Things I Like … TrainingPeaks

I started using TrainingPeaks.com several years ago, but I didn’t really start using it to its full potential until this year.  For the last couple of years I kind of put a training plan together from bits and pieces of things that I had read without always understanding the big picture.  It worked okay, but I never peaked properly for races.  I would frequently put in the work, not always the right kind of work, but didn’t get the recover part right going into my big races.  

Two years ago I purchased a training plan for an event and then put in a lot of time and effort for the race.  I ended up having one of those dream days and started to look at my training a little different.  After that race I started to really dig into the data that the reports in TrainingPeaks was showing.  The Performance Manager became my fitness bible after I spent some time getting comfortable with what it was telling me.  The nutshell version is the blue line is your Chronic Train Load (CTL) or basically your fitness level.  The pink line is your Acute Training Load (ATL) or how much work you have been doing.  The yellow line is your Training Stress Balance (TSB) or how fatigued you are.  Basically as you train your ATL increases which increases your CTL meaning that you are getting fitter.  The side effect of this is that your TSB decreases, which means that your tank is starting to run empty.  You can only push so long before you need to take some time and recover.  What the image above is showing is the steady series of build and recover periods that I have done since I started this years training in December.

There is both a Basic Edition that is free and a Premium Edition that is paid for.  I would highly recommend taking a look at the basic edition and if you like it, then spring for the premium edition.  Both USA Cycling and USA Triathlon memberships offer discounts for TrainingPeaks.

2014 Races, Goals and Objectives …

This is going to be a little bit of a different year for me.  Historically I have just raced bikes with the odd running race thrown in.  This year I am going to be doing a few more running races as well as a couple of triathlons.  The triathlons are something new that I have never done before, and will be the biggest challenge training wise.  I also do not swim, so that is something I will have to learn this year.

The other change is that I am trying to get the family more involved in athletics in general.  If any of the kids get into any of the sports that I am into even better.

Planned Races:

  1. Courthouse O’Putnam 5K – Ran a 25:15
  2. Willi-Whammer Half Marathon – Ran a 2:04:48.21
  3. The Battle at Burlingame 6 Hour MTB Race – Changed Plans
  4. Race of Rams Duathlon – Overall Time 1:11:37.5
  5. The Battle at Burlingame Sport Race – Finishing Time 1:38:53
  6. Whiteface 100k MTB Race
  7. 28th Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon
  8. Carrabassett Backcountry Cycle Challenge
  9. Niantic Bay Triathlon
  10. Timberman IRONMAN 70.3
  11. Full Cyclocross Season

Season Goals:

  1. Stay healthy for the whole race season!
  2. Finish in the top 10 of a 100k MTB race.
  3. Top 50% in a Cat 3 ‘cross race.
  4. Have FUN!

Training Goals:

  1. Get my weight under control.  Ideally it would be between 185 and 190.
  2. Make better use of my training time to free up time to spend with the family.
  3. Improve my bike handling skills in all cycling disciplines.

2013 Racing Year Reviewed …

My 2013 racing year can be summed up in one sentence.  It was over before it ever started.  

I had a good plan going into last year and I thought some achievable goals, but the week before my first bike race I broke a couple of ribs.  This wasn’t the first time, but it was the first time that it hurt enough to stop me from riding, training and sleeping.  While I was waiting for the ribs to heal, I decided to go see a doctor about a problem with my foot that had been bothering me off and on for about a year.  It ended up being a severe case of athlete’s foot.  He put me on oral Lamisil for 90 days.  One of the side effects, other than destroying your liver, can be fatigue.  For every hour I spent on the bike I would spend four crashed on the couch after.  It was the end of July by time I was off this stuff and another two weeks before it cleared out of my system and I could start training again. 

So what’s the first thing I did once I was training again?  Over train and end of with a pinched nerve in my neck/shoulder area that made it pretty much impossible to ride.  That took another six weeks to get straightened out.  At this point it was mid-October and the ‘cross season was in full swing and I was not even close to being in race shape.  At this point I called it a season without ever lining up for a bike race, and only one running race.

So long 2013, and I am not sad to see you go!

First Race of 2014

Over the weekend I ran in the Courthouse O’ Putnam 5k.  It was the second time I have run this and was hoping to lower my time a little.  Well I ended up 3 seconds slower than last year.  Overall I was still happy with my run.  My first and last miles were close time wise, while my second mile was almost 50 seconds slower.  The second mile is also where all the climbing is during this race.  At the end I felt that I may have held a little too much back and could have easily held the pace I was running for a second 5K.  My time was 25:15, which worked out to 8:08 minute miles.  This is well under what I need to reach my first big goal of the year, a sub two hour half marathon.

