Monday, December 30, 2013

Base building

It's been awhile since my last post, with my races over for awhile, it was nice to take a little break!

I've been doing some reading and thinking about my training and my goals for my upcoming races.  Reading about peaking, it seems clear that i can't be where i want to be for a whole season right now. There is just no way to do it. People peak for a specific event.

However, there are people who could show up to any event i do and blow my socks off, and some of them don't have any more genetic potential than i do. How do they do it?

Because they have such a good aerobic base.  What is an aerobic base?  It's something you build by steady, easy work, climbing, running, biking, etc, in zone 2, working at a place where your body can maintain that workload for many hours.  Spending a lot of time here causes your body to grow more blood vessels, to produce more mitchondria and enzymes to create energy and break down fat.

These changes in your body increase the level at which your body can work aerobically.  Without going into a lot of technical definitions, when you are doing aerobic work, your body is not going into deficit: it is not consuming energy faster than it can be freed from stores ( the liver, stored glycogen, fat ).  It is not consuming oxygen faster than your lungs can absorb it and your heart can deliver it. You are also not creating waste products ( lactic acid, carbon dioxide ) faster than your body can process and remove it.

The opposite of this is anerobic work, where you exceed one or more of these factors.  You are working so hard your body cannot free stored energy, absorb oxygen, and remove waste.  So, obviously, you can only work at this level for a short period of time.  But you can go very fast.

To illustrate, imagine a stair race that is only 20 floors, vs sears tower, vs a power hour.  Even if the 20 floors in the 20 floor race are pretty tall, i should be done in about 2:30 minutes, for about 7 seconds a floor.  I'd be hurting right from the start, and ready to collapse at the end..

My time for sears tower is right about 19 minutes, for 103 floors.  So about 11 seconds a floor.  Considerably slower than the 20 floor building, but after 20 floors of sears tower, i feel basically fine.  Even at 60, i feel better than the end of the 20 floor race, though i've done much more work.  That is because i've not exceeded, at least not by much, my aerobic capacity.

Then there is the power hour.  31 floors, as many times as i can in an hour.  I managed 9 climbs in 54 minutes, so my rate of ascent was 11.6 floors a second.  Not much slower than sears tower, though there was 5+ minutes of rest in there as i rode down the elevator, though some of that was running.

You can build your anerobic capacity, but it's very hard, and you generally cannot maintain it: you need to do brutal workouts at intensities that use your body up and expose you to maladies and illness. But you can do it very fast.  Building your aerobic capacity is the opposite: months or years of long, boring workouts, where you stimulate your body a little and let it recover before the next workout.  But your reward is that you can, on most any day, have a solid result in any race other than a sprint,, simply because you will be able to work under your aerobic threshold. Also, since you are not breaking down your body with an anerobic effort, you can do it again next week, or even a day or two later. Contrast that with my race season where i found myself unable to perform well after a few weekends or races, or at the end of the season.

So, that being said, i'm going to focus on my aerobic work, maybe trying for a mini peak for stratosphere/hancock.  But i'm looking at the long term, both in performance and health.  Lots of varied easy workouts with lots of attention on recover.  Instead of obsessing on the Aon race, i'mm be building slowly and steadily, maybe for years to come, seeing where it can take me!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Inspired by a record -- my stair climbing journey

A few weeks ago, i verified a world record for guinness!  It was a stair climbing record, predictably enough.  The specific record was for climbing the most vertical feet in 12 hours.  The event was amazing and seeing Justin churn away for 12 hours was really inspiring. The old record was 33,000 feet and Justin eclipsed 38,000 feet, crushing the old record.  Seeing what a dedicated and elite athlete could accomplish is something that will stick with me for a long time.  Seeing what Justin could do is helping me to focus more on my own fitness and diet.

What is interesting is that not that long ago, almost 2 years ago exactly, i was considering quitting stair climbing.  I was doing 3 races a year, and they were expensive, not fun, and i wasn't getting any better at them.  I'd climbed sears tower 3 times, and was stuck in the 21+ minute range.  My times at hancock and Aon had both slipped.  My weight wasn't changing.  I saw the elites on facebook, but

Now, i'm top 40 in the US, #126 in the world, have raced all over the US, am vice-president in charge of statistics and scoring for the US tower racing association, and many of my best friends are people i've met through stair racing.

How did this happen?

Mostly, because i took a chance.  The empire state run up was the granddaddy of races, the most competitive in the world, the unofficial world championship.  I applied for it, knowing it was a lottery and my odds were slim at getting in.

But i _did_ get in.  Lottery, but going was going.  Now i had to fly to new york for the race.  I was going to put real time and money into this.  I'd better do some research..  I'd better focus more in training... I'd better watch my diet!

So i started networking.  I met cody at sears tower because he was wearing a gopro, tracked him down on facebook, and he added me to a stair climbing group. I mostly watched and listened, and got some good training advice.

At empire, i saw a few of the elite climbers i knew from facebook, but didn't introduce myself before the race.  I was happy with my time at empire, and met Madeleine after the race.  I signed up for oakbrook and springfield.  I wore my empire shirt to oakbrook, and that broke the ice with a number of the elite climbers i'd seen on facebook--Karen, Roxanne, Oz, Jesse, Eric, Justin, Cindy. It was an amazing experience, especially when Jesse, Eric, and Justin invited me for a fun climb.

Down in springfield, Oz's wife, Kristie, invited me to a after-race party at their house.  What an opportunity!  It was there i met Kristin and Brady, not knowing not much more than a year later, we'd be traveling to the pacific northwest together!

Later that year, i started following the world ranking system, and decided it didn't work for the US all that well.  I wrote some programs to create a US only scoring system, pretty much on a lark, and stated posting results.  Before i knew it, people cared a lot about it, and were contacting me for their places.  I got involved with PJ and got myself appointed VP in charge of statistics and scoring for the US tower racing association.  That is what made me eligible, and the main option, to verify the record for guinness.

It's been a great journey, and has improved my life greatly, and wouldn't give it up for anything. If i've learned one thing it's that choosing to just do something well pays dividends, almost no matter what it is.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Time off, but never enough

Well, the thanksgiving holidays are over, and i feel recuperated from my burnout which is great.

However, it's l;ready december, and i have a race in mid-january already!  6 weeks, basically, until i have a stiarcase in front of me and a clock ticking.  I don't know what it's realistic for me to accomplish in that time, so i'm just going to focus on my long-term goals.  I'd much rather make steady improvements to my overall fitness as opposed to quickly peaking for a race, the mistake i made before.

So, with that in mind, i'm going to consciously not peak for the two upcoming races, but focus on overall improvement in these areas:

Weight: always a concern, my weight was nice and low for sears, but has climbed more than i would have thought possible.  In the long run, ever pound i can scrub off is a huge benefit.  I can't let the fact i seemingly put on 4 pound in 3 weeks where i was eating carefully concern me.

