Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Coast Ride 2013... some numbers...

2013 was my 6th edition of the Coast Ride so I knew exactly what to expect heading into the weekend. Thankfully, the weather gods delivered spectacular sunshine and warm weather (mid 60s to mid 70s) for our trip down the coast... and this forecast seemed to tempt even more people than usual on this 3 day cycling trip down the California coast. When I first did the coast ride, there were maybe 20-25 people making the trip. This year's group numbered about 125, with a second group of 50 cyclists also making the trip. That's a lot of people for an informal ride... kudos to the *organizers* for making the trip happen.

What is The Coast Ride? It's riding your bike from San Francisco to Santa Barbara over the course of three days... 375 miles and about 18,000ft of climbing.

Since racing Ironman Cozumel in late November, I went into serious off-season with barely any exercise for 3 weeks after the race, and then very light and short workouts through the holidays and into the first few weeks of the New Year. I accidentally rode 5hrs the Saturday before the Ride but all other rides had been 3 hours or less. This made me nervous about tackling the three successive 7hr days, especially among a group of very fit, hard-core cyclists. We had several pro cyclists and pro triathletes along for the three days... it's a talented group!

Coach Hauth had me do a lactate test a few days before the Ride so we would have some baseline numbers to help me stay as aerobic as possible (goal is base-building) during the Ride. The magic number was 200w... and the instructions were to ride the flats in the 140-170w range and 180-220w on the hills, but to really avoid spending too much time above 200w. I haven't been working on any top end power so it would hurt me to spend too much time in the 230w+ range.

With the numbers in mind, I developed a plan. The plan was that my husband and I would push off 20-30mins early each day so we could get on the road, warm up our bodies and get into our own rhythm without the pressures of getting caught up in group cycling dynamics. I figured a group would catch us at some point, but I hoped that the 125+ riders would be broken up into smaller groups by the time we were caught and we could jump in the group if the pace/effort was appropriate.

Day 1 took us from the Golden Gate Bridge to Seaside on the Monterrey peninsula. 127 miles (including the ride from home) and about 5,000ft of climbing in just over 7 hours. Surprisingly, no groups ever caught us and we were the first to arrive at the hotel. I averaged 155w for the day and spent just 10mins about 220w. I felt fantastic at the end of the day and was psyched that I had stuck to the plan.

Day 2 took us from Seaside to Morro Bay, including 80+ miles of coastal scenery on highway 1. The views are stunning and the terrain is leg-breaking. Once again, hubby and I pushed off early with another friend, pro-triathlete Beth Walsh (californiatraining.blogspot.com). Again, the goal for me was to ride well within myself using power as my gauge. A couple of groups of riders passed our trio while we were dawdling over coffee and scones at the Big Sur Bakery (so delicious!). As we got back on our bikes, my husband slipped off the front while Beth and I hooked up with a group four, including friends Barb (http://energizerbanzo.blogspot.com/) and Hailey (http://haileyintraining.blogspot.com/). Our group of six worked together for the next 40 or so miles until the lunch stop at Ragged Point. My husband was waiting there with Hailey's husband and we were thankful that they had ordered up some salty ham and grilled cheese sandwiches and cokes for us to share. Nice work, boys!

We had just enough time to scoff down those calories when one of the guys in the lead group announced they were leaving in 2 minutes. Now, having done this ride before I knew that the final 45 miles to Morro Bay were relatively flat... some rollers and only one real bump of a hill in the small town of Cambria. It would go REALLY FAST in the group of 40+ riders... BUT it would also be very challenging since you have to STICK the rollers to stay with the group and you need to pay close attention at all times, riding two abreast in a double paceline. I decided to try and ride with the group, even though I knew I probably did not have the top end power to get over all the rollers, especially if the guys pushed the pace at all.

The first few miles were stressful but I was hanging in there even as we lost a few riders off the back of the paceline. I had a death grip on my handlebars as I sat in the group, riding my line and trying to maintain my front wheel 6 inches back of the rider ahead. The boys in the group were chatty so it helped take my mind off the miles remaining and the *stop-go power* that I needed to apply to my pedals to maintain that 6 inch gap. One cyclist asked me what I did for a living. I responded back ("finance") then asked him the same question. His answer was simply: "this". It turns out that it was Ken Hanson (USA Cycling Pro Criterium National Champion) of the Optum Kelly Benefits team.

The paceline was rotating and as we reached the *bump of a hill* in Cambria, I found myself sitting third wheel with at least 20 riders behind me. I had figured that I would be off the back of the group by this point but now I saw an opportunity... maybe I could *pull off a Thomas Voeckler* and hang on to the tail end of the group over the crest of the half mile hill. As we started climbing, I was riding 260-270w but I was sliding backwards through the group. Just as I was sure I would pop off the back, another pro cyclist from the Optum Kelly Benefits team came alongside and whispered to me to stay seated. He then gently pushed me up the hill... my power plummeted to 160w but I was riding with the group! It was pretty awesome... and I was so thankful not to be staring down 20 solo miles when I was already over 100 miles for the day.

