Rest is awesome. It is the third most important thing you can do for your body. The first being eat healthy and the second being exercise. In the scheme of things, it is almost the most forgotten part of a healthy lifestyle. I personally struggle with rest sometimes. My girlfriend lovingly says that I have two speeds, "speedy and sloth." The body can take only so much until it needs to recuperate. Sleep is one way that you can accomplish this.
When it comes to sleeping, a body goes through what is known as sleep cycles. These cycles are an hour and a half in length. In non-scientific terms, if you have ever been asleep and someone said that they tried to wake you and you didn't wake up, most likely you were in the middle of the cycle where sleep is the deepest. Scientists don't know why the body needs sleep, it just does.
Along with sleep you need active recovery. For instance, after running the Austin Marathon in February, I took Monday off completely from running, biking or swimming. On Tuesday, even though my body was still very sore, I made sure to run a little bit. I only ran three miles and that was good enough to break up the lactate and soreness in my muscles to help in recovery.
If you deal a lot with soreness and don't feel like having a six foot Swedish masseuse making you cry because of what she calls "The power hour with thumbs of steel", check out the Marathon Stick. I use this after a long run to help recover and massage my legs. It works wonders.
Along with rest, when you're in the recovery mode, the number one thing that helps me is called cryotherapy. This is not for the faint of heart and if you don't like being cold, you WILL NOT like it. Essentially it is putting the affected areas, ie. feet, legs, hips, butt, into ice water. The not scientific terms around this are by restricting the blood vessels in the areas in the "ice bath" the heart and nervous system sends more blood to the area. More blood brings more red blood cells and other parts of the blood that help restore the body to optimal health. Will it work for you, I don't know. If it does, then that is great. If it doesn't, sorry you just spent time in a bath tub full of ice water and are not freezing. The recommended time to spend in an "ice bath" is no longer than 10 minutes. Scientific studies have shown that staying in the water longer does not have a greater effect.
Moral of the story, eat right, exercise and put your feet up and relax at the end of the day!
Before starting any exercise, diet or health routine, first consult your physician to make sure that your body is healthy enough for physical activity.
Sunday was the 31st running of the River Cities Triathlon. This is the last race of my "season" and will be the last time I race until November. After attending a funeral of the father of one of my best friends on Saturday morning in Arlington, I was physically, emotionally worn out. Quite frankly, after eight races in the past 80 days, my motto, "Let's get the thing dunzo!" It's now dunzo and this is how it went:
5:58am: Wake up BEFORE the alarm
6:00: Alarm goes off. Just like going to school when younger, "do I really need to get up?!?!?!"
6:30: Depart for RCT with very tired girlfriend Brittany (she's a triathlon trooper)
7:05: Drive into Cypress
7:40: Run into a good triathlon friend that I met from 2010 River Cities Tri Brent Vest. His wife and trooper Brittany became friends as well. BV beat me by less than a minute last year. That didn't sit well with me.
7:45: In transition area and my bike and stuff is right in the middle of a huge ant colony. I hate ants. I was deathly afraid of ants until I was 10. Not the best sign.
8:15ish: Start of the 30-34 swim group.
8:20: First buoy. Good pace and confidence rising
8:??: First turn. Slow pace and confidence fading. I'll be honest, I really hate the swim aspect of triathlons!
?: I am swimming in a straight line. The person next to me...IS NOT! Every 10 strokes get bumped into like a crash test dummy. Not happy!
8:35: Out of the water, hydrated and probably now have some mysterious disease.
Out of T1 and onto the Bike
Mile 1-3: Good pace keeping at around 20-22 mph
Mile 4: Get passed for the second time by race number 23#(?)
- This passing back and forth went on for a while. I would pump it up to 25, 26, 27 mph and then on a small hill get passed again.
Mile 5-7: Going through the winding hills of Benton at a 22 mph pace
Mile 8: Average 25.2 mph for the entire mile
Mile 9-11: Cross wind coming from the southwest, very good and pleasing. I start humming "Ride of the Valkyries"
Mile 11.6: Cross wind turns into a head-on wind. Not too stiff, but strong enough to notice and bye bye 24 mph
Mile 12-15: Winding all the way through the Cypress area with a lot of turns and "rolling hills"
Mile 16: Start laughing like a crazy man. Don't know why, just felt like it.
Mile 17: So close to run
Mile 17.6-18.2: We are in the park. The only thing I can think of is a quote from Jaws III. "Overman was killed inside the park. The baby was caught inside the park. It's mother is INSIDE THE PARK!" Side note: Did they really have to make Jaws IV? It's like Rocky V or Halloween III...what were they thinking?!?!?!?
