Brineman 70.3

My year leading up to the race : The year and the events leading up to this non Ironman branded race have been nothing but eventful. The year started with me hiring a coach for the first time and then having to let him go in about a month due to myriads of reasons. I was then contemplating if I should hire another coach or just be self coached. It’s not that I lacked knowledge on how to come up with a training plan but it was the fact that I wanted to be held accountable and wanted to avoid any bias in my workouts. I finally got  in touch with Ray Kelly who I found on Tinder for triathletes – Trainingpeaks. He’s been extremely patient with me. It felt like I was interviewing him before I decided to hire him as my coach . I asked him a lot of questions and his opinion on a few things before I decided to get coached by him.  If I was to coach a person like myself who thinks he/she knows better and would try and persuade me every couple of weeks to coach the athlete his/her way instead of letting me coach them my way, I would have refused to coach that athlete. So thanks for putting up with me Ray!

Goals for the race : Beat my buddy Shariq. He’s 2-0 against me and also the one who got me into running 5 years ago.  I also knew if I was to beat him , I would probably have to go sub 5:30 which was painfully obvious to me that it was not going to happen because my stupid FTP just hasn’t budged in the last 3 years, no matter what I do. I still can’t figure out why ? If someone has ideas please let me know !

Short Version :
Swim – 36:32
Bike- 3:02:14
Run- 2:03:42

Long Version and my rant :

Pre Race : Fed ex/Bikeflights missed delivering Shariq’s bike on 2 occasions to the bike shop for reasons unknown. It just said delivery exception. We spent the Friday/day before the race running from fed ex location to the warehouse and back. And we got to hear from fed ex warehouse that a few fed ex contractors quit so no deliveries were made the last 3 days. After numerous phone calls and running around, at the end of it we finally were able to get his bike around 5 PM and have it assembled the night before the race.

Nutrition :My nutrition plan varies on how what I feel like trying each year. This year on Thursday, 2 days before the race I decided to go with UCAN but I couldn’t find a store which sold it and I did not have time to order it online so I decided to go with Hammer nutrition. My nutrition plan is sort of by feel and how the day is going to be. I prefer hot races so I can take my nutrition in the form of liquids and not worry about peeing on the bike. My goal usually is eat and drink enough so I’m not hungry which works out to be 250-300 calories an hour depending on how heavy my breakfast was. I can usually treat my body like a moving dumpster and just keep taking Gels, cliff bars, infinit nutrition , honey stingers, coke etc. whatever I get my hands on. For this race I carried 3 bottles of Hammer nutrition ( 2 scoops) along with 3 gels on the bike , but I never used the 3 gels. I’ve read stories of how people over did their nutrition and were bloated and threw up during the race. The issue I have is not eating enough. If I have to throw up I throw up before the race because of anxiousness, and then I eat a banana and a gel or something and by then it’s time to enter the water.

Race morning : We parked our cars, picked up our timings chips and are figuring things out and I feel like throwing up. It’s happened to me before and it’s not a big deal. I just got some hammer nutrition in later and I was good to go.

I’m riding my bike to T1 from the parking lot to set up my bike and my drawstring bag with my wetsuit etc falls of my shoulder straight into the front wheel and I fall of the bike and get a minor bruise on my knee. I get up and see that my front wheel is completely out of true and is scrubbing against the breaks and a spoke is broken. This is 30 – 45 minutes before the start of the race. A guy on a scooter, (yup those little scooters kids have) saw me fall and said he could probably help and I should meet him in T1. He got in touch with someone from Salt lake triathlon club , who had a spare wheel in their truck , but his truck was parked a mile away from T1. Another friend of mine Mary was racing the shorter distance and her start time was 20 min after me. So we figured I could borrow her wheel and when the guy comes back with the front wheel on the scooter, she could use that instead. I don’t know how we coordinated this , but Bill Fowler the stranger who saw me fall was able to get the wheel to Mary’s bike before she finished her swim. I can’t thank him enough. I tried looking for him after the race, but never found him to thank him in person.

