Astute loyal readers of this blog (0 people) will note that there was no Week 12 Six Gap Training report. It’s not that I didn’t train during week 12, but it was pretty uneventful outside of the autocat beta race I did.
This past week was way more eventful. It was the first week of the Zwift Classics series, which was pretty awesome, with some low key rides mixed in throughout the week. But I did take on a big event on Saturday, doing a 100 mile virtual effort. Hard to call it a real century since the bike didn’t move at all, but it was a five and a half hour effort, and that has to account for something.
I sort of made a badge hunt out of this event–why not use the opportunity to level up? So I got the 10x and 25x badges for laps around volcano circuit, then I navigated over to Tempus Fugit to finish up the final 60k. There’s also a 100 mile badge you get at the very end of a century ride. I have to admit, I was expecting to only go EXACTLY 160 kilometers, but had to do almost 161. That last bit of a kilometer was pretty brutal mentally.
But mental toughness is what I’m going after with rides like this. There’s not really much climbing involved on this route, even in the laps around Volcano Circuit. It’s all about sitting in a tiny room for a long time and making circles with your legs. And that’s what makes riding outside so much easier when I have to do it.
I was really happy to get that distance out of the way–it’s been out there haunting me for a while. That’s the good news. The bad news is that my desktop computer I was using for Zwift appears to have died. I did a little research and found that the most economical option for me was to go with the Apple TV solution. Way cheaper than a computer, and the only other thing I had to purchase is a bluetooth HRM since my old school Garmin straps are Ant+ only.
I’m going to be missing a few days of training for a family funeral, which will give everything time to get delivered, and I’m gearing up for a big weekend next weekend as well.
5 Ride | 8 hours | 160 miles | 2,690 ft | Training Score: 414
This was a pretty light week of climbing, coming off a week where I’d struggled with hilly longer rides. My legs definitely appreciated the little break. Focus this week was placed more on doing a couple of longer rides (63 miles and 39 miles) along with a short but intense TT on Tempus Fugit.
The long ride was the highlight of the week–done on actual terrain with actual people, eating actual food. I overate on this ride, and I don’t regret it. I’ve been trying to eat every 1.5 hours, but that didn’t seem to be cutting it for rides that were taking bigger effort. This time, I opted for every 45 minutes or so. I didn’t resort to carbs though–snacked the whole way on egg/guac mix and some beef jerky. Went through just under 4 bottles of water as well. Hydration hasn’t been much of an issue so far in training, but I haven’t run out of water yet either.
One huge difference I noticed in riding outside was comfort. This ride was planned kinda last minute, and all I had clean and ready to go was a pair of triathlon shorts–very little padding for a 3+ hour ride. I was surprised at how comfortable my booty was. There are more opportunities to move around in the saddle and adjust when riding outside that you get on the trainer. Another reason I’m happy to spend most time on the trainer–anything that makes the real pain day more comfortable.
I did find myself in want of some gloves. It was pretty dang muggy, and we even had some rain at the end of the ride. I never felt unsafe, but I was aware of my hands and that I needed to be mindful of them. Another big difference in riding a road bike that I’m just not used to. In the aero position on a TT bike you don’t have to worry about this.
More climbing for the next couple of weeks, and hopefully at least one session outside each week. I haven’t been doing the weekly TTTs on Zwift for a few weeks, and although I miss them, I think this opening on the schedule has given me a good chance to focus on what I need to do for Six Gap.
This post is part of a series where I’m overthinking my approach to training for the 2021 Six Gap Century ride in North Georgia. All time spent thinking and writing probably would have been better spent on the bike
At first glance this would appear to be the main issue–sitting on a bike for hours and covering 100 miles. The problem here is that, because of the climbing involved, and because I’m kind of a big guy, this ride probably looks more like 175-200 miles when you’re thinking of it in saddle time. To put it in running terms, I’m not training for a marathon, I’m training for an ultra.
If I were doing a normal century ride, I’d be able to count on some things like riding in a big group with a lot of draft. I’d also be able to discount some things like nutrition and hydration. It’s not that I could ignore those things, but they’d be less important. Riding at a pretty easy pace for 4-5 hours is a lot easier to manage than riding 7-8 hours on a roller coaster of effort.
One part of this is adjustment in equipment. Most of my bike time has been in triathlon training, so I’m accustomed to tri shorts with minimal padding–something I can swim and run in. I’m planning to switch over to a bib for this event. I haven’t had a chance to purchase yet, but it’s my cart along with a heaping helping of butt paste.
I’m trying to account for the saddle time by working out how often and how much I have to eat to stop the bonk. That means regularly doing 2-3 hour rides pretty often, even 3 months out from pain day. Something else I’m going to incorporate is two-a-day workouts–doing a long easy ride in the morning, followed by a shorter but more intense ride in the afternoon.
I did a mini-test this Tuesday with a pretty easy one hour ride at lunch (intensity = 73%), followed by a time trial sufferfest in the afternoon (intensity = 101%). Counting the warmup time for the TT, that ended up being an hour and 45 minutes of saddle time, but broken up by a couple of hours. What I’m trying to achieve here is not just the saddle time, but saddle time at different effort levels.
