Almost every human being that is used to be online for endless hours may well be logging into Facebook more than they would like to. I personally would be logging on Facebook 4 ou 5 times per day, besides all those time when I would just go in to check some of the work we are doing on community management for our Clients @ WayNext.
Anyway, I’m fed up with it and recently I’ve been running a little experience with myself and aside from work related Facebook time I only browse my news feed once per day at night. This is working very well for me because since I don’t check it so often and as the news feed algorithm is working fairly well I can login just once a day and still get what really matters to me (mostly updates from real friends, some news on the topics I really care about and a few others things). When I used to login more ofter I would see many duplicate content or content that was really not so interesting for me.
This is to say that I’m likely to keep this strategy. My time is more limited than ever and I really dislike wasting it on Facebook although I recognize there are some things going on that I’m keen on learning and Facebook brings it to my attention.
Anyway, going back to the topic of this post, I believe that if more people reach the same conclusion Facebook’s news feed optimization will also mean fewer minutes spent browsing it turning against its own business. When I can login 5 minutes and day and get everything I want to see from the past 24 hours, there is no point in wasting time any more often.
First things first: I’m now an Ironman finisher since yesterday, 6th July, when I’ve completed the 3.800m swim, 180km bike ride and 42k run at Ironman Frankfurt in about 13h20m. And I loved it!
Proud to be a Finisher
How I ended up at Ironman Frankfurt
So, going a little back in time, this is what happened, by the beginning of 2013 I’ve managed to convince one dear friend (now working abroad) to race Lisbon triathlon with me. While we first thought about doing the Olympic distance, we quickly upgraded to go for the half iron. With about 6 months of training we both managed to complete the course. We both had some running experience, but no serious swimming or cycling.
Finishing the half distance I immediately knew I wanted to go long. A couple of weeks later another friend (also working abroad now…) called, during lunch break, and convinced me (it was pretty easy since I was already sold to the idea) to register for Ironman Frankfurt 2014, which I did in the same day.
It was almost an year ago, and so late last year, by November I started training focusing on this Ironman race. When 2014 started I picked a coach, chose a time trial bike and started a serious and structured training plan, including 2 swim sessions per week (sometimes with and extra one on the ocean during the weekend), 4 bike sessions, 3 running sessions and 3 core training at the gym, per week. As usual this training included the 2 to 6 hour long sessions on the weekends peaking at 25 hours logged in a week.
Ironman Frankfurt 2014 Hotel Checkin
How do you make it work
All of this was manageable only because I really wanted to make it. It required deep commitment and serious time management (master time juggling skill required) to make it all work between family, work, training and (a little) social life. Managing a company means you run into many unexpected situations on a daily basis that require time you had not blocked on your calendar and it was easy to find reasons to skip training every now and then. I’m happy that very few sessions were skipped even if many times it took me to burn the candle at both ends (training hard and limiting sleep is never ideal, but sometimes there are not other options – I was clocking about 5 to 7 hours sleep per night for 6 months straight).
Shipping my tri-bike at the airport
How did it go down
Fast forward to July and we went to Frankfurt on Thursday before the race, which allowed enough time to unpack and mount the bike (I have to thank my bike shop friend for the help to unmount and pack it back in Lisbon), have a short swim at the lake, some running and cycling course preview and some relaxing to focus on the race. We also browsed the race expo for some last minute shopping and the guys from Cervelo helped to tune my bike.
The blue bag for T1, the red bag for T2
The logistics to travel to such an event abroad, involving airplanes is very demanding. Packing the bike and all the gear from bike shoes, to running shoes, gps, sports nutrition, meds, swimsuit, etc etc is something worth of a checklist that I’ve been perfecting from race to race.
This is what 3.000 bikes look like at T1
Race day – this is real
Breakfast at 3am. Time to load up on carbs and protein.
Then Sunday is finally here and it’s time to wake at 3am, have a very strong breakfast with plenty of protein and then catch the bus to the swim venue around 4.45am. Reaching the lake everything starts to look very real. The day is breaking but T1 is already frenzy. There is people rushing everywhere but the silence speaks louder, you can really feel the tension in the air.
