About Cid Cardoso, Jr

Cid returns to the team again this year as both a co-title sponsor and a stand-out athlete...and now, Masters athlete. Look for him to put an assault on the Masters ranks (2nd Masters Open in the IONCTS 2010 standings), getting back to business on the podium this year in both the IONCTS and at his favorite, Iron-distance races. Cid has more than twenty years of race experience and as many Ironmans on his resume. His modesty hides his history. We recently learned that he was a sponsored triathlete as a teenager in his native Brazil, which is almost unheard of at that time. He basically chose college in the US over becoming a professional triathlete, which explains how an amateur athlete of his caliber beats up a fair number of pros. He is strong at all distances and disciplines but seems most in his element on long, hard bike rides.

What I learned from my 32nd Ironman

1) It is possible to condense 6 months of Ironman training into 6 weeks:

You register for an Ironman with great intentions of training properly, allowing for a gradual mileage build up, with plenty of long rides and runs while still getting enough recovery. You even plan to put in more time in the pool, so that you can actually enjoy (and not dread) the swim. Then life gets in the way. Daughter goes study abroad and you go visit her during the summer. Son has a weeklong soccer tournament in Louisiana. Work gets busy, house needs repairs and more travel come up and suddenly the race it’s only a few weeks away. Sound familiar? Yeah, it was July and I felt completely unprepared for an early September Wisconsin Ironman. However, with a careful and almost reckless plan, I was able to do 6 months of training into roughly 6 weeks. With long rides on Sundays and Tuesdays, long runs on Saturdays, high intensity rides on Wednesdays and high intensity runs on Thursdays, and hard swims on Monday, I was able to get Ironman fit and fairly prepared for my race. Sure it was hard and painful, and I was tired all the time. I felt like I was constantly toeing that overtraining red line so it took some extra attention see that things didn’t break down. But if you have the motivation and the focus, the physical durability not to get injured, an understanding wife to put up with the chronic fatigue and lack of productivity on other aspects around the house, it can be done. At least this way the training time doesn’t drag for an entire year.

2) Recovery is key:

My good friend Wayne has a saying that goes something like this:”If my training goes according to plan, I will probably be injured by the time I get to the race!” If you’re going to train hard, and I mean really hard, getting injured as you attempt to complete the training is a real possibility (and therefore one that needs to be managed carefully so it can be avoided). So in living through the above (6 weeks training) successfully, I realized quickly that paying more attention to recovery would be crucial, especially now that I’m 50 years old. For me, the two things that had the biggest impact on facilitating a quicker and more complete recovery were recovery boots and recovery drinks.

Recovery boots, which provide graduated compression through air pressure in compartment inside a full leg boot, are now widely present in endurance sports and college athletics. They have come down in price significantly without substantially reducing the benefits. I have one of the cheapest models available and it worked wonders on my legs. After using the boots for 20-30 minutes the night before, my legs were noticeably fresher the next day workout. I had to take turns almost every night with my high school son who was playing club and high school soccer in order to use them but they definitely helped me stay physically sharp and more recovered during the high mileage weeks

Drinking a glass of Infinit Repair or one of chocolate milk every night was also astonished helpful. Yeah I’d seen the commercials and drank them occasionally. But being more diligent about drinking them after hard days helped me immensely. I’m sure that other specialty recovery drinks would have the same effect. The important point here is the focus on getting some of the right nutrients during the right time to assist with muscle and overall body recovery, and a recovery drink or a glass of chocolate milk is a convenient way to do it.

3) Train with friends when possible but don’t be afraid to go out alone:

We all know that training with friends is much more fun. However, this year all of my training partners were either injured or smarter than me, so they were training only for the short stuff. As a result, company on the long rides and runs was very limited. I did most of these workouts entirely by myself, which pretty much always meant the last half I would be alone. The first few times I kind of dreaded them, but eventually I learned to embrace them. It allowed me to work on pacing and on the mental and physical toughness that comes from grinding out endless miles alone. I actually felt like the long rides got easier and that there was a certain degree of satisfaction from being in complete control of the workout a pushing through those low spots. During the race, the benefits of all those solo relentless rides were obvious. I rarely had to look at my Garmin to see that I was hitting my goal wattage and when I got to the hills and headwinds of mile 80ish, I felt as strong and as in control as ever.

