Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday Morning Ride

There are still some triathletes out there taking advantage of the dry later summer we have been having. I appreciate these few people because it gives me someone to ride with. However, I have to be honest and say that this is the first group ride I have been on in 2 years... Maybe more.

The setting... Fairwood parking lot at 6:30 am, temperature 42 degrees. Though the sun was not quite up yet, it was clear and calm.

Sam was waiting for me (weird huh) and checking his wheel when I arrived. His front brake was rubbing but we were able to fix that quickly with Sam's 1000 piece tool kit from his jacked up Honda CRV. We took off and headed north on 395. The cool air only took a few minutes to make your face go numb, but after that it seemed to go fine... kind of like the swim will do tomorrow too. We hit the first few hills a little hard to waken up the legs... And awake they were. We eventually made it Deer Park where we turned east and headed for Hwy 2. On the way there we saw and abandoned full size Dodge pick up that was wrapped around a tree with law enforcement on the scene. The driver was not there, and probably fled the scene when he hit the tree late last night. Sam said that he thought the truck looked like one of his friends because of the rainbow sticker in the back window that read 'diversity.'

We eventually made it to the Greenbluff loop where I got a call from Gregg and Scott who finally got out of bed and would eventually join us in about an hour. Sam and I continued hitting all the hills on the Greenbluff loop until we finally joined up with Gregg and Scott. I did not recognize Scott at first because he did not have his helmet on. He said that he was a really good cyclist and did not need one. He said he only wears one if he thinks he might crash. He did have a fleece hat on though that made him look tough. I was feeling a little out numbered by the red bikes, but I think my carbon weave sent out a neutral message. They say red bikes go fast, so I was a little nervous.

We headed south on Argonne and hit the major climb where O' Sam a Bin Ladin pulled a 9/11 sneak attack on us and danced up the hill until we no longer saw him. We eventually caught him at the light at the top and descended down the other side where we saw him doing donuts in the intersection. Here's the video of O' Sam a Bin Ladin:

Sam decided he had enough riding with us cupcakes, and headed west on Upriver Drive.

Scott, Gregg and I headed east and went to Plants Ferry to fill up on some water... or at least I did. We rested for a few minutes exchanging muffin recipes and our favorite fall color combinations. We then contined east until Scott came up with an excuse to turn around. We needed to get back in time for his son's soccer game at Farwell. So we picked up the pace.

We exchanged the lead quite a few times and Gregg and I battled to see who would get to ride behind one of Scott's quads. Scott actually has to ride on the white line because he needs the shoulder for his other thigh.

We were making good time thanks to some hard efforts by Gregg and Scott. We turned north on Freya and started up a short climb by Esmerelda Golf course. Scott did not shift at all and got out of the saddle and grinded up the hill. I held on for dear life and started to see stars at the top... they were stars and balloons for a garage sale in a few bloks... but I was tired. We were still grouped up and out of nowhere Gregg goes flying by us at about 35 MPH. He turned to look at us as he passed to give a smile, but he did not want to lose the draft of the URM truck he was in the draft of. Fortunately we caught him at a stop sign and were able to get all back together. We were able to get Scott to his game with 3 minutes to spare thanks to some strong headwind pulls from those guys.

Gregg and I contunied to Gregg's house which took us up a hill that I have climbed a 1000 times near Wandermere that I used to live on top of. It brought back some old memories when I as a yound cyclist and would have to climb that hill in a 42x21 which was plenty. Now I found myself in a 39x25 working hard. I thought I was in good shape? Ah, youth.

Gregg refueled me with some Gatorade and PowerBars and I needed to head off for another hour by myself. I hit some tough hills but managed to make it home where I took my Recover-Ease and then had a small bite to eat... 1 bowl of oatmeal, a bagel, a pbj sandwhich, and a yogurt. Ya know, just something to get in the tummy. I ended up being out on the road for about 6+ hours, but I think I rode about 5:15. Good ride with great people who found it to be fun to ride together as a group. I cannot wait until we can all be at these rides with our Tri-Fusion clothing. It will look pretty dang cool.

Thanks to Sam, Scott, and Gregg who all made the ride happen. We all rode different distances today, literally, but were all able to at one time ride as a club. Pretty nice. Maybe next time other wil join. But make sure to eat your Wheaties, cause these work horses don't go easy.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Delta-E and Energ Ease... A 'one two punch'

I just got back from a little 3 hour ride that was a bit windy, but the sun was out and the temp. was nice. It was the first endurance ride I have gone on since Canada. I have done a few recovery rides on the trainer, but nothing to crazy. I wasn't really looking forward to this ride because it would be my first day out in the saddle again and the legs would probably be a little soft. But you got to get going again sometime. The days 'off' are over now. Black Diamond 1/2 IM is in 2 weeks, and Kona is in 6 weeks.

As I was getting ready to go, I decided to take some new products that I have been wanting to use in training and racing since they became available through a very generous sponsorship. One is called Delta-E, and the other is Energ-Ease (from the makers of Recover-Ease which has been an amazing product). Recover-Ease is the tiltle sponsor of the team I have raced for this year and they have been very supportive throughout the year providing many athletes with samples to try. And some of you have tried A LOT. The Delta-E is a bit more of a stimulant and the Energ-Ease is more designed to reduce cortisol exposure and increase testosterone exposure which means that Energ-Ease can help you maintain an “anabolic state” during exercise – keeping you from going catabolic and breaking down vital tissues. Ya, I wish I could come up with that of the top of my head, but that's what they say. It's the red and yellow bottle on the right of the Recover-Ease.So I took off and watched my heart rate (HR) pretty closely to see how recovered I was. It seemed like it was being responsive so I kept a pretty steady tempo. About 1.5 hours into the ride I was still feeling pretty good so I kept pushing it a little more. For the 2nd 1/2 of the ride my avg. HR was higher than what I race IMs at, yet I was feeling great and my power output was looking good too. I really couldn't believe it. I kept drinking and eating at my normal interval (even tough I should have increased it since my intensity was elevated). So in the last 30 minutes my effort was even greater and I was still feeling great. When I got back my avg. speed was high (not really an indicator of anything), my HR was a bit higher than normal, and my power output was great. I know a little bit of this has to do with me being well rested, but I don't think I have ever had a long endurance ride like this where I maintained such a high HR and still felt great at the end.