My P2 is all set – plenty of fuel over there
Time for some last minute preparation: inflating bike tyres, checking for the gels sticked to the frame, making sure everything is ready for when you come out of the water! Then we dress the swim suits and we have about 40m until the gun goes off. Some guys already warming in the water but I kept out until 5m to start. Entering the water it was warm and there is even a guy we had met before swimming without swim suit!
Race start at the lake. Gun is about to go off!
We get near the starting line and in a couple of minutes we are swimming among 3.000 triathletes of all ages. The swim is a 2 lap course with a short walk on land. I was expecting lots of punching in the water but it was very peaceful, I think everyone in there knows it will be a very long day to start wasting your energy on the first hour. I come out the water with 1h17 and up the hill we go into transition, with my support crew (wife, brother, sister in law and some other Portuguese triathletes friend) cheering me up!
A quick action inside the transition tent and I have my bike shoes and helmet on, ready to ride. If it was today, being that I had no time goal for the race I should have changed into some good cycling shorts because of the additional padding. The bike was a short and fast ride to the city center where we entered into a 2 loop course. We had tail winds for the first half and then head winds for the second half, on each lap. The course was fairly easy with a couple of hill climbs. One of the hills was really epic, Tour de France style, with spectators cheering you in tunnel.
I had been warned to go easy on the bike because we were expecting a tough marathon with all the heat, so I managed to ride almost always below Z2 and I felt really good until 120/130km. Then as I was getting more tired and the wind was increasing it took a lot of patience to not push it and 30km to the end I was getting uncomfortable. My feet were swelling and getting too tight inside the shoes and my butt was hammered sitting for more than 6 hours. I clocked 25km/h average which is pretty slow, even for me, but I didn’t want to take the slightest chance of not finishing – I guess I was too conservative but I don’t regret.
So about 8h30m into the race I arrive in T2 feeling very good. I managed to control very well my nutrition during the bike and I had no stomach issues during all of the race which is a bliss. During the bike I ate walnuts, one cocoa cereal Powerbar, cheese and prosciutto and 4 gels. I also took just a little water but drank plenty of electrolytes (High5 Zero tablets) and one magnesium capsule.
I was happy to change into my running shoes and leave the bike behind (a volunteer took it from me). So I started the 4 laps course around the river and for each lap you would get a colored wrist band, meaning most people running had already at least one and I was still running for my first blue one. I started below 5m/km but I quickly dropped to 5.30/km pace because I knew that could not last.
The day was already very hot and dry and it was impossible not to walk by every aid station because running through it would not cut it, hydration wise. So I was running at 6.30/km wasting about 1 minute per aid station and there were 4 of those along the running course. I ignored my watch regarding race time because I didn’t want to feel urged to run faster, I was not sure if I would find the mythic marathon wall around km 30. So I kept going, loading up on water, a little isotonic, some salty appetizers, some salt directly in my mouth, some magnesium, some minerals med (Dioralyte) and I also took 5 gels to complete the race. I must say I found no wall, the third lap was the toughest one, and although the last lap was done with some suffering (it was painful to restart running after the quick stop at each aid station) knowing I was about 1 hour to finish was a mental boost!
When I was handed the pink wristband that was awarded in the last lap I was really happy and rushed into the final 4km. Finally the time had come to go to Romer (Frankfurt central plaza) and complete my first Ironman. The vibe at the finish line is unbelievable, hundreds of people cheering you on and giving you a very strong positive energy – what an emotion it is to cross that line after so many hours training and such a demand from your body.
The greatest finish line, ever
Reaching the finish line I had the chance to go to eat and drink a little before meeting my support crew outside for some cheering and partying. We just sitted on the curb for a while talking about the race on both my perspective and theirs. I had some food (bread and hamburguers) and drinks and then as it was getting dark we decided to go down to the finish line where the clock was about to hit the 15 hours time limit.
Ironman Finish Line in Romer Frankfurt
As we get to the finish line, about 10 minutes before the race end, it started raining cats and dogs but no one seemed to care. The spirits were really high with the last athletes coming through the finish even during the last 10 seconds count down! It was a hell of a party going down over there!
