Doing More With Less Since 1972

Category: Doing (Page 1 of 26)

Zwift Team Time Trial #104 Race Report

I’m really happy to be on a team with guys who write up race reports and post them to the ol’ Facebook for the broader team to read. That means I don’t have to write the whole thing myself–I can just take what he wrote and comment on it. Honestly, I can barely remember parts of this race as I was hanging on by a thread.

I did not want to do this race, but I’m really glad I did.

We were only five, but rode as one.

Just want to jump in and comment on Tom‘s race report right at the beginning. You can have up to 8 riders on a team, and the time of the fourth rider across the line is the one that counts. We only had 5. That means 3 fewer people taking turns pulling. Even if they were only doing 15 second pulls, that’s an extra 45 seconds of rest per rotation, which is a lot.

This course was well suited for us, being mainly flat and with hills of moderate grade. As this group has accumulated TTT experience everyone is focusing on some of the finer points of the experience—bike and wheel selection, various tactical approaches, watching earlier races (an advantage of being in Z14), studying the course profile, etc. If nothing else this gives us plenty to chat about in our warmup meetup.

I really benefit a lot by being a part of Team Skofnung, and the larger Valhalla team in general. Someone else takes responsibility for putting us on teams and registering us with the league. And once we get to the race, our team captain takes responsibility for deciding on the order and length of our pulls based on the abilities of each of us. Basically, all I have to do is show up on time, follow directions, and suffer. Watching races earlier in the day is super helpful as well. It gives me an idea of where other teams have issues and a general idea of how long I’m going to be on the bike.

Once everyone was warmed up and in the pen we took to the pairing screen to stay loose pending our 12 minute delay. Derrick had a glitch where the pairing function released him for a second and he drifted right to the banner, but stayed in the pen. Then in slow motion his avatar drifted sideways into Tom Neuman and pushed him over and even piled into Sylvan. Everyone stayed upright and on the right side of the line, and then we were off .We quickly got into our rotation, having agreed that we would use the rider panel except for the hills, when we would blob as is our custom.

Great lesson we learned in last week’s race, which had lots of rollers, is that we were pretty strong at sticking together as a blob instead of a line when we needed to do it. It’s a good tactic for us because we have a wide range of weights on our team–if we tried to ride w/kg on the rollers it would split us up pretty easily.

For this race we agreed to target a speed (40kph) rather than a w/kg as the pacing metric, and it worked really well. Tom N was assigned 60 second pulls in exchange for his request to be 4th in the rotation, with Sylvan and me each at 30 secs and Scott and Derrick at 15 secs. Sylvan made the call to increase his efforts to 45 secs to help him remain calm and nobody objected. He later raised it to 60 seconds, again without objection especially from me since I was behind him.

Lap 1 went exactly to plan, rotating thru the flats, and then maintaining a seamless blob up out of the desert and over the KOM. Either Sylvan or I would be at the front keeping tempo, Tom N staying in the middle to help close any gaps that might open, Derrick and Scott riding spot-on and maintaining position. We anticipated the possibility of the post-KOM rollers breaking things up, and simply did not allow that to happen. We worked hard that first lap but very deliberately within ourselves, understanding that a big challenge of this course was the distance and wanting to conserve energy to be strong for lap 2.

That last bit was huge. I’m a big fan of going out conservatively. If you have extra oomph at the end, you can always find spots to use it. But if you burn all your matches early, there’s no coming back from it. I learned from my very first attempt at a TTT that once my heart rate isn’t recovering I’m cooked. And not just for a minute or two. I’m really happy to be riding on a team that feels the same way. My splits for the two laps in this race ended up being 2 seconds apart. That’s pretty good for a race that lasts over an hour.

By the second lap we were still going well. Tom N and Sylvan were dieseling through their pulls, Scott and Derrick were tightly in the group, occasionally rolling through the front, and I covered some extra rotation time on top of my pulls to keep things going. We had noted early on that we were putting time into the team behind us, and that on lap one the team ahead of us put time into us, but on lap 2 we slowly cut into the advantage of the team ahead, and passed individual riders dropped by their squads. This was all further incentive to keep the engine room stoked.

The second time up out of the desert and over the KOM was definitely grippy, as everyone was feeling the effects of the distance and the effort. There were occasional 1-3 second gaps but always closed, with once again Tom N doing mini-sweep work with Derrick and Scott as Sylvan and I maintained tempo up front.

So appreciative of the sweep!

Down through the rollers really started to hurt, and at one point Scott encouraged us to press on without him. He must have been hypoxic to suggest that, as it is clearly against Skofnung Company Policy, especially with only 5.5 to go.

Huge advantage of riding on a team–they forced me through a tough minute or so, and I came out find on the other side.

So we gave the slightest easing of effort, he went inside-out to close back on, and we were again 5 as we hit the true flats to the finish with 4km to go. Those last 4km were awesome. We kept it tight like a for-real TTT, cranking the watts up front well north of 4w/kg and ramping up to over 5w/kg as the line approached, Tom N and Sylvan clearly giving it the stick and me contributing what I could, Scott and Derrick blowing up heartrate monitors to stay hitched on. We were putting even more time into the team behind and wiping out the early advantage of the team ahead. That last 1 km was absolutely brilliant, full gas and maximum effort by everyone to finish fast and together, knowing there was not a single watt left out on the desert flats.

