To 70.3 or not? That is the question.

I was planning on on having an “A” race this year.

After three 70.3′s, a couple Olympics and IMWI in 2012 I was pumped to tackle another big year of races in 2013. The problem was, I wasn’t al that interested in training.

I skated by eventually finishing MiTi 10-15 lbs heavier and with only 20 mins before cutoff, hobbling away from that race feeling like I had been hit by a car. I followed up that race with the Disney Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon which was a suffer-fest.

I decided to take 2014 off completely. Maybe a break was needed (not that I had worked that hard anyway).

Now for the dilemma.

I found out I’m going be in Sawyer Michigan the weekend of Ironman Steelhead in August. I have wanted to do that race since I started doing Tri. I really pushed Adam to do it as our first race, but ultimately lost our bet & ended up doing Mooseman.

I’m conflicted on registering. On one hand I’ll be RIGHT THERE. On the other I’m worried I won’t stay dedicated enough to train and it’ll be a disaster.

What to do?!

My Pros & Cons list seems more like a conflicting pile of excuses. For example:

PRO: I was going to bring my bike to Michigan that weekend anyway.
CON: I don’t have a Tri bike anymore, so I’ll be riding a Madone 4.5 Road Bike.

PRO: I already have accommodations set up 20 mins from the course.
CON: The house we’re renting is being shared with 5 other families, all with kids 6 years to 4 months old.

While my excuses cons are valid, they’re really not anything worse than I’ve dealt with in the past.

As a precaution I set up a coaching account with Optimized Training Labs again. Regardless on if I race or not, dropping all the weight I’ve put on since last summer is probably a good idea.

Steelhead most likely won’t sellout, so I can register late if I decided to race.

What would you do?

P.S. Adam has been hounding me to do St. George, which I have repeatedly said no to. So Adam, there is no need to answer the question above with anything involving St. George or Las Vegas!

The House That Built RentSpek

About three years ago, my wife and I moved out of the 1 bedroom condo we own in Chicago’s South Loop into a house because we needed more space.

We had 2 big dogs and an 8 month old son, so our 915 sqft wasn’t cutting it anymore.

Searching for a house to rent was harder than I expected. We both worked full time, some odd hours and with the baby it was difficult to get us all out to the suburbs.

We ended up touring houses one at a time. If Tracy had the morning off, she would schedule an early showing. On weekends I would see as many places as I could.

The downside was there just wasn’t much time. There were a couple places we lost because we couldn’t act quick enough. But in the end we found a place that would do.

It was a cute Tudor style house in Des Plaines. The biggest selling point for us was its proximity to the Hospital Tracy worked at and the train I would need to take into the city.

The house itself was ok. It seemed sturdy, but outdated. The key for us was space. There was lots of space. Tracy and seen the house once and I had driven past it once. It was too difficult to arrange another showing with the Landlord.

With time running out because we had a tenant set to move into our condo, we pulled the trigger and rented the house.

In the first month the issues began. Water started pouring out of the ceiling from the bathtub upstairs down into the kitchen. Upon inspection from a plumber it wasn’t the first time this had happened. He pointed out some sagging in the kitchen ceiling. I never would have thought to look for that.

As through the Fall we had rain water coming down the walls where an addition and been put on the house about 20 years ago. Because of the dark wood in the room it was hard to see water stains there if you weren’t looking for them.

The winter was rough. With the thermostat set at 90* we still had to have fires in the fire place and space heaters in all the rooms to even keep the place slightly hot. My gas bill was $700 in the cold months.

By the spring all we kept talking about was wanting to move out of that house. But we hadn’t seen the worst of it yet. There was a raccoon nesting in the attic. It used a window that didn’t have a latch to get in & out.

Tracy developed a cough that was attributed to asthma. It wasn’t until a storm flooded the basement with inches of water that we thought maybe the asthma was from mold.

Sure enough, the whole basement had to be ripped out and mold remediation done.

This house was a nightmare.

I kept thinking, why isn’t there a better way to inspect rental property before you’re locked into a lease!?

That’s where RentSpek came from.Spek Screen

I started to study home inspections, talk to inspectors and researched things like the life of appliances and utilities to determine what is important to someone living in a house or apartment short term.

