For the past month or so, we’ve been doing the 100 workout weekly in Manhattan Beach. It consists of the workout below:
Jumping jacks are pretty easy until 75 or so then it starts to burn. Crunches are doable but still gives a good core workout. Squats are great for working out the run muscles. Ooh but leg lifts are my huge weakness! Sometimes I would have to rest a few seconds. I could see these leg lifts will improve my core stability especially in my swims. Then repeat. Usually we would run for 45 or so minutes instead of the 10 scheduled in the 100, but yesterday we rushed a quick 10 minute run due to time constraints. Overall, it’s a great full body workout, with a focus on the core and leg muscles. I do hope to be consistent with this, and maybe add in 2 or 3 sessions thoughout the week!
Marathon Maniacs is an organization for runners who meet a certain criteria of marathon craziness, so to speak. There are different levels of qualifying, lowest (Bronze) of which is 2 marathons in 16 days or 3 marathons in 90 days. The highest level (Titanium) is 52 marathons, 30 marathons in 30 states, or 20 countries, in a year. All marathons have to be official, so you can’t include training distance marathons. We’re also allowed to count an ultramarathon as one of the races.
How did I learn about this organization? I just happened to notice a MM race singlet someone was wearing at a marathon, and I was curious. Honestly, I thought the logo and cartoon was a bit ugly, but that’s just the artist/designer in me. So then I looked them up online and the rest was history. Why would I want to join it in the first place? It’s not a training group or anything like that. I guess it was just to join a community of crazy runners. Here’s an excerpt from their website, and I said yes to all of these:
Do your thoughts switch to the next scheduled race immediately after finishing a marathon?
Are you signed up for more than one race right now?
Do you know specifics about many of the marathons? Dates, courses, years run, etc.?
Do you know the story of how the marathon got started? Also why the course is 26.2 miles?
Do you read books on marathons like Marathon and Beyond?
Do you start to feel down when you haven’t run a marathon in a while?
Do you have so many marathon medals that you’ve run out of room on the hook they hang from?
When asked by loved ones what your plans are for the weekend, you feel guilty telling them your running another marathon so you tell them “it’s only a half this weekend”?
Do you plan all your vacations around a marathon race?
I tried to qualify a few years ago, but scheduling prevented me from doing so. I was also planning to later this year with RNR Denver Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, and a third event too, then I noticed something as I was updating this blog. I had already unknowingly qualified this year!
Ray Miller 50k – February
RNR New Orleans Marathon – February
Leona Divide 50M – April
Yup, 2 ultras and a marathon. I barely got that third event in there at the tail end of the 90 days! So what next? I had to email the Marathon Maniac Board of Directors to see if I qualify by sending this information:
Your Best Hard Core Marathon Streak
Ultra’s And Marathons Run This Year
Lifetime Ultra’s And Marathons Run To Date
Which States You Have Run A Marathon In
Within 24 hours I received a response that I was a Marathon Maniac (#7151)! What do I get by being in it? I’m invited to their private online forum and Facebook group, I’m allowed to buy their member apparel, I get their monthly newsletter, and I also receive discounts to certain races. It also cost $35 to join, with a $10 annual fee, not bad. I can see this as also an ice breaker to meeting other Maniacs whenever I travel for other races, because you know me, I love to meet new people! I look forward to this new side adventure of being a Marathon Maniac!
Have you ever played Mario Kart? Well there’s a time trial mode in there where you race a semi-transparent version of your best time trial. Just you vs the ghost, and no one else. I like to add video game thinking into whenever I train or race. You know, when it comes video games in general, when you first play through a certain level or game, your goal really is to just get through it, then through repetition you actually get better and better. In Mario Kart Ghost mode, you’re always learning by doing. You see your previous ghost make mistakes on the screen, and you remember it, so you don’t make that same mistake. You see where you could take that turn most efficiently. You remember not to turn too fast there because you might hit a wall.
