Friday, December 25, 2009

7 Days…

A little over a week ago the small nagging pain in the top of my foot deciding to rapidly escalate to severe pain that prevented me from walking. After a trip to the Podiatrist, I was prescribed a week of zero physical activity, as little walking as possible (basically bed rest), a week of cortisone pills, and a follow up exam. The diagnosis was that I had tendonitis in the extensor digitorum longus and brevis that once again was caused by swimming with fins and then running on it just made it worse.

Those 7 days ended up being pretty tough for me, but in a much different way than I expected. Those who know me or follow my blog know that I haven't once taken 7 days off in a row since I started running over 5 years ago. In fact I took less than 7 days off from running in the entire last year (maybe even in 2 years). I was pretty bummed when I found out I couldn't run for at least a week a minimum. Not only was I going to miss the EN Holiday Challenge, I was also signed up for the Slowtwitch 100/100 challenge this year.

The first few days were pretty uneventful, it was still very painful to even attempt to walk so I limped around the house and didn't do much else. Surprisingly, I didn't miss running all that much since every time I tried to go from the couch to the bathroom it was a 5 minute ordeal and quite painful. The fun started about the 2 or 3 day when the cortisone kicked it. No, the foot didn't get better, but I was all of a sudden on a 24 hour sugar high, and still couldn't move.

After the 7 days of almost zero sleep and no physical activity besides for a few pull-ups I returned to the doctor. I was now able to limp at a decent pace and the pain was going down day by day. He confirmed again that it was Tendonitis and all I could do now was let it heal. However he did clear me to do non-impact exercise and then ease back into running the following week when I felt I was ready. He also suggested I take at least a month off of swimming and never again swim with fins as this is the third time I've messed myself up with them. It appears that no matter how much I stretch my ankles and feet are just not designed to swim.

The next morning I did a very easy bike ride on my trainer just to test things out. After 30 minutes, the foot still felt fine and I was thrilled, but I stopped and called it a day. Since it was still getting better the next day I decided to try an actual bike workout the next morning.

I started out with 15 minutes of easy spinning and then kicked it up to my FTP and figured I would see how long could hold it. 5 minutes in I felt great so I went about 5 watts harder, 10 minutes and I go another 5 watts harder, 15 minutes… ok now it was getting tough but I felt strong so I held to do a full 20 minutes. I had been scheduled to do an FTP test this week anyway so now I decided this ad hoc workout was going to become a 2 x 20. So I spun easy for 2 minutes had some water and then kicked it back up. The second 20 minutes was like any other FTP test... painful. My foot was still fine and didn't hurt at all though, so I pushed through to find that my FTP is up 14 watts! I don't think I have ever seen a 14 watt FTP increase in one block of training.

This only happened about 22 hours ago, but since I've been awake 21 of those 22 hours (thanks cortisone) I've been thinking about it a lot. I've always understood that the body needs rest and recovery. I follow a training plan, there is a ton of thought that goes into how I structure my weeks, months and seasons, but I always push myself as hard as I can for as long as I can, and I never truly rest.

For the 7 days I couldn't do anything, I sat and watched my teams all get stronger and kept worrying that I was going to fall behind and now I come back after my longest break ever and have a great FTP increase … hmmm.

Talk about a lesson learned… as I said before, until this injury I pretty much ran every single day for at least the last two years. I had hard weeks and easy weeks so I felt I was recovering, but I never took anytime off. I'm driven by accomplishments and I like to see my CTL go up on the PMC and my average pace to get faster, but I'm so driven that I'm afraid to rest. I was finally forced to rest and look what happens… my hard earned CTL line drops, but I see an awesome (and measureable) gain in my fitness.

Speaking of being driven, I started this whole endurance sports thing 5 years ago to lose weight and continued because it was fun and I truly enjoyed it. About two years ago my type A personality took over, I decided I wanted to go to Kona, and therefore I had to focus and give it 100%. Somewhere along the way this hobby stopped being about fun and all I cared about was hitting my fitness goals and my performance at races. I was enjoying it because of the results I was seeing not because I was participating in the events that I used to enjoy.

The NYC Marathon and Clearwater reminded me that I don't have to be on the podium or even close to have a great time. NYC was the best marathon I ever ran as I truly enjoyed every step even though I finished well over an hour slower than I could have. Sure there were things that I got upset about at Clearwater, but now that I look back, how cool was it that I was able to compete in a World Championship, visit my family, and have a great vacation with my wife to finish off the year.

For the last two years I've stressed out over every little detail of my training and daily life. I don't regret it for a minute because I got my Kona spot, but it's time to have fun again and this year is going to be different. I'm going to enjoy running in the Boston Marathon and I'm going to enjoy my dream coming true when I get to race with the best in the world in Kona. After that, who knows, maybe I'll want to get back into the competitive mindset, maybe I'll keep doing it for fun, or maybe I'll try something new.

I guess you can't lose (or gain) much fitness in 7 days, but you sure can learn a lot. It will probably be another 7 days before I can start running again. Maybe I will come back stronger, maybe not, but I will get the fitness back and great stronger over time.


 

By the way, it's 5 AM on Christmas morning and thanks to the cortisone that is still in my system I slept a total of 1 hour in the form of 3 20 minute naps. I guess this is my body getting ready for the baby!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quarq Cinqo, Garmin Edge 500 and TrainingPeaks WKO+

I've trained and raced with a wired PowerTap SL and used TraningPeaks WKO+ for about 2 years now. To be honest, the first year was more like I just recorded data and learned what it meant, however I feel the second year I really learned how to both train and race with the power meter and use WKO to analyze not only my workouts and races, but overall training load. In fact, I would say a power meter and watch that can record pace the now the two most important pieces of equipment I own.

There is nothing wrong with my PowerTap, I've just gotten tired of some limitations and am ready for something new. Therefore after years of reading reviews on all the different power meters out there, I've know I wanted a Quarq Cinqo and I just had to wait until the compact version came out.

The challenge has been figuring what computer I wanted to go with. The main things I was looking for was a small, wireless, reliable computer that I allowed me customize what data showed on the screen and of course I wanted to spend as little as possible. The catch is it has to work with TraningPeaks WKO+. I thought the Garmin Forerunner 310XT was the perfect solution for a triathlete, but it doesn't work with WKO so it's not an option until a new version of WKO or new firmware comes out. The Garmin Edge 500 appears to fit all of my requirements; however I had to wait for it to be released and am nervous it will have the same issues as the 310XT.

That's enough rambling for now… on to the review.

Quarq Cinqo

When I received the Cinqo I got exactly what I expected, a crank and a magnet. Installation took at most 10 minutes as I took off the existing crank/bottom bracket, put the new one with the magnet ring in, and then installed the crank. I'm not going to go into much detail about the Cinqo has they have been reviewed by tons of people. The Cinqo appears to be very solid and only moving piece on it is the cap that unscrews to replace the battery.

I also have a second bottom bracket and magnet which make allow me to switch it to from my road bike to tri bike in just a few minutes and with only one allen wrench, almost as fast as moving switching rear wheels.

Garmin Edge 500

I took it out of the box and turned it on by a window to let the GPS acquire a signal. This took a few minutes, but it allowed me to do the quick setup and I than spun my crank and by the second revolution, the Edge beeped that it detected the power meter and both Cadence and Power were now showing on the display.

The mount was very nice and easy to use; it simply uses 2 rubber bands to hold it any tube. I choose to put it on the stem for now. You could actually move the mount to another bike pretty easily, but they include 2 mounts in the box so you are already covered for two bikes.

I played with the interface a little and setup the data screen how I thought I would like them. As expected, there at 3 screens and each can be configured to show between 1 to 8 data fields. I setup the first screen as a totals screen to show data about the overall ride (Time, Avg Pwr, Distance, etc). The second screen as a lap screen that I can have both average power and current power showing at the same time which is great for hitting interval targets along with the interval time. The last screen I just picked a bunch of other fields such as temp, grade, time of day, kJ, etc.

Total I probably spend 10 minutes setting it up… not to bad to have a power meter installed and ready to use in 20 minutes or less…and with no wires.

TrainingPeaks WKO+ Compatibility

So far so good as I love the Cinqo and I'm also very impressed with the Edge 500, however now the moment of truth, does it work with TrainingPeaks WKO+.

I know there are other options out there now, but I have been using WKO for two years now and am happy with it. Plus my entire team uses it, along with most cyclists I know that have a power meter.

Unfortunately, I do not have enough equipment to do a perfect test as the edge 500 is the only computer I have that will read data from the Cinqo. However, I do have a Computrainer and my Wired PowerTap so I can make some comparisons. Also, I have read a bunch on the issues with the 310XT smart recording such not recording all data every second as well as some reporting issues with different data in Garmin Training Center and WKO+

I have now done three workouts inside on the Computrainer with both the PT and Edge/Cinqo. I also made it outside for a quick ride to test with the GPS as well.

Getting the data into WKO+

There is no way to directly download data from the edge 500 to WKO, so I figured I could drag and drop the file like with an edge 705…wrong. The edge 500 uses .fit files, which I have read allow smaller file sizes.

