Inspect and Adapt

“Fuckity fuck fuck.”

“This is such a disappointment.”

“I need to get off this bike.”

“I need a hug.”

These are all words that have come out of my mouth in the last 36 hours or so.  All of them the result of Ironman Hawaii and my poor performance.  I don’t want to dwell more than a paragraph or two on Kona;  If it isn’t obvious, I sucked.  Badly.

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The race had three redeeming qualities

  • My swim wasn’t horrible, perhaps not quite what I was hoping for but squarely in the acceptable category.
  • It wasn’t a personal worst time.
  • I got to hang out with Ben Meer a lot.

Now that the pity party is out of the way, let’s get my hands dirty and go back to the subject of this post – Inspect and Adapt.  What am I talking about?  Inspect and Adapt, I&A, is a mechanism of the SAFe framework. Which is an exceptionally buzzword filled method for accomplishing things effectively in a modern Information Technology workspace.  It boils down to breaking larger projects/efforts (features) that can be completed in a “Program Increment” into smaller components that can be delivered in full at the end of each “iteration” of the Program Increment.  A typical duration of an iteration is two weeks, and a program increment could be twelve weeks.  During each iteration you partake in mid-block reviews and retrospectives.  The focus is on accomplishing the work you commit to and minimizing outside interference.  I&A comes at the end of each program increment where you review what worked, what didn’t, and make adjustments to your program to improve it and go at it again.

Now that I’ve totally lost you, I’ll stop the buzzword bingo.  Hopefully, some of those things I described trigger the words planning and periodization to pop into your head.  The number one goal of SAFe is to enable organizations to deliver expected, desired, and valuable outcomes in a predictable and cost effective fashion.  The same is true of periodization, and the associated planning process for training.

So back to Kona: I sucked. Again. I put in the work. Again. I didn’t get the outcome I expected. Again. Which means something went wrong in the process. (Again.)  What went wrong?

I am going to chalk it up to one thing:  riding the trainer too much.  Not for the usual reason that I don’t feel comfortable in the wind (I do), or I’m a panzie on downhills (I am), but simply that the bike fits differently on the trainer than it does on the road.   Most likely resulting from me setting my fit to be comfortable on the trainer, without frequent enough or long enough outdoor sessions to provide WTF feedback.

The hot spots on both my feet from last minute new shoes (not by choice), and my inability to tolerate my position on my bike led to me being just miserable.  And unwound my day.

Aside from Kona, I am really tired of my inability to deliver consistent performances.

I have been the top amateur at WTC events.  Twice.

I have gained eligibility for a USAT elite membership.  Three times.

I have finished high enough, at the right races, to earn a Kona slot. Eight times.

I should not consider 4:28 a good day.

I should not finish 44th in my division at USAT Nationals.

I should be ashamed I can’t qualify for 70.3 Worlds when that is the reason for putting my wife and child through ~22 hours of driving.

I am sick of the trend line going in the wrong direction, with a year or two between upticks.

I bitch and moan a lot on this blog interspersed with thoughtful and helpful posts, and to share stories of my success.  For better or worse a lot of those whiny blog posts center around a lot of similar things: Wah I suck or wah my bike fit sucks (I didn’t do a through review so there could be lots of other WAHs out there). With a lot of fluffy talk, then usually with a performance good enough to forestall serious action.

I need to fix these two problems, because not enjoying my bike and not having fun are killing my enthusiasm for the sport and are resulting in me questioning if putting my family through the stress of training for anything less than what I am capable of is worth it.  Both my family and myself do not deserve outcomes like yesterday for the effort we have put into it over the past year.  If I can’t do my family and myself justice come race day, I need to search elsewhere for self-validation.

Shit or get off the pot.  At 37 I have only a handful of years, if any to maximize my racing before it starts to taper off despite what I wish.

The first order of business is to fix my fit.  I’m going to set a goal of making this happen by the end of the month.  That gives me two weeks after I get back from Hawaii to get myself to someone and do something about it.  Most importantly I am giving myself a hard deadline to do something, with a short enough target window that I can’t have some lucky coincidence leave me thinking action doesn’t need to be taken or it can be delayed.  Accountability.

