Please listen in on the conversation I had with Kim Brown, the Tri Club’s nutritionist the past couple of years and Kona qualifier. Kim qualified for the Hawaiian Ironman with her 4:56:00 performance which placed her 3rd among women 25-29 at the Half Vineman.
CZ: What has been your athletic background before triathlon?
KB: As a kid, I pretty much dabbled with every sport. What can I say, I love being outdoors and getting dirty!!! I swam on a swim team from ages 5-10, played softball for several years, even played basketball 2 years in high school. My first love, though, was soccer, which I started playing when I was like 4 years old and continued through my adult life. In high school, I joined cross country as a means to get in shape for soccer and ended up excelling in the sport enough to be granted the opportunity to run in college. I ran at both Illinois State University and Florida State University, but it wasn't until I moved out to San Diego and met Paul Greer, my running coach, that I really started to excel.
CZ: How did you come to do your first triathlon?
KB: In 2002, I ran Boston Marathon with a sciatic injury. My leg went numb at mile 3 which changed the biomechanics of my stride for the remaining 23 miles of the race. I finished in 3:19, about 20 minutes off my goal finish time, but in the process I ended up injuring myself to the point where running became painful. I took a full month off from running. In order to maintain my fitness, I started spinning with Tony and Debbie Richardson at X-Fit 4-5 days a week and learned the ropes of ocean swimming from sea fanatic and friend Bryan Chadwell. I started back running and surprisingly, I was running even faster than I had off of pure run training. I decided to enter a triathlon at this point even though I didn't have a road bike. Being ignorant about bikes, I bought the first bike that came around not knowing that the frame was way too big for me. Oh well, I did Camp Pendleton Tri in summer of 2002 and sucked up the fact that I was one of the slower cyclists on the course. A few weeks later, I invested in my current bike, the Cervelo P2k, which I received a couple weeks before Big Kahuna 1/2 Ironman. I consider this my first real triathlon because I never had the correct equipment up until this race. It was an inaugural race. Bryan once again eased my nerves by giving me some pre-race tips, which included pumping up my extremely soft tires. I remember the water being extremely cold (56 degrees..brrr)...thank God I invested in a wetsuit, too! My first transition was like 5 minutes and unfortunately, I continue to be a notoriously slow transition girl! The bike was fun, bordering the beautiful Pacific Ocean on PCH. Of course, being ignorant about my new bike, I didn't know that I had a small chain ring so I road all the rolling hills on the course in my large chain ring (didn't discover the small chain ring until about 5 months later). I actually think this helped me to develop a strong power to weight ratio...I continue to primarily ride in the large chain ring to this day. I was very happy to get off the bike because the run was next in line. Being a runner, I am one of the few triathletes that has a huge grin during this leg. I think I came off the bike in 20th place among females, passed all but one of them, finishing my first 1/2 IM 2nd overall in 4:56.
CZ: It sounds like you are locked in on that 4:56 Half IM time. What was your qualifying race like at Half Vineman?
KB: Vineman 1/2 is a gorgeous race...how could it not be being located in Wine Country!!! I never really put any pressure on myself when I race. I like to go into the race with the mentality that I am going to go out and have fun with it. If I happen to do well, this is an added perk. Of course, I do have an idea where I am capable of finishing but I don't dwell on it because so many obstacles can appear during a triathlon. Kind of a funny story...the day prior to the race, I happened to read my horoscope. I am not kidding (you can confirm with Deb Hoffman) when I tell you that my horoscope told me that I should not run, bike, swim, or do anything risky because I was accident prone. It kind of freaked me out but I tried to stay focused on my race. Being the last wave to go off, I was able to enjoy a bit more zzzz's prior to mentally preparing myself for the swim leg. I am not the strongest swimmer and I do not like fighting the crowds so I usually stay wide so I can develop a smooth stroke rhythm. Because Russian River is pretty narrow, I wasn't able to stay away from the crowds the entire time and ended up with a bloody lip when someone stopped and breast stroked my face about midway through. Oh well, this is just one of the many obstacles of the day! I am always happy when the swim is over because I am one step closer to the run ( : My transition was ok although I didn't have my gears set up properly to conquer the short, steep hill coming out of transition. Eventually, I got going but at mile 3, another obstacle was presented. A trailer backed up and flatted on the road in front of a group of ten cyclists, including myself. I braked and dismounted really quickly xcausing my chain to pop off. I got off my bike, fixed my chain, walked my bike around the trailer and had to continue walking my bike up another short steep hill. I started to wonder if my horoscope was true but I continued on anyways. I am not a very good technical rider so the bumps and turns on the Vineman course definitely challenged me but I did manage to ride 7minutes faster than I did last year. A huge grin appeared on my face when I started the run leg. This is where I have the most fun...perhaps because not many others like it and I am able to pass a lot of people! I also know that there is not much that can go wrong during the run (as compared to the bike). My favorite part of the course was at the turn-a-round, where we spent a mile running through a vineyard. I believe I posted my fastest mile split on this mile despite the off-road challenge! Before I know it, the finish line was in site. I crossed in 4:56, a 7 minute PR from last year, which placed me 3rd in my tough 25-29 division, 11th overall among women, and also clinched a slot to Hawaii!!!! I was pretty much wasted after the race so I know I put forth a hard effort for the day!
CZ: What was your nutrition like in that Half Ironman?