Strength: i definitely needed more overall strength.  I was "saving" myself for my constant interval workouts, which was dumb.  I'll do more strength-building workouts, long workouts on real stairs, sculpt yoga, and even some gym leg and rowing workouts.

Cardio base: long runs, tempo runs, workouts in the cold.  A great way to help with goal #1, reducing weight.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Milwaukee misadventure.

Coming off a great CF climb, my expectations for the milwaukee climb were not as high.  I would not have gone--i didn't entirely feel up to it--but three other racers were carpoooling from chicago, and i didn't want to miss the opportunity to hang with them.

It was an evenign climb, so i went to work, did my day, then headed to the north side of chicago.  We hung out at jesse's house for awhile, before piling into his van and heading up to chicago.

I don't know what i messed up, but i did not show up to the race feeling well.  Perhaps i had hydrated incorrectly, or messed up my diet, not slept well, or i was just tired from races/training.  Probably all these were factors.  But at the race, i felt tired, sore, and a little feverish.  We got there pretty early, so i had time to warm up/hydrate, etc. Nothing seemed to work, so when i lined up, i did my best to pump myself up, but my body didn't feel ready.

I slid back in the line until i felt i was in a decent spot.  The people behind me ha done sears tower a bit slower, but i felt less confident about this race.  Soon we were going, it was my turn after a few minutes, and i was sent up!

Not being sure about the layout, i pushed at a decent pace.  I had a timing track that aimed to get me to the top in the low sixes.  We started 4 floors below the street, and i got to ground floor in good time, and to the 5th floor in time as well, but my legs were hurting.  I didn't seem to have recovered from 300N.

I backed off a bit to what i thought i could maintain.  That meant every 5 or so floors i fell a floor behind where i wanted to be.  I began to worry that someone from behind was going to catch me, even with the big timing gaps we had been given.  That pushed me a little, which stopped me from sliding any more.  Somehow, at one point, i thought i only had 10 floors left, and felt good, so i picked up the pace, then realized, after i felt kinda burned out, i had 20 floors left when i'd made my mistake, so i had to back off even more.

But soon i was on 37, and i sprinted up the last 5.  I sat down and felt crappy, physically, about my race, about how i'd prepared that day.  Sure, it was my first time in that building, and i had a bunch of fairly valid excuses, but i still could have done a lot better.

Downstairs, i saw my time was 7:32, nothing at all special.  My teammates had gone 1-2-3 and i felt kinda bad i hadn't been able to complete the carpool sweep. There wasn't much food at the buffet for me, so i had 2 beers, and felt even crappier later.  

In the end, i think my big lesson from this race is my overall base fitness needs to be higher, and when i have races close like this, i need to work more on recovery between.  I probably did part of the damage with 2 long runs the week before 300N even though i did fine in that race.  I also didn't eat right after those as well.

Details matter, and recovery is a big detail!

I am glad i have no more races until mid-january!  In the meantime, i'm going to train hard and eat well in hopes of a good race season!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

300 N LaSalle CF climb for life 2013

This was a small race, but a good one last year, and i was looking forward to doing it again.  The race fee was cheap ( $25, as i signed up early ) and for elites, the fee was waived.  $25 for a well run race with elites flying in from out of town?  Too good to pass up! 

The climb was from ground to the 58th floor, and we'd switch staircases once, with a quick run down a hallway to get to the second staircase. The stairs were narrow, turning right until the hallway run at 22, then left until 58.  I recalled the floors/stairs as being uneven.

The previous year, my time had been 9:45, and i felt i had overachieved that race.  Roxanne had passed me around 40, and i had hung onto her for dear life, leaving me destroyed on the floor.  

Hoping to build on my modest success at sears, i decided to set myself a pace of 10 seconds a floor, allowing 10 extra seconds for the hallway run at 22.  That would bring me in at 9:40, and, really, i hoped to come in a bit faster than that by picking up the pace over the last few floors.  

Somewhat sore from sears tower, i did yoga monday.  Tuesday i woke up super early, and hustled to a spin class at the gym.  I still did yoga that evening, and again wednesday. Thursday night, i planned to run 13.1 miles for the calorie burn, but was underdressed for the cold and called it off after only 6.3 miles.  Friday night was again yoga, though i took it easy and focused on stretching my legs out. 

Thursday, Oz, one of the top racers in the US, called me, and said he had just decided to participate in the race, and wondered if he could stay with me.  I eagerly agreed as he's a super great guy, and i knew it'd be fun to hang out.  

Saturday was just yard work, and soon oz, then kelley showed up.  We went to starbucks to get our pre-race coffees, then out for thai food. Back at my place, we snacked a bit, and watched movie 43, a gross-out comedy in the vein of kentucky fried movie.  It was a good choice to keep our mind off the upcoming race and relax us.  We went to bed early, to get plenty of rest for race day.

That morning, both oz and i got up before our alarms and started to prepare.  I caffeinated and made a smoothie, oz had his coffee and sandwiches.  It was nice to be relaxed before a race--i felt ready at 6:30, and we wouldn't be lining up until nearly nine.  I checked and re-checked my equipment, no mistakes this time!

We left at 7:25 and go to the race in 25 minutes or so.  We parked and were in the building before eight.  With an hour before the race, we had time for several bathroom trips, checking gear, stretching, warming up, getting and calming nerves, etc.  Getting to the race so early felt great and i will try to do it more often.

Loosening up pre-race

But nine approached, and the elites were called to line up.  We went to the line and self-sorted in expected finishing order.  Jesse, oz, PJ, Josh, scott, me, bob klinko, bob toews.  We got sent  through with nice long gaps between us, and in a moment, i was waved forward, jogged to the door, and hit play on my audio track.  

Right away i had problems holding onto my 10 second a floor pace.  The first few floors seemed to be taller than expected. But instead of letting myself fall behind, hoping to make it up later, i'd sprint to catch up. Hitting the floors right at the mark felt good, and my legs seemed to be holding up fine.  After surging forward to catch up, I'd climb a few floors at a more conservative pace before needing to pick up the pace again.  

Soon i hit 22, and jogged dowm the hallway.  I had allotted 10 seconds for the hall, but it probably took more in the range of 5 seconds, as i was halfway up the next staircase before i hit my next time mark.  Having the cushion was a nice psychological advantage though.  I decided i could slowly give that time back if any tall floors caused me to lose a second or two, though i'd only give those seconds back grudgingly. 

Soon, i saw someone a floor or so behind me, bob klinko.  He saw me and seemed to speed up.  I fought to keep from panicking and speeding up, to stick to my pace and run my own race.  Soon he was a few steps behind me, and i told him if he wanted to pass to just say so. he said i was fine, so i kept doing what i was doing.  

Soon i must have picked up the pace, or the floors got a bit shorter, because by the low 40's i had picked up a second or two. I decided to hang onto this second or two, because any time under my goal would be a victory, so all i had to do was maintain the extra 2-3 seconds i had.  

