|Posted by benproko on May 22, 2016 at 3:40 PM||comments (6)|
Ironman Texas was set to be my 13th Ironman. Coincidently, the event took place the day after Friday the 13th. There was a lot of drama revolving around the bike course and whether or not we were even going to have a race. After last minute changes, Ironman was able to provide a 95 mile bike course instead of the standard 112. Also, two days before the event, the water quality in the canal tested poor and the race officials had to reroute the swim course and create a separate location for T1. Despite the drama and unforeseen changes, Ironman Texas ultimately lived up to the challenge everyone strives to conquer.
The afternoon before the race, as Friday the 13th would have it, our A/C went out. The house was an uncomfortable 82 degrees. Katie and I were both determined to have a quality night sleep so we decided to make a quick run to Home Depot to get a portable unit (we were wanting to eventually purchase one for our garage anyway.)
Upon arrival to the course, we were well rested and void of any regrets of our portable A/C purchase. At 6:45 AM I started the swim and took a good line out to the first turn. I left my defog on the kitchen counter at home and as a result, had to stop to clear my goggles before the turn. After the second turn we started heading back and were roughly half way done. I lost focus and did not take as good of a line back. Even being surrounded by 100’s of competitors I felt somewhat lonely. I began to miss Katie and my dad in the canoe next to me in the 10K swim during the Ultra 520K Texas last year. In an hour and 12 minutes, I hopped out of the water. I felt this was an okay time for me, but not a great time. I grabbed my belongings and headed to T1.
Volunteering in the changing tent was Gus Paredas, friend and Trifit-XT athlete. He and several others were great help as I consumed one mix of my Hammer Perpetuem (Latte flavor) and put on my socks, cycling shoes, helmet and race belt with nutrition attached (Race caps, Endurance Amino, Endurolytes Extreme, and Anti Fatigue). Heading out, the mount line was a little crowded so I found some space and started the bike leg.
On the bike, my glutes usually take some time to fully kick into gear so I used the first 10 miles of the bike to warm-up my legs and periodically change position. During this time, I took some raspberry hammer gel before switching to Perpetuem.
With my adventure racing and mountain biking experience, I am comfortable with unfamiliar turns. From the start, I was actually able to make up a descent amount of ground on other athletes, manage to carry a lot of my speed through most of the turns, and efficiently accelerate smoothly.
Despite the change in course, I have to say I really enjoyed the bike leg. The route included areas you could never bike safely solo, but with the intersections and traffic controlled, the new way ended up being a blast. Leading up to the event, I didn’t have time to pre-ride or drive the course, but after living in Houston for over 20 years, I had seen nearly every section at one time or another in the past. Thirty-five miles in I said to myself “this race has had very little drafting.” Unfortunately, I spoke about 5 miles too soon. Ironman rules require athletes to be 6 bike lengths behind the person in front of you. I understand momentarily loosing focus and not realizing you are following too closely, however, a few blatantly disregard the rule because they value a faster time or placement over the integrity of the race. With all due respect, for someone who makes a conscious effort to race with integrity, observing a few athletes choosing to draft is a little disheartening, but I guess the triathlon community with all the sponsors, emphasis on qualifying for Kona, etc, brings it on us by holding race placement on such a high pedestal. However, the athletes in the local kits that I saw were not among the drafting packs.
As I passed several of these “pelotons,” I would have a few try to latch onto me. This is legal as long as they drop back after 25 seconds. However, there was one guy that was strong enough to hang just behind my wheel and stay longer than the allotted time. I was slightly annoyed, but not entirely frustrated because I was able to simply deploy my anti-draft technique to get rid of him.
Side note* if you are my local race competition you can skip this section about how the anti-draft technique is executed*
A drafter is like someone drowning- they are not going to hang on to something sinking or slowing down. Knowing their weakness, I slow down enough for the drafting athlete to pass They will then pass me and begin looking for the next draft opportunity. I then drop back cleanly out of the draft zone, then build my speed back up to re-pass. I pass with just a little bit more speed than the initial pass I made when they latched on. Between them doing their own work and me passing a little faster, they usually won’t be able to hold on this time. The brief quickening of pace does not cost much, if any, extra overall power or time.
*Local competition may continue here-
The technique worked and I did not see them again.
The remainder of the bike was a trip down memory lane. The course traveled through Tomball where I went to Middle school and High School. I passed by the baseball fields I played at for 5 years growing up. Baseball was my first love and I came out of the aero position to take in the memories.
With about 10 miles or so we rejoined a part of the course that was used the 1st year Ironman Texas held here. By now, the heat started getting to me a little bit. At the last water station I drenched myself in water and continued preparing for T2.
Heading into T2 I could tell I was a slightly overheated and knew I would have to be smart about my running pace starting out. I was really happy with the overall bike speed versus the power used. The bike felt smooth and fast. Some of the upgrades made at Tru Tri Sports, which included moving to a 1X system with rotor rings, really appeared to help.
Bike: 22.91 mph
I took my time in T2 and had a volunteer get some ice for my hat.
