Monday, June 30, 2008

Some photos from Panoche Valley Road Race

Yeah, I'm still obsessing over this race! My sole win of the year, but a big one for me. Just got some photos from Tim Allen:

Starting to fade, but still leading.

I wasn't taking any chances and kept pounding until I was past the line!

The boy is accepting the 4th-place award for Mark Caldwell... I swear! He's not a competitor! Eric Saltzman (Morgan Stanley), 2nd, is to my right, Blake Reed, 3rd, to my left.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The perfect post-race recovery meal!

Last weekend my recovery meal after the Tour de Cure ride consisted of a double cheeseburger... yummy, but not ideal! The experts all seem to agree that our bodies are extremely receptive to, and demanding of, food during the first 30 minutes after an intense workout. But what should we look for in a meal during that critical post-race window?


Since our muscles are pretty drained after a workout, restoring their lost energy is critical, at least if you'll be training again that same day, or even the next day. Give your body some high-GI carbs that it can easily convert to muscle glycogen and you will be re-energized more quickly. The consensus seems to be that we need about 0.54 grams per pound of body weight. For me, at about 150 pounds, that means 81 g. If you won't be training for a couple of days or more you should cut back on the size of this meal, especially if you are trying to lose some weight.

Intense exercise also stresses our bodies in several ways; muscle tissue damage, the release of free radicals, lost electrolytes and an increase in our blood acidity. These stresses can trigger our bodies to adapt, and thus become more fit, but prolonged stresses can also cause problems. In fact some studies suggest that extreme athletes live shorter lives because of the repeated stresses our bodies are subjected to. Let's look at each of these stressors individually:

Muscle tissue damage

If you examine your muscle fibers under a microscope after an intense workout, you will see that they are literally frayed from the muscular friction. Fortunately our bodies know how to repair this and after a little soreness we are stronger for it. All we need is some protein in our diet to help it along; about 10-20 g in our recovery meal, and between 0.45-0.73 g per pound of body weight daily total (about 68-109 g daily for me) seems to be enough. But keep in mind that some foods, like wheat and beans, contain anti-nutrients that block absorption of protein. So stay away from grains, soy and peanuts, and get your protein from egg whites, lean meat, fish and poultry (or even whey powder) instead.

Free radicals

These are harmful byproducts of intense exercise. Fortunately exercise improves our bodies' ability to fight free radicals, but diet is important too. We can fight free radicals with antioxidants. Vitamins C and E seem to be very helpful, but many others have only recently been studied and merit attention, including polyphenols, resveratrol, flavonoids and carotenoids.

Lost electrolytes

Sodium and potassium are the main electrolytes we lose, but magnesium, calcium, iron, copper and zinc are also important electrolytes. Without them we can literally die, quickly.

Blood acidity

Lactic acid is well known by athletes, and can induce fitness, but excessive blood acidity can cause problems. Fortunately many foods can lower blood acidity. Keeping blood pH in balance will improve your fitness and health.

OK, the envelope please...

Dates are one of the very best sources of antioxidants in any food and fight free radicals (berries are great too). Raisins are perfect for lowering blood acidity (spinach too). Egg whites are a great source of easily-absorbed protein (or eat a lean meat, fish or poultry for additional nutrition). Bananas replace potassium (sweet potatoes are great too) and salted seeds and nuts replenish other minerals as well (avoid peanuts due to their protein-blocking).

That's not one food, but several, as you should expect now that you better understand the complicated results of intense exercise. But it's pretty easy to combine these into simple snacks and meals. My favorites:

Raisins and brazilnuts for on-bike eating, after the intense part is over. Provides high-GI carbs, antioxidants, blood-alkaline, and electrolytes.

Dates, and blueberry juice with whey protein powder, for post-ride meals. Provides moderate-GI carbs, antioxidants, blood-alkaline, electrolytes and protein.

Egg-white scramble with spinach and bell peppers, for later on as our GI needs decrease. Or have some lean turkey with the veggies. Provides tons of protein, electrolytes, blood-alkaline and low-GI.

OK, that's enough for now, but I could go on, trust me!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

ADA Tour de Cure 2008, Palo Alto, 6/8/2008

This fund-raising ride is a great way to use my love of cycling to help others. Last year I rode as a member of the Hewlett Packard team, and this year I was promoted to Team Captain. I got some team training rides organized, sent out recruitment and fund-raising e-mails, and put up posters and flyers around the HP buildings.

I was a bit worried at the HP team's progress early on, and I still have a lot to learn to become a successful Team Captain. For a while there were just two of us, then three, until the ball finally got moving and the team grew to 13 riders and did very well at raising funds to fight diabetes. By the way, did you know that diabetes has increased five-fold in the last few decades? It has become a huge problem for millions of people in this country alone.

I again signed up for the "120K" route, which left from HP's Palo Alto headquarters out to the Pacific coast and back, for a total of 78.7 miles in the saddle. Others signed up for either the 25K, 50K or 75K routes, depending on their fitness and available time.

