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Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Tag Archives: Triathlon

Ironman Louisville 2017 Race Report

Overall Time  –  13:29:04

The entire experience of Ironman Louisville was great.  The race was well organized, the bike course was gorgeous, the local support was great.  It was a fun experience that I would recommend to anyone looking to go the full 140.6.

The Swim

I was a little nervous about the self-seeding.  We were told to account for the river current as we placed ourselves into corrals similar to marathon starts.  My swim has been improving and I was pretty sure I could manage to complete the swim in one hour and ten minutes.  When I arrived at the swim start area, I could see the corral groupings were organized in increments of 10 minutes:  60 minutes and under, 1:00 to 1:10, 1:10 to 1:20, 1:20 to 1:30, …  I stood between two corrals for a couple of minutes.  My estimated time was on two corrals!  Should I swim with the group where I will be the slowest or swim with the group were I will be the fastest?  I choose the 1:00 to 1:10 corral.  I planned on waiting at the back of that line, but the poor volunteers needed help.  They kept trying to get folks to break it into two lines, but nobody was listening.  I walked up to where they wanted the second line, stuck my hand in the air, and yelled, “This is the other line.”  I was now lined up to be one of the first swimmers in a group that would be mostly faster than me.  Oh well.  We marched to the dock and went in like lemmings.

I expected to be passed throughout the entire swim and I was right.  I tried not to pay attention to folks banging into me and stay focused.  For the first 400 meters, I struggled to catch my breath.  I finally figured out that splash of the other swimmers was filling my breathing space with water!  There was not much I could do about that except breathing more often to make sure I was okay.  As the crowd thinned, the breathing was easier.  I got into more of a rhythm and felt stronger.  This was crucial because we were swimming upstream.  I could not feel the current, but I knew it was there so I pressed hard.  As we neared the turn around buoy, I could tell we were moving out to a stronger current.  Those last 200 meters upstream were more challenging.

At last I made the turn.  It had taken me 26 minutes exactly to go about 1400 meters upstream.  Once I made the turn, things got easier.  There were still lots of swimmers, but we were a bit more spread out.  Now I could relax a bit and just cruise with long strokes.  In training, I have been learning to take a breath on every 2nd stroke, 3rd stroke, 4th stroke, or 5th stroke.  For me, the more strokes between breaths the more efficient.  This flexibility paid off big-time.  I did 5 strokes when I could, but a lot of my breathing was determined by the proximity of the nearest swimmer. If a swimmer was on my right, I would breath on the left.

I aimed for 1:10:00, but I finished the swim in 1:08:07.  Bam!!!

The Bike

I knew there was a lot of elevation gain on lots of rolling hills.  I watched my Garmin carefully so I would not exceed my pre-planned maximum effort as measured by my power meter.  I was going fast on the way out, but I was sticking to the plan.  The first miles were just easier.  Then came the relentless rolling hills.  I upgraded my bike to prepare for this, but I think it just wore me down mentally.  They just wouldn’t stop.  I would refocus periodically to stay positive.  First lap done.  On to lap two.  Then came the rain and very strong winds.  There were many points where it felt as if the wind were trying to rip the handlebars out of my hands.  It was intense.

All that being said, there were a lot of positives.  The course was a gorgeous ramble through Kentucky horse country.  Awesome.  I did not miss that.  I saw it and it made me happy.  I also saw the fans.  Some were local and some were out-of-towners there to support their athlete.  They were there.  They had cowbells, signs, those hand clappers things.  There was one tiny girl sitting on her driveway bang on a cooking pot as loud as she could.  That smile was priceless.  These things all helped lighten the load of the tough course and the inclement weather.

I was hoping to finish the bike in 6:30, but I was happy to settle for 7:08:25 under these conditions.

The Run

I had been looking forward to the run most of all.  I held back on the bike with the goal of having a very strong run.  By the time I ran out of transition, I knew my A-goal for the run was not realistic.  I decided to just go out, do my best, and enjoy the run.  Well, I did enjoy the support, the crowds, and many other things.  My run started off slower than intended and it went downhill from there.  I felt healthy (unlike last year’s fiasco), but I had very frequent breaks at the port-a-potties and I just kept slowing down.  I went as fast as I could without cramping.  I went into run/walk mode and just tried to make the best of it.

