Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Racing - 2015 Circuit Walnut Hill, Aetna Nutmeg Spring Series

I've been a bit negligent with the blog. I don't know how I'll approach writing about the last 5 weeks since it's no longer timely, but I'll deal with it somehow.

Of course, now that the busy period is almost over, I have something to write about, namely the last race of the 2015 Aetna Nutmeg Spring Series.

I didn't realize it at first but I'd been sick from the first ANSS race on. I blew in the first race after feeling horrible for 3/4 of the race, I stopped in the second after a similar horrific last 3/4 of the race, and I didn't even bother getting my number for the third. The Easter Sunday break, April 5th, worked out great for me as I finally worked through the full blown flu/cold/whatever I had. The process involved a couple days in bed, coughing up blood and such, but finally, like magic, things cleared up.

Training for the last 5 weeks - note that the week before the first race I basically stopped training.

Two more factors. I've been taking part in a VO2 max study in which I've promised to do two sets of 5 to 7 minute intervals each week, about an hour of riding (the one hour long midweek rides above are the intervals). Because of this commitment to someone else's thing I've been good about doing the study's efforts, despite feeling horrible and all that. In fact if I wasn't doing the study I realistically wouldn't have trained very much in March at all. As it was I often pushed back the Tue/Thu intervals to Wed/Fri because I was just too tired/fatigued/sick on Tuesday to do anything. These are very long efforts for me, something I normally don't do.

The other factor is Zwift. It's a new online game type thing that lets you ride virtually with others. Using a "dumb trainer", my CycleOps Fluid 2, along with an Ant+ speed/cadence sensor (I already had it for the 4iiii Sportsiiiis) and an Ant+ dongle (which I had to buy), I could ride on Zwift's island. This had the effect of motivating me to do some unusual efforts on the trainer, namely repeated 10 second max effort sprints to try and win the Green Jersey. Like the intervals above, these 10 second all out sprints are very atypical of my trainer workouts.

Zwift screenshot after my best Green Jersey sprint.
An 8 second sprint is about 1100w sustained on my trainer.

Just before the last Aetna race I also did a couple big efforts to try and get a real KOM time on Zwift island. It took me a solid 1:25 to get up the hill, another effort length totally out of the ordinary for me.

I'll do a post on Zwift so I'll leave it at that for now.

Part of my VO2 max study has me doing some core work. It's both relaxing and super good for my back, so that's helped a lot with both stress as well as just being able to function with a normal back.

I'll do a post on what I did, pending an okay from the testers, so I'll leave that as well for now.

So to recap I've been doing some different training on the trainer, mid-length intervals 5-7 minutes long, some 90 second efforts, and all out 10 second efforts. My core strength is up and my back feels much better than it did at the beginning of May.

As the last Aetna race approached I felt better overall health-wise. The big sign was when I went to get into the shower one day. You know how you have a set spot for the shower controls? You know that, okay, this is where you put it for the summer, this is where you put it for the winter, and if you go beyond this it's too hot.

Well I'd been running a fever of sorts for weeks, walking around feeling cold for weeks. My "normal spot" on the shower control was pretty hot because I'd be shivering whenever I got into the shower.

A couple days before the last race I got into the shower, temperature control set as normal based on the last month of showers, and immediately jumped out.

It was so hot I felt like I'd get scalded.

I checked to see if maybe I set it super hot but no, it was my normal for the last month and change. I couldn't believe how hot I had the shower set for the past month, and at the same time I felt like maybe I was finally getting better because that "comfortably warm" setting was now "uncomfortably hot".

Race day dawned pretty warm. No stresses about snow and such (more on that in later posts) so my morning was pretty relaxed.

It helped that the Missus prepared food enough for a good dozen hungry bike racing type people. I didn't have to worry about food throughout the day, eating twice, snacking once or twice. I had my first Coke since last November (or earlier). The staff were well in the groove of things so in terms of marshaling and registration things moved nice and smoothly. On the other hand I had to do the overall presentations and such so I was scrambling after each race.

Still, though, I managed to get my bike all set, a set of wheels in the wheel pit, pin my number, and my kit on.

The pin job.

I was ready to race.

(The only thing that I missed was that the SRM speed pickup got nudged so the SRM didn't auto-start when the race started. This meant I only captured 12 minutes of data when I looked at the SRM for the first time with basically 5 or so laps to go. That sort of illustrates how little I look at my SRM during a race.)

The Missus and Junior showed up but I barely had a chance to say hi to them before we started the race and we started the race a few minutes late so I could take the Women's podium pictures.

The race situation was that our teammate Stan was in the overall lead but he couldn't make this last race due to work. Therefore we had to try to shut out the second place guy, Mike, from the points. It was sort of tough because Mike is a good guy, a friend, and so maybe we weren't quite as cutthroat as we might have been.

Stan and Mike got all their points in breaks so we figured that the ideal situation would be to keep it together for a field sprint and try to keep Mike from scoring points by having other riders take the places in the field sprint. The alternate plan was if Mike showed up with his normal field-crushing legs (during the series he soloed to a win at a different race, 3 minutes ahead of the field) then we wanted at least 5 guys to go with him and have them all beat Mike at the finish. Heavy D would go with Mike and we hoped that another 4 "better sprinters" would join them. We needed to keep Mike at 6th or 7th place. If he got 5th he'd take the Series from Stan.

To be honest we'd all sort of given up on protecting the overall. When Mike is on form he can ride a whole field off his wheel. We felt more optimistic about preserving the team's overall lead in the team standings.

During one point early in the race I saw Mike moving up, carefully and in a calculated way, broadcasting his intent to attack. Heavy seemed in good position so I moved up hard, let Heavy know that Mike looked anxious, then did a big pull to try and stress the field. Such a move would encourage a break to go and if we could get a big enough group away then we'd had a chance at keeping Mike at 6th place.

Doing my "tempt the break to go" pull, holding 30-32 mph.
I happen to be going through the start/finish area.

Obviously if a group of 5 or fewer got away, with Mike in it, we'd have to bring them back.

Point was moot as Mike couldn't escape. Unbeknownst to us he'd done massive work the prior day at a different race, soloing for a while, bonking, and basically crushing himself for today.

So with Mike mysteriously not soloing away from us the laps counted down to the finish. The field stuck together, despite some strung out times, and things started looking good for the sprint.

And that meant it looked good for me.

This was the first week I felt healthy and the 20 pound weight loss compared to last year made the hill a good place, not a struggle. I held back on the hill most laps - if I made even a little move I'd move right to the front. It felt good and I figured that I could move up pretty hard on the hill on the last lap, get through the last turn in the top 5 or 7, and try to win the sprint like that.

Bell lap.

At the bell I was a bit far back, but that was okay. I felt pretty confident about being able to move up hard between the top of the hill and the last turn.

Getting a bit tight.
Note who's to the right?

