Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Oakbrook was something new for me, a power hour: One hour of all the climbs of a building that i could muster.  

My brother Alex came to town to see my event, which was really cool.  Saturday we visited family and saw a comedy show.  This wasn’t my usual pre-race day, as travelling and visiting, and didn’t eat the best food, and even spent a fair bit of time being hungry, but it was my first power hour and i decided to not worry about my results too terribly much. My hip got really stiff the day before, but i kneaded it a lot. I wasn't happy that I had to stand for 2 hours for the comedy show, but neither that nor the hip seemed to affect me during the race.

I woke up a bit earlier than i needed to; i always get nerves before a race!  I made a banana & dark cherry smoothie for some energy, and threw in a little coffee.  Nice mix, tasty!  Alex and i went to the race, checked in, i got dressed, and before too long we were lining up to climb!  

Oz and Kristin lined up at the front, as they should, being clearly the two strongest climbers there.  I was about 20 spots back.  Before too long, i was heading up the steps.  My strategy was to Do the first few climbs in about 6 minutes each to warm up, then pick up the pace to about 5:30 each, hopefully allowing me to get into the door at the base a 10th time.  I wasn’t sure this was realistic, but it seemed like a good goal to shoot for.  

A few people went past me, but i passed a few before the first climb was over. I looked at my iphone and saw i had done almost 6 on the dot.  One of my climbing friends ( Dave McGrath ) who had surged past me was in the elevator with me, and one of the other climbers said we would be exiting to the left, and Dave trusted him and ran down the wrong hallway entirely. I went after him so he wouldn’t lose too much time, and we started our second ascent.  ½ way through the ascent, oz passed me, meaning he was on his third lap while i was only ½ way through my second, amazing!  Near the top, Kristin passed me as well, and i stuck with her for a few floors, and she, oz, and i took the elevator down together.  

You can see all this ( the first two climbs ) here: Go Pro of the first two climbs

After that, i just focused on maintaining a steady pace.  After awhile, i lost track of how many climbs i had done, which i found annoying, and i also forgot to check my time when i started, so i had no idea what sort of lap times i was doing.  I did know the time, so i decided to “go” when it was 45 minutes in.  

I started the first lap after 45 minutes pretty fast, on a 5 or sub 5 minute pace, but after 10 floors, i developed a pretty significant side stitch.  It really hurt!  So i slowed back down to my previous pace after a few floors of going very slow to try to work the stitch out.  I was hopeful that maybe i could pick up the pace a little and get through the door with a minute left.  

Right around then, Kristin passed me again, so she was two laps ahead of me.  Amazing!  Later in that climb, Oz passed me again too.  So, she was ahead of him now, but i wasn’t sure if that translated to the standings of time in stairs counting as a tiebreak or if she might be able to get in an extra climb.  

I got downstairs for a climb when my timer said there were 3 minutes left, and i knew my last climb was coming.  I was pretty exhausted, and waited to go up for a minute by my brother and Oz’s wife Kristie.  Although i thought there were 3 minutes left, someone called out “One minute!” So i sprinted to the steps to make sure i could get in one more climb that would count.  I took the first 10-15 floors very easy, and stopped to thank the volunteers along the way for their support.  

At the bottom, we learned that Oz and Kristin had both completed 11 climbs each, with Kristin spending 12 fewer seconds in the stairs, so she was the overall winner!  Oz had clocked the fastest single lap between them a scorching 3:18, the second fastest climb of the day, even among people who had just done 1 climb.  Both amazing athletes!

I ended up completing 9 climbs, and these were my times:

5:59    5:45    5:54    5:57    6:02    6:01    5:52    6:04    6:37

I was pretty happy i was able to be so accurate with my goal of 6 minutes per climb with no external references.  #2 was where i chased kristin up the last few floors, so it was a few second faster than average.  #7 was where i started fast and got a stitch, and #9 was where i didn’t have another climb to sneak in and i took it easy and thanked volunteers.  