After that we will have to inspect and adapt to fix the consistency of performance issue; Weighted Shorted Jobs First.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program

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I started off writing this post yesterday.  A day where I showed up at the YMCA – at zero-dark AM – to swim indoors for the first time in weeks, only to find the pool closed for some maintenance issue, leading me to toss on my running clothes and do my hard run for the week, with the plan of finding a different pool to head to in the afternoon.  That run was a total fizzle, one of those workouts that leaves you questioning yourself.  “How could I not make this run today, when several weeks ago I ran the same target pace, for nearly twice as much cumulative time?”  Am I doing too much?  Am I sick?  Should I back off of some workouts?  All of those thoughts plowing through my head, triggering a massive FUD cycle, and the beginnings of a whiny, woe is me blog post full of the usual drivel:

  • My bike fit is pissing me off
  • My run form sucks, and my glutes aren’t engaging
  • My long rides have been sucking ass
  • I had a good race at CDA 70.3 but everthing else has been pretty crappy
  • Waaaaah
  • Waaaaah
  • Waaaaah

Real life (work) then kicked in and the day proceeded to keep me really busy. Once that business was done I dragged my sorry ass to the pool, where I proceeded to destroy the planned set for the day.  This being completely unexpected, I was smugly glad that I didn’t skip or shorten the swim, until I saw the text from my wife wondering if I was going to be home in time for her to make her PT appointment. 45 minutes after her appointment. Whoops.

I went home did my night time stuff, went to bed, woke up and proceeded to execute the planned workouts for today pretty much like I would have wanted to in a perfect world.

Which leaves me sitting here 36 hours after a fizzled workout realizing, what I’m not quite sure, but knowing that I narrowly averted an implosion of my confidence and a likely unneeded course correction just one month out from my target.  I know where that path goes and it’s pretty guaranteed to not get me where I want to go.  Back to your previously unfuckwithable program.

All that said – I did want to post a quick summary of the season to date.  I did a pretty miserable job of preparing myself for the Triple T this year, and I more or less made my way through it in training event and family vacation fashion.  This left me with a good deal of fitness and form a few weeks later at IM CDA 70.3, where I turned in a very solid performance.  A good swim, a solid run, and while a solid bike power wise, it was a pretty slow split.  I blame some unwise tweaks to my bike fit, which negatively impacted my aeroness. Being 10 pounds over a healthy race weight didn’t help me out at all, but it was a good race, and comparing it to IM Racine 70.3 the year prior with both having relatively close timing to the target race of the year things seemed to be good.

On to Racine, well that just a bad day.  While I had intended to do the race for a long period of time prior to the race, I didn’t register until only a week or three prior, putting me in the nose bleed bib numbers.  Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal.  Then they cancelled the swim and sent us out in time trial format on the bike.  By bib number.  I suspected it would be interesting, and it was.  In fact it was downright crazy and dangerous.  I checked out mentally around mile 8 or so (of 30) on the bike when I saw James Burke heading back towards transition, nearly done with the bike – completely by himself – safe with no congestion, while I weaved and dodged my way through 30 miles of oblivious riders.  I told myself that he and others in my age group were experiencing completely different races than I was and there was no way I would be able to have a level field against them.  Not only that, I wanted to survive the bike ride.  So I checked out.  Lesson learned – register for races you intend to do.  Early.

And that is pretty all that is worth mentioning about races.

The prep for Hawaii is going well.  While there have been a few exceptions things have been falling into place pretty well.  Swimming gets an A+.  Cycling is a solid B, and my run is probably a B+ right now, but each week things keep coming together and trending in the right direction, I’m confident that barring any set backs, I’ll arrive at Race Day with things being a A+, A-, A.  Pair that fitness and form with solid execution and the result should be grand.

Two Weeks Ending 2015-07-19

Well my writing time last week was devoted to documenting the results of my wetsuit testing, so I didn’t get around to doing the weekly update, so this one is a twofer.

