Wednesday, July 26, 2017

First ride on my Wahoo Kickr

After a long somewhat uninspiring Zwift career solely executed on a CycleOps Fluid 2 Pro bike trainer, also known as a dumb trainer because it ain't got no brains (I know that's a double negative but, I live in Georgia), I've decided go smart.

My wife and I discussed my purchasing a smart trainer briefly several times over the past few months but I (we) found that making a final decision on which trainer to buy was too complicated. Ultimately, I found a 25% discount from Performance Bike and had to make the plunge. These things almost never go on sale! Susan and I drove into Atlanta and bought my new trainer, a Wahoo Kickr, right away. I contemplated buying a CycleOps Hammer smart trainer but went with the Wahoo for two reasons; 1) the Wahoo seems to be the most popular trainer in its price range, and 2) Performance Bike didn't have a Hammer on-hand.

The Kickr comes with an 11-speed cassette but my tri-bike and road bike both have 10-speed cassettes so I had the shop mechanic replace the cassette with one I could use.

When I got home I packed up the old dumb trainer and put the new smart trainer in its place in my pain cave.

I downloaded the Wahoo Fitness app to check for software updates. I also wanted to get a handle on the spin down process I'd read about. If you're not familiar with smart trainers, this process essentially calibrates the trainer before use. Part of my decision to buy a smart trainer has to due with some recent results I saw on Zwift. I rode the London Loop course and put in a pretty hard effort which resulted in me receiving the orange jersey which, per the Zwift website is awarded to "The overall lap segment: measures best overall lap time, and matches with the orange jersey." I found it hard to believe that a 56 year old man could best the 21 other riders who were also riding at the same time. Obviously, this was an anomaly in the Zwift algorithm.

You'll note that of the riders listed on the London Loop image below that my result in orange for rank 1 is the only one of two where a smart trainer wasn't used. If you don't know, smart trainers are indicated by the little lightning bolt beside the rider's name. Also of note is my time shown in the list. The time shown for me is 28:01, one second slower than the rank 2 rider but, my laptop showed 27:59. I don't know why there's a difference.

After riding on the Kickr for the first time I don't know what to think. My results were better than I had expected. My FTP, as calculated by Zwift went from 195 to 200. Before anyone says anything, I did the Advanced Spindown using the Wahoo Utility app before my ride. Yeah, I had a few issues registering my unit and completing the regular spindown so after an hour of fiddling with it I called tech support and they walked me through the process. I think the issue was that I had Zwift running in background.

Inaugural Wahoo Kickr ride 

My Strava account shows that on this one ride I had 62 new segment achievement awards and a boatload of new PRs with the Kickr. That must mean something. It was probably partly due to the fact that I was riding the Rapha challenge route I rode on some roads that I'd missed previously. It could also mean that the excitement of having a new toy translated through to improved performance. Who knows! The reason for my new FTP and PRs doesn't matter. The fact is that my rides are calculated more accurately and that should help me gauge any future gains. More importantly I can now participate in Zwift races without feeling like a dumb trainer outcast or cheater.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Training on the Tri-bike

After not riding my tri-bike in a dog's age, I finally put some miles on the ole steed. My 2010 Quintana Roo CD0.1. I rode with my training buddy Brenda. We're both training for the Storm the Fort triathlon in Kingston, TN on August 26th, and later on in the year, Ironman Florida. Brenda and I rode a route from her neighborhood in Stockbridge, Georgia to Griffin and back. In total we put in 70 miles that day. Right off the bat I noticed several things that differed from riding my road bike.

It should be noted that in the past 2 or 3 years I've logged over 8,800 miles on my road bike while my tri-bike has accumulated only 200 miles, including the 70 miles I had just ridden with Brenda. My mountain bike has 0 (zero) miles logged in the same time. That needs to change. These figures are not completely accurate because I haven't always had my gear entered into Strava, where I found these numbers. But, you get the gist - I need to ride my tri-bike more and my road bike less.

That recent 70 mile ride in the aero position on my tri-bike quickly caused fatigue in my legs. I just hadn't been training that way. My neck soon grew sore as well. And then there's my hand position. For an (cough-cough) older gentleman my aero position is pretty aggressive. This aggressive stance made my hands and shoulders ache as well as feeling like my grip wasn't secure enough.

Riding the tri-bike on the trainer
That said, I've decided to make some changes. First, I've moved my tri-bike to the trainer. Riding my tri-bike more should help strengthen my neck and stretch my gluts and lower back. Second, I'm going to try changing the angle of my aerobars. Currently they're flat, parallel with the ground. If I angle the tips up slightly they should feel more comfortable without negatively impacting my aerodynamics.

Brenda dragged me around middle Georgia like a rag doll on our ride. Maybe the next time we ride together I'll be a little more helpful.

Thanks for reading.

