Saturday, April 16, 2011

I love to RACE my bicycle!

As I finished up my weekly Tuesday Night Time Trial (TNTT) with a ONE MINUTE PR (over a 12.43 mile course- this is HUGE), and earning myself 5th place overall (dudes included) out of 43 riders, someone asked me how I liked my Kestrel 4000 time trial bike.  Before I could even answer, Mike Miner replied "She went from fast to SICK FAST as soon as she got that bike!"
windy cornfields. photo: Rob Shannon
It's only April, and I feel the strongest I have ever been on a bike.  Not only do I have a speedy, stiff frame that can keep me charging through a headwind and stay upright (and aero!) against a sick crosswind... but I have also busted my @ss on the computrainer all winter- big intervals, high cadence intervals, max intervals, and everything in-between! My coach Jen Harrison is a tough cookie!  I'm super happy with my cycling progress- I've got the gear, the training, and nutrition working flawlessly this year:

Tuesday Night Time Trials- Mar. 28th (32:54, 22.67 mph, 3rd OA out of 6 riders)
The Tri-Shark Triathlon Club (or I should say MICK HANNAH) hosts weekly time trials for cyclists and triathletes to test their fitness and earn bragging rights.  It's a GREAT way to get a speed/power workout and test different racing strategies.  The first time out there were only 6 riders to "test" out the course and timing strategy (which went perfectly btw), and I was lucky enough to be invited.  I went out not knowing what to expect, since it was my second outdoor ride of the year- despite some rough winds (as usual in the Midwest) I rode HARD and was happy with my time.  Not a PR, but definitely strong!  I was beat by two INSANELY strong riders, and I beat three that normally would have kicked my butt!! I have definitely been learning how to SUFFER on the bike.  My HR stayed consistent the whole ride, and was about 5 bpm higher than it was averaging at my fittest last year.

Tuesday Night Time Trials - Apr 4 (34:07, 21.86 mph, 5th OA/28)

The second round- yowza.  Winds were WICKED.  I KNEW my time would be slower.  It was a mind game to battle the headwinds and stay upright (but relaxed!) on the crosswind section.  A lot of people get VERY discouraged by the wind- it's hard, and it HOWLS.  Here's the thing though: IT'S ALWAYS WINDY IN CENTRAL IL!!  It's time to accept it and learn to love it.  It makes us STRONGER- like a cyclist in Colorado climbing up a mountain, we can challenge ourselves by pushing a big gear in a 25mph headwind on a country road heading to nowhere...for as long as we want.  Like a cyclist in CO screaming down a mountain at 40mph, once we turn around, we can get pushed back to town with a glorious tailwind!  While CO cyclists may have better bike handling skills, I think that we might build up a tad more mental toughness, since the howling headwind doesn't allow for much chit-chat with your workout are in your own head during the sufferfest!
TNTT course.  photo: Rob Shannon
I digress...back to the TNTT.  The course is FLAT by any standards, but there are some tricky "bumps"- do I gear down and spin or just muscle over it? Stand or sit? After 3 years of riding this course I am still experimenting.  My HR was about the same as last time, and again, I finished feeling strong.  Disappointed that my time was slower, but it was a tough day!  I was pleased again with my overall ranking!  Ha and I forgot my bike I was running a long-sleeve running shirt that was flailing all over the place- it probably cancelled out the aerodynamic effect of my helmet!  I still haven't put the race wheels on my bike yet either...

John Fraser Time Trial 10-mile April 10 (25:23, 23.6 mph, 3rd female OA)

I was excited to try a cycling race with competition other than my training partners! Registration and warm-up went well, and I was so excited to SKYPE with DAN before the race!  It definitely put a smile on my face!!  but again, BOY WAS IT WINDY!  Like the TNTT, participants lined up and were sent off in 30-sec. intervals.  They offered to hold my bike for me so I could start clipped in, but I screwed that up- I veered off to the side when he let go and they yelled at me to "Get out of the saddle!" Oops.  No advantage there.  

