Monthly Archives: August 2013

On the hunt for 5K Speed 8/28/13

Today I got out for a quick 5k run. After spending all spring/summer going long (for me) in preparation for the Half Marathon distance, I now have a sprint triathlon on the calendar as an “A” race. 250yard swim, 16mi bike, and 5K run in the Monster Triathlon on 10/20/13. This is a great race that I have done before. I want to really challenge myself to get on the podium this time around. Always difficult, but now in a more competitive age group (30-34), it’s going to really depend on who shows up to race. One thing is for sure, however, and that is the fact that the run is my limiter. The swim in this race is short enough that it is almost inconsequential – the time difference between myself and the fastest of swimmers will be only a minute. The bike is my strength, and with my new bike I feel pretty confident that I can post one of the fastest bike splits of the day. That leaves the run, which is where my work lies between now and the race. It’s not the distance that is the problem, it’s pushing myself for speed.

Today I set out without much of a plan. This is a major downfall of mine, which I need to solve quickly. I need a solid plan for improving my 5k run time. Expect another post specifically on this in the near future with the details of the plan. I have trotted away hundreds of miles just going along at a comfortable pace. Runners affectionately call this LSD, or long-slow-distance (sorry to disappoint!) I expect that my speed work plan will include some track workouts with hard intervals.

After I got going today and was feeling good, I just set a goal to negative split my run overall. A negative split is simply running faster on the second half than the first half. This seemed reasonable but challenging when putting up a 9:15 first mile. Then the second mile came in at 9:02. At this point I was definitely feeling the work I had put in, but also had the nagging voice in the back of my head saying to “HTFU Buttercup, it’s only 5k”. Obviously I haven’t been running enough. In a snap I made a slight adjustment to my goals and set out to make each mile faster than the last. Since I only had one mile to go, that meant doing it in under 9 minutes. No problem. 8:24 for the third mile and then a quick 0.1 mile wrap up to do the full 5k at an 8:16 pace and I called it a day. 27:30 total, which is anything but blazing fast even for me. I felt like a I put in good work, however, and more importantly my body did not complain. After being in to see Dr. Maloy twice in preparation for the Hotter’n Hell with IT Band issues, Calf Issues, and Hamstring Issues I was good with it! Bike fit is dialed in and I’m feeling ready to get on a strict training plan and see some gains over the next 2 months.

Monster Triathlon here I come.

Hotter’n Hell 100k 8/24/13

I don’t know if you would call this a race report, since it’s not a race, but here are my thoughts and recap from the Hotter Than Hell 2013.  This event really snuck up on me.  I realize that it is planned months and months in advance, so feel free to quit judging me for making excuses about my level of preparation for this race.  I wanted to ride it last year… just not as bad as I wanted to celebrate my 5 year anniversary with The Wife, the date on which the HH100 actually fell.  So this year, it was on the day before and The Wife so kindly reminded/asked if I was going to participate.

I was in no way ready to put up a respectable time on the 100 mile route, so I opted for the 100km version.  Everything was up in the air until the last week when our arrangements were made (sister-in-law living in Wichita Falls ftw).  A few other logistical items put in line, and the “race” was on!  We drove up to Wichita Falls Friday afternoon and I was in line at the MPEC registering for the race in person (late registration stupid tax and all).

THE EXPO:  I’m no expo expert by any means, but I would call the HHH expo average at least.  There wasn’t anything particularly amazing about it.  All of the usual suspects where there including the local (and not-as-local) bike shops were there along with a few smaller manufacturers pedaling their wares.  Nothing major like bike manufacturers, but definitely some big names such as Pearl Izumi, WD-40, RBM, etc.  My own, local, bike shop had a small booth but they were closed by the time I got there around 7:30pm.  I got registered and picked up my packet with the included swag and called that good enough.  Nice bottle, t-shirt, coupons…  The thing I most tempted by was what I would estimate to be 32oz draft beers.  The will-power was strong with me that night.  “Save it for after the ride tomorrow,” I thought.

GETTING THERE: The starting cannon goes off at 7:05am.  That’s good news for a ride called the Hotter Than Hell, but bad news when your ability to get dropped off at the starting line depends on a 9 month old getting up at a planned time.  Parent  critique if you like, but we don’t wake a sleeping baby.  Luckily, I chose a route from the Sister-in-law’s house that had a HUGE shoulder.  7 miles – a good warm-up in my book.  As an aside, it always cracks me up when I ask how far away something is and get a story about how FAR it is and how it is on the ENTIRE OTHER SIDE of town.  You know, like 6-7 ENTIRE MILES.  Again, critique me if you like, but riding 7 miles before I ride 62 miles is of little concern.  It turned out to be perfect!  I showed up with tons of time to spare before my corral was allowed to hit the road.  Strava data below.  Perfect!

THE START: I hit the starting line just after the canon went off, which was fine because I still ended up waiting about 15 minutes.  This gave me enough time to text The Wife to let her know I got there safely (the sun wasn’t fully up when I left the house), and my Dad to keep him updated throughout the ride.  Quick picture snapped, a few mosquitos swatted, and I was ready to go.  The 100k riders were lined up behind 3 groups of 100 mile riders (3 different speeds).  From my observations the majority of the riders are doing the full 100 miles, which is why it took awhile to get started.  It’s also why I spent the entire ride passing folks (more on that later.  Behind me where the 50 mile, 25 mile, and 10k riders.  All in all, the 13,000 or so riders of the 2013 Hotter’n Hell were line up across 7 city blocks.

