Road Trip to Pittsburgh, March ’19

Few years ago, my employment journey with Uber began from two month on-boarding & training at the Pittsburgh office. I haven’t had much time to spare outside of work, however I made an effort to explore the city and see new places.

My initial thoughts and impressions of the city were not too bright. Ever since, I came back numerous times and had a chance to experience familiar things and places from a different perspective.
Such business trips work as a reset button for me and I would come and leave as a different person. This trip is not an exception.

Past autumn I not only moved to a new country, but also transitioned to a new position at the company. I finally got a chance to meet my team mates in person. Young, bright people, with totally different backgrounds and skill sets are working together, and share the same mission. I feel proud to be the part of Test Engineering team, working with such intelligent people.

I learned that Self-driving Vehicle Test Engineering requires more than solid foundation of knowledge and experience, but also the strong interpersonal skills. “Soft or peoples” skills are essential to build relationships with developers across different teams.

You also have to be a fast learner. Before any work is done you need to have a clear understanding of how certain features, hardware or software work. You have to ask questions, a lot of questions! You got to put your ego to the side to be able to ask questions that might seem silly to someone. This essentially pushes you outside of your comfort zone.

Continuous education and strive to learn is what you need to foster not just at work, but in life.

My work is not always easy and this is great! If it feels hard, you are on the right track to improve and evolve.

Coming back to Toronto feeling accomplished and determined to grow.

Training

My first Ironman is rapidly approaching and I begin to have a bit of anxiety about it. The race is in one month. 

I can’t afford myself to skip a single day of training therefore I brought my bike and trainer with me. Nicely set it up at my Airbnb, I was able to put in three quality workouts. Proud of myself. 

In addition I was able to join Pittsburgh Masters Elite Swimming Team for two workouts. Swimming with them was hard, I felt slow and doubted myself along with the ability to achieve the levels of performance I set for myself. I definitely left my comfort zone and stressed the system. That’s good! Thanks to the coach for a chance to splash around, slowing everyone down and thanks for the feedback. 

Mr. Blake

In such a short life, this dog traveled and seen more places than 90% of the people in their lifetimes.

He’ve been behaving exceptionally well and I even brought him to the office. Everyone loved him and for being so good he jot a nice chunk of beef jerky from me. Gooood Boy!


Travel

Being back in US brought up a lot of memories, good memories. I suddenly became nostalgic. The second I stopped in to the Target Supermarket I got flooded with emotions. Smells and sounds opened up the door into the past, reminding me of people that I used to have in my life, the places I used to go, the thoughts and feelings I had. I miss a lot of things, but more people… Time to leave.

I am grateful for all the nice people I met on this trip. Grateful for the opportunity to travel and see new places. Grateful for the healthy body that continues to improve, allowing me to take on this athletic journey. Grateful for Blake and his strong loyalty despite me being an ass sometimes.

4 Hour Bike + 15 Min Run. March 16, 2019. ~Mind over Body~

BRICK

4 hours holding 200 Watts + 15 min Run off bike

brick workout is any workout that combines swimming, biking and/or running into a single session. The most common example is the bike to run brick, where you go for a run immediately after finishing a bike ride.


Today I pushed myself above my physical limits.
Today my mind won over my body, forcing me give everything I had.
It’s all good Mental Training.
IRONMAN 70.3 Marbella


Warm-up:
15 min easy

Main set:
3.5 hours @ 200 watts
At the top of every hour, ride x 10 mins @ 275 watts with 3.5 min easy riding after each interval.

Cool-down:
15 min easy

Using the sweat rate and fueling data I’ve collected over the past few weeks My strategy is following:


Hydration

Goal: 
Prevent loosing more than 3% of weight through the fluid loss. In my case 68 kg (150 lb) = 2.1 kg

As I recently found out, Lionel Sanders has exactly same Sweat Rate as I do. We both sweat at approximately 1400 mL/hour. Another question is how much sodium each looses?

How?

Sweat Rate (SR): ~1400 mL/h
Liquids Required: Exercise Duration x SR = 4 hr * 1400 = 5600 mL x 1.06 (to convert in grams) = 5936 g
Carbohydrates Required:
(X g carbs / 5936 g) x 100%; X = 5936 x 0.05 = 296.8 g (5% Solution)
Sodium Requirements
: 0.5 x 5.936 = 2968 mg


What?

