Product Review: Nunn

A few weeks ago, fellow BSK teamate Morgan Sjogren who works with Smack Media  asked me to sample some Nuun and give a product review on my blog. I obliged and even though I had tried some years ago I really didn't use it properly and only tried one flavor. What is Nuun? On their website they call them "Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tabs." Not gonna lie, ever since I saw the movie Idiocracy every time I hear the word "Electrolytes" it reminds me of it.

A little snipit of the movie where they don't drink water anymore in the future...Just "Electrolytes"

So I definitely don't think Nuun is pushing for that direction, but one thing they are pushing for with a lot of success is incorporating Nuun into your racing and training as an Electrolyte supplement. In fact they are ranked as the "#1 Sports Drink Tab in running and outdoor specialty."

My shipment...I really need to work
on my phone camera skills. Terrible!
Last week I received my shipment of Nuun with four different flavors (Grape, Fruit Punch, Tropical and Strawberry Lemonade). They even threw in a water bottle. The shipment came just in time for my 6 hour training day on Saturday. In the past when I set out for long bike rides I would always fill up a bottle of water and a bottle of calories. Whenever you are riding over 2 hours, you are going to need to refill those water bottles eventually. I was always stuck with nasty water fountain water or forced to go buy high-sugar sports drinks that start with a "G" or a "P" which would always make me feel worse and take up time. That's the genius behind Nuun's tabs. I can just take a canister with me, fill up at the water fountain and pop a few in and BINGO! I have great refreshing bottle now that has zero sugar and all of the electrolytes I need. Not to mention I don't have to stress about going in a gas station and worrying about someone ripping off my bike, over-paying for a sports drink and taking the time to do it! I have a family, I need to get this workout done!

Mixed pack is da bomb!
I tried the Tropical flavor on my ride and to be honest I didn't like the taste all that much, kinda reminded me of those Emergency-C tabs that you take when you are sick...gross. However, I realize tastes are so different person to person. Because next I tried the Grape and Fruit Punch and YUM! They have like over 15 flavors so I'd recommend buying a mixed pack and experiment with what you like. You can purchase Nuun online or find the nearest retail store in your area.

Morgan also made a great point of using them as a "recovery drink" when maybe you've had a few too many adult beverages. So I experimented with that too over the weekend and drank 12 beers in one sitting. After hearing my wife complain and my kids confused with my behavior, I just told them "Sorry, it's part of the job!" TOTALLY KIDDING! I don't condone excessive drinking. But if you do, I'm just sayin' -you should have some Nuun before you go to bed.

So do me a favor and if you are an endurance athlete or a motivated drinker, go grab some Nuun. While you are at it, go check out Morgan's blog. She and her boyfriend Sergio are super fast and cool people.

Also, be sure to tune in tomorrow at "Love the Hurt" as I already have a pretty cool blog in the works. That is all!

Recovery Week

Masters Session
So not gonna lie, that half marathon tore me up pretty good. I rarely run on concrete, and I especially don't run race pace on concrete. I definitely wasn't as sore as I was last year when I ran this race but regardless I had to take some easy recovery days post race (although, no days off). Despite the soreness, I was still able to rally and put in a decent week of 14 hours. I have especially brought up my swim volume as of late and I'm really starting to see a difference in the water. Finally getting into a Masters program is now part of that. I posted a year ago that I needed to get in a Masters program but all of the programs I had access to were at times that made it impossible for me. But now the Temecula YMCA is offering them in the evenings Monday and Wednesdays so I'm really excited to make those a part of my schedule so I can swallow more water like I did in my first session doing backstroke!

I think the biggest thing that an early season pr in the half marathon has done for me is to help me move on to a more swim and bike focused mind set. I was telling my buddy Ryan that I actually have had some insecurities in my run and I couldn't help but to focus on it because I knew it was my strength. I know I was kinda driving my coach nuts, but I really wanted to do well with this race to prove to myself I am the runner that I know I can be. I now know that I have that 1:14 in my back pocket when I race this year and it gives me a TON of confidence moving forward. Now, I understand that my running talents can be wiped out with poor bike fitness (like I witnessed last year at Soma) -but really, the bike has always been the least of my worries of the three disciplines since I've hooked up with James as a coach. As a pure cyclist, he has been hammering me with a lot of hours, a lot of miles and a TON of climbing. The bike fitness has shot through the roof in the short 3 months we've been working together and I know if I rode a 2:30 at Soma with very little bike training then the sky is the limit come Oceanside.

