Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fluid Replacement and Pre-Race Fueling


Introduction

Well, I have officially signed up for my second attempt at the 100 mile distance. Lots of time though, as its not until May 2017.  Regardless, I will be thinking a lot about hydration and nutrition during my training and race day and thought I would share the following with all of you.  I had prepared this presentation for one of the running clinics I gave and just recently came across it; I know as runners, we are always looking for more information, so I hope it helps.  

Fluid Replacement


As we start to get into our longer runs, carrying fluids and or gels with you is something you’ll want to start experimenting with, so that your body will be accustomed come race day. Your body is mostly water-between 60 and 70% and although water alone does not provide any energy (or calories), your body requires large amounts of H2O in order to function properly. Water regulates the core temperature of your body.  I prefer to use coconut water and if you avoid the all natural variety, you will actually benefit from the ones that have the added sugar.  Sugar transfers to energy.  Further, try adding some tart cherry juice for the anti-inflammatory effects on the body.  The added cherry juice will enhance performance by reducing muscle pain.

As you run, your working muscles produce large amounts of heat that must be dissipated to prevent the core temperature from rising dangerously. To dissipate this heat, your body perspires, and loses large amounts of water. As a runner, you should consistently hydrate yourself during both warm and cold weather, so that you never become thirsty. By the time your thirst mechanism is activated, your body is already suffering from dehydration-hurting your running and putting you at risk.

You know you're drinking enough water if you urinate about once an hour and your urine is clear. 

Prehydrating with beverages, in addition to normal meals and fluid intake, should be initiated at least several hours before the activity to enable fluid absorption and allow urine output to return to normal levels. The goal of drinking during exercise is to prevent excessive (>2% body weight loss from water deficit) dehydration and excessive changes in electrolyte balance to avert compromised performance. Because there is considerable variability in sweating rates and sweat electrolyte content between individuals, customized fluid replacement programs are recommended. Individual sweat rates can be estimated by measuring body weight before and after exercise. During exercise, consuming beverages containing electrolytes and carbohydrates can provide benefits over water alone under certain circumstances. Again, try coconut water, but, avoid the pulp.  After exercise, the goal is to replace any fluid electrolyte deficit. The speed with which rehydration is needed and the magnitude of fluid electrolyte deficits will determine if an aggressive replacement program is merited.

Depending upon the metabolic rate, environmental conditions and clothing worn, exercise can
induce significant elevations in body (core and skin) temperatures. Body temperature elevations elicit
        heat loss responses of increased skin blood flow and increased sweat secretion. Sweat evaporation provides the primary avenue of heat loss during vigorous exercise in warm hot weather; therefore 
        sweat losses can be substantial. Besides containing water, sweat contains electrolytes that are lost. If not appropriately replaced, water and electrolytes imbalances (dehydration and hyponatremia- is an 
        electrolyte disturbance in which the sodium concentration in the serum is lower than normal) can develop and adversely impact on the individuals exercise performance and perhaps health. 

                              

WUT you looking at?

So, the good news is that there are three reasonably good and practical markers available to you 
to help you monitor your hydration status.  But, because none of these indicators are entirely accurate on their own, some clever people in the US Army came up with the idea of combining all three measures to produce a more reliable rating scale called the WUT system (Weight, Urine, Thirst). This establishes the likelihood of you being euhydrated (‘well hydrated’) or hypohydrated (‘dehydrated’).
Essentially their suggestion is to monitor your body weight, the colour of your urine and how thirsty you are first thing each morning. The ‘first thing in the morning’ element is important as it limits the influence of other factors that interfere with hydration status as the day progresses.
You then feed the results into a simple Venn diagram to give you an indication of whether hypohydration is unlikely, likely or very likely as you begin that day.
The data you need to collect each morning is:
  1. Your body weight. Ideally as soon as you get out of bed, before eating, drinking or going to the bathroom. A loss of 2% or more of your body weight is deemed significant.
  2. A rating of the colour of your urine (is it light or dark in colour)
  3. A rating of your sensation of thirst (thirsty or not thirsty)
If 1 or less of the 3 scores you collect are ‘positive’ (i.e. body weight is within 2% of normal and/or urine is light and/or and you're not thirsty), then hypohydration (‘dehydration’) would be deemed unlikely.
If 2 out of the 3 are positive, then hypohydration would be considered ‘likely’ and this might impact your fluid intake and training plans for the day, especially if you were planning very hard or prolonged exercise in the heat.
If 3 out of the 3 are positive then hypohydration is very likely and therefore strong consideration should be given to correcting that before you undergo strenuous exercise or expose yourself to further large sweat losses.

WUT system. Water, Urine, Thirst.


