From One Fall Season to Another- Reflections on a Rollercoaster Year

October 17th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Kaitlyn Patterson

The fall is hands down my favorite season. The air and leaves make me nostalgic about high school cross country, collegiate cross country and now mountain bike racing. Recently I have been reminded of last fall, which seems way longer than 12 months ago.

Last fall was a culmination of many surreal life changes- starting medical school, competing in a virtual cycling competition through Zwift Academy, and continuing my usual fall calendar of mountain bike racing. I was on a mission (or several), I had momentum and life was good. Iceman was the climax of the fall, an awesome day that will likely stand as one of my favorite cycling memories forever.

I absolutely knew that my pursuits through the fall were unsustainable but I felt it was worth it. After Iceman, I continued to fulfill the workouts for the Zwift Academy competition but I knew I had been digging myself a deep fatigue hole that was starting to engulf me. By the end, I was going through the motions and very much looking forward to the off-season. However, the fact that there was a real contract on the line started to become a more concrete reality. I had brought up the potential of winning to the medical school administration but was told to come back when I had more information. Conveniently over Thanksgiving break, I got more information. I was selected as one of the three finalists and had 48 hours to decide if I would accept the offer. The finalists would travel to training camp with the Canyon/SRAM pro road team and anyone that went to camp had to be prepared to accept the one-year contract if offered. The only way any of it was going to be possible was if I took an immediate leave of absence from school or left altogether. And to make it worse, I had no way to talk to the medical school administration about it before having to give an answer.

In the end, it was too big a sacrifice to throw everything else under the bus to pursue the virtual cycling experiment. And the thought of continuing to train at a high level and immediately launching into another race season in January was essentially inconceivable for me at that point. I also wasn’t ready to hang up my mountain bike in exchange for a road pro peloton. I ultimately made the difficult decision to turn down the offer, as did another of the finalists.

I didn’t publicize the conclusion of my Zwift Academy because I didn’t want to try and justify my decision to others. Despite occasional twangs of regret, I overall feel that it was the right call. However, my desperately needed off-season was beset with some poor decision-making. Based on just how fatigued I was after the fall and multiple years of bike racing immediately transitioning to ski racing, I probably needed many weeks of no training to truly recover. At the time, this was incomprehensible and I rested some but not nearly enough. I was excited to get back to running and skiing and I still considered myself invincible. As expected the winter was challenging in multiple ways- school was demanding, the snow was crappy for skiing, and Alex would depart for our usual ski racing adventures alone.

Fast forward several months to the summer when I was supposed to be taking advantage of my last chances to race bikes, I found myself in the deepest depths of overtraining syndrome that I had ever visited. In retrospect, I made several mistakes that should have been obvious but I missed. First, I needed a hard reset of recovery after the fall. A season absolutely should not start with residual fatigue from the previous. Second, I integrated running into my training more than I have in years and underestimated the training stress. Since I started cycling, I quantify training in hours instead of miles and translating this to running can be a slippery slope. Third, I lost weight that I didn’t have to lose. In contrast to most of the population, I tend to lose weight when I’m not careful and especially when stressed. This makes it exceptionally difficult to make progress in training and instead can directly undermine it. Fourth, I was utilizing exercise as a drug. Usually this is a healthy outlet but it started to become my only coping mechanism.

The signs were subtle at first, I wasn’t responding to training and had to take many more recovery days. However, my spring racing went well and I figured there couldn’t be anything wrong if I could still race fast. I apparently had to prove to myself that this was false. It eventually hit the fan and I felt like I broke my sympathetic nervous system. I was incapable of getting my heart rate up and sometimes would just stop and rest. This progression was absolutely consistent with the mysterious “overtraining syndrome.”  It is often debated if overtraining syndrome is a real thing because we have no good way to measure it or “gold-standard” test. Criteria and descriptions vary somewhat but it is essentially the result of a dysfunctional response to stressors, both training and non-training related. As good as we are trained as medical students to identify patterns of pathology in others, we tend to be terrible in ourselves.

I again found myself at the bottom of a large fatigue hole realizing there was no quick or easy way out. So I took my summer races off the calendar, slept more and ate more. However, my recovering was punctuated by weekends of long rides up north or adventure rides in Marquette when I would feel better for a few days but then have to start over. It was hard to imagine being legitimately fast again.

Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah. One stop on our tour out west

I eventually realized I was just going to have to put away the bike for a while. In August, I went on a non-cycling vacation with my mother and then to a medical conference for a total of 3+ weeks off the bike. When I came back was the first time I felt a spark in a long time. As the fall air rolled in, I got the itch to race. I counted up the weeks and Alex and I devised a conservative training plan to put myself back together for my favorite fall races.

