Monday, July 28, 2014

The Summer of Pain

Racing an ironman is hard I hear.  Personally I don't know, I've never done one.  What I do know is that training for an ironman definitely is hard.  I've just completed my first big training block.  The training program I follow is set up as 3 weeks hard and then 1 recovery week.  It seems to work pretty well for me as I've followed it for the last 3 years.
Week 1 Totals
 So the last 3 weeks have had some pretty serious workouts (for me) including some long rides and runs.  It wasn't 21 days straight, however.  I took a couple of days off in the middle.  Basically the 3 weeks was split up into the first 10 days, then 2 days off, and then 9 days.  This had nothing to do with the training plan so much as it had to do with Webelos Scout camp with my younger son.
Week 2 Totals
 For the last couple of years we've gone to scout camp from Wednesday to Saturday.  There's really no good way to sneak in a run, so I just don't worry about it and take Thursday and Friday off.  Ironically, some of the adults at scout camp get more exercise that week from all the hiking and walking.  It's a sad commentary, but I digress . . .
Week 3 totals
The first week I got some serious time in for a non-hammerfest week. I got in just over 22 hours.   That following Monday I was wiped.  Just exhausted all day.  Stinks getting old.  I was gonna run 5 miles that night since I was taking Thursday and Friday off, but I was just too tired.
Steady State Ride at 231 Watts

That middle week, I got my normal workouts in on Monday and Tuesday, but then tripled up on Wednesday.  Since we weren't leaving for scout camp until 11am, I decided to make the most of my time.  I got up early and ran, then went to the Y and swam 4,000 yards.  Undaunted, I came home, had some breakfast and then did a interval bike ride.  So I was pretty tired on Thursday at scout camp.
Brick Run off the Steady State
Taking Friday off meant that I felt a lot better and by Saturday I was pretty refreshed.  I rode 2 hours at a 231w average, and then ran 9 miles at a 6:22 average.  I finished up that Sunday with a 58 mile ride and 11 mile run.  The week 2 totals were almost 16 hours time.

The Long Run
Week 3 of the block was slated to be pretty big.  I got in my 20 mile run Thursday morning and everything was going as planned until that night.  I got thunderstormed out of my interval ride.  I decided to get up early Friday and ride before going to the Masters swim. I then rode intervals Friday night.  So then I was caught back up.  I did a 2x20 ride and and then a tempo brick run Saturday afternoon.

On the Slowtwitch Leaderboard

Sunday was the the biggie.  I'll call that ride "Perserverance".  First of all, I switched the ride to Sunday morning as my wife was doing a race Saturday.  I had to get going early to be done in time to get ready for church.  Everything was going well until I notice that half of the sky was black.  I changed up my planned route and headed back to the house.  I thought I could outrun the rain, but no such luck.  I got absolutely poured on.

The Big Ride
Then I hit a pothole, or something.  My front wheel and aerobars flew off to the left and did a superman dive off to the right.  I landed and slid on the wetsoaked pavement.  My first thought was that I hoped I didn't slide into the oncoming lane and oncoming traffic.

Happy to be done with a 125 mile ride!
But I popped up, grabbed my bike and took it to the side of the road.  I let all the cars pass and then I jogged over to the other side of the road to get my water bottle.  I felt surprisingly fine.  A very gracious guy stopped with his truck and asked me if I wanted a lift home.  I thought about it for a few seconds, but I knew if I hopped in the truck my ride was over.  I was at 99.5 miles.  The rain had abated some.  My next thought was NO.  I'm finishing this ride.  Yeah, my elbows look like mashed grapes, but I'm doing it.  I headed back to the house, but by then the rain had stopped.  I did a few loops near the house and got in my 6 hours, and 125 miles.