No lie here. Upper 160s HR is the “danger zone” for me on the bike, and once I cross 170 I really don’t have any hope of coming back. I was 170+ for the last mile. If my front wheel had been rotating I probably would have tangled my tongue up in it.

Fabulous ride, and a real pleasure. Very much looking forward to next week already, and to having some of our regulars back with us (looking at you in particular, Laurence!).Have great weekends everyone, until next time.TP

I’m really excited about riding again next week, especially if we’re able to field an 8 person team. We are improving every week, and I feel like we’re starting to know each other better as riders. Last week we were 136th overall in the Latte League. This week, 106. We made big gains in our Zone as well. It feels like we’ve just begun to gel!

Zwift Crit Race 3 – Bell Lap Cat C

If it ain’t one thing, it’s another. At least I didn’t crash this time. Actually, the issues with this race probably worked out in my favor. For some reason, my trainer was not being controlled by the terrain of the map. If you’ve ever ridden this course and had to deal with the rollers at the beginning of each lap, you’ll know why this worked in my favor. I was able to ride a pretty steady power profile for this race, but it would have been “cheating” a little if I’d been able to place highly.

I was able to ride the way I wanted for a big part of this race–didn’t even try to stay in the lead group. Unfortunately I got dropped by the group I was in at the beginning of the 6th lap. I noticed that the next group was 38 seconds behind me, and decided to ride hard enough for them to have to chase (and catch) me, but easy enough that I could recover some and do well at the end.

I think I was in 23rd place at the time I got dropped.

The plan worked out pretty well, but now I’m not sure it was the right plan. The other group caught me at the beginning of the 8th lap. I rode with them until the sprint finish. I ended up 24th (on the Zwift screen, not in Zwift Power), which means I basically only lost one spot.

I wonder now what would have happened if I’d ridden harder. Since I was able to hold them off for that long; would I have put them out of reach by riding harder? Would I have caught up with the next few people who got dropped from the group I’d been in previously? Hard to tell, but my average heart rate ended up being my all time high, which makes me think I was legitimately dropped and that I wouldn’t have been able to continue that effort level that whole time.

Then again, maybe I would’ve had 45-50 seconds less total time riding. As it is, I was about 10 seconds slower on this race than the other one I completed without crash. I think I rode better though–my splits were pretty even up until the time I got dropped.

Then again, not hard to ride even splits when you can’t feel the terrain. Meh.

Zwift Crit Race 2 – Bell Lap Cat C

Well. Dang.

I pushed my old ‘puter to its limits, and Zwift crashed on me during the 6th lap of this race. Really disappointing, but since then I’ve replaced my old disc drive with an SSD drive. Basically a brand new computer for ~$60, and this thing screams now. I’ve done a couple of rides longer than an hour on high resolution graphics (I always used “low” before) and haven’t had any problems.

Unfortunately, I was doing pretty well in this race. I mean, I wasn’t close to being in the front group or anything. I think I was like 68th out of 133 when all ones and zeros broke loose. But I was riding pretty steady splits on the laps, didn’t go out too fast, had one other person I was working with the maintain position, etc.

Big changes from the first race were a lower cadence, not trying to get in the lead group and stay there, and riding the bumps much better. I also have a better feel of when to coast on the downhill section and when to use the powerups.

Anyway…that’s about it. Second try out was a dud, but will try again next week.

Zwift Crash, FitFileToo Upload, Missing in Strava Fix

Zwift crashed on me during the 6th lap of an 8 lap ride today. Frustrating, but more frustrating because I want to at least look at the stats of the part of the race that were recorded. I did some research and found a great solution — FitFileTool.com –that will repair partial Zwift rides using their “Corrupt Time Fixer”. It’ll even upload the workout to Strava for you.

Great, right?

Not so fast. Everything seemed to work well. I could see the individual activity on Strava without any problems. But when I went to my feed and profile the activity wasn’t there. What the?!?!

I checked one more place…my activities. Not showing up there either.

But what happens if I search for it. There it is! It’s just showing up as happening on January 6, 2015 instead of March 5, 2021.

Sure enough, when I go look at the activity, it has the wrong date and time associated with it.

The Fix–Not Exactly

My first inclination was to download the file with the wrong date from Strava, do a search and replace for all the dates in the file, then upload it again. That mostly worked, but I think the local timestamp of the virtual location the race took place threw things off.

There’s a better way

Go back to the original file that was repaired for you by FitFileTools and run it through one of their other utilities–the “Time Adjuster”. This lets you set the start date/time of the activity and makes that fix for you.

Download THAT file and upload it to Strava, and you should be all good.

Zwift Crit Race 1 – Bell Lap Cat C

After my rough experience doing the TTT a few weeks ago, I thought it would be a good idea to get some Zwift racing experience that didn’t negatively affect others. Basically, learn how to race I guess.

I considered doing individual time trials and crits, and I chose crits because:

  1. There are more of them
  2. They included drafting (just like TTT)
  3. They are usually pretty short efforts (8 laps), so they don’t disrupt my FTP program much. I can just do these on an off day.

