Sunday, April 23, 2006

Wildflower Half-Ironman

April 7-9, the team headed out to San Antonio Lake to do the fabled Wildflower Long Course... which is a half-iron distance course (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run).

We arrived in San Antonio Lake on Friday and were greeted with lots of rain and wind. It looked like an ominous sign for the following day's race. I on the other hand was optimistic that conditions were going to be rain-free (that and the weather forecast said no rain).

Saturday (race day) didn't start out as expected... actually quite unexpected. There was a thick layer of fog everywhere. With the limited visibility, we could not do the swim as planned. There simply were not enough water craft to monitor all the people in the water. The swim was shortened and we did laps for 30 minutes. I estimate that we did 1200-1600 yards total. I am assuming that I would have finished the swim portion in about 45 minutes but will call it 1 hour.

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After a quick transition to the bike, we were off to tackle the fog once again and the "Nasty Grade." The first 30 minutes of the bike was fast, but it was hindered by the accumulation of condensate on my glasses. I would wipe it away every minute or so with my gloves. Slowly, the fog did burn off and we had sunlight!

The bike course consists of rolling hills and Nasty Grade. Nasty Grade is a 3 mile climb that rises 1000 ft. What's worse is that it comes at around mile 45. This is the part of the course where the most speed is lost. However, after having done the courses around the Bay Area, Nasty Grade didn't seem that nasty.

Now I had done this course before, but I felt much lighter, faster, and nimble on the bike. My average speed on the bike course was 16.23 mph with a finishing time of 3:45. The last time I did the course I finished in about 5 hours.

The run, which up until now had been my strongest event, was the most difficult. Due to nutrition problems on the bike, I was having pretty bad stomach cramps for the whole 13.1 miles. Add a really hilly trail run, and that equals a mediocre run day. I walked a bit, and ran where I could. If I pushed the run, I felt like I was on the edge of vomitting. I finished the run in 3 hours.

With the 1 hour assumed for the swim, I finished the course in 7:45. The last time I did the course, I finished in 10:15. That's a 2:30 improvement. To say that I am happy with the outcome would be a severe understatement. Just think about what might have happened if my nutrition wasn't out of whack.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Rommel's soapbox on dieting

A few people have asked me recently about my diet. I don't have a good name for it yet, but you can call it the IronMel diet for now. The following is a little something I wrote about a month ago. It was actually a personal entry, but I'll make it public now since people have asked (it isn't that personal :) Enjoy.

...Ahem... allow me to stand on my soapbox for a moment...

So this journey started in October 2005. At the time, I was at 182 lb.

Today I'm at 163 lb. That's my high school wrestling weight (15 years ago).

That's a total of 52 lb loss since my first attempt at the IronMan distance back in 2004.

My relatives and friends keep asking me what I'm doing to lose so much weight.

"Are you doing the low-carb thing?"
"You stopped eating rice, right?"

No, no, no, no, NO!!!!

For starters, I'm Filipino. I love rice. Call it stereotypical, but for me, it's just plain true. I also like bread. Low-carb, shmo-carb, it's pretty much bull-ony to me. So what did I do? Quite simply, I redefined the word, "Diet."

Let's face it, we've all been on a diet at one point, right? It usually meant decreasing or elminating the intake of something that you like (sweets, carbs, meat, fat, etc.). Then it would be combined with some kind of drastic exercise plan, causing you to go from sedentary to marathon in 3 weeks. Sound familiar? It does to me, because I was there.

What happened? It was difficult to sustain, because there is no joy in it. So you went right back to the same foods that were bad (but now you eat more of it). You stop exercising, because (insert lame excuse here...such as too much work, fatigue, pain, people weren't meant to run, etc.).

Here's what a diet is to me. A diet is a way of eating that I'm willing to stick with for the REST OF MY LIFE! Simple. That means that I eat carbs, protein, fat, and fiber. I'm full all the time. I eat 5 to 7 times a day. I just don't stuff myself.

One other criteria that I have is that I opt for quality food. That means no partially hydrogenated oil, no high-fructose corn syrup. I tend to eat more natural food. I look at it this way... if I can't recreate it in my kitchen, then I won't eat it.

This is what my typical daily diet looks like.
  • 5:00 am: Bowl of oatmeal (something high in fiber to keep me full. I tend to go with Irish, or Scottish Oats... I believe they are also call Steel Cut)
  • 8:00 am: Some fruit and/or nuts (tend to be dried)
  • 10:00 am: half a bagel or cliff bar. Sometimes a piece of chocolate (dark).
  • 12:00 pm: Sandwich and soup.
  • 3:00 pm: Fruit, candy, just something to wake up my brain
  • 7:00 pm: Dinner. Half a plate of rice, 1/4 plate meat, 1/4 plate of vegetables
  • 9:00 pm: Nachos (good food to watch the Sharks play)

There are variations, such as a Cliff bar instead of fruit and nuts... or juice... or a small oatmeal cookie... or...

I workout 3-6 days a week. Even if it just means walking for an hour. For me, it usually means running from building to building at work.

I welcome any comments on my thoughts here. I'm sure people will think that I'm full of it, and they are certainly welcome to their opinions. I just know what is working for me.

Here's to your health!

I'm getting off my soapbox now.