I’ve got a goal for Sunday’s 100k of 3-1/2 hours – on my own, no drafting (my goals page used to say 4 hours but I decided to challenge myself). The other day I checked the weather and they were calling for showers and a high of 47… Couple that with the wind we’ve been getting lately and I was hoping just to finish if the forecast held! Fortunately Michigan forecasting is a funny thing. If I look at the 10 day forecast and we’ve got some bad weather 5-7 days out, you can bet that the rain will get here 1-2 days ahead of schedule. It’s worked that way for the last 30 years or so that I’ve been following the weather. My dad was in weather in the Air Force in the ’60’s and he passed some of his knowledge on to me in the form of a 5th Grade science project and it stuck… Though I can’t quite remember all of the cloud types anymore, I still like to stay up on patterns. Sure enough, it’s going to be a cool day with highs around 53 but that rain changed:
Winds around 12 mph (after 25-40 that’s great news). The trick now is going to be the starting temperature… 33. Woof, it’s going to be a cold (foot warmer and jacket) start… Of course, I’ll take a cold start over rain and a cold start AND finish any day of the week.
My average pace will have to be 3:28 per mile in order to make my goal a reality, certainly within the realm of possibility. I’ll have to watch myself though so I don’t start out too fast which I’m prone to doing. I’m planning on maintaining 3:30’s for the first 40 miles, with a 24 mile push at 3:00’s even. The on-board menu will include 3 Cherry/Lime Gu – Roctane gels, Gatorade to start followed by water and a couple of energy bars.
The final cap to the ride will be my wife and girls at the finish line waiting for me… This is an incredibly big deal, as having a spouse that tolerates, neigh, supports my riding addiction is awesome. I’d live if she weren’t there, but I’m incredibly blessed and happy that she will.
Four days to go and I’m amped!
Several years back I went through a bout of cramping when I ran – we’re not talking about side stitches here (though I’ll get to those in a minute) – I mean leg cramps. I’d experience them when I ran and every once in a blue moon at night. I talked to a couple of my friends in the running club and they suggested I start eating bananas on a fairly regular basis… It’s one of those tips that you really don’t know the veracity of, but sounds good enough. Rather than consult the Google Oracle about the suggestion I just went ahead and started eating a banana a day (or thereabouts, sometimes two) and sure enough the cramping went away. Two years ago I was watching a Tiger’s game on a particularly hot weekend and a Fox Sports reporter asked Max Scherzer, pregame, how he would handle the heat. He specifically remarked about eating a few bananas and his drinking more fluids (code for H2O and Gatorade). That was enough for me. It is a little known fact, but pro athletes rarely research proper diets on their own, and if they do they bounce everything off of the trainer – that’s the job of the trainer to make sure the athletes “work right” (my wife’s cousin was the trainer for a professional team for quite a few years, so I got the inside scoop on that from him). Pro trainers make a very decent living keeping their athletes healthy so if Scherzer was out there talking about bananas, the info came from a good source.
There are those who have their doubts about bananas, but they get quite a bit of support too from what I found. I can tell you from personal experience, the first thing I ask when preparing to do road battle: “Where are the bananas?”.
Side stitches are next on my little nastiness list. I’ve never gotten one on a bike, so I’m assuming that it’s the jostling motion inherent in running that is the leading cause. Many suggest that the culprit is breathing too shallowly as you’re trying for your PR on that 5k (in fact, I can still remember my worst side stitch ever – first year of running, 3 months in, going for a PR on a 5k – it sucked – I finished with my left fingers curled underneath my ribcage to lessen the pain, but I got my PR). In addition, I’ve read that too much rhythm can lead to them as well (if you’re cadence matches your breathing over long distances). This makes sense, to an extent, but that’s how I always run – and have for years, and I rarely suffer from stitches, maybe one a year.
I have a different theory on side stitches and have developed a way to avoid them that is darn near fool-proof. It’s not pretty though. Reading a post on side stitches and the relief thereof, I stumbled upon this: “Stop running and stretch your arms straight up over your head, and then bend over at your waist. This not only stretches out the affected area, it also helps to expel more air that may be trapped below the diaphragm“. [Ed. Emphasis is mine].
She’s on the right path – she’s got the right idea, if she put it to ether poorly. To get to the point, I find that trapped air is what causes my side stitches. When I’m out burning up the tarmac, if I notice a buildup (and by now I know when it’s happening because I pay attention), I burp. Letting go of a little flatulence never hurt either – but we’ve heard horror stories about that and one can never be too careful, but it’s more about the burping. The unfortunate part is that we’re not talking about nice little feminine belches here. We’re talking about full on, start from your big toe burps. They’re going to be loud – best to let loose in a non-residential stretch of the run. This can be used strategically of course, if you’re competing. Make sure and eat a lot of garlic and onions the night before a race – if you get the chance, pull a little bit of a lead and let ‘er rip. The distracting odoriferous emanation should give you distinct advantage as your competition will no doubt be temporarily blinded due to the wrinkling of the nose – if done right, you’ll also get a few swats at the dead air, and that’s the perfect time to hit the gas – err, so to speak.
Believe it or not, and all kidding aside, I’ve actually tested this out when it was just a mere hypothesis of mine (it’s now a theory, if on limited testing). If I felt I had a burp stuck, I’d work it out. No side stitch. The next time, I wouldn’t and I’d get a side stitch. I tried this over two months just to make sure I wasn’t crazy, but I’m telling you it worked every time. The few side stitches I do get, it’s the stealth gas that creeps up on me.
If you’re prone to side stitches, try it, you might like it.
Yesterday was southeastern Michigan’s fifth consecutive high wind day (above 20 mph). To be clear, I like riding in high winds in about the same fashion as I enjoy running: I do it, but it regularly brings out an expletive or two. I can tell you for a fact that 35 mph sustained winds can actually pull a string of those expletives out of me.
That changed yesterday. The wind, out of the northwest was intense – sustained at around 20 with gusts up to 40…if not worse. It was so bad, in a cross wind, in the drops I had to tilt the bike about 15 degrees just to keep straight. In fact the gusts were so strong, it was actually easier to ride into the wind.
All of a sudden, something finally clicked with me – so what? I really didn’t mind so much, even spending 2/3’s of the ride in the drops, and I’ve really hated high winds for almost a year now.
Now I haven’t lost my marbles – wind still sucks, but it finally sunk in that it beats the couch – a position that I held as debatable since I began riding last spring. In fact, I was talking to our local bike pro a month about this very subject… I finally understand his position: Meh?
That said, I was exceedingly happy that this was my week off from the group ride – woof!
Lastly, I called the shop on the way home from work yesterday afternoon and spoke with Walter about my little saddle height issue – he suggested spitting the difference by lowering the saddle by a millimeter… That turned out pretty well so far, yesterday’s ride was much more comfortable – though I’m certain I’ll know more after Sunday.