I started off strong, with a tailwind- I peeked at the Garmin and saw that I was going 31 mph on a flat road- WOWEE!  There were two turnaround on the course - I practiced them the day before and during my warmup because I was so nervous I wouldn't be able to make it that tight! LOL.  The tailwind was glorious, but the crosswinds were CRAZY!!  Like I mentioned before, I didn't really have a problem, my Kestrel handles them well for me- although I was clearly riding "sideways," the winds were sustained without significant "gusts" so as long as I got in a groove I wouldn't get blown over.  On the way back - MY GOODNESS.  That same windy stretch I was going 31mph on , I was now RACING AND PASSING people at 16mph.  Hilarious.
Me on the finishing stretch- CROSSWIND
I was nervous about this race, because in order to do it right, I needed to GO HARD.  Like, pukey hard.  I was sure suffering out there, but I wasn't getting my HR up to where my goal was.  Maybe I don't have the guts to do it yet.  Maybe it was more of mashfest.  Who knows. 
HR 190 bpm = smiling for camera?

  Out of 190 participants that finished the race, I was 96th.  Out of the 33 women, I was 3rd! Jen took 2nd, and we both took home a small paycheck- sweet!  I've never "won" money before!  It was really cool that my mom, dad, and the dogs came out to watch too- it was great sharing this new "race experience" with them!  I was actually even able to skype with Dan on my drive home to recap the race- I have the app on my iphone, it worked out GREAT!!

Tuesday Night Time Trials April 12 (31:17, 23.85mph, 6th OA/43)
Two days after the JFTT, the weather was looking great for a TT in Central IL.  60's and moderate wind (not CRAZY wind)... it was promising to be a fast night.  Although my legs were still fatigued from TWO DAYS EARLIER, I went for it.  Still no race wheels though :)

I didn't get out on the first stretch as quick as I normally would- I think I might have psyched myself out on how fatigued I thought I was.  On the first turn heading onto Ropp road, I had to slow and wait for a car to pass, and Sam Lewis, who started 30 seconds after me, caught me and passed me on the turn.  Now I had someone to RACE!  It was fun, going back and forth with him the whole time.  
Sam, Ross, and I on the final stretch.  photo: Rob Shannon
HR was LOW, nowhere NEAR where I wanted to be, and legs were burning the whole time- definitely fatigued.  However, a few quick checks on the garmin and I realized that this could be a PR night for me!  I really stayed strong and rode as  hard as I could the whole time, and I ended up edging Sam out at the finish ( but he started 30 seconds after me, so he still beat me- pays off to go out hard in such a short race!) and Ross Monks also finished RIGHT after I did- so he didn't "catch me" either, but he started MINUTES after I did- CRAZY! This guy has gone sub-30 minutes for a 12.43 mile course TWICE this year (only 3 TNTT's so far)
HA it looks like I'm beating Ross. LOL photo: Rob Shannon
I looked at my time, and realized I beat my all-time fastest TNTT by OVER A MINUTE.  SWEEEET!!  I also placed really well, getting beat by some ridiculously fast guys and suprising myself by beating some other REALLY fast guys.  Anyways, two strong time trials and two hard runs this week have left my quads shredded!


I've figured out a nutrition plan that works best for me for these short and hard races:

3-4 hrs prior: High-carb meal with some complex carbs/fat/protein to keep me full.  Examples include: oatmeal with bananas and walnuts or toast with banana and peanut butter.  For the JFTT I also had scrambled eggs and turkey bacon since I ate 4.5 hours before the race.

1-2 hrs prior: I sip on a sports drink to keep blood glucose levels up for FAST energy during the race.  I drink First Endurance (FE) lemon-lime or fruit punch EFS, OR I found my new favorite- FE Vanilla Liquid Shot mixed with water!  I will definitely be using this simple concoction for racing!

30min prior:  1 scoop of FE Pre-Race mixed in a 5 oz. flask with Vanilla Liquid Shot and Water.  I don't feel "jacked," but during 30 min. races I am GAME ON the whole time, and never lose focus.

Post-Race:  I gotta have my FE Cappuccino Ultragen!  So delicious, and the perfect blend of carbs and protein to replenish my glycogen stores and allow my muscles to recover from the smashfest.
I'm so happy with the progress I've made so far this year, and I owe a lot of THANK YOU'S-
My husband for encouraging me and being so supportive; Trakkers and REV3 for giving me some WONDERFUL opportunities to continue to race and promote great businesses in the sport; KESTREL bicycle for making such a FAST frame and for supporting Team Trakkers; JEN HARRISON my coach for understanding HOW to make me fast- she plans the RIGHT workouts at the RIGHT times!;  First Endurance for making the best quality sports nutrition products to keep me on top of my game; and Bloomington Cycle and Fitness for helping me with all my bike-related questions and issues and providing with some great training opportunities!

