The road to Ironman Mont-Tremblant went through New Orleans this weekend. As many of you know, that follow this blog, Janet decided to go to Galveston and I chose New Orleans for our early season half Ironman. I chose New Orleans because last year in Galveston, I had a really hard time staying upright while biking into a 30 mph head wind. I thought New Orleans would have better weather! God has a sense of humor!
New Orleans Ironman 70.3 was in a word - windy! Crazy, insane windy!! It was also only 67.1! The wind caused the race director, Bill Burke, to have to cancel the swim for the second year in a row. I actually felt bad for the guy since so many people were so upset, but when we got down to the water on Sunday morning, it was obvious that drowning was a risk given the 5 foot and higher waves!
We actually did a run-bike-run triathlon, which was much better than what they did at the Poconos 70.3 last year. At that race, after cancelling the swim, they attempted a time trial start of the bikes starting participants 3 seconds apart. This sounds good in theory, but the roads were very wet and there were crashes all over the place! In New Orleans, they were creative and wanted to keep the relay teams intact, so they made us run 2 miles to start then ride 52 miles (shortened due to road closures) and then run 13.1 miles to finish.
I met my friend Linda, from Arizona, in New Orleans and she was pretty anxious to do her first 70.3. She is attempting Ironman Arizona in November, so she needed a warm up race as well. I made a pact that I would never race without Janet again! Every time I go to a race without Janet, the weather sucks!
The best part of my race was the beginning of the 2 mile run. They started us in pair about 2 seconds apart and I was in the 5th wave (40 and older women). This wave included all the “old” ladies. I started near the back of the wave and was just completing the first mile when I came upon a woman with an “81” on her calf. I glanced at her and then realized it was the “Iron Nun”! Sister Madonna Buder is a Catholic nun who has completed over 400 triathlons and is an inspiration to all at The Ironman World Championships every year! (If you haven't read her book, it will inspire you!) I said, “Good Morning Sister!”, just to make sure it was her and then had a short conversation running along with her. Such a positive person and it was a thrill to meet her. She is still running strong and should be an inspiration to all of us to keep moving! I told her I only hope I am still competing in 40 years!
After the short run to warm up, we jumped on our bikes to brave the wind. Crazy, insane and, at times, dangerous wind! I was trying to maintain 19-20 mph but no such luck. I worked very hard to keep 17.8 mph average into a 25mph+ head wind! It seemed like the wind was in your face no matter what direction you were going in! There were only 4 hills on the entire course, (Louisiana hills also known as overpasses ha ha) and at the top of one of them, a gust practically threw me off my bike. The bike actually felt like it went airborne for a second! I finished the bike in one piece and was happy to start running.
Then someone turned up the heat! The run was a double loop with awesome crowd support and plenty of aid stations! Thankfully lots of water and wet sponges since it was so hot! Very flat with a few small hills but overall a nice rolling course. The casts of characters were out, just like most races. We had 3 Spidermans, guys in jester suits, and my favorite….guys running in their wetsuits with goggles and all, probably protesting the no swim!
I was happy to wave to Sister Madonna on the run and shamefully happy she was on the other side of the road about 5 miles behind me (who wants to get beaten by an 81 year old!!). I finished strong and with a smile. Legs of jelly from pushing hard on the bike made for a slow run, but overall a good day! No pesky plantar fasciitis showed up, so I think I have cured myself with EPAT finally! I have some work to do before I am ready to tackle the mountains in Quebec, but I earned my post-race beer today! Linda finished not so far behind me with a big smile!
Next up….Buffalo Springs 70.3….
Ok, I have been joking all week with my triathlon peeps that beer is the best recovery drink! But seriously, I think there are two questions that need to be answered:
So, here are some simple answers to what is actually two very complex questions! Remember that individuals all differ and our sweat ratios also differ. A great way to determine how much fluid you need after a race or long run or ride is to weigh yourself before and after exercise and replace fluid losses by drinking 20-24 fl oz water for every 1 lb lost.
What should you drink and/or eat? Yes, I like beer after a race but science shows that you should consume a 4:1 car/protein ratio. (I hear all those fans of chocolate milk cheering).
Research has shown that eating 0.3-0.6 grams of carbohydrate for each pound of body weight within two hours of endurance exercise is essential to building adequate glycogen stores for continued training. Waiting longer than two hours to eat results in 50 percent less glycogen stored in the muscle. The reason for this is that carbohydrate consumption stimulates insulin production, which aids the production of muscle glycogen. However, the effect of carbohydrate on glycogen storage reaches a plateau.
