Monday, November 14, 2022

A Weekend of Extremes

Myself in 1st and Ricky Anderson in 2nd
Figured I would do a quick report on this weekends ride and run as they were at the extreme ends of the spectrum with a 100 mile ride - 23rd Century of 2022 - Saturday and a 1 Mile road race Sunday

As it is basically the end of my season I am feeling little tired and with a lot of travel coming up in the next 6 weeks or so am going to get some rest in - at least riding wise.  Due to this I wanted to get in at least one 100 miler before the end of the year with the BMTR group on Zwift Saturday and while I was running a Mile Road race the next day - so not the best prep - I rode it any way.  The plan was just to stay with the group and work to be mourned 2.5 w/kg for the ride, ended up being at 2.6) and try and spin more than I usually do so rode with the C group.  I figured this would allow me to get in the ride and not hammer my legs which likely would have happen if I rode with the B group.

That's pretty much how the ride went as just got in with the front group and did a lot of drafting and taking some pulls and as this was the RGV route I was ready for the usual surge on the Aqueduct climb and then through the S’s near the end of the loop.  The rest of the ride was pretty steady.  As usual, as on these rides not everyone is doing the full 100 miles for any number of reasons, the early pace was a little faster but as the numbers dwindle the pace slows and we went from being faster than 4 hour pace to a little slower - but that is all good as just the right pace for what I wanted.

The front group as it got smaller slowed enough for another group to catch back on which was great as it adds more people to share the pace.  So we continued on until the the last lap where as is also usual there was to be some form of sprint - hey the competitive juices do flow at the end even on a comfortable ride.  In the sprint before the climb the group separated some then about 5 of us went clear on the Aqueduct and it came down to us in the sprint.  I did not want to do too much so pulled a consistent pace and in the sprint got third - but all in good fun and our final time for the 100 was just under 4:02.  Having done almost a 10 mile warmup it made for a good 110 miles.

As far as nutrition I had my usual Modified BP Coffee before the ride and also 1/2 bowl of Oatmeal with some butter/cream and a little maple syrup and also 1 CV-25 Vespa (884 cals, 32 g Protein, 40g carbs, 65g Fat).  For the ride I ended up drinking about 50oz of water and in that had two scoops of KetoFuel for the salts and then took one CV-25 Vespa at 2 hours along with 2 S!Caps so the minimal carbs in the Vespa was  it for carbs and calories and felt great during and after the ride.   I did make sure to get in some carbs later in the day, splurged on a Fried Pumpkin Pie - hey just sounded good and was, with a coffee and then some potatoes for dinner just to make sure the tank was topped off for the next day.

Ride info:

Legs felt good waking up the next day with no soreness - although as is usual did fill a little awkward running till warmed up.  The interesting part about this road mile - other than I have never done one in all my 49+ years of running - is that it is later in the day (3PM).  Due to this I went to church and preached so was standing for a while and then went to the race.  I thus did not eat much all day other than the same as I had before my ride the day before but way before I was to run.  I did have a nut butter and a fruit bar on the way to the race and took a swig of coke before the race to see if it would help, but did not notice much.   

I got to the race and knew I had to get in a good warmup as for me I rarely am wanted up till 5 miles or so miles:). Also, the day was cold as while it was predicted to get up to 45F I think it never got much over 35F. More on that in a minute.  During the warmup I notice during some pickups that speed was just not in my legs.  Not surprised as have not done any speed work of much worth in a very long time.  I did do some pickups during the week but also noticed there that they weren’t fast.  

All, that said my plan was to go out with the leaders to some extent - ended up not being much - and then just settle in as best I could.  I had hoped to go under 6:00 pace as had just run 6:40 pace for a 5K the week before - a 5K where the temp was in the high 50’s - but it is amazing how just that little more speed can be so hard to accomplish if not ready for it.  As a little background my goal over the last year or so - and more now with the Gravel Worlds 50K run in August coming up - is to work to get to where 8:00 pace is very comfortable and I have noticed things moving in that direction but have not done speed work which I will need to do.

As the race started I went out a little too quick but I just like to get some separation from the other arms and legs as did not want to go down and truth is I felt fine - well for the first  200 meters of so:)  Went through 1/4 mile in 1:20 and then did a 1:39 for the second 1/4 mile to be right on pace but not good as pace was slowing.  Right at about a 1/4 mile I could feel my chest constricting some and my exercised asthma kicking in - probably from the exertion in the cold - so slowed so as not to have to just stop.  I then ran the next 1/4 mile in 1:43 and the final 1/4 mile in about 1:44.  I wanted to kick it in and legs felt I should have been able to but every time I went to pick it up my wheezing said no!!  Thus finished the mile in 6:17 and as was a little long if my GPS was right, looking at most peoples distance it seemed to just over a mile but very close, my official time was 6:22.  

I was not too happy with the time - but rarely am I.  However in looking back I guess it is what I was ready to do and being able to go out in 5:20 pace, even if I slowed a lot, shows there is some speed there and just need to work at it more to extend it out.  Also, as the finishing is a very gradual up hill the fact my last two splits stayed even was also good as while I slowed I stayed at a pace I was comfortable at which while being close to 7:00/mile is a start.  I ended up 23rd OA and 1st int eh 60-69 AG.  

Run info:

Lessons learned:
  • I need to do speed work - even for longer runs it is good to be able to ratchet up the speed - so as I need to do on the bike I need to add in some running speed work at least once every two weeks.
  • I need to work on pacing, especially in the cold and for shorter races, as I think if I had gone out a touch slower - even if I at the time felt good - I may have been able to better control my breathing and thus overall gone faster.  The speed work will also help with this as will give me a better feel for faster paces.
  • Need to look into natural ways to deal with my exercise induced asthma as while could use an inhaler I do not want to.
  • The biggest lesson is to be happy with my performance no matter what as I need to realize many my age can’t run a mile let alone run a 6:22.  God has blessed me to keep going and I need to find joy in that and not the time I run or ride.  I can still want to go faster but my joy needs to be in moving itself.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

2022 Gravel Revival Race/Ride Report

OK a week late but wanted to post on the last gravel event of the year.

