Confessions of an Age-Grouper Blog Series: Post 1

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By KSE Ambassador Nick Gregory

As part of an ongoing blog post series covering nutrition, training, race-reports, and other things endurance related, I want to first introduce myself.

My name is Nick Gregory, I am a 27 year old endurance athlete living in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. I have been in the wacky world of triathlon for just about 2 years now, and I have to say I have probably made every ‘rookie’ mistake possible.
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Before jumping into these humorous, yet learning experiences, let me give you a quick run through to my path to triathlon.
I guess you could say I was active growing up doing the typical activities of an adolescent; playing baseball, football, and being an avid surfer. I was never truly in shape, or looked like an active young man. I will gladly say that I was the ‘fat kid’ growing up. I started working out at the end of my high school career, but only did strength exercises. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since I was a teenage male only focusing on mirror muscles.
I got to college, fought off the “Freshmen Fifteen” and felt pretty confident about my body. I am not sure what happened thereafter, but I ended up getting up to just about 255 pounds. I finally had that moment where I had enough. I focused on eating clean and healthy, and started to make a conscious effort to be active and workout on a regular schedule.
I found the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and was involved with this for just about 5 years. I loved the work ethic that was associated with it, and had a great group of team mates and coaches to keep me accountable. I leaned up to about 180 pounds and felt amazing. I was getting quicker, faster, and stronger.
In August of 2010, I suffered a severe neck/shoulder injury that would eventually end my time in the MMA world.
Earlier in 2010 I had decided I wanted to run the largest 15k in the nation, The Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to complete it, or what my time would be, but I was excited about the challenge. I ran it in 1:27:24 (9:26/mile pace).
Without having the MMA lifestyle to use for my competitive output I really wanted to shift my focus. I ended up coming up with the idea that I wanted to run the half marathon (part of the 26.2 with Donna, National Breast Cancer Marathon) that I had cheered runners on in the year before. I had always wondered if I could run 13.1 miles, or in the long shot 26.2 miles.
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The week before the half-marathon I was getting my playlist put together for the race (I love music, so it is a crucial ingredient to having a good training session/race), and somehow ended up on YouTube watching running videos, and stumbled upon a triathlon video. This video was the 2009 Ironman World Championship video. As I watched this my mouth dropped. I saw people of all backgrounds, ages, shapes, and sizes racing in this video. I was inspired and thought to myself, “maybe one day.”
I put this in the back of my head, and had a great experience finishing the 13.1 mile race. I could barely walk the next day, but still had a great time! Shortly after I bought my first road bike and told myself I was going to do a sprint triathlon.
With that being said, and not wanting to go ahead too much longer (since I am sure most of you are asleep) I will tell you some nutrition/rookie mistakes I made during the 3 sprint triathlons that summer of 2011.

1)    I had almost 40 ounces of fluid (about 3 water bottles worth) on my bike for a sprint triathlon. I later found out that your body cannot consume that much without having issues related to the consumption. This was at least the case for me.

2)    Endurox R4 shouldn’t be used as your in-race nutrition. For some reason I thought since it tasted like Gatorade, it could be used the same way. I have now learned that for a Sprint and Olympic (depending on temperature) I can pretty much go through this without much (if any) nutrition product aside from water. Endurox R4 is great for recovery though!

3)    “Carbo-loading” the night before is really not the best thing for optimal performance, especially if you are already eating a well-balanced and ‘clean’ diet. The only thing I accomplished was that I felt extremely full and lethargic on race morning.

That’s my background for how I got into triathlon, and mistakes that I will humbly come out and say I made. The best advice I have ever gained from my experiences is that what works for on person, may not work for another. You have to find what works best for you, and test it (a few times) prior to race-day execution.
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My next post will focus on my race report from the Ironhorse 100k (my first ever ultra), as well as discuss my nutrition that was used.
Happy training!
Nick
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