Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Engine Temperature

There comes a time when someone is training for an Ironman (or other big endurance event) where the engine starts burning hot, and I have officially reached that point.

Case #1 in point:

While at Chuckie's on Saturday, I tried going to bed around 9pm (my usual bed time), but was unable to fall asleep. I was hoping that reading Base building for cyclists would help knock me out, but the BEAST inside thought otherwise:

"Uh, you trained for almost 7.5 hours today. Feed me".

So, I got out of bed, went to my bag and grabbed an oatmeal raisin clif bar. It isn't my favorite flavor, but it had to do at that point. I reluctantly opened the package and took my first bite. A clif bar, especially an oatmeal raisin clif bar, never tasted so good. I proceeded to inhale the thing in about 3 more bites, maybe even 2, then laid back down.

The book still wasn't calming the demons inside of me, so about 20 minutes later, I got up, again, and made half of a PB & Honey sandwich. Rather than making those bubbly noises my stomach makes when digesting food, it actually laughed at me. I figured I could give it a minute or so for the food to sink in, but instead it laughed harder.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I got up, for the third time, around 10:20, and made another half sandwich of PB & Honey, only this time I doubled the peanut butter AND honey (which is very messy). Finally, my stomach fell asleep.

Case #2 in point:

Last night after completing my swim workout, bringing my daily training total to about 2.5 hours, Michelle and I made our what seems to be weekly visit to souplantation (read: all you can eat buffet). After putting down a plate of salad, a baked potato (regular, they were out of sweet potatoes, err I mean yams) with ALL the fixin's, some cheesy focaccia bread and a little desert, it got to be about 8:45, and it was time to retire.

The beast thought otherwise.

11:20pm rolled around, I rolled downstairs, and started ruthlessly raiding the cabinets. I ate the following, in order:
  • Fruity trail mix
  • Beef jerky
  • Honey Mustard and Onion pretzels
Michelle came downstairs about 10 minutes later, with a groggy "what the hell are you doing?" look on her face. In true caveman fashion, I grunted back:


while stuffing my mouth with pretzels to the point where my cheeks rivaled a chipmunk:

I then moved onto the peanut butter chips + chocolate chips, then came around full circle back to the above 3 food items above. Michelle came down for a 2nd time, claiming that it was difficult for her to sleep knowing that I am so hungry (she's sweet, isn't she?). I assured her not to worry, as I pretty much ate whatever food was left in her apartment.

When I got home this morning at 5:15 for my 5:30 run, I went straight for my cabinets, and ate chocolate covered almonds, and washed them down with some raspberry clif blocks. Mmm mmm mmm

As you can tell, at this point in training, the choice of food doesn't necessarily have to compliment others - it just has to keep the engine burning.

Ok, now I gotta go make my second breakfast...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekend at Chuckie V's

There have been a few things missing from training this winter, one of which is getting really worked/being outside of my comfort zone. Normally I can hold myself accountable for self inflicted pain, but going hard is always easier with others around, especially when they are faster than me. So, I headed up to Solvang this past weekend to do some training with Chuckie and 2 of his pro's, Angela and Trevor. After being up there almost a year ago, and seeing this pic from his blog post, I was pumped to be heading up there.

Saturday, we had a nice little 113 mile jaunt around the Solvang valley, amassing 7,100 or so of elevation gain, on a nice mix of flats, rollers, and hills. The road quality varied a bit as well, with some very smooth roads, and ones that even broke a water bottle cage of mine - for real! Chuckie played the domestique and sports photographer. Here are a few from the ride - there is a reason why Mr. Armstrong calls Solvang his favorite place to ride outside of Europe:

Me launching a double nostril snot rocket (as an aside, I have moved away from the single nostril action I blogged about before):

Trevor and I descending drum canyon (where my damn cage broke!):

If you can get past this being an ass shot, it really is a cool pic:

My personal favorite:

We also finalized my bike fit, which is looking pretty aero while in hot pursuit:

Yes, I am pulling up the rear in all of them, but I'll take that when riding with a male pro and probable future olympian.

We then headed down to the local track, where I was tasked with 8 x 800's at about Half Marathon pace, then 8 x 400's at about 5-10K-ish pace. After the work was done, I proceeded to eat anything and everything in site for about the next 5 hours, while being completely incapacitated to even communicate with anyone. It was a freakin great day all around - company, workouts, weather, scenery, challenge - everything.

Sunday, I pretty much did a half marathon at the track as part of a MAF test. "Brutal" you probably say to yourself, but I have always enjoyed running at the track (not to mention, this track was hands down the nicest track I have ever seen), so I actually enjoyed it.

