Monday, June 24, 2013

Calorie Concentration...What a difference!

Nutrition is the forth leg of triathlon; sometimes the determining factor in a race.  I have experienced both good and bad nutrition during a race throughout the years.  The trickiest part can be, when you think you have it dialed, it may need to be tweeked from race to race depending on the race conditions. I have also found that my nutrition has needed to be tweeked from season to season.  As I have gotten stronger, my nutrition plan needed to be adjusted slightly to accommodate my calorie needs.

With all that being said, there are certainly nutrition no-no's. One of the biggest mistakes I made and learned the hard way, was making my calorie bottles too concentrated.  In an ideal world, you want to keep your calorie bottles below an 8% concentration during really hot races;  it can be 8% concentration during cool races and can go up to 12% concentration during cold races.  If your calorie bottles are too concentrated, your stomach most likely will shut down and not allow you to absorb the calories you are ingesting.  Resulting in either throwing up or risking GI distress.  This is what happened to me at Kansas 70.3 last year (2012).

My Calorie bottles were too concentrated, so half way through the bike, I was feeling bloated.  Shortly thereafter, I was spitting up some of what I was ingesting.  At the time, I didn't know what was causing it.  I naturally backed off my intake until that bloated feeling went away.  Sure enough, shortly after I started ingesting more from my calorie bottles, I started to have the same symptoms, bloating and burping up what I was ingesting.  Again, I waited for a bit before I took in more from my bottles.  It was a catch 22, I knew I needed the calories from those bottles, but I couldn't seem to keep them down.  Needless to say, I came off the bike not feeling great.  After the first loop of the run, I faded fast and was doing everything I could to get more calories in me; it was too late at that point.  Since I wasn't absorbing what I was ingesting on the bike, I went into the run too depleted and too far behind on calories to be able to make up for the deficit.  I got through the run, but it was certainly ugly. I lost a place on the run, when I could have potentially gained a place, if I had the right nutrition plan; finished 4th

 Many people immediately jump to the conclusion that it was the nutrition product vs. a nutrition mistake.  I knew it had to of been a mistake on my end vs the product.  Prior to Kansas, and during years past, I didn't have any problems with First Endurance EFS; I actually love how well First Endurance products fuel me for training and racing.   I made the mistake of adjusted my nutrition plan by increasing my calorie intake per hour the wrong way.  I needed more calories per hour, Just should not have put all my calories into my water bottles, making my bottles too concentrated.

I immediately made an adjustment to my nutrition plan fr my next race.  I decreased the amount of calories per bottle and supplemented with EFS Liquid shot (gel), to make sure I was getting the appropriate amount of calories an hour.  The trick with gels is, you need to make sure you drink a good amount of water after taking a gel.  It dilutes the concentration of the gel and makes it easier to absorb.  Not to mention the fact that you are getting more water in that way.  Dehydration can lead to a 30% decrease in energy.

My race at Kansas 70.3 this year (2013) reiterated the importance of a good nutrition plan and calorie concentration.  This year I made sure my calorie bottles were below 8% concentration and I supplemented with EFS Liquid shot (gel) for additional calories.  My nutrition plan was great.  I never felt low on energy, I was strong throughout the race.  Just as an example, my run at Kansas 70.3 last year (2012) was 10min slower than this year (2013); same course, similar conditions, and same nutrition products (First Endurance). What changed was how I used the First Endurance products.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Fl 70.3. Putting it together

So we all work and hard in hopes we can put it all together in a race; at least that's my truth.  Well, my truth became reality at Fl 70.3.  The past several months training has been showing great numbers.  It was a matter of just putting it all together and having the race unfold.

We all go into races having strategies on how were going to execute our plan.  My strategy was unfolding perfectly at Fl 70.3 with a few manageable hiccups. I knew I needed to come out of the water with the first pack of women in the swim, which would allow me to ride with them vs. riding alone; key for me, so I thought.  The First few miles of the ride, everyone's fighting for their position.  I quickly realized after about 20 minutes into the ride I had to make an executive decision.  I kept watching my power numbers drop, so I put in a surge in hopes to create a gap between myself and the group; that didn't happen, everyone just matched my effort.  So I had to deviate from my strategy slightly; which always makes me nervous. I either had to keep pushing the pace and pay close attention to my watts, OR, I sit in and ride with the group, ignoring my watts, in hopes that everyone else was working harder on the bike than I was, leaving me with better run legs than them.  I decided to sit in and hoped it wasn't going to come and bite me in the ass later.

