chica: A name for a girl, preferably an extremely hot girl, that you find pride in just knowing her.We then went on a ride in terrain very similar to that of the Iron Girl bike route.
Rather than a full account, I need to post my notes for the lay-deees.
On Your Body
As the man says: "protect your junk!"
If it's a brutally hot day, consider placing a long, ice-filled sock (or stocking) down the back of your jersey. Leave it in a cooler in the transition area along with some iced drinks.
- Driver's license, health insurance card, credit card, $20
If you get into real trouble, you'll need these things. If not originals, make a copy of them and place the paper into a Ziploc. Carry in your jersey/top.
In Your Bag
You are responsible for your own ride support. Translation; if you flat, you have problems—like a flat—you need to handle it! So, make sure you have the following in your bag:
- Tire Levers (Do NOT use anything metal, you will destroy things!)
- Patch Kit
- Pump (or C02 cartridges...if CO2, have the inflation trigger!)
- Multi tool (something like this...don't buy anything more complex until you know how to use the tools on it!)
- Money (to bribe race officials...)
In Your Belly
Eat 2-3 hours beforehand. Eat a mix of protein, simple carbohydrates (sugars), and complex carbohydrates (steel cut oatmeal, whole grain rice, quinoa), and some caffeine. Protein is long-lasting, helps fill you, and provides mental clarity. Simple carbohydrates give you the immediate fuel that your rampant, raging pre-race anxiety needs, so you don't get the shakes. Complex carbohydrates give you the long-burn energy you need to get you through the start of the race. Caffeine makes you poop.
My perfect pre-event meal:
- 1 egg
- 1 cup steel-cut oatmeal (the long-cooking kind)
- 2 squares dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chimayo or chipotle chile
This is what I call a "yucky-yummie" meal. It looks like crap, but it tastes divine!
During the race make sure that you top-off your fuel. 45 minutes of activity eliminates your blood glycogen levels. Considering the activity happening immediately pre-swim (unless you are well-focused your heart rate will be in Zone 2 just from nerves), you will probably exhaust this blood-fuel reserve when you complete the swim.
We all tolerate foods differently. Experiment with gels, energy drinks, and real foods. I have different strategies for different days, depending on how I feel and what my goals are.
For example, pre-collarbone I was training for the Columbia Tri. I tolerate almond butter or peanut butter (1/2 sandwiches) really well. I planned to have one ready at T1, shoving it in my mouth as I got to my transition for the bike, chewing and swallowing as I dressed and moved through T1. I also planned to have a few gels in my jersey, to let me stay fueled as I approached the run.
Manage your hydration. If you can (prior to the race), weigh yourself before a hard workout in the heat. The idea is to see how quickly your body cools (via perspiration) in the heat. When you workout, remember how much you drank. Then weigh yourself immediately after the workout (before re-hydrating, and after urinating, if you have the inclination).
The weight change, minus the weight of water you drank (one bottle = ~1 pound) will be your lost water weight. If you lose 1-2 pounds it is not a big deal. If you are losing more, you need to drink more.
For example, the Sunday after our clinic I had a hard, four-hour ride that featured hill repeats. I weighed 181 when I left the house. I drank four bottles. I weighed 172 when I got home.
181 (pre) - 172 (post) = 9 (total change)
9 (total change) - 4 = 5
If you notice, had I drunk one bottle every half-hour (for a total of eight bottles), I would have managed myself very well.
What kind of sweater are you? →
Now, there are a lot of factors that affect the results. If I had filled one of Amy's sexie fishnet stockings with ice and thrust it down my, er...shirt, it would have helped me cool (and thus not sweat so much). If I had soaked my hair beforehand, it would have helped, but not as much as it would help you chicas, since you have more hair that I do. Again, I recommend a cooler at T1 and T2 with cold bottles available for dumping over yourself. It will help cool you (and it will help overheat all the males spectators...nothing quite like soaking wet hotties to get the blood flowing!)
Kim had a great point when she said that she didn't want to have the feeling of water sloshing around in her belly during the run. There are a few solutions to this. One is to sip water every few minutes. Don't gulp down mouthfuls. Again, everyone has different tolerances for this sort of thing. Another solution is to try to front-load your drinking. Make sure any volume is consumed early. There is risk here, especially if you are a heavy sweater. You will still need to sip.
