Time Trial Tuesday

I haven't done a time trial in a long time, and I kind of enjoy them so I decided to make Tuesdays time trial day.

I mapped out a great TT route that's flat, smo
oth and not too far from work so I can ride out there, do a TT and make it back in an hour. The route is about a 4.5 mile loop. I do 3 laps, so the total TT comes to 13.4 miles - a 21.5 K time trial.

There was a pretty strong southerly wind so it was hard work on the way down Mulcher, but Seminole was very fast. I wasn't sure what to expect for average watts since I haven't done a TT in a while, but I was hoping for a 280 average, and that's exactly what I ended with. 280 watts, 33:10, 24.2 mph average. A good ride, for sure. I'm really happy with those numbers.

It will be interesting to see how my speed varies on this route when conditions are different. Yesterday and windy and very hot (about 90). I'm going to give it another try next Tuesday and I'm hoping it's not windy so I can see how that changes my average speed. Here's a picture of Mulcher Rd (Seminole is the same). A few small, rolling hills, but otherwise very flat and very fast...

Health Risk Assessment: I had my annual health risk assessment at work the other day, and everything was really good except for one thing...blood pressure. High blood pressure runs in the family, and so far I've avoided it, but now all of a sudden it's jumped up considerably - this could explain the chest pain. I don't know if this was avoidable or not, but this has been a very stressful year at work and I'm starting to wonder if that's what's causing this. I don't want to get into it, but for the past few months the only thing I've enjoyed at work is lunch time.

Now I need to make an appointment with my doc and see if we can figure out what the problem is and, more importantly, the cure.

As one of the reps I work with always says, "if it isn't one thing, it's another."


The Virtual Racer

After Friday's training ride, I was hoping Sunday's long run would go well to make up for the flat tire. I mapped out a route that started out really hilly, then flattened out and followed the Military Ridge Trail. I set a time/pace goal so I could use the virtual partner function on my Garmin.

If you're not familiar with Garmins, you can map a route and choose a goal pace and race against a virtual partner (you can also load a previous run of yours and race against yourself). The watch tells you how far ahead or behind you are. It's pretty cool.

I left the house at 7:45 am, hoping to beat the heat. I started out a little conservative, knowing the hills could kill my run if I don't hold back a bit. I was losing a little distanc
e to my virtual racer, but not much. Knowing the route flattened out at the halfway point, I figured I could make up any distance lost in the hills.

About the 4 mile mark a huge dog lunged at me from behind some trees in his yard. He stopped a few feet from me with the hair on his back standing up. I came to a halt instantly. He stared at me and I walked a few steps forward. He didn't do anything so I kept walking sl
owly and moved from the left side of the street to the right. He watched, but didn't come any closer. I kept walking on the opposite side of the street until he was out of sight. I lost a lot of distance to my virtual racer, and hit my max heartrate for the day.

I was .4 miles behind, so I stepped up the pace and hit the remaining hills a little harder. Soon I made it to the Military Ridge Trail where I continued to reel in my virtual racer. I finally caught up, and then pulled a .1 lead when I came upon a flooded tunnel that ran under 151. There was a path through the grass where runners have been climbing up and crossing the road. I followed the path, crossed 151 and then couldn't find the trail on the other side. I thought it ran straight under 151, but it ran diagonally so it came out further down the road than I expected. By the time I got back on the trail, I was .1 behind again.

I stepped it up again and once again reeled in my virtual racer. It was kind of fu
n watching the distance, and it definitely helped pass the time and keep me motivated. Then I pulled a big gap. .1 miles, .2 miles. .3...all the way to .35 when my watch switched from .35 miles ahead to .35 miles behind. I don't know how that happened, but I decided to go with it and try to close the gap. I only had a few miles left, but it was a good challenge.

I picked up the pace and watched the gap continue to get smaller until I finally cl
osed the gap with less than a half mile to go. So I finished with my fastest miles and beat my virtual racer. That definitely made up for my flat tire Friday.

Then I ran to the gas station to buy 20lbs of ice for a much needed ice bath.