So in the basic elements of this mental strategy in a group training setting or race, whether it be triathlon, Ironman, marathon, ultramarathon training, it’s all the same. Ignore everyone else around you. Don’t compare yourself to the next person. You’ll get stumped or distracted by x or y, why you’re not keeping up with the pack, or why you can’t be like them. You don’t know their race experience, they don’t know yours. So the best way to approach every time you’re out there, as I’ve been doing for years, is to race your ghost. When you’re setting out to a PR, you’re not racing against the person infront of you, you’re racing against your past self. Also, in Mario Kart, there are different tracks, much like there are different races. Don’t get all bummed out if you don’t set your best time in one track versus another. Each course has its own challenges. If you fail, no worries, go back to the start menu, pick another course, and keep playing.
This morning was my first weekend run with The Coyotes running group. If you don’t know who they are, they’re a well known group in the trail/ultra community founded and coached by Jimmy Dean Freeman and his wife Kate. They coach all levels for marathon distance to 100+ mile distance races. I’ve always heard of them through mutual friends running with them in the past, or you see their presence around these Westside trails and ultramarathons.
Since most of my close friends are still in triathlon training or coaching, I felt a little antsy in this "off-season" not really training for anything. So I decided to at least do something. I need some kind of training structure or some race, otherwise I won’t run on my own. I mean, look, I haven’t swam or biked in months because I really don’t have a triathlon coming up, and I’m fine with that.
So this, joining The Coyotes, will be a good thing. I know I still need to work on my running. I know I can get stronger, faster, and more skilled in those technical trails, and I believe Coach Jimmy & Kate will take me there. Now for the race? I’m not registered yet but I’m 99% sure I’ll be signing up for the Mt. Disappointment 50k on July 13. Everyone I’ve talked to about that race said that it’s no joke! I’ll post details about it later, but it’s a 6000+ total gain, with 2 giant climbs of 3 miles @ 2000. Oh, and it’s in the middle of summer and it’s supposed to be HOT. Challenge accepted!
So back to this morning’s run. We met in the neighborhoods of Brentwood near Sullivan Canyon at 7:30am. As a newbie, I was a little intimidated because everyone already knew everyone else. The Coyote structure is a training session of 4 or so months and each cycle has a unique nickname. Our "season" is called Trail Nirvana. There’s also two different coached options. I signed up for "Come As You Are" program which allows me to come to every run session, but I have to build my own schedule myself. I still have access to all the coaches though for tips and suggestions along the way. The full program is everything, custom coached plans. It’s cool because almost everyone I talked to this morning had a different race, and the coaches have a unique plan for each because everyone has different experiences and race goals.
After everyone checked in, Coach Jimmy did some announcements, kicking off the official training season, then we were off! Sullivan started off with a nice downhill to get warmed up, with great tree coverage. Everyone kept a nice comfortable pace, even running on most of the inclines. This was where I got to meet and get to know some new friendly faces.
Up by the top of Sullivan and Mulholland, Coach Kate gave options for people to run depending on their planned mileage of the day. I decided to do 3 hours today so I stayed with the longer run people. Coach took some of us down a challenging but fun single track descent called Farmer’s Ridge. Ooh we were flying down that thing! A lot of switchbacks and uneven terrain, but I loved it! Coach also made sure our downhill running form was correct and she pointed out to correct my shoulders a few times, which I appreciated because I tend to have bad back & shoulder form sometimes.
After that, we ran up some pretty significant but runnable climbs until it was time to return back. My friend Craig then took us down Bobsled Trail, which was pretty fast & steep but had banked curves for some fun single track technical practicing. At the bottom, Coach Jimmy was waiting for everyone. It was a quick cool down run back to the cars then we were greeted by Coach Kate and these bad boys:
My friend Kelley made these. I believe they were Rice Krispy, Captain Crunch, and marshmallows, covered in some sweet peanut butter covering. Mmm mmm it was delicious! Overall, a fun morning and looked at my watch at the end of all of it, I did 14.15 miles in 2:50, with an average pace of 12:08 min mile. Faster than my usual trail running average, so I was happy about that! Since Leona I’ve only done some quick midweek runs and the half marathon last weekend, so I’m glad to be back in the running mix! I could already tell that I’ll enjoy the rest of the season with cool teammates and great coaches! Looking forward to more!