Next I tried to download the data into Garmin Training Center. GTC found the edge right away but would not download the data. Sure enough there was just a new version of GTC realized for the edge 500, after the update, GTC found the edge and downloaded the file with no problem. Form their I could export the activity to a file and then import it into WKO+. This sounds complicated, but it really isn't bad, just takes a few minutes.

After I complained about this on Twitter, TrainingPeaks was quick to respond and they now have a new version of the device agent that supports the edge 500. The device agent is simple and works pretty quickly. It simply downloads all of the files from the edge 500 and then saves them either directly to TrainingPeaks on line or as a file on your PC. All I had to do then is drag the file into WKO+ and I was set.

The data

I expected the data between the 3 power measuring devices to be slightly different as they are measuring at different points on the bike and using different technologies. For the last two years my PowerTap has almost always been about 5-10 watts higher then my Computrainer and like usual in these tests it is as well.

First Test – I calibrated the Computrainer after 10 minutes of warming up and got an RCC of 2.07. At this time I also coasted and back pedaled to calibrate the PT and CInqo. About every 15 minutes I re-calibrated the Computrainer and it slowly went down by about 0.01 each time. As I expected the PT came in higher than the CT, and the Cinqo also came in slightly higher than the PT, which I assume is due to power being measured directly at the crank instead of the rear hub. However I was not very concerned with the actual numbers instead I jumped right into the detail and compared the intervals and looked at the data line by line.

From what I could tell everything looked good. The edge 500 had recorded data every second for each data field in the file. The recorded data and calculated data (i.e. TSS/IF/NP) also seemed very consistent when compared to the other meters. Additionally, I looked at the edge 500 data in Garmin Training Center (GTC), Garmin Connect(GC), WKO+ and on the device and it matched in each place.

Next Three Tests on the Computrainer – Each of these times I did the same thing, however each time I recalibrated the comptrainer (~15 minutes) I also backpedaled and coasted to trigger the auto-calibration on the PT and Cinqo. Both of these times I got the same overall results, however now the PT was only a few watts higher than the comptrainer and the Cinqo very close to the PT every time. Again all of the data matched across GTC, GC, and WKO+

Outdoor test – this time around I just took a quick ride around my block with the PT and edge 500/cinqo. At first review everything looked great still, but then I noticed one of the issues folks were complaining of with the 310XT. The average power was showing differently in GTC than in WKO. This appears to be because on the trainer I almost never coasted during a 60 minute workout, however during the 5 minute ride around my block, I coasted a few times. I messed with the settings on the edge 500 and noticed it was set to non-zero averaging for power. The average power on the edge 500 and GTC matched, but WKO was lower (and I know it includes zeros in the average). So I changed the setting to include zeros and tried again… this time the average power in GTC and WKO matched. I personally like to look at the non-zero averaging so I switched it back to the default setting and it doesn't bother me that GTC shows the average without zeros and WKO includes zeros because I only care about TSS which is based on NP anyway.

Summary

While I have only done a hand full of tests so far and can't do a true test with only one variable (i.e. use a edge 705 or joule and edge 500 with the same Cinqo at the same time), I still feel the edge 500 is working correctly with WKO+.

Therefore, I'm very pleased with the Cinqo and Edge 500 combo and think it is a great option for an affordable crank based power meter setup.

Edge 500 Pros

  • About the same size as the PowerTap Little Yellow Computer
  • Setup was quick and easy and it found the Cinqo on its own
  • 3 data screens that can each have between 1 – 8 data elements displayed
  • Very easy to use and straight forward menus (don't have to memorize how to find things)
  • The mount is very simple and solid, plus two are included in the box
  • Barometric altimeter for more accurate elevation readings
  • No speed and cadence sensor required (it's available as an option but I prefer to have as little as possible on the bike and don't see a need for it since the Cinqo provides cadence)
  • Courses can be programmed to provide turn-by-turn direction if desired
  • Works with my collection of Garmin and CycleOps heart rate straps so I don't need to by another
  • Great price point at $250 MSRP

Edge 500 Cons

  • Uses new .fit files that cannot be directly imported to WKO+
  • No direct download to WKO+, but the new TrainingPeaks Device Agent 3.0 makes the process pretty easy (easier and faster than using Garmin Training Center)
  • Workout feature is not included
  • USB port cover doesn't always stay closed


     

Now I just have to figure out what wheels I want to race on this year!

Friday, December 11, 2009

It’s been a while

My friends all know that I'm really bad (ok… horrible) at keeping in touch with people. I don't do it on purpose and I really hope it doesn't offend anyone; it's just the way I am. I get really focused on a few things and other things just slip, not that they are less important.

For the last year (ok, closer to two years) I have been focus on one day and one race. This consumed a ton of time and as a result I ignored many other things. After the race was over I have to get back to a few other things in my life and therefore this blog was neglected for a while as well. So here is a long post on what I have been up to since Ironman Wisconsin:


Post Ironman Wisconsin

My plan was to take about 2 weeks completely off after IMWI, get away from everything triathlon, then come back and hit the training hard until Clearwater to wrap up my season. Well things didn't really happen that way at all.

Usually have a big race I get a post race high that last for a few days, just like the post race soreness and then I'm back to normal both mentally and physically by the next weekend. This year was a little different. First off I never got sore, each day I woke up expecting to be sore and I was fine. I felt so good on Tuesday after the race I started working out again and felt great. The post race high, well that lasted a lot long than usually, more like 3-4 weeks instead of the normal few days. Pretty much every single day something about the race came up, or someone else contacted me to talk about it. It was really cool, but almost a little overwhelming. I have to say one of the highlights though was being Age Grouper of the Week on the IM Talk podcast (thanks Nemo!).

After all the attention went away, I pretty quickly burned out mentally on training and racing. It was weird because my body was fine and when I wanted to push myself I could hit all my workout targets, but I just didn't have any desire to work out or push myself. I was pretty much just done with Triathlon. At the same time a few other things happened as work got really busy and demanding, I wanted to spend more time with Theresa, see friends I haven't seen as much as I would like, and just get away for a little. So that's what I did, I stopped following any sort of a training plan and just did what I felt like when I felt like it. BTW, I also ate what I wanted when I wanted for about 2 months as well and the pounds sure add up quickly.

So I was about a 3-4 weeks away from Clearwater, getting more out of shape by the day, little to no desire to work out, and oh yeah, I had a unplanned Marathon to run in as well.


New York City Marathon

I can pretty much thank (or blame) my endurance sports addiction on two friends. Katie, the one that convinced me I could go from feeling like I was going to die on a 5 mile jog to doing a marathon in 5 months, has been running marathons for years and has done more marathons than I have done total races combined. A few years ago she got into running as a pace leader and always talked about how great it is and how much she enjoyed it. So I said I was interested in doing it sometime and to let me know if there was every an opportunity.

Sure enough when I was on post IMWI high still, I got an email from Katie with an offer to run the NYC Marathon as a pace leader for the 4:00 group. Of course I thought this was an awesome opportunity and wanted to do it, but I actually did the smart thing and reached out to Rich and Patrick first. I was pretty convince they would tell me I was crazy to consider running a marathon 6 weeks after IMWI and 2 weeks before Clearwater… but they said to go for it, so I did.

The problem came when I was burnt out on training, and now not only had about a month until Clearwater, I also had to be able to run NYC two weeks before I lead a bunch of people that were relying on me. I managed to motivate myself to do a few long runs, the good news was that since I wasn't training all that much in general the long runs felt pretty easy. I actually managed to pull of two 22 milers both under 2:30…not bad since I was almost 15 lobs heavier than IMWI!

The NYC marathon was an awesome experience though. I loved every minute of the race and had an awesome time talking to people and just enjoying the race, something I haven't done in a long time. I even carried a camera the whole race and took pictures and movies. I felt awesome after the race, in fact I even jogged to the subway (to stay warm), and then got on a flight home.

The next morning, well that was a different story. I went to get out of bed and almost feel over. I was as sore as my first marathon 5 years ago. It was different though, my muscles were totally fine, my hips and knees were killing me though. The soreness actually lasted almost the full week and I wasn't walking normal again until Friday. How in the world could I go under 10 hours in Ironman Wisconsin, never get sore, and start running again less than 48 hours later but after running a 4 hour marathon I could move for 5 days?

I thought about this for a little bit and discussed with a few teammates, the conclusion I have come to is that in the last 2 years, I have only run longer than 2:30 twice. Even though I have done countless 22 and 23 mile runs, they have all been around 2:30 or less, so my body was just not ready for 4:00 of pounding. Also, I ran NYC 13 lbs heavier than I was in Madison. I guess that weight makes a big difference.

Even with the 5 days of pain afterwards I still had such a good time in NYC helping others to meet their goal and just enjoying a race instead of racing, that I would do it again in a heartbeat.



Clearwater

After IMWI I was fired up and ready to crush it at Clearwater, but after the multiple week mental burnout and physical disaster after NYC marathon, my body had other thoughts. Clearwater quickly went from a race, to an event to enjoy. There has been a lot said about Clearwater so I'm not going to go into it, but the race lives up to it's reputation.

