The Final Tweaks before Game Day

These past few weeks after the half Ironman Triathlon, I have been making some final tweaks to my training. I addressed the issues that came up during the half Ironman triathlon a few weeks ago.

To boost my swim confidence, I swam 3,000m at Ironman pace for 1:15 hrs. It felt long and a bit tedious, but I made it. It was my longest swim ever. And this is about 3/4 of the distance of the Ironman swim. If I can do 3/4, I can do the last 1/4.

To reinforce my confidence on long bike rides, I finished a group century 100 mile ride, two weeks after the triathlon. We went faster than I would while solo and took longer breaks. But this gave me confidence that my body can handle 100+ miles.

To address my gastrointestinal issues on the bike, I fed myself on a long ride by eating first and drinking my performance mix later. I think drinking the performance mix first gave me those issues during the triathlon. I got my body used to eating solid foods on the ride before drinking that energy mix. And ultimately I felt better by ordering the nutrition in this way. I’m sure there’s a science to this, but I’m going off of my own experience and what works best for me.

On that same solo ride and other longer rides, I forced myself to sit without standing in the saddle. That put a lot of pressure onto my butt bones. This seat discomfort was another big issue from my previous race. I began seeking out more pain in the saddle. Hopefully I have raised my pain tolerance as a result. For a long 112 mile ride, I’ll need to stand up to rest my seat muscles and take longer breaks. But now I’ll be able to stay locked in position for longer as a baseline.

To increase my leg strength, I incorporated hill workouts into my runs. I even did hill repeats as the singular focus of that run.

I also added some mile-long pick-ups in other runs to jolt the legs. During those, I would keep my heartrate at threshold or tempo pace, which means I’m not overexerting myself. Then for the last repetition, I would go all-out since I’m competitive and like to go fast. Doing this helped me adapt to the higher active heart rate during the Ironman triathlon, because my heart will be tired from the swim and bike before.

Lastly, I have visualized every step of race day. I see myself waking up, preparing well, swimming, transitioning, biking, and running. I see myself grinding across the finish line, no matter how late I arrive, and hearing my name over the loudspeaker.

All in all, I’m ready. I know what gear I need and how to use it. I have a better race day nutrition plan. I know my body can finish each individual discipline. On race day, I’ll have all the support from family, friends, aid stations, and fellow competitors.

I know that I’m ready because if you told me that the Ironman was suddenly scheduled for tomorrow morning, I would be excited, not scared.

Ironman 70.3 Ohio – Post-Race Recap

Here we are two weeks past the Iron Man 70.3 in Ohio. And I figure it’s time to give a full overview of how the race went.

Watch the full video below!

(Youtube full link: https://youtu.be/xglXq4Q2xpA)

Once I get sponsored, I’ll have a bigger budget to add some B-side footage of me during the race. But for now, enjoy the simple 1-take video recap!

I completed the half Ironman 70.3 Ohio!

On July 25, 2021, I completed the half Ironman 70.3 in Ohio, USA. It was one of the hardest experiences of my life! But I had so much support from family, friends, and volunteers on the race course. Thank you!!

My times:

SWIM (1.2 Miles, 1.9 Kilometers) = 00:44:59

T1 SWIM-TO-BIKE = 00:08:11

BIKE (56 Mi, 90 K) = 3:00:22

T2 BIKE-TO-RUN = 00:08:31

RUN (13.1 Mi, 21.1 K) = 2:37:59

TOTAL TIME = 6:40:02

I am planning on doing a more in-depth analysis of the race.

I’m looking forward to the full Ironman Wisconsin in September, which will double all the distances.

This is a simple notification that I did the half Ironman.

So for now, time to celebrate!

Grant at the finish line of IM OH 70.3, July 25, 2021

Ironman 70.3 Packing List and Day-by-Day plan

It’s two days before race day, which is Sunday, July 25th. It’s the half Ironman 70.3. I’ve done all my tapering and relaxing these past two weeks. I’ve already put in the miles and hours of training. Now is when I need to finalize the packing list and plan out each item for each step. I use Trello to organize checklists so they’re easy to understand.

Take a look at my packing list and day by day plan.

I’ll talk to you after the race!

Ironman Training: 2021 vs. 2020

In 2021, I did things better than in 2020.

In 2021, I started doing longer swim sessions and once per day. In 2020, I was doing two-a-days and shortening the swim. But I’m not a strong swimmer, so I need to spend more time in the water.

In 2021, I started doing more brick workouts. A brick is a combination of bike then run, in that order. A brick trains your body to get used to running right after biking. I was only doing one brick workout per week in 2020. But in 2021, I was doing at least 2-3 bricks per week.

