Saturday, November 3, 2012

Desire, part 4

The last change made in training was to actually start swimming. No joke

Last year my swim wasn't just slow, it was literally incompetent! I was only able to maintain freestyle approximately half the swim leg, the rest of it I had to breaststroke. Pretty discouraging.

I had been looking for a coach but hadn't found one yet and couldn't really figure out how to fit it in. Then by a stroke of luck the equivalent if a swimming angel fell in to my life in the form of Margaret Sharp, with an offer to swim with her and get help twice a week at times that worked for me

With three months to go I started the fastest swim build I could stand with some great coaching on technique

I'm not going to say I swim well now but I certainly swim better! This makes me look forward to 2013 even more though - still so much room for improvement, I've made up 5 minutes at least and I figure there are 5 more pretty easily

Desire, part 3

This post should really be titled something like "jogging slow to run fast". Last year was a parade if running injuries leading up to Austin 70.3, with the last month of prep being spent almost entirely on the elliptical machine to avoid irritating a bad case of posterior tibial tendinitis. Something about purely cycling, with feet locked into carbon soles shoes left me unprepared for the demands if running, not surprisingly

This year I trained the run the whole year but followed the slowest progression imaginable, and never running fast until right near the end once I had the full duration under control

Even then I still nearly triggered the tendinitis again casing one training break, and I was also on the limit with regard to my Achilles.

I survived the progression though and for the first time in my life I was able to run 2 hours straight without injury, still with 5 weeks or so to go.

From that point I did some speed tests to figure out what running fitness was preset, including some shorter triathlons and culminating in my first ever half-marathon, done with a 6:16 or so pace. That effort alone left me sore until almost the day of the event but for the first time ever I knew I would get off the bike with confidence.

Desire, part 2

Continuing on from the last post about my quest to go much faster at the Austin 70.3 than I did in 2012, the biggest thing I did was change up my training.

Last year I was nearly all bike all the time. This year I focused on the bike early in the year (in the process having great fun with my cycling team SquadraSF), then let the bike fade with the exception if two big weeks before the event to maintain the early season work

This was a little risky with the event so dependent on a fast bike split, but I tried to manage that with a lot of work improving my time trial position.

I bought the first brand new bike I've purchased in half a decade, and tricked it out pretty good, to find myself heading in to the event with much more speed than I've ever had in a TT before despite the cycling fitness fade. This carved time out for the other two sports to good effect...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Desire, part 1

At the start of August, I had pretty good fitness and started feeling all smug about it. This attitude usually doesn't end well for me.

I decided to go to the Patterson Pass Road Race for the Masters 35+ district championship road race to test myself against the best, and promptly was served my own gluteus maximus on a fancy plate. Great power numbers (for me). Thorough butt-whipping.

It was brutal but fair. I had good fitness but I hadn't managed all the details. One in particular was body weight - bike racing is pretty sensitive to weight but I wasn't in fighting trim and I'd been basically lying to myself about it, pretending it didn't matter much.

I read a study around the same time that indicated running performance correlated with body weight even more than cycling. So tightly that you got around 1% faster for each 1% body weight you lost, assuming all the normal caveats (as in, you visited a doctor, know your current lean mass and target a healthy loss rate and final body fat percentage between 6-10% but not lower unless you like being ill physically or mentally)

So I'm really glad I had that wakeup call - knowing I had one more big A race this year (Austin 70.3 triathlon) that I really really wanted to do well in and 3 months to go, I decided to get my act together while I still had a realistic opportunity to lose the new weight I'd been carrying around since my son arrived.

There are a lot of things you have to do to have excellent performances, and I'm sure I'm missing a few, but this is one of them and I got this one right at least. 

So from one perspective - this is what desire looks like. 10 pounds in 3 months - it can be done and I'm not superhuman - maybe this will motivate who ever is reading this if you've been contemplating a change.

2 days to go till race day

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cat 1 Upgrade?

Okay you clamoring race report fans, I'm afraid you'll have to wait just a little longer.

The lovely missus and I just got home from the Callville Bay Classic and I had enough energy to unpack, then - drumroll please - officially file for my category 1 upgrade.