Just after the start/finish, when the course curved left, things got a bit tight. I waited behind a Foundation rider (based on the helmet cam video), as the tactical situation seemed somewhat stable.

Green/yellow guy Kevin shows up to the right, this time for real.

I didn't know it but the key to my race showed up as we headed onto the backstretch. It was Kevin of Claremont Cycle Depot, the guy in the green/yellow kit to the right. He'd made the trip down from VT and didn't want to leave without making a go of it. He started moving up hard with half a lap to go.

Foundation rider and Kevin come together.

With a bit of wiggling going on the Foundation rider ended up contacting Kevin who had been following another rider up the right side.

Foundation rider pushing off.

After a little bit of contact the Foundation rider moved off. You can see how suddenly the others gave them a bit of room, with Kevin heading to the right to move away from the contact.

I used that contact to move over to Kevin's wheel.
I almost lost the wheel here as I started to run out of room after getting squeezed from the left.

This actually opened things for me as I ended up on Kevin's wheel. I wanted to be to the right, the wind protected side on the hill, so I could make my move/s. This meant not fighting to stay on the Foundation wheel. I wanted the right curb and Kevin was there so I moved onto his wheel.

Kevin starts to go.

As we hit the hill I was hoping that Kevin would go, else I'd be boxed in. Fortunately for me he started going. At first I just felt relief as I didn't have to squeeze all the way right. I expected him to tuck in just behind the front but Kevin kept accelerating.

Hard.

Rear wheel skip.

He actually dug his pedal, skipping his wheel to the side, and kept going full gas. I closed up over the top of the hill, the bit where I felt best on this course. I was feeling good, letting myself do some work without having to hold back. When I checked the power file after the race I saw that I'd done a pretty solid effort, doing an 800w jump to go with Kevin.

Kevin putting in a big dig.

Instead of looking around Kevin put his head down and kept going. He wasn't just moving up, he was making his last move for the race.

Kevin telling me to go.

Kevin eased (blew?) about 10 seconds after we went flying past the front. He turned to me and yelled, "Go! Go! If you don't go we're gonna lose!"

My first thought was that if I went then he would lose. I looked back and realized that we were just about leading out the field. In a thousand races I'd never have thought of going from the front but for some reason I went. I abandoned Kevin and try to get a gap before the last turn.

The view from Douglas, who was leading the field, as I jumped.
I was just a few meters in front.
Still from Douglas's YouTube clip of the race.

I jumped, the field a few lengths back, and thought for sure I was throwing away the race. I didn't do a full on jump because I figured I was leading out the field. I needed to do a fake jump, just enough to get the speed up, and then do a real jump out of the turn. So this effort was just over 600w, not even as hard as my initial surge to follow Kevin.

Kevin follows.
From the cameraman's point of view it looks ideal here.
He's sitting 3rd wheel with about 20 seconds left in the race.
Still from Douglas's YouTube clip of the race.

Kevin tried to go with me. Later he told me he wished there was one more guy because if one guy stayed on my wheel he'd have been able to respond. The reality is that if someone had been on my wheel I think both of us would have lost. Because Kevin looked like he was just off my wheel everyone figured he'd effectively neutralize my move and no one moved around him to get on my wheel.

Out of the last turn.
Still from Douglas's YouTube clip of the race.

I wasn't totally committed when I exited the turn because I thought everyone was on my wheel. I did another half-hearted jump, this one about 700w, just to get the speed up to something reasonable. I expected everyone to be on my wheel and I was hoping to do a real jump, 1000-1200w, when I had to out jump whoever was on my wheel.

Kevin didn't jump but I did my big jump when I saw I had a small gap.
Still from Douglas's YouTube clip of the race.

The key here was that Kevin didn't make a huge jump out of the last turn. I looked back, saw I had a gap, and realized that I absolutely had to go RIGHT NOW.

So I did.

I did my max effort, which after the three efforts in a few hundred meters, meant a relatively weak 900+w jump. For me, though, it was full on and I hoped that this would make it harder for those closing in on me. In fact I actually stretched out the gap.

I'm actually panicking up there.
Still from Douglas's YouTube clip of the race.

Because I had only 20 or 30 feet when I did my 900w jump, and I knew that the jump was way below my normal jump (1200+w), I figured that there'd be a couple guys that were doing a normal sprinter 1200w jump and closing in on me hard.

I struggled, shifted into the 11T as I started running out of pedal revs, and did a final dying-gasp 500w jump. I thought the imaginary 1200w jumpers were closing in fast and were about to blow by me at the line.

I'm actually throwing my bike at the line.
Still from Douglas's YouTube clip of the race.

My bike throw.
Not great form but I was so redlined I didn't want to crash myself doing a big bike throw.
I should have thrown the bike more forward, gotten my butt back further off the saddle.

At the line I threw my bike, to beat those guys about to swarm me. I was so tunnel visioned I couldn't even look back. I was shocked when no one flew by me, even more so when I looked down and back after the line.

Bike throw, my view.
I'm looking to the left to see who is there.

Looking back to the right.
Where were those 1200w jumpers?

Obviously it worked out for me.

Worked out for my teammate Stan as well. Ends up that Mike had a really hard last lap, getting forced over the yellow line and then later onto the grass. Not only did he not get 5th or better, he sat up before the finish.

With him not placing, with no one else up there from the overall classification, Stan kept the Verge Sport Leader's Jersey. The 10 points I got for winning ended up putting me on the podium for 3rd overall behind Stan (with 15 points) and Mike with 12 points.

It was a great way to finish the Series. I rarely win races, like really rarely, and I basically never win alone (once I did), so to win on that day, in that way… it was good.

Weird, too, to be honest.

I didn't really feel like I won. There was no one around me, no desperate lunge to the line while watching another guy throwing his bike next to me. I didn't get this feeling of "ultimate jump" to launch my bid for victory. It was a series of staggers, sort of, stumbling my way to the finish, winning despite myself.

Only when I saw Douglas's YouTube clip did it start seeming real.

I still have to do some work on the races, get the final overall published, thank sponsors and such, but I needed to get this post up.

Yeah.

And a final note. As a consolation prize Mike got his Cat 2 upgrade based on his incredible results from the last five weeks. So everything worked out in the end.

Monday, March 09, 2015

How To - Be A Good Racer



Although it's been a bit nutty and I haven't really been able to post much, the reason for the frantic stuff happening before the Aetna Nutmeg Spring Series has to do securing a venue, making sure it's usable, and trying to make things happen so that we can all race. I may share some of the trials and tribulations in a later post but for now I want to focus on one thing:

How to be a good racer.

I'm not talking about FTP and wattage and intervals and tactics and drafting.

I'm talking about your behavior as a racer.

As a racer, what can you do to help the race promoter? Not marshaling and stuff, but just in being a good racer.

This is a key aspect in grassroots racing. The biggest challenge for a promoter is to secure a venue. This means getting permission to use a course (aka "permission to break traffic laws like 'not racing on public roads'") and the related costs to that permission (permits, police, department of public works stuff, etc).

