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.
David Hirsch has been involved with the famed Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York, since 1976. An avid gardener as well as a cook, David is the author of Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden and coauthor of 12 Moosewood Collective cookbooks.
Whenever I set a goal, I like to have a good plan for how I might achieve it. I had one last year for Ironman Lake Placid 2013, but there were surely many more unknowns that there are now. With a previous race under my belt I have a better idea of what I can realistically accomplish. So as I sit here with 10 6 and a half days displaying on my little sidebar countdown timer, I will divulge the details of the plan of events for July 27th, 2014.
My goal for IMLP 2014 is to finish under 12 hours. There it is…I said it! This was my goal from the start of training and I had tailored my training based on that goal. Below are my times from last year and my projected times for this years race. I will elaborate a bit on each discipline.
1. The Swim
The rolling start is back again for another year, which I think is a good thing. Based on last year, I crossed through the archway at 10 minutes after 7am to start my swim. I figure that should be no different, but I may try to move up a bit from the 1:20 finish corral since I finished under that time. I really didn’t do a great deal to improve my swimming this year. I maintained 3 swims/week and copied most of the workouts from last year and extended them a little bit. I also started using the ankle-band in my workouts to help increase my arm turnover a bit which I hope might give me a little improvement. Based on my Black Bear Triathlon 1.2 mile swim pace of 1:46/100yds in June and last years 1:49/100yds pace I hope to be around a 1:47 pace this year which will bring me out of the water at around 1:15-1:16. A respectable swim for someone without a swimming background.
T1 is a long run to the oval. Last year I was kissing wives, mothers’ and babies(or my dog Yuki) which I would guess took up about 45 seconds. I actually ran past my wife, stopped, and ran back to her which took probably about 15 secs alone. This year I will be vigilant running through the chute and will limit kisses to a quick pecks. My Mom and my dog, Yuki, won’t be there this year, so that will cut some more time. Other than that I think I was pretty efficient on this transition last year. I just need to focus a bit.
3. The Bike
Last year I thought I might have gone too hard on the first loop, finishing in 3 hours, so I took it a little slower on the second. In retrospect I think 3 hours is doable for both loops this year. I feel that I am faster and have more power output at a Zone 2 heart rate than I did last year. I did a ton of early season trainer work using TrainerRoad to increase my FTP a bit, so I hope that will present itself on race day. I was able to easily average 17.5MPH without much extra effort during my training rides in IMLP this past June.
All of my training this season was done utilizing my Stages Cycling Power Meter. Joe Friel has a great article that explains how to “cheat” in an Ironman by using a power meter. The article provides a table that states that given your projected bike split time and what type of athlete you are(Age Grouper with good prep) that I need to hit a specific TSS range to accomplish that. That TSS range translates to a range of Intensity Factor(IF) for my FTP. So given all that my power output for the race should be between 160-170 watts on average in order for me to hit my 6:00 time and still have some legs to run a marathon after. Sounds too easy to me. I am not sure how that translates into what speed I am going. What if the course was all uphill? Or all downhill? Would I still finish is 6 hours if staying in this power range regardless of the terrain? Will see how that pans out. Regardless, the power range it spews out seems like a good range for me to stay in on the bike.
They have also freshly paved the worst section of NY73 and hopefully finish the downhill section to Keene before raceday. This should also provide some extra “free” speed and cut some time.
In addition to this, I am planning to shave my legs this year which will save another 5-10 minutes according to Specialized Bikes’ wind tunnel tests. We’ll see how true that is! I also made a couple aerodynamic tweaks on the bike such as getting rid of the water bottle cages in the frame and adding a bottle between the aerobars.
There is no long run in T2. A volunteer takes your bike immediately as you enter transition. Very cool! Not sure what took me so long here last year. I did take a leak but that wasn’t too long. Here is the process: remove helmet and bike shoes, put on sneakers, run hat and run belt. Get lathered up with sunscreen. Oh wait, how did I get my bag? I don’t remember if I got it or a volunteer got it. See if I can chop a minute or two here.
5. The Run
Last year I had a pretty good first loop of the run finishing in about two hours. I had a little cramping in the legs going down the big hill to Lisa G’s, but other than that it was cool. The family was situated at the bottom too which was nice. I kept a fairly steady pace most of the 13 miles except for walking a bit on the hills back to town and to greet the family again. I would like to try to keep a running pace up the hills this year. My goal pace is to try to keep a 9:30-9:40 pace for the run, which would translate into a fairly respectable 4:08-4:13 marathon time. That would be a marathon PR for me too.
As you can see from the chart below, my 2nd loop had much more walking in it. The turn to head back out of town again for another 13 miles really played on my mental focus and lead me to walk a bit more here. You can see that most of it was also in the first 6 miles too, which is mostly downhill. I actually picked it up a bit heading back to town. I have been working on the mental side of things this year and I hope that I can resolve that 2nd loop mental breakdown a bit and keep it steady. A 4 hour marathon is attainable for me, I just need to keep my head on straight.