Hopefully I followed all the rules correctly and didn't have a math fail - I think I qualify. For those following along at home, here's a quick review of how it went down:

6 pts - 2nd of 41 2+, 2010 Madera Stage Race Road Race M35+123, 3/14/2010
1 pt - 5th of 21 2+, 2010 Menlo Park Crit M35+123, 4/11/2010
1 pt - 6th of 55 2+, 2010 35+ District Crit Championships, 5/2/2010
2 pts - 4th of 21, 2010 Colavita NorCal Gran Prix E2, 7/17/2010
3 pts - 2nd of 14, 2010 Copper Town Square Circuit Race E2, 7/31/2010
3 pts - 2nd of 16 2+, 2010 CCCX Fall #2 P123, 9/4/2010
2 pts - 5th of 56, 2010 Folsom Challenge Crit P12, 9/11/2010
1 pt - 6th of 15, 2010 Henleyville RR P12, 9/19/2010
2 pts - 2nd of 9 2+, 2010 CCCX Fall #3 P123, 10/2/2010
2 pts - 4th of 21 2+, 2011 Cal Aggie Crit M35+123, 1/29/2011
1 pt - 3rd of 8 2+, 2011 CCCX Spring #1 P123, 1/30/2011
6 pts - 10th of 56, 2011 Callville Bay Classic E2 GC, 2/27/2011
30 pts, holee crap.

I can't even tell you how many near misses I had for points - I've been one spot away from getting a point something like 4 times? It is really amazing to me how difficult it is to get them when you're focusing on it.

I'm looking forward to a different racing style that involves a lot less accounting and a lot more go for broke.

But first I'm looking forward to what I think will be a positive response to the upgrade request, a lot less time pressure, and a new family member on the way.

Some time in the next couple days I'll try to write up a "what I did during the off-season" report where I'll chat about how I upgraded my engine a bit, and how things played out the last month.

In the meantime - check me out in the NCNCA Point Series quickly (2/28/2011), I'm 20th M35-123 and 5th P12 until they update the standings with results from a bunch of races I didn't do, dropping me down :-)


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Always the Bridesmaid, but I'll Take It - CCCX Fall #3

Hard to believe the 2010 season is over, but this is it - the last race of the year for me has come and gone. Yesterday was the CCCX Fall Series Circuit Race #3.

This race is held at Fort Ord near Monterey, and I've done this particular circuit once already when I did the 2nd race in this series a month back and got a 2nd place for my efforts (ha cha cha).

The good thing about this course is that it only has one flat section - the rest is either uphill or downhill. The uphills are short enough that they favor a punchier rider though - not a pure climber, and the final sprint is uphill. I happen to be a punchy climber because I'm basically a small sprinter, and uphill sprints usually favor me. So I love this course.

Here's the profile from one lap of my data:

Since I got second place here last time, I'll admit I dared to think I might win this race, and I was definitely hoping to get some upgrade points.

Strategically, there are 4 CalGiant team members here, including the basically-stronger-than-everyone Jesse Moore who showed up to try clinch the P12 BAR competition. There are two Metromint guys, and a bunch of solo riders including myself, in a small (15 or so) field. This course and a small field reward breakaways, so I'm not going to let anything go without me, and I'm looking to have at least one CalGiant and one Metromint rider for the perfect move. I'm hoping for some reason Jesse Moore won't be in the move.

We start off, and the first time up the hill a CalGiant guy puts in an easy leg-testing attack. The whole pack essentially covers it and we're strung out but all together. Few are suffering yet. The second lap we head up the hill and it's on for real. The same CalGiant guy goes again but harder and sustained this time and pretty soon it's him, me, a second CalGiant guy, both Metromint riders, and a ClifBar rider. Unless something happens, this is the break, and we have 75 minutes to go.

We roll along steadily increasing our lead but the composition starts to shuffle out. One CalGiant guy falls off and Jesse Moore bridges up, which worries me. One Metromint guy falls off and the ClifBar rider starts to falter then falls off.

