Friday, May 30, 2008
Bike - Prior to riding Coach Egg told us the key to riding the bike course was to spin, spin, spin and spin. She warned that anyone who tried to mash the hills in a big gear would see "the Wizard" and be in a world of pain by the end of the first loop. After riding portions of the loop 5 times over the weekend I couldn't agree with this advice more! Lake Placid rewards patience and a smart attack plan - leave your machismo at home.
Unlike most other rollers where a hard climb is rewarding by a refreshing descent most of the LP course's climbs are followed by false flats or flats. The big reward for all the climbing comes in 1 long descent into Keene. The 9+ mile descent is terrifying for those who aren't used to handling a bike going 35+ mph (and really what tirathlete is good at handling a bike anyway!); but the more comfortable you are with a high speed descent the bigger the reward for all the climbing.
With that, the bike course can be broken into 5 portions:
1 - Route 73
2 - Route 9N
3 - First Part of 86
4 - Out & Back
5 - Second Part of 86
Route 73 starts innocently enough with mild climbs and a nice quick down hill. Just after the Iron Bridge is where the real fun begins! For 5 to 10 miles you have a slow steady climb; if you pound this out good luck on the rest of the course. After the long steady climb you're greeted by the very fast downhill section - the road is much smoother than the shoulder, especially by the 2 lakes on the descent.
Route 9N was the fastest part of the course for me. There are 2 hills, neither of which are that steep, and the rest of the route is fast. You're probably going to want to go faster than you should during this section, grinding away will burn your legs for the rest of the loop as there isn't any recovery to be had until you return to the route 73 descent.
First Part of 86 is a long fairly steep climb out of Jay into Wilmington. There is one quick descent but the rest of this leg is either a false flat or a climb; for me this was the toughest part of the course as it is really mentally draining, the scenery isn't as beautiful as the rest of the course and the climb just wears on you.
Out & Back - 7 miles out, 7 miles back, 2 steep hills, lots of flats and one of the most serene stretches I've ever ridden my bike on. While 9N allowed me to ride my back the way I like to, the out & back refreshed my spirit and my mind. For a good stretch you ride right next to the beautiful Ausable River, see several fly fisherman and are essentially alone with your thoughts. However, this gorgeous stretch is sandwiched between 2 climbs so be careful not to let it all out.
Second Part of 86 - Hello last 11 miles! This stretch of the course contains the famous 3 bears and 2 cherries. It also contains 2 unnamed hills and a headwind that will try anything to make you give up. Whiteface Mountain is known as "Iceface" during the winter months, the winds on the mountain blow away the loose snow exposing the ice underneath. Just because the temperatures are warmer doesn't mean that wind disappears. Just past the waterfall you'll begin to feel a breeze in your face. That breeze can reach hurricane like force (at least that's what it felt like) as you pass by the Whiteface parking lot. At this point you need enough left in your legs to battle with Mother Nature. One more unnamed climb after the headwind allows you to relax on a cool, comfortable flat until you face Little Cherry, Big Cherry, Mama Bear, Baby Bear and Papa Bear; on Monday Papa Bear was greeted with a loud FU as I ran over his words; this section is draining, steep and hard. There isn't alot of time to gain too much speed and the smart rider will use a high cadence in the small ring for most of this section.
Run Course - I loved the 13 mile loop! This run course has everything you could ask for, steep hills, fast flats, good downhills and gorgeous scenery. I love running up hill (hate biking up hill, but love running them); perhaps this comes from Pop Warner football when our coach used to make us bear crawl up a steep hill if we were having a bad practice. But the burn in my quads during a good run up hill brings a sadistic smile to my face - this course gave me plenty of time to smile! The course starts off with a steep 1/4 mile run downhill followed by the same stretch to the Iron Bridge as the bike course; you then make a left onto River Rd and are surrounded by farm land, a lazy river and gorgeous trees. If at some point you don't inhale deeply and smile just to have the opportunity to challenge yourself in such a pristine setting you're in the wrong sport.
The outward stretch of the run course is much easier than the return stretch as the 2 steep downhills are turned into monstrous uphill fights. The run course is challenging, those who saved their quads on the bike will be rewarded. With my ass dropped, shoulders high and quads grinding I had a great time running the 2 steep hills, especially the one in the shadow of the ski jumps.