2013 Goals and Objectives …

Season goals:

  1. Podium in a 12 hour race.
  2. Top 10 in a 100k MTB race.
  3. Finish the Hampshire 100k in under 6 hours.  This will be kind of at the mercy of the weather.
  4. Get under 39:30 in the Scituate TT.  Current best is 40:40.
  5. Finish in the top 50% in a Cat 3 ‘cross race.

Training Objectives:

  1. Better use of time on the bike.
  2. Increase FTP/kg to 3+.  Currently 2.47.
  3. Improve bike handling for ‘cross.
  4. Get my race weight to under 185.

2012 Cycling Recap …

2012 BEvaER Cross
2012 BEvaER Cross

2012 was a good year on the bike.  I hit most of my goals for the year.  The goals that I accomplished were finishing
the in top 50% in the Cat 4’s, upgrading to Cat 3 in Cyclocross and finish a
Cat 3 race on the lead lap.  I also
wanted to do and finish a 12 hour solo MTB race.

The two big goals that I missed were picking up an upgrade
point as a Cat 4 in Cyclocross and finishing the Hampshire 100 in under 6:30.  I was on pace to easily finish the Hampshire
100 in under 6 hours until I folded the front wheel.

I ended up putting just over 5100 miles on the bike for the
years, and a lot of those miles were with some really good friends.  Here is looking for many more miles in the
years to come.

Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross Weekend …

Gary Gluck, in green, and Me at the start.
Gary Gluck, in green, and Me at the start.

Going
into this weekend I had a good recovery after three solid weeks of training.
 It was probably the best I have felt going into a race weekend since I
returned to racing last year.  Instead of the usual worries about what I hadn’t done I spent the week working out some of the bugs in my bike position
and getting my tires dialed in a little better.

Banging though the sand!
Banging though the sand!

Saturday
was going to be a hard race no matter how you looked at it.  It was a monster field, 150 riders, and there
where way too many guys racing in this that had not business still being in the
Cat. 4’s. I wanted to try something a little different for this race, so at the
start I just plain went for it knowing full well that I was going to pay for it
later in the race.  I was rewarded with a
really good position after the first lap and surprisingly the cost wasn’t as
high as I thought it would be.  Yes, I
did give up some positions later in the race, but my lap times after the first
lap were 9:11, 9:13 and a final lap of 9:12. 
Never expected my times to stay that consistent after the effort I put
in at the start.   The one thing that I
did notice that I need to work on was at the start of the second lap a teammate
passed me and I was able to hang with him for the second lap.  On the third lap, every time we accelerated
out of a corner a little gap would open and it got harder and harder to close
it down until I finally snapped.  All of
a sudden I was 19 seconds behind him.  Finished 54 out of 133.

Looking through the corner.
Looking through the corner.

Sunday
I knew was going to be a totally different day as soon as I started warming
up.  My legs had no snap to them.  I could push a big gear, but had no cadence at
all.  After the results from the day
before, I decided to try the same thing and just go at the start.  They ended up being the best move of the day
as there were at least three pileups right off the start.  I managed to stay clear of all the chaos and
had a good position when things settled down. 
Unfortunately my legs never came around, and although I kept a steady
pace for the whole race I did give up positions slowly throughout the race.  I was in a group at the end of lap two and didn’t hit the lap counter, but what I did get was my average speed for laps 2
and 3 was 12.9.  My average speed for the
last lap was 13.2, so that still tells me that I was going as strong at the end
as the beginning.  No complains there!  Finished 55 out of 132.

As
for the course, it was great.  Adam
Myerson and company put on a first class event and it is one that I am already
looking forward to for next year.  The
course was fast, dry and still challenging. 
Both days had full fields in the Cat. 4’s, but the course was open
enough that the racing fun.  Can you use
fun to describe a ‘cross race?

Providence Cyclocross Festival …

Game Face
Game Face

Saturday:
I went into this event without any real plan.  I had been sick all week and lost 10 pounds in the 9 days heading into the weekend.  I hopped onto the course to get in a quick pre-ride after the first race ended.  Then I took my pit wheels to the pit area.  At some point during this they called for staging and I never heard it.  By time I arrived at staging it was too late for my call-up, so they stuck me in the back.  If nothing else, it gave me a plan for the race.  Go hard until you can’t go any more, and then go harder.  It may not have been the most elegant plan, but I did learn something from it.  For the 40 minutes of the race I had an average heart rate of 182, which was higher than I thought I could maintain.  I ended up with a solid 60th out of 99 finishers.

