Thursday, April 23, 2015

Lactate, V02 and the beach.

This week has CRAWLED by. Isn't that always how it is the week before vacation. Well, it gives me plenty of time for my blog post since I'll likely be MIA next week.

Yesterday I had my Lactate/V02 test done at Provision with Dr. Sprouse. It marks (for me) my true return to structured training. Although the numbers were nowhere near where I had hoped, they were realistic to the amount of time I've been laid up. I'll save you all the boring details about the numbers (they can't help you haha) and just post some pictures!


At least I've got a good front profile to make up for my poor power :)

Really hurting now.

It was the step protocol (pretty standard) with blood taken every 3 minutes (and resistance increasing) until I could no longer hold 70rpm. I had expected it to be hard, but man... it was hard. I actually felt pretty good up until the last 2 minutes or so of the last step, at which point I just smashed into the wall head on. I can at least take a little pride in the fact that I didn't stop the test myself, I went until I couldn't hold 70rpm.

Thanks for checking in on me... Hopefully when you next hear from me I'll have some good beach pictures, a suntan (Vitamin D!) and the hunger to do some work and get that FTP back up!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review(?) - The Mediator Release Test (MRT)

Touted to reliably Quantify Diet-Induced Inflammation, I, in my new-found fervor to become a smarter (and healthier) athlete, was intrigued. The test is around 94% accurate (considerably more accurate than past tests) and *CAN* (depending on how you use the information of course) be a useful tool in the quest for better performance and health. Although I've only just received my results and began to study them, I'll try to give a "layman's" review, or at least my initial impressions.

First, to get it out of the way, the test isn't cheap, pretty much regardless of what tax bracket you belong to. I've found the "home test" system online for around ~$600, (looking at the 150 tests, it is less expensive as you test against fewer things.) and of course once you add a facility and doctor/nutritionist to that, you're looking at a pretty expensive blood test. Is it worth it? Currently my opinion is that it depends on a couple of things, probably mostly how you expect to use the information once you have it, but also just how bad some of your results are. (that is, if you aren't reactive to anything, which is admittedly not likely, but I suppose possible, then you get the green card to eat what you want I guess.)

Here is a sample of what the test results look like

Simple right?

One of the big positives of this test is that even if you haven't read a single thing about it, you can very likely read the results almost immediately and fairly accurately. If you guessed red = bad, yellow = caution and green = ok, then you have the general gist of it.

To break it down a little further, it becomes pretty apparent that Zucchini, Lettuce and Potatoes are a highly reactive food to this particular person, and that (according to MRT) those should definitely be eliminated from the diet. It's worth noting that doesn't mean you're going to have an allergic reaction, swell up and die if you ate a Zucchini... that's not what this test does (and you could be allergic to something in the green for that matter. In other words if you have Celiacs, don't start eating bread if you have this test done and wheat comes back in the green.) but your body does not like Zucchini and will create much more inflammation than if you had replaced it with Carrots.

What does all of that mean for us? From an athletes point of view, inflammation is primarily bad, (I know that is not exactly true and WAY oversimplifying but in this case...) and something you ideally are looking to minimize. Inflammation is a response to tissue damage, and it helps remove cellular "trash" so that the healing can begin. Inflammation is also important for the training adaptations that take place AFTER you break the muscles down. However, Inflammation can also do damage if it lingers (DOMS, secondary muscle damage) and, in the case of endurance athletes, it's very possible that you end up with consistently building fatigue and inflammation due to... well... endurance sports nature really. Constant (chronic) inflammation is not a good thing.

So what the hell does all that mean in regards to the MRT test. Well, take myself for example. I'll spare you the full details of my personal test results, but something struck me almost immediately when I got them back. Two things I had tested poorly against were banana's and yogurt. In preparation (generally starting in my taper and especially in the last 2-3 days before a race) for a race I almost always limited my diet to what I thought was "very clean." Two things I ate in VERY large amounts... Banana's and yogurt. (usually 10+ banana's and 8+ cups of Greek yogurt in the day or two before a big race.) What I was essentially doing was "inflammation loading" during my taper for a big race... then maxing out on it the day or two before! Besides that, both of those had been DAILY (yes, daily) staples in my diet for years... that's not the best way for someone who already produces a lot of inflammation to combat it and is likely one of the contributors to some of my "on/off" performances the last few seasons.

