Sunday, March 31, 2013

The (R)Ides of March

I can not believe that March is done but even though I can't believe it I have to say that I am ultimately grateful as it has been a very challenging month.  I've come out on top for certain but it's been a fight the entire way it seems. I am praying April provides some relief.

March's numbers overall are not that bad.  325 miles of riding with 200 miles of running and between cycling and running I am averaging over 16K in elevation gain per week.  I find that statistic a little interesting especially since it seems to be rather consistent week to week.  From a time volume standpoint it works out to be about 32 hours of cycling and 36:30 of running.

I've been working on the Cannondale a bit.  I need a block of a few hours to switch the tires over to tubeless and I hope to get that done this week at some point.  It is still weeks off from being ridden.  Also I am still shopping for the right carbon handle bars.  I know what I want but the exact specs are proving to be hard to find.  This bike is going to be a BEAST once I am done.  It started at and even 24lbs... so I can't wait to see what I can get it down to.

So bring on April!  Warmer days... more training.  More riding and hopefully being able to ride up higher.  I am actually going to start racing in April too!  Possibly a MTB race on the 20th followed by the CM 50K on the 27th.  I am definitely looking forward to the 27th as that is just such a fun race and I can't wait to do it again.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Snuck One In by Old Man Winter AND Mother Nature

For March 29 the conditions were probably about as optimal as they could be.  Snow and mud are spotting the black sleeves of my top as I am following Tim aka Footfeathers down a huge descent that we had just spent the past 45 minutes climbing.  The suspension on the bike is wide open, mud and shit flying everywhere like I said previously and my cheeks were HURTING and I mean seriously aching from smiling so much riding that drop.  It was a blast and exactly why I wanted to start mountain biking again.

Tim is training for Leadman too... his goals are far more ambitious than mine... but in training I think that we are sort of facing one the same problems and that is isolation.  For me, everything that I am doing here in the Springs is so one-off from everybody else that I miss a lot of group runs and stuff and when others are riding I am running.  Tim... he's living up in the middle of nowhere without another athlete anywhere close.  So to combat this issue we came up with the idea a few weeks ago that when the weather and our schedules allowed I would head up there and we would get a ride in.  As it worked out that is exactly what we got to do yesterday.

The ride was basically seven climbs, seven drops or so... 41 miles and change, and according to my Garmin about 6400 feet of climbing.  There was not a gentle warmup as we were facing a damned near 1000 gain straight off the bat out of Central City but that was probably the worst of it.  The rest of the climbing was what I would call appropriate and the drops were the best... I hit 44.2 mph at one point and I think that is the fastest I have ever been on a bike.  That was right before we went into Golden Gate State Park which had zero traffic in it!

Weather wise... we had wind, sun, warmth, wind, rain, sleet, gropple and then more sun.  At one point I thought we were done for as we were climbing this one section and it almost became a whiteout.  15 minutes later, it smells like rain, the sun is out and the birds are chirping.  When we got back to Central City and I was putting the bike on the bike rack it finally started to rain, hard.  We made it back just in time.  We pulled it off!

I am looking forward to heading back up there again soon to do it again.  I think the courses he has up there are very Leadville-like and beneficial to ride.  It was the most fun ride of the training season so far and it was definitely a bonus to pick Tim's brain a bit on bikes, racing, running, ultras, etc.  And again, for for that altitude and this time of the year, we basically got by with murder weather wise!

You can see the climbing started from the very beginning of the ride.

Today's run wasn't as spectacular.  The upper part of Buckhorn and parts of Bear Creek Canyon are still a bit messy yet with ice and slush.  Managed about 21 miles, 4300 gain.  Easy ride tomorrow.  Nice. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Day Off

For the past two to three years I rarely took a day off, and by rarely I mean very, very seldom.  About the only  thing that would sideline me would be being very sick, very hurt, or a stern and direct order from a coach or doctor.  To take a day off was tantamount to treason to the pursuits of my goals.  Taking a day off meant I was not being serious about my training.  Taking a day off meant I was soft.

Typical type A bx I know, and this is one of the BEST reasons for working with a coach, at least for me.  A structured training schedule with planned days off.  If a pro tells me to take a day off I'd be remiss in my training if I failed to do that, right?

