Monday, May 20, 2013

Gran Fondo New York

I have never used these letters in a blog before (or an email for that matter), but OMG, what a ride yesterday....

Lets see, going back a week before the start of the race I picked up a nasty cold and so was laid low all week, no training at all, just trying to beat the cold.... It pretty much worked and I woke up Sunday morning feeling 95% of normal, bit still worried about not having trained at all for 2 weeks now and setting off on my first 100 miler.

Weather report had been forecasting mild weather for the day with a 10% chance of rain....

How wrong were they!!

We had monsoon conditions for most of the race with a steady flow of rain and 6 - 10 mph winds through the entire day. This made for really challenging conditions in a ride that I was already nervous for.

Some stats: more than 5,000 registered for the ride, approx 3,800 started, only 2,200 finished. Brutal day.

First hour was pretty uneventful, although within 15 mins we were pretty soaked, I lost my riding buddy (Rob) at mile 5 when my chain derailed (the first of 4 such events). Held 16 mph in the wet and was really focussed on my heart rate and seeing how the body felt after recovering from the Half IM and cold. After 30 minutes everything seemed to start checking in and I felt better, although very annoyed with myself for leaving my rain jacket in the car...

The big event / focus of the ride was the climb up Bear Mountain at mile 45. It is a long (3.7 mile) steady climb which I can imagine must be pretty good to do in normal conditions. In a monsoon not so much fun.... I locked onto the wheel of someone who looked stronger than me and was able to hold onto him for the whole journey up, keeping a steady 9 mile pace all the way up, so I was pretty happy with my climb there. The decent was madness, fog / rain / wind brought visibility very low and we could only see about 200 ft ahead. Riding down holding on the brakes for fear of what we couldnt see, shivering in the cold as the speeds increased but our legs werent moving dropped body temps way down and resulted in some stiff muscles at the bottom of the hill.

I actually found the next hill harder than Bear Mountain, it wasnt as steep but went on for longer and I wasnt expecting it to be so tough, this made it worse in my mind. My speed only averaged out at 6 mph on this climb and I struggled to hold onto wheels.

The cherry on the cake was a fall at mile 104 (0.5 miles from the end). Conditions had become pretty tough and the road conditions werent great, we were being funneled into a narrow track next to a busy road. I was cruising in the aero position and must have lost concentration, hit a pot hole and went down on my right side. Picked up some road rash, bruised chest and legs. Thankfully no major damage to me or bike (butchers bill is $200 to fix the bike) and not a great way to end a long and wet day.

Anyway in spite of the tough conditions I picked up a lot of experience which was a big goal of the day. Worked on my nutrition plan which seemed to hold:

2 x 3 hour bottles of Perpetuem
6 Hammer gels
2 bottles of water with electrolyte mix
2 Power Bars

If the day had been hotter no doubt would have drunk a lot more water on the bike.

Total elevation for the day was 8,800 ft. For Mont Tremblant the total is 7,000 Ft. Not a whole lot less than this ride. Need to do lots more hill training now to get ready. Lucky there are a lot of hills around us to train on.

I was really happy to finish, bank the 112 miles and learn. Now back into training, 90 days to go!

Some photos from the day from the Gran Fondo website to give a flavor for the conditions (even the great marketers over there couldn't think of anything clever to say other than "Epic weather"):

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bassman Race

With sore legs and a happy head I can sit down this evening and write about starting and finishing my first half ironman :)

My goal was to break 6 hours, so happy to get it done with 18 minutes of buffer!

The cool thing is I knew I could do it faster. On the swim I did the exact time I was planning, but knew when I got out of the water that I could have gone harder. The start had been delayed by 30 minutes and as I was in the last wave I waited for 45 minutes in a wet wetsuit (still wet from the day before) in 49 degrees (f) – chilly! I think that brought my body temperature way down and took a bit of getting used to.

With only 100 competitors in the half distance the swim start was very mild with no thrashing and bashing. I had a good start and once my body warmed up I got into a good rhythm. Struggled with staying on course though and did a fair amount of zig zagging. Need to focus more on sighting and holding direction.

