Having decided that the next 9 months or so would focus on running with a build up for Leona Divide 50m and being in a “lull” between plans it made obvious sense to head out the trails at the weekend. So Sunday morning Becca and I managed to slips the bonds of eggs and bacon which usully have us locked down till 9 or sometimes even 10am (although that will change now Becca is stepping up her IMAZ training) and headed off to the Backbone Trail. If you have been reading this blog for a while there are references to this way back but since I have been on a Triathlon bent since late 2011 it’s been some time!
The Backbone Trail follows the entire length of the Santa Monica Mountains and is overseen been multiple agencies that foined to create and oversee the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, it extends over 65 miles starting just North of Santa Monica and end close to the Point Mugu on PCH. It open for multi use including horse riding and mountain biking but hiking and running are the only activities that are allowed on the entire length. I have run the entire thing, albeit in three sections back in 2010 and maybe one day I will in one go!
So we headed off to the local section that connects Kanan Dune to one of the high points at Coral Canyon neat to Castro Peak. The plan had only been to run out for 5 miles but I suggested that we push onto the natural turnaround at around the 6.5 mile mark giving us a solid 13 miles or so. As you can tell by the photos the weather was perfect, a slight breeze and hardly any sun.
Trail running is just a joy and I had forgotten how much I love it. With no headphones it’s just you, your footsteps and breathing. We stopped often for photos and finally hit the turnaround after 90 minutes and sucked down a gel. The clock was ticking so we headed back. At the 10 mile mark we both concluded that we were done, but with another 3 miles to go we had to push on. Both of us were feeling the aches and pains that would set in and last a more than a few days from the ups and downs, the rough terrain and the general lack of trail time!
We reached the car and of course did the worst thing possible, got in a drove home, no stretching. So here I sit feeling like someone has torn my legs off and hit me with the bleeding stumps…still I did get some nice photos!
Back to the trails is going to take some time but fortunately I have 250+ days to get there!
After much kicking it around it’s shaped up like this! Heading back to the road and mostly trails!
Stand by for the infamous selfie trail shot
…or as they have become…the doubly!
Once again I find myself writing a review of a Training Plan. Not only does this give me the opportunity to reflect on my training but hopefully someone looking for a plan may find this useful.
As a recap I used the Sufferfest Intermediate 10 week Triathlon Plan. Before you start the plan there is a simple questionnaire to go through;
- You are aiming at competing in Sprint/Olympic distance events and want to increase your average speeds/pace with lowering your final overall time OR
- You want to compete in either Half or Full Ironman-Distance races in the next 12 months and need a solid a base to build a foundation.
- You've been training for years, and have a solid fitness base, but it's been awhile since you've made a big jump in performance.
- You're used to consistent training: you're comfortable training frequently during the week and getting longer sessions in on the weekends.
- You’ve started to drift from your once dedicated and motivated self...you need something that will get the body and mind back into a routine and get back to a focused athlete.
- If you want to keep your job and the family happy, you need focused, compact training sessions.
I pretty much fitted the bill on all of these with the exception of #2 for which I would actually be racing a Half Ironman at the end of the plan rather than use if for a base. Just to set the stage I was coming off of solid base of cycling having completed the L’etape du California and my Sufferlandrian Knighthood in April and the 6 Hours of Temecula MTB race in June. On the flip side my running had been neglected and my swimming is always the weak leg. Additionally I only got my Tri bike back on the road mid June so my time aero was limited. I had used a Trainer Road build plan (reviewed here) to build up to L’etape and have previously used a Sufferfest Intermediate bike plan last year for the Tour de Big Bear so I was very familiar with the format.
These are the plan highlights;
- The plan is 10 weeks long. Weekly volume varies in length from 5:15 to 12:05 hours in duration
- It uses a step up step back methodology; test, build, build, rest, build, build, rest, build, build, build. I had a one week taper for week 11
- Every week has one rest day, some weeks have two, the rest weeks have three
- Every week has a minimum of two days with a double, some weeks have three. Every week has a brick; either swim/bike or bike/run
- Not every ride is trainer based
- There is a heavy use of the Chrysalis, the Sufferfest Triathlon video, this is best done using a Treadmill but you can use run off the bike on the road which is how I reviewed it here
- In addition to the Chrysalis Video you will need; Hell Hath no Fury, The Wretched, Blender, Fight Club, ISLAGIATT, Rubber Glove, The Long Scream and Local Hero
So that’s the quantifiable details, here are the qualitative details;
- The plan is easy to follow, it’s well written and structured. Instructions are clear, my only complaint is that when printed it’s black on gray and a very small font, not great for failing vision!