I was ok with this result, i was hoping for 10, but it was my first climb, and 10 may have been a tough goal in any case, as my friend Dave McGrath, who is quite a bit faster than me, “only” got 10, and pushed himself hard enough to throw up to do so.  Nonetheless, i learned a lot, one thing being that i need to perhaps have a better nutrition and hydration strategy to prevent another side stitch.  With another power hour coming up in only 6 days, i had something to prepare for!

Altering my diet and fitness goals:

Part of the reason i took up stairclimbing in the first place was to lose weight, and it definitely has been good for that. very steady, very slow but consistent weight loss.  Nonetheless, i have been frustrated at the slowing of my weight loss, having hovered between 175 and 180 for months.  

My weight loss until now has been mostly due to calorie counting.  It has been good for me and my health, but obviously, its efficacy has declined.  I think there are many reasons for that.  One is that i have gotten more resistant to weighing and estimating calories in my food.  it is just a hassle and an inconvenience.  Another is that as i have gotten more healthy and eaten less packaged food, it has become harder to estimate the calories in things like seeds, bulk nuts, produce, and the like.  I had a quandry: i didn’t want to eat packaged, processed food, but without doing so, my calorie estimation was bad enough to slow or stop my weight loss.  

Last year during race season i stopped counting calories, and instead of that, i just made the effort to eat healthy, and my weight stayed the same. So, i decided to make that  permanent. No more counting calories and grams of protein.  Instead, just eat healthier than ever, avoiding packaged food, eating lots of nutrient-dense, high-fiber, low calorie natural items.  It just no longer made sense to choose foods i knew to be less healthy so i could count calories better.  I am also making the effort to be much more vegan.  Since i am no longer counting calories or macros, i have much less need to eat eggs or protein bars or low fat cheese so i can hit some calorie/protein goal.  And, emperically, i feel better when i don’t eat those things.

What if i start to gain weight?  How would i be sure i’d lose weight?  Well, i have been playing with intermittent fasting, and really enjoying it.  To fast, i have a small dinner at 7-8PM, then eat nothing until a smallish dinner the next day, doing 1-2 hours of easy cardio in the evening before the dinner, or 1-2 yoga classes.  After the 22+ hour fast, your body is entirely in fat burning mode, so that cardio or yoga is completely burning fat stores.  Additionally, there are a lot of physiological benefits to fasting, including anti-aging, anti-cancer, growth hormone release ( predisposing you towards muscle building ) and a slight increase in metabolism.  If you are skeptical, check this out:

Reading that, it seems like a slam dunk to fast at least one day a week, especially as it makes the rest of my diet much easier to manage, and on days when i am working out intensely, i can eat a nice calorie surplus to make sure i put on some muscle from my workout.  

So my plan is to fast 1-2 days a week as my schedule allows.  On those days, i save 1+ hours by skipping breakfast and lunch.  I check my weight every morning, and if my weight is over my goal weight, i fast that day, unless it is before a race.  I will gradually lower my goal weight 1 pound every 10 days to reach my goal of 165 by mid-june.  

So i have a nice, mechanical system that will guarantee my results, as long as i follow the simple edict: fast on days when my weight was too high.  After some practice, fasting is no big deal.  Even on non fasting days, i DON’T eat if i’m not hungry; there is no obligation to consume because i think i should to work out, or there is some social occasion that normally necessitates eating.  

Also, with my being so happy with my results at Aon a few weeks ago (12:55, 23rd overall), i am feel this race season already successful!  The only race i will be doing again is hancock, and i am sure to PR there, as my previous best there is 15:32, and i think <13 is realistic there if i hit everything just right.  However, i will be happy with any sort of PR.   Looking forward to next season, and other fitness and yoga goals, so i am doing more muscle building and sculpting work.  Having a beach bod for summer can’t hurt. :)

On with the upward spiral!


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