Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The long road (Knowledge for the Newbie) pt. 1 - the Village

Since I'm tired (and I'm sure you are all VERY tired) of posting about my ailments and the hope that I'll be able to make a comeback for 2015, I think this week would be a good time to start something new, for the new people out there. Of course if you aren't new that doesn't mean there isn't something to learn (or refresh yourself on) here, but the target audience is for the fresh.

Things this post is at least marginally better than...

So you want to be a triathlete do you? The road is long, and depending on what your aspirations are it can be both narrow and lonely. These are some things that, to me, are (or have become) necessary for everyone who wants to take it a step beyond "one and done." These kinds of things never get old to me because they seem to change as times go by. Things I find majorly important now I may not have even been mentioned a few years ago... time bruises all heels or something like that.

1.) Pick your village wisely.
It takes a village to raise an idiot, and a triathlete. I just went on about the loneliness of the path, and now I'm telling you that you need a group around you, your village, and you need to be smart about who is there. Get rid of the bums, crooks and naysayers... this is like Simcity and you don't need Godzilla or Pollution ruining what you've worked for. My village looks kind of like this.

- A Supportive Family & Friends (And Significant Other) are one of the most important pieces to the puzzle. If everyone hates the fact that you go out for a ride on Saturday mornings, or that you eat healthy, or that you don't go out and party every weekend then it's going to be tough to support your lifestyle choices. I have a friend who's wife is vehemently against him riding although he loves it and you know what, he doesn't ride near as much as he would if it were a supportive environment. Life is compromises, but man... that would be tough.

- A knowledgeable Doctor. This is one of those that I probably wouldn't have listed a few years ago but now am paying the price for my hubris. As we get older I think this becomes even more crucial, as your youth can cover up a LOT of mistakes that as we age we start paying the price for. Now, here's the rub... there is a difference between Knowledgeable doctors and doctors who are knowledgeable about Athletes. You can't take your top fuel drag car to the local mechanic... it's not that he isn't a good mechanic or that he doesn't know what the parts on the car are, it's that he likely doesn't have the specialization to know exactly how to get things running optimally. For instance in blood work, a lot of "normal" levels for the American population are either too low or too high for a body that's doing well over the "exercise 30 minutes 3x a week." Yes, doctors are expensive, but... and take it from me from firsthand knowledge... it's better to stay on top of these things BEFORE you NEED to go to the doctor.

- A Coach who is both a friend and a drill instructor. At some point most of us move to the point where we need some bit more individual direction than can be had from cookie cutter training plans. Your coach (in my opinion) has to be a sort of modern day bard, both a soothsayer and a hard ass, able to tell the difference when you are being whiney or when you are at your mental (or physical) end. Of course your coach is limited by how honest with them (and yourself) you are, so it can easily become a very personal relationship. Choose your coach wisely.

- A skilled fitter. When it comes to aero bike, the frame does matter, but not nearly as much as how you are sitting on the frame matters. The Kona Bike course record was set on a decidedly un-aero frame (even at the time) yet, power aside (which was likely nearly inhuman levels) the position was still good and so a lot of sins could be overlooked (especially for a strong rider) There are some true abominations of a "Bike Fit" out there. It's important to have a fitter who knows that fit isn't static, and who isn't going to give you the "initial setup" and then send you on your way forever. Triathletes have it very tough (even worse than Time Trialists) because we must straddle the line between getting as aggressive as we can while still being able to get off the bike and run when we hit T2.

- A group of like minded athletes. Be it a Team, (I may be biased, but I think the Cobb Mobb is pretty excellent) mentor group ( has some going right now actually) Masters swim class, or just some local guys at the park who meet for a group ride/run... it's these guys that will help keep you grounded and feeling like you are at least somewhat sane and/or normal. (Or they'll  at least give you a measuring stick of how insane you are.) A lot of training will be done alone, so when you get the chance to make a social thing, all the better!

That's a good start to your village. Hopefully I can have some more good stuff next week.

