Friday, June 28, 2013

Plop Plop Fizz Fizz

It's that all too familiar feeling when you've been pushing well above your lactic acid threshold for at least ten minutes, when your quads and hamstrings start to feel like they're on fire, and your lungs burn with every breath. Many of you know what I'm talking about.

Yeah, that's called bicycle racing.

It happens mostly on weekends, and during Wednesday night training group rides, known colloquially as Wednesday Night Worlds in these parts. And how can I forget? Lactic acid burns occasionally occur during a lunch ride, when a colleague, we'll call him Wesley Johnson (no relation), happens to make it through the stop light that you got caught in, and seeing he's free, drills it in his big ring while you wait for the light to change. That's right, Wesley, show no mercy.

I think it was Michael Munson who once tried to tell me that lactic acid is actually a fuel for your muscles. Pshaw. Of course, Munson's also the guy that once told me to ride a skinny slick tire on my front during the winter months for better traction. I tried and it was a disaster. Wait, I take that back. It wasn't all bad. What that slick front tire did that winter was teach me how to fall on my ass successfully. Now, I have no fear of crashing. Thanks, Munson. Anyway, it -- the lactic acid -- may indeed be something that theoretically resembles fuel, but it certainly doesn't make me go faster. It just hurts.

When I used to be only a runner and did regular track interval workouts, sometimes I'd pre-load sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to buffer against the effects of lactic acid. I read a research paper on it and decided to give it a try. No, Munson didn't author the research paper. Regardless, I can vouch from personal experience that it was effective for me. Of course, YMMV. Some people can't stomach a couple tablespoons of baking soda before running 6 x 800m repeats in 95F and humidity. The heat, the humidity, the lactic acid and baking soda all churn into a sour mash in the stomach. Inevitably, around the 600m mark of the third 800m repeat, the runner can't stomach it any longer. Better hope you're a few meters ahead, for what happens next is not unlike the sound and appearance of when a kinked garden hose is straightened: koooooooooohr.

I'm sorry, but I find the act of barfing to be really funny. Funny as in Haha, funny. From the initial retch, to the splatter of a partially digested lunch resembling a soupy concoction of yellow curry, semi-masticated chicken bits and squarish potato looking thingys, the act of vomiting is simply hilarious.

As an aside, this reminds me of a time when I ran the Bolder Boulder 10K years ago. Some kid, looking to be about 10 years old and weighing no more than 50 pounds, flew by me in the first half mile of the race. A total rabbit if there ever was one. I remember thinking that that kid was something special and I'd probably see him next in the Olympics or something. But there he was down the road at the five mile mark, crouched over, hands on knees, barfing his little brains out into the gutter. Bless his dear heart.

Of course, it could have been the row of pleasantly plump belly dancers that were lined up on the hill right before mile five that triggered the projectile vomiting. I mean, that was a spectacle. Seeing, smelling, those jovial, patchouli-laced women and men strutting their stuff may overloaded the poor little feller:

(The scene: 10 yr old approaching Bolder Boulder 5 mile mark) I can do this! I can see the headlines now: 10 YEAR OLD SETS BOLDER BOULDER COURSE RECORD. I believe I can do it! Yeah, it hurts a ton, but gee willikers, I am the reigning St Pius field day champ in the 600 meter dash. I can and will do it. Wait-wait, is that five mile marker up the road? (glances at watch) 23:30, right on pace-- wha -- what's this? Is that a bunch of pregnant women in bikinis dancing along side of the road? Eww, and what's that smell? Ick. Stomach not feeling good! Urrrrp! Oh man, this can't be, URRRRPPPPPP!! I cannot go another step, I'm gonna hurl. Oh gosh, here it comes... ROAAAR!! Splatter-splatter, squish squish. ROAAAR!! Splatter-splatter, squish squish ROAAAAAAAARRRRR!!!!

Anyway, back to this lactic acid thingy. I don't know how others manage it. On a bike, it just painful.

But even off the bike, I get a reaction. Like when I read that Lee Bumgarner won his 14th cat 1/2/3 race this year at the Tour of KC last weekend, my stomach began to grumble. Or, when I heard how Jordan Ross helped Lee to victory by chasing down attacks, and yet still placing in the top 10 of a very strong field, a belch or two might have escaped my lips. But when I heard how Leah Kleager not only won her race, but lapped + the entire women's cat 1/2/3 field, well, a full-on acid reflux reaction kicked in that only prescription strength Pepcid could begin to quell.

Seriously people, how do you do it?


That's all I got to say about that.


  1. I think Munson is right and everybody else is wrong. Hey Munson. You should join me on Tuesday Nights at 5:45 at the BK Bridge for the GSV Ride. Good times. Good workout if you want it and definitely a no-drop ride. Gravel Worlds Preparation isn't going to just happen you know.