I'm very glad I did the race and I'm even more glad that I just did it for fun. I had a few choice words to during the race and right afterwards, but after I settled down I realized I really did have a good time. Theresa and I had a fun trip, got to visit family and it was just fun to race in a world championship. Plus it was awesome to know that untrained, overweight and racing at my IM target watts / pace, I could still pull off a 4:24 70.3 distance race…. It sure is one fast course.



Up Next

Now that all that is done with and the 2009 season is over, I'm back working with Endurance Nation and in the Out Season again.

I have a ton of goals I thought about for next year, plus a bunch have people have shared with me what they think I can do next year. However after my experience at NYC Marathon and Clearwater, and considering that Theresa and I are expecting our first Child this winter, I've decided 2010 is an "off" year. Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to train hard and race, but not like I did in 2008 and 2009.

In 2010, I will be running the Boston Marathon and racing the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. No matter what I am going to enjoy both experiences and make the most out of them. If I feel great on race day and I want to race, then so be it. If not, who cares, I'm not getting paid for results, I'm going to enjoy the day and vacation.

Of course, since I don't have any major goals for 2010, I've already got a list for 2011 J

Also, I recently picked up a Garmin Edge 500 to do some testing with. Hopefully I will get around to putting a quick review up in a few days. Stay tuned if you are interested in reading more about it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ironman Wisconsin 2009 Race Report

If you haven’t already seen my Thank You Post, please read that prior to this race report as there is no way I would have had such a successful race without my many supporters. Also, check out the picture post as well.

Readers Digest Version

Overall, I had an amazing racing and feel like it was a dream come true. I can’t even begin to describe my feelings as I finished the race and found out I had won my age group and was going to Kona. I didn’t really believe it until Monday at the awards ceremony.

Swim: 1:12:05 – 1:53/100m –79th AG – 724th OA
T1: 4:56 – 1st AG
Bike: 5:07:58 – 21.82 mph – 1st AG – 32nd OA
T2: 1:55 – 2nd AG
Run: 3:22:36 – 4th AG – 31st OA

Total: 9:49:30 – 1st AG – 29th OA – 14th Amateur OA

Overall, I am very excited with how my race went and couldn't ask for more. However, like every other race there are always things that I can improve on next time around. The most interesting thing about this race for me was that for the first time it was my bike that made my race, not the run.

Details

Before I give the long boring play by play, I always like to focus on what I learned:
- My swim still sucks but I have already started masters to hopefully help with this
- I was so worried about the heat, that I think I ate and drank too much even though I never really got hot
- I learned the value in racing my race and not getting caught up in what others were doing. There were times I watched multiple guys in my AG fly by me up a hill or on the run and I easily could have gone after them but I just stuck to my plan and watched them come back to me later now
- Rick and Patrick know what they are talking about … pretty much everything they said at the 4 keys talk happened exactly as they said it would, starting at the first small hill on Walen all the way to the finsih line
- Having a team and supports at various places all over the course (and watching online) really helps
- Be prepared for the unexpected. I spends months focusing on every detail I could think off, planned and tried everything, but the one thing I didn't think of happened. I have not had a side stitch in years, but I got one in this race and had to throw my plan, that I had obsessed over for month, out the window and run by feel only

Pre-Race

I actually had probably my busiest weeks of the year at work for the two weeks prior to the race, with calls starting at 6 AM or earlier and working late most days. In hindsight I think this was actually a good thing as I had very little time to obsess over the race and weather.

This was also the first time I actually followed a plan and really tapered. It was tough, probably the hardest thing I did all year, but it seems to have paid off. I actually think I may have over tapered with a TSB of over 50 and a CTL drop of over 20 the day before the race. I've posted my PMC to the EN forum and we'll see what the Wicked Smart Members think about that.

Race morning I followed my nutrition plan, showed up early and then hung out with the EN crew by the swim start for a while. Josh and I got in about 15 minutes before the start and got all the way up front about 25 feet outside the ski ramp. About 5 minutes later Adam came up by us as well, so we sat and talked and enjoyed the morning. Next thing you know it was time to go, thanks to Josh and Adam, I never had time to get nervous.

Swim – 1:12:05

As usual the start was brutal. I got kicked, hit, swam over, around, everything you can think of. Luckily nothing really hurt and I just kept going. However I did get a goggle full of water and was never able to get rid of it. The beating then continued at pretty much every turn.

I know I was capable of swimming 1:05 as I did it in practice in the pool, but that was swimming as hard as I could. For the race I just swam comfortable and stayed relaxed. I came out of the water feeling like I had just stretched out and was ready to start the day… too bad I was in 724th place and 79th in my age group.

T1 – 4:56

I ran at a pretty good pace throughout the entire transition, the only problem was there were so many people in the way on the helix and changing room. Even with the people in the way I still had the fastest T1 in my AG. I guess if I fix my swim, I might not have to deal with the all the people.

Bike – 5:07:58

Even after a great bike split at Ironman 70.3 Kansas and Spirit of Racine, I still didn’t think of the bike as my strength, but I guess it is now. The bike was actually really uneventful. I pretty much starred at my power meter the entire time and drank every 15 minutes.

The first few hours I went back and forth with the same people for the most part and they slowly dropped off one by one. I hit the 56 mile mark at almost exactly 2:30 and couldn’t believe I quick I was going. It worried me a little but I was still hitting my targets. Things started to thin out pretty quickly then and the majority of the last 56 miles I was just doing my own thing and slowly passing people. About 4 hours in is where I usually pick it up, but because I was so much faster than I expected and I was worried about the heat, I just spun the last hour or so easy and enjoyed the ride back in.

Overall, I came in 5 watts under my goal and therefore my IF was .015 low and my TSS was 30 low.

Entire workout (181 watts):
Duration: 5:08:58
Work: 3358 kJ
TSS: 255.6 (intensity factor 0.705)
Norm Power: 190
VI: 1.05
Pw:HR: 0.96%
Pa:HR: 4.75%
Distance: 112.677 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 521 181 watts
Heart Rate: 131 188 164 bpm
Cadence: 29 244 85 rpm
Speed: 2.7 47.7 21.9 mph
Pace 1:15 22:27 2:44 min/mi
Hub Torque: 0 298 64 lb-in
Crank Torque: 0 867 184 lb-in



Hour by Hour:

Hour TSS IF NP VI Speed HR
1 47.5 0.69 186 1.05 21.9 162
2 48.8 0.7 189 1.04 22.4 163
3 53.6 0.733 198 1.04 22.9 167
4 53.4 0.731 197 1.04 20.9 167
5 45.4 0.674 182 1.05 21.9 162
6 6 0.637 172 1.2 18.9 163


In hindsight, I pushed a little too hard in hours 3 and 4, but because I shut it down and road the last hour each I was able to get away with it. My second race rehearsal was a much better ride and I let the adrenalin of passing a ton of people get the best of me.

I followed my nutrition plan exactly, however I had about 5:30 – 6:00 worth of infinit with me and I took it all down in 4:30…Oopps. Plus I drank a ton of water, one bottle from every single aid station as I was worried it was going to get hot. This caused quite a few pee breaks, but I thought it was worth it. I also took 3 Succeed S Caps to make sure I had enough salt.

On the positive side though, I felt awesome the entire time and pretty much smiled the whole way through as it was my easiest long ride of the year.

At the end of the bike I was in 61st overall and 3rd in AG.

T2 – 1:55

In the last 10 miles of the bike I had passed about 4 or 5 guys and they all pretty much stuck right behind me(legally from what I could tell) all the way in. However, I know they were there, so I dismount the bike and sprinted through T2. There was no one to get bags, so I grabbed my own, started to slip and crashed right into the wall in the bag room. Got to the changing room, slipped again, slid across a few chairs while dumping the back out and took off running again. I did stop for sun block though and because of the stop… I just missed having the fastest T2. I ended up with the 2nd fastest in my AG.

Run – 3:22:36

I was sprinting out of T2 at probably sub 6 minute mile pace and then crossed the mat and came to almost a walk… it was great to see the faces of everyone watching. But my plan was to take the first few miles easy and I was going to do it. The problem was my Garmin wasn’t working, so I just went as slow as I could, but still hit the first mile marker too fast even after walking the first aid station. Mile 2 started fine, but about half way through I felt a side stitch starting. I didn’t know what to do as I haven’t had one of those in years…I never cramp.

First the panic set in. I had no idea what place I was in, but I was pretty sure I was at least in contention for 5th or 6th. All season I had relied on my run to get me through the race, and in every other race of my life, it was always my run that I excelled at and passed people. After about a mile of getting myself worked up, pissed off and the cramp was just getting worse I had a reality check and decided it was time to go into survival mode.

Ironically enough, my Garmin had just started working and I was running about a 7:45 pace, but I changed the screen so I couldn’t see my pace and just ran by feel. I decided that I wanted to run the entire marathon even if it meant I was going to run slower than I have in the last two years.