By using a patent pending method of inspection and a proprietary scoring system, we developed a way for anyone to grade an apartment for rent or rental home the first time they visit the property.

We launched RentSpek.com in November 2013. Each month our users grew by well over 50%. We have an iPhone and Android app in development that we plan to launch the end of this month.

We are so close to getting the RentSpek app out to the public. But with our users growing so fast, we’re having a hard time keeping up. In order to meet out demand, we launched a Crowdfunding Campaign on IndieGoGo. If we can raise $2200 in the next 10 days, we can get this app done and into the hands of the people who need it.

RentSpek is a free tool for people to use. It’s designed to offer renters more transparency when searching for a new place. Stop taking the. Landlords word for it. With RentSpek you’ll know the quality of the property in 20 minutes or less.

If we had this app when Tracy and I were looking for out first rental house, we would have avoided all of the problems we had that year.

If you can contribute to our IndieGoGo Campaign click here.

Why my startup would never leave Chicago.

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“Please no more California songs…. And fuck New York too.” – Local H. Ever since I started working on Landlord Advisor and now RentSpek I have been reading articles on Internet startups, app developers and all the other businesses that … Continue reading

So close I can taste it.

No, I’m not talking about a race. And I don’t see my waiter coming from across the restaurant (though that is always exciting).

I’m talking about the Startup I’ve been working on since August 2012. Landlord Advisor was an idea I had sitting on the shelf for a while before I took a run at it.

Building a web start up with no coding experience and no funding was a process of trial and error. Like prepping for an Ironman, Landlord Advisor was a series of ups & downs, hard fought battles, and a few bonks.

But in December 2012 the site went live! I was thrilled. Now all we needed were users. From there would come the ad revenue, then updates and added features.

But the users were few and far between. After 10 months I gained less than 100 users.

And as I tried to figure out ways to bring them in, larger companies with working capital & real staff were offering similar features to their legions of users.

To say I was frustrated is an understatement.

Had I failed? Maybe, but this wasn’t the end.

There was a product I wanted to add to the site that no one else had. It would change the way people look for apartments.

I called it RentSpek. A patent pending method of inspecting a rental before you get locked into a lease. It guides renters through a property and asks simple questions that are calculated into a grade.

It will help renters diagnose potential problems with an apartment or house right away.

It started gaining a little interest, and I realized that RentSpek was more than just a feature of Landlord Advisor… It was THE feature. RentSpek needed to be its own product & brand.

After talking with some associates, I decided RentSpek had to get going quickly.

I began re-branding the companies Twitter & Facebook pages. The freelance developer I was using needed to shift his focus to making RentSpek a standalone product. And we NEEDED an app.

Things moved fast. Mockups were done, graphics were designed and I started soliciting quotes from app development companies to get this app built.

Currently RentSpek is being designed for mobile web. Which means users will need to log on to RentSpek.com to use the service on their phone.

A little more tedious than just tapping on an app icon. This NEEDS to be an app.

Why?

Because it makes sense. People are always snapping pictures with their iPhones on apartment tours to revisit later when deciding on a place. We’re connected online to “check in” at buildings.

People will use this app because it takes what they’re already doing and adds a free service to it.

The quotes for the app build nearly gave me a heart attack. $50,000 was about average.

So I set up a campaign on IndieGoGo, a crowd funding platform. That gave me 30 days to raise $50,000.

There are 8 days left and we’ve raised a total of $110.

I remembered the same thing happening when I was building Landlord Advisor. With that project I eventually turned to a website called Elance, where freelancers around the world bid your project.

Just for grins I posted the job, and within hours I had proposals. I found one freelancer who had the best quote & an amazing work example to show me.

My faith in getting this app built was restored… Sort of.

The fact that I found a quote 10′s of thousands of dollars less than the big firms quoted doesn’t change the fact that we have only raised $110.

The frame work is there. The site will go live in a week, we have a marketing plan. We just need some capital.

You endurance athletes know the feeling when you’re blocks away from the finishline. You can hear Mike Riley’s voice in the distance, the spectators are giving high fives and everything you trained for matters for this one moment.

That’s where we are now. If you or anyone you know may be interested i helping us out, you can find all the information here on the IndieGogo page.

If you have any questions about anything… Ever, send me an email.

And as always thanks for reading.