My support crew rocks
Now some words about my support crew (wife, brother, sister-in-law and the families of other portugueses athletes we met) they were just great and kept cheering me own the whole time, giving me a well needed mental boost every time I saw them. My wife was so happy every time she saw me (maybe she thought I would drop dead somewhere :D) around the course and she dutifully was handing me minerals at one special aid station where that was allowed – I would go through and she would get me minerals and a kiss to keep me going when the legs had quitted but my mind just wouldn’t drop it. My brother was also going around the bridges to see me twice on each lap, always making sure I would push through and I knew I could not disappoint (how the hell could I asked him to push on his next challenges if I would quit?). Anyway, the idea of quitting really never crossed my mind, my mind was full with the thought that I just needed to keep going steadily after all the effort that was needed to be at the start line (time, money, lost hours for the family, etc).
Another positive note goes to the volunteers and there were 4.500 of them always making sure you had the best time of your life (if that’s even possible on such a race – but trust me, it is), cheering you on and promptly handing you everything you need through the aid stations. There were all really great!
Powerful last minutes at Ironman finish line
Lessons for the next Ironman race
Now some learnings from Ironman Frankfurt 2014 for my future reference:
– training is harder than the race itself. If you are willing to commit to all the required training, it is doable. Training wise I need to get stronger on the bike and do a couple more of 160/200km next time I decide to prepare for this racing distance;
– nutrition is indeed the forth discipline. For me just gel won’t cut it, I need some real food (walnuts, cheese and prosciutto will do). Sugar is important but I also need some protein. High5 Isogel is tolerable by my system and High5 Zero (electrolyte tabs) either mixed with water or directly on the mouth works well to re-hydrate;
– it is worth to change into some nicely padded bike shorts on T1. I will not regret the lost time when I get to 140km on the bike;
– I can push a bit more on the bike. Somehow the body manages to do a little reset coming off the bike and into the marathon;
– the marathon must be treated as 4x10km. Wrap your mind around that thought and start crushing laps as you can;
– I need to change my trisuit to avoid the rash I had on the front of my legs. I think it started building during the bike and it was aggravated on the run will all the heat;
– it is wise to change into a new set of tyres 3 weeks before going away for the race;
– I should not leave anything edible at the bike checkin. I will have plenty of time to set it up on race day. Also I should take enough water to fill the bike bottles;
– waking up really early is good to avoid race day stress. I need plenty of time to eat and do a final check on all the stuff before heading out.
– Overall time – 13h18m28s
– Swim – 1h17m28s (AG position – 298 / overall position – 1.612)
– T1 – 9m19s
– Bike – 7h11m18s (AG position – 407 / overall position – 2.310)
– T2 – 4m30s
– Run – 4h35m53s (AG position 365 / overall position – 2.023)
– Overall position – 2.023 in 3.015 atheletes
– Age Group position – 365 in 559 athletes
After some peak training weeks logging up to 25 training hours in a single week I’m ready for the dreaded taper.
We are at less than 2 weeks from race day and by now I’m really looking forward to it. It’s time to put all the training towards this main season goal which is without doubt the major sports challenge I’ve ever faced.
Currently my body still feels a bit knocked out, I have some light pain on one foot and also on one knee and hip. I know that currently I’m not able to perform on the best of my ability because of the intensive loads from the previous weeks. Anyway, that is what taper is for – reducing volume and intensity, keeping fit but setting free all your hard earned potential that will rise as you cut back on the training and let your heart, mind and muscles breath.
I feel ready and I am confident I’ve done what I could to prepare myself, but the race will tell me whether or not that was enough for such a grueling demand.
Now it’s time to cut back on training and prepare all the logistics, which are somewhat demanding (lots of details on the bike and the bike transportation itself also requires some management). Looking forward flying out to Frankfurt and having a blast, I hope 🙂
Yesterday I came across this fabulous post by Avinash, which I added to my Readability list to go through in the quiet night at home, in my iPad, of course (yes, mobile). So there a couple of very good pieces of advice on his post that one can not stress enough:
1. The famous excuse that no one will be buying it from their phones because it’s still a PITA to fill out an order form on it. Yes, that might be true (even on the such great ecommerce experiences as the one Abercrombie has to offer), yet, people might just take a spare minute on the subway to browse for shopping items hoping to buy them later on a desktop computer or at the store:
Now, I was not looking to buy on my phone. I had a few minutes, I wanted to research the inventory and go buy it at a local store. Guess what store I did not go to buy my camera? I call it the silent death from not having an acceptable mobile strategy – you don’t even know you are getting killed. And you are guessing why store sales are down (and because of such a simple fix!).
