To remind myself. So important to remind myself to slow down, look in the rear mirror and give yourself compassionate smile; to pat myself on a back and say “Good job partner!”; to shut down my mouth and open my eyes.
Three months to think, to reflect, to dig deep into myself. Physical pain is catalyst of many mental processes and quickly reminds you of main things in life. That Ironman race in Lake Placid could’ve been my last one… Looking back, it was a scary accident that could’ve put me into the coffin or at least make me disabled. It did not. It was a lesson, not the exam. A bad student was given a chance to try again. I like to think that I learned the lesson, however I also realize that the fact I allow myself to think so, proves me wrong.
It is comforting to think that the accident is over and I took the most of it and took good notes. I can turn the page now. Or I should rathe ask: Can I turn the page now?
“You can, but after you pass the exam.”
Two years ago I spent Thanksgiving with my friend in Austin, Texas. Jim signed us both for the annual Turkey Trot — fundraising event. Just starting my training/racing journey, I ran 8 kilometers in 41 minutes averaging 8 minute/mile. I ran it for fun, however competitive bug in me pushed me faster than I planned. It was a good run.
“Hey Sasha, we want you come join us for Thanksgiving this year. Will also run the Turkey Trot. The race we did two years ago, remember?”
— Jim called.
Of course I did remember and of course I would love to spend this family holiday among the people who care about me. “Hey Sasha, we want you come join us for Thanksgiving this year “ — Jim called. “Will also run the Turkey Trot. The race we did two years ago, remember?” Of course I did remember and of course I would love to spend this family holiday among the people who care about me.
“You NEED to make this race your “coming back race”. You HAVE to win your age group!!! You MUST push yourself as hard as only possible!”
— familiar voice popped up in my mind.
Hmm…. Sounds familiar. Heavy claws fell on my shoulders and immediately I recognized him… He’s back.
Sasha — the Ironman is now talking. That Sasha who almost killed me not that long ago on the course in September. I realized who was talking and the table turned. I was flashing the awareness light right into his face. Awareness gave me the right of choice. Remain a puppet of my Ego or take the captain’s post…
Yes, I will run! Of course, I will push myself hard! However, this time I will do it not because I HAVE TO or MUST, but because I CHOOSE TO. I choose to train and compete; I choose to enjoy every step I take. Now I know that every single race could be the last one and every experience is so unique and precious.
The ultimate failure in life is to achieve everything you wanted but still not find the happiness. No matter in what place you finish the race, you always lose if you did not enjoy it. It worth repeating:
No matter how well you perform, you are the ultimate loser if you did not enjoy it.
The ultimate failure in anything you do is to finish first and unhappy.
I learned to be careful setting the goals for myself. No hard numbers, no unrealistic expectations. Instead of making a statement and demanding a certain result from my body, I now ask. I ask my body: how fast can you do it, considering the circumstances? Bike accident, surgery, no training for 8–9 weeks…ups and downs. Considering all those facts, what my finishing time could be? What is the fittest you can get on a few weeks of training?
I’ve had three weeks to somewhat prepare for the run. Three weeks before the race, my surgeon allowed to resume light training and I immediately met with my coach to announce my 8 kilometers intention. Renee supported me, however warned to not set high expectations. I know, I know Renee… This is the lesson I needed to learn.
Only so few running workouts to get in shape. Each of them counts.
The work is done. I’m at the race venue. I feel so much energy. The fire within is searching for a way out. I am so grateful to be in this city, I am so grateful to be young, strong and healthy!!! I am so happy to be able to move my body, to see all this people around me, to smell the fresh morning air. So glad to be back at the start line and feel the competition.
Even the fact that I missed the start of my wave bounced off my mind and didn’t screw my mood in any way. I would run anyways, timed or not timed, rain or snow, hail or meteorite shower. I flew to the starting line, hoped over the fence and hit the start button on my watch.
I pushed it hard… and I pushed it hard again. I enjoyed every moment of the race. I loved the burning feeling in my legs and the heart pumping in my chest. Finished strong and hit the stop button.
Looked at the watch:
8.3 kilometers – 33 minutes 4 min/km 6 min/mi
Yes! Fuck yeah! So grateful, so grateful. I am back! I am alive! Mission complete…. Celebrate
It’s so important to remember all the lessons that life teaches you. It is so easy to fall back into the usual model of thinking and responding to the world.
Spartan Racing is not my specialty and often compromises my performance in triathlon, but still I do it. Why?
To spice up my life and training by doing something different and fun.
To get a sense of competition.
To get outdoors and explore new places, new cities, meet new people.
To get an extra mini-achievement under my belt, which also brings experience.
At the beginning of this year of 2019 one of the goals I set was to obtain Trifecta Medal.
What is Trifecta?
It’s a special medal that comes in three pieces. A member of the Spartan Trifecta Tribe has to finish three Spartan races distances, a 3 mile Sprint, an 8 mile Super, and the 13 mile Beast in a calendar year, anywhere in the world.
By this point I have completed the first two distances and even managed to come in first in my division at the 13 km Super. The Beast is what stands in between me and Trifecta. My last opportunity this year to do this race is on September 1st, in my home province of Ontario.
I didn’t skip on this opportunity and Trifecta is mine!
