Category Archives: Doing

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Tour of Sufferlandria 2014 – Stage 8 Report

Stage 8 – Blender

  • Duration: 1:44:26
  • Power: 314 watts
  • Average Cadence: 84
  • TSS: 140.5
  • Ride %: 100
  • Start line:  2:19 pm on Saturday, February 1

Confession – I totally ignored the cadence queues on this ride. Before you write me off as a cheater, let me explain…

You don’t show up to play a round of golf and monkey around with your swing on the course. You do that on the driving range. In practice.

This being a Tour (race), it isn’t the time for me to go off and try to do something I’m not good at, especially when my main objective for the day is just to keep up and not get dropped. This video calls for long periods of high-cadence work.

But it doesn’t make sense to do that on race day when you can pull the same power at a lower cadence and keep the heart rate under control…right?

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The upside is that my first attempt at Blender and several days doing the Tour of Sufferlandria have shown me I’m weak at long periods with high cadence. It’s something I’m going to work on (that means doing this ride A LOT) in the future. I’m well aware that riding at a high cadence evens my power distribution out through the pedal stroke, and that’s something I want.

But I’ve also heard some really knowledgeable triathletes talk about the fact that everyone has a natural cadence, and it’s better to work off strengths than weaknesses. I think that’s somewhere in the mid-80s for me–data analysis coming to verify that.

Strangely, I get the same results running. As long as I stay in the mid 80s, I’m good. But my HR blows up when I try to run 90 rpm–that magic number everyone is supposed to hit.

I’m beginning to think recommended cadences are a lot like BMI.

One more day!

Previous Stage Reports

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Tour of Sufferlandria 2014 – Stage 7 Report

Stage 7 – Angels

  • Duration: 1:04:43
  • Power: 382 watts
  • Average Cadence: 82
  • TSS: 99
  • Ride %: 100
  • Start line:  11:15 am on Friday, January 31

And… The Hunted

  • Duration: 1:01:30
  • Power: 366 watts
  • Average Cadence: 84
  • TSS: 99
  • Ride %: 100
  • Start line:  9:33 pm on Friday, January 31

This is the stage I’ve been dreading since sometime around mid-November. Angels is just a really freaking hard ride for me. I have a hard time recovering once my HR gets up into the 160s, and this ride puts me there a lot.

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Nothing different this time around–begging for mercy about halfway through the second climb. Still, I made it to the end with my breakfast intact.

Again, no records set, but I’m ok with that.

I’m learning a lot about my strengths and weaknesses riding ToS. Maybe “learning” isn’t the right word…”confirming” is probably better. Long steady efforts at a moderate cadence are like candy to me, but sprints or repetitive high-cadence efforts shred me, even if they are at low power are really tough. I’ve noticed that the recoveries at the end of the rides tend to see me riding at about 84 rpm to get my heart rate down.

I’ve also figured out that I need to hold off on taking in water during the recovery periods until my heart rate is back under control. Taking a drink makes my heart rate go up, and I can manage to take in liquid during a work period. Rest is the only time I have to recover my HR though, so I’m holding off on drinking until I’m under 140 bpm.

Anyway, that all went out the door once I started up riding The Hunted. I was completely in survival mode for most of this ride, just doing what I could to stay on the line. Successful, but even the warm down didn’t help me recover. My HR was 152 at the end of the ride, and it left me feeling pretty worried about how I’d get through Stage 8.

Blender is the only ride I’ve ever done on Trainerroad that I couldn’t complete. Fingers crossed for this ride…and the 64 sprint finish that is Violator.

Previous Stage Reports

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Tour of Sufferlandria 2014 – Stage 6 Report

Stage 6 – A Very Dark Place

  • Duration: 0:50:49
  • Power: 341 watts
  • Average Cadence: 86
  • TSS: 84.0
  • Ride %: 100
  • Start line:  5:15 pm on Wednesday, January 29 (Because it’s Thursday somewhere)

If there are any ho-hum days on the Tour, this is definitely the last of them. A Very Dark Place is a relatively short stage with a pretty good mix of riding on the flats and climbing. Lots of cadence changes, which is a challenge for me mostly because my bike really needs a tuneup to make shifting smoother.

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If it didn’t require so much energy, I’d be tempted to give myself a little pat on the back at this point of the Tour. I’ve set one personal best for power output (20 minutes) during the Tour, and that was just by a few watts on the very first day. I’m pretty happy with the way I’ve held back, ridden the line, and not emptied the tank at the end of rides where I feel good.