Research also shows that combining protein with carbohydrate within thirty minutes of exercise nearly doubles the insulin response, which results in more stored glycogen. The optimal carbohydrate to protein ratio for this effect is 4:1 (four grams of carbohydrate for every one gram of protein). Eating more protein than that, however, has a negative impact because it slows rehydration and glycogen replenishment.
One study found that athletes who refueled with carbohydrate and protein had 100 percent greater muscle glycogen stores than those who only ate carbohydrate. Insulin was also highest in those who consumed a carbohydrate and protein drink.
Consuming protein has other important uses after exercise. Protein provides the amino acids necessary to rebuild muscle tissue that is damaged during intense, prolonged exercise. It can also increase the absorption of water from the intestines and improve muscle hydration. The amino acids in protein can also stimulate the immune system, making you more resistant to colds and other infections.
Good replenishment food?
If you are looking for the best way to refuel your body after long, strenuous endurance exercise, a 4:1 combo of carbohydrate and protein seems to be your best choice. While solid foods can work just as well as a sports drink, a drink may be easier to digest make it easier to get the right ratio and meet the 30 minute window. Personally, I’m sticking to beer and will add a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!
How long does it take to recover from a marathon? How long does it take to recover from an Ironman triathlon? How much racing is bad for my body? These are all good questions posed in my office on a regular basis. The problem is that the answer is always, "It depends". Everyone recovers at a different rate. Age, experience and current fitness level are large variables in the equation. I know a marathon runner in town who ran 100 marathons in a less than 10 years; and of course, we have all heard of Dane Rauschenberg who ran 52 marathons in one year for charity and then wrote a book about it! The flip side is that I know runners who can only do one marathon a year without getting hurt and most triathletes only train for one Ironman a year.
So what is the magic formula? How much is too much? I think the first thing to think about is what is your goal? If you are just talking about finishing the marathons and not really having a time crunch, then feel free to do up to six a year but realize that having more than two quality runs in a year is very difficult. The Ironman distance should not be attempted more than 2 or 3 times a year regardless of time goals! Now, for those of us who are addicted to the watch, "racing" a marathon is something that should not be done more than twice a year. "Racing" an Ironman triathlon should only be attempted one a year.
Why is this true? Well, simple math. It takes a minimum of 4 months to train effectively for a marathon and 6 months for an Ironman. Then you need at least one day for every mile you ran and three to five days for every hour your triathlon took. That means a month of recovery before you start to train again after a marathon and at least 6 weeks after a 12 hour Ironman. Last time I checked, there were only 12 months in a year; hence, the common recommendation of racing no more than 2 quality marathons or one quality Ironman triathlon a year.
Why do some people recover faster? Age. My feeling is that youth is wasted on the young. I remember being able to run a marathon and get up and go to work the next day. Now I have to take at least one day off and often take two! Experience does help. Your body has been there before, so it knows it will live. Veterans often have a post-race routine down that helps them recover. (Often this includes the anesthesia known as beer!) If your fitness level is high and your nutritional status is good, you will recover faster.
What can you do to hasten recovery? Walk a cool down after the race. Do not sit down immediately even though your legs are begging you to! Take a 15 to 20 minute walk and stretch gently. An ice bath is best, but very few people I know are that tough. A cool bath followed by stretching before you go to bed is helpful. A large amount of carbohydrates and water also helps. Hence the beer phenomenon! A massage a few days after the race will help you recover. More than anything, do not start training again until you are fully recovered. Many injuries occur due to too much, too soon, too fast and too fatigued syndrome!
So how much is too much? Again, the answer is always, "It depends." Listen to your body. Really listen and stop being stubborn or stupid! If you start training and you are exhausted, you are doing too much. If you are spending too much time in my office and less on your bike, you are doing too much. The answer is really simple stupid. Listen to your body and it will tell you how much is too much.
Bottom line: Let your body fully recover from your races and quality times will be recorded. Race only one to two marathons or one Ironman triathlon a year. As for other distances, keep in mind that you need one day for every mile of a running race and at least 3 days for every hour you raced in triathlon. Anything shorter, you better take off your watch and go for the finish instead of the time and prepare yourself to spend some quality time with your local sports medicine physician!
Run Happy! And Recover Well!
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