Rode The Gravel Revival in Hickman City TN.  This is a great event on a good , and challenging, course that contains all types of gravel and some steep climbs and descents.  The even is both a race - only awards to top three men and top three women - and ride - no placings but a clock at the finish for an official time you can see - which is great as with the different distances and less of an all out focus on being a race it is a good place to have a chill ride if that is what you want.  Also, a good end of the season place to meet people one only gets to meet at these events.

For me I had thought about riding hard but since just before the Bourbon Chase Relay  I have been fighting a sinus issue that just lingers and with the ever changing weather - was down to 26 at one point then back up to 80 - it just keeps hanging around.  So as the day approached I thought I would just ride and see how it went but focus on a good paced ride that was more chill.  When I got to the race and saw the race started up a gravel hill, that while ridable with all the other riders it was going to be a challenge and one if you wanted to ride hard you would need to go out at a good pace on, so I decided to just take it as it came.  I made the mistake of not warming up as I usually do and paid for it for the fist mile of climbing but after 5 miles or settled in.  Not sure if after about 5 miles and settling in with a group if we passed anyone, other than those who flatted and there were lots of those - more on that later - or were passed by anyone but those who flatted trying to keep riding hard.  Our group which was probably about 8 or so to start dwindled as we went on for varius reasons and we finished with 4 of us.  By the way the finishes was at the bottom of the hill you climbed to start which made for some fun - well fun for those who are good at descending on dirt:)
BMTR Teammate Jeff and I

Samuel's and My Bike

As far as pace this is a hard race as while the total climbing at 5300+ feet was not excessive as compared to some rides I have done the nature of the climbs and the speed, or should I say lack of it, up them was a difference.  Most all the steep climbs were far from hard pack gravel and steep enough, up to 16% I saw on RideWithGPS, to really slow the pace.  This is always a fun time as on my Orbea I have a 2X with a 50/34  and 11 speed 11/32 the climbs can be a challenge.  I joked with those in our group that on the climbs I was not trying to get away but with my gearing - as most had at least a 1:1 ratio - I had to go at that speed to just keep moving.  The point is that the course dictates the pace even with comparable climbing on other rides - I was much faster at Gravel Worlds but while lots of climbing and 153 miles the climbs are shorter and faster - even if lots of them.

Another chill side of the ride is that usually with rides this length I can pass on aid stations and for this had planned at most to hit the last one at about 49 miles for water. However, here I stopped at both as was with a group and good to stop with the group and they would end up catching me anyway as it is much faster in a group.  Also, for me as these events are pretty much the  extent of my gravel riding, most my training is either on Zwift or the road, I am not the best at the terrain on the down hills so good to follow other wheels.  I find when I am alone descending I am much slower , and I mean very much slower, even though following others still has it dangers as I hit a few rocks did not see coming but still faster.  

Terrain wise this ride seems to have it all, pavement, dirt, nice gravel, deep gravel, a creek crossing, a short ride down a creek, steep gravel climbs and downhills, mud and lots of ricks and leaves.  One thing that was not too bad was no really rutted downhill sections to speak of which are always very slow for me.  I did find that the leaf covered roads made it hard to see the hidden obstacles and hit a few.  Have read that polarized sun glasses can create problems picking out hazards.  I think when you couple that with age - already have issues with death perception - the glasses added to that.  Wanted to take them off then right when I was about to got hit in the face with rocks, bugs and other debris so left them on.  Need to look, pun intended, into this for future rides like this.

I had mentioned lots of flats and I avoided them.  I contribute this to my set up.  I ride Enve G23 X 700c wheels with SK+ 38mm Panaracer Tyres  (for Gravel Worlds I used the SS+ in 38 with no Cush Cores as not needed) installed with Cush Core CX inserts and Stans No-Tubes Sealant.  By the way I am not sponsored by any of these companies - would not pass it up if offered:). I had pretty much the same set up last year - a different tyre - and again this year a number of times I hit some rocks very hard and was sure I was going to get a flat and did not.  Can't say if it was the Tyres, the inserts or the sealant but can say all together for this course it was the best set up.  What I gained in rotating weight I saved in not flatting.

As far as nutrition I had gone into this wanting to take in more carbs due to wanting to ride hard.  Once I change my focus to a more chill ride I worked to make sure to take in enough water and carbs as my body felt like it needed.  So from this below is what I took in before and during the ride.  I did take in more before the ride than I thought but as was eating with friend I probably ate more than planned - a good 3 hours before - but not a big deal just meant the tank were for sure topped up:

- Modified Bullet Proof Coffee
- 1/2 cup of oatmeal
- 1/2 cup cream of wheat
- 1ea hard boiled egg
- 1ea Vespa

Pre-Ride Totals
- Calories - 932
- Carbs -  66 g
- Protein - 41 g
- Fat - 55 g

Ride Fueling:
- 3 - 24 oz Bottles of Water
- 1ea Scoop Tailwind
- 1ea Scoop KetoFuels (for salts)
- 1ea -  SIS Gel
- 1ea - Bit-O-Honey

Ride Totals
- Calories - 232
- Carbs - 57 g
- Protein - 0
- Fat - 0

So this was a great way to end the season and while the ride is not quite as easy as I might like it is a great way to end things.  Have to say that I was feeling a little tired and see that this has been a long year of training and probably natural to feel a little this way at the end.  Was nice to push it a little as we did not go slow but to also not race it and thus finish feeling tired but overall good.