In 2021, I took swim lessons from a coach. I learned so much about efficiency and power that I would not have picked up on my own. In 2020, it was me, myself, and I.

In 2021, I got fitted onto my bike in a road position and aero position. I also got aero bars. In 2021, I will race in the aero position, which is much faster and more comfortable. In 2020, I only had the road, upright position to ride in.

In 2021, I got another pair of goggles. These goggles are anti-fog. In 2020, I only had one pair of cheap goggles. Also in 2021, I bought a wetsuit that I didn’t have in 2020.

In 2021, I got calf compression sleeves for my legs. These reduce muscle fatigue for races or intense workouts. In 2020, I was relying on my bare legs.

In 2021, I started practicing with nutrition. I tested out 3-4 different endurance mix powders and took them on long workouts. For what it’s worth, I landed on Infinit Performance Nutrition. I also bought the Maurten gels and Quantum bars that will on course at the race. I bought Salt Sticks and took them everywhere. I trained with a mix of Gatorade and water. In 2020, I was trying out a things without much discipline.

In 2021, I started running with a water bottle. I can’t understate how important this is. I will race with a water bottle containing my Infinit endurance mix. And, I can refill the bottle with water and Gatorade and cola. This way, I can sip on fluids in between aid stations.

There were other smaller things I did differently from 2020 to 2021, but these are the big ones.

One thing that remains the same is the commitment and motivation from 2020. That has only grown in resolve in 2021.

Ironman Training Blocks: from August 2019 to July 2021

I started training to do an Ironman triathlon since August, 2019. But from then until now, I’ve gone through ups and downs in my training. Below are some summaries of the distances / durations per week of each discipline: swim, bike, and run. My training has been split up into distinct blocks.

  1. First, in August 2019, I decided to go all-in. I had been experienced in biking. I had run occasionally but not seriously over the last few years. But I hadn’t swum in many years. So, I found a training program online (thanks, Josh Muskin!). I adapted the training program to my schedule. I began to train 5-6 days per week. At first, I eased into swimming. But I started with short distances while I learned the form. I filled out the rest of my time with biking and running.
  2. In the winter, I continued to swim in the pool, run outside, and bike inside. I joined a Zwift indoor bike training program in early 2020 (Dec-Feb, 2020) which got me into great biking shape. I took a couple weeks off from swimming due to some vacation around the end of 2019.
  3. In mid-March, 2020, I went on another vacation to Miami. That was the exact week when the US closed down due to COVID-19. Our flight actually arrived back to Minneapolis on March 16th, the very day that closures were mandated.
  4. After that, I went into a slump. I stopped swimming (my planned swim durations remain in grey, but my actual durations sank to 0). I began biking and running more, while paying attention to the events. Eventually, one by one all my Ironman and triathlon events were canceled in 2020.
  5. For the summer of 2020, I kept in running shape. I focused mostly on biking far and fast. I went on century rides and fast sprints. I just wanted to stay in shape. By the end of August, 2020, my running culminated in my first marathon, unassisted.
  6. From September until the end of December, I went into slump number two. I stopped biking, running, and didn’t start swimming. My Ironman events were being rescheduled until 12 months from September, and I knew I couldn’t keep up my momentum from then until September, 2021. Instead, I did indoor yoga, stretching, and gained a bunch of weight.
  7. In late December, 2020, I started up indoor biking again. Soon after that, in January, 2021 I started running outside consistently as well. I ratcheted back my yoga. I was competing in online Zwift bike races, which raised my fitness level again.
  8. Then in May, 2021 I restarted swimming. I took swimming lessons. And I got smarter and more focused on my biking and running.
  9. Now that we’re in July, I have two more months until the full Ironman distance, in September. I’ve trained smarter in 2021, not necessarily harder. With two years of training under my belt, I am ready!
Screenshot from Grant’s TrainingPeaks, August 2019 to July 2021

Screenshot from Grant’s TrainingPeaks, August 2019 to July 2021

Screenshot from Grant’s TrainingPeaks, August 2019 to July 2021

Screenshot from Grant’s TrainingPeaks, August 2019 to July 2021

The Ironman Gratitude Post

It’s odd to express gratitude to people for their help when I haven’t even completed my goal yet. What if I fail? Then all that help goes to waste, right?

Nope. Honestly, I appreciate so much the advice and support and attention that I’ve received from the following LONG list of people. I’m sure I’ve missed many more people, so the list is probably longer.

This has shown me that the journey and community support has already affected me deeper than the actual Ironman day itself. Pausing to notice gratitude has reassured me that regardless of what happens on September 12th, I’ve been changed for the better.