To be honest, the plan was to do a similar test earlier this week, but suffering from the keto flu (see weight loss plan) had me bonking on what was supposed to be a relatively easy route for the first ride. I’m definitely going to have to play with this approach and adjust as I go.
The bottom line is that I really don’t like being on the bike for a long period of time. I can do it once on the designated day, but I’d like to get there without having to do a 6 hour ride weekly. It may come to that, but I have time to check out some different options for now.
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:
Increased FTP–I have a lot of room to grow in the C class
Weight loss (to give me better w/kg)
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.
Last night I happened on a couple of entries from my personal journal that made me chuckle a little. It’s crazy how much your life can change based on what seem like small occurrences and decisions.
I mean, they seem small at the time, but they end up being huge.
Meanwhile, the big stuff I was actually concerned with during this time, which I won’t be sharing, seems so trivial now.
June 28, 2016:
Last night we went to a BJJ open house, and the whole family absolutely loved it. What I was really happy about is that this is a non-BJJ politics place. Ok–I didn’t actually know there was such a thing. Apparently a lot of these places are territorial and won’t let people from different schools train at their gyms.
I like this idea better–more like rugby. You are welcomed to come train with anyone from any team. And we’ll even buy you a beer at the airport.
June 29, 2016:
Went on a short run last night to get some BJJ recovery and had a little bit of an epiphany. I was considering not going back because of the risk of injury and what that may do to my ability to go out and train. But I realized–I’m not going to qualify for Kona, I’m not going to qualify for Boston, I’m not going to be playing rugby in the World Cup (or even A-side for Brevard), and I’m not going to be UFC champion.
So I should just do whatever I feel like doing. Why would I bail on something that I’m really interested in and seems is about to get me over a fitness hump I’ve been fighting for a while. I truly don’t care about racing anyway, so who cares if I don’t get to do a marathon and get another medal that can go in a box. And as far as BJJ is concerned, I don’t care about getting a belt or winning a tournament or anything. Just want to train and get better.
Hopefully I’ll be reading this and laughing even harder in June of 2026.
I’m not a Muay Thai guy, but it was really cool to get to go to a seminar with THE Muay Thai guy!
One thing I love about Off The Grid BJJ is the steady flow of visitors we get. Along with people who are dropping in for a class or two while they are on vacation, we’ve had people who are doing training at Patrick Air Force Base who show up for a couple of months, snow birds, and a black belt professional MMA fighter who came down to surf and train for the winter.
The vibe Professor Frank has created in the gym is a major driver. He’s welcoming to everyone, willing to teach anyone, and anxious to learn from anyone. He’s always bringing in former training partners and connections he’s made to come in and teach us a ton of cool stuff.
So while I usually don’t train on Muay Thai nights (there has to be some time for family), I was not about to miss the chance to learn as much as I could from a Muay Thai pro for three hours.
The stuff we learned blew my mind. I will say that my footwork and lack of coordination kept me from creating the lake of sweat I expected, but the guys who already have those skills got a great workout and every one of them were eating the information up. Personally, I can only compare it to going to the first time I went to a Pilates class and realized that I wasn’t able to get into the positions that made this an actual workout. Lots of room for improvement and a real eye opener.
We were constantly switching stances, mixing up punches and kicks, punching off of different feet, and changing directions. This seminar gave me a real appreciation for how wide open Muay Thai is to different styles.
To top it all off, Sean is a really friendly and approachable guy–great personality for a seminar where the idea is to come in and learn as much as possible in a short period of time. I have a sneaking suspicion he would also be a pretty tough task master if he was in the situation of training someone for a fight. He’s been there and knows what it’s like, so I’m sure he’d have really high expectation.
Improved Ezekiel chokes (execute 5x on ranked opponents)
What went well?
I still can’t say enough good things about The Grapplers Guide. There’s a treasure trove of good content there, and it makes it very easy to find exactly what you’re looking for to improve. In this sprint I was trying to get better with the details of Ezekiel chokes, which are a weak point for me.
And…that may be just about all that went well.
What went poorly?
Glad I’m not limited to a set amount of characters. I achieved one tap on a ranked opponent. To be fair, I didn’t get very many attempts. I’ve had a cold that just won’t go away that kept me out of a couple of classes. And that cold absolutely destroyed my running (well, laziness too) and yoga activity. So I didn’t get nearly as much time in for endurance and stretching/mobility.
How can the process improve?
I’ve been assigning myself fitness and stretching sessions arbitrarily. Instead of saying I’m going to run on three days and assigning the date to them, I’m just saying I’m going to run three times and grabbing one of those out of the bucket.
I’m taking a week or two off from doing sprints. I have this dern fool half marathon in a couple of days, and I’m not really sure how I’m going to feel after that since I’m severely under-trained. I want to take that time to figure out a workable schedule for everything and think about what I want to work on next.