So while I may not have the same fitness heading into this fall campaign, I have a much different perspective and sense of gratitude. Days I get to ride and feel good on the bike are now gifts and not expectations. I have a greater respect for managing fatigue and the importance of recovery as well as accounting for non-training stressors. I have no doubt that cycling has taught me many things that will make me a better physician, many of them learned this year.

Just after Iceman this year I start my clinical rotations and cycling will take a backseat for a while. This summer has admittedly made this transition a bit easier as this season now feels like a bonus. So here’s to another few weeks of fall racing, riding and memories for future nostalgia before the next chapter begins.

 

The post From One Fall Season to Another- Reflections on a Rollercoaster Year appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


My Kona Journey: Part 4

October 11th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Brian Reynolds

This blog is a continuation from my last blog post “My Kona Journey: Part 3”.  I would suggest reading that blog before reading this one.

“Only he who can see the invisible can do the impossible.” – Frank L. Gaines

It was early May and less than one month to go until Ironman Brasil!  During the month of May I did two races which were the Borgess run and the Muncie May Triathlon. I’ve ran the Borgess run 4 years in row and wanted to continue on with that tradition.  On May 6th I did the Borgess 10k run which was a “C” race for me.  I went into this race in a non-rested state since my Ironman training took priority.  I was able to get the overall win in a time of 33:32 which was the fastest time I’ve ran on that course.  I was really surprised of how well I ran considering my legs felt fatigued from training.  This race result showed that I had good run fitness which was a big confidence booster heading into Ironman Brasil.

The following weekend on May 13th I did the Muncie May Triathlon which was an Olympic distance race in Muncie, Indiana.  The race was one of the first triathlon races in the Midwest.  I was trying to find a race further South to get some warmer temps but there weren’t any others on that weekend.  The race was on a Saturday so I drove down to Muncie on Friday and checked out the course.  The water temp was 58 deg F which will be the coldest water I would ever swim in!  The bike course was a 2 loop that was mostly flat with a few rolling hills.  The run course was a out and back which had rolling terrain.

On race day there were a few delays which pushed my swim wave start to 9:50am.  Before the start I swam in the lake to get my body acclimated to the freezing water temps.  When I stuck my head in the water it took my breath away but after a few minutes my body adjusted.  I wore a skull cap to help keep my head warm.  When the race started I got off to a good start.  I was swimming with the leaders for the first 300-400 yards.  Eventually the leaders started to pull away which was unusual because I usually keep a even pace throughout the swim.  I think the cold water temps were getting to me because my body was using its energy to stay warm.  I ended up fading to 6th place coming out of the water.  I tried to stay positive and thought that once I got to the bike I would be ok and would make up those lost positions.

 

When I got to the bike I notice within the first few minutes of the ride that my power numbers were low.  I was riding 30-40 watts lower than what I expected.  On lap one I got passed by two riders and I started to get disappointed with myself.  I thought to myself “Man I did all this hard work on the bike and this was all I could show for it.”  I didn’t give up and just kept pushing.  When I started the 2nd loop I started to pick up the pace.  Within a 5 minute window my power started to gradually climb from 240 to 250 to 260 to 270 to 280 to 290 watts.  I got a 2nd wind and the engines were running on full power.  The two guys who passed me early on in the bike I could not see but I knew if I kept pushing I could catch them.  I was able to catch both with 2 miles left to go in the bike.  It turned out that I was in the lead coming off the bike so I felt confident that I had the race at hand since my run was my strongest discipline.  I managed to grow my lead and win the race.  This race showed me that ANYTHING can happen and you can go from a low point to a high point as long as you keep pushing.

After Muncie I had 2 weeks until Ironman Brasil.  The final 2 weeks were lighter workouts since I was beginning my taper.  My dad and I left for Brazil on a Tuesday (5 days before the race) and arrived in Florianopolis, Brazil on a Wednesday.  The total flight time was 15 hours through 3 different connections.  After landing in Florianopolis we had to drive 45 minutes to the hotel which was a few miles away from the race venue.  On our drive I was able to checkout the landscape and the bike course.  Florianopolis was a very hilly and pretty area.  Fortunately the bike course is mostly on the highways which is mostly flat with a few big hills along the course.  The scenery was beautiful especially near the coastline.  It definitely felt like I was in a different country because the buildings, roads, and cars were different compared to the US.

On Thursday I did a 45 minute easy run which did not feel smooth or easy.  During this run it felt like I left my running legs in Michigan.  I didn’t worry too much over this run because it could’ve been due to the long flight or the taper effect.  I knew that I was fit and that I would be ready to race.  Later than day I did the athlete check-in and checked out all the cool triathlon toys at the expo!

On Friday I did a open water swim near the Ironman start.  I probably couldn’t have picked a worse day to go for a swim.  There were 5 to 8 foot tides crashing into shore.  This made me worry because I thought this was normal and this would be the race conditions on race day.  I manage to have the courage to go for a swim but it was rough.  I was getting saltwater in my mouth.  I had a hard time sighting since I couldn’t see over the tides.  The waves were tossing me around for 30 minutes.  There was an instance when I was swimming back to shore a big wave flipped me over on my back!   After the swim I talked to a few folks about the ocean tides and they said that those conditions were not typical.  Usually the water is a lot more calm and race officials would’ve cancelled the swim in the conditions I swam in which made me feel more at ease.

