Friday, May 28

Viva las Baltimore

Time for my annual trip to the States, and a nice block of run training in warmer climates. The annual trip normally coincides with the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) conference, which this year was being held in Baltimore Maryland.

Took a few days before the event and saw the sights, took the Amtrak up to DC the day before memorial day, long runs to see the sights of Baltimore, and wandering about lots looking for places to entertain myself. Nice to have two days before ACSM to see everything that i wanted to see, no point flying across the world then seeing the inside of a hotel room.

Conference was good, went to some interesting lectures on carbohydrate utilisation and fat usage during longer distance events, and for fuelling considerations for IM racing and the like. Some of the usual talkers spouting the same old drivel, and some of the big hitters throwing some major curve balls into the mix. Galactose for fuel anyone? Lets just say the old 0.8g/min absorption rate of carbohydrates has pretty much been thrown out of the window with guys showing uptakes of 1.79g/min ( 107g/hour vs 48g/hour). This has a profound impact on fuelling for IM distance racing, and something i am going to start keeping an eye out for when data gets published.

Couple of other talks sparked ideas in my heads, which is always the point of these meetings i suppose. there was also a lot of useless crap, some stuff that i went to that boded well but was let down by poor presenters, and useless research projects. But thats always the way i suppose.

Running was good while i was over there, did my normal 7am of the day after i fly in run to loosen the legs out, sure its slow, and sure i feel like crap doing it, but it works. Pretty much allows me to slot onto US time straight away. Few other long ish runs in the heat and humidity of MD let me assess how i am in the heat at the moment. Simply put, when it goes over 34' C i suffer big time. Over 90% humidity and i cease to function running wise. Blew up on two runs and it was not pleasant. Saying that i was running well, consistently 4:30/km even though it felt like 4mins. Sadly picked up a chest infection due to the aircon in the room drying my lungs out every night, cant stand the stuff.

Missed my bike so much while i was over there, all i wanted to do was a few days even hours on the bike. But alas it was not to be.

Oh and Delta screwed me over and left me in Atlanta to rot for a day. Don't go to Atlanta ever. Its a horrible place.

Monday, May 17

M3 Cyclo-Sportive + there and back again.

Everyone loves a trier, but hates a failure. However, every one loves the people who come along to partake, but when they start acting like idiots most people tend to get cranky.In a sportive everyone is out to have a bit of fun, go as fast as they want to go, and work as a group to get where they want to go. However the M3 cycle was something a bit different. Lots of people along for the 100km option, lots of bling bikes and wheels, lots of dark shades with taut faces and sunken eyes under them.....then you notice the hairy legs, the black see through shorts, the and the Fred mark of glory, the right leg chain ring imprint.

Sure it takes all sorts, but why do i always attract them.

The M3 cycle was going to be a fast day from the start. Closed roads, on a motorway, on a route that didn't have a huge amount of height gain in it (404m of climbing over 110km). Riding on a motorway was never going to be the most amazing of sight seeing tours. With that in mind i had planned to TT the race from start to finish at IM pace wattage, throw in a few efforts where they were demanded, and generally just push. I had no plans to work in a group bigger than 4 riders, and was going to go with that plan.

Come race day things change. 10km in and i'd left most of the 700 or so riders behind, had picked up a very strong female triathlete and we were working well together, could see a large group of maybe 60 riders a few mins ahead and figured they'd splinter and i could work my way up to them over time. Riding a TT bike in a sportive is always going to be cheating on the flats, what i didn't realise is that it would attract idiots like flys to a dog turd.

Flying along for the first 20km alternating turns between the two of us, sitting at 260W into the wind - 240W out of the wind, alternating efforts ment that we could keep the pace high and steady. About 25km in Mike and Waggers (TT bikes also) popped up....and apparently brought a huge fred-fest with them. Then it started getting hairy. Working with Karen we were taking equal turns on the front, ride/recover, ride/recover. Always peeling to the right, staying away from cateyes, and riding in the best place to avoid the cross winds. However, when 20 or so people try to do this (most of whom never even ride in groups) it gets messy. Peeling left and right, undertaking, jumping up the group leaving gaps, dropping wheels, grabbing brakes, just riding like idiots. To clinch it all in a heavy crosswind from the right sticking the group into the gutter on the left hand side so no one has shelter.


