Tuesday, June 29, 2010

11th hour

Just checked the Black Fly Tri website....10 days 4hours and 13mins until go time.  Well probably a bit longer than that because the Black Fly is a weekend long festival and the Sprint Tri is last on Sunday.  But you get the idea.

I have been psyching myself up mentally by reading articles this morning about first time triathletes drowning in the swim leg of a Sprint Tri down in Philly.  Sobering.  This doesn't scare me too much because the locales are very different.  I'll be in a pond not a river and the field size will be much smaller, but it is a great reminder that the water is not a good place to "push things to the limit".  I will gladly take my 18min swim time and get out of the water with the 80 year olds if I have to.

Short of the threat of death I am actually feeling pretty confident about my chances to do fairly well in about two weeks.  I am putting in my last few hard efforts this week to try and cap things off with next week planned as a recovery/taper week just to make sure I don't loose any cardio fitness.  Lets cover where I'm at and recap a bit:

  • Started in the pool in late March basically April (with a small break in late May early June while the pool was closed).
  • My first session in the pool netted me a 18min and change for the quarter mile.  This is hilariously slow.
  • Over the next 10 weeks or so I have slowly hacked away at my time with a current personal best of 9:03
  • In essence I am twice as fast as I was after 10 weeks with absolutely no instruction (minus youtube)...not bad
  • I haven't really done much tri specific bike work
  • Short of doing my MTB races and just riding as much as I usually do
  • A test on the course got me a 47:20, good for a top 60 time from last years results
  • I want to be top 50 on the bike this year and I'm pretty sure I can get there
  • Started the experiment back in Nov of last year to see if my knees could carry me without exploding
  • My initial 5K time was a bit over 24mins (with me being sore for 2 days after)
  • I now consistently flirt with the 20min threshold for my 5K
  • Not blazing but not a bad improvement over 7 months for a lifetime skier

With those performance indicators I think my goal of a top 50 finish overall might be a tad unrealistic but I think I could be in the neighborhood...  The open water swim is a real X factor because I just don't have the race experience to know how to manage that.  I know I can put down 9mins in a pool with a lane to myself with a line painted on the bottom of the pool to follow and nice clear water to see through.  Not sure about sharing a murky pond with lots of other people all with the same goal...get there faster than you.  If I can limit my losses and get out of the water in under 10mins I will be very pleased.

Only time will tell now but I think I can call this experiment a success whatever happens on race day.  My fitness profile is much more rounded out and I feel great and really that was the point of all this, so I win. (but I still want top 50...)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Zoot Suit Riot

Finally the day has come.

I know several people in my 'inner circle' that have been waiting with bated breath for this moment.  The moment that the onesy is revealed to the world.  I took my first test run in the suit in the pool this afternoon and got real sketch before hand and took a self portrait in the mens locker room.

I'm not going to even try for a witty caption on this one

Took a few tries to successfully get this shot, I think the suit is so fast that the light was bending around it weird...or I just couldn't get my phone at the right angle.  I also spent some time trying to figure out the most appropriate pose/expression.  I ended up settling on the serious, hands on hips, looking down on you, condescending, uber-fitness nerd.  And I think I nailed it.

Suit (its a Zoot TRIfit Racesuit) performed as expected in the water.  I cut 30 secs off my personal best to date and almost broke the 9min barrier and that is coming off two weeks down time.  I think I have a good chance of hitting my 8min goal before July.

Suit seemed to dry fairly quickly once out of the water and I would imagine it will dry even faster out in the wind and sun (assuming there is some) on the bike leg.  I'll be updating this post this weekend after I do a bike/run brick up in Waterville on the course to test the suit in those disciplines as well as get some benchmark times so I can see where I'm at on the course itself.


Well I did my first 'brick' today, and I think it went pretty well.  I drove up to Waterville this morning hoping to beat the heat (it was still pretty damn hot) and to see what kind of times I could put up on the bike and run courses back to back and to see how my onesy felt in action.

For starters the suit felt great.  The low profile chamois was plenty and I didn't feel any hot spots on the bike and the same for the run, no issues what so ever, except for the fact that I looked like a complete and utter tool.  It was also nice for the heat today, probably would have been struggling a bit more with a full jersey on.