After that it's pretty straightforward to hold a race, if one can say that.

There are a few reasons races die off. One is the venue gets too busy such that the it's impossible to hold a race safely. This happened to the Bethel Spring Series with one business opening up that put literally hundreds of cars driving through the venue over the course of a day.

Another is the promoter decides to pull the plug, either for money reasons (typically associated with the costs of holding a race, aka the costs related to getting permission to hold the race). I know there were a few "classic" races I used to attend where the promoter was sinking $8k a year or more (in the 1980s!). After a few ten thousand dollars of money tossed into the black hole the promoters in question gave up.

There are related things, of course. Poorly attended or poorly managed events may disappear quickly. Off-time events may not survive - crits in January in Connecticut, for example, or roller races in July.

Typically a grassroots race promoter promotes a race for reasons other than money. It's a sense of duty, a sense of "I have to do it because no one else is doing it", or something similar to that.

Therefore the worst reason to lose a race is because the racers misbehaved. To me that's just incomprehensible, for racers to behave so poorly that the event gets banned.

This has happened in the area, with a road race in Massachusetts. The race got canceled not because of venue permissions, venue traffic, costs, promoter burn out, scheduling, any of that regular "promoter headache" stuff.

The race got canceled because so many racers were peeing on people's lawns, bushes, buildings, whatever.

That's it.

None of us want a race go go away, and for one to go away because of racer behavior is just a kick in the face to the promoter and the host venue/town/area.

I'm going to make a quick list of things a racer can do to help keep a race alive, barring the other non-racer factors.

Good racers do the following things:

1. Smile and say hi to everyone, locals and racers alike. Happy racers are friendly racers are good racers are a benefit of the race.

2. DON'T pee in public. Just don't. In my races someone that pees in public forfeits their entry, prize, points, everything. Use the portapotties. Promoters pay for them, you might as well use them. If there aren't enough then mention it to the promoter. Trust me, the promoter would much rather spring for another portapottie than risk losing the race.

3. Change discretely. Imagine an (stranger) 8 year old boy or girl standing in the vicinity when
you're changing. Is what you're doing appropriate to do in front of them? If not then make it so. Cover up, close a door, whatever it takes.

4. Buy your food/fuel in town and post it on Facebook or Twitter wherever. The host town is hoping that by allowing the race to happen that they get some people to spend money in town, Facebook stuff, all that. A tired but happy racer chowing down is a great image too, for your sponsors and friends.

5. DON'T swear, at least too loudly. It's against the rules and for a reason - dropping F-bombs and such doesn't go over well with parents trying to do right by their kids.

I figure five things is a nice, sweet list. Short and simple.

If we all work together we can grow the sport. Yeah, promoters have to do whatever to hold races, and I understand that many/most of us racers have no interest in promoting a race. That's fine - it's like asking a sprinter to climb or a climber to sprint, I think promoting is something people do or don't do.

However, all of us racers enjoy racing, and we can all help whoever promoter at their race. Let races stand or fall on its merits. It's our duty as racers to honor the promoters' efforts to bring us races.


Friday, February 06, 2015

Helmet Cam - April 13, 2014 Zwiedzanie Bethel, Field Sprint

The last of the Outdoor Sports Center Bethel Spring Series clips from 2014, and the last of the Series since it is done at Bethel.

The venue at Bethel had become too busy over the last few years, after the land was re-zoned for retail use in late 2009. Although the town of Bethel fully supported having the Series, I felt it would be unsafe for the larger fields to share the roads with heavy and steady vehicular traffic. The continued development, introducing new businesses at other points of the course, seems to have reinforced my decision.

Going into this final race I was still hoping for some kind of miracle but I'd basically resigned myself to this being my last race in a Bethel Spring Series. I'd started thinking about a July 4th race here, to pay homage to the memorial and the history of the races while not stepping on any retail stores' toes, but on April 13th I really wasn't talking about it much.

However I was doing some informal surveys to see what the racers thought of a move up to New Britain or other points slightly north, ultimately asking for help publicly in October 2014. Ultimately this all came to fruition when we secured two venues, New Britain and Rentschler Field, for the 2015 Aetna Nutmeg Spring Series).

With that, here's the final clip from Bethel. I had a feeling it would be it and I hoped to win the race. When a break went up the road I briefly contemplated trying to bridge but the reality was that I'd barely trained and I'd be fortunate just to hang in the field. I felt super motivated for the sprint though, sort of a desperation I haven't felt since 2005.

Here's the clip.

Enjoy!

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Training - A Cat 3 Diet

No, I don't mean "A Cat 3's diet" although I suppose that's what I'm referring to in the title because, you know, I'm a Cat 3 and I'm dieting.

Rather than literally I mean it in the sense that I'm talking about a simple, no frills diet. It's the same way people talk about "what's a good crit bike for a Cat 3?"

That question has all sorts of implications built right in.

First, the assumption is that the rider, a Cat 3, will be buying the bike. It'll probably be discounted, maybe as much as an employee discount, but the bottom line is that the rider is paying for the bike. No fancy bikes unless the rider can afford it.

Second, there's this thought that the rider will crash the bike. When you think of what a Cat 3 crit rider should ride versus, say, someone doing a Gran Fondo, you think of different things. The Cat 3 crit rider "needs" something bombproof and easy to maintain. The Gran Fondo rider might be using a more delicate tool, more precise, more refined, perhaps gaining a touch of fragility in the process. The Cat 3 bike needs to be replaceable.

Third, the bike will be used hard. It's not a sunny day bike, it's a tool that the rider uses to propel themselves forward on the road. There will be bumpy road crits, the rider will use the shoulder to move up in a race, and riding through manhole covers and sewer grates will be normal and expected. The Cat 3 bike needs to be durable.

Workingman's bike 

You know where I'm going with this.

Diets can be based on a lot of things. Cleansing, protein, whey, no carbs, Atkins, all sorts of anthropological models, yada yada yada. To me those are all a bit more fragile than I want. They require more thought, more energy, more dedication.

They're not for me.

I've been dieting for 81 days, according to MyFitnessPal. 81 days. I emphasize that because when I started I was thinking 30 days ("a month") might be my max, maybe 45 days ("a month and a half"), and definitely nothing over 60 days ("two months").

I'm currently 18.5 lbs lighter than I was when I started, 160.3 lbs this morning. I'd started 81 days ago thinking that losing 10 lbs would be a dream.

Yesterday I ate about 1434 calories of food and went to bed not hungry. The day before that I did a ride and realistically had a net caloric intake of about 800 calories.

If you told me I could do that on Day 2 of my current diet I'd have said you were crazy.

I've been thinking a bit about why the diet is working. If I can put some of those reasons down here then maybe it'll help you with your diet goals.

You know, because I want everyone to beat me when I race. Haha.

