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Date: 3/20/2010

Location: Fiesta Island, San Diego, CA

Although this race was over a month ago, I couldn’t resist posting the video of it. Plus, I haven’t made a post recently (no big rides or races in the past couple weeks).

The race was the first club race at Fiesta Island for the year. The competition was steep, with people doing their final prep before Oceanside which was the week after.

Here are the top 10 finisher results:

Place Name Time 1 Karl Bordine 1:03:42 2 Philippe Krebs 1:04:44 3 Trevor Glavin 1:05:03 4 Mike Clinch 1:05:06 5 Jerald Cook 1:05:12 6 Ryan Hyslop 1:05:42 7 Jake McLaughlin 1:07:11 8 Matthew Dixon 1:07:19 9 Stephen Banister 1:08:58 10 Craig Zelent 1:10:20

I was trying to hold off Mike on the run. I knew he was coming and he passed me within a few hundred yards of the finish.

I’ll put more details into the next club race I report on.


Sunday, April 18, Molly and I on headed out on a 212 Km permanent. A permanent, for those that are not familiar, is a “permanent route” that randonneurs can arrange with the owner of the route to do on their own schedule. By collecting “proof of passage” at designated control points, the completion of the permanent is verified and the time is submitted to Randonneurs USA (RUSA).

Molly and I did this on our tandem. The route is from Ocotillo to Borrego Springs, and back. Ocotillo is about 75 miles East of San Diego, just below the mountains as you go into the desert. We started at 0630, and it was 73 degrees already. About 10 miles later we dropped into a valley where the temperature dropped about 10 degrees. From there the temperature gradually increased to about 88 degrees. The winds were rather variable and unpredictable throughout the day. Fortunately we didn’t have to deal with gusts, but there were some short periods of strong winds.

Here is the route:

Here is a video that Kelly DeBoer made of the route when he did it a month ago:

Here are a few photos from our adventure.

I think this one was taken during an earthquake!


Many photos were taken out on the course. Many photos, race results, and more can be seen here. I’ve copied a select few to post here with some comments.

Here is basketball legendary Bill Walton. I see him at the Mission Valley YMCA every morning I’m there to swim.

I’ve mentioned George Vargas a few times already. He is a great person to talk to if you want to get some perspective on ultra cycling. This must be the first control point because he is still smiling and hasn’t developed the salty look yet.

And here George is in the middle of Pine Creek, so he’s a bit more focused.

You’ll probably notice Drew Peterson below with both legs extended. This is because of the power cranks I mentioned in the Pine Valley Duathlon race report. Most people that start using power cranks say they can go about a mile max the first time they use them. Not only did Drew finish the 101 mile course, he finished first! Absolutely incredible performance!

Another shot of Drew.

Not only does Drew have power cranks, it looks like he has bugs too! This is proof of the bugs I mentioned on the way down Sunrise Highway.

I don’t know these people, Alex Estrada and Deya Guerrer, I got to see them hammer up Kitchen Creek and Pine Creek. I was impressed by their climbing on the tandem.

Here I am at the last control point before my climb up Pine Creek. I’m smiling at this point. It’s a good thing I didn’t stay around much longer because I finished only one minute ahead of George.

Here I’m not smiling anymore, because I found out the water stop on Pine Creek was not the end of the climbing.

I met Justin Hoblet, a Navy helicopter pilot, on the ride. He seemed to keep passing me up the climbs and I’d catch him on the descent. Fortunately for me I was able to hold the last loop together a lot better, and finished ahead of him.

I was surprised to see Eric Stedje-Larsen there. You never know who you’ll run into on these things.

Matt Dixon, neighbor and training partner, is pushing up Pine Creek. Matt’s legs were shot since he just did two 4.5 hour half-ironman events in the past 3 weeks. It’s a good boost for his CTL.

George is smiling again! He’s probably just letting his feet rest before he heads out to do the course again. He still has his helmet on, ready to go!

These girls were amazing! I don’t know them, but I saw them out there during the first loop, and I was impressed thinking that they would probably stop after that loop. No way! They did the entire course in 9:06. Hannah Swan is 13, and her sister Moriah May Swan is 11 years old.


This was the inaugural event of a great route, put on by Chris Kostman and AdventureCORPS. The event is described as a Timed Challenge, rather than a race. It had the flavor of a race for those who wanted to make it that, in that times were recorded and could be used for bragging rights. It also had aspects of a fun ride, in that you could 45 miles or 77 miles and still be an official finisher (although your time would not be recorded unless you completed the full 101 miles). The event started early in the morning (6 am), shortly after sunrise. People were sent off in waves of 50 in 10 minute intervals, and there were about 250 riders. I thought it was pretty interesting how the waves worked because you weren’t assigned to a wave. Instead you showed up, and corralled into groups of 50 with your number marked accordingly. This let some people get started right away, and others that still had bathroom business or just wanted to stay warm in their car for a while to electively start a little later without penalty. I think a similar method could easily be used in triathlons as well, and I may comment on wave starts in triathlons some day.

