blog banner

blog banner

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why I am Trying Intermittent Fasting

I'm not a big fan of fad diets.  I resisted Atkins, South Beach, Grapefruits, Grazing, and pretty much every other diet craze.

My plan has always been "burn more than you consume".  I have counted calories whenever my weight needed addressing, mostly with success.

The only problem is that restricting calories sucks.  For one, you feel hungry a lot, especially in the evenings.  And you need to count everything, which can get tedious.  Sometimes you just want to throw back a beer and not think about adding it to the running total!

Intermittent Fasting

The concept is fairly simple:  Don't eat.  Drink water, tea, maybe coffee, but don't consume anything with calories.  This is done over some period of time, in most cases it's 20-24 hours, followed by a resumption of normal eating.  This site pretty much outlines most of what you need to know.

That sounds a lot like starving yourself, doesn't it?  Well yes, it does.  That's basically what it is, really - no calories in, calories still go out, lose weight. 

Why is this good for you?

In studies like this one, they have actually noticed a bunch of positive effects.  In humans, insulin sensitivity is increased (a good thing).  I had some signs of insulin insensitivy a few years ago before losing weight - not a good thing!  Also, despite what you hear repeatedly, your body doesn't just slow down and use less calories - average heart rate was maintained throughout the fasting/non-fasting periods.  Studies in rats showed the fasting rats actually lived longer!

Why?  The theory goes that ancient man didn't get 3 square meals a day plus all the snacks he wanted.  There were periods of scarcity and binging, and our bodies at the time evolved to deal with it.  Now we have those same bodies but live in the age where the slightest hint of hunger can instantly be solved by a trip to the cupboard.

My Anecdote

I had my appendix out, it had burst, and following this I couldn't eat for a few days.  And I didn't feel hungry!  You kind of get used to it after a little while.  It's almost like the acceptance that there is no food coming signals your body to chill out and stop telling you how hungry it is.

I'm hoping that same thing happens as I try this intermittent fast.  We will see.

What About Workouts

Exercise appeared to be fine during fasts, although they did note resistence training was comprimised.  I will organize these during rest days or when I have easier workouts planned.

2 hours in, 22 to go.

Update: 2 Hours to Go

I thought it would be harder than this!  I guess I'm just used to being hungry, as my body really sucks at sending the right signals... but last night after when dinner would have been, I wasn't any hungrier than I usually am.  I drank tea, decaf coffee, and water with some lemon in it - all calorie free.  It's probably toughest right now, after missing breakfast and anxiously awaiting lunch... can't wait to eat.  I love food.  Mmm, food.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ride Report: Ride 4 United Way (Century Ride)

Today I did the 160km Ride 4 United Way in Durham, Ontario.

The Course

It was a bit different from when I last did this ride in 2010, but still just as tough.

The hills are relentless and steep, especially when you get into the second half of the ride.  I don't mind rollers or a long gradual climb, but these are steep tough long climbs... they just killed me!  There are a whole bunch between the stop in Orono and culminating in the ride's signature climb, "Heartbreak Hill", at 100km.

One thing I wasn't that keen on was a new section they added on the east end of the course - the road surface was terrible.  Didn't care much for the headwind either, but nothing organizers can do about that!

My Ride - First 45km

This year I vowed not to push myself stupidly in the first bit only to die later.

Mostly I rode within myself for the first 1/4.  I was in a pretty big lead pack for the start, which was a lot of fun (except when wobbly triathlon girl almost took me out!).  As the pace picked up pace on a climb I got dropped, party by design - I didn`t want to go too hard early on like last time.  After riding a few kilometers by myself, I was picked up by the next group down the road, and rode with them the rest of the way to the first rest stop.

One fun thing we did was a pace line... never done that before, one of the guys pulled it all together.


After that I knew there were some tough hills where I'd get dropped, so I headed out on my own, thinking that group would eventually catch me after the hills!  It would have worked but they weren't quite as quick as I thought... but another group eventually swallowed me up.  I still ended up battling a pretty wicked headwind on my own for a lot of kilometers, though, which sucked.

Did I mention it was really hot?  Yeah.  So hot, headwind, hills, not the ideal century ride conditions!

Rolled into the rest stop at Orono feeling pretty OK, despite the headwind.


This is the 20km that broke me last time, and this time was no different.  Relentless hills, long and steep, culminating with the steepest climb on the course at 100km.  And by now the sun was just baking the course, so those slow climbs were burning the quads and overheating me big-time.  I survived it all somehow, but by the time I got over Heartbreak Hill at 100km I was cooked.


