Tag Archives: cycling

My 2016 Year in Review – Topping My Charts

I have just returned from another fabulous Winter weekend in the Adirondacks to celebrate the New Year. While I was there I had gotten in some ample cross-training time skate-skiing, hiking and some photography. This outdoor time gave me a good amount of time to reflect upon the last year. I keep hearing others saying over-and-over how 2016 was such a horrible year, but for me, not so much.

Cascade Moutain – Lake Placid, Adirondacks, New York

You would think that as one gets closer to the big 5-0 that PR’s and things would become less frequent. But my 48th year was full of them. What is up with that? Perhaps the fact that I had well preserved myself well during my 20’s and 30’s may have something to do with that.

December(2015) was full of Winter cross-training in Banff National Park in Western Canada. They had gotten a good amount of early season snow there and Lake Placid had none. We hit the downhill slopes at Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, got some snowshoeing in on the Bow River and a ton of photographing the beautiful Winter scenery on the Icefields Parkway leading to Jasper.

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First Light on the Icefields Parkway

In January, we had plans to spend a week in the warmth of Sedona, AZ but that was cut short due to a blizzard that delayed flights for several days. We still ended up with an amazing, activity packed long weekend there. We got out for some amazing hikes and photography some beautiful scenery. I replenished my vitamin D store with the clear skies and bright sunshine. It was a great reset before turning my attention back to the long Ironman training season that lies ahead.

Chillin’ on the Bell Rock Vortex

In February I started up my official Ironman training season with Todd Wiley. I had gotten to know Todd over the last year or so through some of his workshops and Lake Placid training camp and really like his personality. He was a prior pro triathlete and has had a lot of success with some pretty high-level athletes over the years, so I thought I would see what he could do with this old, average dude. My goals for the season was to increase my IM run performance while maintaining my bike and swim and finalizing that with a sub-12 hour Ironman.

In March, I had my first official race of the season, The St. Pat’s Allentown 5k. While it is only a 5k, this would be the first test of my fitness to see what I had accomplished during the last two months. I would also use this as my Lactate Threshold(LT) test for my training. It did not disappoint. I finished with a 1 sec PR of 22:45(chip time) over my prior PR from 2013. 3 years older and getting faster.

St. Pat's West End 5k 2016

St. Pat’s West End 5k 2016

In April, I took things up a notch and competed in the local St. Luke’s Half Marathon which I hadn’t run in since 2013 when I ran with my wife. I was planning to run it in 2015, but got a stomach bug the morning of and had to bail. My current PR for this race, and half marathons in general, was from back in 2010 when I finished with a 1:46:41(chip time). I also had challenged my co-worker Steve, who is what I would consider more of a “runner”, to a duel for this race. It was a bit of a stretch, but I thought the extra competition would bring out a little extra in motivation for me. Although I didn’t come close to beating him, I did manage to eke out another PR for myself finishing in 1:45:10 after 6 years. 2 races and two PRs…not too shabby a start to 2016.

Next up was my first triathlon of the season, the French Creek Olympic Triathlon. I had never done this race before, so I didn’t have anything to compare it to. I knew it was a pretty brutal race with a very hilly bike and run, so you could not even compare it to any other Olympic Distance race. I obviously did not PR this race, but I did end up on the podium by taking 3rd in my age group. This was the first podium since my very first multisport race, the Belleplain Duathlon, back in 2008 where I finished 1st in my age group. So now 3 races and 3 top outcomes.

French Creek Tri Podium

French Creek Tri Podium

In June I traveled up to Syracuse, NY for the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse triathlon. Another race I had never done before, but was hoping for a good finish here given the prior results so far this season. The race started off well with one of my best half-iron swims and a decent bike leg where I felt I hadn’t “burned too many matches.” The run leg was a different story. The sun came out and the heat turned up towards the end of the bike and my body turned to mush. Reminiscent of the Ironman Couer d’Alene run I fell into a walk-run for the very hilly run course. Ok, you can’t have them all! So with no PR to be had this time, I took my setbacks here and turned it into motivation for the true goal “A” race of the season at Ironman Mont-Tremblant.

Finish Run Ironman 70.3 Syracuse 2016

Hurtin’ for Certain – Ironman 70.3 Syracuse 2016 – High Temps on the run left a little to be desired for this race.

July turned out to be a pretty hot month, so I gained some pretty good acclimatization to the heat while training. If Ironman Mont-Tremblant (IMMT) was going to cook me like Syracuse, I was now prepared. Well, as much as someone who does not like the heat can be.

August came around quickly and tapering was in full swing as we made our way up to Mont-Tremblant for the peak race of my year. When race day came I could not have asked for better weather conditions. It was very cloudy in the morning as I prepared to hit the water. A fighter jet buzzed us so close it brought tears to my eyes. Then the cannon blasted and we were off. The rain started during the swim and poured down all day! For me, that was perfect conditions. I was like a pig in the slop.

Ironman Mont-Tremblant 2016 Bike Rain

Terrential Downpours on the bike leg of Ironman Mont-Tremblant 2016

Due to some choppy lake conditions, my swim was not as fast as I thought it would be, but still one of my faster IM swims. My bike was one of my fastest so far but yet I still held back as I planned to save something for the run. The run was my best ever Ironman run. The rain came down and kept me cool while cranking out some 8:30-9:00 pace miles. I felt amazing the whole time. I blew away my sub-12 hour goal by about 14 minutes and coming away with an Ironman PR of around 50 minutes! I chopped off almost 30 minutes on my IM run time alone. Mission accomplished!