The bike leg felt about how I thought it would but I came in about 1-2mins slower than I wanted to.  I put up a 47:20 which is still respectable for that course and is a top 60 time from results last year but I think I should be closer to 45mins.  I think I can dig just that little bit deeper on race day and there was some other riders on the road that were hard to pass due to bike week traffic but those are issues that will probably also be present on race day so I'll need to just focus on getting that last bit of fitness before July.  But I am pleased because I have a feeling that at least half of the other riders in the top 50 from last year put those times up with ridiculous aero gear that I don't have so I'm pleased with where I'm at for now.


My transition time wasn't blazing because I had to put the bike back on top of the car and lock it up, etc. but I basically went straight into the run.  I have been told by several people coming into today that the first half mile or so of the run coming off a hard effort on the bike is 'funny'.  And I would wholeheartedly agree.  Lets see best way I can put the feeling to words is that when you run even though its second nature and almost involuntary in a way there is a neural aspect where your brain tells your legs to go.  I felt like those signals were stopping at my hips.

I was running but there was this 'numbness' like the coordination was there but I wasn't 100% in control.  It did eventually wear off and I was able to pace surprisingly well, I just kind of fell into a pace early on that felt good and was decently fast.  First mile was under 7mins and I tried to turn it up a bit shortly after mile one but hit the only real climbing of the loop and kind of bonked a tad with the heat.  Slowed it down a bit to recover and then tried to speed back up on the home stretch.  Strategy seemed to work and I came in with a 20:05 but the distance came in pretty short.  I thought I had only really cut out the transition area which at most would have maybe added a .1 of a mile on each end and this route came in at 2.86mi and they advertise the run leg at 3.4 so not sure if the Garmin is off or promoters are off (but the bike leg came in closer to 16mi so they are probably just estimating)


Either way with my average pace, which I probably could have held with no issue for a bit longer, I would have put up another top 60ish time in the run which is quite a bit better than I expected.

All in all I am pretty pleased.  I think I might be able to do ok at this whole tri thing.  The only thing I am still kind of dreading is the difference between .25mi in the pool and .25mi in a pond with 315 other people...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Pinnacle EFTA NECS '10 #4

"@kevinorlowski the way this season is going, if your bike didn't blow up - I would say it was a good ride"

So true A. Brad, so true.  So I wanted to do a bit better at this race because I love it so much but all things considered I made a decent step to getting back on track today so I have to call that a win.

I liek the Pinnacle

I couldn't find my '06 shirt, can't remember if they gave one out that year or not...regardless I think I have made my point.  I love this race, I love the course.  Many thanks to the folks at Team Pinnacle that keep organizing things year after year (and this isn't even counting all my Pinnacle Challenge wardrobe).

Things were greasy today, similar to last year, which worked in my favor so I was still pretty pumped to get things going.  This year the SS'ers got to start in a group with the Elite riders with all the Experts leaving shortly after in waves to hunt us down.  I didn't get a good handle on how many were in our field this time around because we were all mixed in but I think it was in the 10-15 range.  Per usual things got going fast right from the gun and I was kind of hurting early, legs felt a tad sluggish but I was mid pack(ish) so I wasn't too worried.

Roots and rocks were real loosy goosy today, made for pretty funny riding and some traffic issues early on as people struggled to find the good lines and as the experts were catching me and passing things got a bit nuts.  Luckily most of them went by shortly after the water tower on the doubletrack climb.  I also caught a SSer at the tower and moved up a spot so I felt like my legs were coming around and I had a good day ahead.  Another mile or so after that a different SSer passed me on the last of the doubletrack climbing but he wasn't able to drop me and he was not as proficient of a descender as me so I passed him back shortly after and never saw him again.

The descending was awesome as usual, trails were holding up great even with some of the wet weather lately.  I caught a Junior Expert heading into the best of the descending and he was moving along nicely but was really slowing down in the corners and it was evident that I could be moving much faster on the other side of him but passing in that area is tough.  I told him I was going to try and pass when I found a spot and he was friendly about it so I can't fault him but I definitely picked the wrong spot to make a stab at the pass.  As he was slowing down for another corner I thought I had a shot at the tight inside line.  There was a big stump right on the corner and I thought I could just wiggle around it and then motor ahead.  Aaaaand I was about 3/4 there when my rear wheel clipped said stump and sent me ass over tea-kettle in short order and flying into the woods.