When Lucho and I started working together last fall, we decided that for the most part, Mondays would be my day off.  I of course warned him that I was notorious for NOT taking days off so I was looking forward to that aspect of "the plan."  He told me not to worry about it too much that soon I would be living just to make it to my days off.  Let's just say the good man was not lying about that one; not lying at all.

A detail that I have not  made public knowledge so much as there is just no nice way to write about without being bitchy, whiny, or just straight up pissed-off is that a few weeks ago my work schedule changed.  Drastically.  Not going to go into details as to why but it's a VZ thing and I will leave it at that.  My schedule is now four ten hour shifts,  9p - 8a day with one starting Sunday night and day four ending Thursday morning.

It has made training a challenge.  No, it has made just freaking living a challenge the past few weeks but it seems I have figured it out and am now able to function at least a little bit better.  I have to say though I must have really looked like shit the first two weeks because every time that Melissa would look at me I felt like she was looking at a sick and dying man.  I could just see the pity... lol.

Anyway a very important part of this transition and being able to survive it has been having Mondays as my day off from training.   Monday morning is the end of my day one of the work week and as my scheme for getting through the week goes I just crash at the end of my shift and wake up whenever.  It is so nice to not have to worry about cramming that workout in at the onset of the four, ten hour shifts.  Not to mention, it is nice to have that day to sorta rest like it is supposed to be anyway.  Give my bones, tendons, muscles, mind and connective tissues a break for once.

But my rest days now, regardless of my less than optimal work schedule are gold to me.  Knowing that my rest day is out there is what gets me through the harder workouts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday because in any one of those workouts I will need that motivation to just keep it together and get to Monday.

I credit a lot of of other things for my quickened recovery between workouts and stuff this winter but I also realize that my day's off must be playing into it all of that also.  If you throw in the days off with all the biking volume (minus the physical impacts of running) and it is easy for me to see why it is that I feel a lot better training this year than in the past.  I also like being fresh or at least more fresh going into the first workout of the week be it a run or a ride.  By the time I have time to get out and do the workout I am ready and anxious to just get out do anything.  I think that is because I do take my days off seriously.  I don' t try to sneak in extra volume or time, or miles... yeah I rode the single speed yesterday but I did everything in the world possible to make that not look like training... trust me.

The rest of my work days, I have been cramming my workouts in right after my shift so I can crash right after the run or the ride of the day and recover.  As cumbersome as my schedule has been, this approach seemed to really pay off last week.

Typical me I am already looking past Leadman, sorta... You have to have a plan.  I have been invited to come out for the JFK 50 and I might just do that.  I have run the section of the AT from South Mountain to Harper's Ferry numerous times when I have been home and I love that run.  It would be a solid opportunity for me to get a 50 mile PR too.  Part of me wants to go back to weight lifting and indulging in that addiction for a while.  That is another blog post upon itself.  I just don't know, and and of course there is the ever elusive HR100 lottery... that could happen.  Or not.  Regardless of what I decide to do though I know that I will forever more be more observant of true rest days and take advantage of them as much as possible.  I get it now.

The bike is in Denver!  Might go and pick it up later this morning.  We will see.  It is super cold out and I don't think it will be warming up anytime real soon for my ride so I just might head up there in a bit. Stoked! 

Last night was the first night of Passover!  So this is sorta related.  "Straight hood!"

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Going Old School

Lately I have been in the process of revamping my training/racing/workout fueling strategy.  What I mean by this is I have been reevaluating the products I use and whether or not I care to continue to use them.

Some things are consistent and are not variable.  For instance on along run over two hours I need approximately 270 calories an hour per hour to function and keep going.   In the past this has been accomplished by carrying two handhelds, each with 1.5 scoops of Perpetuem in it.  I drink 5 oz every 15 minutes so the two bottles get me through two hours then I have to mix more.  On top of that I do one hammer gel per hour on top of the hour and also one salt stick cap.  That seemed to work great most of the time in the past but there have  been issues such as sometimes a lot of puking during a training run or a race.