Okay, maybe not. So if you promise not to get too much better than me, or at least hide it discretely when you're accidentally riding me off your wheel ("I'm sorry, I was thinking about that clip you had where you bridged that gap and the music that you use in the clips got me all psyched up and I started pedaling too hard" would work), I'll share my thoughts with you.

Keys to a Successful Workingman's Diet.

("Workingman" referring to the nickname for Cat 3 racers, i.e. "The workingman's category". Substitute woman for women.)

First, you have to be fat.

I see guys talking about how they need to lose an extra 10 pounds or whatever and I look at them and think, well, maybe if they cut off their arm they could lose 10 more pounds.

Because they're already skinny.

I'm not talking ProTour diet tips. I don't have anything to offer the skinny people. I'm talking about us regular folk with rolls and stuff. Heck, even after losing 18 pounds I'm still fat - right now I'm realistically at 20% fat, minimum, more like 22% fat. When I started I was in the 28% range.

You with me there? Then keep reading.

In 2010 I was realistically 13-15% fat at my lowest and I was in the 155 lbs range, seeing 149 lbs after a longer ride. I stopped weighing myself once the season got under way because my weight seemed to be stable at 155-158, so I lack the numbers from later in the season, but I suspect I got lighter. However I steadily gained weight from September that year.

So for me the key is to be fat first because that's the only kind of start point I've had for a diet.

Second, don't spend a lot of time thinking about food.

Be aware of it, sure, but don't spend the whole day thinking about it. I don't go about my day thinking about this food or that food. Food is a functional fuel for me, not much more.

A Cat 3 bike isn't the kind of bike you think about. You get to the race, put the wheel or wheels on, check the tire pressure, and ride the thing. It's a rock solid bike that doesn't need babying. Do you care what bar is on there? What post? What chain? Not really. If it isn't broken then you don't need to fix it. Get fancy stuff here and there to reward yourself, like a set of cool wheels. Overall though your mental energy goes elsewhere, not the bike.

My diet approach reflects that. I don't think much about food. I'm aware of when I last ate only because it's easy to eat 3 hours after a meal without realizing it. Making it 4 or 5 reduces the number of meals by one and that makes a significant dent in the total caloric intake.

However I don't go around thinking of what I am not eating, that I can't eat, or particular foods for whatever reason. Even when feeding Junior I manage to separate what he's eating (he likes pizza, fruits, bread, cheese) and what I'm eating (not much pizza at all, not much cheese at all).

Third, don't make it hard on yourself

This is key. Don't make your diet hard on yourself. I remember a friend telling me that "Such and such is serious about racing this year. He's on a diet - this morning I saw him eat some toast with a slice of tomato on it."

Yeah, if I did that I'd be eating my second breakfast about 20 minutes later.

The other thing that wouldn't work for me is "Hey, this is how you make this great food! Just gather these 22 ingredients, combine this, mix that, pour here, and voila, 114 minutes later you're ready to eat! It's fantastic!"

Right.

I timed how long it took me to get breakfast ready this morning. Yes, timed.

I was up at 6:30 or so, maybe 7:00? I don't remember. I wasn't 100% awake so that was normal, but Junior was asleep so I had less distractions.

Luckily I used a timer of sorts to prepare my breakfast - a microwave. This was my breakfast prep:

1. Pour coffee out of the very nice carafe (basically a sealed and insulated carafe so the coffee doesn't taste acrid, and as a bonus there's no hot metal plate thing to burn dripped coffee) into a coffee cup that I pulled out of the cabinet. Time: 20 seconds.
2. Put coffee cup of coffee into microwave, heat. Time: 1:37 (I've been trying to use something other than the 0 for the last digit and I've been using the 8 for a while so now I'm on 7).
3. While coffee is heating put the following in a bowl: 1 cup old fashioned oats, 1/8 cup raisins, 1 tbsp sliced almonds, 1 tbsp brown sugar, water to cover it all. Time: 0 (since I do all this while the coffee is heating).
4. When the coffee is done switch the coffee and oatmeal. Heat/cook oatmeal. Time: 2:30 (using the 0 there).
5. Move coffee and oatmeal spoon to the table while oatmeal heats/cooks.
6. When oatmeal finishes bring bowl to table.

Overall time required to prepare breakfast? 5 minutes, max. It's easy. It's not taxing mentally. Easy to log in MyFitnessPal. Easy to eat.

454 calories. And I'll be good for 4-5 hours.

That's a Cat 3 breakfast.

Fourth, avoid sugar or sugar substitutes.

I'd have argued with this before this diet but now I'd agree that eliminating sugar seems to be helpful. As a corollary eliminating sugar substitutes also seems to help, because the sweet taste makes me miss sugar. Eliminating the taste altogether works better for me.

In 2009, my first diet, I adopted the "bike shop diet" at times. We said that if we were tired a great pick me up was getting a Hostess Twinkies and a Coke.

Bam, instant energy.

And an almost instant sugar crash.

Of course there was an easy remedy - another Twinkies and Coke.

So in 2009 I drank Diet Cokes or Diet Pepsis. One of my standby meals was jam on bread (aka "sugar on carbs"). I ate 100 calorie snack bags of sugary snacks. I had sugary protein shakes. So on and so forth.

I spent a lot of time in a bonky state, dizzy with hunger. I was working a job that required moving around a lot so that helped stave off the bonkiness. I'd sometimes walk around virtually blacked out vision-wise because of these massive head rushes when I stood up.

The reality was that I really wasn't dieting in any kind of sustainable manner.

This round of dieting (which makes it sound like I diet all the time but this is only my second diet in my life) I inadvertently left out sugar early on. I was on such a strict low goal that even a teaspoon of sugar in my coffee seemed wasteful.

So I cut out the sugar.

I also cut out the diet sodas, inadvertently. I decided separately, before the diet, that I really didn't want to pay for drinks, whether going out or even for home, so I for a while I've been drinking just water when we go out. Additionally I hadn't bought sodas or seltzer for a while from the grocery store.

The combination of not much added sugar (and no fake sugar) significant changed my energy levels. I've kept some of the same foods in the diet rotation from 2009, so many of my foods I'm eating now I ate back then. Carbs and proteins, mainly, with certain vegetables and fruits. The changes have been the elimination of regular sugar/sugar-substitutes. This has led to a much more consistent energy level.

In the low calorie days, early on, I definitely had my share of head rushes. For the first week I was fighting the normal bonkiness, with the accompanying shaking and dizziness and cold sweat. However this changed pretty quickly. By the second week of my dieting I realized that I wasn't bonking. I was hungry, okay, but I wasn't dizzy or shaking or breaking out in a cold sweat.

As the weeks went by I realized that I was getting to noon or 1 PM or even 2 PM without feeling excessively hungry. I thought it might be the lack of (added) sugar in my diet. The couple times where I had a (deliciously sinfully incredibly good tasting) sweetened coffee I had a ton of energy for a bit and either got really bonky afterward or went 1000 cal over my goal (I did that once).

