IRONMAN Boulder 2014

IRONMAN Boulder 2014
IRONMAN Boulder 2014 - Photo Courtesy of Nils Nilsen @N2PhotoServices

Friday, October 31, 2014

SOMETHING BEATS NOTHING - Tips on Staying Active with Limited Time!

How not to be a permanent slob post IRONMAN...

We recently got Garmin Vivosmart fitness trackers for the team at The Running Institute. And, it has been enlightening!!! I'M BARELY ACTIVE WHEN I'M NOT TRAINING FOR AN EVENT!!! My steps could easily be just around 5000 for the day on a regular basis had we not started using these for some fun challenges. 

They say that you're suppose to take 10,000 steps a day to keep your weight. Yeah... I'm not averaging even that. I'm right around 8,000 ish I would say. But, what's nice is that the Vivosmart adjusts down your daily goal based on your recent activity if necessary. It sets you up for success and then challenges you once you've started to meet the goals more regularly. It's a really neat tracker! Oh, it tracks your sleep activity - at least how much you move which can be equated to quality apparently - and it's  waterproof up to 50 meters and it will even track cycling and running data using ANT+ connections to speed/cadence sensors and heart rate monitors. 

I'm glad that it works in the pool. Yesterday, for example, I had a few hundred steps left to meet my goal before we started the workout. Somewhere within the first third, I felt my arm buzzing and that's the notification that I'd met my goal for the day! #yay! Sure, it wasn't steps but I'd argue that the activity was more intense than steps, even at my SLOW pace en la agua!

In addition to taking the time to walk more by getting off a few stops early or getting on at a stop that's a farther walk away, my goal is to bring more strength work into my weeks during the off season. But, I had to be realistic about the amount of time I'm currently able to make - like I did with my IRONMAN training. Here enters the "7 Minute Workout" and "Bodyweight" workout apps for my phone. No equipment needed (for the most part) except your body and what you should have around the office or in your hotel room. 

I started last week by doing a few days of simple seven minute workouts just before having lunch at the office or after getting up late and squeezing it in before needing to get to a scheduled massage. Those are great for just doing SOMETHING! The only bad thing is that it's pretty much the same thing (at least the first few times) so it can be less than exciting knowing that you're not going to be doing anything new from the day before. That's where the Bodyweight app enters. 

I started following one of the workout plans yesterday and it was all upper body with a cycle of reps of 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1 with rest between each rep equivalent to the time it took to complete the rep. You tap the screen after you're done with each rep and the app keeps count for you, like a stopwatch. You keep repeating that sequence for a set amount of time, like 7.5 minutes, until you meet the total goal and keep going past the goal if time isn't up. OR, you can end that particular muscle group and skip to the next exercise if you muscles are completely fatigued (as mine were because of not having done that type of work at such intensity in a LONG time) or you're just short on time and you want to get at least SOME - maybe 3.75 minutes? - in for the day. SOMETHING BEATS NOTHING! Oh, and this is all guided with a trainer telling you when to go, giving you a countdown, showing video of what the workout is suppose to look like AND there's a warmup and cool down... Loved the stretching I did as part of the cool down because I don't stretch enough and I know I need to be better about that!

So, there you have it! Tools to help you stay active and doing SOMETHING. That's the ultimate goal, right? Don't stress about not being able to get a workout in! Don't give up on the IDEA just because you think you won't get "enough time" in either! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

IRONMAN Boulder - The Never Ending "False Flat"

I am far enough removed from race day so I can rationally reflect on it.

The morning of August 3rd, 2014, was great! The temperature seemed perfect and the Boulder reservoir was so calm that it looked like glass! The latter was a VERY important detail!!!