Actually by accident or just laziness and not wanting to find where my Saltstick Caps were this winter I have not been taking them with me.  Ray has been on me for a long time now that I have been taking too much salt.  Seriously nagging me for over two years about it, all in good intention mind you but I have to admit that he very well could be right...  I have only puked once in recent history after a run and that was cause it was a tough eight mile tempo run and I just had WAY too much shit on my stomach from eating all night.  Something had to give.

So I've cut out the salt and that seems to be working.

I'll say it.  I am no longer in love with Hammer products.  That relationship was a dead end and to be honest was not growing.  I only embraced their product line at the urging of a friend who was a serious ultra runner and mentor but to be honest I have not liked their stuff from the word go.  Their gels are not bad but they never really did anything for me either.  Perpetuem?  I've drank probably a million gallons of that stuff and it does work but god, I just can't do it anymore!  Heed? OMG!  I completely fell out of like with Heed during the 2011 Silverush 50 Mile run in a hard way.

I had been drinking the Lemon Lime Heed all morning and it was fine.  Melissa gave me two fresh bottles at the halfway point and I swear to god, the one bottle tasted like it was made with rancid sewer run off and strained through a bum's dirty drawers... I mean a nasty that I could not imagine being real.  One bottle was fine... the other was about to kill me!  I tossed it immediately as I did not want to die.  Seriously.

As it turned out she had mixed the bad bottle with a new baggie of mixture that I had pulled out of my new package of Heed. I discovered this as when I tried to run again a few days later I made a batch out of that bag and it was just as rancid.  Needless to say I have looked at Heed with a jaundiced eye ever since.  To be completely fair, Hammer DID send me a whole new bag but the damage was done... whatever the nasty flavor was I could still detect it.  Trust was broken.  Their Mandarin Orange Heed I can handle but just the same I am waiting to get a bad  hit of it as well.

As for the gels, the only two flavors I could deal with were Tropical and Orange.  I never liked them, more like I just tolerated them better than other flavors.  The Montana Huckleberry?  Forget it!

So Hammer is out officially now 100% unless it is an absolute emergency for me.  The product line and I just ceased to grow together.  We are done.  I will miss their awesome customer services but definitely not the prices.

For the LT100 last year I did a huge ballsy, read stupid, move.  I changed my drink plan a week before the race.  A week.  I went into the race with an untested formula which to be honest ROCKED!  It was cheaper and way more satisfying for me.  Again, Ray had stepped in and made a great suggestion that I try Carbo Pro. I did and I loved it if for no other reason the stuff completely dissolves in water and is flavorless.  I love the flavorless factor as there are lots of times during races where I just want water... just plain, cold, fresh water.  With the Carbo Pro and nothing else I can enjoy that plain water while still getting calories.

But my recipe... no secret... again it was crazy... I only had a day to come up with the mix and sit around drink it during the afternoon while working all day.  I drank a few bottles and since I didn't have any stomach issues I decided to go with it.   Luckily it worked.  The solution consisted of 1/2 bottle water, 1/2 bottle Gatorade, 1 scoop of Carbo-pro mixed into an Ultimate Direction Handheld bottle. That comes out to about 180 calores plus one gel and hour is 270 calories... right on the money for my calorie needs... Unless something drastic changes this will be go to formula for 2013.

The gel issue... I did some shopping around and tried samples and what not and while there are lots of new product lines out there nothing worked for me at all.  Stuff either gave me heartburn or just tasted like flavored awful.  Awful with a hint of apple, chocolate, etc... you get the idea.... So the funny thing is that I have returned to the product that I was using in the 90's.... the original GU!  The chocolate and the orange are both working for me great and bonus I actually kind of enjoy them.

And now for the kicker... the newest technology if  you will that is rounding out my nutritional plan for training and racing for 2013... MAP!   I have been taking three before every workout, three per hour during a workout and five immediately after a workout and I have to say they have made a huge difference in my recovery time and just how I feel after a run (or hard ride) after I am done.

I have to dial in my salt intake but I have a good idea for that.  I think I will try one Saltstick Cap every two hours and see how that works... if not two hours then three... eventually I will find correct dose and protocol where I maintain electrolytes and can hold it all in.

Speaking of old school, I wore my old UD Solo water bottle belt on my 18 miler on Saturday.  It worked as it kept the bottle warm against my back and it was nice to have my hands free for a change.  Used the Gu too!  That was an awesome run with 8 miles with an avg HR of 139. 6 miles with an avg HR of 149 and then the last 4 miles with an avg HR of 161. Times for each segment were 1:10:43, 50:25, and 31:12.  