Below is the picture of howit look like. It’s a combination of three magnetic pieces that combined make up the medal:
Triathlon is my main area of focus. Specifically the Ironman 70.3 races. I dedicate all my time, money and effort to getting better at swimming, cycling and running. Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid, New York is my next endeavor and it’s coming up in a week, on September 8th. 6 days separate one race from another. For the past couple of months I’ve been training my bumm off for this race and I really want to do great.
I signed up for the Spartan a few months ago, but the closer to the race I got, the more hesitant to do it I became.
21 km with 30 obstacles?… Are you kidding me? There is no way you will have enough time to recover after Spartan “Beast” and perform well in Iron. Cancel the freaking Spartan Race and focus on your main goal Sasha!
Reasonable Sasha spoke
… but I will not push too hard. I will just do it for fun. It will be a good cross training…
I didn’t push too hard on the beginning and was running at about 70% of my max. I passed a lot of people at this point and felt pretty good mentally. Until I caught up with two men on the course… I am alway down for a healthy competition.
200 lb of lean muscle were pushing ground away and in instant something flipped in me. I got a taste of competition, my ego got challenged. The other Sasha woken up and took over. I was chasing these guys for about 5 km and when I passed them, I never let them pass me.
I wanted to touch a bit on nutritional side of the race and express my opinion on something I see a lot, especially at OCR Races. Fueling (eating during exercise) is extremely important in sport of triathlon and I learned a lot from my own experience.
You don’t need that backpack. I see so many people wrapping their bodies around with all kinds of backpacks, hydration packs etc… You don’t need it! Take off this extra weight, unload all that cookies your mom cooked for you and other crap you set yourself to eat on the course. Running the race does not give you permission to eat all that crappy foods guilt-free. You don’t need it!
DROP THAT COOKIE!
There are usually enough hydration stations along the courses. I’ve been racing in such hot climates as South Texas, Arizona, California and yes, you might want to bring your own hydration, but c’mon we’re in Canada. It’s okay to get thirsty, you won’t die. There is also no need to stuff yourself with your protein bars, trail mixes and other simple sugars. They won’t make you faster! Trust me.
You should’ve been paying attention to your nutrition and more importantly hydrations days and days before the race. On a day of the race it’s already too late. Even the night before is too late. Haveone Shot Energy Gel 10 minutes before the start and another somewhere halfway through. And yes, I am speaking about longer distances only, such as Super (13 km) and Beast (21 km). There is absolutely no need to munch of your favorite cookies during such short races as sprint, or even Super on my opinion.
DO THE WORK FIRST EAT AFTER
My nutrition strategy was simple:
A big carb-dominant breakfast, with no fiber and proteins (1.5 hours before). I prefer rice, potatoes or some fruits. And of course a COFFEE! Butbe careful to not overdo the caffeine, otherwise you might learn where adrenaline is coming off, on the race course =)
One Cliff gel somewhere at the midpoint during the race.
First my age group and second overall.
I have no idea how that happened, but I’ll take it. I am really proud of myself and grateful for my body that allow this to happen. Remembering where I’ve been two years ago physically and now proves once again that EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
You, my friend, reading this post should never doubt your abilities. If you don’t believe in yourself, then no one will.
After you done coming up with excuses and feeling sorry for yourself, pick yourself up and do the work! Don’t think of the future, focus just on what’s in front of you. One day at the time! Small steps.
This is how I did it, and you can. I am no better than that thousand people behind. I have the same body, made from bones, blood and a bit of poop. The only difference is that I am persistent. I put in the work day after day, that’s it. I know what I want, and you should too.
Win the race and win your life. The skills you acquire in training and racing essentially impact all aspects of your life and the lives of others.
Get to the podium. Stand on top and take it all without guilt. You deserved it with your hard work!, sweat and tears! When the ceremony is done and you filled your cup, step back down and help others. Give back! Share your energy, knowledge and experience.
– How you been my friend? Haven’t heard from you for a while! – Doing great, better than excellent? That’s Awesome! Glad to hear. – What you been up to? Wow, you achieved so much. You accomplished a lot! Congratulations!
You try so hard to sound happy. Don’t, or you will start shooting rainbows out of your ass. I don’t believe you. I know you too well to recognize the bullshit you try to feed me with. I see a tired person in front of me. Dark circles around your eyes tell the truth. Shaky voice and hectic body language proves the opposite. You are tired, you are exhausted… You desperately need some rest.
You learned how to push yourself pretty hard. You are the overachiever – “A type”. You mastered the skill of setting a goal and going after it. You are self-motivated, disciplined and hardworking. That’s all great, but there is no balance to it. All your achievements come with tax. What is your tax? Sleep deprivation? Poor blood works? Constant hunger and overeating? Anxiety? Moodiness? Loneliness? Muscle pain and constant soreness? Or maybe even suicidal thought from time to time? Tell the truth, let it out. What does it cost to live your lifestyle?
You need to rest. You have to take a break.
Sit down and listen to a little story about magical place – a Place of Power.
There is a place in Canada that has tremendous healing power. It is located in Huntsville – a small town, about 2.5 hours driving north from Toronto. This place is unique with its nature and people.
Two young birds live side by side in Muskoka woods. Megan and Sequoia live off-the-grid in a tiny cabin, right by Muskoka River, on the edge with Heaven.
