Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 2011

Well, finally starting to get the numbers up... this despite several weeks' worth of daily rain, and flooding of several main pathways on my route.
I've invested in a good rain vest and helmet cap(?), and my booties mostly work, but more importantly, I've given the big middle finger to mother nature and decided, training in those conditions may actually pay off when a race weather turns sour.
Lo and behold, Banff Bike Fest 2011.

I've written at length about those disappointing but fun events, so no need to add more to that, except to say that I've come away feeling a desperate for redemption. I've immediately adjusted my commutes to include a 40km tour of south Calgary in the mornings, and varying changeups after work, time permitting, including some extra hills.
Also, Darryl gave me a dose of running intervals last week.Man that hurt... took me almost 3 days for my legs to feel normal again!

To wrap up the month, Mike and I decided to get in a nice 100km ride from work to home, via Bragg Creek. But why make only 2 people suffer when you can make 3? And what better way to pay back Darryl... muahaha.
So off we went, at 2:30 sharp, from the IStock HQ. Skies were clear, a little drizzle had come and gone and hour earlier, but it was dry now. A little windy, it would seem. Casual pace through downtown to pick up Mike, and off to Edworthy (shudder).
The hill did not disappoint. Though unstated, there are certain bragging rights for cresting the climb first. Virtual mountain points, if you will. Mike handedly took it, although I did put in a little kick at the end to try and catch him but he sped off with around 40m to go. Darryl "Anarchist" Penner was starting to show some cracking at this point. Poor guy has been marathon training all year, not exactly prepped for this stuff.
The subsequent 5 km are all climb, all the time. And into a crazy headwind. According to environment Canada, the wind speed/direction around 4 & 5 pm was WSW 24 gust 39!
Guess which direction we were going... West, followed by Southwest, eventually East.
So we hit Springbank Road and it hit back. Top speed on the steep descents was a whopping around 34 kmph! Should have been almost double that... Mike commented that if he stopped pedalling he felt like he was being blown up the hill in reverse!
Darryl was looking pretty hurtin' at one point and decided to gracefully turn back. Great job man hanging in a long as you did in that crazy wind with hardly any saddle time. You'll be back...

I was actually feeling pretty good in this section. Perhaps thanks to my rest day yesterday, maybe it was the big bowl of Bev's macaroni at lunch, but I did a lot of the pulling on that Springbank road. That didn't last into  the Hwy 22 turnoff though, as both Mike and I were reeling from the now nearly 2 hours of defying Ma' Nature. A snail pace into Bragg Creek as gust after gust of wind was taking it's toll on our spirits.

Finally made it to Bragg Creek! We only stopped for about 5 minutes to eat a Honey Stinger waffle and stretch the back a bit before heading off, but that did a world of wonder.
Not to mention the roads around Bragg Creek are well protected by trees, and you could start to feel our direction become inline with the wind.
On to 22x and we started flying. The two major climbs out of B.Creek barely dented our pace (yes, more virtual mountain points for Mike!), as we started averaging speeds of 50 kmph. 
So nice to see my trip average speed climb steadily from 24 back up to 30 on the 2nd half.
Gotta hand it to Mike that for all the pulling I did on Springbank, he made up for on 22x!

The final unspoken target was the Cranston/Mackenzie turnoff. Mike looked to hesitate at the Chapparal intersection and I hammered past him, down into the valley and up the last climb to the finish. Victory!

Great ride, no mechanicals, no rain. Definitely got a workout today!
See garmin report below (stupid thing includes my morning commute too though):

Anyway, some stats for June:

  • 41 total workouts
  • 952 kms on the bike
  • 72 kms running
Of note is that this is the first month I've soley relied on my garmin for maps/stats. No more MMR!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Banff Bike Fest - ITT and Criterium

Saturday, June 19

Race Lesson #347: Do not go out zumba-ing until the wee hours the night before having to drive all the way to Banff for an 8am start...!