Ironman Mont-Tremblant 2016 – Finish

So now 5 races completed for this year and 3 of them were PR’s and 1 podium. What more could I ask for? A fabulous end to an epic season for sure. Proof that aging does not mean you get slower. At least not yet. Maybe by the time I am 50 I can qualify for Kona? 🙂

Usually with the last race of the season comes a little depression that it is all over for another year. I like to schedule something big for after my last race that keeps me on the up-and-up. Just when you think things can’t get any better we headed to Iceland for a two-week journey around the island in a camper.

Kirkjufellfoss – Iceland 2016

I let my body recuperate a bit and broke out my camera for an incredible trip. It was the perfect diversion for someone who has only thought about training for the last year. The scenery was out-of-this-world and it was a great end to all the hard work that was put in over the last 8 months. I have been working on a full report blog post on this trip which I hope to be published very soon. Stay tuned for that.

While you would think that was all for this year, I had to do one more race. I signed up for the local South Mountain 10-miler run which was kind of a birthday run for me. I had never done this race before, but it looked to be quite challenging. It starts not too far from the Lehigh Univesity’s Goodwin Campus fields and a makes it was up to the very top of South Mountain, turns around and heads back down again. It is very steep and a big slog. I ended up 40th overall and 6th in my age group. Not a great result really, but I maintained a 8:12 pace which is just a bit off my half marathon pace. It was more for fun so I am not too worried about that.

I concentrated on my photography a bit for the remainder of the year, which tends to play 2nd fiddle to my training. I made a couple trips to Lake Placid and a short trip to Salt Springs State Park(PA) for some photography sessions. I came away with some keepers and also started getting more active with my Instagram feed. I dug back into my photo archives and found some great pictures I had taken in the past that never made it off my laptop.

So now as we head off into 2017 and I set my sights on Ironman Boulder and the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid this year, I have great memories looking back on the amazing year that was 2016. Despite what many others have felt. I have so much to be thankful for. I can only hope that 2017 is even half as good as last year.

I can only hope that 2017 is even half as good as last year. Although, it is already shaping up to be a pretty full one. I have several races on the docket and plans are already being hashed out for an amazing trip to Croatia and Slovenia during post-race season. As for goals, Ironman Boulder should be a challenge in itself given the altitude so I am not putting any time goals on myself for that. Perhaps working on pacing myself would be enough. I think Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid may be my A race for the year and I would like to shoot for a half-iron distance PR there.

My other goal for 2017 is to get back to regular blogging here. I have fell off the wagon a bit over the past year so I hope to pick that up again. I have just “cut the cord” and cancelled my cable TV subscription, so besides saving money I plan on spending a little less time in front of the tube.

If you are reading this, I hope you had a great 2016 and a even better 2017 as well. Thanks for reading!

Ironman Mont-Tremblant 2016 – Feeling pretty relaxed after finishing and just coming back from my post-race massage.

Bike Course Comparison: Ironman Lake Placid vs Coeur d’Alene

IMLP vs IMCdA BikeSeveral people have asked me how Ironman Coeur d’Alene compares to Ironman Lake Placid, namely the bike courses. So, I decided to attempt to answer that question with a bit of a comparison of the data that I accumulated from the last two races. It was fairly difficult to find any one tool that conclusively compared the two courses, so I used a few different methods. It is a bit off-the-cuff, but it might help to give some people a little idea of how similar or different these coursed really are.

First off, I tried using Garmin Connect. While it is pretty easy to select two rides and click compare in GC, having IMCdA recorded as a “Multisport Activity” from my Garmin 920xt proved more difficult to compare since IMLP 2014 was recorded as just a single ride. Then I had to export the IMCdA Ride as a TCX file from the MultiSport activity and re-import it again by itself. When I did that, it didn’t calculate my Normalized Power watts at all and my average watts were off by about 3 watts. I then filled them in manually. So I finally got them in a table format which is below.

Garmin Connect IMLP vs IMCdA Ride Compare Table

Garmin Connect IMLP vs IMCdA Ride Compare Table

So, these courses above look very similar. The only major differences was my power output for Coeur d’Alene was about 20 watts less on average and normalized power. Note that I used the same Stages Power Meter for both races. The corrected elevations here show only 400 more feet of climbing at Lake Placid and about 500 more feet of loss as well.

Next I jumped over to Strava where I have the Stravistix extension which provides some more information on the grade of the courses. Thanks to the Stravistix Google Chrome Extension for Strava from Thomas Champagne for the statistics below…

IMCdA 2015

Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2015 - Bike Course Grade Stats

Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2015 – Bike Course Grade Stats

IMLP 2014

image

Ironman Lake Placid 2014 – Bike Course Grade Stats

Here again, the courses are very close. The only thing that really stood out to me was that IMCdA has a little more flats and IMLP has a little more downhill.

Equalizing Course Profiles at 0 Elevation

I also was able to import the original Garmin FIT files into Golden Cheetah, which allowed me to the export the raw data points from each ride/course into a spreadsheet. I then imported those rides into my favorite analysis tool, QlikView.

I equalized the starting elevations for each course to zero for each race profile. Next, I adjusted the rest of the points elevations’ by the difference from that starting elevation to zero. Plotting this way then moves the course profiles on top of one another(below) as if they started at exactly the same elevation. This gives us a interesting perspective of the courses that I would not have seen looking at the numbers above. While the numbers look the same the profiles are very different.