Ask Sequoia about his plants. Feel the passion person has to his green friends. Feel the bright energy he projects out of his blue eyes when holding his tiny cactus. Don’t interrupt and listen. He thinks of himself as introverted person, but I promise, you never met more extraverted introvert before. He keeps a baseball bat in the forest washroom in case of bears. He own his second world war survival kit in case of zombie apocalypse. He is thoughtful and takes a great care of his partner – Meagan.
Let Megan be your guide into the world of Yoga and meditation. Don’t try to understand or rationalize the things she tells you, but sit back and let her explode your mind. A wise and strong woman lives in tiny body of hers.
Both are rare and unique species among human beings. Open minded, kind and bright people. Vegetarian, they will teach you simple meal recipes that not only taste great, but make you seriously consider going plant based eating.
Wake up in the morning and instead of checking your phone, go check the river. Celebrate new day by meeting sunrise at the beach. Take off you clothes and jump into the river from the tree.
So many things to do here So much to explore
This is the place where not only your mind finally gets rested, but also your body releases tension and stress that it held for so long. Your mind slow down, yous heart slows down:
Only one night of deep sleep in the tiny house will significantly drop your resting heart rate (RHR), and switch your body from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode.
Had a great night’s rest the night before. It was so nice to sleep in a tent , under the stars, on a fresh air. Woke up as always at 4:30 am, went on a 10k hike followed by a leisure swim in lake. Registered for the race and went back to the car to take a nap. My brother Stepan asked me: Are you nervous? Are you worried? I was neither nervous or worried, I was really calm and felt asleep like a baby.
Going into the race I had no agenda, no goals to achieve, nothing to prove.
I drove 5 hours here to enjoy the race. I spent my money and time to have fun, to have an experience. This is all I was after.
Indeed I did enjoy the race! It was not an easy one and my heart was flying out of my chest on that hilly course. I pushed hard, as I always do. I remained cheerful and joyful throughout the entire 16 km run. I helped 3 people to climb over the 8ft wall and I didn’t forget to cheer up the folks I met along the way.
I finished with a great smile on my face. It was not a “fake” smile, but a genuine one. I enjoyed the race, I enjoyed my body. As a bonus, I got notified that I also finished first in my age group and 7th overall. Wow! I definitely did not expect that and thought there was a mistake. But no mistake was found and I remained on the first place.
I am so grateful for this win and my body that made it possible. I am grateful for the experience and a great amount of joy I got out this race. I am grateful for my brother Stepan and Blake who were at the finish line, cheering up for me.
Anyone can cry when it hurts. Anyone can quit when it gets hard either physical or emotional Anyone can complain and blame others when shit hits the fan and things fall apart. That’s all easy, anyone can do it.
Listen, you are more than that. I believe you are way better. You are the HUMAN – the ultimate bio machine that was ever created. You are in control of your mind! You are in charge of your life! You are designed for BATTLE, you was created to EXPLORE! YOU ARE THE WARRIOR!
Are you hurting? Great! It means you are still alive. Endure the pain. Dead don’t hurt. Don’t ever think about quitting Boy! Did you hear? Don’t even let the thought of quitting visit your mind. Keep pushing!!! Take full responsibility for your life and be the owner, not just a participant. Enjoy! Enjoy the day, enjoy the people around, enjoy the pain, be cheerful and stay positive.
8ft wall is not that tall if you approach it with a smile. 40 lbs sandbag is not that heavy if you carry it with a positive attitude. Trust me, I know.
Change your default settings and shred in pieces your limiting beliefs. YOU ARE THE WARRIOR!!!
Instead of staying at hotel or Airbnb, me and my brother Stepan, who is visiting me from Ukraine, decided we will more enjoy camping. The tent was set up at the Arrowhead Campground, which is about 15 minutes driving from the race venue. This is a huge campground and the campsites are not cheap. One night stay will cost you at minimum of CAD$48.31. Rather than price, we really liked the park. It’s clean, quiet and has toilets with showers. Not to mention a beautiful lake right in the middle of it.
A day before began from a nice and easy OWS in Arrowhead Lake. The water in lake is dark, but really warm. Had a small snack and went to the race venue to register for the race, before it got too crowded. The race expo was really small fit perfectly into the ice skating rink, leaving a plenty of unused space. It was really quiet and felt as I’m at a small town race. Right after registering went to execute my “mini brick“:
Checked in my bike and went back to the campground to prepare for the race and go to bed early. Stepan is putting up the tent while I stress myself out going through the packing list over and over again.
3:30 am wake up. Quick shower and breakfast at McDonalds parking lot on a way to the race venue.
Now, an hour before the start, T1 looks way busier than a day before. All checked in. Smile! Final photo before the start.
Literally 3 minutes before my wave start I realized I put the wetsuit on the wrong way. I couldn’t believe… Take it off and put it back on.
Unlike all previous races, this one was not a “rolling start”. We proceeded to the lake and were guided towards the red buoy in the middle of the lake…I got confused. We swam up to it and had to float in water for like 3-5 minutes until we were given a command to start.
There was a lot of wrestling in water. I got kicked in head few times pretty hard and about 100-200 meters before the finish someone’s arm hit me in a head and kicked my goggles off. Nice! Swam the remaining distance with my eyes closed. I’m glad it didn’t happen in the middle of the swim, or worse – at the start.
