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June « 2013 « Mathieu O'Halloran's Blog


Archive for June, 2013

5i50 Subic Bay Race Report.

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Hey readers – well not sure how to start this blog – usually it comes to me easy but this one not so much…Here goes:

I was very excited to compete in this race, I liked the point-to-point dynamics of the course, training had been going well, I knew the race course very well, I had made sure the trip for my squad was organized ahead of time and the weather gods where on my side; in short, I felt like I had my ‘ducks’ lined up.

During the race weekend, I could not help but feel envious of the other athletes I saw around the venue, they seemed so happy and excited, versus me who was on the edge and stressed. Racing as a pro athlete against other top pro athletes all the while leading a group of ‘scholars’ or elite development athletes during a race weekend at your sponsor’s event is a tough task.

I do my best to be a BIG PICTURE kind of guy, I have to, I am a coach. Race weekends, turn into a detail-fest: equipment, food, schedules, clothing, budget, pictures, final workouts, rest and importantly: PERFORMANCE! I feel their highs,  I feel their low’s and any problem I must fix.

I understand this challenge.

I accepted this challenge.

I understand this challenge is very rewarding.

***Deep breath***

Most of my career as a junior triathlete before I joined teamtbb where spent battling ‘side stiches’ on the run leg. Seldom did they ever appear in training, I could start to feel them near the end of the bike, only worsen on the run, making me incapable of lifting the intensity on the run as well to maintain a tall/upward posture. I was always puzzled on why they happened in races and never in training. I did research, asked questions and tried many things – avoided others.

I mean, these would feel like I had been stabbed in my abdomen, my lungs pushing against my diaphragm and often, in the races where I would gut myself through there, I could feel a sore spot for a few days after a race…

In the end, it really came down to controlling my breathing @ the end of the bike and start of the run. Racing longer distances or non drafting short/course races at lower and more even intensity lessened their likely-hood as well to severity, which has helped me become a more successful triathlete than before. Put still, in training I can get the intensity very high without this problem.

RACE DAY MORNING I felt good physically during my warm up but had a few things on my mind…I looked to block them out and be selfish for a couple 2 hours. Once the race started, I got on the back of the front and just cruised it. After about 500m I felt the pace slow down with a bit of swerving sideways so I casually made my way to the front and got into a sustainable rythym.

I tighten the screws gradually in the final 300m and secured the 300$ Alaska Milk Swim prime =)

A quick T1, jump on my bike and charged down a road where I had done some of the my hardest bike workouts from 2008 to 2011. After some ridding with my swimming mates for a few km’s, I found myself in no-mans-land  where I could not see anybody in front nor behind me.

This is where my mind started to swerve away from the present – I figure my expectations where that I’d be ridding with the lead group until T2 like last year – the reality of this year was, the top pro’s would come into T2 all spread out.

I rode the course the best I could, remained  dynamic over the modulating terrain; on the final and steepest uphill of the bike course, I developed 2 side-stiches (1 on each side) near the top as I ‘danced’ out of the saddle and gasped for air! There was a short flat, then twisty down hill, flat again towards transition where I did a final push in my aero-position I where could feel some tightness in my abdomen gradually increasing…

Once on the run, I was happy to see the 3rd placer just up the road, I took in deep breath and focused on a short/fast stride with relaxed arms. Within a few minutes I had serious abdominal pain, I push through them until the aid station up the road, I walked, sipped on water, took in some deep breaths again and then build back into a solid pace.

Now I was on the ‘golf course road’, somewhere I had ran up and down many times, not far from my old home on Lanzones st! The pain came back, more intensity where the impact of the road felt like was like being punched left and right in my torso…Not to long after this I got passed by 4 athletes within a 1 minute…

This is where I basically mentally ‘checked out’ and simply jogged to the finish line…I felt exhausted mentally and simply did not want to fight against myself no more…I got passed a few more times and did a FLYING POSE DOWN  at the line for the competition for the box of Shotz gels because my girl friend likes them a lot!

All in all I’m simply disappointed with myself – I eased off the gas when I should have punched it. I allowed non-tangible things to distract my focus and I let my abdominal pain get the better of me, once again.

