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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Race Preview: The Muskoka Grind

Off-road Triathlon.  Swim, Mountain Bike, Trail Run.

This is the first time they have held this race, but based on the descriptions on the race website it sounds like a tough one!

1000m swim consists of two loops, and should be pretty straightforward.  Except - I haven't been swimming much this year, and I haven't been in open water at all!  I was thinking of switching to the duathlon, but after a swim last week I feel pretty confident I can at least get through it.  I can't be that much slower than last year, can I?

16.5km bike ... well it starts with something called "Ski Hill", which the organizer describes as "
 gravel".  Just in general it sounds like it will be very rustic and random, which means pretty tough to find a rhythm.  Two loops.  I won't get a chance to pre-ride it, so I guess the first loop will be exploratory so I can try hammer it on the second one!

8.5km trail run sounds quite a bit more enjoyable, with a tough hill and what sounds like pleasant trails.  We will see!

Goal?  As with most of my races this year, I don't really have a specific goal in mind.  This was going to be an "A" race but I haven't done the swimming to really get it there, so I'm just going to try have fun.  Last year I did their duathlon and did pretty OK, 6th out of 25.  This time - don't drown in the swim, pick up some places in the bike, and then let it all hang out in the run!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Homemade Gatorade Recipe

Gatorade: I love the stuff.  I go through can after can of it.  I used it at Ironman almost exclusively.  It's convenient, tastes nice, and seems to work for me.

But it adds up... so I have been scouring the internet looking for a decent recipe for making Homemade Gatorade, but so far all I have found is a lot of recipes that fall well short.  Most common mistake: missing the potassium, or trying to make Gatorade healthy by removing salt or using a long list of whacky ingredients.

When You Need Gatorade

When you are doing endurance sports for long periods of time (at least an hour), or in high heat.

When You Don't Need Gatorade

Any other time, it's nearly as bad for you as soda pop, if not worse with the high salt content.  If you are not stressing your body for energy and electrolytes, you do NOT need Gatorade!  It is NOT health food.

So what's in it?

Important Ingredient #1: Sugar

All of the calories in Gatorade come from sugar.  If you get the liquid form, it's Glucose-Fructose.  If you get the powder, it's good old fashioned sugar (which is glucose and fructose!).  Sugar is the key for energy.

Important Ingredient #2: Salt

Those electrolytes Gatorade is famous for?  The most important of them is salt.  We get a lot of salt in our diets in North America, so unless you're going pretty far or its really bloody hot, you probably don't need more salt.

Important Ingredient #3:  Potassium

Another electrolyte, you need it, Gatorade has it.

Other Ingredients: Not important!  Flavour and preservatives.  You don't need something that tastes good and lasts long, do you?  I didn't think so.

So dissecting 500mL of Gatorade from their powdered mix, it has:

  1. 120 calories.  This is the same as the amount in about 3 tablespoons of sugar.
  2. 190mg sodium.  This is amount of sodium in just 1/12th of a teaspoon of table salt!
  3. 65mg potassium.  This is how much potassium there is in just 1/7th of a cup of Orange Juice.  The real stuff, 100% juice, none of that Tropicana nonsense, no sugar added!
Recipe to make a 2L (1/2 gallon) jug of Gatorade-equivalent:
  • 3/4 cup of table sugar
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (+ 1/8 cup) Orange Juice (100% Juice only, can be from concentrate)
  • Water up to the 2L (1/2 gallon) mark of your jug
Stir it up and that's it!  It tastes pretty OK, not as good as Gatorade without the artificial flavours.  If you want to add some Kool-Aid powder (the unsweetened one) or lemon juice to it, I won't be offended.

Cost: cheap.  Only ingredient that costs much of anything is the Orange Juice, everything else is almost free.  And if it's a little hotter - just add a bit more salt and OJ, and bam, extra electrolytes.

Also see my homemade energy gel recipe for something with more complex carbohydrates.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Olympics for People Like Me (Triathlete/Cyclist/Runners)

The full schedule is here, and the Canadian TV schedule is here.  This is all the endurance cycling, running and swimming.  None of that sprinting nonsense or goofy sports that don't involve timing!

What am I most interested in?

Mountain biking, especially the women (go local hero Emily Batty!).  Triathlon... go Simon Whitfield!  And the men's road cycling will have the best cyclists in the world going head to head, hope to see if Cavendish can pull off the home gold and the time-trial should be dynamite.  

July 28

Cycling - Road race - Men (4am, TSN)
Swimming - Men's 400m Freestyle (2:30pm, CTV)

July 29

Cycling - Road race - Women (7am, TSN)

August 1

Cycling - Time-Trial - Men & Women (7:30am-11, Sportsnet)

August 3

Track - 10,000m - Women

August 4

Triathlon - Women (4am, CTV)
Track - 10,000m - Men
Swimming - 1500m Freestyle

August 5

Marathon - Women (6am, CTV)

August 7

Triathlon - Men (6:30am, TSN)

August 9

Swimming - Marathon (open water) - Women

August 10

Swimming - Marathon (open water) - Men (7am, Sportsnet)
Track - 5,000m - Women

August 11

Cycling - Mountain Bike - Women (7:30am, CTV)
Track - 5,000m - Men

August 12

Cycling - Mountain Bike - Men (8:30am, TSN)
Marathon - Men (6am, TSN)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Do I Swim?