It used to be silly to not have a smart phone and tablet friendly experiences of your digital existence. It is now profoundly harmful to your bottom-line. Silent death.
2. You need to make sure where your customer stands. If I know nothing about the product or service don’t start by making me fill out a tedious form because first I need to make sure that what you are offering matches my needs. If I would like a sales rep talk on the phone, I would have called in. I want to learn by myself first and then maybe I’ll get in touch. Or else your site is like:
(…) the person that comes to a first date completely naked. If you are not interested in jumping into bed right away, they are happy to walk around the bar and look for someone else. They care that deeply about you. On. The. First. Date!
3. Personalization and reviews do matter. I should be able to filter out what I don’t want and your website can focus on my needs. If I’m shopping for some brand new tennis shoes, let me state my needs upfront (maybe I’m a pronator or I want some really light competition shoes) and make the whole experience more worth-some. Also, if I can related to other buyers I will be more at ease to commit with buying so reviews are as good as they came.
Last weekend I’ve ran my last preparation race for the Ironman. This time it was the first edition of Sevilla’s half ironman distance triathlon. I have also ran Iberman at Ayamonte Spain and of course, Lisbon Triathlon. This were the three major events on my preparation plan leading up to the Ironman.
Below you can find a recap of the results.
Iberman Ayamonte – Spain – 22-Mar-2014
Overall position 106
Age group position 24/46 (35/39yo)
Bike 2h28m51s (the course was 80km long)
For this race we could only get about 3 hours sleep because of traveling and time difference. Then when got to the start the day was cold and rainy, I remember we had to setup the bikes under some rain. We then went on a boat that took us to the start of the swim but the starting gun went off even before we had the chance to swim from the boat to the start line. During the first half of the bike we faced strong head winds so the average speed was slow, but we managed to improve on the way back to the T2. The run was also a bit windy and I had some stomach pain for the last 8 km or so.
Lisbon Triathlon – Portugal – 03-May-2014
Overall position 227 (in 565 atheletes)
Age group position 69/138 (35/39yo)
Swim – 34m09
T1 – 3m35
Bike – 2h51m35
T2 – 2m12
Run – 1h32m35s
Total – 5h04m24s
This is a race course I know very well and it was my first half ironman distance triathlon! The day was again a bit windy putting some pressure on the bike and run. I felt slower than I really was on the bike and I was still going strong in the end and managed to run a good half marathon. This stands as a PB for now (not considering Iberman because the bike was shorter than 90km).
Triatlón de Sevilla – Spain – 31-May-2014
Overall position 210 (in 388 atheletes)
Age group position 144/247 (35/39yo)
Time splits (including transitions)
Swim – 35m47
T1 – 3m35
Bike – 3h11m20
T2 – 2m12
Run – 1h47m17s
Total – 5h34m24s
First I must say I really enjoyed this race, the venue is really good and everything was well planned. Of course Sevilla by the end of May is always a very warm place and the temperature reached 38C by mid-afternoon. The race started at 3.30pm and wetsuits were not allowed since the water temp was around 24C. The swim went pretty well even if I believe I was beaten several times but this is because I’m getting a bit faster on the water (I didn’t had this problem when I was a completely back of the pack swimmer). The bike split was good, an interesting one lap course with some 2 or 3 tough hills and almost no flat terrain – there was always a little up or down grade. Then the race was the hard part to manage, it was very hot and I could not hydrate well because of some stomach pain so the last 5km were hard to go through in all the heat and dehydration. Overall it was a hard race, but a good training towards the Ironman.
It has been a while since I last wrote here. Things have been pretty hectic between work, family and training – well I might as well say life is being pretty hectic!
Anyway I’m enjoying all of this, I feel like I’m living at the fullest and all this positive energy keeps the blood flowing in my veins even when the muscles feel tired from all the workouts.
I feel I’m a bit sleep deprived, but, who isn’t? The weird thing is that I’m logging anywhere between 5 to 7 hours per night, yet I manage to wake up easily sometimes even before the alarm clock starts buzzing.