T2 to Run
Mile 0: My legs are not really under me...at all.
Mile .5-1: Start hitting my stride and thinking about the finish line and sitting on the couch
Mile 1.4: Two high fives from a 2 foot and 3 foot spiderman look-a-likes. Really happy to be there and really happy to give out high fives. Not sure if they were pajamas, but if they make them in adult sizes, I will find a spiderman costume just like it.
Mile 2: The trail! You have to run down it, at a fast pace. Then you have to run up it, not at a fast pace.
Mile 2.5: I have found my pacer and I will keep at his pace until the end.
Mile 2.6: Nevermind, my pacer has decided to walk.
Mile 2.8: Time to get it in gear
Mile 3: Can see the finish and look at my watch. I have 58 seconds to finish under 1:40:00 for the day and start to sprint
Mile 3.1: DUNZO! Eight races in 80 days is finished. Time to have fun and relax.
Overall time - 1:39:40
Cut 8 minutes off from 2010
Beat triathlon friend Brent Vest by 22 seconds AND all three Keen siblings
After having fun at the post race, headed off to a charity poker tournament where I finish 22nd out of 62 and was the last person still in the game from KSLA!
This Sunday will be the 31st RiverCities Triathlon. Over 1200 triathletes will be swimming, cycling and running around Cypress Black Bayou. One of those triathletes is Jenn Sommermann. Jenn is a cancer survivor. Jenn is a triathlete. She has a goal not only competing in a triathlon in 50 states, but she competes in triathlons to raise money and awareness for ovarian cancer. This is her story, written by Jenn:
In 2006, just before my 42nd birthday, I was diagnosed with Stage III ovarian cancer. The doctors found a 6 lb, eggplant size tumor in my abdomen. I received a full hysterectomy only four days after my diagnosis and endured six long months of chemotherapy. I was able to beat the disease and credit my involvement in the sport of triathlon which started at age 40. Without this sport and a keen awareness of my body, I might not have picked up the subtle but unmistakable symptoms that encouraged me to see a doctor. The endurance training of triathlon also prepared me for the race of my life.
Lying in the hospital receiving a chemo treatment, I read an ad in Triathlete Magazine for a women's triathlon series to benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF). The races were in 3 cities (San Diego, Chicago and Seattle) and I vowed to complete all three races the following year. Not only had I not had any experience with ovarian cancer prior to my diagnosis but I didn’t know there were groups and funds working to eradicate the disease. Little did I know; my competitive journey started from my hospital bed.
2007 was known as “chemo year” but rather than completely miss race season, I participated in three events. Eight weeks after chemo ended, I raced the Nautica NYC Triathlon…no hair, barely any muscle and lots of nausea, but I finished proud.
In 2008, I raced in the entire series that originally caught my attention and added several more races to round out my season. With the success of the events and by bringing a face to ovarian cancer, I realized I had an opportunity and obligation to raise money for this disease but also bring vital information to women around the country. In 2009, my campaign officially took hold as I decided to set bigger goals for myself and for fundraising for OCRF. Racing in 50 triathlons in 50 states by the time I am 50 years old, to raise $100,000 for ovarian cancer research is my current goal. I am in my third year and it will be complete by 2013. Although the fundraising is imperative, this has also become a grass-roots opportunity to talk to women around the country about early detection and signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. If detected early, it is 94% curable. Early detection is the key to saving lives. Louisiana represents state #29 on my journey.
This campaign is self inspired, self orchestrated and 100% self funded. Every penny of donations goes directly to OCRF to find a method of early detection. To further my commitment, all in-kind donations are turned into cash donations (by me) in the name of the contributor. This means that if I receive a comp entry or a comp hotel room, I donate the amount I save in the name of the race. This makes my campaign unique.
The statistics for ovarian cancer are miserable. 21,000 women will be diagnosed this year; 15,000 will die. I was one of the lucky ones. I race for women in treatment, women who have lost the battle and for women yet to be diagnosed.
To learn more or to make a donation, please visit my blog at www.jennsommermann.blogspot.com
You will be able to see Jenn race at 8:30 am on Sunday in Cypress Black Bayou at the 31st RiverCities Triathlon.
With the upcoming 31st running of the RiverCities Triathlon, here are a few tips and trades that I have learned over the years in running triathlons. Some are serious and some are not so serious (see #7, #20). There are scheduled to be over 1200 triathletes competing in this year's race. If you have never seen a triathlon, come on out to Cypress and cheer on the triathletes!
***These are the most important two that I was ever taught and they are especially true for first-time triathletes***
1. If this is your first triathlon, just finish the race. Once you run another, then look at the time that you want, but for the first one, just finish!