Swim : Heading into the swim I knew my swim game was on point. My 500 yard time was the best it’s ever been. The swim was in a lake, it looked more like a pond to me which had us do 2 loops ( one shorter one longer). I really did not even know where was the entrance and the exit for the swim as I got my wetsuit on just 2 minutes before the start as prior to the swim ( the first time I had it on backwards). You would expect someone who has been racing for 5 years to know better, but with the broken wheel thing at 7 AM, I had no idea what was I doing).  Shariq and I started next to each other . I was breathing to my right , so I had him in sight the first few strokes and then I broke away from him in the first 50 or 100 yards. On my second loop I had to pass a lot of the Olympic distance swimmers, which wasn’t bad. It was just a draft for me I guess. When I was done with the second loop I just couldn’t figure out where was the exit.I wasn’t paying attention to the swim instructions as I had been trying to arrange a new wheel. I finally tapped one of the slower Olympic distance swimmers who was standing and catching his breath for the second loop near the island and asked where is the exit and he pointed me towards the carpet. The race had me clock in 36:30 on the swim .Ray expected me to go sub 33 based on my time trials. I was off by 3 minutes on the swim.  I saw my wife on my way to T1. The first thing I checked for when I went towards my bike was to look for Shariq’s bike. I saw his bike which meant I was ahead of him. As I was wearing my cleats I saw Shariq come up next to me stripping off his wetusit. I had probably put in about 2 minutes on him.

 

Sighting was a bit of an issue with the buoys so far out. It was a 2 loop swim with the first loop shorter than the second one.

Bike : I just knew that Shariq was going to bike hard and try catch me on the bike, because if it came down to the run he was going to smoke me. He is a 1:16 half marathoner and my PR is 1:39. As always I had a shit ton of people pass me the first 6 miles on the bike. This has been the story for the last 3 years and I hate it so much that I wanted to get off my bike and trash it. My coach Ray had asked me to keep my watts around 166 , but even before the race maybe a week ago I had made up my mind of going hard because I had raced Arizona 70.3 last year at 167 Watts, so if I have to race at the same watts a year later, it’s like I’ve made no progress. So even if it meant having a painful and slow run I was willing to accept it. My goal for this year was to race at 200 watts. My FTP this year was 223. So even if I wanted to , it was physically impossible for me to hold 200 watts for 56 miles. If it was possible and it meant blowing up on the run, I would have actually done it. This entire year all I cared about was improving my bike and it just did not happen.The improvement was marginal at best. The first half of the race was pretty flat and eventually went through Antelope Island. The island is real pretty , but it’s also hilly:). You can also spot Bisons etc.

I was holding around 175 on the flats I think. Around mile 25 I think at the turn around on the top of a hill , as I was on my way down I saw Shariq!. I probably had 20 seconds on him at best. I looked back a couple of times and every time I looked back he seemed a bit closer , eventually he caught me . We chit chatted for quite a bit as to how the course was hilly etc and remained close to each other the majority of the time.  On one of the slight downhills I decided to stomp on my pedals and when I looked back he did not respond but he wasn’t far away. Also the last 15 miles or so I was struggling to hold 160 watts. Towards the end I was confused on what left turn to take and there was one guy yelling “trail”. I had to slow down and I was on the wrong turn. My buddy caught up to me and asked me to come back . We just rode into T2 together. I looked at my garmin, I had a time of 3:02 which is my slowest bike split ever , but comparing times on courses isn’t fair, this was a relatively hilly course with about 1700 feet of net elevation gain. I like to look at watts. Trainingpeaks has my NP at 174 which is about 8 watts more than last year at Arizona.  Since Shariq’s bike and my bike were racked next to each other and as we were wearing our run shoes , I asked him what was his bike split, he told me 2:58. I was a bit surprised that his bike split was 4 minutes faster than mine. He was slower than me in 2015 at Muncie, he was 2 minutes faster in Arizona last year and this year he was 4 minutes faster. And my entire goal for this year has been to improve my bike split.  I had a peak performance per trainingpeaks where I held 177 watts for 90 minutes. I have mixed emotions around it. It’s good to see peak performances, but it’s no where close to where I wanted to be this year and also the fact that the last 40 minutes of the bike I averaged 150 watts(which is shit).

The bike course is pretty !