While I seem to have solved the swim issue, my bike fit continues to be a work in progress, after playing around with shortening the reach and it feeling initially very good and giving me good results in a couple hard two plus hour time trial efforts, I was stymied two weeks in a row in attempting to do 20 minute best effort tests.  As a result of that, I dug around slowtwitch and found my 2011 Critique Me Thread, where none other than Paulo Sousa, gave me a lot of great advice.  I credit that advice and it’s bike fit as being a very strong contributor to my biking break through in 2011.  As I’ve documented quite well, since that bike was wrecked in late 2011, I have been more or less searching for that feeling on the bike.  I spent some time reviewing that thread, and comparing it to pictures of my bike, and did my best to recreate it last week – basically more forward, more reach, more drop then what I’ve been doing for a couple years – it was the position I race at Racine this weekend – and I was tickled with how I felt during the race.  It leaves me feeling like I finally got the position I’ve been searching for after a long search.  We’ll see over the next couple of weeks how it goes, but prior to Racine, I had the bike setup that way for exactly 45 minutes of riding, and I didn’t feel like I was losing power or sustainability in the position as the race progressed.

Week 1

Monday – The typical easy run, and a swim – mainset 12×200 SCM @ 2:55 pull – I held sub 2:45 for all of them

Tuesday – Easy ride, quality run with a mainset of 4×5′ @ Daniel’s I-pace, with a 4 minute jog

Wednesday – First wetsuit test session (Profile Design Wahoo) and an easy run

Thursday – 6×3′ @ 350 watts on the bike plus an easy run

Friday – Second wetsuit test (Xterra Vendetta SLO)  and a long run with 5×10′ @ HIM pace

Saturday – easy ride and easy run

Sunday – 2.5 hours on the bike with an aborted 20′ best effort – kind of a bleh ride, easy run

Week 2

Monday – Zero

Tuesday – Shorter than usual easy ride + a run with 3x{2×2′ HARD (1′ jog)} (2′ Jog)

Wednesday – Third wetsuit test session (ROKA Full), easy run

Thursday – shorter than normal easy ride, with some efforts at 95%, easy run

Friday – Final wetsuit test (ROKA Sleeveless + Vendetta Small) + shortened easy run

Saturday – 45 minute bike with some race pace efforts + 15′ run with 5′ race pace

Sunday – Racine 70.3

 

I’ll endeavor to write up my thoughts on Racine and the plans from here.

Week Ending 2015-07-05

Barely made this update before the end of the week after it’s updating.  It’s been a busy week this week.  Between work and family activities, I haven’t had a lot of free time.  After pondering a lot last week about my swimming and the potential impact of a wetsuit I’ve decided that I’m going to do some testing.  I’m going to do a test protocol similar to what Brian Stover did in 2009.  I’m going to test out a Medium Profile Design Wahoo, my Small Long Xterra Vendetta, my Small Xterra Vendetta, a medium Roka Pro sleeveless, and a medium Roka Pro sleeved.  I may search out a few others if I can get access to them.  The goal of this process is to figure out which wetsuit fits me best, and then decide how much it will cost me to fix the problem, if there is one.

I had intended to do a 20 minute best effort on Sunday, but it was a bit subpar.  I woke up feeling a bit flat and the warmup didn’t make things better.  I think it was just the long holiday weekend.  If this weekend doesn’t prove to be as exhausting I’ll probably give it another shot before Racine.

Monday – A short easy run, and a swim with a main set of 10×200 @ 2:55 Pull.  Most of the 200s were 2:40 or 2:41

Tuesday – an easy ride, and a hard run with a main set of 5×4′ HARD on 3′ rest.

Wednesday – 40x50s @ :55 – other than the first couple I held all of them under 35, and the usual easy run

Thursday – A hard bike with 6×3′ HARD – with the first being best effort.  I averaged 403 watts, which isn’t my best ever, but it’s pretty decent and I did go out really hot.  I took some extra rest after, and then knocked out the other 5 – which went quite well.  Closed the day out with an easy run.

Friday – Got up nice and early and did a 90′ run with 2×10′ @ HIM pace, then a 20′ block at IM Pace.  Did a quick swim with a main set of 5×400 SCY when we went to the outdoor pool with Ethan later in the day.

Saturday – Easy bike early in the morning, and a later afternoon run in the afternoon that I followed up with a beer and sitting in a pool in our back yard.

Sunday – 2 and a hour hour bike with a sub-par 20′ best effort, followed by several 10 to 20 minute blocks at HIM race effort, followed with a short run afterwards.