Coming into T2, I was amongst a group of 6 women, it now came down to the run.  Again, another strategy needed to be implemented.  Quick T2, hold back a smidge on loop one, push the pace on loop two, and hold on or build loop three; most likely hold on.  Another strategy, was my nutrition. For me, nutrition is tricky but key.

Immediately out of T2, I moved into position three.  I knew if I nailed my nutrition and kept myself cool, 1was going to be on the podium; two very big tasks in 95+ degree heat.  Loop one down, still on target, only two more to go; time to push the pace. First and foremost, get up this big hill then free sailing until loop three.  I made it and still had something in my legs.  I kept moving and grabbing at each aid station.  The coke, Ice, and my First endurance EFS flask were my prized possessions.  At one point I had to have looked pregnant with all the ice I had dumped down my jersey.  It was getting stuck by my Fuel Belt and creating a glorious ice chest.  Ice cold water melting and dripping down my stomach and onto my legs, I couldn't have planned it any better myself.

As I was half way through loop two, I realized I could see second place.  That certainly fueled my fire. I quickly quieted my breathing and pushed the pace a little more.  I really didn't want her to know I was coming up on her.  It's always fun to feel good and know you are more than half way through.  As I was going into loop three, I saw my parents and gestured to them,  I was "ok". Now the last and final loop.  Just get up this HUGE hill (at least that's what it felt like the third time through) and your homeward bound.

Again, the aid stations were my best friend.  Grabbing everything I could get my hands on to keep myself cool and hydrated. Hydration is a key factor for me.  Yes, it is tough to get lots of water in while running.  So I'm sure it is quite the spectacle and confusing to the volunteer as I run through the aid station yelling, water, coke, ice, ice, ice, water, coke...Not to mention the fact that I probably get more on me than I do in my mouth.  Something is always better than nothing though.

I make it to the final aid station and bypass it.  I knew I was only a half a mile or so out from the finish line.  At this point, each step my legs were getting heavier and my will was no longer willing me to push the pace harder, it was willing me to hang on.  I knew I wasn't going to make up anymore ground on the leader and finish in second place, if I could just hold on a little longer.  I tend to run scared the last half mile to mile because I have been passed there a few times and couldn't respond.  This time was different though, I felt strong and was able to create a sizable gap between me and the third place girl, so the threat of being passed the last 800m of the run, wasn't a thought.  Fueling properly and keeping cool are without a doubt a necessity for a successful race.

I increased my calories on the bike and run during this race.  It made the world of a difference on how I felt overall.  I knew I had the fitness, my numbers in training were telling me so.  I just needed to put it all together, and I did.

Thanks coach Curt Chesney, First Endurance, Zoot Sports, Colorado Multisport, The Right Stuff, Pro Energy Towel for standing behind me and in my corner.  You all continue to make racing and training fun!

Monday, April 8, 2013

California 70.3/Oceanside

Oceanside California says it all when it comes to this race!  How bad could it be, it's Southern California; great temps, moisture in the air, ocean swim, along the beach, and fun people.  I truly had a great time at this race.

We all think, California, the pacific ocean, COLD water.  Well, there was the idea of cold, but freezing is more like.  I initially was thrilled because cold water meant wetsuit legal; that rarely happens.  I think I got to wear my Zoot prophet wetsuit once last year.  So starting my race season off with a wetsuit legal swim was a bonus.

To my surprise, after splashing my face several times with water before getting in, I never really got the "ice cream face" I had expected. Maybe it was also do to the fact that there really wasn't much time to think about it.  We jumped in, I took a few deep breaths in, in an attempt to drop my heart rate due to the shock of the cold water; kicked my feet and swam hard to the start line.  Fighting to line up in just the right spot without pushing others out of the way.  Before I knew it, the fog horn sounded, and we were off.  Arms slapping, feet kicking, and bodies bumping, all in an attempt to get a good spot amongst the group.  Trying to find the shortest and most direct route.  As expected, we all had the same idea, it wasn't until probably the first turn bouy before the group spread out a little.  Even then, I still had two or three girls in front of me; which I welcomed so I had some feet to swim on; and a girl on either side of me.  Trying my very best not to run in to them, apparently I wasn't doing a great job at that. By far, that was one of the most brutal swims I have been in a long time.  I'm referring to all the bumping and hitting of arms.  Nothing seemed intentional, but hard to avoid when a pack of 5 are fighting for that same spot out of the water.