- The is room for flexibility. In an ideal world you would follow the prescribed days exactly but as I am not a Pro and have to fit my training into life rather than the other way round, there is room and flexibility to move stuff around
- There is a lot of structure around warming up/cooling down, this is great in avoiding injury
- There is speedwork; I like this! Specifically for the bike and swim
- Effort is based around RPE or HR/PWR zones, choose your poison
I did deviate from the plan some;
- Long rides at the weekend were often made longer as were the brick runs
- I ditched the swim drills. I rolled up my swim warm ups into 3 x 100 and 1 x 300 pull. This is by far the longest warm-ups I have ever done. I also skipped the backstroke cool-downs and swam freestyle with a pull buoy instead
Totals excluding Taper week and Race day;
Results, well you can read my race report here, unfortunately the reality of race day does really do any justice to the effectiveness of the plan so I have to look back at my training data to get that information.
On the bike there was some improvement. Switching bikes half way through the plan didn’t help and I was more than a bit nervous getting back on my Tri bike.
On the run; it’s hard to pull “vs” data as the runs were all very different except for the Zone 2 brick efforts. I do have two conclusions on the run training. My run did improve, I was able to settle into a decent pace and could keep it up longer, here is a sample of the runs during the final three weeks, yellow blocks are around 8 minute miles, not fast by any measure but pretty good when you running base was a thin as mine. My one complaint was that the brick runs were too short, at least too short for a HM plan.
The biggest gains were in the swim. Considering I am essentially self taught beyond some swim lessons when I was 9 years old and with some coaching from Becca and a pal in the UK it’s really been a case of get in and get on with it. So the proof of this improvement was shown in race day where I took 3 minutes off my 2012 time and in the closing weeks of training where I was hitting that early 2:00 pace mark, when you usually swim 2:15 or more this is a huge gain…at least I think so!
Conclusion; as mentioned this is a easy to follow plan. It takes the thinking out training which I like, I have been around the block enough times to understand the fundamentals, periodization, intervals and so on so it makes sense to me but there are very nicely laid explanations of things for people who have less experience. The workouts are well structured and effective. There is flexibility to fit it in around your everyday life. There is some investment needed in buying any videos that your don’t own already. Priced at $29.95 it is a bargain compared to plans available through Training Peaks or Beginner Triathlete which are double or even more.
Training volume is a personal thing, we are all busy people and some people do well on minimal hours. Personally I like volume, but I caveat that with specificity rather than just mileage for mileage sake. This plan covers some of the specificity with the interval training and drills, after all if you want to race fast train fast. So my only complaint is lodged with hindsight; namely that this plan is a bit light for a Half Ironman. This is underlined by my concern over the shortness of the bricks and the runs specifically, running 30 minutes off of the bike (best case for me is 4-4.5 miles covered) is a long way from the 1:30-2:00 that you will need to cover 13.1 miles on race day. But to a point that was covered in the initial questions, were I to be aiming for another Half Ironman in the fall some serious revisions of the plan would be needed to add the volume I need.
So all that’s left to say is there is clearly a gap in the market…over to you Mr. Grunter von Agony!
Well actually it was Vineman 73.3!
I have written and read enough race reports to (hopefully) be able to keep this brief…so here I go.
Becca and I arrived at T1 and dropped off our bikes, she had other issues to deal with, you can read about them here. My set up was pretty simple, I had opted to go with my road helmet rather than my aero helmet as I hadn’t worn it in over a year and I was twitchy enough about my lack of Tri bike time. The biggest issue was going to be the mud as the Transition area is a dusty parking lot and when you add 2000+ wet swimmers the dust turns to mud and well you can see the issues. My shoes were on my bike as I planned to run out of T1 and up the short hill at the start of the ride rather than mounting on a slope and toppling over. So with my number/race-belt, helmet and sunglasses hanging off my bike, some gels on my towel I was done…like I said simple.