There are a bunch of Bell Lap races, so I thought I’d give this a go. I’ll be able to race on the same course over and over, try different tactics and strategies, document them, see what works best, etc.

Added bonus–I think there may actually be a correlation between how fast I can do these races and how fast I can run a 5k. Remember, I’m cycling in lieu of running so much, but still hope to get faster on race day. We’ll find out if this works..

I’m a boring nerd. I’m not going to even mention the spreadsheet I’ll be using to track all this…yet.

I picked the Friday 11:45 am EST race to be my “standard”. I’ll be able to make that one most weeks, so hopefully I’ll be racing against the same people over and over as well, which gives me another control point in the experiment.

Race Prep

Before racing, I did do a little recon. I watched a couple of races on this course live, and watched a couple of videos on how to race the course. Quick recap of what I learned and observed:

  • Like all Zwift races, start fast! Shoot for 4.5 w/kg
  • Flyers get caught in the first minute
  • Leaders ride the first lap in the high 3’s w/kg
  • After a couple of laps, the chasers are ~ 7s back, and some riding solo
  • After the halfway point, leaders are riding in the low 3’s, high 2’s w/kg
  • People get strung out on the bumps–that’s where attacks happen
  • Don’t fall for attacks on the 7th lap

Strategy and Reality

The winners of the races I watched were finishing in just over 21 minutes and around 3.3 w/kg. My 20 minute best effort is around 2.7 w/kg.

So…I’m not going to win in Cat C, and if I can put in a solid effort, a finish under 25:00 would be pretty good for me. The game is going to be trying different approaches in multiple races to see what works best for me.

The strategy for this first race was simple–stay with the lead group as long as possible and see what happens. I knew I’d get dropped, but the question was “when?” and “what happens after that?”

Execution

The good news is that I think I found something that doesn’t work. I was able to go out with the first group and stay with them for the first lap and a little beyond. But just like going out too fast in a running race, it caught up with me. Positive splits on every lap except for the last one (by two seconds…just barely).

I was able to finish in 24:22, and I think I could do a lot better than this by evening out my splits (negative splits?), but what makes cycling way different than running is that I need to find a group to ride with to make it happen. I rode the last laps by myself in this race, and I think that really shows in the results. I was putting out wattage that were around the same or higher than previous laps, but not getting any benefit of the draft until the last lap.

My question and challenge for the next race is how to find that second group, and can I stay with them. I think the key for me to do my best in these races is to find the right group that can support me for as long as I can stay with them, or find a group I can ride easy with and attack from on the last lap.

One thing is clear–I’m not worried about winning any time soon.

FTP Test – For Real

After my humbling performance in the Team Time Trial #95, I knew it was time to get on to the real business I have to take care of on Zwift. Not riding tours or group rides. The focus has to be on getting better.

Like, real results.

Still, I did want to do the makeup stage of the 2021 Tour de Zwift. It happened to be the climbing stage, and since I was only going to do one ride in this stage, I chose the most advanced one. Gulp. This took about 20 minutes longer than I was hoping it would. It was brutal. Another confirmation that I’m not where I need to be.

I did take a day off, but wanted to stick to the schedule. Legs were pretty heavy, but I went ahead with the FTP test. I’d done these before, back in the Trainerroad days, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. Luckily, Zwift has a different type of FTP test that doesn’t take nearly as long and isn’t as grueling. I did a ten minute easy rise to get my trainer warmed up and did a quick calibration, then on to the test.

Unlike the 45 minute efforts I’ve done before, this one went pretty fast, and it only hurt for a little while. It’s a 5 minute warmup, followed by 1 minute intervals at increasing wattage. It didn’t even take me 18 minutes to complete and for my HR to get to critical.

I ended up at 243 for and FTP–for real this time, not virtual power. That makes sense. I was hoping for somewhere around 250. It’s funny to read back through old posts from before and see that history may not repeat itself, but it rhymes. I’m at 2.6 w/kg, and my goal (once again) is to get to 3.0 w/kg. Roughly, that means increasing my FTP to 270 watts and getting my weight down to 198 pounds.

Totally doable. In fact, I’ll have a hard time keeping those 7 pounds on if I’m doing all the workouts. My raw wattage may not jump all the way to 270, but if I weigh in at 195 pounds and hit a raw score of 265, the result is the same.

First Experience in Zwift TTT Racing

Alternate title: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good: I have an image that proves I was actually with this group at some point of the race

The Bad: It was evident early on that I couldn’t hang

The Ugly: My heart rate and recovery

Some background…

I’ve been doing a weekly Zwift recovery ride on Wednesdays with the Vikings – Valhalla team. This ride is super-fun, super-inclusive, and they seemed like a great group of people to ride with and represent. It didn’t take long to realize that this was the team for me. I’m doing this for fun and health, not for champeenships or money. Is there any money in Zwift racing? A different topic to explore.

After doing a race where I was not up to snuff, I can confirm that these are some cool people. No one dogged me out for not being able to keep up. In fact, they did everything they could to keep me in the group and only dropped me after the 2nd or 3rd time I told them that they should drop me.