The Coeur d’Alene course is much more up-and-down in the range of 0-500′ climbing. Lake Placids’ long downhill section into Keene provides you with a nice long and speedy descent, but then you pay for that later with the very a very long, gradual climb from Jay all the way back to Lake Placid. This climb continues on into your second loop at LP too after heading through town. So if you like a constant gradual climbing then Lake Placid is more your style, whereas CdA is more for the folks who like big rollers.

Equalized comparison of IMLP vs. IMCdA Bike courses

Equalized comparison of IMLP vs. IMCdA Bike courses

The one thing I didn’t take into account here was the wind. For Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2015, the wind was coming out of the NNE mostly at around 7 MPH. This provided a nice tailwind from mostly the first turnaround at Heggins Point all the way out to the second turnaround. Coming back to town thought was obviously a headwind. Not a bad one, but I could definitely feel it. Lake Placid in 2014 was a little higher at around 8+ MPH out of the South. It always seems to just whip right up through the Wilmington Notch as you are grinding your way back to Lake Placid. 2014 also had a the nice edition of nasty thunderstorm on the first half of the first loop too.

EFD -Effective Flat Distance Overall

For one last comparison, I had stumbled upon the Flacyclist.com site by Tom Jordan. Tom has a calculator tool he put together that figures our what the Effective Flat Distance(EFD or EDO) of a ride is. This is basically how long the ride would be if you took into account the climbs and descents and just flatten everything out. It seems pretty complicated, but probably a more accurate way to equalize different courses for comparison.

I downloaded Toms’ spreadsheet version of the calculator and filled in the data. Getting some of the required fields tooks some data wrangling. I used the ride extract from Golden Cheetah and then did some Excel magic to figure out the climbing(> 1%)/descending(< -1%) distances. I had also downloaded hisorical weather info from Weather Underground site. I used some default values for area of rider and things like that. I set the wind direction at 45 since both courses were basically out-and-backs so there was a combination of headwind and tailwind. You can view the calculations here…

Looking at the two course calculations above, you can see the (EDO or EFD)Effective Overall Distance for each ride is in the 2nd to last row of each image above. The first distance value is taking wind into consideration the other is not. Based on the no wind calculations here, the IMLP was equal to about 121 miles in EFD but the IMCdA course was just a couple miles more at 123 giving it a very slight edge in difficulty. But not much

Taking the wind into consideration, IMLP 2014 averaged about a mile or so more per hour(8.24mph) over the time on the bike course than IMCdA 2015(7.4mph). With an equivalent amount of head vs tailwind, this effectively evens both the courses out at about 142 miles and some change.

This comparison also seems to point to both courses being very comparable in difficulty. The only difference being what type of ride do you prefer? Do you like to maintain a steady uphill climb over a long distance or do you prefer more shorter ups-and-downs?

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Ironman Coeur d’Alene Bike

Personally I liked both courses in their own way I guess. I really feel like I could have PR’d the Coeur d’Alene course under normal temperatures this year. Once that heat kicked in, the wheels just fell off. Despite that I was still able to come in only 5 minutes later than Lake Placid the following year. I was under 3 hours for the first 56 miles while the temperatures were still reasonable.

I hope that was somewhat helpful to anyone considering either of those races. They are now moving the full Ironman in Coeur d’Alene to August next year, so 90-100 degree temperatures may be the norm for that race now. Some locals told me that that weather is more typical at that time of year there. That pretty much takes that off my list of races to try again! Hopefully next year I can compare the Ironman Mont-Tremblant course to these two courses.

Thanks!

 

IMCdA 2015 Training Log-Week#24(June 8-14)-Taper Week 1

Ahhh the old love-hate relationship with tapering continues. While greatly anticipated, this break in training and the general feeling of malaise that comes along with it I did not. I guess you can’t have everything.

The Ironman Lawn…

I was finally able to get my lawn looking somewhat manicured with some extra time on my hands now. I had been cutting the front mostly so that it at least looked well kept from the street. The back was another story. I had cut a few sections so the dog could go do his thing, but most of it had grown so high it was going to seed. When my dog ventured into that territory I would see him occasionally jump high into the air as of the long strands brush up against his belly. Kind of entertaining.

Training-wise things were actually going pretty well. The somewhat shortened workouts had high intensity and I felt good while I was doing them. I had one of my best tempo run workouts of the season on Wednesday with a solid 7:50 pace in Zone 3.

FTP Test Gone Bad…

I had a 3 hour bike planned for Saturday, but I decided to break it up into a 1 hour FTP test on the trainer followed by a two hour easy ride on the road.  I wanted to get an accurate assessment of FTP before my race. I felt it was also a good time between resting a bit and race to do it. I was hoping for a little improvement over last year(253 watts), but what I got at the end was nothing like I could have expected.

TrainerRoad 20 minute FTP Test Result

TrainerRoad 20 minute FTP Test Result

Obviously a bug in the TrainerRoad iPad app. Despite this issue I was able to calculate my FTP to be around 248 watts based on this test. A little depressing that I lost 5 watts, but really 5 watts isn’t that big a deal really. Perhaps it will help me to chill a bit on the bike. The main reason I wanted to do the FTP test was so I could plug in accurate number on Best Bike Split and get an idea of my race plan for the bike leg. It looks like it will be just a smidge slower than my bike leg last year at Lake Placid. You can check it out here if you are interested…

Bon Voyagey Bike…

On Sunday I had to take my bike down to Keswick Cycle in Glenside to drop it off for the TriBike Transport pickup on Tuesday. I finished up some last minute maintenance, did a final cleaning and removed the pedals. I also ordered the additional gear bag option too, so I loaded a duffle bag with my wetsuit, aero helmet, spare tubs and some tools. The TBT website said only pack aero helmet if in a hard case, so I put it in a cardboard box with some extra packaging materials too. Hopefull that should be ok. I filled out a couple forms at the shop and handed my bike over to the guy at the shop. Bon Voyagey! See you in Coeur d’Alene!