21 km Time Trial
Tired, but stoked to try out the new Orbea in a race. Scott came along for moral support and let me borrow his FlashPoint FP60 wheelset with Powertapp! It was cool to see my wattage go through the roof everytime I hit a riser, about 5 seconds before my heart rate did the same, but I tried not to think about it too much except to keep both a little lower during those big climbs. Also tried to make sure I kept the watts over 200 for the descents immediately after a climb; that proved hard to do.
Was feeling pretty good in the saddle, although when I got passed by my 30 sec, then 60 sec, then 90 sec guys, I remembered that my fitness was indeed not at my desirable level. I did pass my 60 sec guy, as well as an RV that practically cut me off on the descent out of the Minnewanka loop; veering onto oncoming traffic at >50kmph.
Ended with a dissappointing 34:55 (last year I had 34:12). Definitely a stronger cast this year though, as evidenced by the HC results from Thursday.
I did put it all out there again, though, and felt I put in a consistent effort throughout. Just didn't have the legs.

Lezyne Criterium
Cat 5 - 5 pm start - 22 laps (lap distance 1km)

Well, a cloudy and at times drizzly day, combined with lack of sleep and lack of confidence after two poor standings left me with little desire to race again in the afternoon, even if this was a race much more suited to me.
Had a decent warmup on the trainer under the speed theory tent, then went off for my practice laps as the drizzle continued. "Crash-corner" was pretty slick, and we were worried about the big painted lines in the turn. My heart sank as I passed the start line followed by the announcement of the final lap... I was gonna be stuck at the back again! Not in this race...
Raced back to the start, damn... a good 30 men already lined up. Saw a rather large gap a row up from me and kindly asked could I move up (funny, Scott and I discussed this very problem earlier in the day and he suggested I do just that, knowing I wouldn't be one of the obstacles for someone trying to maneuver to the front.) Know I was right in the middle of the 8-abreast 3rd row. Saw Darcy at the very front, along with Kyle Husband (Deadgoat), and a little shy of 100 RMCC riders. Even as they're counting down I'm thinking I really am NOT feeling into this race...

And we're off... good clip in and easy to the "crash-corner." People were very cautious, nearly stopping to go around it, THEN the race begins.
Rows of 8 turn into 1 or 2 as the speed goes nuts immediately. I'm still about 20th as the next couple laps roll along fairly predictably. Then crash. Not where I expected, the corner heading into the long straightaway. I'm behind it but manage to avoid getting swept in it. Apparently it took down about 10 racers. But wouldn't ya know it, now there's a break, and I'm not in it! Grr. I bust my ass to catch it, and get a sinking feeling of Deja Vu from last year. Me soloing behind a break for 2 or 3 laps. This time the break was bigger, I would have no chance to catch them by myself, nor was I feeling as spunky as last year. I look back. There's a spattering of guys a ways back. I decide to wait up for them. (took me about 10 laps to figure that out last year!)
In come some teammates, Rob Wooley and Matt Joss, along with a couple other guys.
I take a few easy laps to recover but the group is working pretty well together. We are not bridging though.
A few attacks come from some guys behind us and I latch on to each of them. I do not want to be lapped today, and anything behind chase group 1 will be another dissappointment.
For some reason I seem to be able to keep this up, conserving when I need to and responding to each surge.
There seem to be about a dozen people in my pack still.
2 laps to go, time to make my move... damn, Joss ahead of me launches an attack. I whip past a few guys to catch this one. Pace is crazy quick and there are little opportunities to pass people. Final turn and Joss out of reach, but the peddlehead kid between us I think I can take. Single file through the turn and it's red zone time. I do all I can to try and pass him in the last 80m but I run out of real estate and he does well to stay ahead of me. Didn't see anyone behind me but looking at the results there were at least 10 people within a few seconds of Joss. He got the coveted 11th and I came in 13/47, with 6 RMCC guys finishing in the top 9.
Excellent job by Ferenc to have bridged the gap during the crash and dueling the RMCC gang for an awesome 2nd!

