Technology

This post has been brewing a few days, as I have been trying to find the words to helpfully express my recent thoughts and experiences surrounding racing without my beloved technology.

After my experience at Door County, I was comfortable with the idea of racing sans technology.  It wasn’t my preference, but it was reassuring to know that I’m not overly dependent upon it.  After Tri-ing for Children’s this past weekend – those feelings are the same, but joining it is a feeling of uncertainty of not knowing how to feel about my race.

On the surface TFC appears as a sucess: I finished 4th overall with a great run split, a strong swim, but an average bike.  Comparing my bike split to last years – where I took a small detour – and this year’s upgrade from Fluffy to Dexter – it’s pretty obvious that my bike wasn’t as strong this year or was it? 

The course was basically the same and I don’t feel that the conditions where any different.  So I can’t chalk it up to that.  My weeks prior were fairly comparable – so I wouldn’t say there was a major difference in the amount of fatigue I was having to cope with.

My run split was much better than last year, so did I bike to hard last year and bike just right/to easy this year?

My swim probably started off a bit harder this year than last year as I attempted to swim with Will Smith – it did take me 30 minutes or so to start to feel “speedy” on the bike.

Why does this bother me so much – because I don’t have an objective way to determine what actually happened on my bike.  All I have is the time/distance/feel – which those three combined leave me a bit unsatisfied about the bike.

So what does this whininess have to do with anything and how can you benefit from it?

Well you could interpret this as encouragement to run out and buy a powermeter so that you can objectively measure your bike rides – which I would encourage that, but that’s not the point.

The point is more along the lines of don’t always get caught up in the details of things – your energy is better spent on a broader focus.  Me for example – TFC was a superb race for me as a whole this year.  My swim was very strong,  it was one of my best Olympic distance runs to-date (let alone this year + moved up a VDOT point) – I held off Joe Kurian on the run for longer than i did last year at this same race.   As I was told by a commenter earlier – you don’t have to win all three legs to win the race – the same goes for great races.  All three legs don’t have to be heroic for the race to be heroic.

Door County Triathlon 2010

Since 2005 this weekend of racing for me has always meant the half iron in Racine, WI.  After dealing with several years of short swims, drafting issues – I decided to head to Door County the same weekend and do that half there.  At the end of the day I was glad I did.  The race organization was top notch, the course was great with some good challenging segments.  Overall, I’d rate Door County an A-, with the only suggestion would be to have a few more aid stations on the run.

Swim
25:22 (2nd OA)

I expected the swim to play out this way: The horn would sound, than Mark Harms, Jeff Tarkowski, Peter Nowak, and I would form a group and exit the water within a few seconds of each other.  It didn’t play out exactly like that.  By about 50 meters I was already gapped by two guys.  “Wow, did I miss the acceleration – guess I better pick it up for a minute or so and get on their feet,” I thought.  So I swam hard for about a minute or so and was still losing ground to them.  With a focus on the overall race in mind, I back off and settled into a relaxed pace and watched those two slowly pull away.

The swim venue was the best I’ve ever swum in.  The only ones that have come close are Kona and IMAZ.  There was a buoy on the course about ever 100 yards or so.  It was as close to pool swimming as you can outside.  At about the half-way point of the swim, I took a look behind me to see Peter Nowak right on my feet, and a couple other folks a little behind that.

When I exited I was happy to see my time and have swum an accurate half course for the first time in several years.

Bike
2:21:15 (11th OA)

T1 was uneventful.  I struggled a bit getting my wetsuit off like usual, and watched Mark harms blaze through transition.  Turning a 20 second gap into a 10 second advantage.  I need to improve on that.  I grabbed Dexter and headed to the bike exit and mounted up.  I hit the road and focused on riding relaxed and easy.  I had some doubt in the back of my mind about my ability to interpret PE since I was racing without a power meter for the first time in almost three years.  I knew that Jeff Tarkowski was behind me, I decided that I would ride fairly easy until he came along and than attempt to ride with him.  After a bit Jeff pulled by and I dropped in 7m behind, and was happy that I was able to match his pace.  Thoughts of grandeur popped into my mind “If I can stay here for 56 miles, that will be perfect.”