After sitting in the gutter for a few min's recovering at the tail of the group i'd had enough. Rode away from the group on the right, swung back onto the front and just rode hard for 5min's, 350W on the flat getting low and narrow, taking 3 riders who could ride with me. I have no problem riding in a group on a TT bike, however this was getting sketchy as people were getting tired into the headwind and making stupid mistakes. I'd dropped Mike but was pretty confident he'd get back to us as he was riding very well.

The hill to the turn at 55km, dropped another rider, and Karen (momentary) as we crested the hill. Turned and was rewarded with a tail wind. 260W changed to 230W and yet still getting a 7kph speed increase. Time to eat, drink, and roll it home. Karen picked back on and we worked back to a group having a nice chat most of the way there. Soon after Mike popped on to say hi and work with a good group of 6 roadies from Navan most of the way back. Unfortunately we picked up two wheel suckers from that group at the start and i decided i wasnt going to work for them.

At about 90km in I pulled off, answered the call of nature IM style, and then realised i was a little confused. Shit, that is the sign for me, ate everything in my pockets and bento box (2 Torq gels, one bar, one ZipVit gel) threw in all my fluids and started to pray it'd get there first. I've experienced that feeling badly a few times to many to want to happen again (last bad time at cross training over the winter, and then France after a 187km in the mountains which resulted in crying). About 2km later it'd cleared up, but that 2km dragged, the 'hill' i was on turned out to be only 1.5%, but felt like 15%.

A much needed water-bottle at the last station (only bottle/food i took on) polished up the water situation and then i was good to go. Plan for the last 10km had alwasy been to gun it, so i did. Holding just under 250W with a tail wind. Passed the group i'd dropped out of/been dropped from, and just rode on past. Food and fluid at the end, filled up, and rode home with Sully.

  • 3hr 12mins of riding for 110km at 250W NP
  • 262W NP out into headwind[31kph avg], 231W NP return [37kph avg]
  • 150bpm avg heart rate. Reckon i could have held that for 180km.
  • So the whole total for the day was 178km, 241W NP (normalised power) for 5hr 46mins
  • Avg hr was 155bpm.
Overall a fun day out bar the muppets. Nice to ride on closed roads at high ish speeds. Very happy with the ride, felt strong, HR was low for the wattage i was putting out, could have done it for longer, but not sure how i'd have lasted into that headwind on my own if I'm honest. There are some things that need to be done:
  • Bars need to be moved up one spacer on the front.
  • Stem needs to be shortened
  • I need to find out what was whistling in the wind!
Nice day out, good to do as it was a one off.

Tuesday, May 11

Velvet Strand Triathlon

First race of the season, always a shocker. See where I am, what i need to do, what i have been omitting. This race was also on home turf, well where i grew up anyway. All but 10mins cycle from where i live now. First year of the race too, and years since a race has been held in Portmarnock.

Arrived nice and early, 8:10am, for sign on which was due to close at 8:30. 9:15 i was still in the line despite the fact that the race was supposed to start at 9am, then pushed back to 9:30, then back to 10am. Lucky i managed to get a slot in transition while waiting in the line. Not ideal, but every race will have its teething problems. While getting ready in transition i did notice at one point that my wetsuit went missing. My nice, fast, expensive Blue Seventy suit. While getting confused i looked up to see a guy on the other side of the transition rack having issues getting into his suit. At this point we both kinda clicked that he was a)a bit to big for my suit b)going to get out of it pretty fast or i'd get angry.