It’s been about a month since Leona Divide, and some of you know, I take my recovery time very seriously. I took 2 weeks off from running completely, then just 3 miles the week after, then 3 miles the week of the race. In between though, I squeezed in some spin and cardio classes at the gym, and some 100 workouts.
On race morning, my friend Ed and I walked about a half mile from the hotel to the start line. It was perfect running weather, probably around 60F with a slight wind. Overcast, very Pacific Northwest usual. Just like all the other Rock N Roll run events, it was a very well organized race. Corrals were visibly marked and weren’t too packed at the time we got there, so we just slipped on in and just hung out until 8:00am. We eventually met up with our friends Grace and Mike. The National Anthem, some announcements, then there were a few minutes of silence in honor of the Boston Marathon victims. Everyone held peace signs up in the air for one very powerful moment.
The course started and finished Downtown adjacent to Waterfront Park. Overall, the field was spacious and there were no bottlenecks. Aid stations were well manned with volunteers on the ready. We all ran along the waterfront on Naito Pkwy and loop around Downtown, then we crossed a few bridges, which were pretty fascinating. It actually felt a little weird running on some carpet-like covers for the metal mesh of the bridge itself. We had to be careful because the carpet bunched up at times.
We then ran through beautiful neighborhoods with residents sporadically stationed cheering everyone on with creative signs and noisemakers. My favorite was the Laurelhurst neighborhood and park, pictured above. Loved the tree-lined streets and observing the uniquely designed houses. There were a few hills spread throughout the course, I think around 7 and 9, but after Leona, it didn’t seem like a big deal anymore. We then looped around to finish in the downtown area, filled with the spectators. Just like all Rock N Roll finishes, this also had high energy and packed with friendly faces!
Done! I wasn’t really sure what my finishing time was, as we weren’t paying attention to it. We did stick to a run/walk interval at a comfortable conversational pace. I really needed that, especially jumping from previous 3 mile run to 13.1! Oops! We ran as a group the whole time, taking photos at every mile marker, so that kept us busy and it was quite fun! I would recommend this race if you want to visit a great city, with a not too difficult course. We then celebrated our race with our own little pub crawl around the city via Brewcycle. Good times!!
I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Amy Richard through TNT’s IronTEAM program, where we trained for 2 consecutive years for Vineman Full and Ironman Canada. She’s a good friend of mine and she entered into Ironman’s Kona Inspired contest, where participants have an opportunity to tell the world how they live the Ironman mantra, “Anything is Possible,” for a chance to race the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI. You can check her story by watching her video, plus I asked her a few more questions:
How did you get started with triathlons?
It was 3 years ago. I was unemployed at the time. I wanted to do a Team in Training event in memory of a dear friend who lost her battle to Leukemia when she and I were 15. Since I had time, I thought, why not do an Ironman? I joined the Greater LA Ironteam and fell in love with the team and triathlon instantly. I cannot imagine life without it now. It’s hard. I was a ballet dancer. But I love the challenge and doing it for a cause that I care deeply about.
Do you have a name for your bike? Is there a meaning behind it?
My bike’s name is Gandalf. I love lord of the rings. My bike is Grey like Gandalf and I like to think he helps me go “fast.”
Have you ever gone through a mental slump in training? If so, how did you overcome it?
Yes. This year has been quite difficult. I am thankful for friends and family who help me refocus when I lose sight of what really matters – the cause. I also think of my students and remember that I encourage them to never give up. If I tell them to do it then I must do it myself. There have been more runs this year that I’ve wanted to skip but I think of my kids and I lace up my shoes and it always feel amazing. I just think of those who cannot and that always helps me go on.
What’s your favorite thing to do in transition before a big race?
Talk to my friends, go for a short run, and a hug from coaches!
You’ve had more than a year of experience training for triathlons, especially for an Ironman. I also know you have busy lives outside of training. How do you balance all of that?
I am a teacher and so I am good at planning my day and scheduling. I always look at the training schedule ahead of time and plan my days. I am lucky to have a schedule that allows me to train as well as a supportive husband who lets me train on the weekends.