4) Trust your gut and test your equipment:

When doing an Ironman, one has to make numerous equipment choices. Some of these get oddly nerve-wracking as you approach the race. These include wheels, tires, helmet, wetsuit, apparel, etc. And many people tend to wait until the last weekend to figure these things out, only adding to the pre race stress and poor decision making. I learned that some things need to be addressed weeks before the race so that there is enough time to be tested. My aero helmet is a case in point. I don’t particularly like wearing aero helmet, especially one with a shield like mine (I like the flexibility offered by glasses). However, I have always felt like they are faster. So I started doing some research a few weeks before the race to see if the time gain offered by the aero helmet was worth the additional “discomfort”, privately hoping that it would point out that it wasn’t. To my dismay, after looking at published data and getting input from a friend who spends a lot of time in the wind tunnel, I decided that it was. Full aero helmet was the way to go if you want to go fast. Nevertheless, I still had an issue with the tinted shield that was too dark on rainy days and impacted my visibility. So I then researched again the benefits of wearing the aero helmet without the shield and came to the conclusion that my particular helmet was developed to be worn with the shield in order to get the full benefits. Once again not the conclusion I was hoping for. But the solution was not a complicated one: purchase a clear shield available aftermarket. Race day was rainy, dark and very overcast. The shield was the best spent $30 and after having ridden several times with the aero helmet, it no longer felt clunky and unfamiliar. The result was a fast ride with no visibility issues.

5) Red Bull Can Fuel a Marathon:

I’m not sure I would recommend this for everyone but it definitely worked for me. I have always liked the taste of Red Bull and have had one once in a while at country store fueling stops during my long rides. However, when the fatigue was setting in early on the run portion of Ironman Wisconsin, I had a cup of Red Bull and immediately felt better. The caffeine along with some calories and the welcoming taste were the boost that I needed. Two miles later, still nothing appealed to me except for another cup of Red Bull. The effect was pretty much the same. OK, I wasn’t breaking any speed records by then it was enough to keep me running. One of my rules at an Ironman is that if it’s working, go with it for as long as possible. 20 miles later I was still guzzling Red Bull. I must have had 15 (smallish) cups of Red Bull by the time I reached the finish line (and a couple of gus and a handful of pretzels). I haven’t had one since but I sure hope Red Bull is still a sponsor when I decide to do my next Ironman.

6) If you’re going to talk the talk you have to walk the walk once in a while:

Several weeks before the race I was really wondering whether I really wanted to do this (Ironman). What sounded like a good idea a year ago no longer sounded so appealing. Nevertheless, I decided to follow through with my plan and go for it anyway. Sometimes it’s good to go through the mental and physical challenge of such a difficult event to really truly appreciate its complexity and relive the satisfaction of completing it. It’s also good to occasionally be humbled by the length of the event and by other athletes out on the course. I’ve always said that I never wanted to be an ex-athlete, talking about how fast or how tough I used to be. So if I’m going to talk the talk (which sometimes I have to do in my business), I feel like I should also have to walk the walk with other fellow Ironman athletes from time to time.

Battle at Buckhorn

It seems that these days if you are a competitive triathlete, the racing season revolve around an Ironman 70.3 in the spring and Ironman in the fall, or some variation of this format. However the last few years, I found that my most rewarding triathlon experiences have come from some unexpected local races. This was the case yet again this year as I decided to race “The Battle at Buckhorn.” FS series has been putting on races for years and always setting very high standard, that place the focus on participant, whether elite or novice. They come up with unique race names, they find great venues usually within driving distance of the triangle, give out soft T-shirts done in taste so that you actually want to wear them later, they provide tasty food and often micro brewery beer, and finally hand out different and usable awards. For me, their races are set apart from the often crowded triathlon calendar.