Electrolyte Solution:

Gatorade G2 (591 mL) x 5 bottles = 2955 mL x 1.06 = 3132 g
Bio Steel (500 mL) + Karma (532 mL) = 1032 mL
Coke x 2 (355 mL) = 710 mL
Aloe crap = 500 mL
Smoothie = 450 mL
Sodium: 1685 mg
Carbohydrates: 231 g (890 calories)
Total volume: 5647 mL x 1.06 = 5986 g


FUELING


Pre-Exercise: 30 min Before

As usual workout is done early at 6 AM. After the night fast.

Two bananas + cup of coffee. That’s it

50 g of Carbs = 192 calories


During Exercise


How?

Formula: 
Low End: 0.25 x 150 = 37.5 g/h x 4 hr = 150 g
High End: 0.33 x 150 = 49.4 g/h x 4 hr = 198 g

Fueling & Bonking Calculator

Calculator suggests I take in 60 g/h x 4 h = 240 g of carbs
It also predicts the calories burnt (from fat and glycogen), distance covered and training stress score (TSS). Let’s see how close those predictions are…

What?

As I mentioned before, I would like to experiment with liquid sources of carbs, so here we go. When thinking about sugar, the first thing that comes to mind is Coke. In addition I threw in a smoothie or “natural” juice plus “Dena Aloe” drink. All the carbs are coming from liquid sources today.

Carbohydrates: 166 grams (640 calories) / 4 hr = 41.5 g/h
Calories per hour: 640 / 4 hr = 160 cal/hour


Pepermint TUMS

Taking peppermint TUMS prior to hard efforts to decrease stomach irritation and diarrhea
Here’s how TUMS may help with your symptoms:
Calcium works with the neuromuscular contractions and muscle metabolism
Carbonate helps to coat the intestinal cells, reducing endotoxin release and the ensuing symptoms
Peppermint is a homeopathic remedy for GI disturbances


RESULTS


Pre-Weight: 68.1 kg
Post-Weight: 69.5 kg
Liquids Consumed: 5647 mL (5986 g)
Weight Lost: 4.6 kg
Sweat Rate: 1080 g/hr

Weight Loss: 6.6 % body weight

Bad job Sasha! That’s waaay too much…


BIKE


First hour felt ok holding 200 watts, however I sensed something’s not quite right, wasn’t feeling particularly strong. Shortly I understood why…

10 x 3 at 275 Watts Intervals:


#1

F*ck it hurts!
Can’t hold 275 Watts going down 10w.
Lasted 6 minutes, dropped down to 260 W.


#2

Lasted for about 2 minutes, then – BONK. Dammit I can’t believe it, again. Couldn’t hold 275 W any longer, gradually reducing power…
Went down to 240 W – it’s the maximum I can squeeze out of my body right now. SO MAD!
I am not going to give up! Slowly increasing wattage… Last two minutes of the interval ramping up to 260 Watts.
F*CK IT HURTS! HR stays low.
2 hours to go… not sure if I can do it. I might just drop out right here. No sense to continue after I hit the wall.

I continue. It is no longer physical training – now it’s a mental training. Let’s see how far can I push myself mentally.


Suddenly after I opened the second can of Coke I felt that strengths comes back. I thought, once you bonked, there is no way out of it…
Jogging down on soda. Feeling stronger.


#3

Held 276 W for the entire duration of the interval!!!
So damn HAPPY and PROUD of myself! I pushed above my limits here. My mind won over my body.
Sweat is so acidic, and it burns my eyes. My legs are hurting like bitch.
It took me enormous amount of effort to push through.
I left nothing in me…


RUN


My legs are numb and heavy. Really hard to keep up with that pace.