Trust me... today's short shakeout ride on the trainer was an awesome treat!  

And now.... 14 weeks till the Leadville Marathon... Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.  

My vintage 1997 UD single bottle belt.  I rarely use it anymore but it is still awesome when I need it!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wednesday's Ride

My shift ended at 7:00 a.m. this morning and my plan was to head out for my ride at that time. The only problem was that instead of the temps being 31 or above, it was more like 21 out. Unfortunately I did not have the luxury of sitting around and waiting for it to warm up as I had upwards of a four hour ride ahead of me and I still needed to crash after that before my day-four (last workday of the week) shift began at 9:00 p.m. Wednesday night.  Yowza.

Three layers on the bottom... five layers on the top but it worked.  The only challenge with the temps was that for most of the first 25 miles I was having to deal with my glasses fogging up here and there but past that it was a good ride.

I did notice at least the first hour that things did feel "squishy."  I don't know what the hell that means or really how to describe it but the bike just didn't feel as tight or as responsive as some other days  Could have been all of the clothes?  Could have been the frozen dirt path and how the surface gave or didn't to the wheels as the bike rolled on?  I don't know... Could have been the bike and suspension was freezing up too... Anyway things just felt weird.

It also could have been the ass kicking I took in the eight miles the day before, so there was that possibility as well. Regardless, I had plenty of time for self dialogue this morning and the nugget that I came up with was this... "Do you want to whine about training or do you want that Leadman Trophy?  Your choice!"  Even in my head I shut up rather quickly over that one.   That will be my new mantra I think for the coming months... Buckles or bitching... you choose.

Today's squiggly lines.  50 miles, 3:40:08. 
Got home, showered and hit Kings Chef for lunch then home to crash.  I slept solid from 2:00 p.m. till 8:00 p.m. tonight and I woke up on my own which is always a good sign that I am recovered and rested.  I am so ready to get through tonight and start my weekend!

Pulled the trigger last night on the Cannondale!  I should have it in about a week or two and I am excited.  I did a lot of research on the stock wheels that come with it and each is about 55 grams (about 2 oz) heaver than the Stan's Crest wheels that I was going to upgrade into so I am going to just stick with the WTB Frequency i19 TCS wheels and just run them tubeless just like the Stan's with the Maxxis Ikon tires.  Plus all of the reviews I have read about the WTB wheels are positive so I see no need to switch them out.   It is going to be a really fun project!

Love this song and video... it always reminds me of eating chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen one day long time ago... I've always thought T.C. was a hell of an artist.

Happy Friday! Well, sorta...

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Magic of a Warm Hat

It is Monday night, day two of work for the week starts in 16 minutes.  Watching The Bates Motel on A&E and it's actually pretty good I think.

Pretty good training week last week.  Saturday's long run got a little involved as the weather turned mid-run to rain and cold. It was so weird to actually smell rain  as it definitely is not a common thing in Colorado anymore, rain or the smell of rain.  Anyway, the weather got cold, wet and windy as I was coming back through GOG on my way home.

I stopped at the top of three hours... added another layer, gloves and hat and then I was perfectly comfortable the whole way home.  That hat really did the trick and made the biggest difference overall.  Without it I bet the last hour of running would not have nearly as pleasant.

Decent numbers last week training.  79.2 miles riding, 56.15 running.  Funny though, it comes out to 6:19 of riding and 9:27 of running.

I had the most awesome ride last Thursday too.  40+ miles and I was all over the place.  I am finding lately that I am enjoying the bike more and more.  Not only am I enjoying it, I feel like I am getting better and better on each ride.   The funny thing is that I am starting to feel that I am getting stronger on the bike than I am at running.  It could be a function that we have been working mostly on the bike these past few months or it could be a sign that my talents (if any) might not be in running after all.  We will see.

I bet in about eight weeks these numbers will be mild in comparison.  Fourteen weeks and five days till the Leadville Marathon, the first race in the 2013 Leadman Series. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Nothing Short of a Miracle

Okay I am going to go ahead and say it... It is a miracle and I am cured!  Sorta, I think... maybe... Usually by this time of the year I am living on Claritin, Nyquil to sleep and tons of hot showers just to be able to keep breathing.  Typically my allergies are that bad and they pretty much always have been.

