Thursday, April 3, 2014

Winter Update, Tucson, Barry Roubaix, and beyond

First off, I'd like to apologize for it taking me so long to post a blog update. I didn't even post an update about Addison Oaks State CX championship. Well there isn't much to tell. I crashed out on the first lap. Ok there's the update. This winter has been one of the most horrendous times of my entire life. My wife lost her job, and 2 other close family members had and still have some pretty big health issues, and the weather took its toll on my house causing my roof to leak. I'm happy to report however, many things are looking up. In fact, my wife started a new job and just received an offer for an even better opportunity, my work is going fantastic, and the health issues are improving.  I can't really go into the details on just how bad things were. It wouldn't be fair to those involved, but I can assure it was pretty bad.

So onto the training stuff. During all this time you might think that I was depressed and didn't feel like training. Well the opposite is actually the truth. I have been training all winter. Even though the weather wreaked havoc on my house, it also provided some of the best cross country skiing I've ever seen locally.  In fact, I skate skied at Independence Oaks just about everyday for 90-120 minutes a day. Thankfully I have a pretty flexible job that allowed me to move my hours around so that I could do that. The last time I skied all winter was in 2008/2009. That year I went on to be the best athletic year of my life. I did multiple IM's under 10 hours as well as some other half distance races. I ended up being an All American for USAT that year. Now that's some pretty big shoes to fill I know, but it's definitely a positive factor in my favor going into this season, especially after the disaster and embarassment most of 2013 was. I must say however, I learned a lot last season and I'm taking those lessons as well as new lesson into 2014.

I was fortunate to spend some time in Tucson last month.   I put in about 20 hours in the week I was there.  While I was out there it gave me an opportunity to challenge myself and see how I'm doing coming into spring.  I did nothing but base endurance rides and ski's all winter long with the exception of testing my FTP at the end of each base period.  Ironically I saw a pretty decent improvement and I wasn't doing any intervals.  I also spent more time on strength training which I feel did make a difference during that time.  Now that I am going into the build phase, I've stopped the strength training but I may reintroduce if I don't see continued gains for the next period. 

Racing has already started for the season.  Barry Roubaix was on the 22nd 2 days after returning from Tucson.  I was still pretty well blown out from the trip and my time trial up Mt Lemmon the Wednesday before  but I love the gravel races so I wasn't going to back out of it.  The race started off sort of slow and I was feeling pretty confident.  Unfortunately I was behind someone going into a mud hole and instead of plowing through it, he hit his breaks and forced me to stop and I lost front group.  I tried to catch them but I couldn't get anyone else to work with me so a gap formed and I couldn't cover it.  I didn't really have any top end.  I used everything I had going up Mt Lemmon a few days earlier not to mention the century I did 2 days before that.  I just focused on trying to keep myself consistent and hope all the base training would pay off and others that hadn't done the training would tire.  In the end, I was 5th in my age group so I went home with a cool medal and I was pleased with my result. 

This weekend is the Lowell 50, although now, it's a 57 mile race.  It's the longest gravel race I've done but it will also be a great gauge for my fitness.  The plan this year is to hit some key mountain bike races at locations I like or that sound interesting and road races.  On the road, I'm going to race masters and probably focus on road races and not so much crits.  Those are races I enjoy and being longer they cater to my fitness more than crits and being that I'll race them in Masters they are even longer.  I'm not ruling out crits, I just prefer road races.  I'll still do the Wednesday night Waterford races. 

So that's it until next time

First Endurance EFS Drink Review

As any endurance athlete is aware, there are many drink products out there that are designed replenish your nutritional needs. They all have their benefits and weaknesses. Generally speaking, most of the products out there are simple sugar for carbs and then some type of electrolyte formula that they feel meets the needs of the athlete.  Gatorade and Powerbar for example, contain only simple sugar and only sodium and potassium.   Other products such as Gu's Brew, provide a small amount of sugar and make up the rest of energy with maltodextrin.  The difference being that the simple sugars burn quick and the maltodextrin burns slower.  When your planning your race nutrition for a long distance event such as an Ironman or long cycling event, having the proper nutrition at the proper time is key to success.  If your starting to bonk, you don't want to be taking in maltodextrin based drinks and gels because they won't hit your muscles in time.  You need to take in a product that is going to provide you the proper amount of quick simple sugars but also set you up for the remainder of the race with the slow burning calories.  First Endurance EFS drink provides a more balanced mix of simple sugars and maltodextrin.  Per serving, there is a total 24g of carbohydrates.  16 grams of that is going to be in the form of sugars made of from sucrose and dextrose.  This is the quickly delivered sugars that you need immediately.  The remaining 8 grams, is in the form of maltodextrin which is the slower burning complex carbohydrates.  So while your taking in a serving of EFS, your body is using quick burning sugars now when you need them, but also you will be slowly breaking down the maltodextrin to be used later in the race. 

In addition to breakdown of carbohydrates, EFS drink also provides a full panel of electrolytes (1160g in total) not just sodium and potassium.  Sodium and potassium are most commonly known for controlling cramping in the muscles and heart rate.  Beyond that, EFS also provides magnesium and calcium.  Magnesium is beneficial to athletes for a few reasons.  It controls things like blood pressure and synthesis of proteins and fats.  All of which is needed to generate ATP.  Your probably aware that calcium is needed for strong bones, but what you might not know is that calcium also lowers stomach acids and can aid in reduce stomach distress.  This can be very helpful in racing and training when your taking in foreign foods on course that your stomach might not be used to. 

There are some manufactures that provide protein in their products for reducing muscle damage during an event.  First Endurance has taken a different approach by instead utilizing Free Form Amino Acids instead of the BCAA profile used by other manufactures.  2g of Free Form Amino acids has been shown to have equivalent affects on muscles to 9g of the typical BCAA protein found.  Now, unless you are doing a custom blend, there are not any manufactures on the market that provide 9g of protein.  The reason being that much protein will affect the glycemic index of the product.  It may also decrease the taste and possibly make the product harder to digest.  Also note the quality of the Amino's that First Endurance uses.  They AjiPure amino acids.  These acids hold a 99-100% purity rating so you are getting benefits of a quality product. 

The final unique ingredient in EFS drink is Malic Acid.  Malic acid stimulates oxygen uptake so more oxygen means better performance right?  Well it's not just that but it also helps in low oxygen conditions like upper altitudes in Colorado.

So what does all this mean to you?  It means that First Endurance has spent a lot of time researching not only the basic formula, but what else they can put into their product to uniquely separate them from the rest and provide the best dollar for dollar product on the market.  Yes, I am fully aware there are other products out there that allow you to customize the product to your needs, but do you even know what your needs are?  First Endurance has taken the guess work out products like that and at a retail price of about $.70 per serving and easy no wait availability, the value is real.