Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday race week

Warning: long ramble about me.
I am treating my upcoming race similar to how I rested for Ironman. I've always believed that once you get within 10 days of an 'A' race there's nothing you can do to improve fitness outside of resting. I did bump it one day by running solid on Thursday (9 days out) but since I'm not swimming or cycling and my recovery is very solid right now I'm feeling good with that. In 2000 I raced the Pacific NW 10k Road Championships 5 days out from Ironman Hawaii and accidentally won not running hard, it was a taper workout... I was ridiculously fit. I ran 2:55 at Kona but I had wanted, and thought (and still think), I was fit enough to run 2:45, so it was a mistake.
I'm not tapering- using the word taper implies a peak and that's not going to happen. In order to peak you have to train specifically to peak. The right mix of intensity and volume has to be aligned correctly and I haven't done that. So I'm just resting for the race. Yesterday was no running. This morning I jogged for 15:00. One 'rule' of resting that I learned from Tim and Tony DeBoom was to not run 2 days in a row during race week. A little bit of tightness or a micro tear in a muscle will become worse after many hours in a race so you have to go in 100%. Geoff Roes' run at the Mountain Masochist is a good example of what resting can do.
I changed my race nutrition a little bit on Thursday, part of the goal of that run was to experiment a little more. The plan next Saturday will be to use a mix of maltodextrin and fructose for the first 2:00, then switch to a more simple sugar for 2:00 (Gatorade), then switch to very simple sugar for the last 2:00+ (Mt Dew or Rockstar energy drink). As you fatigue and as your digestive tract stops working efficiently, it works to gradually shift nutrition from complex to simple. Coke at Ironman was always the only thing that I could digest after 7 hours.
I'm not implying that I know what I'm doing, but with my racing history I feel I'm not going in completely ignorant. The rule of thumb at Ironman was to start with 'plan A', then if that fails to turn to 'plan B' and then to have a 'plan C'.
This will be the first race of my life where I haven't done the distance in training. For my first Ironman I had swum a 5 mile ocean crossing from one island to another (I dingy hitched back to St John). I had biked 140 miles a few times, had run close to 26 miles and had a few 9+ hour workouts. Saturday is exciting to me because I'll be going down a road I've never been on. I don't fear the race, but I have a certain amount of respect for it. If I have any fear it's fear of how I will mentally handle the race. I don't plan on holding back much in the opening miles. I'll run comfortable and easy but that pace for me now, on a flat sea level course, might be relatively fast. So I expect to hurt by halfway. Then it will become a mental game in processing the distance to go with pain management, and that's what I want, that's what I'm seeking. Pain management is pretty much the fundamental skill in racing.
The way you process discomfort + how much desire you have to do your best = the outcome.
I always become complacent with where I am in a race and don't push to my limits, I've never pushed myself to my limits in any race (the day after that Ironman race in 2000 I was running up and down the beach playing frisbee). I'm not a competitor at all and the difference between places at the finish means little to me... but I'm getting tired of that mentality. Not the mentality that I don't care where I place, but the mentality that I've never reached my potential with my mind, and therefore my body too. A better way to think of it would be: get super fit, then push myself to my absolute limit... my place at the finish will take care of itself.
Peter Reid once said something to the effect that he dreamt of racing Ironman so hard that he blacked out on the finish line. He also said he would train so much and so hard that he could win Ironman easily because he hated hurting in the race. I think that it can be learned, but we can't practice it often. Only once in a great while do we have that opportunity. I think the key lies somewhere in the idea that I believe it has to be 'worth it' to push to my limit, I place too much extraneous value on the outcome. At Denver for example... the night before the race they changed the prize money from top 5 to just the top 3. When I found myself in 12Th place at half way I didn't care anymore and I only ran with half my heart. Ironically I ended up in 5Th place (I'm guessing that quite a few other runners realized they were out of the money too and gave up?). This isn't the healthiest way to think of racing, from a money perspective, but that was an example. Saturday there is no prize money, it's a small 'fun' race. There's little riding on it. It's possible that by simply taking the pressure off myself I can let it happen. Trying too hard might be my problem. I don't feel as though I am racing anyone but myself and the distance.


Jeff said...


Good luck to you! Like you said "respect the distance". I will run my first marathon in 3 weeks at the Tecumseh Trail Marathon in Indiana. I am definitely respectful of the course with 3500' of climbing(nothing to you mountain dwellers, but here it's pretty big). I look forward to your race report.

Lucho said...

Thank you Jeff. Have a great race yourself! 3500ft is quite a bit. That's what my 50 miler has exactly, but it's spread out over twice the distance so it's less severe. Have fun!

kerrie said...

wow, talk about serious verbal diarhea....
since we are quoting IM superstars, i thought i'd chime in with my favourite...when Craig Alexander was asked how he deals with the pressure/pain of racing, he says he "mans up"...awesome, no?
time to man up!

Lucho said...

Verbal diarhea? It took you 6 times as many pages and 2 blog posts to write about 26 miles :)
Man up... got it.

Rick said...

Great post Lucho. I like the nutrition info you described - I think I'll start doing some experimenting with taking in different types of nutrition at different points in the distance. Had never even considered that before and could definately make a difference.

FatDad said...

Lucho 1, Doc Wlad 0...hahaha
Go get em. Run like a wolf.

