Friday, August 5, 2011

Surrounded by Fitness Animals!

I surround myself with fitness animals! Sometimes it makes me feel like a complete slacker but MOSTLY I feel inspired, encouraged and frankly, like an animal myself. Fellow TNT coach and my triathlon coach, David, recently finished his second Ironman in Lake Placid, NY. I shared Andy's story a couple weeks ago and now here is David's story of Ironman Lake Placid. David's responses in red....and my fascinating commentary in purple.

Holy cow...IMLP is a in-water, mass start. This looks TERRIFYING to me. There is also a cable under the water that swimmers can follow (like the lane lines at the pool) but naturally everyone wants to swim over the cable so I can only imagine that it's like a giant washing machine out there.

Athlete Profile

42 in September
I'm so glad I have a January birthday because USAT lists your age at the end of the year...even if you haven't actually turned another year older yet.
# of Triathlons Completed:
Sprint - 4

Olympic - 4

Half Ironman - 1
Ironman - 2

Race Location and Stats
Ford Ironman Lake Placid- July 25, 2011

Distance: 2.4 Mile Swim; 112 Mile Bike; 26.2 Mile Run (full marathon) = 140.6 Miles
Entrants: 2,902
Finishing Time: 13 hours 39 min
Breakdown: Swim 1:13:45 ; T1 6:47 ; Bike - 6:52:22; T2 6:33 ; Run - 5:19:45
Finishing Stats: overall 1,548; Age Group 333

Did you swim or run in college or play other sports; how did you get so good?

I played basketball and football in high school and football in college. After college I jogged a little, but didn't start running until I was 35. Then I started running marathons. I've since run about 15 marathons and dropped about 50 lbs.

How did you get into triathlons?

I figured I would eventually try Ironman and Ultra- marathons. But 4 years ago I didn't swim and hadn't been on a bike since I was hit by a car in college. I started to bike again and enjoyed it. So I figured I better learn how to swim. My first sprint tri took 45 min to do the swim, I was the last one out of the water. So I joined a masters swim program and took some lessons.
When David shared the story of his first tri with me last year as I was training for my first Olympic distance tri, I felt so much more at ease in the water. I have never been afraid of the water but swimming nearly a mile in open water was a whole different beast. I just knew I would have to stay calm and keep moving forward. He assured me that I could hang onto the kayaks and buoys if I needed to (which I didn't end up doing!) but I would make it eventually.

What made you decide to do an Ironman?
The challenge of pushing myself. Once you've done it, no one can take that away.
I like this! You certainly can't do an Ironman (or anything crazy hard)unless you really want it for yourself.

Training and Nutrition
About how many hours per week do you train?
My peak weeks are around 20-22 hours. Typically it is 12- 16 hours a week. Usually about 10-13 training sessions a week.
I'd like to point out that this dude works full time, coaches AND has 3 kids. Say what??

How do you find enough time to train? Do you have to do two a days?

I get up very early to train prior to work. I do two a days or bricks about 2-4 times per week.

How many days a week do you train?

6 or 7 days

How long did you train to prepare for the Ironman race?

9 months

Are you really strict about nutrition?
No, I pretty much eat what I want. I eat very healthy overall. Lean protein, whole grains, lots of veggies and fruit.
I'm finally starting to make that connection that extremely active people (marathoners/Ironmen/women) tend to eat A LOT but WHAT the eat is the different. When he says he eats what he WANTS, I totally believe that. Once you start reaching a certain level of fitness, I really think you stop wanting and craving "bad" food. You don't want a fast food hamburger any more because you make the connection that unhealthy food just results in craptastic performance when it comes to training. Good fuel in = good performance. All this working out also means we don't feel guilty when we do fall off the wagon and go a little overboard with the desserts....or maybe that's just me.

What did you do for nutrition during the race?

I use Infinit. It is a custom blended nutrition formula that you mix with water. I can't imagine using anything else. I used to use gels and bars and would always get GI issues during races. I switched to Infinit last year and have not had any issues.
Andy also used Infinit in his Ironman. I've never tried it but personally, that much liquid sounds too much for me. I rarely use sports drinks (unless it's crazy hot out and I need more electrolytes/sodium) because I don't like too much sloshing around. I don't use gels either for this same reason...or maybe that's just my aversion to food products that are the consistency of snot.