The last time I rode A Very Dark Place, I set 7 personal bests–from 5 seconds all the way up to 5 minutes–and I was pouring the coals to her on the last interval, riding way above the line.

But I didn’t have Angels and The Hunted pointed at me the very next day the last time either. Stage 7 is the one I’ve been dreading since I first saw the schedule. These two rides aren’t horrible when ridden separately (although Angels puts my HR well into the 170s), but riding them back to back is going to be a real challenge.

Decision time: ride it today and take tomorrow off before Blender (the only ride that’s ever dropped me), or take today off and do two hour stages on consecutive days?

Going to have to think on it.

Previous Stage Reports

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Tour of Sufferlandria 2014 – Stage 5 Report

Stage 5 – Extra Shot

  • Duration: 0:22:24
  • Power: 380 watts
  • Average Cadence: 87
  • TSS: 36.5
  • Ride %: 100
  • Start line:  9:06 pm on Tuesday, January 29 (Because it’s Wednesday somewhere)

And… The Wretched

  • Duration: 0:49:28
  • Power: 358 watts
  • Average Cadence: 82
  • TSS: 76.6
  • Ride %: 100
  • Start line:  9:33 pm on Tuesday, January 29 (Because it’s Wednesday somewhere)

You have to wake up earlier in the morning than this to fool me. The tour route specifies that you must do Extra Shot before The Wretched. The thing is, there’s no warm up in Extra Shot.

It doesn’t say in the Tour guide that you can’t warm up..it’s just not part of the Tour.

Only a moron would jump into a 20 minute time trial without warming up first, so the smart money is on people who realized this beforehand and did a warm up before getting out on the course.

Surprisingly, I realized what was going on and did a warm up.

Not giving myself too much credit though. If I was really smart I probably would not have decided to do ToS. And honestly, I probably should have done a longer warm up. I just did 6 minutes at an easy pace, getting my HR up to ~120 and holding it there. But I started pretty late (9 pm), so I was anxious to get going.

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I’d never ridden Extra Shot before, and I didn’t think it was too bad. Again, wish I’d been warmed up more, but this is another one of those rides that is sort of built for me. Actually, The Wretched (part II of this stage) is too.

Being completely honest, The Wretched is a pretty easy ride for me. I actually went back and reviewed the last time I rode it after I finished to make sure I wasn’t under-working because of some equipment setup was off. But it was just as easy the other time I did it.

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Climbing on the trainer just feels good to me. My legs are still relatively big and strong, so pushing a big gear doesn’t feel like too much work. Of course, this would be completely different if I was on an actual mountain carrying my actual weight.

But no one is pitying me on the sprint stages when spinning fast just means moving big heavy legs around and around, so I’ll take my easy stages where I can get them.

The Tour itself is only finished with Stage 4 at this point, and there’s a 35% drop-out rate so far. I still think most of the people still in the peloton will have no problem hanging on.

Until Stage 7.

Previous stage reports:

 

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Tour of Sufferlandria 2014 – Stage 4 Report

Stage 4 – Hell Hath No Fury

  • Duration: 1:11:59
  • Power: 347 watts
  • Average Cadence: 88
  • TSS: 109.0
  • Ride %: 100
  • Start line:  12:15 pm on Monday, January 27 (Because it’s Tuesday somewhere)

The prospect of racing against a a group of really fast women, which is the story of this video, doesn’t usually sound very enticing. What do I have to gain? I either get beat by them (likely) or I win (less likely) but walk away feeling like I should have won in either case. I have to say, this ride wasn’t as tough as I was expecting it to be, especially after the past three days of the tour. I actually think it was the easiest stage so far.

Granted, it’s totally set up for a guy like me to succeed–long (20 minute) work periods with long (up to 6 minutes!) recovery time in between the big ones.

I ended up riding at the exact same power as in stage 3, but for a longer period. Cadence almost exactly the same as well. Yet this was soooo much easier for me.

I like to gauge the toughness of a workout by the number and type of sounds that come out of the mouth-end of my body during them. The really tough ones involve sounds that resemble the noise you’d make if you had a piano on your back, just a few seconds before you completely give in and the piano crushes you.

