Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Glycogen, Insulin, Cortisol... OH MY!

Alright... there are a ton of articles out there about the science behind replenishing your body after a hard workout... and post workout nutrition is an often discussed topic amongst doctors, athletes, dietitians, coaches, etc... The goal of post workout nutrition is to replenish the glycogen stores and to encourage protein synthesis to minimize the toll hard workouts can have your body. You need Glycogen, water and minerals to refuel your body after working out and that was is exactly what Gatorade was originally designed to do but nowadays we can do better. Now... there is a short window where you can have maximum effect on the recovery process and anything you can do to improve that process can potentially allow you to go hard on subsequent workouts. I have found this to be critical when you are doing two workouts a day in executing a triathlon training plan... and in a normal person's time constrained life (read: not a professional triathlete) we can use all the help we can get and anything with scientific backing is good by me. Food is an option but studies have shown that your body cannot process solid food fast enough to take maximum advantage of the recovery window... so fluids are best!

Okay... so suffice to say that I am onboard with recovery nutrition... so what do I do? Well... there are a bunch of options out there to choose from.... but one constant is that the post workout nutrition should contain both carbohydrates and protein at roughly a 4:1 ratio... OH CRAP... I didn't know there was going to be math involved... not to worry... there are products out there already designed to help take the math out of it.

I have tried a bunch of options... and given my body more readily accepts fluids over food following a hard workout has pushed me towards the fluid solution... one of my personal favorites is simply low fat chocolate milk but I am not always in the mood for that when I am hot and sweaty... in comes Fluid Recovery ( I tried the Berry Treasure flavor... and comparing to some of the other options I have tried I can tell you that this stuff really works...

  • 100% Natural
  • Easy to mix
  • Leaves no residue
  • Tastes fantastic (when cold)
  • Does NOT contain artificial ingredients, colors, or flavors
  • Gluten-free complex carbohydrates and all natural fruit sugar to restore muscle energy levels
  • Lactose-free whey protein isolate to repair, rebuild, and generate new lean muscle tissue
  • L-Glutamine (2500mg) to repair muscles and help manage inflammation preventing aches, pains, and soreness
  • Key electrolytes sodium and potassium to help restore electrolyte balance
  • Immune boosting Vitamin C to support a stressed immune system
  • Has a nice carb to protein ratio (25g to 7g) NO MATH!
  • Easy to consume when hot and sweaty
  • Could come in smaller tub to save cabinet space
  • Tastes okay (when not cold)
  • Has "Baby formula" powder aroma when mixed with water and warm
Ingredients: Maltodextrin, crystaline fruit sugar, whey protein isolate, L-glutamine, natural tropical fruit flavor, citric acid, sodium, soy lecithin, ascorbic acid, potassium.

It works for me... I like the flavor better than others I have tried... win/win in my book!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"New" race wheels for the 2011 season!

Okay... OCD seems to always have negative connotations associated with it... and although I have not been officially diagnosed with it... I am fairly confident I have some version of it as the symptoms appear as if I had written them myself! Now... I have a tendency to use them to my benefit... at least in my mind... my wife and kids may see things differently but this is my blog.

So... in my ongoing obsession with everything triathlon... I decide I want to get some race wheels for this season! Now... for those involved in the sport you know that is a HUGE investment and in my case it would make the wheels cost more than my bike... but this is where my OCD helps me out. Now I can build a spreadsheet that would make Mr. Excel's eyes water and they usually include lots of embedded formulas as well as conditional formatting to change cells different colors. No one else really understands the spreadsheet as I tend to not label many columns but I know exactly what the cells mean and I read the resulting data like a Ouija board.

