Posts

Showing posts from 2013

Star Rock Cross - First Cyclocross Race

Image
After 8ish weeks of diligent cycling and four(!) skills practices, there was no denying it on Saturday morning: it was time for my first cyclocross race.

I arrived at the venue early and looked out at the beautiful course, trying to determine how technical the turns would be. "They don't look bad at all," I thought. "This might go OK."

I went to the registration booth, where the process was flawless. They were expecting me, given that I'd already given them money. I had to give them a bit more for my one day license, but that was expected, too.

There was still a ton of time left but I decided to kit up and ride the course to get a feel for it. And that's when the panic set in.

Despite how the course looked to me from the outside, it turned out that when I see a turn off of my bike, I don't know, yet, how bad I am on the bike. Negotiating the turns, for me, was tricky. Incredibly tricky. Other guys doing warmups flew by me, while I went through turn…

Two Days from My First Cyclocross Race

So seeking a break from running, I now find myself two days from my first cyclocross race.

In the past eight weeks, I've been mostly loyal to riding. I've only run 4-5 times, including picking up 2nd place in my AG at a 5k race. I've been riding over most of my lunch hours, and have gone longish on most weekends.

For the past 4 weeks, I've attended a cyclocross skills practice, along with 5-8 other riders, all of whom have more experience than I.

On one hand, I've gotten a lot better and I've learned a ton. On the other hand, it's a tricky sport and I am still very bad at it. I haven't fallen in about 2 weeks, but every technical turn puts me further behind the other riders. Add this to the fact that running fitness isn't cycling fitness and you come up with the reality that on every test race I've done with the weekly pack, I've finished last, and not by a little. Though bruising on the ego, I love these "scrimmages" because I fee…

First Real Cyclocross Practice Recap

I've been curious about cyclocross for years. Whether that's because I think the running parts can make up for my lack of cycling prowess or simply because it's a sport nobody outside of Belgium has ever heard of is anybody's guess. But regardless, I finally made up my mind that this year I'd dip my toe in the pool.

Coincidentally, the local paper let me know that there's a sort of weekly practice clinic that happens here in Lancaster, so when I finished my century ride last weekend, I decided okie-dokie, let's change the tires on the bike and go.

Except, I didn't do that first because I had never practiced cyclocross skills and it seemed to me that before I showed up at a real practice, I should at least understand the basic concepts.

I watched this youtube video which makes dismounts look incredibly easy. I quickly learned they're not. The guy in that video is a jerk for even pretending that it's half that easy. I went to the local high school…

100 Miles, Either Way.

It took me six years of pounding pavement to work up the courage and training to do a 100 mile run. Last weekend, after six weeks of mostly dedicated riding, I completed my first 100 mile ride.

That's not to say it was easy. Moreover, fitness is cumulative so all of those years of running helped build the fitness before I started riding.

And finally - and perhaps most important - the ride wasn't a race, but a "ride." No timers. No results. Heck, no t-shirt since I didn't register in advance.

As recently as two weeks ago, I wasn't sure I'd do the century ride. My training rides hadn't gotten any longer than 64 miles, and my knee continues to tweak around 45 miles (ironic, since so many runners become cyclists because of knee problems). But truth is, when I thought about the fact that I was considering not doing an event that wasn't even being timed, well, I questioned my own courage. What, in fact, did I have to lose? Absolutely nothing.

To avoid m…

The Process of Learning

Fast forward 3 weeks from the last post, in which I announced plans to do a duathlon, followed by a century ride. Since then, I've done ten rides and four runs. Because the recovery profile from riding is so different, that number surprised me when I looked it up. Honestly, it doesn't feel as if I've been training that much. Not that it's a lot... For a guy used to working out 6 out of 7 days per week, this averages out to 4. But still, the lack of joint fatigue makes it seem even less.