The day before the race I did my final workout which was a bike and run.  I did a 25 min bike and a 15 min run.  On the bike I tested out my race equipment by placing two filled water bottles in my rear bottle cages to make sure they did not fall out while riding on the cobblestone roads.  Yes, there is a section of cobblestones for .5 miles near the start of the bike.  The good news is that my bottles did not fall out; however, the bad news was that my rear bottle cage broke!  Literally on the 2nd to last speed bump heading back to the hotel I heard a “thud” sound.  I was really surprised but it’s good that it happened now and not during the race.  If this happened during the race it would’ve had a big impact on my race since two bottles were two hours worth of nutrition.  Fortunately I was able to buy another rear bottle cage at the Ironman expo.

That late afternoon I started packing my equipment and nutrition.  For the bike I prepared five bottles of my Infinit bike blend that I would carry on the bike.  I had one bottle in my aero bars, two bottles on my frame, and two bottles in my rear bottle cages.  To take extra precautions I packed two extra bottles in my bike special needs bag just incase I lose any bottles during the race.  For the run I prepared six 10 oz flasks of my Infinite run blend.  Each flask had 30 mins worth of energy and I plan on running for 3 hours which meant I needed 6 flasks.  I would carry three flasks out of T2 and then pick up the other three flasks in special needs.

The last agenda items to do before the race day was eat and get to bed early.  We had a buffet dinner so I could pick and choose what I wanted.  I limited my fiber intake and ate foods that I was more familiar with.  Not worth experimenting with different foods in a foreign country the day before a race.  After dinner we went to bed shortly after.  It’s usually hard for me to get a good night’s sleep before the biggest race of the season.

All the hard work was done and now it was time to reap the benefits tomorrow.   I was in the best shape of my life and felt confident that I could qualify for Kona as long as I executed my race plan.  The forecast for tomorrow was rainy with the temps in the high 60s.  At least I didn’t have to worry about it being too hot:)

To be continued….

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Catching the Cyclocross Bug

October 5th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

-By Charlie Seymour

Last week, I lined up for my first cyclocross race of the year. Primarily, I am a mountain biker, but with mountain bike season winding down, I decided to change my focus from the MiSCA race series, to the Michigan cyclocross series. The race this week was at Glengary park in Wixom Michigan, so it was considered to be my “home course”, meaning I was able to go out and do some course preview the day before. The course featured a lot of fast, grassy sections with a few tight corners, a set of barriers, and a run up with a set of barriers at the top and bottom of the hill. The lack of rain in the days leading up to the race made for a very dry and dusty race. My race was at 2 p.m, with the sun beating down on the course, causing temperatures to reach the mid 90’s, very unusual for a September cyclocross race. I got to the venue about an hour and a half before the start to the junior race. I did my usual warm up and then heard the call for the juniors to report to the staging area. I made my way over, had a last few words with my coach, and then the juniors had their call ups.

It was zone 4 fun right from the whistle. The first lap went as expected, I kept a strong pace and had perfect skills, as I had practiced. I led the race for laps 2-5 with Hayden Fox, from Andrie Machine Star, right on my rear wheel. Being on my mountain bike, I had a pretty big disadvantage in the fast parts of the course, particularly on the flat sections. I kept a hard pace going the whole race, despite the very hot weather. On the run up on the second to last lap, I stumbled and had to jump off my bike, where I would usually go over the barriers and shoot up the hill, and had to run up it. Hayden saw this and capitalized on it, slowly gaining time on me, until he was beyond reach. We both had our fastest laps on the last lap, and he ended up coming away with the win, with me shortly behind. It was one of my favorite races of the year, and made me super excited for the next race.

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What’s in your triathlon bag?

October 4th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Kathy Braginton

As another triathlon season came to a close, I began to clean out my triathlon bag and pack it away until next year.  I looked through all the items I have collected over the years and which ones have become standard items in my bag.  So, what is in your triathlon bag?

The first, and most important item, is my race day checklist.  I have used this same checklist for the last 9 years.  No matter how many times I have packed my bag, I use this list to ensure I have everything I’ll need on race day.  If you look closely at the handwritten items, you’ll see the true age of this checklist.  Does anyone still own/use an MP3 player?  I do find it amusing that I have that item listed on a USAT labeled checklist.  Use of any personal audio device at a USAT sanctioned event is a rule violation and subject to a time penalty.  I will admit that I did use an MP3 player during a race when I was first starting out and I did receive a 2:00 minute penalty as a result.  Needless to say, I no longer include that item in my bag!