Regardless of how you manage it, if it is a hot day you will need to drink during the run. I don't know of an elegant way to grab a cup at a water station and drink it on the run. When I watch the pros, they grab the cups and throw the liquid in the general direction of their faces. Inelegant, but at least some of it gets down their throats!
I'm sure some of the husbands would be happy to practice this technique...
In Your Head
This is Amy's race, Kay's race, Kim's race, and Val's race. It's not Amy, Kay, Kim, and Val's race. Do you spot the difference?
You need to stay within yourself. You each have strengths and weaknesses. You each have likes and dislikes. Decide before the race what you are planning to do, and do it. Don't make decisions on the fly (unless it is at the very end, during the run), because your brain will be overloaded. During the race you need to focus on you and your plan. There will be a ton of distractions.
Don't place yourself in this position:
Or this one:
Make a race plan. For example (again, and will he please stop relating everything to himself?), my plan for Columbia was this: survive the swim, rock the ride, relax the run.
Survive the swim meant that I would get from point A to point B, eventually. I would place absolutely no stress on myself whatsoever. I am coming off shoulder surgery, so its not like I was going to get all Mark Spitz on everyone. Rock the bike meant that I planned to go balls out on the bike leg. I was seriously looking for a top 10 placement in my age group for that leg. Relax the run meant that I would flow with the run and let whatever happened happen. I am not generally a strong runner, but if I find a rhythm, I can motor. I would let myself relax and see what happened.
Make a plan and stick to it. Don't get creative yet (you need more experience for that). The caveat is that if you are on the run and feeling good, go for it. You're at the end, so let 'er rip!
Place yourself in this position (~1:30 in):
On Your Bike
We talked about a lot during our ride last Saturday. As a reminder, you were on terrain very similar to what you will experience during the race. The profile (over there, on the right) should give you some context regarding the hills.
You did this! →
Saturday you all rode more than 15 miles. Val had the privilege of riding a little more. You all are capable of completing the ride comfortably--not just complete it, but ride it with some authority.
Pedal Stroke: Most athletic endeavors involve head games. Cycling is no different. A good pedal stroke is a round pedal stroke. Don't just pound the pedals downward. You all have clipless (click-in) pedals for a reason: they enable you to pull up.
And a good pedal stroke uses more than your legs. Your glutes, lower back. And lower abs need to work as well. For a really solid, powerful stroke, make sure that you engage your abs by drawing your bellybutton to your spine. That tension provides a lever, supporting your lower body.
I couldn't resist (audio only):
Here are a few mental tricks to get a decent stroke:
- Scrape the dog poop off your soles. This will get you focusing on pulling across the bottom and up, using your hamstrings.
- Knees to your boobs. Focus on your knee movement, bringing your kneecaps up to your chest. This will engage your hip flexors, removing focus from quadriceps and hamstrings (while maintaining a round stroke)
- Powerful pistons. Imagine that your legs are chugging and down like a machine. The fulcrum is your arse. This gets your buttocks working. You are the Captain of the Enterprise, command your butt to "engage".
Cadence: I won't be there in person, but I will be there in spirit. If you drop to a slow cadence, below 90rpm, you are taxing your muscles too much. Ypu are pushing along rather than spinning along. If you do this I will sneak up through your competition-addled mind and scream "cadence!"
It is far more efficient to spin than to power.
Positions: Move around on the saddle, a little forward here and a little forward there. Get out of the saddle on occasion—even when you don't need that power. .
Shifting positions let's you engage different muscles and relieved numbtush (that's a technical term for when your Bliss-kissed zones get numb from the seat).
Breathing: Deep, belly breathing will help you regulate your energy and power. This is especially true during hard efforts. Use your diaphragm like a bellows to suck the air into your engine and then purge it completely.
You can't breathe that way the whole ride, but you can use it to manage yourself.
Gearing: In the front, the big chainring is harder than the little chainring.
In the rear, the big cog is easier than the little cog.
Practice shifting blindly, frequently. You want to get to the point where you don't even think about the direction of your shifting. Take the time on a ride to just shift.
You'll realize a lot of benefit, quickly.
Shifting: Remember: it's not about the gear you're in, it's about the gear you need to be in.