Lessons learned to take into the coming year:
  • Warmup , Warmup and Warmup - I need to warmup if the initial effort is to be hard.  In this case the uphill start was going to be hard no matter the desired effort as it just was hard and not warming up was nto good
  • Work on fueling as I think I need more carbs for races but need to figure out how I take them in and make sure I actually do so often I just go and forget.  I think next time I am going to put the gels I want in a container and take them form that as opening them and such is just a pain on gravel
  • Also, need to work on getting my overall diet more consistent as I had a number of times I went off the rails, well for me off the rails, and while I know I stay fat adapted I just do not feel as good as I want.
  • Continue to work on my gravel riding - not sure my downhill skill will ever get great as I just have no desire to crash so for sure hold back.
  • Training needs to be periodized more as in the past I usually did 3-4 weeks of training then 1 rest week.  This year I had some rest weeks but not as planned as they needed to be.  Usually came due to work or smoother circumstance and not when I often really needed them
  • Adjust milage for next year as I want to run more for some 50k’s so need to ratchet back some on the riding and not feel like it is an issue.  Truth is I need long rides and not necessarily lots of overall miles.  So will look at more quality rides and then make sure to get in the long ones I need both for endurance and mentally to prepare for Gravel Worlds

So one last item as this is one of those small world stories. After the race when everyone was hanging out and having fun and recovering I saw a young man, sorry I forgot his name and should have written it down, in a jersey I was surprised to see. I saw it and had to go talk him as you see I raced for that team in the late 80’s - early 90’s and this was one of our original jerseys.  Boston Bicycles was a shop in Costa Mesa California that I rode for years ago.  Imagine seeing this jersey out in Hickman Cty TN. When I asked where he got it his dad said he found it for a dollar at a Goodwill, I think in Nashville.  Who would have guessed I would see that jersey again , let alone at a gravel ride in TN.  NOW THAT IS COOL

Now to get ready for the year to come.

Friday, October 7, 2022

2022 Bourbon Chase Relay Race Report

This past weekend (Sept 30- Oct 1, 2022) I took part in the Ragnar Bourbon Chase Relay.  This relay, which is like the Hood to Coast Relay I did a few years ago, was 214 miles long and is run by a 12 person team separated into two vans - I was runner #9 in Van #2.  Our team, Southern Express, was entered in the Men's Masters (40+) category.  While some teams may work to have a team as young as possible we for sure cover the full age range in that we have runners in their 40’s, 50's & 60's - in our van, Van #2, we had three runners - including myself - that were 63 and over.  

Here is our full team with ages:
  • Adam Bourne 45
  • Joe Bell 41
  • George Corder 57
  • Arnold Tempel 40
  • Kevin Hetrick 43
  • Nathan Frey 46
  • DR Swanner 65
  • Willie Dick 58
  • Jeff Golden 53
  • Tony Duncan 52
  • George Gill 65
  • Tony Konvalin 63
Basically, each person is to run 3 legs, of varying distance from around 3 miles up to the longest which was 12+ miles,  and they alternate non-stop over the course of quite a few hours - our time was at 27:45.  There is some time to sleep but very little as I think I may have at best gotten 2 hours sleep during the race.  Our team finished 3rd in the Men’s Masters race and 11th overall so that was great and more than that it was a great deal of fun running with a great group of guys.

I had been ready for this race but after getting back from So Cal where it was at a 100F+ it was 80F here in KY and a day or so later it was in the 40’s for a low and I got a pretty good head cold.  This is a pretty usual occurrence when the wether changes due to my sinuses but how bad or quick it comes on depends on the degree of the weather change.  Mostly dealing with post nasal drip and a slight cough I figured I would do my best as the alternative was being a man short and that was not acceptable.  Thankfully while tired from the head cold it was not too bad except for some coughing after the leg but other than that better than expected.

Here is a run down of the legs I ran, and on map, with the first two in the dark - with Strava links:
Looking back over the splits I was very happy with the first two legs and the 3rd one, when looking at the climbing and that there was a strong headwind for much of it, was not too bad.  As far as the last leg while I wanted it to be faster in truth as I had been feeling some cramping in my hamstring on the 3rd leg I just ran so as to not cramp and have to walk - so finished strong.  I ran a Toal of 25.8 of racing miles and about 1.2 of some warmup miles.

The last time I ran a relay like this I ended up with Plantar Fasciitis for two years due to the issues created by hoping in a van after running hard.  But this time round I had no such issues and am sure it is a combination of my change in diet as well as riding more which helped to balance some muscle issues and also changing shoes I have been using since - Topos.  So while I ended still with my head cold and a cough and some soreness - to be expected with the miles and effort - I came out in great shape.  Even got in a couple good paced rides on Zwift the Monday and Tuesday after the race and a couple 4 mile runs.

As far as fueling I would say this was sort of a take in what I could as a little hard to control everything.  Where OFM comes in is that I did not really need all that much and never felt all that hungry.  I did take a Vespa a couple times during the race - before Leg 2 and Leg 3.  As for the rest here is what I can remember that I took in and you will see that it was more carb heavy than normal but did not create any issues:
  • Lunch on the way to first leg (3:00PM Friday) - Hamburger, yes ate the bun, and a backed potato with butter.
  • Just took the Vespa before my first leg which was leg 9 and had a little bit of Tailwind
  • After, we fished leg 12 our van went back to a hotel and had the following - 6: meat subway sandwich, again ate the bun, some chips and a couple cups of coffee.  Also had a Vespa before second leg. - leg 21.
  • After my second leg - leg 21 - and getting done with leg 24 we went back to the hotel for breakfast at about 7AM and had some eggs, sausage, ham and a few mini chocolate donuts and some coffee.  Did have a few potatoes but they were sort of spicy so decided to not finish them.
  • Before my third leg, legs 33, I had an SIS Isotonic Gel and a swig of coke.  Afterwards I had a 16oz Gatorade as we were out of water and needed something
  • Then before my last leg I again had an SIS Isotonic Gel and a swig of coke.
  • During all this I was taking in water and some tailwind but in this I am pretty sure I did not take in enough electrolytes as while to me not hot was sweating quite a bit but just lost track of keeping up with the electrolytes.
Once again I am seeing that my OFM diet and fueling is working great and my use of riding to help my running is also working great.

Lessons Learned:
  • I still need to dial in my hydration and electrolytes - especially when not too hot as tend to drink less
  • Make sure I bring enough water as like to avoid the sugary drinks but take them if all I can get.
  • Loosen up a little more at each stop - tend to just veg to rest but then tighten up

Looking forward to doing this again as the whole thing is a great time with some great people.

Thanks to our sponsors:
Also, thanks to Nathan Frey who arranged the whole thing and it takes a lot of organizing

Saturday, September 10, 2022

2022 Mt Baldy Run to the Top Report

Richard Chin (3rd), Myself & Dave Ruby (2nd)
The race, in So Cal, starts at the entry to the parking lot to the Ski Lift at 6,375 ft elevation and then drops down about a quarter mile or so to 6,160 ft elevation and turns right for about 3.5 miles of dirt road up to the Notch at 7,800 ft where the Ski lift goes.  From there for about 1.4 miles or so it is still a jeep road that gets a little rougher till you hit the last aid station where you enter Devils Backbone and the single track.  From there it is mostly up hill with one stretch of downhill which ends at about 6.4 miles and 9,360 ft before you hit the last 0.6 miles of slow climbing to the top at an elevation of 10, 064 ft and total milage of 7.08 miles.  The first 5+ miles are pretty tame but still up hill and then on the single track it goes from simple dirt trail to some really rocky sections. 