Survival mode.  Headwind.  Crappy roads for a bunch of it.  Still the odd climb, but nothing too serious - although in the shape I was in, they all felt pretty serious now!  Net downhill to the next rest stop by the lake, but I didn`t notice with the headwind.

The thing I didn`t get about the headwind - there was a group of 3 guys behind me, and I backed off so they`d catch me and we could work together... and they never caught me.  It`s like they were trying to stay away or something, very weird and irritating.  Maybe they weren`t working together, I`m not sure!


I was hoping I`d feel better after a break at the rest stop, but I really didn`t.  I tried to stick with a couple of riders early on, but they lost me... I was just cooked.  Got stopped by a train crossing.  Other than that, it was just miles, first with a tailwind, then with a headwind to the finish.  I hated that headwind by the end of it.

Gotta love those 3 bonus kilometers!


Tough ride.  I haven`t really done the miles for this kind of thing, and as the day wore on it really showed.  Headwind, heat and steep climbs really got to me.  Did a good job on nutrition, drank as much as my stomach would allow and got in a few gels too.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lance Did Dope

I wrote a blog post a few years about "Did Lance Dope?".

This was back when Floyd Landis had sent a series of e-mails detailing the doping on the U.S. Postal Service team.  Even then it seemed obvious the answer was "Yes"... in fact even before Landis said a peep it was pretty clear.

At the time, I rather optimistically said:

This has to be the final straw for anyone who still thinks Lance was clean... although I suspect it won't be

Sadly, my suspicions were right.  The Lance Spin Machine worked it's magic, with the usual talking points.

  • Never failed a test (neither did Ulrich or Basso!)
  • Accuser is a scumbag liar 
  • Look at all the good work he's done for cancer!  (or as I call it, the "look over there, something shiny!" defence)

Now we're at another point in history, with Lance giving up the fight against USADA's drug charges before it really even started.

He had a choice - face the process and see the USADA evidence (which has never been revealed) or accept the ban and hope it never gets out.  He accepted the ban, leaving the Lance Spin Machine with those same old talking points... and once again, while I think it should be the final straw, I suspect it won't be.

An innocent man wants to see the evidence he's being accused with.  He wants the opportunity to fight it out and address those accusers.  He wants to clear his name.

Instead, he's hidden behind a bizarre claim USADA is biased against him and has rigged the process - a claim he made in a court of law, only to have a federal judge say the exact opposite after hearing his arguments:

USADA's arbitration rules follow the guidelines of the American Arbitration Association and are "sufficiently robust."
In the end, Lance took his ball and went home, rather than fight.  This is a new Lance, one without the will to fight, and one that never would have won the Tour de France in the first place.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ride Preview: Ride 4 United Way (Century Ride)

This is a 100 mile (160km) ride in the Durham Region of Ontario.

Race website

I did this ride in 2010, although at the time 160km didn't do enough for me so I added an extra 40km to it by riding to the start line -my longest ride at 200km!  That was fun, but pretty bloody tough - especially after one miscue had me miss an important mid-ride aid station.


The Course

It's a nice ride through a lot of the Durham countryside.  But easy, it is not... it's tough.  There is a fair amount of elevation gain, some gradual, some painful.  And there is "Heartbreak Hill", a very steep climb in the back half of the route.  I have made a point of including it on my longer rides this year just to feel better about it, but I think knowing it better has had the reverse effect - I'm dreading it!

Pack Riding

The peloton looks so nice and effortless, but last year for me sticking with the pack was a real challenge.  I'm too used to riding solo and having full discretion over my pacing - when to push, when to conserve, it's all in my control.  In a pack, you're at the mercy of every other rider around you... if they decide to hammer it up a hill, you better hope you can stick with the back end of them, or you're gonzo!

Sometimes they were too slow!  I got frustrated with them on some rollers (hills that go up-down-up-down).  I didn't feel they were doing a very good job carrying speed on the downhills, sitting up and letting all their momentum die... making the uphill so much harder!  This was made worse by the accordion effect, the further back you were, the more you had to slow.  Eventually I bolted past and ended up going pretty far ahead with a much smaller (and faster) group... which I'm sure burned a stupid amount of energy for no reason.

Then... they were too fast!  After a rest stop, I was back in the pack until we hit a pretty serious uphill - and I got dropped.  I burned a lot trying to get back on the back, only to get dropped again on the next pretty serious hill.

Definitely tricky, and hopefully I'm a bit smarter with it this year.  Patience is key, and I think I have a gear I didn't used to have for staying with them... but we'll see!


I blew it a bit last year, just didn't plan this well enough.  I will aim for one gel (100 cal each) and a bottle of Gatorade (about 180 cal) every hour, with the odd gulp of water for the gel and banana/cookie/whatever thrown in to add some solids.  I can tolerate a lot more food on the bike than running, so I go with the "more is more" philosophy.