I pulled on my wetsuit and was able to see Becca’s wave start and the first Pro’s out of the water and with that I headed to the waters edge for my Wave start which was next. As soon as I could I was in the river, getting wet and used to it. I had had a practice swim the day before and my wet suit was nicely stretched out and felt actually pretty good. I hovered at the back and with a countdown we were off.
My swim went really well. I focused on form and sighting and pretty soon I was passing people in my wave. I knew the turnaround was past the halfway point but it seemed a lot longer than that. The turnaround was very shallow and I walked round it. Swimming back was fine and I was mixing it up with others in my AG without issue. I reached the Exit and was on my way to my bike.
My swim measured 1.3 miles and while my sighting wasn’t great I felt good as Becca’s swim was the same distance. Swim Time; 43:11 (a “Good” swim was 42-44:59) given the extra distance it was almost a “Great” swim (40-41:49), this was 3:39 faster than in 2012!
T1; pretty straight forward, wetsuit off, fuel in pockets, helmet and glasses on and run! 3:31 significantly faster than in 2012 which was 6:08!
So far I was over six minutes up on my 2012 and less than an hour into the race. I settled into the bike. I took the first 10 miles a little easier covering them in 34:33, I wanted to not redline too soon and save more for the second half of the bike and the run. The next 10 miles I picked it up covering them in 30:26. So 20 miles in 1:04:59, not super fast but in the right ball park for around a 3 hour ride which by my previous goals would be a “Good” ride 2:55-3:04:59, especially as the second half of the race would be slower as it had the two climbs in it (M31, M47). I was riding along on the hard shoulder minding my own business and picking off other riders as I went when there was a sudden bang and hiss. I looked down a saw my back tire go flat, why always on the back?! I gingerly pulled over and rolled to a stop without issue.
Side note. I rarely flat, really rarely, so rarely I can count the number of times since writing this blog (7 years plus); three times (here’s two of them here, and here), this time was the fourth! On this occasion I was riding deep section (80cm) Mavic Cosmic Carbone Tubular wheels. Significantly more fussy to deal with than regular clinchers!
I spun my wheel and sticking out of it was inch long section of what looked like a 1/8 inch broken drill bit. On board I had a can of Hutchinson Fast Air which is a dual sealant and inflator and 2 Co2 cartridges. After some fussing I managed to get some of the sealant into the tire although I noticed it was bleeding out of the seams, then I added the Co2 and in a hiss the air was in the tire and out again, mostly through the newly created hole which was too big to get a solid seal! And like that I was stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire.
Time to start walking!
After a mile or so I reached a road Marshall who then called for the SAG Wagon to come and help. And so I waited and watched a stream of riders roll by. To be honest I lost track of time but eventually the SAG Wagon pulled up. Unfortunately for me they had no spares that could help me so I loaded the bike and climbed in resigned and disappointed that my day was over. The driver Nick then asked if he could get me back on the road was I interested…hell yeah! So off we sped to Healdsburg a nearby town to a local bike shop where they took my wheel as collateral. Nick left a Credit Card number with them just in case I decided not to go back! They fitted the wheel on the bike and I was back in the van heading back to the course. The plan had been to drop me off where I was picked up but someone had crashed and needed assistance so they dropped me off there and I got to ride an extra couple of miles on the bike course…did I care, no! I was happy to be back on the road and all things being equal would finish albeit in a horrible time!
Somewhere around 90 minutes or so had elapsed since flatting so my “race” was over, that being said I pushed through on the bike and got to the end in an earth shattering 4:23:58 when you take off the extra hour and half it wasn’t so bad but the clock is the clock. Even with the flat my timing mat splits show that I moved up 59 places in my AG Division.
T2; this has a bit of a run in and I was trying to pass someone who was walking, I decided to not be a jerk and rather than edge past I would wait for it to open up into the school’s Quad where there would be plenty of room to pass. I got to my rack, which of course was full, ditched my Bike, donned my Shoes and was out on the run. 5:54 for T2, some 1:21 faster than in 2012
The run was hot, the first four miles were ok the rest just went downhill from there, many, many walk breaks later I finished in 2:30:30 (24:24 slower than 2012) wiping all gains from the Swim and T1/T2 away! Looking back on 2012 I finished at 12:35pm, this year I finished at 2:53pm so I really had the heat of the day to contend with. That being said my run should have been stronger. More thoughts on that to follow.