During my pre-race activities of pumping up my tires, loading my nutrition, dropping off final items into transition bags etc, I had a couple friends come to say hello and wish me luck. Andrea is a great friend from Chicago that was suppose to race but still came out even though she got injured a few weeks before. She crutched on over in her brace to find me and wish me luck--it was SO great to see her because it had been a while since we saw each other last in Chicago! Another friend was from Twitter; her name is Jennifer and she is, coincidentally, the sister of a former neighbor and friend of mine, Dana. It was really great to meet her in person and wish her luck - she ended up coming in 3rd in her age group and is on her way to KONA! CONGRATS, JENNIFER!

One particular hello and wish of luck came from #TriTeamForGood teammate Pam. I nearly lost it into her shoulder when she gave me a hug because I was scared $HI7L3SS about the swim! Since IRONMAN Wisconsin last year, I have referred to me being disqualified after missing the swim cut-off by 20 seconds as a dark cloud following me whenever I get into the water. She quickly told me to snap out of it and reassured me. Of course, I was thinking that she HAD to say that, but what could I REALLY do about it at this point? I did all the work to improve my swim and now I just had to apply it. Thanks to Pam for allowing me to have that moment and for the motivation!

IRONMAN Boulder's swim was not a mass start - we self seeded based on our anticipated finish time. Of the last couple groups, there was one that started with 1:50. And, I thought it was a healthy group to choose (even though it felt lonely because there were practically no athletes back there!). My swim at IRONMAN Kansas 70.3 two months earlier in June was about 48 minutes. So, I thought that doubling that time and adding some would be a good estimate of my potential.

When I entered the water, I walked as far as I could before I HAD to start swimming. And, all I can remember from that start, other than the IRONMAN Foundation Executive Director, Dave Deschenes, calling me out as the "Asian Persuasion," was a darn SNORKEL zooming past me! I have ALWAYS wanted to use one, especially because I will NEVER be in the running for Kona, and you can't qualify if you use it. I remember smiling and chuckling to myself as I started to swim. I so wanted to try to find snorkel guy/gal's hip so I could try to draft, but they got away too quickly!

NUMERO UNO concern for me for this race was the swim because of that dark cloud. But, add to that concern the ELEVATION! So, a slow swimmer being further slowed by the effects of elevation made that cloud look QUITE stormy - I believe I saw lightning! That is why I arrived a week early. (Thanks to #TriTeamForGood teammate and brothah from anothah mothah Scott for allowing me crash!)  I knew I wouldn't acclimate perfectly that week but all I wanted to know was how it was going to feel swimming at that altitude by doing my final workouts there. And, I am glad I did! I found myself resting a LOT between laps in the Scott Carpenter 50 meter pool so my heart rate could come down and my breathing wasn't labored anymore. That was the indication that made me decide to breath every two strokes instead of every three on race day. I would just switch sides occasionally.

So, back to the race...

It took a while for me to feel like I found my rhythm during the swim. My sighting was horrible and I was in and out of the buoys like a snake. But, after the halfway point - when I peaked at my watch and saw 58 minutes - I had to tell myself to focus and think about good form because I was only going to slow down as the distance got longer. Then, on the final stretch leading to shore, I found an AWESOME rhythm.

1:52 - a negative split swim. 28 minutes faster than the year before. 13 minutes faster than my fastest IRONMAN swim. SUCCESS!!! THANK YOU TO FITZ & KORDIAN OF CHICAGO BLUE DOLPHINS!!! And, there was Pam at the swim exit welcoming me to shore and reminding me that it was all dry-land from there!

After a long transition, partially my fault and partially because the transitions were actually really long in distance, I was on to the bike. That 112 mile journey can be best summed up as an oven that took about 7+ hours to pre-heat before putting the turkey in. But, I was in it the WHOLE time.

I knew that there were false flats throughout the course. And, the start of the course was part of that. So, I knew to take it easy, keep the watts and heart rate in check. In fact, that was my plan for the whole race. I just reminded myself not to get too excited to be on my bike at the start. I chugged along and was to the halfway point in about 3:20. Great - I think I can do sub 7!