I am usually affected earlier than everyone else by about a month.  I start having symptoms by the 3rd to last week of February and by my birthday, the end of the first week of March I am just in full blown survival mode and miserable.  This usually lasts until the end of March for me.

The risk really comes into play when my immune system becomes involved fighting my allergies.  A nasty negative feedback loops gets set up where my allergies wear me down, I become susceptible to catching other bugs and my immune system then gets all out sorts... witness the seven weeks last spring where in the end I had a severe respiratory infection when it was all over.

But this year?  This year... hardly a bump in the road.  I bet in the past three weeks I have maybe taken three Claritin... five at the most.  My worst symptoms so far are itchy eyes and some sniffles and sneezing here and there but hardly anything like I am used to.  By now my allergies would be on a scale of 1-10 an 11... now... .5.

It all comes back to cleaning up my diet and going Paleo.  Of course I don't know if my lack of symptoms is due to giving up the gluten or dairy but either way it is working.  And even if I don't adhere to the Paleo diet for the rest of my life (which I doubt I will just out of practicality) at least now I have a new tool in my arsenal to fight my seasonal allergies.

The great upside is this... I am not having allergy attacks.  I can run without having to blow my nose every five minutes or having huge, blinding sneezing fits.  My lungs are staying clear and the grand sum of of the symptoms are not wearing me down.  To me this means that I will be able to train better this spring than ever.  Hell, I might even gain ground for once instead of just hanging on for six to eight weeks like in the past.

Like I said... damned near a miracle.  When I was a kid I had to get two injections a week for my allergies until I was a teenager and I have suffered with them horribly ever since.  This is a great and awesome turn of events for me and I am really grateful for the relief.

Usually when the charts look like this... it is miserable for me.  Now... barely a symptom!

Monday, March 11, 2013


The birthday weekend is done and in the past.  Funny as it seems nothing really went as planned this weekend or as expected.  Not that that was a bad thing mind you... just lots of alternative scenarios and situations.  Still... all in all a great weekend and a good birthday, period.

But like Geronimo my ass was WAY off the reservation this weekend in sorts.  Basically any restrictions for food or beverages was thrown out the the window for this weekend and I loved it.  Everything from PBR to Red Velvet cake was the fare, legal and in bounds and god it was nice.  Oh yeah, and a cinnamon roll on Sunday morning that every cinnamon roll from here on out will be compared to... I am not kidding as it was just that awesome.

When I tightened everything up in December I sort of planned for this past weekend to be a free for all and a break and it worked out.  The cool  thing about indulging as I did this weekend is that I can really accurately measure the impact the days afterwards.  This is a positive as I know that having that cake, or the two pepper steaks this weekend didn't ruin my chances at Leadman.  But I also have to know I can get by with letting loose every once in a while and it won't wreck everything.

The night shift thing is still proving to be a challenge to adjust to.  Be that as it may it did afford me the opportunity for an awesome ride last Thursday during the afternoon.  While I was on that ride I stopped by Criterium and scoped out the Cannondale F29 Carbon 3.  All I can say is WOW.  I can't wait to get my REI Dividend and order this bike.  My goal once I get it is to get it down to 22 lbs or so.  It is going to be a fun project.

For starters it will get a carbon fiber seat post, Stan's Crest Wheels for the front and back and Maxxis Ikon Tires.  That is just the beginning.
Still over a month until the Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race.  I am really excited about it and I can't wait to run it.  50K on trail sounds really great right now!

So that about sums it up... great birthday... back on the program diet-wise till Mexico in two months, still training and just trying to enjoy life as much as I can right now.  It all seems to be working!

I've always been a Sarah McLachlan fan since 1993 but this video I found the other day... and well, damn...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Happy Friday! (No, seriously, it is!)

Happy Friday!  Well at least for me.  Today starts my day four of my four day (night) work week which began last Sunday.  Basically for now and for the foreseeable future (either until I get laid off voluntarily or involuntarily from Verizon and get my package that is) this is my schedule.  9p - 8a starting Sunday nights and ending on Thursday mornings.  So far this week seems to have been manageable for the most part.