As I prepared for the run I thought through the best pace for my condition. A week earlier I had a metabolic test done with Johnny Shelby at Third Coast Training to determine both my energy expenditure at various paces as well as of the calories percentages utilized from fat and carbs. I chose to go around an 8:30-9:00 min. per mile pace (which included approximately 30 second walk breaks at each station). At this pace I burned 25% less calories and about 50% less from carbohydrate stores. About 1 mile into the run I saw Robynne. We had run together for 5-6 miles at my last Ironman in Boulder. After a brief exchange, our goal paces were close so we decided to stay together. The first lap was not too bad and I could feel my core temperature dropping. I began cooling off and feeling better than I did getting off the bike. I decided to stay with Robynne because in the past I usually struggled at the end of the run and I wanted to have a good third lap. Each aid station was the same routine: Grab water, walk, Robynne pass me, grab a sponge, nutrition or supplements if needed, and then catch back up to Robynne.
I wasn’t even sure what my IM run PR was so at mile 17 I saw Katie and asked her to look it up if she could. I was kind of hoping it was around 4:20 so I would be able to coast in on the last lap. As I passed back by Katie she told me it was 4:14. Oh! No room to slow down on the last lap. It was getting even hotter now. I had decided to stay steady until mile 20 and then decide to go for it. Just before mile 20, dark clouds rolled in and the temperature began to quickly drop. I knew this would help, but was hoping the rain would hold off. I picked it up a little and at mile 20 and I set my virtual pacer on my Garmin at a 9:30. This would bring me in a couple minutes under 4:14 just to be safe. Soon the sky began to dump rain. It felt good, but I was worried they would stop the race. I picked up the pace a little more. I was feeling amazing. Water was starting to flood the streets and gusts of wind would almost blow some of us over. Then, with 4 miles left, the volunteers stopped us and said “when you cross this timing mat your time will stop then proceed at the next aid station”. After crossing the mat I walked a bit thinking about what to do, then I jogged to the shelter where we were directed. I figured I would stop my watch once I got there and then start it back up after we restarted. I really wasn’t too worried either way. I knew I had a great run for me and the last 3 miles was just a formality at that point.
I tried to keep moving because if I didn’t, I knew starting back up would be tough. I took my shoes and sock off and rung them out. About 45 minutes later we restarted. My legs felt like they had already finished the race. I started my time and eased into the first mile. After a mile my legs felt good again. I saw Katie and Adam about a mile from the finish and one last time with a quarter mile left. I seeded myself between two athletes- one about 100 yards ahead and the other 100 yards behind- to allow them, and myself, to enjoy the finish.
There is always a feeling of accomplishment when I cross the line. This was the best I have ever felt at the end of an IM race. I was excited to see how the other 8 Trifit-XT athletes did as well. We all finished one of the craziest Ironman races I have done to date- lucky number 13.
Stats and Notes:
Usually, I don’t shoot for IM PR’s, however, the day provided my fastest non-wetsuit swim, fastest bike average speed (barley), and fastest Marathon in an IM by 5 minutes.
Bike 4:08 (22.91 mph)
Run 4:09:56 (With time adjustment)
Total time 9:45
• This is the most metabolically efficient I have been heading into a long course race. Training plays a factor, but biggest link has been the nutritional advice Katie has given me to help make me more efficient.
• Because of the efficiency I only took 480 calories total on the run (about 110 an hour) in the form of 6 Raspberry Hammer gels. I knew that is all I needed because of my adjusted pace and results from Third Coast Training.
• I only had 1 month of increased volume leading into the race. Normally I have 2 months but time was a little tighter in March this year.
• I am not a PR or ER kind of athlete in long course events. I don’t leave it all on the course. My goals are to maintain a good level of health and fitness and Ironman is a nice challenge to have to do so.
• Starting out, my total monthly run volume was 10 miles because I took off 2 months after Ultra 520K Texas. I carefully built up to about 35 miles a week to help prevent any injuries.
• The winter mountain biking and adventure racing really paid its dividends with the course we had this year. The 6 hr. adventure race was a great way to gain fitness and bike skills in March.
Biggest thanks has to go to my wife Katie, both because of her support and nutritional guidance. I know these last 2 years of PR’s would not be possible without her.
My dad has been to nearly all of my triathlons he always knows what to say to motivate me and understands what my goals are.
Adam and Roland are such a motivation on day to day training. I sometimes just push some workouts to see their reactions to various training metrics.
Jordan and Frank at Tru Tri Sports- They have kept my bike running great and we were able to make some good cost effective equipment choices. Thanks guys!
Johnny Shelby at Third Coast Training- I have been going to Johnny for 10 years to receiving metabolic testing. The information has been vital to guiding race day pacing and nutritional adjustments
To all the Trifit-XT athletes- While I am the one creating your plan and giving information to you, you are the ones inspiring me. I was happy to finish, but ecstatic when 100% of you finished! Great job!
Thanks Justin Zaiser of Bike Minded Guru for the awesome pic!
|Posted by benproko on July 4, 2015 at 9:55 PM||comments (1)|
If you have a heartbeat, you have struggled with making healthy choices- especially concerning food. Dietary “guidelines” have drastically shifted in a short amount of time, food labels are now more deceiving than ever, and the internet is flooded with conflicting health information. Holy Poo Poo! What the heck IS a healthy diet???