Okay... so I set out on a plan to find medium depth carbon rim race wheels that don't break the bank... again... how one defines that (read: my wife) is probably up for interpretation but I am on a frickin' quest at this point and I set an arbitrary price point that I think is reasonable... again.. this is my blog so I get to come up with the definitions. So I conduct my due diligence and arrive to this conclusion... 50+mm on depth, clincher rims, aluminum braking surface (I don't want to have to fart around with special brake pads), name brand, used (to remain on budget) and with tires/tubes if at all possible... just in case you have not priced race tires for bikes... let's just say they ain't cheap. So I start the furious and obsessive searching of the online forum classifieds, doing searches on all of Craigslist and of course my personal favorite money pit... eBay! I am trading emails with people in San Francisco... some guy in Italy that imports stuff from Asia... my "Watch" page on eBay is 4 pages long... but I have done the math and I know what a "good" price is at this point and I have no deadline so I can afford to be patient.

Now... I stumbled upon a listing on eBay for a Zipp Flashpoint FP40 (38mm carbon depth) wheel that does not fit the bill but the price seems low enough to garner my attention... but the photos REALLY GARNER MY ATTENTION... as they are clearly photos of a FP60 (58mm depth) wheel with FP40 stickers on it... and another interested eBayer even queries the owner about that fact to which they reply... "Thanks but even the stickers say FP40"... WRONG... and suffice to say... I end up as the high bidder for what amounts to a steal of a deal! How much of a deal??? Immediately following the end of the auction I got an email saying... "We mistakenly advertised the wheel at an FP40 only to find out it is an FP60... we will happily refund your money and relist!" Uhhh... NOOOOO... I am all good on this end! And three days later the wheel arrives and it is a beauty!!!

Okay... front wheel done... now I need a matching rear wheel and I have to admit that at this point my patience is not nearly what it was when I was uncommitted... so the furious hunt goes on... and I decide to post a "WTB" ad on one of the forums... looking specifically for a rear Zipp Flashpoint FP60! The next morning I find a private message from a forum member saying he had just upgraded his race wheels and had a rear FP60 he was looking to sell... now this was not simply a rear wheel... it was a Zipp Flashpoint FP60 wheel laced with a Cycleops Powertap power meter hub... now this was something I had only looked at in passing previously as the price of a power meter alone is more than my bike cost... never mind on a medium depth carbon wheel... but I ask for more information... HOLY CRAP... the package he is offering is the wheel with power meter, complete setup for 2 bikes so all you have to do is transfer the wheel... so two computers, two wiring harnesses, two HRMs, two computer mounts, two of everything... plus the original Flashpoint hub... plus a custom rear disk cover from which gives me the option to run a solid rear wheel if conditions warrant! Long story short.... Jeff is an incredibly unselfish kind of guy... not only did we make a deal on all of the stuff listed above but when the box arrived he included 2 carbon water cage bottles, 2 fiberglass cages, a brand new Michelin Pro Race 3 tire, 2 brand new tubes with 80mm valve stems, a Profile Design Aero Drink bottle set up and two Profile Design aero bar computer mounts!!!

SCORE!!! Not only did I get a great deal from him but he also offered his unconditional support along the way as I set it all up... plus he provided a rather lengthy email with tips on training with power that they use in his cycling club!! What a great deal... and timing is everything! THANKS JEFF!!

Now it is time to ride...

Monday, February 14, 2011

{Bucket list} Half Marathon... check!

Bottom line up front (BLUF)66/250 in 40-44 Age Group; 666/3332 overall; 486/1585 Males; finishing time of 1:51:36 for 8:32 min/mile average over 13.1 miles.

