Saturday, October 31, 2009

When's a banned drug a bad drug?

With the last race done, its time to get off the race bike and just relax. Well, with a 2 month old baby, relaxing is not high up on the todo list. Plus work is getting busy again, cycling of any type is on the back burner. To top it all off, I've got a sinus infection (again).

Normally it would not bother me too much, but this one is bad enough to effect my sleeping, as its contracting the bronchial tubes a bit. Actually, it was a bit freaky as I was drifting off to sleep I could feel my breathing getting shallower and shallower until it just about stopped! Then I'd wake up with a jolt. This was enough to meet up my my doc who prescribed by xyzal (yeah!) for the Sinus problems and also Prendnisolone, a corticosteroid which is normally given to asthmatics. A quick check on wikipedia, it turns out its on the WADA banned list of drugs.

After some research, it turns out WADA have banned it because "When administered systemically (into the blood), glucocorticosteroids can produce a feeling of euphoria, potentially giving athletes an unfair advantage,'' their Web site says. There's a long list of possible side effects such as a loss of blood supply to the hip bone, which might necessitate a hip replacement, diabetes, obesity and a risk of infection.

It also turns out Barry Bonds was a big fan of its cousin prednisone, which it happens is not banned my major league baseball (nor is Prendnisolone). He claimed it was used to reduce swelling in his legs and in most professional US sports it used for recovery. So instead of it being used as a performance enhancer, they (people who use it a lot) claim its a performance enabler.

So, when does a drug become a performance enhancer? To be honest its a moot debate as its on the WADA list, and thats it, but at what point is it ok to take drugs to ease pain inflicted by the sport (as opposed to some ailment)?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

K-capital Challenge round 2 and 3

OK, going to lump the both of these in together...

Round 2 - Carrick Mountain, Wicklow

Carrick is a well known downhill spot (think it held a round of the nps this year). Its located in east Wicklow, a fair jaunt away from home, but with a t-shirt on offer for finishers of all 3 rounds of the K-capital, I was soooo going to be there :)

We found the spot easily enough, and parked up in a dryish field. It had been raining on and off for a few days prior, and when we arrived a mist/drizzle started to fall, nothing too bad, but the under wheel conditions could have been better. There was a good turn out again despite the less than ideal weather. After a quick warmup we headed for the start and after a pre race brief by Robin we were off. The first section was a narrower than normal fireroad which, once it started to head skywards it started to sort out the riders positions. I started in the middle of the group (I need to push myself up to the front at the start of these races!!) and by the first section of single track I was in the top 20. The single track was good fun, even if it wa
s a little schlompy. We climbed out and back onto more fireroad and then switched to rougher stuff, all the time climbing, which was taking its toll on me. We got to the first summit and then it was a steep descent and it was there where I had my first over the handlebar moment of the day. Probably my own fault, I was that 1% beyond being in full control of the bike and when I hit a deep, I was launched from the bike. After picking myself up an
d giving me and the bike a quick once over, I was off again. We dropped onto another fireroad, and hit an early water stop which I did not stop for.

After a lot more climbing I got caught by Sean and a few others. Up to that point I was out on my own with no sign of anyone in front or behind. I definitely drop my pace in those situations. So once I they passed me I tried hanging onto their wheels, which only lasted for a few km's offroad, before I lost contact on a newly created descent. When I got to the fireroad there was a headwind blowing and the guys where way up the road, so that was my chances of sticking with them blown.

We went off road again and began climbing the longest singletrack climb I think I've ever done. It was a good 10 minutes of rocky climbing - t'was great! Following that there were a few more over the bar moments also but it was a pretty lonely spin to the finish, which turned up about 10km's earlier than I thought (the race was shorted due to safety reasons). In the end I finished 11th in Masters and 21st over all. A bit of a disappointment really and I should have done better. Before you get seriously into racing you think its all about fitness - thats what gets you race wins, but its as much about having the right frame of mind (that is, you want to compete and win). It's something I need to work on for next year, as I'm a bit too nice in races I think :)

Round 3 - Kippure, Wicklow
The 3rd and final round of the k-cap was based in Kippure house and used some of the Marathon champs trails as well as some new stuff. Thankfully this was the driest of the 3 rounds. Another big turnout meant I needed to be keeping an eye on the start line to ensure I was somewhere up the front for the start. But I didn't so that meant I was at the back of a 100+ field. I was a bunch of guys turning up late and sneaking into the front - maybe I should have done the same...
But with a few km's of tarmac and fireroad climbing I felt pretty happy that I'd get up the front quick enough. And by the time we reached the first techie single track I was up in the top 10. At this stage the field had spread out and I was wheel-to-wheel with Alfie and Oisin. We were alternating going to the front, but that was mainly down to whether one of us missed a turn in the route. I was comfortable enough keeping in with them, but a series of 3 mistakes in quick succession had put me a good 30/40 seconds behind the guys, so then I was chasing. We started to climb off road before hitting some tarmac and a long 3ish km's climb. It was a straight section of road so in the distance I could see Oisin and ahead of him Alfie, who was pushed away. So I got my head down, upped the tempo and did my best roadie impression.

Within 3ish minutes I had caught Oisin, just was we were close to the top. I kept the pace up hoping to get Alfie, but we then hit some more single track. I lost track of him. To make matters worse, some horrendous line choices meant Oisin had caught up and passed me. I kept him in sight and as we crossed through a gate we passed Alfie who punctured. I kept chasing Oisin and caught his wheel on the tarmac section.

At this stage we were fairly certain that we were in podium positions, and with no one behind, felt we could ease off just a little - in my mind I was dreading the thought of having to go head to head with Oisin in a sprint! We worked around way along the final sections of single track and then onto the fireroad climb, when all of a sudden Paddy Daly powers up to us! The guy must have pulled out all the stops as every time I took a look behind the road was clear! So this made things interesting. What I should have done at this stage was make a break for it - we were on a steep climb, something I like, Oisin doesn't, and Paddy was trying to get his breath back. But I hung back - DOH!

I did do a quick sprint to the second last singletrack section - a techie descent. To be honest, I don't know how I kept the bike upright for the first 50 meters or so, but I had pulled out a gap on the guys. At this stage I was thinking to myself I could actually beat them! Unfortunately, while I was thinking this I totally messed up a kicker which had me running with the bike and the lads passing me. And that was that. The guys were always 15 to 20 seconds ahead of me in the last kilometre or 2 and there was nothing I could do (I had also mentally thrown in the towel at this stage). So I wheeled over the line, less than 30 seconds behind Paddy, and less than a minute behind Oisin, who finished in 2nd in Masters! I was ragin for a couple of days with the result - I had come close to a really good result there only to mess it up at the finish. Again, lessons for next year - work in techie skills and killer instinct :)

But coming in 4th in Masters and 7th overall was a good result for the last race of the year. A year that started pretty damn good, went pair-shaped in the middle, and came back good again at the end.

And BIG thanks to Mel for lending me Ryan's, then her Garmin :)