Monday, March 26, 2012

Sponsor News and Super Mom

Week 13 was a great one for me. My confidence continues to grow by the week. For the week I ran 55 miles, biked 200, and swam 17,100 yards. I also did all the regular sessions of weight lifting, jump rope, plyometrics, speed drills, strides, push-ups, and core work. My total training time was right at 25 hours. I weighed in this morning at 147.4 lbs. This is 4 lbs. lighter than the lowest I saw on the scale all of last year and I have to go all the way back to 1998 for the last time I saw a number that low. I continue to feel amazingly strong, especially on the bike. I have a new bike coming...I won't say what it is until it is finished being built which may be this week. I got the feeling this past week that my old Orbea was trying to tell me not to get rid of her. I am tremendously excited about where my cycling fitness currently is at. I race in 4 weeks and I can't wait! I love the off-season. If you take advantage of the weeks you really have a chance to transform the body without worrying about being rested for races. That's exactly what I have done over the past 13 weeks.
I have some really exciting news to pass along from a couple of my sponsors. GU Energy is back as the OFFICIAL NUTRITION SPONSOR OF IRONMAN!!!! This couldn't make me more excited. I've always known that it's important to train with the products you will be racing with. At Ironman 70.3 and full Ironman I have always had to pack large quantities of GU for the race. No more! All my favorite flavors of GU, Roctane, Chomps, and the new Roctane drink will be available at the aid stations of nearly every 70.3 and full Ironman. Last year in Ironman Arizona when I was beginning to really suffer in the last 10 miles of the run I was out of GU and forced to take a Powerbar Gel at an aid station. I nearly puked it back up. It was super runny and totally nothing like the GU I'm used to. Now, I know Powerbar makes good products so I'm not trying to sound like their nutrition is bad. My problem is that it was something I wasn't used to. I will not have that problem any more. You can read the details of the GU/Ironman partner ship by clicking here and you can also check out the promotions GU has right now.
In other exciting news from sponsors Xterra Wetsuits sent me a note this past week telling me they were increasing the discount available to customers who use my pro discount code of SA-JPAUL. After the holidays the discount dropped to 55% off but they have just increased it to 60% off. If you are looking for a wetsuit this year without mortgaging the house check out Xterra Wetsuits at and use discount code SA-JPAUL to save 60% off nearly every suit they have available. They are also running a promotion right now for free shipping on any wetsuit purchase. What draws me to Xterra is how customer friendly they are. They are the ONLY company out there that encourages you to swim in your suit to guarantee the correct fit. They will refund you 100% of the purchase price or swap for a different size at no charge AFTER you have swam in it. I researched over 15 other wetsuit companies and no one else even compares. The correct fit in a wetsuit is so important to getting the most out of it I don't know how you could take a chance on buying one without knowing you will get to swim in it risk-free.
This past weekend Supermom and I went to Chicago for the Shamrock Shuffle. We were fortunate that our good friends Zeb and Jasmine Gilliam had a place for us to stay. Staying at their place has been good luck for us in the past when I've raced in the Chicago Triathlon. We had a nice dinner where I managed to eat my entire calzone which put me well over my 3,000 calorie restriction on Saturday. Jen made it a priority to find some good competitive races this year. She wins nearly every local race she runs and most of them without anyone very close to her. She knows that her best races will come when she is pushed so she found this HUGE one in Chicago. About 40,000 runners toed the line on Sunday. What made it ultra competitive is that they had a large prize purse for elite club teams. This brought anywhere from 3-6 very fast ladies for each club. Jen tried to join the Iowa elite club (Runablaze) last year but they would not let her wear a Live Uncommon logo on their jersey so she passed up on the chance to join them (and the cool perks that come with being on the team) so that she could work to further the cause of Live Uncommon. Yesterday Jen ran the 8k in 28:32 and finished 13th place among all the female runners. She was awesome. I ran it with her as my weekly tempo. She ran extremely smart knowing the fast runners would pull the pack out fast. Jen's mile splits were 5:52, 5:43, 5:35, 5:40, and 5:42. After the mile mark we did not get passed by anyone. Jen passed 8 girls in mile 2, 6 in mile 3, and about 5 more the rest of the way in to the finish line. I was really excited for her. She continues to amaze me by what she's able to accomplish in running despite being busy with a demanding full-time job, being an awesome mother to two wonderful children, and putting up with me! I'm already looking forward to her next big race althoug we don't know where that should be. If anyone out there has any big race suggestions go ahead an post them here. She is looking for options including about every distance except for a marathon which she swears she will never do again.