Ironboom said...

Good luck. I hope you have a very satisfying and fulfilling race.

Matt said...

Nice info on nutrition. That does make sense. I think this type of race really suits you; I've felt that for a while ;-)

It will be interesting to see how the second 1/2 of the race plays-out. I would guess that your big aerobic base really comes into play, so don't go out too fast!

I think you're going to have a blast and race really well.

Lucho said...

Rick- Your digestive tract reacts to stress. It has to do with the fight or flight mechanism where the body uses blood in order of importance to survive. The less stress you place on the digestive tract late in a race the better. You want foods that don't require a ton of work to digest. It also requires a certain amount of water to digest food, if there isn't enough water then it just sits there or your body pulls water from the blood in order to digest the foods. Fluid calories are the most effective and the least stressful. It's most important to find what works in training and experiment with different things.

Thanks Fatdad and Ironboom.

Matt- Good stuff... but what's too fast? In order to learn what too fast is I have to start too fast and learn from the mistake. I am 100% certain that the fitness I have is insignificant (to my race) compared to my mind's ability to exploit the physical. And my body is far stronger than my mind.
Ya, you called this about a year ago? I thought you were full of it :)... now look at me!

Brad Poppele said...

Good Luck Tim, You will do Awesome!!! My advise is to run the first few miles at a easy pace. Then pick it up as you go. I did this at my first 50 miler and it worked well. I actually had a lot left at the end. Have Fun!

Brandon Fuller said...

If you are already on Rockstar and/or Mt. Dew by hour 6, I can't wait to see what you pull out of your hat at hour X-teen at Leadville!

Lucho said...

Brandon- The intensity of the 50 miler will be considerably more than Leadville and less than half as far by time. Half way at Leadville in terms of stress on the body will come at mile ~70. After mile 70 the fatigue will become exponentially worse and so will stress on the body. After mile 70 breakdown will occur more quickly as each mile passes. At Leadville I'll extend the range of nutrition by quite a bit. I'll try to hold off on the simple sugars until as late as possible. One thing about the HFCS is that your body is very sensitive to them, both in the crash and the boost. Once you start the simple sugars you can't stop so it's always best to hold off as long as possible. With the intensity being so much lower at Leadville I should be able to digest complex CHOs for a longer period of time. At the 50 next weekend I intend to be pushing the pace by hour 3. At Leadville the 'push' will come to me in the form of miles. Any thoughts I have on Leadville are pure speculation however using my knowledge of how the body works. But in a race like Leadville I think science becomes less useful as every mile passes. This is why I feel that in order to run a truly fast 100 mile race (<16:00) there possibly has to be more genetic ability involved than for a fast marathon (<2:15). With the marathon you can train the pace for the distance with long runs. A fast 22 mile long run isn't absurd or risky. But an 80 mile long run at goal pace for Leadville? Out of the question. I think we can get only so close in training for a 100 mile race then the rest is up in the air... where a marathon is short enough to be far more predictable and trainable in all aspects of the race.
The altitude also plays a significant role in CHO storage and consumption. At high altitude the body tends to prefer more simple carbohydrates. Digestion requires oxygen and fat needs ~10% more oxygen to digest than carbohydrate. This could mean that nutrition at Leadville should lean more towards the simple. I think when we talk of high altitude running ability, this is also where genetics come in. I would have no doubt that Matt Carpenter has superior fuel economy at high altitude that more resembles you and I at sea level.

Brandon Fuller said...

I know, I know. I was waiting for you to come back with:

By mile 50, I will be mixing diesel fuel with crack cocaine and chasing it down with some pop rocks!

Lucho said...

Ha! I thought that went with out saying. I've heard stories of cyclists from the late 70's snorting coke during the Tour. I can't even afford gels let alone an 8-ball. Pop rocks sound good.

GZ said...

How are your feet these days?

I think one of the genetic ability factors you are referring to has to be the stomach "ability." You can arguably ignore your stomach at every distance up to the marathon (during the race) (as we all know, guys like Salazar, Durden were doing sub 2:10 marathons without gels, chews, etc). Impossible at the ultra distance (maybe the 50k this is not true - but definitely true for a 100miler).

So there is probably a measurement out there similar to V02max ... stomachCHOmax ... how much you can effectively absorb in a period of time at various velocities (running) ... and is probably pretty variable from athlete to athlete ... not only in how quickly you can process, but what you can process (Karnazes and his pizzas for example probably would not work for most).

Best of luck next week. (Luck is where preparedness meets opportunity).

Lucho said...

GZ- My feet are 100%, thanks for asking. Since I stopped wearing narrow racing flats they are great. It will be dry next weekend so I'll wear my Lunar trainers.
Maffetone talked extensively about the ability to absorb nutrition, and if you think of the MAF method in terms of intensity (which determines absorption)it's all about being able to run fast but not hard. Mark Allen was able to absorb ~600-700 calories per hour on the bike and still be in the lead pack because he was riding 'easier' than everyone else. Then he was able to run 2:40 because his 'tank' was more full than anyone else. This may be one of my strengths from being so MAF based all these years. I'll try to take in 600 calories in the first 11 miles on Saturday. If I'm at MAF it will be easy, but I'll actually be running slower and easier than MAF. Good points!