BEWARE OF CURRENT!
Below are few tips for you to keep in mind when swimming through the Fairy Lake. I got the following suggestions from the guy who lived over 20 years right by the lake, where the course goes through. He also raced this race a few times himself and is well aware of direction of the current.
After the second left turn, unlike most of the people, stick to the right hand side and continue swimming close to the shore all the way to the finish (current is stronger on the middle & the opposite side). Right by the finish, don’t cross the lake until it’s about 9 -10 hours on a left from you. Turn left to cross the lake and in a few strokes you will be exiting the water.
Below is the swim course map with directions I marked with red arrows.
Had a pretty fast transition, only 3 minutes. No help from volunteers.
Make sure you put the wetsuit the right way.
If swimming in lake, beware of current.
Practice swimming without goggles, simulating them being kicked off.
Did not feel strong at all. Right on the beginning, about 10 km, a deer:cyclist accident happened. The guy was laying on the side of the road with his bike beside him. Another similar accident happened around 12 km mark.
BEWARE OF ROAD CROSSING ANIMALS!
30 minutes into the ride I dropped my chain and had to stop to put it back. Grateful it didn’t get stuck in the wheel and didn’t cause more damage. Had to make another stop to use the restroom. I think I lost about 2-3 minutes of precious time.
A lot of rolling hills. A bit windy on the way there, but not much on the way back. Overall it is a fast course. Having a better (tri) bike would definitely help me shave off few minutes.
Overall I am happy with my performance on the bike. Also had a pretty fast transition, under 2 minutes.
Beware of animals crossing the road
Make sure the bike is perfectly tuned prior to the race
Probably worth looking into investing in a proper bicycle
RUN 1:42:03 ~Epic Finish~
First 30 minutes felt like crap 💩. Well that’s the way it always been for me, both in training and racing. “Embrace the suck and give it some time Sasha!” Spasms, tension and muscle pain traveled starting from my pancreas then to the liver and down to the legs.
“Breath deeply. You need to release the spasms before the body completely shuts down the absorption of any foods you are planning to consume. “
3-5 minutes of deep belly breathing, in through the nose and out through the mouth did the trick. Pancreas and liver spasms released, allowing me to continue consuming sugars for fuel ⛽️.
The course was great! We started and finished in Huntsville downtown. A lot of people were supporting athletes along the run course. A little boy ran a garden hose from his house down to where we were running and sprayed the athletes with a cold water.
Approximately 35 minutes into the run, I began feeling better. FINALLY!
I increased the pace and tried to clear my mind from any thoughts that were taking up my mental energy. I put all my focus on technique.
“Imagine your knee cups as a headlights of the car. Chin tucked in. Don’t run like you have a cactus up in your bum, stand tall and strong. Release the tension off your shoulders, move them down. Don’t swing your hands too much, keep them close to your torso. Find a rhythm in your breath. Breathe deeply: a long exhale and fast big inhale.”
Racing in Hawaii, Kona 70.3, specifically the running part though me a good painful lesson. I learned how painful it could be to run with the injury and how much it can actually slow me down. I learned the difference between the muscle pain and the injury pain. You can not manage the pain coming from the injured body part and it only getting worse as you go.
I was really hoping that my knee pain will not come back during this race allowing me to run up to my potential.
After the turnaround I continued feeling strong. No injuries, no pain that can slow me down. Everything hurts, but it’s a muscle pain, know the difference.
I slowly caught up with the guy in a blue shirt that passed me like a rocket 🚀 when I was struggling on the beginning. I remembered him because he had a number 53 written down on his ankle. Triathletes know what that number means – the age.
I caught up with him and expressed how impressed I was by his pace at the age of 53. We ran side by side, averaging the pace of 4:14 /km while keeping the conversation. His name is Shean and he’ve been running his entire life.
“There is a lady running upfront… She’s 52 and she is about to win her age group. I need to catch up with her.”, Shean told me.
5 km until the finish:
Aid station. Two water cups, one on myself, another in myself. Shean slowed down a bid, and felt behind. I increased my pace and continued running solo.
The pain was real, but it was a muscle pain. I pushed really hard and gave it all.
Right by the finish line, as I stepped down on the red carpet, Shean showed up in my peripheral view. He really surprised me with his appearance and he was pushing really hard, trying pass me. Suddenly a finisher’s black stripe got pulled up at the finish line and the crowd went ballistic. I had no idea what was happening and the only thing I knew is that I needed to cross that finish line first.
I did it!
The feelings I experienced were so strong so I will remember them forever. I got so much joy and pure sense of happiness. I felt so much respect to Shean and all the athletes around. I experiences a sense of comradery and athletic fellowship. Wow! What a finish, what a race!
After we both caught our breaths, Shean said that he’ve been chasing me all the way to the finish and thanked me for pushing him so hard. Thank you too Sean! This is what the competition should be like!
All the hard trainings, pains and tears were well worth that short burst of emotions while crossing the finish line FIRST
I learned what the healthy competition should be like and I experienced a pure sense of athletic fellowship
I discovered few new shades of pain and pushed my body harder than I did before
Luckily I didn’t overeat so bad the night before, as I did the previous times. Still should’ve eaten less to get a good night rest.
