Getting Dialed

For the past two years, I've been working on getting my bike dialed.  I've gotten close, but haven't really nailed it.  This year, I'm determined to get my bike set up exactly how I want it.

One of the things I didn't like about my bike was my handlebars.  I had two piece aerobars so my aerobars bolted on to my base bar.  That's not bad, but my arm pads kept slipping and it drove me crazy.  This year I bought new bars that are one-piece so that's not a possibility anymore.  The pads bolt directly to the base bar.

The other trouble spot is my saddle.  I've had one that was okay, but it still got very uncomfortable at times.  This year I bought an Adamo.  It's a strange saddle, but I really think I'm going to like it.  I've only gotten two rides on it so far and it's been good.  They're hard saddles to dial in, but once you do they get great reviews so I'm feeling pretty good about this one.

Also, Wednesday I went in to Crono Metro for a bike fit.  I had a good position to begin with so the changes we made were subtle, but very noticeable on my ride yesterday.  We raised my saddle height about 10mm, which is pretty significant considering I went in with a good saddle height.  This gives my legs better extension and is helping me produce a little more power. This was a really good change, and believe it or not, very noticeable.  We also lowered my bars a bit.  On the trainer, I was comfortable every time we lowered it, but Crono thought I should move them back up a bit (from our lowest position) because they said in the past they have been able to put a couple of people in a position so aero they can't breathe - yet they can still pedal smoothly.  

It turns out I'm one of those people.  They said they do about 400 fittings per year and are only able to get about 5 of those people in a position as aero as mine.  In the end we had my bars 10mm lower than when I came in, but my new bars lower my position a little by having the arm pads mounted directly on the base bar.  

I rode yesterday and felt good.  My new bar pads are slightly more narrow than my old ones so I need to get used to that.  It's not bad, but noticeably different.  I felt fine until I did a threshold interval and couldn't breathe.  My power was higher than typical and my legs felt smooth and powerful.  It was great.  But not being able to breathe was tough so I raised my bars another 5mm when I got home.  I'm hoping that helps.  I have a sprint tri tomorrow so I'll get a chance to test it.

Not being able to breathe out there might sound bad, but working with Crono I've learned it's a good thing.  I found my limit.  Most people - me included - tend to stop when we find a good, comfortable position.  But they keep going to see where the limit is.  It makes sense, and that's how we found such a good saddle position.  My original position was good and that's why I stopped there.  But we found that 5mm higher was better, 5mm more was even better and 5mm more was too high.  We found my limit and then backed off.  Then we did the same thing with my bars.  It took an outdoor ride to realize I was beyond my limit, but it's good to know where the limit is.  I'll find out tomorrow if I'm still beyond my limit or not.

I still have a few problems to solve and I have some ideas so I'll post pics when/if I solve these issues.  I want to improve my computer mount (it drops from the weight of my Garmin - it's mounted on my aerobars).  I'm also searching for a great way to mount my spare tube and CO2 behind my saddle.  


Crazylegs And The Compression Sock Experiment

This weekend was the Crazylegs Classic, one of the biggest 8K races in the country and definitely one of the premier events in the Madison area.  My goal was to break 31 minutes, but my ultimate goal is to break 30 minutes.  I figured if I hold back at all, I can't break 30 minutes because there's no way I can make up 20 or 30 seconds on the back half of the run.  I'm not fast enough.

So, like last year, I started out at a 6 minute pace.  I realize now how unrealistic that was.  The last time I ran a 6 minute mile was last year at Crazylegs so to think I would string 5 of them together on a hilly course didn't make sense.  But I went for it anyway.  Here are my splits:

I had a good fade going on, but I held on and more or less hit my goal.  I'm happy with my performance and don't regret going or the 30 minute goal.  I finished one minute faster than last year so I'm still making progress.  

For those who run this race, look at the elevation per mile.  You'd expect mile 2 to have the most climbing, but it doesn't.  That's the mile with Observatory hill, but after that the rest of the mile is downhill.  There's a lot of downhill running on this course, and my quads were killing me Sunday morning.

Courtney also ran.  It was her first Crazylegs and her longest race to date.  She beat her goal of 50 minutes by running at 49:03 and she worked her way well into the top 9000.  Strong work, Courtney.

Check out the post-race runners gathering in the stadium....


The Compression Sock Experiment:

After Crazylegs I went for a fairly easy 3-hour ride.  My recovery routine on hard days is to take an ice bath and then wear my compression socks.  They're goofy, but they actually work.  But I decided to take the next step.  I always swore I would never run in my compression socks, but a friend reminded me that I'm such a tri geek that refusing to run in compression socks is a pretty arbitrary line to draw.

Sunday I woke up with very sore quads from the downhill running.  I had an easy long run scheduled.  I figured Crazylegs would take a lot out of me so I was going to do a 2 hour run at 9 minute miles.  Just get in some distance.  

The weather was horrible.  Cold and windy with a light, steady rain.  I figured this might be a good day to test the socks.  They'll help keep my legs warm.  I also decided, if I was going to test the socks, to test my legs a bit as well.  I was tired and sore, and thought this might be a good time to see if I can go at IM goal pace (8:00 minute miles) under less than ideal conditions.  