The ride home involved a quick stop at a Kalyra to grab a bottle (or 2!), as seen in Sideways:

This weekend was exactly what I needed - ass whoopin, great weather, and a change of scenery! Stoked to keep the ball rolling! Good luck and have fun to those doing Oceanside this Saturday!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Gran Fondo WIN

Paolo Bettini, Olympic Gold Medalist, and 2006 + 2007 World Champion, was seen drafting off of local chump triathlete during the Gran Fondo two Saturday's ago. Witnesses have confirmed the bizarre behavior, and photo was confirmed not to have been edited. Bettini's camp has denied accusations, and also noted that drafting off of something that small would be worthless not just for the world champ, but for anyone. Friends of the local chump have also confirmed that drafting off of him is simply "useless".

Monday, March 08, 2010

Gran Fondo "Race" Report

The highlight!

Race goes in quotes because it really wasn’t a race, nor was it the race I wanted it to be.

Lately, with the ass of weather SoCal has been having (I don’t want to hear it from anyone who lives outside of CA), I feel like it’s Me versus that bitch called Mother Nature every weekend. Hard Ride? I win. Mountain repeats in the cold/mist? Ryan goes up 2-0. This weekend, she throttled me to the ground literally.

About 30 minutes before the race start, the rain started. Then it increased a bit. Then, it started to downpour. Already thinking of my race report (I’m such a nerd), I figured I could just copy my IMLP Bike RR because it was that bad. Need a pic of what that was like for IMLP? Check it:

But this time, it was 50 degrees and windy. Trying to laugh at Ma Nature, I started to cheer and yell “Bring it on” in hopes of psyching myself and others up. This shit was crazy, but I was “used to it”.

As we started, we got out from behind downtown buildings, and I started shivering. Shivering so bad to the point where my front wheel was shaking with my arms. We crossed the Coronado bridge, and got onto the strand, where hell froze over. It was windy, my teeth were chattering faster than my heart was beating, and I couldn’t feel my hands. It was then I realized this 101 mile “race” was over. If one has no strength in their fingers, how can one take in calories? I tried to squeeze my water bottle – nothing. Unpeeling a bonk breaker happened with my teeth. As soon as saw the first arrow to turn left for the 32 mile option, I took it, along with a group of other people. The combination of cold, wet and wind was just too much for me. I wish I could have been like these guys, but I just didn't have it in me.

We commiserated, then the “group” filtered out, and I was chatting with some dudes from, in town from Boulder, where it was 58 and sunny. We approached some rail road tracks that I hadn’t seen before – they were at about 45 degrees to the road – not the usual 90 degrees.

I made a mental note, and got over the first track, but the second was a little wider, and before I knew it I was getting acquainted with the concrete, and taking out one of the guys from Boulder. I got up, and with a quick check – nothing seemed broken on me, or the bike. Some scrapes on the elbow and hip, along with some on the handlebars and rear skewer. Good to go! Boulder guy was pretty calm, with statements like “I saw this happening, so I laid it down lightly”. Laid it down lightly? Was this guy a seasoned vet in bike crashes? “I’ve gone down about 7 times in crits, so this was nothing.” Phew.

At any rate, I got back to town, bypassed the finish line, and went straight to my car. I tried to unbuckle my helmet, but couldn’t as I had no strength in my fingers! I forced the straps looser, and literally just pulled it over my head. I quickly got into warm, dry clothes, and sat in the car and warmed up until Michelle got back.

We promptly went to the VIP (free upgrade!) food tent, where I put down 2 plates of salad, 2 plates of pasta, espresso, presecco, and deserts.

I have never worked so little and ate so much. We commiserated with numerous people who bagged the 50 and 101 mile options. It amazed me that so many cyclists were trying to serve themselves food in cold, wet cycling gear, while shivering uncontrollably.

Could I have done something different about the outcome? Yeah, probably. But those lessons have been noted, and I am moving on.

"It's about the process. It doesn't matter what you do tomorrow and it doesn't matter what you did yesterday. It's about today, and making today count. That's especially true in training, but it's the same mentality that I carry into racing. Focus on the task at hand, not on the finish line, or the next part of the race, but what it is that is right there in front of you in the moment."

--Jordan Rapp

Ciò è la vita!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Potato, Sweet Potato and Yam Throwdown

Shortly after posting my piece on Sweet Potatoes and Yams, I was enjoying a non-paleolithic adult beverage with Toby - locally known as, "The Man". He said that he enjoyed the post, but that he would have liked to have seen tables, data, percentages and such. Basically, he wanted me to geek out, but also to bring in a "normal" potato into the mix for comparison. James, while eating his order of "sweet potato" fries also jumped into the mix, noting Vitamins and a whole host of other things for me to geek out on.