So 10am standing on the water side getting ready to get in for the shortened swim. This was a bit annoying. The water was choppy. CHOPPY not mind blowing crazy. Add to that a wave start...i'll just stop ranting. So 650m ish swim later and im out of the water, first OW swim of the season (tick) first swim in nearly 2 months (tick). Wasnt expecting much time wise, looked at the watch leaving T1 and saw 14mins. Mild surprise, turns out a 11:33 swim, with the 500m ish jog to transition. Hmm 28th on the swim split. Interesting, must have been my suit, the other bloke was way back ;)

Dizzy was not a word to describe how i felt getting on the bike. Nearly fell over twice and this has happened before, longer jog to transition normally sorts it out, but not this race. Had major issues getting into shoes. MAJOR ones. Basicly had to stop, look up, try not to get sick, think about what i was doing, then do it.

Got out on the bike eventually and hit the first turn point. Bike leg was a 3 lap affair for 21km over a nice rolling course with very good roads and a nice side wind for most of it. Traffic of both rider and car sort was a huge issue. No way around it, it was always going to be messy and with the faster riders coming at the tail of the race there was no getting around it. Buses, cars, slow riders and drafting were the main things. Most you can avoid, but buses...that was a new one for me. 263W for 21km, average HR 165bpm, sitting below threshold all the way. Could have pushed out 270-275W and still run hard off it, could have rode more aggressive, could have done lots, didn't so 34:57 was bike time. Still good for 12th overall (8 ppl within 30's of each other).

The run up to T2 was quick as i was racing another lad from Pulse Tri the whole way from the first lap. Fucked up T2 as i've not been practising it at all this year. Lost a good 30 seconds and then ran out onto the run. Legs felt great. Started down the hill pushing out 3:40 km's, realised this was a bit ambitious and reeled it back into 4:20 km's. Stuck with this as the Pulse lad was only 50m or so ahead of me for the run, that'd be that 30 seconds. No matter what i did though i just didn't catch up to him. At the same time i realised about 3km in that the run wasn't sucking. I was feeling good. This was wrong, i should have been dead. 1km to go and i realised i'd blown it, was running way to slow, should have pushed harder and i'd have been home at least 2 mins faster. Reckon next race, if a similar run, 4:10 - 4:00 km's are in order. End result 98th on the run split, 23mins. Stupid. I've run 18mins for 4.5km last season, just fell asleep on the run.

Overall the result was a positive one. 1:13:34, 34th overall from a field of 400 ish. Not sure on AG place yet as they haven't done them up. But for my first race, after 2 months not swimming, after thinking about jacking this whole racing stuff in, I'm happy. First year in a new AG 30-34 (even though I'm 29) and a good start to it. I've even gone and entered some races! Now to drop the useless weight I've put on, and get back in the pool.*

*Hahahahahah so not going to happen

Tuesday, May 4

The un-pronounceable volcano

Well its happened to me. I'd pretend to be angry, but there is no point. Mother nature has once again raised her head and shown us all that she is in fact the boss, and those little things you keep flying around my head are pissing me off. Viva La Revolution. Welcome to Costa del Manchester, your new home for the next X days.

Its a funny thing how the world can one day seem like a normal easy place to live and the next second it all comes tumbling down. We've become so reliant on flying buses that we don't stop to think how long it actually takes to travel between places, that, up until recently were very far away. Flying back and forth from Manchester allot in the past few years i have come to treat air travel as just another extension of public transport. No longer does it hold any joy for me, no more than getting on a bus does, or any panic, more-so than getting a train. Yet every time i get a plane i become more and more amazed at how much we take it for granted.

Businessmen fly from meeting to meeting, never stopping to realise they have travelled to another country on the way. Athletes travel hundreds of kilometres to race, and then return never stopping to experience some of the country they have landed in. I'm guilty of both, maybe not in those contexts but for forgetting how far i have travelled for so little effort.

This weekend saw a social visit to Manchester. Some food, some beers, watching some racing, getting some running in, and spending money i don't have. All in all a pretty good weekend. Pauline raced Lymm triathlon (results STILL not up) and we think did pretty well. Race was cold, grim and generally Manchester-esque. Saying that Lymm was a nice place! Had a nice run on the run course, did a bit on the tow path by the canal, and generally just enjoyed the race atmosphere...of which there was little. On the plus side; Bacon Butties. YES.

Well I'm off for a volcano induced run. Who knows where it'll go. But i bet i get there faster than flying.