This is going to be kind of a short post (been a very busy week at work), but I wanted to also bring up the Wattie Ink Elite Team that I'm a part of. In the short week I've been a part of it, I've found they have a great support group both from the team and the sponsors. Here are the sponsors that Sean has put together for the team. I'm excited to train/race in some of these products:

Also, Betty Designs has helped put together some really Bad A racing & cycling kits, speedos/jammers (yes, I think it's time to rock my first speedo...) and a ton of other gear. I'm looking forward to "Rocking the W" for 2012.

Next week I should be back on my normal Tuesday/Wed blog post where I'll share a glimpse of my killer workouts this week.

How did I recover over the past week? Some pics:

Some Beet Juice. Ninja!
Kale Chips, Honey Mustard -Organic Tofu, Sweet Potatoes and Spinach...and an IPA
Ryan and I recovering post track workout

Rock and Roll AZ Half Marathon RR + Wattie Ink Elite Team

So I was going to post two blogs but I figured I'd just do one long one -so sorry if this is waay overkill. Sunday was a good day. I pr'd in my third ever 1/2 marathon and ran 1:14:40. After enjoying some beverages at the beer garden, we started walking to go get some food with friends and that's when I find out that I was accepted on to the 2012 Wattie Ink Elite Triathlon Team. So needless to say - I drank my fair share that day and celebrated/topped off a great weekend. I'm really stoked to be a part of the team. We'll be getting a team kit and since K-Swiss is our title sponsor I'll be racing/training in their shoes for the 2012 season. Along with K-Swiss, they have a great line-up of sponsors that I'm excited to work with. It looks like there are some studs on the team, so I'll be sure to do my fair share of damage to the competition as we look forward to the new season. On that note, I "officially" started my season on Sunday and this is how it went down...

Waiting to board...
Since Amy and I were away from the kids last weekend, she decided to stay home with them and I was sent off solo. I ended up flying out Saturday morning just in time to get checked in at the EXPO and then head over to the local watering hole to watch the playoffs. One commitment I have made this season is to stay away from wheat/gluten and alcohol the week of a race. After trial and error I know that it doesn't settle well when I race hard. So I think the toughest thing I had to do over the weekend was to watch the amazing 49ers/Saints game in rowdy bars and just drink water! Fortunately I held strong, but it didn't make any difference for my buddy Eric. He was sick, drank some beers and whiskey to help "clear" his congestion and still ran 1:19 the next day in his first ever half. Rock. Star.

Race morning I woke myself up at 4:30am to eat half of a sweet potato, a Powerbar and a glass of water -then I went back to sleep for an hour. I've been listening to a lot of podcasts (with my long commute) one of them being Ben Greenfield and getting race day nutrition is more important than you think. There is usually a three hour window that you have to get in a meal -let it digest so that your glycogen stores are topped off and ready to go come start time. That's why (for most people) if you eat and then less than 2 hours later you workout/race hard - you can feel a little sluggish or may not have the most happy stomach. Well the plan worked for me and come race time, I felt good and ready to roll.

Relaxed and Ready to roll
After getting in a 1.5 mile warm up, some stretching and strides, I took in a gel 15 mins before the start just to get in a little caffeine boost to go along with the FLUID Performance I'd been sipping on. My legs felt a little off just because I've been putting in some pretty tough weeks both in volume and intensity. This race week was no exception, we didn't back off at all except the day before where I just put in an easy run. This was a "C" race for me and I was really curious how I would handle the load. The course was a deceiving long gradual (slight) uphill for pretty much 10 miles, then heading downhill 3 miles to the finish. It was a very weird feeling, because you knew you were putting in a harder effort then the splits suggested...Or maybe that was my fatigued legs! I lined up at the front, didn't recognize anyone and felt like I had a good shot of getting top 20. There were only like 5 elites in the race cause everyone else was in Houston.

The gun went off and as usual everyone sprinted out like it was a 5k and after a few miles people started finally settling back and being more realistic about their pace. I was very focused/determined to just knock out 5:40-45's all day long. I already knew I was going to have a good race after 2 miles. It felt so effortless and my mental game plan was unfolding just as I had visualized all week. Cheeks moving up and down, legs light, leaning forward, arms straight and a fierce mental mindset that I was going to go sub 1:15 today. 5k I went through in 17:40 (5:41 pace) and kinda just settled in with a pack of guys that were chatting away about where they were from, how old they were...etc. I didn't want in on that conversation so I left them for a bit (only to get passed by them later!). Before I knew it 10k came and I went through in 35:16 (5:40 pace) and we were all spread out by this point. I pretty much ran the second half of the race solo.