As a member of a team I definitely feel like I let them down. But the best thing I could do was to let them go on without me. These guys were way stronger than me, and as I watched them finish as I continued to putter along the course I was amazed at the effort they put in. I have a lot of work to do before I try one of these again.

Race Report – Or at least the part I participated in

Zwift TTT is made up of up to 8 riders, and the time of the top 4 riders to cross the finish line is what counts. In the league we were in, there can be 3 “B” class riders and the rest “C” class. I’m a C rider, which means the responsibility to pull the group and ride at the front didn’t fall on me as much as others. We had a team of 6 in the start pen, but one of our riders had a technical issue, which had us start with 5 riders.

The call was to ride on raw watts over w/kg because we were riding a flat course. We were shooting for 300 watts at the front.

That’s 3.2 w/kg for me.

*Gulp* That’s hot. I was already a little worried. In the start pen I noticed my HR was over 100, and I wasn’t even pedaling–just nervousness and adrenaline, and that didn’t serve me well at all. Then again, they were only asking for 15 seconds of effort from me for my turns. I was determined to stay on for as long as I could, and I knew it was going to be about recovering for the 1:45 seconds my teammates would be pulling.

Since I’ve started riding again, the highest HR I’ve touched so far is 173. And I mean that I TOUCHED it. I can’t stay there for any amount of time. So I was really mindful of where my HR was and paying close attention to it. Two minutes into this ride I hit 158 on a pull, then I recovered. I hit 160 at ~4:00, and I recovered.

At ~5:00 I hit 161, and I climbed up to 169 in the next three minutes, and it just wasn’t recovering.

Somewhere between 10 to 13 minutes I fell off the back, and teammate Sylvan pulled me back to the group. I stayed in the 4th position for the rest of the time I was with the group, until the 20:00 mark or so. But I was stuck in the mid 160s and still struggling, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do this for another 25 minutes. I fell off again, and Sylvan slowed down to try and help me catch back up, but I was cooked. I was having some trouble with Discord to tell the guys to go without me–wasn’t sure they could hear.

When they made the call to drop me (great call!) I was tasked with “just finish”. That way if someone else had an issue we would at least get credit for the race…just a horrible time. It’s clear from the power graph above that I immediately started soft pedaling and trying to recover. I knew my best chance for a better time was to get my HR under control and then ride the best I could.

It took me 12:00 to get my HR under 150! Once I recovered, I tried to keep my HR at a reasonable rate and get the best time I could. Pretty boring work, so I decided to watch the rest of the team finish. Wow–the effort those guys put in was inspiring to watch. And it was great to hear how happy they were at the finish line!

They finished at ~44:00. There’s no way I could have stuck with them. No way. It’s crazy to look at the graph of Sylvan’s ride to see how much he was recovering when trying to pull me back to the group. And the work he put in after I dropped is just crazy.

I still had 2.6 KM to go after the team finished, but now there was zero pressure to get any kind of time. Just riding for pride at this point, and I’d already had that taken from me LOL. I pedaled into the finish and did the sprint at the end. Woopity Doo!

Ok, so how do I fix this?

I learned a lot on this ride, and it’s pretty evident what I need to work on:

  1. Increased FTP–I have a lot of room to grow in the C class
  2. Weight loss (to give me better w/kg)
  3. Intervals, intervals, intervals

So Friday was a light swim day–just short and easy to get the heaviness out of my legs. Today I’m doing the last Tour de Zwift ride that I missed to get every stage completed and a short easy run. After that (and a rest day on Sunday) the work begins.

Monday: FTP test. I need to baseline exactly where I am. I think my rating on ZwiftPower is a little inflated at this point because I’ve only had a smart trainer for a week. It’s evident that the power readings (estimated) from my dumb trainer were super inaccurate as the power increased. So I need a better baseline

Tuesday I’m going to take a rest day. Well, a rest from cycling. I’m actually going to get to roll on Tuesday! Woot!

Wednesday is going to be the start of a 6 week FTP builder. That takes care of increasing FTP, and if it’s like other plans I’ve done before there are lots of intervals on the menu.

And for the elephant in the room…almost literally…weight. When I was at BJJ peak fighting shape, I was walking around at ~190 pounds for most of the day. I was never under 200 when I was doing triathlons back in the day, and I think that extra 10 pounds made a big difference. I just hadn’t been small in so long I thought 200 WAS small. Now I’m aware of how much more athletic I feel at 190, and I’m motivated to get there from my current 205. Picking up some BJJ training is going to help with that for sure, but it’s going to be a tough row to hoe.

Instant Pot Yogurt

I hate what happens when I try to look up recipes. I have to scroll past 8 paragraphs describing the food I’m trying to make (duh) and its history, a bunch of pictures and a bunch of ads. This is not one of those posts.

Just plain text on how to make Instant Pot yogurt.