The toughest workouts involve the sound that a rugby hooker makes when the tight-head prop has located the back of his head on the hooker’s sternum, and the opposing hooker  is using his shoulder to bury the guy’s chin down and bend him in half. It’s sort of a squeaking sound.

It means you’re cracked when you hear it on a bike.

Well…it means your cracked in both cases–cycling and rugby.

I only made one sound during the toughest part of this ride, but it was a “Whoooo!” sound, Ric Flair style. The ladies featured in this video went for a ride on Space Mountain, and I was stylin’ and profilin’ the whole way up.

hell_hath_no_fury_like_ric_flairIt’s ok ladies…this ride was made for me, so I’m bound to give you another shot at it. You may just have to wait a while. You see, Space Mountain may be the oldest ride in the park, but it’s still go the longest line.

So I’m four days into the tour, and I’m a day ahead of schedule. Stage 5 is looking to be pretty tough, with a little bit of a pull back on Stage 6. I’m still thinking Stages 7 and 8 are the true tests, and they are back to back.

Looking at the official stats on Trainerroad this morning, it looks like 30% of the field was dropped after the first two stages. I think most of the people in the peloton right now have already proven themselves and will be able to hang on until Stage 7.

I’m guessing we’ll get to Stage 7 with more than 50% of the registered riders still in the game. But I think those two days are really going to break some people down. Just hope I’m not one of the ones that gets broken.

Previous stage reports:

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2014 Tour of Sufferlandria – Stage 3 Report

Stage 3 – Revolver

  • Duration: 0:45:38
  • Power: 347 watts
  • Average Cadence: 89
  • TSS: 82.3
  • Ride %: 100
  • Start line:  12:42 pm on Sunday, January 26 (Because it’s Monday somewhere)

Revolver is a speed driven ride. High cadence during the intervals–thankfully it’s short. But that doesn’t really provide much by way of consolation.

This ride is brutal.

Pretty simple–16 reps of 1 minute on, 1 minute off. That’s more like a semi-automatic with a full magazine than a revolver–with one in the chamber if you count the warm up, which was hard enough by itself after all the attacking and climbing required for ISLAGIATT yesterday.

This was my first time attempting this video, and I debated knocking this ride down to 90% before I started, but opted to ride at 100% since it was only 45 minutes long. When I looked at the ride feed on Trainerroad, it didn’t seem like anyone was getting dropped here,  and most people seemed to be riding it at or close to 100%. So I figured I’d roll the dice and ride it at 100%.

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Definitely doable, but definitely painful. I honestly don’t think taking 10% off would have made much difference. My heart rate was only recovering down to the mid-150s by the end, and peaking at the low 170s–stopping just before I reached max during the intervals, and starting back just as I was starting to recover in the rests.

I had a little trouble the first two intervals getting the gearing right, but I finally found the spot where I could alternate between big ring and small ring and on the front and keep it steady on the back, so my cadence stayed pretty steady for the duration.

Glad this one is over. I’m definitely weakening as the days go on–24 hours of rest will be good.

And, is it me, or does there seem to be a lot of repeated footage between this video and some others?

Previous stage reports:

 

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2014 Tour of Sufferlandria – Stage 2 Report

Stage 2 – It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time (ISLAGIATT)

  • Duration: 1:56:39
  • Power:  340 watts
  • Average Cadence: 84
  • Heart Rate:  152 average,  175 max
  • TSS: 164.8
  • Ride %: 100
  • Start line:  4:57 pm on Saturday, January 25 (Because it’s Sunday somewhere)

ISLAGIATT is a climbing/endurance ride–lower cadence makes me happy…usually.

I’ve done this ride once before, and one of the things I like about it is the story line.  Basically, you are lowly rider having a lackluster tour, and all the people in the home country want to see you go for the Most Aggressive Rider award on this final mountain stage.

I wasn’t sure if it would be as fun riding it for a second time, but I think the story really kept me going. I reviewed my last workout on this ride before I started, just so I’d know what to expect, and was thinking this would be an easier (though longer) day.

I was wrong. This ride ran me up to the rail. My max HR is right around 180, and I spent plenty of time in the mid 170s. I was over 153 bpm for 1:11:00.

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In other words, my endurance is a big limiter. That’s going to show up later in the tour for sure. I’m expecting hell on Stage 7, and I’m plotting a rest day the day before it.