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Gear bag packed up for TriBikeTransport. Aero helmet in box, wetsuit, tools, bike bag & tools, tubes

I stopped at a nearby Chipotle for lunch before heading to Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting for our monthly stock-up on organic, frozen fruit. WF was rather crowded, so I was happy to get out of there.

I still needed to do a 1-2 hour run when I got home. It was brutally hot & humid and I was really not into it, so I decided to just run on the treadmill. I tried to load up this FitTrip app on my iPad which shows point-of-view(POV) trail running videos coordinated to your heart rate. Well it didn’t work so well. Downloading the videos took forever and then when they finished it would pop up a message saying it failed! WTF! I eventually got one to download successfully and then it would not connect to my HRM using the ANT+ dongle. Ugh!

I finally gave up and just watched some similar videos on YouTube which worked fine. I had unfortunately wasted a bunch of time trying to get that working. I ended with only about a 7 mile easy run, but I figured that was good enough.

Geekin’ Out on Training

Training volume this week was basically chopped in half. Still managed to miss one of my 3 strength training workouts though. No sense is cramming now right?!

Training Peaks Training Calendar IMCDA Week 24

Training Peaks Training Calendar IMCDA Week 24

Training Peaks TSS-Volume IMCDA Week 24

Training Peaks TSS-Volume IMCDA Week 24

A few red marks on the old HRV training guide this week. Body is recovering a bit so this is expected. Hopefully next week things will pick up a bit.

iThlete HRV Training Guide IMCDA Week 24

iThlete HRV Training Guide IMCDA Week 24

The PMC chart shows the plan for the taper. The pink line dropping is the fatigue withering away with the form(yellow) increasing. Fitness(CTL in blue) declines a little bit, but it will be worth it.

Training Peaks PMC Chart IMCDA Week 24

Training Peaks PMC Chart IMCDA Week 24

The HRV timeline took a bit of a nose dive during this first week of taper. It make sense since I felt a little crappy. Things ended on a high note on Monday AM so it looks like recovery/taper is working. Hope that continues until race day.

iThlete HRV Timeline IMCDA Week 24

iThlete HRV Timeline IMCDA Week 24

That’s all for this week. Next week things should get easier and hopefull start feeling great again.

IMCdA 2015 Training Log-Week#22&23(May 26-June 7)-The Last Push

I am going to double up here on the last two weeks of build before my 3 week taper into Ironman Coeur d’Alene. It has been a pretty brutal 2 weeks since I really never had a full recovery week since about 5 weeks ago. I did a couple little 3 day recovery before and after the Todd Wiley Lake Placid camp, but still managed a decent training load for the weekend in between. Despite all this I have been feeling pretty good. A few of my longer workouts were in some pretty hot and humid temperatures and were obviously affected. My performances during the workouts when the weather was cooler surely made up for it.

Training Peaks Workout Calendar IMCdA Week 22-23

Training Peaks Workout Calendar IMCdA Week 22-23

Swims…I am still using the Finis Tempo Trainer and feeling pretty settled at around 68-70 spm. This is up from around 58-60 when I started using this tool early on in the season. My paces have picked up along with it and I am hoping this carries over to a few minutes gained in my 2.4 mile swim.  I did both of my LSD swims at around 1:13 for just under 4000 yards. Given that this is without a wetsuit and no flip turns I think I could manage this time in Ironman which would be a 4 minute improvement over the last two years.

Biking…I have been averaging around 145 miles/9 hours a week on the bike for both weeks.  My long rides on the weekends were just over 90 miles long running about 5:30-5:50 depending on the terrain. Most of my weeknight rides were steady state rides in zone 2-3, but I did manage to get one good hill repeat ride in on some of my favorites hills: Dogwood & Centennial!

My long ride on May 20th started out a little rough when a large flying insect fly directly into my mouth while cruising along at around 20mph. Ouch! It partially lodged itself into my mouth since it was partially open. I had to actually spit the thing out and it tasted like crap too! My lip

Fat Lip after colliding with a large flying insect

Fat Lip after colliding with a large flying insect

immediately swelled up to what felt like having a gumball in my lip. Judging for the picture I guess it didn’t look quite as bad as it felt though. I didn’t know what kind of bug it was and wasn’t sure if it stung me or that was just the impact of it on my lip that hurt. Eventually, the swelling subsided and my lip resumed to its normal size again. Why do I always get pelted with creatures when I am riding?

I followed the Dream Come True(DCT) route for the start of my long bike ride June 6. This is a nice somewhat challenging route with a little over 4000′ of climbing over 64 miles. This ride was also not without some wildlife incident as well. While cruising a downhill section of backroad that contained some overgrown shoulder a large doe popped out immediately in front of me broadside. I made some kind of grunt or yell as I came within about 10 feet of the animal and it quickly dashed out of my way. Another close call. Not too long after that I came across a lone fawn standing in the road. He scampered in down the road, heading in the same direction, for a bit before he darted up the steep bank. He was pretty young and no mother to be seen.