Around mile 14 as we rolled into the outskirts of Sturgeon Bay – Jeff popped it into another gear and took off.  In the span of a mile or so he probably put 30 seconds on me – and I didn’t feel like I slowed down.  His acceleration was so sudden and violent I figured that I had a flat or my rear break was rubbing.  I did a couple hops to check the tire pressure, and stopped briefly to check my rear break.  No rub.  I got back on the bike and sped back on my way – amazed at the show of strength.

From than on I rode solo, with one lone rider out in the distance – one of the speedsters that dropped me on the swim (the other was a relay that I caught around mile 5).  I caught the guy around mile 25, and than was uneventfully alone until mile 50.  I was passed by a guy on an Ordu, who flew by incredibly fast.  I let him go and focused on getting into transition strong and told myself I was catch him on the run.

The last few miles were uneventful, I pulled into T2 in 4th place – and was literally a mile down on Harms and Tarkowski.

Nutrition – 6 gels, a dozen salt tabs or so; 2 large bottles of water + a bit of a aid station pickup

Run
1:31:59 (17th OA)

The Ordu guy was in T2 when I got there lounging on his bike having pulled the plug.  I got my stuff together and exited T2 quickly.  I knew that several guys were not far behind me even though I was alone in the transition area.  I figured I had 2 minutes at most.  Sure enough as I got onto the road a 100 yards out of T2, I could hear the crowded cheering the next bikers.

I ran down the road feeling pretty isolated – I just focused on my stride.  Not to fast, not to slow – just steady.  I ran through the first 5 miles or so alone, backwards glances showed no one.

As I was headed back from the turn around at mile 5.5ish I saw the guys behind me.  I figured I had 90 seconds on them.

Unsure how fast they were able to run or were running I didn’t let myself worry about it – I just focused on running as best I could, and felt some relief that I still had a decent gap.

As were were closing in on mile 8/9, I was passed by a relay runner, and than shortly after a guy in a Hammer Nutrition Kit.  As we hit the road that heads up to the Bluff, teammate Paul Eicher was about 20 to 30 yards behind me.  Shortly after the top of the hill Paul caught me, and ran just behind me.  I could hear his footfalls and his breathing.

We ran like that for what seemed like forever.  I felt that I could keep that pace I was running, but was concerned about my ability to out-kick him if we finished together.  As we approached the aid station at mile 11, I remembered seeing that Paul walked the aid station @ the turn around.  An idea popped into my head that I had one shot to open up a gap.  I decided to surge as I left the aid station – and see what happened.  I figured he’d respond and catch back up; I’d blow up or I’d gap him.  The result – I put a gap on him.  Renewed by my effort, I keep my effort high until the finish.

Summary
4:20:58 (5th OA) – PR

I crossed the line as the 4th individual finisher, but got beat by one person in a later wave.  He beat me by nearly two minutes, but had we started in the same wave – who knows.  As my wife is fond of saying – if you could have you would have – but I was thrilled to find a killer instinct inside of me on race day and find the willpower to use it – finding that changed my race – had Paul passed me, I may have found myself slowing and trying to defend 5th place as I saw it.

Both my bike and run splits were slower than what I had thought I might be able to go, but both were solid and within the range of where my fitness is.   At somepoint I’m going to have to stop saying this, but considering my [lack of]winter of training – I’m amazed to be going as fast as I am right now – our bodies are amazing machines.

I’m glad that I did the race without a Powermeter and have that experience, as well as the knoweldge that I can race strongly with nothing more than a wrist watch.  Someday my tech might fail me mid-race and having this experience will be important.  That said – I’ll take my tech over RPE any day of the week.