Jen and I teamed up for the Live Uncommon race team this year. We did not do this because we were looking to do 7 more local races. I do enough triathlons and she already had enough races in the past. We teamed up because everyone on the race team has pledged to raise money for the charities the races on the series give back to. Jen and I pledged to raise $1,500.00 for these worthy causes. We are thrilled with the generosity we have seen so far. Special thanks to the following individuals for contributing to this cause: Phil Pancrazio, Jon and Aleta McGee, Tony Singh and Merrill Lynch, Michelle and Dave Juehring, Lisa Long, Jason and Amy Smith, Kelan and Jayme Moylan, Shanna Smith, Bill and Dierdra Moylan, Barb and Darrell Paul, Amber and Shaun Wishnevski, Edward Allen, Laurie and Scott Scafidi, and the 3 anonymous donors! If you would like to contribute a tax-deductible donation we will be thrilled with any amount you can give. We are over 1/2 way to our goal! You can click here to make a donation on our page or just to check out what charities we are trying to raise money for. If you would prefer to mail a check rather than donate online let me know and I would be happy to send you the address.
Things are going so well right now I decided to do my first pro race of the year one month sooner than I had planned. I will be going to Kansas 70.3 on June 10 and racing there. I'm at a point right now where I can hardly believe how good I'm feeling...I have this feeling that the only thing that could slow me down right now is an injury so I'm trying not to do anything dumb. I'm getting my body fat % tested again on Thursday. I plan to increase my calories from 3,000/day to 3,300 next week. I have had a couple days when I ate over 4,000 and I feel like Superman in the next day's workouts. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

It can't be this easy...Spring Break 2012

It can't be this easy...this is my reaction to counting calories for my first 11 days. I cannot believe how effective it has been and how good I have felt. I weighed in this morning at 150.4 lbs. which is the lowest I have seen on the scale in 10 years. I worked out 30 hours, 30 minutes last week on 3,000 calories and I felt awesome! How can this be? I totally imagined I would feel like crap but have found it to be just the opposite. I didn't put in any eye popping single days but every day was between 4 and 5 hours training. For the week I biked 315 miles, swam 20,200 yards, and ran 45 miles. I also lifted weights, jumped rope, and did lunges twice, performed speed drills, strides, and push-ups all three times, and did core work 10 times.
I have been eating so clean and healthy I think I'm getting more out of 3,000 calories than I used to out of 5,000. This is because I'm making the calories count. I'm loading up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
This past week was my spring break and what a week we had here in the midwest. We had record high temperatures in the 80's nearly all week. I got outdoors on my bike for the first time this year on Tuesday for hill repeats. Going into this workout I wasn't sure what to think of my bike fitness. I've had some great workouts on the trainer but until you get out on the roads I think you always wonder how the indoor fitness will translate outside. I had an awesome workout which was a huge motivator. I know right now my swimming is better than ever before and I'm running exceptionally well for this early in the year. Finding out my bike fitness is also high was really nice. We had our first group ride of the year on Wednesday night and it was awesome. The pace got going fast really early but I managed to hang on and stay up front sharing the workload until the end. I lose the Wednesday night group rides. I always try to make it my toughest bike workout of the week.
Saturday I did my tempo run with Jen as she raced the St. Paddy's Day 5k. The event was put on wonderfully. It is sponsored by Russell Construction and they have done such a good job investing in the race that the numbers have doubled from 2 years ago and with over 3,000 runners on Saturday they saw a new record. Jen won the women's race and the $300.00 prize that came with it. It was fun running with her. I'm excited to see what she can do with lots of good girls in the field this Sunday when we travel to Chicago for the Shamrock Shuffle. She ran 17:40 on Saturday and won by quite a bit. She continues to amaze me with her committment to running at a high level while balancing being Super Mom, and a very intense overtime-filled job at the arsenal. By the way, she still finds time to volunteer in our church nursery on the weekends. She is definitely a good example of what Live Uncommon seeks to achieve in our community and world.
I had my longest ride of the year on Thursday when I went outside with Adam Bohach for 65 miles. He is more nuts than I am putting in over 350 bike miles in 5 days. Sunday was my longest run of the year (14 miles). Monday was a great swim workout...10x200's on 3:00 and I did all of them in 2:39-2:41 until the last 2 when I finished in 2:32 asnd 2:33. I'm really excited about my swimming right now. I have invested in the swim and I'm waiting for the payout. This year I'm averaging 19,100 yards/week through 12 weeks of training. I compared this to last year's swim training. A year ago I was averaging 12,200 yards through week 12. I had done 17 swim workouts at 4,000 or more yards and 5 swim workouts at 5,000 or more yards through 12 weeks last year. This year I have done 35 swim workouts of 4,000 or more yards and 18 workouts at 5,000 or more yards. I have swam 15,000 yards or more all 12 weeks this year with 5 of those weeks exceeding 20,000 yards this year. Last year I had swam 3 weeks of 15,000 yards and only 1 at 20,000.