See link for more details: http://www.precisionhydration.com/blogs/hydration_advice/116318276-how-to-tell-if-you-re-dehydrated



Pre-Race Fueling

The ideal pre-competition meal is palatable, well-tolerated and high in carbohydrate.  Athletes who
forgo eating prior to exercise because of unpleasant symptoms, as well as those looking simply to fine-tune their food selections, may benefit from experimenting with the glycemic index (GI). The GI, is system that ranks carbohydrate-rich foods according to their impact on the body’s blood sugar level, may be a useful tool when it comes to fueling up before you head to the line.

It was thought that runners needed to avoid eating large amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods prior to
exercise.  The inevitable “sugar high” would be promptly followed by a performance-busting crash in
blood sugar (hypoglycemia), leaving you feeling shaky, weak and unable to concentrate.  On the other
hand, a pre-race carbohydrate-rich meal, particularly before prolonged endurance events, such as a
marathon, has been shown to enhance performance.  Eating a meal, especially before a morning race,
helps ward off hunger pangs, restocks liver glycogen (stored carbohydrate) which fuels your brain
during exercise and it provides valuable energy for muscles during intense exercise lasting an hour or
longer.

The GI ranks carbohydrate-rich foods compared to glucose-a simple sugar with a GI ranking of
100.Carbohydrate-rich foods and beverages that enter the bloodstream rapidly following ingestion earn
a high GI (above 75) whereas foods that enter the bloodstream slowly have a low GI (below 60).
Choosing a low-GI carbohydrate food before exercise may enhance endurance by producing a slower,
more sustained release of glucose into the bloodstream.  The reasoning is: carbohydrate-rich foods and 
beverages trigger the release of the hormone insulin.  Insulin directs the liver and muscle cells to
remove glucose from the blood and store it as glycogen.  A slower, sustained release of glucose will
temper the insulin surge that follows, reducing the chance of the body “over-correcting” as it races to
lower the body’s blood sugar level back to a normal range.

A small percentage of athletes who are sensitive to swings in blood sugar following pre-exercise meals
will experience central nervous symptoms or premature muscular fatigue which are indicative of
hypoglycemia.  Feeling light-headed, shaky or weak and sweating profusely as you begin to exercise
are classic signs.  Therefore, experiment with both high and low index meals in training to assess what
works best for you.  Runners who wish to fine-tune their food choices before prolonged events, like
the marathon or those that are sensitive to decreases in blood sugar, should benefit the most from
manipulating the glycemic index of their pre-exercise meal.

Runners may be able to improve their competitive performances by consuming lower GI foods due to
the sustained release of glucose that these foods promote.  For me, I notice the benefits of eating an
apple about a half hour prior to racing; in fact, it has become a bit of a ritual.  



Be sure to try different hydration and nutrition methods during training, so that there are no surprises on race day.  

Happy Trails My Friends

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Basic Nutrition Details for Body Building

Based on weight of 140lbs:


140g of protein; 280-420g of carbs; 3280 calories per day
Bodybuilding is more than 50% nutrition.  To make serious gains in strength and mass, you need a solid nutrition program.
 
Focus on Protein:  140g per day (1g per of protein per pound of bodyweight on a daily basis).  This amount is double than that of a typical person.  Protein provides the amino acids that are used as the building blocks of muscle protein.  Your protein choices should come mainly from lean animal proteins (chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs and dairy).  For chicken, thighs are a better alternative to breasts as they have the essential fat that you require.

Don’t avoid Fat: About 20-30% of your total daily calories should come from fat, with about 5-10% of those fat calories coming from saturated and monounsaturated to maintain testosterone levels.  Testosterone is essential for building muscle mass and strength and avoiding fat gain.  Choose red meats (steak and ground beef), avocados, mixed nuts, olive oil, olives and peanut butter for monounsaturated and fatty fish (salmon, trout –fresh not farmed), flaxseed oil and walnuts as good sources of essential, omega-3 polyunsaturated fats.  I would recommend using coconut oil (health benefits include but are not limited to: stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.)

Carb Up: 280-420g per day (2-3 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight each day). Carbs are stored in your muscles as glycogen and keep your muscles full and large and fuel during a work-out.  For the majority of most meals, stick with slow digesting carb sources like whole grains, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, beans, fruit and vegetables.

Eat the Carbs at the Right Time: Eat a slow carb 30 minutes pre workout and mainly fast carbs post workout.  Slower digesting carbs will provide more energy and less fatigue during exercise, but, burn more fat during training.  Good slow-carb choices include fruit, whole grain bread and oatmeal (add 2 teaspoons of sprouted ground chia seeds-good source of Omega 3 and provides sustained energy with slow release of carbs).   Post workout, choose fast digesting (high glycemic) carbs such as bagels or baked potatoes or a Sports drink (Gatorade, Powerade).  This will spike levels of the anabolic hormone insulin, which drives the carbs you eat into muscle cells where they’ll be stored as glycogen to be used for our next workout.  Insulin also helps amino acids get into the muscle cells to build muscle protein.  It is  critical in delivering creatine to the muscles and increases muscle protein synthesis-major process by which muscle fibres grow.