The rest of the items in my bag are handy and will keep you prepared for whatever might come your way:

 

  1. No matter what the race distance:  the water, wind, and sun can really take its toll on your lips.  I use a squirt of Aquaphore on the stem of my bike.  While I am riding, I can quickly apply it to keep my lips protected without slowing me down.
  2. You never know what the race day bathroom situation may bring and there rarely is a place to wash your hands. So, for the times when you just feel the need to clean your hands, a travel size bottle of hand sanitizer is a must!
  3. Electrical tape can be used to secure gel packs on the stem of your bike for easy access during the bike leg. If you tape the gel pack over the tab at the top, it can serve as a quick release for opening the gel pack.  You also never know when you may need tape to do a last minute handlebar repair.
  4. Sidewalk chalk can be used to mark your transition area. I have only needed to use this a few times when I could not find a good visual landmark for locating my transition, however, this is not allowed at USAT sanctioned events.
  5. At race day packet pick-up, you never know what kind of race numbers you will be given and how they are to be mounted. Most triathlon bikes have odd shaped stems and seat posts and do not allow for easy attachment of race numbers.  I use a mini-stapler to quickly wrap the race number on my stem.  I have had people ask to borrow my stapler many times as they struggle to attach their race number and watch me attach mine within seconds.
  6. In addition to the stapler, I have a pair of travel scissors to assist with the race number application. Race numbers can be trimmed for a better fit.
  7. For faster transitions, I have my bike shoes already clipped in my pedals and I use rubber bands to fasten the back of my bike shoes to the frame of the bike. The bike shoes will then stay horizontal until I mount the bike. Once I start to pedal, the rubber bands will snap.
  8. The most recent item I have added is a Sharpie. Waiting in line to be body marked, can be one of the most time consuming tasks on race day.  Having your own Sharpie for body marking, can eliminate the stress and anxiety that can come from having to wait.

A few of the other items I carry are safety pins, spare tubes, baby powder, deodorant, body glide and sunscreen.  Be prepared for whatever race day may bring.  Keep your bag stocked and utilize your checklist each and every race.

 

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Lessons learned: the “crit”

October 3rd, 2017 by Marie Dershem

Criterium racing is a different kind of bicycle racing – and “crits” can be very intimidating for those just entering into the racing scene. Criterium races are short courses (usually .5 mile to 1 ½ miles) where you race for a designated amount of time. As the race progresses, the time turns into laps, based on average lap time. So, if racing for 40 minutes, at some point the officials will start a lap counter and count down laps until the finish. These are races of skill and strategy because they are typically high-speed races with 4 to 8 corners.

I am a long-course road racer at heart… so over the years of racing, I’ve had to learn how to race differently when racing a criterium. Here is what I’ve learned:

1. Be patient. When racing a criterium, you do not need to chase down every attack. Someone will chase it down and you’ll save a lot of energy by hoping on that wheel.

2. Positioning is everything. This makes or breaks the race. If the race is coming down to a field sprint, your position entering into the last stretch of road on the last lap will most likely determine where you place. Know the riders around you. Pick a good wheel to follow. Stay in the top 5 around that last corner.

3. Take some chances. Try for a break. Shake things up a bit. These races can be exciting and fun if racers take a chance and mix it up. Attack. Bridge up to a break. Go for a prime. Have fun and make racers work for their position.

4. Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you are more endurance than power, try to get into a break so you have a better chance at the end. If you are a sprinter, do some work, throw some attacks, but mostly just sit in and wait for your moment to shine. If you aren’t sure – test the waters and see where you land.

5. Rubber side down. It is never worth it to steal a wheel (taking a good draft wheel from someone else during a race), take a corner faster than your skill allows, or break your line (being unpredictable to the riders around you) to gain position or move up in the field if you have to do so in a dangerous manner. Everyone wants to do their best and get the best possible positioning leading up to the finish. But this can cause serious crashes, especially at high speeds. Be smart. Be cautious. Be aware of the riders around you. Be safe. Everyone wants to end the ride rubber side down.

The post Lessons learned: the “crit” appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


Lessons learned: the “crit”

October 3rd, 2017 by Marie Dershem

Criterium racing is a different kind of bicycle racing – and “crits” can be very intimidating for those just entering into the racing scene. Criterium races are short courses (usually .5 mile to 1 ½ miles) where you race for a designated amount of time. As the race progresses, the time turns into laps, based on average lap time. So, if racing for 40 minutes, at some point the officials will start a lap counter and count down laps until the finish. These are races of skill and strategy because they are typically high-speed races with 4 to 8 corners.

I am a long-course road racer at heart… so over the years of racing, I’ve had to learn how to race differently when racing a criterium. Here is what I’ve learned:

1. Be patient. When racing a criterium, you do not need to chase down every attack. Someone will chase it down and you’ll save a lot of energy by hoping on that wheel.

