Last week was just the tip of the iceberg for what's sure to be my most challenging stretch of triathlon training ever. However, that challenge is what I crave and what makes me smile. At the same time it also requires a much greater degree of planning for nutrition than I had originally thought. I'm actually revamping how I analyze my nutrition needs which I'll describe in detail later in the post.
All the traveling I've been doing over the past several weeks had my basal rates all screwed up. During the early part of last week I kept going low during workouts performed around 5pm; finally on Thursday I realized that it wasn't the workouts causing me to go low but my basal rate starting at 3:30 pm was way too high. One of the dangers in performing exercise at the same time each day with a basal rate reduction is knowing what your body's underlying insulin needs are - altering the schedule let me see what was up.
Now that I had my afternoon basal rates cleared up I was able to get through some awesome workouts during the later part of the week. Thursday had called for a 2.5 hour ride followed by a 45 minute run; during the run my heart rate was OUT OF CONTROL. Summer was in full effect in VA last week with temperatures reaching into the 90s along with a good dose of humidity; ummm yeah zone 4b at a 9 minute pace - usually my heart rate doesn't hit 160 unless I'm cruising along at sub 7:15! On tap for Friday was my hardest swim workout yet, a 3300 yard pyramid! On top of that I was on a team for a case competition this weekend so I was feeling the time crunch. But the real fun didn't start until Saturday......
2 hours and 45 minutes of hill repeats; it actually turned into a 2 hour ride, I was supposed to do a 45 minute warm up but drove out a bit too far and only did a 10 minute warm up which was followed by a 35 minute climb!!! 35 consecutive minutes of climbing - never in my cycling history had I ever done something like that before. It actually felt incredible to climb an 8% grade for that long; legs burning with a smile on my face I climbed and climbed and climbed some more. Finally I turned onto Skyline Drive found a great 1.5 mile stretch for some 5 minute hill repeats. The stretch was between two overlook areas so I'm pretty sure the people parked in them during my training thought I was totally insane; they may partially be right but whatever.
For 40 minutes (5, 5 minute hill repeats with 3 min rest intervals) I climbed in aero position, out of my saddle and spinning. I hammered as hard as I could charging the hill - hitting 18 mph on a 4% incline! Once I got to the steep stuff I got out of my saddle and charged (as per Eric's instructions). My heart rate was hitting the 170s but I was loving it. I'll be a frequent visitor to Skyline drive as my training for IMCDA progresses. Plus the reward for climbing is a view like this one:
Not too shabby! (my camera phone doesn't really do the view justice)
Exhausted I returned home and made my first big nutrition mistake in a while. I was tired, had work to do for the case competition and wanted to be able to attend a friend's birthday party. So I skimped on food - rather than hitting up the store to get the carbohydrates I needed, I had some toast with almond butter and a clif bar - totally not enough for the intensity of work I had done. To top that off for dinner I grilled some chicken kabobs and just had potato salad - maybe a total of 100 grams of carbs when I should have refueled with closer to 300 grams of carbs after the rdie.
Sunday, I woke early to get out for my 60 mile ride, 15 of which was a warm up, 40 in zone 3 and 5 as a cool down. By 8:15 am I was out the door and felt great to be on El Bastardo again. My legs were still burning from the prior day's repeats but anytime spent in the country on my bike makes me feel fantastic. Around mile 20 I started to feel just kind of "off". My blood sugars were fine according to my meter but my body didn't feel like it normally does. I finished the ride without a problem and was surprised to see a blood sugar of 127 on my meter (with the cool down normally I'd be closer to 180). I changed into my running clothes for a 10 mile brick but was shocked when my blood sugar was at 107.
Never before has my blood sugar continue to drop after finishing exercise. Normally as my heart rate returns to resting my blood sugar will spike 50 to 100 points, to see it drop 20 more points in a matter of 15 minutes after taking in a gel let me know something was up. I texted Eric and he recommended not to force the workout - I was feeling pretty zapped of energy so headed over to Whole Foods for a super foods salad and a sandwich. I continued to pop in Clif Bars and get in as many carbohydrates as I could. I struggled to maintain my blood sugars and realized what a huge carbohydrate deficit I had let myself get into.
Additionally, I had experienced some weird morning highs (like in the 300s) earlier in the week so I jacked up my basal rate from 7am to 12pm. At a 40% basal rate my insulin intake over that period was about what it was at 100% the prior week - so I think I had way too much IOB. The combination of the carbohydrate defecit and too high basal rate messed up my blood sugars and forced me to miss the 10 mile run.
After a few years of experience with blood sugar management I thought I could put nutritional assessment and basal rate calculations on auto-pilot. Much like Toyota I learned that this stuff takes constant vigilance. Therefore, I'm creating a dynamic spread sheet to calculate my carbohydrate needs for me based on exercise duration and type. As good as I am at keeping stuff straight in my head, sometimes it's better to just let a spreadsheet do the thinking for you!