Fawn on the Run

Fawn on the Run

Runs…My Sunday long runs consisted of a 21 and 20 miler respectively. The 21 miler was a hot & humid one that I did 4 loops of the Ironton Rail Trail(IRT). The IRT is pretty shaded which helped defer some of the defer some of the sunlight but it was still a hot one. I ended up averaging around a 10:00/mi for the run. The next week I ran at the Lehigh Parkway and it was about 10 degrees(F) cooler and much less humidity. The Parkway is also pretty shaded but has about twice the elevation gain as the IRT. Due to the more temperate climate I was able to average a 9:30 pace over the 20 miles while maintaining a Zone 2 heart rate. More on track with what I would like to do at Ironman this year and a good note to finish on before my taper.

 

Training Peaks PMC Chart-IMCdA Week 23

Training Peaks PMC Chart-IMCdA Week 23

Training Peaks <a href=

TSS and Volume-IMCdA Week 23″ width=”625″ height=”311″ /> Training Peaks TSS and Volume-IMCdA Week 23

Heart Rate Variability(HRV)

My HRV has remained fairly steadily in the 70’s during this last two weeks. I have been flirting with the low recovery and low activation ranges most of the time, but still in the “ok to keep going area”. This is pretty much expected from where I am at this point. I should be overreaching a bit at this point, with a good 3 week taper coming up.

<a href=

iThlete HRV Timeline-IMCdA 2015 Week 23″ width=”625″ height=”292″ /> iThlete HRV Timeline-IMCdA 2015 Week 23

iThlete HRV Training Guide-IMCdA 2015 Week 23

iThlete HRV Training Guide-IMCdA 2015 Week 23

Compared to Last Year…

Comparing this years training on the Training Peaks Performance Management Chart to last year looks fairly similar. You can see that the last month or so of this year(top chart) I have incurred a bit more fatigue(pink link) with consecutive build weeks and no full recovery week in between. My Fitness(CTL in Blue) has steadily risen to a value of around 112 during my last build week, whereas last year I was up to 120 or so.

Training Peaks PMC Chart 2015 vs 2014  IMCdA Week 23

Training Peaks PMC Chart 2015 vs 2014 IMCdA Week 23

IMCDA 2015-Week#21(May 18-24)-Todd Wiley Lake Placid Camp

Less than 5 weeks to go until Ironman Coeur d’Alene! Actually, if you are reading this post it is probably less than 3 weeks to go. With all the heavy training volume lately, I cannot find the time to get this post out and I didn’t want to just throw it out there. Anyway…I digress.

This was a bit of an odd week. I was ready for some recovery time after finishing up two solid build weeks, but with Todd Wiley’s Lake Placid Training Camp this weekend I could not afford an entire week of recovery. I did a light swim on Monday, took a total rest day on Tuesday, and then a easy run on Wednesday. It was a good amount of time to recover and be ready for a solid training block over the Memorial day weekend. My HRV Timeline chart below shows my recovery as well with a solid upswing into the mid-80’s by the middle of the week.

<a href=

iThlete HRV Timeline Annotated-IMCdA 2015 Week 21″ width=”625″ height=”293″ /> iThlete HRV Timeline Annotated-IMCdA 2015 Week 21

Camp Time!

On Thursday morning I made the 6 hour drive up to Lake Placid for the start of Todd Wileys‘ Lake Placid Training Camp. Last year I had my own little solo camp, but riding alone up there leaves me a little uneasy. Especially when you get a couple flats and mechanical issues. When you are with a camp you have some extra support plus it is always fun meeting new people with similar interests. We were staying at the Olympic Training Center for the Todd Wiley camp which was really cool. This would be much more fun than staying in some hotel downtown by myself. I had driven past the OTC facility many times but never saw the facility from the inside, so now I could really check it out.

I arrived at the facility, checked in and unloaded my gear into the room. Eventually, my roomate Max came in and introduced himself. He was a really nice, mellow guy which I was very relieved about. It was kind of like the first day of college and meeting your dorm roomate. Everyone eventually met outside in the parking lot around 4PM for a group run after getting settled into their rooms. We then headed out for a nice 5-6 mile run into town, around Mirror Lake and then back again. I ended up running with Dr. named Howie most of the run. He was a super nice guy and quite a character too. The run went really fast since we were chatting the whole time.

The original shedule had a short 15 mile bike ride listed on the first day, but that got nixed since we got out later than planned. We then headed to the cafeteria at the Olympic Training Center(OTC)  for some dinner. I was a bit apprehensive about eating in a cafeteria all weekend and whether they would have much for me to eat. I was pleasantly surprised. The OTC cafeteria food was awesome! They usually had several different options for each meal with at least a couple of them being veg-friendly. Another nice benefit of the cafeteria was that we didn’t have to deal with eating in town on a holiday weekend. This can be a bit of a challenge especially with a large group.

On Thursday night the group got together for some discussion with Todd about the plan for the weekend and some general training information. We also got a a bunch of swag including a t-shirt, a towel, and some sun/cooling sleeves. I was pretty psyched about the sun sleeves since I had wanted to try them but didn’t want to fork out the money for a pair. I also just happened to check the weather on my phone during our session and it was apparently snowing outside. That should make for an interesting ride tomorrow!

On Friday, we were up for breakfast by 7AM after a good nights sleep and out for group ride by 8:30am. It was a bit cool and very overcast as we waited to depart. It started raining as soon as we left the OTC making for a cold, damp start. We headed down Route 73 to River Rd and then down 86 to Wilimington and back again. The ride down to Wilmington is mostly downhill so I took it easy crusing the whole way. The skies eventually opened up and the sun came out. My plan was to give a hard push back up the notch to Lake Placid. It was a good hard ride,  I turned around at Cobble Mountain right after the three bears climbs and then swung back down to River Rd. and then back to the OTC.