So for now I'm avoiding sugar.

For those that see me downing Cokes and RockStars and coffee muffins before races you may wonder what I'll do before races. You know, I don't know, this is uncharted territory for me.

Summary

Overall my diet is pretty straight forward. A Cat 3 diet, if you will. No frills, only a few interesting out-of-the-ordinary things (for me it's the Greek yogurt smoothies I make), easy to prepare, easy to eat, no real mental energy expended.

The reality is that I may be able to extend this kind of diet for a while. I don't have aspirations to turn pro or anything but I race for fun and, trust me, it's a lot more fun when I'm not groveling at the back of the field, praying they slow down. Fitness helps, of course, but I have no idea how much training I'll be doing because I don't know what my schedule will look like even in a month or two from now.

However, regardless of fitness, being light goes a long, long way toward making races more fun. When I accelerate an extra 10 or 20 pounds of weight out of every corner it gets a bit tiring.

 Early 2010, 155 and getting fit. The red bike before it was red.
Double Peak in San Marcos, CA.

I even see off-the-bike benefits. For example carrying Junior has become easier. I had that epiphany after carrying him around a model railroad show for an hour or two. At that point I was a good 10-12 pounds lighter. Suddenly Junior, who tips the scales at about 29-30 pounds, was more like a 17-20 pound kid. That's a huge difference in carrying weight when walking around the Big E.

Another benefit is I can wear the almost new clothes I had in 2010. I only had one year where I fit those clothes and the "heavy" (bodyweight) clothes I have are pretty worn out. Now I have a stack of clothing to choose from that are virtually brand new.

I can see this round's diet being sustainable even during some decent training. I had started the diet with the expectation that I wouldn't be able to train. However, after doing some "make up rides' to expend some excess calories, I find that I'm more fit now than I was during the summer. Even just six weeks into the diet, when I did a few warmer Christmas rides, I felt great climbing the hills with lower weight and higher sustainable power. I went looking for comparisons in climbing the hill out of the complex but ran into a problem - I was pedaling with much more power in December than I was in August or whatever. I climbed the hill on Christmas Day in 0:58 or so, even slowing at the top, and in August/Sept I did it in 1:15-1:20, 2-3 mph slower.

We'll see what happens in the races. In Blackhawk Down one of the characters says, "Politics goes out the window when the bullets start flying." Likewise all this talk about weight and calories and training and stuff goes straight out the window when the race actually starts.

After that it's all about using what you got.

See you out there!

 Picture from a finish at the Rent from slightly skinnier days (2011 or 2012).

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Helmet Cam - April 6, 2014, Circuit Francis J Clarke, 9th

Here's another helmet cam clip from the 2014 Outdoor Sports Center Bethel Spring Series. In this one there are a few off the front. However I thought there were a good 15 or so riders off so I thought we were sprinting for 16th place or so. Finishing 5th or 6th in the field I figured I would be lucky to have cracked the top 20. My math was pretty bad though and I ended up 9th in the race, 5th in the field. A jumbled sprint, I could never actually go.

Second to last of the Bethel Spring Series.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Helmet Cam - March 23, 2014 Bethel CDR Gold Race, 7th

I thought this was up since I watched it regularly on my computer but when I looked for it for someone else I realized that no, it wasn't up.

It's up now.

Although the Bethel Spring Series won't be happening this year we're moving to New Britain and hopefully one other venue for the new Aetna Nutmeg Spring Series.

I hope this clip helps get you psyched to go racing soon.

Enjoy!


Sunday, February 01, 2015

Racing - Mental Freshness

1986, somehow made the GFox flyer.

2015 marks the beginning of my 33rd season of racing.

Now, I can't boast about my palmares like many other riders. I have zero national titles (in fact I never entered a National Championship race), I have never won a race between May and August, I've never won a one day race per se (like a once-a-year race), and I routinely get shelled by brand new, never-raced-in-my-life-before riders.

But I love to race. I just love it. I've loved it since I started racing, through all sorts of trials and tribulations. This January I did a couple 3+ hour rides and a whole slew of 2 hour rides.

On the trainer.

For me I enjoyed it, but others consider a 3 hour ride on a trainer torture.

Front row in the Tour de Michigan.

So what's the secret? Why am I not burnt out on racing?

It's hard to say but it's a number of things.

First off, I love to race.
Second, I have realistic expectations.
Third, I accept that there will be off years. Years, not weeks or days or months.
Fourth, I set some long term goals.
Fifth, I accept life events that are out of my control.
Sixth, I do no structured training.
Seventh, I reassess my own abilities and do occasional honest, no-BS self assessments.

I Love to Race

I love to race. I love the technical stuff (aero, fit, stuff like that), the tactics (drafting, cornering, permutations of drafting and multiple people around me), the fitness aspect of it (when to burn what matches I have and if I burn too many can I find another match somewhere?), and finally the human part of it (some of my most satisfying races have been so because either I worked for someone or someone worked for me).

I've stayed fresh racing for most/all those 30-odd years. I've never wanted to quit racing per se. I've had a number of years where I didn't want to promote races (I've promoted races since 1994, mainly the Bethel Spring Series), but I always, always, always wanted to race.

1988?
Marty, in the middle, just soloed to a win. I won the field sprint, Ed, to the left, got second in the sprint.

1988.
No team kit as we didn't hold a race the prior year.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. Let me do some base miles in the winter and then let me race 3-4 times a week for the summer. I'll be happy doing all my rides in races from March - September. For easier days I'd just sit in or drop off, harder days I'd attack and such, and on target days I'd try to do well.

Managing Expectations


A big part of my enthusiasm is understanding my limits or, in corporate terms, "managing expectations". I see a lot of riders quit when they hit their developmental plateau mainly because of a combination of genetics (most important), time, and focus. The rider can't accept that they're close to their genetic limits (or sometimes time limits etc) and they stop.


I understood my limitations long before powermeters existed. My best 40k TT was a 1:03:30, my fastest ever TT was a 25.5 mph 7 mile effort. In hills I get dropped by M50+ women who don't race but who are fit cyclists (M50+ is a polite way of saying "a 53 year old woman"). I did a 10k mile year early in my life and DNF 44 races or some stupid number that year. Decades ago I accepted my position as a weaker rider who could sprint and worked with that.


A newer racer asked me why I don't lose a bit more weight and do more hilly races. I asked him why he didn't lift more and make his 1000w peak a 1500w or 1800w peak. He said that was a bit ridiculous and then realized that he was asking me the same thing, albeit in a different manner.

I can't think of a better way to explain that than the following: if I was close to 0% body fat, with a lean body weight of about 130 lbs, my w/kg number would still be in the 3.6 w/kg range. This is at ZERO percent body fat, 40+ lbs lighter than I am now.