  1. Put in two spoonfuls (I don’t know what size…just grab a spoon) from the last batch of yogurt or from a different starter into the Instant Pot. If you need a starter, some off-the-shelf unsweetened Greek yogurt should work fine. You can lookup different articles on what yogurts you can start with if you’re really that curious. This is just a quick start
  2. Add part (I dunno…a quarter or so?) of a gallon of whole grass fed organic milk. You can use 2% milk or whatever you want. If this all goes horribly you are out a gallon of milk–not much risk involved.
  3. Stir it up
  4. Add the rest of the milk. Doesn’t have to be a whole gallon…make however much you want.
  5. Close the lid and push the “Yogurt” button. You don’t even have to worry about whether the Instant Pot is set to pressure cook or vent–it’s not going to get that hot.
  6. Go to bed
  7. Wake up and strain the whey out of the yogurt using one of these nut milk bags if you like thicker yogurt. The longer you strain it, the thicker it will be. If you able to read this far, you can probably figure out how to do this, so no instructions needed. You can catch the whey and use it in smoothies or something later if you want.

No pictures necessary here. You probably know what an Instant Pot looks like and what yogurt looks like. I’m seeing 3 or 4 steps here you probably can skip and still make good yogurt as well. Stirring probably isn’t that crucial. You don’t have to go to bed. You don’t have to strain it at all if you don’t want to.

A Different Approach To Faster Running

When the ‘rona hit and I couldn’t go to BJJ any longer, I decided to take the time off to get back into the deep end of running. Is a sub-20:00 5k possible for me?

****SPOILER ALERT****

Probably Not.

I haven’t been super dedicated to running for several years. Still, I knew what it was going to take to get faster. A weekly long run, a couple of easy runs, and a weekly HARD workout. I hate running intervals. But I decided to buckle down and do it.

Problem is, I’m not as young as I used to be, and I was getting really beat up on the hard workouts. I didn’t have any real significant injuries, but it seemed like I was “hurt” all the time. I’ve run enough to know that running hurt is the path to injury, mostly because of the repetitive nature of running and what happens when you change your stride to accommodate the hurts.

Enter the solution (maybe): Hard bike workouts to get in the zone 4/5 training and doing all the runs at an easy pace. I’m still keeping the weekly long run, but I’m just looking for time on my feet. I have faith this will work based on the improvements I’ve seen in my running in the past when I focused on cycling along with the running race results I was able to get when I was REALLY fit from BJJ and doing no running at all.

The added benefit here is that I get to keep all the things I love about running easy and jettison all the things I hate about running hard. In truth, I dislike races less than 10k as well, but doing a race every now and then for the good of the 5 9s team isn’t a huge ask.

Zwift VS Peleton

Here’s what it really comes down to for me:

Peleton is spin classes. Zwift is group rides and races.

Peleton is for people who want to exercise/get fit. Zwift is for cyclists.

I realized the big difference while watching a TV show that had a character in a spin class.

Peleton is, “Come on, you can do it! Feel that burn and know you are improving your life!”

Zwift is, “Hey…looks like you can work with me to catch that group ahead. Oh…you’re cooked? Peace out…I’m gonna drop you and find someone else who can take me further up the road.”

I Hate New Year Resolutions

If you think about it, it’s a little strange to decide to make major changes based on some arbitrary time when a number changes on a piece of paper.

Still, we’re human, and I guess we need these imaginary lines to psychologically break up time; this year more than any other in our lifetimes.

But I’m not making resolutions. I mean, I’m definitely making some changes that coincide with the calendar change, but they aren’t really resolutions. The timing is merely a coincidence. So…listed in no particular order:

Blogging

When we moved from FL to Las Vegas a few years ago, I cut back on blogging a lot. I’ll write later about the reasons why, all the other changes that happened, etc. But I do plan on updating things here much more often. Not because anything I have to say needs to be read, but because it helps me to write it.

Going past actually writing, I think there’s something therapeutic/cathartic about putting it out in the world to be seen, even if it’s not widely read. It feels weird to make yourself a little vulnerable and realize that you’re still ok.

This one is really important because it’s my outlet to talk about everything else on this list.

Cycling

I was really into cycling on Trainer Road a few years ago. It looks like I’m going to be transitioning over to Zwift, and I plan on talking about why along with tracking some of the technical stuff around it.

There’s a whole other aspect to this beyond training–lots of emotions tied up in it. Again, lots to say later, but the passing of my friend Bill this year ultimately led to a fire being lit under my behind.

Running

Religion? Therapy? I don’t know. It will take a lot of long runs to figure this out, but it’s something I’ve brought back into my life more this year. I didn’t know how much I was missing it. I have a lot to say about how my feelings around running have changed and this new need I feel to protect it.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Holy moly do I miss BJJ. I can’t wait to go back, and the end is in sight. Taking all this time off has given me a chance to reflect on how bjj plays into my physical and mental health. Like running, it’s something I need to protect. Both are activities I don’t want to risk being sidelined from.

Enterprise Architecture and TOGAF

Wow. There’s a switch in topics. I’ve spent the last year reading and studying a lot. Again, lots to say here, but all of it can wait until after I take my last exam and have a certification that can’t be rescinded.

Rugby

Greatest game ever. As years pass, I’m increasingly amazed at the breadth and depth of impact rugby has had on my life.

I wish I could have just one more season in a 28 year old body.

Coronavirus

The Missus and I have spent a lot of time this year thinking and talking about this. Shocking, right? Some about the specifics around the actual virus, but a lot more about it’s implications for our family and society going forward. I think our experience and journey through this has been really healthy, but it has made me look at our culture/society a little differently.