I went into this race wanting to try to podium for the 60-64 age group and in looking at the previously years result figured I needed to probably go under 1:50 to do so.  I had ruled out first as Matt Ebiner who won and ran 1:21:29 last year and I was nowhere ready to run that fast.  By the way Matt used to hold the course record that was broken this year and if I remember correctly has won the race 11 times.  As with many of these races I just ran as had no idea who was in my age group so just went out at a pace I figured I could keep - well at least till the just past the notch.  I have to admit my legs just felt dead for the whole run so was not sure of my pace as compared to last time I ran - had forgotten to check.  I ended up getting to the Notch (Approx 3.75 miles) in about 44+ minutes - ended checking back to find that this was about 5 minutes faster than 4 years ago.  With just over 3+ miles to go I was not sure how the time would go as knew that alternating running and walking would start soon - and it did.  My legs still felt just sort of dead but kept plugging along and walking when my running slowed enough to not make running smart.  Thus the rest of the way I was not feeling good about going sub 1;50.  However, as I got to very near the top and could see the clock I realized I was at 1:43 and pushed it to finish in 1:43:18 which was about a 10 minute improvement over the last time I ran so was happy with that.  When I got back down to the Notch, more on that in a moment, I found I had actually won the 60-64 AG.  It was really close as 2nd place, Dave Ruby, was 1:45:21 and 3rd, Richard Chin, was 1:47:32.

One of the things with this race is once you get to the finish you have to run or walk back down the 3+ miles to the Notch to get the Ski lift down or run down the road.  The trip down, pun intended, this time
was more exciting than in the past or than it should have been.  The first part is a pretty steep rocky/scree filled route as there are still people coming up so you sorta of just find a way down on one of the many trials down with some being better than others. Got though that section well and then got to the regular trail heading back onto Devils Backbone and in one section  there were a few rocks to hop down from and in rushing a little too much I caught my toe and started doing a header.  As I am falling I saw a rock heading for my face and was catching myself with my hands.  While I did hit the rock with my chin - had a sore jaw - there were no cuts.  From behind, based on reactions, I think people may have thought it was worse than it ended up being as the only blood was a small cut on my finger.  I will tell you one of the benefits of a hand held bottle is it does protect your hand in falls:)  I did get some bruising on my right shoulder and knew both showers got jammed as well as my right wrist, which swelled up later.  The rest of the way down I had a couple other close calls - I am thinking being 63 with size 12 shoes is not a good combo, at least for me.  Also, with mostly running roads I sort have a stride that tries to be economical by not lifting my feet that high which is not a good idea on trails.  All said and done I thank God for His protection as it could have been so much worse.

My original plan was to not only do the prerequisite, only option, run down to the Notch but then to run down the road to the start for a few extra miles.  However after winning my age group I had to wait around about an hour and by then was a little sore so just took the ski lift down.  Really noticed the heat difference coming down the Ski lift as it was probably about 80F the Notch and it was likely getting to be 90 at the bottom of the Ski Lift and down in town when I got there it was around 107.  Thus made for a good morning to stay cool and get in a great run.

As I was running the race I realized it was very much like my Gravel racing.  Just like I ride very little gravel other than races I also rarely run trails but at races.  Let alone if I do get in a trail run I hardly ever run trails with that sort of elevation gain - in such a short distance - and also at elevation.  The road up was not bad as it was very even terrain, just was not sure on pacing, but the single track is where I need more work.

I usually have a large section with my bike rides/races on fueling but truth is I had no fueling for this run.  In the morning I did have a 1/2 cup of oatmeal and my usually Modified BP Coffee with Coconut Oil, Butter, Collagen, Egg and Dark Chocolate square there was one difference.  Since I got to CA I decided to go a month with no coffee and the only caffeine I would get would be in some unsweetened ice tea with dinner and as it is usually pretty warred down with ice the caffeine is pretty low.  So in my BP coffee I used Cafix to replace the coffee and to tell the truth it tastes OK.  I did take a Vespa CV25 at 1/2 hour before the race and then on the run I carried a hand held water bottle with 1 scoop of Tailwind (100 Cal & 25gr Carbs) but only took a couple sips as got a cup of waster at each of two of the water stops and the top.  I even took a couple Bit-O-Honeys but never ate them as just did not feel like it.  Probably would have not taken a bottle at all but it had been hot and we were told that due to some issue they did not get all the water to the top they had planned so I just wanted to make sure I had some and a few carbs if I was tired for the trip down, pun intended again.  With the Vespa I figure I had not more than 10 grams of carbs for the entire run.    

So that is about it for the race and while I felt off it turned out great and gong 10 minutes faster than 4 years ago was good.  Also, other than my crash and burn coming down I came away with no foot pain as I have gotten other times on trails in the past.  Also, came away from the 50K the end of June with no foot pain so the cycling seems to be helping to make sure my foot issues are minimized

Lessons Learned
  • Need to try to get to Pulaski Park, some trails near me in KY, at least once a month to get in some trail running
  • My training plan of mixing biking and running is working for me as still ran good and unlike last time I did this I had no foot or leg issues
  • Need to work on picking up my feet more:)
  • I need to gain confidence I can push a little more at the start as in looking at my HR it was in the 140 range so had room to go faster
Here is my Strava data

A Video of the route:

