Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Not only is the Amgen Tour of California coming to town this weekend, it's also Bike to Work Week. I have a need to geek out about this so I will be riding to work on Bike to Work Day this Thursday. Last summer I cycled to work while my son was on summer vacation. I drive him to school each morning so it's not practical for me to cycle to work during the school year but I make special accommodations for this day.

Next up is Friday, Stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California. I'll need to pick my son up from school that afternoon, which isn't the usual routine, so if I want to see the tour, I have to make quick work of it. The plan is to drop him off a bit early, then haul ass up to Palmdale (I've taken the day off), cycle up to Mill Creek Summit, which is the first climb of the stage, ahead of the race, and do some spectating with my cowbell and camera. Once the caravan has passed I ride back to Palmdale and my car, drive home, do my long run for the week, pick up Ian, and watch the stage finish live on TV.

Here is Friday's ride:

Short but steep. Click on the Trip Details and check out that elevation profile. I'll have about a 1:15 head start. That should be enough.

Saturday is the time trial in downtown Los Angeles. I have volunteered to work that and I just got my assignment email saying that I'm a course marshall, which means I'll be someplace along the route making sure nobody wanders onto the course. I should be able to spend some time at the "Lifestyle Festival" they have there before heading to my spot. Should be a fun day plus I get a free lunch and shirt.

On Sunday, the plan is to ride with the SFVBC to Stage 8, watch the race, then ride the course. We're talking 80 miles with some serious climbs, where I will surely be dropped. At least we're getting a break halfway to watch the race.

Here is Sunday's ride:

Should be a fun weekend. I suspect I will be completely wiped out for work on Monday.

Report: L.A. Tri Series, #2 2010

Total Time = 3:02:48
Overall Rank = 219/258
Age Group = Clydesdales
Age Group Rank = 8/10
Pre-race routine

Woke up at 4am. Had Nutella on toast right away. Drank just a little water as I was already well-hydrated. Everything was already packed so I hung out until it was time to get dressed and go. Left at 5:25, which was a ten minutes later than I wanted to leave. Still got to the site in good time. Picked out a great spot in transition. Once I setup my area in transition I found that my Garmin was DOA. D'oh!
Event warmup

I went out for an easy bike ride, which did feel good. However, there was a bit of an incident when I got back into transition. As much as I liked the ride, I think it's better if I don't do one to warm up again. I wanted to do a short run, too, but I ran out of time. In the future, I'll stick to doing just a warm up run. Got on my wetsuit and did a short swim in the lake.


Distance: 1km
Time: 23:15
Pace: 2:08/100y

Water temperature was perfect for wetsuits. Not too cold, not too warm. I wonder if it's going to be too warm for wetsuits next month.

There were fewer swimmers this month so the start was better set up. I was in the front and since we were spread out on the beach, I was about halfway down from the inside, a good place to start. The race started and I got out fairly well. Instead of having to swim past people, a few people were swimming past me. Maybe I should have started farther out? After about 200 yards I started feeling good. Just like last month, I don't think people were using their heads sighting but were just following everybody else. The course had a first buoy, then we turned slightly to the left. There was a second and a third buoy. The third buoy was what we would make a full left turn on and the second buoy was just on the way. Problem was, the second buoy was in towards the left of a straight line from the first to the third buoy so if you went to the second buoy, you were adding to your swim. That's what most people did. I know because as I got closer to the third buoy, I met up with people who would soon pass me (again).

As we got closer to shore, we met up with one of the sprint-distance waves. Much congestion so the last fifty yards into shore were pretty slow. On the other hand, I did breaststroke in to shore, flexing my feet to work on my calves before getting out of the water. That seemed to have worked because my legs did feel better than last month's race.
What would you do differently?

I was trying to do some heads-down swimming (i.e. not sighting so often) but when I finally sighted I often found that I had drifted off course. I'm going to give up on heads-down swimming and sight more often.

The drifting and the congestion did contribute to my slower-than-expected pace. However, I think the length of the swim was the main reason. Can't do much about that other than keep training.


Time: 2:25

Your basic T1 here. Everything went well here except the slow run in and a dropped a water bottle when putting it on the bike after squirting my feet.
What would you do differently?

Nothing. Well, maybe I should try that taking the helmet off while removing the wetsuit thing. Looks like fun!