2017 Ironman Florida Training Plan

My 20 week Ironman Florida training plan started on Sunday, June 18th with a day off. That's what I'm talkin' about - less workin' out and more thinkin' about workin' out! Thinking ahead though, I decided to ride 40 minutes on the trainer on Sunday to get myself psyched-up for the days and weeks of swimming, cycling, and running to come. My goal this time around is to finish the 20 weeks with 100% of my training done. Wasn't that what I had planned before? My two previous attempts at Ironman Florida in 2011 and 2013 had me finishing only 75% and 69% of my plan, respectively. In 2011 my running game was tops. In 2013 my running suffered as I focused on swimming and cycling. My swimming results were only slightly better than in 2013, as compared to 2011, but my cycling was awesome. I finished the bike segment in exactly 5 hours. Not bad for an old fart! This time it's gonna be different. I'm gonna stick to my plan as much as possible and we'll see how things shake out.

I used Microsoft Excel to create my plan. I added extra cells (not shown) with formulas to help me calculate my weekly and overall progress over the next 20 weeks. This plan calls for 304 hours of exercise.
Week 1 through 7

Week 8 through 12

Week 13 through 16

Week 17 through 20
Good luck to all my fellow Ironman Florida competitors. Train smart, stay safe, and don't forget about your nutrition, rest, and transition.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wrong Way Feldman

My running buddy Jim Macie and I ran the Firecracker 5K/10K foot race at Nash Farm in Hampton, Georgia on July 4th. Instead of following the masses to Atlanta for the Peachtree Road Race we decided on a local Get Set Grow race that was a little closer to home. Jim had pre-registered to run the 5K race and I made the decision to run the 10K the night before the race.

On race morning Jim picked me up at 6:45 a.m. I woke up at 6:00 a.m. so I had plenty of time to get ready. I set my gear out the night before so I wouldn't forget anything. My breakfast was light, just a bit of cinnamon roll, water, and Gatorade. Not too much.

Jim and I arrived at Nash Farm with plenty of time to spare. The starting chute was set up as were the registration tables. I registered and Jim and I set about waiting for the race to start. I brought several energy gel packs with me and ate two of them just before the race.

Jim with his race t-shirt before the race
I titled this blog Wrong Way Feldman not after the famous football faux pas when a player ran a recovered fumble the wrong way during the 1929 Rose Bowl or even the pilot who flew east from New York to Ireland instead of west to California in 1938. I found the second incident on Wikipedia. Instead, this is a Gilligan's Island reference. I'm a child of 1970's TV sitcoms. Feldman, also a pilot, landed on their castaway's island and when he left to go get help and rescue Gilligan and his fellow islanders he flew the wrong way. In my case, the 2017 Firecracker 10K was my Wrong Way Farmer.

The night before the race, and with a good deal of searching, I found the 10K race course certification on the USA Track & Field website. I was surprised that a certification even existed. That's rare for smaller local races. I posted the certified course map on the race director's Facebook page to verify the course map which he did promptly.

Firecracker 10K course map

Front side t-shirt artwork

Back side t-shirt artwork
The t-shirts are cotton.  Timing was done via a race bib chip that recorded runners times at the finish only. All runners have the same start time.

The race started just a few seconds after 8:00 a.m.. The 5Kers and 10Kers started all together. I whittled my way through the few runners that were in front of me and at some point the 5Kers and 10Kers separated. At that point I believe I was in second place about 200 yards behind the front runner. I continued on with the front runner no longer in sight. I took a right turn after calling out to a volunteer "10K left or right? Right right?" I turned right and continued on. My pace was good in spite of the heat and high humidity. I passed the 5-mile marker which was on the other side of the road and the front runner came by in the opposite direction soon after. As I approached the second turn-around I called out to the volunteer "is this the turn-around". She said yes but then said I was going "backwards". Thinking I had reviewed the course well the night before and again that morning I was taken aback by her statement but I decided to continue on. My new route dumped me out onto Mt. Carmel Road. I continued on, took a left onto Dutchtown Road which eventually dead-ended. I turned around there. I knew I was well off course so I removed my race number. I ran back to Conkle Road. As I ran I passed the water station I'd seen before and a few runners and walkers along the way. Thinking that my only error was running too far and not that I had completely gone off course I ran through the finish gate holding up my bib number in my hand. My finish time was 56:11. I had run 7.68 miles. My pace was good, under a 7 minute/mile for the first 5K but after I went off course I lost some of my motivation.
Jim came in first in his age-group. Apparently I placed as well but knowing I had gone off course I decided to forego the awards and Jim and I left the race. I must say that I was a bit disappointed in myself for missing the turn back onto Carl Parker Road, especially when I'd studied the course beforehand. I'd also looked at the 2016 results so, from the start, I knew my chances were good.

Now that this has happened, I can see how someone can unknowingly medal in a race. It wasn't until I got home and checked my Garmin watch that I realized how far afield I had gone. Somehow I missed the first right turn and took the second right instead. I was in fact running the course backwards after all.

Let this be a lesson to me and anyone else who either runs races or volunteers. If you're running - know the course. I thought I did, but I was wrong. Volunteers should talk to the runners, not yourselves. Runners are acting on depleted oxygen to the brain and need someone to tell us 5Kers go this way and 10Kers go that way. At least that's what happened in my case. I need someone to do my thinking for me.

I don't know if I was the only one to miss the turn. I hope so. I'd already planned to run a few miles more than the scheduled 6.2 miles but only after the race was done, not during. I guess I accomplished some of that goal, sort of.

Thanks for reading.