All in all this course is phenomenal and a true test of endurance and the time you spent training. Like a good final exam Lake Placid tests all facets of triathlon training - hills, flats, and descents. The gorgeous scenery kept me smiling and reminded me how lucky I was to be challenging myself in such an amazing environment. That scenery combined with 2,400 competitors and the electricity of amazing spectators is going make July 20th an incredibly special day.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I arrived to the Alpine Inn on Friday night after fighting through some blood sugar lows on my drive up to Lake Placid. Coach Egg had told the team about me before I arrived so most knew who I was before I introduced myself. The plan was to ride the last 11 miles of the bike course (toughest part) on Friday evening before dinner; however my blood sugars were totally uncooperative so I had to wait an extra hour before starting my ride, in the pouring rain (a recurring theme for the weekend). Friday night I continued to fight off lows but was ready to tackle the full 112 miles of the bike course Saturday morning.
Saturday was my greatest test as a triathlete yet. I'm tremendously hard on myself, I'm constantly worried I'm not doing enough to accomplish my goal and am driven by the thought that someone out there is out working me, but more importantly that I have to constantly prove to myself that I can accomplish anything. On Saturday I had a complete blood sugar debacle and seriously contemplated throwing in the towel. When I had to cut off 14 miles of the course, stop for an hour to wait for my blood sugars to rebound and completely failed that days test I wasn't sure if all of this was worth it anymore. I had, had what seemed like my 200th low in the past 3 days, was cranky, tired, hungry and frustrated and wasn't sure what I had left in my heart. At one point I sat down on a guard rail and watched the entire Tri-Life team pass by me I had so much doubt enter my mind and truly wondered if this disease was defeating me. But when I pulled into that parking lot where we started our ride and had several teammates ask me if I was ok meant the world to me. I had never met any of these people prior to Friday but I felt like they really cared, as someone who has now logged probably 1,000 hours of training alone, having that support network of people going through the same thing, with the same issues, with the same frustrations without diabetes let me know I'm not alone in this and that the disease isn't what gives me the doubts, it's the sport that provides all the doubt anyone needs.
Sunday began to provide the mental break through Coach Egg was praying I'd have. After eating over 600g of carbs on Saturday my blood sugars still weren't fully stabilized, but my glycogen reserves were filled. My athletic confidence slowly returned while I tackled the hills of the LP run course. 11 miles into a 15 mile run I slapped my hands together which may have scared small children, old women and my Coach started to shed the previous weeks' weight off my shoulders. My desire to dominate returned, for me that is the single most important aspect of my athletic personality. Not necessarily dominate my competition (although crushing anyone wearing orange & red would be nice) but more the ability to dominate any doubt in my mind that I can finish a competition to the best of my ability. When the smile returned to my face, that desire returned to my soul.
Since I didn't get to ride the full bike course on Saturday I decided to stay at Lake Placid an extra day. This allowed me to get in a 20 yard swim in Mirror Lake Sunday afternoon. Breathing in freezing cold water was still freaking me out so I wanted to hop in the coldest water I could find. Mirror Lake was maybe 50 degrees and all I wanted to do was swim to the first buoy and back (about 10 yards in each direction). With a whimper on each exhale in the water I swam the 20 yards as quickly as I could, but I swam, not gracefully but WAY better than what I showed at Bassman.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Have a great Memorial Day!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The jacket did a great job of keeping me mostly dry and somewhat warm - a perfect addition to the biking wardrobe! As great as the jacket was I could have been in a freaking Gortex body suit and still gotten soaked in that freaking rain. As the rain continued to come down my bike began to feel alot heavier, my average speeds dropped from 23 mph to 20 mph to 17 mph, although my cadence remained about the same. Later that night as I was cleaning the crud off my bike, Niagra falls erupted and a good 1/2 gallon of water poured out of my bike frame - hence the slowing speeds at the same cadence. This in part is why the Lemon (which I now call my old bike frame) is being replaced by a shiny new Orbea Ordu bike frame.