More than anything, I think I'm learning to become a cyclist. I've had more flats than you can imagine, mainly because I've finally committed myself to learning how to fix them and sometimes what I do comes back to bite me a few days later. In fact, two rides didn't happen because when I went to start things up, I had mechanical failures that burned up my precious lunch hour. While frustrating in some ways, I'm trying to comfort myself that I'm learning how to pr…

A Reboot, A Reset or a Mid-Season Crisis

Four months ago, I completed my first 100 mile ultra marathon. Since then - athletically speaking - I've been adrift.

Not inactive. Most weeks, I'm out there five to six days per week. Even in a particularly bad week, I'm out there four times.

But by adrift, I mean without a plan. Without a goal. I've done several small races and I've talked about doing several large races. But large races (in my world) require commitment to a plan and executing on that plan. I know people who go to big races unprepared. I've done it a few times, myself. I don't like it. I realized a while ago that there are two ways you can approach endurance sports. You can make time for them or you can find time for them. If you make time for them, the workout WILL happen. You will adjust your life and sleep around it. If you find time for them, most days you'll get the workouts in, but when the life gets in the way, oh well. For most of the past six years, I've been making time.…

So About Those Carbs Or, A Stupid Experiment Or, You're Always Learning

Disclaimer: What you are about to read is not a medical study, but rather a case study of one diabetic athlete. Your mileage may vary. In addition, I talk about treatments that are relatively uncommon at this time. Don't do any of this stuff without consulting people far smarter than I.

Over the past couple of years, I've become quite adept at consuming a lot of carbs on my runs. Typically speaking, 50-60g per hour, which is on the higher end of what most athletes can handle.

To accomplish this, I've kept my basal rates at 100%. The combination of insulin plus exercise has lead to outstanding diabetes control and has also helped me to accomplish many of my ultra running goals.

Despite that, I decided to mix things up a month ago.

I'd read some articles about ultra runners using low-carb diets. In doing so, the theory, goes, you program your body to burn fat rather than carbs. The potential benefits here - according to theory - are two-fold: 1. By consuming fewer carbs,…

Diabetes Training Camp Review, Part 2 - About the Campers

At various points throughout the staff training on Sunday prior to DTC, Dr. Matt made it a point to reinforce that most importantly, "It was all about the campers." We were there to ensure that their week was fun, memorable and/or educational. Heading into Monday, I hoped I was up to the task.

Knowing there were no workouts scheduled for Monday, I drove my son to his last day of school and knocked out a quick 5 miles before reporting to camp. After breakfast, I made my way to where the campers would check in. My task was easy: be one of a few people to take them from registration to the dorm where they'd be staying.

Before long, the campers begin to arrive from all parts of the US... Northwest, West, Southeast... ages from 18 to 81(!), occupations from students to teachers and physicians, newcomers and returnees. All seemed happy (if travel-tired) to have made it.

The previous day, we had reviewed the camper bios and I had made special notice of the ones that had indicat…

Diabetes Training Camp - Something of a Review - Part 1

I'm starting this blog post with a vague title because I'm 100% certain I'll miss something critical. After a week filled to the brim with amazing experiences, real life comes hurtling at me immediately with 10 to 11 client meetings interspersed with 4 or 5 internal meetings and a video shoot this week. The fault of this is my own, as next week is a vacation week. Still, it's somewhat daunting, if exhilarating.

I've known about DTC for a few years, but was never able to get the stars to align until this year. Two years ago, I was chasing a Boston qualifying marathon time and was burning vacation days traveling for Team Type 1. Last year, I was interested, but had scheduled vacation the same week. This year, everything clicked.

My "job" at the camp was assistant coach in charge of running, choosing the routes and offering insights about the simplest of all sports. But secretly, I had agendas, too. I knew the camp would offer a variety of athletic experien…

On Running, And Other Stuff...

Somewhat shocking to realize I haven't blogged in over a month.

But not really, either. The business of life has been full enough to not leave many cracks for commentating about it.

Work has been busy, though calling it work might be a stretch. When you're doing stuff like this or this, it's fairly obvious I'm not digging ditches for a living. But still, it takes time.