Here’s the data;
So a disappointing time; yes, but the upside was I finished and did not DNF thanks to some quick thinking from the SAG Monkey support team. My swim was much improved as were my transition times, keeping things simple helped and now things feel more settled and I know more what to expect. But best of all I got this awesome finisher’s photo…which is one I have purchased and is as they say a “framer”!
As for what’s next…watch this space!
So Vineman is upon me. What started as a registration in February 2013 for the Vineman Monte Rio race in June 2013 to get reserved entry into this year’s race has come full circle. It’s ended up (so far) being my A Race, triathlon wise. This was reinforced by having to pull out of St George after my bike crash in January.
Following the crash I switched my focus to the road bike. I had a lot of road rash and swimming was out and running was painful. Since then I completed the Tour of Sufferlandria, my Sufferfest Knighthood, the L’etape du California and the 6 Hours of Temecula. That’s a lot of cycling since getting back on the bike I have covered 2250 miles from Jan 24 to today. The problem is that I have only been on my Tri bike a handful of times, I am not lacking the strength just some of the confidence.
My run is coming back and while I have had some sucky runs I have had some good ones. It’s my go to and although sometimes I hate it, I can usually rely on it to get me to the finish line.
As mentioned in my Week 10 review, my swim has improved, it’s always been the weak leg of the stool but I am really happy that I have been able to reduce my usual 2:20/100 splashfest to something hovering around the 2:00/100 mark.
So what about this weekend? Well it’s a race, against everyone in my AG, the clock, my PR and Becca.
The last and only time I did Vineman (and it’s my only 70.3 to date) I finished in 5:58:39, I had at the time a great swim (at the time) a good bike and a horrible run. My transitions weren’t great either, but it was only my third triathlon ever!
This year I should have, by comparison, a better swim, a fair bike and a good run. How will that translate? Hopefully something like this:
Swim; (2012 46:49)
- Great 40-41:59
- Good 42-44:59
- Crap 45+
Bike; (2012 2:52:21)
- Great sub 2:55
- Good 2:55-3:04:59
- Crap 3:05+
Run: (2012 2:06:06)
- Great 1:45-1:51:59 (8:00-8:31)
- Good 1:52-1:59:59 (8:32-9:21)
- Crap 2:00+ (9:22)
I can shave some time off of transitions too. The joy of a blog is the ability to read back in time, and during T2 in 2012 I put on Compression Sleeves, they’re out this year and went to the loo…not sure about that!
A “Good” race will be around 5:40-45!
Either way I hope to PR and catch Becca in the process!
The last week of training! It was set up to be a good week but I lost focus towards the end managing to pull it back onto track. I had hoped for another 12-14 hours but in the end it came in at just under 10. It may sound a bit odd to hope for time but as mentioned in the Week 9 review I do think this plan is a little bit light in volume for a Half Ironman. I will write up my thought in another post later on this topic. So on with the review.
Monday, off! I was happy to comply after a pretty big end to Week 9.
Tuesday; brick. Sufferfest Local Hero and a short run on the Treadmill.
Wednesday; an hours’ worth of intervals on the treadmill. I am really happy how my run has come back. One thing I have noticed is that I am taking longer to settle in. I think while this is a function of the training it also has something to do with my age, I am no spring chicken anymore and things just take a little longer to warm up! This is something that I need to remember on race day. That being said I was happy to be able to hit sub 6s on the intervals!
Thursday; more intervals. This time less intensity and more duration, 3 x 10 minute at RPE 8 with 3 minutes easy in between. I forgot to turn off my GPS on my 910 and so I was getting all kinds of weirdness but the ‘mill kept rolling and so did I!
Friday; July 4! Mini Tri, totally off plan. I wanted to throw all three elements into one workout just to make sure I could. I swam for 30 minutes, rode for just over an hour and ran for 37 minutes so a 2:10 workout that was somewhere between a Sprint and an Olympic in distance.
Saturday; Swim. I actually forgot the workout and so I improvised and swam 21 x 50 with warm up and cool down.
Sunday; brick. Back on the plan and I rode Sufferfest ISLAGIATT and then ran for 30 minutes on the Treadmill.