The reality is that I won't be a 4 or 5 w/kg rider, ever. Heck, even if I doped I wouldn't get very far. I understand and accept that. That other racer took some time to assimilate what I said, to accept that it's not realistic for me to try to become a 4 or 5 w/kg racer. Ironically he used to be an elite athlete in a different sport, looking like a sprinter, all muscular and stuff.

A different way of looking at it is to say that my FTP is so poor that even a 50% increase (talk about a lot of doping!) would only put me in middling Cat 2 or "a pretty strong Cat 3" territory.

Crashes/Risk


Others also stop because they can't handle racing in a field, have a crash, and stop because they don't understand what happened in the crash. Without understanding why a crash happened (and potentially how to prevent it) it's very easy to become so neurotic about crashing that racing becomes impossible.

It's critical to learn and practice field/peloton skills, things like bumping and touching wheels and such. Without those drills there's a huge unknown area of riding that you can't possibly understand. If you practice bumping and touching wheels then those situations become a little less foreign.

It's like driving a car - if you never lose control of the car then you won't know what it's like to do so. I went to a parking lot in the snow to learn how to drive in the stuff, doing laps in a school parking lot for literally 2 or 3 hours one night. Fortunately everything went safely and it gave me a lot of time to learn. I did the same with my first girlfriend when I was helping her learn to drive. The first few times she let the car go it was a bit scary because she didn't have any of the right reactions in her head. After an hour or two of drills in a deserted, snow-covered parking lot (including a drive by and short conversation with a curious police officer), she was fine. She counter steered into skids, she could modulate the brake pedal much better (pre-ABS days), and she could pump the pedal if the tires locked under braking.

We were on the road, maybe a day later, when the tail end of the car went sideways while on a pretty busy road. My girlfriend immediately counter steered and regained control of the car. I was a bit freaked out but she'd handled it just fine. All the practice she'd just done came in handy and we continued on without a problem.

In bike racing I've had my share of crashes. It took until 2009 to break a bone, in a pretty hard shunt in a training race. Someone swerved across my front wheel so hard it was practically horizontal before I realized what was going on. I actually can't believe the rider could swerve so rapidly so far, it was that quick and violent.

Putting a good face on.

I understood what happened, I understood how I could have avoided it, and I've made some minor adjustments to how I race based on the crash.

However that was my first broken bone. Risk-wise I know that this kind of incident will virtually never happen. I accept that risk. The Missus trusts my judgment, both during races and in situations like this where I assess risk. Without her blessings, without a deep understanding of the risk assessment thought process, I'd have been a racing statistic as well.

Accepting Underperforming Seasons


Another aspect is my Zen approach to a season, if you will. After about 10 years of racing I got much more casual about writing off a season. I have an idea of how I'll go for the year based on March and April and if it's not that great then so be it, it's not a big deal. If the season doesn't start well I don't think it's worth it to train like mad to have a good August or whatever. I did that once or twice and the amount of work and sacrifice to have a few weeks of good racing just wasn't worth it.

In 2012 at Bethel in the last race I stopped after a couple laps to say hi to Junior.
Absolutely worth it.

If I'm underperforming (meaning any year except the ones where I've been on fire), I try to have fun with the racing, do what I can, and think about a better year in the future. In 2014 I barely trained and I had fun until I had 3 DNFs in a row in August. This year I'm almost as light as I was in my second best year 2010 and I have a lot of hours (for me) in Dec and Jan. I have no idea what my season will be like but I'll find out in March and take it from there.

Long Term Goals

I try to set realistic goals for myself. My last major goal thought was in 2010, when I simply wanted to see how I did. In 2011 I told myself no serious racing until 2017 when my racing age would be M50+, so I essentially wrote off 6 seasons immediately (because we wanted to start a family and I figured only when our kid went to kindergarten would I be able to train a bit). This year I hope to do okay, and if my first races go okay then I'll think about specific target races in the summer.

My long term goals include stuff like actually winning a summer race, something I've never done, or being in a break that makes it to the finish. I'd like to be able to pull. I'd like to be able to help teammates. I'd like to be part of some spectacular teamwork during a race.

Accept Life Events


One thing is my racing has gone up and down naturally with life events and I never really fought these ups and downs. When I was single/dating but otherwise not committed (no kids, no marriage, etc, although I did own a bike shop) I was racing tons, training tons, etc. All my money went into bikes. I had this reverse snob thing going where if a rider's car was worth more than the bike rack on top of it then they weren't as "hard core". I realize now that that's not necessarily true, but at the time I was driving a $1 car with a $500 roof rack and about a $1250 bike on said rack.

$1 car, $500 rack, $1250 bike.

There were years where things were tougher outside of cycling, like when my mom was sick and then passed on 3 years later. I started that period, 2000-2003, weighing about 155-160. I spent all my free time with my mom (my parents were living overseas when she was diagnosed so she moved in with me for 2+ years - I brought her to all her appointments etc for a while). Toward the end we had round the clock bedside time with her, taking shifts sitting next to her and talking or whatever, and I really didn't think about the bike much. When my mom died I was 215 lbs or so and rode maybe once every 3 weeks, still managing to place here and there (Cat 3 Crit Champ 2002) even though I had to size up my bike (to a size M Giant) so my legs wouldn't hit my gut as hard. I was so fat I didn't recognize myself in a picture from that era.

About 200-205 lbs in this picture, spring 2004.
Note the size M Giant - I had to use it to keep my gut from getting in my legs' way.


I had promised my mom to win the Bethel Spring Series and the Cat 3 Crit Championships just before she lost awareness of her surroundings. After she died I trained hard again, driven to do well. It took a couple years to win Bethel (two Series before I could win it, and then I barely managed), another year passed before I got the (2006) Cat 3 Crit gold medal, but I did it.

No Structured Training


I've gotten burnt out on training so I don't do structured training. The last time I did intervals with any regularity was probably 1990 or something, in school. Nowadays most of my attempts at intervals blow up after 20 or 30 seconds. I JRA when I train, do whatever I feel like, I motivate thinking about racing. I train only so I can race.


2010, best year since 1992. 155-158 lbs.
Photo John Specht


Readjust Based On Changes

Over the years I've lost a solid 20% of my top end speed in a sprint. I virtually never break 40 mph nowadays and often I'm sprinting at only 37-38 mph.

A good sprint toward the end of the SUNY Purchase Tuesday Night Sprints.

I remember being upset that I didn't break 44 mph in any of the 10 or so sprints I did that night. A fast sprint for me there (slight downhill, cross tailwind) was 46 mph, and there were a number of riders that were as fast as me.

For the past few years I've struggled to sprint well against the 3s but I can hold my own with the M45s. I'm starting to accept that and am starting to do more M45 races.
 For me this is huge, as I still don't think of myself as a Masters racer even though I'm closer to 50 years old than 40.

