MICHAEL LOVATO | Professional Triathlete




Nine Years and Counting: The Ultimate Partner

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I’ve been racing Ironman for a long time now, and I’ve notched over thirty finishes so far.  I’ve been strong enough to win three of them, I’ve earned three national titles, and I’ve been able to find long-term success in Kona. But there was a time – and I remember it very vividly – when I struggled to compete at the distance. Sure, I was often good enough to swim and bike with the frontrunners, but for many races, I found myself falling way short of my goals on the marathon.  Diving into the reason why, I continually came up with the same answer: I was bonking.  For whatever reason, I chose to err on the side of too few calories in those early races.  I guess I wanted to feel light and empty when I started the run.  And it wasn’t until I raced my first Ironman Coeur d’Alene in 2003 that I finally went to the opposite end of the spectrum.  I absolutely stuffed myself.

While on the bike that year, I took in what averaged out to 750 calories per hour.  And in a couple of those hours, I think I jammed in about 1000 calories in a few short gulps.  The lesson I learned – in addition to the fact that I have a bit of an iron gut – was that fueling and pacing were everything in Ironman racing.

I won that race by 20 minutes, and excelled on a very hot day that caused everyone else to melt.  From that point onward, I made it my job to find the best fueling and nutrition products on the market.  I told myself I would never underperform again, as a result of poor fueling.

Fast forward one year.  Only a year later, I found myself forgetting some of the lessons I had learned.  I was slipping a bit with regard to my goal of perfect execution in the nutritional department.  Roth and Kona that year taught me hard-learned lessons that I had better professionalize my intake, or I’d be watching a lot more Ironman races run away from me.

It was then that my friend Steve Larsen told me about First Endurance.  A pro athlete who was famous for his meticulous preparation, Steve had always sought out the best companies to aid in his racing and training. One of those companies, he had convinced me, was First Endurance.

The winter of ‘04/’05 was the first time I used FE’s marquee product, Optygen.  Combining it with Ultragen, and ramping up my training for my first-ever early season Ironman (at Arizona that April), I realized that my recovery edge was just given a major boost.  The products were amazing. And they were amazingly effective. I was handling much more training in my quick ramp-up than I ever had before.  In fact, I liked Ultragen so much that I chose to use it during the race at IMAZ, and it helped me take a competitive second-place finish behind the soon-to-be World Champ, Faris Al-Sultan.  I was hooked on the stuff.


I did some more testing, and I began implementing more and more use of EFS (then referred to as E3) in my training and racing.  As the year progressed, it became clear that I had been given a huge advantage.  Not many of my fellow competitors had heard of FE, and I seemed to be one of the few pros in touch with how effective the line was.

My relationship with Robert and Mike from First Endurance was brand new, yet they were incredibly supportive of my racing from the outset, and they promised to support me however they could. And they assured me that while their company grew, their commitment to me as a sponsored athlete would also grow.

A few years later, when I was offered an attractive opportunity by another well known nutrition company, I was faced with an important decision: stay with First Endurance and continue to use what I believed to be the best product on the market; or, change directions and chase a potentially more lucrative deal.

At that pivotal moment, I made one of the best decisions of my triathlon career: I kept my alignment with First Endurance, and I solidified what has turned out to be a nine-year relationship (and growing!).

I have always believed that sponsorship in the world of sport should be determined and based on two firm principles: belief in the product and the personal relationship.  With these to aspects as the foundation, the other key components will fall into place, if not now, then eventually.  Athletes continually seem to get it wrong by striving to place the brick atop the pyramid, without laying the proper foundation below it first: a metaphor that those who understand, understand.

As the years progressed, First Endurance proved that they were a company who believed in doing the right thing. They enlisted their growing list of professional athletes – and nutrition field experts – to develop and test new products.  And as a result, their line is now a complete suite of products, each one developed and meant to be used together.

Always tending to the finest of details, First Endurance realized the utmost importance for all athletes – and professionals in particular – to know that the source of their supplements are controlled and safe.  With little regulation of the supplement industry, FE prescribed to their own strictly managed certification system.  And they guaranteed pro athletes like myself that their products were clean, safe, and healthy.

Year after year, new product after new product, First Endurance has continued to impress me.  And they continued to be noticed by the triathlon, cycling, and running communities.  Before I knew it, others of my competitors were in on the secret: FE has no rival in its field.

Twitter contest

Along with the tasty flavor additions, and ingredient tweaks, Robert and Company have been more than just the provider of effective nutritional products.  Robert has taken his exercise physiology and nutrition degrees, combined them with his practical hands-on knowledge, and become an incredible personal resource to the athletes who fuel themselves with FE product.  And I have been the beneficiary of this expert advice over the years.  His desire and ability to help sort through nutritional problems, and to piece together the puzzles are unparalleled.

In short, First Endurance offers the most effective means to fuel before, during, and after training and racing. They have the resources to offer insight into proper fueling practices. They have the wherewithal to realize that my their goals as a company are only met by helping athletes the world over to meet their endurance sport goals.  And this is why I am happy to say that I have been a proud partner of First Endurance for nine of the company’s eleven years.  Here’s to many more years of racing with zero GI distress!

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