I tried everything I could think of to shake the cramp, forceful exhaling, different breathing patterns, water, Gatorade, banana, pretzels … you name it I tried it. Nothing worked, so I just counted footsteps and stayed at a pace where the pain was someone manageable. It is a good thing that I had a ton of One Things in my mind or there is no way I would have made it.

It was even more painful to watch guys in my AG passing me, but I knew if I went after them I would blow up, so I just starred at the group 10 feet in front of me, counted steps and breaths.

I had tons of friends, teammates, and family on the course and they yelled all kinds of things to me, but I didn’t hear or don’t remember most of it. However I greatly appreciate every single one of you, as just seeing you keep me moving.

Between miles 7 and 13, I started to see everyone else around me slowing down and started to very slowly pass people that had passed me earlier in the run. This gave me just enough motivation to pick it up on the way back to the turn around. At the turn around I got a huge boost from the fans and also pasted a few male pros that had blown up, and I checked and had ran my fastest mile, and then the cramp got significantly worse. So I slowed back down and took it easy again.

From 13 to the turn at State Street (maybe mile 19ish), I really just focused on getting it done and running through the pain. Each time I passed someone I got a little boost and went faster, then the cramp got worse and the next mile I had to slow down.

I really can’t remember much of the last 10 miles of the marathon, except one thing that I remember clear as day. Coming up to one of the aid stations, I see Coach P and he is telling me slow down, take it easy, just relax, no need to go fast. Less than 200 feet later I see Coach Rich and he is yelling to suck it up and run, push through the pain, and it is my race to lose if I don’t push it.

The cramp finally went away about three steps after the finish line when I landed in the arms of a few volunteers. However, I could actually still feel the exact spot of the cramp for the next two days.

Here is the run data. Although I didn’t hit my run goal, I think the cramp was a good thing as it forced me to take the first half of the marathon really easy and then allowed me to negative split while others were falling apart.


Forerunner305 [Run]:
Duration: 3:22:59
Work: n/a
rTSS: 252.3 (0.814)
NGP: 7:13 (223.2 m/min)
VI: n/a
Pw:HR: n/a
Pa:HR: 1.89%
Distance: 25.895 mi
Elevation Gain: 8091 ft
Elevation Loss: 8080 ft
Grade: 0.0 % (11 ft)
Min Max Avg
Heart Rate: 150 180 166 bpm
Speed: 0 51 7.7 mph
Pace 1:11 0:00 7:50 min/mi
Altitude: 803 1117 886 ft
Note: The GPS altitude correction would not work, so my NGP is NOT CORRECT.

FIRST RUN SEGMENT 6.35 mi. (49:46) 7:50/mile
SECOND RUN SEGMENT 13 mi. (51:32) 7:44/mile
THIRD RUN SEGMENT 19.23 mi. (48:04) 7:42/mile
FINAL RUN SEGMENT 26.2 mi. (53:14) 7:38/mile





Post Race

The night after the race and next day were just amazing. I was on cloud 9 the entire time and enjoyed talking to so many athletes and TeamEN members. I had the chance to meet Robert Ferris who was 2nd in my Age Group and was chasing me down. If the marathon was a mile longer he probably would have caught me. Robert also gave me some great advice for the trip to Kona and I look forward to seeing him in a year. I also found out the guy in my age group with the second fastest bike split lives only a few towns away from me. Rick, we should really ride together sometime and push each other so we both get stronger.

As far as receover goes ... I guess the good thing about getting a cramp and having to slow down on the run is I never got sore. I forced myself to do nothing Monday and Tuesday, but I felt like I could have picked up normal training. I’m still easing back into things just to be safe, but my body feels great and I'm really enjoying just working out with no schedule or intervals to do. It's amazing how much more I see on a ride when I'm not aero and starring at a power meter.

Summary

As I mentioned I’m thrilled with my performance and how the day worked out and wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of my friends and family.

It’s very interesting to me how I fell apart on the run that I have relied on for years, but had a significantly stronger bike than I expected (and stayed under my targets). I mentioned some of my lessons learned and this race gave me a lot to think about and work on for next year.

It’s now time to take a little while off from serious training and have fun with my fitness. Up next ,the New York Marathon (Thanks Katie!) and then the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater...both for fun only and with no goals.

In the mean time I’m going to start documenting my goals for next year and then coming up with a race plan. Lots of ideas floating around in my head now and need some time to sort them out. I definitely did not achieve my run goal for this year and therefore will have to go for it again next year, however I did get within 16 minutes of another goal that I didn’t think would happen for another few years….more to come on that later.

Thanks for reading and feel free to ask as many questions as you like.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Some IMWI Photos





























Kona Bound!

Full race report to come later this week, but here are the results:


SWIM 1:12:05
BIKE 5:07:58
RUN 3:22:36
TOTAL 9:49:30

OVERALL PLACE 29
DIVISION PLACE 1

TOTAL SWIM 2.4 mi. (1:12:05) 1:53/100m 723 79

FIRST BIKE SEGMENT 40 mi. (1:47:45) 22.27 mph
SECOND BIKE SEGMENT 83 mi. (1:55:11) 22.40 mph
FINAL BIKE SEGMENT 112 mi. (1:25:02) 20.46 mph
TOTAL BIKE 112 mi. (5:07:58) 21.82 mph 61 3

FIRST RUN SEGMENT 6.35 mi. (49:46) 7:50/mile
SECOND RUN SEGMENT 13 mi. (51:32) 7:44/mile
THIRD RUN SEGMENT 19.23 mi. (48:04) 7:42/mile
FINAL RUN SEGMENT 26.2 mi. (53:14) 7:38/mile
TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi. (3:22:36) 7:43/mile 29 1

TRANSITION
T1: SWIM-TO-BIKE 4:56
T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 1:55

Thank You!

It's going to be a few days before I can pull together an Ironman Wisconsin Race Report, however I wanted to thank my ever expanding support crew. Two years ago when I first attempted IMWI I had a few supports, this year I had more than I could count and it made all the difference in the world when I needed most...the ENTIRE run!

My wife Theresa - Not ony has Theresa supported my crazy hobby for 5 years now, she has embraced it and made it a way of life for both of us. Dealing with my crazy workout schedues, diet, traveling to races, and race week nerves is quite a task and she does it over and over ... with a smile. She is also the best spectator in the world! I love you Theresa and couldn't do it without you!

Mom, Dad and Chris - thanks for coming to Madison and spending a long day outside chasing me around.

Coach Rich and Coach Patrick @ Endurance Nation - You training plans had me more physically prepared for this race than I have ever been for anything in my life. Your race execution resources and 4 keys talk had me mentally prepared and seeing you guys and the team on the course throughout the day helped me through some very dark times.

Team EN Racers - It was awesome seeing everyone on the course throughout the day. Everyone looked great and encouraged me every time they saw me. I wish I looked as good as you guys did!

Team EN Spectators - You guys rock for making the trip out to volunteer and support us. It really helped to see Jim, Larry, and Trent at varrious parts of the course ... along with Matt in T1 and Mike at the swim start.

Team EN (Online) - Everytime I crossed a timing mat I knew the team was watching from around the world and it helped to me keep me going. Not to meant the motivation and great advice all season long.

Cheryl and Tony - Thanks for all the great weekend rides and dealing with my intervals at times :-) Can't wait to see you guys cross Lake Placid next year.

Coach Keith @ Well Fit - Thanks to your help I came out of the water very relaxed, feeling great, and ready for a good day.

Thanks again to everyone I mention above and everyone else that has helped along the way, I really couldn't have done it without each of you!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Spirit of Racine Race Report and Flipping the Switch

Spirit of Racine

  • New HIM Bike Split PR 2:14:05 (25.1 mph)
  • 2nd Fastest Bike Split out of over 1200 people
  • 2nd Place in the AquaBike
  • No taper and resumed normal training the next day

That pretty much sums of the race for me. I'm not sure if it is fair that I claim the 2nd fastest bike split since I only did the AquaBike and didn't have to run 13.1 after, however I did run afterwards anyway and I also crushed myself with a 3 hour bike workout including FTP intervals less then 24 hours before the race.

Either way, I've very proud of the split and it was a great way to finish off my racing before I put my head down and focus on the big race in 8 weeks.

Even though the run is my strength and usually where I make up time, I decided to do just the aquabike to allow me to focus on my weakness (swimming) and get a final race in without interrupting my training.

Swim: 26:57 (it was short)

The swim was actually really brutal, by far the worse swim I have been in for a while. The first couple hundred yards I just got kicked and hit over and over. Plus it didn't help that the water was 3 feet deep and guys were dolphin diving and running. Finally I had enough, gave up on looking for a draft and swam to the outside. I got into my grove and had a strong second half of the swim. I was a little wide and was passing people pretty much the entire second half until the guys from the wave after me came through.

T1: 1:45

Not much to say other then the only thing worse then a long run in the sand after a swim is when you drop your swim cap and have to go back and get it.