I ended up making it to Morro Bay with this group and I have to confess that I was pretty stoked, even if I did get an *assist*! There were about 5 other women in the pack of cyclists but four of them race with a pro card so I was beyond happy to be in their company.

The last 45 miles changed the numbers for day 2 quite considerably: 124 miles, 7hrs and 165w average power but I spent 45mins above 220w and many of those minutes occurred in those last two hours of riding.

Celebrating day 2 with Jess, Sonja, Christine, Beth and Hailey... before I got sick!

Unfortunately, this year there was no day 3 of riding for me. I got food poisoning overnight and was unable to start the day. I hitched a ride to Santa Barbara and spent most of the day napping and waiting for my friends to meet me in SB.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Looking back as I prepare to move forward

I’ve seen a few folks posting their 2012 training totals online recently so it made me curious to check out mine. Since I am a data junkie, I decided I would also compare to other years.

Below are the results: I cannot believe that I have 9 years of data… that’s dorky! It’s also hard to draw any particular conclusions between volumes and how I raced each year. Sorry that it's hard to read...

2012 = 426,088yds swim; 6,000mi bike and 917mi run
One ironman race (Cozumel)

2011 = 418,202yds swim;  6,926mi bike; 1,015mi run
No ironman races

2010 = 442,259yds swim; 7,681mi bike 1,043mi run
Epic Camp and two Ironman races (St. George, Hawaii)

2009 = 479,548yds swim; 7,552mi bike; 1,129mi run
One ironman race (Hawaii)

2008 = 390,937yds swim; 6,359mi bike; 1,259mi run
One ironman race (Arizona)

2007 = 370,264yds swim; 6,796mi bike; 1,030mi run
No ironman races

2006 = 279,064yds swim; 5,861mi bike; 1,153mi run
One iroman (Arizona). London for 4 mths w/ no bike. Broken hand

2005 = 349,596yds swim; 8,531mi bike; 1,239mi run
2 ironman races (New Zealand, Hawaii)

2004 = 566,135yds swim; 7,540mi bike; 854mi run
1st ironman (Lake Placid). Running injury (ITB) for most of year

The only things I will say about the above data is that I have accumulated a pretty big base of cycling miles over the years and I think that helped me get away with fewer miles in the legs (just 5x 5hr+ rides to train for Cozumel – all the rest were sub 4hrs or less). Secondly, I need more run miles… I ran out of endurance at Cozumel and some of my better running came in 2008-2009 when run miles were above 1,100/year.

As I look ahead to 2013, I have 3 races currently on the calendar: California 70.3, Vineman 70.3 and Ironman Hawaii. There will be other local races but those are the main ones. One of my main goals is better running so my coach and I have already talked about more frequent running throughout the season, as long as I can remain injury-free.

I also decided to review and reflect on my training for my last Ironman (Cozumel 2012), to make sure I was not forgetting certain elements of the training that I found challenging as well as the areas of training that were successful.

Here are my notes for the 10 weeks of training that I completed for Ironman Arizona Cozumel… I’ll be looking back at these notes when the going gets tough this season as I juggle my job in finance, a construction project (building a house), supporting my husband (also works full time and is training for Ironman racing) and stay in touch with friends and family

Training period was September 10th to Race day = 10/11 weeks
• After some very consistent swimming throughout the season, I slipped to swimming only 1-2x week in the build-up to the ironman
• Overall volume was quite low with peak week of 19hrs but with 15hrs being more the norm
• Run volume was low and there was not a single run longer than 1:45. I didn’t even do many easy 30-45min runs.
• Even with the low volume, I still seemed to get very tired
• I had to travel a lot during this timeframe – 3 cross-country work trips (2x NYC and 1x Miami) and one personal trip (Maui)
• I never run very fast in training. Barely any sub-7:30 pace.
• While there were only 5x5hr rides, there appears to be a big bike focus in here, which indicates why the bike was my strongest discipline by far

Week 1
Week after Vegas 70.3 was all about recovery. 9 hours total training where the longest ride was 2.5hrs and power was generally below 160w. Longest run was 1hr (7 easy miles).

Week 2
My back was bugging me post Vegas so running volume/frequency needed to be managed carefully. Things began to ramp up in week 2 as total training hours jumped to 16+hrs and the weekend consisted of a 115 mile ride (6hr 45min) and a 12 mile run (1hr 43min) but only one other run of 30mins.