The race had great on-course nutrition: Clif Bars, Gatorade and RedBull. Even with such support, still pack the nutrition products you’re used to and have tried already in training. This is what I did.
Planned to consume throughout the race
Consumed throughout the race
Planned and actually consumed numbers were pretty close. Good job here
Gatorade proved once again to work well for me. Don’t shy away from it during racing
Coke gives me liver spasms. That’s a no-no, unless I’m 5 km or less to the finish.
Deep belly breathing help relieve the liver and pancreas spasms
Don’t overeat before going to bed the night before
Set a new PR by beating 70.3 Kona by 22 minutes
Repetition is mother of learning!
REPEAT AFTER ME:
You are doing triathlons because YOU CHOSE TO, not because you have to. Don’t forget that!
You do it FOR YOURSELF, no one gives a f*ck. Don’t forget that!
NO ONE FORCES you to train every damn day. No one, besides your ego or whatever motivation you have.
You can quit anytime you want. No one gives a fuck!
It’s your life, it’s your decisions. Don’t forget that!
Marbella race completely destroyed my expectations, flipped everything upside down. For about 3 weeks after the race I suffered from depressing thoughts and emotions. I got locked up in my head. I almost dropped out of sport of triathlon…
It was dark and I searched for help at different places. I was looking for someone to help me to stop my mental masturbation and make a sense of my thoughts and emotions.
My swimming and triathlon coaches, Bruce and Renee, my father – were able to find the right words and grounded me and kept me away from mistakenly turning my back on the sport. Thank you! I’m am grateful for you.
You can only lead the horse to the water, but you can’t force him drink. Still, all the mental work needed to be done. I had to re-evaluate and reassess the mindset I bring into the training and racing.
What role does the sport play in my life? What function does it have? Whom am I competing against? How do I see myself as an athlete, but more importantly who the Sasha is as a person? How do I evaluate my athletic performance? What expectations do I have for my body and how are they linked to the feeling of self worth?
I had to destroy and rebuild myself as an athlete. I bring a different mindset to this race, my expectations are different.
My goals for this race were:
SWIM: under 30 minutes BIKE: no specific goal here. Just give it all and see how it goes RUN: 1/2 marathon under 1:40 hr
3 day before the race, starting Wednesday, I increased my carbohydrate consumption from typical 300g/day to 300g+. Wasn’t tracking anything so it’s hard to say what the actual amount was.
I give preference to low glycemic, complex carbs. I like to have my foods simple and I get most of my carbs from:
Previously, for Ironman Marbella, I was carb loading with solely with oatmeal. It’s a great option, however due to the high fiber it’s not the best option for a day or two prior the race. This time I am loading with brown rice. I am hoping that low fiber content will make it easier on my GI and prevent digestion issues on the course.
A day before, on Friday afternoon suddenly felt really bad hunger. Ate a lot of rice, oatmeal and chicken.
Opening a can of peanut butter was a mistake. After I got a taste of it, I literally lost control… I ate the entire jar myself. (About 3000 Calories). I wasn’t tracking anything, however my curiosity took over and I threw in some numbers into MyFitnessPall to guesstimate the amount ate.
This is almost triple the amount of food I usually eat. Damn, I’m so full! I hope this extreme caloric excess will provide by body with the energy to unleash on the course tomorrow. Stopped eating at 6 pm, went on a 30-40 minute walk around the block. Planning to wake up at 4 am, which will give my body about 10 hours to digest all the peanut butter I ate 😅 I hope I won’t feel this full tomorrow morning.
Did not sleep well 😔 Had night sweats and woke up to the restroom 3-4 times. My usual resting heart rate went up from 40-41 to 55 bpm. Really bAD headache upon waking up.
Breakfast: Sweet potato (~300g) Oatmeal 50g 4 tbsp of peanut butter 1 tbsp of honey Banana Coffee
RACE VENUE: T1
T1 transition opened up from 5-6:15 am. I arrived at 5:30am and faced a huge line from cars. We were not moving at all. I heard one of volunteers saying that they’re already full and there are no parking spots left. Well, great! People were leaving their cars everywhere, on the side of the road, on the hills, anywhere they could find a spot. I was not an exception and left my car on the side on the road. I had 20 minutes left until transition is closed.
Clean transition. This means that you can not leave anything on the ground. All your bike gear has to be off the ground.
Walking down the isles of bikes with my wetsuit hanging over my shoulder I’ve been getting weird looks from other athletes. I a few minutes I realized why. My bike rack neighbor, when saw the suit on the ground, said: “Nice wetsuit, man! Is it legal to swim in suit?”
This is when I realized that NO ONE had a wetsuit , besides me 😆. Went back to the car to drop it off.
I was very disorganized. I couldn’t focus, I could think straight. I felt I was in some sort of mental fog 🌫 On top op it, since waking up this morning I had a REALLY BAD HEADACHE.
slow but enjoyable
Idiot brought a wetsuit.
My wave, 25-29 was starting 25 minutes after the official start. First, they let older folks get wet and slowly moved downtown to the younger athletes. Each wave was separated by one minute time.
10 minutes before the start had a half of Cliff Energy Gel.
Despite headache, felt ok through the swim. It was not as crazy as Marbella start and I found out that I was competing with only 42 athletes, my age group.