I have been searching for that answer for at least 8 years now. I was forced into caring about what I ate when my heart started beating erratically one morning at the age of 25. It lasted for days and I thought I was going to die- haha (I can laugh now, because I didn’t). But it scared the bajeebeez out of me and I knew something, obviously, was not right. Many of you have probably been discouraged after visiting a specialist only to come home with a bottle of pills and no solution for the source- that was me. I refused to be on pills for the rest of my life- surely there was a better solution and that is when I turned to nutrition.
I began researching nutrition data related to cardiovascular health on the internet. This led me to subscribing to articles and medical news. Before long, books on nutrition became my Amazon consumer staple. I enrolled in the Digestive Intensive course from Holistic Nutrition Lab and got certified in Sports Nutrition through ISSN. Now, for fun, I listen to nutrition podcast while I work out and read as much as I can on anything pertaining to the topic.
*Scrunching up the nose while pushing up the nerd glasses and adjusting the suspenders.
Obsessed- NO! Passionate- VERY! Why? Because I personally have experienced a tremendous difference in wellbeing and have witnessed others do the same by making sustainable lifestyle changes. Does my pea-pickin’ heart beat perfectly all the time- no, but through my journey, I have learned what sets it off of its harmonious rhythm. I have also learned which foods make my heart happy. In addition, I’ve discovered which foods can be mood altering and what kind of meals make me feel lethargic- mentally and physically. I have learned how to dial in Ironman and other endurance race nutrition perfectly. Knowing how to fuel properly during a competition has allowed me to fulfill my potential and pump out the numbers I am physically capable and still finish with a smile!
I have discovered healthy living is all about the journey and discovering what is right for you! And that is what I want to share with others. I want to help others embark on a sustainable, healthy lifestyle transformation by:
• Learning about food (whole vs processed, ingredients to avoid, etc)
• Discovering how your body reacts and processes food (physiological & psychological responses)
• Exploring your individual nutrition needs (assessing symptoms and moods after meals)
• Developing healthy habits (learning the power of consistency & self-control)
• Learning how to enjoy meal planning and allow a healthy dose of flexibility. (“Let good enough, be good enough” –Sohee Lee)
Despite the existence of confusing, misleading nutrition information out there- I believe that it is possible to overcome the dark cloud that hangs over our heads about choosing the right foods. Meal planning should be enjoyable. Being flexible within reason is absolutely necessary. If you are willing to make the change, commit, and be as consistent as possible- while still enjoying life, you will experience transformation and be able to stick with it!
|Posted by benproko on May 21, 2015 at 10:15 PM||comments (0)|
For several months, in preparation for May 16th, 2015, I worked hard at composing my most brilliant symphony. Each instrument used; swim, bike, run, strength, nutrition, and recovery were carefully and strategically planned out in preparation for the final piece- Ironman Texas 2015. Despite the harsh elements we had to face that day, I was pleased with the results and the race goes down in the books as one of my top 5.
The morning of the race, I did my best to maintain a clear mind. I had done enough thinking, planning, strategizing leading up to the race, now all I needed to do was execute. At 6:43 AM, I entered the water. With the rolling start, the athletes can begin nice and smooth at their own pace. If everyone seeds themselves correctly they rarely have to swim by others or have others swim over them. I feel some seeded themselves a little generously, but it was still a lot less chaotic than previous years. Early on during the swim, I began thinking about transition, but reminded myself to not worry about T1 until I reached the canal. Instead I turned my thoughts toward my form and technique.
After making the first turn 1/3 of the way out, I took a glance out of the corner of my eye at my watch and saw 25 minutes. I was on pace for a 1:15 swim. Shortly after the turn, my goggles started to fog up. I quickly let in a little water to clear the lens and successfully completed the swim with no further issues. After exiting I checked my watch and saw 1:13- a new non-wetsuit swim PR.
In preparation for the bike, I placed the items in my bag in a strategic order that allowed me to have a smooth and efficient transition. I calmly went through my gear. I made sure not to depend on volunteers, but had a job for them if they were available. Thanks to the rolling start, there was much more room in the changing tent and the volunteers working there were amazing. I was in and out in a flash.
Starting the bike I was excited to finally have the opportunity to test my power after months of training. I used the wattage predetermined by my metabolic test from Johnny Shelby at Third Coast Training to limit my efforts and prevent myself from going overboard. The first 10 miles I focused on easing into the bike. I kept my power 20-30 watts below my goal pace and sipped on water until we made the turn onto 2978. I then settled into my goal wattage and worked on staying smooth and efficient.
Shortly after the first water station came up, I was able to cleanly grab a water bottle. But when I placed the bottle in my BTA cage (between the arms) I noticed it was not a secure fit and struggled to keep it in place on bumpy roads.
Miles 20-50 were enjoyable. With a decent tailwind, I was able to allow myself to sit up on some of the uphill portions to help with digestion. I usually added about 20 watts while on climbs. When trying to keep my power steady, one problem I often encountered was at the bottoms of hills. I was consistently going faster than most as they coasted/soft pedaled on their way down. We’d then start to climb the next rolling hill and as I entered the 5 bike length draft zone, the cyclist in front of me would (most likely unknowingly) substantially increase their power causing me to have to go much harder to complete the pass within the 20 seconds allowed. After a few repeats of this situation I learned how to adjust my effort so this would not happen. 1) If I saw I was close I would add my 20 watts of power a little earlier to pass them before the climb. 2) If I didn’t think I could bridge the gap I would soft pedal the downhill and pass them when their power spike stopped. Most of their power spikes lasted about 10-20 seconds before they realized they needed to ease back.