Answer: not really!  I think I've been in the pool maybe twice this year.

I am signed up for an off-road triathlon, which I have been intending to switch to a duathlon for a few months...

... but now I'm thinking I might just go for it.  Swim is only 1000m, which shouldn't be too bad.  I'll hit the pool a couple of times next week just to get my swim sense back (whatever sense I had anyway).

Last time I did the duathlon, it put me ahead of the triathlon folks - which meant getting passed by the really strong triathlon riders in the crowd.  It was all a bit depressing.  If I do the swim, it will be the opposite, I will be passing people as I recover from what will almost certainly be an abysmal swim!

Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Three Days, Three Rides

Back-to-back-to-back rides - surprisingly it went very well!

Day 1: 105km road.  Averaged just over 30km/h which for me over that distance solo is pretty brisk, especially on the route I did (a fair number of climbs).

Day 2: 1h45 mountain bike.  Pretty hard effort, felt a bit bagged at times but mostly OK

Day 3:  2h+ mountain bike.  Started with save route as previous day, trying to beat my time and managed to do it.  I was pretty sore at first, but after the first few minutes it subsided and I felt really decent.  By the end I was a bit bagged again, but I felt worlds better than I expected!  Took a different route back to the car through the forest (and got lost) thus the longer duration.

In total about 7.5h in the saddle in 3 days.  I made sure I recovered well and replenished with carbs immediately after each ride.  I probably over-ate if anything, but lots of fruits and healthy stuff so didn't feel toooo bad about it!

I don't have anything all that long planned but may pencil in a late-August century ride just to use some of this endurance.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Race Report: XCMansfield Marathon

Well that was a day to forget!

The Event

Before I go on - just want to say the event was really great.  Well marked course, small race feel, awesome venue.  I will almost certainly do one of these again.

I was doing the 60km.  But more on that momentarily.

My Race - 60km

I was out at a Tamil engagement party last night, which ended up meaning a plate full of amazing but spicy food at 10:30pm.  It wasn't avoidable, and it was delicious.  I got home around midnight.

Unfortunately the food decided to have it's revenge, as did the lack of sleep.  So I got to the start feeling pretty much like crap!

I lined up for the 60km start... looking around at the crowd, this was a pretty solid field.  Mostly team jerseys and such, I felt pretty intimidated!  Not that being on a team necessarily means you're any good, I've passed plenty of them in my time, but you can usually tell if someone is a serious rider - and everyone looked like serious riders.

I managed to get my stomach to settle and went to the start, lining up at the back.

Race starts - I manage to get by a few people in the opening kilometer.  Then we get into some tricky hilly singletrack, and I lose my chain... and find myself in dead last.  Picked up one place then missed a turn, and while doubling back lost that place again.  This was not going well.

And it was about to get worse... just 2km in I lose my chain again!  Except this time I realize it's laying on the ground.  I didn't have the tools or the link to repair it, so just like that my race was done.

The only saving grace was that we had been going uphill, so I coasted downhill back to the start.  After some pleading I managed to find someone with the tools and link who graciously sorted me out and I was back in business!

My Race II - 30km

It was an hour and a half between the 60km and 30km start, so I had some time to chill out.  My stomach had totally settled and I felt a lot better, more ready to race.

I wasn't officially racing, though... with the DNF from the first race they wouldn't let me get an official time for the second one.  That was fine, I didn't expect to be lighting the world on fire and by this point I just wanted to be part of it and get the riding in!

I seeded myself mid-pack for this one, as the competition looked more human!  There were also two races starting at once - the half (30km) and the micro (12km), so wanted to make sure I didn't get held up.  It wasn't really a problem though, course was quite wide at the start.

It was way tougher than I had expected.  The organizer had said on the web site "we have created a course with as few climbs as possible" ... which I took to mean a pretty flat course.  WRONG.  It was very far from flat!  I don't know what climbs they took out, because I spent most of the day going either up or down!  Some were quite steep, some were sandy.

And the sand was relentless... especially on the way back from the turn-around, there were times it was deep and nowhere on the trail was immune.  This briefly paid off as I caught someone having a worse day than I was who was terrible in the sand, but mostly it was just evil and soul-destroying.

I enjoyed a lot of the singletrack, though - it's a pretty amazing property.  Some was rough, some well groomed, some tight and twisty, others nice a flowy.  It was a great mix.


I don't know where I finished, but I really felt like I sucked out there today.  It was hot and within an hour or so I was really bagged.  That much singletrack and sand really slowed me down then kicked me in the nuts, I was in full-on survival mode by the end.  It's amazing just how different it is - last week I did 125km on the road bike without batting an eye, this year 30km of trails smoked me.

The only saving grace was that I didn't have to do 60km!!!  Who'd have predicted a broken chain would turn out to be a good thing?

To contemplate taking a shot at the 60km I really need to improve:

  • My weight - I'm too heavy!
  • Burst-recover-burst-recover - this is the essence of mountain biking and I've never really managed to be able to do this over a long period.  
I guess that's the good thing about taking on new things... you realize you still have more to learn!  Oh and next time I carry a chain tool and quick link.