Other Stuff

As I’ve gotten older, I’m subscribing less and less to “isms”. I think that’s because I’ve realized I don’t really have any answers and neither does anyone else. There are so many nuances to everything. Oh to have just one more day of being young and knowing everything (or anything). I’ve shied away from writing about politically charged stuff for years, but I think it may be easier for me now that I have more questions than answers.

Besides that, I’ve been listening to great music, reading some cool books, and reading some trendy books. I should share, or at least leave some thoughts I can refer to later.

I’ve gotten hooked on some really interesting stuff on YouTube. And while I haven’t been posting here, I’ve written quite a bit as well. Mostly on Twitter (lol), but also done some gratitude journaling (how trendy), and even had to get up in the middle of the night to get a poem out of my head.

Yeah…not really ready to share that yet.

Things I want to learn more about

Spanish, literature, music theory, economics, etc. This list is ever-expanding, and I’ve come to the realization I think a lot of people come to–I’m running out of time to cram all this in.

I’m not editing this. I’m just hitting publish.

Covid-19 Long Run Planning

One of the most annoying things I’ve had to deal with during Covid-19 (besides not being able to train BJJ) is planning out long run hydration.

Pre-covid, it was a minor inconvenience to plan water stops into a run. But now that I don’t want to use public water fountains–there are plenty around–it’s a little frustrating.

Whawha….just carry a water bottle with you. I know, but I’d rather not. And for some reason I hate wearing a camel pack on runs even though that was standard operating procedure when I was running desert trails.

2018 Excalibur 10 Mile Race Report

;TLDR Version

Ran much faster than I thought I would (1:20:05)

Ran almost as fast as I could have–made a couple of small mistakes that probably cost me some time.

Still love this race. Still love this course.

Still would rather have some socks or a credit (maybe $3/race) at Running Zone instead of a medal or crown.

Long Version

Preparation

The Villarreal sisters are good at signing up for this race, but I always have to run it. Ok, maybe not always, but every time I’ve run it has been as a fill-in for one of them. Only one sister left to register and then bail on this race. After that, I guess I’ll have to register. To be fair, Lili was medically ineligible this time around and knew that well in advance. The plan was to run with my best Frienemy, El Sueño, and we even trained together for our long runs going into this. Unfortunately, he had to be out of town for a family emergency and I was left to go it alone on race day.

No worries though. Vitamin A brings it for the Main Event!

Kinda.

I think it’s fair to say I trained ok for this race. Not trained optimally, because I’ve only been running once or twice a week–usually a long run of 6-8 miles and then a really slow three miler thrown in there somewhere. Still, we’ve been running at a sub 9:00 pace on our long days and are still able to carry on a conversation, and we’ve done them all on Mondays after my hardest jiu jitsu class of the week on Sundays.

So miles have been low, but I think the intensity I’ve been training with in BJJ (tough 4 minute intervals) combined with actually spending some time on my feet making a running motion had me reasonably trained. I did not want to make the mistake I made in November and come in without much training at all.

As a result, I think I could have run a lot faster and probably PR’d if I’d focused on running for the weeks leading into this race. But I still enjoy training BJJ more, and would have despised running the whole time if I’d been missing out on that.

The reality is that there isn’t enough time in the day for me to do all the training I want, but I’m so fortunate to get to train as much as I do, so no complaints.

I was expecting to push myself and run at an 8:12 pace to get a finishing time of 1:21:59. Realistic, and I could be pretty happy with that.

Pre-Race

If you’ve read any of my race reports you know that I don’t hold back my honesty about race organizers. And I’ve never had a bad word to say about the Running Zone’s ability to put on a race. These guys pull it off perfectly every time. Lots of communication and information leading up to their races, everything runs on time, parking and bag check are always easy to navigate, lots of pace groups, etc. Just top notch.

I arrived at Viera High School at around 6:40 and was able to park pretty close to the start line. It seemed like the rush started right after I got there. It was a little chilly, so I held off on checking my bag to maximize my time in warm clothes. I sat down next to the concession stand and just relaxed as people came pouring in.

I was the only person I saw sitting.

This is so weird to me. We’re about to go do something kind of hard that requires us to be on our feet, so I’m going to do everything I can to stay off my feet for as long as I can. But all around me are people milling about, bouncing up and down to stay warm, and even warming up. I mean, I did a short warm up before the race too, but not 45 minutes before the race. My warm up routine isn’t close to that long.

But to each his own–just an observation.

Game Time!

I was planning on doing something similar to what I did the last time I ran this race, which worked out really well. If I could average 8:15 – 8:20 miles for the first two miles I should have enough information to figure out the rest of the race. I was not looking at mile splits on my watch, just monitoring the overall pace. Looking back at the splits later, I did a decent job of running the first two miles according to the plan–8:36 and 8:09. Slower than I wanted on the first one, but no problem making it up on the second.

Making it all up on the second was probably a mistake.

I was feeling good though. I decided to gradually start speeding up and check in with myself at the 5 mile mark. I honestly don’t remember much about what was happening on the course at this point. In fact, I was driving past Space Coast Stadium the other day and realized that I didn’t remember this part of the race at all. I know it was cool out because I wasn’t over heating.