Pre-race routine:
We did not realize it at the time but when my Brother and I sat in the pizza joint in Lafayette, LA back in September... we established what has become my pre-race ritual dinner... pizza and a beer! So in keeping with that ritual... on Saturday night we enjoyed a couple of pizzas and I had an ice cold Sierra Nevada! Following an enjoyable dinner with the family I hit the rack early as it was going to be an early start on Sunday.
I actually had a very restful night sleep... I set the alarm for 0415 but found myself awake at exactly 0400... so up I got... and headed to what has become my 2nd pre-race ritual... shower and shave!
Now... the night before I made up what would be my breakfast... steel cut oatmeal with peanut butter and wildflower clover honey and well as mixing up a bottle of EnduroxR4 recovery drink for post race. I also laid out everything I was going to need in the morning to ensure a streamlined and efficient process had me out the door at 0445 as it was over an hour drive to the Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham.
Having flawless operational execution despite the time of day... the planning was perfect and I was out the door at 0445 with a travel mug full of hot coffee, breakfast, all my gear to include several options for clothing depending on the temperature at start time.
Two miles into my early journey.. on the radio... FORECAST: chilly start to the day but sunny and 60's by midday... AWWW SNAP... forgot my sunglasses... {thinking to myself as I consider options in my Crisis Action Planning Branch and Sequel mindset}... CRAAAAPPPPPP... I really need to go back and get my sunglasses... so a quick Starsky and Hutch 180 and I am headed back home at speeds slightly above the posted speed limit! I get home... get my glasses... get back to the plan... crisis averted!
I arrive in Birmingham only a few minutes behind the plan but get a great parking spot... I sit there in the heat of my truck and eat my oatmeal... inventory everything I need to have on one more time... watch the temperature gauge and listen to some motivating music... I finally decide that 25 degrees is cold and I am going to wear the cold weather running gear! So I suit up and head up to the Auditorium to commence coffee transfer (read: pee) with the idea of simply heading to the starting chute from there. But once I arrive at the Auditorium I realize there are nearly 5000 people all looking to complete their morning constitution prior to the race... in the nicely heated building of course... so I head back out to the porta potty's... now I get in line and nearly 75% of those in line are women... who all have on multiple layers of running attire... let's just say that I am not entirely sure what the process involves in the porta potty but I know it is taking a lot of time to complete that process and I am 5 back in the line. I eventually get my turn and feel relief and for the first time a little bit of nervousness as I head to the starting chute!
So I am standing there doing some token stretching and listening to the announcer... "8 minutes to the start... all runners please make your way to the starting chute".... now I am thinking to myself... HOLY CRAP is it cold... about 28 degrees at this point.... do I have on the right mix of clothes??? am I going to be hot??? At this point it dawns on me... I still have on my regular glasses because it is dark... CCRRRRAAAPPPPP... I need to get back to my truck and get my sunglasses.... so I scurry back to the truck and exchange glasses then make my way back to the starting chute... only now the closest I can get to the front is at about the 12 min per mile group... DAMMIT!
Now I am standing there making sure the Garmin is ready to go... I get satellite reception... scroll through the pages... HOLY MONKEY... my heart rate just standing there shivering in the cold is 125... nerves??? shivering??? Probably a combination of both... anyway... I look up and I immediately recognize the guy next to me but cannot place him right away... I say... "I think I know you"... to which he replies.. "Yeah... you look familiar too"... AHA... Soccer... turns out he is a guy that I met at breakfast at the hotel Colby and I stayed at in Decatur, AL for the Governor's Cup tournament... we struck up a conversation one morning because he had on a USAT hat... small world moment of the day!
Alright... we have moment of silence for a couple of local runners that recently passed... a really nice prayer... and now it is game on!