Calorie Count: to build muscle, consume 2800 calories per day (20 calories per pound).  You must stay in a positive calorie balance to gain quality mass.  If you take in less than you burn, your body will go into conservation mode and won’t support new muscle growth. 

Eat Frequently: Eat a meal that contains quality protein and carbs every 2-3 hours to ensure a steady supply of energy and amino acids for muscle growth all day long, helping you gain mass and stay lean.  The key is attempting to keep every meal around the same size.  Usually, any meals that contain calories in excess of what the body can process is stored as fat.  The goal would be to aim for 6-8 meals per day.

Shake it Up: Pre and post workout, get in at least 20 grams of protein in convenient shake form.  This is an important meal at critical times of the day.  This will prepare your body for the training and enable you to get a head start on the recovery process.  Drink a shake with 20g of whey protein 30 minutes prior to your workout and within 60 minutes post workout, another 20-40g along with 60-100g of faster digesting carbs (ie. Bagel).

Eat Before Bed: try to consume 30-40g of a micellar casein (major milk protein) protein shake or 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese, as well as 2-3 tablespoons of flaxseed oil , 2 ounces of mixed nuts or 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter.  As you sleep, with not food available, the body goes to your muscle fibers for amino acids to fuel your brain, which is why slow-digesting proteins and healthy fats are your best choice.  These foods help slow digestion and provide a steady supply of amino acids for fuel, thereby minimizing the body’s tendency to use muscle.   

Pre workout foods (30-60 minutes before)

Apple (110 calories, 30g carbs)
Banana (105 calories, 1g protein, 27g carbs)
Blueberries  - 1 cup (83 calories, 1g protein, 21g carbs)
Orange (86 calories, 2g protein, 22g carbs)
Raspberries – 1 cup (64 calories, 1g protein, 15g carbs, 1g fat)
Strawberries – 1 cup (46 calories, 1g protein, 11g carbs)
Multigrain Bread – 1 slice (65 calories, 3g protein, 12g carbs, 1g fat)
Oatmeal – 1 cup (147 calories, 6g protein, 25g carbs, 4g fat, 4g fibre)


Post workout foods (within an hour post workout)

Cantaloupe (188 calories, 5g protein, 45g carbs, 1g fat)
Bagel  (289 calories, 11g carbs, 56g carbs, 2g fat)
Cheerios – 1 cup (111 calories, 4g protein, 22g carbs, 2g fat)
English Muffin (134 calories, 4g protein, 26g carbs, 1g fat)
Protein Powder – 1 scoop (80 calories, 20g protein, 1g carbs, 0 fat)
Baked Potato (270 calories, 7g protein, 61g carbs, 0 fat, 7g fibre)


Mass building

Top Sirloin Steak – 8oz (288 calories, 48g protein, 8g fat)
Ground Turkey – 8oz (340 calories, 40g protein, 18g fat)
 Egg (17 calories, 4g protein)
Salmon – 8oz (416 calories, 45g protein,24g fat)
Skinless Chicken Thigh – 1 pieces (82 calories, 14g protein, 3g fat)
Low-fat Cottage Cheese – 8oz (163 calories, 28g protein, 6g carbs, 2g fat)
Tuna – 6oz (191 calories, 42g protein, 1g fat)
Baked Potato (270 calories, 7g protein, 61g carbs, 0 fat, 7g fibre)
Peas – 1 cup (118 calories, 8g protein, 21g carbs, 1g fat)
Sweet Potato (103 calories, 2g protein, 24g carbs)
Corn – 1 cup (133 calories, 4g protein, 30g carbs, 2g fat)

Apple (110 calories, 30g carbs)
Banana (105 calories, 1g protein, 27g carbs)
Blueberries  - 1 cup (83 calories, 1g protein, 21g carbs)
Orange (86 calories, 2g protein, 22g carbs)
Avocado – ½ medium (145 calories, 2g protein, 8g carbs, 13g fat)
Bagel  (289 calories, 11g carbs, 56g carbs, 2g fat)
Cheerios – 1 cup (111 calories, 4g protein, 22g carbs, 2g fat)
Oatmeal – 1 cup (147 calories, 6g protein, 25g carbs, 4g fat, 4g fibre)
Peanut Butter – 1 tbsp (94 calories, 4g protein, 3g carbs, 8g fat)
Almonds – 1 oz (169 calories, 6g protein, 5g carbs, 15g fat)
Protein Powder – 1 scoop (80 calories, 20g protein, 1g carbs, 0 fat)


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Next Up, Chicago!