I really enjoyed the World Cup

So I ended up with 2 more minutes of training than HammerFest 2K13.  Not bad.  I didn't wuss out on any workouts. I didn't skip or shorten anything.  Fear is a great motivating factor.  Fear of Chattanooga.  I've come to grips that I will never feel ready.  But that won't stop me from trying.  Oh, Full Disclosure: the moniker "Summer of Pain" comes from Donna Harding.  She's a fellow IM Choo racer who I met at the Chattanooga training camp weekend.

Monday morning I was walking like an 97 year old man.  Hellooooooo Recovery Week!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

X-Lab Delta 225 and X-Strike

So I've been trying to nail down my bike hydration setup for a while.  I've used a Minoura double rear bottle holder before.  Unfortunately it was a bottle launcher up until it just broke.  You definitely get what you pay for with that product (~$15).  After that I was just zip tying a bottle cage to the underside of my seat.  That is what I ran in Vegas last year.  Unfortunately that doesn't work too well with the ISM Adamo saddles.
Delta 225 Package
 It hadn't really mattered much to me much so far this year.  I only need the one water bottle for Half Iron races.  I run the X-Lab Torpedo 100 between the arms setup.  I have finally gotten it dialed in after quite some time.  But this summer with longer training rides and Ironman Chattanooga looming, I wanted to run a second bottle.  But, as you know, it has to be aero.
225 Mounted without the X-Strike
I cringe everytime I see someone's bike setup for a race with a bottle on the down tube or the seat tube. It is just not aero.  Not only do I not race with a bottle there, I even remove the bolts from the bosses and put tape over them.  That's gotta save at least 3/4 of a second over the half distance, right?  I do put a cage on my seat tube for training rides.

So X-Lab makes a single rear bottle holder specifically for ISM Adamo saddles.  It's a little pricey for a single rear bottle holder, but I played the Father's Day card to get my wife to order it through Amazon.  You do get a Gorilla Cage with the system.
Mounting Clamps Underneath
The mounting is pretty straight forward.  You clamp it to the saddle rails.  It was a little hard to get in there to tighten it down.  It took quite a while as you can't turn the allen key very far each time.  The kit came with all the necessary hardware including the allen key.  Once I finally got it tightened down, there is still some movement in the bottle cage.  This is by design a little bit as you can see from the spring that is on the lower bolt.  It lets the bottle and cage have some "give" so the mounting bolts on the clamp don't break, like on the Minoura.

X-Strike Package
The Gorilla cage itself holds bottles very well.  Its a pretty tight fit.  In fact, you kinda have to twist the bottle to get it in and out.  When I first put an empty bottle in there to check it out, the bottle started collapsing as I pushed it in.
Totally Legal Gorilla
No Pacing Penalties

With the rear water bottle holder I had an opportunity to also mount some CO2 canisters back there.  I saw that X-Lab also offered the X-Strike.  It simply allows you to mount (2) CO2 canisters on the same bolts as you mount a water bottle cage.  This will free up some space in my Speed Pack for some gels.
Bottom Mounting Bolt with Spring
I removed the (2) bolts that hold the Gorilla cage to the rest of the Delta 225 assembly.  It's not quite as easy because of the bolt and nut design of the mount, and the spring on the bottom bolt.  Both the 225 and X-Strike came with 2 sets of bolts: long and short.  I used the longer bolt from the X-Strike kit on the upper mounting hole. I used the longer bolt from the 225 kit on the lower mounting hole.
225 with X-Strike Mounted
I put the lower bolt in first as you had to line more things up: cage, x-strike, washer, spring, washer, 225 mount, and then finally the nut on the other side.  I put the long bolt through there, compressed the spring and stuck the end of the bolt way up through the hole to get the nut on.  I threaded it a few turns and then put the upper bolt on.
Rear View
After I tightened it all down, it felt pretty secure.  I screwed the CO2 bottles in there and everything fit perfectly.  It really turns out looking pretty good.  I've been on a couple of century rides with the rear bottle holder and I have not had any issues.  Like I said, I think the key is the "give" in the design so that all the force isn't directly on the bottle.
Full Side View