I couldn't have been more thrilled during the swim.  I felt great, and I found myself swimming with the lead pack of women.  It was awesome to come out of the water an into T1 all about the same time.  When I realized where I was at in the swim and who I was swimming with, I kept repeating to myself, " I can race these girls".  Let me provide a little background leading into this race.  I knew the field was going to be stacked; it's the first US race of the season for goodness sacks.  So I mentally wrapped my head around having a good race for me.  I have always been a little intimidated by the top tier pros; the Rinny's, Heather Jackson's, Rachel Joyce's, Lindsey Corbin's, etc. of the triathlon world.  Don't get me wrong, there are several more out there, actually, I think they all showed up for this race.

So when I found myself coming out of the water with them and leaving T1 before several of them I was esthetic.  I even road with the top girls for the first 90min of the ride until I got separated a little bit by the hills.  During that time I was paranoid.  A million things were running through my head, most of which were the rules and the question of, "am I riding far enough back?  The last thing I need now is a drafting penalty."  I found myself erring on the cautious side.  It finally registered, that the motorcycles and officials were surrounding the top pack girls and not one of us were getting penalties, so I had to be within legal distance.  So my thoughts quickly turned to, "race your race but don't let those girls get too much of a gap on."  I did just that.  I was really having a great time, still star struck that I was out there riding and hanging with the top pack of girls, then the hills hit.

Several people told me California 70.3 was hilly on the backside of the bike course.  I looked at the profile several times and really wasn't too worried.  Well, reality was, the backside was pretty dog on hilly.  The two main big climbs were as expected.  What I didn't expect was the rollers and false flats into a head wind afterwards.  Those little hills and false flats just kept coming.  That was when I lost sight of the last person in the lead pack.  I didn't completely lose her, I could still see her when I crested a hill and she was climbing the next one.  It was like dangling a rabbit out in front of me.  Problem was, the hills were getting in my way; If I could have only moved them.  None-the-less, I really felt good on the bike and had a good time out there chasing the last hour.  With that being said, I also couldn't wait to get upright and run. I don't care how well your bike is fit to you, the last 30min or so on it, I want nothing more than to get off and run; a change in use of muscles.  If it weren't for my nutrition (First Endurance EFS) being so good, I also don't think I would have enjoyed that ride as much as I did.

T2 was as seamless as T1; in and out of there.  I hopped onto race pace immediately and quickly realized I felt great; fast turnover, good energy, mental state was good.  I actually kept thinking, "wow, I really do think this is going to be a great race.  If I hold onto this pace, I'm golden."  Keep in mind, I was racing for myself and a top 10 position.  I think I was sitting 9th at this point. No one seemed to be too close to worry abou,t behind me, and I could see what I needed to do to catch one other in front of me.  I slowly made more ground on her, until I passed her.  Again, more positive thoughts ran through  my head.  Then the second loop rolled around.  After running up the pier ramp for the second time, that took some steam out of my legs.  I could feel my stride length get longer and slow down.  I quickly tried to adjust, but didn't have it in me to continue to hold my pace.  Throughout the second loop, I gradually drop my pace and realized, I was going to have to work for the last 2-3 miles of this run.  Legs were just getting loaded and heavy, hard to keep them moving as fast as I wanted to will them to go.  I quickly resorted to my checklist of things to make sure I was doing everything I could, to prevent myself from falling off pace anymore; "am I bonky, no; how many calories have I taken on the run; I don't want anymore; am I drinking; yes; so on and so forth.  All seemed to check out.  The only thing I could think of was, maybe I should have taken in a few more calories at end of bike and earlier into the run so I would have had a bit more energy to carry me through.  In the end, I ended up getting passed by one girl and ended up 11th.

Overall this was a good season opener.  I had a PR swim, a really good bike (PR in power), and as I mentioned before, I faded a little more than I would have liked on the run, but still hung in there.  Most importantly, this race gave me the confidence I needed to know I can race with these girls.  I may need the best race of my life to win over the top tier pros, but I sure am going to try!  It also gave me the confidence that, even when I faded a little too much on the run, my bad run time is better than my fastest last year.  Moving onward and upward!

Thanks to all my sponsor for their love and support.  I couldn't be racing at this level without you!

Zoot Sports
First Endurance
Colorado Multisport
The Right Stuff
Pro Energy Towel