The week prior to Chicago was spent in recovery mode.  That meant, relieving a toenail of the pressure and watching the colour slowly dissipate.  Usually, I just leave them be, but, figured I needed to address it this time to get race ready.  It also reminded me that I need a pedicure; which use to be my most post race reward.  Cornel had a few toenails, but, I was like that Angela Johnson stand up routine...."Beautiful Nail....just one!".  It also meant replenishing lost calories and building some carbohydrate stores.  I felt like Slimer from Ghost Busters, eating everything in sight and still, it wasn't enough.  And finally, the DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness).  And my favourite "adaptation response" which my body is still trying to recall.  Remember, its how the body is suppose to restore itself to balance in response to stress.  I'm pretty sure I never got out of the resistance stage.

Saturday, the day of the road trip we got a fairly early start and I had the good fortune of sleeping a good portion of the morning.  We arrived in Chicago by early afternoon and had about 4 hours to explore the race expo.  We required most of that time to cover all the vendors.  This is one of the benefits of U.S. races, the expo's are quite large in comparison to their Canadian counterparts.  There are now a few more races that have been added to my bucket list. You should have seen the race medal for Little Rock. It was literally the size of a dinner plate.

We got back to the hotel and decided that dinner was in order to ensure an early night.  We were staying at the Drake which put us in the prime shopping district and close to some nice restaurants.  Following dinner, we found our way to the closest drugstore so that Cornel could pick up some supplies for his toes. He was a little concerned that he would have ogre feet forever.  Between Slimer and the Ogre, we could have been additions to Shrek 4.  Nonetheless, we looked at the race map and devised a strategy for him to pull out should his feet give him too much aggravation. None of which he needed come race day. Following that, we jumped into bed fairly early to obtain some adequate sleep.  After all the races I've competed in, I still never get a good night's sleep the night prior.


The next morning came too soon as I was awake to every siren that tore through the city during the night.  Nothing that a good cup of coffee wouldn't fix.  We left the hotel, knowing that we had a 3 km walk to the race start and we were 20 minutes behind already. We were able to catch some of the first wave and then as we approached the park, we were able to witness some of our coral running past us. I forgot to mention our race strategy.  New Balance had partnered with Strava and was offering a pair of shoes to anyone that could produce a negative split.  Knowing that our legs were not at prime coming off the Toad, we figured this would be the most attainable goal and a worthy one. This vision would force us to slow down rather than following the pack and going out to fast.  We could allow ourselves to get nicely warmed up, even though the walk had already taken care of that.  By the time we checked in our bag and hit the chute, we had both missed our coral and we fell in where we could.  It took half an hour to advance up to the start line.  At least, we had another opportunity to visit the Porto-potty. Finally! We were off and the legs felt pretty good, all things considered, rested and limber.  Not the effort I thought it might be.

By the time we hit the half way point, we were ready to pick up our cadence and finish it.  That
feeling may have lasted 2-3 km`s and then it became a struggle.  It was difficult to break free of the group due to sheer number of runners.  It really didn't open up much along the course.  By, the end, we had ran an additional 3 km`s. That`s a lot of weaving.  We were staying positive and we were both feeling good. We lacked any real suffering coming off the Toad, other than lack of energy and that was surprising.  I thought there would be some residual.  Even though the mile markers appeared to never come, we were happy to count them down.  Our feet, to both our surprise were holding up, except for my left metatarsal (normal pain after 10 k), that Cornel massaged for me a few times.  The hardest part was getting back on my feet afterward.  The unlimited number of spectators along the course cheering you on, was exhilarating.  There wasn't a section of the course that wasn't covered.  There were even different organizations that came out to offer hydration and some nutrition.  They had bananas, oranges and even pretzels and gummy bears individually wrapped for you to grab and go.  Truly remarkable to see the support for us runners from the entire community.

The finish was within reach and we assumed the New Balance shoes were just a few km's away.  Both were attainable.  There had been some bad smells along he course, but, I came upon one that was particularly foul.  Right about that time, Cornel was saying move to the right, move to the right.  Then I understood why.  You start to move and things start to move within you.  Kudos to that woman for her perseverance as I don't think I could do it.  She just ignored it and kept on going.  We saw people with prosthetic legs.  I always get emotional when I see the hurdles that other people overcome.  We had a few extra walks as fatigue was setting in, but, our pace seemed to be where we needed to be. Coming up that little hill near the finish was one of those, ; we should have pushed ourselves....just like skeleton hill, but, the mental got the better of us.  What a terrible spot for cameras. That's just mean. There was a slight turn and then the finish line came into view.  You get this sudden jolt of energy and surge with whatever you have left in the tank. Ahhh, the finish.  The glorious finish.  First a bottle of water, then your medal, then nutrition, then beer, then Mylar blankets, ice, photo's.  They just think of everything.