KB: I know some pro's like to keep their nutrition a secret. Since I am not a pro, rather an age grouper who happens to be a sports nutritionist, I am very happy to share my race day nutrition. Race day morning, I consumed a Pure Fit bar (www.purefit.com) along with 2 Juicy Juice Boxes, water, and a couple Thermolyte electrolyte capsules (www.sportquest.com) about 2 hours prior to the swim leg. Female athletes should consume 200-250 calories for every hour prior to race start, aiming at approximately 1 gram of protein for every 4-7 grams of carbohydrate. Recent research also suggests that consuming a salted beverage (I used electrolyte capsules) with your pre-race meal may help delay dehydration-induced muscle fatigue by 20% during endurance racing. During the bike leg, I drank 24 ounces of my kitchen-concocted sports drink (mixture of Gatorade Endurance, Q-Pro, Carbo-Pro) each hour to meet my calorie and fluid replacement needs in the surprisingly moderate temperature (I was expecting it to be hot!). Since you had to have your run gear set out the night before at Vineman, I decided to use the course provided sports drink rather than my typical Fuel Belt regimen. At each aid station, I consumed 1-2 dixie cups of water/Gatorade and supplemented with a total of 3 Thermolyte capsules during the run to meet my electrolyte needs. Post race, I usually gulp down an Ensure shake but this time around, I indulged in a post race smoothie and watermelon and later consumed solid calories.
CZ: What is your nutrition plan for the Ironman?
KB: For my Ironman nutrition, I plan the following:
2 hours pre-race: whole grain bagel spread lightly with peanut butter and dark honey plus 1 Juicy Juice box, a couple Thermolyte capsules and water.
Bike Leg: 24 ounces of customized sports drink (www.infinitnutrition.com) per hour which provides just over 200 calories with a combination of carbohydrate, protein, BCAA, L-glutamine, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium plus 16 ounces water (course provided every 10 miles) and 2 Thermolyte capsules each hour. At the special needs area, I'll dismount and refill my Never Reach 64 ounce hydration bladder with my sports drink and continue on!
Run Leg: During the run, I will mix my customized drink into a concentrate and put it in my Fuel Belt. I will continue to aim at meeting my 40 ounce/hour goal sweat rate (as determined by my Gatorade sweat test) by drinking 1-2 dixie cups of water every aid station. In addition, to meet my 800 mg/hour salt needs (also determined by Gatorade), I will supplement with 2 Thermolyte capsules per hour.
Finish: This is my secret ( : Being in Hawaii and having completed my focus race of the year, I will eat and drink whatever my heart desires!!!
CZ: What Ironman experience do you have and how will that help you in Kona?
KB: Since 2003 was really my first full year of triathlon competition, I don't have much Ironman experience. In fact, the only Ironman I have completed was Ironman Couer d'Alene a year ago. Since Couer d'Alene was close to 100 degrees, humid, and somewhat windy, I feel like I have a taste of what it is like to compete for 10+ hours in extreme conditions which I hope helps me in Kona!
CZ: What will be your key workouts to prepare you for Kona?
KB: Key workouts...good question! I actually never have been coached specifically for triathlon...just have made up a program with the guidance of Paul Greer that has seemed to work well. Rather than doing a lot of volume, I do a lot of quality training, avoiding any junk mileage that I know will just make my body prone to staleness (overtraining). I know that I do not do nearly the volume that some Ironman athletes do due to time constraints; I probably train 10-15 hours a week rather than the 15 -25 hours a week that some engage in. I typically follow a training program that looks like this:
Monday: 90 minute master's swim plus core strength work or OFF
Tuesday: AM: 1 hour spin class or 2 hour bike trainer
PM: San Diego Track Club Speed or Hill Workout
Wednesday: AM: sometimes do a mini-long run of 8-10 miles
PM: 90 minute master's swim plus core strength work
Thursday: 1 hour spin class followed by 3-6 mile fast transition run
Friday: Ocean swim or OFF
Saturday: Long run of 13-22 miles or RACE
Sunday: Long ride of 50-110 miles
Since I am signed up to do Ironman Wisconsin on Sept 12th, I am going to use the race as my last big training weekend prior to Kona. I will run 20-22 miles the day prior to the race as means to prevent myself from "racing" the following day. On race day, I will do the swim and bike leg and then call it quits. For me, doing 2 Ironmans in 4 weeks is way too much for my body to handle!
CZ: Do you have any words of wisdom for someone just starting in triathlon?
KB: I guess I still consider myself somewhat of a tri-newbie since this is only my 2nd year in the sport. What has helped me these past 2 years is getting involved within the triathlon community. Everytime I join a group for a swim/bike/run workout, I learn something new from the triathlon veterans that helps me with my daily training. A year ago, Bryan took me along for a run with Scott Tinley; I was just completely in awe that I was out there running with him! There is always going to be someone who will be able to shed some light on any burning questions you have as you start the sport. Endurance athletes are the friendliest people; even if you don't learn anything about the sport, being involved in triathlon will allow you to meet some amazing people.
CZ: How about any advice for someone wanting to qualify for Kona?
KB: I am still in awe that I will be racing among so many talented athletes in Kona on Oct 16th! Last year, I didn't let the fact that I missed qualifying by 1 slot on many occasions bring me down. It just strengthened my resolve to work harder, trying to improve in each of the 3 sports, especially the bike and swim which are newer to me.
CZ: What are your future goals with triathlon?
KB: Good question! I guess I want to switch over to some of the shorter course tri's and see what I can do with the speed that still exists in my legs. I think I want to see if I can qualify and place well at the World Championships for the Olympic Distance Triathlon. I guess I have also had a dream of racing at the Olympic Trials...used to think it would be in the marathon but perhaps I'll try in triathlon??? Above all, I just want to continue to have fun with the sport.
CZ: Kim, thank you for sharing your story. And also thank you for all the help you have given the TCSD members with their nutrition. Good luck in Kona. You have made us all very proud!