Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Some numbers

Today I ran 10.5 miles in the hills. My right calf was a bit sore but other than that I had no problems. I put some ROCKTAPE on and will see how it works. I have been testing ROCKTAPE for a while and it appears to help (although I cannot rule out the placebo effect of course).

Here are some PR's (or PB's if you prefer), that give some idea of my performance/progress:

Best marathon: 3:22:21. Boston 2009. Every time I get better and I feel I can do even better. Maybe a 3:15 is in the cards---if all goes well.

For a long time I was stuck at >3:35 and well >> 4:30 in the Ironman marathon. Then in Coeur d'Alene, 2007, I finally figured out how to run marathons. I ran a 4:17:38 there, followed by a 4:00:34 in Penticton in August. Later that year I ran 3:28:19 at CIM in Folsom, and qualified for Boston.

Best ironman: 11:04:55. Tempe Arizona 2008. My swim is the problem, but in Arizona I also had cramps and my run time was slower than Canada, where the marathon is much harder. So I think a 10:50 is doable. I would love to break 11:00 one day.

Best Ironman bike: 5:21:04. Tempe, Arizona 2008.
Best Ironman run: 4:00:34. Penticton, Canada 2007.

Best half-marathon: 1:34:00. Primo's Run 2003. I have not run a half for a while. I am sure I would run faster now. It would be nice to try and break 1:30.

Best half-ironman: 5:11:31. Big Kahuna 2004. Not sure I can improve on this. It was one super-Kahuna in 2004.

Best 2.4 mile swim (wetsuit): 1:20:50. Catfish 2004.

I seem to be stuck at 1:20-1:25. I swam 1:22:54 in Arizona '07, 1:22:34 in '08 and I did a 1:22:54 in Canada '07. In 2006 I swam 1:23:39 in Switzerland.

I swam a 1:23:48 in the Catfish '05 in the non-wetsuit category.

Fitness-wise I "should" be able to swim a 1:00 or 1:05 ironman distance, but don't hold your breath. If I ever did, I would qualify for Hawaii with time to spare.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gold Nugget

On Wednesday I rode 62.5 miles. It felt pretty good. Then on Thursday I ran 1 hr on the treadmill and I was able to cover 8.4 miles, a new PR for indoor running.

On Friday, I picked up Alistair from his USA cycling camp at St. Mary's and we drove to Hornitos for the Gold Nugget Stage Race. The first stage was a 9 mile uphill time trial starting at 5PM. We arrived early in the "little ovens" and I rode for about an hour on Alistair's bike. It was 100F out. Then he got ready and I drove behind the 15-16 group to the end of the stage. Alistair finished second that day. Only two survived the fast tempo to the top.

On Saturday, there was a road race in the morning, and I rode 3 laps of 5 miles after Alistair finished. It had some climbing in it but overall the course was pretty nice and not too difficult, with some shade to boot. I rode a bit more over lunch and then we got ready for the 3PM time trial. Alistair was second in both races and by the end of the day, he led the GC by 10 seconds.

On the way from Coulterville to Mariposa, we blew out a tire on the car and that added some extra spice to our trip. When we got to Mariposa, Alistair was exhausted and he quickly fell asleep while I did some more riding before dinner.

On Sunday there was another road race and I had planned to leave right after so I did not take any cycling gear to the start. When I got there however, other parents were going on a ride and one of them offered me his bike. I also got some shoes (a size too small) and a helmet (also too small) and I borrowed a jersey from Alistair and rode in my regular shorts. We rode 2 loops of 12 miles each (the race was three) in the opposite direction and watched the riders. We got back in time to watch the finish. Alistair won the stage and the GC.

After the race we had to leave early to check out. Then we drove home and by 3:30 we were back but pretty tired. I decided to rest for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Today I swam for about one hour. I tried to work on my technique and (once again) tried to breathe on my left. I probably swam a little over a mile doing so, but made very little progress. It feels really weird to breathe on that side and I can never seem to get enough air that way. Lake Placid is near, we will see how it goes. I should be tapering now, but I feel I have not done enough hard stuff to prepare properly.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


On Father's day we went to Nevada City for the Nevada City Classic. By now you probably know that Lance showed up, and won, and that the crowds were thick and wild. I went there because Alistair raced in the Junior race -the first event of the day- and because this race was deemed important by the powers that be, who will ultimately decide if he can go to Europe for training. We did see Lance but only for a few laps as we decided to get out of town before everyone else tried to do so.

On Saturday, Alistair rode the Mount Diablo Hill Climb and, although he beat last year's time, he did not win. He was second to Torrey Phillip, 54'' back. I rode up the hill and got a bit of a workout, but we turned around at the midpoint because Alistair wanted to be fresh for the next day.