I hate to say I don't really have one, but I don't really have one.  The pack riding really monkies up the average speeds - they can flatter you by pulling you around.  I've done a century ride at over 30km/h before (Ride for Karen) with a lot of help from the pack, so ideally I'd like to see that again (although this is a tougher route)... but I'm not going to be too picky about it.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Race Report: Kyle's Run 2012

OK, so it's not a real "race report" in that I wasn't actually racing... I was the lead bike for the 10km.

Kyle's Run

This is a great local event, a nice intro to trail running and great atmosphere.  BBQ at the finish, reasonable entry fee, what more could you ask for?  And a lovely summer day, too.

Being Lead Bike

My main job was to make sure the trail was clear ahead and that the lead runners didn't get lost.  I rode a fair distance ahead just to make sure I didn't impede the leaders, but made sure I was visible when making any turns.

I had a front-row seat for the race, which was pretty neat.  There was a bit of back and forth between the leaders, but by the end there was one guy who pulled way ahead of the rest!  I was secretly cheering for the guy in the red shirt just because he was easier to spot when I looked over my shoulder.

Clearing the trail was mostly OK, people generally understood to move out of the way when I asked as nicely as I could muster.  The only pain was a few of the participants we'd catch up to with headphones...   One lady I yelled "excuse me!" 3 times and she never did hear me, I scared the heck out of her pulling up next to her... impossible to be attentive when one of your senses is blocked out like that.  Leave the earbuds at home on race day!

Other than that, it was a pretty fun experience.  And I finally got to the finish line in 1st place!  One day maybe I'll do that without wheels, who knows?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Race Preview: Kyle's Run 2012

Kyle's Run is a great introduction to trail racing in Whitby, Ontario.

You don't need special shoes, you won't be wading through creeks, it's all pretty gentle (but hilly!) and fun.

The 5k is very flat and open on wide trails.

The 10k is flat for the first and last 1/4, but the middle 1/2 has some good climbs to make you sweat and provide a challenge!

Then there's a great kid's 1k that is a real hoot, complete with great prizes.

I did the 10k last year (and my son did the 1k).  This year I volunteered and will be the 10k lead bike.  It's my first time doing that for a race, looking forward to it.

Come on out!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Inspiration and Speed

I was out on my road bike today, trying to keep a decent average speed.  My legs were pretty stiff from a long run Monday, so it was tough to really push it.  I was about 45km into the 65km route, and had begun resigning myself to the fact that I wouldn't be able to hit my 30km/h target over a pretty hilly route.

And then... inspiration!  Another rider catches me by surprise and passes me.

At first I was just going to see if I could match his speed.  Not drafting him, but just keep the gap steady.  Then we came to a downhill, he stopped pedalling, I kept going, and passed him.  Now I was hammering it trying to stay ahead - but with the uphill Mr. Skinny Dude kicked my butt and passed me again!

I caught back up to him, and on the next long gradual downhill, once again passed him.  Then another uphill, he passed me.  Repeat.  Chatted a bit with him before turning off and going our separate ways.

I looked down and my average speed... nice surprise, I was within a shout of my goal with a few kilometers to make up the rest.  Ended up at 30.2km/h - nice!

Morale of the story:  sore legs are a crappy excuse, there is always more in the tank depending on how badly you want to find it!

Monday, August 6, 2012

2012 Goals - Mid-year Navel-Gazing

This has been a pretty disappointing year so far.  I started off injured, lost a family member, and have had more than my share of illness - all of which has me off my peak fitness.

The two highlights were both team events.  First I took part in the TREAD 6 Hour Relay, which was both a lot of fun and a solid effort.  Second was sharing the win at the Moraine Adventure Relay - we really did a great job, and I held my own contributing to our team's win.  So I'm proud of that one, we really put it all together in our 3rd crack at it and had a great time doing it.

But then there were the failures... early on, the lack of training due to injury had me stinking it up at the local 10k and Paris to Ancaster.  By summer I felt my conditioning was back (although my weight was still a problem), but I had trouble at the XC Mansfield Marathon and yesterday I DNF'd the Muskoka Grind.

So reviewing my goals this year:

Weight into the 160s

I am nowhere with this one- still over 180, which isn't "overweight" but it isn't 160's either.  There are reasons this has been tough, but ultimately no excuse - I just need to do it.

Sub-20 5k

I haven't even had time to think about this one, let alone do it!  Just struggling to get myself ready for all of the off-road multisport stuff I have on the agenda.  My hill training should carry over into a 5k, I will give this more focus in the fall.