A couple weeks ago the bolt that holds the clamp for the seat post in place cracked in half; every ride I've been on since then has required a quick stop every 45 minutes or so to readjust the height of the seat post. The clamp for the seat post sits on top of the head tube, instead of sitting flushly on the head tube the clamp began to pull away from the frame due to the cracked bolt. Orbea was "looking into" the problem and originally was just going to send Strictly Bicycles, my LBS a new bolt and a better tool to strengthen the tightness of the bolt. After 2 weeks of debate, Orbea decided they wanted to work with the bike directly and if necessary give me a new frame. Nelson, the owner of Strictly, knows I'm in the heart of Ironman training and a lost week at this point would be a huge problem. Displaying the amazing customer service he has always shown me, Nelson fought with Orbea to forego the examination process and give me a new frame now - I can't recommend this bike shop enough; it's a class act all the way! If you're in the market for a new ride and near Ft. Lee, NJ please put Strictly at the top of your list. Hopefully the next time I get stuck in the rain my carbon beauty won't go from a sub 15 lbs. stealth machine to a freaking Blue Whale.
Monday, May 19, 2008
So while I was going to tell you all about my 90 mile ride in the rain yesterday I'll hold that off for later this week and simply provide the link to the article. Some of the things, like my nutrition plan and hours of training have changed but the overall message remains the same: No matter what obstacles you face in life, if you believe in yourself, if your desire is strong enough, you will be able to accomplish what you set forth to do.
Here's the link to the article. Thanks again Rachel!!!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Padma, the host, brought out a trey of chilli dogs, burgers and steak sandwiches to show the cheftestants what a normal lunch order of the Chicago PD was. She then commented something to the effect of, due to the obesity epidemic facing America, diabetes is on the rise. Sam Talbot, a cheftestant from season 2, was the guest judge; Sam also has type 1 diabetes. Sam went onto say that as a diabetic he is always looking for healthy eating options, which SHOCKED me. Anyone affected with T1 knows that healthy eating allows for easier management of blood sugars, but the fact that Sam made no distinction between type 1 and type 2 really frustrated me.
In light of a recent conversation I had with someone who said their father's diabetes was "cured" after gastric by-pass surgery it is getting really upsetting that people do not make the distinction between the causes and symptoms of the two diseases. It is almost to the point where I want to call type 1 something totally different so I don't get quizzical looks and questions of "but you're so fit," when I mention that I have type 1 diabetes. It isn't the media's responsibility to educate the general population on the two types of diabetes, but it is negligent to lump them into one category. Last night I kind of felt like I was being put into a box that I really didn't belong in. Maybe I'll start saying I have Islet cellisis.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
For every 2 hours of exercise I'm supposed to have about 500 grams of carbohydrates. Pre-exercise I ingest 60 grams of carbs and during my workouts I have about 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour. From Sunday morning until Tuesday night I had exercised for 10 hours; therefore I should have consumed 2500 grams of carbs over those 3 days. Sunday I had around 700 grams of carbohydrates, about 300 less than I nutritionally needed; Monday I had about 500 grams of carbs and Tuesday I added 600 grams of carbohydrates. All together that led to a 500 to 800 gram carbohydrate deficit.
Several factors led to this:
1 - It's really hard to eat that many grams of carbs! Sure I could go to McDonald's and gobble up a few Big Macs but that wouldn't really be the best option.
2 - I should have consumed at least 1 more during exercise drink on my Sunday ride.
3 - On my Tuesday ride since it was an easy spin and I was running a bit high that morning I didn't drink any of my workout mix.
All of this manifested itself in a low that was really hard to fight through last night. For dinner I had a full cup of pasta mixed with ground beef, eggplant and red sauce - should have been at least 70 grams of carbs. Less than an hour after dinner my blood sugar had dropped to 69 so I had a snickers ice cream bar; an hour after that my blood sugar was still in the 50s! Two glasses of orange juice later I was able to stabilize my blood sugars in the low 100s.
Given all this, I had to skip my morning bike ride today. If I had worked out for an hour and 1/2 the rest of my week would have been ruined, I simply wouldn't have been able to "catch up" on my carbohydrate intake. As is, I'm going to have to eat like a hungry hungry hippo today to make sure I balance out my needed carbs. The hardest part of this is finding carbohydrate rich foods that aren't processed and don't come in powder form. For breakfast I had a glass of OJ and egg whites on toast - only 600 more grams of carbs to go!
Monday, May 12, 2008
This morning as I sit here with my quads on fire, knees swollen, back screaming and eyes dreary, I know Coach Egg brought it, but each moment I push myself, each drop of sweat is a step closer to the finish line at Placid. My training week was in a word, ridiculous, and it's only going to get harder from here.