It was hard to sight. Because of waves and small size buyees. Another thing was the sun. Being a left side breather I was constantly blinded by the sun, zigzagging throughout the course.
There were a lot of space between athletes. Because of wise separation between age groupers, there were enough space for everyone to swim at the comfortable pace without getting kicked in the head or pulled by the feet.
The swim course was absolutely beautiful. The water was so crystal clear, that you could even the tiniest fish swinging around the corals on the bottom. Turtles foot steps could be seen on the white sand. I almost wanted to slow down, just to watch the wildlife.
The last turn, straight to the finish line, sun was hitting right in the face. Couldn’t see anything, so I was jut following other folks.
Exiting the water, you’ve got to run up the hill to T1. It was about 2 minutes run that would bring your HR up.
Approaching the bike, I had a volunteer by my side offering to hold transition bag and help to lift the bike. The young kid was really nice.
Headache is getting worse.
challenging but fast
At the *mandatory pre-race meeting, organizers made a big emphasis on drafting rules and penalties. At least 6 meters between front wheels. Two penalty tents on the course. Yellow card – 30 seconds, blue card – 60 seconds if I recall it correctly.
T1 was quick. No need to take the wetsuit off, just put your shoes, helmet, sunglasses on and fill your pockets with nutrition, previously prepared.
First 20 km flew by fast. It was a bit windy here and there, but nothing crazy. Approaching the hill is when the wind started to pick up. The higher we went, the stronger the wind blew. About 10 km to the top of this monster hill the wind was BRUTAL. Rocks and sand flew into my face. Along the route I’ve seen quite a few flats and respectively frustrated athletes. Unfortunately you can not prevent it, but you can prepare. “Every hill has a downhill”, I kept repeating in my mind and oddly enough this hill was not an exception. Halfway through the course, on top of the hill you turn around, grab your G2 and fly downhill. I felt I could use a higher gear ⚙️ but my cassette did not carry any. With gravity and wind working for you, not against, second part of the ride was definitely more fun and enjoyable.
Nutrition: Aid stations were offering Gatorade Endurance at each tent, so I planned to rely solely on it. Brought only one bottle of electrolyte solution, leaving the second bottle cage empty for G2. Also only aid station#3 had GI gels.
Planned to consume & Actually consumed:
Pretty close to what was planned. Sugar in Gatorade accounted for the rest. Also G2 endurance tastes good. I loved it.
Headache continued chasing me through the entire bike leg and followed into the run. I could feel the veins pumping on the sides of my head.
Quick Tip: in hot climates like this, solid foods most likely will melt. If you don’t want to drink your protein bar, pack gels or liquid sources instead.
hot and painful
REALLY-REALLY HOT🥵 is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the run part. Right the second I dismounted off the bike, sharp pain 9/10 hit me behind the left knee. I could not even walk…
“The race is over!”, flew through my mind. Somehow I limped up to my running bag and put on my gear. Again, volunteers were really helpful and helped me with my bike. Thank you!
First 5 km were painful to even step on the leg. However I felt a little bit better 30-40 minutes into the run and slightly picked up the pace.
We were running along the golf course, often on the grass. Wild goats were starring at people from the side of the road. They were more confused than us, having no idea what was going on.
Two loops with 7 aid stations on each. Gatorade, water, coke and ice. In addition there were ice sponges, GU gels, oranges and bananas. Very well organized and setup.
Planned & Consumed through the run:
Twice as much as planned.
15 km into the run, really fast and sharp pain hit my knee again 8/10. Ever since it never went away and rapidly increased to the point where I could not resist it anymore… I suffered each step I took. However I did not walk. I was slow, really slow, BUT I did not walk! and it took a lot.
Dropped my race belt, which I later lost. I also found it much more painful to run downhills rather than uphills.
Suffering was real, especially for the last 5 km.
“It’s all good mental training Sasha!!!”, I keep repeating in my head. My mind crossed the finish line, not the body.
Total consumed through the race:
According to carb consumption formula (0.33 x body weight (150 lbs)) x 5 hr 40 min = 277 grams of carbs were required to cover energy expenditures.
Looks like I’ve done a pretty good job with my fueling and it’s almost gram to gram precisely close to what formula suggests.
I tend to binge eat the night before race. I don’t repeat such behavior during regular days. Could be due to stress and anxiety, could be out of fear of coming into the race under fueled and bonking, could be because of deeper psychological issues I am not aware of.
Overeating before bed will not fuel up your glycogen stores, but will compromise your night sleep. You will wake up exhausted and feeling like crap.
Do your homework and carefully research on race rules, requirements and regulations. Failing to do good research made me bring the wetsuit into the event where it was not permitted.
Rice and sweet potatoes are better alternatives to oatmeal for pre-race meal. Consuming low-fibrous foods reduce the chance of GI distress during the race.
Gatorade Endurance G2 is a great hydration tool. If possible, use it in the next race or hard training.
Some gels can cause your liver to spasm. Don’t experiment with unfamiliar fuel on the course. If got a spasm, deep balled breathing: in through the nose, out through the mouth.
Absolutely gorgeous race course!
This is definitely the race to remember and experience worth all the money I payed.
I did not perform as I wanted to. I suffered a lot.
I trained my mind. I experienced 50 shades of pain and will be more appreciative of pain free body.