Simulated Coaching

With Michigan Titanium behind me, I’ve starting going over how I trained (or didn’t train) for the race.

After having completed Ironman Wisconsin the year before, my thought was that some missed runs, rides or swims will not make or break my chances of crossing the finish line. That mentality is what led to my demise at MiTi, so I began thinking about what EXACTLY was different.

Last season I worked with Coach Jen Harrison, who is a rockstar. Jen is a super experienced triathlete and very knowledgable coach. She was great at not only designing my training to help me meet my racing goals, but also at explaining why certain workouts were important. Jen coached me to 5 PR’s including the Chicago Marathon and two IM 70.3′s before preparing me for Ironman Wisconsin.

This season I made a change to an online training company called Optimized Training Labs (OTL).

OTL is a newer program that uses mathematical algorithms to design and build your workouts based on your upcoming races and the data from each workout. Think of it like “Moneyball”, based on your data, these algorithms adjust upcoming workouts.logo

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Sounds kind of cool right?

There was no single reason that I made a coaching switch. A lot of it was cost based. One-on-One coaching grants you a ton of access to your coach, lets you ask an unlimited amount of stupid questions, get great guidance from someone with great experience, but there is a premium to pay for that.

As someone who went from employed to unemployed, that was a cost I decided to cut.

Another reason I made a switch was because I wasn’t sure what my racing plans were going to be. I didn’t want to get into a coaching program only to call my coach and say “Nah, I’m not going to do that race anymore.”

I searched for a while to find a program that would work for me. I looked at Dave Scott training plans, Training Peaks and a variety of other pre-set plans. But my issue is I didn’t want a plan that was set in stone. What happens if I get injured? or my Schedule changes? Then I’m stuck with a plan that doesn’t work for me.

That what I liked about OTL, adjustments could be made. If you’re injured, sick or traveling you can mark missed workouts, set restrictions add or delete races and the algorithm would change upcoming workouts to help prepare you for your ultimate goal.

And it’s only $20/month. Who can argue that?

I didn’t see any reason I couldn’t be successful using this program.

Last season when I was working with Jen, I would often email and say things like “Hey Jen can I do two 70.3′s on consecutive weekends?” or “Jen I want to do a half marathon and marathon back to back!”

Jen would reply, say no and give me the reasons why.

So when I was building my schedule for this season and had a ton of races I wanted to do, but I didn’t really know what would be a good idea and what wouldn’t. So I winged it and picked races I thought would be safe.

Once I had a schedule lined up I felt… OK.

I’m pretty good at following directions. So when my workouts show up in my calendar, I usually have no problem doing them. But I can remember on several occasions getting emails from Jen asking me for my data so she can build my next series of workouts. Or even worse, emails asking why I missed workouts!

When you purchase a training plan or program like OTL there isn’t anyone looking out for you. One of the cool things that Optimized Training Labs does is require you to update your schedule every few weeks and that includes an option to re-test in each discipline to get more accurate data to gauge your improvement.

But If you don’t upload workout data regularly OTL has no way to tune the program for you, which just the same as using a pre-set program.

There is a great amount of self discipline needed to train for endurance sports and having a REAL PERSON as a coach is a perfect safety net for people like me who will tend to slack off every now and then and need the whip cracked!

Now I’m not knocking Optimized Training Labs by any means. I have had emailed them to ask questions about changing schedules, what to do about off season training, ect. They’ve alway emailed me back, usually the same day. They’re constantly making updates and adjustments to their system and asking what athletes are looking for.

One thing I’d like to see OTL add is the ability to train for any race. Currently you select a Triathlete program or Runner program… But what if you’re doing both? For example I just finished MiTi, an Iron Distance Triathlon but the next event on my schedule is the Chicago Marathon. I am able to select “Other” as an upcoming race category, but to be honest “Other” doesn’t sound like it’ll be a finely tuned program.

The only other issue I’ve had with OTL is that uploading data doesn’t seem very user friendly. Most of the time I’d manually import my data (which is an option) but that takes longer, and we’ve already established that I’m a slacker in that department.

Everyone trains and races differently, so I don’t think there is a “right way” to train. I think everyone has to do what works best for them.

Personally, I think I need to get my ass more disciplined and focused on what needs to be done to get the results I want.