I wish I’d gotten this ride in a little earlier in the day, but I doubt sleeping in and resting for much of the day really hurt me either.

Tomorrow’s ride, Revolver, is only 45 minutes long. But it’s loaded with sprints.

Goody.

Previous Stage Reports:

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2014 Tour of Sufferlandria – Stage 1 Report

Stage 1 – Rubber Glove

  • Duration: 1:00:00
  • Power: 371 watts
  • Average Cadence: 84
  • Heart Rate: 134 average, 164 max
  • TSS: 75
  • Ride %: 100
  • Start line: 12:08 pm on Friday, January 24 (Because it’s Saturday somewhere)

Rubber Glove is an FTP test, and I’m due for a new test. But there’s no way I was going to ride this as a test. I took advantage of the opportunity to ride a pretty easy 20 minutes at just above my current FTP–I’ll test again after the Tour.

Better to conserve the piss and vinegar for now than allow them to overcome common sense this early. I think I’m going to need both for the later stages.

First things first–get the ol’ jalopy cleaned and lubed. Talking about my bike here…just to be clear.

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Next, try to come up with a clever race number and print it out. I decided on ‘1997’ because that’s the number of people participating in the race on Trainerroad at the time of printing, and thus my expected finishing position.

tour_of_sufferlandria_race_numberHonestly, the toughest thing about this ride was putting the cold HRM on before I started. After that, I couldn’t really find any other reasons/excuses to put this off, so I got to it.

A pretty smooth and easy ride for the most part. I was really happy with my precision at the beginning–I was doing a pretty good job of staying right on the line.

I rode just above the prescribed 439 watts…but not by much. I averaged 447 for the 20 minute test period. A nice intro to the tour, and Trainerroad suggested my new FTP as 425.

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Uh…yeah…maybe after the Tour is finished. For now, I’m happy basing the rest of the rides off my old FTP.

 

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2014 Tour of Sufferlandria Strategery

The 2014 Tour of Sufferlandria commences in less than a week. This will be my rookie year on the tour, yet I think I still have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Suffering.

The fine people at Trainerroad are working with the Sufferfest folks for a cross promotional ass whooping to keep TR subscribers honest. There’s no way out of riding the videos to the exact instructions–failure to achieve the profile will leave behind a digital relic of your failures.

There’s a loophole provided though, and I intend to take full advantage of it. There’s a 50 hour window to complete each stage. For me, that means I can start Saturday the 25th’s “Rubberglove” ride at 5:00 am on Friday the 24th.

And I have until 4:00 am on Monday the 3rd to finish the puke-inducing “Violator” stage that’s scheduled for Sunday the 2nd.

I think the key for me is going to get optimal rest in between “A Very Dark Place” (a ride I’m pretty good at–ends with a climb) and the two days of “Angels”+”The Hunted” followed by “Blender”. That’s two days straight of 2 hour rides.

Sufferfest A Very Dark Place - TrainerRoad.com

I’m going to try to finish the first 6 stages on the mornings of the days before they are scheduled, then take a rest day on Thursday to try and go into Friday’s stage somewhat rested.

Saturday is the scariest day for me–the only time I’ve ever tried “Blender”, I got cracked. I may be taking it right to the wire to rest up for Sunday’s finale.

Anybody have a better/different strategy for positioning rest? Bonus points if your advice isn’t “HTFU”.

The Unplanned Off Season

Dang it the money. It happened to me.

I was really happy with the way I kept up the fitness momentum throughout the holidays–the beginning of the “off season”. The plan was that there really wasn’t going to be an off season. I didn’t feel burned out at all, and I wanted to keep in the flow.

Between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day I was able to pull off a full marathon and a self-supported 50k.

But in the last couple of weeks the wheels have fallen off. Well, not horribly–it’s not as if I’m not working out. But the volume has definitely fallen off.

Do I get some kind of reprieve for the fact that the intensity has picked up? I’ve been riding Sufferfest videos on Trainerroad in between rest days…does that count?

My run volume is definitely down as well, but I’m not throwing many junk miles in when I am out running. Intervals and higher paced (for me) long runs are showing up on the schedule regularly.

The fact that the schedule is a little bare right now definitely plays in. Other than the Tour of Sufferlandria, which starts next week, I don’t have much set in stone for 2014 except for an Old Boys Rugby Tournament in April.