Distance: 40km
Time: 1:32:20
Pace: 16.15mph

Mostly the same course as last month but with an additional hill thrown in and three laps instead of two. Since this race is longer, the plan was to not go as hard so I'd have something left for the run. Looking at my pace, I did a good job of that. I didn't have the Garmin with me so I relied on how I felt for pacing so that worked out well. The second half of the last lap I went one gear lower than usual on the hills so my legs would get ready for the run. Also did some stretching as I got near the end of the course. This helped transitioning to the run.

I wanted to take in all my nutrition on the bike. I had some sugar water w/ electrolytes (it's an experiment), water, and a gel. Sugar water the first hour, water and a gel after that. That all went according to plan. Man, when that sugar water hits you, it's a weird feeling. I need to keep playing with that.
What would you do differently?

Just get stronger on the bike. I pretty much did what I wanted to on the bike. I was slow in the group but it was a good ride for me.


Time: 1:23

Really good T2.
What would you do differently?



Time: 1:03:25
Distance: 8km
Pace: 12:46 min/mile

I felt pretty good starting the run. Good, not great, but I didn't feel horrible, which is how I have felt in my other races this year so the bike-run bricks are working. Hilliest run course I've ever been on, which I wasn't expecting. I had to walk the two steepest hills--there would have been no point trying to run up them. It would have been no faster than walk pace anyway. I felt good on the flats but those hills really did me in. I took my metronome with me to help with my cadence. I wasn't able to keep up with it so after a couple of miles I shut it off.

On my recent training runs I have noticed my feet slip-sliding in the shoes from the sweat coming from warmer days. That peaked today and the result was a spot on my left foot that rubbed raw in the last couple of miles. Oh joy. It didn't slow me down but it was annoying. Next race I'm going to have to bite the bullet and put socks on since I can't go a full 10k like that. If the course was flat there probably wouldn't have been a problem.

So, it was my typical slow run but I think I actually did better than usual on it. There is hope!
What would you do differently?

I felt my left quad edge towards cramping the last couple of miles. I need to take in more electrolytes on the bike and maybe actually drink water on the run course rather than just pour it on my head (which felt really good).

I need to do lots more hill work.

No metronome. I wasn't able to take the Garmin on the run but next race I'm not even going to bother.

Wear socks...or get better-ventilated shoes.

Post race

Warm down

After experiencing light-headedness after the last race I immediately went to town on the oranges and water. The light-headedness did return (along with the light sensitivity) so I found a bench to sit on and it went away after a couple of minutes. I wonder if it's a sugar thing? Maybe I need to have some Gatorade in my bag and go straight from the finish line to the bag and start guzzling. I sure would like to know what's going on.
What limited your ability to perform faster?

Longer distance, slower pace. That's just how it goes. I'll get faster the more I train.

I'd love to use the "I was one of the two oldest Clydesdales, give me a break" excuse but the other 48-year old took second. So much for that. :-)
Event comments

It's funny. The race organizers sent out an email earlier in the week touting the casual nature of the race, including no body marking. However, this time we were bodymarked and our bikes numbered. Why? Apparently some people walked off with bikes they weren't supposed to last race. Nice to see they're addressing the problem.

Oranges and bananas were nice but I wanted to guzzle some Gatorade and all I could find was water. Oh well, I guess I'll have to bring my own.

Challenging course for me but do-able. Next month's full Oly should be interesting.

8th Clydesdale in the swim, bike, and run. I'm Mr. Consistency. It does explain why I didn't see any Clydes passing me.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Countdown to the L.A. Tri Series #2

All I have left to do is pack, write this, and sleep.

This is the first triathlon I'm going to treat like an actual triathlon. While on the swim, get ready for the bike. While on the bike, get ready for the run. Then have my run benefit from the earlier stuff and from my bike-run bricks in training. I'm also using this as a rehearsal for the full oly triathlon next month.

First off, I'm actually going to do a warm up! I'll stake out my transition spot, then go for an easy small loop of the course (7mi), then an easy 1mi run. This will give me plenty of time to rest, take a gel, get into my swimsuit, and do a swim warm up in the lake. After last race I felt that a warm up would have been helpful. We'll see how it goes.