BANG goes the gun... and 4 mins later I finally cross the starting line! Alright... so here was the game plan... overall goal- 1:59:59... and don't hurt myself! So my plan was to start off at a pace of 9:05 knowing that it was the required average race pace to achieve goal.. and after a few miles... try to negative split if possible to make up some time... save myself for the last 3.1 miles and run it like a 5K event at 8:00 pace.
Did I mention that 7132 people where running the combined Marathon and Half Marathon and we were all lined up in a 15 yard wide chute? Now the traffic was insane on the first couple of miles but I was able to pick my way through the masses and actually ran a 9:03 first mile... albeit the pace bounced around from 11 mins to 7 mins as I weaved in and out of folks. Mile 2 was not much different... mile 3 and 4 things start to spread out and it is easier to get into a nice comfortable stride... and I am negative splitting as planned...
My other plan was to get water at every station and to eat a GU Chomp every two miles just as I had done in training... things are going great.. now... you know me so it shouldn't come as any surprise when I tell you that I downloaded the race course and imported it into Google Earth to study the elevation... so I knew at mile 6 there was a long climb... and this is where my training on the hilly terrain of Prattville paid off in spades! I passed A LOT of people of the long, slow, grinding climb with relative ease without much increase in heart rate.. mile 6 and 7 behind me... HOLY CRAP... I am halfway.. this is cool! I finish the downhill section back on a negative split pace and resume a comfortable stride... at the mile 8 aid station where they are handing out GU... WHAM... a guy cuts across in front of me to get to the girl handing out the GU and clips my front foot almost sending me to the ground... the incident is readily obvious on both my heart rate and pace data lines from my Garmin... now... the one part of my body that does not respond well to the sudden redirection of both pace and direction is my left hamstring... I immediately feel it ball up and cramp... but I am able to adjust my gate without significant slow down to allow it to work itself out... WHEW... back to running my race!
Alright... mile 9 had what appeared to be a benign climb to it on the map... but at this point in the run it appeared much more ominous... and again I cruised by what seemed like hundreds of people on the climb without much change in pace.. and very little climb in heart rate... this felt great!!! So I am coming up on the mile marker... and each had a digital clock with the race time... I check the time and do the math... looking good... HELLO... at this point it finally dawns on me... I HAVE BEEN RUNNING FOR OVER AN HOUR... LOL... never even crossed my mind... as up to this point I was only consumed with maintaining a pace to meet my goal! Take about OCD and being caught up in the moment... that is some serious compartmentalization right there!
So... here comes mile 10... 5K ahead of me.. race time... and given it was relatively flat I was going to kick it up a notch... and end up running a 8:15, 8:19 and 7:52 pace over the last 3 miles... the plan was coming together! Okay... in the last half mile I see a guy out in front of me running in gorilla feet... shoes... slippers... whatever you call them... and I distinctly recall when he passed me on mile 11 and make a conscious decision that I will not let him beat me... I slowly catch up to him and he senses it so he picks up the pace and I return... with only 100 yards to finish I quickly run around him to finish seconds ahead of him... small victory... and then it dawns on me... HOLY CRAP... I just finished my first half marathon... way cool!!! 
A quick look at the Garmin shows I beat my original goal by over 8 mins... I could not be more thrilled at this point... I get my finisher medal and ball cap... I grab a bottle of water and run into one of the Navy students at Air War College... he finished about 10 mins ahead of me and we congratulate each other... what a great feeling and sense of accomplishment!

Post Race
I make my way over to Boutwell Auditorium to find the massage tables... I spend about 20 mins in line talking with some great people... turns out an Army guy and a retired USAF guy are in front of me and right behind me... I do some token stretching anxiously awaiting a much needed massage.
Thank you Miss Mary... the local Massage Therapy school in Birmingham supplied about 30 students to give post race massages and I was fortunate enough to get Miss Mary... she was awesome... and actually spent about 35 mins on my legs... turns out the knot in my left hamstring... which she found almost instantly required some significant encouragement to loosen up... she was determined to return it to as close to its original condition as possible and for that I will be forever grateful!
The post race celebration was hosted by Michelob Ultra and Jim N Nick's BBQ... I found my way to the beer line then picked up my bag of BBQ... that smoked turkey sandwich never tasted so good...
I made my way back to my truck... drank my EnduroxR4 and headed home... now.. I have to be honest... I don't really recall too much of the drive other than talking with my wife, Mother and Brother as I was on that "runner's high" but I seem to recall a humongous sense of satisfaction in my preparation for this race... as they often say... fear the training!

I am thrilled with the results... not sure I ever want to run a full marathon... decided I really enjoy the various aspects of multisport events over pure running events... and realized once again that without the full support of my family I would not be able to have these small personal victories.... and for that I am forever grateful! It was a banner weekend for the entire family... maybe a family marathon relay is in our future!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

First 10K Race today!