Bike: 2:14:05

My goal for the bike was to start on easy and just keep pushing harder until I didn't have anything left. First half hour went exactly as planned, relatively easy effort and cruised along at 24.2 mph, placing a ton of people that were better swimmers then me and even quite a few people from the elite wave that started 3 minutes earlier.

The next hour was much different. I went from passing someone every minute or so, to only seeing people every 5 minutes. I also noticed quite a few more motorcycles and officials around. I kind of got into a lull and my power dropped a little and I wasn't feeling to strong, but I just decided to practice being smooth and riding by feel. Ends up the "middle hour" as I'm call it was pretty good for me as my power was lower, but my VI was 1.01 and speed was 24.8.

The last 45 minutes was different again, I started to see a few more people on the course, but these were all guys in the elite wave with low race numbers. The combination of taking the middle hour easy and then getting a little excited that I could be catching up to some of the pros motivated me and I hammered the last 45 minutes averaging over 25 mph.

The coolest part of the day had to be when I was leaving T2 and the announcer said the 10th place overall male just entered T2, meaning I was in 9th place at the moment and I started 3 minutes back.

I really really wanted to keep running as I felt great and knew I could pull of a decent run, but the plan was to do the aqua bike. So I found the finish shoot and was the first person to cross the finish line of the day...and then went for an easy run.

All in all it was a great day and I learned a few more lessons to keep in mind and re-enforce things I already knew but don't always do.

I also have a new found respect for the guys at the front of the pack ... it's hard, much harder then I thought. Back in the middle of the pack, you have lots of other people to feed off of and you can legally ride behind someone and benefit from it. It's really lonely up front and a lot harder to just push on your own constantly. Plus, I had no idea where I was going half the time and had to slow down and look for arrows on the ground or yell to the volunteer at the corner which didn't see me coming.

Flipping the Switch

Since November I have been training to get fast. I have obsessed over my FTP, VDOT and Weight. Tracked them constantly and worked hard to improve them. Overall it has been very successful as I am over my FTP goal, under my weight goal, and very confident that I am at my VDOT goal or maybe a little over. Plus I've had some great races and even qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, but it's time for a change.

I'm now 8 weeks out from my A race of the year, therefore I celebrated my success at Racine and throughout the year with some ice cream on Sunday night, but was back to work with a new focus at 6 AM on Monday.

From now until September I am solely focused on getting to my A race prepared and in great mental and physical shape. No more switching workouts, testing myself or any other of the things I have done. The FTP, W/KG, VDOT, and weight are what they are now and it's time to train myself to get the most of them.

It's all about consistently doing the workouts as planned, focusing on recovery every single day, and eating right every single meal.

I'm the strongest I have ever been and feel great but I have to wait until September to see if it is good enough.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Big Tri Week

Based on Rich and Patrick’s advice on the benefit of doing a big tri week over at Endurance Nation, I took advantage of the holiday weekend and put together 6 days of swimming, cycling and running.

Life got in the way a little bit between a night out with friends, a day on the boat and family parties, but I’m pleased with how much I was able to get in.

Totals for 6 days:
Swim: 2:14 – 8000 yards
Bike: 18:40 – 346 miles
Run: 6:20 – 52 miles
Sleep: Not Enough

Total: 27:17 and just over 400 miles

I’m pretty shocked at how well my body handled all of it, at no point during the week where my legs the limiter… just my neck, back, and lack of sleep or nutrition. I actually think it was much more challenging mentally then physically.

The details:

Day 1:
Swim: 0:50 swim lesson with lots of hard intervals and I set new 50, 100, and 200 PRs
Run: 1:50 15.7 miles – long run at zone 1 pace (very easy) so I wouldn’t be shelled for the weekend.

Day 2:
Bike: 6:50 130.5 miles - 3 loops on IMWI course (Aero the entire time except the climbs)
Brick Run: 0:45 6 miles

Day 3:
Less then 3 hours sleep and the long day before left me tired
Bike: 2:15 41 miles (rolling hills like IMWI course)
Brick Run: 0:45 5.7 miles (very hilly)
Wake Boarding in the afternoon
Meant to swim, but it didn’t happen

Day 4:
Back and neck were really tight, but after some icy hot and time on the foam roller I got out the door
Bike: 3:30 63 miles in Barrington Hills
Brick Run: 1:00 8.1 miles

Day 5:
Swim: 0:32 2000 yards mostly easy with one set of 5 x 100 hard
Bike: 6:00 112 miles in Barrington Hills (Thanks to Cheryl, Tony, Guy, Keith from Well-fit, and Hayes I had different people to ride with for most of the 6 hours)
Brick Run: 0:30 4 miles

Day 6:
Swim: 0:50 3000 yards, some drills with 5 x 100 and 5 x 50 hard
Run: 1:30 12.4 miles – easy long run to wrap of the week.

As of now, I’m feeling strong and ready to keep going, however I am going to give my legs a rest tomorrow and just swim to be safe.

For the rest of the week I will be doing a ton of swimming and then it's back to focusing on Ironman Wisconsin which is now less then 10 weeks away. I can't wait...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ironman 70.3 Kansas Race Report

Overall I had a great day and accomplished another goal by receiving a spot to compete in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater, Florida.

Before I go into the results and talk more about myself I first have to say thank you to Theresa for not only putting up with my training and triathlon obsession on a daily basis, but for also being the best support crew anyone could ask for. Not many people could handle being with me for 4 days straight around a race, then manage to take pictures and update twitter while running all over the course trying to find me.

Also, there is no way I would have improved this much or gone into the race with so much confidence if it was not for the Endurance Nation team. Thank you to Rich, Patrick, the November Out Season Group, Jim and everyone else that. Knowing that the team was tracking me online was very motivating during the race.

Now back to the race report, there are two different ways to look at my performance at Ironman 70.3 Kansas, either…

I did not do a good job at estimating my ability and therefore my race plan was too conservative.

Or

I did not execute all that well but got lucky and I was able to hold it together and have a great race.
Anyway, here are the results and the details:

Swim 37:30 70th AG / ~650 OA
T1 2:22
Bike 2:22:50 4th AG / 39th OA
T2 0:54
RUN 1:22:04 1st AG / 27th OA

Total 4:25:40 8th AG / 24th OA

Swim:
Leading up to this race I felt pretty good about my swim. I had been swimming the strongest I ever have in the pool and very consistently been hitting my 100 yard intervals around 1:35 or slightly faster. I did a 2100 yard swim in 37:00 in the pool and figured the wetsuit, race day, and a draft would easily get me a 35 minute or slightly faster swim no problem.

I lined up about 2-3 rows back and a little to the side and the swim seemed to go really well. I just swam, counted my strokes, focused on my form and sighted every once in a while. The water was pretty murky and I couldn’t see in my own hand much less feet in front of me so I never really got a draft. However, it felt like one of my best swims ever, as I felt strong and kept passing people from the waves in front of me, then I got out of the water and saw my time was 37:30. I guess I just took it too easy or under estimated the importance of getting on someone’s feet.



Bike:
On Saturday we drove the entire course and rode on the hilly sections. It was a really good thing I did this as the course was much more challenging then I expected. I would say this course may actually be tougher then doing 56 miles of the IMWI course. It is constant hills, so I picked few of the biggest ones and climbed them a few times.

I felt really good getting on the bike and I thought I was taking it really easy, but every time I looked down my power was over my goal watts. I kept trying to take it easy but kept putting down slightly higher power numbers then I wanted.

I was really worried as I was flying by people , but I felt strong and kept going. I really took it easy on the up hills, but didn’t really lose much ground and then on the down hills I made up a ton of time on most others. The last mile I really eased off to make sure my legs would be ready to run.




Run:
After seeing my bike time and still feeling great, I was fired up and ready for the run. I managed my fastest transition ever at :54 sec and was then off and running. I tried to follow my placing plan, but I could not slow myself down. I even slowed down to almost a walk through the first few aid stations but my splits were faster then I planned. Therefore in the middle 7 miles I actually ran a little easier then planned just to make sure I wouldn’t blow up. When mile 10 came around I was still feeling good, so I throw my plan out the window and just ran. I ended up with the last 3 miles at just over 6:00 min/mile and my garmin has my final .1 sprint at a 4:45 average pace.

The highlight of the run was that I basically ran within about 20 feet of Chrissie Wellington for the first 5 miles of the run until she turned off for the finish and I had another lap to do. She was smiling as usual and very friendly to everyone. For the entire run she was the only person that passed me which was a really cool feeling, of course the faster men were already done before I started the run.

I don’t have the exact run splits handy, but they were all over the place between 6:00 and 6:30, which is by far the worse pacing I have done in a while.






Post Race:
After about 20 minutes in the medical tent to ice my legs, I wandered over to eat and check the results. I was really excited about my time and was sure I would be in the top 5 of my age group, so I was a little disappointed when I saw I was 8th. Everyone is getting really fast as there were 12 guys in my AG that went under 4:30, and 11 of us were within about 9 minutes of each other.

Anyway we went back to the hotel, showered, got some more food and then went back for awards and roll down. Roll down was not supposed to start until after awards, but we got back early anyway and luckily Theresa heard the announcer from the parking area say they were doing roll down. So I sprinted over to the expo area, literally as they were giving away the 2nd to last roll down spot for my age group, which I got.