2. Positioning is everything. This makes or breaks the race. If the race is coming down to a field sprint, your position entering into the last stretch of road on the last lap will most likely determine where you place. Know the riders around you. Pick a good wheel to follow. Stay in the top 5 around that last corner.

3. Take some chances. Try for a break. Shake things up a bit. These races can be exciting and fun if racers take a chance and mix it up. Attack. Bridge up to a break. Go for a prime. Have fun and make racers work for their position.

4. Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you are more endurance than power, try to get into a break so you have a better chance at the end. If you are a sprinter, do some work, throw some attacks, but mostly just sit in and wait for your moment to shine. If you aren’t sure – test the waters and see where you land.

5. Rubber side down. It is never worth it to steal a wheel (taking a good draft wheel from someone else during a race), take a corner faster than your skill allows, or break your line (being unpredictable to the riders around you) to gain position or move up in the field if you have to do so in a dangerous manner. Everyone wants to do their best and get the best possible positioning leading up to the finish. But this can cause serious crashes, especially at high speeds. Be smart. Be cautious. Be aware of the riders around you. Be safe. Everyone wants to end the ride rubber side down.

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My Kona Journey: Part 3

October 1st, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

-By  Brian Reynolds

This blog is a continuation from my last blog post “My Kona Journey: Part 2”.  I would suggest reading that blog before reading this one.

“Success in the sport is, above all else, about enduring suffering.”

– Chris McCormack, Two-Time Ironman World Champion

My training from October 2016 to February 2017 was progressing in the right direction leading up to Ironman Brasil on May 28th.  I was more powerful on the bike and my run/swim fitness was looking good.  In fact to show off my run fitness in February I was able to run a 1:15:46 at the Portage Winterblast Half Marathon which is the fastest time I’ve ran in 5 years for a half!  My swim times in the pool were better compared to prior years.

When March rolled around my training volume was starting to pick up.  This meant that I started doing 4.5 – 6 hour bike rides and 2:00 to 2:45 hour long runs.  As my training increased to 16 – 18 hours per week I became more fatigued.  There were some days during the week where I became so fatigued that I thought I would not be able to make it to the weekend.  Going into the weekend feeling very fatigued is not good considering my big workouts which include a 5+ hour bike and 2+ hour run were on the weekend!  Some fatigue is acceptable but not to the point where you feel tired all day and have to rely on coffee to keep you awake.

There was one particular week where I had to take a off day instead of doing my scheduled bike and run workout.  My coach contacted me about how much sleep I was getting and how we could tweak the schedule so I could get more sleep.  Looking back on my past training I was waking up at 4:15 am three times per week to swim with the Kalamazoo Masters group.  To wake up that early meant I was giving up a lot of sleep considering I could wake up at 7:00am during the weekday.  This was not an issue prior to March when I was training 12-15 hours per week; however, when my training exceeded 15 hours then the lack of sleep became an issue.  I moved all of my swims to the evenings which meant I only had to get up 1 time at 5:30am per week.  I was bummed that I had to miss my morning Masters swims but I needed the extra sleep.  When I started getting more sleep I did not have any bad workouts and I had more energy throughout the week.  Getting more sleep was a game charger and I didn’t have to reduce my training. This proves once again that sleep is the best form of recovery!

Another area I wanted to improve on was my stamina on the bike.  When I did the 2016 Ironman Wisconsin my power on the bike faded the last 2 hours of the ride which costed me a lot of time.  To gain more confidence on the bike I did multiply 5+ hour rides with Ironman efforts mixed in throughout the rides. I remember one long ride I did in mid April was a 112 mile time trial at Ironman goal pace.  Sounds simple right?  Just ride as hard as you can for 112 miles.  When I did this ride it was in the 70s which was the warmest day we’ve had so far that Spring.  I could tell within the first few hours into the ride that I was not going to hit my Ironman goal pace.  The combination of the heat and being a little fatigued before starting the ride made it for a challenging day.  Instead of thinking negatively about how much this ride was going to suck I flipped the script.  I tried to think about something positive to help keep me motivated to ride hard.  For me I knew I was not going to hit my goal watts so I didn’t focus on that.  Instead I focused on maintaining the wattage that I was currently averaging and try to finish the ride strong.  When I finished the ride I did maintain my power from start to finish and I gave it everything that I had.  All we can do is take what our body gives us and make the most of it.  If I got anything from this ride then it was working on my mental toughness. In an Ironman race you are going to go through high and low points.  The key moments in a Ironman is how you manage those low points.  During those low points try not to get down on yourself and believe that you can get through it.  Focus your energy on what you can control for that given situation.