I noticed more race officials on the bike course this year. Sadly, I witnessed more drafting than ever before, but also the most penalties. I was thankful to see penalties were being handed out. A couple of times an official was near me watching drafting up ahead. They would watch for awhile before penalizing an individual. I thought they made some good calls. Of course they did not catch everyone, but they were trying. There were also some athletes holding other racers accountable and calling out them out if they were drafting- in turn this helped break them apart and made them more obedient to the rules.
Around mile 60 we made the turn onto the toughest few miles of the course. This stretch has a false flat section with very strong headwinds. Shortly after, the special needs pick-up was available. I had a spare bike tube and CO2 cartridge which I didn’t need. I also had my next nutrition bottle, water and a couple of Hammer gels.
Despite the strong head winds going back, I was able to pass many athletes. I did not have the same issues on the hills with athletes pushing the first part. Many seemed to be tired at this point. The course was also exposed to more sun. With the high temperatures and humidity, the heat felt intense and from mile 85-100 it was starting to take a toll on me. I dropped my power about 20 watts to recover while drenching myself in water at the next few aid stations. At mile 100 I was feeling good again. I resumed my race wattage and stayed steady the rest of the way to T2. I performed my flying dismount without problem and ended the bike with a 4:56 bike split for the 112 miles. (22.6 mph average)
Into T2 I was thrilled to have achieved a sub 5 hour bike split. I could now relax more knowing flat tires and mechanical problems were no longer a threat. On the way to the changing tent I heard my dad cheering. He has been at so many of my triathlons. It is always motivating to hear his encouragement. I grabbed my bag, changed into some clean dry socks, applied sunscreen and headed out on the run.
IMTX is a 3 loop run course. My wife and many other friends were able to cheer for me at many spots. I started the run earlier than ever before. The heat felt unrelenting by this time and I immediately felt uncomfortable on the first lap. Heading into the race I had several goals (A-D). Any of the 4 objectives I would be happy to achieve. I decided to try for my plan “A” goal pace for the run. I really had to work to stay at that pace. My legs felt ok but the typical Houston climate was getting to me. I was putting ice in my hat and dumping water over it to try to stay cool. Miles 2-3 and 4-5 were unsurprisingly tough. Those sections had the fewest spectators and there was minimal shade. Though I successfully made it through this section on the first lap I realized my current pace was too aggressive for the days conditions. During my experience competing in triathlon and adventure races, one of the most valuable lessons I have learned is to be flexible. I would not be broken if plan A did not come to fruition. I’ve learned to take the cards I am dealt, and use my best judgment. After 5 miles, I accepted the circumstances and adjusted my goals.
Upon approaching the waterway, the energy from the spectators was amazing! Near the JSC Tent, I ran into Colin. Colin has been one of my friendly age group rivals for several years at the local races and usually got the best of me at a handful of races. One race, Colin and I were neck and neck, duking it out with an exciting sprint to the finish. It resulted in me falling face first in the grass and sliding 10 feet just a few yards from the finish. He won- obviously, but it was great to see him and encouraging to have him cheer me on. Also, seeing my friends Adam, Roland and Johnny gave me a motivational boost.
The next few miles I focused on my adjusted pace and getting in water and nutrition. Near the end of the lap athletes had to go down some steps (20 or so). There was no way I was going to run down these. I took my time and then settled back into my pace.
Entering the second lap I received encouragement from an amazing sub 9 hour Ironman triathlete Andy Gardner and a little further down Out Rival’s head coach Michelle LeBlanc. The second lap is the toughest because fatigue sets in and the athletes still have a ways to travel. Though I was motivated at the hot conditions were taking a toll on me. At mile 13 I had to make a smart judgment call to drop my pace down to match plan C’s goal time. I pushed through the dreaded sections hoping my arrival at the crowded waterway would provide more inspiration. My hopes were fulfilled! My pace had been falling off but the cheering mass of people gave me a new sense of energy. Within a half mile I would go by my dad, Katie, Collin, Abe, Tom and many others. I picked up my pace just a little and pushed to finish the lap.
Just after starting the last lap I see Katie again, and let her know I will be going for my “C” run goal. The first part of the lap I stayed focused on nutrition and hydration. Even though it was a “C” run goal it would still be a good run if achieved. I knew my good bike split would mean nothing if followed by a poor run. The motivation was all on me the first half of the last lap. I knew with less than 8 miles to go, I could maintain the pace. I discovered I was in better shape than most when I saw that I was one of the few athletes running and no one was passing me. On the last tough mile before the waterway I looked up and saw the bright yellow Trifit-XT shirts of Adam and Roland. Seeing them encouraged me to continue and actually pick up the pace. During my final pass through the “party zone” on the waterway, the cheering was insane. It has like ascending L’Alpe d’Huez in the Tour de France. The crowd helped propel me the last few miles to the finish.