Friday, August 26, 2022

2022 Gravel Worlds Race Report - 153 Mile Route

This past weekend was a race I have been aiming for since I did Steamboat Springs Gravel last year (Race Report) last year.  Up front on looking at last years results I was aiming for the podium in the 60+ age group and thought at around 9 hours I would have a good opportunity to accomplish that - and my time guess was pretty good - but more on that later.  A little about my gravel riding to prepare for this - well basically apart from racing I rarely ride gravel just based on my schedule and places to do so close by - so not much preparation:) Truth is most of my riding is done on my Stages Smart bike on Zwift.  May not be the best for improving my bike handling but sure is good for my time usage and from having ridden for 40+ years my basic skills are pretty good. I think in the last year since Steamboat I have ridden on gravel maybe 4 times before I got to Lincoln - Once at the Gravel Revival down in Tennessee and once while I was staying in Sandpoint Idaho and then a couple short rides near home.  The ride near home is only about maybe 2-3 miles of gravel with a steep downhill and then a steep uphill with a little flat between.  Usually I ride the downhill then go off and ride some roads then come back via the other uphill route.  I share this to say my gravel learning takes place at these races and while I am getting better at my bike handling it is not the best way to go fast.  I did get in a couple short rides in Lincoln before the race on parts of the course which was helpful to see the nature of the gravel in the area as ours out here in KY is often pretty rocky and technical while the gravel in the Lincoln area was pretty good if not a little soft with pea gravel and sand but not technical - well except when hitting the deeper sandy section at speed:)

From Pre-Ride the Day Before
My preparation for this race has mainly involved riding as many long rides as I can with many being done on the trainer - which while hard are only in the 4 hour range.  I did do a 200 miler (well it actually ended up being 195) this past March out in Solvang CA which was my longest distance ever - Ride Report - and longest time in the saddle.  I probably did 25 Centuries, most over 100,  in the last year but again maybe only 2-3 of them over 6 hours.  Also, other than Steamboat the longest gravel ride I did was last October at the Gravel Revival - link here for 2022 ride - at 60+ miles and it was more rocky gravel than the leg sapping sandy stuff in Nebraska.  Both are hard but in differing ways and handling is different as well.  

Also, this year I have added in more running including even doing a 50K running race at the end of June in So Cal that I got 2nd overall in and ran a 4:34:48  I added more running as I have some longer runs planned in the future that hopefully includes another R2R2R in the Spring of 2023.  I like to be able to run when I want and get to run with my grand-daughter which is fun so want to always be ready.  While the running does seem harder on my legs by working to run at least some each week - but usually not the week of a bike race - it is keeping those muscles used to the pounding.

Thus after all this I came to the Gavel-Worlds in shape but maybe not with the best gravel riding preparation.  All the way up to the race, since I have been focused on trying to podium in my age group, I kept thinking about the race and maybe that was a mistake but is my tendency being somewhat OCD which makes it hard to stop the focus.  I knew the hills were going to be there and had done a good ride at the Horsey Hundred in Lexington which in riding the 100 miler and then the 26 miler had 8000+ in climbing that was a lot of rolling hills.  I was thinking I could ride at a good pace at Gravel Worlds as I rode solo at the Horsey Hundred and averaged around 19.2mph.  What I had not allowed for, but deep down knew, was how much the gravel would slow me down on the uphills and affect how fast I could go downhill.  Then there is that there were way more hills in Lincoln - they were relentless. While I did get a max speed of 38.5mph on one of the downhills at Gravel Worlds most were not as fast as I could do at Horsey Hundred as I was not sure of myself in the slippy gravel.  Even tracks I got into that were smooth and fast would then disappear and then had to change tracks which was exciting to say the least.  I was probably going 30+ on one downhill when I hit some deep gravel and was grateful not to biff it as my bike got a little sideways but pulled it in and saved it.  I could tell that while I tried to focus not simply clinging on for dear life to the bars and instead holding the front end a little more loosely to let it float I still held on too tight as I got blisters in my palms.

One of the hard parts of these long races for me is the mental side early on of knowing just how long I have to go.  In these races with 400+ riders on the longer courses it is important to get out with a group, as gaps can happen quickly, so as to be able to get some drafting effect and also make the initial miles go by faster mentally.  I was able to do this but took longer than necessary as I was a little skeptical about how fast to go as it was a little dark at the start for maybe the first 20-30 minutes as had to use lights.  Had a little group going  till about 45 miles and then broke up a little and then stayed with those I was with till the first checkpoint at 60 where I refilled my water.  It was there I lost the group I was with as was not sure where they were.  Ended up with another group that  caught me and I stayed with them till about 115 when they slowed for a mechanical so kept going to the next aid station at 128 miles.  As I was leaving they were coming into the aid station and as I was feeling a little tired and knew once they got done they would be moving along quickly as a group, and there was a big guy with them that was just a beast as he pulled pretty hard.  My plan was to ride at a good pace but not too hard as knew they would catch me and I did not want to be too tired when they did.  As I figured the 5 people in the group caught me with about 12 miles to go so I just latched on.  Did get a little worried with about 7 miles to go as I got an inner left thigh cramp then my right hamstring cramped. sign my electrolytes may have not been on point.  Just as I was getting dropped it faded and I got back on and this happened a few times but thankfully stayed with them to the end and finished in 9:43:21.  About 45 minutes slower than planned but all things considered a good ride and with 11,400+ feet of climbing as good pace.  Figuring with my moving time of 9:32:52 I also seemed to do good at stops, 4 of them, as had one nature break early, one water refill stop at about 90 and the two checkpoint stops at 60 and 128 and all those only took me just over 10 minutes.

My official time, again, was 9:43:21 and my placing I was 139th overall out of 435 and 6th in the 60+ AG.  The wining time for the 60+ was 8:58:42 with 2nd at 9:04:27 - so about 40-45 minutes ahead.  3rd was at 9:27:33 which was only just under 16 minutes head so I was not too far behind and my guess that it would take about 9 hours to win was about right.  In looking at the splits the leaders were about 6-7 minutes ahead of me by 60 miles and opened it up from there.  The third place guy was 17 minutes ahead at 100 miles so stayed about the same the rest of the way.  I need to get out a little quicker to get with the faster pace line and leaders.  The danger in a pace line - especially early on when just getting warmed up is you can get comfortable in one that may be a good pace but a little slower than you need.  There is also the danger of gong too fast so a fine line to ride.  It is hard in these races as you never know who you are racing so you just go and then if not careful can go too hard at the start.  Overall I am happy with the race as no crashes and kept a fair pace the whole way.  Can I go faster, I think so and each gravel race I do makes me a better bike handler so they all add up to being more efficient each time I race.  Not sure I will ever have the time to, well till I retire in maybe 4 years, do much gravel riding so races will be the place to learn.  Will I ride this race again next year - right now I want to but have to see how my schedule works out and what else is out there.  At Gravel Worlds they have The Double where you run a 50K on Friday then do the 153 ride on Saturday so may go for that.  It will make getting on the podium more difficult but one of my goals and purposes in doing what I do is to show what can be done even as one heads into there 60’s and The Double would do that.

