Friday, May 23, 2014

Xterra Lory Pre-Ride

Went to pre-ride the Xterra Lory course today and wow, Horsetooth Reservoir is high.  Crazy high.

Eltuck Bay, swim course site for Xterra Lory

And this is what it looked like in August, 2012

Don't think they'll have to worry about making the swim too short this year.  But they may be pressed for transition area space.  At least it won't be a very long walk from the road/parking down to transition this year.

But the water.  Oh so cold.  Wonder if I can somehow squeeze into 2 wetsuits.  It's going to warm up by next week.  Sure it is.

I love thinking of the lines in mountain biking similar to the lines in dog agility.  In general I'm more a fan of letting the dog keep his speed and jump a little wide rather than trying to crank him down for a tight turn.  Especially when that dog is Strummer.  Sometimes you need a tight turn but if I can get away with wide and speedy I'll opt for that. 

Here's a video showing 2 lines for a tight switchback at Lory.  It's not super technical but it is a little trickier than it looks and plenty of people get off to walk it.  And a woman was seriously hurt on this switchback one year.  I saw her lying on the ground and it looked like she had missed it entirely.  Paramedics had to carry her out.  But if you know it's coming and how to handle it it's not bad.

Video showing the tighter inside line and wider outside line.

The outside line felt faster and more comfortable, at least for me.  I actually took the inside line by accident on my second lap.  When I tried to take it on purpose on my first lap I couldn't even do it.  The big difference between agility and mountain biking is that in the case of this race the time is inconsequential and in dog agility it's huge, could mean the difference between winning the class and being in 5th place.  Not that I care all that much about times but I do like to think about the fastest, most efficient line.  And sometimes you take whatever line happens in the moment whether it's agility or mountain biking.

And here's a video of some random footage.  I shot so many clips, the editing task seemed daunting so instead of a choppy montage I just put two of the longer clips that I liked together.  So green and lush, it was an amazing day on the trails.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Preliminary Experiment with UCAN

Getting ready for Xterra Lory next week and starting to thing about race nutrition.  Last year I got some pretty debilitating cramps after having GU early after the swim in my last 2 races which were on the long side (Xterra Nationals and Xterra Buffalo Creek).  Up until then I'd tolerated GU pretty well.  One theory I have is that I've finally lost my ability to tolerate any sugar whatsoever during a hard athletic effort.  I'd barely used any commercial bars or gels during my training last summer, either using nothing or sometimes taking bars that Jonny had made that had some sugar but probably not nearly as much as a typical energy bar.  I'm not a fan of these commercial products which are full of sugar (because, duh, that's the point) but also other chemicals.  I hate the artificial taste they have and sometimes even the smell of them, mostly the sports drinks, barfs me out.  SO gross. 

With the tweaks to my diet (less carbs, more fats but so far not to the level of ketosis) I've been able to go up to 2 hours with no fueling.  Easily.  Sometimes even in a nearly fasted state.  Lory may take me 2:15-2:30 hours and I'll be going at a hard race effort so I'm on the fence about whether I'll need something and if so, what?  Last year I took 2 GU's and I tolerated them o.k. but do I need anything this time around?

Enter UCAN which is a waxy maize that's been run through a 40 hour hydrothermal process (don't ask me what's the advantage of that).  In short it's a carbohydrate that releases slowly, doesn't stimulate insulin (and thus block ability to burn fat over carbs) and is easily absorbed.  And of course does not contain any sugar.  In long, well, if you want to know the gory details, Dr. Peter Attia, who is not compensated by the company nor is he a shareholder (at least he wasn't at the time this video was filmed) has a nice science-y explanation of it.  If you want to skip the long biochemistry lesson in how muscle tissue absorbs fuel you can go to the 40 minute mark for more info. about UCAN.

UCAN Presentation from Peter Attia on Vimeo.

There are a number of ways that the product can be used and believe me I'm going to experiment with them but in the interest of my upcoming race I started off my first experiment today using it in between 2 high intensity workouts.  I had an early morning 1 1/4 hour run that consisted of 12 high intensity 30 second hill repeats and then after  some recovery, ten 1:00 minute intervals with high foot turnover.  And I had taken the dogs for a 1/2 hour walk previous.  No food except a bulletproof mocha before the dog walk.

When I got home after my run my stomach was queasy, not hungry at all, so I waited about 15 minutes then had a packet of plain UCAN mixed with 14 oz of water.  My stomach was still queasy but my swim workout was in 45 minutes and I wanted to get something down.  It was pretty much tasteless but had a chalky texture, not too bad but definitely chalky.  My stomach was still queasy after having it and for a brief time almost seemed like it might get worse but then after about 5 minutes or so I actually started to feel better.  This was unexpected, nothing I'd read about the stuff made any claims about settling a queasy stomach.  I was going to be happy enough with things not getting worse, I was incredulous that the stuff seemed to be making my stomach better.