We then headed out for a half hour brick run immediately after we returned from our ride. I joined up briefly with Derek Fitzgerald, the only heart transplant and cancer survivor to complete an Ironman, and we ran across the street up Bear Cub Rd. past the entrance to Henry’s Woods. I went a little further up the road since I had never been up the before and was curious where it ended up. It was a gradual climb most of the way out.

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Fernando demonstrating his core strength techniques

We had a afternoon session with Fernando Paredes from Fusion Fitness & Performance on his strength training principles after lunch. I had attended Fernando’s workshop back in January so this was more of a refresher for me. The session was mostly just a overview of his methods and we didn’t get into any actual strength training. Fernando did a couple demonstrations with some of the campers which were pretty amazing. The one guy had really tight hamstrings and Fernando was able to have him touch his toes after just rubbing his jaw on both sides. That was pretty wild.

On Friday night we had a classroom discussion on triathlon rules and safety with Ken Modica. Ken is a USAT official who officiates many of the races in my area. It was a good review of the rules and some of the changes that have been made. I kind of lost attention though after everyone started their “airing of grievances” and bringing up their individual occurences of being unjustly penalized for things. I would have liked to have seen a little more discussion on overall race strategy and nutrition in the camp, especially for the folks who are doing Ironman for the first time. Troy Jacobson did this in his camp, which I attended in 2012, and I found it really helpful. The coaches here were very accessible though and I know my roomate had sat down with Todd individually to discuss some of these topics.

Bike ready for long ride with Amrita Bars

Bike ready for long ride with Amrita Bars

Saturday was our long bike ride for the weekend, so I was off early for a good nights sleep Friday night. We topped off our tanks with a good breakfast and then we headed out for our long ride. Some of the campers were only doing one loop of the IMLP Course, and then the rest were doing two loops. Both groups were skipping out on the out-and-backs to Ausable Forks and Haselton Road. I was considering doing one or two of them just to tack on a few miles.

 

I started out with a group led by Nancy Smith, an elite age grouper and multiple Kona qualifier. Nancy has an unbelieveably smooth cadence which never seems to change despite the terrain. She also had a very similar pace to me so I always seemed to be following her. She did tend to drop me a little on climbs, but then I would catch up on the downhills. My extra weight comes in handy sometimes! Thanks gravity! Also in our pack was my roomate Max and Jeff. We would stop every once in a while and catch up a bit.

Max cruising through Jay on IMLP Bike Course

Max cruising through Jay on IMLP Bike Course

It was a pretty brisk morning on Saturday, but I dressed appropriately  with jacket, leg warmers and full finger gloves and it wasn’t too bad. It had gotten a little warmer towards the end of the first loop, so I swung back to the OTC for quick wardrobe change. The first loop went well and I was still feeling pretty fresh. The wind had picked up a bit on the second loop but it was mostly a tailwind from Lake Placid all the way to Upper Jay. There never seems to be a tailwind from Upper Jay back to Lake Placid which is basically all uphill.

Old Barn between Upper Jay and Wilmington with Whiteface in the background

Old Barn between Upper Jay and Wilmington with Whiteface in the background

I started to feel it a little in my quads as I made my way up to Wilmingtion. I had heard someone yelling my name as I rolled into Wilmington and eventually saw Todd parked across the street and my roomate Max taking on some hydration. I swung across an refilled my bottles and food. It was good timing because I was out of hydration and starting to feel it. After sucking down a bottle of Skratch Labs and eating an Amrita Bar I was ready to tackle the climb back to Lake Placid. I even hit the little out-and-back on Haselton Road just to get a couple more miles in. I like this little stretch too since it is pretty mellow with minimal traffic. It is kind of a break in itself.

I made the push back up 86 to Lake Placid, this time being a little more challenging than the first loop. The stronger headwind made things just a little tougher too. There is a short but steep stretch around the gorge area where the road gets very narrow with no shoulder and a stone wall guarding you from a rocky cliff into the Ausable River. I got behind another cyclist who was going relatively slow, but I was not able to pass him do to the car traffic and lack of a shoulder. As we reached the top of the climb, but not quite passed the stone wall he decided to stop! WTF!! I yelled “NO! Keep going!” He obviously didn’t even realize I was behind him. He managed to gather some more strength and pedal up to the turnout a few feet away. I patted him on the back and laughed as I went by. He smiled but was too exhausted to say any words.

I finished up the ride back into town after completing the Three Bears climbs for the second time that day. My legs were pretty tired by the time I got back and I only had food on my mind at this point. Fortunately the OTC cafeteria is open all day long for snacks and things and I headed right there.

Fernando had a strength training session in the afternoon, but I could muster up the motivation to attend. I was ready to just chill a bit. The plan for the afternoon was to go into town for a short swim in Mirror Lake. I ended bagging the swim since it was still pretty cool air temperature and very windy. I knew the water was cool which I can deal with, but the thought of getting out of the water not being able to get warm changed my mind. I knew Sunday was supposed to be a warmer day, so I will save my swim for then.

I ended up going to Lake Placid Pub & Brewery to get some dinner and have a couple beers. I ended up meeting up with some tri-friends from home, John, Ashley and Johns’ daughter Laura at the Pub. They were staying with some other friends, Brian and Mandy, from back home who have a house in LP and invited me to come over for dinner. I felt a little funny going over to have dinner at someones house that I never met, but they said it was cool. Brian and Mandy were really nice people and so accomodating. They are both REALLY GOOD athletes and Brian was into photography too so there was no shortage of conversation. I had such a great time with all of them and we had a ton of laughs too. It was like I had known them forever. Oh also they had rice and beans with side of kale for dinner so it was the perfect meal for me. I did cheat a little and had a organic chicken sausage too. 🙂

Todd debriefing campers before our long run

Todd debriefing campers before our long run

Sunday all the LP campers met up after breakfast at the front gate to the OTC. Todd debriefed us on the plan for the run since some folks were running different distances than others. I was planning to get at least 18 miles in but was hoping for 20. I would assess it as I went depending on how I felt. We then got together for group photo before set off on our run.