It may not have produced any PR's for me (almost 40 minutes slower), but, it was a great race and one that I look forward to racing again.  Once we had wobbled over to pick up our belongings from the bag check and found a place on a bench (easier to get up again) to relax and finish our beer; it all seemed worthwhile.  You recall the things that went well and what you would try differently next time. Then, all of a sudden, you are discussing the race strategy for your next one.  However, I have been told that a certain someone has already surpassed his maximum running distance for the year, so the next race I may have to do alone.  Horror Hill is just around the corner and it would be a shame if I had to run it solo.

We had not finished our stumbling as we had yet to make it back to the hotel which was a vast 3 km away.  We had considered Uber, but, just kept walking, as unsteady as we were.  On a positive note, we passed a Cheesecake Factory and knew exactly where we were having dinner later.  We were in good company along the way with so many runners.  Once back at the hotel, we jumped onto the computer to claim our shoes and wouldn't you guess, a mere 20 seconds behind a negative split.  It certainly sounded easy at the time.

Happy Trails my Friends!
         







Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tempo Runs


Description and Technique


Tempo runs are the single most important workout you can do to improve your speed for any race distance. Long runs develop pure endurance, but, tempo running is crucial to racing success because it trains your body to sustain speed over distance. In essence, as runners, we have trained our cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen to the muscles but we have not trained our bodies to             use that oxygen once it arrives. Tempo runs do just that by teaching the body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently. Most important, this faster-paced workout or lactate-threshold workout,  teaches you to push your 'threshold" so that you muscles become better prepared at using the by-products (lactate and hydrogen ions) produced while you run when your muscles fatigue.


Even though there are many ways to perform tempo runs, I normally stick with the progressive type and build on distance, but, have fun mixing it up. For me, the progressive is simple to perform and is in many ways more enjoyable because your body gradually warms up to tempo pace. You feel stronger through the middle portions of the run and are able to finish at a faster pace. To do a progressive tempo run start with 1 kilometer or 1/3 of your distance at warm up pace. Then gradually and evenly increase your pace over the next 1 kilometer or second 1/3 of your distance at an easy endurance pace. The last 1 kilometer or 1/3 of your distance is at 90% of your maximum heart rate or just shy or breathlessness-we can also call this your 10 K race pace. This type of tempo run gives you the additional advantages of running and improving your ability or simply put, to run faster at the end of a long, quality run.  Once you become comfortable with this technique, try mixing it into some of your LSD (long slow distance) .

An interesting article from Science Daily explains how lactic acid can be used as energy rather than the poison that most athletes believe it is:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060420235214.htm

Ensure that all speed work sessions begin with a dynamic warm-up and cool down routine.

Happy Trails my Friends!

2016 Run for the Toad


Race kit pick up
Another year, another 50k and although, this was my slowest to date; it was also the most memorable for many reasons.  This was the 15th anniversary and also my 5th time running the Fifty. Year after year, I return to the trails and the hills, only to learn to walk gracefully again the next day. There was no sun to be seen, but, you were surrounded by plenty of warmth.  First off, Peggy and George are always improving on this event.  It was an 'A' race years ago, but, their thoughts are of the runners and how they can improve on the experience for us, so they keep trying.  Its obvious, they love everything about this time of year.  We may be planning and getting everything just right for race day, but, they are doing their own ultra of sorts.  The amount of time and dedication that goes into this race is almost insurmountable,but, it always comes out perfect.

Kingston in true competitive form
Another eventful point was having my daughter Mindy and my grandson Kingston toeing the line for the 1 km Toad Pals.  This was Kingston`s second race and he was pumped.  For only being 4 years old, he has quite the competitive streak already.  He tried his best and did amazing.  We also got to watch Mindy try to catch him as he sprinted the entire way.  You really have to push to catch this kid when he goes out of the gate.  He`s got legs.  All the children received a full size medal and the events they had planned post race were incredible: movies, reptiles and more.  My daughter absolutely hates running and post Toad she commented about wanting to run another 5 km race again.  You know that the energy and impetus was flowing that day for her to be so inspired.  Such an incredible feeling.

The other momentous account was that Cornel was running his first Ultra.  He had signed up after meeting Peggy and George post race at the Boxing Day 10 Miler.  His longest distance prior to this race was 25 km and although we were going in under-trained, we both knew that a finish was all that was required.  He would be covering his first marathon and ultra distance in a single race.  It was being used as a training race for next weekends Chicago marathon.  Slow and steady was the strategy.