Next Sunday I'm running 17 miles, except I don't think I'll spend as much time on the Military Ridge Trail. I haven't planned my route yet, but it's definitely going to be hilly. Maybe some more Midtown torture.

Ironman Wisconsin is only 41 days away.


Bad ride

Yesterday I had a 56 mile tempo ride planned after work. I had everything ready to go so all I had to do was put on my cycling gear and hit the road. I even created a playlist for my ipod. I never ride with my ipod but thought it might be fun and help keep me motivated. Everything was set and I was focused and determined to have a great ride.

And that's how the ride started. My power was right where I wanted it, my legs felt good and I was confident I could keep my power up around 220 the whole ride.

Just as I passed Fireman's Park in Verona and turned on Paoli Road I noticed a lot of rocks and debris in the road (not unusual for Paoli Rd) and I just missed hitting a bolt laying on the side of the road. I was thinking about what a close call that was because that probably would've given me a flat. Then I was thinking about how long it's been since I've had a flat and how I've never gotten a flat in a race and how I hope I don't get on in the Ironman and then poof - I got a flat.

This shouldn't have been a problem, except my CO2 inflator on my tri bike is different than the one I use for my road bike and this was my first time using it. I thought I knew how to use it, but it turns out I didn't (you have to slide the CO2 cartridge toward the rim to inflate the tire). In the process of figuring it out, I wasted a good part of the cartridge and didn't get enough air in my tire to continue my ride. I actually like this one better than my other one; I just needed some time to figure it out. I should've read the directions.

I rode back to Fireman's park hoping someone there would have a pump I could use, but there was no one there so I rode home slowly. Even though this flat ruined my ride, I think it was a good thing because I learned a few things...

1. Learn how to use your CO2 pump.

2. If you velcro your tube and CO2 to your bike, make sure it's easy to get at the ends of your velcro straps. Mine were tucked behind my bottle cages and I struggled to get them loose for several minutes. That would've been a lot of wasted time in a race.

3. Learn how to use your CO2 pump.

4. Carrying more than one CO2 cartridge is probably a good idea.

5. Learn how to use your CO2 pump.

6. Schwalbe Ultremo tires are great for quick tire changes...no tire levers required.

Now I know what I'll put in my special needs bag - extra tubes and CO2. I picked up some new Schwalbe Ultremos a few weeks ago that I'll put on about a week before the ironman so that should help avoid flats.


The Final Four

I've been thinking about the Spirit of Racine Triathlon, what I learned, what I could've done better, what I need to do to different in the future.

I'm starting my final four weeks of hard ironman training. After that, I taper for a few weeks and then it's race day. Here are some things I'm going to focus on or change in my training for the next month....

1. Hammer the bike. I typically race a little harder than I train, and that's worked for short events but it didn't work well at Racine. My long rides have been in my endurance power zone and I want to do more long tempo rides and work in some long tempo intervals into my 100+ mile rides. This way I can back off a bit on race day and hopefully come off the bike feeling pretty good.

2. Run more. I need to increase my weekly mileage and get in more tempo w
ork and hills.

3. Bricks with long runs. All of my bricks so far have been long rides followed by a short run. That's good, but I need to do more with a shorter bike (40-50 miles) and a longer run. It's not that tough to run 2 or 3 miles on tired legs, but 7 or 8 miles is a different story. This will also help me figure out my nutrition. Two miles isn't enough for you to pay the price if your nutrition is off.

4. Longer mid-week runs. I've been getting in my long runs on the weekend, but now I want to increase the length of one of my midweek runs. This may be a good time to do a long brick.

5. More rest. I need to get more sleep at night and take more rest days.

6. Make the key workouts count. I've been getting stuck in that middle zone, meaning my hard workouts aren't hard enough and my easy workouts are too hard. I need to focus on my key workouts and make them really good. If other workouts suffer, it doesn't matter.

7. Improve my nutrition. I've been better the past few weeks, but now is the ti
me to buckle down and eat well. More fruits and veggies. No more Pop Tarts.