Michigan Titanium Race Report

Grueling probably best describes my day racing MiTitanium Iron Distance race Sunday.

I’m going to talk about the heat. I’ll mention the wind, the darkness, hills and road construction. But the real reason I didn’t have a good outing was because I didn’t really train for this race like I should have.

I hardly swam all season, never road more than 50miles and didn’t run more than 10. So I wasn’t surprised when my day began to crumble… I knew going in to this race that it was going to be painful, so I decided to change my perspective and look at it as an eye opener and beginning of my 2014 season.

MiTi Swim Practice

MiTi Swim Practice

The Saturday before the race I did about a 1/2 mile swim in Lake Versluis. It was a beautiful lake, very clam and clean. The water temp was 74ish and wasn’t expected to rise. Some athletes were saying it was too warm for a wetsuit, but I didn’t feel overheated at all.

After the swim I took time to drive the bike course.

The beginning of the course was filled with rolling hills. The first climb I came across looked ugly. It was a pretty steep incline, though not really too long. But the condition of the road was poor. The climb was loaded with potholes and big cracks. I’m glad I was aware of it ahead of time.

The big issue on the bike course was some surprise construction. The Race Directors had already networked with the city well ahead of time to make sure there would be no issues on the course. They were assured that roads wouldn’t be torn up until Monday (after the race). But to everyones surprise crews ripped up about 600 feet of road mid-day Friday.

The MiTi team spent hours Friday night assessing the situation and made plans not to change the course. They swept off the loose gravel and laid down a thick mat to make the spot ride-able. The road was closed to traffic as I was driving through, but Dave from the Priority Health Cycling Team was out there. He was working with the MiTi crews to assess the issue.

Dave was awesome, he showed me the mat they were going to use and walked me through the whole process on how they planned on dealing with several hundred riders abusing on race day. He was out there with his bike riding and re-riding to make sure it would be safe and effective.

I even took my bike over it a couple times.

The biggest pitfall with the construction was going to be momentum. This section of road came after a nice long decent, but the torn up section was on a climb. Time would tell what kind of difference it would make.

After the course I hit up the expo, got my race packet, racked my bike and headed back to the hotel before dinner then an early bedtime… 4:15a was going to come early.

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Transition Setup

Race morning I felt pretty calm. I checked my bike one last time and noticed it was shifting odd, I think it had been knocked over the day before. Thanks to the rockstars at West Michigan bike they adjusted the front derailleur and it was good to go.

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That’s the body of a man who hasn’t trained!

Before you know it, it was time to race!

All of the full distance athletes started in one wave. As we got in the water, I got a little nervous when I saw how FEW people seemed to be starting in this wave! I kept telling myself that I’m not really racing these people. I’m racing MY race.

Then the horn went off.

I started the swim real easy, the plan was to build into it. I felt good the whole swim, only had a couple run-in’s with other swimmers and when it was all over I was only 1:02 off my IMWI time…. I’ll take it!

Because of the swim success I felt great going into the bike, early on I was averaging over 17mph and I was really enjoying going up and down the rollers.

Though my pace was where I wanted it, other riders were passing me like I was walking! It took a while before I remembered that there was also an Iron distance relay and aquabike in addition to the 70.3 racers. So at least some of the people passing me had the luxury (if you want to call it that) of leaving everything out on the bike course… I still had a marathon to go, so I’ll keep my pace.

Soon I hit the first climb with the potholes and cracks, It felt brutal. I was riding with a good sized pack which made it harder to navigate that hill. My legs were screaming. Since the bike was 2 loops I had to do this twice. Each time I got up to the top I expected to see Mike O’Malley handing me my piece of the Aggro Crag (10 points if you got that reference).

A while later I came to the construction section, again I was in a pack, which slowed down the climb. The mat that was covering the missing road seemed to be holding up great. Crews were there sweeping and maintaining it all day. It started as a gradual climb until the very top then it got steep, I took a solid few minutes to coast and recover after that.

Heading back in to town to begin the second loop my legs began to cramp. It was very hot and I forgot salt, but I was using Clif ShotBloks that had extra sodium to compensate. After eating a whole sleeve the cramps started to go away but with 56 miles to go, I was going to have to keep on this. Eventually I stopped at an aid station and ate a bunch of pretzels before grinding away at rest of the course.