Monday, April 4, 2011

True Life: 400 lbs. to Ironman

I've been wanting to share this post for awhile:

I know my friend Mike Bernico as a "tough-as-nails" triathlete who lives a well-rounded lifestyle and is training for his first iron-distance triathlon this year. He's been in the sport for a little while now, and he is definitely ready to KILL this race in September!

However, Mike was not always a lean mean machine- In 2007 he was over 400 lbs. and realized he needed to make some changes. He made the decision to turn his life around and STUCK TO IT. Look at him now:

How did he do it??  First, you need to read his story (with pictures):

Now here is the GOOD STUFF:
My Road to Ironman: My Weight Loss Tips

He gives it to his readers straight-up.  He takes a no-excuses attitude.  When Dan and I were reading what he wrote about "Personal Responsibility" our jaws dropped and all we could say was "bad-@SS."

His main advice includes:

  • Small Gradual Changes
  • Taking Personal Responsibility
  • Set Realistic Goals
  • Eat Good Stuff
  • Log your Food
  • Eat Enough Food
  • Exercise with a Purpose
So head on over to his blog; it might save the life of you or someone you care about.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Liquid Shot: Instant Energy w/o the gel!

In my last post, I discussed the limited stores of carbohydrates our bodies' have and how quickly we use up these stores during exercise; therefore we need quality nutrition to replace them before/during/after exercise in order to maintain our intensity and spare protein metabolism.

In my EFS sport drink review, I mentioned that this product is a great for hydration, especially with it's unmatched electrolyte content.  It provides 96 kcals of carboydrate per scoop- they recommend that you put 1.5 scoops into a regular 18 oz. water bottle, so you will get ~135 kcals per bottle.  However, if you are burning carbs at a rate of 600-1000+ kcals per hour, it may be very difficult to stomach 4+ bottles of fluid every hour to get the calories you need!

This is where Liquid Shot comes in.  I started using this product in 2009, before First Endurance was a sponsor for Team Trakkers, so THIS is why I am stoked to represent this company:
Liquid Shot comes in a 5 oz. flask that you can easily carry or store in a jersey pocket.  Each "swig" you take from this flask contains ~100-150 kcals; the whole flask contains 400 kcals from carbs (3-4 swigs).  That's a LOT of fast energy without all the water bulk of a sports drink!  The Liquid Shot is far better than the competing "gels" on the market, because it DOES NOT contain any gelling agents- it truly is a LIQUID shot, and it goes down much easier than a goopy gel does.  

It also contains 1500 mg of electrolytes (like EFS sports drink) and  1000 mg of amino acids (helps muscle recovery), so many people actually dilute this product with water and use it as an alternative to a Sports Drink!  This is what professional triathlete Michael Lovato does for his races- Check out his Kona 2010 Nutrition Report.  Personally, I use a combination of both EFS and Liquid Shot for my training and racing.

It comes in 2 flavors:  Vanilla and Berry.  I love love love the Vanilla flavor- it is lightly sweet and not fruity like everything else I consume on race day.  The berry flavor is OK, not my favorite, but again, only because it DOES have a fruitier taste.  It seems like most of my Trakkers teammates prefer the berry flavor.
The 5 oz. flask is washable and reusable- awesome.  You can buy just one or a tray of six.  First Endurance also sell Liquid Shot in a 32 oz. refillable container, which is what I buy, then refill my old flasks.  On the FE website, they were giving away one flask of the Berry Liquid shot with every order; not sure if that has changed for April or not.

Remember that now is the time to practice your race-day nutrition; use your training to find out what works for you and what doesn't, and to customize YOUR plan.  After all your hard work, you don't want nutrition to ruin your race!  

For more help and advice on sport nutrition, you need to check out the First Endurance Community- it contains numerous nutrition reports from age group and professional athletes, research-driven information and plans for caffeine, salt, gluten etc. and a whole lot more.

Happy TRAINING (and for us Midwesterner's, it looks like 50's this weekend! woo hoo!)