In early May I did another time trial which was a 100 miles at Ironman goal watts.  I had a great ride.  My legs were feeling great and in fact I was exceeding my goal wattage.  This ride was a big confidence booster for me because I was able to my goal wattage for Ironman Brasil.  Even though I was felt great on this ride I made sure I didn’t push the pace too hard starting out.  As I mentioned earlier during a Ironman race you will go through some high points where you are feeling great.  During these high points you need to keep a level head and use good judgement.  When an athlete feels good we have a tendency to ignore our race plan and start pushing the pace.  If we push the pace too hard too soon we usually pay the consequences later in the race and end up hurting our overall performance.

All of the long rides and runs allowed me to dial in my race nutrition plan. I started out using Ucan which I used for Ironman Wisconsin.  For some reason I could only stomach Ucan for up to 3 hours before I would get tired of the taste and my body would start rejecting it.  For a Ironman I needed a product that would work for at least 8 hours so I needed to try something else.  The new product I tried was First Endurance EFS drinks which I have used in the past and had success with it.  Base on my weight and race duration I needed to get in 250-300 calories per hour on the bike and around 210 calories per hour for the run.  When I used EFS I found the flavor to be a little over concentrated to get the calories in that I needed.  I was able to stomach EFS longer than Ucan but by the time I got to the 3.5-4 hour mark on the bike I got tired of the taste and I couldn’t take much more.

I had to rethink my nutrition once again.  I decided to give Infinite Nutrition a try.  I’ve heard good things about Infinite from other triathletes in the Trikat club and I knew they were a sponsor for Athletic Mentors and the Trikats.  For those of you who may be new to INFINIT, it is a custom-blended nutrition solution customized to fit your nutrition needs on the bike and run portions of triathlons or your nutrition needs for any type of exercise and racing.  I did a free consultation with their nutritionist specialist to create my custom blend via email.  The process was really easy.  They send you a survey to fill out to help them understand what your needs are to develop the right nutrition blend.  After the survey they created a bike and run blend for me.  The bike blend was 275 calories and the run blend was 210 calories.  In addition, the bike blend had some added whey protein to help satisfy hunger whereas the run blend does not because the protein has a tendency to cause bloating due to the liquids sloshing around while you run.  The flavor I chose for the bike bland was chocolate and the run was a fruit punch which both tasted great.

When I tried Infinit on my 5 hour ride I took 5 bottles on my bike with one 275 calories serving per bottle.  I just had to take one bottle per hour to stay on my nutrition plan which was really easy to keep track.  I was able to stomach it through 4 hours without an issue.  The last hour I struggle a little to finish the last bottle.  I contacted Infinit about it and they sent me a new blend with a little less Whey Protein in it to make it easier to digest.  On my next 5 hour ride I tried the new blend and I was able to down all 5 bottles on my ride.  In hindsight, I think the old blend would’ve still worked because I think my stomach needed time to get use to digesting that amount of calories while riding.   I did not have any issues with the Infinit run blend on my long runs so didn’t have to make any modifications to that.  Overall, I was very satisfied with Infinit’s product and service.

That all said I had my nutrition plan dialed in and I had the stamina (and confidence) on the bike to help get me a Kona slot at Ironman Brasil.  Now it was time to start racing and tapering!

The post My Kona Journey: Part 3 appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


My Kona Journey: Part 3

October 1st, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

-By  Brian Reynolds

This blog is a continuation from my last blog post “My Kona Journey: Part 2”.  I would suggest reading that blog before reading this one.

“Success in the sport is, above all else, about enduring suffering.”

– Chris McCormack, Two-Time Ironman World Champion

My training from October 2016 to February 2017 was progressing in the right direction leading up to Ironman Brasil on May 28th.  I was more powerful on the bike and my run/swim fitness was looking good.  In fact to show off my run fitness in February I was able to run a 1:15:46 at the Portage Winterblast Half Marathon which is the fastest time I’ve ran in 5 years for a half!  My swim times in the pool were better compared to prior years.

When March rolled around my training volume was starting to pick up.  This meant that I started doing 4.5 – 6 hour bike rides and 2:00 to 2:45 hour long runs.  As my training increased to 16 – 18 hours per week I became more fatigued.  There were some days during the week where I became so fatigued that I thought I would not be able to make it to the weekend.  Going into the weekend feeling very fatigued is not good considering my big workouts which include a 5+ hour bike and 2+ hour run were on the weekend!  Some fatigue is acceptable but not to the point where you feel tired all day and have to rely on coffee to keep you awake.

There was one particular week where I had to take a off day instead of doing my scheduled bike and run workout.  My coach contacted me about how much sleep I was getting and how we could tweak the schedule so I could get more sleep.  Looking back on my past training I was waking up at 4:15 am three times per week to swim with the Kalamazoo Masters group.  To wake up that early meant I was giving up a lot of sleep considering I could wake up at 7:00am during the weekday.  This was not an issue prior to March when I was training 12-15 hours per week; however, when my training exceeded 15 hours then the lack of sleep became an issue.  I moved all of my swims to the evenings which meant I only had to get up 1 time at 5:30am per week.  I was bummed that I had to miss my morning Masters swims but I needed the extra sleep.  When I started getting more sleep I did not have any bad workouts and I had more energy throughout the week.  Getting more sleep was a game charger and I didn’t have to reduce my training. This proves once again that sleep is the best form of recovery!