Nice Tight Fit
So watch out, Green Lightning just got a little faster!  Well, not really, but that's kinda been my tagline, so I'm just gonna go with it.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Open Water Swimming

I don't think most triathletes do enough open water swimming.  Some don't really need to, I guess, if you're an uber swimmer.  But most triathletes are not uber swimmers.  It has been a pretty rare occasion for me to get in open water swims in the years I've been racing triathlons.  I usually get some good OWS in when I'm at my parent's lake house as I've wrote about before.  I have only swam one time around home.  That was when I first got my wetsuit and did a mile to test it out before the race.
Sunday Evening Stroll
 So this past week presented a couple of opportunities for some OWS.  I was in Michigan for my niece's wedding and then we spent a day at my parent's lake house in northern Indiana.  I got short one mile swim in there.  I was pretty tired from all the wedding activities the day before, so it was pretty slow.
Satellite View
Then the Rock Hill Masters group had a big OWS planned on the Fourth of July over at Niven's Creek.  That is where I first tested out my wetsuit.   The masters swims are very organized.  They line up quite a few paddlers, kayaks, and SUP's for the support crew.
Nivens Creek Boat Ramp
 They also recommend the "Safe Swimmer".  I actually had purchased one a few months back in anticipation of participating in some of these OWS.
All the Stuff in the Package
The concept is pretty simple.  You basically tie a float around your waist.  The cool thing though, is that you can stuff things inside the float.  It comes with some plastic bags that you can put stuff in you don't want to get wet (like a wallet).  You can also put some keys in there and maybe a shirt.

You then roll the blue section over 4 times and clasp it together and it then becomes air and water tight. You then blow it up like a balloon.  You put the belt around your waist and then when you swim, it just gets towed along.  I really didn't notice it while I was swimming.  I was afraid the belt would rub, but it didn't.
As I mentioned these swims at Niven's Creek are pretty organized.  They have several groups setup based on the distances you want to go.  Everything from 600 meters (round trip) to 2 Miles.  The 2 Mile swim is out to the "Island".  There was a large contingent that showed up for this holiday swim. I counted 34 in the pic.  There were only 7 in our group that went out to the island.  I got there a little early as I didn't want to be late.  I hit a couple of GU Gels as I waited.  On a side note, the new GU Chocolate Peanut Butter Gel is the Freakin' Bomb.  Anyways, we started at 7:45 and the island group went first.
The Fourth of July Group
I wasn't really sure of the exact route and was told to just hug the shore.  Since everyone was ahead of me I had plenty of people to sight off of.  Between all the bobbing orange safe swimmers and the kayaks, the sighting was pretty easy.  We stopped at the "Gazebo" at 1/2 mile and regrouped.  And by regrouped I mean they waited for me.  It was the same thing when we got out to the island.  They were all waiting for me.  When I got there I could tell they were anxious to get started again.  I told them I was good and we took off.  So I spent about 30 seconds at the island.
"The Island" well, more like rocks and bushes
We didn't stop on the way back. I got a few cramps with about a 1/2 mile to go.  They subsided a little after about 5 minutes and I was able to make the final push to the end.  I felt pretty good at the finish.  This was the farthest open water swim that I had done without a wetsuit.  My garmin had it a little short on the way out (0.91 miles) but I then clocked 1.02 miles on the way back.  So I guess it's roughly 2 miles.
Satellite View of Nivens
I definitely need to get some more of these swims in.  They do them almost every weekend.  I am so slow without the wetsuit that it's really good practice for me to do long swims without it.  Ironman Chattanooga may not be wetsuit legal, so I need to be ready for that.  But, for the love of all that is holy, the Tennessee River will be 75 degrees the morning of September 28th.
Auto Lap set for 200 yards
12 Weeks to Ironman Chattanooga.  But who's counting?