I'm starting out with a 56 mile tempo ride tomorrow after work. My averag
e power goal for ironman will be 190-205 watts (most likely I'll shoot for 195-200) so tomorrow I'm going to do 56 miles on the IM course and go for 220+ average watts. 230-240 would be ideal, but I'm not sure I can keep my watts that high for that long. A few rides like this and a 195 watt average should feel easy (well....easier).

Then Sunday I'm running 15 miles, starting out with a lot of hills - Midtown road.


Race Report: Spirit of Racine Half Ironman

The morning started off with a threat of thunderstorms, high humidity, thick fog (which delayed the start by an hour) and a water temperature of 55 degrees (and my new Rudy Project glasses broke). Not ideal race conditions, but the rain held off and the skies cleared up and then it got downright hot.

Here I am setting up transition and getting the lowdown on the bike course. There's really not much to say about the course. It's flat, very flat. Actually, a little too flat. I would've like a few more hills to separate the riders and give you a chance to get out of the saddle.

The swim is a point to point swim, so you have to walk a mile down the beach to get to the swim start.

The fog was so thick they had to delay the start until visibility was better. It looks like I'm talking to this guy about how cold the water is, but I'm probably just standing there peeing all over myself. Apparently, cold water makes me pee. This would be my last pee until 4 pm (not a good sign).

Can you say crazy (allow me to remind you the water temp was 55)?

Where's Waldo...

The Swim: (Goal = sub 35)

They pulled the buoys in so we didn't swim that far from shore (I think they did that because of the water temp and fog). I'm not sure they lengthened the swim to adjust for pulling the buoys in, so I think it was a little short. There's not much to say about the swim. It was a little crazy at first, but then everyone settled in and it was mostly uneventful from there on out. There were a couple of morons in front of me that kept swimming into each other and I was boxed in so I couldn't swim around them so I swam right over the top of both of them. It was by far the most aggressive move I've ever done on the swim. They didn't want to quit swimming and let me through so I had to plow my way through.

Results aren't posted yet (I'll add them when they're posted) and I decided not to swim with a watch so I don't know my official time. Cheri said it was a sub 30 minute swim, but that's because the swim was a little short. I heard a few people say their swim time was about 5 minutes fast so I think I would've hit my 35 minute goal.

Update: Official Time = 29:38

The Bike: (Goal = 2:30)....Let the stupidity begin....

Every time I do a long brick, I make a nutrition cheat sheet and tape it to my aerobars. I didn't do that today, because I figured I knew what and when to eat.

This course is so flat and fast that I never wanted to get out of my aerobars because it seemed like everyone was going really fast. There was nothing to separate the riders. I only hit one rest stop, and at that one I threw away a half bottle of gatorade for a bottle of Heed that I never touched. I also didn't start out my bike nutrition with Newtons like I always do. I figured Perpeteum and a few gels would do the trick, and they may have had I finished my Perpeteum and taken more than one gel. I took in about half the number of calories I should have and drank one bottle of water. Yep, you read that right. On a hot humid day, I drank less than one bottle of water on the bike (this includes the half bottle of Gatorade).

To top it all off, I'm convinced I'm getting a penalty on the bike, which will really piss me off because I worked hard not to draft, unlike a lot of riders out there. I got passed by a 10 bike paceline about the 40 mile mark. Toward the end of the bike I got caught in a group and I was trying to get around them. I never sat on anyone's wheel, but I think I took too long to pass one of the riders because we were going up a gradual hill and I didn't want to increase my power too much. As this was happening, I noticed one of the USAT officials riding next to me. I guess it doesn't really matter if I get a penalty, but it will upset me because I tried hard not to draft and that can be tough sometimes when you have so many riders on the road. I hope they caught the paceline and hit those guys with some penalties.

My bike computer had my time at 2:30:43, a 22.5 mph average.

Update: Official time = 2:30:05 (no penalties)

Coming into transition after the bike

Heading out of T2 for the run

The Run: (Goal = 1:45)

The beginning of the run was tough. My legs were tired, and I started thinking about how I haven't done any long tempo rides recently and I just did a 56 mile tempo ride. I should've trained a little better for this. All of my long rides recently have been in my Enduranc
e power zone (IM pacing). The run course is really flat except for 2 hills toward the beginning (it's a 2 lap course so you hit those hills twice). My legs were tired and my side hurt so I walked the second hill. My first mile pace was 8:30.

