Sunday, April 20, 2014

Leadman Love

I’ve been a huge fan of the Leadman race concept and brand since its infancy in 2011. I missed the very first race (I was still in a shoulder sling), but I’ve raced in every Leadman event since-Vegas 125, Bend 250, Bend 125, Tempe 125. Each deserving their own background story, but I’ll spare you all that history. Basically the Leadman concept is long swim, longer bike and shorter run with the intention of preserving the body yet still providing athletes with an epic long distance challenge. And you get a fancy belt buckle for meeting specific time standards!
This past weekend I raced my 5th Leadman event. The Leadman Marquee 125 in Tempe AZ. This was a perfect training race and a fun opportunity to test the body after only six weeks back into structured training.

After 10+ years of racing, the satisfaction I derive from events is primarily a factor of the fabulous people I share them with. Each of my Leadman races have been group adventures and this time around we had Julie & Erik joining us in the Valley of the Sun. It was another fantastic addition to our memory books. Kerry was still in semi recovery mode after a MTB crash at our camp in Vegas a few weeks ago so he opted for a swim and bike version of Leadman this time. Julie and Erik both had significant PRs so a fine day for our MN crew.

My race was pretty straight forward. Not too much to report really: First OW/wetsuit swim in 6 months felt surprisingly fluid and easy, time was a couple minutes faster than last year, but I’m pretty sure the course was a tad shorter. Time of 35ish (1:26/100m pace). 2nd female out of the water. I was ready for the 4 loop criterium style bike course and my primary concern was safety and avoiding too may surges out of the corners. I was extra conservative and ended up riding at only 75% FTP which is well below where I’d like to be for this distance. BUT, I was really enjoying my new race fuel. Osmo + SALTY Balls!! Made fresh the night before, I was experimenting with a new race day fueling/ hydration strategy, which called for more real food. I generally pay no attention to old adage “don’t try something new on race day”. I’m frequently playing with new strategies as a way to learn and share my experiences for when it really matters. Thankfully Dr Stacy Sims, Exercise Physiologist and nutrition wizard shared a few tips with me, and I basically followed her standard Osmo race protocol for hot weather.

Here’s the summary:

  • 1 bottle of Osmo Preload the night before.
  • Standard AM Bfest Smoothie concoction and 1 bottle mixed with half Osmo preload and half Osmo active hydration. (really important for HOT races)
  • I started the bike with two bottles of Active Hydration. I filled my aero bottle with water every loop, and added a single serving back of osmo active hydration in the last hr. SO, in just over 3 hrs on the bike: Consumed ~24oz water/hr - 1 bottle per loop. 3 of the bottles included Osmo Active Hydration. 
  • At least every 45min I consumed one Salty Ball which I had stuffed in my Bento box. 
  • I had a pre mixed bottle of Osmo preload and active hydration waiting in T2 (frozen overnight and still slushy). In the 80+ degree temps, grabbing a slushy salty drink for the run was a win. 
Here’s the recipe. Salty Balls: Makes ~10 balls at about 140kcal/ball 
  • 1/2 cup cashew butter (peanut or almond would work as well) 
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup** 
  • 1/2 cup whey protein isolate ( I used OSMO Active recovery) 
  • 2/3 cup chocolate koala crisps (could go with 1/2 oatmeal) 
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (Stacy uses raisins here)

Microwave the nutbutter and brown rice syrup for about a minute, then stir in everything else. Form into balls, then add a sprinkle of salt on top. **As an FYI - Brown Rice Syrup is not found in the standard grocery store. I found it at Sprouts in AZ, but I assume Whole Foods and the Natural Co-ops would also carry it. 

Anyhow, Back to the race: About 1 mile into the run we head into Papago Park trail system. I was shoulder to shoulder with another girl who I assumed was the 1st or 2nd place amateur.

Once we hit the super fun technical climbs and descents I was able to bridge a gap. I felt strong and steady. Certainly not fast, but at the halfway point which was a nice out and back section I was able to check in on the competition. I had a comfortable gap and continued to feel strong and in control of my pace and hydration. I continued to work as hard as I could in hopes of improving my time from last year. I think the run was a tad longer, but my time was roughly the same - I had the fastest amateur female run, which is a mini victory for me! Anyhow - All in all, I’m happy with my performance and to have picked up the amateur win. I consider the nutrition plan a success and will build on this for Ironman. A solid starting point before I put in plenty of hours this summer in preparation for my return to Ironman (Arizona) racing in November.

They awarded buckles for sub 5:15 finishes! Julie and I both took home shiny goods to add to our buckle collection!

It’s been a quick recovery and thankfully the next race adventure is right around the corner. I’m headed to Washington DC to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon with 10 super cool ladies from the office.

I’ve never been to The Capital and I can’t think of a better way to check out the historic sights.  They even offer a Tiffany’s necklace as a finishers medal. A FUN touch for sure.

Cheers - Thanks for reading.