What advice would you give a newbie who is interested in starting to train for a triathlon for the first time?
Join a team! Team in Training is amazing. Seriously, if you have any inkling of wanting to do an Ironman, join an organization like TNT.
What is your ultimate favorite food (non race-related)?
That’s a tough one. Vegetables! Especially broccoli, brussel sprouts, and zucchini.
I was very honored to have assistant-coached this inaugural TNT UltraTEAM 23-week season. I didn’t get to blog about it during the season, but if you’re my Facebook friend, you would have seen the beautiful views and trails we saw week to week. Above was the slideshow I made for our team’s TNT send-off/inspiration dinner the week before Leona, recapping all of our adventures through the Greater LA trails.
I have to tell you, it was one of my most memorable seasons with TNT. From the very first practice, I was in awe of the scenery. Not only that, the progress of our team, from day one to Leona Divide was amazing. As time went on, we went deep into the Santa Monica and SGV Mountains, explored trails I never thought I would be running on. I was one with nature. You know that feeling when you have a window seat on the plane, looking out the window, where everything gets smaller and smaller? The feeling of all your troubles were just really minuscule? The world is out there, and we were experiencing it.
I really can’t believe 23 weeks of ultramarathon training has passed! I still can’t believe I did the race! It didn’t hit me until a week later, so it took some time for me to collect my thoughts. What I’m about to tell you was exactly how it all went down, because it wasn’t at all close to perfect, my first 50 mile ultramarathon.
A bit about the event itself – The 21st Annual Leona Divide was a 50k and 50 mile ultramarathon that took place at Lake Hughes, CA through the Angeles National Forest last Saturday, April 27. The 50k course took you through the same 22 miles as the 50M, then turned around back to the start with a total elevation gain of 4900 feet. The 50M continued to a mile 29 turnaround point then back to complete the 50 with a total elevation gain of 8900 feet. Some highlights included 39.5 miles of PCT (Pacific Crest Trail is a connecting trail from the border of Mexico all the way up to Canada), 10.5 miles of fire roads, and amazing experienced ultra runner volunteers at each of the 10 aid stations.
A few weeks prior to the race, the UltraTEAM did a training weekend at Lake Hughes, to scope out exactly what was in store for us. This was key to help me visualize my raceday. We did 22 miles on Saturday, which was the front part of the course, then 13 on Sunday we did the back part. The weeks following, I organized and set up a Google spreadsheet covering an estimate timeline of the actual race, with time cutoffs, mileage markers, aid stations, and packing lists. I also included my nutritional intake scenarios.
1) Just finish.
2) Since it was my first 50M, my mentality coming into it was that no matter what happens, I needed to give it my all, and if anything, this needed to be a learning experience race.
Arrived in Palmdale the day before the race. Fortunately my job allowed me to work remotely to beat the Friday traffic. Driving up that morning, I could already feel the wrath of the heat in Palmdale. Ugh! After “work”, a bunch of us drove down to the Lake Hughes Community Center where our race packet pickup was. The goodie bag consisted of our race number (with the timing chip pasted behind it), Trail Runner magazine, stickers and Clif Bars. Pretty basic. Also, for $7 the race provided a pre-race pasta dinner that left me satisfied and ready to race!
Woke up around 3am to make the 3:30am hotel lobby departure time. It was important that we got to the Lake Hughes Community Center by 4am to beat the traffic and get a spot in the small parking lot. We left our drop bags in the designated areas, just hung out inside the center to stay warm (it was about 40 degrees outside).
Staying warm. Usual Donny pose in this pic!
We were warned numerous times (emails, at packet pickup) that the day will get HOT. You’ll see in the following video that they announced it as well.
And we were off!
Start to Aid #3
The start was at the end of the parking lot. Off the gates it was uphill, for about 3 miles, then some rollers. This first section was wide enough to handle the bulk of the people, over fire roads. Kept it nice and easy (as easy as an uphill could be).
Uphill from the start! Ugh!