On the bright side, my athletes did quite well – Jenny won the Filipina Elite with a nice pay check all the while balancing a full time job with the Lozada Swim School, a family and being hesitant to join the team last October!

Banjo, who’s been living with me for almost 3 months now, was the youngest Filipino Elite in the field and took another step closer to the to the top local athletes in the country by being 4th Filipino Elite, ~2 minutes from the podium and 9th Overall.

Dhill manage to win more prize money in 1500m than he did in his entire swim career! 1 year ago he did his first triathlon here – 1 year later he cut almost 25 minutes from his time! He still how-ever must improve his overall cycling abilities as well to endure the pain/strain of running if he is to be the first South East Asian to qualify in triathlon @ the Olympic Games.

Marc completed his first Olympic Distance Triathlon and manage to dose his efforts accordingly by not starting to fast, of which is something that cannot be bought @ the store, learned in a book or have somebody else do for you; simply trial, error and growth.

Despite a flat tire, Martin managed to finish on the podium with Marc by using a well balanced/conservative effort and having to overtake a lot of people since he was in wave 2.

Last but not least, my little Joyette had another strong race – having Hector on the micro-phone warning the male athletes out on the run course she was coming behind was sure high-light for her!

Anyway, all-in-all it was a successful weekend – I simply need to focus more on enjoying the positives and not let the negatives blind me from the present…Its impossible to make everybody happy and it can never be x-mast every day ;)

Heres a sweet video of the race – you can catch me twice, once @ 1:50 and again @ 2:50!

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Staying Refreshed With Ignite Naturals!

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Hey readers – as a cold blooded Canadian who’s been living/training/racing in the steamy South East Asian climate since 2007, I am very much cognitive about the daily struggles and challenges of staying or should I say TRYING to stay ahead of dehydration or even worst, hyponatremia!

Getting very dehydrated can take most mortals a full day if not more to fully replenish their electrolytes levels back up to par for: proper cell function, ‘communication’ between your mind/body and perform natural bodily functions!

The human body may gradually get used to taking in less liquids and electrolytes with the help of discipline, acclimatization and time because there is a strong correlation between a high tolerance for dehydration and high performance in the heat.

Finding out what works for YOU is a matter of trial and error; a common mistake is to over drink pure water and ‘flush’ your electrolyte stores. Another one, is to over drink or ‘chug’ liquids spontaneously and then not drink for a while, making you extra thirsty and giving an uneven distribution.

In the ideal world, sipping regularly, pre/post and in training on an electrolyte drink that’s wholesome, easily absorbed and versatile will be your surest bet to get in what you need to avoid or limit G.I. distress as well to feasibly take in nutrition, during or after exercise.

Many of the typical, accessible and/or mainstream electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade contain food coloring’s for commercial appeal and visual distinction  such as: Red 40, Yellow 5 & 6 or Blue 1.  As a rule of thumb, when looking on a label, any color followed by number is a food dye which has multiple side-effect where its advisable to avoid them or find a healthier alternative.

Check out Gatorade ambassador Jeremy Lin’s video:

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Now guess which flavor he’s been drinking? You can bet his ‘within’ are also that color…!

Not only do these modern electrolyte drinks have health consequences, they can be high in calories, have acidic PH levels and taste foul when warm which is an important consideration for those who race in the heat! Often, they will contain little to no Calcium and Maganese which are less important minerals but still part of the electrolyte puzzle where a lack of over extended duration’s may instigate electrolyte imbalance followed by physical consequences!

Having a low osmolality electrolyte drink allow’s your intestines to absorb it quicker and easier! Considering that your body spends a fair amount of energy in breaking down, absorbing and then metabolizing what you take it – best to keep it all simple and strait to the point so you can use that energy elsewhere!

An electrolyte drink thats low in calories will not cut your appetite when drinking it between meals nor hinder the absorption process as you pair it up with nutrition in racing/training as it will increase the overall viscosity of everything as it will end up in your stomach together!