After racing Ironman Chattanooga, and slugging through the 95° heat during the marathon, I found myself feeling that perhaps my season was not yet over. So I decided to jump in The Battle at Buckhorn Sprint Triathlon a week later. The good thing about doing crazy things such as racing again the week after an Ironman, is that the expectations are very low can you go into it with a sort of liberating feeling of “just go for it and see what happens”. In addition every race I did this year was a million degree, like Ironman 70.3 Raleigh, Triangle Tri, Lake Lure, White Lake Lake and Chattanooga so I was looking forward to racing in a day in the 70s.

With the cool temperatures also came lake fog that got worse as it got closer to the swim start time. The first women’s wave quickly disappeared into the fog, followed by the men’s under 40. With the small filed and my new found confidence in the swim from a few weeks of cramming before my Ironman, I started at the front. I knew I could not stay with Dave Williams but thought that maybe I could keep up with the second pack. It was a really bizarre experience to start the race without even seeing the buoy that we were supposed to be swimming to. From years of open water swimming, I knew I could swim straight and I knew I could navigate properly once I saw the buoys. So I basically just headed in the right general direction and took off. That actually work pretty well as I started to see if the faint outline of a buoy after a few minutes. In addition I caught sight of the straight arm and the blue short sleeves skinsuit of Brian Stover about 50 yards ahead. Keeping him inside, I rounded the first buoy and then the second, and headed back to shore. As long as I had him inside, I felt like I would have a pretty good swim.

At T1 I knew I was about maybe 40 seconds behind Stover, and maybe a minute and a half behind Dave. I got on the bike and like other sprints I hit full gas right away, trying to make up as much ground as possible and get to the front of the race as quickly as possible. I was making pretty good progress passing competitors from the previous waves until eventually fatigue started to set in on the legs. As I looked at my Garmin to see how far I still had to go, I saw that I was only 2.9 mile into a 17 mile course, to my complete disappointment. For the next 5 or 6 miles I went back-and-forth from trying to pace myself and talking myself into keeping the fast reckless space. Once I started seeing Stover in the distance, I started to feel better again. Sometimes seeing your target is all that you need to get that little burst of energy, to see that all that pain is not in vain. Even though I was pretty spent when I caught him, I decided not to hang around and let him catch on. On the next hill I put another big burst of effort and opened a little gap, which allowed me to slowly ride away. 3 or 4 more miles of hard writing and I was finally approaching T2. To my pleasant surprise, I was also within sight of Dave Williams. Unfortunately though, as I ran out I saw that my gap on Brian was not as big as I had hoped.

It was now time to run and see how much gas I still had left in the tank. I was not feeling springy by any means but the legs did not feel so bad. I quickly settled into a pretty good pace as I set my sights on catching Dave. The run this year was an unconventional double out and back. That was a little weird at first but it gave us all plenty of opportunities to see each other. Plus, it felt a little like ITU or Olympic type of racing, which was kind of cool. I inched my way up to Dave Williams and eventually passed him maybe half way. But by then, Stover was only a few yards behind me. I think I actually lead the race for maybe a quarter-mile but eventually Brian ran by looking pretty strong. By now there were only two competitors running in front of us: one was Bri Gall who was dominating the women’s race and another one was Whit Hughston, who started in the wave before us, so by the math we knew we were ahead of him.

That was the order in which we crossed the line. I finished second about 35 seconds behind Brian. The race went much better than I expected. Plus, like all FSSeries races, the atmosphere at the finish was awesome. DJ Alex was rocking while people were hanging out waiting for the awards. And speaking of the awards, I usually don’t get too excited about awards but this time I was really really bummed that I could not manage first place. The first place 4 inch rodeo buckle was one of the coolest trophies I’ve ever seen. In fact it is not even a true trophy; it is in fact a real belt buckle. So after swimming at Buckhorn Lake, and riding and running through the rolling countryside of Simms North Carolina, I can honestly say that I will put this race on my list of one of those must do yearly races. Hopefully I will be fast enough next year to get that buckle.

Lake Lure Triathlon – one of the best kept secrets

I’ve said this before and I say it again. Lake Lure Triathlon is one of the best races in North Carolina and it’s quickly becoming my favorite race of the year. I did my first triathlon in 1985, and have been racing ever since. So I’ve done more races than I can remember, long and short, near and far. It’s been a great run but unfortunately I’m also a little jaded. Not many races get me that excited these days. So it’s actually very rewarding when I find one that does…a race that gets my blood pumping and makes me look forward to toe the line, especially after having raced it before. Lake Lure Triathlon is such a race.