Another area I wanted to improve on was my stamina on the bike.  When I did the 2016 Ironman Wisconsin my power on the bike faded the last 2 hours of the ride which costed me a lot of time.  To gain more confidence on the bike I did multiply 5+ hour rides with Ironman efforts mixed in throughout the rides. I remember one long ride I did in mid April was a 112 mile time trial at Ironman goal pace.  Sounds simple right?  Just ride as hard as you can for 112 miles.  When I did this ride it was in the 70s which was the warmest day we’ve had so far that Spring.  I could tell within the first few hours into the ride that I was not going to hit my Ironman goal pace.  The combination of the heat and being a little fatigued before starting the ride made it for a challenging day.  Instead of thinking negatively about how much this ride was going to suck I flipped the script.  I tried to think about something positive to help keep me motivated to ride hard.  For me I knew I was not going to hit my goal watts so I didn’t focus on that.  Instead I focused on maintaining the wattage that I was currently averaging and try to finish the ride strong.  When I finished the ride I did maintain my power from start to finish and I gave it everything that I had.  All we can do is take what our body gives us and make the most of it.  If I got anything from this ride then it was working on my mental toughness. In an Ironman race you are going to go through high and low points.  The key moments in a Ironman is how you manage those low points.  During those low points try not to get down on yourself and believe that you can get through it.  Focus your energy on what you can control for that given situation.

In early May I did another time trial which was a 100 miles at Ironman goal watts.  I had a great ride.  My legs were feeling great and in fact I was exceeding my goal wattage.  This ride was a big confidence booster for me because I was able to my goal wattage for Ironman Brasil.  Even though I was felt great on this ride I made sure I didn’t push the pace too hard starting out.  As I mentioned earlier during a Ironman race you will go through some high points where you are feeling great.  During these high points you need to keep a level head and use good judgement.  When an athlete feels good we have a tendency to ignore our race plan and start pushing the pace.  If we push the pace too hard too soon we usually pay the consequences later in the race and end up hurting our overall performance.

All of the long rides and runs allowed me to dial in my race nutrition plan. I started out using Ucan which I used for Ironman Wisconsin.  For some reason I could only stomach Ucan for up to 3 hours before I would get tired of the taste and my body would start rejecting it.  For a Ironman I needed a product that would work for at least 8 hours so I needed to try something else.  The new product I tried was First Endurance EFS drinks which I have used in the past and had success with it.  Base on my weight and race duration I needed to get in 250-300 calories per hour on the bike and around 210 calories per hour for the run.  When I used EFS I found the flavor to be a little over concentrated to get the calories in that I needed.  I was able to stomach EFS longer than Ucan but by the time I got to the 3.5-4 hour mark on the bike I got tired of the taste and I couldn’t take much more.

I had to rethink my nutrition once again.  I decided to give Infinite Nutrition a try.  I’ve heard good things about Infinite from other triathletes in the Trikat club and I knew they were a sponsor for Athletic Mentors and the Trikats.  For those of you who may be new to INFINIT, it is a custom-blended nutrition solution customized to fit your nutrition needs on the bike and run portions of triathlons or your nutrition needs for any type of exercise and racing.  I did a free consultation with their nutritionist specialist to create my custom blend via email.  The process was really easy.  They send you a survey to fill out to help them understand what your needs are to develop the right nutrition blend.  After the survey they created a bike and run blend for me.  The bike blend was 275 calories and the run blend was 210 calories.  In addition, the bike blend had some added whey protein to help satisfy hunger whereas the run blend does not because the protein has a tendency to cause bloating due to the liquids sloshing around while you run.  The flavor I chose for the bike bland was chocolate and the run was a fruit punch which both tasted great.

When I tried Infinit on my 5 hour ride I took 5 bottles on my bike with one 275 calories serving per bottle.  I just had to take one bottle per hour to stay on my nutrition plan which was really easy to keep track.  I was able to stomach it through 4 hours without an issue.  The last hour I struggle a little to finish the last bottle.  I contacted Infinit about it and they sent me a new blend with a little less Whey Protein in it to make it easier to digest.  On my next 5 hour ride I tried the new blend and I was able to down all 5 bottles on my ride.  In hindsight, I think the old blend would’ve still worked because I think my stomach needed time to get use to digesting that amount of calories while riding.   I did not have any issues with the Infinit run blend on my long runs so didn’t have to make any modifications to that.  Overall, I was very satisfied with Infinit’s product and service.

That all said I had my nutrition plan dialed in and I had the stamina (and confidence) on the bike to help get me a Kona slot at Ironman Brasil.  Now it was time to start racing and tapering!

