With so many new events happening since my last blog after Age Group Nationals (AGN), I’ll break this blog post up into three sections: 1. Gluten and dairy intolerant. 2. Race report from 70.3 Worlds. 3. Mini vacation post 70.3 Worlds.
Without further ado…
Part 1: Discovering I’m gluten and dairy intolerant.
To keep a long story short, I’ll spare you the details on my hospital visit and give you the high level summary. After AGN, I developed a severe pain in my upper stomach area. After delaying the inevitable, my mom finally convinced me to go to the hospital as this pain seemed to be a lot worse than just a little gas or bloating. A CAT scan was done; a Nasogastric (NG) Tube was inserted down my nose and throat and into my stomach, which was far from enjoyable; a scope was eventually done on my small intestine; and I lost five pounds after spending two days in the hospital. The biopsy of my intestine revealed severe inflammation and damaged villi (little finger-like things that help to absorb nutrients), both key signs of Celiac Disease. I eventually got blood work done to determine if I had Celiac, which thankfully came back negative. However, I do have a gluten intolerance, and like most people who have a gluten intolerance, I also have a dairy intolerance. The blood results showed that my iron levels were low and I’m essentially anemic. I certainly have enough iron in my system, but the iron and other nutrients just aren’t being processed correctly due to the damaged villi. It’s been an interesting 3 weeks or so adjusting to a gluten and dairy free diet. I already eat rather healthy and I’m “strict” with the foods I consume, but changing to gluten and dairy free has definitely taken some adjustment. I’ve become a big fan of Purely Elizableth’s hot cereal and oatmeal. With the recent changes to the pickyclub, I now receive more Picky Bars each month. If you’ve never had a Picky Bar, you’re missing out–Cookie Doughpness is quickly becoming my favorite. Another thing I’ve discovered is that traveling and being a GF and DF athlete is very difficult and requires major planning and preparation. Numerous people have told me that while it may seem like a major change and a hard one, eating GF is going to be a very good thing for me and I’ll feel and be even stronger. I’m excited to see how my body responds in the future as I become more and more accustomed to eating GF.
Part 2: 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant race report.
Where to begin… The town and course in Mont Tremblant was spectacular (see pictures below). I really enjoyed staying in the village with all the other athletes and pre-race activities. It was definitely a much different experience than 2013 Worlds in Henderson/Vegas last year. I would definitely go back to Mont Tremblant.
Swim: Race morning was brisk, a cool 49 degrees. I made sure to do a longer than usual jog warm-up so I’d be nice and warm prior to the race. I wasn’t too happy with my swim. I felt as though I got off to a good start and that I wasn’t going all out. I made it a point to stay smooth and relaxed early on and ease my way into the swim. However, by the first turn buoy, I was starting to really struggle. I just didn’t feel like I had any strength in my stroke. It felt a lot like some of my days swimming at the JCC where I have no power and struggle through the practice. I tried to just stay focused and weave my way through the slower swimmers from previous waves. I eventually made my way out of the water in 27:19. The time is basically what I’ve swam in almost all my 70.3 swim’s, which is disappointing to me because I know I’ve made some good improvements in the pool this year and the course seemed to be a fast one as people were putting up some low swim splits.
Bike: With being in the hospital and struggling with consistent training the past several weeks, I knew a patient race strategy on the bike was going to be the best plan for me on this hilly course. I kept it steady until the turn around point on the highway. At this point, I was still feeling good since I didn’t push it too terribly hard going into the wind. I decided to see how my legs felt and picked up the pace a bit now that the wind was at my back. The bike course in Mont Tremblant consisted of a lot of rolling hills and “punchy” type of hills, especially the last 10 miles of the bike. There were still some long hills out on the highway, but the majority of the hills were shorter and more punchy, or steep. Having ridden the last 10 miles with my EMJ team a few days before and getting some fantastic race tips from Meredith Kessler on how to ride those last 10 miles, I was more than prepared. By the end of the bike, my legs were still feeling pretty good and I was very happy with how I rode the course. I was anxious and eager to get to the run. I finished the bike in 2:18:01, click here for my Garmin data.