Run : I left T2 a bit earlier than my buddy and I wanted to “race”. In my head I was thinking maybe it’s going to be like the great Iron War where we run toe to toe, but till mile 12 instead of mile 23 since this is a half. I was holding 7:40/mile and I knew this was too fast for me but I was willing to risk it because I just did not want to lose and I knew if it was hurting me , it probably hurt my buddy as well since he biked really hard to catch up to me. So if it slows us both down, I was fine with it. Anyways he caught up to me but did not pass me which was a good sign. In the past it’s been hey Shray ! and by the time I respond he’s gone. I think his quads were cramping and I dropped him. This is literally the first time ever in the last 5 years I’ve been racing with him, that I’ve ever been able to hang on to him for more than 30 seconds, dropping him was something which gave me a morale boost . He caught up to me again and we ran together for about 2 miles which is remarkable considering the fact that his open half marathon time is 25 min faster than mine. I was hurting, my HR was over 163. In my head I was thinking , maybe it’s hurting him too and he should slow down. But that never happened, I had to slow down and it was agonizing to say the least. I tried keeping him in sight , thinking maybe when he does slow down I’ll make a move. That never happened. I was at mile 6 at the 50 minute mark which isn’t bad but Mile 9,10,11,12 ended up as a walk/jog. I was paying the price of going hard on the bike and and starting my run out too fast. I somehow ran mile 13. I finally ended with a 2:02 run split and Shariq had a 1:49 run split which is slow for him because he’s run a 1:34 at Muncie 70.3. It was clear that both of us biked a bit too hard! I remember seeing him standing and mashing the pedals on the hills. The race had a KOM segment and his bike split was 45 seconds faster than mine on that hill.  This was a pretty small race with about 12 participants in my age group. I ended up 4th in my age group and Shariq took 3rd.

I was just happy that I got to race after having a miserable start to the day:

Post Race : Nothing much really, they did not have pizza:( All they had was watermelon , bananas and a few bars. We went and dropped our bikes to the bike store, grabbed dinner and headed out for a 5 hour drive to Zion.

 

Can’t thank Mary enough for letting me borrow the Zipp 808 from her bike. Also glad that I did not get a flat because I’ve never used valve extenders.  I’d like to specially thank Bill Fowler. He was the one who arranged a wheel for me and went and got it from the truck. If anyone of you is in the salt lake city area and are looking for a training group, reach out to him.

Why did I bike so hard and not listen to my coach ? 

I am not necessarily disappointed with the performance, but I’m disappointed in the fact that I was no where close to my goal wattage for the year. I can’t expect to hold 200 watts in a 70.3 if my FTP is 220. For some reason I had this in my mind that maybe my FTP has gone up during the taper because in the build leading up to the taper I had dropped the weight sessions and increased the frequency of the bike from 3 to 4 times a week, but again I wouldn’t know it till I tried holding a higher wattage in the race( I did not take an FTP test in the taper weeks, so I have no idea what my FTP was but looking at my data I don’t think my FTP budged too much).  So keeping in mind that my FTP was around 220, racing at a NP of 174 watts is probably not the best idea, but if I raced at 165 watts, I would have been a lot slower and if my bike split was a 3:05 or slower, I would have just lost it and been demoralized . I’ve been in awe of uber bikers and wanting to go fast on the bike since I got into triathlons. I wanted a 2:45 bike split this year, which was only possible if I raced at 200 watts or so.

My coach Ray probably thinks that I should have stuck to myrace plan and raced my race and not worried about what the other person was doing. That’s probably a good idea if I was just trying to finish but I wanted to race my buddy and win , not just finish.  Also the fact that I hate losing { I’m down 3-0 to Shariq after this race 😦 } and I hate getting passed on the bike. If I was to do this race again, I would do the exact same thing, probably gone even harder on the bike if I could. I wish that I can say that I should have biked harder and made the run painful for both of us but I don’t think I could have biked any harder. The data makes it obvious. I was averaging less than 150 watts the last 40 minutes or so which is about 25 watts lower than what I started which makes it clear that I biked a bit too hard but then again I wanted to race at 200 watts( my goal for the year) race Shariq and win , not just finish the race. So biking at 165 watts was just unacceptable to me( I held this number last year, I had to beat it no matter what). I had even asked Ray how many watts should I hold for the race just to see what number he had in mind ( I already knew what his answer was going to be) , but I had already made up my mind , that I was going to go  hard on the bike and hold a higher wattage than last year even if it meant walking the run.  Had I not biked hard, my buddy would have caught up a lot sooner and would have blazed past me on the run. I would have lost either ways, but I’d rather “race”and lose rather than just stick to my plan and finish and still lose.

I still need to figure out what’s it going to cost to repair the HED carbon wheel which I broke on race morning.I bought a used pair for 650 bucks 3 weeks ago and did not even get to race on it:( . So annoyed !