All started out,  anything but well.  The socks I had worn had already slipped under my heel on my right foot.  As the race would be running past the first water stop where I had placed my bag, I decided to wait and change my socks after the race had begun.  Cornel stayed with me, but, I`m sure he must have been feeling anxious.  Then, at only 4 km in, I had already determined that I had overdressed for this.  It seemed to be warmer than last weekends Tour de Hans; we were just absent of any sun.  Thankfully, it was not raining though.  I ducked into a public washroom (another great feature of this course is not having to use the bushes) and shed my base layer.  I suggested that Cornel keep running and I would catch up.  Well, that never happened.

My first two loops were  enjoyable.  I felt good.  There is something about that course. Its just so innervate and tranquil.  At about the 15 km point, I met up with Susie and Maxine and ran with them to their finish.  These were passionate ladies that had a zest for running, family and life in general.  This is one of the benefits I have found in trail races; you meet some incredible people.  I think trail running cultivates not only a sense of resilience, but of conversation among fellow runners.  Sharing experiences and personal details.  The pace, the environment, competing with one self and giving back to the community seems to have a calming affect whilst bringing us all closer to nature.  Appreciating what we have around us, out on the trail and at home. Speaking of which, Mindy and Kingston were waiting for me to loop and we walked to their car; Kingston beating me up the hill.

Now, for the third loop, which is always my slowest.  My nemesis.  The loop where the mental and physical struggles attack in full force.  I know many times over, that I just have to get through this and I'll be golden.  The last loop always produces faster turnover with the idea of finishing and sitting down to that gourmet meal at the end. I could feel the second toe on my left foot, it was creating a problem, but, I was too lazy to do anything about it.  I know, having to run another 25 km really doesn't justify the term lazy at least to some people, but right now, it was more of an apathetic feeling.  Its a loop that I ran alone with only my thoughts and one major thought at that......where is Cornel?  I have seen him on the course, during some cross overs, so, I know he is just 3 km ahead of me.  I thought for sure that I would catch him on this loop. At this point, I'm feeling like I should pick up the pace, but, I can't as its the dreaded 3; like the witches in MacBeth. "Double, double, toil & trouble.  When shall we meet.  When the hurly-burly's done. When the battle is lost and won".  There was some other language I was citing, but, we won't get into that right now.  Then, before you know it, I'm approaching the 9 km marker and I know I'm just 15 km's from finishing this thing.  I see Rhonda whom I met at Sulphur Springs and she is there merely to cheer us on.  The timing couldn't be more impeccable.

All is good.  I think to myself, it wasn't that bad really.  The loops seem to be getting shorter each year I run it.  I pick up the pace a bit.  It wasn't near as fast as I thought.  Really just a slow increment. As I see from my splits post race, but, it was something.  I start to pass a few on the course and I think that I may just be able to catch Cornel at this point.  He has to be struggling, right?  There is a light misting of rain and it feels refreshing. I lavish in glorification now as I know the end is near.   I approach Skeleton Hill and my 4th loop is the only time I run up that thing.  Its just me and that hill as all the volunteer supporters have left at this point.  I have the internal struggle with myself and I think this year I'll just walk it, however, I recall telling Cornel that the fourth loop is the only time that matters, so now I'm forced to fire up it with all I have.  Victory at the top and then a walk to bring my heart rate back down and I'm off and running again.  Just another km until the finish.  Its about 300 m when I spot Cornel.  He has finished about 15 minutes ahead of me and has come back to run me in.  I have my selfish moment and tell him that I just want to run it out solo and I'll see him at the finish.  

Another great year for the Toad and I have so much adoration for Cornel for finishing his first marathon and ultra distance that day.  He really has that mental fortitude.  Don't mention it though as we wouldn't want it going to his head.  For me, not my best Toad race, but, I figure that will happen next year.  We both had some purple toenails and some chafing and blistering, but, we had success and a great time overall.

Next stop, Chicago.

Happy Trails my Friends!





2016 Tour De Hans

2016 Tour de Hans

My first ever road cycling race and boy was I nervous.  It could have been the cold temperatures that had me shaking too.  However, I have heard of it being just shy of winter in past years, so I wasn't complaining about 13 degrees and sunny.  Regardless of how many races I do, the nerves always get the best of me.