As a closing, some thanks are due: thanks to my wife mary.  I would not be able to do this without her.  Also – a lot of thanks is due to Gear-Grinder and Emery’s – between them they make sure I have the support I need.

Door County Tri

Yesterday was the Door County Triathlon.  It was my first time doing the race, and I was impressed.  The organization of the race was top notch – the course was great – though the run could use some more aid stations.  The best part was all of the legs were accurate distances.  Awesome!!!!!

I set a new HIM PR at the race – it was a great day.

Thanks to Gear-Grinder, Emery’s, my wife and other members of my support group for helping to make it a great day.

I’ll post my race report shortly.  This leaves 8 weeks until IMWI – a perfect training cycle – with two races inside of it.  Time to buckle down and do a bit of work.

Yielding to Fatigue

Today’s post is going branch off into a little bit of philosophy.  The main focus today is a “method” I picked up from my reading of Taoist stuff that I have found particularly useful in successfully completing a challenging workout.

Imagine a tall study oak tree, it’s roots are deeply embedded in the ground – unmovable right?  Sure, until a storm comes whipping through and rips it right out of the ground since it acted as a rigid object that the wind could just slam against and until it is pulled down whole.

Now think about the Grand Canyon and the colorado river.  The river winds it’s way through the Grand Canyon, the water going where the Canyon dictates, but ever so slowly and patiently destroying the Canyon.

Nothing in the world, is as yielding as water; Yet in attacking the firm and inflexible, nothing triumphs so well.– Tao Te Ching

What does this have to do with regards to triathlon?  I’ll give you an example.  One of the work-outs I like the least is 2×20′ @ FTP.  It’s hard, uncomfortable and not a lot of fun.  This year I’ve tried a new tactic when I approach this (or similar workouts), first I acknowledge that they are hard, will hurt and may not be a lot of fun.  Next I acknoweldge that it will make me a better athlete by doing it.  Finally, I remind myself that at the end of the day I’m going to be tired from whatever I do as a workout – so I may as well do the right workout.

By yielding to the fact that the workout isn’t going to be fun, but at the end of the day I’m going to be tired regardless – I’ve suddenly found that I actually enjoy the workouts.   The fatigue of the intervals sets into my bones, and I find myself able to dig deeper and push harder because rather than thinking about how awful this is, adding that stress to my body – I’m simply focused on what is happening.

Remember this on race day – you’re going to be tired no matter what – if you aren’t you probably did something wrong.  When you body starts to send those signals your way – don’t let the alarm bells go off.  Realize that getting tired is normal, it’s what you trained for and why you signed up.

Here are some tips I’ve found to help yield:

  • Positive self talk
    • “In 5 minutes I’m going to be so glad I did this” instead of “Only 5 minutes left, than I’m done”
  • Distract yourself
    • Count steps, pedal strokes
    • Sing
  • Bargain with yourself
    • “I’ll give it 5 more minutes, then see what’s going on”

To summarize, by fighting the pain of fatigue we are actually introducing additional signal into the loop which which increases the stress and fatigue of the moment – this just feeds back into itself.

Rather settle into the pain of the fatique, make it your companion, accept it – let it pull up a chair and make itself at home.  After a while it will be like your bike saddle, sure it’s uncomfortable – but you learn how to sit on it and wiggle your butt around now and then, and before you know it you’re accustomed to the feeling and just plant your weight on it and peddle down the road.