Distance Covered:
170 KM: 168 on bike + 2 by feet
Time Elapsed:
4 hours 15 minutes
Energy Expanded:
3106 Calories


Lessons Learned

  • I am not eating enough. With my current load I need to be eating more carbohydrates.
  • I prefer taking in solid carbohydrates, instead of liquid.
  • You CAN get out of bonking hole. It took me 2 cans of Coke (90 g of sugar). However don’t expect your performance to be the best.
  • Even consuming the right volume of fluids, I finished seriously dehydrated. Probably due to the low glycogen stores, as it holds the water in the body.
  • Fueling & Bonking Calculator suggested that I am in the very high risk of bonking. How right it was!
  • Sanders has very similar sweat rate. I might look into his sodium loss to guesstimate mine.

What will I do Differently?

  • Increase caloric intake few days before big training session. Make emphasis on carbs!
  • Take in fuel from solid sources.
  • Get the freaking new seat.

3 hr Bike + 20 min Run. March 15, 2019 ~God’s Mode~

BRICK

3 hours at 195 Watts + 20 min Run off bike

brick workout is any workout that combines swimming, biking and/or running into a single session. The most common example is the bike to run brick, where you go for a run immediately after finishing a bike ride.


What a beautiful day today in Canada 🇨🇦. Sun rays gently pet my face. The sound of birds singing give me so much joy. I breath fully into my lungs, I stand strong on my feet, I AM ALIVE! I am full of energy and my soul is singing. 
I am so happy to come out of my Pain Cave and shake up my legs on a little run.

IRONMAN 70.3 Marbella 2019 is around the corner and I feel that I reach my peak form. Training volume goes up and I begin to feel fit as f@ck! I feel the explosive power within my body.


Warm-up:
15 min easy

Main set:
3 hours @ 180-195 watts
At mins 30 & 60 of each hour, ride x 7 mins @ 260-275 watts with 3.5 min easy riding after each interval.

Cool-down:
15 min easy

Using the sweat rate and fueling data I’ve collected over the past few weeks I develop the following strategy:


Hydration

Goal: 
Prevent loosing more than 3% of weight through the fluid loss. In my case 68 kg (150 lb) = 2.1 kg

How?

Sweat Rate: ~1400 mL/h
Liquids Required: Exercise Duration x Sweat Rare = 3.5 * 1400 = 4900 mL
5% Solution: (255 g carbs / 4900 mL) x 100
Sodium Requirements: 0.5 x 4.2 = 2450 mg


What?

Electrolyte Solution:

Gatorade G2 (591 mL) x 8 bottles = 4728 mL
Carbohydrates: 12 g x 8 = 96 g
Sodium: 270 mg x 8 = 2160 mg
Calories: 50 x 8 = 400


FUELING


Pre-Exercise: 30 min Before

Workout is done early at 5:30 AM. After the night fast.

Two bananas + cup of coffee + sugary drink (Aloe bullshit) + BCAA with Creatine Monohydrate

Felt good, not overly stacked. Just enough.

75 g of high GI Carbs = 300 calories


During Exercise


How?
Formula: 0.3 x 150 = 45 g/h x 3.5 hr = 158 grams of carbs 
What?

Carbohydrates: 126 grams / 880 calories
Calories per hour: 880 / 3.5 hr = 251 calories/hour


RESULTS


Pre-Weight: 67.5 kg
Post-Weight: 68.2 kg (post bike) 67 kg (post run)
Liquids Consumed: 4137 mL
Weight Lost: 3437 ml (3.4 kg)
Sweat Rate: 982 mL/hr (post bike) 1040 mL/hr (post run)

Weight Loss: 5 % body weight

5% is too much. Bad job here.


BIKE


Yesterday I’ve had a quite hard day with 3.5 km swim, followed by 16 km run. On top of it I had some work commitments to deal with. I also didn’t eat enough calories to cover the energy expended. 

Considering the fact that I woke up at 4:30 am, I was concerned about how my body will handle 4 hours of consistent training…

To my HUGE surprise I felt really good and strong. In fact, holding 195 Watts for 3 hours was so easy, that I even thought there might be something wrong with the power meter. (No issues with equipment. Calibrated power meter before the ride). With so much power in my legs I began to wonder how long will it last for until fatigue begin to creep up? I was expecting my power go down and HR go up as I go farther. I was really surprised to see that 1, 2 hours into the ride my HR significantly dropped, but power stayed the same. It felt even easier to hold that power, so I put the higher gear – my speed and cadence increased. What is going on here? Why do I feel so strong? Past two days I’ve been pushing my body so hard, but I am feeling so good… Is it something related to nutrition? Sleep? Hydration? Why? I shouldn’t be performing so good … Is the power meter broken? No it’s not.