As expected, once it was my turn to get moving, it was slow going for the first mile or so.  This is always the most wreck-prone part of the ride.  I made it through unscathed, as did all of those I saw around me.  Once we really got moving and I was able to get up to my cruising speed, I was passing everyone.  This is the disadvantage of starting behind the slowest 100 mile riders.  My 100k pace is much much faster than those “hoping” to finish 100 miles.  I have to say, however, that you do feel like a real bad ass when you’re doing nothing but shouting “on your left!” and passing folks one after the next after the next.  This went on for the first 10 miles.

THE RIDE:  At about 10 miles in I came across the first bit of carnage on the road.  All riders came to a quick halt with much shouting of “SLOWING!” and “STOPPING!”.  There were sirens blaring and clearly an ambulance was on the way.  It was coming up from behind and there was a lot of confusion about what everyone needed to do.  With normal driving conditioning setting in, everyone first moved to the right.  Then someone was shouting “come on guys!” and “ambulance!!”.  The ambulance was coming up on the right side.  Once it got close enough that we could see it, everyone quickly got to the left of the road and moved on.  There was already a medical crew on site and the rider was on a stretcher.  I tried to see as little as possible.  Things like this are a constant reminder of how diligent one must be at all times.  Never get comfortable.

If I had to guess as to why the crash occurred I would definitely put my money on a bottle on the road.  Side story: my mother-in-law is a nurse.  She once told me that she volunteered at the Hotter Than Hell in the medical tent and that she would NEVER do it again because of how bad it was.  IV’s as far as the eye could see, treating patience for exhaustion and dehydration.  Let me tell you – with as many bottles as I had to personally call out for riders behind me, I can see why people were getting dehydrated!  I have never seen so many dropped bottles in a ride in my entire life.  It was crazy!  I have seen many others comment on this fact through twitter and other means.  Just crazy.  I had one close call… I bet you can see the HR spike in my ride data.

It was shortly after that situation that I finally hooked up with a rider that was going my pace.  I led him out for about 3-4 miles, and then he took over for the next stint.  He ended up being a bit too fast for me, but this was probably the best 10 miles of my entire ride.  We were in a groove and working together.  It was awesome.  I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have at the time, because I figured I would be able to hook up with more riders down the road that I could work with.  That turned out to be wrong wrong wrong.

Once the 100 mile riders continued down the road and I turned off along with the rest of the 100km riders on a different path things changed considerably.  I was already passing pretty much everyone, but at least I had the opportunity to work with some people as mentioned above.  Once I split off with the 100km group, I was ALONE.  I don’t mean alone in the sense that there wasn’t anyone else around.  I mean I was ALONE at my pace.  This is not a brag.  I am not that fast.  The simple fact, however, is that I was the fastest person around for the next 45 miles.  For over 2 hours I did nothing but pass folks with one exception (I’ll explain later).  While you do feel like a real bad ass when you’re just passing everyone, it also sucks because you have no one to share the work load with.  And let me tell you, I put in some WORK!

One of the coolest parts of the ride was definitely going through Shepard Air Force Base.  This is a unique opportunity and the Airmen were very welcoming.  I was sure to thank all that I passed (along with the other volunteers and police as well).  They had planes out and many were stopped to have their picture taken.  It was really cool.  At one point, while on the base, they had over 100 Airmen lining both sides of the road cheering very loudly as we rode through.  Let me tell you, the Air Force knows how to cheer!  It was awesome!  It actually made the finish line kind of lame.  This cheer made the hair on the back of my neck stand up – I felt like a rock star.  There was a woman riding in front of me who did a little swerve that I had to dodge.  The Airmen went from YEEEAAAAAHHHHH  to OOOOOOHHHHHH.  It was pretty funny, and loud!  Very cool…

Less than 5 miles later I was coming in to the finish.  The Wife and Baby B were there to cheer me in.  It was a great ride overall, which was made even better by the support of my family.  I went and picked up one of those giant beers I wanted badly the evening before and immediately began to carb back up.  Cycling is hard work, after all!

I really enjoyed the Hotter Than Hell.  This is definitely something I plan to do next year, although obviously it’s all about the 100 mile route.  Not finding a pace line for 45 miles was a bummer.  Next year I’ll hopefully join a local shop.  Hope you enjoyed!

Road Closed 8/17/13

You know, it’s pretty rude to close an entire road without letting anyone know!  C’est la vie  in the urban sprawl and never ending construction that is Dallas/Ft. Worth.  Not to worry, though, since there’s always another road waiting to be enjoyed.

The nice thing is that it turned out to be best that my ride got cut a few miles short.  I was on my road bike today, which I haven’t been riding much lately.  With the Hotter Than Hell coming up out of nowhere, I wanted to get some time on it.  Joe Friel recommends a bike fit once a year, and clearly he knows what he’s talking about.  It has been nearly two since I had a fitting done on that bike.  Today I started getting some knee pain in my left knee that was enough to impact the amount of power I was putting on the pedals.  It definitely shows in my average HR on the ride.  I’m going to make some basic adjustments that appear to be what is needed based on this handy chart provided by BikeFit.com

I know from previous experience and work with Dr. Maloy that 99% of the time, any discomfort experienced on the bike is an issue with fit.  There are many moving parts to a proper bike fit, and small adjustments make a big impact.  I’ll get the full treatment done, but hopefully I can get myself through next weekend on my own.

Anyway, back to my ride.  After a quick turn-around due to the closure, I took off to the East and enjoyed a loop that is frequented by many local cyclists.  Seeing more fellow cyclists than cars on a ride is definitely something I enjoy.  I snapped this pic on my way home on one of my favorite roads.

Here’s the Strava info from the ride today.  No power data because I was on the Madone.  (Although this evening I moved my quarq power meter over and now have the ability to swap it between the Madone (road bike) and Speed Concept (Triathlon/Time Trial bike).