Sunday, February 23, 2014

On Eating Oatmeal, Being Undertrained, and Maturing

Where to start? Where to start? Let's start with this… I quit the nutrition challenge early. I was going to write a whole blog post about this, but since I have some other things to say I'll just summarize: I finally came to the conclusion that I was tired of my longer training sessions sucking. I ate some oatmeal for breakfast before my longer ride yesterday (~60 miles) and it was like I'd swallowed a magic pill or something and my power was magically back to (close to) where it should have been. What a freakin' relief! I swear I was beginning to think that I was just going to suck this year as my power on the bike has been so pathetic. In reality I just needed some oatmeal!

In the end I definitely can say I'm glad I tried that challenge. I gave it 100% effort for 4 full weeks, and in that time, I gained weight and had shitty training sessions. WTF!?! Why do all those paleo zealots talk about how the fat just melts away when you eat their way?? In my case it was the opposite and that part is still VERY odd to me- does not make sense at all. I will admit though that my normal energy levels were more stable and I did sleep well, so it wasn't all bad. I also learned how to make some awesome tasty sugar/grain free meals. Part of me believes that if I was not trying to be an endurance athlete then that would indeed be a good way to fuel yourself. It makes sense with the whole insulin spike thing and all. And its certainly better than they way 90% of Americans tend to eat. BUT, I am now (once again) firm in my belief that carbs best fuel endurance training and racing. I always seem to have to learn everything the hard way by experiencing these things myself… and I'm really glad I did b/c now I will not have to wonder if I'm missing out on some potential performance gain by eating only plants and meat and nuts and seeds. Not.wondering.anymore. Phew!

So I got home from that ride yesterday feeling pretty good, drank my Osmo Acute Recovery shake and thought I'd put that formula to the test… there was a short (10 mile) TT this morning out on the other side of the island… it had been in my head that maybe I would do that but I was waiting to see how I felt and whether or not it was likely to be raining… but the weather report was looking good and I didn't feel bad and the masochist in me was curious about how far off my old FTP power I really am… So last night I cleaned up my bike (first time all year I'm not kidding it was a MESS) and packed my bag and set my alarm for 4:30AM so I could get up and get to the other side of the island in time to sign up for the race.

Fueled by my magic oatmeal (with added honey, AND peanut butter, oh the horror!) I drove all the way out to the end of the road on the opposite side of the island (seriously, it's like the furthest point I could drive and it took almost an hour) and got myself signed up. It was really fun to see some of my old friends and competitors who I have not seen in forever… I got out of my little hermit shell here and was social for a change, which I actually really enjoy but apparently not enough to go out of my way more often… Anyway, my only real goal for the day was to ride as hard as I could and see what my power numbers were at that max effort. I would say that right now I'm nowhere near as fit as I have been in the past, BUT I am not holding onto any deep fatigue either b/c my training has not been very heavy for the last 3 whole months! Anyway, 5' into the race I was seeing power numbers that I couldn't hold last week for 3' intervals… so that worried me a little BUT I figured I'd just hang on as long as I could and see when I fell off the cliff. At the turn-around I felt totally MAXED out, but I hit lap on my garmin b/c I was curious to see how much I would fall off in the 2nd half… and shockingly, I did not fall off at all? It was like, when I went to DIG, there was something there to grab… pretty much the opposite of my racing experiences last year, which I find incredibly interesting. I ended up avg +1w higher on the way back than the way out which was just crazy to me.

I finished and thought to myself that I got EXACTLY what I wanted/needed out of that… and for the first time in forever felt 100% satisfied with a race effort. Isn't that weird? Last year I was never once satisfied but today I was. I think the lesson there is that it is better to go into a race 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained. Or shoot, maybe 20% undertrained. ;)

One other thing I find interesting is my outlook on my competitors. As soon as I showed up I saw my friend Erika on her trainer warming up. Erika is incredibly strong and right away I knew that if I wanted to win this thing I'd have to ride WELL outside of my current fitness level… (which I did!! But I still did not win!) There was another  gal there too who I sort of recognized from a brief encounter last year and I knew for sure she was SUPER strong as well… And I'm trying to figure out the best way to put this so it sounds the way I mean it… I was stoked those girls were there even though it meant I would likely not win. I find myself having just a ton of respect these days for my competitors who I know to be both talented and hard working and it's a cool feeling. Like I'm maturing or something??

Anyway, I got 2nd and the other gal was a close 3rd. We all laughed and chatted afterward and the vibe was so good (both before and after we knew the results). And we committed to meeting again next week on another TT course for another chance to rip our legs off in competition with each other. It's incredibly cool to have an attitude/outlook like this now because unfortunately I have not always been as good natured when it comes to getting my ass kicked in competition. I like being 40. :)

Oh, one other short little story… there was a young gal there who started ~3' ahead of me and I was catching her the whole time- *almost* got her at the finish line but not quite! I did not know this gal at all but it was so funny… after the race I was chatting with Erika and this gal came up to introduce herself…. and she told me she was totally inspired trying to hold me off there at the end. Then she said something about how she won the 'normal' women's division which just cracked us up… because I guess as masters women we are not 'normal' women?! HA! This gal was 20 (HALF MY AGE) and Erika and I were both like we are old enough to be your mom! That sort of made my day.


Ange said...

I love this! :) Oatmeal... with Peanut butter! the HOrror!!! :) GREAT job with that TT too.... You're going to rock your 40s!

Jennifer Cunnane said...

Love your blog! Love your honesty! congrats on TT too - I am so glad to see someone finally come out having done the food experiment saying - yes you need carbs! I think too many triathletes are quick to jump to fads without thinking of the potential drawbacks.

Kris said...

I just continuously learn so much from you. Congratulations on the TT!