The next step (for me) is meeting with the nutritionist. The other half of the MRT test is the LEAP rotating diet plan. Anything that is a "diet" plan already reeks of failure (in my mind) because it is not flexible enough for a real life scenario. However, that doesn't mean it can't work or that parts of it can't be incorporated in my lifestyle. I do think I will do the suggested LEAP food reintroduction schedule, but I have put it on hold until I return from vacation. I will likely update this post with more on the LEAP half after I have had more experience with it.

So, what do I think.

Knowledge = Power. I'm a firm believer in that. The more you know (especially in regards to your own body) the more informed choices you can make, which usually equates to better choices. This test isn't for everyone, both as a result of it's currently prohibitive cost and the simple fact that knowing the results and not acting upon them is a total waste. (So if you aren't giving up Eggs / Bacon / Ice Cream / Zucchini no matter what, maybe it's not for you.) However, for the athlete who is interested in squeezing everything they can out of their body, or just the regular person who would like to feel a little better day to day, this is a great tool to be considered.

Thanks so much for reading. I'm very excited to be back to "sort of really" training again, and I have seemed to find that for the first time in a long time I'm looking forward to workouts instead of dreading or trudging through them. I'm excited for the future once more!

- Christopher Morelock

Monday, April 6, 2015

Getting back in the swing of things

Slowly but surely, I'm putting in some time. Sure, I'm at a measely 43 miles so far this month with most of my rides being around 30 minutes... but it's moving again and I'm actually starting to feel more like I belong on a bike once more. 

Almost all of that has been on Zwift Island. I have to say, it's been a long time (actually...ever) since I actively look forward to getting up in the morning(!) and ride my bike. In the past I've been notorious for not doing bike workouts until afternoon, but on my re-start one of the things I wanted to do was break that bad habit. And so I have, with a little help from my virtual friends...

Zwift is pretty sweet overall, and though there is only one course, the constant influx of people (Laurens Ten Dam is pretty often finishing a ride when I'm waking up)  keeps it interesting. It's easy to forget that Zwift is a video game...and plays like one. (I made the mistake of not using my power ups the first week)  It's also important to remember that it is...JUST A GAME. I've logged on a few times to see people butthurt about what watts somebody can or can't produce... and while yes, it is annoying to see somebody in the orange jersey doing laps with a 7w/kg avg, it's not a big deal. 

My first day getting a green jersey was also on a big wheel! 

So far so good, I'm going to ramp up a little more in preparation for my Lactate test, and then it's off to the beach at the end of the month! Hopefully with lots of pictures!

Until next time

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Day 1: Building a new motor.

The time has finally arrived. My test results returned with nearly all positive improvements (some very big ones.) and my mood/energy levels have returned, so with the doctors OK I set my alarm for 5a.m. and had one celebratory drink of Yamazaki 18year Japanese Whisky before my triumphant return to training.

5a.m. rolled around and I was startled awake by my alarm. After hitting snooze three times I finally managed to roll out of bed around 5:20. I strode into my newly updated pain cave and fired up Zwift, eager to get on the island and get some miles in my legs. I'd show these avatars I still had it.

I started out with a nice warmup... really spinning the legs. It felt a little tougher than I remembered, so I shifted down and kept up the good work, running around 140watts.  Soon however, due both to my own relentless competitiveness and coaxing from Zwift, I settled in to do some work. A climb you say... just what I needed to test myself. Polka dot jersey here I come.

I start my ascent and shift into a big gear and launch off. 100m in the cold truth hits me... I'm not going to be first to the top. Then the Mike Tyson right hook gets me... I'm not going to be 25th to the top. 26...27... Mercifully the climb ends and I take the 31st fastest time up. I immediately drop out of my big ring and spend the next couple of minutes just trying not to vomit."Close the Gap" pops up an ad-infinitive number of times in the next few minutes, and more often than not, I do not close that gap.

Finally, in what seems like an eternity of suffering but in all actuality was no more than 30 minutes... I think I've had enough for the first day. I did some decent work, a solid go round, now to just check my average watts for the ride and see how I did. I'm sure I lost a lot, but pfft... I'm healthy again!

Avg. Watts - 156
Avg. MPH - 16.5

Sheesh... at least I probably broke a record on my max watts, I did a serious sprint!