I bought a new car, not because I needed a new car, but because my daughter needed an old car, and I had one in my clutches. At nearly 17 1/2, we've reached the point where desired convenience outweighed cost, however tragic those insurance prices are.... And they are. And that, too, the buying -- took time.

And I've been running. Pretty much all the running I was doing during my ultra phase, ASIDE from the long run, which is a very big difference. My weekend 5 hour runs have been temporarily been replaced by short races - 2 5ks (fastest 19:06), my first 10k in years (42 and change and an AG awar…

It Wasn't About the Runners. But It Was Definitely About the Marathon

In the aftermath of yesterday’s tragedy in Boston, I struggled to understand how I felt. I found some solace in the words of others; one review that did a stellar job of capturing in a few short words what the Boston Marathon means to runners. Another one offered a poignant description of how what happened was the antithesis of what running is all about. But even so, I felt that these words weren’t capturing what I was feeling.

Like many, I watched the videos over and over, trying to find sense, trying to find a reason, trying to find something to make me think that things were ok, but the more you watch, the more you realize that for many, things may never be ok again.

Finally, I realized what it was. What I’d been scared to admit.

Watch the video from the finish line again. Or like me, just replay it in your mind. Now, at the moment just before things changed, pause it. Whisper to yourself, “There’s a bomb somewhere in this picture. Choose the safest place to be before you hit play.…

Rumspringa 1/2 Marathon Race Report

So, three weeks after my hundred miler, my ankle is still far from great. Despite a cortisone shot, it's only allowing me up to 2 days of running in a row before soreness and swelling returns and I need 1-2 days off.

Understand, I'm not disappointed or even particularly distraught. It simply "is what it is." If I couldn't run, that would be an issue. I can, but not as much as I would like. And that requires a certain reshuffling of spring goals.

Originally, I had planned on doing the North Face 50 Mile in Bear Mountain, but that was my plan if I managed to sneak in 2 long runs after the 100. That didn't happen. Up until last week, I thought if I could manage a 20-25 miler last weekend I could go to the Iron Master's Challenge 50k at the end of the month, but by the end of the last week, I knew that wouldn't happen. So, I woke up bright and early Saturday AM and punted: I drove up to Adamstown for the Rumspringa 1/2 Marathon, my first 1/2 in 4.5 years.

Paying the Piper

In a post before my hundred mile race, I casually mentioned that I'd be ok with getting injured if I completed it. We should be careful what we're ok with.

After 3 days of all over-achiness, I was left with some pulled muscle-tendony stuff in my left ankle, which is the opposite foot from the one I was concerned about before the race. I rested it for the remainder of the week, went on a 5 mile run, and promptly asked for (and received) a cortisone shot from my doc.

Yesterday I ran 7 miles. Today I ran 7.5, but the foot is far from alright. In fact, it hurts fairly much.

Mostly, I'm ok with being injured right now. The 100 miler was by the far the most important thing on my agenda. But still, I had 1 eye on the 50 mile North Face in NY in May, and another one on the 50k Iron Master's Challenge at the end of April. If I can't managed a long run by the middle of the month, both of those will need to go by the wayside.

For the first time in a long time, I don't kno…

A Tale of 2 Races - Part 3 - NJ Ultra Fest 100 Mile Race Report

This is the final post of my 100 mile race report. You can read part 1 here and/or part 2 here.

There are a lot of things that can derail an ultra. Dehydration, injury and fatigue are broad buckets of three of the greatest and being diabetic simply adds high and low blood sugars to the mix. But none of these concerned me more than nausea.

Nausea has the ability to quickly put an end to an ultra race. In essence, not being able to keep fuel in your belly is like having a leak in a gas tank. It’s only a matter of time until you stop moving. And of course, my insulin strategies for the race were based on a regular intake of fuel.

During my training, I had moved away from energy gels to solid food and had successfully avoided nausea on my long runs. This had been intentional as I had completed all of my ultras last year by doing a lot more energy gels, but beginning to feel bad by the end of them.