I believe this is the second post I’m writing aboard of an airplane, this time we are flying to Stockholm for a short weekend break. It will be nice to change the routine for a few days even if there are some workouts already planned and sports gear in my luggage!
The Ironman is about 10 weeks out and I still feel I have a lot to do to be ready for it. I still believe I can do better on the bike and I feel the need to go faster. Of course it’s easier said than done, when you go up in the saddle logging 3 to 5 hours everything seems harder.
For the last weeks the training plan is being fairly steady, putting in 2 swim sessions a week (with the swim masters), 3 indoor bike sessions (2 sessions on the trainer and 1 group class), 3 running sessions (including 1 long run per week), 1 long bike ride (going up to 120k until now) and 2 core and strength workouts. Considering only training time (no logistics, proper eating or commuting) it adds up to 14/18 hours per week meaning before you are an Ironman you get to be what I like to call a master time juggler 🙂 with no time to waste.
Although I train at night 3 times a week I’m all into waking really early and getting things done. It’s the best way to make sure no random event during the day will force you to skip any session.
Coming from a running background I was used to log the distance without any additional workout (besides some kitesurfing) and I had not set foot in the gym for quite some years. Now preparing for the Ironman I quickly understood that it would not be feasible to skip the gym specially because of the core and strength workouts which I think are the reason why my body is not falling apart with all the volume. I now better understand the impact of the strength workout on the other sports – legs and knees feel stronger for the run and bike and abs help you support your body weight with a better posture.
Even if I’m logging fewer km per week than what I’m used to prepare for a marathon, my overall pace seems to be increasing so I guess I’m reaping the benefits of this cross training structure.
Regarding the Ironman I still have to push a bit more on the bike since I would like to be able to sustain the 30km/h for the whole 180km and I have to figure out some things on the nutrition side, because there is still room for improvement to make sure my stomach just won’t shut down after 6 or 8 hours into the race. On the swimming part I recently broke the 43s barrier for the 50m (which is still pretty slow compared to the guys on the masters class, but it was a nice improvement for me). I must do some more long open water sessions to make sure I’m at ease with the 3.8km but I don’t expect a significant pace improvement on the water. Regarding the running part I would be happy to log the 42k anywhere under 4 hours, so a under 12 hours Ironman is what I would be looking for, let’s hope everything goes according to the plan.
This whole triathlon thing has a lot more moving parts than running. Logistics is much more complex, a lot more gear is needed (the bike is something that requires much attention – saddle, tires and flat tires, bike fit, bike shoes, CO2, trainer wheels, cadence sensor…), nutrition goes to a whole different level, so I just hope in the end I’m able to manage all things like it is needed and reach the finish line in a decent shape.
In the end I feel like consistency is very important, you need to put in the training, day in, day out. It is very easy to find an excuse for skipping some training (work, social activities with family and friends, plain bad days, sore muscles, overall fatigue). Yet you need to keep on pushing with “mind over body” control, because it is also going to be hard when you reach 20km into the marathon after more than 10 hours of race, right? 🙂
Last Sunday me and a bunch of Portuguese runners have raced Sevilla’s Marathon. I now understand why people talk about it so much, because the course is really great and flat, the weather was fantastic (for February), even if a bit chilly when we started (7/8C) and having the finish line inside the olympic stadium is a really nice experience. The race finished with almost a full lap on the track inside the stadium with people roaring all around and that is a really a nice feeling.
Having been a bit sick twice in the same week, first with a little fever and then with a cold I didn’t had high hopes for the race, wondering if my lungs would hold it or make me retire. Anyway I have managed to keep going at an average speed of 5m/km during all the race and have passed the half marathon mark at 1h45m exactly. The last half was a bit slower because legs started feeling tired, I did need a WC pitstop and also because I had to walk through 2 aid stations because they were handing out water on cups instead of bottles and that was the only way I could drink (and boy, I was thirsty).
Finish line for Sevilla Marathon inside the Olympic Stadium
All things combined I finished with 3h33m14s, which is about 13m more than my marathon PB, but I still consider it a good result, since I have not been focusing only on running on the past few months. I felt stronger and with less back issues throughout the course meaning the core exercises are working.