The main focus of the week was to really slow down on my easy runs, I have a tendency to run too fast on them, so I really focused this week on keeping them easy – which translates into Daniels E-Pace being a speed limit as opposed to a target.

Week Ending 2015-06-14

This past week was a really solid one.  It ended with a good performance at Elkhart Lake.  I’m really happy about how the race went.  It wasn’t without it’s negatives – I was a bit sad faced about my bike split when I compare it to James/Blake/Andrew, but this was probably my best Olympic distance result in at least 4 years, maybe longer.  I take that as a positive sign!  The weekend was made even better by spending the remainder of the weekend hanging out with the family in Elkhart Lake and at the Osthoff resort.

I cut my aerobars down so that I can ride with the shortened reach without impaling my knees on them.  It felt great during the race, but I found that outdoors, compared to the trainer my body naturally wanted another centimeter or two of room.  Will do some more tweaking and see how it goes.

All in all – things are looking and feeling pretty good, I’m happy with the progression my training is making and the rest I’m getting outside of the training.

Monday – The usual easy run, with the main session being a swim with 20×100 @ 1:30 SCM – holding about 1:15

Tuesday – Just as I was about to get on my bike I got paged for work, so my day consisted of a hard run on the treadmill – 10×2′ HARD, with 1′ easy in between.  I managed to fit in an easy bike ride that evening after work

Wednesday – A swim, that I forgot the most of, but the mainset was 12×50 @ :55 – with a goal time of 35 or faster.  A really short easy run.

Thursday – A hard bike, with 2×8 @ Threshold, and later in the day a short easy run – that felt terrible because I did it to close to eating.

Friday – An easy swim and an easy run.

Saturday – Elkhart Lake Triathlon

Sunday – Zero

Week Ending 2015-06-07

This week was a very solid week.  I successfully pulled my reach in a fair bit, and have been really happy with the results in how I feel on the bike, my power output, and how much my hip flexors have relaxed.  I’m going to make the cut on the bars, which are currently uncut tri-rig extensions, although maybe I could try the old reliable Profile cobras since I shortened the reach so much.  We’ll see.

I did a pretty piss poor job of my sleep habits this week, and my nutrition in terms of volume consumed, not quality.  I tend to do a good job of not eating shit, but I simply eat too much of it.

Monday –

I did 20×100 SCM in the pool – no warm-up just go.  I did them on a 1:30 send off, and after the first couple held them all under 1:20.  I also did the usual easy run.

Tuesday –

I got excited on my “easy” bike and ended up doing a spinervals DVD (16.0) for some reason.  I held about 260 for all of the “on” efforts.  I did my quality run for the week, doing 15×1′ HARD (1′ Jog) on the treadmill.  I was cursing myself for the lack of intensity discipline the entire mainset.

Wednesday:

I did a swim – and pretty much bailed on the planned USRPT set, I felt like garbage. The usual easy run was present.

Thursday –

An easy run, plus a bike ride with a mainset of ????x2′ – bailing when my wattage fell 12% below the target.

Friday –

Felt way better in the pool, doing a mainset of 4x{4×100 @ 1:30 + 2×50 HARD @ 1:00} – I held roughly 1:20 for all of them, and was about 35/36 on the 50s.  I felt like crap on my easy run and cut it short.

Ethan and I did a class at the Zoo, and then went to Mexican for lunch.

Saturday –

A 2 hour easy ride, that was really sucky for the first hour, and got progressively better as the ride progressed.  The usual easy run.

Sunday –

I had planned to do the Bong 30k TT today, however I opted out.  Mary resumed structured workouts again this week, and the logistics of me doing it meant that it would have resulted in a zero for her, or doing her workouts really late in the day.  Instead I did a 2 hour ride, with a 20′ best effort, followed by some steady riding, and a race focus run (30′ alternating 5′ EZ, 5′ Olympic pace).

The 20′ effort went quite well.  It was my highest ever on the trainer by quite a bit, about the same as the one I did ~10 days before Texas (which was outside though), and just shy of matching my best ever (which was also outside).

This week will be a pretty typical week, but lighter on the back half to try and rest a little for Elkhart Lake.  I’ve done Elkhart twice, and performed piss poorly both times.  My goal is to simply have a solid race.  I’m going to try and float the swim, ride well, and follow it up with a good run.