Lessons Learned:
- Time to learn to swim, it’s pretty pathetic that I was 4th on the bike, 1st on the run, and 70th on the swim in my age group.
- For me less is definitely more as far as nutrition goes. I had one bagel with PB for breakfast, one gel pre-race, 500 calories of infinit on the bike, one gel on the run, and water whenever I felt like it. That’s pretty much it and it was more then enough.
- I either under estimated my ability, or went to hard and got really lucky on the bike. IMWI will not be so forgiving and I need to really focus on getting the pacing right and not going too hard for the first 30 minutes to hour.
- Same thing on the run, I could fake my way through crappy pacing during a 70.3, but I need to get my act together for IMWI.
- Even if there are people walking and blocking the run course, don’t go around a cone to pass them. I was stopped by an official and had to stand and wait for about 15 seconds after she lectured me about passing “off the course”.
- Always stay around the race site during awards and roll down as I found out the schedule is subject to change and if we waited until after the awards to go back I would have missed getting a Clearwater spot.
- Did I mention, I have a lot of work to do on the swim

I'm also very proud to say that I took two days completely off after the race and just swam this morning as my first workout since the race. A few more days of taking it easy and then it is time to get serious about IMWI.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ready to Race

I have not done an "A-Race" triathlon since Ironman Wisconsin in 2007 and now that I'm a week out from Ironman 70.3 Kansas, I'm ready to go.

My training has been about as good as it can get, with no injuries and every key workout done. I've PR'ed in every race I have done so far this year, and I'm already almost at my goal FTP, VDOT, and weight that I want to reach by September of this season.

More importantly though, I have a great plan for race day, that I have practiced with sucess, twice.

My goal is simply to execute my plan and race my race.

The only thing left is the hardest part of training for me, the taper.

Here are a few pictures of my bike all dressed up to race.










Monday, May 18, 2009

Chicago Spring Half Marathon - New PR and 3rd Overall!

Summary

I would say this was a B race for me, I really felt I could do better then I did in the Cary Half-Marathon earlier this year and I wanted to “prove” my vDot in a half-marathon before fully shifting my focus to Ironman training. I built up for this a little more then Cary, but I was still not focused on it or really training for it.

My plan was to average exactly what my vDot based on a recent 5k predicted (5:58) and either get a new PR or blow up trying.

I ended up feeling great the entire race, even during mile 12 and 13, and went 1:17:34 for any average of 5:55 min/miles. This got me 3rd overall out of close to 1500 finishers.

For all of the long boring details, look below the pictures....






Matt Sullivan and I getting our awards... two more podiums for Endurance Nation.


Top 3 finishers picture for the race website


Training

I did build up more for this then Cary in March, however I was still doing a very bike focused training plan with 4 quality rides a week, and then fitting in runs around those and typically having 2 quality runs a week. Those two runs were one semi-long run 90 minutes or less and one set of tempo intervals. I was pretty nervous going into this race because I was having trouble holding my target training paces during the semi-long runs and I was pretty worn out from all the hard work on the bike. Not to mention, running sub 6:00 min/miles for a half marathon just sounded crazy and was not something I ever thought I would do.

The taper (or lack of a taper)

The week leading into the race I did all of my bike workouts and swims as planned, plus I continue to run almost everyday. I did make two changes, I did not do my planned long run and instead did a second tempo run with 3 x 1 mi at my goal half marathon pace. Also, I did my long ride on Saturday before the race, but I cut it short. I still got all the hard work in and ftp intervals, but I called it a day after that and road for only 2 hours but got 45 miles in.

The Plan

I used CoachP’s 3-7-3 half marathon pacing guidance to create my plan. Run the first 3 miles at 10 seconds per mile slower then my goal pace (6:08), miles 4-10 at goal pace (5:58), and then give it all I had for the last 3 (5:48 or better) to hopefully average my goal pace overall and have a nice negative split.

Race Morning

I was oddly calm and nervous at the same time on race morning. The weather was perfect at about 40 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and mild winds. I was calm because I had run so many half marathons, and already set a PR 2 months ago. However I was nervous, because I was really second guessing myself. Prior to races I usually do at least 1 or 2 predictor or race rehearsal type workouts that give me a really good idea if my paces are achievable. This time around I tried that twice and both times in training I missed my goal paces. Therefore I really thought I would make it to about mile 10 or 11 and then just blow up.

Anyway, did the normal bagel for breakfast before leaving the house. Had a gel about 30 minutes before the start, then went for an easy jog with MattSull to warmup, and finally a few strides about 5 minutes before the start.

The Race

I ended up starting further back then I have in a while, because I lined up a little late but it was good as it forced me to slow down for the first quarter mile and just let the leaders take of. This is the first race in a while where I lost sight of the leaders so soon.

I really had to keep watching my watch to slow myself down for the first 3 miles, but I got close with a 6:03, 6:06, 6:03.

Mile marker 3 was right before the first turn around (it was a double out and back), and I could see the leaders coming back in. I counted and I was around number 19 or 20 at that time. Once I passed mile 3, this is when the race started. I dropped my pace down to 5:58 and tried to just hold it as close as I could with out going to hard to pass people.

Miles 3 to 7 were pretty uneventful, just kind of slowly passed one person at a time.

At mile 7 I was feeling really strong and still breathing really easy. I think I was in about 5th or 6th at this time so I decided to take a risk and run at little harder to try and catch up to the next person in front of me. I did and caught up in about 3 minutes, looked at my watch and I had average 5:30 for the last half mile, opps. So when I got next to him I slowed down and talked with him for a minute to keep myself under control. After a few sentences back and forth, my breathing was under control again and my pace was back around 5:58 so I slowly pulled away from him.

That seemed to work well, so I repeated it when I saw the next guy up the road. Worked again, so I tried it again. The last time was going into the final turn around at mile ten. I was still kind of nervous that I was pushing to hard as I was 5-10 seconds per mile fast, but I felt strong and in control, so I gave a final push to catch 3rd place. I got next to him and slowed down again.

I don’t think he heard me coming because he was kind of caught by surprise and I said nice job and a few other normal comments and all he said was… thanks, where the hell did you come from? I responded that I just started really easy and a little back at the start and have just been slowly speeding up each mile. He looked at me like I was crazy. We shared a few more comments back and forth and then I just said have a great rest of the race and stay strong, I’m either going to blow up really soon or set a PR.

The last 2 miles were pretty boring as the 1st and 2nd were not even in sight. I asked some race officials how far back I was and one guy said 100 yards, and then other said really far. Since I was pretty sure it wasn’t 100 yards, I just kind of settled into my pace and finished strong and comfortable.

The Results

I ended up with an official time of 1:17:34 which was about 40 seconds or close to 3 seconds per mile faster then my goal. This was good enough to get 3rd place overall out of about 1500 finishers. 1st and 2nd were also in my age group so I can’t claim an age group win.

The Data

Entire workout (184 bpm):
Duration: 1:17:58
Work: n/a
rTSS: 156.3 (1.04)
NGP: 5:41 (283.6 m/min)
VI: n/a
Pw:HR: n/a
Pa:HR: -0.4%
Distance: 13.17 mi
Elevation Gain: 529 ft
Elevation Loss: 544 ft
Grade: -0.0 % (-15 ft)
Min Max Avg
Heart Rate: 106 191 184 bpm
Speed: 0 78 10.1 mph
Pace 0:46 0:00 5:55 min/mi
Altitude: 575 604 585 ft

Actual Splits:
6:03
6:06
6:03
5:55
5:57
5:58
5:59
5:47
5:47
5:52
5:49
5:44
5:44
5:45 (average pace for the last .1 since I didn't stop my watch for a while)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Big Bike Week

Through out the off-season I followed the guidance of Endurance Nation and focused on getting fast before going far and therefore all my workouts were intense, but short. To help get a jump start on building up some endurance Rich and Patrick recommend doing a big bike week during the spring. If you check out the Endurance Nation blog you will find 3 detailed post about how to plan a bike bike week and the benefits of it.


To fit the bike bike week into my life, I took advantage of our EN Wisconsin Camp and added a few more days before and after of riding. I would preferred to do 4-5 days of longer rides, but work and the weather both significantly constrained me so I did the best I could. I also continued to run, but did all easy running during this time and reduced my running volume to let me recover from the bike workouts.