A couple of notable items. While running on the Treadmill I have been watching YouTube and to get my head in the right place and been replaying old NBC Ironmans’ During one the commentator mentioned that rotating the body during the swim reduces drag and as my swim is not great I am happy to tray anything that might help. So the last two swims I have been consciously focusing on that and lo-and-behold it worked!
My Mini Tri swim was a 1500 cold start nonstop swim. I finished in 29:43 a 1:59/100 pace, that’s the fastest I have ever swam, ever!
The next day the 21 x 50s netted out at 2:00/100 pace and my fastest one, the last one was a 1:43! WTF! I guess that rotating thing works!
The other item is that I crushed the ISLAGIATT ride covering 38 miles in just under 2 hours which is a good 3 miles further than I have ever done and PRd on TrainerRoad with a new 60 and 90 minutes average Power Hopefully this bodes well as I am a little worried over the lack of riding on my Tri bike!
So the totals for the week; 10 workouts 9:47:58 112.98 miles
- 2 swims; 1:10:38 3100 yards
- 3 bikes; 4:32:20 82.48 miles
- 5 runs; 4:14:00 28.74 (that’s nearly 30 miles…I haven’t done that in a very long time!)
So the plan is done, this week is a taper and race day is this weekend!
This week was by far the biggest week of the plan. I was reminded by Becca that my bricks were really not that big and that my long runs were not that long. This is, in my opinion, the flaw in the plan, it’s not quite big enough for a Half Ironman, although that will really be tested out race day. With that all being said this is how the week shook out
Monday; Brick. The Sufferfest Fight Club followed by a 50 minute treadmill run
Tuesday; a double. Interval run; WU 10 minutes easy and 10 minutes drills, MS 25 X 30 seconds on/off RPE 9/3, CD 10 minutes easy. In the evening there was a swim, the main set of which is 25x50s with 15 seconds Rest Interval
Wednesday; The Sufferfest Blender, a solid hour and forty five in the bank and a new TrainerRoad PR for 90 minutes
Thursday; Swim, WU 3x100 300 pull MS 4X400 CD 200 easy
Saturday; Brick. Another big swim WU 3x100 1x300 pull, MS 17 x 100...lost it in middle, CD 200 easy
Followed by 2 hours on the bike
Sunday; Brick. 56 Mile ride in just over 3:08 lots of Z2/3, very windy around the halfway point which bled a mile per hour off my speed from 19mph average to less than 18. Followed by a tough but completed one hour run, it was hot and hard but it got done
So for the week,
- 10 workouts, 13:26:24 and 166.47 miles
- 4 bikes 8:12:10 143.79 miles
- 3 runs 2:43:46 18.76 miles
- 3 swims 2:30:28 6900 yards
One more week and then it’s shave and taper time!
So as you know this year I will be heading to Ironman Arizona as a Sherpa to support Becca as she races, not that I am providing any aid as such but I get to ride and run around after her screaming and shouting etc!
As Arizona sells out immediately the only real way to get an entry is to Volunteer which is what we did last November. Now to hedge my bets “just in case” I want to race in 2015 I have signed up to volunteer this year. I have picked something that doesn’t interfere with the weekend itself and from what I can see this really a groundkeeper role at the Athlete Village at Tempe Beach Park.
If you fancy volunteering you can sign up here!
Maybe I’ll see you there!
On the whole my diet is pretty healthy, I slip off the bandwagon from time to time but usually right the ship fairly easily. For racing and training I use a pretty vanilla mix of chews, gels and electrolyte solutions usually supplemented with real food although 9/10 I don’t start take fuel on unless the session is 90 minutes or longer. Hawaiian PB&J and Portables are usual real food go-tos. So when I was contacted by EnergyBits to see if I wanted to try their product a I was game. From their website “ENERGYbits® have just ONE ingredient - organically grown NON GMO spirulina algae – a super food endorsed by the United Nations and NASA as the most nutritionally dense food in the world..”
Cutting a long story short Energy Bit are tabletized Spirulena. Spiru what the what, essentially it is a fresh water blue green algae. It’s been around for a long time and was used by Aztecs and Meso (Central) America until the 1500s, until the Europeans arrived with a flag and messed it all up!
