Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winter Series #2 - Race Report

Athletes getting ready to start!
GPS and HR data
Full race coverage (photos, video, results) from

Saturday, Jan 22 was the Winter Series Race #2. I'm running in the long series, so this race was 8 miles in distance. With a start time of 10:15am, it gave me enough time to wake up, eat a nice, metabolically efficient breakfast, and head down to the south end of town. Skies were blue, the sun was shining and the wind was a-blowin'! Love the north-west wind!
I wanted to get a 10-miler in today so the easiest way to do that was to do an easy 1 mile warm-up and a 1-mile cool down after the race. Hundreds of people of all abilities show up for the series, which is a great thing to see.
Right before the start, Shannon finds me and we agree we are taking it easy (gotta stay as close to my metabolically efficient zones as I can!) The first 4 miles are gradually uphill, but into that brutal head wind. We try to find someone tall to stay behind! We cruise along, thanking all the Search & Rescue volunteers along the way.
Shannon and I matching strides
Every two miles was a water stop, and every two miles we stopped to drink! It is a little odd not racing, but wow, so much more comfortable! At the turn-around it was smooth sailing since now we had the slight downhill and a tailwind!
no, i'm not running by a crime scene!
With a mile to go I decided to pick it up because, well, my legs were feeling good and a little speed work never hurts! (sort of)
hot chocolate and donuts after the race. i skipped these~
I skipped the hot chocolate and donuts after the race because I had a nice Generation UCAN pomegranate-blueberry smoothie made with some added protein and some frozen blueberries and strawberries. Yum! After the race I headed over to the nearby CS Rec Center to change out of my sweaty clothes. Then it's time to get the car washed:
Now I've got a happy clean car!
And then to Bicycle Village for an Off-Season Tri Clinic held by Steve Vaughan.
I couldn't stop looking at that new TREK!
After the clinic, I stopped by Starbucks for pre-swim snack. I had a fruit/nut bar, a banana, and a tall soy latte. That fueled me up for my 3000yd swim. Quite the day!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Winter Driving in Steamboat Springs

This weekend my husband and I got the chance to attend a special weekend in Steamboat Springs with Porsche Cars of North America. They were hosting a winter driving event at the Bridgestone Winter Driving School. There were about 35 of us on the trip from all over the state of Colorado.

Our journey started after lunch on Friday at Porsche of Colorado Springs, where a Ramblin Express tour bus was waiting to take us to Steamboat Springs. We stopped at Stevenson's Imports in Littleton to pick up a few more passengers.

Tim's ready to roll!
  There were a total of nine of us on the huge bus!

We arrived in Steamboat at 6pm, and got settled in at the Sheraton resort. Tim and I grabbed some food at one of the hotel restaurants and then headed to the Porsche welcome reception.

Saddles bar at the Sheraton resort.
Nice and warm inside!
a few of the trouble makers on the trip
The hotel is right on the slopes. This was actually my first trip to a ski resort in the winter. I don't ski...
view from the hotel to the slopes
Saturday was the big event day. In the morning after breakfast I went for a run on the treadmill in the fitness center. I would have liked to have run outside, but finding an appropriate trail and no ice seemed like it might be more trouble than what it was worth. The fitness center was small but nice - check out the foam rollers!

stretching area in the fitness center at the Sheraton
After my run I got cleaned up and headed to the complimentary spa treatment all the women were getting. I opted for a massage, and got a fabulous one! Next up was lunch and our "briefing" before the ladies headed to the track. The men had a morning track session, and the ladies the afternoon.

Heather and Cass tell us what to expect.
 We get to the track a little after 1:30 and spend the next three hours in the cars learning the tricks of winter driving in some high performance cars.

The fleet of Cayennes and Panameras
we didn't get to drive this one, but we did get a ride in it!
The group split in half - three cars with three people each went to one track, and three cars with another three people each went to the other track. The instructors were on radios and gave us instructions and tips as we drove. Every few laps we swapped drivers. My group (Ellen and Kathrin) started in a Cayenne hybrid. Very nice. According to the men, it didn't drive very well, but what would I know - it was my first time driving a Porsche an drives much better than my Mitsubishi Montero Sport!