My splits:

No, there wasn't really that much climbing.  Garmin Forerunners are horrible at elevation.

I don't think the compression socks helped my performance.  Maybe, but if they did it was minimal.  I ran well because I dug deep and pushed hard, not because I wore goofy socks.  However....

....when I got home, my hip flexor muscle that always hurts after a long run didn't hurt.  And my legs didn't feel as bad as I expected.  I'm starting to think there may be a benefit to running in compression socks, even though I really, really don't want that to be the case.  I don't want to run in knee high socks.  But if I'm going to return from long runs feeling better and recover quicker, I'm willing to look goofy for that.  

I'm going to test them a little more to see if there's something to it or if it was just a strange day.

For those curious, I ran in SL3 socks, but just got a pair of CEP socks.  If you're looking to get a pair, get CEP.  They're really, really nice.  So comfy.   


Hygiene Hill

I actually did this workout over a week ago (last Tuesday) but I saved this post for today because it was my Crazy Legs hill workout and Crazy Legs is tomorrow.  I'm fired up.  I can't wait.

For those unfamiliar, Crazy Legs is one of the biggest 8K races in the country.  It has that big race marathon feel in that it draws over 20,000 runners and walkers and has more than 30 corrals. Yet it also has a local feel since the majority of competitors are local.  There's something about Crazy Legs that gets people off the couch and gets them running 5 miles.  It seems like anyone who runs - if only a few times per year - makes it out for Crazy Legs.  It's a must-do event each year.

Anyway, it's not an easy 8K race.  You have to climb Observatory Hill which is a pretty tough climb.  So to get ready for this race and start building some hill running strength, I did my first hill workout of the year.  At my old job, I would run to Elver Hill which is a great hill to run.  It's such a popular hill for hill repeats it has paths worn in it from runners.  But now I'm on the other side of town so that's no longer an option for a lunch run.  

Luckily, there's a big hill just outside our office and it has a few options for hill repeats.  One side is long and fairly steep.  The backside is short and very steep so I can mix things up a bit if I want to.

On this workout I did a one mile warm up and did repeats on the long section, which starts by the state Hygiene building (whatever that is) so I'm calling this Hygiene Hill.  I ran the hill between a 6:45 and 7:00 pace and it took two minutes to climb.  I ran down slowly for recovery and that took three minutes.  So each rep is five minutes.  I did 6 reps total so I got 30 minutes of good, solid hill work.  Then I finished it off with a one mile cool down.


The race finishes inside Camp Randall - the UW football stadium.  

Last year I ran the race in 32 minutes so my goal is to beat that time.  I'd love to do this race in under 30 minutes but I don't see that happening.  Taking 2 minutes off my PR is probably asking too much.  But if it's within reach I'll definitely go for it.


New Road Bike

Before starting my job, meaning before leaving the bike industry, I took advantage of my employee prices to buy one last bike.  This time, I upgraded my road bike and I'm really glad I did.  

I bought a Cannondale Supersix.  I wasn't able to get the one I wanted, so I bought a lower spec'd model and upgraded to the Red Group and sold the other components on ebay.  I also sold my old bike.  In the end, the new bike - new Red Group included - cost me about $500 out of pocket.  Not too shabby.

I also took the Shimano wheels that came on that bike and put a cheap powertap in them and those are my training wheels (still waiting on my race wheels) and I put my Reynolds wheels on my Supersix so I now have two powermeters ready to roll so I'm getting power data on every ride.

Pics of the new bike:

Upgrading was a great decision.  This bike is a lot stiffer than my old bike so I'm not losing as much power.  It also fits better so I'm more comfortable on long rides.

Now I just need my race wheels and I'm all set for the season.


Race Report: The April Du

Saturday was my first multisport event of the year, the April Du.  It's a free practice race put on by a friend of mine, April.  Hence the name.  

It's a 2 mile trail run, 12 mile bike, 2 mile trail run.  It's a really fun, well-organized event.  And for just a training/practice event, the course is really challenging.  Lots of hills, and as has been the case all spring - very, very windy.

My goal this year was to beat my time from last year, especially my second run time.  Last year I averaged a 6:30 pace for the first run, 267 watts on the bike (21.2 mph) and a 7:30 pace on the second run.

Duathlons typically start out at a very fast pace and it's really challenging to hold back and let everyone pass you, so I was pretty happy with my discipline when I did just that.  I kept tabs on my pace and stuck to my goal - match my first run pace from last year.  I came into transition with a 6:31 pace for the first run.

The bike was tough this year with the wind, so it was slower than last year.  I beat last year's wattage with an average of 272, which came to a 20.2 average - 1 mph slower than last year.

The second run was where I really wanted to step up my game.  I've always felt like I don't pace myself well enough in duathlons so this was a test of pacing.  I ran strong on the second run and finished with a 6:28 average, so I think I could have pushed harder on the first run and the bike.  It's fun to finish feeling like you didn't push hard enough.  