Last year a nasty cold nearly kept me from riding, and this year my crash in a race on Memorial Day threatened my odds of doing the ride because my back was still sore from hitting the pavement at 35 MPH. And because my nice bike's frame broke I had to ride my beat-up old commuter bike. But perhaps the thought of letting down my sponsors spurred me on. The day before we celebrated my brothers' birthdays and that was not only lots of fun, but allowed me to carbo-load too! Some of the carbs might have been in the alcohol family, but who's counting.

I had to set my alarm to 4:30AM to get to Palo Alto in time to be ready for the 6:30AM opening of the 120K route. But I had forgotten my car needed gas so I had to scramble for an open gas station at 5:20AM. And my cell-phone service died so I couldn't communicate my tardiness with any of my teammates. Ugh!

By the time I got there the 120K route had just opened, and I hurried through sign-in (and got the special cowbell welcome from the nice Lion's Club volunteers because I raised over $1,000!). Fortunately my friend Rob Jensen hooked up with me, but I was sure everybody else I knew was already out on the ride. He grabbed me some of that yummy Hobee's coffeecake, the first piece of many, and we were soon ready for a 6:50AM start. The weather was very pleasant, about 60 degrees and clear with no wind, but I brought my arm-warmers and vest for the cooler sections along the coast.

We hooked up with some "Nektar" team riders, and followed behind them all the way to Kings Mountain Road. There Rob hooked up with his "Team Bridget" friend Jim, while I decided to use my fresh legs to get a hard workout up the long, steep climb and forged ahead at full speed. About halfway up I hooked up with my HP teammate Nate, which was great, because I was feeling guilty about not being there for the 6:30AM start like I'd planned. He's a great guy and we chatted a bit before I continued on at my masochistic pace up to the first rest station at the junction with Skyline Boulevard. More coffeecake, some trail mix, cookies, and banana ensued... let the pigout commence! (We typically burn about 500 to 800 calories an hour, and replacing them is critical on any ride over an hour or two; this one would take about five or six hours.)

All four of us grouped up for the ride along Skyline, but had to contend with a very, very irate driver who kept honking as he drove along. We then dropped down the long, chilly and very fast descent on Highway 84 to Pescadero Road. I was very glad I brought my arm-warmers and vest this year... it sure beats having to stuff paper towels down the front of my jersey! The climb up Haskins Hill is much easier when you're not in a race, but it's still a long drag up and I used it for some more training. Soon enough we were really booking down toward the picturesque village of Pescadero, and the rest station there, with me taking a lot of long, hard pulls. My legs and back felt great.

Nate was a bit behind us, so while Rob, Jim and I munched more food he slowly pedaled into town; it turned out the bolt on his seatpost had sheared right off so he had to stand and pedal for 6 miles! We looked around for help getting a replacement bolt, but in the end we continued on without Nate rather than delay.

We followed team Nektar again, on Stage Road, but went ahead after a while on the climbs, crossed HWY84 by the historic San Gregorio Market, and hit Highway 1 alone. The weather was spectacular, and we really enjoyed the views of the ocean as we met up with Tunitas Creek Road... and another rest station! Munch, munch.

The steeper sections of Tunitas Creek are, well, steep! And go on for about 7 miles. Whew! While we were struggling up this hill an SUV passed us with none other than Nate waving out the passenger's window! He's been unable to find a new 8mm bolt. It's important to save a bit of energy for this climb, when you're riding up it anyway. Fortunately we had and Rob really laid down the metal forcing Jim and I to work hard to keep up. As we did this some Alto Velo club members whooshed by us like we were standing still, and I used their draft to move up... the rainbow stripes on one of their jerseys showed they weren't just casual riders but gifted athletes with a world champion in their midst. Soon I caught Rob and had fun pulling him back up the last few miles to the rest station on Skyline by Kings Mountain. Oh yeah, more food.

Then we whooshed down Kings Mountain and back into the warm valley where the temperature was approaching 90. As we got nearer to the finish line we started spotting all kinds of riders from the 50K and 75K routes, on every kind of bike you can imagine, including mountain bikes, tandems and bikes with trailers. Some of them were clearly not used to riding these distances, but, man, I sure was impressed with their willingness to suffer to help fight diabetes... props to them!

Rob and Jim split off to meet family obligations while I crossed the finish line at HP and promptly started gorging myself one last time in the shade of the Packard Grove's trees. This year because I got back earlier, around 12:20PM I estimate, I was able to get a tasty double-cheeseburger instead of the vegetarian fare left over by the riders from the shorter routes like last year. In fact, my total ride time was 4:52, not counting stops, at an average speed of 16 MPH. I got to hook up with my teammates James (who rode the 50K) and Nate, and my friend Richard, and checked out some of the exhibits too.

But the best news was that the HP team not only improved on the 2007 team's total of $4,268 raised by 9 riders, but smashed it with $8,252.86 raised by 13 riders!!! I am amazed at what we accomplished for the fight against diabetes! And there's still time to donate. Just click here and be generous!

See you next year!