Always think ahead. If you're approaching a corner or a stop sign, downshift (make it easier) beforehand so that you are already in the proper gear when you get going again.
It's the same thing on a hill, going up or down. Shift early and often. Don't ever be in the situation where you can't turn the pedals over—because you are in too hard a gear. Making your chain pop, clank, or grind is worse than bad form, you can do real damage to your bike and (in worse case) strand yourself.
Flats: When riding on relatively flat ground focus on breathing, rhythm, and roundness. This is your chance to relieve muscles. Find a comfortable zone and CRANK!
Downhill: When the warm embrace of gravity is upon you, and you find yourself accelerating to uncomfortable speeds, you still need to pedal.
Thin of yourself as an engine, powering the bike. If you shot off the engine, it takes work to get it started again. Similarly, you should keep pedaling (soft pedaling) when going downhill**. You do not need to be in a high cadence, just keep the legs working. it will maintain your heart rate, making it easier for you to resume effort. (You will need to be in a bigger gear to support this.)
**Of course, the exception is when you are going too fast to pedal. I don't know if any of you will achieve this, since with your gearing you won't get there until you are at more than 37 mph. If you do get to this point, you want to tuck down out of the wind and make yourself invisible. Then, when you come across the nadir of the hill, start pedaling as soon as you feel the sharp edge of your speed dull—you will know when this happens.
Let's be honest, you need to find your comfort zone with speed. I know that Val has just gone to narrower tires, this will affect her stability. Kim is on a new bike, until you have descended a bunch, you won't know your limits. Patience is good. Panic is not. Have fun with it.
Finally, remember that other people will be all around you. You will overtake and you will get passed. Many of these folks will be as uncomfortable as you are. Communication is key. If you are about to pass (and you will!), you need to SHOUT "On Your Left!"
Between the mental focus and the wind noise, you really need to shout it out. They will appreciate it.
Uphill: You do not conquer hills, you manage them.
That hill was there before you were born, and it will be there for many, many years to come. Riding hills is almost entirely mental.
She's gone deep to go steep! →
Climbing hills is all about you. It's not about the hill. Like the 20-mile barrier for a marathoner, a hill will teach you something about yourself. Let yourself listen.
That said, there are a few techniques that can help.
Here's an analogy. When you start your ride you have a book of matches. Every time you power up, you burn a match. Sometimes you burn several at one time—going white hot for a few seconds. The problem is that you only have one book of matches. If you run out, you're done.
You only have so many matches. Use them wisely. →
Don't be "The Man' in To Build a Fire. Keep your matches dry, and use them wisely.
Right gear, before you need it. You need to think ahead. There are two ways to go: harder, or easier. What you do depends on the hill and on you.
The worst thing you can do is to start up a hill, decelerating, and get to the point where you HAVE TO SHIFT while slowly grinding, placing a lot of torque on the pedals. When you shift in this situation, you will hear an unwholesome pow, ping, or crack. You may be fine. Or, you may damage something. You might lose the chain. Avoid these situations. Shift early and often.
If you plan to stand and power up, burning some matches on the early part of the hill, or if it is a small roller, upshift (go harder) 1-2 gears AS YOU GET OUT OF THE SADDLE. When you stomp on the pedals, you are applying significant force, quickly. You need the gear to be harder so that the value of your effort is not lost.
It should be a smooth motion. Just as you are rising out of the seat to stroke with your dominant leg, upshift. You can then downshift after a few strokes to maintain a comfortable cadence.
Remember: it's not about the gear you're in, it's about the gear you need to be in.
Tawking: You are not out there on your own. be considerate of your fellow racers. You might save someone a trip to the hospital.
- When slowing shout: "SLOW!"
- When stopping shout: "STOP!" (it's not very complicated...)
- If there is a car approaching from the front, shout "CAR UP!"
- If there is a car approaching from the front, shout "CAR BACK!"
- If you are passing, shout "ON YOUR LEFT" (and only pass on the left)
- If you are suffering, shout "ARRRRRUUURRRRGHHHHH!"
- When you get that endorphin rush, shout incoherently.
You do need to shout. No one can hear you otherwise. Consider it primal scream therapy.
And when it is good, remember that the kids aren't in the next room. Go ahead and let it rip, bang the headboards, and yell "OH! MY! GOD!
Enjoy the event, my chicas! I know you will be fabulous!