So training is changing up a little bit for the next couple of months. I’m going to try to focus on bike improvement, run maintenance, and rugby whoop-ass. The only swimming I have planned for right now is a 1 mile OWS on Thursday nights before rugby practice. If the rugby thing falls through (what is it with these guys being able to commit?), I’ll join my local masters swim club and get some Saturday workouts in too.

Oh yeah…this year’s Bridge to Bridge is closer than it seems! Tick. Tock.

Sufferfest Blender - TrainerRoad.com

“Sufferfest” – It’s Not Just A Marketing Gimmick

Here’s a classic case of “be careful what you ask for”.

For my birthday, I received the entire set of Sufferfest videos. I was (am) super-excited about this. Even though I loooove watching movies while I’m on the bike an playing Trainerroad, everything I’ve heard about The Sufferfest videos is great–hard rides, great music, cool video to keep you motivated.

But then came the realization that those “hard rides” are no freaking joke. I’ve been using Trainerroad for several months now, and the rides in their training plans are definitely tough, but Sufferfest takes it to a whole new level.

I’ve completed done three Sufferfest rides so far. The first was “Rubber Glove”, which is an FTP test. Of course that was hard–FTP tests are always hard. Nothing special there. A couple of days later I rode “Fight Club”, but I did it 90% FTP. I was fresh off a test and a big FTP jump and was a little nervous about it. Turns out I was right in being cautious–I was barely able to hang on to the end.

And then Saturday I tried “Blender” on 100%. This is an hour and thirty seven minute bludgeoning. Or, in my case, an hour and twenty three minutes of bludgeoning. I just wasn’t able to hang on for the last set of time trial intervals.  I could blame this on a few things–full belly, not fully recovered from the 50k I ran a few days before, all the stuff I did on Saturday before that, etc. But the truth is, it’s just a really hard workout.

One of the things I really like about the Trainerroad training plans is that they run you just up to the edge, but they are doable. They build confidence. Sufferfest is something completely different entirely. From the description of “Blender”…

This is the video that softens you up, takes you to the edge of exhaustion, sneaks up behind you and kicks you over that edge and down the hill, then makes you run up while being chased by a raving mob all the while pouring molten lava down toward you.

I got caught in that lava.

I tried to find a gear that I could grind hard enough to get to the prescribed power, then I tried to find one I could spin fast enough to get there. I just couldn’t pull it any longer. The heart rate never recovered from the sprints that came before the time trial, and I was even going embarrassingly easy on the recovery.

Just toasted. I didn’t have 399 watts left in me. I barely had my dinner left in me.

But this is a good thing. This is like going out to ride with a group that you know you can’t hang with. The game becomes to find out how long you can hang. Then you come back a few weeks later and try it again (after you’ve forgotten how horrible it felt) to see if you can make it a little further. Then, all of a sudden, you make it one day.

I don’t think I’m going to be using Sufferfest videos for my day-in, day-out triathlon training. The beat down is just too severe when you consider you have to go out and run and/or swim the next day. And I’m not interested in doing a lot of training above my lactate threshold. But these are great for checking in every now and then to see where you are.

This is also changing my plan a little bit with regards to the Tour of Sufferlandria at the end of this month. My plan was to ride on 100% for as many days as I can, but that doesn’t seem feasible at this point. Lots of people have recommended 90% FTP, and I think that would still be pretty tough. I’m not trying to win the thing after all…it’s my rookie year.

I may give it a go next weekend with “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time” at 100% just to make sure my previously mentioned excuses of full belly and exhaustion weren’t valid though.

Feel free to throw things at me in the comments. Apparently there are quite a few people out there who think riding the ToS at 100% isn’t all that hard.

I think these people may need to re-test their FTP.

2013 Done and Done

289 Hours of Swim/Bike/Run: 35:32 | 123:49 | 129:27

I think I see a problem here–a little heavy on the run and not as much bike as I should have. I can remedy that in 2014. The good news is that compared to last year, all numbers are up, and I more than doubled my time in the water. Bike time was up about 39%, and run time was up slightly.

Going by mileage, which is something I’m trying to move away from, I was at 3081.21 total miles (54.59 | 2252.91 | 768.7). All of those are up significantly from last year too, although they’re a little short on my goals. I’m very happy with the swim increase though.

Best part of 2013 was race management in my big events–Rocketman 70.3, Bridge to Bridge Swim, Battle of the Bridges Olympic tri,  Space Coast Marathon, and Self-Supported 50k run.