Swim to bike transition was nicely laid out with a short run from the water up a blue carpet into the bike transition. Unfortunately in my joy of being out of the water I pulled too hard on the wetsuit zip and jammed it. So had to get someone to help unjam me which took a bit of time up. I decided to take my long sleeve biking top with which was a great decision. With the wind blowing, overcast skies and cool temperatures this really saved me and kept me warm.

The bike was probably at my limit from a legs point of view, while my heart rate stayed low my legs took 45 minutes to warm up and feel strong – I think this was from the cold of the swim. I enjoyed the ride though and caught a few people towards the end. Kept my cadence around 90 and worked the gears well. Drank Perpetuem as well as Heed on the ride. After 2 hours I realised this was a mistake as my stomach was acting up and I did not feel good. At that point I stuck to Perpetuem and was able to recover over the next hour. In addition had 2 Hammer gels on the ride. Tried a few Gu Chews but did not love them.

Bike to run transition went pretty seamlessly, although I did find my hands were tired and I struggled to tie my shoe laces - going to get some quick pull laces for next time.

The run was a tale of 3 cities. First 2 miles were tough, legs were not responding! Then they came back and we had a good run to mile 10. Had 3 Hammer Gels and water on the run. They were offering Heed as well but by then I was so done with Heed.... Mile 10 and 11 were tough, I found myself walking for 30 seconds without even knowing it! Think at that stage it was very mental, but legs were sore!! Everything came back in the last mile and did a 9:10 mile feeling good. Was so happy to get to the end. 

For the first 4 hours I spent a lot of mental energy figuring out how hard I could push and what the distance that was left would do to me. Having not done this length of racing before I really had no idea what to expect and much of it was all about learning the distance.

I spent the last 30 minutes in a raging argument with myself over whether or not I could double the distance. As I write this tonight though I am full of confidence and optimistic about completing the full race and enjoying the training leading up to it.

A great part of the last 24 hours has been sharing the accomplishment with friends, family, facebookerites and colleagues who wished me well and enjoyed (I think) hearing the results. Henry, my long distance coach and friend, has been full of advice and optimism after hearing my thoughts and analysis of the day. Planting seeds of greater things to come over the next few months :)

So in reflecting I think I could take 5 minutes off the swim and 5 to 10 off the run in the future. Not sure about the bike, but with more training and strength who knows...

My learning’s from the race are:

  • I was super calm the night before and in the morning of the race, great positive thoughts came from seeing my brother and nephew, a good taper and knowing I had lots of training in the bag.
  • Don’t mix Heed and Perpetuem – too much caloric intake I think. Will do Perpetuem with electrolyte mix on the long rides going forward.
  • I suck at wetsuit transition – this time the zip got stuck which took 90 seconds to get unstuck!
  • I need to get the quick pull laces for my running shoes – hands don’t work so well after the bike and not easy to tie my laces!
  • Stay away from all the competitors before the start – way too much ironman gear being worn….
  • Need to do more core work and strength training to help the longer distance endurance
So now its a few days of rest until training picks up again. My first 100 mile road ride is in 2 weeks time. I forsee pain! Its also 100 days to Mont Tremblant!!

Race Data:

Photos from the weekend:

Chazza with my new fancy Aero helmet

Spent Friday night and Saturday morning chilling out with my brother and nephew, I think was a big contributor to keeping nice and relaxed before the race

Lake Absegami - swim location with the blue carpet up to transition

Cervelo and gear all ready for action

 Final time, somewhere along the way I lost a mile!

Bud Light never tasted better....

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The calm before the bassman storm

It's a gorgeous afternoon here in the bass River forest, just been for a swim in the lake and the water is fresh but not icy. Wetsuit working well, no need for a hood and not expecting brain freeze.

Feeling very calm and peaceful.

It's a small race so not many people around, but the ones that are here look insanely fit.

Lots of ironman paraphernalia being worn. I decided to get away from that as fast as possible!!

Bike Transition being set up:

Lake Abessagami where the swim will take place:

Ironman Finish Line - Go to clock time 13:16:19 to see me finish