Saw many of my teammates and eventually ran with another teammate Becca. We kept it nice and conversational, and at a comfortable pace. Felt so great by this point – Hydration was ahead, pace was also a little ahead of schedule. Aid #3 (mile 16.4) was also Aid #9 (mile 42.6), and designated as the Team in Training support & cheer. It was still pretty early, like 9:30am, so it was mainly volunteers. I was glad my friend Raul was there to help me with my drop bag and refilling nutrition! Thanks Raul!
Wide fire roads in the beginning.
See? The moon was still out.
Aid 3 to 4
After leaving the aid station, the heat picked up very considerably. As you can see from the elevation chart, it was a 4 mile, 1500 feet ascent. No shade. Something happened there that I’m still a little stumped about. I thought I was ahead of my hydration, but no, my stomach disagreed. My heart rate increased. I could feel my heartbeat pulsating. What was going on? I drank some more. I took it easy and slowed my brisk hike to a very slow walk. I tried to eat, but my appetite and my stomach still weren’t giving in. Mile 18ish, threw up. Not a lot, but enough to get me a little dizzy. Great, there’s 32 more miles ahead of me, and this was happening! Walked more, then at mile 20 or so, threw up a little again. Ugh! At one point though, I remember seeing a beautiful butterfly leading my path and thought of my friend, Mari, and made me happy. Felt like she was watching, cheering me on to continue.
Even this looks HOT
Aid 4 to 6
During training weekend, this part was actually my favorite part of the course. Sweet single track trails, mainly covered, cooler temperatures. I strategized to pick up speed here to make up for the slow uphill. Nope.com. I was still feeling weak, and I tried to eat as much as I could. I had to walk. Something kicked in that you never want to have during a race – doubt. It is the biggest evil. It can spiral down to a point where getting out of it would seem impossible. My average pace was slowly dropping to the red, and I already knew by that point I was cutting it real close to the Aid #6 cutoff, which was 2pm.
What’s even worse? I really really needed to take a SHIT. Yup, that’s right. Imagine trying to run with that feeling! These wide fire roads leading to 6 was unforgiving for having a nature dump. To your left was an edge to the bottom of the mountain, and to the right was the mountain, and hardly any side trails. Crap! (no pun intended) Where do I go?!? Luckily I found an area to hide behind. Ok, let’s go! As I squatted, my left calf CRAMPED UP! W.T.F! Ouch!! Luckily I didn’t fall down into my own “nature dump.” Whew! What a relief! Well, not really. My left calf was still cramping, so I had to walk it off, at an area where I would normally be running – a nice steep descent.
Running to Aid #6
2:10pm. Cutoff for Aid #6 was 2:00. Volunteers were packing up. The much needed misting station turned off. I was such at a daze, I don’t think I was even worried or disappointed that I was about to get cut off to DNF (Did Not Finish) status. I kind of just stood there, then I saw our head coach Arkady, who guided me through the station, trying to talk to someone to allow me to go. There were some doubtful volunteers. I remember some guy, saying, “Sorry man, you’re 10 minutes over.” Raul was also there helping me with nutrition (thanks again!). Arkady and I went over to the Aid Captain, begged her to let me through, as I was slowed by my stomach earlier in the race and felt fine to continue. She gave the OK (woohoo!), but told me I HAVE to get to the next aid station by 3:30pm. I didn’t even calculate how long I would need, but I said in complete confidence. You got it! (Riiiight)
OK, time to go!
Aid 6 to 7
My energy levels were starting to get back to normal because the reality of finishing the race on time kicked in. I was a little more aware, actually pretty pumped. I knew from training weekend I just need to get to the top of this hill, and everything “should” be good from there, or at least the majority of it.
In my head it was all downhill from this peak. So I ran a little bit of it, then came the walking again. Oops! I had a quick hike pace to the top, then I unleashed to aid #7, which was 35.3. Somewhere in between I caught up with another teammate, Elaine, and thankfully we ran quite a bit of it to the next stop.
