Sunday, August 21, 2011

Panther Pride Triathlon Recap

The Panther Pride Triathlonlocated in Iowa Falls, Iowa, was my second and final "trial run" before the Hy-Vee Tri. My goals for this triathlon were to increase my comfort zone and efficiency throughout, but most of all I wanted to be able to relax and complete the swim in good form.

Saturday morning was a cool 59 degrees, I was thankful for the indoor pool swim. I had the usual case of pre-race nerves, but nothing serious. I was just looking to have some fun today, no pressure. After a small breakfast of oatmeal and a waffle with peanut butter, I loaded up the truck and headed to to the tri. I wasn't excited about the 9am start but it actually gave me plenty of time to think things through and be prepared in every way.

I set up my transition space and then went to check out the pool. It's a nice indoor pool; we were going to be swimming down and back in each of the 6 lanes for a total of 300 yards.

I went back to look over my transition set up one more time and found that the person next to me had moved my stuff back behind my rear tire and put his stuff where mine was! His bike was facing the other way on the rack and he had his items behind his tire. He had a nice tri bike so I figured that his wasn't his first tri but I didn't want to assume so. I suggested we move things around a bit and told him that it would make his transition easier. He was actually very nice about it and accepted my suggestion. I'm glad he was easy to work with because and any confrontation was avoided. I really think that his transition likely went better for him with this arrangement also.

After that little crises it was getting closer to start time. I went back to the pool and got in to warm up a bit and get acquainted with the water temperature. I took a lap of the pool and then got out and watched some of the other swimmers warming up. I have really become a bit of a study on swim strokes and noticed a wide variety of them, very interesting and some quite humorous. I am definitely nobody to judge on swim stroke but I can now see some big differences.

Enough of the fluff, it's go time!

The Swim
I was athlete number 54 which meant that I was the 54th swimmer to start based upon my estimated swim time (pretty close to the middle of the pack). This gave me a great opportunity to watch several people swim and even some struggle through the water. Good or bad, watching a few other people struggle made me feel a lot less self conscious and more relaxed. It was all good, I wasn't going to be the only one that had some trouble. Again, my goal for this swim was to focus and staying relaxed and keeping good form.
I was calm and ready at the start with very little to no anxiety. The starter counted down and I was off! I did my best not to be aggressive and just swim, telling myself the entire way to relax and glide. The first lap went great, I made it down and back without any trouble and felt good. Towards the end of the second lap I actually caught up with the person in front of me. I was in my own little zone and it surprised me when I reached out and touched her feet in front of me. It threw me off a little but she paused and let me pass by her. Yes, I actually passed someone in the water! Then very shortly after that I was passed by the person behind me. I don't feel so bad about this because she had told me earlier that she had been a lifeguard when she was younger. I did have to breaststroke a few times to get my breath during this swim but the thing that I noticed is that it is a lot of work to get going again once you slow down like that. I also grabbed the side about 3 times to catch my breath. I know...not good if I am going to be lake swimming in two weeks. Regardless, I was out of the water in 8 minutes 54 seconds and the same position in which I had started. Progress!!

The Bike
So I was out of the water and ran to the transition area. My plan was to attempt to get my Garmin on for the ride and run but it was being uncooperative and taking too much time, so I just left it there. I was out of T1 in 1:06 and onto the bike. The bike was fairly uneventful, I was able to pass several people and never got passed back. There were a few hills and once we were out on the countryside it seemed like we had all headwind and no tailwind. I just focused on keeping a good fast cadence and finished well. It was supposed to be a 15 mile ride but we rode at least a good half mile past the 15 mile marker. My finish time on the bike was 51:26 which translates to about an average of 18mph.

The Run
Into T2 to prepare for the run. I have been practicing running without any socks in my Newtons. So far my runs have all gone well without any blisters or rubbing. T2 transition was 1:10 (I need to get speed laces) and I was off and running. We started up a slight incline and then quickly had a very steep decline. It was actually one of the more difficult hills that I have run down, that pounding is really hard on the body. I quickly found my groove after that hill and the 5K run was on! It was a challenging rolling course, lucky for me there is nothing but hills in my training area. I started picking off several runners and the first mile went by quickly. After the first mile they actually had a 1.5 mile marker, this is pretty unusual and I really didn't like it. In my opinion it just seemed to make those miles longer. After 2.5 though I figured that I could finish the last .6 with a good kick. But...that wacky course director had to throw in another big hill just before the finish. You know, one of those hills that makes you feel like your heart could explode as you run up it. Nice touch. I finally sprinted into the finish with a 5K time of 22:26 (7:14 pace). A little slower than I had expected but I will chalk that time up to the hills (not to mention the swim and bike prior to running).
My overall finish time was 1:25:04 which placed me second in my age group and 8th overall. Not bad for a rookie if I do say so myself!
View results here.