I don't think I would have wanted to be anywhere else in the world but Scott County over Spring Break 2012. The weather was perfect and the workouts were great. We were able to get the kids outdoors and do some fun things with them. All this hard work leaves me with a little recovery time to adapt. I had a much needed massage from Laurel Darren yesterday and that should help speed things along. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Counting on Success...

Near the conclusion of my 5 week break from any training following Ironman Arizona I had my body fat % tested at Kaminski Pain and Performance Care. Dr. Kaminski invested in some new high tech body composition machine and I was excited to see how fat I had gotten in my break from training. I weighed in at 172 lbs. and my body fat % was 18%. I was not surpised but was excited to get back to training to see how quickly I could diminish that number. About 10 days ago I went back to retest at Dr. Kaminiski's office. I weighed in at 162 lbs. before they put the electric pads on my body for the test. I was nearing the end of 10 weeks of training and felt very confident I would see a good result. I even made a "prediction" with a high level of confidence that I would be between 12 and 13%. My pride was checked when I heard the number "16" come out of Dr. Kaminski's mouth. Are you kidding me? I have worked my butt off for 10 weeks and all I have to show for it in terms of body fat % is a lousy 2%! I went home a bit frustrated to say the least. I kept thinking...I'm already trying to compete against a majority of guys who can train all day without having a full-time job outside of the sport. On top of that I'm trying to compete against a lot of guys who don't have a family of their own. Now I'm trying to do this at twice their body fat. I had a few ways to look at this number 16 in my head and all of these were things I thought about.
1. Maybe the machine is wrong. Maybe it's not very accurate...then again I know it's the most reliable body fat machine I've ever been hooked up to.
2. Maybe I'm genetically overmatched here and I'm not going to ever see much lower than 16.
3. If I'm at 16% now and feeling as fit as I do, I'm going to be better than I ever thought once I get that number down to 8
With scenarios 1 I was in denial. With scenario 2 I was just being pessimistic. I chose to go with scenario 3. I believe I've never been close to my ideal body fat % or race weight yet and when I get there the results will be better than I or anyone else could have ever predicted. With that decision I declared war on 16.
For the first time in my life I decided to count calories. I made myself a list of everything I eat around the house. The list is growing. (click on it to make it bigger) When I eat something that's not on the list I add it to the list. My list has a title spot for the food, what the serving size is, how many calories are in it, how much protein, carbohydrate, and fat are in the food, and how much the food weighs. The weight is important because if I'm going to restrict calories I want to make sure I'm eating foods that will keep me healthy without adding too many calories. On the pages that follow "the list" I write down every single thing I eat and how many calories are in it. I add them up and keep track. I've been amazed with my short term results on only 5 days of this test. Here are my early findings on a limit of 3,000 calories/day.
I can't believe how many carbohydrates I was consuming before keeping track of this! I was eating 1,000 calories of Wheaties Fuel for breakfast plus another 500 calories of other food. I was easily consuming 5,000 calories which is maybe where I'll be when I get to my ideal body fat % but way over what I needed to eat. I was eating 5 or more granola/protein/cereal bars a day. Those did next to nothing in terms of satisfying my hunger but they were packing on a tremendous amount of calories and carbohydrates. In my brief 5 days I have found that I can eat 3,000 calories and not feel hungry at all. I eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I use measuring cups and even a cool new food scale to measure out my servings so I'm accurate in keeping track. The food scale I bought has over 1,000 foods stored in it so I can type in "orange" and then put my orange on the scale and it will weigh it and tell my how many calories are in it. Doing this has forced me to think about what I'm eating and how I want to "spend" my calories. It has actually been very fun to do. I am making up my own rules as I go. For example if I eat less than 3,000 calories on a given day I get to "bank" them and carry over the remaining to the next day. I have decided that every Tuesday morning my bank will empty anything over 500 extra calories so Monday will be the day if I have lots of extra to give I can enjoy that stove top oil cooked popcorn that I crave and love (55 calories/cup and the last time I made it I ate 8 cups). What are some of the foods I'm really enjoying you may ask? Here is a list of a few...
1. 1 serving of Wheaties Fuel mixed with Fat Free Dannon yogurt. This is 290 calories but is very filling and has a good mix of carbohydrates and protein.
2. Chicken Breast- 4 ounces is a serving and has only 90 calories and 22 grams of protein with only 1/2 gram of fat.
3. Smoothie- 1 cub fat free Cookies and Creme Frozen yogurt, 1/2 cup skim milk, 1 fat free Dannon vanilla yogurt all blended and it has 320 calories
4. Strawberries- 1 cup only has 50 calories
5. Baby Carrots- 3 ounces only has 35 calories. I could spend my daily calories eating 18 lbs. of these things...all for only 3,000 calories.