The final 30 miles of the bike I felt horrible. My feet hurt, I was having back spasms and the wind had picked up significantly. I’ve never wanted to get off my bike so badly. This was when I first started thinking about dropping out of the race. My pace had slowed to the low 15′s, but it felt slower. I fought hard to finish that ride, and when it was all over I pained me to know that it was only 26.5 minutes longer than my IMWI time. With as bad as I felt I would have assumed an hour or more.

I took my time in T2. No part of me wanted to run, but I figured if I just hit the course hard, I could get it over with. For some reason (and I really don’t know why) the time I had in my head was 5 hours. My fastest marathon ever was 5:24 and that was Chicago in 2011, so that wasn’t going to happen.

I got on the run course and started running about a 10:30/mile. I think it lasted 3 minutes, my legs were dead and my back was killing me. As my Advil started to kick in I started running 5 minutes and walking 2 minutes. I’m not sure how long I kept that up, but eventually I dropped down to 2 on/2 off and before you know it I was only walking.

I must have thought about dropping about at least a dozen times. After the turn around the course was getting dark. The run course was closed to through traffic, but it was all in a residential area and there were spectators who were driving to different spots to watch. So there was quite a lot of traffic, but no street lights or sidewalks. I felt very uneasy, worried about getting flattened by a car.

I was wearing a reflective sticker but there was no light to guide my way unless I was nearing an aid station. It was pretty scary.

Gross.

Gross.

My feet were blistered, Advil worn off and I had 10 more miles.

Again I thought about dropping out.

It would be easy, stop at an aid station and wait for someone to pick me up… But I had gotten so far, I couldn’t let 10 miles get away.

I kept walking, hurting, swearing until eventually I could hear the main road that led to the finish. I wasn’t even excited, I just wanted to be done. I couldn’t even run. I waited until the last minute to start shuffling through the finish line (so that should be a good picture).

MiTi Hardware

MiTi Hardware

Luckily I parked close. After packing my gear and texting my family to let them know I wasn’t dead, I got in the car in time to see the last official finisher come down the final stretch.

Despite how my race turned out, I thought Michigan Titanium was a great race. The swim was beautiful, the course was challenging and it was well organized and run. My only criticism was the light on the run course, I was hard to navigate after dark and the cars out there were driving real fast. So with no sidewalk there was little room for error on a runner or driver’s part.

Bu I’d definitely race there again… In fact I think I’ll have to just to redeem myself!

MiTi 2014 registration opened up on Monday, so as I’m building my schedule for 2014 it’s something to consider. Michigan Titanium has also banded together with five other independently operated Iron Distance races around the country to form the Full On Triathlon Series starting in 2014, which is awesome.

Thanks again to MiTi Race Directors Doug, Ann and Andy (though I never got to meet Andy) for having me up to race, you put on an excellent event!

What’s worse than a bad race? Not finishing.

I like racing more than training. Really, the only thing that continues to motivate me TO train is knowing a race is coming up. So when the race doesn’t go well its a huge let down.

The prefect example was today’s Lake Zurich Triathlon.

From the time I got dressed in the morning I was rushing around like a maniac feeling somehow unprepared even though I packed up all my gear the night before.

When I say unprepared, I don’t mean I wasn’t race ready, I mean I felt unpacked, like I was missing something. Another issue was… Um… Bathroom related. I make it a point to go before I race, but this morning my body wasn’t on the same page.

But, being confident that I had it all together and the bathroom thing wasn’t happening, I loaded the car and took off.

It wasn’t until I stopped for my traditional (and controversial) race day breakfast of an Egg McMuffin that I realized I left my Profile Design aero water bottle sitting on my rear bumper.

Not cool.

Back tracking almost 2 miles, there was the bottle, empty and run over…. Super, looks like I’m only using 1 water bottle on what will be a hot humid ride.

Shake it off… I got this.

I was issued a low number for some reason. As I went to rack my bike I found myself hanging with the Elite group… Yikes! However I was greeted by Coach Jen Harrison who was setting up shop directly across from me!

Though I was slated to go off with all these fast folks, I switched my swim cap and went with my age group.

The race officials determined the water was 78*, making it wetsuit legal. It felt higher, like 80+.

The day before the race I was talking about going without the wetsuit, especially since I did a mile at Lake in the Hills on Wednesday and felt really hot.