And my workout?  An hour long masters swim workout with some hard sprint intervals.  Normally simply getting through a workout like that after a hard run workout would be a daunting task.  But I was fine, made it through the hard intervals with some of the best times I've ever especially since I was leading the lane so no drafting.  I was hungry when I got home at around 12:15 but was not dizzy, bonky or raiding the container of almond butter for a small snack before I started making lunch like I normally might do.

This is just one trial and of course I need to do many more.  I'll try a few more test runs but so far I'm excited about using it at least before my race if not during.  I wonder as well if it could be a good thing to try at an all day agility trial.  I did pretty well at Regionals, didn't have breakfast other than bulletproof mocha one day (didn't have any one day to see if there was a difference and I can't say that there was much) and wasn't even thinking about food until around 11:00.  I've not been limiting carbs strictly enough to go into ketosis but I do think the reductions I've made have allowed for a greater percentage of fat burning, not as good as someone in ketosis but better than your average person who eats lots of carbs/sugar and better than I was before.  I love not feeling hungry and having to eat snacks all the time.  And I love going to an agility trial and not feeling tired/bonky from not getting enough food.  And I wonder if the UCAN could further help regulate energy, especially on a long hot outdoor trial day.  Maybe if I go to DOCNA Nationals I'll try it out there if not before.

I don't typically promote STUFF and I really don't like nutrition 'products' as opposed to real food.  Like Peter, I don't get any compensation for writing about this stuff.  But I'm happy to have found out about it and thankful for the other folks who wrote about it in blogs and on forum posts.  There simply aren't many fueling options for people who don't want to use or can't tolerate sugary sports products and I'm so happy to have discovered this option and I'm just passing it along.  I'll be posting updates about my experiences with it.  If anyone has questions you can post them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer.  Peter Attia's blog is a good place to start.

A couple of caveats/warnings.  I bought the plain, unflavored UCAN.  It also comes in flavors and with whey protein.  All the flavored stuff has sweeteners, either Splenda or Stevia or something called Monk Fruit Extract, and I'm not o.k. with any of that so I just got plain.  The jury is out on these sweeteners and I'm taking no chances with them, especially not for a race/training.  I'll experiment with adding my own flavors, some unsweetened cocoa and maybe even making a smoothie with some yogurt and/or coconut milk and almond butter.  Should be an interesting summer of experimenting.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Adventures in Training

Last month I finally decided to pull the trigger and hire a triathlon coach.  It's something I've resisted up until now mostly because for crying out loud, what a ridiculous bourgeoisie Boulder luxury to lavish money on.  I'm not a pro, I'm not even at the pointy end of my age group and even if I was, why on earth do I need a coach?  Get out there, do some swimming, some biking, some running, enter a few races to keep me motivated and call it good.  And last year this strategy worked very well for me.  I cut 15 minutes off my time from the year before in 2 races despite being a year older.

But I've quickly run out of training ideas for interval workouts and I'm going mostly on instinct and how my body feels as far as choosing how many hours to train in total and how to spread that time between each discipline.  I'm never sure how much to cut back and when before a race.  And Nationals didn't go as well as I would have liked last year.  If I go this year, and I'm thinking that I want to, I want to do better.  Or at least not feel so horrible on that climb on the bike up Sardine Peak.  So many questions and uncertainty about how to move forward.

Then there's the time management thing.  It seemed like I spent a lot of time last summer scrambling to get workouts in between clients and the business of running my business.  And it seemed like there was plenty of time, it just wasn't spent in the most efficient way and I'd waste a lot of mental energy constantly re-scheduling my workouts to fit clients.  Some days I'd spend half the day debating whether I should bike or run, and where I should bike or run, or whether I should try to make the next masters swim workout.  Sometimes I was good and I'd plan the whole week out on Sunday night but by the end of the week I'd realize almost nothing had ended up going to plan.

One of the big things about running your own business is figuring out what parts of your life to delegate to other people-stuff like house cleaning, running errands, yard work, etc. so that you can focus on the important stuff.  The problem of course is having the funds to do that so far now I do my own manual labor.  But this is one area where I think delegating is going to be a very good thing.  So far I'm way more organized with my time.  I can put my training schedule into my appointment put weeks in advance so I'm not scheduling somebody during a key masters workout or an afternoon when I want to go ride at Hall Ranch.  I'm not cutting down on work to do my training, just doing a better job of meshing them together.

Not having to devise workouts and debate over whether or not I'm doing too much or too little is also a load off my shoulders.  I was in a rut of following a certain training plan of intervals and now my world is opened up to a smorgasbord of types and distances of intervals.  I don't have to spend any mental energy on the why's of my training, I just have to figure out the when and where and this frees up a huge chunk of mental energy.  Didn't realize how much energy I was spending on it until I didn't have to do it anymore.