I kept this up until 51-52 when i decided i had the energy for a finishing sprint.  I picked up the pace, pulling hard on the handrails.  Bob, who had shadowed me for about 17 floors, dropped away.  I felt great, scooting to 55-56 very quickly, much faster than the rest of the race.  Suddenly, my legs started to feel a bit wobbly, and i backed off, not wanting to fall or collapse so short of the end.  I used my arms even more, dragging myself up the last 2-3 agonizing floors before stumbling across the timing mat, and lying on the ground a few feet past that. A few seconds after i crossed the mat, i heard my audio track announce 9:30, so i knew i'd come in well under my goal time; i estimated 9:25 or so.  Victory! 

Bob klinko popped through the door soon after me, and i knew he'd had a faster time than me.  Bob Towes passed though a minute or two later, and by then i felt good enough to sit up. Bob handed me my headband, which had apparently popped off near the top, my second race headband malfunction in the past week!  I felt bad that he'd taken time out of his own race to pick up my headband.  We took some team photos and headed down to look at our times. 

Taking a breather at the top

The first page of results!

Go team!

I had a quick coffee and wondered where mark block was.  I was to escort him up, but i thought i'd have time to recharge.  Mark has had two separate injuries that could have crippled him, yet participates in a great number of stair climbs all around the country.  But he has a hard time climbing, and i worried terribly he was going it alone, so i took off after him, back up the stairs.  I was pretty exhausted from my first climb, so i wasn't going a whole lot faster than many of the other climbers.  Almost halfway up, i found him and scott stanley, and i was glad to finally slow down.  I helped him when he got shaky, and kept people away from him but it was truly inspiring to see how hard he was working to climb the steps, how he was pushing past physical trauma to do something most healthy people wouldn't even consider.  

After that climb, i took a break, but mark went back up again with a different group.  Soon i heard that they were stuck in the stairs and i went to try to let them out. After much dashing about and grabbing a security person, i looked over the railing at 35 and saw hands on the rails down below. I jumped into the elevator with the guard and we shot to 25, opened the door and came face to face with the lost climbers.  Lucky guess!

Afterwards, Oz, Mark, Bob, Kelley and I went to karyn's cooked, one of my favorite vegan restaurants.  Everyone loved their food, and we had great conversation.  All in all a great day of racing.  


Preparation: a+. Was totally ready for the race

Race strategy : a- Could have gone a little faster earlier. Maybe. But i could have crashed too.

Effort : A- Could have started my final surge a little sooner too.

Overall grade: A.  Pretty well done race on my part, big confidence builder!

Still somewhat sore wednesday morning, so i guess i pushed it pretty hard!

Friday, November 8, 2013

willis tower 2013 recap

The day before Willis Tower, my girlfriend kelley was doing an ultramarathon, so i got up early to drive her to the event and support her.  I could do little other than see her at the turnarounds, but i ran with her a little after those, and jogged her in the last half mile or so.  It was fun to be outside, and inspiring to see people running 50 kilometers and 50 miles.  Kelley had a great race and persevered through some tough conditions. I was so proud of her and glad to be whatever help i could.  

The pre-willis race dinner was wonderful, there was a talent show, and i was blown away by what some people can do.  Alex is a great juggler and plate spinner, Napoleon is a great artist, Oz did some amazing paint work, and Leland is a tremendous rapper and musician.  Mark made me get up an do some yoga poses, and i was not at all ready for the situation and just did some half-hearted stuff, and felt a little embarrassed to be up in front of the audience. We went back to my place and talked until we realized we really should be in bed. 

The next morning i woke up pretty early, and started to go through my ritual.  I was really pleased to see i was 175.5 pounds.  I was 182 for the US bank climb only five weeks earlier, so my weight loss efforts had been super successful.  I also used the bathroom twice before the race, and estimate i hit the steps at 174.0, far and away the lowest weight i have ever hit the stairs at.  My physical condition was not what it had been in previous years, and i had peaked long ago, but i was optimistic that weight loss might help significantly. My cardio & strength were below last year’s levels, and i’d done very little stair training for the past few months, but perhaps the rest and ross training would do me good.  Here is a compact log of all my training from US bank to sears tower:

We got the the race, and i realized i didn’t have my headphones, so i couldn’t use my timing track, shit, shit, shit.  Then when i got inside the building, i realized i’d left my phone in the car.  Between getting my own packet and trying to find my friends who needed their packet because they were stuck in LA, i didn’t have time to get my phone, so i wasn’t going to have any sort of timer, nor a way to collect/check my heart rate data.  I was late lining up, so i jumped in at the end of the elite pack, and started to mentally prepare myself.  But suddenly i was being called to the front, as someone recognized me as a “fast” person, and a few seconds later, i was sent into the stairs.  No time to get nervous, my clock had started, and i needed to get to 103 as fast as possible! 

I set off at a moderate pace, something i thought i could maintain for the whole race.  I kept mentally checking in, reminding myself to use an efficient step pattern, to breathe deep, to use the handrails.  I’d get distracted by this or that, having to pass the first few people, thinking of where i was and how much was left, but then i’d check back in: breathe deep, step efficiently, use rails.  

My step pattern for much of willis is to single step with the inside foot, then do 4 doubles, which lets you take a short step onto the landing and put the inside foot directly onto the next bottom step, so you only ever put one foot on the landing.  Most fast climbers do all doubles, then double step the landings, so they do the same number of footfalls, but more of them are difficult taller steps.  Plus, with 10 steps, one leg is doing 3 steps and the other 2, so one leg will get tired before the other.  ALSO, mixing single and doubles uses the leg muscle fibers more efficiently.  I'm convinced my pattern is more efficient than most, so i tried to stick with it.  

Soon i saw two climbers i know, Harish and Doug.  They were both climbing on the outside, so there was no issue with passing.  We encouraged each other, but they were soon out of sight behind me.  I soon caught up with roxanne and her boyfriend will, two very strong climbers.  I am not sure if they picked up the pace because i was there, or if i was mentally ready to follow them for a bit, but i was behind them for 10-12 floors, perhaps from 45-55 or so.  They hit a little crowd and slowed down, so i took my chance on a long staircase to jump to the outside rail and pass them and the people blocking them.  Roxanne cheered encouragement to me as i pulled away.  

One very fast climber passed me, but i was alone in the stairs for awhile, until i caught Steve Stermer at about 70.  He saw me and stepped aside giving me encouragement and a slap on the back, which i needed as this was the point where i was starting to “feel it”.  I remembered my pre-race mantra, “quit on the next floor, not now” and i dug in and tried to maintain a pace maybe only a few percent slower than i started the race with.  I figured i mist be doing OK, because roxanne and steve both usually finish faster than me, but i’d passed both of them, Soon i hit the place where the staircase changed to the shorter floors and tried to pick up my pace, but i was starting to get sloppy, not using the handrails as efficiently as i could, double stepping the landings, forgetting my efficient climbing techniques.  