It’s incredible. I mention Ironman Triathlon, and immediately everyone gives genuinely good advice or knows someone who’s done the thing. Even if they don’t have anything to offer, they express admiration for my journey, which is enough to keep me going.

If you commit yourself to a crazy goal, generally people are good. They will support you to get there.

That said, here’s my list of Thank Yous below…

Grant circa 2019, forcing a smile knowing there’s a long road ahead

Thank you to…

Sahyli, my wife, for generally just putting up with me and supporting my obsession.

Mom, for reminding me that I can do anything.

Dad, for showing me the right way to approach solving problems.

Peter, for always asking the right questions at the right time.

Luis, for pushing this idea and giving me all the knowledge I needed to get started. I was at a crossroads in life, and you helped me choose the right direction.

Fernando, for reminding everyone that this is part of my identify now.

Cindy, for all of her relevant and reassuring advice.

Chris, for giving me the hunger after we got 3rd place in my first triathlon.

Kevin, for connecting me to everyone he knows that’s even remotely related to fitness.

Team SMILES and the TK ride, for keeping me bike-fit and bike-smart.

Tom, for allowing me to swim in his lake and hosting triathlons.

Francisco, for ordering my race kit.

Christian, for giving a fantastic gear recommendation.

Ben, for giving me race day advice.

The cyclist who recommended I stuff a PB&J sandwich down my shirt for the bike leg.

Team CRYO-GEN HAUTACAM, for pushing my anaerobic limits and for giving me great nutrition advice.

Anna, for teaching me how to not sink.

Brennan, for teaching me how to reach in the water.

Taylor, for reminding me how fast I can run.

The Brownings, for giving me so much useful nutrition and training and race-day advice when I didn’t know I needed it.

Nick Bare, for inspiring me to push hard.

David Goggins, for demonstrating what the human body can do when you push.

Wim Hof, for demonstrating what the human body can do when you focus.

Lionel Sanders, for teaching me the most detailed and genuine perspective of a triathlon athlete life.

Jordan Peterson, for putting into words the most important things that were just beyond my comprehension.

Coach Cox, for persuading me objectively that I can beat the time limit.

Don and Melanie Fink, for writing the literal book on Ironman preparation.

Josh Muskin, for his fantastic training regimen.

Lionel Vujasin, for entertaining me with his intense Zwift races.

Lucas Brunelle, for teaching me how to ride a bike.

Safa Brian and Terry Barentsen, for teaching me how not to ride a bike.

Saturno Movement, for keeping me in touch with my body.

SoCalBikePT, for teaching me how to climb.

Dr. Peter Attia, for showing me how to maintain a diet I can handle.

Dr. Alexander, for correcting my hips and back.

Dr. Spennewyn, for fixing my knees.

Matt Cama, for teaching me how to run.

Chris the Bike Fit Guru, for fitting me onto my bike which was worth every cent.

Not to mention, I need to thank the Ironman Group itself as well as all the different gear, nutrition, apps, places, and tools I have accumulated over the years that keep me going.

Thank you!!!

My Ironman Triathlon Journey (T-minus 3 months)

There’s a lot I’ve been doing for myself recently. I’ve been focusing on consuming positive content. I’ve been reading more. But I’ve been writing less.

Over the past two years, I have been spending much more time building an obsession on completing an Ironman Triathlon: 2.4 Mile Swim, 112 Mile Bike, 26.2 Mile Run.

Grant, circa 2020

I’ll post more about this in the upcoming weeks. But today is simply an announcement of accountability. To practice, I have a half distance Ironman triathlon on July 25, 2021 in Delaware, Ohio. Then I have the full Ironman distance triathlon on September 12, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin.

This has been a challenge I’ve been obsessing over since August, 2019. At that time, I decided I would complete an Ironman as a way of challenging and guiding my life. In September, 2019, I began training. But by March, 2020, everything was closing and events were canceled that summer. It was brutal to wait another year due to COVID restrictions. I’m sure many people gave up on their dreams after what 2020 dealt to them.

But I’m back, and I began training again in January, 2021.

Yesterday, I went for a 45-minute bike ride at Ironman race pace. Then I ran for 1.5 hours at Ironman race pace (maybe a little faster). On Tuesday, I have my 2nd swim lesson to refine my technique for endurance. Yesterday was the first day when I knew that I could do it.

I will complete the Ironman on September 12, 2021; there are no “unlesses.” I’m asking you to hold me accountable. Blogging, social media, and producing something into the world is as good for the producer as it is for the consumers. They are accountability tools.

Until then, I will continue the grinding.