Training update:

Things have been going pretty well.  Last week had a few non-starts in terms of bike workouts.  Between spending Thursday at the bike shop and Friday evening there for Mary’s bike – I ended up missing both bike workouts.  The good side is, I had a superb run Friday morning; just a short 30 minute thing, with 3 miles @ HIM run pace.  Saturday and Sunday I more than made up for the missed bike workouts.  Saturday was 4 hours pretty easy with Mary.  I inserted in: 5×5′ (1′) @ FTP.  Then a little later, 2×10′ (2′) @ FTP, and finally closing out with 20′ @ HIM.  I didn’t have any power – so it was all done by perceived exertion, but it was a good ride.  Sunday was good also, (I borrowed a PT from a friend for this one) 2×20′ @ HIM Power (with ~20 minutes IM pace in-between), followed about 50 minutes later by 8×4′ (1′) @ FTP, followed a bit later by 20 minutes @ HIM Power.

I was pretty surprised by Sunday, I’m not sure if it was due to having two days off of cycling, but I didn’t expect to be able to do all the work that I did.

Small site change

I’ve changed it so that the root URL and the /blog URL now display the same content.  I did this because I wasn’t making any progress (after nearly 2 years) of putting anything meaningful on the “home” page.

It’s a bit kludgy, but I don’t want to screw up any of my permalinks out there.  Another solution maybe that I’ll simply setup a redirect for the root to /blog to maintain the permalinks.  Although I suppose I could do it the other way to.  The joys of trying to support bad design decisions 2 years down the road!

If you see anything quirky, please visit the contact page and drop me an email – or drop me an email if you live in SE WI and can lend me a Powertap equipped race wheel!!!!

Upgrayedd

Well after spending some time with the great folks at Emery’s yesterday, one of the two new rides in the Bowe household is home.  The other should show up today or Monday, depending on our ability to get Mary to Emery’s. 

I’ve always been a fan of Emery’s.  I first stumbled on them back in 2004.  I had just signed up for an Ironman, and after reading about the Cervelo Dual – promptly searched out a local dealer – Emery’s was the closest.  Brent and his gang have always been great to work with and have helped me out in a couple very difficult pickles.  The biggest two of which spring to mind was back in 2007 when I discovered a crack in my seat tube the day before a race –  they had me in and out and ready for the race in just a few hours.  The other is last year when they got my bike fixed up and road ready in just a couple of days, which suited me just fine! 

Long story short – the crew at Emery’s has always treated me right.  Yesterday, I had a great experience.  I didn’t need to do much fit wise, as I transferred over my current position – but I was impressed by Brent’s critical eye for details on the fit.  The stock stem on a Small Speed Concept is a 60mm length + 45 mm rise.  This left me about 40 mm short on my base bar reach.  On the trainer it felt fine, I could tell I was a little cramped on the horns, but felt OK.  Brent said he thought my earlier thoughts on using the 100/45 stem was spot on – based on how I looked and my weight was distributed.  15 minutes later riding down the parkway I found myself in instant agreement.  With the short stem and reach on the base bar the bike was just a little to twitchy for my taste and I felt a little cramped.

Without further ado, let me introduce Dexter

 

Dexter will be my trusty steed for many years and miles to come.

As a public service announcement for those with a Speed Concept or considering purchasing one – be aware – the stock cone cups on a Kurt Kinetic Road machine will not fit on the frame – you’ll need to call curt and have them send you a set of cups with a smaller OSD.  I was told that you don’t need the Small Slotted Cone for the NDS of the skewer.  I’m not sure I 100% believe them, but the worst that happens is I have to call them back and get them to send the the Slotted one.

A second PSA, is that I noticed my frame does not fit on my Saris Thelma rack.  I’m not sure if it’s a function of the frame size, or the frame in general.  I need to get in touch with Saris and find out what the best way to solve the issue is.


Training has been good.  Long run in the heat and humidity on Tuesday that turned out better than expected.  A good bike on Wednesday.  Yesterday I had a good swim in the AM, and an easy run in the PM.  I missed the quality bike because of the time at the bike shop

Good Swim – Must Brag

Had a good swim today.  I was really happy with how it went particularly since there was never any real suffering occuring.

20×100 SCY @ 1:15 hold 1:10 – 1:12

2:15 run tonight.  It’s nice and humid – my favorite…..