From there my legs loosened up and I felt better. I continued to ignore my gels and I grabbed water in every aid station, but I dumped it on my head instead of drinking it. I didn't drink any water for the first 4 miles (you can probably see where this is going). By this time the skies had cleared and the temp was in the mid 80s.

My next few miles were decent, an 8:01, 7:57, 8:13, 8:13...

I was feeling pretty good by the start of the second loop. I took a gel with a little water and planned on increasing my pace hoping for a sub 8 average.

It's amazing how quickly things can turn. I went from feeling strong to nothing in a matter of minutes. My next 2 miles were an 8:36 and 8:43. Not too bad, but definitely the wrong direction. I had no energy and from here on out I had to walk all of the aid stations drinking
as much Heed and water as I could get my hands on. 8:50, 8:54, 9:12.

I was getting passed a lot - and by a lot of people I didn't think should be running faster than me - and my trips through the aid stations were getting longer and longer. My right thigh was cramping a little and I was having a hard time breathing. My chest felt really tight and I couldn't get a good deep breathe. I swore off half ironmans for good and wondered how I'll get to the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin if I'm struggling this much at a half.

9:21, 9:14, 9:32..

Time according to my Garmin: 1:54:15, an 8:43 pace.

Update: Official time = 1:54:19

Overall time: 4:57:20

Post race was horrible. I was disapointed in my run, but mostly I was completely depleted. I sat in the shade and drank some Endurox, a Coke, some water and contemplated going to the med tent. I was dizzy and felt very sick. Eventually I came around enough to go grab my bike and head home. Cheri had a big ol M&M cookie waiting for me at the car, which actually helped a lot. I felt a lot better after eating that cookie. As Seinfeld says, "Look to the cookie."

I'm a little disappointed in my run, but mostly I'm disappointed in how I handled my nutrition. I had about half the calories I should have on the bike and only 2 gels on the run. I drank one bottle of water on the bike and I didn't drink anything for the first 4 miles of the run. By the time I realized I was dehydrated, it was way too late. I know better, and that's what's so frustrating.

Even though this race didn't go as planned, I did learn from it... 1. Always follow your nutrition plan. 2. Don't wait until you're dehydrated to drink 3. I need to do more bricks with tempo work on the bike and long runs if I'm going to make it through the Ironman 4. Look to the cookie.

And I did get through my first half ironman and 5 hours is a pretty good time so I can't complain. I'll be sure to follow my nutrition plan at Ironman, that's a guarantee.

Here's a picture of Bob on the run. Always smiling...he makes it look easy...

This is Brinkley, the cutest pup at the races...

This picture is for Abby (it's where the cookie came from)...

I'll update this with official times when they post the results.



This is one of the coolest TdF pictures I've ever seen.

Charter finally fixed my internet. They hooked up a new modem and all is good.

PayPal...I checked my account and so far it looks like everything is okay. Here's a lesson I learned from this: Don't click on links from e-mails. People send out spoof e-mails with links to fake sites that may look like your bank or PayPal and, of course, they'll want you to verify your bank account number or ss# or something like that. They told me to always go to the website and log in that way so I know I'm on the correct site. They also asked me if my first and last name was in the e-mail. It was, and that's how they knew it was an e-mail from them and my account had been broken into. Be skeptical of e-mails that start out with things like "Dear customer."

Now that I can get online again, I've been wasting my time playing around with google streetview. If you haven't checked it out yet, yo
u should. It's really cool (I just discovered it).

Here's a shot of one of my favorite sections of the IM route....

This is a very fast, long descent. Very fun.

Here's a shot of the climb no one talks about, but I think it's one of the worst on the route. The climb into Mt. Horeb. Looks like someone was riding the route...

Pacific Cycle...

It's a fun toy, especially if you're going somewhere you've never been....like Racine. So I've been checking out the route a bit. It's not that helpful because you can't really tell if it's hilly or not, but it's still really cool. At least I should be able to find the expo.