Aid 7 to 9
We were a little over the 3:30pm time goal for #7, as I believe it was 3:40pm. I was already expecting them to call us off the course, but the volunteers were cheering us on! They said that as long as we were ahead of the sweeper who was 20 minutes behind us, we were ok. Whew! Somewhere between #7 and #8, I had to take another #2. Uh oh, I was out of toilet paper! Luckily Elaine was close enough for me to run and get some supplies. This area was full of nice flat single tracks and rollers. We passed a few people struggling, some sitting to take a breather, some already saying they were done at the next station. It was seriously a hot, tough day. About a mile away from #9, I saw my old IronTEAM coach. What the what? Am I imagining things like Jack’s Dad on LOST?? If you don’t know, from previous IronTEAM practices, Brad seems to always pop up at the most random places during practice or a race to check up on you. Thanks Brad! He said, “You better hurry! 15 minutes to finish 1 mile, can you do that?” Hell yeah I can. I took off and I was so surprised to have this kind of energy at mile 41. Made it to #9 at 5:42pm. BAM!
TNT Cheer Station (Aid #9)
Getting to aid station #9 felt like the finish line already! I was first greeted by my close friend Riz at the path to the station. She was cheering so happily and loudly. Oh, I was pumped!
I then saw another good friend, John, wearing a full purple morphsuit! Hilarious! By the time I got to #9, mile 42.6, there was a huge uproar! I really was overwhelmed! I was such in a daze of excitement, I don’t even remember who was there!
My lovely parents
Goofy Cheer Squad at its best!
I remember my parents stopping me to take numerous pictures, other friends taking pictures, people filling my backpack and bottles, getting things from my drop bag. It was intense! I wanted THAT to be my finish! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all those who came out to support and cheer! You don’t know how much those few minutes of joy did to the rest of my race!
Aid 9 to Finish
After such a high energy rest stop, and less than 8 miles to go, you’d think the rest was a piece of cake, right? Oh, so wrong! The next few miles were uphill, AGAIN. I did try to jog a bit of it and at the not so steep areas, I picked up my pace a bit to catch up with Yvonne. Fortunately, we were getting to the shaded areas to cool down and save our energy for the end. We briskly walked because we already knew we were going to finish. By aid #10, Elaine caught up to us. We kept each other in check, finishing off the last few miles. Elaine is one tough cookie, she led the charge most of the time. (Go Elaine!). About 2ish miles to go, I had to take a nature dump AGAIN. W… T… F! I guess one more for good measure. At the final mile, we saw by best homies in the world, Rommel and Byong! Yessss! I was so glad to see them! The street and community center area was in view! We could see some of the lights! We hear people cheering other people coming in! (Probably Carlos at this point). We were also surprised at what kind of pace we were going at 49.5, but the excitement definitely kicked in! All the pain, gone. Adrenaline kicking in. Heart beating quickly. Volunteers at the bottom of the hill pointing us to the right. We look over, there’s a TNT Tunnel of Love waiting for us! Family, friends, volunteers, finishers – it was AMAZING! I took the caboose of this train with Elaine and Yvonne charging through.
What a finish! In my Vineman Full post, I said, ” Imagine watching the endings of Rudy, Rocky, Friday Night Lights, Karate Kid, Field of Dreams, Remember The Titans… take all that energy, put it in a box, and have Chuck Norris riding a unicorn, hand delivering it to you , with huge explosions and double rainbows in the background, with a Michael Bay movie soundtrack playing in the background.” Now Leona was the sequel to that, but add Optimus Prime narrating everything on top of it, with the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man doing a front flip to give me my medal. EPIC.
That shit was tough (no pun intended)! It was a very challenging day for a lot of people, with temperatures reaching the 90-100s. I heard over 100 people dropped from the race. Many people also switched from 50M distance to 50k. We all knew that coming in though. It was a very well put together race, as all of Keira’s (the race director) races are. Volunteers were superb and helpful. Aid stations well stocked. Courses well marked. Awesome.