2. You will get kicked on the swim. This is especially so when it comes to open water swim. "In the face!!!", stomach, arm, shoulder. You will get kicked, just deal with it and continue going!
3. Pre-race nutrition is key. The morning of the race, eat what you normally eat. My routine is always the same: One FRS Healthy Energy drink, two packets of Quaker Oats Lower Sugar Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal, a banana. I eat a Clif Bar 45 minutes before the start of the race with a GU energy gel and then a GU energy gel 15 minutes before the start.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!! Make sure that you are keeping your body hydrated before the race, days before. Take in enough fluids so you are ready for the race, but not too much that you are bloated or water logged.
5. Pack your bag the night before. Lay out everything that you will be taking with you on your bed or the floor and have everything ready to go in the morning.
6. I personally like to air up my tires the night before the race. I put the tires to 100 psi if it is dry, 85 if it is a wet road course.
7. HAVE FUN! You have spent hours, days, weeks, months training for this. Your friends think you're crazy and your loved ones are proud of you. Enjoy the race!
8. Go hard for the first 100 meters or closest turn buoy. This way you break away or stay with the pack and can continue drafting.
9. Relax your body and legs on the swim. You will not win the race in the water, but you can lose it there.
10. On open water swims, if you swallow a gallon of water, keep going. It's going to happen, but at least you are hydrated.
11. If you are in open water, hug the buoys! The closer you are to the buoys, the faster you will swim. Remember 10th grade geometry, "The fastest way between two points is a straight line."
12. If you are in a pool swim, line up how you think you will swim. Most triathlons have a start by how fast your swim time will be. If you are an 8 minute/400 meter swimmer, line up in the 8 minute.
13. For pool swim, if you feel someone hit your heel in the water, let them pass at the end of the pool, it is a courtesy.
14. Once you are finished with the swim, take your goggles and swim cap off first and then your wetsuit (if you are wearing one)
15. Make sure your gears are in the proper setting. For Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3, right out of transition you have an 8.2 degree hill to climb. If you are in the big ring, you will have a devil of a time getting started!
16. Don't go "guns a blazin'" out of the chute. Find a good pace and cadence and stick with it. You have anywhere between very short (5-18 miles) to very long (112 miles) to go.
17. At check points, if they have water or Gatorade, take advantage of it. Even if you don't think you'll need it, get it anyway. Being thirsty on the bike with 5 miles to go is a horrible feeling. (See Mile 70-75.5 of Katy Flatlands play-by-play)
18. Make sure that you know the rules for drafting. If it is not allowed, don't do it. Allowed, find a good pace line.
19. If you pass someone, let them know, but don't startle them. Most of the time you hear, "On your left..."
20. Never underestimate the power of someone on a mountain bike! In my first triathlon, I was passed by a 50 year old man on a Huffy towards the middle of the race. It is not the bike, but the power of the legs.
21. Much like #16, find a good pace. You know how fast you can keep pace from your training. Don't spend it all on the first mile-plus.
22. If you use energy supplements on the run (ex. GU, Hammer, etc...) make sure that they are secure on your race belt, pockets, hands. If you rely on a small boost at the end of a race and don't have it because they fell out, not good.
23. Find a pacer. When doing triathlons, I always find someone who is right about my speed, or maybe a little faster. They can push you to go harder, plus as an added bonus, you can race them to the finish.
24. Take water at aid stations. Grab the cups, fold the lid in half and enjoy. If you have to walk and drink, walk and drink.
25. Enjoy the run. It is the final leg of the triathlon and it will be over soon.
26. Once you get to the finish, put your butt in gear! Give a sprint, put it out there, don't leave anything left in the tank because you get to enjoy what you did for the rest of the day.
27. Enjoy the festivities after the race! I have made many friends during the race that I have gotten to know and enjoyed.
28. If there is food, eat it. If there is drink, drink it. You payed for it, enjoy it!
29. I personally am a fan of ice bathes. If the race is a long one or particularly hard, I sit in a bathtub full of anywhere between 60 to 120 pounds of ice for 10 minutes. It is called cryotherapy and for me it works. We will get into that later down the road.
30. Finally, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Replenish the fluids that you lost during the race. And rest "hard." As in, take a load off your feet and chill out for the rest of the day or couple of days. You worked and raced hard, now enjoy it!
For those of you racing this weekend, good luck. If you see a bald guy with a red top and black bottoms, don't snicker when you pass him!
Before starting any exercise, diet or health routine, first consult your physician to make sure that your body is healthy enough for physical activity.