This clip was the Nutmeg State Games from 2014, same course as the above link from 2006. I missed the break (teammate and former M35 Canadian Cross champ in it - he won), I missed the chase (Frank McCormack, ex-pro, driving it), but I could handle the field sprint. This was the first Saturday of June. On the same course against the 3s I got something like 20th in the field sprint, and I was so far behind the winners I didn't even see what team they raced for.


In terms of training for the above race I actually did very little, due to life stuff. I rode 50 min in the week of June prior to the race. 8 hours in all of May. 7 hours in all of April. I knew I didn't have much training in my legs so I did what I could. I suffered here and there, I took joy every time I could make an effort without shelling myself, and getting to the field sprint was an unexpected bonus. Winning it was an absolute shock.

Goals for 2015

Right now my goals for 2015 are as follows:
1. Do reasonably well in the Cat 3-4 races in the Aetna Nutmeg Spring Series. And promote some good races in that Series since I'm the promoter.
2. Try to win a summer race. This is a forever repeating goal so it's automatically on the list.
3. Be strong enough to finish or partake in some of the races that I couldn't finish or partake in during the last few years. In 2013, for example, I was in at the end of the CCAP Kermis. In 2014 I got shelled a lap or so into the race.
4. Help others (teammates, friends) in races.

Danbury Crit, 1991? I got 4th, another summer race I didn't win.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Training - Diet, Riding, Life

I keep starting posts and then leaving them because I didn't finish them. Then they get sort of stale because of time related events in the post and it becomes one of those "well there is a story in there so maybe I'll pull it out and do that bit as a post some other time."

Then it becomes another one of the 200+ drafts I have (there are 213 to be exact, with 1219 published posts).

So whatever I get through right now I'm going to post.

Diet

First, diet. I've plateaued pretty hard and it's a bit demoralizing. I keep reminding myself that I'm 17 or 16 or 15 pounds lighter than I was when I started (note how that number shrank a bit as I listed it?). Still, though, to be on the cusp of breaking the 160 lbs barrier then sitting at 162 lbs is not really inspiring.

The thing is that I'm still pretty fat - using the "what do the various body fat % look like?" chart I'm still in the 20-22% fat area. My lean weight seems to be in the low-mid 130s, so 10% body fat would mean 145 lbs or so.

That number is sort of insane.

Still, though, it means that I ought to be able to get into the 15% range, and that would be in the 150 lbs range. That's pretty low but it seems sort of attainable, maybe as a long term goal.

For now, though, I want to drop into the 150s, like 155 lbs or 157 or something in that range.

The problem is that I've gotten used to going over the calorie count and then riding to burn some stuff off. I think, though, that I've lost some muscle mass, especially in my upper body. The problem is that muscle burns energy and losing that mass means my body has reduced its energy requirements. This requires me to adjust the calorie goals downward, but I don't know by how much.

For now, though, I'm just trying to get back into the right caloric range each day, not going over by 300 or 400 calories consistently. I've even upped my number to make the goal more attainable, from 1510 cal to 1690 cal per day.

Riding

The upside to overeating, relatively speaking, is that I've been riding a lot to try and burn off some calories. I'm feeling better on the bike, surprisingly so, which means that I'm really overeating. When I'm dieting aggressively I really can't ride well because I have no energy, so if I'm riding well it means I'm eating way too much.

However, with my weight in the lower 160s, it's reasonably acceptable. I want to be in the 150s but if I can ride like this then that's kind of neat.

I'm starting to dig through my kits to find size S shorts and size S or M jerseys. Size M jerseys seem a bit baggy now and even the very tight new fangled Verge Triumph size M (it fits super snug) is wrinkly. Snug, okay, but wrinkly. I never thought I'd fit into it and now I want to see what a size S is like on me.

Go figure.

A huge benefit to losing weight is that I can sit back a bit more on the saddle. The main reason I sit forward is because my legs hit my gut. Only when I get skinny can I sit back a bit more on the saddle - that's really only happened in 2010 recently, and now, again, in early 2015. It's cool and I like it.

In 2012, I think I was almost 180 lbs.
Photo by Heavy D I think.

In 2010 at about 158 lbs.
Photo by RTC.

Life

The biggest thing for me has been Junior. He's progressing in leaps and bounds.

One of the things that really surprised me is his reading memory stuff. We read a book or two to him each evening before he goes to sleep. Often I'll read the same book or two before his nap.

One of his favorites is "Goodnight Train", a book about a somewhat psychedelic train that kids get on and everyone, including the train, goes to sleep at the end of the book. It's great to read it and have him get quieter and more still and have his eyes fluttering shut and watching him pass out.

The other night the Missus was reading it to him but with a twist - she left the last word off of each sentence. I was a bit worried because I couldn't remember the words, and I was reading this to him all the time. I figured it would frustrate him to not know the words.

Because we still have a video monitor in his room I could hear the Missus reading to him. To my absolute shock he completed all the sentences with the right word, albeit pronounced like a kid. It was so cute to listen to him finish the sentence.

"The goodnight train gets set to…"
"…roll"
"It's being shined and filled with..."
"…coal"
"Wash the cars off with a…"
"…hose"
"Scrub the engine's dirty…"
"…nose"

Incredible.

A different day we were at the supermarket, Junior and myself. He was a bit stir crazy from the cold weather. Temps in the single digits and teens made it a bit cold to go out and play so instead I let him run around a bit in the store.

At some point I figured we really ought to get going but he wanted to keep playing. When this happens I typically pick him up and distract him. This time I carried him over my shoulder and tickled him a bit. He squealed with delight, laughing that honest kid laugh, the one that only kids have, so full of joy and completely unrestrained. I could see all the grandmother and mother types turning and smiling and saying nice things as we went by them.

I realized that I was so lucky to share that moment with him, along with all the other ones that I've had with him.

When he gets a bit fussy I sit with him and pull a blanket around us and ask him about all the things he did earlier in the day.

"Did you go pee in the potty?"
He'd nod affirmatively. "Sticker a Dusty Crophopper."
"Did you go to the store?"
"Running. Help Daddy with numbers."
"Did you walk on the curb?"
"Wait for the car!"
"Did you eat pancakes in the car?"
"Uh-huh."
"Did you make a tower with Legos?"
"Orange and blue and red."
"You were so good today, you did so many great things."

This calms him down and he starts talking about something, random stuff, stuff that stuck in his head.

"Lightning is a red racer. Fire truck a siren a police car. What is dar? Yaby (library). Bus da Legos."

It's times like this that it's hard to think of my diet or training or whatever as important. It is, sort of, but at the same time it's so inconsequential.

Well, maybe not. Over the weekend we went to the Big E where they had a hobby railroad show. Everything was at adult height, so at my chest or so.

The problem was that this was just above Junior's head. The solution? Carry him everywhere.

We were there a solid couple hours and Junior is now almost 30 lbs. Normally my back would be protesting loudly within 5 or 10 or 15 minutes but not that day.

Then I realized something.