Miles 3-5 were 8:02, 8:02, 7:59. I like that.

Still feeling good, so speed up just a little and hold it for 3 miles, then turn on the juice for the last two.

7:50, 7:41, 7:51

Uh-oh. That 7th mile at 7:40 came back to bite me. I don’t remember exactly what happened there, but my best guess is that I’d been putting in some effort on the gravel road portion of the course, which was kind of loose, and when I got back to cement I kept the effort level the same instead of dialing it back and keeping the pace the same. I really would have liked to hold onto that ten seconds for later in the race.

I did my best to go harder in the last two miles (7:42, 7:36) but didn’t have much left to accelerate. I started with a plan to speed up with a mile left, but then bargained for the last half mile, then the last quarter. I think most of the time I saved in the last mile was in the last 200 yards. I wouldn’t call it a “sprint”, but it was all I had. I crossed the finish line, walked a couple of steps, and then had to run again to get to the end of the chute so I could throw up on the grass and not the track.

Official finishing time was 1:20:05, so I missed the 8:00 pace by 0.5 seconds per mile. Ugh.

I probably could have made up some time in the first mile as well. Or by taking a little shorter liquid walk break at mile 6.

But if you’d told me at 6:30 that morning while I was driving there my finish time would be 1:20:xx I’d have been really happy, so no complaints.

2017 Space Coast Half Marathon Race Review

TL;DR Version…

Years and years of training have paid off. I’m happy I still know how to run mentally, even when the physical part isn’t there.

My cardio is really good, but my legs weren’t too happy about being asked to go that far without much run-specific training.

Official time: 2:02:14

I probably won’t run this race again. And that makes me a little sad.

Long Version

Pre-race

As always, packet pickup at the Running Zone was a piece of cake. I stopped in the Monday before the race, showed my ID, and was out of there in just a couple of minutes. Race packet included a nice long-sleeved shirt and a Moon Pie. Again, I really wish we could opt for some socks instead of another shirt. And I’d DEFINITELY rather have a pair of socks instead of a medal.

More on medals later.

I had a difficult time sleeping the night before the race. I’m not used to having to deal with this. Usually, I’ve put in my time training and trust in it, so I sleep like a baby the night before a race. This time, the longest run I’d done in training was 8 miles (5 weeks ago), and I had not run more than 10 miles since March 2014 (3.5 years). In the month leading up to the race I logged 15 miles total, with only one run longer than 3.2 miles. I knew I could cover 13.1 and run the whole thing, but wouldn’t know what to expect for a race time until I was actually out there.

I figured anything under 2:10:00 would be a great day.

I didn’t have any trouble getting up at 4:15 and heading to my SIL’s house to get a ride to the race. Luckily we were being dropped off and didn’t have to deal with parking. On the way there I realized I’d forgotten to bring my watch. Ugh…didn’t want to carry my phone, but missing the splits sounded like a worse option (nerd). I decided I’d just carry my phone in my hand and record the race with the Strava app. Not optimal, but whatever. I didn’t have huge expectations anyway.

I also realized I hadn’t eaten anything for breakfast. Hooray for planning.

This was my first time running the half at this event, which starts 30 minutes before the full. In my two times running the full, I really appreciated the fact that the course wasn’t crowded at all.

Not so with the half. Or maybe it was my fault.

The Race

I jumped in right after the 10:00/mile pace. I was pretty sure I could do that for the whole race since it was pretty cool outside. I could definitely do 10:00 miles for 7 or 8 miles. Unfortunately, a bunch people who had zero intentions of running anything close to that pace jumped in at the same point. The first mile was a whole lot of running up on to people walking and not having any space to get around them safely because of the crowds. Lots of people running were going at 12:00 plus pace.

This isn’t safe. It’s like getting on the freeway and driving 35 mph.

I hope this doesn’t come off as too whiney. I think it’s awesome that people get up early and go cover this distance, no matter how fast they do it and no matter if they walk or run. And I’m not a snob about running either–I’m well aware that my best day ever running would be an embarrassingly slow day for a whole lot of people.

But please, people, go out with the group that’s running the pace you intend to run.

Corrals with qualifying times for entry would be nice for this race.

So the first mile was much slower than I’d intended. I wasn’t sure what pace it was because I’d decided not to look at pace/time on my phone at all. The biggest reason was that I wasn’t even sure I had enough battery left on my phone to capture the whole thing and turning on the screen would be a battery drain. LOL.

I was eventually able to get to a stable pace. I wasn’t sure exactly how fast I was going, but I was pretty sure I could carry it for 13.1 though (thanks Experience). I started coming up with an off-the-cuff plan. I figured I’d run this pace for the first 8, then increase it a little bit there if I still felt good. If I was still feeling good at 10 mile mark I’d run the last 5k as hard as I could.

First 8 splits:
10:27, 9:55, 9:45, 9:30, 9:33, 9:37, 9:20

Looking back, I’m extremely happy with those splits. I felt really good at the 6 mile mark and had to hold myself back a little bit. I took a very quick cup of water and a cup of Gatorade around mile 7ish and thought I’d be pretty good on liquid for the rest of the race. But it reminded me that I hadn’t eaten breakfast, so I decided I’d get a Gu and sip it for the rest of the race too. Even after speeding up a little for miles 9 and 10 (8:59, 8:42) I still was holding back a bit. I was passing a lot of people, and I knew I’d have a decent 5k left in me at the 10 mile mark.

