There was a time, not too long ago, that the idea of riding 50+ miles seemed crazy. Then again, so did the idea of running 26.2 and I did that a few times. Everything is relative, depending on which side of the mileage you’re on. I had to make some decisions last night regarding my long ride today. The mileage no longer frightens me (though death still does), and it’s still a challenge to find a 50+ mile course that doesn’t suck. PCH’s construction blocks me from the easy flats and low rollers of Malibu, and truthfully, I wanted more hills to test out this diet. There was an L.A. Tri Club ride leaving at 8am, but that was way early to have to strap the bike on the car and go diving into the 100 degree heat of the valley. And truthfully, that ride would dust my fat ass and I didn’t want a demotivator two weeks before my event. My wife suggested Palos Verdes would be a nice ride, and I called a bike friend to request a route. He confirmed that PV would be a nice ride, suggested a route, and then I went to www.bikely.com and looked for routes.
This long ride was also my experiment for an entirely new food plan. A homebrew food in little baggies, 2 bottles of formula, and two bottles of water.
On my long rides I wear a Garmin 301 GPS device+heart rate monitor. Two years ago it cost me $172 and has been invaluable in informing my training. Not only does it show distance, speed, pace, time, and heart rate, but once I upload the data to www.motionbased.com I can view all of that data stretched over time, elevation, and weather. The site also allows an instant export of the mapping data to Google Earth and it will show a fly-through of the course that you can blog and share with other online communities. I just use the free account, which offers plenty of data to play with.
Most helpful is being able to compare perceived energy versus actual rate and speed. This is yet another example of where perception often is contradicted by actual data. The Garmin doesn’t lie (much – there is some slippage when it loses a satellite briefly). Since today was an experiment with new food and drink the Garmin data is even more helpful.
I made a concoction of a cooked, peeled yam, two tablespoons of almond butter, and two tablespoons of honey. This, according to my nutritionist, has the perfect ratio of carbs and protein for exercise over two hours. THe honey is a natural anti-inflammatory, which should prevent cramping. I had two bottles of water, one bottle of CorvalenM and one bottle of Endurox R4 recovery drink. It was hotter than usual today, though according to the Garmin it hit a max of 84 (felt hotter – gotta trust the data). Water bottle one was done in an hour. I had parceled the yam mess into three baggies, knotted. At 1hr:15min I bit & spit and sucked down the first dose. All was good. Second hour was the CorvalenM. THe ribose is supposed to promote ATP for an energy boost. Seemed fine to me. I hit it at the start of the big hills going into Palos Verde. Hour two was deep in PV, when I came upon the Palos Verde marathon! Half the road coned off for runners, of which there were few. An awesome treat. I ate baggie two at 2hrs:30min and still everything was good. I made my turn to go back around PV and a Brazilian guy shot up past me. I asked him if I was heading back around to Rendondo and he confirmed I was on the right course. “2 miles uphill, then windy, then back around to PCH.” Cool. And then he smoked me. Any time that happens I have to remind myself that I have no idea what mile he’s on, no clue if he’s an eight time iron man champ, and if he’s bored out the carbon fiber on his bike so it weighs three ounces. He also could be mainlining EPO, hating on an ex, or in the middle of a ‘roid rage. I’ll never know. The only fact is he left me in the dust. Good motivation to pedal harder. (And regret not loading up on the “freebies” when I worked for Amgen a decade ago.)
Problems set in at mile 40. I had a noticeable dip in energy and a mild headache. Hard to tell if it was the heat or the food, but I pressed on. Four miles later my left leg threatened to cramp at the apex of my pedal stroke, but I lowered my gearing and spun faster which cleared the cramp in a few minutes. Made it home, racked the bike, went upstairs and threw on the running shoes. Got out the door in about five minutes, then at mile 0.5 realized I had forgotten to pee. One construction site later (yay unlocked porta john!) and I was off again. Took it out to just over 1.5 miles (this was just a test run) and turned around for home. Got home again and suddenly realized I wasn’t feeling so good (which could be why I didn’t want to push further on the run). Slightly nauseated, energy stores low. I whipped up a whey protein shake with berries and almond butter and have decided that between the almond snack twice a day, almond butter in my oatmeal this morning, almond butter in my home-made Gu, almond milk in my morning coffee, and almond butter in my whey shake I am pretty much sick of almonds.
I think I’m dehydrated. I didn’t really bonk, though being nauseated is often a sign of running out of steam. The truth is I could have kept running, but something else was holding me back. I wonder if it was electrolytes, hydration, or something unknown to me. That’s why the first thing I did after stretching was email Matt. I pay him to know this stuff.
Finally, after stretching, eating a giant shake, and showering, I stepped on the scale. 183 lbs. Before leaving I was 185. Dehydration, ya think?
The best long ride offers a few great things: it builds endurance by sheer dint of doing the damn thing, 50+ miles is really frickin’ far and you’ll go places you’ve never been, boredom is next to impossible if you’re exploring new territory, and having lots of variety in terrain is great training for any course that might be on your race list. In my case, Boise’s 70.3 starts in a snow melt reservoir (wetsuit required) and the bike course hits the desert outside of town with a serious climb in the early third of the course. PCH being closed is a good thing, it made me take a hilly course that had some meat to it. I can’t wait to do the PV ride again, though it may be after my event. Next week I’m in the Beast (San Francisco’s east Bay in pig latin) visiting friends and will only bring my swimming and running kit to force myself to taper prior to the big race.
Notes: 56 miles, 4hrs bike 137bpm avg. heart rate, 3.18 mile run, 36min 148 bpm avg. heart rate