And I have to say, between the training, the nutrition tweaks and my new kick ass bike I'm feeling pretty fit and feisty for Xterra Lory in 2 weeks.  I don't think I've ever done a triathlon so early in the season but I'm feeling ready and I still have one more hard training week to put in before the easy week leading up to the race.  There are loads of people registered in my age group, 50-54 is the new 40-44.  Or something.  Should be very fun.  Horsetooth Reservoir was 50 degrees a few days ago, we've been having an unseasonably cool spring.  Let's hope some warmer days come and toast it up a bit in the next 2 weeks.

Went up to Buffalo Creek last Saturday to ride one of my favorite trails and conditions were about as perfect as it gets up there.  Wonderful tacky hero dirt rather than the sandpit you often get in places on the trail.

This was not the race course for my Xterra in August but rather a portion of the Colorado Trail that goes to a loop around Green Mountain.  Wonderful uppy downy swoopy singletrack.

And I managed to get my intervals in though I went 40 minutes over my prescribed riding time.  I had to go overtime to get the Green Mountain Loop in but I was feeling good and after the fact my coach said it was no problem.  She's a mountain biker and does Xterra's so she understands the lure of the trail.  And the idea that this is all supposed to be fun.  Which is why I think she's going to be a great match.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

USDAA Rocky Mountain Regionals Day 2

A quick day today, finished with 3 runs by 11:30 a.m.  A very fun, nice Team Jumpers run, a not so fun 7 point Team Snooker run that made me cranky and I very very pretty much never get cranky but wow I got a little bit cranky for a bit.  Especially since it was a super easy Snooker course and everybody else got at least through 6.  Then mucked up the Masters Challenge Jumpers run but at least we had fun doing it.

Team Jumpers

This was 3rd place and a Q somehow even with the 2 point refusal.  And my teammate is so awesome that even with my 7 point Snooker run we are above the Qualifying line and not in last place.  Looking forward to redeeming myself in relay tomorrow.

Friday, May 02, 2014

USDAA Rocky Mountain Regionals Day 1

Some nice runs from the Strum man but little mistakes here and there, typical.  I'll just post maps and videos from my favorite runs.

This was my favorite run of the day.  A missed dogwalk contact but otherwise a clean run.  Love those international style courses though this one was not as tricky as most that I've seen, at least for our skill set.

Masters Challenge Standard

Then there was the hearbreaker of Steeplechase.  It was such a perfect course for Strummer, difficult for me because of all the running but I thought I had a good handle on it because of the DOCNA trial last weekend.  I was so sure we'd make it into the Finals.  But I also know that on a super fast course like that, anything can happen. 

(I must have left my course maps at the site and for some reason USDAA doesn't have Regional Steeplechase maps on their site so I'll update when I get a map).


Poor guy, I didn't cue the second A-frame early enough and he takes an off course tunnel.   I did see this trap of course and before the run I kept reminding myself to remember to call his name early but it all happened so fast and I forgot and, well, no Steeplechase Finals for us.  You can even see him lock onto the tunnel very early so even if I'd remembered to call I'm not sure it would have done anything.  He was patterned for that tunnel from the start of the run.  Most people kept their dog on their right through that sequence and rear crossed before the A-frame but some still got off courses anyway and for Strummer I don't think that would have been the best choice. 

Funny that my 2 favorite runs were the most technical and the most wide open.  They both have their challenges.

Team Standard turned into sort of a mess because Strummer got too far ahead on the dogwalk as I paused like a deer in the headlights to marvel at the fact that he hit the contact and then couldn't get to where I needed to be.  And Gamblers went well except for the teeter flyoff in the gamble which negated our gamble points but it's a boring video so I won't bother to process it.

Was done with 4 runs by around 2:30, if only agility could always be like that.  Looking forward to more fun tomorrow.

USDAA Survey

I'm off to USDAA Regionals in 1/2 an hour but thought I'd pass on a link to a survey they're doing for those not on their mailing list:

I'm too cynical to be fooled into thinking it'll make any kind of significant difference but it's pretty short so what the heck.

It's a 3 day agility weekend so of course it's supposed to be unseasonably warm (mid-70's today, 80's on Sat. and Sun.) and we're indoors in a facility that is terrible in the heat.  It's the only place I've ever seen Strummer struggle with the heat.  Thankfully I'm only entered in morning events tomorrow so I should be out before it gets too stifling.  And last fall I figured out where the hose is and how to hook it up and that made a huge difference so I'm confident we'll be o.k. this time.  Still, why this weekend for the 80 degree heat and we're not outside?  May is so fickle.  I remember one year when we had 4" of snow first thing in the morning for a NADAC trial so I understand totally why the clubs didn't want to risk being outside.  Ah well, at least I'm not signed up for full days, just Team and Steeplechase and Masters Challenge Biathlon.  Just the right amount to be fun and not draining.

Wheels up in 20, looking forward to a fun day.

Always ready for action when it comes to agility.