I personally deter athletes from drinking those supper thick ‘syrups’ in races because they have such a high failure rate. Sure, they are convenient to carry on your bike or while running and theoretically add up in calories, but unless your out for a medium duration or are motoring at the high intensity of a pro athlete, you best to chew your food (the sooner in a race the better) and pair it up with a light but all encompassing electrolyte drink.

The human body doesn’t ‘register’ liquid calories the same as solid ones since little to NO digestive enzymes are secreted by the salivary glands by in your mouth during regular mastication.

So, whats a healthy and wholesome alternative? Coconut water is one of them, but its not very practical to carry around and for many westerners, difficult to buy or maybe quite expensive when ‘bottled’ as well to possibly be saturated with preservatives or extenders…

One commercial alternative is Nuun Electrolyte Tablets which are practical, encompass all electrolytes and have a subtle taste at any temperature – unfortunately they contain a chemical called Sorbitol which has been known to give problems such as bloating and diarrhea when taken in large quantities or over extended duration’s…

Then there’s I.N. Refresh which I have been recently experimenting and a great help here in The Philippines since the dry season has been extended as well to make me extra thirsty training towards my 2 biggest races of the year: 5i50 Subic Bay and Ironman 70.3 Cebu.

Ignite Naturals uses ALL NATURAL plant based ingredients which makes it: very healthy, easily absorbs and tastes fine when warm!

The ingredients in I.N. Refresh are all free of GMO, vegan friendly and gluten free! Here’s some examples of the ingredients: Dried fruits, unprocessed Cane SugarAloe Vera and Lo Han Guo.

My first thought when I drank the Tangerine Passion Fruit flavored I.N. Refresh was how mildly sweet it was! When you get dehydrated, its quite common for sweet food to taste overly sweet, so this makes is gentle on my teeth’s enamel versus other modern sports drinks that can be too acidic and damage our teeth!!!

Only 1 small scoop is needed and it mixes easily in water!

Also, since its Fructose based its very suitable for diabetics and will give you more than enuff for your daily amount of vitamin C to protect/boost your immune system!

Salt Tablets/Pills are also very popular with endurance athletes and work for some, but best to avoid them if you have not practiced with them extensively because such a spontaneous, unnatural and high concentration of electrolyte may instigate severe stomach pain or vomiting!

One of the painful dangers of regular dehydration and replenishing with poor electrolyte sources is: kidney stones. I have noticed how prevalent these are getting recently in endurance athletes that have been competing for many years! I remember back in 2003 when 2 time defending Ironman World Champion Tim Deboom passed some DURING the race on side of the road in Kona Hawaii!

Last but not least, most of our daily/regular diets contain to much sodium to start with; it can worsen hypertension, osteoporosis and water retention . In these modern times, REAL FOOD is almost a commodity as it may often be harder to find, more expensive and may not be as tasty or visually appealing compared to their synthetic counterparts….But you can be sure they will always be absorbed easier, give you more energy with no side-effects and better long term health!

PS: If interested in trying out these products at a discounted price, kindly use my online coupon code: TBB0502 ——>Ignite Naturals Online Store.

Dinagat Island Challenge Race Report.

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Hey readers – yes this race report is over-due but as I mentioned in my last blog, the memory card in my camera stoped working after swimming in 10 foot waves in Cloud 9!!! Okay, so this race was on Dinagat Island in the Mindano region of The Philippines which actually has a bit of history to it since its the home base of the Philippines Benevolent Missionary Association founded by Ruben Ecleo Senior. Having traveled some around the globe and knowing how the media can paint a very cynical picture of some locations, I always like to check it out for myself and then judge from there!

Honestly, this is what I race for these days, to see new places, meet new people and get new experiences! There was a nice chunk of prize money for top spot as well to paying 10 deep in both men and women respectively! The only down side is, that it was a tedious 12 hour travel from Manila by car/plane/tricycle/boat!

Thats Banjo crammed in the back of a tricycle with a couple bike boxes on the roof!!!

Our vessel to the Island!

The race course was honestly the HARDEST short-course race I have done in my life! It was a 2pm start, which meant 35 degrees celcius and 100% humidity as well to some decent sized waves on the 1000m swim course since it was mid day and it was an out and back 3/4 of the way to an island and back with lots a current!