6. Mr. Dells Hashbrowns with green peppers and onion- 60 calories a serving and I no longer cook it in oil.
7. Yogurt with Raisins- This is a very filling snack and I try to eat 1 snack between breakfast and lunch and another between lunch and dinner. This nets 210 calories with 1 6 ounce fat free yogurt and 1/4 cup of raisins.
I'm sure a lot of people will think I went off the deep end here...I'm actually having a lot of fun and it's incredible to see how much of a difference I can see and feel in only 5 days. As I get closer to my goal body fat percentage I will begin adding in calories because I know the quality of workouts will get even better when I'm allowing myself more of those. I still have lots of time before any big races so the count is on. I'm at war with 16 . I may find that I can race 10 lbs. lighter than I've ever been and I know from past experience what that will mean for my biking and running. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Week 10 Training Summary

Sorry for the delay with this week's post. Week 10 was a very solid one of training. For the week my total training time was 24.5 hours. I ran 60 miles, biked 170 miles, and swam 16,000 yards. Through 10 weeks of training I've been at or above 15,000 yards every week with an average of nearly 19,000 yards each week. I'm excited about that progress. With my increased devotion of swimming I've found it much tougher to put in the big bike weeks as I did in past years. I knew something would have to give if I was going to be spending 2-3 more hours a week in the water and it has been a few bike miles. I continue to put in 2-3 real quality rides each week to make sure I am still making progress with my cycling as well as my swimming and running. In addition to the swim, bike, and run totals this week I also lifted weights and did plyometrics twice, speed drills, strides, lunges, jump rope, and pushups all three times, and core work 12 times.
We had another great swim clinic at Augustana on Sunday. We had 14 people in attendance. All the attendees were entered in a raffle to win some awesome products donated by Xterra Wetsuits. At every clinic from now until June the attendees will be entered into the raffle. If you are thinking about ordering a wetsuit for the 2012 season you are welcome to use my pro discount code of SA-JPAUL to save 55% off the retail prices at We will give away all the prizes at the June clinic. Quad Cities Triathlon race director Eric Sarno threw in a free entry into the QC Triathlon that will also be drawn at the June raffle. The next clinic will be on Sunday, March 25th at 11:00 a.m. I hope to see another big crowd. It's really fun for me to watch how much the guys and gals at the clinic improve from one time to the next.
I had a few workouts I was really excited about last week. On Friday I did 2x3 miles of progressive tempo work. I ran my first on in 17:22. I ran 1 mile easy recovery and then did the 2nd one at 16:58. I couldn't believe how easy they felt. It felt like I was jogging until I got down to 5:40 mile pace. I like doing the tempo runs progressively where I get a little bit faster each mile. I had 2 very quality bike workouts where I did some hard intervals. I've been doing a lot of high watt/low cadence work where I pedal for 5 minutes at 290 watts with a cadence of no more than 55. These are great strength builders. By pedaling so slowly your legs recruit all the muscle groups to help with the effort. I repeat the 5 minute period 5 times in the workout. I also stepped up my long run this week. I'm now at 13 miles after beginning the year at 8.5. I'm pretty careful about how quickly I increase the long run. I typically add 5 minutes every 2 weeks. This year I don't plan on going above 15 miles until the summer because I'm not racing an Ironman until November when I'll be back at Ironman Arizona trying to break the 9 hour barrier that eluded my by 5 minutes last November.
I'm 95% confident I'll be on a new bike next year. I got the word this week from Healthy Habits about some really exciting options and I'll be trying to hammer out the finer details of this over the next week so I can begin training on it and getting my fit dialed in. Jen and I signed up for the Live Uncommon race team this week. If you are unfamiliar with it Live Uncommon has picked 7 races that give back to charitable organizations. Anyone who wants can sign up for the race team to be entered in all seven events for $150.00. Along with the entry each person also pledges to raise $700.00 that will go straight back to the charities these races support. I don't plan on actually racing many of them hard since the triathlon season is where I like to put most of my hard efforts but this is a cause I care deeply about and I wanted to be part of the "Revolution" of making health and fitness an important part of our community. I love the idea of giving back to worthy causes that make a difference in our community and the world we live in. Between the 2 of us we have pledged to raise $1,500.00 which kind of terrified me because I hate asking people for money. We decided to take this leap of faith in hopes that we can do this. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to our Live Uncommon campaign you can do so by clicking here. We would be honored and humbled.
The training will be a little less in week 11 as I prepare for a big week of training over our spring break next week. The weather is turning nicer and it's a great time to get outside for a bike ride, a run, maybe even a swim within the next couple months...If that's not your thing get outside with your kids and walk around the neighborhood, take them to the whatever it is that you enjoy doing while being active. People will notice. YOU will feel great. You will inspire others. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!