Thanks so much for reading!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Getting Swole

It's been a while

Well, week one of my "return" to training has went, acceptably. I'm starting to feel a bit more like my old self, and the deep tiredness that has been plaguing me for... I don't remember how long... is loosening it's grip. I still feel like I'm in the tunnel, but I think I can see light at the end, even if it's a ways off.

One of the key things I'm supposed to focus on (besides short bouts of high intensity running, biking and swimming) is the gym. It's strange how life brings you full circle sometimes. When I got into triathlon, I came from a background of power lifting / bodybuilding. I felt "good" at what now seems a staggering 230lbs. (For reference, I usually race at 145-155) When I started racing, I did a little lifting. Later, I read enough that convinced me my time spent there would be better off sbr'ing, so I cut back significantly, and after breaking my clavicle I gave up lifting period. Fast forward 6 years... I'm told I need to go back to the gym and do a little bit of lifting every week, not only to help shore up some weaknesses in my body, but also to help with the Testosterone (which is an issue I have to address without the help of medication, obviously. Fortunately 500'ish isn't bottoming out or anything, but it could stand being higher no question) So... as things usually end up happening, I'm now again doing something I have spoken against in the past... lifting to go with triathlon training.

Big Chris at Disney
And 70 something pounds lighter

Of course I'm not going back towards 200+ lbs... I'm not even looking to do "too much" time in the gym once everything is back on track. One, maybe two days a week of the "big 3" (Squat, Deadlift, Power Clean) with the possibility of some extra side stuff as I feel necessary.

Still plenty of extra time spent not training, and only so much of it can be spent playing Grand Theft Auto 5, (where I can do virtual triathlons ;) ) so I've been doing some small amount of work getting the Scott finished up. Now I'm waiting on my Jagwire Links to arrive from some Asian country... hopefully they'll be as nice as the Nokon's.

Chevrolet's and Scotts

Here she sits now, waiting for the finishing touches. It's using the parts I have laying around (a mix of Dura Ace 7800 and Ultegra) with a Ritchey stem, 3T bars, KCNC steapost (and clamp) and Enduro Bottom Bracket / Pulleys.

Full rebuild whenever I get the cables in!

Thanks so much for reading and following on my road back to "normal."

- Christopher Morelock

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Comeback kid

Sort of. I was (thankfully) given the ok to return to some short bouts of exercise on Monday. Just as I had about played as much Grand Theft Auto as I could stomach. I can't do anything longer than 30 minutes, and I can't do more than 5 sessions a week, but it's a start. And I can add intensity. Baby Steps :)

Of course I went on a 20 minute run bright (actually still dark) and early Tuesday morning and had to laugh at my current state. It's hard for me to imagine a 2 mile run sticking it to me, but boy did it. By the time I finished my loop I was thankful I had limited myself to 20 minutes... I guess over a month of sitting on my butt did a little bit of damage! At least I'm doing something again though! It felt awesome to be out on the trails again, 20° weather be damned.

And speaking of comebacks, the Scott is being returned to life as we speak!

I know, I know, it's hard to believe it's really happening, but within the next week or two (I had to order a new Front Derailleur, as I've destroyed all my spares) the Scott will be back on the road (or at least on the trainer) Very minimum logo's (it only has the scott logo on the non drive side) and of course, stealthed out. It could have turned out a little better had I went back and filled a few more places in it, but honestly, I just want it to be done and ready to take a beating.

More pictures to come on the buildup!

Hopefully you are all staying warm and safe out there, As always, thanks so much for reading!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's in the blood.

First, Happy New Year! 2014 was not the year I had hoped it would be when it came to races and health, but nonetheless it has been a good year, especially outside of Triathlon. Hopefully 2015 will blow all expectations out of the water!

So, back to a more serious tone for a blog post. I've vaguely written about my battle the past few weeks with recovering, feeling wiped out, and taking my trip to Provision and having blood work done. While I'm still in the midst of it (not back to training until Jan. 5th at earliest) and by no means an expert on anything medically related, I'd like to share a few takeaways of what I "think" I've learned.