We ended up spending more time in the parking lot waiting for the results of the Junior Point Series. Waiting for results, and protesting wrong results seems to be a favorite activity of cyclists all over California. Until race officials decide to enter the 21st century and use timing chips, this activity is likely to continue. At Nevada we stood around for three hours before officials figured out that they had given the win to a lapped rider. Go figure! Seven of them, a ton of high speed camera equipment, and they can't tell you who won and who got lapped.

On Sunday I rested, if you can call 6 hours driving to and from NC "rest." Yesterday I rode 99 miles -to Livermore and back in 6 hours. It was my first long ride for the season. I really needed some distance in preparation for Lake Placid. Overall it went very well and I am not too sore either.

Coming back to Nevada City, what is most apparent when watching amateurs versus pros, especially top pros like Lance, Levi, Horner, Ben Jacques-Mayne (and whoever the other guy was), is how skilled those pros are. That is really apparent on a technical course like NC, and more so if you just witnessed several groups of amateurs riding the same circuit only a few hours earlier.

Most obvious was how much speed the top pros carried through the descent and technical turns at the bottom of the hill. These guys cut a perfect line each and every time, and each and every time, the not-so-perfect have to pedal their hearts out to keep up.

Going that close to the hay and that fast through the turns, it was predictable after just a few laps that Armstrong and company would lap all others easily (even if they went up at the same speed on the climb). They did climb a bit faster too, but their biggest advantage was how fast they rode the rest of the course, and how little energy they wasted on the insignificant parts.

If you have ever ridden a criterium you will know you easily you wear out when you have to try to sprint out of every corner to recover distance you lost because your line was suboptimal. On a course with seven highly technical corners and a moderately long climb, that quickly adds up. No wonder some competitors thought Lance flew up the climbs like a rocket. I am not saying he does not climb fast -he does-, but while their legs were turning to jello at the bottom turns, Lance's (and Levi's) stayed fresh as can be. That left them with ample power to scale that 100 foot climb 40 odd times.

Today I ran 7.5 miles in the hills. Felt good, I even "caught" a cyclist.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A busy week

On Monday we rode with the Cyclotrons, cresting Patterson Pass at high speeds in nasty headwinds. On Tuesday I ran 12.6 miles on the treadmill. The first hour was fine and my speed was above 8mph but then I had to slow down a bit. I finished the last 2 miles at 7.5 mph. Maybe the heat in the room was getting to me? I find it hard to run 8mph on the treadmill for an extended period of time.

It is not the speed per se. I can easily run 10 mph on the treadmill for a short period of time. Or even 9.0 mph for half an hour. But anything longer than that becomes very difficult. I suspect the cooling is to blame and eventually the lack of efficient cooling gets to me.

On Wednesday I took the little ones to the pool and swam a little over 2 miles (or 180 laps). I swam about 1/3 of that with a pull-buoy to give my arms a workout. I have noticed quite a few times now that I can swim faster using a pull-buoy and no leg movement whatsoever.

Yesterday Alistair and I drove to Walnut Creek and rode up Diablo. It was very hot (93F at the base) and I suffered on the way up. The time-trial course (to the halfway point) took me 35 minutes but I needed another 10 or so to recover. Alistair was quite a bit faster, but even he complained of the suffocating heat. Not so good. After "recovery" we rode up to Juniper but at a slower pace. Then we turned around and came down. Even though this is only a 22 mile ride, I was surprised to see that I burned well over 1,500 calories doing it.

Today I rode 35 miles. Out over Wildcat to Orinda, then Moraga and back over Pinehurst. It went pretty well and I rode hard.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Serious cycling

Saturday we rode over to Diablo, the North Entrance in Walnut Creek. Unfortunately there is no real nice way to get there from here. We had to ride for several blocks on Ignacio Valley Rd. a thoroughfare to redneck country. It was obvious that the people there did not appreciate our presence on "their highway." One truck driving guy, obviously disturbed by cyclists on the road, stuck his head out and yelled, "Get the f@$#k of the road." Of course we didn't. What were we supposed to do? We pay taxes too.

If the city of Walnut Creek had any environmental concern whatsoever, they would turn one of those three lanes into a wide bike lane. Instead they post little signs reading, "Cyclists Ok to use sidewalk." Why would I ride on a sidewalk?

We rode halfway up Diablo to the junction, Alistair flying like a banshee, and I following up in the rear -I did catch a few guys though- using no smaller than a 39/19. Turned out both large cogs (21-23) were sufficiently worn I could not ride them. While Bernard Hinault believes you can climb trees with a 39/19, I beg to differ. But I did make it up there in reasonable time.