I have actually used it in the past as a supplement for Green Smoothies using a 2010 recipe from Brett over at Zen and the Art of Triathlon. I even mentioned it here! What a trendsetter I am! As you can tell I wasn’t that impressed then…the question is would I be now?
Well put simply I wasn’t. I took them before a brick workout. 3 hours or so of swim/bike. The first thing was I had to take 30 tablets. I have no problem taking tablets, none of this bend this way or stand on one foot or hold your nose so nom nom nom washed down and they were gone. Smelly? Yes a bit, but no big deal.
Here is where I ran into problems;
- According to their packaging an Athlete should take 30-100 tablets. 30 is a few a 100 is a lot more!
- I couldn’t find how often you were supposed to take them, every hour, once a workout, once a day?
- Also what defines Athlete, my 3 hour brick, is that a lot or normal?
- 30 calories is really not a lot, even 100 Bits is only 93 calories for 3 hours of working out?
So that being said I jumped into the pool and swam, I had a bottle of High 5 on deck, it’s a UK version of Nuun, just less gassy. I drink it, when I remember, as sometimes I cramp in the pool. After this I jumped on my bike and rode for a couple of hours. Not wanting to bonk, trust me I have; it sucks, I had a Gu gel, some PowerBar chews which I took through ride. I took these not because I was hungry but really just to drip feed the tank, you know like your supposed to.
According to EnergyBits website by taking the Bits I should have more energy, more mental vitality, boosted (my) athletic performance, supercharged (my) run or cranked up (my) endurance while working or working out. Sorry not happening! I felt the same. There was no boost or crank, just good old fashioned hard-work ride.
I did a bit more research on Spirulena and accordingly to National Library of Medicine “blue-green algae is no better than meat or milk as a protein source and costs about 30 times as much per gram.”
So there’s that. Here’s the other thing it’s sold in bags of 1000 bits, assuming 100 bits per workout (for the Athlete) that’s enough for a 10 workouts or 12 days (assuming 2 rest days) it costs $115 a bag. Let’s compare it to milk;
- Cost of milk per gram 3785 grams per gallon of milk is 3.75/3785 is $0.001 per gram
- Cost of Bits per Gram (4 bits = 1 gram) 115/1000 $0.115 per.25gram ($0.460 per gram) put another way that’s about 1.1% of a gram of gold (currently as of 6/26/14) selling today at $42 per gram
So its not quiet 30 times the price it’s 460 times! I actually found this staggering and used two lives to get it checked I phoned a friend and then posted in on FaceBook for someone to check and I was correct!
It’s a real shame that they didn’t work or at least they didn’t work for me…maybe they did for you? If you google “Energy Bits review” there is a lot of people who have reviewed them, I clicked on a few and most people seemed to like them although there is a fair bit of “meh, nothing happened” too! I haven’t seen anyone do the math like this post though.
So what’s the lesson here, well they didn’t do what they said they would and they are really expensive.
I have another post in mind on blogging and product reviews and using social media to promote your product in the pipeline.
This Product was provided by EnergyBits. See previous gear reviews in the Reviews tab above. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at email@example.com.
Another week closer, more miles in the bank and with some extra miles to boot. As predicted I hit the 10 hours mark just, but 10 hours is 10 hours!
Monday; a brick. The Sufferfest Hell Hath no Fury followed by 4.5 miles of Treadmill intervals; WU 5 minutes MS 4 x 5 minutes on 3 minutes off
Tuesday; a brick. Tempo run 6 miles in 50 minutes. Four solid middle miles with an average of 7:22 followed by a 2050 yard swim; WU 3X100 300 pull
MS 25 x 50, CD 20 Easy
Wednesday; a double. Morning swim; 2000 yards WU 3X100, MS 2X 50,100,150,200,150,100, CD 200. Sufferfest Chrysalis in the evening!
Thursday; The Sufferfest Time Machine. This is Top Secret, all I can say is it’s 35 minutes
Saturday; a brick. 2100 yards swim followed by a 2:17 bike with plenty of hills and 2100’ of gain.
Sunday; Aerobic run. 72 minutes on the treadmill for a solid 9.11 miles
So the totals;
- 10:02:04 for 101.87 miles
- 3 swims 6150 yards in 2:14:41
- 3 bikes 71.53 miles in 4:08:03
- 4 runs 26.85 miles in 3:39.20
More of the same this week with a target of 12 hours.