I weighed 17 or 18 pounds less than I did just a couple months ago. This made Junior feel like he weighed just 11 or 12 pounds, not 29 pounds. It ended up that although I was tired after carrying him around I wasn't in pain or anything.

So I guess the diet and stuff does help taking care of Junior, even though I didn't realize it at first. It's all a big circle, one thing affecting another. That makes me wonder.

I wonder what the race season will bring.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Training - Diet Plateau

I'm still here.

It's been busy at home with all sorts of stuff going on. One thing that I've done is sacrificed a lot of stuff in order to ride. It means less blogging (as if I was blogging a lot before), less working on the bike (aka I've done zero mechanical stuff), less everything that I do in my free time except for the riding bit.

I'm focusing on the riding not because I want to get in shape but because I'm still working the diet angle of things. I think I'm inadvertently getting in shape, if only because I'm pedaling.

A friend said that his problem with riding has to do with rpms.

"Rpms?"

"Yeah, the problem is that I have a lot of zero rpm days."

Ah. I have the same problem.

I looked at my Strava the other day and apparently I did NINE hours last week. That's as much as a summer month in 2014, and I did it in a week in the dead of winter.

Okay, so I had a zero hour week also.

A couple weeks ago I hit a rough spot, consistently up a couple pounds, after staying at 166-168 lbs for a week plus. Something happened in my body, I think it was adjusting or something (maybe it was the non-riding?), because without me taking any drastic action the weight started to shed again.

Now I've been plateaued at about 161 lbs, so it's 5-7 lbs below my previous plateau. More significantly I'm about 17 lbs my start point 60-odd days ago. I've basically lost the weight of my bike at this point.

I remember these plateaus from before. I don't know how they work, why it happens, but it seems that my body sort of resets at different weights. I hope to drop one more plateau, in the 156-158 range, and it would be awesome if I could hit a second plateau, perhaps in the 151-153 range. In a month I should be able to lose 6-7 lbs. In two months, maybe 10-12 lbs total. Weight loss tapers so it's easier to lose the first 10 lbs versus the last 10 lbs.

Dropping below 150 would be dream, but really, at this point, any additional weight loss is a bonus.

My food/diet has been pretty consistent through the whole process. I've been eating virtually the same meals 80% of the time; sometimes I adjust the portion, to reduce calories (and then to return it to my "regular" portion). It's easy on a number of levels. In MyFitnessPal, my recent foods show up at the top of the list. With only a few standard meals (oatmeal, chicken and rice, recently steak) I only have to scroll down a bit, check a bunch of boxes, and I have my meal in place.

(Note: on the mobile version this isn't the case, so I try to add foods on the laptop versus the phone.)

Food adding page - I've checked my 454 calorie breakfast for this morning.
With my less aggressive approach I have a 1690 calorie daily budget, based on a 161 lbs weight.
Earlier I was trying to attain as low as 1300 cal.

You can see that I had recently eaten some of Koichi's leftovers (mayo!). Toward the bottom of my recent list you can see that I had a smoothie, I think it was a few days ago; otherwise I normally have the oatmeal. Junior even tells me it's time for me to get my "cereal and raisins".

I often "pre-add" my foods, especially if I don't know them. I put them in before I eat them to get an idea of my overall caloric landscape. This has been significant a few times where I realized that I simply couldn't afford to eat certain foods. The numbers put a stark reality to the food, versus looking at the food on the table and thinking, "Well, how bad could it be?"

Horrible.

I recently changed my overall strategy to include a bit more fat. This is why my breakfast list was a bit wacky, in the past I didn't eat stuff that Koichi didn't want, I either tossed them (if they were older) or saved them for later (if fresh). t realized that I wasn't getting the nutrients I needed, as evidenced by some annoying sore things in my mouth. With a better diet, a couple multi-vitamins, they disappeared in a few days.

After that I decided to include more fats. Previously I'd been limiting myself to about 30-50g of fat per day. Now it's higher, typically 40-70g of fat. I'm still eating carbs and such, I'm not limiting myself on really anything.

Except sugar.

I've realized now that sugar really makes me feel hungry, it gives me really inconsistent energy levels, and it's something that seems to affect me pretty significantly. Also, in my physical, I had yet another "pre-diabetic" level of some hormone thing. For years the doctor has asked me if I actually fasted before the blood test, and for years I had. Apparently my blood sugar thing isn't quite right.

So, with the energy level stuff, the hunger stuff, and the blood test stuff, I've been pretty motivated to avoid sugar. I've had my coffee black all but three times in the last 60-odd days, and only once did I prepare it anywhere near my normal "I like a little coffee with my sugar and cream" ratios. That night was the night I lost track of time as I hammered away on the trainer for 3 hours, couldn't get to sleep for another hour or two, and basically wrecked my schedule for the next week.

I can't remember if it was the same night I actually had some desert.

Whatever, it's not a good thing.

I have to think about my food approach for races. Normally I load up on sugar, getting that cheap/fast energy and sacrificing any longterm stuff. I'm thinking now that a less sugar oriented thing might be better.

One thing that I've done is had a couple of the organic pouches we get for Junior. They are fruit and veggie based, they're easy to digest, and they seem relatively healthy. It may be that I'll be eating them instead of a traditional gel or whatever.

So that's the food stuff...

For now the rest of my life is the same.

I'm still looking for work. I'm starting to get the Aetna Nutmeg Spring Series thing going (replacing Bethel Spring Series), with two scheduled races and two more potential race dates, stuff I've worked on since last fall. The site is new and obviously not yet finished, but the ANSS site should be better shortly.

I'm also starting to settle into some of my Carpe Diem Racing obligations. A big thing is a fund raising ride in June, up in northern MA. Although it's primarily to benefit the Northfield Mount Hermon School, it'll be open to anyone. It sounds like it'll be a hoot, to be honest.

Other events include the White Plains Crit in June, the Tokeneke Classic Road Race, and a still-to-be-confirmed July 4th race in Bethel. I hope to be helping with the Aetna Silk City Cross race again, and there may be another event or two as well.

With all that it means that CDR will be continuing as before. I had some doubts about this recently so for me to decide this is pretty significant. However, this means paying some recurring bills, like the unemployment things, the liability insurance, regular stuff that any employer has to pay. CDR is a high volume, low net type business. If it wasn't for the extra events CDR did throughout the year it would have been a massively losing proposition holding just Bethel. Hopefully this year I meet my goal of netting (pre-tax) $500 per week/event; last year at Bethel it was more like losing $500-1000/week, and that's been consistent for a few years.

In the background through all of this there's Junior, who is growing in leaps and bounds mentally and physically. He's much more interactive, even compared to a few months ago. I've realized that I place him first and foremost, before anything else. I've walked away from people mid-sentence to attend to him (typically if he's getting into something he shouldn't, not when he's doing normal stuff). He can get into things pretty well now, like getting a small step stool to access the sink (and running water), opening doors, etc.

This is the set up he's playing with now (Pops built it with his suggestions).