Sunday, February 17, 2013

Where I figure out that saddles matter and that you should eat food.

Time to STP: 143 days
What a massively productive week! Per Runkeeper, I ended up logging 114.6 miles in the saddle last week.  That is me riding every day except last Wednesday which I used as a recovery day.  I ended up getting up earlier every day and starting to try a recovery regimen.  Basically, this week was just about upping the mileage and trying to not kill myself doing it.
My girlfriend, an active runner, has become something of an information resource for me.  She has been exercising consistently for a few years now and as a result is in the best shape of her life and shedded an astonishing amount of weight.  I figured if anyone knew anything about how to really properly take care of yourself after a ride.  She had mentioned that what I really needed was something to help rebuild the muscles after a ride and that something would typically be proteins.  So, for the first couple post ride days this week I tried boiling a few eggs and scarfing those down with my coffee.  A little sea salt and a little cracked pepper and I was good to go.  I happen to love eggs and this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but these things wen straight to my stomach and sat there in a way that I would necessarily describe as "pleasant".  It didn't give me that full feeling that I was hoping for, but I figured if it was helping my legs do it all over again the next day then it was no big deal.  However, she then suggested that there was a theory that chocolate milk could be a good recovery drink as well.  Evidently there are a number of fats and proteins in chocolate milk that are good for recovery as well as antioxidants (there is a great article here that discusses it).  As an added bonus, I also happened to have a carton of soy milk (hello protein) that I wasn't doing anything with and now, for the last several days, I have given the chocolate milk a good go.  I can say, that though I thought it would feel too thick or sweet after a ride, it has been quite refreshing, and although my legs are still tight during the day, I don't feel as drained as I did when I started training last month.
Really, what I have been doing for the last week is also trying to make myself aware of more of the nutritional requirements of what it is that I am trying to do.  I am trying to trim down, improve my cardiovascular and build up so I can take STP head on and not feel wiped Monday after I come back to work after training or after the big ride itself (yes, I am actually coming back to work after STP).  I know myself well enough to know, too, that if I skip too many days, that I will find it harder to get back on the training wagon.  So, as it sits right now, I train for six days a week.  However, I know I need to feed myself properly, so I have been finding some great recipes online, including-but not limited to- a homemade chocolate syrup that isn't infused with high fructose corn syrup (I am making this tonight).  I recently picked up "The Cyclists Food Guide" as well, and so far this is an interesting read with even a good list of the things that you should keep in your house to build up a good set of healthy meals. 
Saturday I decided to increase my days mileage some and ride the 20 mile loop that I had put together for the previous Sunday.  I woke up a little late and had a few cups of coffee and headed out.  The first bit of the ride was uneventful, but fun, but as I whipped back for my return trip I encountered a headwind.  From what I understand, most of STP operates with a headwind so this wasn't something I had planned for but it was good training.  What I was not prepared for is the wall (metaphorical) that I hit right around mile 13.  I sort of lost my pep.  I lost the energy I was enjoying for the first half of my ride.  As well, I started having some rather irritating saddle rubbing issues that I also hadn't expected.  Basically, this made the last 7 miles of my ride tiresome and irritating (physically speaking).  I do ride with bib shorts and I spoke with the manufacturer and they had said their material is not necessarily designed to have to use butt butter but that people did.  I was finding, though, that it wasn't the whole of my bum that was hurting, just a section on back end of the saddle itself.  After another 23 mile ride Sunday, I resolved to do some investigation into saddles.
While a buddy of mine rides a fi'zi:k and swears by it, I wasn't really prepared to spent upwards of 20 bucks on a saddle just yet (yes, the argument can be made that it is money well spent, but ever since I bought Betsy, I have done nothing but buy something every this normal?).   I ended up with a nice Oval Concepts saddle (can't seem to find the model number) that I picked up from the CCC.  I will give that one a go and see how it works out, but all indications seem to point to something that will be a fair bit more comfortable than what I have been riding up until this point.

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