Monday, February 1, 2016

Final Countdown By Gordo Byrn

Final Countdown
By Gordo Byrn

A grande Americano is without doubt one of the most effective beverages that I know for race week. The caffeine enhances mood and mellows the inevitable hunger-rumble from cutting our food intake in half. Perhaps I am biased, being half stoned from my first one of the day!

Back home, I spend a lot of time sitting at my desk doing my coaching thing, writing and handling my website. A few years back, my wife at the time, gave me a pair of kick-ass-Bose-speakers for my computer. So I’ve always got some nice tunes pumping while I work. One of my favourite artists right now is TuPac. He’s got this song called, “I Love Liquor”. I can tell that TuPac feels the same way about his liquor as I do about my coffee. So I hang out, answer questions about tri training and hum along with the Pac.

It looks like I managed to get myself down to race weight. One of the advantages of the Molina “No Taper” Taper is that you are able to keep your nutritional gains rolling right up to race day. Despite what an exercise physiologist might say, I’ve found a lot of benefits to using a modified race taper leading into my key races. The main things that I avoid are downhill running and excessive intensity. As I am a high volume guy, it only takes me a few days to bounce back from my aerobic- and strength-related fatigue. At least that’s the theory!

I managed to avoid nutritional cracking on the airplane. That’s always a tough thing for me. Even had them place the food in front of me so I could pick out what I wanted – it’s not the first fifteen minutes that causes trouble – it’s the half hour wait before they clear the table. I have to admit that I did ‘investigate’ the desert but didn’t proceed past poking it.

You might get a kick out of what a high-volume guy considers nutritional restraint – it surprised me when I counted! Here’s what I ate on my travel day:

-> First breakfast was five pieces of chopped fruit with non-fat cottage cheese.
-> Four coffees – over the day
-> 2 smoked chicken breasts
-> 2 smoked salmon fillets
-> a steak
-> an avocado
-> a glass of OJ
-> 1c nuts (almonds and walnuts)
-> 6 apples
-> 2 oranges
-> the fish entrée
-> the ham from the cheesy sandwich
-> a mini-cheese with 2 crackers

As for training, I did manage an hour of steady swimming to kick the day off but that was about it! Sticking with the nutritional thread. What do I plan on eating and how will I enhance recovery over the race?

Since last Sunday, I went to a no starchy carbo/no refined sugar diet (as you can see above). I keep that running until one day out from the race. As I think that multi-day carboloading simply causes us to gain weight, I do a single day carboload protocol (on my tips page). For me, it’s about 3,000 carbo cals (mainly liquid) across the day. I eat my normal amounts of protein and good fats.

Each race morning, I’ll probably start with a protein shake. It’s not that high in protein – the product that I’ll be using is called PRO4 Recovery. I’ll throw two scoops of that in a blender with 500-750ml of rice milk and a banana. Later, I’ll have coffee and some oatmeal. Maybe some eggs, too – depends on how I am feeling. I take a recovery drink throughout the first part of the day because Ultraman is a stage racing situation – different from IM. I’ll start each stage with another one of those shakes about 10-15 minutes before the start.

It’s tempting to think that the challenge lies in eating enough across the three days of Ultraman. In fact, the issue isn’t eating – the issue is absorbing. In order to avoid stressing out our guts (and the unpleasant ‘digestive issues’ that accompany GI stress), we need to spread our calories out across the day. What I like to do is front end load most of my calories. My digestion is working best from when I wake up until about Noon. I sat down and calculated that I’ll probably be burning about 7-8000 calories per day. A lot of that will be coming from fat burning. As long as I can avoid depletion (glycogen and hydration) and excessive muscle breakdown, I should be fine.
Other recovery tricks that I use:

Elevation – I elevate my legs after each stage and especially after each meal. This reduces internal organ stress. For post-stage elevation, I tend to allow five minutes for each hour of training up to a max of twenty minutes. I often fall asleep with my legs up on the bed or sofa.

Stretching / Massage – I will do light stretching after the stage and have a light massage to flush my muscles.

Hydration – Throughout the night, and post stage, I will hydrate with a weak CHO solution (3-5%). On Epic Camp, I tell the crew that we can survive anything but dehydration!

Sleep – Sleep is unlikely but rest is essential. I will try to get at least eight hours horizontal and nap whenever possible.

Yesterday they announced the race participants and I quickly set about googling each to find out their strengths. Here is a run down of some of the guys that I expect to be spending a fair amount of time close to:

Tony O’Keeffe – Tony is a top agegroup triathlete based in Ontario, Canada. We raced Ultraman together last year as well as last August at IM Canada. He was second overall last year and 30 minutes faster than me on the run. He looks ready to go and I expect him to set the early pace on the run.

Jamie Patrick – Jamie is a swim specialist. He’s coached by an uber-swimmer pal of mine, Chris Hauth (an exceptional IMer in his own right). Jamie’s a first timer here but, as a 50-minute IM swimmer, I expect him to set the pace from Dig Me Beach to Keauhou Bay.

Alexandre Ribiero – Scott had told me that there was a very fast Brazilian dude coming to Ultraman. Whenever things got tough in my training, I would ask myself what Mr. 8:46 would do (I didn’t give Alexandre a name in my mind). I joked to Scott that I spent the last few weeks training for a dual with the Tooth Fairy. We’ll the Tooth Fairy exists and I would be proud to have a record like this: 20 IM finishes, including 10 IM Hawaii finishes; an IM personal best of 8:39; and a first place result in the two-man division of RAAM (Race Across America). He ain’t no Tooth Fairy – he’s the real deal! Could this be the year of the Ultra-War? That would be fun.

There are a few Ultra-Vets who have signed up this year. No doubt there will be surprises over the course of the race – let’s hope my fitness isn’t one of them!

So what about my strategy? It’s pretty simple. I’ve been doing my ten- and fifteen-kilometer swims for a reason. I’ve also done some TTs that have shown me that my IM swim effort was far, far lower than I previously thought. So I’ll be swimming closer to Half Ironman (HIM) Race Effort. That’s right, 10K at (my) HIM effort. Yes, I fully realize that this could make for a neat write-up on Friday – wish me luck.

Out of the water, we have a 500 ft climb in the first two miles. I’ll ease off on that, settle and drink a ton. Once the climb eases, and my HR settles, I’ll light the fuse and hold Half Ironman bike effort until I hit the sixty mile mark of the bike. At that stage, I’ll throw everything I’ve got at the final thirty mile climb. That’s the plan at least, we’ll see if I have the mental strength to push myself that hard.

I’ve got a plan for Days Two and Three but we’ll see what happens on Day One. Something tells me that Alexandre and Jamie could impact my game plan.

Talk to you after Stage One,