I finished in 1:01:xx, a minute faster than last year which I'm really happy with since the bike was slower.  I was third overall, behind Joe Kurian (he won the amateur division at IMWI last year) and one of his Gear Grinder teammates Tom Shepard.  

Next weekend is the Crazy Legs Classic, an 8K race, and the following weekend is my first triathlon of the season, the Alexandria Triathlon in MN. 

And today is Marathon Monday....the Boston Marathon.  Go Meb!



Checklist? Check.

IM Talk mentioned a site that I thought I'd share.  It's www.triathlon.racechecklist.com.  It's pretty decent.  You can quickly create and print a checklist for your races.  It would be pretty cool if you could create an account so you could save your lists and keep working on them and adding to them throughout the season, but it's not bad for what it is.

So I've been a bit of a lazy blogger the past two weeks, but fortunately I haven't been a lazy triathlete.  I got in 18 hours of training last week and 18:30 this week (although it was only supposed to be 18).  I've got 18 on the plan again this week.  18 is a lot of hours, but I'm starting to get used to it.  

I've also been putting a lot of effort into my swimming.  I'd like to get in a little more swim volume, but right now I'm getting in about 12,000 yards per week and doing some 4,000-5,000 yard workouts.  

Race season is more or less here, which is exciting.  I have the April Du, a free training race, this weekend.  Then next weekend is Crazy Legs (an 8K running race) and the weekend after that is the Alexandria Triathlon.  

I also sold my old bike on ebay, which almost paid for my new bike so that was cool.  Plus this was my first time having any luck on ebay.  That site has never been good to me in the past, so maybe my ebay luck is changing.  Right now I've got about 8 auctions ending tonight for all the components off my new bike because I upgraded to the Red Group and I'm selling the Ultegra parts to pay for the upgrade.  

The new bike is great.  I love it and I'm really glad I took advantage of employee pricing to get one last bike.  I'll post pics of it later this week.


The Numb Foot Solution?

I get a lot of my images for my blog by doing a google search.  This time I searched for foot pain and this picture came up.  Apparently, foot pain = creepy feet in googleland.

I went for my very first road ride on April 1, 2006 so tonight's ride (I'm writing this Thursday night and posting it Friday morning) marked 4 years as a cyclist.  I did my first multisport event in 2007 so I've been a triathlete for about 3 years.  

Anyway, I've logged every mile in Bike Journal and after 4 years of riding I've ridden 16,835 miles.  All but 40 of those miles have been with numb feet....okay, that's an exaggeration, but my feet go numb on nearly every ride and it gets very old.  

The other day I bought a pair of Specialized insoles because I have new shoes and I needed some decent insoles and I've heard good things about the Specialized ones.  They come with shims you can place under the front of your foot, and I gave them a try.  My feet didn't go numb on tonight's ride.  Go figure.  There's something to it.

It's only one ride, so it's a little early to declare it a solution.  But if it keeps working I will definitely be buying Specialized insoles for my other shoes.  

Tonight's ride was my first with my new insoles, and it was also my first with my new training wheels.  My new bike (pics coming soon) came with Shimano wheels but I had a set of Reynolds wheels I wanted to put on that bike so I took those wheels and threw a cheap powertap in them so I now have a set of training wheels with a power meter.  Now I'll get power on every ride.  It's gonna be nice.

The wheels were great.  Nothing special, but I didn't notice them flexing when I attacked a few climbs so I like them.  Basically, I have no complaints and to me that equals a good set of training wheels....not that I've ever had a set of training wheels before so what do I know? 

After blowing my big brick the other week, I was in a bit of a mood today.  This was my first big outdoor tempo ride of the year and I was determined to make it a good one.  I set out for 2 hours of tempo, and after 45 minutes I was averaging 251 watts.  This is where I screwed up a bit.  This was my first ride with my new Garmin on my tri bike (lots of firsts tonight), and with my water bottle mounted on my handlebars my bottle bumped the stop button on my Garmin and I rode for 30 minutes before I noticed.  I was watching my power and kept it around 250 so I don't think my average would have changed much.

After I realized what happened, I hit the start button and was able to get the last 45 minutes of data.  In that time I got my average up to 260.  Having lost some data, I went with a conservative estimate in my training log and put down 2 hours at 250 watts.  For April 1, I'm really happy with that.  And surprisingly, my legs felt really good after the ride.  I usually feel pretty worked over after a long tempo ride, but not tonight.  

For those who appreciate irony, I work for a scissors company and they sent out the employee purchase forms today.  After work, I cut myself with a cheap pair of scissors.  I don't think I've ever hurt myself with scissors until today.  I think I'll be placing an order.

Friday I have the day off work so I'm doing a long swim in the morning (4800 yards) and a long bike in the afternoon (probably about 80 miles).  The weather is looking phenomenal so I'm really looking forward to my ride.  Plus, I'm heading out on my new bike for the first time...another first.

One more thing: April 1 marks 4 years as a cyclist.  April 2 is one year after they announced the CT relocation, which lead to me and many others leaving the company.  Last year, April 2 was not a good day.  Tomorrow, I'm going to try to make sure it's a good day and I'll be able to look back and say it all worked out for the best.  

What a difference a year makes.