Thursday, July 27, 2006

Recovery rides

Date: July 25 and 26
Mileage: 13.7 and 25.4
July mileage: 615.3

I can't believe I forgot to mention the outcome of Geoff's race, which took place the same Saturday as the Soggy Bottom. He ran the Crow Pass Crossing, a marathon-length technical mountain run. I hiked it on July 15 and it nearly took me out of commission. Geoff somehow managed to sprint over the rough trail in 3 hours 17 minutes, (interestingly, exactly 10 hours less than it took me to bike the Soggy Bottom course) and placed fifth overall in the race. It's pretty cool, because his standings place him in the top 10 mountain runners in Alaska. And this is something he just decided to take up this year, just for fun - sort of like the afternoon I returned from a three-mile snowshoe hike and decided it would be good times to bike a frozen wilderness century. This state, I'm telling you, does funny things with your mind.

I did a couple of recovery rides on the road yesterday and today that felt pretty good, except for the fact that I'm still covered in tender bruises that hurt like crazy every time I bounce over a pothole or washboard gravel. I know I'm running the risk of a comment flogging, but I thought I'd talk a little bit about my interesting (and unintentional) experiment in ride nutrition on Saturday.

I woke up late in the morning and had to rush to the starting line before 9 a.m. In doing so, I neglected to make the Gatorade I had intended to nurse throughout the race, make my peanut butter sandwiches or eat breakfast. I downed a packet of fruit snacks (Shrek brand, very tasty, 80 calories) and handed my stash of power bars to Carlos to shuttle to Copper Landing and Devil's Pass. I stashed a couple more in my camelback and took off.

Now, I learned on the 24 hours of Kincaid that solid food does not agree with me during a day of near-constant riding. Because I hadn't had the time in the past month to experiment with conventional forms of liquid nutrition (and because I live in a small town where such things aren't readily available), I settled on using Gatorade, power bars and fruit snacks to get a bulk of my calories. But when I set out on the trail, my appetite disappeared - as it always does - and I never really got it back. With the sharp abdominal pain of Kincaid still fresh in my memory, I decided I wasn't going to hit the power bars until I could feel a bonk coming on. And so I continued.

Here's where my well-deserved flogging comes in. I never felt the bonk coming. And I never actually, well, ate. At Copper Landing, mile 44, I had a 16-ounce bottle of Gatorade and five Nilla wafers (about 150 calories.) At Devil's Pass, mile 70, I forced down Luna Bar (about 180 calories). The sag wagon had long since disappeared with my extra stash of bars, so I grabbed a packet of Gu and one more bottle of Gatorade and continued on. When I reached Resurrection Pass, mile 82, I knew in my heart I should eat. There aren't a whole lot of edible products in this world that I like less than Gu, but I remembered that during the Salt Lake Century I ate a chocolate almond Clif Bar that tasted better than any brownie I have eaten before or since. So I gave it a try. I slurped up the Gu - vanilla, clear, the consistency of snot - and then I washed it down with lemon-lime Gatorade (about 200 calories). I don't know that I have every tried to ingest anything more disgusting. I winced for a solid half minute. Then I resolved to make it back without any more experiences like that. But, if you do the math, my total intake for the entire day was about 600 calories. I returned from the ride at 10:17 p.m. and managed to choke down a Pepsi and a Power Bar (a whopping 370 calories!) before I went to bed. I smile when I think about what my calorie deficit must have been that day.

It's interesting to me, as a newbie to all this, that I never bonked. Not eating is definitely my natural tendency during hard physical events, but I know that what I did was wrong to the point of being reckless. I had extra food on me, but not much. I know now that liquid nutrition isn't optional for me. I have to try it. Even though it's expensive and hard to find, I need to do the research. I hear that Hammer stuff is good. Anyone have any recommendations? (Anything but Gu. I'm going back to good ol' Shrek fruit snacks. With the red donkeys ... mmmmmm.)