A fellow had been following me for a few floors, but didn’t seem to want to pass me, but i worried maybe he didn’t know how to pass and i was getting in his way, so i stepped aside, and then tucked in behind him.  I wasn’t sure his pace was what i wanted, or if he might slow me down, but with him in front, i could just keep behind and focus on my basics.  But i think he was going faster than i might have, so i think he did save me time, 

Soon we were at 100, and i wanted to sprint the last three floors, but didn’t know if i had the energy to get past the guy, so i called out “three to go, push it, man, go for it!” and he did pick up the pace.  Not to a sprint, but keeping up with him was all i think i could do.  Soon we passed 102, and slogged up to 103.  I felt elated seeing the door, but on that last flight of stairs, it seemed like my body shut down a bit.  I saw kelley as a stepped through the door, then a wave of nausea hit me. I stumbled away, i looking for a place to fall to the floor.  I didn’t get far before going to the ground, and rolling over onto my back.  It was a few minutes until the sick feeling was gone, and i remained sitting for several more minutes before getting up.  

We spent quite a bit of time up top talking to people, kelley taking pictures, having a good time.  Lots people asked me my time, and i replied i didn’t know, but suspected lower 19’s or upper 18’s.  When i got downstairs i saw my time was 19:08 which i was not ecstatic with, but nonetheless pleased to see.  I had come in less fit than last year, and had made a stupid mistake in not bringing my timing track or watch, i had come to the line not warmed up, i had let my form in the stairs degrade too often, but had still set a 13 second PR.  I credit all of that to coming in 10 pounds lighter than last year, and 7-8 pounds lighter than only a few weeks ago.  

After the race, Michael Karlin, Alex Workman, Kelly Rice, and i went to fermilab, and had a really interesting and educational tour of the facilities.  It was a great way to finish the day.  

So my self-given grades:

Fitness : B- 
I recovered from my overtraining incident, but put out fewer watts than last year 

Preparation: D
Showing up to the race without my timing track or heart rate monitor was ridiculous

Effort: A-
After the fact, i though i could have pushed harder, but i did look pretty bad at the end

Strategy : B+
I think i managed my effort, passing, etc, pretty well considering.

Weight management: A+
I've never managed to drop weight so fast, and didn't seem to hurt my training doing so.

Overall: B
Generally, i'm pleased with my result, but i did a lot of offseason work to only be 13 seconds faster than the previous year.  Had i done everything right, i think i could have been low 17's.  Have to wait until next year!!

Since last year i had success, once my base was built, of building my high intensity cardio in a few weeks, i will edge my weight down slowly to 168 ( still 174 this morning ) by jan 1, while working on my long duration cardio and general strength.  I’ll be running a smaller calorie deficit, so i’ll be able to work a little harder than i have been, and hopefully put on some muscle mass. Once i'm a month out from my next BIG race, i'll begin my interval training in earnest. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trail racing!

Feeling a little burned out after US bank, i spent my vacation week in california not even thinking about stairs, nor looking for a gym.  Instead, i hiked, and when i found it convenient and felt like it, ran.  The first big hike was up Mt Baldy, where i bonked ( no fuel, i think ).  But the rest of the week was fun runs and hikes.

When i returned to chicago, something else was on the itinerary--train runs!  I had one on my schedule, and before i knew it, i had another!  So i started getting outside and running, which was really nice.  Kelley ( girlfriend ) had the chicago marathon, and i supported her there, and was tremendously inspired by all the runners.  The next weekend we both lined up at bullfrog, and took off when the siren sounded.

In the crowd at the start

It was my first real trail race, so i took it slow... I ended up behind quite a few people, as maybe 100 people, almost all of them going way too fast for their ability, passed me up the first steep hill. I didn't mind much, as the path was initially wide and passing no big deal. Soon, the path narrowed, and i discovered the problem with crowds: most people run downhill WAY slower then i do.  But with slow runners in front of me, i couldn't bomb down the hills the way i usually do, and every downhill was costing me 10 or so seconds.  So, i made an extra effort to pass people and get out of the pack.  By mile 1.5 or so, i was mostly free, though more tired than i wanted to be, and i'd still hit clots of people.

On of my strategies was to hike any serious uphill since i hike up hills 90% as fast as i run them, and i find it much easier.  As the race course split between the 5k and 5.5mile course, ( i was doing the 5.5 ) there was a steep, grassy, and wet uphill.  There was no one behind me at the base of the hill, but someone charged up the hill full tilt soon after me, and by the top they were on my heels.

But not for long.  I was fresh, and as the trail flattened, i took off, while my shadow was out of energy.  A quarter mile later, they were out of sight, and i was mostly alone again.  I passed a few people, then at mile 4 or so, i saw someone about an 1/8 of a mile ahead.  He seemed out of reach, but i focused on my form and breathing and every time i checked, he was just a little bit closer.  Finally i was right behind him, and we hit a steep downhill, and a scooted past him. Soon he was 30 or 40 feet behind me, and i felt great!

Motoring up the trail

Until the trail forked, and i had no idea where to go!  I stopped and looked each way, trying to figure it out, and the guy from behind just sailed past me.  Still unsure, i followed, feeling kinda deflated.  I'd worked by butt off to get past the guy, and he sailed past me because he'd known where to go.  He started to put some distance on me, and i didn't have the energy or will to close.  We broke into the clearing that held the finish line, and he put a little more distance on me, and i finished about a minute behind him.

Looking at the clock. Will I finish in under 48 minutes?!?!


I caught my breath and spoke to a few people, and soon kelley arrived.  We talked, ate some race food, and headed home.

Later i was amazed at how well we'd done.  I was 30th overall with 47:59, and kelley was 50th with 53:30. Amazingly, we'd both placed 4th in our age groups.  The guy who beat me for third was the dude in yellow i was trailing!  With a little more strategy and course knowledge, i think i could have finished ahead of him, or at least had a shot on that last steep hill with my stairclimber's legs.

The next weekend was the muddy monk 5k, also with Kelley.  A little more wary, i went out pretty hard and beat most of the pack to the narrow windy path.  On the path, with fewer people to pass, i could stay behind people until there was a good spot to pass, and used my saved energy to put some distance on them.  There was a muddy stream crossing, and a muddy area under a bridge, so i was glad i had purchased some real trail shoes!  There were logs to jump over, branches to duck under, and even a few fallen trees you sort of had to scramble through. Before i knew it, the path had looped back and i realized we were under a mile to finish, perhaps quite a bit less.  There were still a number of people around me, and i was less shy about passing, hopping onto the trail shoulder and sprinting past 2-3 people before getting back onto the trail.  Finally there was a woman running at a pretty good clip in front of me, and i was gassed.  At this point, it was all i could do to stay with her, so i stayed behind her happily.

Until we got into the clearing with the finish line. The path widened, and she seemed pretty wobbly, and ran down the center of the 90+ degree turn.  I took my chance, and energized by letting her pull and the sight of the finish line, i took the inside track and sprinted to the finish.