Blue belt is supposed to be about finding out what works best for you with trial and error. I’m not giving up on Ezekiel chokes just yet, but round one didn’t go as expected. But if nothing else, they are great threats from mount to make people show me their arms.
The Most Offensive Rugby Song Ever? – Wow. I hope these guys never learn the lyrics of some of the songs sang at the bar after the matches–at least in this country. To be fair, the English and the Welsh clubs have guys who can actually sing beautiful songs in beautiful voices.
American rugby clubs are the gangster rappers of rugby music.
12 People at class tonight–three new people and a visitor from NY. Awesome!
Warmups are getting pretty easy for me now. They are actually just warming me up instead of wearing me out. I did 45 minutes on the bike at HR 120 right before class, so I was already pretty warm. Standard stuff with jump-ups, crawls, guard retention, and hip thrusts for triangle. Then we did partner drill (Ed) for KoB and stepping around the head to switch sides.
Technique–again working with Ed
We worked on triangle from guard and turning failed triangle to arm bars. The key for both of us was rotating for the little angles in the triangle, especially at the end. We both sort of preferred just going for the armbar from that position because, being bigger, it’s tougher for us to scoot into the rotations for the best position–definitely something to work on–and the feeling right now (I’m sure this is will be proved wrong) is that the armbar is way more natural for us.
6:00 with New Dan (WB)–Taller than me, maybe a little stronger. A little heavier and a little more experience. He works stiff. He immediately got me into some sort of lock on my legs that I had to tap. We haven’t learned any of that stuff yet, so I don’t feel bad. Was pretty back and forth the rest of the time. I made him eat my weight from side control for a little bit. He got me again with a slice across the mouth that made me eat the gi right before time. #Survive
6:00 with Ben (PB, visiting)–This dude wore me out, but I was pretty happy with how I did. I probably had 40 pounds on him. I know he wasn’t going all out, but he tapped me twice–triangle and arm bar. Pulled two sweeps on me that I saw coming a mile away and could do nothing about, which was funny. He gave me a side control gift for a little while. #TryToSurvive.
6:00 with Louis (WB)–Louis is pretty banged up and asked to go more as a flow roll. So happy to do that because I was exhausted from Ben and he has helped me so much already. I know that I’m heavy, and that’s pretty much all I know, so I get it that people who are injured don’t want to just suffer my shoulder in their face. I immediately pulled guard and held that for 5:30. Very relaxed and he worked to pass. Showed the armbar and triangle when he opened them up, but didn’t attempt to take them. When he defended I released. He passed and I worked on defending side control for the last 30 seconds. #Defend.
6:00 with Norm (PB)–Norm is maybe my favorite person to roll with right now because he can flatten me at will. And he’ll do it too. I know I don’t offer him very much of a fight though, and I feel bad about that. We’re about the same size, so I’m hoping a benefit I can give him is that I’m strong enough that he has to think more about technique than size/strength. But I’m sure he’s way past that and already has really solid technique. I know he passes my guard very quickly and I haven’t made it out of his yet. The best I’ve gotten is maybe 3/4. He completely wrecked me with an arm drag that included some jewel mining, but he was nice enough to show it to me. He also coached me through an escape from mount. Maybe the highlight for me was that he went for a bow and arrow, and I recognized it from class on Tuesday and was able to defend it until time ran out. #TryToSurvive
Yes…everyone still beats me, but I’m ok with that. Losing is learning and improving.
Triathlon Fatalities Aren’t Going Away – Really hope someone can figure this out. Everything I've heard is that most of the people who die are fit and experienced, but have an undiagnosed heart condition.
And, uh, we also really need to do something about the number of people getting mowed down by cars when they are out training on their bikes. I stay inside the house because of that. Also there is Netflix.
Inspiration and Outrage in Boston – Outrage! If you're worried about the integrity of bandit runners, stop using your company's computer and bandwidth to try and track down bandit runners using Twitter and Facebook.
4 Manly Lessons from the Minor Leagues – Some great stuff in here for triathletes too, even if you aren't trying to be a pro or get some sort of sponsorship. "Dominate the things you can control." and "Action without vision just passes time." are two of my favorites.
Unfollow Chocolate Milk! – It's about time someone with a louder voice than me said it. I bet Kool Ade, Tang, and every other sugary drink company wishes they'd thought of this scam before the Chocolate Milk cartel did.
Weekend warrior: mastering the art of the triathlon humblebrag – Really, there's no reason to be humble about it. If you're going out and doing ultra distance events regularly, or kicking ass in your age group in short and mid distance events, you are a bad ass. You are MUCH more of a badass than 90% of the population.
Flaunt it while you have it. You're not getting any younger.
That usually means that I showed up on time every day and didn't spend too much time excusing myself from the class to deal with work issues on the phone. While in the class, I quickly went through the examples in the "labs" where we weren't ask to solve any problems, but simply follow directions–"type this, then click that."
The Coursera classes I've taken for free, in contrast, are quite challenging. More importantly, I've learned A LOT.