The ride started and ended in Pine Valley, and consisted of three different loops that all ended up at the summit of Mount Laguna, and then descended down Sunrise Highway into Pine Valley. Each loop became a little shorter, but also had increasing difficulty in climbing. The first loop went around Lake Cuyamaca, the second went up Kitchen Creek (which is fairly popular among cyclists), and the final loop went up Pine Creek. I had never ridden Pine Creek before. It was truly challenging with long steep ascents, with grades up to 20%. It required a lot of focus, and even some really good cyclist ended up having to walk portions.

I’ve been following AdventureCORPS for about 4 years now, but this was my first event with them. I was absolutely impressed by the efficiency of the people staffing the control points. They made it very easy to check in and grab food/water and get out. With 5 stops I spent less than 6 minutes, and most of that was at the first stop where I had to wait to use the restroom. The selections at the stops were amazing and enough to satisfy anyone’s preferences.

Here is a map of the route and the elevation profile, from the AdventureCORPS website:

The descent down Sunrise Highway was a great choice, as it is rather safe without sharp turns. I was a little cautious on my first descent, but then found that I could fly down the hill without any problems. Actually, on the second and third descents there were many small bugs that did cause a little bit of a challenge. I basically had to breathe through my nose, keep one eye shut, and squint through my other eye. I had sun glasses on, but the bugs were so thick they were getting inside my glasses. They were also a bit painful when I was flying at 40-50 MPH, so I just had to hold tight and focus.

Here is the route from my Garmin:

This is my elevation profile from my Garmin:

Below is my power (in yellow) and torque (in grey). My goal for power was to keep it close to, but below 300 watts on the climbs, otherwise try to keep it above 200 watts. The exception was on the descents, where I wanted to conserve energy. As you can see, I pretty much did that. My normalized power was 245 watts for over 6 hours. My power was drifting lower from the 83 mile point on. This was after the climbing up Pine Creek. I included torque, although I’ve never looked at torque before. There were some people talking about using torque instead of power today, so I thought I’d post that. I do notice that although my power up Pine Creek was about the same as the other climbs, the torque is quite a bit higher. If anyone reading this has any information or resources regarding using torque from power meters in training, I’d be interested to hear from you.

Overall, I had a great ride. I saw some familiar faces there. Matt Dixon started the ride with me, but soon felt the accumulative fatigue from two half-iron distance triathlons in the past three weeks. Drew Peterson started in a wave behind me, and then flew by me at about 20 miles in. I couldn’t believe how fast he was going. I saw George Vargas before and after the ride, but I’m sure he was blazing fast as well. I’m certain George will be posting a ride report on his blog soon, so be sure to check it out and get his perspective of the ride. Also, at the finish I saw Dr. Eric Stedje-Larsen, who was the assistant internship director when I did my internship.

There were many people taking pictures today, so once I see them I’ll post a few here.


This was the third year of the Superseal Triathlon, an Olympic distance triathlon that was added onto the long running Superfrog Triathlon when Koz Enterprises started managing the event. I had done Superfrog in September 2001 shortly after 9/11, when it was located on Naval Air Station North Island. I was registered to do it again in 2002, but 2 weeks prior had a bicycle accident that took me out of triathlons for almost 4 years. Superfrog is truly an epic event, but last year and this year I chose to do Superseal instead because of my plans to do Ironman California 70.3. Although I miss the challenge that Superfrog presents, Superseal is a great race because it is Olympic distance (which there are few of in San Diego), and the course is rather mild, so it provides a good gauge to measure how well you can do at this distance. The races also offer some prize money, so there are some great athletes that show up.

On Wednesday evening before the race I went out to Fiesta Island where Andy Conors was conducting a 20K time trial for the Tri Club. There was a huge turnout, probably over 50 people. Unfortunately there were a lot of other people on the island. There were lot of cars on the road and many people visiting dog beach, but also a lot of cyclists including SDBC practicing group skills. I get a little concerned about doing a time trial on the island when there is so much activity. I’ve been run off the road a few times there before, and when people get into racing mentality they can often take extra risks. I realize I’m speaking in generalities, and this is mostly what I’ve noticed about myself, but I’ve seen and heard of other people getting hit by cars on the island.