I looked at my clock and was amazed to see 21:50!  I had just run a HUGE 5k PR, on a muddy trail, with obstacles!  But my joy was short-lived, as my app informed me the trail was only 2.8 miles.  So my pace had been 7:40, which was still good ( matching last year's PR 5k pace, that set of flat paved streets )

Kelley finished soon after, and we enjoyed the free beer and vegan hot dogs provided by the race, as well as some of the great snacks.  One of the people i sprinted past at the end found me, and, laughing, high fived and and congratulated me on my speed. We had a nice chat, and both said we hoped we'd see each other at a race soon.

Nom nom nom nom.  Plus, my hair is attacking Kelley. 

It's ok, it's fuel.

I had tremendous fun at these two events, and compared to stair racing, the value is incredible! It's more fun picking off people on trails than grinding away on the stairs, and the races are much cheaper and have more swag and food.  I'm not giving up stairs, but i'm definitely going to do more trail races!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

US bank 2013

The first race of the season was US bank 2013.  I went 13:21 in '12, and was shooting for 10% faster this year, or 12:00.  In june, Inspired by crossfit cardio, I started doing almost entirely HIT workouts:  12 minute climbs ( on the stairmaster ) at race intensity 3 times a week. The previous year, i had mostly done various workouts, running, biking, 2-4 yoga classes in a row.  A lot of these workouts were pretty easy, long and slow, and I started the stair sprints (half on real stairs) about 1 month before the race, panicked i'd waited too long. But i quickly got into shape, and did the race about 2 minutes faster than i thought i would, finishing solidly in the middle of the elite pack.

Now, I wasn't reviewing my previous year's times, just going hard 3x a week, so i thought i was doing pretty well,  quickly building up to 140 steps a minute for 12 minutes.  About 6 weeks out, i planned to add 1 step a minute twice a week, so i'd hit the race at 152 steps a minute.

But this was harder than i thought!  I made good initial progress, but soon couldn't complete the gradually harder workouts.  About 4 weeks before the race, i woke up feeling really shitty, hopped on the stairmaster, and had to quit after a few minutes--i just couldn't climb any more.  A day or two later, i had a full-blown flu. Now, i'm normally one of those people who never gets sick, but i didn't feel this flu was out of my system for about 3.5 weeks!  For 2 of those weeks cardio simply didn't seem possible.  Now, after the fact, i'm sure this was just my body reacting to 3 months of race intensity workouts three times a week.

Looking a the previous year's training, after doing lots of long, slow, varied workouts all summer, i started at 130 steps a minute for my first climb, then quickly jumped to 135, then 138, then 142, peaking at 150 right before the race, all these sessions at least 3 days apart, sometimes 4 or 5.  So i made a lot more progress on fewer workouts, with the broader base i'd built.

But, US bank was coming no matter what. At the start line, i realized i was totally mentally disengaged. I'd not bothered to unpack my gloves, didn't have my audio track ready, hadn't really sorted out my nutrition, and i even forgot my heart rate monitor.  But i was at the start line, and when i was my turn, i had to go!  I had no idea how to pace myself, and the entire race felt out of sync.  My time was 13:49, 28 seconds slower than last year.  So, maybe if i'd been in a better mental state, or even had my timing track, i could have come in a few seconds quicker than the previous year, though for sure, 12 was out of reach.  I should have been faster, i came in a lot stronger and leaner, but those cardio reserves simply weren't there.  So, a year of hard training and big goals, and i'd pretty much laid an egg.

So the lesson is clear, burnout can be a real problem.  I'm returning to a more varied workout program, getting back to the sculpt yoga ( like a bodypump class ) with spinning, running, 1-2 hour stair slogs, and at most, a race simulation climb every 6-7 days.  Come race season, the races themselves will be my race training climbs. My goal now is to peak for strat, and have a good result in that race. As i write this, sears tower is 12 days away.  I'm going to do my best in that race, but i don't think my summer goal of 17:00 is anywhere close to realistic.  I think i'll shoot for 11 seconds a floor ( 18:42 ) and just adjust during the race based on how i feel.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cranking DOWN the volume

Well, in my pervious post i mentioned cranking up the volume.  I think i need to take it back down.  I did great for awhile.. Then started to miss goals slightly... Then monday i had a pathetic workout.  I had planned 13 minutes at 146 steps a minute.. I got 7 minutes in, and had to take a break. Then another. Then another.  In the end i averaged 133 steps a minute counting the breaks. pathetic. Afterwards i felt sore and burned out.  I am definitely overtrained, so a little break is in order.  I'll just do a little yoga, but not other work until friday, then try to do the workout then i had planned for monday. And only do monday/friday.  That means only 4 more workouts before US bank, but it's better than hitting the stairs sore and burned out!!!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cranking up the volume

US bank is quickly approaching--as of this posting 4 weeks and 2 days away, almost to the hour, from when i will be on the staircase!  I was worried--how would i really respond? What if i don't even do as well as last year?  How do i know what my training will actually do?

I looked at it this way: the staircase is 1680 steps. My goal is 12 minutes.  That neatly breaks down to 140 steps a minute.  So, if i can do 140 steps a minute for 12 minutes, i will hit my goal.  If i can do that on the stairmaster, even though it's not exactly the same, i'll at least have a nice confidence boost.

I designed a plan.  On a saturday i went to the gym and did a "solid effort" workout to try to hit 140 steps a minute.  Not flat out, suffering until i feel i might die, but tough.  I managed to mostly do it, slowing the machine to 80 steps a minute for 2 48 second intervals.  So that was my baseline.  I had 5 weeks to work up to my goal, with one week at the end to taper, or entirely rest.

I decided my plan was to do 12@140 every workout with 2 rest intervals the first week, 1 the second week, then hopefully none the remaining weeks.  I would do this Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

The first monday felt pretty good.  I shortened the rest intervals from 48 to 24 seconds, just because i felt like i didn't need the longer rest.  Wednesday, the time for rest came, but i didn't need it.  I soldered on, taking a rest at 8 because i could, and i wanted to make sure i didn't crash and finished the 12 minute.  Friday, i never felt the need for a rest.  12 minutes at 140--i was worried about hitting it, and got it the first week.  Boo-yah!

The second week was a bit rocky, i had a super busy weekend and had run the day before, so i took one break.  Wednesday, i went to a different gym that has a weird stairmaster.  But friday i had a great workout and 12@140 seemed not too bad.

Saturday i did a trail run, and sunday a bodysculpt class.  Even with all that, this monday was the first official day i was supposed to do a no-rest workout, which i'd already been doing, so i decided to up the ante: 12:15 at 141--inching up duration and speed.  Hit it!  Tuesday i ran a 5k training run, and did it in 22:40, which would have been a huge PR not too long ago.  So i hopped on the stairmaster with a goal of 12:30 at 142--tough, but i got it.