We tested out the ABS and learned how to take corners with appropriate braking and accelerating. "Separation of controls" was the phrase of the day.  It was tons of fun! After about 90 minutes on that track we went to the other track, although it wasn't as exciting. The curves were much more mellow.

The console of a Panamera 4S. 
The Panamera 4S I drove
Once the groups had sufficient drive time, it was time for the "hot laps" with the instructors. Here are a few videos that'll show you what went on:

After all the driving was done, we were pretty exhausted! The men were snowmobiling around the Rabbit Ears Pass area so we were all wiped out. Tim and I grabbed a quick drink at the bar before dinner. I suppose this was the closest I got to the slopes with a Double Black Diamond Chocolate Martini! We then had a very nice dinner with the Porsche of Colorado Springs representatives and the other COS guests at Sevens, after which we called it a night.

Sunday morning Tim and I got up, hit the gym for a quick workout, had breakfast with the group and got back on the bus (a smaller bus this time) to Colorado Springs. Now back to the normal grind...

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Winter Series #1 - Race Report

Colorado Springs has a huge running community. One of the major groups is the Pikes Peak Road Runners, and they help coordinate a winter series. You might recall I ran the Fall Series at the end of last year. While the Fall Series is a cross-country series, the Winter Series is made up of a variety of terrains. This series also has a long and short option. The long series is for me this year, and today's race was 7 miles of trails at Cheyenne Mountain State Park. It has a reputation of being a tough race - they call it Hell's Hills.

Let's set the stage for the race. Cheyenne Mountain State Park is a relatively new park on the southwest part of Colorado Springs. It sits directly under Cheyenne Mountain (ever watch War Games?) and across from Fort Carson. Weather is unpredictable during winter in Colorado, but we were extremely fortunate to get sunny skies and no wind. It'd been a while since the last snow storm, but there were sections of some ice and snow on the trail.

I woke up at 7am with my alarm, knowing I needed to get up soon. After a quick shower and my standard metabolically efficient breakfast of yogurt, whey protein, fruit and peanut butter, I got ready to head down south. About 30 minutes later I was in the parking lot of the Safeway, where I was meeting a friend and client, Shannon. There is limited parking at the park, so it was highly recommended that we carpool. Shannon "picked up" a couple guys who asked for a ride. I had plenty of room in my car so Branden and Jared came with us.

Kelly and Jessica EXCITED!
We parked down the hill near the finish line, then walked not quite half a mile up the hill to the visitor center for registration. I ran into a few people I know - like Kelly Ping, the RD at the UCCS Peak Nutrition Clinic, and also my "rabbit" during the Fall Series. But there would be no chasing her today. I knew my heart rate zones based on yesterday's metabolic efficiency test, so I wasn't going hard today. The course is hard enough to keep the heart rate reasonable. So this was my first road race that I actually didn't try to race. And I succeeded, with the help of Shannon.

At 10:00 the short series racers started, and the long series started at 10:20. I positioned myself with Shannon towards the back. I had my yaktraxx on, as the race had recommended it due to potential snow and ice on trails. It was a little awkward at first as we ran back down the hill along the road before hitting trail, but I'm glad I had them on. As we hit the trail, which was near the finish line, the first short course racers were finishing.
can you ask for a more gorgeous day?
Once on the trail, we really went up for about 3.5 miles, and then came back down. My garmin shows 840 feet of elevation gain, although the race directors were claiming closer to 1100(?). The sun was out, there was no wind, and the scenery was amazing. We wound up the hills along the side of Cheyenne Mountain. I kept close eye on my heart rate so I wouldn't let it get too high. I walked some of the steep stuff. I didn't care if people passed me. Shannon and I stuck together for most of the race. I might have pulled a little ahead, but only by a few seconds. We stopped at the two aid stations (really the same place) at miles 2 and 5 to grab a cup of water. I actually stopped to drink it today. The trip back down the mountain was quite a cruise. I was in a comfortable heart rate zone and had fun bounding down the hill.
a few stairs to the finish line
Total time: 1:17:16, (avg pace 11:08min/mile)
Place: 10/18 age group
GPS and HR Data
Here's a link to full event coverage on Pikes Peak Sports.