Week 3
I had to travel to NYC this week so no swim/bike during the week but I completed two x 1 hour treadmill sessions with pace work and another easy treadmill session during the week in NYC. On my return to SF, Saturday’s big workout was a 100 mile ride (6hrs) with 2x 1 hour of power sections (toggling between 5’ at 190-200w and 5’ at 160-175w for an hour). I followed this ride with my best ever t-run from a long training ride… 6mile run in 47mins. I only managed one swim the entire week :( Total training time was 15hrs.

Week 4
I was back in the SF office all week so it was a fairly standard training week except that I missed a swim workout. I did 2x 90min computrainer sessions on the bike where I aimed to spend a good chunk (30+mins out of the 90mins) of time riding 200w+. I also did two 80min aerobic runs during the week. The weekend was noted by coach as a *big bike weekend*. Saturday was a 4hr ride where the goal was to increase watts each hour for 3 of the 4 hours (1st hour was 155w, 2nd hour 166w and 3rd hour 175w). Sunday was an aerobic 3 hour ride and a long swim

Week 5
Due to the Columbus Day holiday, the *big bike weekend* continued into week 5 with another 5hr ride with 2x 1 hour of power sections (once again, 60mins of toggling between 5’ @190-200w and 5’ @160-175w). As I wrote in my training log “my legs were tired and screaming at me most of the time on climbs... heart rate was low... I was tired!”

After the Monday holiday, it was also another travel week for work as I headed to Miami for a conference. I swam one day. I took one day off and only managed a 45min treadmill run on the third day of the trip. I was rested for the weekend which brought on another fairly big effort. I rode 6hrs aerobic on Saturday (included 6x 70secs at 240w) with a 4mile/30min run off the bike. Fast for me! Sunday was a swim and a 90min aerobic (?!?) trail run.

Week 6
No travel this week but I still took it easy for the first two days with a rest day followed by a light spin. The weather was scorching in San Francisco and my mid-week 5x1mile progression run (descend from 8:30 to 7:30 over 5 miles) was a disaster but I seemed to make up for it with a strong computrainer class the next day (lots of time above 200w!).

The weekend ride was an interesting one… 4 hours at Ironman watts! I have never really ridden such a steady state training ride before so I was worried when I did not feel so great. I was on a new bike and we rode the Silverado trail in Napa so we could TT as much as possible. I managed 170w average for the four hours but felt uncomfortable a lot of the time. I also bagged on the run, completing only 30mins of the prescribed 60mins. Thankfully I made it through the week, wrapping up with a 12+ mile interval run on Sunday (1hr 42mins) that left me feeling much better about my running.

Week 7
Once again, the first two days of the week were all about active recovery with swimming and easy spinning. Wednesday was a treadmill session but I got through it happy, able to hit the prescribed paces. The end of the week brought more travel! This time it was a personal trip to support my husband and friends racing Xterra Maui. I packed my road bike and the highlight of our four day trip was a 5hr ride up and down Haleakala… 10,000ft of climbing! I also managed a little running and swimming during the trip but the travel ate into training time so I logged just 13.5 hours for the week.

Week 8
Another chill start to the week to recover post-travel but midweek brought about a hard treadmill session that lasted 90mins backed up with a hard computrainer class the next day. Ouch! I also completed two Purplepatch swims during the week but missed a weekend swim.

The weekend brought more biking: Almost 6hrs and 105 miles in the East Bay (Del Puerto Canyon ride) followed by a 7mile/60min run that built in pace by 2mi segments. I was supposed to back that up with a 3 hour ride and 2hr run the next day but I was tired and completed only a 2hr ride and 1:15 run. I was not happy that I had fallen apart so badly, especially after a successful day of training the day prior.

Week 9
Day off on Monday and just a swim on Tuesday but found my legs halfway through a Wednesday morning bike class. I had to fly to New York (again!) for 24 hours that week so I included a NY Plaza hotel treadmill session of 5 x 1 mile build, descending from 8:30 to 7:30 pace by mile. Thankfully, I had reached taper week so it was a very light weekend of training and I was able to recover from the travel. I was supposed to ride 3 hours on Saturday but somehow only managed 1 hour but I cannot remember why! Rain? The rest of the weekend’s training went as planned.

Week 10 (pre-race week Arizona)
Light-ish week kicked off with a 2hr spin on Monday and then shorter swim, bike, run workouts sprinkled through the next few days.

Week 11 (pre-race week Cozumel)
I got food poisoning the night before Arizona and never made it to the start line. I switched plans and scored an entry to Cozumel the following week. I eased myself into this week to ensure my body recovered from the illness. I did some harder bike efforts on the Wednesday with an easy run off the bike. Once in Mexico I just did easy sessions to acclimate.