2015 Todd Wilery LP Camp athlete photo OTC

2015 Todd Wilery LP Camp athlete photo OTC

I realized that I forgot to put sunscreen on as we started down the road, so I headed back to the dorms to put some on. The zipper in my running shorts got jammed and I could not get my ID card out. I could not get the zipper unjammed for the life of me and I didn’t want to break the it on my favorite running shorts. So I had to go without. Fortunately it was fairly cloudy as the day went on so not really an issue.

I fell pretty far behind everyone with the zipper drama, so I was basically on my own for most of the day. I did catch up to a few people in the camp and saw the rest coming back on River Road. Todd was waiting at the turnaround on River Rd. with water and gatorade for us. He also said he would wait for me at the Ski Jumps, on the other end of River Rd. to restock me with water before I head into town. On the way back I stopped at the house we typically stay at on River Road to say Hi to our friends Dan & Wendy for a few minutes. I chatted with Dan for a bit and then continued on. I stepped up the pace a bit since I knew Todd was waiting for me.

LSD Run Comparisons by Temperature

LSD Run Comparisons by Temperature

The cooler air temps this day really made a huge difference in my run. I felt so good the whole time as opposed to the prior weeks run back home in hot & humid temps(see image above). My previous long runs were much slower and the courses were also much less difficult in terms of terrain. I can only hope for temps in the 60’s in Coeur d’Alene!

I made my way up into town, headed around the back of Mirror Lake and turned around at the Lake Placid Marina right before coming back into town near Saranac Ave. I was at around 16 miles when I got back to the OTC, so I decided to head up Bear Cub Rd, where I had done the brick run on Friday to get 20 in. I ended up finishing with only 19.3 but I didn’t feel like to doing filler runs just to get 20 in. Close enough! I was quite happy with the run at that point, so no point in continuing.

After some lunch, we headed into town to get a swim in at Mirror Lake. My friend John had told me to let him know when we would be swimming and he was going to meet me with his kayak. It was pretty nice having my own support crew. I stashed a water bottle on Johns’ boat and he took some pictures and video of me while I swam too.

Me getting ready for swim in a chilly Mirror Lake

Me getting ready for swim in a chilly Mirror Lake

The water was really cold! I was a little fearful of cramping up after just running 20 miles a couple hours before. My hands, feet and face were numb. I started out with a pretty good pace just to get some heat pumping. My plan was to swim 20 minutes out and then back again. By around 15 minutes I was starting to have enough. My toes were involuntarily curling up from the cold. I stopped at around 17 minutes, took a drink of water and chatted with John a bit and then headed back. Unfortunately, I forgot to stop my watch to get an accurate pace.

Cold swim in Mirror Lake

Cold swim in Mirror Lake

Thumbs up...open water swim in Mirror Lake

Thumbs up…open water swim in Mirror Lake

The wind really started to kick up on the way back and the waves were smashing into my right side. I took a mouthful of water and started choking a bit just like I did at Devilman a few weeks before. I eventually calmed down and restored my breathing again. I then started breathing only to the left for the rest of the swim back. I finished up with a mile swim, which was plenty considering how cold it was. It had to be at or below 50 degrees. When I reached the beach the rest of the people in the camp were already done swimming and they had started after me. Todd even said it was crazy cold and he bailed early too.

A video posted by Bri Tri (@bri_tri) on

Sunday night I was pretty tired and just settled in early. I had a good dinner and then got a good nights sleep. We had planned to do a short bike ride early in the morning and then checkout by 9:30am. The forecast was for rain and I planned on skipping that if that was the case and get on the road early to avoid all the Memorial Day traffic.

I was the first one from our camp in the cafeteria in the morning, but Derek Fitzgerald had come in later and joined me. It worked out nice to get to chat with him one-on-one for a bit. He was telling me about his upcoming Tour de Cure ride across America which is starting on June 9th. He has a pretty amazing story which I would highly recommend you check out.

I then packed up after breakfast, said goodbye to my roomate Max and everyone I saw from the camp. I got to meet a lot of new triathletes from the are area while getting in some solid training. It was a really great experience and I would highly recommend it. Staying at the Olympic Training Center was very cool.

The ride home started out ok, but traffic got very heavy as I got past Lake George. Fortunately no major delays though. I stopped in New Paltz at the Taco Shack for a quick bean burrito along the way. It was crazy busy everywhere else.

Ok, back home with only two more build weeks to go! Thanks for reading!

 

Gear Review: Stages Power Meter

Stages DuraAce 7900 Power Meter

Stages DuraAce 7900 Power Meter

I figured after an entire season of using the Stages Power Meter I was in a good position to be able to fairly assess the product. This is not a highly technical review, but more of a review of my experience with the product and my dealings with the company support. If you are looking for a more in-depth, technical review of the product and comparisons to other products, check out DC Rainmakers’ reviews here and here. I never buy anything without checking DC Rainmakers’ reviews first.