Approaching the finishing shoot, I made sure to separate myself from other finishers to allow them to take it easy and enjoy the moment. Once I crossed the finish line, a good friend Ricardo was volunteering at the finish and escorted me in. He made sure everything was good and I reunited with Katie, my dad, and Roland to celebrate the PR finish. I felt amazing, had zero stomach issues and was able to eat a meal right away.
From past Ironman races, I have experienced the physical cost of leaving it all out there. It takes forever to recover and considering the circumstances- in conjunction with my goals, it was not necessary to go there. I pushed hard, established a PR and was overall pleased with the decisions I made, my performance, and the ultimate outcome.
My biggest thanks goes to my wife Katie. She allowed me the time to train and was awesome race support. And because of her nutritional guidance, I give her credit for this being the first Ironman that I had zero stomach discomfort of any kind. During the race, I was able to take in more calories than ever before. Katie helped me eat the right combination of food to allow my body to become more fat adapted and fuel efficient. Not only did the diet help performance but since January I have lost 14 pounds to get down to 152! Thank you Katie this would not have been possible without you!!!
Terry Proko (Dad)- He has been to 9 of my 11 Ironman races and close to 100 of my other tri’s.
Adam Bennen and Roland Gomez- My text message buddies on training. They listen and got to watch the improvements through the winter and spring and were always motivating all the way till I crossed the finish line.
Team Trifit-XT- Thanks everyone for your cheers, pictures and motivation. I always believe in leading by example and you guys make me do this both in quality, smart workout as well as listening to my body when things aren’t quite right.
Johhny Shelby (Third Coast Training)- Having a metabolic test on the bike and run takes all of the race day guess work out as well as insuring proper training months before the race.
Brittany Hodge (PT with C. Foster and Associates)- Thank you so much for correcting my muscle imbalances and helping to address and prevent any other issues as they came up
Jordan and Frank (Tru Tri Sports)- My bike worked to perfection with a smooth drive train and amazing shifting.
I would like to thank everyone out there volunteering and cheering. You are the ones that make the race so memorable.
Swim-1:13:02 (non-wetsuit PR)
Bike- 4:56:37 (PR by 20 minutes)
T2- 6:24 (IMTX PR)
Total time 10:36:01 (PR by nearly 1 hour over my IMAZ time in 2008)
*this year was nearly 5 hours faster than last year
Bike and run nutrition was Hammer’s Perpetuem and hammer gel
• With a 1 hour PR after 11 Ironman finishing there were lot of little change I made that added up a PR in much tougher conditions.
• Nearly all biking was done on a computrainer.
• What biking I did outside was on a mountain bike
• Did mountain bike races including 2 marathon mountain bike races (4-6 hour races) one which was the day before the Houston Marathon
• My IMTX marathon run was faster than my Houston Marathon this year
• I spent 10-15 minutes doing neuromuscular warm-up before every bike and run.
• Highest week run volume was 32 miles. This was because I came off a stress fracture in December and was as high of volume I felt I was able to get to in that time period.
|Posted by benproko on May 29, 2013 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
Ben and I, among several other teammates had the privilage of watching Leo Bourgeois complete Ironman Texas! It truly was the most amazing finish we had ever witnessed. His story is a phenominal and inspiring story of perseverence. Read this article the Houston Chronicle wrote on Leo's journey to become an Ironman.
Then watch Leo's finish on YouTube
|Posted by benproko on May 21, 2013 at 1:00 AM||comments (2)|
Thanks to OutRival, I was presented with the opportunity to sign up for Ironman Texas at the last minute in March, so I said why not? In March I was 100% back in the game after my surgery! Training was going awesome and I won Overall Female for the first time at the Opelousas Rotary Sunrise Duathlon. (Course I had to go to Louisiana to do it- you Texas people are too fast…okay okay Louisiana- I know, the fast people stayed home that day). Anyway, after I signed up, I shifted my training over to endurance and set my own personal goals for the race. However, those standards gradually got lowered due to…well I won’t burden you with the laundry list of excuses- in brief summation, Ironman Texas for the 2nd go round simply became a watered down something to add to my track record. In hind sight, I believe it was all a part of His plan. God was setting me up for mile 25 on the bike- putting me in the right place, at the right time for a friend/client who would need me to finish her first Ironman.
Now, I cannot tell you as well as Danielle could about how much getting to the starting line and finishing Ironman Texas meant to her. But as her coach, after meeting her in the fall of 2012, getting to know her through the whole experience- I knew this was something more than just a check mark to a bucket list. The experience to her was to become a testimony of faith, perseverance, and ultimate trust in Him.
Danielle had called me about many concerns and worries she had prior to the race. But after the race we laughed about how none of the things she was worried about caused her any issues, however one of the things she was not worried about happened, and could have been a terrible ending to her journey of becoming a first time Ironman- a DNF. The dreaded “Did Not Finish.” We athletes shutter at the acronym. And her “could have been DNF” would have been the result of a “silly little blow out.” But this blow out was by no means “silly.” Oh no, it was just one little spark to ignite a series of mishaps. Thank God I happened to swim slower than Danielle and thank God I was only a few minutes behind her when it happened and thank God I recognized her on the side of the road. I had no idea that she would be decked out in pink and black. I could not even decipher the details on her bike as my view of it was blocked by the police officer on a motorcycle. And at 18 mph, I could not discern her facial features in her LG Aero Helmet. The only thing I can think of was that maybe I recognized her voice (even though it was broken through sobs) when she spoke to the officer as I road by. I will say it once and I will say it again- it truly was a God thing.
