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.
Was fully stocked with Amrita bars for my 4.5 hour ride on Satuday.
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…
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.
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.
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.
Nothing like an post-race ice bath! Ahhh!
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!
I got up around 7-7:30am on Saturday morning as the sun beamed in the open shades of room #329 of the Comfort Suites. My wife had been stirring for awhile by that time and I eventually acknowledged it. We had a quick breakfast in the room while checking emails, updating our social media and researching the days events. We settled on heading to New Haven(CT) to check out the Yale University campus and having some lunch at a vegan place, called Claire’s Corner Copia, which was right off the campus. After that we would head back to Quassy for the “mandatory” pre-race athlete meeting and to drop off my bike in transition. Finally, dinner at a place called Red Lentil in Watertown, which was north of Quassy. How far north we would eventually find out.
We drove down to New Haven and got a parking spot right near Claire’s and across from the Upper Green park by Yale. I plopped my $2 in the meter for 2 hours and then we stopped into Claire’s first just to check it out. Wow…Huge menu! And all vegan too. Not necessarily all healthy vegan, but I had a lot of options. They had build your own smoothies, and I was in need of one, so I had a banana, blueberry, kale, coconut milk and hemp protein smoothie which was right on the money. Now I am ready for some campus touring! We will be back Claire.
We headed across the street to Yale and began touring the campus. Beautiful campus! My wife is really into old, ivy-league campus’ and every time we we go near one she wants to check it out. One thing I noticed that although the buildings looked old in style many had been built fairly recently(1990-2000’s). Apparently they just made them look old. There were several building though that were very old. There were a lot of older alumni walking around the campus too, which I figured out from the nametags they wore. We passed a couple buildings that had different year reunions posted on them. Of particular note was the 50, 55, and 60th year reunions. I wonder how many people see their 60th year college reunions?
We came upon the Yale bookstore(run by Barnes & Noble??) and a small shopping district. We checked out the 2 outdoor stores, but everything was list price so we didn’t buy anything. We then headed back to Claire’s for lunch after a little more walking around the campus. I had a Corner Copia Grande burrito which was huge. It even had some fake cheese on it which tasted pretty good. It was loaded with beans, rice and veggies and was quite the belly filler. I looked at the time after downing my burrito and remembered that the parking meter had expired 5 minutes ago. We then quickly cleared our table and b-lined for the car. Phew! Not ticket. The meter-dude had been around when we parked so I was afraid he would be hawking the cars. Maybe he was having lunch too?
Next we headed down towards the ocean front to see if there was anything cool down there. We were a bit disappointed since there was nothing great except for a line-up of lunch trucks. Then we ended up taking a long way back to the hotel since there was some tie-ups on the highway we came in on. By the time we got back to the hotel it was time for me to load up the bike and get over to the pre-race meeting at 3PM. My wife was hoping for a nap, so I felt kind of bad when I said we have to go. I offered to just go myself but we thought we would be having dinner over that way and she didn’t want to be driving back and forth.
When I got to the race expo area, they were still having the pro Q&A session and the pre-race meeting hadn’t even started yet. I listened to the pros for a few minutes until eventually they got down and the meeting started. I don’t know why they call the meeting mandatory, since they don’t enforce it all. WTH? I did get some good information out it though so it was worthwhile. Next, got my bike setup in the assigned spot in transition. I got a nice spot 3 rows in from the swim in/run exit, which made it easy to find. Only bad thing was a long run in my bike shoes to the bike in/exit which was on the opposite end of transition. Wasn’t a big deal though.
I decided I wanted to drive a bit of the bike course since the director kept saying how hard it was. I wanted to see for myself. I talked my wife into going since I would drive. I only did half of the course and now I had a good idea of how hilly it would be. It was VERY hilly! During the drive my wife came to the realization that the Red Lentil restaurant was actually in Watertown, Mass! Two hours away!!
We ended up finding the It’s Only Natural Restaurant in Middletown, CT which was back on the other side of the hotel. So much for saving trips! Also my wife typed in the address of the place in the iOS Maps app and it took us to some vacant strip mall in the middle of nowhere. Ugh! By this time we were starving. We then searched on the restaurant itself and it showed it only 10 minutes away. We eventually found it and had a great dinner. Everything was vegan here too, so the world was my oyster. I had an Arugula salad for appetizer and a coconut curry dish for dinner. Really yummy.
We headed back to the hotel after dinner and settled in for the evening. I got all my gear in order and prepped my nutrition stuff for the race: Skratch Labs hydration mix, Chunks of EnergyCha Cha Chia Chunks and a little bit of Hammer Perpetuem. I then showered up, shaved and put my race number tattoos on. Pretty cool idea and you don’t have to deal with getting body marked in the morning. The only thing is they are really sticky and I ended up sticking to the sheets while sleeping.
I was really hoping I could get a good nights sleep that night. I had a horrible one the night before the NJ Devilman and did not want to go through that again. There was some obnoxious parents in the hotel who were letting their child run up and down the hall for what seemed like forever. If it didn’t stop soon I was going to go out and raise some hell. It stopped eventually and I did end up falling into a good deep sleep, dreaming of crossing finish lines in record times. Gonna be a tough one tomorrow!