But, the day grew warmer and warmer and it didn't appear that any "dreaded winds" - which I would've welcomed to cool me off - were on the agenda for the day. At mile 98, I remember "doing a tripod" and pointing to the temperature reading on my Garmin to my friend Nicole that was there cheering...

106.6 degrees! Yup, I was a cookin' out there!!!

There was a point during that bike when I started to feel nauseous and dizzy. I can't remember when that was. I couldn't eat anything and felt like throwing up whenever I forced myself at the 30 minute mark instead of my planned every 15. I chalked it up to me taking in too much nutrition and that it was because I had done such a great job becoming more of a "fat burner." But, in retrospect, I really think that was only partially true, if at all. I think the heat, combined with the never-ending "false flats," the elevation, and the inability to eat or drink more - only able to consume about 1/3 of my nutrition - really killed me. Based on other race reports I've read, it appears I was not in the minority and that it was quite possibly some type of dehydration. 

I went into survival mode. I got tons of energy thinking of all the great organizations that get to benefit from my fundraising for the IRONMAN Foundation, particularly the Environment Learning for Kids organization in Denver, with which we worked during a service project the Thursday before the race. I had such a bigger purpose and had to finish for them! So, I took it really easy and got myself to the end of the bike and was glad to be there. And, yes, Dear "Three 31tches," I won't leave you out of this write-up because, yes, you did suck in that 100+ degree heat!

Bike done in 7:20.

Another long transition later, I was finally onto the run. And, it was easy to run that first 25+ yards because of the huge crowds cheering. It was AWESOME! There was the huge Ohana of Khem's that was out there cheering me along. I had Chicago friends, Wendy and Ryan, just happen to be in Denver for the weekend and wanted to come cheer me on. And, my Chicago friend now Colorado resident, Sue was there rooting me on as well. It was great! I really had something to look forward to during the various loops!

My dizziness continued and I noticed my heart beating rapidly, even as I jogged easily up the little climbs from going under the roads on the path. So, survival mode continued. I changed my watch from a 5:1 run:walk interval to a 1:1. That seemed to work pretty well. I just skipped a few run segments. Then, it was obvious that I should stop running period. That was when my vision became blurry and I almost fell to the ground. Yes, I had to walk or else risk becoming a DNF.

During that walk, I started to feel better. My pace had gone from about just under 13 minutes per mile to almost 15. I kept at it and had soda, Perform, chicken broth, and water at all the aid stations. That seemed to help quell my dizziness overall.

At one point, my friend Nicole, which is my friend Fireman Rob's wife, jumped in from the spectating lines to walk with me a bit. She has this awesome smile that gives you such great energy. So, that definitely helped along with her encouraging words. She eventually ran ahead to find her husband. Thanks, Nicole!!!

I then eventually caught up to Rob. Like myself and other athletes out on the course, he didn't look good. However, he had an even better reason not to be looking great because he was doing this marathon, as in all races, in full firefighter gear! He told me that his exercise induced asthma started to kick in around mile 77 of the bike and didn't really let up. I was worried about him. So, I told him I'd stay with him through the finish. Unfortunately, our journey together didn't last very long. We eventually got to an aid station where he wanted to sit for a bit and I asked for medical to check him out. Eventually, they both agreed that his day was going to end at that aid station - about 12 miles into the race. It was a tough decision to make because it was his first DNF in an IRONMAN ever, but it was a VERY wise decision! So, I called his wife to give her the heads up on the situation and where to meet him. Then, when I knew he was in good hands, I told him that I was going to finish for BOTH of us. Rob's race report can be found here.

I DEFINITELY couldn't DNF now! I promised Fireman Rob!

So, I chugged along. I looked at my watch and started doing the math because I was around 16 minute pace now with that stop. If I continued that pace or got slower, I would risk not finishing within 17 hours. And, I actually had NO idea what time that was for me because I couldn't figure out exactly what time I started. I just knew it could possibly be some time between 11:30 and 11:45pm. My goal at that point was to aim for 11:30pm.