I should have followed my instinct, but instead wore my wetsuit. The first stretch felt ok, but after the first turn I started getting warm. There was no turning back at that point, it was a suffer-fest. And all I could think was “I wonder how much cooler I would feel if I dropped some more weight.”

The run from water to transition was about 200 yards, I had my suit pulled 1/2 way down and trotted to my bike. As I peeled the rest of the suit off I felt gross. I was hot from the wetsuit, a little nauseous and felt like a brick was in my gut from not being able to use the bathroom. I just stood in T1 for a few minutes and then felt good enough to ride.

After about a 1/2 mile on the bike I felt 100%. Cruising down Rand Rd holding 19mph WHOOO! Everything about the bike felt great, but as the saying goes all good things must come to an end.

Riding through the Echo Lake subdivision of Lake Zurich I came up on a hard left turn and it wasn’t until it was too late that I realized I was going too fast. I tapped my rear brake over and over nearly skidding out each time, lost control slightly, went off the road and into some tall grass.

Luckily I remained upright the whole time, but it must have looked ugly because a course vehicle drove up fast to make sure I was ok… And I was. I took a second to pick some foliage out of my gears and was back at it (with applause from the spectators near by).

Back in business, now holding 18mph I was at the junction of the two loop course and here’s where the rapid decline happens.

There was a volunteer with a bullhorn letting riders know which was was the finish and which was for the 2nd loop. For whatever reason as I approached he put down the bullhorn, turned around and walked away!

Which way do I go?!

I yelled to the officer & volunteer asking “Which way for lap 2?!?… I’m not sure if it was a Miscommunication or what but they all pointed left, so I turned. Riding hard I went through downtown LZ around the lake and back towards the park. Before I knew it I was being screamed at to slowdown and dismount!

WHAT!!! I WENT THE WRONG WAY!!! I MISSED THE 2ND LOOP!!!

With the course layout there really wasn’t anyway (that I noticed as I filled with rage) to go back out on the course. To the bike rack I went, muttering words that I won’t write here. I threw my helmet to the ground, pissed that I cut the course and DQ’d myself.

Begrudgingly I laced up my shoes thinking, you know what at least I’ll get a killer workout today… Look at that glass half full, positive vibe. I took my timing chip off and hit the run course.

About a 1/4 mile in I needed to tie a shoe, I bent down and heard footsteps coming up behind me. It was Jen Harrison… I had cut the course so bad on the bike that the person who would be the overall winner of this race was BEHIND ME!

About a mile in I had a pain in my stomach… Remember that bathroom issue from earlier? Well my body decided it was time to go. I ran a little bit more before deciding to call it a day. I was angry and walked what was left of my first loop on the run… Then hit the bathroom in transition.

Could this race have gone any worse?!? Well yes, probably… But some REALLY bad stuff would have had to happen.

So what did I learn?

- If I think it’s going to be too hot, leave the wetsuit in the bag.
- Don’t completely rely on signs or volunteers to direct you on the course.
- Pack EXTRA hydration & nutrition incase some gets hit by a car.
- Eat more fiber.

Next race is Wauconda Tri in 2 weeks, after that is my A-race MiTitanium. Hopefully I work the kinks out by then!

A look into Michigan Titanium

20130208-132237.jpgThere is just a little more than two months (66 days to be exact) before my “A” race, Michigan Titanium or MiTi. I reached out to the race directors/owners to see if I could get a little more info on what to expect race weekend.

Ann Vidro, Race co-owner, took some time to Skype with my about MiTi.Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 11.39.44 AM

PC: How did Titanium start?

Ann Vidro: We are also the directors of the Grand Rapids Triathlon, which is now in it’s third year. The first year we did [the Grand Rapids Tri] we had over 900 athletes come out for a Sprint, Olympic and a half. We got a lot of athletes bugging us after that saying we did it well, why don’t we do a full. Some of our staff have done a full distance and they were all about it, so we thought what the heck! We found a great location, it’s north of Grand Rapids called Versluis Park with beautiful, beautiful water. So two years ago we started it. The whole purpose of the event is to provide a great full-distance for not only local athletes, but athletes across the country that was affordable. Our prices compared to the big guys, can be up to half.