Le Tour: So far the tour has been really good, although I'm a little disappointed there's been more doping busts. It's getting to the point where you can't trust a good performance. As soon as you see someone like Ricco drop the field your first thought is EPO, and these days it seems you'll be right 9 times out of 10. But there is some good coming from this tour. The racing has been great and Team Garmin and Team Columbia, two teams that focus on clean racing, secured major sponsors and are proving that clean teams can do well (let's hope no one from those teams gets busted for doping). If you want to check out some awesome photos of the tour, go here: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/07/2008_tour_de_france.html

For the part of you that loves a good crash, here's Mike Alessi's crash from Red Bud (my favorite track when I raced)...

Aquathon... Cancelled. The beach is closed due to an algae problem so the aquathon has been rescheduled for the 31st. That means I'll have 3 aquathons in 4 weeks. I'm not sure if I like that or not. It's going to be tough to fit them into my IM schedule.


It never ends...

Charter still hasn't fixed my internet. When it works, it's slower than dial up. They're coming out once again tomorrow, and this is their last chance. If they can't fix it tomorrow, I'm switching to AT&T.

If that wasn't bad enough, an unauthorized e-mail address was added to my PayPal account so I had to call their fraud protection and now I'm trying to get the $1000 I got for my wheels out of that account. It's ridiculous trying to take care of things like that when you're internet is slower than dial up.

The last time I used PayPal my credit card was stolen. I didn't want to use it again, but I figured it might be okay to use to sell my wheels and it would definitely be the easiest way and now I'm having security problems again. If you can avoid using PayPal, I would. Their security is a joke.

Last Wednesday I realized I needed some time to recover. I've been a bit overtrained for a while, and I decided the best thing to do would be to cut back my training drastically and get some rest. I typically train at least 12 hours a week, and I've only trained 5 hours since last Wednesday.

Today, I went for a moderate ride at lunch. I planned on keeping my power in my endurance zone with 2 short hard efforts thrown in - one of them being 5 minutes in my tempo zone and the other one being 2 minutes at sub-threshold. I felt so good that I had to hold back to keep my power down where I wanted it, and I still ended up riding above my sub-threshold level on my last interval. What a great feeling. I haven't had that in a long time. I typically come up short of my goals because I go into workouts tired.

Tomorrow I might do a very easy ride, and then I have an aquathon in the evening. My plan for that is to swim all out and then run at a moderate pace and save my running legs for the Spirit of Racine this weekend. Friday is another rest day, and Saturday morning I'll do a very short workout with a couple of short, hard efforts to get warmed up for Sunday.

Sunday...all out. I hope to have a sub 35 minute swim, and then I'm going to hammer the bike and hope I survive the run. That might sound like a stupid strategy (and it might be), but I feel like I've been a little too conservative on the bike lately (mainly in training) because I spend so much time watching my power and trying to save it for the run. This time, I want to go a little harder and see what happens on the run. This might be a mistake, but I feel like I need to give it a try. My thinking is that pushing a little harder on the bike will give me a better idea of how to pace myself for the ironman. If I blow up on the run, at least I'll know where my limit is.

After the Spirit of Racine, I'm taking a few more rest days. Then I have a few hard weeks of training, but this time I think I'm going to get more rest and focus more on my key workouts than overall volume. I don't think I've been getting enough rest.

Then a 3 week taper followed by the Ironman.

Assuming I live through the IM, I might do the Sugar River Bike Tour century in Broadhead at the end of September. That was my first century, and I got lost many times so I want to do it again. Plus, Cheri is talking about doing a century and this would be a good one for her first since it's a flat course.

After that I'm going to focus on my running. I'm thinking about picking a 10K (maybe the berbee derby) and training for it for about 6 weeks to see what I can do. After training for a long endurance event like the Ironman I think training for a short, fast race like a 10K might be a fun change of pace. And I've never run a 10K so it's a guaranteed PR.


Race Report: Danksin Triathlon

One thing we've come to expect at Lake Andrea is wind, and today was no exception. Much windier than last year, but also much cooler which was good because it was crazy hot last year. Other than the wind, the weather was perfect - mid to upper 70s and sunny.