I enjoyed the race!
I’ve been there, I’ve seen the fish and felt the warm water on my skin. I smelled the melting road and enjoyed the cool breeze of salty air on my sweaty face.
I put my all, physical and mental. It’s all that matters.
Special thanks to Volunteers along the course! You guys were EXTREMELY NICE AND HELPFUL! You were one of the highlights of my experience.
REPEAT AFTER ME:
You are doing triathlons because YOU CHOSE TO, not because you have to. Don’t forget that!
You do it FOR YOURSELF, no one gives a f*ck. Don’t forget that!
NO ONE FORCES you to train every damn day. No one, besides your ego or whatever motivation you have.
You can quit anytime you want. No one gives a fuck!
It’s your life, it’s your decisions. Don’t forget that!
IRONMAN Marbella 70.3 is over and Kona race is in 2 weeks. I took about 10 days of recovery and this is the first somewhat serious bike workout.
Since Hawaii race will be done in much warmer climate than I’m used to, I need to train for that. To do so, I implement the “heat training“. I am not using fan + wearing warm cycling pants, windbreaker, long-sleeved shirt underneath and a heat.
10′ easy spin
Complete 75′ ride holding 150-175 At the top of the 20th min put in 5×5′ bouts at 205-210W on 3′ soft pedal
5′ easy spin
FUEL No fueling. Workout performed in PM. Properly hydrated and eaten.
I totally failed to complete this workout as prescribed. Again… I am beyond being disappointed with my bike performance over the past 2.5 months. I’ve been steadily declining up to this point, where I can barely hold 140 Watts… I try so hard, I put so much effort, but I keep on failing and failing. I am not enjoying the workouts. With so manny failures I am afraid of bike. I don’t even want to touch it. My confidence on the bike is below the ground. I absolutely HATED this workout.
What is wrong? I can’t find the answer. What am I doing wrong? What is missing? I need help, I can’t figure it out on my own.
Didn’t learn anything… Besides that next time use the “standart mode” instead of “erg” on the trainer.
Since the Paris marathon which I did on January 6th this year I decided to focus entirely on triathlons. Despite my coach’s concerns in regards to racing frequency, I set myself ambitious goal to do 5 IRONMAN Races this year. Four of them are 70.3 and one full distance, to close the season.
4 months I’ve been training specifically for the first race of the season – IRONMAN 70.3 Marbella. It’s also my very first IRONMAN Race.
Pre race 1-2 days:
This crazy trip didn’t allow me properly eat prior to the race. However I am really happy that I was thoughtful enough to bring three lunch boxes with food. No problems with security checks at the airports. Just make sure there is no meat and it’s secure in transparent container.
Night before the race I went nuts and really overate going to bed stuffed like a pig. The reason of such overeating is partially due to my exhaustion from the trip. It was really, really stressful and I used the food to comfort myself. Guilty of that.
I had a lot of oatmeal (250-300g) + 1/2 cantaloupe +3 bananas + 2 sweet potatoes. 1 scoop of protein and some BCAAs to sprinkle onto the oats. Listening to my friend’s suggestion, I totally eliminated any sort of meat or fish.
Oatmeal before the race is a good choice. You can find it at any grocery store around the world. I actually like the way it tastes. It doesn’t spike your blood sugar; slow burning carbs. It fuels you with glycogen and does not cause diarrhea or any GI problems. The only issue I see with it is that because of high fiber concentration it takes a while to leave the body. Don’t eat too much of it right before the race or exercise.
Try not to overeat, especially before the bed, especially the night before the race.
Have a gel 10-15 minutes before the swim.
Take at least 2-3 lunch boxes with you on a trip. Plane and airport foods are horrible. You will thank yourself later.
Don’t leave your nutrition in transition area, you will have access to it in the morning. You can then throw all extra stuff into transition bags and setup bike water bottles.
Coke might cause the liver to spasm. Drink, but be careful. Not a bad choice for the last 5 km.
15 Minutes before the swim found 1 gel laying on the sand. Ate it =)
Overall pretty happy with the swim.
Right from the beginning felt strong, however remembered Renee’s guidelines and pulled myself back from going too hard.
The crowd was crazy. Got hit in the head 3-4 times. Some people were literally pulling me back by the ankles. Drank a bit of salty water, however didn’t panic and stayed calm throughout the entire swim. Didn’t sight at all on the beginning, however began to close to the end. The ocean was cold, so my feet almost cramped 2-3 times… reduced kicking, focused more on a stroke. I found it to be really hard to keep good technique in such crazy environment.
Came out of water feeling strong. Got pleasantly surprised with the time. No dizziness or fatigue.
Don’t swim in the middle, stick to one of the outer sides.
Blue Nike googles are good, don’t switch them. Wear them under the swim cap.
Have a gel 10-15 minutes before.
Don’t underestimate your swim time and instead of 40, go into 30 minutes swim wave.
If the water is cold – less kicking, so you don’t cramp.
The course was absolutely amazing. Views from the top are outstanding.
A lot of climbing. A LOT. In addition, strong head facing and side winds made the bike part a real challenge.
Dropped one of my water bottles right on the beginning. I was surprised of myself that didn’t get upset or mad and simply let it go a second later. In fact, loosing a bottle was not such a bad thing. Isotonic drinks at the aid stations were pretty good and I had an empty bottle holder to carry them in. Also they didn’t taste like they had any calories in them.
