Friday, March 15, 2013

Ft Lauderdale A1A Race Report

The A1A weekend brought three St Croix Valley runners—Randy, Steve, Candy—and a couple of their friends together for a great time. Captain Randy was a gracious host, coordinating dinner reservations/locations and race logistics.

Lady Chateau
The runners and their support teams met on Randy’s Lady Chateau before heading out for a pasta dinner on Saturday night. A discussion about race logistics and our departure time from the hotel the next morning turned into a bit of a negotiation between Randy and Steve. As always, Randy wanted to get to the start line about an hour before race time. That gives him enough time to take in the crowd, drink some extra fluids, and revel in the atmosphere. Steve, on the other hand, prefers to step out of the vehicle and into the running queue, getting all the beauty sleep he can and wasting no energy on frivolous, pedestrian activities. As it turned out, we were very early and it got to be uncomfortable standing in that cold, blustery wind.

The Runners--Steve, Bobbye, Candy, Randy, Juliana

The Support Team--Jerry, Robin, Gary
The weather conditions for the 6:00 am start were much cooler than in past years. The temp was 45° F at the start, or 38° F with the wind chill due to a 17 mph wind out of the north. This was a bit of a concern because the route for about 11 miles of the marathon and 4 miles of the half was straight into the wind.

Staying warm--Bobbye, Steve, Juliana, Candy, Randy
The first priority during those early morning hours was staying warm. The high temperature for the day was somewhere in the 60s.

Randy placed second in his AG in the marathon and friends Juliana and Bobbye nailed down PRs in the half. Steve ran the half with Juliana, and Candy managed to drag her butt across the finish line logging one of her slowest times. All were very interested in Candy’s time in that she was trying a new training technique. It’s the Hanson-Brooks method, and for those unfamiliar with it, they stress running on tired legs with the longest run at 16 miles. She followed the program pretty well, but a bout with the Minnesota “crud” wasn’t on the schedule, and she found the running against the cold wind quite challenging.

Randy expanded his host duties on Monday by taking our merry group on a boat ride along the Intracoastal Waterway. Among the notable things to see was Steven Spielberg’s yacht that is parked a dock away from the Lady Chateau.

Cruising the Intracoastal Waterway--Bobbye, Candy, Robin, Juliana (ouch that is sunburn) 
The Spielberg yacht--complete with indoor swimming pool
Thank you Captain Randy for the Ft. Lauderdale adventure!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Adventures of Keto-Man

The end of 2012 found me contemplating my previous racing season.  It was a great year of ultra-marathons, with multiple PR’s, an AG win and almost a top-10.  I was left with the feeling though, that “this was it”, I just can’t get much faster or better and it will be all downhill from here.  I am 48, so that day is looming I’m sure.
But.  I still have one card yet to play.  My diet.  I've always just eaten anything and everything.  Why not when you run 70 mi/wk, right?  Well, after reading ZachBitter’s blog on low-carb performance, I thought that was well worth investigation.  My long race performance (> 50 mi) sure could use some improvement.  Too many bonks with too much central fatigue.
I went out and bought The Art & Science of Low-Carb Performance by Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek.  I have now been officially keto-adapted for 8 weeks and I’m no longer looking back to my old diet.  I eat <50 g low-glycemic carbs/day, a set amount of protein, and enough healthy fat to manage my body weight.  Here are some of the results I've found in my short experiment:
Energy Level – I considered the spikes and lows of carb-based nutrition as just normal every-day life experience.  Not so as keto-man!  I feel awesome!  My energy levels are even all day long, with no afternoon slumps.  During long runs, I experience about an hour of slight soreness in my legs, and then no significant discomfort after.  Without fueling.  My longest run so far has been 4 hrs, so what happens beyond, we’ll see.

Recovery – Wow. This is the area where I am seeing the greatest improvement.  I used to really feel a 4 hr run for at least 48 hrs.  Now it is just a dull ache for about 12 hrs, and I am ready to go the next day.  This is good, because I want to be doing closer to 100 miles/week max in training for a 100 miler.
Explosive Power – I find that I might have a little less explosive power available.  I am still in my base training phase, and have not started speed-work yet, so this may not be the case.  But.  I do stair training every Tuesday morning, at the 250 ft Willow River falls stairs.  Last year, as a carb-fueled person, I would lunge every-other step for the first 125 ft, and then run each step of the remainder.  This year, the lunges seem to me a bit more difficult to maintain, and I’m dying more at the end.  We’ll see though.  It may be too early to tell.
Body Weight – I can’t keep it on!  My racing weight used to be around 150 lb at about 14% fat.  Training weight was about 155-160 lb.  Today, I am running about 50 mi/wk at 142 lb and 12% while dropping about 2 lb per week.  The real bummer is that I don’t seem to be adding lean muscle mass yet.  I’m not sure what is going on.  I do think that, for being in a training phase, I weigh too little and need to pack on a bit more to my 6 foot frame.  More fat I guess.
The Role of Carbs in Racing – I am convinced that I can run a race while maintaining the keto diet.  Supposedly the Vespa supplement could help me, but it is so dang expensive.  Others speak of using super-starch, like U-CAN, which slow-drips the carbs into your system.  Zach Bitter mixes his carb gels and Vespa while racing for optimal performance.
I am convinced that carbs will play a role in my races.  I will start experimenting with U-CAN after my long runs reach about 5 hours or so.  I’ll try some gels too, to gauge their effect.  From what I read, I’ll want to avoid the insulin response.  Hmmm.  At mile 90 I’m thinking the Expresso Express gel might be what the doctor ordered.  Or, I might drop from a coronary.  We’ll see.
Favorite Food – Steak, duh.  My second favorite is a shake though.  Add the following to a blender, in this order:
                1/4 cup blueberries
                1/2 cup Greek yogurt
                1/2 cup cream or half-and-half
                1/4 cup whey protein (peanut butter works too)
Blend to consistency.  Pour into glass.  Add the following to the glass (this will gunk up your blender, so add it here):
                Olive oil, or fish oil to taste
                1 TBSP chia seeds
There is a wonderful blog written by three (now four!) keto-adapted athletes called, where I have found some great info to aid in my diet adventure.  There are many links to other keto-friendly blogs there as well.
I know I am an experiment of one, but the results look promising!