So, my walk became a POWER WALK. I was walking with so much intention that I heard one person say, "Whoa...that's one serious walk!" Eventually, I brought that average pace to just under 14:50 and held on. The average continued to actually drop so I was pleased with that!

I'm out on the course long enough to get chicken broth at the aid stations and party favors in the form of a headlamp and glow ring. I also get to witness everyone else's glow rings and headlamps bouncing along during the course - it's the little things like these that keep you entertained on a pitch black path. There are also your thoughts that keep you company, especially when the headlamps and glow rings are nowhere to be seen, and mine included all my #TriTeamForGood memories and teammates cheering me on when we saw each other on the course, my overall journey since 2007 from doing nothing to marathoning to this craziness, and, last but not least, my awesome partner and love of my life that supports my craziness, Anthony.

In the middle of those thoughts bouncing around in my head, I eventually got interrupted by the noise of the finish line, inclusive of Mike Reilly's welcoming and announcing of each athlete becoming an IRONMAN. Then, Khem's Ohana - now such good friends of mine - saw me nearing and loudly started to cheer once again. They then joined me on my power walk and escorted me off the Boulder Creek Path toward the finish on Pearl Street. And, before you knew it, I started to jog once I got to the Newton Running arch. All the spectators lined up and in the viewing stands started to cheer and yell so loudly that I got goosebumps from all the energy and excitement. And then as I started to tear up from the excitement and sense of accomplishment, I SAW THE LIGHT... the blinding lights at the finish that are needed so you can get the best glamour shot ever! ... Then, I heard Mike Reilly say, "KEN CHIN, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!"

Photo Courtesy of Nils Nilsen of N2PHOTO SERVICES

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Reflect and Thank

It's Wednesday, July 30, 2014, and we are just a little over five days away from IRONMAN BoulderThe weekend is about to fly by, starting with our #TriTeamForGood service project, followed by athlete check-in and then event after event with many brands and businesses hosting athletes with professional triathletes like Crowie, Rinny and Ben Hoffman - to name a few - "headlining." Oh, and we have to get all our gear together to check in by Saturday as well. So, now is probably my final opportunity to get some thoughts down. 

It's the inaugural IRONMAN Boulder and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. Most importantly, I am glad that my "never again" attitude after IRONMAN Wisconsin in 2012 has been trumped these past two seasons by having a different reason for training as part of the IRONMAN Foundation - Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon Team - the #TriTeamForGood. Bringing awareness to how much the IRONMAN Foundation gives back to communities that host IRONMAN events as an ambassador, through community service projects and through fundraising has given me a bigger meaning beyond myself and is the KOKUA that the team is all about. All my training has been for those well-deserving recipients of the money that I helped raise and the fact that I was contributing to such a greater good helped me through the toughest part of training. More about the team and my fundraising efforts can be found here. Thanks again to my many donors!

Training this year can certainly be seen by some as a redemption after last year's disqualification at IRONMAN Wisconsin because I went over the swim cut-off by 20 seconds. And, yes, in a way, that's true. But, it happened for a reason because it was a sign that my journey with the #TriTeamForGood was not done... AND, that my swimming needed a makeover.

Beginning last Fall, I dove into the deep section and fixed my "swimming" by enrolling with the Chicago Blue Dolphins, where they teach Total ImmersionProper balance and technique were drilled into my brain as the majority of ALL my swim workouts. Now, I can safely say that I am such a better and more efficient swimmer! So, that part should be fine now and I will have been in town for about a week so the effect of the elevation should, hopefully, not be a huge factor. And, if it is, I think I have enough of a buffer now to deal with that AND choppy waters - KNOCK ON WOOD! Huge thanks to CBD, particularly owner Fitz and instructor Kordian!