Located at the base of Chimney Rock, Lake Lure is a beautiful lake and town. Its claim to fame is that it was where the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed. Wyndam Hotels has a resort called Rumblin Bald, which is the site of the Lake Lure Triathlon. The golfing community is extremely well kept and surprisingly welcoming of athletes. As we all know, triathletes can be self centered and not always aware that riding in the middle of the road with aero helmets and tight bright Lycra is not the norm in other communities. Plus, a triathlon can be an inconvenience to the residents trying to get around on a Saturday morning. Yet, the community embraces the event and the residents come out in force to volunteer and cheer the competitors.

In addition to three events in three days (10K Friday, Triathlon on Saturday and 25 mile bike ride/race on Sunday), the resort and area offers a wide variety of family activities. The Kids’ Olympiad entertains kids with competitions such as 100 yard dash, basketball hoop shooting, balloon toss, etc while the resort includes golf and mini golf courses, a lazy river swimming pool, as well as a pristine beach. In addition, within a short drive there are zip line parks, horse stables and water sports opportunities.

I first raced in Lake Lure in 2009, when I finished second behind my good friend and always fast triathlete Jay Curwen. I then went back last year, when I finished fourth behind Patrick Farwell, our own racing machine Robert Van Graafeiland and Michael Mauhar from SC.  The field for this race is generally not very deep but as you can see, it always attracts a few fast guys.

After a good first half of the season that culminated with a strong race at the Ironman 70.3 Raleigh, I took some time off in June to go to the World Cup in Brazil with the family. By mid August though, my fitness was coming back around as I got ready for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant. As usual, I went to Lake Lure with the family so my pre race prep was a little chaotic. Race morning was a beautiful, cool sunny day. In other words, perfect race conditions with the exception of the water being 80 degree…to warm for wetsuits.

My swim was better than expected and put me out of the water in 4th or 5th overall. The bike course was a lung burner with constant ups and downs, but certainly one of the most scenic in the Carolinas. Forgetting constant power output, I attacked the hills to make up time. My strategy for sprints seemed to work once again as I made up some ground on the athletes ahead. I rode into second place as Michael Mauhar dropped his chain on a hill. This was the first time I raced with Di2 and I have to say it was simply awesome: the shifting back and forth from little ring to big ring was flawless and easy.  The Enve 8.9 wheels were also the right choice for the course: stiff, aero and light, and yet stable enough for the steep downhills. By the time I made it to T2 I was in first. Not a common place for me these days and with younger ripped looking guys not far behind I was not an entirely comfortable position. As I ran the steep uphill out of transition though, I felt like I still had pretty good legs. As the steepness of the grade decreased, I was able to pick speed. I tried not to look back. I figured I would either get passed or I would see them at the turnaround of the out and back run course. Dan Young said I had about a 45 second lead off the bike. At the turn around my lead was a little over 30 seconds. With 1.5 miles of downhill, my confidence grew as the pain in my legs and lungs also increased. I normally don’t notice the beauty of the run course during races but once again this place surprised me. At the one mile marker, a deer watched as dozen of triathletes ran by, under a canopy of trees. At the end of the day, I was able to pull off the win. Not only first masters but first overall. Yes, that is still important to me as I still haven’t fully accepted the idea that I just can’t race against the young guys anymore. My wife says I should just get over it, but I can at least go down fighting.

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Triangle Triathlon 2008

If you want to race well a Sprint race, you either have to be fast or you have to be able to endure a lot of pain (and sometimes both). I’m not fast so unfortunately that leaves only the option 2 for me on Sprints. And this year, the Triangle Triathlon this year was really painful for me. I had race Ironman Coeur D’Alene three weeks prior and I still didn’t feel recovered. My older friends have warned me that as I get older recovery will take longer. Plus, I was also out of town on business all week until Friday night so Saturday I didn’t feel exactly rested and ready to race.

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