4% of total calories and 1.83g p/kg BW). At this point I was three days from the race and I was increasing my caloric intake to between 8-12g carbs per kg BW in order to not just top of glycogen reserves but to retain water. Carbohydrate and sodium help with water retention, and though it would increase my weight slightly over the next couple of days, what it was also doing was ensuring that as my training tapered I was adding the right foods and nutrients to ensure hydrations, and vitamins and minerals were right for the big race.
Thursday my caloric intake was 3,421, 553g Carbs (64.7% of total calories and 8.59g p/kg BW), 93g of Fat (24.4% of total calories and 1.44g p/kg BW), and 93g Protein (10.9% of total calories and 1.44g p/kg BW). The protein did not need to be as high, because my bodyweight was lower than previous weeks and we were not building strength during this week. I drove up from San Diego on 30 April after my morning swim and checked into a hotel 1 mile from the transition area. Then picked up my registration and attended the race brief. I was glad to get it all out of the way the first day.
Friday I relaxed a lot minus a very short ride to stage my bike in transition and then run back to the hotel. I ate frequently throughout the day, and had a large meal with my wife at Macaroni Grill in the early afternoon. My weight was more than likely a pound or two heavier reflecting closer to 65.22kg after a few days of high carb consumption. I consumed 4,281kcal, 648g of Carbs (64.7% total calories and 9.95g p/kg BW), 145g Fat (30.5% total calories and 2.22g p/kg BW), and 95g Protein (8.9% total calories and 1.45g p/kg BW). In looking at the total percentages of protein to calories it seems low, but the majority of the calories are from carbohydrates and fat to fuel for Saturday’s race.
Saturday 1 April - Race Day!
My total caloric intake was 4,417 calories, 683g Carbs (61% total calories and 10.47 g p/kg BW), 141g Fat (28.6% of total calories and 2.18g p/kg BW), and 116g Protein (10.4% total calories and 1.78g p/kg BW). My sodium intake was 5,270mg, 1,010mg in the few hours before the race, 760mg during the race (with 60 oz of water and 188g carbs), and the rest spread out throughout the day to help with rehydration. Three hours before the race I consumed 180g of carbs, which equates to just under 3g per kg BW. This is ideal to top of the glycogen reserves in the body before racing. During the race I was fueled from the first hour, but the food I ate for breakfast and the hour prior to starting. I consumed 188g of carbs between my 3hr bike and 1.5hr run, which equates to 41.7g of carbs per hour. In hindsight I should have consumed between 80-90g of carbs per hour, since the event last longer than 3 hours. I plan to increase it during my next race to closer to 60-70g and see how my energy levels sustain. After the race I still had ample energy for the day, but as I increase my pace during the race I will need to plan for more energy. The bike is where that happens.
Quintana Roo PR SIX, frameset small with custom paint job
Syntace Stratos CX Carbon TT Base Bar, MD 410mm, Matt Black w/ microfiber antique brown 3mm bar tape
X-Lab Torpedo Versa 500 Black Airflow, and Profile Design F35 Armrest Kit
ISM Adamo Road Saddle Black
Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 52t 110mm 11-Speed Chainring for 38/52
Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 38t 110mm 11-Speed Chainring for 38/52
Quarq DFour 110mm Shimano Asymmetric BCD Road Power Meter Crank GXP 165mm
TT/Tri Carbon J-Bend Extensions
rofile Design J5 Bracket Kit
Zipp 404 Front and Back Wheels, with Matt Black Decal Set
X-Lab Mini Seat Bag, with X-Lab Carbon Wing 400i Water Bottle Cage Mount Glass Black, and X-Lab Carbon Cages x2
Garmin Edge 1000 Bike Computer
Garmin Edge 920 XT Multipart watch w/ TRI Heart Rate Monitor
Smith frames sunsglasses
S-Works aero helmet with magnetic chinstrap
Pearl Izumi Tri Fly V-Carbon triathlon shoes with Speedplay Zero Stainless steel pedals (with walking cleats)
After 20 years of air, land, and sea deployments the Jolly Roger is fitting for me, as is the Snoopy chasing the Red Barron. Everything else is black, except those logos. Well and my name on the other side of the crank. Why the Black Horizon? Because it’s about chasing the unchaseable. Your best. Nothing is better than your best, and you always get better, so I chase it to the horizon. The Black Horizon. Snoopy chasing the Red Barron is that. Chase your best, but never take yourself too serious. Remember to have fun and enjoy the moments that make up the journey.
Since this is about my training not yours I include what is important to me for support. I do believe everyone should have some sort of support network otherwise your goals and efforts will be sabotaged by either yourself or those around you. My support includes my wife and my faith. My wife is my biggest supporter and fan. She stands by my side and supports my passion and dreams even when they seem contrary to what we should be doing. My faith is important to me, else why do I race? Each time I race I pray before, during, and afterwards. I pray to have a good race, and to maintain a positive spirit throughout that I might inspire others by my actions. I pray to have the strength not just for myself, but to help others where needed. I pray that no one is seriously injured and everyone can complete the race. Afterwards I thank God for the ability to race and how it changes me each time. It is truly humbling to see the many people of different ages, shapes, sizes, and backgrounds doing the same thing you’re doing. Going through the same struggles, and some struggles you can’t see. In their race you might be the smile, the gesture, or the comment that helps them pull through. Just as they might be in yours.
My family is important to me, and I race for them. I have three great kids who I want to set an example of what you can achieve when you work for it, have discipline, goals, and dreams, and the will to fight for them. I try to be their example each day, and each race. When I watch them race I can see their character as a reflection of my own.
My Coach, Jon “Mace” Mason at MPMultiSport is hands down the best in the business. I am so grateful that I was able to find him through the US Military Endurance Sports team, and he agreed to take me on. Mace doesn’t believe it just helping some achieve their best to get through one race and be done with it. He is about balancing the sport and the family. For him it’s about doing your best in training and racing, but also doing your best in life. How’d I get so lucky to get a coach that matches my own values I’ll never know. But, I believe good people come together to make each other better.
I retire from the U.S. Marine Corps this month, and we move to southern Illinois to our new home we purchased. I can’t tell you how exciting that is for me after moving every 12-18 months for 20 years. My next race is the Chattanooga Ironman 70.3 in May. If you see me out there come by and say hello.