Bike and run training was done using Ben Greenfield's Ancestral IRONMAN training plan, which is best summed up as a "less is more" plan. Every workout had some type of intensity/intervals built in and, therefore, did not last very long. My longest workout weekend was two weekends before race day and it consisted of a 20 mile run and a three-hour "always be pushing" ride. A plan like this was the most realistic because of the amount of time I have aside from work and family in order to get the workouts in. The workouts were do-able and fit into my life just right. 

I was less anxious about missing or shortening workouts and felt much fresher overall for each one. I was curious to see how this type of training would shape up when I did IRONMAN Kansas 70.3 at the beginning of June and was pleasantly surprised with a 30 minute personal best. So, now we know - KNOCK ON WOOD AGAIN - I will be able to get to the finish line by 16:59:59 as long as if I continue to be smart by listening to my body and by pacing myself properly on Sunday. The plan that I'm following comes with Ben's book, Beyond Training, which I HIGHLY recommend because it is a great lesson on how you can be fit in less time and still have a relatively normal social life and dedicated family time. Thanks to Ben for being available for occasional questions about his training plan. I am glad that I was able to find this plan!

Last but not least, I want to thank my partner Anthony for his unconditional support throughout my training. He never makes me feel guilty about having to get a workout in and he also keeps my super type-A, anal-retentive personality in check by balancing me out with silliness that always makes me smile. Thanks, Anthony, for helping get me here!!!

Monday, June 16, 2014


Wednesday, May 7, 2014


My neon green #PROCompression sleeves with my #NewtonRunning shoes while on the treadmill at The Running Institute.

PROCompression is popularly known for their compression socks and calf sleeves. And, there are lots out there! So, when I was asked to try out (and maybe review) a pair of their recovery socks or calf sleeves, I figured there wasn't much to lose!

History has proven that compression socks, no matter what brand, just make my toes become more intimate with each other and that's no bueno when it comes to my running comfort! Therefore, I decided on the calf sleeves because I run with injinji toe socks to help fend off the formation of blisters between my long toes.

I chose neon green because it matches our #TriTeamForGood kit. Good reason, right? Right! When I received them, I thought, "Great...I ordered too small!" But, then I checked the sizing on the site and I was just right for my 16.5" calf size. So, then I thought, "Oh no! I'm going to lost circulation once I put these on!" Ok, I really didn't think that...

Honestly, they appeared pretty simple and, therefore, I didn't have any expectations that I would really feel much of a difference once I put them on. BOY, WAS I WRONG!

I pulled those bad boys up and was pleasantly surprised by two things:

  1. They were LONG. I have long legs so I was glad to see and feel that they covered the majority of my leg below the knee.
  2. They were TIGHT!
Having length, for me, is great because I like to feel "supported" down to as much of my Achilles possible. And, the fact that they were TIGHT was even better! Even after two washes (only AIR drying!), they haven't lost their strength whatsoever!

Now, the latest I have read is that there is no real scientific proof that compression helps during exercise but there has been proof that it can help during recovery - I am ENTIRELY open to any research or links to other articles saying the contrary to either in the comments below!

Nonetheless, I like the way they feel and feel that my runs have been stronger since using them. Is it all in my head? Possibly! But, if that tight, secure feeling is providing me with mental confidence that I can do it, I'm ALL about it!

So, do I recommend them? I absolutely do! And, you can use code RAYNFOREST for 40% off at For that deep of a discount, if you don't like them, you're not out much!

Do let me know how they work for you if you get them!


**DISCLAIMER: I was provided a free pair of calf sleeves as part of my relationship with Raynforest to provide this review.**

Saturday, April 26, 2014

@NewtonRunning Shout Out! #HelloBetter

I wanted to take a quick moment to give @NewtonRunning a shout out after my workout today. We are really lucky to have them as a team sponsor of the IRONMAN Foundation - Newton Running Tri Team! #TriTeamForGood #HelloBetter