This race has a 1km swim, which might include a run after a 500m lap. I'm not sure because there aren't any details on the race's website and the course they show for the swim is the same one for the 500m swim last month. Whatever. The plan for the swim is to start middle-front and just swim my race. I'm hoping that by being middle-front instead of my usual towards the back will help me by not having to swim past so many people. It's not that I'm fast (I'm not) but was faster than many of the people in my wave last race. I've been practicing breaststroking a bit so I need to remember to do some of that towards the end of the swim so I can stretch out my calf muscles before I start running from the water. I'm hoping that will keep me from having that calf pain I had at this place in last month's race.

Once I get on the bike I need to get into my shoes sooner than last race because there's a good uphill shortly after leaving T1 and I want to be in my shoes for that. See, I leave my shoes on the bike for my transitions and, usually, I want to get some pedaling done before I get in my shoes so I can do it with a clear head and no wobbling. This time, though, I'm going to have to rely on my transition training to safely get into my shoes before the hill. Once I crest the hill there is a short flat and a great big downhill for me to catch my breath (I'm thinking I should easily reach 45 mph). The bike course is three laps, adding up to 40km, so I'm thinking that my first trip up that hill on the first lap, I will spin up in the saddle while my legs gets used to being on the bike. The next two laps, though, I'll see about getting out of the saddle and hammering up for them (I've been working on that, too). We'll see how I feel. I'll be drinking sugar water (literally--more on that in another post) on the bike the first hour, followed by water and a gel the last 20 minutes. Towards the end of the third lap I need to downshift to spin, stretch, and get my legs ready for the run...better than I did last race.

Get off the bike, take off my helmet and sunglasses, put on my shoes, grab my visor (with metronome attached) and race belt and go. Ah, the 8km run. Last race, my run was horrible. This race I hope to improve! I've done several pure bike-run bricks and I hope they result in a better run. I am totally going to geek out, though, by having the Garmin on my left wrist and the metronome attached to my RoadID on my right wrist. Yes, I'm going to do a race with a metronome keeping track of my cadence. I think I'm going to run without drinking anything. So, keep my 164 cadence through 2.8 miles of the run and then cut loose the last two miles, upping the cadence to as much as 167 if I'm up to it.

Predictions? A conservative 19:00 for the swim, 1:20 for the bike, and 48:00 for the run. Toss in a few minutes for transitions and I'm in the neighborhood of 2:30. The weather looks great so it should be a fun morning. Oh, and Tommy's is test marketing pastrami at a location that's on the way home. Mmmm, pastrami and chili fries after a race...

Friday, May 14, 2010

I've Made a List and I Check It At Least Twice

How do you know if you have packed everything you need for a triathlon? By having a checklist, of course. You add to it and tweak it as you go but you always use the checklist. Below is mine, which I keep on my iPhone. I may not need everything on it for every race (e.g. I won't need a wetsuit for my August and October races) but better to see something and not need it than need something and it not be packed. The only thing that isn't on this list is my transition bag, which is what everything (but the bike) gets packed in:

Tri suit
Bike shoes
Frame pump
Bike bag
Run shoes
Race belt and number
Transition towel
Timing chip
USAT card
Shorts & shirt & belt
Cut Rubber bands
Kids scissors
Race pack
Swim cap
Water bottle
Bike pump
Body glide
Ear buds

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Brick By Brick

Along with my campaign to become a better runner is my campaign to become a better triathlon runner. What's the difference? Runners just have to run. A triathlon runner has to run after the bike.

To that end, the last two weekends have found me doing dedicated bike-run brick workouts. That's where I ride a 9-mile loop around Hansen Dam, do a reasonably fast transition, and immediately head out on a 2-mile run. Because of the quick transition I do these in my trisuit (triathlons are great for overcoming one's self-consciousness :-).

Last week was the first and it was pretty tough. I took 15 minutes between sets and I could only squeak out a 1-mile run on the second set. This week I took (at least) 30 minutes between sets and made it the whole 2 miles. Times on the run were pretty good, too. The awkwardness of switching from the bike to the run is dissipating with each of these. I'm spinning a higher cadence towards the end of the bike and learning to pace myself. Of course, race day is a totally different animal but I'm trying to be a racy as possible in these workouts so I hope race day is not too different. These workouts are really tiring so, with the next triathlon in two weeks, today's workout is the last brick until after the next race, where I hope to have a better run report than my last race.