Thoughts: Would I have performed better if I had slept in, skipped the ITT, driven to Banff later and been refreshed and excited? Would I have been in that break if I had lined up next to Darcy at the start?
Likely yes to both.
All things considered, I was actually pleased with my crit performance. It was a fast group of guys, but our chase pack only finished 30 seconds behind them.
I chaulk this one up to first race lack of killer instinct. By the end of last season I realized what it takes to be in contention for the podium. The looooong offseason of rain and snow had dulled my intensity, but now it's back.
I can't wait for the next road race or crit. And the one after that.
Too bad they are so few and far between during this part of "summer."

On the other hand, it's probably better that I get some more training time in so as not to be so devastating in my climbing and fitness.
Gotta get the longer rides and 3x weekly run/stair workouts in to lose some fat and build some high-intensity endurance.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Banff Bike Fest - Surprise Corner Prologue - Hill Climb

Thursday, June 16th

Well, given the disaster last year, I definitely improved on my process this year.
Rained all day, but I left on time, got there with time to get the early package pickup and leisurely make my way to the start.
Took the bike out and pre-rode the hill once, followed by a nice 15 mins on the trainer (under the van's open hatch to stay dry!)

Then another 3/4 pre-ride, followed by about 10 mins of waiting for my start.
I should mention my nutrition for the day, as it was all well conceived:

- Woke up at 6:30, had a yogurt and took off. Stopped to get coffee and gas, then stopped at Subway for a egg sandwich and a 12" tuna sub.
- Banana, water and coffee for mid-morning snack, then ate half the sub around 11.
- Left the office at 1 sharp, got to Banff around 2:40. On the way I had an energy bar and a coke zero.
- During the trainer session, I drank half my electrolyte/protein/glutamine mix.
- After the race, I finished that, the 2nd half of my sub, and on the drive home ate a protein bar and a banana.

All in all good nourishment.

Oh yea, the race. Well... less surprised this time, so I felt I put in a good consistent effort.
Came out the gate a little fast, or maybe my HR was a bit high, but by the corner I felt a bit more relaxed.
Hit the "wall", something like 18% gradient and suffered internally through it, and mustered a half-decent push in the final 50m to the finish line.
Looked at my bike computer and it looked like just over 3:30. Meh. Hoped to break 3:30...

Results aren't posted yet, but I suspect I'll be somewhere near mid pack.

Not a lot of time to dwell though. Need to wash the mud off the Trek, and prepare the TT bike for Saturday morning.
Going out tomorrow evening so won't have time for any of that.

Addendum: Just got the results... very disappointingly I actually lost a second to my terrible time from last year and came in 18th! Also concerning is the fact that there seems to have been an injection of about 4 or 5 wunderkinderen, 2 of which had faster times than all the cat 3's and 4's ! I guess I'll get to see them on Saturday and the following couple of races until they upgrade.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May 2011

Some highlights of the rainy month past:
  • ~600 kms biked
  • ~50 kms ran
  • 0.5 kms swum (swam?)
Yes, it was a milestone in that my first race of the year contained a water element.
No need to elaborate on my exuberance on that topic again, save that I have since bought a half-length wet suit, and discovered a pool with open lap times very near my work.
I may even go there one day... Tossing the idea around to do another sprint in September such as Banff Subaru, or perhaps just doing Blitz Duathlon again around that time.

Anyway, this race was followed by some very intense resting in Houston.
Ma Nature, delighted to see me return North, decided to bless us with a good week and a half of heavy rain storms.
Well, up yours Mme N! I did brave the elements on most days and continue to commute and even took in a couple of weekend excusions on the TT bike.
Definitely need to get used to that aggressive positioning as my neck has not yet fully recovered from last week's 50k'er.

Missed out on Pigeon Lake unfortunately. Looks as though the Cat 5 race stayed mostly upright this time.
Would have been nice, but now it will be BBF as my 2011 inaugural ABA race(s).
Looking forward to improving on my HC and ITT times, as well as having a good ride in the Crit like last year.

Oh, also of note is my acquisition of a Garmin GPS watch to replace my defunct Timex Ironman.
As such, I will now enter my training info into Garmin Connect and not Mapmyride, as of June 1st.
Don't see any value in that site which GC lacks, and GC has much more features than MMR, including free reports, etc.