 

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[Insert Your Name Here] 50k Race Report

Wild Hair 50k? Dumb Idea 50k? Never Again 50k?

Again, this isn’t a race. Or wait…maybe it is. Since I was the only participant, it may serve me well to consider this event a race. Look at me–I’m a winner!

The original idea for this run was to wake up on New Year’s Day and see how far I could run. I’d go until I quit or until my average pace was 13:00/mile. I really wanted to make it to 50k and wasn’t interested in quitting before I made that distance. The real idea here was to do something big, but do it self-supported. I did end up getting a little bit of help with a drink mix.

Plans changed–an advantage to doing self-supported events is that you aren’t stuck with someone else’s schedule. During the week of Christmas things were pretty hectic. Lots of cooking, lots of cleaning, and lots of people coming into town. As a result, I got in an 11 mile run on December 22 and didn’t get to work out again until a (pretty hard) bike ride on Friday. I got to sleep in pretty late on Saturday morning and decided about 5 minutes into my first cup of coffee that I’d do the run the next day (12/29) instead of New Year’s Day.

My thinking was that I’d gotten a lot of sleep the night before, and I was about as tapered as I was going to be. I’d taken so many days off that week already, and I wasn’t interested in resting for another three days just so I could put off the run. So I didn’t really do a real and proper taper, but I was reasonably rested coming in and had done a marathon exactly 4 weeks before. Added bonus–this would give me two marathons in December!

The Nutrition


I’ve been working pretty hard on fat adaptation and moving away from fueling on a ton of sugar. This paid off, because I don’t think I could have handled living on Gu for 6 hours. I got a great cookbook a few weeks ago called “Feed Zone Portables: A Cookbook of On-the-Go Food for Athletes (The Feed Zone)“. There’s also something really gratifying about prepping your own food before an event. It sort of reminds me of the times I’d spend the night before a rugby game polishing up my boots. Just another added ritual, and I could see this being a really good calming activity pre-race.

There are some really good recipes and ideas in this book, not just for training and racing, but also just to keep healthy snacks around and available for the kids. A great example is the peanut butter jelly rice cakes. The kids love these things, and they work out great for delicious fuel that’s easy on the stomach.

 

I also changed up the recipe for potato leek frittatas. I just dumped some bagged hash browns into a bowl and added three eggs, some cheese, and some ham left over from Christmas. Mixed it up, filled some muffin tins with it, and put it in the oven on 180 for about 20 minutes. These things were great on (it’s not a) race day!

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My plan was to make it as far as I could without resorting to an onslaught of sugar. So I was going to eat pretty often, but not too much at any one time.

The Execution

The plan was that there wasn’t going to be much of a plan. I knew I’d have Neighbor Ben along for the middle part of the run. I also knew those miles would be a little faster than my overall average. I was meeting up with Ben at 6:30, so I left home at about 5:15 am trying to hit 11:00 miles for 7 miles or so. I ate a banana and a frittata before I left the house and hit a couple of water stops while I was out.

I met up with Ben at 6:30, ate some more, stuffed my pockets with rice cakes, and we started out again. His plan was to do 16, and my plan was to run with him for a while and also catch some walking/eating breaks here and there since a big part of this part of the run was going to be in Wickham Park doing loops and trails. My heart rate stayed in control for the most part, except for the sections on the trails. No hills here, but there’s a lot of sugary sand that slows the pace while forcing the effort level. I tried to stay under my LT, but snuck up over it a few times.

I started realizing around mile 12 that even though I was keeping the pace in check, this was going to be a really tough day. As we headed back and I hit 18 miles I realized I was down to about a half marathon left. Any ideas I had about bailing before 50k were out the door. I was still averaging around 11:45/mile at that point, and the walk breaks had paid off. I made it back to the house at mile 21. 10 miles left to go, and feeling pretty good.

I lost a lot of time at this point, but it was worth it. My shorts were soaked–a really humid day out–and my shoes were well on their way. I took a few minutes to change shorts, socks, and shoes as well as get some more food in me. There’s a half mile loop around the house, and I did that 7 times  with the family, then did a quick one mile out and back while The Missus mixed up a heavy-on-the-Gatorade water bottle. I was pretty deep in at this point, and felt no shame resorting to sugar.