My fueling is below but the basic plan was to have two 24oz bottles with the “special mixture” with lots of ice so can sip on them for the whole race and then the backpack would have plain water.  I carried 8 gels (SIS and PowerGel), used 6, and some S!Caps and some Bit-O-Honey, never got to these during the ride as could not get them open, as well as Vespa Ultra Concentrate (1 Vespa CV25).  Stopped three times to refill/top off my water and did so at 60, 90 and 128 miles.  Only took in some extra stuff at the checkpoint at 128 miles where I had a half a can of coke - funny did not give its usual jolt this time but probably did more than I realized at the time.  As usual no stomach issues and no bonking.  Yea my legs
were getting tired but that is natural and not a bonk.  I did get some cramping as my plan had been to take in 2 S!Caps every two hours but had some issues getting to them and out of the bag they were in so I missed at least one round of them.  Also, in past races I have used Tailwind which has some electrolytes and did not this time so did not get those electrolytes thus may have been a little low on them in missing my S!Caps.  My fueling plan I figured out with Peter at Vespa did work as, again, did not bonk but after this race realized some more variables.  At Steamboat there were far more paved roads so more time to dig out the fuel but not in this ride.  Also, stopped more at Steamboat so if I stop less I have to account for how I fuel and actually being able to get to what I had planned to take in.  Again, the actual intake for the Pre and during ride is below.

Lastly, let me re-iterate what I have shared before and that is not only does OFM work for race fueling it also helps with recovery as there is less oxidative damage done during the race.  While I did not ride or run the day after the race as had to drive home I did go for a run two days later and for the week after got in some good runs and a couple rides.  While I was tired - sorta natural for the effort, the most sore thing on my was my butt:). I felt good enough I had to be conscious to take it easy and not ride my usual and to hold back on some runs.  Bottom line OFM WORKS.

Lessons Learned
  • Need to be more aware of pace early on and push a little harder but not redline
  • Due to the difficulty, at least for me, to get to some fueling out of my pack I  may need to use more Tailwind - also helps with electrolytes
  • Inline with this I have to think about gloves as I like to wear full fingered ones as just nice if crash but they do make it hard to open fuel and even feel for it in ones pack when it settles down farther than you thought it would:)
  • Need to think about if my Carb intake is good.  I was at about 24gr/hr but in looking at some others, like Jeff Browning who does Ultras running and is fat adapted he is closer to 40 or so.  May not need more but need to look into it.  The effort in cycling is not the same as running as it is more up and down, literally in this race, for effort while when I run it is more often constant
  • Need to work on shorter hills for gravel as for sure different than when did Steamboat that was similar overall elevation, a little less, but longer.  The hills in Lincoln were relentless
  • Continue to learn to not hold so tight to the bars 
  • Ride more gravel
  • Need a new saddle as the one I has again was not great for this long a ride
Lastly I want to thank the following people:
  • God for instilling in me the desire to do what I do for His glory and the ability to do it
  • My wife for putting up with my riding and running
  • Peter Defty at Vespa
  • Sam Torres & John Switow - great friends and encouragements
  • Scott Hess at The Spoke Easy Bike shop in Campbellsville KY who saved my but just before I left with fixing my bike
  • All the riders in the BMTR group on FB/Strava for the great rides together
  • All the riders on Strava who were also a great encouragement
  • All the other OFM athletes on the Vespa Team who each show what can be done when fat adapted
  • I am sure I forgot someone but there were many more - thank you

Strava Data - Gravel Worlds

Gravel Worlds Route:

  • Bike: Orbea Terra - W/SRAM Red 2X 
  • Enve G23 Wheels W/Panaracer Gravel King SS+ 700 X 38 types
  • Orange Mud Endurance Pack V2 w/2ltr bladder & 2 X 24oz Bottles on Bike

  • 20oz Modified BP Coffee
  • 1/2 Cup Oatmeal with Butter and Brown Sugar
  • 2ea - 50mg Vitamin D
  • 2 GLPC
1/2 Hour before race
  • 1- Vespa CV25
  • 1- Tru-Niagen
  • 1ea Bit-O-Honey at 20 and 10 Minutes Before Race
Prior to Race Totals
  • Calories - 786
  • Protein - 26
  • Carbs - 58 g
  • Fat - 50 g
During Race:
  • 4ea - 24oz Water Bottles
  • In the bottles I had the following special mixture in 2 of them to start.  Idea was to start sipping on them at 90 minutes then use one for first half and other for second half but not sure I actually used all of the second on
  • 1ea - Tru-Niagen Powder
  • 3 - Tbsp Liquid L-Carnitine
  • 1 - Vespa CV25
  • 1/3 Scoop Keto Fuel
  • Added water and ice
  • Carried one 2 Liter Bladder and topped off twice
  • 3ea - Vespa Ultra Concentrate
  • 1ea - Vespa CV25
  • 6ea S!Caps - 2ea at 2, 4 and 6 hours
  • 3ea of SIS Go Energy
  • 3ea of PowerGEL W/Sodium
  • 1/2 Can Coke at 128 mile checkpoint
  • 1/2 a hot dog - more like a sausage - at the 128 check point, not sure why I ate it but looked good and salt sounded good
During Race Total
  • Calories - 921
  • Carbs - 224
  • Protein - 3 g
  • Fat - 6g

Monday, July 25, 2022

Faith and Fitness

Now, I get it that some may have a hard time getting past the title and if that is you I ask you to read though it as while I see what is to follow as a call from God it is also a call for all to take care of the body you have.

Those that know me know that faith is important to me and I try to let it lead what I say and do – yea I often fail but that does not mean I do not seek my faith to inform my actions.  One area that I am often asked about, mostly by those with little to no interest in fitness, is if I should workout as much as I do as it might interfere with my calling of God.  Often I think this questions stems from a misunderstanding of vocation, or calling, as cannot God call us to any number of activities with the goal of His glory being in all those actions.