Besides staying up all night, and having to try to sleep during the day the hardest part of this is the diet aspect and not eating too much.  And since sodas are off the table for me finding interesting ways to get the blood flow moving and the HR up has been fun.  The first two nights at the office when I was struggling to stay awake I did multiple sets of push ups and crunches until failure then I was okay.  Last night working at home I did a quick 30 minute session on the bike trainer and that really got me amped up.  So instead of this schedule cratering my training I am trying to use it to my benefit to augment my training. Smart, huh?

I had a good run this evening.  I got a new lease signed on the cottage this afternoon so I couldn't run until that was done at four.  I felt something today running that I had not felt in a long time.  The sun!  As I was going across the mesa I could actually feel the sunbeams warming me up and it felt great!  I know the weather is going to change the next few days but still it was a nice change.  I ran into Paul Doyle up on the Mesa too and we talked a bit. I wished him luck in the Salida half this weekend.  I told him it is one of the best and most fun half marathons out there.

I am not going to let the weather change hamper my plans for Saturday.   The weather is still going to be crappy but the wind will be out of the north so at my back for the most part so that will help considerably both with energy expenditure and heat retention.  The plan is to do an eight mile loop here in the Springs then come back to the house and get my vest and stuff and then head south for the 37 mile trip to Penrose.  I will cache water and Gatorade on Friday somewhere about halfway.

But the next few days are going to be a blast... Melissa and I are going out with friends tomorrow night, Friday night we are going to Joseph's for my birthday dinner and then I have my run to the hot springs on Saturday.  I am pretty excited!

I love this video.  I will not be going as fast as this guy is though and I don't plan on passing anyone unless forced to do so in this segment.  That risk is not worth that much reward for me.   From what I have been able to figure out from other videos is that it will take 3-5 minutes to get down the actual nasty power line part to the valley floor and I plan to take my time getting down there.  Anyway, this video is fun and gets the adreneline pumping for the race.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Did I Miss My Calling?

Perhaps but I doubt it.  Today was one of those rides which does make me wonder why I never stuck to riding a bike or took it more seriously. I am sure there are 100's of reasons and they were all practical but it was a good time on the bike today.

The ride to Woodland Park up the pass was a workout the entire way.  Going up to Rampart Range Road and across to Mount Herman Road was just beautiful and the ride down Mt. Herman road was a complete blast.

Today I also set a new PR for the most miles I have ever ridden at one time. 61.4 miles and in the end I had 5872 feet of elevation gain.  Again, not too bad!

This will be a great ride in the summer months and later in the spring and I can't wait to do this one again.

Up the pass, across the range, down to Monument and back home. A great early spring ride.
Today's elevation profile.  The steep descent was Mt. Herman Road.
All in all a solid training week.   6:47 running, 8:48 riding, 15:36 total. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Track Day, Sorta

Did 13 miles on the track today... three mile warmup to 135 BPM, then two miles between 135 and 145 BPM, then a continuous 8 miles averaging in the mid 140's for a MAF test.  Not the results that I was looking for today but I think the wind out of the south and east had enough of an impact to skew some things.  Regardless I turned it into an awesome 21 mile day total with a strong MAF focus so that was cool.

While at the track this guy was there running repeats (half mile) and then hopping on his trainer and spinning a bit.  That was something that I had never seen before.  Anyway... a decent day and the weather was great.  Long ride tomorrow and with the weather it should be fun.

Track Stand Trainer.  You're doing it right!

Me? Not so much.  My ghetto setup.  The track stand is vintage early 80's but  it works and that's what counts!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Three Months of Paleo and MAF

At the urging of Lucho I am breaking my self-imposed blogging vow of silence to post these two photos...

Day One.  December 3, 2012.  157 lbs.
Three months later.  February 27, 2013.  137 lbs.
Cleaning up the diet by going Paleo and focusing on the fat burning aspects of MAF training I was able to drop 20 pounds.   This will be worth lots of time racing in Leadville this year.

Total numbers for February, 36:24 of running and 19:57 of riding.  Monthly MAF test tomorrow and I am hoping to see a decent speed increase from a few weeks ago.