I am starting the think about race day and getting the final bits and pieces into place so there is no panic in the last week. This weekend I intend to ride out on my race wheels, they’re very different from what is on there now an it’s been over a year since I rode them and they take a bit of gettn used to. Other than that the focus is making every session as high quality as possible.
Yeah that World Cup soccer football thing is happening in Brazil…meanwhile in Switzerland!
You may notice the change in title, with 6HAT behind me it’s time to focus on Vineman which as this post is 3 weeks and 4 days away…so realistically 3 more weeks of solid training and then a taper week!
This week went pretty well and shook out like this;
Monday; a double. Both were hit after work so it was a 2300’ swim, nothing fancy WU 2X200 300 Pull, MS 2X100,150,200,150,100, CD 200. A quick change poolside and I was out a run for 45 minutes, it was dark so I skipped the drills and went for a solid run, I was happy with the splits
Tuesday was actually scheduled as rest, I decided to go for a FTP test to see how it transferred from my Road bike to my Tri bike, I was happy with the result as I was within 1 watt!
Wednesday; actually off.
Thursday; went for an extra run this week, headed out early and clicked of an easy 8 miles
Friday; had planned to swim, life got in the way so I missed it
Saturday; a brick. Swim 2000’, 300’ short, the pool hours have changed with the Summer Holidays and there were scheduled kids lessons! Another quick poolside change and a short reasonably intense 3.5 miles in the bank.
Sunday; a brick. Headed out on the rebuilt Slice. I was very twitchy to start, it took a good 30-45 minutes to feel comfortable and I found a quiet 3 mile loop where I could sit on the aero bars and focus. Felt pretty comfortable in the end. More road riding is needed to build up the level of comfort I need and I am not sure I am going to get there in 3 weeks! Quick change at home and a nice steady 8 miles on the Treadmill, going out easy and ramping up.
Both Becca and I are so happy we picked this up, it’s proven such a useful thing to have. Later that day I hopped on my Mountain Bike and followed Becca on her short run to add another 3 miles to weekly total!
Only three more weeks to put the hay in the barn and looking at the plan I should net out around 10 hours per week.
Introducing the Headsweats Elite Collection. Enter their SWIM, BIKE, RUN Giveaway for the chance to win amazing prizes! Like them on Facebook.
Even if you don’t win treat your self to a new Visor and use quadrathon25 to get 25% off…works on sale items too!
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The basic premise of this race is that you ride a loop as many times as you can in 6 hours (there’s a 12 hour option), there are multiple ways you can do this; solo, co-ed couple, team, single-speed and so on. I choose to ride it solo based on AG 40-49, signed up and away we went.
The loop is just under 9 miles with just over 1000’ of gain, It was hard to tell from the map or find any video as to what the trails would be like but it proved to be I would say about 70% single track and 30% fire road, with a bit more fire road on the first “parade” lap. Technically it was challenging enough, you would think by the amount of times I crashed (two complete wipeouts, two falling over under low steam and one toppling over into a bush) that it was beyond my abilities but the fun is in challenge and I didn’t break anything! I could of course be a lot better but as predicted I have plenty of leg strength, well, enough for 4 laps, but lacked the technical skills.
So on with the report. The first loop is a parade loop, what this is is essentially a slower loop that allows the folks who are riding only one loop (this is the complete beginner option) to get far enough behind the main field that they won’t cause any snarl ups on the single track. While the main group (which I was in) rode a shorter loop and got far enough ahead. Of course what this does is lull you into a false sense of security; your riding very easy on a fire road, everyone is chatty and so on and then you turn off and it starts to ramp up pretty quickly.
As you can see the course was a clover leaf albeit a very squashed on, as a good rule of thumb whenever you were riding towards the top left hand corner you were going up and whenever towards the bottom right you were going downhill.
So the parade lap went by, the only real issue was my Garmin 500 was not happy with my Mountain Bike…no idea why but I would not record distance and it never did the whole day? I stopped after one lap and reset but to no avail. Becca had originally signed up for one lap and then changed to the 6 hours, I lost sight of her very quickly and wouldn’t see her for another hour or so at the end of Lap 2.