 While 1 Cor 9:24-27 applies to much more than simply the physical it is also not limited to the spiritual as far too many professing believers seem to think that our bodies are temporary so are to be taken as they are with little thought put into how we treat them.  But this could not be further from the truth.  While God has us here we are to care for/steward our physical bodies as well as nurture the spiritual side of things

I started reading Ben Greenfield’s book Endure and he mentions a verse that I often see greatly misinterpreted/misrepresented, not by Ben, when it comes to Christians and fitness and prompted this post:  

1 Tim 4:8-9 says:  “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.

 Now some use this verse to somehow say that to workout and get in shape is of no use as we are to spend all of our time, or at least implying this, in spiritual endeavors.  Now to be honest I hear this mostly from those who do little to nothing to better, or even maintain, one’s health.  The problem is that this passage does not minimize training ones body but instead uses what I call hyperbolic comparison - that is it is saying that in comparison to seeking godliness training ones body is of little value.  This is much like Matt 10:37 that says basically if ones loves their father or mother more than Christ they are not worthy of Christ.  This again is simply saying one is to love Christ supremely when in comparison to others things one loves.  It is not saying to hate ones father and mother but simply to love Christ even more in comparison.

 So it is with training ones body - we are not to do so at the expense of spiritual growth and are to make sure we see the lasting value of spiritual growth.  However, at the same time we are to also train our bodies and care for them as the stewards of them we are called to be by God – one of the callings we all have.  Remember the better shape we are in the more use we can be in the hands of God.  If we are restricted by bad health or reliant on medication our usefulness may be minimized.  I am not saying one with bad health, or some infirmity, cannot be used by God – they can and often are mightily – but that we are to do all we can to be in the best shape we can to be able to be used in more ways by God for His glory.

 Truth is Paul in his writings is often dealing with the hyper focus of the Romans on sport and training.  The reality is that the normal/average every day citizen probably needed little training to be fit as the basic act of living in the first century would, in comparison to today, itself be training.  I doubt that obesity was an issue for those in the first century, and for many up to even the resent past, unless, one was wealthy.  I would go as far as to say it is incumbent on Christians to care for the body God gave them as best as can be done so that it, and you, can be used by God in whatever manner He desires, when He desires.  How many professing believers out there that scoff at this could spread God’s word as Paul did by traveling as he did without the aid of a car or other motorized transportation.  If tomorrow as a believer you lost everything and had to do manual labor to grow your own food and had to travel by foot or bike could you do that or would you be at the whim of those in power.  I know, sadly, many pastors that could not due to not taking care of themselves - often in the name of doing God’s work but in the end would be limited in the work God could have for them.

 Well, the work God has for us extends to many areas - no - it extends to all areas - of life as was said by Abraham Kuyper and I know this was more in reference to interacting with the world but by extension can be applied to our bodies -  ““There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!

 So, my encouragement to you if you are a believer and have Jesus as your Lord and Savior is to not neglect your body and think that to do so is some sort of super spiritual endeavor.  Sure, do not let “fitness” take over your life at the expense of time with God but work to do both as both are required.  In these strange times we are in I am more and more convinced that the more healthy we are as believers as the world slips into a pharmaceutical haze the more those of us that do what we can do to avoid this will be there when we are needed.  

 Start today - go for a walk, a ride or a run and use your time wisely - listen to your Bible on tape, listen to sermons, listen to books on audio and even more so meditate on God’s working in your life.  But above all get moving.  I may not always do this but often I get in more thinking on a run or a ride than I do when just sitting still.  I know I need to learn to just be still but the way my brains wired I think more about things as I am active - so I try and do both.

 This principle of caring for the body also applies to how one eats – what one puts into it.  I have heard more than one person misuse the following verse to say whatever one eats is fine if eaten in faith but this is not what is being said.  

 1 Tim 4:4-5 says: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,  for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” 

No this is saying to be thankful for what one has and was dealing with dietary restrictions from a religious perspective.  There is no way this verse is saying if you eat Oreos, or endless stacks of donuts, as a normal occurrence/choice, that if done by faith you are fine.  Sure, if you were in a place where all you had to eat was such then that is a different matter but for most the choice of what to eat is just that – a choice.  Choose wisely and choose what will most lead to better health and the avoidance of pills, potions and pokes. Do not take the life you are given lightly but see it as the gift of God it is – even if it does not do all you may like it to do.  Our call is to be good stewards of what God gives us and let us seek to do that.

Do not forsake the body God gave you to steward for some over spiritualized , at the neglect of the physical, view of life.  Don’t fall for the Gnostic heresy that the writers of the NT faced that separated the spiritual from the physical.  No, deal with both and grow closer to God in the process.  Seek out God’s guidance in how you need to proceed and seek to be the most useful tool in the hands of God you can be.  Be a faithful steward and do so not to win a race but to glorify God.  Now you may win races – nothing wrong with that – but even that is to be done to give God glory.  To take the stewardship of our bodies lightly is to make light of what God has given us.

 Start today and if you need help reach out to those you know that see things this way or you can reach out to me.

Monday, June 27, 2022

2022 Orange Curtain 50K Race Report

Let me start by saying this is not the optimal way to train for a 50K, or more - well for most people - that is running about 20-25 miles a week, often less, with my longest run being 14 miles since I did a R2R2R almost 2 years ago.  Even then not much in the way of long runs as my last marathon was about over 3 years ago and my last Ultra was at Run Under the Stars 4 years ago.  That said I can also say I have been about the most injury free, but for a sore hamstring about a year ago, in the last 2 years than I have been in some time so while not optimal my training met one major criteria - stay injury free.