This much intense volume would have been far too much for me not too long ago. To what do i attribute my ability to handle it now?  Part of it is just my adaptation over the years, but a lot of the improvement has to go to my diet.  I've cut out not just fish, eggs, and dairy, but also most processed foods.  Protein bars and powders are mostly gone, replaced with legumes, grains, fruits and as many greens as i can comfortably eat.  My fat and protein intakes are down, and my carb intake is way up.  The carbs are there to fuel my intense workouts, and you just don't need *that* much fat and protein.  If one of my long hard weeks were to create a pound of muscle ( they won't ), a pound of muscle contains, at a very high bound, 100 grams of protein--in reality it is less than that.  But even with this upper bound, that 100 grams of protein spread over a week is a surplus of 14 grams a day.  So if you are putting on a pound of muscle a week, you need 14 surplus grams of protein a day, which just isn't much!  A cup of legumes provides that easily, a serving of quinoa, a small/moderate salad.

In any case, thursday is going to be a needed rest day--i want to do my 12:45 at 143 easily friday.  I'm going to get more serious about using sunday as a rest day too.  After this i have three more training weeks, and with my current progression i'll end up doing 15@152 as my last hard workout before the race.  It seems impossible now, but i hope that with perfect diet and precise training, i can do it! 152 steps/min in the race would get me low 11's which i know is not realistic--real stairs are 100% different than the stairmaster.  But it's fun to dream. :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

I'm pretty sure last week i had a cold, which makes me feel a little better about my crappy 5k.  All my stair workouts last week were super tough, and i was feeling super not-confident about US bank happening in only 7 weeks, so saturday i went to the gym on a mission: to come as close to simulating US bank on the stairclimber as possible.  With the number of steps and my goal of 12 minutes, i'd need to climb at a pace of 140 steps a minute.

I ended up coming close, 140 steps a minute for 12 minutes with 2 24 second "rests" at 80 steps a minute.  With that as a baseline workout, i decided i would do this workout 3 times a week, monday, wednesday, friday.  The first week with 2 rests, the next week with 1, the remaining weeks with no rest, perhaps adding in a few intervals after a little rest.  Then the last week, skip monday and wednesday with the race being friday.  

MWF evenings, do a c2 yoga, and a sculpt as time & energy permits.  sunday would be full rest ( to get ready for the week ).  Tuesday and Thursday would be active rest, no hard workouts, maybe an easy jog, easy yoga. Saturday would be a longer easy cardio workout, maybe a long run.

So all my stair workouts would be done on quite a bit of rest, as they're my core workout.

Today i did my first climb, and after a long tiring workout, i needed 36 second breaks instead of 24.  That was OK, but i got the workout in.  Even though it was a crazy weekend and morning, i kept that deal with myself, which felt really good!

Since the workout was hard today, i am going to get adequate rest, not likely doing sculpt tonight or anything too strenuous tomorrow.

Here's wishing good luck to everyone else training for a stair race!!!

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Well, i had a 5K today. I felt pretty good heading into it, did a light workout thursday, took off friday ( not even yoga ) and went to the race feeling pretty good.

Right at the start i had to zigzag around a bunch of people but in maybe 30-40 seconds i was clear of the kids and slower folk who had lined up at the start.  The first mile my legs felt really stiff.  Not sure what the issue was, but maybe i should have warmed up.  But i still think i made the first mile in decent time, having run away from most of the pack.  What that time was, i have no idea, because i failed to start my run tracker so i was getting no splits. The trail began to get hilly, and i began to feel a stitch in my side--crap! At bout 1.5 miles, a fairly fast guy passed me, too fast for me to latch on to. Then at 2, a woman passed me, and i decided to try to stick with her.  I managed to stay close until the last 1/3 mile or so, where she got away.  I had to slow up a few times to work out the stitch in my side.

I rounded the corner, and saw the clock read 22:55.  I sprinted for the line, but couldn't come in under 23.  I think my time ended up being 23:05.  I was pretty bummed, because i'd run a 22:45 in practice earlier in the week, and had actually expected to do better than that.

I'm not entirely sure where i want to go with my training.  I have plans for a trail 5.5 mile race, but that's not a big deal, and stair race season is coming up, which is.  Part of me thinks that if i could cut serious time off my 5k, it'd be a great cardio workout i could roll out of bed and do 3-4 mornings a week, and i could continue to do my stairs & yoga in the evening. It'd also be a great thing to do on vacation.  Lots of hotels don't have gyms, few have stairclimbers, but all are on some sort of road.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wait on the weight?

Well, i've been having good workouts, and eating super nutritious, but my weight's not going down.  After pondering this for awhile, i decided to just let it be.  One of my big goals was to get down to 170, as this would enhance my stair speed a good deal, but if i'm having great workouts, building fitness, and eating super healthy, i should accept it.  Perhaps i'm just making up for all the years of atrocious eating habits, finally building the muscle i need to be a serious athlete, and generally healing.  Fine.  I'll keep mixing fasting into my regular plan for general brain and body health, and to keep my weight in check, but i'm going to eat healthy but what i want to, work out hard, and let my weight go where it may. Maybe when i hit my fitness goals, i'll try to edge my weight from 180 to 170.  I assume if i'm fit enough to roll out of bed and run a quick 10 miles every morning, losing weight will be no big deal.  Also, even if i don't do quite as well in the races as if i'd reduced my weight, i'll probably do better than last year, and in the long-term it's better to get genuinely healthy, and sort out any food issues.

I did make a new PR with my interval workout yesterday.  Six two-minute intervals at 162 steps a minute, double stepping.  50 second off between each interval. Here was my heart rate data:

I actually felt i could have gone a little harder, though that last interval was pretty tough.  I may try to reduce the rest intervals to 45 seconds next time.  My goal is to reduce the rest intervals as much as i can before US bank.  In a perfect world, i'd like to do those 12 minutes double stepping at 162 S/M with no rest, but that's not likely going to happen soon.  But if i get close, i think my goal of US bank in 12 flat is not too improbable, as to reach my goal i "only" need to climb at 140 S/M and the steps at US bank are significantly shorter than the stairmaster.  I'll also start practicing some real stairs wearing my 40 pound weight vest.  My work building has 300 steps which is somewhat more than 1/6 US bank, so if i can climb it 6 times at 2 minutes per ascent, carrying 40 extra pounds, getting back down the elevator as quickly as i can, i'll also feel more confident about US bank.

Aside from these two interval approaches, i'll mix in some easy runs ( 10 miles at 8:00-9:00 pace ) as well as tough 10-15 minute pulls on the stairmaster.  If i have time, maybe i'll do some of my 1,2,3 hour stairclimbs, but honestly, i'm going to de-prioritize those.  I simply don't think i'll have the time or the physical recovery resources!

And i'll be doing lots of yoga, of course. That's changed my life so much, i could never imagine giving it up!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Checking in on my goals, and my performance compared to last year at this time

I realized US bank is a mere 10 weeks away. Last year about a month out, i had a panic attack, so i wanted to get my ducks a bit better lined up before this opening of the stair racing season.