It felt I could ride like this for days. Is this some sort of breakthrough? I am confused but happy…

I want to feel this way every day. How can I maintain this energy levels consistently?

I am really happy with bike performance and the way I felt.
Great job Sasha!


RUN


First 10 minutes were and easy run @RPE 3. Didn’t feel very strong. 

Next 5 minutes were at RPE 4, so I picked up the pace. I got surprised by how much stronger I felt compared to running at the slower pace just a moment ago. What’s going on? I got the feeling that I could run much faster so I speeded up even more.

Feeling strong! I’m so confused…


Distance Covered:
150 KM: 145 on bike + 5 by feet.
Time Elapsed:
3 hours 50 minutes.
Energy Expanded:
2787 Calories 


Lessons Learned

  • Start eating right from the beginning and stay consistent.
  • Pre-meal doesn’t have to be huge, as long as you’ve got enough during-fuel.
  • Proper bike position changes RPE and power output. Seat position is REALLY painful 😖. The cover I put on helped, but not much. I need a new seat
  • Higher cadence (80-90 rpm) makes it easier to hold bigger power.
  • Sweat Rate of 1400 mL/hour is on the high side. At this intensities I could go away with approximately 1200 mL/hour.

What will I do Differently?

  • Try liquid sources of carbohydrates. A coke?
  • Get the freaking new seat.
  • Use the restroom before run.

Post-Exercise Fueling

The race is over. You’ve given all you had. You pushed your body to the limit. What’s next?

Recovery.
Proper post-exercise nutrition as much important as the two previous stages pre- and during- exercise fueling. Show your body appreciation and give it exactly what it needs and deserves for the work it’ve done.
Learn about how to maximize your recovery through the lenses of sports nutrition.


First 30 minutes after the exercise stops are extremely important in recovery. There are five main goals we are trying to accomplish during this stage:


Replace expanded Carbohydrate Stores

Take in carbohydrates that are high on GI: potatoes, rice and grains are great choices.
Take in 1/2 – 3/4 body weight in grams of carbs within 30 minutes of exercise (ex: 150 lbs = 75 – 112 grams).
Liquid form is preferred.

Rehydrate

Take in 500 ml of liquid for every pound lost during exercise.

Provide Amino Acids

After carbohydrate stores get depleted in the working muscles, the body begins to break down protein structures within the muscle cells, cannibalising itself.
Protein, particularly BCAA should be taken in at a carb-to-protein ratio of about 4:1 or 5:1.
Best sources are Egg or Whey Protein (easiest to absorb).

Begin Replacing Electrolytes

 Electrolytes are critical for muscle contraction and relaxation.
Drinking
juice or eating fruit will easily replace nearly all of the electrolytes, with the except of sodium.

Reduce the Acidity of Body Fluids

During exercise, body fluids trend increasingly towards acidity.
Fruits & vegetables have a net alkaline-enhancing effect (reduce acidity).


Below is the table of GL (glycemic load) and GI (glycemic index) of alkaline-enhancing foods:

(L. Cordain & J. Friel, 2012, p. 63)

Meal Sample


During this stage the emphasis is still primarily on the intake of solid carbs and proteins.
See the alkaline-enhancing foods table above to pick net-alkaline starchy vegetables with high GI that you might enjoy.

Good choices for carbs and proteins are:

CARBOHYDRATES
Potatoes, Sweet potatoes, Yams and Dried Fruits

PROTEIN
Fish, Shellfish, Egg whites and Turkey Breast

The protein intake is recommended within the same ratio 4:1 or 5:1 with carbohydrates.



The most common mistake here is to keep eating a high GI diet. Right after the exercise your main focus was on carbohydrates, and specifically the ones that are high on GI. Those foods are great for refueling your glycogen tanks, however they don’t bring much of nutrients. Now you need to shift you focus to eating more nutrient-dense foods, filling your body with minerals and vitamins. The more you demand from your body, the more important it becomes.