Nevertheless I would like to thank Ray for keeping me sane and preventing me from overdoing my training( I actually suggested that we should do 5 bike workouts a week with doubles on 1 of the days). And had I not had a coach to keep me accountable and sane I would have actually done it. I’ve dug myself into a hole in the past when my FTP wasn’t improving and I got pissed and trained more and it just went downhill from there because I just killed myself on the bike. This is one of the reasons I wanted to get a coach, it’s not that I’m not aware on how to create a training plan, but it’s to prevent emotions taking  control of your training plan.

Would I recommend Brineman 70.3 as an A race to someone ?

Probably not. There was a lack of volunteers, I almost got lost twice on the course, they had issues with their timing chips, there was no packet pick up on Friday ( they had it on Thursday instead and race morning) and there was no pizza after the race. But for a 100 bucks for a 70.3, a couple of free photos , this isn’t a bad race. Antelope canyon is pretty, the lake at it’s deepest is just 7 feet. It’s like swimming in a really big pool. I wanted to plan a trip to Zion and Bryce for a while , that’s the reason I picked this race in Utah over an Ironman branded race.

 

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Arizona 70.3

Short Version :

Stats:
Swim – 42:19
T1 – 4:07
Bike – 2:56:37
T2 – 2:58
Run- 2:04:41

Longer Version :

Goals for the race :

1-Break 5:30
2-Beat Shariq aka the running god

2017 has been pretty uneventful when it came to racing. I usually do about 3 races in a year , but this year it was just one.  I signed up for Tempe 70.3 with 3 of my other friends – Shariq , Sangram and Mary. Sangram broke his arm a couple of months before the race which put him out of action.

My preparation for the race wasn’t where I would have liked to be . I had to relocate from Michigan to California for work in June, I had an ear infection later on and then later on it was my back and then I just had trashy month of training where my performance went downhill.  I was just glad to make it to the starting line.

Pre Race :

Sangram , Mary , Jahnavi and I drove from San Diego to Tempe. On our way we hit a border patrol checkpoint in Arizona and we were asked to present our visa copies etc to show that we are here legally.  We just had our licenses on us, we were not carrying our passports and our visa copies. After making us wait the border patrol officer lectured us as to how we should carry our visa documents at any given point in time and the license with us isn’t good enough proof to show that we are here legally. This highway was just a few miles from the Mexican border , hence the scruitny. He obviously ran our licenses and figured out we were here legally and then let us go.  Once we reached Tempe, Shariq and I got race wheels set up on our bikes and headed to the expo with the rest of our support crew to drop our bikes off and pick up our packets.

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Arizona was hot and dry. The moment we reached Arizona I just could not get enough water. Even in my room with the AC on , I was thirsty , my lips felt chapped and my throat was dry . I just could not seem to get enough water.

Race Morning:

This year for some reason we were overly relaxed when it came to pre race prep , we were LATE on race morning, we did not bother looking up road closures etc. I think we made it to the transition area at 6:25 and Shariq’s wave started at 6:30. I was still in the transition at 6 35 trying to tape gels to Shariq’s and my bike while he left for his wave. To make matters worse I had clipped my nails before the race , I just could not open the fuckin tape. I think it was Jahnavi who helped me open the tape then ( She was standing near the transition ). I also forgot to fill in water in my front bottle and then realized that Shariq’s bike was missing his water bottles. I stepped out of transition to get his stuff but wasn’t allowed back in. A volunteer at the transition area agreed to go and put the bottles on Shariq’s bike. At the end of it considering how late we were ,  it worked out pretty well. Once the bikes were set up Mary and I had ample time , almost an hour and half till our waves got going. So we just took pictures !

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Swim:

Goal Time : 38:00
Actual Time : 42:19

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My swim prep this year was minimal. I probably swam twice a week, not more than 2000 yards and I did not start swimming till it was mid July. Talk about overconfidence. My swim sessions were around 45 min . Last year I was spending about 90 minutes in the water .

My swim did not start till 8:05 , which gave me plenty of time to relax but by 7:50 Am or so , the sun was out  and I was starting to sweat in my wetsuit and I had realized the night before that starting the swim at 8:05 mean I would be start running a half marathon at NOON and it would be around 96 degrees.  This was my first open water swim of the year , there were buoys every 100m and sighting wasn’t that bad considering the sun was already out. The race was wetsuit legal and the water felt comfortable . Not too cold not too warm. I felt alright during the swim , passed a few  people from the wave before me. When I came out of the water and saw my garmin , it was 42 min , I was a little disappointed but from what I had read earlier, people usually have slower swim times in Arizona.  At grand rapids last year I swam the same distance in 37 minutes, but then comparing open water race time’s isn’t the same as comparing your times in a pool.  I came out of the water , I saw Sangram and Jahnavi which bought a smile to my face. and words of encouragement always make you run a bit faster . Before I started my swim , Shariq was already done with his and already on the bike and I knew he had completed the swim in 41 min or so , so I knew my chances of beating him were slipping away as there was no way I was going match his run time .