Week Ending 2015-05-31

This week I spent a lot of time focusing on my bike posture – I did some reading/searching about bike position, power loss and power sustainability.  The highlight of what I found is summed up pretty well in an article by Steve Hogg.  The synopsis of it is that our brains can only recruit so much muscle when you are riding.  It prioritizes keeping you upright before locomotion – so if your posture is too taxing – you lose power.  Mumbo jumbo?  I don’t know, but  putzing around with my reach is not hard to do – and something I do anyways.

Additionally – I know that my hip flexors are incredibly tight – so much so that I would self diagnosis myself with Janda’s Lower crossed syndrome – again possibly mumbo jumbo – but my hip flexors are tight.  I’m super serial.  So in addition to putzing with my reach I dug out the stuff from when I visited the PT last year – and got to work.

Actual training wise – it was a pretty low key week – I focused on some really high intensity stuff, and an Aquathon.

Monday –

I did a short swim at Hoyt pool – outdoors YEAH.  Inspired by the Matt Hanson AMA IMTX thread, I did 3×100 @ 1:30 – it’s a SCY pool – to see what I could do – 1:01/1:02/1:03.  If Matt Hanson was able to hold 1:01 for a significant number of 100s on 1:30 – i.e. more than 3 – mad props.  I finished Monday off with a run home from the pool – when we went back later as a family.

Tuesday –

A really short ride as I ate up most of my riding time playing with my reach.  I did 15×30″ (30″) @ 400+ watts – along with an easy run at lunch time.

Wednesday –

I again did some hard 100s in the pool – this time SCM – 5×100 @ 2:00, followed by again another easy run.

Thursday –

I did an easy bike ride in the morning on the trainer – and the Aquathon that night.  I swam 13:20 for a “1000”, and ran 19:18 for the 5k.  No complaints about the swim – I’m actually happy to say that despite having a couple fast people there I didn’t get dropped on the swim, which happened both times last year.  I did get schooled on the run – and had mixed emotions about my run – a full minute slower than I ran it last year.  I was pretty rushed putting my wetsuit on and I felt like it really made my stroke feel a bit off, and unless it was an exceptionally long 1000 – it felt really really hard compared to IMTX.

If I take it in the context of having done an Ironman about 10 days before – it’s probably pretty decent.

I finished third and got schooled by James Burke and Chris Wichert, hopefully they both show up for the next one, when my legs are a bit fresher.

Friday –

A swim with a good deal of IM swimming.  I did a 60′ “long” run that afternoon and felt pretty decent except for about a 5 minute stretch in the middle where I needed a walk break to reset and convince myself I wasn’t going to have to walk home.

Saturday –

Just an easy ride, followed by checking out the open house at one of the local coast guard stations

Sunday –

Two hours on the bike with ?x2′ (2′) – do them until I can’t hold 360, but starting off at 400, followed by a easy jog on the treadmill.

This week I keep the focus on doing some really hard bike efforts, and the Bong 30k time trial on Sunday.  I had planned to go to Madison and ride with Thomas Brunhold on Friday, but I realized I am taking Ethan to a class at the Zoo – so that ride it have to wait for a couple weeks.

 

Week Ending 2015-05-24

In an effort to try and jump start my blog updates, which I find to be very cathartic, I’m going to try and post a weekly summary of my training.  Being the week after an Ironman, this week was primarily focused on sleep and gluttony.

Monday was a zero, which was followed by a slow and easy 20 minute run on the treadmill on Tuesday.

Wednesday I again logged a zero, followed by another slow and easy 20 minute run on Thursday.

Friday I rode my bike to work, and included a 5 minute effort at about 300 watts – just to see how I felt.  Surprisingly it wasn’t too bad – just a little awkward with a backpack and on my ill-fitting road bike, which needs a longer stem.

Saturday was a “5k” running race that was part of the wedding festivities for a friend.  It wasn’t a competitive race, but Ben chose a really hilly route for the event and it made the 7 something pace we ran pretty challenging.

Sunday was also a zero, but you might be able to count it as a swim since Ethan and I hung out in the hotel pool for a good hour.

It was a good week of recovery and I’m looking forward to getting things rolling again.  I’m planning to do a 30k time trial on June 7th and then doing Elkhart Lake on June 13th.