Found myself being pretty good climbing the hills. I was rarely passed while going up, however I felt like I could’ve used a higher gear on the downhills and flat segments. Fighting the hills I was constantly passing guys on fancy aero bikes, catching their eyes on me. However when the downhill time came they would fly by, leaving me in th dust.
I didn’t eat as much as planned, however it didn’t affect the performance. I stopped once just to pee. I also saw some guys pee on a bike, right in front of me. Because of the winds urine would fly right on the people behind. Disgusting.
Last 20 km were really fast, all downhill. Trying to be as aero as possible I was even passing folks of carbon bikes. Strong side winds and sharp turns made it pretty dangerous to ride at such high speeds. By the end of the ride I felt pretty fatigued, however not too much.
Expensive, carbon/aero bikes are worthless on a hilly course. Hold on to buying a new bike.
Take only one bottle on the bike. Keep the room for on course hydration.
Adjust the speeds on your bike so you can switch the highest gear.
Wear the race belt right away, underneath the wetsuit. Less hustle putting it on while transitioning into the run.
Bike position felt good. No need to change anything.
Right off the bike felt a bit dizzy.
First 5-7 km were a struggle. Wasn’t feeling strong and the distance ahead of me set the fascination in my mind. I did not feel like I could do it.
I was surprised that I didn’t have any GI problems up until half way through. Even when I did stop to use the bathroom, it wasn’t bad. It’s just the amount of food I ate days prior. Right after the bathroom use, the second breath opened up. I felt stronger and wasn’t struggling that much anymore. In fact 30-40 minutes into the run is when I began feeling better. Remaining half of the run I got to truly enjoy it. Loved it! Towards the end had some liver spasms, but nothing too painful.
Increased my pace for the last 4-5 km. Finished strong.
The course along the beach was fantastic. It was really, really cool and I got a lot of joy running through it.
Right off the bike you might feel dizzy. That’s normal.
First 30-40 minutes you will feel like crap. Push through, you will feel better as the time goes on. Focus on technique and pace. Visualize the finish and appreciate a chance to do what you do and to be where you are.
Update (May 13):
I’ve had some time to think and this are the thoughts & conclusions I came up with…
Is it so much about the race and accomplishment or about the experience? Is it about the medal 🏅 or the person you’ve become to get the medal?
It’s about the lifestyle you’ve created to achieve your goal.
Training for triathlon makes me better not just in one but three spots: swimming, running and cycling. What other sport develops the athletes so broadly? How about the mental training I get during the process? How about invaluable lessons I learn from this sport that applicable to my work, business, life and relationships? Only so many people gained access to this knowledge and you can connect with them through the sport.
I know I won’t be doing triathlons for the rest of my life. However, when I decide no longer continue with the sport I will have a solid foundation of endurance, strength and health to bring into another pursuits I will choose to follow in future. Just think of all the adventures you can go on with your skills and fitness. You can follow a swimming path, and challenge yourself to do a cross lakes swimming or something that makes you excited.
You can go on multi days or weeks of ultra endurance running trough the beautiful forests of Canada or USA. You’ve got cycling fitness that will allow you to become professional cyclist or go on a crazy adventurous cycling trip across the state or country.
Essentially, triathlon opened up a lot of doors and opportunities for me. It give me options to choose from.
You are doing triathlons because YOU CHOSE TO, not because you have to. Don’t forget that.
No one forces you to train every damn day. No one, besides your ego or whatever motivation you have. You do it because you chose to do it.
You can quit anytime you want. No one gives a fuck!
It’s your life, it’s your decisions. Don’t forget that!
As you already know, during exercise you lost a portion of electrolytes along with sweat. As you drink after the training, you increase the fluid levels in your body, which will lower electrolyte concentration even more. Natural foods, like fruits will replace nearly all the electrolytes, except sodium. Add two-three pinches of salt to your post-exercise recovery drink for sodium replenishment. The table below lists great fruits and juices for your recovery drink to replenish electrolytes in your body.
Notes: Liquid protein consumed within 30 minutes after exercise improves muscle repair. Including fruits and greens will deliver extra antioxidants. Stay aways from added sugars.
To fully restore the fluid and electrolyte losses after the workout, aim to drink around 24 oz (700 mL) of liquids for every pound lost. Don’t drink too fast, but instead consume your solution or water slowly over a 60-minutes period and later throughout the day. Listen to your body and use the thirst as an indicator of your hydration status. Doesn’t matter if you replaced all the fluids lost, forcing it down if you’re not thirsty is not a good idea. As a general guideline: if you urinate more often than 10 times in a 24-hour period and your urine is clear – you’re drinking too much.
Better Hydration = Better Performance
Karel, L. (1948). Gastric Absorption. Physical Reviews, 28(4), 433-450.
Cordain, L., & Friel, J. (2012). The Paleo diet for athletes: The ancient nutritional formula for peak athletic performance. Emmaus, PA: Rodale.
Land, S. (2018, March 18). Everything About Getting Enough Electrolytes While Fasting [Digital image]. Retrieved February 3, 2019, from https://i0.wp.com/www.wildfirex.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/08/Electrolytes.png?zoom=2&w=700&ssl=1