Bike :

Goal Normalized Power : 180 Watts
Actual Normalized Power : 175 Watts

Actual Goal Time : Low 2:50’s
Actual Time: 2:56

My bike prep this year was full of ups and down’s . I had done a few 70 mile outdoor rides to Oceanside. I had my FTP go up from 200 to 220 in the first 6 week of prep, but then I struggled to maintain it and eventually my FTP plummeted to around 210 I think.

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The bike course consists of three 18 mile loops , which is relatively flat but a shit load of turns. I think maybe a total of 90 turns in 3 loops ?  I felt pretty comfortable on the bike, on the flat and relatively longer sections of the road I saw my average speed above 22 MPH which is good news in my head. The course had quite a few turn arounds and 90 degree turns and then multiply that by 3. It breaks your rhythym, as the day progressed it was getting hotter. Unlike my previous races, I did not have an urge to pee on the bike, because it was pretty warm. The second half felt like a drag because the bike course was getting deserted( My age group was the last wave to start ) to start and it was hot and I usually push my self harder by trying to keep up with bikes ahead of me, but when the bike course is empty , it’s sort of dull and it’s hard to push yourself.  During the bike course I saw Jahnavi and Sangram once , it’s always good to see your friends and family on the course. It made me happy.  I took the last lap a bit easy knowing there was a run ahead of me. Looking at my data , I had a normalized power of 176 Watts with an IF of 81 which I think is spot on pacing for a Half Ironman , I was expecting a 2:50ish bike split, but it was 2:56 :(. Also I sort of knew at this point that I wasn’t going to beat Shariq because I needed to open up a gap on him on the bike , but with a 2:56 bike split, I knew that wasn’t going to work.  ( After the race I realized his bike split was a 2:55), so he not only improved his bike time from his previous races but also beat mine. Looking at his run time , I think he went out too hard on the bike.

Run :

Goal time not accounting for the heat – 1: 50s
Goal time once I realized I was going to be running at noon : Sub 2 hours
Actual time : 2:04

The moment I started my run I knew it was going to be a tough one.  It was HOT AF. The first mile I looked at my watch and my  pace was around 7:50 – 8 min a mile , I knew this was unsustainable considering the heat and how thirsty I was . Then I could feel both my quads cramping , but I kept pushing through.  ( I  later on checked my data and my average moving pace for the first mile was 7:40 a mile, but a pee break and stopping at the aid stations led to a slower average pace ) , clearly I was capable of running after the bike, but the thirst and aid station stops ruined the run for me.  I did make it to the first aid station and I just couldn’t get enough water. I think I had 3-4 of those small cups, poured some over my head , then I took some ice and stuffed it in my tri suit and started running again but my thirst was still not quenched , and then not even 400 meters in I was thirsty again and my mouth was dry.  This is where I was annoyed because I was not that tired and I knew I could run the distance probably with minimal walk breaks but I was so damn thirsty the entire time . The run was pretty uneventful, just scorching heat burning my soul and making me regret my decisions and just whining in my head about the fact that mine was the last wave to go (1.5 hours from the first wave) , which makes it unfair.  My legs felt fine but I was just thirsty and couldn’t quench my thirst. I saw this lady go by me , all I remember was seeing her name on the bib and it said Monica. I tried to keep up with her , and it took me about 20 seconds and I let her go.  She was probably running sub 7 min a mile which is out of my league. Later on during the awards , I heard her name being announced as she got a qualifying slot for the 70.3 word championships.  Come to think about it, i stopped for at least 30 + seconds at every aid station trying to drink water , Gatorade , drench my self with a few cups and then trying to get some Ice in my tri suit to cool me down.  To put things in perspective even if my average moving pace was 8:30 a mile and every aid station stop cost me 30 seconds ( conservative estimate) , 12 to 13 stops ends up costing you about 6 min of your race time. In my head I was thinking if my wave started at 6 30 I would have been done by now and would not have to suffer in this heat.  I did have some company on the run which kept me going.  At the end of it I was glad I finished. Like every other race , made a jump at the finish line.