One of my NEMBA teammates (a very fast Sport rider who was already catching me late into lap 1) was just coming up behind me when it happened and he said it looked AWESOME.  Unfortunately he couldn't get his helmet cam working in the parking lot this morning otherwise there would be footage.

No real damage resulted from the crash, nothing broke on the bike and nothing banged up on my person, so I set to chasing again.  What I didn't notice at the time is that during the short time I was inverted flying into the woods my bottle flew out of my cage and disappeared for good...no fluids the rest of the race for me.  NOT GOOD.  This kind of derailed my chances for really getting back in the game and catching any other SSers.  Luckily I have been racing long enough now to have a pretty good handle on what my body can do with a certain amount of calories, etc. before the dreaded bonk shuts me down and I was able to meter my effort to get across the finish line without going to la la land, trouble is I had to meter my effort.

Head here to see me cruising down the Pinnacle Plummet

Oh well, the rest of the day was taking the climbs conservatively and going as fast as possible on the descents.  Could be worse.  I was still having fun and as far as I could tell I was still in an ok position.  Finished up the three laps in what the results sheet said was 2:12 but my garmin said 2:07 so not sure how that works but whatever.

I also found out looking at those results sheets that there was a SSer about 1 min in front of me and I didn't even know.  If I had I probably would have had enough gas to hunt him down, it would have hurt a lot more and I would feel much worse right now but I would have had a 6th instead of my 7th.  When I left there were 9 finishers for SS.  I'm pretty sure there were more than 9 of us pre-reg'd so there might have been some DNF's or more people still coming in.  I saw a lot of people fixing flats... 

That's it for MTB racing for a bit, now its back to 100% focus on my tri coming up with a few weddings thrown in there for good measure.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Gina's Old Fashioned Draft

Crotchville Beer has diversified!  We are expanding into new markets, trying to elbow in and snag all those straight edge kids.  THIS IS A WAAAAAAAAAR!  That's right Mike...ROOT BEER.

Making soda is actually really easy and I'm kinda surprised I haven't gotten around to it yet but other things have just taken priority I guess.  I got some extract from Gina's mom for this past x-mas and bought the additional gear needed recently and went to it.

 This is basically all you need

The additional stuff I needed was another bottling bucket, the extract is so strong that basically whatever it touches becomes 'root beer for life' so you can't use a bottling bucket that you intend to also use for beer again.  I also needed plastic bottles.  Due to the high amounts of sugar the natural carbonation process happens faster and can carbonate much more than beer usually does and glass bottles have a tendency to 'fail' spectacularly if you don't keep a close eye on them.  Plastic has more give and it also gives you a tactile way to know when carbonation is done...when the bottles harden up.  Also needed some dry champagne yeast for the natural carbonation.  Not sure what that does to flavor but I was told by the local homebrew store manager that the extract is strong enough to cover any residual flavors.  And judging by its smell I think we should be fine.

Gina loves her some root beer

The actual process is a snap.  Warm water, extract, sugar, yeast all go in the bucket.  Stir it up to mix/dissolve.  And then bottle it.  That's it.  Makes 4 gallons and took us maybe 30mins.  Needs to 'ferment' / carbonate at room temperature for 3-4 days then to a slightly cooler basement type locale for another 3-4 or so and then to the fridge and then your stomach, with maybe another week in the basement to refine the flavors a bit before drinking if you want.

And yes, I know that its not Draft because its in bottles but I don't care.  I'm running this show.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Big Ring Rumpus EFTA NECS '10 #3 (and a big stupid ride the day before)

What a weekend I've had!  I don't even know where to start.  For one this is going to be a double post with a ride report from Shaun and I's semi-epic from Saturday followed by today's race report.

I had never really earmarked the Rumpus as a race format I would excel at so I went into it knowing it was a training ride and not really caring if my prep was ideal.  Hence a 32 mile ride the day before.  I had planned this route as a training ride for the NH100 last year but broke my chain 3 miles in and walked back home.  Seemed like as good a time as any to make another stab at it and with Shaun leaning heavily towards racing the 100 as well things all fell into place.

We almost got rained out, in fact we had called things off at about 7am with it pouring both up here and in Boston.  But things cleared out quickly after that and I bombarded Shaun with several forms of communication and we were back on track (after Shaun ate waffles).