The optimal food choices here are:

Fruits
Any fruit is good so pick and choose whichever you prefer

Vegetables
Vibrant color ones: red, yellow, green and orange.
Stay away from white colored veggies

Nuts, Seeds and Berries
Macadamia nuts and walnuts are rich in omega-3.
Avoid beans and peanuts

Lean Protein from Animal Sources 
Rich in BCAA and essential amino acids:
Game animal and Free-ranging animal meats, Ocean or Stream-caught Fish & Shellfish, Turkey breast
High in Omega-3:
Cold-water Fish, Beef Liver, Eggs enriched with omega-3

Omega-3 Supplements
Fish or Flaxseed Oil


The five MAIN GOALS for this stage:

Maintain Glycogen Stores

Assuming you’ve done a good job eating enough of carbohydrates from good sources in the previous hours, less carbs are required to maintain your glycogen stores.
To maintain, aim for low GL fruits and vegetables.

Maintain a healthy pH

Fruits and vegetables reduce blood acidity protecting your muscles and bones from losing nitrogen and calcium.

Reduce Inflammation

Omega-3 have been shown to reduce inflammation.
The ratio between omega-6 to omega-3 should be approximately 2:1

Rebuild muscles

To prevent your body from cannibalizing itself in attempt to repair damaged muscle tissue, it requires optimal amount of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) and essential amino acids.

Optimize body weight

The lower your body mass, the less to carry. Maintaining low body fat percentage, in most endurance sports can lead to improved performance.


Make It A Habit

Create a non-negotiable habit of fueling your workouts. You will notice your energy balance throughout the day is enhanced, training and racing performance improves, it will get easier to manage body composition and you will experience fewer cravings for foods later in the day, you try to avoid. 


Last Tip: Sleep Recovery & Protein

If your training load is heavy, you struggle to sleep, or simply want to maximize recovery and minimize stress, then begin and end your days with protein.

20 grams of protein before bed
20 grams of protein when you first wake up

Protein suppresses the negative effect of cortisol (stress hormone) and helps you to switch from fight-or-flight response to rest-n-digest.


References:

The Paleo Diet for Athletes: the Ancient Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance, by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel, Rodale, 2012, p. 63.

Toronto ZOO in Winter

Since the childhood I’ve always  loved going to the zoo with my parents. Luckily for me, I live 15 minuted drive from Toronto Zoo.

I realize that it’s a winter time here, therefore I won’t get to see much, however I’ll give it a shot and take the most of it.

Not too many cars on the parking lot – a good sign. Admission is $23 plus add $12 for parking. Attending the zoo will cost you $35, unless you carpool, which will shave off $12 off the price, so you can get yourself a fridge magnet at the souvenir store.

They give you the map and a parking pass which you will use to exit the park later on, so you better not loose it.

Zoo is opened from 9:30a.m. to 4:30p.m, which gives a plenty of time to explore and say hello to each and every animal.


Indo Malaya Pavilion

The journey begins from the rainforest:

Green house hosts a lot of fish and monkeys. Since childhood I developed association of a bad smell with the monkeys. It’s really clean and doesn’t smell inside the 52 years old orangutan’s home named Puppe.

Also despite the negative temperatures outside it’s really warm inside, so people take their jackets off.

Walking around the pavilion you get to see sumatran tiger through the giant window. The guy peacefully rests in his cave, facing the wall.


Africa

So cool! Two young giraffes live in this little house together. There is staff that offers you to feed those guys off your hand for a few bucks.

Three huge stones in the shape of turtles are resting on the ground. Stranded there for a few minutes, didn’t move. Let’s keep on walking.

Two gorillas exposed to the guests. The size of their hands is impressive. So much muscles. No questions, I would shit my pants if one of this guys get mad at me in the wilderness.

I spent a good 10-20 minutes just sitting and watching them. What’s in the their heads? What are they thinking about? Are the capable of dreaming?

The Lake Malawi is hypnotizing. What’s interesting is that all the fish is spaced equally through the aquarium. This guys truly know how to keep the private space.

Penguins are funny. They walk like me, after today’s 3 hours bike session. Large dog crates used as their homes. Most of them host 2-4 penguins which makes me wonder, how do they choose whom to live with?

Large wide opened bison area remains empty. Ducks are the only animals that create some motion in the area.