130_3rd-2332339-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-1995_053663-12641717 My run split was around 2:04 and I was disappointed but then I also knew it’s unrealstic to expect a decent run when its 96 degrees and you start you run at NOON. Shariq ran a 1:49 and he had run a 1:34 at Muncie 70.3 , he also had issues on the run as his tracking anklet  came off , so he had to run with it in his hand and bend down at every sensor to make sure his anklet beeped every time he crossed it.  I would have loved to race him head to head in the same conditions , but his age group/wave was different ( 30 – 34 ) @6:30 AM and I was in the( 25-29) @ 8:05 AM . I never even saw him on the course. Well there is always next year 🙂

Post Race:

We waited for Mary to finish. She did pretty well considering she took a giant leap from a 5k to a Half Ironman , took a few pics, had dinner and drove down to Page , AZ so we can check out the Horseshoe bend and the Antelope canyon the next day.

Read about our Page trip here :

Sun’s out , Guns out !
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This race left me pondering , should I hire a coach ? I always seem to peak way too early before the race and then struggle to maintain my FTP and it’s been almost 1.5 years I’ve not broke past 220 Watts in my FTP test. That seems to be the ceiling I can’t get past. I had the same issue with Ironman Louisville , where my FTP was highest on the bike in the month of February (220 ish) and then I never improved  beyond that and struggled to maintain that FTP till October (214 Wattts). I do feel like I can go  faster and have a lot more potential , but I am never in the best shape on race day when it comes to the bike.

I haven’t decided what race I am doing next year , but I really want to break 5:30 in the 70.3 distance and get my FTP to 250 watts and break past the 220 Watt barrier.

Also I realized that this sport is pretty expensive and is burning a hole in my pocket. This led me to look for ways to look for additional sources of income – I.e. Bitcoin Mining with a cloud mining company called genesis mining. You all can do your own research but it’s been working out fine for me. If you all could use my code on genesis mining , I can return the favor 🙂

 

Chain Smoker to Triathelete

I started smoking when I was 17 or 18. At the time I smoked just for the sake of it , maybe to be cool. But before I realized it, I was addicted to cigarettes. I still remember telling myself , I am gonna try every brand once and I will quit before I get addicted. Before I realized it I was in college and had more freedom during the day, and the next thing you know –  I was addicted to cigarettes. I came down to the US for my undergrad and since I did not have a car and I hated walking down to the gas station for a pack in the fuckin winter(my first sem in the US was a spring semester in MINNESOTA, FML), I started buying cartons and  every time  I stepped out I had a cigarette dangling off my lips. I pretty much never thought of giving up smoking, because I had reached a point where I knew no matter how hard I tried I was going to fail. Fast forward to grad school, somewhere in 2011, I was lifting weights and tried to be regular but I was still smoking as if there was no tomorrow and still enjoyed getting drunk as fuck on Friday nights! Somewhere along the line I came across nicotine patches, I tried to be extremely sincere and did not smoke for almost a month and the patches do help. The first week was the worst, I threw up, got dizzy but stuck to it and was clean for a month and then I slacked again. In the mean time one of my buddies Md Shariq had registered for a 5K and wanted me to do it. I just said yes for the sake of it and was sort of looking forward to it at least when I signed up . The day before the race I was up till 3 or 4 AM drinking old monk ( for those of you who haven’t tired it, you need to!) and was praying that my buddy does not show up in the morning to wake me up ( I am glad now that he showed up and since I said I would drive him to the race venue , I did not have a heart to say no). So that was my first 5k and I think I was coughing so much that I wasn’t able to throw up properly but all that I was coughing out was mucus.

What did I learn from the race? That I am an asshole and could not stand the fact that women beat me. My time for the race was 28:10. My buddy on the other hand won the race with a time of 18 minutes. When I looked at his time, that’s when I realized, “Oh! so all that running he does actually pays of and damn is he fast”. I figured he was fast when I saw him at the start line , but a 10 min difference between our times gave me a better picture as to how bad I sucked.