I feel I pretty much nailed my nutrition plan last year. This is pretty amazing for a 1st time Ironman. The key here was to keep drinking and stay away from the over-processed gel/goo crap. I have had that nauseous feeling from that stuff in the past and I know to stay away. So given my good fortune of last year, I am going to stick to the same plan. My only change here is to cut up the bars and the PB&J to make it easier to handle and eat. Riding up 73 with a whole PB&J sandwich hanging out of my mouth is not happening this year. So hear is my plan…
Well, that’s the plan anyway. I know full well that not everything always goes to plan and I think I have added some time to account for any flat tires or other small issues. If I don’t hit my goal I will not be that devastated, because really the fact that I can train and be able to participate in this event is all I truly care about. It is about the journey and the journey is the destination.
My love-hate relationship with recovery weeks continues. I always look so forward to them, but then feel like crap most of the week. It is nice to have some extra time to do things I have been putting off though. I finished the week with almost 12 hours of training. While that probably still seems like a lot to most people, it is 5-6 hours less than my prior weeks. Most of the rest time occurred during the beginning of the week and I kept the long workouts long on the weekend. I did cut my long bike on Saturday back to 4:30hrs, but still got in a decent 72 miles.
My bike ride on Tuesday was a bit adventurous as I had to get creative to avoid the disastrous oil & chip jobs that has covered most of Longswamp Township. What a mess! It probably would not be too bad if they would sweep up the extra stones, but no. I was able to limit it to just crossing the plagued roads. It was nice to see some different territory for a change too.
The only really bad workout was my run on Thursday. It was just a standard 40 minute steady state run, but I felt like I was dying. I could not wait until the Garmin hit that 40min mark.
I extended my long swim on Friday to 1:10 covering 3500+ yds. I just never seem to get faster with this long swim. I think it is the drudgery of just back-and-forth in the pool for that long. I lose my enthusiasm quickly. Open water swims are so much nicer.
My Saturday ride route was a bit of just winging it. I started to map out a route Friday, but lost interest after Garmin Connect timed out after I hit the save button on creating a new course. It does this a lot and it really sucks. You spend all this time mapping out a course and then the site session times out. Note to self, do NOT use Garmin Connect to map out your routes!
I ventured out Saturday with the only real intention of circling around Lake Ontelaunee near Reading, PA. It was a really nice ride, although it was kind of slow from checking Google Maps on my phone all the time. The best parts were Sittler Valley Road and Sacony Road. Sacony Rd was very flat, shaded and wound along a nice stream. The road is actually marked as closed since they are putting in a new bridge, but the section that is closed is only about 50 yards of dirt that you can walk across. There was no traffic at all due to the Road Closed signs too.
One other highlight was when I passed a couple elegantly decorated horse and carriages carrying a wedding party in between Topton and Kutztown. I had to act very quickly to get my iPhone out and snag a couple pictures of it .
Last Sunday I kind of screwed up with my nutrition and hydration on my long run. I expected to circle back home partially to refuel, but instead went out to long on the initial loop with only two FuelBelt bottles of Skratch Labs. I never made the second loop and crashed around 15 miles. So, this week I loaded up with 6 FB bottles of Skratch Labs, two large bottles for before and after, and 4 Amrita Bars and headed to the Lehigh Parkway. The result was much better. I got in just a hair shy of 18 miles in 2:54. Not super fast, but a consistent pace that I would be happy with at Ironman. I also felt like I could probably do the remaining miles without too much issue. That hip issue that occurred a couple weeks ago has not surfaced again which I am very happy about. I also ran during the hottest part of the day to simulate when I will be running in Lake Placid.
The recovery week actually ended much better than it started, so I guess that is par for the course. I only now have two more hard weeks of training before taper time(ugh more recovery!). That went fast! Next week I head up to Lake Placid for my annual mini-training camp to kick the tires a bit. Rumor has it they are doing some stand-up paving from the ski jumps down to Cascade which was the WORST part of the bike course. This should help increase the bike times a bit. Stay tuned to my twitter feed for updates on that.
It’s funny that Monsanto‘s big argument to NOT label GMO foods was because it would cost too much to change the labels on the so-called “food”. Now the FDA is requiring big changes to the nutrition labesl on food. So, won’t this raise the prices on our food??? If not, why can’t we add a indication whether the food is GMO or not??
The reality of all this is, if we are to truly eat healthy the majority of the food we should be eating don’t come with nutritional labels to begin with!
The Journal of American Medical Association recently published a study that appears to support what I have also seen with my own blood pressure since adopting a plant-based diet. Unfortunately I am not able to read the entire article($140 for a subscription), but I have enough personal proof that this is true.
I have dealt with high blood pressure for most of my adult life. Switching to a plant-based was the biggest factor in seeing a difference in this. Regular exercise is just icing on the cake.