We went down the South Side, where you only have to ride a brief section on unfriendly terrain -this time overly rich folks from Blackhawk whizzing by in their Porsches- and from there to home. 66 miles of riding, 4 hours.

On Sunday I was pretty tired so I swam 162 laps instead. Alistair went on a two hour ride.

Today, I went down memory lane, joining the LLL Cyclotrons on their Monday ride. The Monday ride leaves at the "the Lab" and goes over Altamont to Midway and then back over Patterson Pass. Once again, Alistair flew over Patterson, leaving everyone behind, while I contented myself riding with Ken in the B group. Patterson on a 39/19 was no fun either. It was great nonetheless and I beat everyone over Midway. That made me feel good.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A dull and boring week

I can't say I enjoyed this week much. The weather was so-so, cold, overcast and generally miserable. Temperatures below average, drizzly nights, and fog-ridden days. It felt like winter. I ended up spending most of the week indoors, hiding from nature.

On Monday I rode 1:15 on rollers burning 1,133 calories in the process. On Tuesday I tried another long run on the treadmill, but I could not keep going at 8 mph without taking a break. I ended up running for about 1:35 and covering 12 miles, but I stopped twice. Later that day, I felt like I was getting a cold. Not good.

On Wednesday I swam 2.5 miles in two sessions. In the morning I swam 120 laps, pretty fast, and in the afternoon I took the kids to the pool and swam another 100 laps, for a total of 220 or 2.5 miles.

Yesterday things were a bit better and I rode for 1:25 on rollers, burning 1,331 calories. I spent most of my time putting out in excess of 250W. That was better.

Today is another miserable day, but I decided to go out anyways. I rode 20 miles on my mountain bike, now outfitted with new Hutchinson tires. The ride went very well and I felt pretty good.

Hopefully, next week will be warmer and sunnier.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Alistair rode the Dunlap TT in Davis on Sunday. He used my Griffen with the Renn disk and the Hed 3 spoke in front. I had to change the gearing to conform to junior restrictions (max gear 52X14) but other than that we use the same setup. He ended up 7th in his age group (15-16) but he was the second 15 yr old.

He is now 5'10'' and weighs about 115 lbs. I am 6'1'' and weigh in at 174 lbs.

I rode the bike afterwards on the 30K course. Not officially, because you had to preregister and I missed the deadline, but I took advantage of the road marshals anyways. I rode the 30K loop, whereas Alistair did the 20K out and back. But the initial parts of the course overlapped. 

I gathered some interesting data on the outbound, headwind section. Since we both rode the same setup, with everything being equal and both of us riding in aero, the comparison is interesting. The section was flat so weight did not matter here. Data was averaged over several minutes, although we both rode very steady in that stretch.

My speed upwind was 20.6 mph for a power output of 332W. His speed on the same stretch was 22.9 mph for a power output of 294W. The difference is all due to frontal area. Despite putting in and extra 38 watts, I traveled 2.3 mph slower than he did on the same road.

It is possible that the wind picked up slightly when I rode (I rode at 10:45 and he rode at 9:00) but all else was the same.

On Saturday I swam 162 laps (3,000 m).

Friday, June 5, 2009


Alistair has a time-trial this weekend so we focused on riding on rollers this week. I rode on Sunday, on Wednesday and once again on Thursday. The above graph is from Thursday's session. I rode pretty hard for about 56 minutes and then took a little break (see the drop in power and the slight dip in cadence). The first 56 minute were recorded in aero position and the goal here was to keep my pace and output steady. After the break I pedaled some more sitting upright -which is a whole lot easier- and using a smaller gear. My cadence stays the same pretty much throughout. I burned 1,111 calories on that ride.

Wednesday's ride was a bit longer but my power output was slightly less. I burned 1,001 calories then.  On Sunday I rode hard for 30 minutes and took it easy the rest of the time. All riding was done in a pretty warm garage (72 ambient). The heat stress is part of the training for me as most ironman races take place in hot environments.

On Tuesday I ran on the treadmill for 1.5 hours keeping my speed at 8.1 mph after a short warmup. My overall average was 8 mph and I finished 12 miles with a few seconds to go. Most of it I ran at an inclination of 0.5. Since my treadmill broke, I run at the club, where the ambient temperature is always well above average (74-75) and cooling is hard to find.

On Monday, I swam slightly more than 2 miles (180 laps) in 1:15, all freestyle. That is slightly slower than my (very slow) "race pace."

The fundraising for Lake Placid is going a whole lot slower than I thought it would. I have sent out almost as many requests as I did for Arizona, with very little to show for it. I guess the economy is taking its toll.