Anyway, the time trial went well, and I didn’t hear of any accidents. During my first lap I came upon the SDBC team and several cars, as well as other participants in the time trial. I basically just had to wait until I had an opportunity to pass. Some of the SDBC team members were apologetic, but really that wasn’t even necessary. We were all just trying to get some practice and training in.

My goal was to practice holding power at 330-360 watts. After my analysis from the Pine Valley Duathlon I decided that I probably wasn’t holding a high enough power, and wanted to feel out where I should be for Superseal. The thing is, if I’m holding 330-360 watts, my average power is likely to be a fair amount below that. This is what I found:

This graph is with 0.5% smoothing so that it is easier to see. I drew the horizontal lines at the power range I was trying to hold. Three of the large dips are at the south-west corner of the island where there are a lot of cars for dog beach. Although this is a great area to build momentum because the elevation drops, it is also a great place to get hit by a car pulling out. The turn is a little blind, and this is one of the areas I’ve been run off the road. If the course was closed, it would be a different story.

Overall it looks like I did okay keeping it in my goal range, but it was getting a little sloppy later in the ride. My normalized-power for the three laps were 342, 324, and 335 watts. Based on this I felt that I should attempt to hold 320-350 watts during Superseal’s 40K bike.

This is also with 0.5% smoothing, and I drew in the lines for 320 and 350 watts, which was my goal range. You can see that I had a little bit of difficulty maintaining this range. My legs felt really heavy, and I thought it might be residual fatigue from Oceanside, but it might have just been that I was trying to maintain too high of a power range. The four drops in cadence and power were at the 180 degree turns on the course. My normalized power was 308 watts.

Results?

Swim T1 Bike T2 Run Total
2010 21:56 2:36 58:38 0:21 40:18 2:03:49
2009 20:17 2:16 1:00:17 0:35 39:16 2:02:41

Overall there wasn’t a big difference between this year and last year. I had hoped for a sub 2 hour race, and was particularly disappointed in my run. My swim was slower, but I realize that I haven’t been swimming very much. I’m fixing that now. My run should have been much better based on recent races. Two problems I’ve identified: residual fatigue from Oceanside, and recent weight gain. My weight cycles quite a bit, and it has been going up quite a bit for the previous few weeks, and happened to be 16 pounds higher than I was for the 2009 race. This alone could account for a much slower run.

Sometimes you have to relish in the little victories. My victory during this race was actually catching and out sprinting Felipe Loureiro, head coach of Breakaway Training. I caught sight of him at mile 4 and realized that I was catching him. I totally didn’t think I would catch and pass him, but I needed something to focus on while the wind was blowing in my face. I picked up the pace, and eventually caught him on the last stretch where I just went for it. I don’t have a kick, and usually lose every sprint finish I find myself in, but this time I beat him by 6 seconds.

Some other friends and colleagues deserve a shout out for their great performances.

From the military, Tommy Brown (Navy) finished 6th overall with a time of 1:59:01, and Greg Price (Marine Corps) finished 8th overall with a time of 2:02:57. Greg Price also represented the USMC at Kona in 2009. I also met David Haas there, who finished 35th overall with a time of 2:11:03. David Haas was one of the Navy athletes featured in the 2009 Kona video.

Some friends that had awesome races include Kosuke Amano (1:58:47, 5th), Mike Clinch (2:01:40, 10th), and John Nowoslawski (2:02:20, 11th). They all destroyed my 15th place finish. We’ll race again though.

A couple of my friends had great performances at the Superfrog Triathlon as well. Philippe Krebs finished 5th with 4:20:12, Matt Dixon 11th with 4:33:46, and Brandon Mills 12th with 4:34:42. Matt had a phenomenal performance in Oceanside just two weeks earlier with a 4:31 finish time. I think that was the first triathlon Matt has beaten me at, so it’s probably a good thing that he didn’t do Superseal. Again, there will be more opportunities to race against Matt this season.


Date: April 3, 2010

Location: Pine Valley, CA

Description: Approximately 17 mile bike followed by a 2 loop run of approximately 4 miles total.

This was the fourth and final club duathlon put on by the Triathlon Club of San Diego. It was different from the other duathlons in that it is bike-run, and the others were run-bike-run. It is also a point to point race, and has a long climb up Sunrise Highway.

I felt the mood at this duathlon was also much more relaxed. It was a later start (0900) so the sun was bright already, and there was no transition to set up. We just had to drop off our running shoes and they would be brought up and set up for us at the transition area. Nobody was really warming up either. It seemed to be a more social and casual start, even though right from the beginning we were facing about 7 miles of climbing without a break.

Mike Clinch once again won the race, taking the top prize donated by Kashi each time. A quick recap on Mike’s performances in the duathlon series:

1/16/2010 at Otay Lakes, Mike had his closest finish, winning with a time of 50:05. Marc Schommer came in second at 50:16.