We made the only "real" climb of the day up to the 10 mile mark and I went through in 56:44 (5:40 pace) and I was knocking out the pace no problem. Then a little downhill came and that's when I decided (against my better judgement) to just let it go and try and hit 5:35's the rest of the way in and go for sub 1:14...Well mile 10 went 5:33 then 11 at 5:36, then wheels fell off. The dreaded cramps started slowly making their way into my legs. The one I felt most was my right hammy. All of the sudden I had to slow down about 20 secs per mile which put me right on the edge of cramping up. That's when I saw my buddy Irving and he told me I was in about 25th place. At this point I didn't have much left. I just fought my way through those last two miles and was glad to finish in 1:14:40. It was a 2min 20sec PR. I know 1:14 isn't THAT fast to you full time runners, but as a triathlete that puts in only 25 miles a week, I was super stoked for the time. The fact that I ran well with tired legs gets me pumped up to see what I can do in Oceanside come March 31st.

Finishing up in the Pain Cave!
As far as the cramping goes...Still trying to figure it out. I usually think when someone cramps it's mainly to do with lack of your mind wants to go faster then your body can handle. I think this had something to do with it, but I also chose not to take in anything during the half. no water, gels...nothing. I was locked into my pace and didn't want to disrupt it with any distractions. Plus the weather was absolutely perfect. Looking back on it, I probably should have taken in a gel, it might have saved me from the cramps. I ended up finishing 5th in my AG and 25th overall.

We ended up bar hopping, eating good food and talking about how fast we used to be. Isn't that what you do when you get old? The only difference is, I'm getting faster NOW and equipped with the right coach, the right team and the right support -I'm going to hit 2012 with a bang.

Thanks to Eric, Kim, Irving and Jamie for showing me around and being awesome hosts! Irving, thanks for letting me stay at the man pad!

Now for some pictures, thanks for reading!

Forward lean, arm swing...thanks Kloz :)
Finally looking relaxed...
The boys with PR's!
Dunno why my leg is shaped like that in this picture...
Finish line beer garden...serving "Ultra Sh*tty" beers
Finally, some good IPA, Cheers to 2012!

Weekend in the Mountains

Just outside our room looking out onto Main St.
So Amy and I celebrated our 8 year anniversary up in Julian over the weekend and as much as I love my kids, I sure love spending quality time with my wife. Often parents get it backwards and love their kids over their spouse and often spend more time with their kids -ignoring the most important person! For those of you that don't have kids yet, remember this - It's the secret to a wonderful marriage AND being a great parent! We stayed up in a bed and breakfast and it ended up being a great time. Great company, beautiful weather, great food and great wine (and beer). I was still able to get in some good quality training time last week and my fitness continues to improve. It included a 10 mile hilly run up in the mountains and then a 4 hr/70 mile ride - which used to be pretty brutal, but now I'm able to get through them with plenty of power and energy towards the end.

After just finishing up a hilly 10 miler
One thing I have noticed over the past few weeks is my weight loss. When I initially lost the 40 pounds (when I started working out again) I kinda just stayed stagnate after that. Then once I started focusing on the 70.3 distance and eating better, I've noticed myself withering away! I've lost another 10 pounds over the past two months and I'm down to 133 pounds now. I'm 5'9, so that's pretty skinny! When I was running competitively and putting in 80-100 miles/week I was always around the 128-132 mark -so I'm flirting with that same weight again. Although it's great for running (and climbing on the bike), I do need to start incorporating a little more strength training into my routine so I can last for these 3-4 hour races. Speaking of racing, it all starts this weekend in Phoenix. After racing pretty much every single month last year, and taking December off -I'm chomping at the bit to race. Besides a few missed days here and there from sickness this past month, my training has been flawless. I think its no coincidence that I've been injury free since training with James. I was obviously going too hard, too often. I've been able to stay consistent with training and just nailing each workout.

The Rock & Roll Arizona course is fast and flat so my goal pace is going to be 5:40-45 which will get me a finishing time of 1:14-1:15. It's not going to be easy though - I have a pretty tough week of training ahead of me and will definitely not be fresh come race day. Either way, I'm going for the pace and will just try to tough it out. I'm excited to try out some new mental techniques that I've been practicing lately with a lot of success. I'll share more about this in another post.

You can track me race day at this LINK. My race starts at 7:30am (6:30 CA time).

Wish me luck! Now -some photos from the weekend:

The Ride.
The Place.
The Room.
The Wine.
The Pour (in fancy cups...)
The Dinner.
The wife.