During the first 70 miles of my 100 miler, my stomach had been an awesome shape, and I heade…

A Tale of 2 Races - Part 2 - NJ Ultra Fest 100 Mile Race Report

When speaking to diabetic athletes new to training, or more common, parents of diabetic kids in sports, a common question is how to handle a high blood sugar during an event. Common sense would tell you to skip your nutrition and let the exercise bring down the blood sugar.

In practice for me, this works, albeit slowly and at risk to performance in the given event. So staring at my 351, I took about 65% of the insulin I normally would when that high, and still loaded up at food at the aid station and headed out for my second 10 mile loop.

Another diabetic complication soon followed. When CGMs and blood sugar readings are as far apart as these 2 were, it’s not uncommon for the CGM to ask for another calibration test. Because I just left the aid station, I didn’t have time to give it one. Soon after, the CGM stopped reading until I would provide it with that test.

Despite the diabetic issues, the run was going well at this point and the second loop progressed uneventfully. I came into t…

A Tale of 2 Races - Part 1 - NJ Ultra Fest 100 Mile Race Report

Note: I've never written a multi-post race report. Until now.

“Don't forget the joy this weekend, Marcus. It likes to go hiding in the dark hours of the night but it's still there if you look for it.”

Those lines appeared on my Facebook wall as I was packing for my trip to the NJ Ultra Fest and my first attempt at the 100 mile distance.

They were written by Leon Lutz, a local runner known as much for the length of his beard as for the length of his runs. Leon was speaking from experience, both from his own successful hundred mile race last year as well from his hectic lifestyle which often sends him on his regular runs when the sun is gone. Very well, Leon, I thought. I’ll look for the joy.

I won’t use this post to recap my training, though I recognize that the runners who stumble upon it will be particularly interested in it. That being the case, let’s just link to my public running log here. You’ll see a lot of long runs beginning ninety days prior to the race, no speedwo…

The Unknown

48 hours from now, the NJ Ultra Fest will be underway. It will be my 6th race greater than a marathon, though of course that doesn't include all of the training runs that have been longer. My longest race to date has been 55 miles. This is nearly twice that.

I'm scared, but then again, that is kind of the point: to see if I can accomplish what I haven't. And I can't say I'm any more terrified than I was before my first 50 and that day was a dream come true.

For most 100 mile races, a third or more of the field don't finish. That's a sobering number. When I'm feeling cocky, I tell myself that those people were probably undertrained, but when you think about it, most people going into a hundred mile race, including me, probably are.

As far as my health goes, I'm fairly close to 100%. I've been battling foot tendinitis, but have cut my miles so much this week that it currently feels perfect. Still, I'm not betting it will stay quiet for the ent…

Team Novo Nordisk and I Have Agreed to See Other People

Last week I resigned from my position on the running team at Team Novo Nordisk, ending a more than two-year relationship including being named the Amateur Athlete of the Year in 2011 for Team Type 1 – to this day perhaps the award I cherish most.

There has been a lot of Internet chatter about the changes that have occurred since TT1 became TNN. From what I saw, some of the comments were right, and some of them were wrong. And as far down the chain of command as I was, it’s probably fair to say I’m not the best judge of what all was true.

Here’s what I can say: Novo Nordisk shares Phil Southerland’s dream of putting a professional cycling team into the Tour de France. That’s what makes the partnership perfect for both of them - a common goal.

Novo Nordisk is a pharmaceutical company. As such, they are governed by a lot of rules and anyone who works for them (or represents them, in my case) has to agree to play by those rules. My decision to leave the team isn’t based on what I think of…

And the taper begins...

Just like that, I'm now tapering for my first 100 mile race on March 23. Insert your favorite phrase: The hay is in the barn. The cords of wood are stacked. Whatever. For better or for worse, this is what I have.