“Danielle?” I shouted back. “Are you okay?”
“No, my tire blew out!” I hear her say in heart broken frustration and defeat. “I don’t know how to fix it. Oh no, I am not going to finish.”
“No, no, no! We can fix this. Here, it easy.” Only it wasn’t. For this race wheel I needed man hands to get the tube out. Billy, the only one who responded to Danielle’s pleas for help, assisted us with that- thank you Billy! (and in my defense, he struggled with it too- ;P). I took care of the rest. Removed the tube, rubbed my fingers through the tire and Bike Tech arrived as I was about to use a CO2 cartridge. They put air in the tire for us using a pump. All looked well, and we took off. Only all was not well. Tire blew out again. Danielle, too, became deflated. At that moment, without hesitation, I said “Danielle, take my wheel.”
“Katie NO!” She cried. “Then you won’t finish.”
“Danielle, I have already done an Ironman. You haven’t. I won’t have it any other way. Your finish is more important than my finish. I will wait and get this fixed and then I will catch back up to you.” I knew there was a possibility I wouldn’t but I didn’t care. I knew I was serving the Lord and was thrilled to seize the opportunity. I was happy knowing God puts us in the right place at the right time and uses us to fulfill His purpose.
Long story short, I convinced Danielle to take my tire. She took off. They “fixed” the 2nd flat. Tire blew out again. Discovered a slit in the tire and an issue with the valve. Waited on Tech to fix valve and replace tire. Finally success- I genuinely thank you Bike Tech! But I drank all my water while waiting in the scorching heat. Dehydration, heat exhaustion, etc. set in as I worked hard to make the bike cut off. Barely made it. Tried to run but every time I attempted a jog or even a brisk walk, my heart started beating erratically, and irregular, had chest tightness and discomfort. For those of you who do not know, I have a dysfunctional heart. And as we all know, the heart is not an organ to be gambled with under these or any conditions. My husband, who sacrificed a PR to walk along side me during his last lap of the run talked out the situation with me. I made my decision and I took the DNF.
The dreaded “Did Not Finish?” Yes, only I don’t frown when I see it next to my name. A few weeks before the race I asked myself several times- “why did I sign up for Ironman Texas again?” That question was answered when God used me and I handed Danielle my wheel. Seeing Danielle at the finish was greater than putting a 2nd Ironman finish in the books for me.
*Icing on the cake was seeing Leo Bourgeois cross the finish line. Leo, who is an amazing/incredible person- has a phenomenal testimony of perseverance as well. After Saturday, May 18th, I have a whole new perspective on the Ironman race, the athletes who participate in it and the wonderful volunteers. The best in humanity brought out by one crazy race!
|Posted by benproko on October 28, 2012 at 8:15 PM||comments (2)|
Take a look at the picture and sing with me- “One of these things is not like the others. Which one is different? Do you know?” Okay…enough Sesame Street. But you hopefully guessed T2 (Transition 2- from bike to run). Going from the 11th fastest transition to 350th tells you that something is seriously wrong. Take this and learn from my mistake:
It was cold race morning- really cold! Forty-three degrees to be exact! It was wet suit legal- hence my faster than usual swim (yes, that was faster than usual- stop laughing Michael Phelps). The water was actually pleasant. I felt comfortable. However, getting out of the water was an instant breath taking shock of cold. I received assistance with the removal of my wetsuit and bolted into transition. Barely dried off my feet (mistake #1), jumped into my bike shoes (without socks-mistake #2), and took off (without arm warmers, cycling jacket, or gloves- mistake #3, #4, & #5). I considered putting on garments to keep me warm, however I chose not to because I was concerned it would take too much time. (Doubt it would have taken me 6 minutes- Ha!)
Riding the bike in the cold was not terribly miserable- I was in race mode and did not pay much attention to the chill (odd I know). I did notice, about 15 minutes into the bike, it was difficult to grip and shift the gears with my ungloved hands. As the bike went on, it became increasingly more difficult to shift. Toward the end, I could barely clutch the brakes. Also, I had to wave bye-bye to the flying dismount because I could not grasp the Velcro on my bike shoes. But I did, fortunately, receive assistance from a nice gentleman in transition on unfastening my helmet. Then I had to sit down and claw my bike shoes off because my fingers were still in the same frozen grasp I had of my aerobars. By this time I knew what dilemma lied ahead- putting on my perfectly laced running shoes!