Here is a pic of me prior to the race. A complete running newbile!!If you zoom in you can tell I am wearing Jordans. I thought these shoes were as good as running shoes if not better. FML

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There was a part of me which said this is just BS , you are not meant for long distance running, just stick to lifting weights. Somehow that one 5k, turned into occasional runs in the evening with my buddy with a quest to beat my previous time. It didn’t take me long to understand, that the entire ideology of, If I don’t win I don’t see a point in running, is wrong. I, without realizing it wanted to beat my previous time and I did not care if the person ahead of me was a female, a male or a kid. I just wanted to beat my time and be a better athlete than what I was yesterday. Now that’s training mistake number 1, try and go as hard as you can every time you run! . After a few 5k’s I decided I should sign up for a 10k and since I was not dying in a 5k I should be fine for a 10k. You can tell from the pic below that I was still a running newbie, I decided to start in the front so I end up with a better time :/ Had no clue about gun time vs chip time.

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I was actually impressed with my time (50:30) even though a lot of people overtook me in the first mile and I felt I was really slow even though I was not. It’s all relative! I had done it unbroken, my pace was faster than my first 5k and was pretty close to my then 5k pace. Then came winter, and I went back into hibernation and lifting weights. I was still smoking at the time and was experimenting with nicotine patches and wasn’t really successful.

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At around 2 AM one night, randomly surfing and killing time I saw an advertisement or an article, I forget what it was , but it was for a half marathon in New Bedford, MA( I lived in New Bedford at the time). I was like, ” I should do this, I’ve done a 10K and I wasn’t dying, maybe if I slow down a bit I can pull of a 21k”. I started pestering my buddy to sign up for it, for whatever reason he decided not to sign up but he said he would pace me and run as a bandit. I never understood the logic, but I was happy that he would pace me and not run his own race. I obviously had not trained for this since I was in hibernation. So the only thing I was relying on was my overconfidence and self pep talk – it’s just twice of a 10k, it can’t be that hard.  I had a goal to break 2 hours ( gave myself an additional 10 minutes based off my last 10k race). Prior to the race I stuck a nicotine patch so I didn’t crave a cigarette before the race started and I was still smoking the night before.I somehow finished the race unbroken, but not surprisingly in pain and in agony and missed my  sub 2 hour goal by 1 min and 29 seconds.:(

Pain and Agony

Pain and Agony

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My buddy on the other hand was having a ball. He could have solved math problems at this pace.

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The icing on the cake was the medal. I remember trying to walk and I was unable to for almost a week, it wasn’t DOMS, but it was my knees ( my knees were just not ready for 21 kms of poundage). During this time I was still on and off with my smoking. Fast forward to 2014, I decided that I’ve done a half , its time for a full. I had moved to a new place and had started using Chantix consistently and was weaning off the smoking. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to muscle my way though a full, especially if I was smoking, as luck would have it I found this amazing training group in Pittsburgh – Fleet Feet. They had marathon programs where about 200 people would meet every Sunday and you would be divided into pace groups and maps were given to you and every pace group had a leader to pace you. All you had to do was show up and just follow the person ahead of you. They also had water stops set up. My goal was to break 4 hours , and during my training I had broken my goal for 2 hours in the half which I had missed when I had attempted it for the first time. As luck would have it , I missed my goal by 34 seconds. I had almost given up smoking during this time all thanks to Chantix. Now I had no idea what to do, I certainly did not want to run another marathon anytime soon just to break the 4 hour mark. Had you asked me in 2012,  whats the difference between a 5k and a marathon I would have said a marathon and a 5k are the same thing, and had you asked me to run 42 km, I would think you’re just fuckin stupid and why would someone even want to do it. My brain would not have been able to comprehend the fact that someone could run 42km. So, after the marathon I wanted something challenging and new to break the monotony and something which was less stressful on my body. I was sort of aware as to what a triathalon was all thanks to google/youtube suggestions and the rest was taken care by my curiosity. So.So I asked my buddy , to sign up for the half Ironman ( 70.3). It took some convincing but I finally talked him into it. We signed up for Ironman Muncie 70.3 2015. In the time leading up to Muncie I had relapsed for about 2 weeks and then started Chantix again. At the time I could only doggy paddle 2 lengths of the pool and did not own a bike.  While training for the 70.3, I had set a new goal to break 1:45 in the Pitts half marathon. The timing was perfect , the Pitts half was about 2 months before the 70.3 which meant I got to train with fleet feet again. All I did was show up to the sunday runs and tried to hold an 8 min pace for as long as I could. Considering how unlucky I am, I missed my goal by one second, my net time was 1:45:01 in the Pitts half, but I wasn’t really upset since I had broken 1:45 in a prep race about 2 months ago and I had just recovered from a flu and pittsburgh is a pretty tough course. I later went on to complete my half Ironman in under 6 hours and felt- “this wasn’t that hard, and was probably easier than a marathon”.