Mountain biking at Lake Hodges
As great as 2011 was, it's time to bring on 2012! I have a lot of goals/plans for this year that I actually laid out months ago and it's for them to bear some fruit. It all starts in a few weeks as I open up the year at the Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon in Arizona. I did this race last year - it was my first 1/2 marathon and I loved it. Growing up running the mile and 800 meters; it just didn't give you much time to think. As I move onto the longer distance running and triathlon races -I'm starting to appreciate the fact that you DO have some time to think, put together a strategy and to use your mind as a weapon in a race. This years focus will be all about the 70.3 distance (1/2 Ironman). The goal is to qualify for the 70.3 World Championships held in Las Vegas in September. You typically will qualify by placing in the top 3 sometimes top 5 in your age group at any qualifying Ironman event. In this case, Ironman CA 70.3 (the race I'm doing in March) is one of those qualifying races so I will be shooting for top 3-5 in my age group. CA is super competitive so I'm not being naive going into this race -but I know with the training results I have in the bank already and if I just keep nailing my workouts week in and week out I will have a shot to qualify. If I don't get it in CA, I'm going to hit up another Ironman qualifying race in the summer.

Feed the Machine feeding me for a 4hr ride
Why 70.3's? After racing the 70.3 distance last year accompanied with some Olympic triathlon races I really liked the fact that you have those 4-5 hours to race. The Olympic distances I always felt like it was over too fast and that I ran out of room on the run. With that short 10k at the end I really didn't feel like being a strong runner aided me in anyway. I also like the fact that you have 56 miles to have fun on the bike! The Olympic distances I felt like I was loosing so much time just getting out of the aero position for a second to take a drink. So as the new year begins, it's going to be nice to get out and put in a hard 1/2 marathon effort to set up the rest of the year. This will be my third one. First - 1:18:06  Second - 1:17:05. So I've been taking a minute off every 6 months. I'd be happy if I pull a 1:16:0x, but I'm really shooting to get in the 1:15's. I really have no idea where I'm at right now. Since I've started training with James I have thrown down a pretty solid 5 & 10k on tired legs and this half marathon won't be any different. I'm not really changing up my current schedule, this is a "C" race for me so I'll train through it--although I at least won't have a 60-70 mile ride in me the day before. It will be fun getting out of town, seeing some friends and having some post race beers!

On the training front - I have been killing it for the most part. I ran into two episodes of sickness in December that forced me to take some days off, but other than that I've had some solid training weeks. Last weekend was a big one, here's how it rolled out (Thursday-Monday)

am: 2000 yd swim
pm: 1hr 30min hilly run ~7:50 pace

am: Hard 3,300 yd swim session
pm: 1hr 30 min Mountain bike

am: 3hr hilly (4,500ft climbing) bike ride w/30 min transition run ~7:30 pace

pm: 4hr hilly (4,000ft climbing) ride Avg'd ~17mph

am: 1hr 45 min run w/ 3X15 mins at 70.3 race pace. Avg ~6:00-15

Early 4:45am trainer rides
I think the best thing about the weekend was that it only took me a day to recover from all of that (light swim). I felt great this morning on the bike and ready to knock out another run later tonight. Let me tell you though, the last mile of my last 15 min set on Monday was BRUTAL. I felt exactly like I did on my last mile at the AFC 1/2 marathon which was uphill....maybe worst. As much as my mind wanted to go, I was all out going 7min pace. My legs starting locking up, HR was way up and I was shutting down, I loved it and embraced it. It was a great simulator for what is to come in March. The thing is, I have enjoyed very minute of the training I have been doing. I feel like I'm a bit sick because in the past three months I've done virtually every workout solo. I've done I think maybe three bike rides with someone and I actually don't mind it. It allows me to hammer when I want to hammer and chill when I need it. I definitely don't have a problem pushing the envelope when I'm all alone so during these lonely four hour rides I'm basically feeding the fire for this year on ways to get better, faster and dominate.

Sound a little intense? It's because it's not a hobby-it's a passion. You see, there's a big difference between the two. When you put passion in what you do -it's when you'll a. Be at your best and b. Full filled. Whether it's religion, family, work or an activity -do it with passion don't just go through the motions.

Anyway, that is all. I never have a plan on what I'm going to write in these blogs, I just let it flow and this is what my fingers had for today. Whether or not it inspires you, motivates you or just makes you shake your head -it definitely helps motivate me when I put my thoughts/feelings about training/racing in a blog format. Thanks for reading!

Some NYE Games & Beer
Kiddos at the beach
Lovely wife in a not so lovely picture. Happy New Year everyone!