After buttering up Shaun and I hit the road for a 12.5mi ride to Franklin Falls via dirt, class VI jeep roads and pavement.  The ride out went great, it was a bit humid but not bad and we made pretty short work of it, ripping down steep dirt roads and washed out jeep track.  We got to Franklin Falls grabbed a quick bite...and then the mouth of hell opened up and swallowed me whole.

 The ride summed up in 3 pics: Rubber side down

At about mile .5 of our singletrack loop I went to ride up and over a boulder on Whaleback that I do every time I ride that trail (4 billion times).  Mind you I was riding my monster cross bike which is a 26er and I usually ride a 29er.  Smaller wheels have a harder time with huge boulders.  I made it up (barely) but my semi-slick tires slid out and I had to bail off the side.  Mind you I bailed to the left yet somehow still managed to bend the shit out of my derailleur hanger.  AWESOME.  No idea how I pulled that off.  So we spent about 30 mins hitting my frame with a rock (this becomes the theme of the day) until it was manageable and I had decent shifting and most of my gears back.  We rode almost the rest of our singletrack loop with no issue until we were heading back out on Moose Gulley and I tried to power up a short steep uphill...

 Rubber side up

And my chain explodes (probably due to slipping and then binding because my hanger was bent).  And guess what I don't have? A CHAIN BREAK TOOL.  Sooooooooooooo, get me a rock.  Spent the next hour and 15mins beating the ever loving crap out of a chain pin trying to remove it so I could use the master link I had in my camelback.  Broke my multi-tool, broke Shaun's multi-tool.  Blood everywhere.  I used a fence, one of those concrete blocks at the end of parking spaces, a leatherman loaned to me by Jimbo the weedwacker, and shear will power.  And I got that damn pin out.  Shaun has video, its going to be a summer blockbuster.

A Blockbuster INDEED

Master link did the trick and Shaun and I limped 12mi home and then drank my Sweet Stout.  Its damn good, Shaun says top 4, I tend to agree.

 Recovery Drink


Ok now to race day.  Needless to say I have some residual fatigue in my legs from yesterday's ordeal.  But really all I was looking for was a hard effort to build fitness for July and its a good thing that's all I was looking for cause that is what I got, well that and what I believe is a legit DFL in the Expert class.

At first I actually felt ok, warming up felt decent and I thought maybe I would make a go of things for as long as I could and then just ride tempo.  That strategy lasted until about mile .5 when I dropped my chain, seemingly do to a poor line choice and really bad luck because my tension felt good, and watched everyone ride away into the distance.  I ended up dropping the chain two more times scattered over the 28 miles, only thing I can think of was it was an older 18 tooth cog I found in my shop that might have been just a bit too worn out.  I really needed the 16 tooth for this course that I joked about running but didn't because I thought it would be just a bit too tough.  Doesn't really matter though I probably didn't really have the juice to power a 16 anyway.

That didn't help my rhythm and this course was all rhythm and pure power output, so I kinda settled into a tempo ride, hard but not too hard and spun things out.  Things got a bit ridiculous by my last lap, I was extremely far behind just about (possibly literally) everyone and the skies finally opened up and dumped the storm that the forecast had been promising.  Sheets of rain, it was very hard to see and breath even with all that water coming down and then one of the most ridiculous things that has even happened to me took place.

I start rounding one of the corners and I start hearing a lot of cracking and snapping from what sounds like all around me, it was hard to pinpoint sounds within the deafening roar of the rain.  Luckily I am from Cow Hampshire and I know what it sounds like when a tree is starting to fall.  I slow down a bit because I still can't see where exactly it's falling.  Then about 30ft in front of me an ENORMOUS tree comes crashing out of the woods and falls completely across the trail I was riding on.  Easily 18-24in in diameter, fatal on impact for sure.  So in an alternate universe where I didn't drop my chain 3 times I might have been 30ft in front of myself and been killed.  Food for thought kids.  So yeah after that I kinda just meandered through the woods listening intently, riding through huge flash puddles and getting soaked through my bones not just to them.


Crossed the line around 2hrs after I started, which was a horrible time for this course even with the weather, packed up my stuff and got the hell out of there.  I took some pics, including an awesome one of me looking shell shocked afterwards, but I think either my camera of my SD card is crapping out cause they were all 'corrupt' when I tried to move them to my laptop...

So my EFTA season to date has been kind of a wash so far, a tax write off at best.  I am hoping I can turn things around at the Pinnacle next week, if there is any venue that can lift my spirits it's that one.