To finish this post I must write about what happened after the race, because the race was really really awesome, surely one of the best I have ran but the parking logistics put the organization to shame. When we got back to the car, that was parked inside the olympic stadium parking (where the volunteers pointed us to), we got stuck for about 2 hours until we could leave. I am not sure whether the organization had that planned or if something went south, but it was a shame and a real show stopper when everything had been so smooth. It might not seem like such a great deal, but I had relatives waiting for me in the city center for lunch, the apartment keys had to be returned, I was left with nowhere to bath (saved by a friend…) and lost most of the afternoon just trying to fix things because of this time waste. Everything was so great, with the stadium being both the sweet and sour of the day…
It’s been a while since I last wrote on this blog. First it was the holiday season and then the training season for the IM has picked up and is now on full steam.
A lot of very interesting things have been happening in the last few weeks related to this triathlon. First on the 6th January real focused IM training has began
After reading Don Fink‘s book and a lot of other training literature I have decided to follow his plan. This will be my first time trying to follow a real training plan (for all the races I have entered before I didn’t had a strict written down plan, but this time is different). The good thing about Don Fink’s plan is that it was designed to match busy agendas of people who put in above average hours at work and then also have families to take care of. So the plan is “less” (I have to use quotes on less…) demanding during the week and allows you to fit the long training sessions on the weekends. I sense it is a program very focused on achieving your goal, which in my case (and for now) is only about finishing the race in decent shape – it’s probably not the program if your goal is to race a sub-10h IM, but if you would be into that you would probably need a specific coach and a book plan would not be an option.
Anyway, when I write “less” demanding this is not to be taken lightly because it still needs you to commit 10-14 hours per week and that will most likely mean putting 2 training sessions in a couple of days per week. Anyway Don Fink does the math, your week has 168 hours, so we are talking about 8% of your week being committed to training for which, if you have a reasonably demanding career and family will mean that before you manage to be an IM you will be a master time juggler 😉
Another interesting premise on Don Fink’s plan is that you should not train miles, but time. He believes the best training results come from training for a certain time at a certain heart rate zone. So this are your basic units: time and heart rate; you don’t go out for a 50km bike ride, you go out for a 90m bike ride at Z1-Z2. You can calculate your approximate heart rate zones but I advise you to get tested at some medical facility, because this are average zones that may not apply to you. You should also run a medical check-up before starting all this, but if you are considering an IM you probably have been there already. Just for the sake of example, my running HR zones would be something like this:
Zone 4 – 167/177 – Anaerobic training Zone 3 – 160/166 – Middle zone, no man’s land (don’t waste time at) Zone 2 – 140/158 – High end aerobic training Zone 1 – 121 / 138 – Low end aerobic training
I still have a bit more to write about training with an Ultraman (oh yeah!) and the new TT bike (and its challenges) but I will have to leave it to another post. My time juggler skills require me to quit writing now!
Back in September 2012 we decided to create a digital trends blog at WayNext. We have done so because each week the whole team reads and shares a lot of content about all the good (and some bad) things that are trending on digital marketing.
We decided we should curate that content and pick and make the best pieces available to anyone interested. Since then, first on a monthly basis and now recently on a weekly basis you will be able to find a new post, bringing together the best things we have learned during the past 7 days. We also try to add our own insight on the most relevant issues, since most of them are very related on our daily work experience.
On WayTrends we try to cover a variety of themes, going from social media (where every week seems like a whole year in terms of new shining things – most of the times somewhat irrelevant, but not always), mobile, search, advertising, digital economy, usability and accessibility, design, coding, etc.
Personally I have written or reviewed some of the posts and I think they are valuable for anyone who is on a short schedule but still wants to know what is going on on digital marketing. Have a look!
Things keep going road to IM. Yesterday after some equipment trouble we managed to complete 100km on the bike, going at 35/38km/h a good part of the ride (which is waaaaay above my regular speed average) – I was drafting behind a couple of friends.
Today I was at Meia Maratona dos Descobrimentos (half marathon) completed in 1h32m25s. The day was chilling (for Lisbon weather 😉 at about 5C at the time of the race start, but overall it was a nice day to run.
On a professional note I must say this race’s website is pretty bad.
Meia Maratona dos Descobrimentos 2013