Today was race #3 in the Heritage of Air Power race series hosted by the Air Command and Staff College... the Lemay 10K! Although I have not specifically been training for this race it came at an interesting point in my Hal Higdon Half Marathon training plan... the same weekend of my last long run which is scheduled for 10 miles on Sunday. After seeking some advice... I decided to "race" the 10K today in order to establish a reference point for that specific distance... and adjust as necessary for the long run! Goal was less than 54 minutes...

Pre Race Routine
- I was up early this morning... not because of nerves or being anxious about the race... more as result of the Tacos de Pollo with Tipico sauce I had for dinner last night... man I LOVE those tacos but I assure you I sweat more eating them last night then I did running this morning!
- I found a bag of leftover Starbucks Christmas Blend in the freezer and so I brewed up a pot to start the day off in grand fashion.
- Breakfast consisted of a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with a spoonful of peanut butter and some wild clover honey... HOLY CRAP was that delicious! I washed it down with 32 oz of water to get ahead of the hydration curve.
- I drove over to Maxwell AFB only to arrive to find it was a lot more breezy than at our house... it was 38 degrees with a 20 mph brisk wind. I proceeded to sit in my truck and only departed the warmth of the cab once I knew I would be in the elements for only a short period of time but early enough to take in the National Anthem! As I walked over to the start area I did some cursory stretches to loosen the hip flexors and pop my back! As I stood around in my shorts and winter compression top with wind vest and gloves... I thought to myself... I wish I had worn my running pants and brought some ear covers... it was FREEZING! I shivered through the singing of the National Anthem and then made my way to the starting line.

- BANG goes the gun! And we are off...
- Now... the plan was to run the first half of the race at a consistent 9 min/mile pace to see how I felt and then negative split the second half... NO PLAN SURVIVES FIRST CONTACT WITH THE ENEMY!
- So I glance down at my watch... 1/4 mile down... 8:20 pace... but it felt really comfortable... so I went with it hoping I would not regret going out to fast. I settled into a nice, comfortable pace and started to enjoy the music and the surroundings... just running... BEEP goes the Garmin... 1st mile split is 8:21... okay... faster than I planned but again I felt great.. not sure if it was the cold air or the fact that I could not feel my feet I decided to press on and see what would come of it... after weaving our way around the academic circle and through the BEQs we exited the tree and building lined sheltered road into the flat, open area of the perimeter road around the runway... HOLY CRAP is that wind cold and strong... the gusts were causing my ball cap to nearly fly off my head... BEEP goes the Garmin... 2nd mile split is 8:30... okay... still faster than the plan and slower than mile #1 but given the headwind I was good... once we made our way to the opposite side of the runway we were sheltered from the Westerly wind by the trees and I clipped off mile 3 easily... I hit the turn around point and thought... okay... I feel great... let's see if I can pick it up a little... BEEP goes the Garmin for Mile 4... BEEP goes Mile 5...
- Now... like any good trail horse... I can smell the barn and so once we made our way back into the buildings it was game on... I picked a target runner way out in front of me and made him my focus for the finish... catching him was the goal... I passed him with about 500 yards to the finish... 49:56... OH YEAH!! My first 10K race is complete and I am thrilled with the result!

My 1 mile splits


Post Race
- I turned in my slip from my race number... and then headed back out for a cool down jog... once my HR was back in the normal range I made my way over to the finish area and picked up some Gatorade and a banana.
- On my drive home I chilled with a nice squeeze bottle of EnduroxR4... Tangy Orange... my personal favorite!
- No cheering gallery or fanfare required nor desired today... it was personal... me against the distance... to see what I could run... and having reflected on it... I now realize I underestimated my potential and probably could have run just a little faster from the start... live and learn!

- Cold, blustery day... but a very organized and well run event... and I could not be more thrilled to see that my training is paying off... the Half Marathon is only a week away... more on that later!

Attitude trumps pain!