We hit the finish hill for the 3rd lap and there's a prime on. Jesse goes to lead out his teammate, the ClifBar guy is gone, the Metromint rider is gapped hard, and I'm just a small gap behind the two CalGiant riders. Jesse looks around, sees the chaos and decides to keep his foot on the gas. I see immediately from his body posture that he's not letting up so I sprint across the gap and jump on his wheel.

At this point, It's Jesse and I in the front, a second CalGiant and a Metromint together in 3rd and 4th, and shrapnel behind. We have around an hour to go. Being in a two-person time trial with Jesse Moore isn't exactly how I pictured the day going. Jesse Moore wins time trials and hill climbs, but loses sprints. I suck at time trials, do okay on hill climbs, but win sprints. I'm pretty sure how this will play out, and I'm just hoping to survive. Sure enough Jesse keeps the throttle on long enough that I'm just about to crack within 2 minutes, but I just manage to hang on.

For the next 38 minutes I do what I can to help Jesse ride, which amounted to pulling around 2 minutes total in a few short, weak efforts, while hanging on for dear life as he motored steadily up all the hills just a couple percent under my maximum. I've given myself tough grades for not being tenacious enough over the season and I'll admit to being close to blowing up several times and thinking about the pain and weakness. That doesn't help. I consciously made an effort to use all the physical tricks I could, and to mentally repeat to myself that this was the reason I train so hard. This was the reason I race. You don't get to be in the winning break very often, and I wasn't going to give it up until I was completely shelled.

With a lap and a half to go, and a 3-minute gap, Jesse figured I could make it in by myself, so he throttled up one last time on the rollers and I blew apart completely - total toddler on a tricycle action. Now I'm solo in no-man's land behind the leader but still in front of the pack. Despite being horrible at time trials I figure even I can't lose 3 minutes in a lap so I pull it together, put my head down, and power through the final lap to hold on for second place.

I have to say, this was something like thorough ass-whipping number 5 (that'd be Mount Tam, Henleyville, Everest Challenge and now CCCX), 3 weekends in a row, from Jesse Moore, but I wouldn't have taken 2nd without him being nice about this one, so chapeau, sir. Strong and nice, a rare combo, and much appreciated.

That's a pretty satisfying way to end the season, I have to say. The points earned were enough to get me second in the series (50 points, vs 51 for David Wyandt) but since the winner wasn't there and I was close they gave the series champ hoodie to me.

Take that David Wyandt, I'm going to be the CCCX Fall Series P12 poser all year, and there's nothing you can do about it. At least the one time David and I were both there, I edged him out, so I don't feel too badly about it.

And yes, I take all my loot pictures in front of miniature horses to make myself look taller.

I started the season with the goal to get a top-10 in the P12, then hopefully a top-5, to learn how to ride breakaways, and to give the Everest Challenge a good go. I ended the season with 4 2nd places, a 4th, 2 5ths, 2 6ths, and 5 other top-10s of various kinds (E2, P12 and M35-123). That's really way more than I could have hoped for. I had no goal in mind whatsoever of upgrading to Category 1 but here I sit with 21 upgrade points! I'm also going to end up somewhere in the top-40 of the NCNCA P12 BAR competition. Quite a year.

I looked up some yearlong stats for the curious:

* 10,041 miles ridden over the season (I think I only put 8,000 on my car!)
* a little over 600 hours on the bike
* 314,860 calories burned (that'd be 89.9 pounds of fat! don't picture it)
* 76,800 heart beats while riding

To anyone that's supported, encouraged, or just followed along this year - thanks. It's been a fun ride.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

2010 Everest Challenge, Day 2

How flattering, people are telling me the suspense is killing them and they can't stand that I haven't posted about the second Everest Challenge Day. Okay, one person has, but I can't disappoint my fan, so here it is, Everest Challenge Day 2.

For a little course knowledge, it's important to know that historically Day 1 is stupendously hard, and Day 2 is merely tremendously hard. There's a difference. Day 1 usually took nearly 6 hours and 45 minutes while Day 2 will only take 5 hours if I hit my plan. During a heat wave, where every minute into the afternoon is another minute roasting, that's a big deal - during Day 2 I should be up at high altitudes on the final climb before things get really oven hot - and since a heat symptom related to hydration/electrolyte balance is likely what cracked me and took me off plan yesterday, I'm looking forward to today.

