Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back on the Bike

Got on the mountain bike two days ago for the first time this fall! It was a fun one, too. Alan and I got about 30 miles in, with more than half of that on dirt. We took the short cut up into Ringwood directly from Oakland, and spared ourselves the torture of riding Cannonball from the trailhead in Pompton Lakes to Bear Swamp. That would have been a 50+mile day.

I was definitely noticing a lack of core and upper body strength when riding technical single track. In many technical sections, I found it hard to hold a line, and the switchbacks on the race course kicked my butt. This just means it's time to get back in the gym. I was also running pretty high tire pressure, and that definitely didn't help me.

Today I ventured out on my fixie and played in real traffic. Need to work on my track stand, as the sketchiest moments were when I was trying to start moving again, and I couldn't stand up on the pedals. Skipped my usual loop to avoid some of the hills. Need to get stronger before I attempt some of these climbs with the 42x16.

Going for my first run since the marathon tomorrow. Then ride the fixie on Thursday, and maybe a hike Friday morning before work. Any chance to get out in the woods during the remnants of fall I'm going to take! Saturday Mike B. and I will be looking to get in 100miles on the road, down the shore. Our route will take us by the Jersey Shore house.

GTL baby, all day, every day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pay Attention to Detail

I finished the Philly Marathon yesterday in 3 hours and 55 minutes. I'm stoked with my result. My training was spot on, and I executed my plan perfectly on race day. I ran 9 min/miles for the first half, 8 min/miles for the second half, and I had enough in the tank to let it rip on for the last 3/4 miles or so. I didn't make the mistakes I made early in the bike racing season like going too hard too soon, or taking in too much nutrition.

A number of people have asked me what was harder: the marathon or Leadville 50? I never considered dropping out of the marathon, and I finished strong. The thought of dropping out of the Leadville 50 did enter my mind, merely as a way to end the suffering. But the truth is you can't really "drop out" of a race like that. If you're riding near other people, they won't let you. And if you're by yourself, well, what does it mean to drop out? Stop riding? And sit there at 11,000ft waiting for someone to pick your sorry ass up? That's not gonna happen out there. So you just keep pedaling, and do what you need in order to keep moving forward. "Dig deep" they say.

What bothers me about my Leadville performance - and what a lot of people don't understand when I say that I'm dissappointed in that performance - is that my suffering was not due to improper training. It was due to nutritional mistakes, and poor bike fit. Tactical errors that could have easily been prevented, had I planned a little bit more carefully, and paid attention to anomalies during training.

That's not to say I was not suffering during the marathon. It hurt. But by paying attention to detail during training and on race day, I was able to control my suffering, and achieve a good result.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Beware of dogs, and not eating

Thanks to an aggressive dog walker and a crappy side walk, I had to cut today's 13 mile run in half with a twisted ankle. I should have continued running on the road, but for some reason the dog-walker was using up the shoulder, forcing me to run on the leaf covered, lumpy, choppy, asphalt side walk. Next thing I knew, I was standing on the side of my right foot, with pain shooting straight to my gut, and blood leaving my head, making me a little woozy. My ankle is still a little tight from a bad sprain in August, and it really does not like to be put in unnatural positions. Oh well, need to take a few days off and let it rest. Philly Marathon is two weeks away.

Since I couldn't get a good work out in today, I decided to try and find a new home gym. While I was out exploring local fitness centers, I got a text message from my friend Paul. Let me tell you a bit about Paul. He is a busy guy: career, family, and still finds time to work out.

Unfortunately, sometimes he doesn't have time to eat. After one horrific experience where Paul bonked for the first time during a half-marathon, he asked me what I thought happened to him. I asked him a simple question: what did you eat for breakfast?

"A banana" he said.

"OK," I countered, "what about dinner last night?"

"A granola bar."

A quick "no gas in the car" analogy, and Paul understood that he needed to eat. Today, Paul asked a more complicated question. He went for a hard 32 mile bike ride yesterday, and today he went for a 14 mile run. He felt great on the ride, but like crap on the run, and wondered what caused the difference. I asked him what he ate within 30 minutes of yesterdays ride. "A protein supplement from GNC" he said.

I'm a computer guy, not a nutritionist, but here's what I told Paul based on my experience. Protein post work out is good, but you also need to replenish your spent glycogen stores. Glycogen (a.k.a carbohydrates) is stored by your muscles, and used when you perform physical activity. Even during fat burning work outs, glycogen is used by your muscles to turn fat into usable energy. When your glycogen stores are depleted from strenuous exercise, you feel depleted and zapped.

After a work out, your body is only going to replenish glycogen stores only for a limited time window. Outside of this window, as far as I know, carbs will instead be stored as fat. I've heard 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes for this window; I don't mess around, though, and I try to get my recovery fuel down within 15 minutes.

I use a fancy, $40 per 15 servings recovery drink. I have no doubt that you can get the same break down of protein, carbs, etc by purchasing the right items at your local grocery store. I just don't have time to get most of my real work done, let alone time to waste playing chemist at home. I also can't afford to spend the day feeling zapped at work, and have a crappy work out the next day because I didn't fuel up properly.

I know that after a brutal, early morning interval session, my recovery drink will be the quickest way to get my body the nutrition it needs while I run around trying to get ready for work. I try to cut costs on bike parts, clothing, etc, but the one thing I will not nickle-and-dime myself is proper recovery nutrition.