Run: I headed out of transition with a very specific plan; not to repeat the eagerness and excitement I felt at the beginning of KS 70.3 and go out way too fast. With this being one of the hilliest courses I’ve run for anywhere near this distance, I definitely wanted to keep it conservative early on. I routinely run off the bike several times each week at or a little below 6 minute pace for 15 minutes. To me, this is very comfortable and not a hard pace to run regardless of how good or bad I felt on the bike ride I just completed. The plan was to keep the first 3-6 miles at a pace similar to those 15 minute runs. I ran the first 6 miles perfectly (5:56, 5:58, 5:44, 5:54, 5:53, 6:09) and was feeling great. I was actually really surprised with how well I felt despite the hilly conditions. However, shortly after completing the first lap and heading out toward mile 7, I started to really struggle. My pace was slowing and I was in trouble. By mile 10 of the run, I was barely able to lift my legs and was really shuffling my feet; which makes an already hilly course that much harder. My pinky and ring finger on my left hand started tingling going up a hill by the swim exit prior to reaching the cobble stones. I thought it was strange, but I didn’t think much of it. By the time I neared the top of the cobblestone hill (rumored to be at 22% grade), every finger was now numb and tingling and I was starting to get dizzy. I walked the last little bit of the hill and as I crest the hill, a medic asked if I was ok, which I replied with, “I don’t think so, I’m dizzy and my fingers are numb.” She asked if I was able to finish and I told her I was going to try since I had roughly a quarter mile to go and it was all downhill. Fortunately, nothing else happened and I was able to get down to the finish without any additional complications. 1:25:23 was my official time, click here for my Garmin data.
Overall: 4:16:01. 107 overall. 20 in 25-29 age group
Going into the race, I really had no expectations for how I would do since I had no idea how my body would feel once race morning came around since training had been so hit and miss. With my discovery of being gluten intolerant, my body just wasn’t functioning the way it needed to in order to perform at a high level. Since my intestines were damaged from the gluten, my body wasn’t processing the nutrients I need considering the high amount of stress and demand I place on my body during racing and training. I’m disappointed in my race mainly for the fact that I fell apart on the run. Had I been able to keep pace and run somewhere under 1:20 for the half and finished more in the neighborhood of 4:10-4:11, I would have been very proud of my performance and walked away with my head held high. It’s hard for me to tell whether I made a mistake with hydration or if the run disaster was inevitable considering my body was depleted of necessary nutrients/electrolytes prior to the race beginning. Regardless, 70.3 Worlds was an absolute blast (well, besides the last half of the run). I always enjoy spending time and catching up with my EMJ teammates since I don’t get to see them very often. The support and extra motivation during the race from seeing my teammates out there was incredible and much needed during tough times in the race.
Part 3: Mini Vacation.
My parents and I decided to drive back from Mont Tremblant and make a little vacation out of it. We planned to go through Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Detroit on the way back home. Unfortunately, we had some car issues the day before the race and didn’t get the car back from an auto shop until late Monday. So, we changed our plans slightly and cut out the Toronto portion of the trip, which mainly consisted of going to see the Cubs vs Blue Jays. Niagara Falls was incredible; pictures don’t do it justice. We took a boat ride that takes you up close to one of the falls. Needless to say, if you stay out on the boat deck, you will get absolutely soaked. The poncho they provide doesn’t help much. Detroit was fun because we were able to go see the Royals play the Tigers at Comerica Park. Unfortunately, the Royals didn’t look like they even wanted to be out there, so it was a tough game to watch, especially being so outnumbered by Detroit fans. Regardless, Comerica Park is a cool ball park and it was fun to watch a game there. We also visited Motown Museum and the Henry Ford Museum. The history and information from the two places was almost too much in such a short period of time, but it was still fascinating to hear/look/learn about it all. Both places are definitely worth the trip if you’re ever in Detroit and have some time to spare. I was also able to catch up with James Thorp, one of my EMJ teammates, in Toledo. Exciting things in store for James in the next few years, can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.
I would be remise if I didn’t thank all the people who have supported me along the way. First and foremost, my parents. They were gracious enough to make a vacation out of their drive to Mont Tremblant and take my bike with them. As always, they were extremely supportive prior, during, and post-race to not only me but also my EMJ teammates. And all race pictures are compliments of them. Big shout out to Every Man Jack, Roka, Louis Garneau, Enve, Saucony, and Rudy. Also have to thank Elite Cycling for getting my bike race ready prior to World’s and for helping me resolve my knee issues post World’s. Last, but certainly not least, my coach Ryan Ross. Thank you for visiting me in the hospital and working with me through all my up and downs in training the past three or four weeks. I definitely couldn’t have gotten through this season without your help and guidance.
Here are additional photos from my trip.