Hence, this post.

We each discussed what we thought were sweet potatoes and yams, then James started telling tales of tuber colors and grilling. Googling for such images is rather confusing, given the US's inability to name/advertise their tubers correctly. For clarification, when I buy a sweet potato and a yam from Henry's, this is what I buy:

The sweet potato is on the left, and the yam is on the right.

When cut, the insides look like this:

Note the orange color for the yam. For any of you who get sweet potatoes with your meal, or get the frozen ones - both of which are typically orange - I'd be skeptical!

Referencing, I present to you, internet blog readers, the following (all data is per 100 grams of the tuber):

Glycemic Load (lower is better)
* Potato: 8
* Sweet Potato: 8
* Yam: 12

Inflammation Factor (the higher the number, the more anti-inflammatory [desirable])
* Potato: -46
* Sweet Potato: 123 (Good!)
* Yam: -73

Nutrient Balance (Higher is better)
* Potato: 51
* Sweet Potato: 55
* Yam: 45

CHO breakdown (Total/fiber/starch/sugar, in grams)
* Potato: 18.4/2.2/15.4/0.8
* Sweet Potato: 20.1/3/12.7/4.2
* Yam: 27.9/4.1/~/0.5 (Although I think the ~, which I interpreted to be 0, is incorrect. However, that data point is irrelevant).

Vitamins (Vitamins and %'s worth noting)
* Potato: C @ 33%, B6 @ 15%
* Sweet Potato: A @ 284%, B6 @ 10%
* Yam: C @ 28%, B6 @ 15%

In my opinion, the sweet potato is the supreme tuber choice of the three, since it is tied for lowest glycemic load, won in a landslide of anti-inflammatory properties, gets a slight nod to the nutrient balance, and with a high vitamin content primarily in Vitamin A (a strong anti-oxidant, score!)

Monday, March 01, 2010

Root Vegetables: Sweet Potatoes & Yams

As you probably know, I’m a (close) relative of a caveman. I tend to eat like one, and have been known to eat with my hands at times. As an endurance athlete, I need some CHO as part of my diet, most of which doesn’t come of the processed variety. As such, this post will be about one my favorite foods: the root vegetable.

I love potatoes. I don’t have a flog (food log, and I just made that up), but if I did, I’m sure it’d have potatoes on it everyday (for the past year). I ate “regular” potatoes for most of my life, until recently, I was introduced to sweet potatoes. I loved them. They have a very unprocessed, “rooty” flavor to them. Right around the same time, I was introduced to yams. They also tasted really good. Since then, I tend to look for these morsels when venturing out to societal places of food consumption. I was confused at first, since many times, “Sweet potato” (Mr. Quayle, note that there is no ‘e’ at the end of potato, in its singular form) would be advertised, yet a yam would be the real “product”. I pondered why this was for some time, and kinda put it on “the back burner”.

One night after we both had hard workouts early in the day, I took my girlfriend on a hot date to souplantation (February was potato month there, after all). While I was getting more food, there was a customer who wondered the same thing discussed in the previous paragraph, only he was more vocal:

Excuse me” he nearly yelled to someone behind the potato station.

Yes sir” said an unsuspecting nearby employee, who probably learned English as a second language to Spanish.

The sign says sweet potatoes, but these are really yams”, said the angry man

No, those are sweet potatoes” said Hose-A

No” _Grunt_Those” _Beats Chest_Yams”, I interrupted - scaring women and children.

Hose-A, realizing that he had an outlet, quickly vanished from the scene.

Angry customer guy quickly engaged in a conversation with me. He asked me if I worked out, to which I responded, “A little”, with a slight nod of the head (Now if I only had an M-DOT tattoo I could show off. NOT). He talked about how Sweet Potatoes had no starch, Yams had some statch and that they are just OK for people who workout. The conversation ended shortly there after because I was really hungry, but I was intrigued by his whole starch argument.

So, I did some research, and found these important bullet points:
  • To prevent confusion, the United States Department of Agriculture requires that sweet potatoes labeled as "yams" also be labeled as "sweet potatoes".[1] GENIOUS! I’m obviously in the wrong business. I should be suing restaurants for their false labeling, But I digress
  • Both are considered “low” on the glycemic index and glycemic load. Score!

Despite their mislabeling in restaurants, I really like Sweet Potatoes and Yams, find that are excellent CHO sources, very "natural", taste great, and do an exceptional job of fueling the endurance fire.

Bon Appetite!