This was a difficult race, it definitely tested my abilities throughout. My strategy for the Hy-Vee Tri, which is an Olympic Distance tri, will be to just get through it. I don't feel like I will be quite strong enough or seasoned enough yet to "race" this one.

What I Learned

  • I am going to have to fuel better before and during the Hy-Vee tri.
  • I have two weeks to be able to relax on my swim. I estimate it will take me a good 45 minutes to complete it. (yeah, that's a long swim)
  • My heels rubbed in my shoes this time. I will either need to wear socks or get my shoes laced tighter before the run.
  • The weather is cooling down fast, I will have to purchase a wet suit and learn to swim in it within the next two weeks.

Things are coming down to the wire. I fear that I may have bitten off a little more than I can chew this time but there is no backing out now. I am going to do my best to be prepared and make it through this event. I know I can do it, it's just going to be one of the bigger challenges that I have faced. Ready or not, Hy-Vee Tri, here I come!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Swimming Anxiety

I am not typically a worrier, in fact I generally use stress as a motivator. I am all about pushing myself and testing my limits but currently, I seem to have a real battle going on in my mind. There are less than 3 weeks until the Hy-Vee Triathlon and my swimming confidence is far from where it should be. It seemed to be getting better, I had a nice couple of swims last week then I sent a video to the coach and he  gave me some pointers to improve my technique. I am going to be honest and tell you that this really 'effed up my swim this morning. I had an extremely difficult time trying to relax, which is a huge part of swimming. When you are running or biking, you don't have to think about much, it's pretty automatic. Being a new swimmer I have to try to think about hand position, body position, arm position throughout the stroke, how and when to kick, when to breath and how to breath without sucking in a gallon of water.It's all pretty damn overwhelming, mostly because I have signed up to swim 1500 meters in a lake in less than 3 weeks.

I am not defeated! 
My plan is to battle those little negative thoughts that keep creeping into my head, you know the ones that say, "will I have to have a boat pull me out?" and "can I stay relaxed and not panic in the water?". There is extra pressure because I will have several family members there to watch and the company I work for is sponsoring the event. How's that going to look if I drown in front of my family or have to get pulled out of the water in front of coworkers? The mind can be cruel.

My plan is to watch a YouTube videos on swimming techniques daily hoping to train my mind what good technique looks like. There are some great Total Immersion videos that teach you the little intricacies of swimming easier and more relaxed. I have written some positive affirmations to help build my confidence and force out the negative thoughts, and I will continue to work on relaxation, confidence, and skills in the few training swims that I have remaining. I know that I can do this, I just have to relax in the water and take my time getting through the swim one stroke at a time.

The start of my swimming affirmations

If you are really bored, this is my swim intervals video that I sent into the coach.

This is what swimming is supposed to look like.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Home made breakfast / energy bars

It can be tough to find something quick, easy, and nutritious for breakfast.  Most of the time I am in the habit of not eating much of anything before a morning run, it just doesn't seem like there is enough time to digest anything from the time you wake up until the time you hit the pavement.

I think I have found a solution! I stumbled across this recipe on one of my favorite recipe sites, This is a great place to see how other people rate, prepare, and tweak recipes submitted by others. The recipe I found is called Jo-Ann's Power Bars. You can check it out here and see what other people thought about it too. These bars taste awesome, digest easily, and are a great natural energy boost. My wife and I ate the first batch in about two days. She liked them so much she made a second batch and added some coconut. The other nice thing about these bars is that you can easily add, substitute, or change just about any one of the ingredients. I suggest you try the original recipe first and then tweak it to your liking.

Good luck and let me know what you think!

Jo-Ann's Power Bars


  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat and barley nugget cereal (e.g. Grape-Nuts™)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 (7 ounce) bag chopped dried mixed fruit


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line a 9 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flour, cereal, and cinnamon. Add the egg, applesauce, honey, brown sugar, and oil. Mix well. Stir in the sunflower seeds, walnuts, and dried fruit. Spread mixture evenly in the prepared pan.
  3. Bake 30 minutes, or until firm and lightly browned around the edges. Let cool. Use the foil to lift from the pan. Cut into bars or squares, and store in the refrigerator.

Nutritional Information
Serving Size1/12 of a recipe
Servings Per Recipe12

Amount Per Serving 
Calories from Fat59

 % Daily Value *
Total Fat 6.6g10 %
Saturated Fat 0.9g4 %
Cholesterol 18mg6 %
Sodium 40mg2 %
Potassium 239mg7 %
Total Carbohydrates 33.4g11 %
** Dietary Fiber 2.3g9 %
Protein 4.1g8 %
** Sugars 10.4g
Vitamin A10 %
Vitamin C1 %
Calcium3 %
Iron26 %
** Thiamin18 %
Niacin18 %
Vitamin B610 %
Magnesium15 %
Folate14 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.