Though I need to do a lot more testing with each of these products, but with my initial experience, I think I might have found an EPO substitute. Athletes would normally not share this type of information with other athletes, but you still have to train folks, and you have to train right for any supplement to its maximum effects.

You can order both of these products on line, and if you do, let me know before you do because I might be able to get you some samples of each of them to try before you spend money on an 'unknown.'

I hope all you rides have been good ones. I know my next ride will not be as brilliant, but if it goes 1/2 as well as this one, it will be a good one.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Should I Race?

I think I did about as well as I could with the fitness I had going into the race. My focus was on the run in Canada. If I did a 1:30 swim, a 6:00 bike, and a 3:30 run, I still would have been happy. Again, the focus was the run. But then I would have had more to work on from that race. Now it's about elevating everything. Though it sounds harder, knowing how to race that distance is bigger than the fitness to race that distance in my opinion. I know that I can still race it smarter and faster, but I feel like I am at about 85-90% understanding based on my current fitness level.

I know a lot of people who have the fitness to do a 10 hr IM their first time, but they don't know how to race it... they don't know their body or how it responds to that kind of stress. So they end up going hours slower and feel like they failed. Most of these people focus on one major race a year as well... the IM race they signed up for. I don’t want to sound like I am being critical of these people because there are a lot of extenuating circumstances that are often involved. But just because I drive my car around a track 10,000 times, really fast, does that mean that I will do well in a Nascar event? Does anyone do well in their first 'big' event they do? With that said, I feel that as an athlete trying to improve yourself, you need to race.

Racing is so different from training. Trainng data is great to have, but to improve your racing you need race data to assess and make changes from. There is no way you can push yourself in training as hard as you do in a 1/2 IM or IM. Certain foods/hydration may work in training, but your body may not accept them in race conditions with nerves as well as the increase in intensity. I don't think a lot of people understand this. I want a race to become habitual in terms of what the general outline of it looks like. I.E. start, transitions, congestion, aid stations, etc. I want to be able to focus on myself in a race, not a bunch of new stimulation that distracts me from my race. The only way transitions get faster is by doing them in a race, for them to become second nature. Yes, you need to practice them, but they are a bit different in a race. I want it so that when your helmet strap is screwed up, you can deal with it, not freak out and watch people leave transition before you and figure your race is over. Also, the only way you get better at getting your needs met in aid stations is by experiencing them in a race with many other people around. Just an opinion from what I have seen and experienced. I definitely do not have it figured out, but I have made a lot of mistakes and have learned from most of the mistakes that I am aware of.

In 1997 and 1998 I raced short stuff and a lot of the pacing and nutrition did not play as big a role. I was pretty successful, but as I ventured into IM distance, I look at what I knew of myself in 2003, and what I know now about training, nutrition, and racing now... yikes. Obviously more now because of the feedback I have received from training, and more importantly, racing. I think one of the biggest things that was pointed out was at Ralph’s 1/2 IM this year when I could not figure out why my HR was dropping towards the end of the bike, yet my perceived exertion was still the same or even harder. After some consulting with some amazing professionals, I determined that I was low on fluids or food. That helped me adjust my food/hydration interval a bit and worked great at Wildflower. I have been able to use that advice in other races too like Lake Stevens when I was behind in hydration going into the run (because of the crappy aid stations) and it took about 30 minutes to recover from being slightly dehydrated on the bike. My second lap of the run at Lake Stevens 70.3 was faster. I experienced something similar at IM Canada. On the run I noticed at about mile 10 my HR dropping. I knew from prior racing that I was behind in something. So at the next aid station I took in a gel, grabbed a couple more for extras, grabbed a couple waters, and took it all in. Shortly after, I saw my HR responding. That was nice to see. At that point I knew I need to increase my food/hydration to accommodate the heat and effort. I did not want that to negatively impact my performance. As long as I was taking in gels, water, Gatorade, and occasional banana, I figured my stomach would be able to handle it all. I would have NEVER figured this out if I wasn't testing myself in races. I would have just had a crummy IM Canada and wondered why. Then, like most people, I would have assumed I just needed to train more. What a waste of time. Kind of like having a flat tire on your car, and then getting a new engine. I saw a lot of people out there on the run that looked really good in the first 10 miles, and then they fell apart. You feel like helping them, but like a drunk person, probably no the best time to be giving them advice. They just want to hear that the finish is getting closer. It’s the same thing in the pool. You see people busting their ass, but doing all the wrong things. But it’s their battle, not mine. Those are the people who ‘have it all figured out’ and just can’t figure out why they are not getting faster. They think they just need to train more… keep training, you will eventually run out of time in a day.

Unfortunately these great people quit the sport because they get so frustrated. It's too bad because at one time they really loved the sport. I don't claim that I have this mystery solved, because I know I don't. I get a lot of feedback from a lot of different sources. Through it all I feel like I'm narrowing my mistakes. But I still am making them, and those are the ones that I am aware of. What about the ones that I am not? Yikes, I have a lot of work to do....