Course note here: I passed a lot of people who were staying to the extreme right of the courses, even when it curved to the left. Run the apex of curves.

The last 5k felt like a regular ol’ 5 k (8:11, 8:07, 8:00). I didn’t have much in the legs, but mental energy can get you through a 5k. Again, I’m really glad I had some experience to fall back on. “Yeah, this sucks and your legs are going to hurt tomorrow, but you’ve felt this many times before, and it’s JUST 5k.”

Official Finish Time: 2:02:14

Like I said, I was passing a lot of people during those last 5 miles. Because I’m a nerd I was able to glean from the results that I passed 457 from the 10k point. No one passed me. So I was probably a little too conservative at the start, but that’s the side I’d prefer to err on.

Post Race

I’m very happy with this result considering how under-trained I was. I’m very disappointed with this result because I know I could have easily PR’d on this day if I’d trained.

Flat course and perfect conditions.

Finish line was awesome again this year–cold wet towels to help cool off, a beach towel with the race logo on it, a nice finisher’s medal, plenty of food and drink without long lines, and a relatively easy time getting to and from the finish line for spectators. Also, the finish line is where you pick up your bonus medal for doing 3 and/or 5 of the last 5 races.

And here’s where we get into the medal discussion/controversy/complaining…whatever you want to call it.

The Running Zone made a very smart marketing move a few years ago when they came up with the idea of giving “super-special” medals for completing the next 5 (or 3 of the 5) races. There’s a segment of people out there who love medals, and the Space Coast Marathon medals are really nice if that’s what you’re into. The result at the end of the five years is that it’s tough to get into the 13.1 distance for this race. I’m not sure if the full sold out.

So now they’ve decided to do ANOTHER special medal program over the next four years with even BIGGER and fancier medals, and they’ll be adding a SECOND half marathon course that is run over the first half of the full marathon course. So now there will be TWO different half marathons and they can take twice as many runners.

If you are into medals, get in on this. They had the new ones on display at the finish area, and the things are HUGE.

The downside for me is that there will be close to twice as many people running.

I get it. This makes economic sense. It’s twice as many people paying entry fees.

But for me, the product they are now selling and the product I want to buy are two different things.

They are selling big fancy medals for completing the distance. What I’ve always been buying is an incredible race experience on a fast course with smaller crowds and manageable race day logistics. I’d pay a higher entry fee to continue enjoying this race that way.

Honestly, I think the fee has always been an incredible bargain.

I’m not really sure what that finishing area is going to look like next year with 3,000 more runners and their families.

I think my best option is to just come out the day before the race and run the course by myself. Or the week before.

Or whenever I want. I’m old enough an ornery enough now that I figure I don’t need someone else to validate for me that the “race” counts.

I’ve already heard people saying, “I don’t want to run the North section of the course.” So I’m sure a bunch of folks will just try run the South course even though they are North registrants, making it more crowded. And adding people to the North section alone means people running the full marathon may have to navigate around these crowds–the South section has usually thinned out by the time the full participants get there.

In short, what I always enjoyed as a small local race is starting to morph into a big race. Nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want to be, just not what I’m looking for.

I think this may be a microcosm where running is headed in general. I think it’s a little bit of a shame when I perceive people running for medals. Let’s face it–these are adult participation trophies for all but a few people [Spoiler–I’m never going to win this or any other race]. And it seems like more and more people are out there with nice gear that lets you know they are “running for wine” or “running for beer” or whatever.

I’d like to see more people out there after suffering through months of training and going out on race day trying to get PRs or complete the distance for the first time. Again, I’m not being a running snob or anything here. It’s not about how fast someone can run, it’s about going through the process and suffering to find out how fast YOU can run.

I know first-hand that really dedicating yourself to running and a difficult training program can have a tremendously positive impact on peoples’ lives.

If you cross the finish line and feel like the only thing you got from the process was a piece of mass-produced metal, you’re missing out on the best of what running has to offer you. That’s my opinion anyway.

Maybe it seems ironic that I’m writing this after running a race without training and missing a golden opportunity to PR.

I get that too.

Quick Notes From 10.24.2017 BJJ Training

Got my butt kicked in KOTM. Super tired from Saturday/Sunday/Monday workouts.
We worked on the sweep, bicep cutter, and omoplata roll  from Lasso Guard
For the sweep:
  • Get a strong passing headquarters–drill this correctly every time
  • Lasso foot flexed into lat
  • Bottom foot across the hip, and as opponent circles underhook the leg
  • Bring hand to ear, picking up his knees and loading him up
  • Thrust hips up to toes for bicep cutter
For bicep cutter from the bottom
  • bait the pass and follow leg through with arm
  • Figure four the legs
  • Both hands just below shoulder. Pull down, hips up, push out
For Omoplata:
  • As he passes, stop his hips with your hands
  • Base out on elbow so he is driving you into the floor (floor doesn’t move)
  • Scoot-circle out and forward roll over the shoulder you have lasso grip with
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