Before describing the day I'll talk a little bit more about preparation, since "looking forward" to a hard 5 hour day, after a 6.75 hour day, doesn't just happen.

Sports science wise, I attempted to do five big things in parallel to prepare for this event. I discussed weight last time (I dropped a bunch myself, and switched to lighter equipment), and I also discussed gearing last time (I switched to much lower gears so I could maintain higher cadence, thereby decrease peak pedal force per pedal revolution, and hopefully avoid cramps).

The three things I'll mention this time are:

1) that I altered my training program to be less focused on long endurance training and more focused on short, hard intervals. I mostly did 30-second and 1-minute intervals in the months leading up to this (with good effect), and only did a couple long rides. I think that mostly worked, but I should have done a couple longer rides at threshold I think. There's only so much time though - and I may just need another year to slowly get stronger.

2) I did more altitude training this year to make sure I was acclimatized - I spent 5 days at 7800' 2.5 weeks before the event in the hopes of triggering some red blood cell production, and I spent 3 nights at 7800' prior to the event to normalize blood plasma volume. I'm not sure if this worked or not. I think it helped, possibly 5% or so. It definitely didn't hurt, and it provided for interesting observations on just how low-pressure the atmosphere really is at 7800'. This is your snack food at altitude, for instance:

3) Nutrition - I really focused on electrolyte replacement and nutrition strategies this year so that I wouldn't start cramping despite pushing for a PR at a distance I don't normally ride. Specifically I finally figured out how to take the pill-based electrolytes you really need (drinks just don't have enough), without fumbling around a lot. Behold the "pill the dog" method of electrolyte consumption, based on Clif Bloks:

This makes it really easy to get the stuff you need.

The only problem then is getting the stuff you need when you need it, since timing is important and working out really hard has a habit of making me a wee bit stupid. My strategy there is to map out a plan the night before that has course information and when to eat what, so even when I'm an idiot I get it right. I just tape it to my top tube:

From my perspective, all this came together perfectly. I rode a really strong race, set personal records for power produced and times on this course, finished strong on the second day, and generally didn't have a lot of problems given the extreme difficulty of this race - just a little cramping on day 1. Unfortunately, more strong dudes then ever showed up, so that even though I had a great race on an absolute scale, I did worse relatively - I ended up 14th in the P12 category, and came away with no upgrade points, and only $45 in prize money. I'll admit I was hoping for more and I have a little "woulda coulda" afterwards (for instance, if I hadn't cramped I would have been around 25 minute faster on day 1...that's maybe 9th place...), but I'll have to take what I can get.

As the hardest race I do all year, and a cap to the season, it's sort of like a final exam. In that respect I'll be a little tough on myself and give myself a B+. I did cramp on Day one and I think it was avoidable. Other than that though, I rocked it and a B+ isn't bad.

Thanks to everyone that supported me as I tilted at this windmill - lots of encouragement from my teammates and fellow racers, and tons of understanding from my wife. I'm not a complete lone wolf, I can't do it without you.

For the data junkies, here's what the data looked like. I put two lines in indicating my target, and what I calculated after-the-fact based on the winning time would have been the power I'd have needed to win. I'm a fair ways off - 20%, and that explains why I got 14th GC instead of 1st for sure. If I had 10% more power I'd have been 7th or so I think. Maybe next year...One fun note is the top speed - imagine doing that on your bike. Also, you can see on the first climb I was cranking out tons of power the first 10 minutes or so. I specifically stayed with the lead group in order to see exactly how hard they were riding even though I knew I wouldn't stay there all day. Turned out to be 280-300W to start the day - or 4.8W/Kg or so. They faded by the end, but that's a stout effort. If you can do that for a couple hours, you could win...

Here's some other pictures if you're curious - they really capture the desolation out there well - luckily there's a lot more camaraderie then you can see from this lens.

One more race this year - the CCCX Fall Series where I got 2nd last time, then the season's done.