PC: Is there a Pro field that comes out to race MiTi?

AV: You know, there are a lot of Pro’s that come but we don’t actually have a pro division. We’ve kind of stayed away from that just because we’ve been presently surprised by some local non-pro’s who have come up and taken the purse. When you have a pro category no one else can win the money, in our experience 99% of the athletes are not going to be on the podium. In our races, yes we do want the Pro’s to feel important, but we want every athlete to have the opportunity.

PC: How many athletes do you expect this year?

AV: We’re thinking about 600, we’ve pased the 350 mark now and passed our number from last year. That past weekend was the Grand Rapids Triathlon where we had a record number in that event, almost 1300. We have a thing called the Double Down, so if you do the Grand Rapids Tri and then the MiTi you get some discounts, an extra medal, some extra swag. So a lot of our athletes who do the half at Grand Rapids, sign up at MiTi to do the full, so we see are largest registration after that event.

PC: Races of this distance are know for taking over cities, how does the community react to MiTi?

AV: We’ve gotten huge praise for it. The [Wolverine] YMCA, where we do packet pickup & the mandatory race meetings is really cool. They open their doors to the families of the athletes completely for free the whole weekend. The finish line is right along Northland Drive, which is a pretty major road, we actually shut half of it down. There are tons of cars honking and cheering. We chose a part of Grand Rapids that was kind of yearning for something to happen, they welcomed us with open arms. Some of the residents absolutely loved it and were out with their hoses spraying athletes, they set up tents. It’s kind of a novelty for them, they’re amazed at what these athletes go through for a 17 hour race.

Ann also told me that outside the the partner hotels they work with, some residents and local athletes will open their homes to out-of-towners free of charge. That was something I’ve never head of happening at other races.

While the MiTi team works for months on end to ensure a great race for the athletes, they also employ a team of people just to work on the spectator portion of the event, setting up areas for sign making, handing out cowbells and helping the spectators enjoy the event as much as the athletes.

For those athletes that are not sure about to do as far as training goes, MiTitanium offers free training plans on their website as well as a couple on course training sessions and clinics (fees vary  leading up to race day.

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 11.16.55 AM

The course looks amazing. Ann told me that the water on the swim course is very clear. It’s so clean she compared it to drinking water, boats aren’t even allowed in there. It’s a two loop swim with an in water

mass start.

On the bike course we’ll do two loops through some great scenery with come challenging climbs. This course is a little different than it has been in years past because Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 11.18.55 AMthey wanted to improve the quality of the roads used for the race.

The run course is pretty well shaded according to Ann. It’s double loop as well in a pretty residential area with some awesome crowd support. The town really gets into this event.

If you’re still kicking around the idea of doing a full iron-distance race this year there are spots still open for MiTi at a price you really can’t beat. I know I keep referencing the 140.6, but there is also a 70.3 race as well if that is more your speed.Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 11.23.17 AM

Regardless of the distance you choose, MiTitanium seems like a great lat summer race to use as your main event or a training race if your event is later in the year. You can register for both MiTi events here.

Thanks to Ann and the MiTi team for being so kind and answering all my questions. I’ll of course have more posts about this race as it gets closer!

Starting Over – 76 Days to Titanium

Yeah yeah yeah. It shouldn’t be a shock that I have done very little training. Which is pretty scary considering my “A” race, Michigan Titanium is only 76 days away.

I had a “big” training week and I think I needed it to affirm that I could still finish the race. Now finishing well… Thats a different story.

My Race calendar as awesome, but in the last couple of weeks it’s crumbled. The two 70.3′s I had are no longer happening due to unavoidable scheduling conflicts. I even took a gamble and asked WTC & Ironman if I could transfer those entries to another race. It wasn’t a surprise when they said no.

I’ve replaced those with local olympic distance races in Wauconda & Lake Zurich because hey… something is better than nothing.

Luckily my running races are still on track, but regardless my focus is on MiTi. To help get back on track, I went up to Michigan with my family and did a whole active weekend. I kept to the program designed for my by Optimized Training Labs with a few modifications to make it more family friendly. We biked through the Sleeping Bear Dunes park, Ran & Hiked around the paths and trails and even got a little recreational swimming in… Like I said, something is better than nothing.