Later in the day I found myself sitting with a bunch of great friends watching the pro race.  Holy shit those guys are fast.  In my race I am looking to go about 45 seconds a lap faster to finish near the front.  These guys were going 4 minutes a lap faster than me.  Watching them also showed me that you can really hammer through some of the corners that I was crawling through because I just didn’t feel like there was enough traction.  They seemed to trust that the bike was going to go where they pointed it.  Jeremy Powers held on to win over a determined looking Ryan Trebon.

Fly Over
Fly Over
Making the pass
Making the pass

Sunday:
I had a solid plan for the race today.  Make my call-up, start hard and suffer.  I dropped my wheels off in the pit area at the start of the race before mine and then started working on getting a good warmed up.  I made my call-up in the 5th row.  It was kind of neat being that close to the front without having to kill myself getting there.  Once the whistle sounded, I again tried to get by as many people as possible before the course narrowed.  I really worked on trying to trust my tires and drive through the corners during this race.  I have no idea where I was running position wise, but this was the first time that I could still see the leader at the end of the first lap in a race of this caliber   The next three laps where just a case of holding my position and gaining any that I could.  I had a much better sprint at the end and gained two spots in the final 100 meters to finish 34 out of 77 finishers.  It ended up being a GREAT race, and lets me know that what I worked on all summer should pay off.  This was far and away the best ‘cross race that I have had.

It was great seeing the crew Saturday at the pro race and even better getting to line up with a couple of good friends and battling it out on the course.  This might be the best part of racing ‘cross.  I didn’t see any pictures of the three of us together, but someone had a good one of John and Gary.

John and Gary
John and Gary

The Bike Rack …

This is my work in progress bike rack for the motorcycle.  It is in its third version at this point.

Version 1 was mounted a little low and about killed me going through a corner.  In testing it worked good, but on the road it seems that the bike squats a little when cornering.  I stuck it going through a corner at about 45 mph.  Not a lot of fun.

Version 2 was mounted higher and seemed to work pretty good for a couple of weeks.  Then I noticed that the bike was leaning away from the motorcycle.

In version 3 we beefed up the mounting points and added a third mounting point on the back bracket.  This seems to have fixed everything.  Used it for a couple of months before removing it and having it painted.  The whole unit can be removed or installed in about 30 minutes.

Pats Peak 12 Hour Solo

Race Start
Race Start
I guess I’ll start with the course.  It was a brutal course that could have been SO much fun.  The course was 5.6 miles with 825+ feet of climbing per lap.  The climbs for the most part were technical and steep.  A fair amount of the single track on the climb was new, so it was a little soft.  They did seem to get a little better as the weekend wore on.  Once you got to the top of the climb there was a really fun section that could have been even more fun if you were not completely dead from climb.  The decent back to the start area was just technical enough to prevent you from ever getting a recovery and then right back into the climb.  This course could have been so much more enjoyable if I had only been racing 2-3 laps, not 12 hours.
Lap 1 – The race started with a 100 yard run to the bike.  Looking at the video that a friend recorded, it would seem that I was one of the last 3 or 4 people to get on my bike.  I didn’t want to bust my ass that quick into the race.  That was a big mistake, because the long climb turned into a long hike a bike in the woods.  The lap was fairly uneventful 52 minutes.
Lap 2 – At the start of the second lap I dropped in with a friend and rode with him for most of the lap.  Near the top of the climb I started to get some light cramps.  That was not a good sign, as I would be fighting them for the rest of the race.  On the decent I took a pretty good tumble when a cleat broke and I slid of the pedal.  Had to have the cleat replaced at the end of the lap.  Lap 2 was around 55 minutes.
Laps 3 – 6 – Really started to fight cramps during these laps.  They were just getting a little worst each lap, and I was taking longer and longer breaks between laps trying to get rid of cramps.
Lap 7 – I took a 2 hour break before this lap in an effort to deal with my cramping.  It didn’t work.  At the top of the climb I was hit with cramping so bad that I ended up laying on the ground still clipped into my pedals.  I had to wait for another rider to come by and ask for help getting my feet of the pedals.  After another 15 minutes of sitting there, I finally managed to get back to the start/finish area.
Lap 8 – This ended up being one of my better laps.  I was taking my time on the climb and was feeling pretty good, and wanted to keep it that way.  I was a little over ¾ of the way up the climb when my light started blinking that the battery was almost dead.  If I didn’t finish the lap, then I would be a DNF.  It was surprising how much you can ignore when you are worried about being stuck in the woods without light.
Lap Something
Lap Something