Let's Iron out the details of this bad pun
Going into the blood test, I had a suspicion (from too much googling) that I had low iron. A lot of the symptoms (and causes) lined up with my situation. So when I first saw my results and both my iron levels and my hemoglobin were on the high side of normal, I was a bit confused. After some explanation and then later some much further reading, I came to learn a new word. Ferritin. (Actually Serum Ferritin) and while my iron levels were high (free floating iron) my ferritin (stored iron) was low, creating a sort of anemia, particularly in exercise.

Fortunately, the solution is pretty simple. Start taking iron to get the levels normal, then change the diet to keep them there. (Nobody wants to take iron long term, the side effects suck, as I'm now acutely aware.)

The next thing on the list was my Happy Vitamin.

Sunny D...amirite?

Who would have thought that a fairly introverted video game playing nerd who does most of his rides on the trainer, swims in the pool and runs before dawn would have low vitamin D.

I'll be straight up honest with you, I didn't know crap about vitamin D. I thought it came in milk and helped your bones be strong. (hey, I was right)

It also plays a role in a TON of bodily functions, including your mood and some believe your athletic performance. While concrete evidence that it raises performance doesn't exist (that I'm aware of) a deficiency in it will almost certainly hamper performance one way or another.

Then there was/is my diet.

I (did) eat basically the same thing for breakfast and throughout the day, then cook something (a little) different for dinner. I learned that in my late teens when I was bodybuilding (There are only so many combinations of "can of tuna, grilled chicken, protein shake, cottage cheese.") and, honestly, it was extremely simple. Something I didn't have to think about at all. Grab and go. And I was pretty sure most of it was healthy...oats, eggs, Greek yogurt, fruit, granola, nuts, etc. After coming back from my doctors visit (where he reminded me a little variety might go a long way) I actually counted some of what I was taking in every day. The one that surprised me the most...

"equinsu ocha
No, I'm not going on a holy crusade against the white devil. (You speak Wachootoo?) I'm just saying, I didn't realize I was eating over a hundred grams a day. (Yes, not carbohydrates in general, sugar.) I know the cavemen out there just fainted, so I'll give you a moment.

So I guess it's no wonder my insulin levels were WAY too high. Sure, a lot of that was sugar from fruits (apples and banana's) but man, that's a lot of sugar. I also sweeten basically everything I drink besides water with splenda, which depending on which war you're fighting is either strictly worse or only moderately better than just sugar itself. So...yeah.

All these things are fortunately caught early(ish) the most important one (to me) being my insulin... while it's not a "problem" now, a few more years of doing the same thing had a strong possibility of leading down the road that ends with insulin resistance and eventually diabeetus, which I would prefer to avoid if at all possible.

So to my point... I think it would benefit most of us (if only from a curiosity standpoint) to have a blood test, just to see what's up in there.

Mine was ran through, an online company that actually does the testing (then emails you the results) who, after buying what you want tested (I had the package of hormones and blood work, which ran $300. Skipping the hormones will be less but T levels were something I needed checked) will send you a requisition and then it's a matter of making an appointment at your local Labcorp (where you get drug tested if you've ever had to for a job interview) who does the actual "poking."  A week (or less) later you'll have tons of info to look at, and while I would highly suggest having someone who knows what they are talking about to consult with, you could get by with doing your own research on the internet.

So, again, Happy New Years! Be Safe tonight (and in general) and have fun!

Thanks so much for reading, I appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Coming to a race near you!

Congratulations to everybody who made the team, I'm looking forward to racing with you guys in 2015! Special shout out to my local bunch, Jimmy, Sharon and Allison. I implore you all to keep an eye on our facebook page for all the updates this coming season!

It seems I'll be spending Christmas on the sidelines this year. My forced break, which is now spanning into 2015, has opened my eyes to the fact that endurance athlete does not necessarily mean healthy person. While on the surface I am distraught by my imposed stop-work, deep down I know that it is something that is necessary if I'm to ever improve (and more importantly, if I'm going to be a healthy individual, inside and outside of endurance sports)

I suppose I've felt the need for a break like this for some time, at least on some level. Fear however (the fear of "losing" fitness and not being in shape for the next year) kept me solving every problem with a hammer. Need to get faster, do more. Last race didn't go well... do more. Sink leaking... add volume! Now I've come full circle with that self-fulfilling prophecy and I'm sidelined in the perfect time to be working on my running.