Then I hit the wall.  I had underestimated how many calories I would need to consume.  There were two times on the second loop when I had to focus on getting a lot of calories in the tank right away.  I was getting lightheaded.  I was very well hydrated.  I had balanced my electrolytes.  I just had not consumed enough calories.  In hindsight, I should have packed more Honey Stinger Waffles (gluten free) and I would have been fine.  I may have been able to maintain a consistent pace had I started consuming heavy early in the run.  Remember, this is only my third attempt at a 140.6.  My lack of experience and miscalculation slowed me down.

I finished the run in 4:51:57.  Honestly, this is the only part of the race where I think I could have done better.  It was not for lack of effort.  More lessons learned.  Next time I will over-pack for the run.  I will bring more calories than I think I need just to make sure.

People

I am sure that I would forget someone if I tried to name everyone who supported me in this endeavor.  IronMuna, David, Melanie, Jim, Jennifer, and several more were there at every big moment to cheer me on.  We had several members of the Rocky Top Multi-sport club racing.  Their support is priceless.

 

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Levels of Bike Fit for Speed and Comfort

“The bike should fit you instead of you trying to adjust to the bike.”
— Dr. Jeanne Williams, Quest Therapy Consultants

I have had two bike fits in the last several months.  Each had its purpose.  I got my “new to me” bike in November.  It is a Blue Triad SL.

Event 1:  Bike Fix by Chris at Biketopia

Chris is my bike guy.  I ask a lot of questions and I try to buy things there regularly to support Chris for his generous sharing of bike knowledge.  When I decided to upgrade from an aluminum frame to a carbon frame, it was Chris’ advice that I followed.

When I finally committed to making the change, I bought a fixer-upper.  It was really

Blue Triad SL

My “new to me” Blue Triad SL.

inexpensive.  I knew, however, that things were not totally right.  It did not shift right, the brakes did not work well with my carbon wheels, and I was not going riding until Chris fixed it up.  This turned out to be a wise choice.  On of my shift cables had broken out out its lining inside the bike.  This caused bad shifting and damage to the inside of the frame.  Chris wasn’t too worried.  He replaced my shifter cable with a self-contained system that would seal it off.  Better shifting and no more rubbing the frame.  He also replaced the brake pads and made a few other minor adjustments.  It was ready to ride.  Thanks, Chris!

Outcome of Event 1:  The bike was safe to ride!

Event 2:  Standard Bike Fit by Chris at Biketopia

Chris at Biketopia (www.biketopia.com)

Chris at Biketopia (www.biketopia.com)

It was the off season when I got my bike.  I rode periodically and tried to save money by tweaking my own bike fit.  I moved the seat, moved my cleats, and several other things.  Unfortunately, I was getting sore knees.  This is not normal or healthy.  If riding your bike is hurting your joints, get help!  I buried my pride for the moment and went to Chris for help.  Chris got out his measuring tools and did a basic bike fit.  It took a while, but he figured out that most of the issue was with my bike seat: it was too high.  I have a long torso and shorter legs for my height.  Chris actually had to cut off about 1 inch of my carbon bike frame atop the seat post.  It sounded scary to me, but Chris has done good things for me in the past.  When I mounted the shortened bike, my knees were tracking properly.  No more knee pain.  Thanks, Chris!

Outcome of Event 2:  No more knee pain from riding my bike.

Event 3:  High Performance Bike Fit by Dr. Jeanne and Brent Williams at Quest Therapy Consultants

The bike was healthy, my knees were healthy, why do I need more than that?  Goals.  Big goals.  I want to perform well in a 140.6 mile race known by most as Ironman.  This requires a 2.4 mile swim, and 122 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run.  Hours and hours of non-stop fun.

Here is where the next level bike fit comes in: speed and comfort = performance.  Whether it is a sprint triathlon or a full distance 140.6, folks who want to compete at their absolute best need more than the standard bike fit.  To get the most out of the effort on the bike and to be as fresh as possible, you must have everything tweaked to optimize power and comfort.

I knew I wanted more.  I contacted Dr. Jeanne Williams to schedule a bit fit with her and her husband Brent.  Both are highly qualified in different ways.  Jeanne is a medical professional with a doctoral degree in physical therapy.  She knows the human body.  Brent is a master bike mechanic with multiple certifications.  They both have a plethora of experience and training that make them a perfect dynamic-duo to do a bike fit that is precise in terms of both the body and the bike.  In addition to all of this, they have spent some time with the legendary John Cobb.