Last Wednesday I hit up the LITH Wednesday night swim & stride group. I’ve now customized this my Wednesday  group workout in my OTL plan. I have to admit I wasn’t as pumped as I wanted to be to hop in the lake. But thanks to some peer pressure I got “my ass out there” (as written on my Facebook page).

It was chilly and rainy on Wednesday but I got a mile in and lived to tell about it. I really felt like these group open water swims really helped me prepare for Racine 70.3 and IMWI last year, so I’m glad to be a part of them again.

This Sunday will be my first Tri this season. I’m getting very late start compared to last year when Ironman Florida 70.3 kicked off my season. So Sunday I will kick off Father’s Day with a sprint tri. It’ll be my first TT swim start. I have to say, that makes me a little nervous.

I hope to use this race as somewhat of a gauge as to how out of shape I’m am. In the past I’ve always felt that once I get going, I get back in to shape fairly quick.

The next 76 days will really put that theory to the test.

What is “It Works”?

I’m always a skeptic. My skepticism increases by 100% when it involves anything health and fitness related.

This is a story about my good friend Billy.

I’ve known Billy for about 15 years and at no point would I have considered him a health nut. The most activity we ever got was walking from the car to the bar… You might consider playing softball being active, but the games were usually book-ened by a bar.

So when Billy began not only using but selling a series of supplements and weight loss products I was skeptical. And it wasn’t long before he called and asked me to try them. Billy is working with a variety of supplements and body wraps that say they’ll make you healthier and thinner. The body contour wraps say:

002_UltimateBodyApplicator_WaystoWearExpect “ultimate” results with this amazing 45-minute body Applicator! The Ultimate Body Applicator is a non-woven cloth wrap that has been infused with a powerful,botanically-based formula to deliver maximum tightening, toning, and firming results where applied to the skin.

It's%20Vital%20Complete%20Nutrition%20Pack%201-31-13

Hmmmm.

And the vitamins:

Meet all of your daily vital nutrition needs with added nutrients and minerals, superiorcalcium absorption, and triple strength support for heart health all in one premeasured daily pack.It’s Vital Complete Nutrition Pack builds on the foundational It’s Vital Core Nutrition, adding It’s Vital Minerals and It’s Vital Omega-3 to give you complete, premium nutrition.

 

See … Skeptical.

But I’ve watched Billy post pictures of himself over the past month or so and I have to say the man was looking trim (for Billy).

I saw him a couple weeks ago and he gave me a body contour wrap and some vitamins.

“Try it.” He told me.

On top of using these products Billy has also made significant lifestyle changes. He sees a personal trainer, changed his eating habits and cut down on his beer in take…. He had 1/2 a beer while we were out… AT A BREWERY. Billy even made going to the gym his first order of business when he got into town.

So I tried the products. First the contour body wrap. It’s a thin one time use fabric with one side covered in a lotion or “botanically-based formula”. You can feel a tingling on your skin when it’s applied, similar to what BenGay feels like. I wore the wrap around for the prescribed 45 minutes and then made sure to rub in the excess lotion when I took it off.

I did not take before and after pictures.

I also did not notice a physical difference in my body. The directions for the wraps calls for an application every 72 hours and the use of 4 wraps constitutes a full session. So I did 1/4 of a session.

I also tried the vitamins. They’re a multi-pack of supplements and you can read what each pill is here. I also did not feel a physical change, but when you break the packet down it’s pretty much what I already use (Fish Oil, Minerals, Complex Nutrition).

I talked to Billy again and did not say I tried the products, because I wanted to make sure I got an honest answer out of him. I asked him how much of his results would he contribute to the wraps and products and how much to the lifestyle change.

“I’d say it’s 60/40. Sixty percent lifestyle and 40% products. The wraps and supplements help motivate me towards the lifestyle change. Once you’re doing something you believe will help, it’s easier to make other changes.”

I really can’t argue with that. Most of health and fitness is a mental game and personally I find overcoming those obstacles much more difficult than any workout or race. Everyone needs a push sometimes and not matter what that push is it’s worth it.

Now as I said, I didn’t see any results from my one wrap and one pack of vitamins. But unlike most other nutrition systems I’ve seen, I CAN say I know people that are having results. Both Billy and his wife are users of the products and examples of how you can be successful with them.

If you’d like more information on the It Works system you can find it here.