  1. Definately go Hammer, Rob Lucas (aka Ultra Rob) has an excellent article posted about how his liquid nutrition works using Hammer products! I'm not gonna flog you, you apparently met the minimum glucose needs to stave off a bonk! Don't know how, but you did!::GRIN::

  2. Hammer is good...

    I like dried friut, nuts, ect but god blessed me with a cast iron tummy... EmgenC pactkets are awsome for a cheap eltrolite replacement. Also like ensures and slim fast drinks cals and ptoien. Green tea with lots of honey in one water bottle for anything over 40 miles...

    Start playing with diffrent foods and gels ect of training rides so you aren't trying it on events =)

  3. The solid food thing never worked for me either. Liquid is the way to go. Hammer Perpeteum paste (4 scoops to 2 oz water) in flask #1 & Hammer gel in a flask #2. That's pretty much all I use in races. The same goes for 24 hour solo races..flask #1 lasts about 2 laps and #2 lasts about 3 in most cases.

  4. As an alternative to Gu, try Carboom's stuff. It is real fruit, complex carbs, and tastes awesome! They are always running specials at

  5. Ditto on the carboom gels. Just like apple pie, yum.

    I wrote an article for a buddy on nutrition for 24 hour racing here:

    Some if it may help...that 600 calories was good for the first 2 hours, not sure how you kept going for another 11;)

  6. I can barely eat during a race, save for banannas and gatorade. In the early season a small bag of M and Ms might sometimes find itself in my jersey pocket. Essentially I eat prior to my events, and try to find something light the day of a race. Mostly fruit, though. The drawbacks of a sensitive stomach to the concentrated stuff. But I also get hydrated from the fruit, and when it's hot I love grapes, too.

  7. Mmmm, definitely Hammer Heed. Good stuff, in my opinion.

  8. The Gu Honey thingys are cool. They taste good and instantly fuel you.

  9. Before a long ride I drink one (or two) bottle(s) of Ensure and eat a sports bar (Paley Bars being my favorite). Then, I eat solid foods for the first hour or as long as I can - bananas, sports bars, and fruit. After my appetite for solid foods leaves me, I switch to the Hammer Products mixing Sustained Energy with HEED. I also add Hammer Gel and water to my food. This seems to work for me.

  10. It's pretty cool, because his standings place him in the top 10 mountain runners in Alaska.
    Hmmm, careful with that. I don't think you can make this kind of claim until Geoff has placed top ten at Mt. Marathon, Bird Ridge, and Matanuska Peak. Crow Pass is a wilderness run, not a mountain run. Ask Geoff himself what he thinks of his up-hill running skills...I bet he has a different take.

  11. Hi anonymous,

    I'm just basing my unofficial claim on the Grand Prix standings of the Alaska Mountain Runners Association, which includes Crow Pass in its list, and the fact that many of the runners on that list have already completed three races.

    I don't believe Mt. Marathon provides an accurate accessment of state talent. For starters, the lottery nature of that race really skews the results by making the race almost completely unavailable to new runners. I read in the ADN that a entrant in the lottery only has an 8 percent chance of getting in to the race.

    That said, you're right. It's only fair to wait until the season's over to make such a claim. And Geoff admits he isn't the best uphill runner. But I don't believe steep uphills are all there is to mountain running (from my opinion as a mountain biker who struggles on the downhills). But, if you feel it's more accurate, I'll gladly change the above sentence to read "trail runner."

  12. Well, if Geoff is currently listed in the top 10, leave it as is. Rankings are in the moment, not hidden until after all the races are done. Earlier this year I was ranked 2nd in NY for my category of road racing. When I moved to Austin I was at 7th. The defense rests.

  13. Hey Jill, Mark Jolin here, congrats on the Soggy Bottom with nearly an empty tank. I really like CYTOMAX for Ultra's, it has ingredients that break down lactic acid. Hope to see you in some races in the future. Take care

  14. P.S. Mark again, don't know who wrote that comment, but as a fellow trail, mountain runner, I think Jeff is a certified bad ass, and in the top of the pack. You should have him join us on a Thursday night EPIC if he is every in town. Take care

  15. oops, my B - call it commenting before actually thinking. I didn't realize Geoff was doing so well in the overall standings. Good for him. Looks like he will still be "top ten" at the end of the season almost no matter what. Sorry for the vibing - definitely not deserved.


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