Measuring the angles in my aero position

Measuring the angles in my aero position

In a 3 hour session, I rode several times while Dr. Jeanne used her fancy analysis gizmos and gadgets.  There were dots on my shoes and joints.  There were low-powered lasers on my knees.  There was a fancy tablet with a specialized set of apps to video and analyze the geometry of my ride after each adjustment.  As a data nerd, I have to say it was pretty darn cool. Both Brent and Jeanne would use tools to make adjustments.  They also both asked a lot of questions and explained what they were doing and why.

Dr. Jeanne and Brent Williams

Dr. Jeanne and Brent Williams adjusting my handlebars.

Here is a list of some of the adjustments made on my bike and shoes:

  • Bike Seat:  They checked the bike seat height.  Chris had adjusted it in my first bike fit.  Jeanne and Brent were happy with the height.  🙂  They did move the seat back a bit to accomodate my long torso.
  • Stem:  They adjusted the stem 20mm.  The stem holds the handlebars.  This was also to account for my long torso.  These first two changes allowed me a straight torso for improved breathing AND allowed my arms to rest properly in aero position.
  • Aero Bars:  The aero bars were straight out, but that did not match my natural hand position.  They rotated them both inward a bit and this felt much more comfortable.  Jeanne explained that this reduction in tension means I expend less energy in the forearms.  I am training for an Ironman, so this would be very important.
  • Shoes/Cleats:  The cleats on the shoes can be moved forward or backward.  They can also be turned at different angles.  They did some minor adjustments and even added some tiny wedges/shims to fix my pronation problem.  In the end, these adjustments ensured that my knees stay directly over the pedals and provide the maximum power for the efforts.  Healthy and strong is the result.
file_001.jpeg

Dr. Jeanne Williams explaining the angles and the effect. (the angles are marked visibly on the screen)

The most important tool they used was their brains.  Jeanne is a PhD in physical therapy.  Brent is Vice President of the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association (http://www.probma.org).  That is a lot of brain power being applied.   They collected data from the bike, from the shoes, and from the rider.  They did this each time anything was adjusted.  They conferred with each other until they agreed and they explained things to me as they went.  This medical/mechanical duo makes for a top notch bike high performance bike fit.  This high performance bike fit meant more comfort and more power for me.

Thanks, Jeanne and Brent!

Outcome of Event 3:  Increased power and comfort to help m maintain my Ironman training.

A Philosophy of Bike Fit

I interviewed Dr. Jeanne and Brent to understand their goals and philosophy underlying the bike fit process:

The main goals of the bike fit process include:

  • comfort
  • performance
  • relaxed breathing
  • more power

In the broader picture, this dynamic duo has more grandiose goals:  more cyclists and triathletes as well as more satisfaction for those that ride.

They told me the story of one of their bike fit customers who had been happily riding his bike on perfectly flat terrain in the plains of North Dakota, but recently moved to East Tennessee.  The man told them, “I do great on the flats, but every time I reach a hill I have to stop and walk!  This fellow would have stopped cycling altogether if not for the changes made in a bike fit.  He did not need the high performance bike fit.  He did not have knee pain.  He did need more power to get up those hills.  A little time with these bike fit professionals and he was putting out more power with the same effort.  It only took a few minor adjustments.  This man entered the bike fit with frustration and walked out a happy cyclist.

In the end, it comes down to this:  “The bike should fit you instead of you trying to adjust to the bike.”

Remember This:

“Anyone can get on a bike and start riding.
To be healthy and optimize your power, you need a bike fit.”
— Dr. Jeanne Williams, Quest Therapy Consultants

Bike Fit:  One Size Does Not Fit All

If you are a professional triathlete and you have at least $2,500 and 3 days to spend, feel free to make an appointment with John Cobb.  For the rest of us, the best we can do is going to someone trained by Cobb or some other bicycle legend.  At the level of detail that I was seeking in a bike fit, I spent 3 hours.  Like me, you can start talking with Jeanne and Brent (or your local bike fit team) and find out how much of the bike fit protocol you actually need.  You may need the full $350 bike fit session, but you may only need parts of it.  That would save both time and money.  As with any good bike fit professional, these experts will talk with you long enough so that you will know what services you actually need.  From there, they can give you customized bike fit options to fit both your goals and your budget.

To get fit on the bike, get the bike fit that fits your goals.

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