A large crowd of locals was present to watch their first ever triathlon!

The bike course, was basically 27km of the Naithon Beach section in the Laguna Phuket Tri in Thailand. NO FLAT sections and all concrete with a few ‘off road’ sections with multiple 2-3km uphills that where around 15% gradient – I kid you f*cking not!!! I remained hydrated by sipping on my I.N. Refresh Tangerine Passion Fruit drink from start to finish.

This shot was taken the day before @ sun-set while checking out the bike course - there was some spectacular views!

One of the few sections I could stay in my aerobars!

The run, well it was *ONLY* 4.9km long where we had to run UPHILL for 2km strait up the same type of hills as the bike towards the Ecleo residence near the PBMA shrine. We had a whole 50 meters of flat to get ‘ready’ for this ascent that had 100′s of supporters cheering outside their homes that where slanted on the steep roads!

The castle here on the top of the hill was near the turn around point - you get the idea, sea level to there in 2km!

The spectacular Ecleo residence was one of the highlights of the run course!

Another cool view - a guitar shaped pool!

Once @ the top, well you can only go down for 2km and that was just as painful but in a different kind of way where I was glad to be running with my ON Cloud Racers to absorb the impact!  Once @ the bottom, we got discount and ran half way up the 2km half before turning left to towards the administration area.

Up, up and UP some more as every part of the course was lined up with spectators!

Woah – I did win the race but more importantly I conquered the terrain. Banjo was 2nd place and effectively earned is largest ever pay-check while Joyette won the female race and also won her largest paycheck ever!

Post race refreshment!

Who's thirsty?

All in all is was a great experience – I felt very welcomed, we where all well taken care of and it was all very safe! The course was FULLY closed to vehicular traffic as well to me personally finding the residents of Dinagat Island to be disciplined and respectfull where I was informed as well to believe  it has very low crime rate due to the dictatorship type of ruling! There is plans for a bigger race with more prize money next year =) check out for updates —> www.triathlon.reesfi.com

We had more than enuff escorts for the pre-race course reckon!

The spectacular view from our hotel balcony!

As well to a very classy carbo load supper with lots of lechon - ahahahaha!

Now, the major take away from this race is that you got to be in it to win it. This event had plenty of prize money but few locals showed up…Im sure they all have ‘reasons’ why not to but as a development coach and 3rd tier pro triathlete I am cognitive of the ‘prize fighter’ mentality needed to make a living from triathlon.

Competing for money is what pro sport is all about – when an athlete can rely’s or fall back on sponsors or funding, it can make them weak or complacent if they dont have a strong ego drive and not make them push that final 1% or take that risk and go to to that far away race that ‘cherry pick’ event in the middle of no-where against a bunch no-body’s.

Being able to race under financial pressure is no different than the pressure of racing for ‘points’ or for you countries honor – its part of the process of athlete development to be able to get a direct and tangible return from a race instead of being content with performance, which is also very very important but not what will always pay the bills and of course, its impossible to always out-perform your last race.

This is a lesson I look to ingrain in the heads of my scholars here in The Philippines. They need to be able to compute how much money can they win on a good day? How much money can they afford to lose on a bad day? How much is the travel? Entry fee? Accom? Food? Whats your next race after? Ect.?

These are all things that must be taken into consideration and are part of their apprenticeship. My girl friend Joyette has won 60 000 pesos in prize money ~1500$ USD in the past 6 months from racing. Yes its not much in the ‘real world’ but here in the 3rd world its significant as well to considering she’s an age grouper! Just like with my development athletes,  we sit down together, look at the race calendar, plan our travels/budget and see which ones she can get a return or gain experience or get a nice race-cation in. This event, she got all 3!

Anyway, after the race me and Joyette spent part of our winning and a couple nights in Siargao Island which is a world renowned surf-spot and really cheap to stay! We had some lazy mornings, after-noons in the waves and evenings getting drunk and food-tripping – ahahaha!

Here are some pictures:

Our cabana's during our stay!

Cruzin' on a cruiser ;)

Checking out the surf tower!

To surf or not to surf?

Ummm lets go body surf instead!

One of the last shots I got in before the memory card stopped working...