Shannon and I met up with Branden at the finish line and walked back up to the visitor center to get my stuff. That was a nice cool down, especially since I got a glute cramp at the finish line! Once back down to the finish line we found Jared and headed back to Safeway and all went on our way. A nice (even though "slow") start to my 2011 race season!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Metabolic Efficiency - The Test!

Today I headed up to Littleton to meet Bob Seebohar for a metabolic efficiency test. I've been eating "metabolically efficient" since the start of my study on December 1st, why not get tested and see the real numbers? Here's how the day unfolded. In order to do the test, I needed to be in a 12 hour fasted state (only consume water). So after dinner last night (arond 7pm) I didn't eat anything until after this test. Of course I woke up hungry around 6:20 am. I got ready and left the house around 7:45, allowing myself plenty of time to find Club Form Fitness and deal with any traffic. Fortunately the traffic flowed at the speed limit, so I arrived plenty early. Dina and Bob were getting the metabolic cart set up.

The treadmill and the cart (and Dina)
Bob explained the protocol to me, I changed into running gear and then got hooked up to the cart.
Let's rock-n-roll!

getting the tube just right
So what's it like to be attached to a metabolic cart? First, you breathe only through your mouth. Your nose is clipped shut so that all the air you take in and breathe out is through the mouthpiece. Like snorkeling. But no pretty fishes. A little strange at first, and try swallowing with your nose plugged and a mouthpiece like this. Your ears feel it!
the "snorkel"
Once comfortable breathing, I started with a walk, then a jog. As soon as Bob was satisfied with my warm up, the test started. We increased the pace by 0.3mph every 5 minutes. I was a little surprised that my heart rate popped up quickly and stayed high at what I would consider slow paces. There could be several reasons for this, one being that from July 12 through the end of Septemeber, I didn't run at all, and I didn't run much in December as well. My heart rate at the beginning of the test, before I started walking, was in the low-mid 60s so it wasn't overall elevated. We'll see how it changes with my training.

In mid-test.
Bob and Dina collected the data, and Dina took a few pictures as well. Running on a treadmill can be boring, but with activity around and knowing you have to go faster in 5 minutes made the time go by fairly quickly. There was also TV on the treadmill, I think on TBS. Commercials around 9:30-10am revolve around food. Like all you can eat pancakes at IHOP. Not exactly what I want to see when 1) I'm hungry since I haven't eaten yet and have been on a treadmill for almost an hour and 2) I've cut grains out of my diet...

Overall the testing went pretty smoothly. As I went past the MEP, my perceived exertion went up, and although it is a little odd breathing through the mouthpiece at high intensities.  And the nose clips do get uncomfortable after about 30-40 minutes, exactly as I was told they would ahead of time.
Bob taking data...
One thing to note, and I was warned about this, is that with a mouthpiece in, you tend to drool. Fortunately a 'drool towel' was provided so I could wipe up as needed. When the test was over, after I reached my metabolic efficiency point, the contraption comes off.

Bucket to collect an hour's worth of drool...
all done!
And then I was done! And ready to eat! 
In that bag is the food I was waiting for all morning!
After the test we went over the preliminary results. Bob sent me the detailed report and I've summarized it on my coaching blog. But all the work I've been doing paying attention to my diet seems to be working! And so for dinner tonight, I "celebrated" with a metabolically efficient meal.

chicken seasoned with turmeric, with tomato, kidney beans, cauliflower, mushrooms in a yogurt sauce over a bed of spinach
There you have it! My metabolic efficiency journey is off to a very successful start!