The second lap added the missing section at the beginning, all single track with some ridgeline climbs and descents. I was feeling more confident and was riding up/over/through some sections that had thwarted me the first time around. Now is a good time to get some noteworthy technical mentions about the bike. I was riding a pretty stock Orbea Occam 29er, this bike is full suspension with Fox shocks front and rear. If you have every ridden a 29er you will know that compared to the 26” wheel these things roll up/down most bumps, drops, craters you can find in the trail. One feature is the ability to lock out the suspension this removes the bounce or bob you can encounter when pedaling uphill.
My shocks are pretty entry level and as such they do not have the lockout lever on the handlebars, each shock has its own and you have to reach down and flick it, this can be a bit challenging when you are during some stages simply hanging on! That’s where I found myself, the terrain would change so quickly that there were times where I couldn’t keep up with it. If I am going to go back it’s tempting to consider the upgrades required to put this option on the handlebars! Additionally I spent most of the day on in one of three gears…which seems a bit of a waste of the other 27! At the end of the second lap I saw Becca who had stopped after her first, you can read more about it here. She re-filled my bottles etc and sent me on my merry way.
The third lap, best described as a combination of cocky and tired, not a great mix. Both wipeouts happened here, the first was caused by me taking a corner too tight and I washed out over the handlebars…in fact the second was very similar and in fact every time I hit the deck I landed on my right side! As a result I now have a lovely black and blue hip! Fortunately nothing was damaged as each time I just ended up in a pile of bike, dirt and me, although I have noticed since that my shifters and brakes are all out of alignment. Beyond everything I was getting tired and the bikes ability to go downhill was getting beyond my ability to hang on.
The fourth lap was just at a slower safer speed just to finish on a solid note, I did toy with trying for a fifth but I decided against it…that leaves the door open for next time!
So all in all it was a total blast, I would love to go back and have another crack at it and there is another race in the Winter, this maybe a different course and will be colder for sure which may not be a bad thing. As mentioned the upgrades may be worth doing too? Regardless of weather or kit if I am going to it I am going to need to spend a lot more time on my Mountain Bike to improve my skills.
Only a few photos from the day thanks to Becca and as no results have posted and my Garmin data is all screwed up let’s just call it a long weekend ride…about 4:40 long!
Four weeks to Vineman 70.3!
So after crashing back in January it’s taken a few months to get my bike put back together. There was a high priority of upgrading Becca’s bike before mine, I am sure she will post about it soon!
Anyway that being said, as you can imagine it’s not that cheap, anything with “Carbon Fiber” or “Dura Ace” in the title comes with a pretty price tag. I’ll confess and say that it hurt this time around to hit “Submit Payment” for some of these parts, I had already upgraded a lot of them back in 2012 for Ironman Arizona, but when the basebar of your handle bars sounds off (the test is to tap it) it’s money well spent rather than having it break race day and spearing yourself with razor sharp carbon edges. Little known fact most pros use aluminum bars as these are much safer when they crash!
So the three main items that had to be replaced were the Aero Bars, the shifters and the brakes, I probably could have missed the brakes but better safe than sorry. Additionally of course bar tape was needed and I had to replace my Torhans mount that broke last year at the Monte Rio Olympic. So as you can see this was adding up rather fast!
After shopping around looking for alternatives I just went with what i had originally, simply put it worked I liked it and there would be no need for playing with my position. Finally I had all the parts and I dropped them off at my local grotto of bicycle magic, aka Win’s Wheels as well as a box of ice cream and some cookies…you know to grease the skids as it were.
The next day I picked up the bike and brought it home, I went to replace the Profile Design Garmin mount and for some reason the aero bars were narrower, or should I say closer together. After a bit of tinkering involving a hacksaw, it fitted, but the shop had not leveled the ends as they didn’t know which one to match to as when I crashed I had pushed one back by an inch or so. So I adjusted them and them left it at that.
My Torhans mount arrived and went to fit it, during which I noticed that the right bar was off center, so I loosened it off and straightened it. Using my torque wrench I started to tighten the nut when snap, I had sheared it off. #$%^!!!! So back to Win’s again where they fixed the problem, then back home where I mounted to Torhans and fitted a new Zipp TT mount for the Garmin.
So now I am all set…all I have to do is ride the damn thing on the road and that’s the plan for Sunday!