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Back to basics: an interview with Junior Racer, Christian Dershem

September 27th, 2017 by Marie Dershem

Sometimes kids have a perspective that bring us back to basics. There are times, as adults, we are out on a ride and the wind is high, motivation is low… and we wonder why we are out there. Here is a short interview with 11 year old junior racer, Christian Dershem. He’ll remind you.

1. What is your favorite part of racing: “It’s fun and competitive at the same time – I love that.”

2. What is your least favorite part of racing: “Crashes and mean bike riders that will shove you or cut you off.”

3. Why did you get into cycling? “My parents did it and when I tried it, I thought it was really fun.”

4. What is your favorite type of race? “Time trial or mountain bike race.”

5. Why? “I like how it is all your power. It’s just you and your individual power. It’s your speed. No one can help you. And, mountain biking is also so fun to do – really fun!”

6. What do you like about being on a team? “The support that you get and making friends. And, you get pushed and you also get to learn from teammates.”

 

 

7. Is there anything you aspire to do with bicycle racing? “Become a pro and race in the Tour de France.”

8. What do you plan to do to make that happen? “Work hard every day.”

9. How much do you train now? “Not too often.”

10. What is racing all about? “Having fun and doing what you love.”

11. Is there anything you want to say to those reading this blog post? “Do what you love to do, and thanks to all my teammates and cycling friends for all the help and support they give me.”

Ride on!

 

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Legacy of a Cycling Family

September 25th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

By Ross Williams 

Cycling/bike racing is a sport that provides a diverse variety of opportunity and experiences. Travel, the unique local attractions, sights and culinary experiences of the bike race scene and comradery with like -minded people are just a few of those offered. I’ve done plenty and experienced much on my way through the circuit. However, cycling is not something I just stumbled on and decided to pursue on my own. You see, I come from a cycling family.

Imagine this, you are a middle-class family from Mid Michigan, planning a weekend get -away. You team up with your neighborhood friends and decide on a trip of camping and biking in Northern Michigan. Would you pedal your 1960, 3-speed Schwinn through the hills of Leelanau County, or out and back Old Mission Peninsula? My grandparents did and they lived and laughed to tell us about it. I have the legacy of biking in my family.

That same 1960 3-Speed Schwinn Traveler that rode through the hills of Leelanau, rode my mom to kindergarten. That bike was well cared for and preserved by my grandpa and my mom rides it to this day. Legacy.

It was during a recent return trip from St. Louis, MO, and the Gateway Cup that memories of great times biking as a family came to me. You see, there is a lot of car travel involved in bike racing, a LOT. It affords ample time for reflection and goal setting. Often, driving through certain landscapes or viewing landmarks will jog the memory of similar sights. This trip, it was a long drive through the corn fields of Southern Illinois that reminded me of another trip along roads lined with corn fields.

My brother had been able to travel from Tennessee to St. Louis to watch me race and catch up. It was a good time. This probably caused me to reminisce about other things we have done together, especially as kids. I remembered, with a chuckle, our very first road bike ride together. I was eleven years old, my brother thirteen and my Grandpa was still in his prime. I was able to use Grandpa’s road bike, a 1990’s, ten speed Univega. We had done plenty of riding about town with Grandpa, but this was a much bigger deal.

Our plan was to get up and out early in the morning, head out from Grandpa’s home and ride north 40 miles to the family cabin. Our preparation for this long ride? Well, this was prior to my knowledge of riding nutrition and hydration. We weren’t up on the latest sport drinks or gu packets needed for a 40 mile ride. We did however, set out with plenty of water and planned feed stops along the way. The first stop was 10 miles up the road at a local, rural diner. We carbed up with a large stack of pancakes, enough to fuel us through a long, windy stretch of farm land. Twenty miles to go until our next feed stop. This one happened to be at Grandpa’s buddy Bob’s place. Bob was an avid weekend triathlete. He knew a bit about the best fuel for our bodies, so this stop we filled up on Gatorade and bananas. After we caught our breath and visited with Bob, we saddled up and headed off for the last leg of our ride. Ten more miles to go until our destination. The mood was a bid more subdued those last ten miles. My brother and I were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into and Grandpa was good-heartedly goading us along the way. “Ya doin’ okay back there sweet peas?” Or, his famous reverse psychology routine, “if we stop at that house up ahead, I’ll bet they will let us use their phone and you could call Grandma to come get you.” Seriously! This guy never let up! All in love though, he would have never pushed us harder than he knew we could go. He also knew how those remarks would cause us to be even more determined to push on. And push on we did. We arrived at the cabin with plenty of day light left. Our recovery drink? The same that I use today: an ice cold Coke.

Cycling families tend to stay connected. I got another chance to catching with more of mine at the Detroit Cycling Championships. Which was another, not quite as long as the previous weekend’s, car ride away.

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