Rock Out Some Off-road Races

I have done a lot more mountain biking this year than previous years, but haven't been able to put it together in a race.  Our team did great at the Moraine Adventure Relay (shared the win!) and I contributed to that, and I did have that great trail run relay early on... but since then it's been pretty disastrous.  I really need to rebound, so all my focus is on Logs Rocks & Steel.

Looking Ahead...

I think there's still time to do all of this, but I need to focus and hopefully there are no more distractions or obstructions!  And even if there are I need to be more like 2009 me and just push through them.  No excuses.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Race Report: Muskoka Grind

I was really looking forward to this race, but instead of a triumphant finish I had the opportunity to suffer the humiliation of a DNF!  Not fun.

I'll still go through the blow by blow, as one tends to learn more in failure than success.  Unfortunately 2012 has been a tough one with a lot more learning than I care for.

The Preamble

I was sick last week, and still had some lingering symptoms this week.  Despite that, I managed to get in some biking and running and mostly felt OK doing it.  I figured I was good to go!

Last night I was not good to go - I had a lot of sinus pain, that kept me from sleeping.  I've now gone to the doctor and have antibiotics for what turned out to be a sinus infection!  Kind of wish I'd known that before driving 200km up to DNF a triathlon... but we'll get to that shortly.

The Swim

This went kind of OK.  I'm always pretty slow, this was unusually pokey even for me, but I haven't been in the pool much this year (literally 4 times I think).   So chalk that up to the lack of swimming and maybe a hint of what was to come...

I emerged from the water and as I jogged along I felt completely wasted.  Flush and exhausted... this was beyond normal fatigue, but again, I thought maybe I could get through it.

The Bike

The bike course starts out on a few easy roads, then goes straight up a long incline.  It wasn't actually that bad, but I found myself completely unable to do anything useful at all... the back-of-pack folks I was supposed to be making up time on were passing me!  It was really bad, that's when I realized for sure this wasn't normal fatigue.

I tried hanging in there a bit longer, hoping things would improve.  I even stopped completely just hoping if I took a break and nursed my heart rate down I could continue, but it wasn't coming down and I was now feeling nauseous.   A fellow competitor asked if I needed any help because I looked "really pale".

That's when I decided it was over.

Sometimes there's a reason to fight through things, like when my knee pain struck during the NYC marathon.  But this was not an A race, just finishing wasn't going to bring me any joy, and feeling dizzy and nauceous while bombing down mountain bike trails isn't a good combination.

The Rest

Headed back to transition, handed in my chip, and went home.  Then went to the doctor and got some antibiotics.

I'll be back to fight another day!

One last comment on the event, so I properly describe it!  First, the location is beautiful, the lake is gorgeous and despite the strong winds, quite calm.  The trails I managed to stick around for were hiking trails that don't see much bike traffic, so they were bumpy and soft, without any banking or anything you might expect on a true mountain bike trail (or have experienced in their other race, Mine Over Matter).  Still beautiful, but hard to get any flow in my short endeavour.  Your mileage may vary!  I will try do this one next year to exact my revenge!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

How to Get Back to Your Car When You Are Lost in the Forest (and have a Garmin Forerunner 305)

These guys went mountain biking in the forest, in the late evening.  They were separated, one guy made it back to his car, the other was lost in the woods... for 5 hours!  The police helicopter was called and he was finally located after 1am.

Yikes!  Now let's replay this event assuming they had with them a Garmin Forerunner 305.

You're lost in the forest.  You want to get back to your car.  Press Mode.  Navigation.  "Back to Start".  Something like this will pop up:

You are the black arrow. 

The flag labelled START is where you started.  This means where you first hit the "start" button, so if you did that late, well, you might be in the forest awhile.  Pack a lunch.

The scale is shown in the bottom left corner.  If you don't see where you started, you can zoom out by pressing the "up" arrow (top right button).

Now this isn't Google Maps, or a fancy Garmin navigational system that will tell you in a sexy voice to "turn left in 100 meters"...  the Garmin Forerunner 305 has no concept of roads, trails, or any other landmarks.  All it knows is that there's an earth and you took a certain path on it (the black line).

The best strategy might be to simply try follow the black line back to the START.  Or you can try take other trails that seem to generally head in the direction of START - this may be pretty good, or may get you on the wrong side of a lake or something impassable.

But at least you now have a sense of where you are relative to where you started, and what direction you've travelled in... for most people who are reasonably bright, that should help a lot to find your precious vehicle and get out of the forest!

One last note about the black arrow.  It shows the direction you are travelling in, not the direction you are facing!  So if you stand still and spin around, the arrow will not change.  It's a subtle difference, but worth noting - if it's not making sense, try moving a bit in one direction until it updates.