After the initial sign up, I had taken a good look at the 2015 results and these ladies were fast, especially in my age group (40-49).  Faster than I could comprehend. This is such a competitive age group.  I thought to myself, that's okay, this is going to be the fastest I've ever gone over the 100 km distance and I will just be happy with that.  Normally, when we ride with the GCBT group, we stop for a nice relaxing lunch, some conversation; there would be no such pleasantries here-it would just be 100 km straight out.  I had never done that distance in a single stretch before.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
  
Tour de Hans
The morning was cool as I said so I decided to keep my jacket on as I hate being cold. That turned out to be a good plan as the wind continued to stay cool for the day and I remained comfortable for the entirety of the race.  It also helped that Cornel or as I occasionally call him, the "Crazy Train",  is a good deal larger than me and with him pulling, I was relatively sheltered.  The beginning of the race, had me struggling to keep up to Cornel and Karen.  I require a good warm up,but had no time prior to our start.  It started with very gentle hills, but, had me huffing and puffing a bit.  Finally, after about 5-6 km, I felt good and we started to roll.

The course was capacious, covering relatively quieter roads through the country, all with decent surfaces and moderate to little traffic. There was a tremendous amount of volunteers helping to direct the course and provide hydration.  I was riding my new Liv Avail and having only road it twice previously, we were already establishing a fairly tight bond.  She was light, compact, responsive and I felt inspired to push it down.

Cornel had been trying coach me on riding within a peloton, but, having never tried it previously, I was reluctant on trying it now.  I think he was aware of my inhibitions as he commented on safety and said that he would prefer to do the work, than ride perilously.  I know he was worried about me, but, didn't want to acknowledge it.  I was more comfortable than I use to be, having rode at the velodrome last year, but, still require some improvement when riding with a group. However, with Cornel pulling, its like hopping on the A-Train or Crazy Train as I like to call it.  He is rapid and precise.  He just flows like water.  Its so easy to draft him. I only pulled twice and the first time, as luck would have it, we were caught by the camera crew.  Beautiful!

Once we hit the 60 km mark, we came into a fairly strong head wind and Karen caught up to us at the water station, having said previously that she would grab a slower group.  She is an experienced rider and triathlete, so I think this was part of her race tactic.  We now became a party of three.  I was beginning to struggle and our pace slowed.  It was becoming tough.  Physically, mentally, but, I knew I had to maintain some consistency or all our efforts to this point would be in vain. I was thankful to have to experience riders to draw from.
AG Winners

In the end, Karen placed 2nd in her AG and came in 8th overall ladies and I placed 3rd in my AG and came in 9th place for the ladies.  What, top 10?  It was beyond my expectations.  In the end, I think some of the ladies that had raced the year prior decided to stay home and I'm okay with that. If I decide to race it again next year, I hope to be able to join one of the groups and pick up the pace a bit, but, we will leave the race planning to Cornel.

Happy Trails my Friends

Thursday, August 25, 2016

D2R2


I've heard of this race, (for all intense purposes we will call it that), referred to as many things, including Hell. And its not just the name that's clever. The courses are well designed and all the proceeds benefit the farmers and land owners that want to protect it from unwanted development. And without farmers....there would be no beer.

 I must admit, studying those elevation maps, watching all those videos and reading the numerous blogs prior to the event, had me a little terrified.

Time to pick up our race kits and meet a few locals
We arrived on the Friday around six to pick up our race kits and everything was well organized with numerous volunteers and and there was a plethora of D2R2 souvenirs to choose from (jerseys, mugs, posters, arm sleeves, etc).  The maps and cue sheets were printed and waiting.  There were a few vendors too which included, "Dug's Art" , a local artist with an extensive racing background and
his stories were as vivid as his paintings.  "The People's Pint", a local brewery and restaurant in Greenfield attended, serving up burgers and beer.  Plus a few more.  Cornel and I  anxiously grabbed for a cold one, for the carbs of course-it had absolutely nothing to do with that seven hour drive.  Unbeknownst to us, was the group of cyclist that had gathered on site at the People's Pint.  We'll be sure to follow up on that one next year.  Oh yeah, there is definitely going to be a next year.


The starting line
As we were toeing the start line, or wheeling in our case, I for one was happy that we had decided to scale it back to the 100km distance.  Everything about this "race" was very relaxed and casual, except for the actual distances and routes-oh, and did I mention elevation?  We took off shortly after 9:00 a.m. and had a good warm up section, traveling on pavement, before the climbing started.   The first hill I took pretty fast and Cornel worried that I would tire myself out too quick.  I was just thrilled our first climb was on pavement; I had also set a goal of finishing within 6 hours and I was pumped, well, at least for the first half hour.  The asphalt road quickly turned to dirt and the climbing on intensified.  I assured myself that all the climbing must be at the beginning.  Prior to the first water stop, there was a steep paved incline and I had to dismount and walk my bike up as I couldn't see a thing.  The sweat was dripping down into my eyes and stinging with contact and without travelling at any significant pace, my glasses were fogging.  This is huge for me as typically I'm not much of a sweater, mostly just a little perspiration; something that resembles Mickey Mouse. That's all I will say about that.   It was only an hour into the race and things were heating up by 10 a.m.  Cornel easily pumped his way to the top.  The assemblage of road surfaces as we wound our way up the hills of Massachusetts made it quite cumbersome, but, on we trekked.