With 5.5 miles left, I went out on my usual 4 mile out and back course, leaving myself 3 more laps around the house to finish off the 50k. I planned some walking breaks during the 4 miles, and on the way out I took them. On the way back I started getting a little contrary and denied myself the walks–I just wanted this to end.

I got back to the Gatorade and started on my final three laps–1.5 miles left. I’d run seven of these already, and I knew that there was a headwind on one section of the loop that felt really good. I decided I’d walk that headwind on each lap and soak it up. I did that for the first two, but by the last one I was in “finish this thing off” mode. I ended up finishing 31.16 miles  in 6:23:52, which was a 12:19 pace overall. I was really happy with this, but even happier that it was over.

50k was plenty for me–I quit there.

Reflection

I’m not sure I want to do this again. Granted, I didn’t really train for this distance. I just figured since I was already in decent marathon shape I’d go out and give it a shot. I don’t know if I’d even want to dedicate the time it would take to really do this distance correctly. Ironically, or maybe not, I’m not nearly as sore the day after as I am the day after a marathon. I’m guessing that’s because the effort level was scaled way back. Time on the feet is a major factor here–over two hours longer time taken here than for a race only 5 miles shorter.

Still, I’m pretty excited about going out and doing a big self-supported event like this.

What’s next?

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My Rookie Year On The Tour

I’m doing a challenge run on New Year’s Day, but my next “race” is going to be the Tour of Sufferlandria.

Technically, this isn’t a race either. It’s just a 9 day beat down on the bike.

I got an awesome gift this year–every single Sufferfest video. I can’t decide if that’s because I’m loved, or because people really want me to suffer. I’ll take it either way. They’ll at least respect me when I finish, right? I’ve wanted to try these videos out for a while, and since I’ve been using Trainerroad my interest has peaked.

I’ve been off the bike for a couple of months and focusing on marathon training. But that race was two weeks ago, and I still think my biggest triathlon gains are to be had on the bike. So last night I did a new FTP test, using the Rubber Glove video from The Sufferfest. My old FTP was 305, and I expected that number to fall. (Un)fortunately it went up.

Way up. My new FTP is 399.

I blame it on the hot chick making omelettes.

I’m honestly not sure how this happened–bike setup on the trainer was the same. The only real difference was a slightly cooler environment. I’m hoping this is a true measurement, and that I gained this power with a 2 month focus on high running volume and ample rest going into the test. Either way, I’ve set myself up for some absolutely brutal training rides over the next 6 weeks heading into the Tour.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen over the rest of 2014. I’m reconsidering the self-supported 140.6 because of safety concerns. But I think I’m ready to step up to the big boy plate this year. I’m about 2 years into uninterrupted training and steady improvement–big gains on the bike in the second half of this year and a new found ability to run long distances without bonk.

The two major factors have been Trainerroad and a much cleaner diet with a lot less sugar and grains (thanks Vinnie!). I think I finally have a decent handle on race management as well. That’s probably a fleeting window of opportunity. I’ll start messing it up again soon. But I need to take advantage of this window while it’s open.

So…Great Floridian?

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Self-Supported Running Event – January 1, 2014

And I don’t give a ladybug who you are or where you rank in the running world, I want you to get in on this!

I’m really excited about the prospect of doing a self-supported 140.6 in late 2014, but I’m in decent marathon shape right now and I don’t want to waste it. I also don’t want to plop down the money for another winter marathon. So I’ve come up with alternative–something that would be good to do annually.

The way I look at it, this will achieve one of two things every year. It will either keep me out of trouble on New Year’s Eve or make me pay dearly for the fun I had.

It’s a pretty simple event–“How Far Can You Run?” #howfar2014

Here’s the deal…

Wake up on New Year’s Day, take off running, and see how far you can go. The only rule I’m setting for myself is that I have to stop when my average pace for the day reaches 13:00 miles or I just plain quit–whichever happens first. Then the next year I’ll go out and try to run further. Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’ll never do it again because of the pain that ensues, but we’ll see.

No medals.

No t-shirts.

No fees.

Feel free to set your own rules and parameters. Step outside your own door and do the same. Jump on your treadmill. Run your local New Year’s Day 5k and keep running right through the finish line!

It seriously doesn’t matter how far you go. You may make it a mile, 10k, 15 miles, marathon, 50k, 50m…whatever. Just see how far you can go!

“Play a train song!”

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