Max. Watts - 706

I shakily unclip and nearly topple over getting off my bike, my legs an unfamiliar hairy lump of jelly. For a moment after both my Joule and Zwift prompt me to save my workout, I consider deleting them. This isn't me... is it? Of course I have my moment of clarity and save both.

Of course it isn't me in the sense of the triathlete who had last saved a file to poweragent.  That person in gone, for better or for worse, and can never be again. I say for better or worse, but I look for it to be for the better... that person wasn't smart, believed he could push through anything and that more was always the answer. I hope this new, blank slate I've been gifted has the intelligence to mix with that determination and create something better. So I'll be back on my bike today, and tomorrow, and probably not the day after (rest days you know) but then I'll be back again... and I'll take my beatings and put in my time and then...maybe I'll look back at those old power files and laugh. That's my goal anyways.

Thanks for reading! Regardless of anything else, it's good to back in the saddle.

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Track Stands are Hard

Old reliable is back in action, as is the Egg Brake (I'm not brave enough to go brakeless)
Monday I will hopefully get cleared to return to some form of training, but with the break in crappy weather we've had, I just couldn't resist getting out on a bike. Still, I'm a good patient, so I refrained from much "riding" and decided it was time to learn a new skill... Track Stands.

Much to my dismay, what hipster kids make look simple I seem to be having a hell of a time nailing down. After an afternoon (and another morning) of practice, I've gotten proficient enough to stop and hold it a few seconds... but still not red light length of time, nor reliably enough to try it anyways. Still, progress is progress, and hopefully I'll have it mastered in the near future, afterwards moving on to perfecting it on a road bike, which seems infinitely harder.

It was also good to be back on the Planet X Stealth, and it wears this new skin pretty nicely. I had forgotten just how solid this bike feels underneath me... It's a shame it's not a little more aerodynamic :( I also dug the old Egg brake out of retirement so that I'd have a way to stop other than my legs, and while I still have the same complaints about it that I always have (it's annoying to set up and fickle to stay put once you do have it set) it's still one of the most assured braking aero brakes out there... which is what I'm most interested in on this kind of ride, as I'm still working on stopping reliably without relying on the brake.

Hopefully the next time you hear from me I'll be back in the saddle "for real," and with good things to report from my blood tests. Until then, thanks for checking in!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Closing in on a return to training.

A little under two weeks left. Time has gone from passing by at a palatable level to chilled black strap molasses crawling. I am becoming restless.

That said, I've been getting things in order for my (hopefully) imminent return. By now you've likely at least read a little bit about Zwift (with LTD and Jens both being big supporters) and, being that it combines two things I love (cycling and video games) I was immediately sold on it. I'm in the beta (albeit I've yet to ride the island) and even went so far as to build a(nother) computer with the sole intention of running Zwift in the pain cave.

Next step is to clean up the cables.

I expect to spend a LOT of time with this in the coming months, so I wanted a dedicated setup to make it work. Zwift isn't a terribly resource sapping game, so I was able to escape with the cheapo gaming computer build... about $700 (counting the 32" TV I picked up at an bargain hunt store) and it'll play at pretty high setting without dropping any frames.  It's crazy how cheaply you can put together a solid gaming PC these days. 

Being the gear-phile that I am, I also lucked into a new lid. My LBS happened to be one of the lucky shops that had a S-Works TT helmet in stock... and it was my favorite color!

Look fast even when you're not able to race
I'm excited, this thing is high on features (admittedly it's also high on price, although it's less than a lot of the other "super" helmets) and extremely comfortable the little bit I've worn it. It also seems to line up well for me.  Whether it's faster or not is yet to be determined, but I've got high hopes.

On the last note for this update... I've been back to have more blood drawn. I'm very interested to see what kind of changes have taken place in my body since the last visit. My hope is that my worrisome levels have righted themselves with the supplementation and rest. I'm sure I'll have a little bit of a comparison on here once I've been over it with my doctor.

Thanks for checking in on me. Excitement is mounting, I can't wait to be back.

- Christopher Morelock

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Cobb Mobb Website is ALIVE!!

Two posts in one day! Crazy Talk!

Just wanted to share that the new Cobb Mobb Website is now alive and kicking! Check out all the members, the story, and some blog entries! 

Link to my bio (in case you were only a semi-stalker)

Thanks all for checking it out!

Christopher Morelock