My 16+ hours of training last week included waking up at 5am a few days to ride in Central Park or go for a run. The nice weather finally arrived in NYC which definitely gave me some extra incentive to wake up early. My 14 mile run on Saturday and 85 mile ride on Sunday were awesome. I met my target pace and blood sugar goals for each activity and felt strong at the end of both.
Best of all, the EFS and Carbo-Pro electrolyte mix I'm currently using helped me avoid ANY blood sugar lows during training throughout the week. The highlight of the week was eating an entire pizza (small) from Two Boots last night and bolusing for it perfectly!!!! Insane training weeks have their perks.
However, with all the positives from last week there are some things that without question need work:
1 - Improve my climbing ability on my bike. I'm a strong cyclist especially on the flats but my speed suffers (in comparison to others) on hills. I'm working with Cliff this week on cycling technique so that should help.
2 - Stop being discouraged in the pool. Since my debacle in the water at Bassman I've been frustrated by lap swimming. I just don't see how I'm preparing myself for open water swimming by training in a controlled environment. I'm going to look for places near my parents house in Putnam County this week to practice open water swimming on the weekends. I know I just need to prove to myself that I won't drown when the water is cold; but that is easier said than done.
3 - Hydrate more, especially on the bike. I saw Lauren last week and she is still worried that I'm not taking in enough water. Both Lauren and Brian have stressed to me that electrolyte/ carb drinks are not hydration sources; endurance athletes need to take in pure water to hydrate properly. I may buy one of those damn aero-bottles/ jet streams this week and try it out on my 100 miler this weekend, hopefully that will keep my legs fresher towards the end of the ride.
And a huge congratulations to Coach Eggers for her strong performance at the Gulf Coast Half Last Weekend!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Under the advice of my previous endocrinologist I was reducing my basal rate to 5% or 10% of the hourly delivery 90 to 120 minutes prior to exercise. This effectively reduced the novolog in my body to zero, meaning I was exercising with no insulin in my system. After reading a few articles on sports medicine and nutrition it occurred to me that insulin was necessary to help move carbohydrates from your stomach and blood stream to your muscles. Without insulin the carbs I was ingesting sat in my digestive track and were not transferred to the body parts that required energy. I think this is why when I'd return my pump to normal settings after an exercise low my blood sugar would sky rocket.
After 6 weeks of experimentation I have settled on turning my pump down to 30% of an hour's full basal rate and maintain that delivery rate of insulin for the duration of exercise (except swimming when my pump is detached). This change has allowed me to maintain a blood sugar of 150 to 190 during exercise while more importantly transferring energy to my muscles. Granted my fitness improves weekly but over the past 6 weeks I have not had the fatigue, cramping or bonking issues I ran into over the winter. From both a diabetic and nutritional standpoint I'm in a much better place now.
All this experimentation does not solve the most annoying issue about insulin pump therapy however. Why doesn't the pump allow us to set an advanced rate reduction?!? If I plan on working out in the morning I need to change my basal rate pattern from pattern A to pattern B. Pattern B is a carbon copy of Pattern A except I manually calculate 30% of whatever basal rate I would have an hour before exercise (or in this case before I wake up). I'm constantly changing Pattern B's time intervals or basal rate. This extra step probably takes more calculation than any other I've had to make as a diabetic. It would be alot easier to program my pump in advance 5am rather than having to calculate the correct basal rate and time interval.
Monday, May 5, 2008
It isn't that I hide my disease (obviously; I blog about it and let the JDRF write an article about me) but when I introduce myself to others I don't let Type 1 diabetes define me. Two future classmates are quickly becoming close friends of mine, I've hung out with each twice in NYC and spent the majority of the weekend with them at UVA. Neither knew that I had Type 1 and as fate would have it, Rob's older brother has juvenile diabetes (a future classmate who knows how to recognize lows is a god send). Jacki had originally thought that my pump was a cell phone and Rob hadn't a clue until he saw me test in our hotel room late Friday night.
Those that know me as a Triathlete asked if I "win my age groups," or "if this will be my first Ironman." To those that don't know the motivation behind my triathlon training I'm simply a guy chasing glory or athletic challenges. When I expose the reasons behind this crazy dream the attitude of the conversation changes to one of inspiration from pure athletic pursuits. It was a great feeling to have 3 people whom I let know my motivation for the Ironman pause and say something to the effect of "that's really cool." I guess more than anything this past weekend let me realize that diabetes will never define who I am but will push me to make sure it never does.