2/13/2010 at Black Mountain, Mike won with a time of 1:01:20, Simond Zahnd finished second with a time of 1:01:43. Mike was also uncertain of the bike course and waited at lights for other people to show him the way, so he definitely could have finished much faster.

3/13/2010 at Carlsbad, Mike won with 1:21:31, and Matt Dixon screamed in with a 1:22:09. Matt admitted to me that he had caught up somewhat on the bike when Mike was stuck at a stop light.

4/3/2010 at Pine Valley, Mike won with and Matt once again came in second with a time of. No lights to explain that one. Mike and Matt simply dominated the hill climb.

One other competitor that just came out for the bike (but didn’t run) was a fellow randonneur, Drew Peterson. Drew and I met last year on some brevets put on by San Diego Randonneurs. Drew is light, and strong. I doubt many people noticed, but he rode with power cranks. These things are primarily a training tool, although I have seen people racing in them including at Ironman Arizona. The crank arms are completely independent of each other, so you are essentially doing isolated leg training the entire time. This requires continuous pulling up, otherwise you’ll never get the pedal over the top. Although the hip flexors are much less efficient than the extension muscles, by forcing you to use them they develop a better pedal stroke and strengthen muscles that are particularly ignored. Try isolated leg training, even with very easy gearing, and you’ll quickly see (probably within 1 minute) of how exhausting this is if your hip flexors are not trained for this. I spoke to Drew afterwards, and it is interesting that he finds he needs to keep a lower cadence with the powercranks. He said he was keeping about 60 RPM on the climb. Prior to using powercranks he would usually spin at 100 RPM. I forgot to ask how he finished on the bike in relation to the first riders, but I know he finished well ahead of me.

This race was definitely the most scenic of the series. I found the run to be amazing as you looked over the cliffs and desert. Instead of looking at each of my footsteps, I’ll just be reviewing the bike portion. The strategy I’m describing is still rather new to me (about 2 weeks now), so I’m sure I will refine it as I do more training and hill climbing with it. My Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is about 308 watts, and my best Critical Power for 60 minutes (CP60) is 332 watts (obtained during a race). These are numbers I should be able to hold for about an hour. With that in mind I planned on doing the climb at 300-330 watts, and keeping my cadence at 85-95. What I have found is that if I am climbing and my cadence falls, my power usually goes up, so I need to shift to an easier gear. If my cadence goes up, my power falls, so I need to shift to a higher gear. In a two by two table, these are the rules I rode by:

 

Cadence <85

Cadence >95

Power <300

Bring power up by increasing cadence

Shift to harder gear

Power >330

Shift to easier gear

Bring power down by slowing cadence

This worked incredibly well, until I started to become fatigued. At around 35 minutes I started noticing that it wasn’t as easy to follow the rules, so I would have to do things such as briefly lower the gearing so that I could bring the cadence up, then increase the gear to be in back in zone. Below is the chart from the power file. You can see the hill by looking at the elevation change. After the hill my strategy was different, and not necessarily the focus of the table above. In particular notice how narrow the power was, and this is with changes in grade and wind throughout the climb. This is probably most evident in the large changes in speed with minimal changes in power (and cadence and heart rate for that matter). This can be compared to the big changes on the descent. I also used minimal data smoothing in the graph.

If you can’t see the legend, red is Heart Rate, green is Cadence, yellow is Power, and blue is speed.

Below is a summary of the first 30 minutes. Notice the average cadence of 88, and average power of 315, right in my target areas.

Here is my power distribution for the entire ride. The top two bins are 270-300 and 300-330 watts.

One thing you might have noticed in my heart rate. I don’t wear a heart rate monitor during triathlons or swimming, but I try to for other training and events. My max heart rate was 148, and below is my heart rate distribution for the entire ride.

For the run my max heart rate was only 160, and this occurred near the finish where I had a near sprint finish to beat out a competitor. Here is my heart rate distribution for the run:

In general my heart rate stays pretty low, with a resting heart rate of 38-40. I noticed when we were at the starting line my heart rate was 63. My guess is that this is due to years of conditioning and developing an efficient heart. We are all (generally speaking) limited more by gas exchange capability than our cardiovascular capacity, so this may just be evidence of that. My heart rate does spike up early in running sessions when I am warming up, usually near 190 bpm, although I am running slow. Speaking with Drew after the race, he has noticed a very similar phenomenon of his heart rate remaining low. Drew largely does long distance cycling, well below lactate threshold, and may have adapted similarly. I welcome comments on this matter as I find it interesting, and see other athletes that are comparatively barely working with much higher heart rates.

 

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