With one finger tugging on the heel and the other hand pulling up on the tongue, I can slip my foot into my running shoes quickly and take off. However, this morning, my fingers could not tug or pull on a stick of cotton candy if I wanted them to. Nor, could I tell where my toes were in relation to the shoe. Oh the mixed emotions I encountered. My swim and bike went so well! Was it all about to go down the tubes because of my stupid decision not to take the time to put on something as simple as socks or gloves? I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I was frustrated, and overwhelmed with helplessness. I slipped my feet in as far as they would go (half way) and shuffled toward the “run out” exit. I saw the Bike World Crew just outside of transition. With a “dear in the headlights” expression I attempted to explain my dilemma. They gave me a “sorry I cannot help you” look, took pictures and laughed…I, of course, laughed with them- as that was all one could do to keep light in the situation. I turned and shuffled closer to the exit- still trying to figure out what I was going to do. I encountered a volunteer in transition near the exit and asked her to help me put my shoes on- haha! What a sweet, and patient woman she was! Her hands were partially numb but working better than mine. It took a lot of effort and she was wishing she had brought a shoe horn. Jennifer, a teammate of mine, ran out of transition and stopped when she saw me. As a damsel in distress would have spoke of the situation, I explained to her quickly. I will never forget her baffled expression and the way she hesitated- makes me laugh every time I picture her face! Classic! I could tell she wanted to help, but she didn’t know how and also remembered- it was a race! Haha!
Anyway, SIX MINUTES LATER (I could have completed a mile in that time), I made it out! And had an amazing run (Go figure- I had a nice 6 minute recovery before taking off). So, lesson learned, sometimes it pays off to take the time to take care of the seemingly minor needs in transition- especially when there are extreme weather conditions! Wear your socks and gloves my friends…wear your socks and gloves!
|Posted by benproko on October 18, 2012 at 8:10 PM||comments (1)|
People who know me well, know that I LOVE FOOD! And though I have always been a “somewhat” “healthy” eater I was not afraid to indulge. Cheese, Chocolate, and French Fries- Yes Please! But a few weeks ago my sister, who has been gluten/dairy free for over a year because of migraines, asked me to do the “Whole30”. This is a Paleo Diet that challenges you to eat nothing but vegetables, meat, fruit and some nuts. No grains or dairy. Nothing with added sugar. I had wanted to try it out ever since I first heard about it during my CrossFit days. I felt like I was already halfway there-so I thought “sure, why not”. My main concern was how this low carb diet would affect my training- especially since I was racing every weekend for the next 6 weeks (great time to start- I know- HA!). I am the spontaneous type and not afraid to jump in and try new things. And after week 3, I am incredibly thankful I gave it a try because I really feel the difference and it is AMAZING! I feel more alert, focused and energized. But let me tell you- the first two weeks were REALLY ROUGH and here is why:
• Oct. 1st came really fast!!! I did not take enough time to plan my first weeks meals. By the 3rd I was carb depleted and could barely finish a 30 minute Zone 1 (easy) bike!
• Friday, Oct. 5th I was doubting the diet, thinking “I need more carbs” and I cheated by eating a HUGE baked white potato with chicken and butter. Slipped into a food coma shortly after and regretted my cheat! I know better!
• Week #2 I was starting to feel better, however, I was running out of quick recipe ideas and found myself scrounging for calories. I ate a whole box of Larabars in 1 day…twice!
• My friends and colleagues were not the most positive and encouraging. With smug faces and half a lip turned up, they were asking me “why???” Or making statements like “um no, that diet has too many rules,” or “I doubt you will be able to stick with that.”
For those first 2 weeks, I had my doubts. I had negative thoughts such as “I am not sure this is the right diet for me as an endurance athlete.” Or “I just have to make it through this month, then I can go back to eating cheese, cereal, chocolate and skinny mochas.” But I read up more on the diet. Found more scientific sources that validate why this diet is the best out there. I realize more than ever, that food has more of an effect on your health and well being than just exercise and other habits. After 3 weeks, my attitude has completely changed. My cheese, french fry, carb cravings are gone. I have discovered more recipes that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE and I look forward to eating more than any other meal before! I feel better, even on my workouts.
All my life I have practiced learning from others mistakes as well as my own. Too often I hear about how poor American’s eating habits are. Every day I see people not caring or thinking twice about the food they consume. I decided to finally stop myself from making excuses and just dive in and make the change. Takes self discipline, but I believe anyone can do it!
Here are some articles that give you more facts that back up the “Whole30”
And for those who need justification for the endurance athlete:
I still allow myself to consume some Hammer Gels, Hammer Whey and Hammer Recoverite.
|Posted by benproko on August 5, 2012 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
Many have asked this question. Johnny of Third Coast Training says it all in his blog. Click to read. I will post on how I personally benefitted when I get the time. Right now we are headed off to have dinner with Ben's parents.
|Posted by benproko on July 29, 2012 at 8:45 PM||comments (0)|
On December 25th, 2010, I opened an unexpected gift from Ben, who was only my boyfriend- soon to be fiancé at the time. It was a registration confirmation for Katherine Sims (me) for Ironman Texas 2011. I was thrilled and a little bit freaked out at the same time. I had just completed my first triathlon in August 2010 and I was already jumping into doing an Ironman. Crazy!
Training for an Ironman could not have come at a more wonderfully awful time. Here is what I had going on during the spring of 2011:
• Ben had proposed to me- yea! But we set the wedding date for June 9th (3 weeks after the race- what was I thinking!?!).
• My 5th grade students that year were the most awful group of children I had ever encountered, but I loved them and wanted to rescue them from their evil ways. I decided, since the one thing that made them shine was when they were helping others, I would have them plan and run field day…with my guidance…and lots of it. This became a service learning project titled: 5th Grade Super Kid’s Day Workforce and was a huge undertaking.
• Field Day at my school always occurred in May- the same month as the Ironman. Wonderful!