Research into 100 mile plans varies so much that I think it's really impossible to know if I'm ready. Broadly speaking, what I've done is taken what worked well for me in a 50 mile race build and added as much as I could. Here are some stats:

Running up to my first 50 mile build (which I'm using for comparison since it was the same time of year):

1. I had 6 weeks 50+ miles per week. For this 100 mile build, I had 8 of those and will likely have a 9th this week.
2. I had 4 weeks 60+ miles per week. For this 100 mile build, I had 5 of those.
3. I had 0 weeks of 70+ miles per week. For this 100 mile build, I've had 3.
4. I had 3 long runs of 30+ miles with the longest of 35 miles. For this 100 mile build, I had 5, maxing out at 39.4 miles. I also had an a…

100 Miler, Hopefully Getting Close

Someone recently asked me if I'd registered for my 100 mile race, yet, and I commented that I was waiting to get through these 3 critical weeks of training. Armed with confidence, I felt, I would be thrilled to enter.

Instead, this past weekend I missed my first scheduled long run since I don't know when, and still entered the race today.

The missed long run was just that. A head cold that came on around Thursday, didn't effect my Thursday or Friday runs, but peaked on Sunday morning when I'd planned to run for 6 hours. I got up after 11 hours of sleep, got dressed to run, got the paper, and went back to sleep for 6 more hours. Got up. Ate breakfast. Slept for 2 more hours.

Yesterday I was off work and slithered through 8 miles, and did another 7 today in the freezing rain. The headcold is going away, but slowly, and in its place is the divot left from a key missed workout.

It's not entirely bad, of course. When I went through a similar build in 2011, I had 3 runs …

One Very Long Run or Back to Backs?

So I did something different last weekend.

For all of my previous ultras, I've done 1 single long run on the weekends. The core of what makes a long run for me seems to be about 5 hours or 30-31 miles, though I've done a few at 5.5 hours and as long as 35 miles.

The other school of thought is to do back long runs, but have them be shorter. Until this past weekend, I'd never done that.

I can't say going into it, I had a great reason for doing it, either, other than training plans for 50 milers don't look much different than training plans for 100 milers, and that just scares me, so I decided different might be good.

On the other hand, many runners say that the risk of injury is greater on back to backs, and hey, I'm not getting any younger here, so injury is a concern.

To recap, last weekend, I did 31.1 miles in 4:55 of total running.

For some reason, even though I'm a stickler about running time for ultras, I focused on miles for my btob.

On Saturday, I did…

Your So-Called Militia Has Failed. Here's Why.

Warning: not about diabetes or running. Just a rant because I feel like it.



Enough already. Enough with your Second Amendment rights being taken away, for a couple reasons.

The first is the idea that limiting magazine sizes is a slippery slope to losing handguns. I don’t buy it. There are speed limits on our highways. By and large, they keep us safe on our way to work. At the very least, they send a message all drivers can understand, so that we can work together to get to the office in one piece.

There are also limits to how much beer I can buy at the store. Make no mistake: I like beer. But these limits don’t keep me in bed at night clutching a cold bottle of Yuengling for fear the government will take it from me. Oh and by the way, those limits are plenty high enough for me and most people to catch a decent buzz or get through a Sunday’s worth of football. Moreover, I suspect the government likes the tax revenue generated by alcohol sales, just as they do the tax revenue generated…

More Miles, Less Pain

Just like that, January is half-way gone.

Quick update on my shoulder: after an unsuccessful month of PT and a clear MRI, one well placed cortisone shot did the trick. Granted, it also put my blood sugars through the roof for a week, but now I'm sleeping through the night again.

Speaking of blood sugars, I also received my latest A1c, which was 6.1. That's pretty darn good. I think I may have had a 6.1 1 or 2 other times, but that's close to my best ever.

Meanwhile, the miles add up, with 102.3 in the books for January and it's only the 14th. I expected to miss some time last week when I was in NYC, and while a few runs went a little short, I actually didn't miss a single day, which was nice.

Last weekend, I did my 2nd 5 hour run of this build, reaching up to 31.1 miles in 4:55, which was a nice tick faster than the last one. While the weather was a little better, I attribute much of the improvement to my new Hoka One One's.

If you're not familiar with Hoka…