Workout Summary:


  • Thursday: 1 hour on trainer with 3 x 10 @ FTP - 81.3 TSS / 0.91 IF / 232 NP / 23 miles - 30 minute easy run


  • Friday: 5:15 EN group ride - 296.4 / 0.75 / 193 / 90 miles - 30 min brick run


  • Saturday: 2:00 EN group ride - 98 / 0.72 / 185 / 31 miles - 60 min easy run


  • Sunday: 2:00 on trainer - 146.5 / 0.86 / 220 / 46 miles - 50 min swim


  • Monday: 1:00 on trainer with 3 x 10 @ FTP - 81.2 / 0.91 / 231 / 25 miles - 30 min easy run


  • Tuesday: 1:00 on hotel bike - Estimated 55 / 0.75 / 190 / 18 miles - 60 min easy run


  • Wednesday: 1:00 on hotel bike - Estimated 55 / 0.75 / 190 / 18 miles - 60 min easy run

Totals:

  • Bike: 13:15 / 813 TSS / 251 Miles


  • Run: 4:30 / 36.9 Miles

The Results are still to be determined, but initially I can say I'm shocked how well my body handled all the hours in the saddle. In fact I felt pretty strong throughout most of the 7 days. The only time I was really struggling was on the Saturday ride in the cold rain when I was freezing and my legs were a little tired from the 5 hour ride the day before. I did already see a nice CTL bump in my PMC chart, assuming I hold onto that fitness I should be in a good place by June for IM 70.3 Kansas.

Time to recover from the big bike week and shift my focus to running for two weeks and prepare for a half marathon.

Endurance Nation Wisconsin Camp

Thanks to Endurance Nation and a few of the members in the midwest, I had the opportunity to attend a training camp in Madison this weekend. The idea of this camp came up late last year and through the EN forums a few of us figured out a date and decided to do it. Jim and Hayes then took the lead, organized the group, found a cabin to stay at and before we knew it we had 20 people from around the midwest training together for a weekend. Rich Strauss, one of the coaches and founders of Endurance Nation, even flew in from LA to ride with us and support us at a free camp. How cool is that?

I went to this camp with the intention to ride as much as possible for three days and no other goals. Thanks to the weather, that goal was limited a little but I left with a lot more then I expected. Instead of writing another novel, here are some thoughts...


  • I met a few more EN members that I only knew from the forums and had some great discussions with them. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at the races this year and reading all of the great race reports.
  • This weekend was a humbling experience. At a little over 4 w/kg I was starting to consider myself a strong cyclist and I quickly learned I still have a way to go. My small size gives me a high w/kg and gets me up hills quick, but on the flats and downhills I can't hang with some of the guys with FTPs around 300. Just more fuel for the fire to keep me focused on raising my FTP.
  • Rich spent some time teaching us the rules of roadie rides and how to draft and pace line. For a guy like me that always trained on my own this was a great experience. At first I was pretty nervous and wouldn't get too close to others, but as the weekend went on I continued to get more relaxed and was even staying on someone's wheel in pouring rain at high speeds. I now have the confidence to give a roadie ride a try and more confidence in bike handing skills.
  • I already knew the weather in the midwest can change pretty quick, but Friday was over 80 degrees with 20 mph winds and some crazy gusts that would move we a few feet over. Saturday was in the 40s and 50s and pouring rain. The good news is I got comfortable riding in both conditions on parts of the actual ironman course. Another big confidence booster.
  • The first day I road for 5:15 at a little over my target watts and IF for the ironman and I was still able to finish strong and go for an easy brick run right after. That's a pretty great workout in April if you ask me... can't wait to see how much stronger I can get by August.
  • You can never have enough inter tubes, CO2 and practice changing flats. I ordered a few more tubes today (with long value stems) and if I don't flat enough this year in training, I will actually stop during a few rides to make sure I'm ready for race day.
  • I rode all weekend in only tri-shorts and had no discomfort at all, which is great because this year I want to race in tri-shorts from start to finish. The only problem was I lost about 10 pounds since last year and my tri-shorts were a little lose, so I heard about it all weekend from the guys. Rich, I ordered two pairs of smaller shorts today, but I'm still not shaving my legs.
  • I made the mistake of saying I had 3 more pounds to loose by IMWI to be at my goal race weight, and I never heard the end of it. Either way, the guys can continue to give me crap as much as they want, but I'm still going to try and drop the three pounds and start IMWI at the weight I think I need to be at to have a shot at a Kona slot. However, right after the race I'm looking for Noodle and will join him to eat as much as we can to put the 3 pounds and a few extra back on.
  • @Hayes - Thanks again for organizing the weekend and booking the place, you did an awesome job.

  • @Rich - Thanks for making the trip from LA to ride with us in the pouring rain and then answer questions for hours when we were stuck in a cabin because of the storms.

I can't wait to do this camp again next year and I think I might actually try to join a roadie ride now. This camp is just one more example of how EN is a good fit for me. If you are looking for the benefits of having a coach, plus the benefits of being on a team and are interested learning about your training and the science and methods behind it, check out endurance nation.

I'll include details about the rides I did when I post later this week on my Big Bike Week.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Surprise in the mail ...

So last night we got the mail and there was a thick and heavy normal sized envelope addressed to me. I opened it up and inside there was a third place medal and a letter from the March Madness Half Marathon.

Turns out that even though the results at the end of the race showed me finishing 6th in my age group, the first three placed overall and therefore I got 3rd in the age group. I think it's pretty cool the race director took the time to type up a letter explaining the situation and sent me the medal.

After the race I just wanted to get out of there so I could fit in a bike ride that day also, and I never even realized that on the printed results after the race the overall winners were still included in the age group standings...duh.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Some Recent Photos

It seems I have been writing a lot recently and not posting many pictures, so I figured it was time to upload a few recent ones.



A few miles into the March Madness Half Marathon. It's really hard to go slow for the first few miles, but it sure does pay off.



Trying to make up 6 more seconds in the last .1 miles of the half marathon and not pass out. My Garmin has me at a 5:15 pace right there. Finished at 1:20:06.



The sprint to the finish of the Bunny Dash 5k, this time I made it under my goal and finished at 16:59. Both Theresa and Jim took almost the exact same picture, but Jim managed to catch me with both feet in the air.



The Argon E-112 is all built and ready to go.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Final Run Test

I'm really glad I decided to skip the Shamrock Shuffle last week as I doubt it would have been a good final run test with the weather conditions.

Race Results

Instead I raced the Bunny Dash 5k yesterday morning with a few other local Endurance Nation members. This was the inaugural year for this race and it went over pretty well, I will likely head back next year if it fits in my schedule.

The weather was about ideal, upper 30s, only a slight wind and sunny. There were about 400 people registered for the race and the field didn't look nearly as competitive as the half marathon from last month.

I started out in the second row back and with in the first quarter mile there was a pack of 5 of us running in the lead. The first two guys were quickly increasing their lead and I looked at my watch and realized I was around 5:10 min/mile pace, so I backed off and let everyone go a little. I really wanted to try and hang with them, but my goal was 5:28 miles so I knew I had to hold back.

Well, it paid off as, I caught the 4th place guy right before mile marker one, and then passed 3rd place around 1.5 miles. The problem now was the leaders were long gone and I was alone for the rest of the race. Both first and second place came in close to 15:30...that is around a 5:00 mile pace.

I held my pace though and finished 3rd overall and 1st in my age group with a 16:59 at exactly my goal pace of 5:28 min/mile.

Therefore my vdot at the end of the Endurance Nation Out Season is just over 60. Looks like I have until September to pick up about one more vdot point and build up my endurance.

First Long Ride on the New Bike

After the race I went home and took my new tri-bike out for my first long ride of the year. Thanks to some great feedback from Rich, Patrick and Jim over at Endurance Nation the fit felt great. In fact I road 3:07 and I was in the aero bars for over 3 hours of it easily with no discomfort, other then my butt and neck which is normal this time of year.

I was able to get in some FTP intervals and then hold close to 85% of my ftp for the rest of the ride. I have my power tap set up now so I cannot see my speed while I ride to force me to only pace myself on power.

I got home and checked the totals... 210 TSS, .82 IF and I covered a little over 62 miles in 3:07 all after a 5k PR. Last year in peak shape right before a 2:29 half ironman split I was riding the same loop for 3 hours and typically covering 57-59 miles.

Upcoming Training

I have about 11 weeks until Ironman 70.3 Kansas and will losely be following the Endurance Nation Basic Week plan with the addition of a few more runs. As the weather permits I'm going to start getting out on Saturdays and Sundays for more 3+ hour rides in to start building up my endurance, but I'm also going to continue to focus on getting a few quality bike and run workouts in during the week. Ideally I would like to meet my ftp and vdot goals for the year by June, therefore allowing me to really shift my focus from June to August on endurance and execution.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

EN Out Season Results

For the last 3 years the winter was all about building a base to get ready to start training hard in the Spring. I never used a coach, or had a plan; I just set some volume and frequency goals for myself and figured it out as I went. This year was a little different, 21 weeks ago I drank the EN kool-aid and changed the way I train.

This is probably going to end up being another really long post, so I'll put a summary up front and you can decide if you want to keep reading after that.

Results Summary

Bike
  • First FTP test on 11/4 - 209 watts and 3.3 w/kg
  • Final test on 3/28 - 251 watts and 4.07 w/kg
  • 20% FTP increase

Run

  • First run test on 11/5 - 5k for a vdot of 56.3
  • Week 16 test - 5k for a vdot of 59.5
  • Final test on 3/29 - snow and 30+ mph so I skipped it, I'll do a 5k next weekend and post again
  • 3.2 vdot point increase over the first 16 weeks

The Plan


My goal for this out season was to get stronger on the bike and at least maintain my run fitness. Therefore I selected the Endurance Nation Out Season Advanced Bike Focus Plan.