Wonderfully awful! Planning a wedding, trying to save the world and put together field day all while training for an Ironman…Fantastic! Needless to say, I got the minimal amount of training in necessary for this race. Ben formulated the perfect plan that adapted to my hectic schedule. If it were not for his training and expertise- I never would have considered doing the race.
Come race day, my goal was simply to finish. And that I knew I could do as long as I survived the swim. Which I did! But it sucked! (Sorry for lack of a better word). I couldn’t tell you where I was located in the pack at the start- I was too busy trying not to get punched or kicked by all the bodies treading water around me. No wetsuit for me, but I was wishing for a floatation device before the swim even started. When the gun went off- it was strictly survival. The first 20 minutes were hell- getting kicked, punched, slapped, dunked, and choking on nasty brown murky water. I thought “if I go down, no one will know.” I was on the verge of having a panic attack, but knew if I had one, my limbs would probably stop working and I’d be a goner for sure. So I prayed. Prayer is good, God is good. I made it. One hour and 50 something minutes- ridiculous, but I made it.
Then came the bike. I took it really easy. And it was not too bad except for the traffic around mile 90. Cars backed up for miles. My butt, back and neck hurt. I also started having digestive issues- probably from the lake water I swallowed. Seven hours and 15 minutes on the bike- eh, whatever, I made it and now for my favorite part- the run!
“Praise Jesus I am free!” I say to myself because I think I have ultimate control over my own destiny now…well I was wrong. The run would have been AWESOME if I didn’t have to stop at the port-o-potty every stinkin’ aid station! Ugh! My body went into system clean out and I never wanted to set foot in a port-o-potty again. I was able to run around a 10-11 minute mile- and thank goodness for that because any longer and I would have pooped myself (sorry for a lack of a better word…no there is not a better word- poop is a great word, so I retract my apology…now I am considering my possible audience…yes, I apologize…but I am not changing it).
Anyway, my lowest point was at about mile 135, my legs were finally starting to hurt and I was tired of pooping. I walked…more like waddled if you know what I mean…for 2 miles straight. Then it dawned on me- I am about to be an IRONMAN! With a huge smile on my face the last three miles, endorphins carried me to the finish! 15 hours and 30 minutes- good enough. I made it! Field Day was over, Service Learning project a success, Ironman completed- now all I had to do was get married to the man of my dreams!
I was excited to find out I ended up in this video (min 5:33ish)! Worth a watch- very inspirational!
|Posted by benproko on July 13, 2012 at 11:15 AM||comments (3)|
Ben, who thinks of himself as a Jack of all Trades and a Master of None, has a tremendous athletic background for a 33 year old. And his perception of himself is a bit off because I believe he certainly is a master of quite a few things. First off, he is also known as THE Human Triathlon Encyclopedia. Go ahead- pick his brain and you will feel like you are scrolling through the endurance sports section of Wikipedia- it’s crazy! And you should HEAR the endless rattling off I have to listen to on long car rides- it is like he never stops analyzing, strategizing and formulating ideas, data, science and numbers pertaining to endurance training. But this is why his is such a phenomenal coach! He is THE MASTER of endurance coaching! He did not get to be this great over night. It took him years of being physically active in every sport you can clearly imagine, as well as learning from the dumbest of dumb mistakes he has made along the way. Dumb mistake example #1: Ben’s first triathlon was Ironman Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3 at the age of 19 (WHO DOES THAT? But more on that later- and trust me, it’s a great story!). Dumb mistake #2: He was wearing a Speedo…(I will just leave it at that). Mistakes #3-XX will be entered in blogs to come. Stay tuned.
Through grade school Ben competed in sports such as baseball, football and soccer. He also played the trumpet and performed in marching band. And I cannot leave out all of the handy outdoor skills we have benefited from during adventure races that he picked up as an Eagle Scout. At the University of Houston, Ben was again in marching band and participated in every intramural sport the school had to offer: Badminton, basketball, table tennis, track and field, soccer- you name it, Ben did it. During the summer of 2003 Ben tried out and made the cut to perform with The Caveliers (it’s okay, I had no idea who they were either, but after seeing their performances, I now think DCI bands are the coolest thing! Look them up on YouTube.) Spending a whole summer of marching 12-14 hours a day, only taking breaks to eat and sleep, equals hardcore! Ben considers it the hardest thing he has ever done- even harder than training and competing in an Ironman. Currently Ben is a full time elementary music teacher (let me hear it ladies- “aw how cute,” I know) who coaches and trains on the side as a hobby.
As I mentioned above, Ben jumped into the triathlon sport in the summer of 2001 at the young and naïve age of 19. Since then he has competed in 200 + multisport races including duathlons and adventure races. For many years he was uncoached and had to learn much of which needed to be known about the sport on his own. Eventually he aspired to coach others and help them achieve their goals as well as prevent them from making the same mistakes he did. Ben is now one of the few USAT Level II Certified coaches in the state of Texas. He is extremely passionate about what he does and strives to develop strong relational capacity with each client so that he may earn their trust and train them specifically to meet their individual needs. I am the most fortunate of ladies to be married to the man.
Jack of all Trades? Absolutely! Master of None? No way Ben! Mister Endurance Coach of the Century in my book- not to mention all round athlete, and amazing husband!