Stages DuraAce 7900 Power Meter

Stages DuraAce 7900 Power Meter

Being a triathlete and a bit of a techno-geek, I was chomping at the bit to get a real power meter. The prices of them definitely had me putting this off for sometime. I also started coaching myself and felt that this was critical to properly assessing and measuring my bike workouts. I thought the money I saved from a coach would help to cover the cost of the power meter. Many units are well over $1000, but the Stages Power Meter came out which was the first real possibility for under $1000.

Cycling, Stages, bike, component, gear, power meter, thing, watts

Stages Power Meter with black electrical tape

I had a little introduction to using real power/watts with my Kinetic inRide unit on my Kinetic Trainer. The only thing is this only works on my trainer, when I am using TrainerRoad. I really wanted to quantify my road rides now that I had a little taste. I eventually added the the Cycleops/Powertap Powercal power/heart rate monitor which calculates your power based on a heart rate algorithm. While this seemed to do a pretty good job assessing an entire ride based on the averages, the instantaneous measure was all over the place. I also had my doubts about its accuracy given that you provided no individual input other than your heart rate. Despite is magically does a fairly decent job for a $100 power meter.

I broke down at the start of the 2014 training season and purchased the Stages Power Meter and replaced my Shimano Dura Ace 7950 left crank arm with the Stages version. It was around ~$900 and change. I probably could have installed this myself, but they recommend using a torque wrench to do it and I have yet to purchase one. Instead I decided to head out to see John at my favorite bike shop, Sleeping Dog Pro Cycles, and have him do it correctly. He indicated that I probably didn’t need to a torque wrench to do it. Ready to roll.

Pros

  • Cost <$1000
  • Accuracy
  • Great support
  • ANT+ & Bluetooth(BTLE)
  • Firmware updates easy
  • Installation(relatively easy)

Cons

  • Portability
  • Single-Leg Measurability
  • Battery cover sealing issues

The unit worked well from the beginning. Since it was Winter when I put it on, I was mostly using it on the trainer in the basement with TrainerRoad. Since I also had the Kinetic inRide going too, I tended to have conflicts with that over Bluetooth. Usually the inRide would prevail, but I was never really sure which meter was being used. I eventually figured out that I could determine which by doing single leg drills with my right leg, since the Stages would not show power when I did that. TrainerRoad has since done a better job of distinguishing the two and have separate lines for both now.
This was more an issue with what hate about Bluetooth(BTLE). You can only pair one specific type of device to a computer/phone at one time. And this is better why? This is why I still prefer ANT+ over BTLE and I think ANT+ will be around for awhile because of this limitation. The nice thing about the Stages Power Meter is that it has both ANT+/BTLE so you are not pigeon-holed into one communication type.

Cycling, Stages, bike, component, gear, power meter, thing, watts

Battery compartment door of Stages Power Meter

The cost of the Stages Power Meter was surely the most appealing factor to me. Although as I write this, several other companies have announced new power meters in this price point just in the last week or so. One is that Garmins’ new Vector system now has a one-pedal option for about $800 with the ability to upgrade to two pedals in the future. The nice thing about that system is that it is easily tranferrable to another bike.
My biggest issue with the Stages device was after I had broken of a couple of the small tabs on the battery compartment door which allow it to lock in place. After I did that I was not able to lock the door in place. I notified Stages and they quickly mailed me out a couple new doors and gaskets. The Stages support is outstanding and they are very responsive to your issues. The new doors still would not close shut, so as a temporary measure I wrapped the unit in black electrical tape.

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Backside of Stages Power Meter with black electrical tape

The tape worked fine until I decided to give my bike a good thorough washing. Then it stopped working. Ahh!! Turned out it just shorted the battery and after replacing it with a new CR2032 I was back again. I decided to take a harded look at this situation using a flashlight and a magnifying glass. Turned out one of the tabs that broke off were lodged inside and was keeping the new door tabs from locking. I extracted the broken tab and the doors immediately locked shut. I could have left the electrical tape off at this point, but with my A race at Ironman Lake Placid coming up, I didn’t want to take any chances.
I am glad I did that I took that precautionary measure because we experienced a deluge of rain at IMLP this year. Despite that my Stages Power Meter continued to output my power readings to my Garmin for the entire 112 miles. Some others were not as fortunate. Like my friend Shanna would also has a Stages meter which failed on her during IMLP this year. I think I will keep wrapping it with tape from here on out.

Stages Power Firmware Update on iOS

Stages Power Firmware Update on iOS

Firmware updates for the unit come out very frequently which is nice to know that that are always looking to fine tune the product. The updates are done via your iOS device or smartphone which is convenient. You have to keep the unit triggered so I usually do it will I am riding with my iPhone in the back of my jersey pocket. I have not had any issues doing this.
The unit is very accurate from what I have seen. More importantly it is consistent though. But the numbers I get with my Garmin showing the 3sec avg make sense to me and are not jumping all over the place like the PowerCal did. I am loving training with this tool now. My Garmin 910xt screen now just displays 3s Power, HR, HR zone and Time. I don’t even look at my speed anymore, which doesn’t tell you much anyway unless every possible variable is the same every time. Which it never is. I can also now plan ride workouts based on power zones which has made a huge difference in my riding.

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Side view profile of power sensor. Stages Power Meter left crank-arm

The fact that unit only measures one leg could seem like a big one, but I really don’t think it is. Maybe if you are an elite or professional it may be something you need to look at, but for the typical age grouper, we have so many other things to work on this is minor.
All in all I have been very happy with this product. I would recommend it to anyone looking to take their training and races to the next level without breaking the bank. The company is doing well and they firmly stand behind their product. There should be some major advances in power meters coming down the pike so who knows how this may change by tomorrow.

Hope this provided some help and thanks for reading! 🙂