This is the trail takes you around the zoo. Must be really pretty here in the spring-summer.

They call this two wigwam Teepees. Get inside, feel grateful for your comfy house.

Nine wolves are resting on the snow. Ears are up. We watch them, they watch us.

Two polar bears putting some steps in, walking around the small area. They seemed desperate… felt sad watching them locked up in such small area.


Overall I am glad I went, even knowing I haven’t seen much. The life here definitely slows down during winter, however there are still things to do. I spent here about 3 hours, walking around on the fresh air putting some steps in.

Back to my cave.

IRONMAN 70.3 Marbella, Spain. March 2, 2019 ~Strong like a BULL~

BRICK

3 hours at 180 Watts + 15 min Run off bike

brick workout is any workout that combines swimming, biking and/or running into a single session. The most common example is the bike to run brick, where you go for a run immediately after finishing a bike ride.


Warm-up:
10 min easy

Main set:
2.5 hours @ 170-180 watts
At the top of hour 1 and hour 2, ride x 10 mins @ 215-230 watts. Spin easy x 5 min after each interval.

Cool-down:
5 min easy

Using the data I’ve collected over the past few weeks I go into the 3 hour ride with following fueling and hydration strategy:


Hydration

Goal: 
Prevent loosing more than 3% of weight through the fluid loss. In my case 68 kg (150 lb) = 2.1 kg

How?

Sweat Rate: ~1400 mL/h
Liquids Required: Exercise Duration x Sweat Rare = 3 * 1400 = 4200 mL
6% Solution: (255 g carbs / 4200 mL) x 100
Sodium Requirements: 0.5 x 4.2 = 2100 mg


What?

Electrolyte Solution:

Gatorade G2 (591 mL) x 7 bottles
Carbohydrates: 12 g x 7 = 84 g
Sodium: 270 mg x 7 = 1890 mg
Calories: 50 x 7 = 350


FUELING


Pre-Exercise: 30 min Before

It worth mentioning that the workout is done early in the morning, after the night fast.

Had two bananas + Clod brewed coffee + sugary drink = 57 high GI Carbs, 235 calories.

Felt good, not overly stacked. Just enough.


During Exercise


How?
Formula: 0.3 x 150 = 45 g/h x 3 hr = 135 grams of carbs 
What?

Carbohydrates: 144 grams

Calories per hour: 1100 / 3hr = 367 cal/hr (towards the higher end of absorption rate)

Didn’t eat the cliff bar as I was pretty full.


RESULTS


Pre-Weight: 69 kg
Post-Weight: 69.5 kg
Liquids Consumed: 4137 mL
Sweat Rate: 1212 ml/hr

Loss: 3637 mL 2% body weight

Good job Sasha! Happy with the fluid loss. Right on point!


BIKE


Felt really strong. On the beginning my HR seemed to be a bit high, but after the first interval it dropped from 140 bpm to about 136 bpm, holding the same power of 180 Watts. Feeling strong, increased the power to 190 Watts and surprisingly HR stayed the same ~136 bpm. Continued with 190 W for the rest of the workout. Had to stop for the restroom twice, in the middle and almost at the end. The seat is really uncomfortable, made me change my position every 5 minutes.

Overall I am really happy with bike performance and the way I felt. Great job Sasha!


RUN


Nothing special on the run. Legs are heavy, RPE is peaking. Towards the end, had the urge to use a restroom. Next time would be smart to use the restroom before heading out.


Lessons Learned

  • Start eating right from the beginning of the workout. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
  • Pre-meal doesn’t have to be huge, as long as you’ve got enough during-fuel and stay consistent with it.
  • Seat position changes RPE and power output.
  • There are ups and downs, keep your head up. One bad workout doesn’t mean the next one will be also bad.
  • Higher cadence (80-90 rpm) makes it easier to hold bigger power.
  • 1400 mL/hour is on the high side. At this intensities I could go away with approximately 1200 mL/hour.
  • One bite of banana + one bite of chocolate protein bar = HEAVEN.

What will I do Differently?

  • Experiment with liquid sources of carbohydrates.
  • Adjust the seat, where I feel comfortable. If not, buy the new seat.
  • Use the restroom before the run.