The Swim (1/2 mile): Cheri's goal this year was to swim slower than last year. That ma
y seem like a strange goal, but she went way too hard on the swim last year and it affected the rest of her race. She wanted to go a little slower this year, and make up that time in transition and then bike and run faster than last year.

Here she is finishing up the swim. She's the blue swim cap on the right...

She swam a 14:10, about 40 seconds slower than last year and she said she never felt like she was swimming very fast and was much more relaxed and comfortable in the water than last year.

T1: 2:34 (about 40 seconds faster than last year so she made up all the time she lost in the swim)

The Bike (12 miles): The bike is definitely her strength and I knew the wind would actually be a good thing for her. She's a strong cyclist so the tougher the bike is the better she'll do in the rankings. She said the bike was tough and the wind was brutal and she felt really slow out there. She felt so slow that she never checked her computer because she was sure she was slower than last year and she was too disappointed to check her speed. It turns out she knocked almost 2 minutes off her time from last year. Her time was 36:45, a 20.2 mph average speed (that puts her just outside the top 1% in the bike - she's gonna need a tri bike someday).

T2: This year we got her shoes set up with elastic laces so she wouldn't have to tie her shoes and that definitely saved her some time. Her time was 1:43, almost a minute faster than last year.

Here she is coming out of T2...

The Run (3.1 miles): The run was definitely her weakness last year and she put a lot of work into it this year and it definitely paid off. She knocked more than 3 minutes off her run time, going from a 9:42 pace last year to an 8:43 this year. Run time: 27:02.

The finish...

Total Time: 1:22:17 (about 6 minutes faster than last year). Rank: 82/3650 Age Group: 15/311.

It was a really fun day, and I'm really proud of her. She put in a lot of hard work and it paid off big time today. She improved on the bike, run and transitions and cracked the top 100 (top 2.2%). Her next race is the Silver Lake Triathlon in Portage in late August. This will be the first triathlon that both of us do. Should be fun.

We took this picture on the way home. We've never seen a K-9 unit that allowed the dog to hang his head out the window. Maybe it's common, but Cheri and I have never seen it and it was kind of funny. He was running from side to side hanging his head out. Not typical police dog behavior. We suspected they were taking him in for more training.


The 4th

I haven't been able to update my blog much lately because Charter still hasn't fixed my internet. It's amazing. Their techs skip appointments and their billing department lies about applying credits to your account.

It's really frustrating. My internet works from time to time, but most times it goes a lot slower than dial up. I think I'm going to give Charter one more week to fix this mess or I'm going to switch internet providers.

Enough about those morons. I've been doing a lot of base training, just getting in as many miles as I can. There's only 2 months of IM training left and I'm starting to feel the pressure. If I don't get enough long rides and runs in the next 8 weeks I'm going to be in a world of hurtin on September 7. Plus I have the Spirit of Racine Half Ironman coming up in 2 weeks.

4th of July: With the day off work and the forecast looking perfect, I got up early and headed out for a century - 2 laps around the IM loop. This was my longest ride on my tri bike. Around mile 75 I started to feel fatigued and that's when I realized I haven't ridden more than 56 miles in a few months. Maybe I should've done 75 miles, but I was committed at that point. My power kept dropping toward the end - along with my speed - and my legs were shot by the end of the ride. I had planned a 2 mile run afterwards, which went surprisingly well considering how tired and sore my legs were. That's encouraging, but 2 miles is nothing compared to 26.2. I definitely need to get my endurance up. Even though I got really tired, I'm very happy with how the ride went. I faded at the end, but still finished in 5:18 so my average speed was good. And my nutrition was good, so I think I'm on the right track. I just need more miles.

Today, Cheri and I are heading out for a long ride - probably 45-50 miles, and tomorrow we're going to Pleasant Prairie for some open water swimming and a run around Lake Andrea. Cheri's triathlon is next weekend so she wants to get in another open water swim, and swimming in Lake Andrea (where the tri is) is great. The water is incredibly clean and they have a lap lane for open water swimming that's .1 miles long, which is really cool. Then there's a path around the lake that's 2.3 miles so you can easily do a swim/run brick. It should be a good workout.