The plan was a 16 week plan including:
  • 4 days a week on the bike, under an hour each day, but lots of time at FTP or harder
  • 4 days a week running, under an hour each day, but tons of intervals at tempo pace or interval pace
  • No swimming in the plan

I did a total of 21 weeks of the Out Season, weeks 1-16, then took a week vacation to recover, and then repeated weeks 13-16.

Actual Workouts

First off, I have to say that the plan was great, but the EN forum was even more helpful. I was routinely checking in with a group of other members that started the same plan on the same day as me. This was a great source of motivation and accountability. I am very proud that I can say I completed every scheduled workout for the entire OS, and never skipped one. I was sick twice and also had a conflicts with work that required 4 AM workouts, but I got every one done because I knew my November OS team was out there getting the work done also.

Bike

I did every single workout in the plan exactly as it was described for the first 16 weeks. I accomplished this by creating ERG files for my computrainer and using the coaching software that forced me to either push the watts or quit. There were many many times I wanted to quit but I never did...and I only puked once.

When I repeated weeks 13-16 after vacation, I began to add some extra volume in and gradually worked up to an extra hour at 85% of my ftp at the end of one of the weekend workouts.

Overall, I am very pleased with the bike workouts and wouldn't change a thing. They did exactly what they were supposed to...ROI. I put in less time on the bike then ever before and my ftp went up more then I was hoping for. It was really great not to have to find two or three movies to watch each weekend for the countless hours on the trainer that I have done in past years.

Run

The feedback I kept hearing form other EN members was that the out season plan will seam easy at first and then get really tough and therefore everyone said not to do any extra workouts. Even though I was coming off of a huge running year and in great shape, I decided to listen.

For weeks 1-8 I did exactly as the plan said, however the running seemed really easy and I felt I wasn't making any progress. Then the week between Christmas and New Years Day, EN did a running challenge where we earned points for running every day. Since I was focusing on getting strong on the bike this year, I decided to do the run challenge but not let it impact my bike workouts. I ended up running an hour or more for 10 days in a row and didn't miss a bike workout. After that I decided to gradually start adding more runs in.

I started by adding easy runs on Monday. After a few weeks of that, I also started doing a 30 minute run after the bike on Thursdays. Finally weeks 13-16 (both the first time and when I repeated them) I added a semi long run on Sundays, starting at an hour and getting up to an hour and a half once or twice.

I really think the EN plan is great for the majority of people the way it is written. However, I had just spent the last year running 7 days a week and averaging about 70 miles a week so I had a really strong base and was able to do more running. Plus in some sick way, I just really enjoy running and the days off were killing me in the EN plan.

Swim

Well, the EN advice is not to swim in the out season. I completely understand why they take the approach, but I couldn't do it. Swimming is by far my weakest area and I was not comfortable completely giving it up. However, I did greatly reduce my swimming for a while though and I always made sure my bike and run workouts got priority by swimming on days off or at night if I had the time and motivation.

Weeks 1-8 I only swam when I felt like it which ended up being about once a week on Monday when I was not doing a bike or run. Weeks 9-12 I started to slowly ramp back up and swam on Mondays and Fridays. Finally I got to swimming 3 times a weeks for the last 8 or 9 weeks.

In the end, I made some progress in my swimming by really focusing on my form and drills. Since my life allowed me the time to swim, I'm glad I did it. However, if I was to do it again and didn't have as much time available, I would seriously consider taking some time off from swimming.

Body Comp

The one other area I focused on was my body composition and eating. Not that I have much weight to lose, but I could improve here and have some goals for my race season.

I said swimming was my weakness, but easting habits may be even worse. I can't help it, I love to eat. I actually have significantly changed my diet over the last two years and now I eat much healthier foods overall, however I still like to eat a lot, as in really large portions and all day long.

The first 8 weeks of the out season were a roller coaster for my weight, just keep going up and down but always ended up right back at the same place. During January and February I did great and dropped about 3 or 4 pounds, but I managed to put about 8 back on a 10 day vacation.

Since vacation, I have been really focused and I got rid of the extra 8 pounds I put on during vacation and am within a pound of my goal for racing this year. Now all I have to do is stay right around this weight.

The Data

For those of you that really want to see the details, here are my PMC charts from Training Peaks WKO+ for the Out Season.

Bike Only:





Run Only:






Sunday, March 15, 2009

What a Great Day

Today was one of those days were everything just seemed to go right:
  • It was in the 50s with clear skies and no wind
  • I PR'ed at a half marathon, that I had not trained or tappered for
  • I had a great bike ride OUTSIDE
  • Did I mention is was in the 50s in Chicago in March

March Madness Half Marathon

I did this race becuase a few of the guys I train with over at Endurance Nation were going to be there and I thought it would be fun. I had no real goals or plan, I was just going to start off at a pace I thought I could easily hold for the whole race and see what happened.

Leading up to the race, I did not tapper at all, in fact yesterday I did 1:45 on the trainer with a brick run right afterwards and I pushed really hard. Warming up for the race this morning my legs were a little heavy and I could feel the fatigue in my quads from the hard bike ride yesterday, but overall I felt good.

The race was by far the hilliest race I have ever done, and the timing of the hills is what makes it really difficult because from mile 9 to 13 is mostly uphill and rolling hills. As usual I went out too fast for the first mile, but I quickly setteled down and was pretty close to my target pace 6:15 for miles 2-8. From mile 8 to 13 I gave it everything I had and had a few miles at around 5:50 pace, coming into the finish shoot I could see the clock at 19:55 and I sprinted as hard as could. I put it all out there and came in at 1:20:06.

It sure would have been nice to break 1:20, but I'm really happy with my results, a negative split, and I was 1:44 faster then my previous PR which was set at a very flat and fast race last year.

Here is the data for anyone that is interested, check out the total elevation changes even though the biggest single hill was about 200 ft and yes this file's altitude was corrected in WKO:

Forerunner305 [Run]:

Duration: 1:20:06

Work: n/a

rTSS: 150.8 (1.006)

NGP: 5:57 (270.6 m/min)

VI: n/a

Pw:HR: n/a

Pa:HR: 1.83%

Distance: 13.141 mi

Elevation Gain: 2105 ft

Elevation Loss: 2092 ft

Grade: 0.0 % (12 ft)

Min Max Avg

Heart Rate: 100 198 187 bpm

Speed: 1.2 16.2 9.8 mph

Pace 3:42 50:49 6:06 min/mi

Altitude: 696 910 816 ft

Bike Workout

Since I was only doing the race for fun, I wanted to also get my scheduled 2 x 20' at FTP bike ride in today. So after we got home, I dusted off my road bike which hasn't been out of the house since November and went for a ride outside.

My current FTP on the computrainer is 245 watts and I was really hoping that I would still be able to hold the watts after racing this morning. My legs were pretty sore warming up, but I was so thrilled to be outside I didn't care and went on anyway. I ended up holding 255w for the first interval and I figured I went out too hard and would fall apart, but on the way back I came up with 256w and finished stronger.

Here is the some bike data:

First Interval:

Duration: 20:01

Work: 294 kJ

TSS: 36.1 (intensity factor 1.04)

Norm Power: 255

VI: 1.04

Pw:HR: 1.11%

Pa:HR: 1.6%

Distance: 7.156 mi

Min Max Avg

Power: 0 538 245 watts

Heart Rate: 127 187 179 bpm

Cadence: 32 163 97 rpm

Speed: 0 30 21.5 mph

Pace 2:00 0:00 2:48 min/mi

Hub Torque: 0 277 77 lb-in

Crank Torque: 0 921 222 lb-in

Second Interval:

Duration: 20:01

Work: 301 kJ

TSS: 36.3 (intensity factor 1.043)

Norm Power: 256

VI: 1.02

Pw:HR: 5.46%

Pa:HR: 2.82%

Distance: 6.642 mi

Min Max Avg

Power: 0 503 250 watts

Heart Rate: 150 188 180 bpm

Cadence: 40 166 92 rpm

Speed: 0 28.1 19.9 mph

Pace 2:08 0:00 3:01 min/mi

Hub Torque: 0 220 84 lb-in

Crank Torque: 0 771 235 lb-in

Entire workout (213 watts):

Duration: 1:21:12

Work: 1039 kJ

TSS: 120.6 (intensity factor 0.944)

Norm Power: 231

VI: 1.08

Pw:HR: 0.6%

Pa:HR: 9.28%

Distance: 26.094 mi

Min Max Avg

Power: 0 538 213 watts

Heart Rate: 93 219 171 bpm

Cadence: 29 209 92 rpm

Speed: 0 30 19.3 mph

Pace 2:00 0:00 3:07 min/mi

Hub Torque: 0 277 73 lb-in

Crank Torque: 0 921 202 lb-in

I have 2 more weeks left of the Endurance Nation Out Season plan and then I am doing an 8k run as my final test and will post a summary.