Pickle Juice
When we got to the first water stop, my time limit already expired as we were an hour and fifteen for the first 20km.  That would add another hour over and above.  It didn't seem like an aggressive goal at the time.  I grabbed my half empty water bottle and headed to the water jug to refill it.  On the jug, was a written sign that said "pickle juice" and I thought how cute. What a great simile.  Not so cute and poetic after all, because after I took a big mouthful of the stuff, I realized it was legit.  I've done a few races, marathons, ultra's, a half ironman and never, not once was I ever provided with pickle juice, flat cola maybe, but, never pickle juice.  If you can get by the taste, that stuff is apparently magical, or so I heard.  Much like cabbage juice on a hangover.  I did end up dumping it out, as I was worried about the mixture of coconut water and pickle juice and didn't want to have any emergency stops.  I was a little unprepared in the kleenex situation.

The stunning views of Franklin County
As we departed from the water stop, we had company and some of the people started to become familiar.   There wasn't a whole lot of conversation going on, but,  I think that was mostly attributed to attrition, better save it for the next climb.  Within a very short time frame, we ascended our way up and once at the top, you had to grab a photo or at least blink your eyes.  The vista was breathtaking and laid down the perspective of all your climbing thus far.   It was certainly worth the view. The distinction between green and blue was truly epical. Now, this is living. Shortly, thereafter, we were halted by a fire truck as one of our fellow cyclists had gone down. Glad that he was okay. This is the dilemma, you are on a paved decent and then the surface changes to gravel.  There was a lot of sections like that. At the end, we had heard, there was only four mishaps of a similar nature, but, everyone was okay.  Lucky for me, my coach, Cornel has always taught me to stay loose and reactive; much to his chagrin, I still take the downhills with not near enough caution, loving that top-speed.



Almost 3 hours in and we had hit our lunch spot.   A captivating little oasis in Vermont by a relaxed river and covered bridge that was currently under construction. We probably spent at least an hour there enjoying the lunch that was provided.  There was also another pickle juice table and they were serving shots this time. I graciously accepted the sour and salty notes for the gains they would provide as the day continued to heat up.  Thankful for what little breeze there was.  Departing from lunch had to be one of my most favorite spots on the course.  The road followed the river and it was pretty much flat and shaded, so a good way to digest lunch and warm back up again.  This was also the section for the family ride and I was impressed with all the youngsters that were riding their bike.  We still have some work to do where my grandson Kingston is concerned.  Hopefully, one year soon, he'll be able to join us.  I was still convinced, quite unequivocally that we must have completed the majority of our climbing prior to lunch.   Cornel also has this sinister side to him, evilly telling you that there is just one more climb.  All in all, I was still feeling good and was still pretty strong on the climbs, relatively speaking. I just preferred not to do anymore.  Unfortunately, the choice was not mine to choose.  By the end, was had a total elevation gain of 1800m, which was just 200m shy of the hike we did in Austria.  The comparison really put things into perspective for me.
Cornel pondering how I beat him up that last hill.

 One of the most significant clambers in my opinion was on the way up to the orchard.  It is appropriately named Apex Orchard. I received the full definition from a cycling perspective from Cornel.  Who Knew? We were greeted with cold peaches and apples, cookies and other hydration.  It was hard to leave, but, knowing that there was only 20km remaining before cold beer was enough to put you back in the saddle.  Upon leaving, Dr. Evil made his usual remark.....just one more climb.


It was a nice descent and although, I still felt good, I was content knowing that the ride would be over within another hour or so.  There was a technical tailspin close to the end and this is where I suspect I broke my spoke.  It was the only casualty, so not so bad.  This last sag was also another concern for Cornel as he felt I was taking it way too fast for my level of expertise.  Poor guy, I can only imagine the amount of cringing he must do riding behind me making sure that I'm safe.Without him, I'm not sure I would have been able to do this journey.  He has taught me so much.  He is my rock. Fortunately, the broken spoke didn't cause any further damage, most of which, I was totally oblivious to anyways.

Following that, it was just a nice flat section where you could sprint to the finish if you still had the legs to do it. It was such a moment to cross the line with some energy left to eat, drink and enjoy some camaraderie amongst the other cyclists.  Each of us giving a full description of the days events and our favorite portion of the course.

Looking forward to heading back up there next year and hopefully taking some friends along for the ride.

Happy trails my friends.