Blood tests are back, and while I'll spare you (at least this post) the findings in detail, I will say that there were some real deficiencies in my diet. Now that I can address them and heal back up, I suspect when I return to training things will be better than ever.

On a less bleak note, tomorrow is the big day! From all of us at the Triathletes Wit (that is to say, me.) we are wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Festivus, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa... Winter Solstice... whatever. Enjoy it and be safe!

On Schwinn?

So until next week.

Thanks so much for reading!

-Christopher Morelock

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

More waiting

Despite a doom and gloom (with a good dose of whining) overall feel to this post, a positive note to start things off on!

I was chosen to be a Cobb Mobb team captain for 2015!
It was this picture right :)
I'm extremely excited to be working with the Mobb again for the next season, and this year you'll be seeing a lot more of these sweet kits at your local races! If you haven't liked the Official Cobb Mobb Facebook page, why not head on over.... we're closing in on a million likes (give or take a few hundred thousand) and your's might be the one to push us over.

Also, a new Team Manager for 2015, Dana Rucker!

The boss

Last week I spoke about my general feeling of "uhgg" for the last few weeks and my scheduled trip to see Dr. Kevin Sprouse at Provision. Our initial meeting went well and he struck me as both down to earth and knowledgeable. My outward vitals checked out a-ok, so it was, a bit disappointingly for me, a prescription of rest and a trip to Labcorp to have blood taken for at least the next week. 

Thursday I had my blood taken. It was pretty much the most miserable day in recent memory. They pretty well set you up for failure since you have to be "fasted." No coffee or food meant I had a raging headache before I walked in the door. Then the lady seemed to keep pulling vials out, going so far as to remark "that's a lot." Thanks... Fortunately I had the foresight to bring some food with me, so I was able to drive myself back to work without endangering the general populace, at least no more than normal.

Today (Wednesday) I'll be back at Provision for my follow up to discuss my blood screening results. It's been another week of doing nothing for me, something I'm not particularly fond of. I still feel beat, although less so than last week I believe, and certainly better than I felt after the vampires took half of my blood last Thursday.

Despite this, I'm still using this time as productively for my social life as I can. I even made a big hit at the Christmas party on Saturday.

The Cobb Mobb hat really set off the holiday attire, right!?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Feeling Low

I'll start with the good news, Desmond's surgery went well and he's now well on his way to a healthy life! All his tubes have been removed and he's all smiles! Again, Lindsay's blog if you want to check in for yourself.

As for myself... I'm on my way to the Doctor, probably an hour or so after this blog post goes live. Since the 5k on Thanksgiving I can't seem to recover. Running at a very high rpe at a very slow speed, feeling lethargic in general... just run down. Usually a day off or so (at the most) solves this kind of feeling, but now it's been over a week since I logged a workout and I still feel about the same.

The best I can describe how I feel is like I have just done a 8-10 mile run at moderate pace. Not "hurting" or sore, just tired. I feel that way all day and have for the past week or so despite taking a clean break from training. I'm scheduled to meet with Dr. Kevin Sprouse (of Garmin Sharp) at Provision Wednesday... hopefully he has some insight into what is up.

As I've been getting ready for the appointment I've been mentally logging when I felt poorly. I didn't feel great at the 5k, and cut my bike ride short the night before, so that's a definite point on the map... but now I've started second guessing further back in the past. Have some of my "bleh" spots the last year been some underlying cause? What about my sickness at Nationals? What about when I was sick in Panama City a few years ago? Hopefully I'm just chasing shadows and drawing lines where there aren't really any... but it's a scary thing to think about.  Hopefully it's as simple as a virus I'm fighting off or something similar. I will certainly keep my thoughts on paper about it.

All isn't terrible however. I've had the opportunity (that is... time) to be in good company more often.

Me Jenny Jimmy and Sharon

So, there's a bright spot out there.

Fingers crossed, wish me luck for a quick recovery.

Thanks for reading,
Christopher Morelock