Last night i looked though my journal and scraped out a training log from pre-race.  This is from my regular journal, so it's not that detailed, but believing myself to be in better shape than this point last year, i thought it made sense to use those as a baseline.

My notes indicate that i did 18 minutes at 140 steps a minute, but i suspect that was with 4 breaks, as that seems out of reach.  It was also single-stepping which left my legs unprepared for double-stepping the real race.  2 months later, when i was in much better shape, i did 135 for 13 minutes, double stepping, and it was tough.

Nonetheless, i decided i'd go for 140, double stepping, for 13 minutes.  I was also not quite as rested as those workouts.

I was fine for the first 4-5 minutes, barely touching the handrails.  6-8 it stated to feel tough, from 8 on i was gutting it out.  Finally, at 10:30, my side cramped up pretty badly, and i hit stop, breathed and rubbed my side for about 25 seconds, and resumed climbing to get in my 12 minutes.

Base on my intensity guage, i think 135 for 13, my last workout before my best-ever climb, would have been do-able with about the difficulty my journal depicts.  So i think i'm about as fast as my peak last year.

Also, my journal says that 2 weeks out i was weighing in at 188, which is heavier than i thought i was. I'm 180 now, and i have more muscle, so i should be faster for the same fitness level.  Back then, my legs would give out, now my cardio is limiting me.

Based on that, my cardio engine is probably 95% of my peak last year,  10 weeks out from my first race.  If i got it to 100% of last year's, and held my weight at 180, i'd do us bank in 12:30 - 12:45.  But my goal is to reduce my time from 13:20 to 12:00, so there is still a lot of work to be done.  Ten weeks could well be enough time, though!  Instead of obsessing on that goal, i'll focus on doing the right things every day!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Making progress, got to make more!

It's been awhile since i've checked in!

My diet has been generally better.  I've been cutting out a lot of the processed food, and am relying much more on vegetables, fruit, and legumes.

I would think this would result in more weight loss, but in the past 6 weeks i've gone from 181 to 179. But i think i've put on a few pounds of muscle at the same time, so i guess there has been more than two pounds of fat loss.

I've been focusing more on intervals on the stairclimber focusing on making improvements at US bank and sears tower.  Most of my workouts have been flat out on the machine, for example 162 steps a minute for 2 minutes, 50 seconds of rest, flat out again for 2 minutes, 50 seconds rest, etc, until i have 12 minutes at 162 steps a minute. My dream goal is to keep reducing those rest intervals until i don't need them anymore.

My goal at US bank is 12 minutes, i could do that going 135 steps a minute.  The extra 28 steps a minute accounts for the added difficulty of real stairs and turning.

My goal at sears is 17, which is "only" 124 steps a minute.  But after US bank, i will add intervals so i'm doing 18 minutes, which will require lengthening my breaks.  But i will want to do 18 minutes of intervals at 162 S/M, then hold myself to 124 steps a minute once i get in the building.

The 5K in august feels like a distraction to me now, i'd rather be focusing 100% on stairclimbing, but i also know it's good cross training.

After i'm through with my current batch of fruit, i'm going to watch my carbs for awhile, focusing on lean veggie protein and vegetables, and do some longer workouts, making a concerted effort to push my weight down to at least 175, while maintaining my interval fitness.

Right now, i feel overworked. I ran 10 miles with Kristin and Brady, which was fun, but i'm not a distance runner, and this beat up my legs.  My 5k practice a few days later was incredibly slow ( 23:55 )

In summation, i'm making some progress, but need to work harder to realize my goals of cutting 10% off of my times.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Month plus recap: Holding pattern?

I missed this checkin by a bit!  Over a month has passed, and I must say, i'm glad i have this log to keep me focused.

My diet has been hit or miss, i've too easily let myself become distracted.  I also signed up for a 5k and so i've beeb running too.  I had 7 days hiking and vacationing, so no real HIT workouts and my diet was too much trail mix and too much alcohol.

Nonetheless, my weight is down a little bit ( 178.5 ) and i had some decent workouts after getting back.  I tried a HIT workout soon after i got back, and bonked a bit.  Trying to get back on my healthy diet.

So, feeling this blog has been a great help to me, i'm going to redouble my focus on it, and update it in three weeks, seeing if 21 days of intense refocus after vacation can make a real difference.


* Super clean eating, no alcohol, sugar, excess fats.  Definitely work to increase my greens and vegetable intake even more.  Watch the grains.
* Focus on healthy fuel immediately after workouts. Green smoothie is best.
* Make sure every 4th day or so is some form of recovery day.
* Make sure i do at least 2 sculpt yoga classes a week for muscular development.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Summer plans

After the race season ended for me, i purposely gave myself a little break.  I was, frankly, burned out!  My last few races had been quite poor, no reason to keep pushing.  With my goal of improving 10%, my fitness plans from last year wouldn’t be good enough, so i spent a lot of time researching various aspects of fitness to devise a plan to bring my fitness to the next level.

One thing to keep in mind is that i am not only, or perhaps even primarily, a stair racing athlete.  I am primarily a Yogi, and if you want to get really bored one day, ask me how great i think yoga has been for me.   So aside from my planned improvements in stairclimbing, i plan to expand and deepen my yoga practice as well.  So my improvement plan must reflect that goal.  

Fortunately, these goals are not necessarily divergent.  Some of the things i am doing to help me become faster at the stairs will help me at yoga, and vice-versa.  

In general, cardiovascular fitness and strength will pay big dividends at yoga.  Cardiovascular fitness means i can do more classes and remain at an equanimous level. Strength and cardio means i can do a class, and keep my breathing smooth and even, and not be getting into a bad place with my pulse and breathing.  Losing weight will pay big dividends for yoga, as well as for stair racing, and will also help me to keep cool in both environments.  If i can be zen while torturing myself on the stairs, certainly i can be zen in yoga class as well.

Where these activities might be in conflict is mostly in time and flexibility and time.  I typically have spent a lot of time in the gym doing submaximal workouts to build a cardio base for the stair races.  These took away time i could have used for yoga, and also seemed to tighten me up more than my sprint workouts.

So, this leads to the “exercise” part of my big change from last year.  My basic stair training workout will be short, intense sessions.  Most of my races are going to be 10-15 minutes, a few of them should be under 10 minutes.  So most of my training sessions will be 10 minutes or so, and a long one might be 20 minutes.  The power hours did me no favors, and i can simply forget about them and focus on my speed/power in the shorter races.  Instead of hours on the stairmaster, i’ll do hours of yoga.  Better for my mind, better for my flexibility.

Several articles i read seem to indicate that the best sort of overall health/fitness routine is lots of easy activity ( gardening, walking, yoga ) with brief bouts of intense exercise. And, in particular, you can do fine with sprinting workouts  Here is an good article on sprinting, it can increase fitness and burn a lot of fat in a little time.