Click here for the article on the comparison between a 70.3 and a 26.2.

I still wasn’t completely smoke free after my 70.3, I was still bumming cigarettes if I stepped out with one of my co workers who smoked .I still have some chantix left over, in case I ever get drunk and buy a pack and before heading into a downward spiral I get up next morning and pop in a chantix to kill any cravings I might have. My buddy and I have now signed up for IM Coeur d’alene and I have moved to Philly because of work.The winter is going to be brutal but I guess I have to suck it up, I am still looking for a group like fleet feet which has organized runs and has everyone training for a common race, that way everyone is consistent and you run with the same pace group every week and you get better as a group.

A lot of times I have wondered why haven’t I gotten faster if I’ve been running for 3 years? Well I did get a bit faster, but consistency is the key. You are not going to get significantly faster in a 5k if you are training for a marathon and putting in long slow runs and not doing tempo or intervals. They key to getting faster is to run faster which means track workouts and tempos! and I never did them. I did however learn to sustain a certain pace for longer distances as a result of the Sunday runs. After my marathon I haven’t really raced a 5k, so I do not know how much faster I am over the shorter distance. Also after my marathon in 2014 and my half ironman in 2015, I did not continue to run. I took a break and played soccer, lifted weights, traveled . As of now ( late 2015) I am not really lifting, I’m just focusing on my swim and plan to start running seriously in Feb. Till then I plan to bike indoors and just swim and lift occasionally. Also, I haven’t bought a pack in over 4 months now. I occasionally still do crave cigarettes and try not to give into to the urge.

Here are my race times in the past 3 years

My first 5k – 28:10 (April 2012)

My 10k – 50:30 ( Oct 2012)

First 13.1 – 2:01:29 ( March 2013)

My PR on a 5k – 22:42 (April 2013 )

My average 5k race time then : ~ 24 minutes and 30 seconds

Second half marathon – 1:54 ( March 2014)

Pitts Marathon – 4:00:34 ( May 2014)

Pitts Half marathon  – 1:45:01 ( May 2015)

Ironman Muncie 70.3 – 5:56 ( July 2015)
or you could just check my races out at athlinks 🙂
http://www.athlinks.com/athletes/238147739

So that has been my journey in terms of races and getting faster and/or running longer. It’s been an enjoyable journey so far, looking back I have no regrets of going to bed early on Sat nights so I could get up at 6 am on a sunday for my long runs. I never even thought in my wildest dreams that I could quit smoking or run a marathon or sign up for an Ironman. But I’ve realized that besides consistency in training, one of the most important things is to believe in yourself . I remember spending 6 weeks in the pool , 4 days a week and all I could swim was about 75 yards and was wondering how am I ever going to swim a mile. Well I never gave up and believed that I was going to do it, that lead me to be consistent with my training and before I realized it I was swimming ~2500 yards in the pool easy.

I still have not quit smoking, I might smoke or bum one from someone once in a month or if I come across a buddy who I used to smoke with. I hope to be able to resist the urge moving forward, as a back up I still have chantix with me. But from smoking a pack a day to smoking maybe 1 or 2 in a month is something I am proud of. I still do crave cigarettes occasionally, but the urges are not that bad where I need to go and buy a pack immediately. They wear off within 15-20 minutes. Hopefully by Aug 2016 I am completely smoke free and am ready for my Ironman.

At the end of it I would just like to say, take small steps at a time. Quitting smoking is hard, its not impossible. If need be talk to a doctor about options for quitting smoking. Had you asked me in early 2011, would I ever do a marathon I would have said a NO, had you asked me will I ever do an ironman? Even before I said a no, I would have failed to believe that normal people can do it. Had you asked me, would I be able to cut down smoking to a point where I would be fine if I did not smoke for a week? I would have laughed and lit up another cigarette. Your body and your mind are remarkable. Your body adapts sooner than you think and you need to believe that what you are aiming for is achievable. If other people have done it , so can you. It is possible to quit smoking and lead a healthy lifestyle and even participate in endurance sports even if you have been a smoker all your life and have been a couch potato for a while .

Failure is the stepping stone to success, if you fail in your first attempt to quit smoking, keep trying . If you could not run a 5k unbroken, be patient and keep trying. It’s only a matter of time before the persistent efforts pay of.

#chantix, #smoking