What was more important than the race itself was the memorable 23 week journey getting here. It was with TNT Greater LA’s inaugural UltraTEAM. I was so proud to assistant coach and help the team get here. We had over 90% retention rate. We raised almost $90,000 as a team towards cancer research for LLS. We’re saving lives. That day was just icing on the cake. Many people were in my thoughts. This race was personally dedicated to my good friend Marisela, who passed away last year in a cycling accident while training for TNT. It was also dedicated to my friend Carmela, who is currently fighting a tough battle against cancer. Also to all the past TNT honored teammates, survivors, and family members I’ve met through the years, especially Dennis Padua, Laura Maloney, Kyle Garlett, Becky Barron, Rivera family, and Wilno family.
So what’s next?
This definitely opened the doors to many more events. It changed my perception on what’s challenging, on what “seems” impossible. 100 mile ultra? I’ve thought about it. Qualify for Boston? Crossed my mind. Another Ironman? Most likely. More Ultramarathons? For sure. I do have a few races already lined up in the coming months. My first Ragnar Trail Relay, Hood to Coast Relay in Oregon, RNR Denver Marathon, and DC Marine Corps Marathon. So much to do, so little time. I’ll keep you all posted, but I do know this – there’s no stopping anytime soon.
After practice & lunch, I had one hour to prepare my nutrition to be shipped with Tri Bike Transport for Canada. I didn’t realize until a few days ago that we were allowed a “gear bag” with our bike, which was such good news because the bulk of packing for a big triathlon would be bottles, nutrition, and helmet. And that I did. I measured powders (1 serving of Accelerade + 0.75 serving of Carbo-Pro, for the bike, and only 1 serving of Accelerade for the run) for each bottle into its own zip lock bag, then stuffed it into each bottle.
I posted the picture on Facebook, and people wondered why I had so many bottles. 7 bottles for the bike (1 per hour), 2 for the run (1 to start, 1 at special needs), 2 more for the training beforehand, then 1 more for recovery fluid. I’m a visual guy, so I had to lay it all out on the counter and check things off. Good thing I did though, I didn’t account for my race run bottles at first! Initially tried to pack it all into a small gym bag, but it wouldn’t fit my helmet, so then I just used my TYR Tri Bag. It was a perfect fit! Did it all in about 30 minutes, then it was off to Performance Bicycle I went! It was an easy drop off – filled out some labels, then they gave me the ticket stubs (I better not forget that one!). Done, and done! Goodbye bike! See you in Canada!
A few months ago, my friend and IronTEAM teammate Elisabeth, introduced me to Active Ambassadors, which is a program for athletes and brands to be matched for sponsorship. All I had to do was fill out a profile of my photos, race history, planned endurance events, and social media links. It’s like an online dating service for brands. I didn’t know what to expect because initially, I saved my profile, and just played the waiting game until I received a response. Weeks passed, then I got an email requesting that I ask to apply for “Team Wheaties.” I was so excited that I think I filled it out within 10 minutes of receiving it! About a month later, news of acceptance into the program fell into my e-mail inbox, and the rest is history.
So then earlier today, my “Starter Kit” arrived! One box was full of brochures and coupons to give out during the campaign, then another box was full of Wheaties boxes with Muhammad Ali, white visor, and an orange tech tee. It was awesome! The best part? It was all free! There will be more to come too!
So what does it mean to be an Ambassador for Wheaties? First off, all the free stuff will be in exchange to wear their brand while I train and race. Done! You don’t have to ask me twice! It’s not a paid sponsorship, but out of many applicants, I do know they selected only 100, so I feel pretty lucky to be chosen.
I actually love Wheaties. I used to ALWAYS eat it growing up because of Michael Jordan on the cover, honestly. There was a gap of not eating it because for a while, I didn’t even eat breakfast, but being chosen to be on Team Wheaties rekindled the love for that brand. I will be pretty picky of what brands to promote because I know my friends, family, social media followers actually listen to what I recommend, and it would be a disservice to promote if deep inside I didn’t believe in the product. I’ll tweet the hell out of it (check out the hashtag #TeamWheaties for current conversations), post it on Facebook, post on this blog, and tell all my friends about it. I’ll try not to make it so spammy either so I’ll try to be creative with it! Stay tuned!