The Orange Curtain Race has a lot of distances to choose from and all run on the same loop.  They offer the following - 100K, 24 HR, 12 HR, 50K, Marathon and 10K.  It is also a basically flat course on the San Gabriel River Trail with the only rises mainly being 3 place where you go under a main road on the trail.  It is paved asphalt with a dirt siding for most of it which I used at the end to save my legs some.  Thus it is a good place for fast times.  Maybe the one thing that I find hard is the receptive nature does play with your head as there is a place to drop out every 10K:)

Here is my Strava data for the race - for sure see the slowing down in the mile splits:) Orange Curtain 50K

I went into this race knowing I was in goodish shape for maybe 13 miles based on some recent runs and a few weeks over 30+ miles but had no idea how I would do once I got past a half marathon.  Only signed up for this race about a month before as it fit into my schedule and figured it would be a good place to test my foot to see how it would do.  So, I put the race on the schedule having no idea how things would go and not much time to prepare so instead of changing much I still rode a lot and ran enough to “think” I could do this.  Even did a 120 mile ride two weeks before the run and a 110 mile ride the week before.

As race day approached it was clear it would be hot but how hot and when would it heat up was not as clear.  Race day came and it was about 60F to start with the usual humidity, but not Kentucky humidity, you get in the early mornings here in So Cal.  My plan, and I knew this could backfire, was to go out with the leader as long as it was no faster than 7:40 pace and then just see how it went.  I had a good idea that probably around the 3rd lap (race was 5 - 10K laps that were out and backs on the San Gabriel River Trail) which was about19 miles I might have issues.  Not so much with fatigue in the overall sense but muscle fatigue from the pounding of running for that long which I was not used to. 

The race started at 6:30am and I went with the lead guy, Paul Gesl who got 2nd the year before in 4:19, at a pace that seemed comfortable at around 7:45 to 7:55 min/mile and HR was at 134 - 137 for first 7 miles.  I was with leader for first two laps and then on start of the third lap came out of the aid station slow from filling my water bottle and was a little behind him and thought about catching up quickly but realized that was not wise as would need to pick things up too much.  Thus I stayed pretty even with the leader till about half way reached in 2:03+ and then I started to feel it in my legs as my pace went from under to just over 8:00 and slowed more from there so was quite a bit behind by end of the third lap and also had a very slow aid station stop at the end of the third lap.  From there the run was a matter of finishing as my legs were feeling really beat and I felt my hamstring tighten a few times so goal was to maintain so as to not walk and finish.  Thus pace started being at 9:00 - 10:00 but just kept plugging along.  Being an out and back loop course it was sure inviting to stop and call it a day but I knew I would regret doing so and just kept plugging along.  As there were other race distances going on and one person came by me I was not sure if he was in the marathon or if I was still in second - turned out he was in the marathon.  Thought about picking up the pace near the end, I repeat I THOUGHT about it, but kept feeling a little tightness in my hamstring so thought better of it.

I finished the race in 2nd overall and 1st in the 60-69 AG in 4:34:48.  For sure the last half was very much slower but think it would have been slower no matter how much slower I went out as the soreness was that which I feel just from time on my feet.  The temp started to warm up after the halfway and I think it was about 85F, or so, when got done.  Man did my legs hurt when done as felt like my legs were rocks and could not sit down without help getting up.  Feet were sore as well and had my usual soreness on top of my foot from tying my shoes too tight.  But at the finish did not feel any blisters but figured I probably had some and found I did later.  

I am writing this a day  or so after the race and while still sore it is very much better than it was.  Will still take a few days off running but try and get a ride in to loosen up the legs on Monday.  The blisters I got and usual toenail issues are what I get from having narrower feet.  Most people would get a 1/2 size larger shoe but I cannot as then they just fall of as cannot tighten them enough.  One very good thing about this is my right foot that in the past hurt for weeks after such a run was pretty much back to normal a day after the run except for blisters so that is a big win and one of the things I was testing out.  With no running races till Labor Day, Mt. Baldy race win So Cal, I can keep running to a minimum for a week or two to let my legs recover. This works out as I now need to get ready for Gravel Worlds (155 miles with 11K of Vert) gravel race in Nebraska come the end of August.  Then I go from there to get ready for the Mt. Baldy run Labor Day and then the Bourbon Chase Relay the end of September.

As far as fueling I think things went OK - no bonking on essentially very few calories.  In looking back I do not think I got enough Electrolytes as only then in S!Caps and one Gu Roctane but no more and think, no I know,  I needed more.  Plan was to carry plain water so could pour on my head, which was good, and go with Gels but due to this did not get a constant feed, including electrolytes, as is normal when using Tailwind.  Had planned on a Gel each lap after the start but realized when done I only took two them.  Also, did not use my usual Bit-O-Honey as my sinuses were draining and giving me problems and I have learned that eating and running when this happens does not go well so did not use them.  A lot easier to get by with this when riding.  Again, probably could have used a few more carbs as well with the pace I was at but not too much - if I had taken the total of 4 planned I would have been good.  My fueling is below at the bottom of the report.

Kit for the Race:

Lessons learned:

  • My general training plan of riding more does work but to race longer races running I need to get in a few more long runs just to get the muscle memory so as not to pound my legs as much
  • I need to work on getting in more electrolytes as I think some of my hamstring cramps could come from that - even though I know a majority comes simply from not having run that far.
  • This did let me know I can be comfortable at sub 8:00 pace and with more training can extend that out to 50K
  • To get ready for next years R2R2R I will need a few more longer runs and more trail running to get my legs accustomed to the terrain

At the end of the day while I went in wanting to run from 4:10 - 4:20 and missed that I am encouraged when I look at things realistically.  As I often say I did not get the race I wanted but did get the race I was ready for.  

Here is the fueling for Pre-Race and During:

Before Run:
  • 20oz - Modified BP Coffee
  • 1 packet - Instant Oatmeal with 1 tbsp Heavy Cream
  • 1 Vespa C25 - 30 minutes before Race - Did 2 mile warmup after this
  • 1 Vespa C25 - Right before race
Total Cals - 832
  • Protein - 33.5 g
  • Carbs - 49.5 g
  • Fat - 55 g

During Race
  • 4ea - 20oz bottles of water
  • 1 - Gu Naked Gel (@ about 1 hour)
  • 2 - Vespa C25 (1 at 2 hours & 1 at 3 hours)
  • 1 - Gu Roctane Gell (@ about 2.5 Hrs)
  • 4 - S!Caps (2 @ 2 hrs and 2 @ 3hra)
  • 2 - Small cups of coke  (1 at about 22 miles and 1 at 28 miles)
Total Cals - 290
  • Protein - 0 g
  • Carbs - 68 g
  • Fat - 0 g