Part of the reason for the long workouts was to burn fat.  I’ve lost a lot of fat over the past few years, but there is still a bit to go, and it’s been increasingly stubborn. But i’ve come to the conclusion that the long workouts are just not the right approach, except maybe when there’s a football game i want to watch, and i can do it from the stairmaster.  That aside, an hour on the stairmaster is 1000 calories if i push it, and 1000 calories of high-calorie food can be ingested in a few seconds.  It’s more time efficient to just not eat that food.  

So i need to keep my calories down.  I’ve had the most success over the years doing so with various intermittent fasting protocols.  I know a lot of people are convinced that you need to eat often to keep your metabolism up, and that fasting will ruin your fat loss and muscle gains, but almost all the research shows the opposite.  Here is an excellent article by my friend PJ.  Martin berkhan has thoroughly debunked most fasting myths with links to lots of great research.

Two summers back i lost 10 pounds in eight weeks doing the warrior diet, which is essentially fasting during the day, working out, and having a big dinner.  I lost no muscle, and it was incredibly easy.  I gave it up for a few reasons.  One, because it was hard to get in the intensity of cardio i wanted.  Two, because it was often socially challenging--people think it’s weird when you skip meals.  Three, because it was hard to get in enough clean calories at that one big meal, even when i was trying to lose weight! I still do this on my solo vacations, and it’s great.  You can get in an extra hour of two of sightseeing when you’re skipping breakfast and lunch, and you are paying for one overpriced vacation meal instead of three.  

Now, i’m going with eat stop eat, in which you fast 1-2 times a week.  This is also called the 5/2 diet.  Basically 1-2 times a week, you have a normal/smallish dinner, then don’t eat again until the next dinner, so you go 24 hours without food.  Unlike the warrior diet, you have a full 24 hour fast, and you don’t go into the fast stuffed with food.  So autophagy ( the body’s clean-up and repair mechanism ) gets fully activated.  You are also forced to run on stored bodyfat for some period of time, especially if you are active during the fasting period.  

My basic plan is that i have a set weight ( for me 179 pounds ) and when i weigh over that on the scale in the morning, i fast that day, except if i fasted the previous day--this is unlikely to be a problem, as i am never “over” after a fasting day.  If i want to drop weight, i follow the same rules, and lower my set weight every 1-2 weeks, so i’ll be fasting more often.  Even if i am trying to GAIN i fast once a week, just for the health benefits.  

As for what i’m eating, my research has led to me adopting a much more vegan diet.  In particular, i am no longer that worried about my protein intake; i think it’s difficult to eat too little protein.  There are superb athletes ( such as Michael Arnstein ) eating the 80/10/10 diet, 80% carbohydrates, 10% protein, 10% fat.  I don’t know if i’ll get that extreme, but if people can perform superbly on that little fat and protein, i obviously don’t have to struggle to include it at every meal.  I also think that while diet may matter less for optimal athletics than many people think, plant-based eating is the right choice for both our health ( cancer & neurodegenerative risks ) as well as for the environment & ethics.  Meat, egg, and dairy farming creates more co2 than our transit systems, causes loss of countless acres of forest & wild land, and most food animals are suffering intensely.  So not more omelets for me when i am on the road, to make sure i get my protein.  I’ll be fine having salads, oatmeal, fruit, nuts, etc.  Here’s what i would think of as a perfect eating day. Not that i think i’m that disciplined in general...

So, the short of it, here’s my summer plan:

1) Fasting to maintain or reduce weight, and to protect against neurodegeneration and cancer.
2) Going entirely plant based, going low fat, moderate protein.  Perhaps 70% carb , 15% protein, 15% fat, and not worrying if i get closer to 80/10/10. A perfect day of food might look like this:
3) Short, intense stair workouts 2-3 times a week.  ( only on non-fasting days )
4) Lots of yoga, especially at the end of fasting days. Focus on skills and workout recovery.
5) Intense weight session ( design courtesy of Alex Workman ) about once a week--definitely not on a fasting day.
6) Easy cardio as recreation--bike ride, run, but just use it for pleasure.

As of this morning, i was 180 pounds, and my most recent hard workout was 151 steps/minute for 10 minutes, with one 25 second break at 80 steps/minute about 6:30. I'm going to really focus for this month, and reassess how this plan has affected my weight/climbing speed before a vacation to Tennessee. So i'll update this june 8. See you all then!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The 2012-2013 race season is over, and looking back on it, i’m pretty happy, though i think i definitely burned out towards the end, and didn’t put in a hard enough effort in some races.  In particular, i think my hancock, stratosphere, and big climb results were pretty lame.  

BUT i did hit my goal of increasing all my times generally by 10% which is pretty great.

( 1262 seconds )
( 1161 seconds )
( 885 seconds )
(775 seconds)
(932 seconds)
(820 seconds)

Some observations:

1) I did better in the shorter races.  My improvement at sears was less than in other races, and i think i did relatively poorer yet in the power hour climbs.  

2) Even more so, it seems the races i did after the power hours, i did quite poorly.  Although i improved almost as much at hancock as at Aon, the year before at hancock i’d had the flu and had spent the night before throwing up, so the improvement there was not as drastic.

3) I didn’t hit the start of the season quite where i wanted to be, and trained during the season to improve my condition, which combined with races, travel, etc, left me pretty burned out and tired by the end of the season.  

4)  I definitely felt trashed by the power hours, especially when i did one six days after the other.  I definitely overestimated my ability to recover during race season.

5) I finished too many races fresh.   Late in the race, i was unwilling to pass someone even when i should have.  

So, with that mind, i am going to work all summer trying to hit the season in better shape, so i have less need to improve & lose weight during the season.  My goal is to take 10% off all of my times, which would mean:

(10% improvement goal)
Would have placed
/ what i got
US bank
(800 seconds)
(720 seconds)

Sears tower
(1160 seconds)
(1044 seconds)
21st /
300 n LsSalle
( 585 seconds)
(526 seconds)
5th /
Aon Chicago
( 775 seconds )
( 697 seconds )
9th /
( 820 seconds )
( 738 seconds )
22nd /
( 645 seconds )
( 580 seconds )
21st /
presidential towers
( 1243 seconds )
( 1118 seconds )
10th  /

What am i going to do differently?

1) Starting my high intensity workouts now, which will allow me to aim for a much slower increase in my high-intensity fitness.  Ease into the season fairly fresh

2) Work more on muscular development, and muscular endurance, My legs were used up before my cardio was.  Go way deeper in yoga poses, lift, climb stairs in a weighted vest.

3) Edge weight from 181 to 170.  Don’t attempt to lose weight during the season, even allow a pound or two to creep on during the season, if that’s what my body is asking for.

4) Focus more on between-workout recovery, eating super clean, anti-inflammatory recovery meals, lots of carbs & moderate protein right after workouts.  i had been too carb-phobic, and i think it hurt me, as i was not able to work out at a high enough intensity often enough.  

5) I need to do more tortuous workouts to build the mental fortitude to suffer and even pass someone at the late stages of a race.   With even a long race being under 20 minutes, it’s only a tiny blip in my day/week/month.