Do you have a coach or are you self-coached?
I am self coached. I follow a training plan I got online and modified. I also coach the Team in Training triathlon team.

Which of the 3 sports do you find the most difficult or challenging.

Initially the swim, but I have gotten much better. I would now say the bike, since it is the longest.
This makes me want to cry a little to know that David thinks the bike is the most challenging. I've spent time with David on the bike (you know, when he has to circle back on the course to make sure I'm not lost or crying in a ditch). He's a machine. It takes him about one pedal stroke to be about a quarter mile in front of me. It's all good though. I have more fun hanging out in the back and taking time to smell the asphalt flowers anyways.

Would you change anything about your training?

I would have done more running over the final 4 weeks prior to the race.

You were heading into IM after a crash on the bike and some injuries. What happened and how did that effect your training and race day performance?
I had a bad bike crash 4 weeks before the race. I went down on some train tracks in the rain. I wasn't seriously injured (my friend broke his hip in the same wreck), but was banged up pretty good. I was unable to run until the Wednesday prior to the race. I had a torn/ strained hip adducter. I spent 6 hours with Bob from Stretching Ohio. He was able to fix me to the point I was able to run pain free. I did lose some fitness and endurance that caught up with me on the run.
Before David left for Lake Placid, I wasn't sure if he was running again. I sent him an email with some tips for walking just in case things went awry during the marathon. I at least wanted him to be able to walk efficiently and do what he could to take the stress off his lower body...because I totally know how it feels to attempt a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and riding a bike for 112 miles...or wait, no I don't. David, I hope you didn't listen to a thing I said. :)

Race Experience
Overall, how was your experience?

I was happy overall. I did Lake Placid last year also. This year my swim was 7 min faster, the bike was 15 min faster. The injuries caught up on the run and I was 30 min slower. Overall I was 9 min slower, but I was happy with it given the injuries. I also lost a bottle of Infinit at mile 10 of the bike, I ran out at mile 40 on the bike and started to cramp up. That cost me.
Booya for finishing that race despite being a little gimpy from the crash!! I told you this guy is an animal!

I've heard the course was pretty challenging, was it harder or easier than you expected?

The bike it very hilly, and there are 2 big hills on the run and you do two loops.
OK, scratch both Couer d'Alene AND Lake Placid off my lists of potential Ironmans!

What was the hardest part?

This time the run. The cramping on the bike and the lack of running caught up to me on the second loop.

Anything you wish would have gone better?
During any given race up to 5 things can and will go wrong, how well you manage those 5 things determine how your day will go. I got hit in the head on the swim and my googles took on water, I got pushed wide on the swim, but overall the swim was great. I lost the water bottle and my under-seat bag almost came off the bike. I was able to reattach the bag, but I paid for the lost bottle with bad cramping.

That's a long time to be racing. What did you think about while you were out there?

Everything possible. I try to enjoy the atmosphere. You end of talking to people - especially on the run.
This is assuming you can actually speak while running...I need to work on that I guess so should I ever attempt IM, I can be social with my fellow athletes.

Did you cry when you finished? I tend to cry. :)

I didn't cry, but did get a little choked up. I ran the last 2.5 miles with another TNT coach and we crossed the line together, that was a cool experience. You can see the video (and some photos) here.
OK, I may or may not have cried when I watched the video. I LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing TNT peeps finishing races!

What advice would you give to a newbie or someone just trying to improve?
For swimming, join a masters swim program. Don't be intimidated, it will greatly help your swimming. Follow a training plan and don't skip training sessions. Consistent training is the key.

David....are you speaking directly to me?? My training for last month's tri was probably the least consistent I have been in several years...I'm sure David noticed when my tired a$$ wasn't at 6:00 am swim practice. I blame The Pilot for asking me to marry him. :P Wedding planning and time with the future hubby sometimes won out over training time....oops.

Congratulations David!! You overcame a crash before the race yet you still went out there and showed Lake Placid who's awesome! I give your performance two thumbs up!!

Look at that, I love a good TNT smile during a race!


  1. Love this! Awsome questions! Way to go Garrity!

  2. This is great! Now I'm inspired; maybe a half IM next year? I'll need some good training partners. How about it Amber?