Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Brick Simulator

Yesterday's training involved an "extended brick workout" for the upcoming 70.3 in Austin at the end of the month.  Originally I had planned to do it early on Saturday morning, but I realized that if I tried to get out the door by six in the morning, I would be riding in the dark of night still as the days have slowly gotten shorter.  On top of that, we got our first freeze in Colorado on Friday night meaning that early morning temperatures were around 26 degrees.  And since discretion is the better part of valor, I wisely chose to postpone my brick until mid-afternoon.
Lately, I've been reading a lot of chatter online about how rough the bike course is down in Austin.  The conversations seem to range from the "worst road I've ever ridden" to "really not that bad."  So just to be on the safe side,  I decided that for the first part of the brick, I would plan the day's ride on one of the rougher roads nearby: Highway 96 towards Wetmore.  This highway climbs west past the Pueblo Reservoir and is characterized by varied pavement quality.  Some of it is decent shape, but there are many areas where it's cracked, uneven and just downright bumpy.  There is also a slowly deteriorating strip of wheel wash along several miles which can be near impossible to see at times (more on that later).
The Road Surface has varying degrees of  "crappy"  for much of the ride towards Wetmore.
I used City Park as my transition area and set off a little after 2:00 p.m.  It was a pleasant day in the mid-60's, but I was glad to be wearing arm warmers for the ride as there was just a slight chill in the air from the preceding evening.  I made good time headed West in spite of the fact that it's a gradual climb out of Pueblo, managing to cover the first 20 miles in just under an hour.  Not too tired and still feeling like I had plenty left for the return trip and the run to follow.  Turning around, I was confronted by a headwind which had a modest impact on my speed.  The mostly gradual descent on the return trip allowed me to keep a pace somewhere between 19-21 mph most of the way.  In terms of pace, this is right where I hope to be for the 70.3, so I was pleased with how the riding was going.  Within the last 4 miles there is one significant climb before a long, steady descent back into town.  After cresting the hill, I was just settling back into the aerobars when I managed to ride right onto the wheel wash, that had been somewhat obscured with gravel and sand.  As I tried to maneuver my way out of the wash, the rattling of the bike caused my Garmin to pop out of its mount on the stem and it clattered onto the ground behind me.  I braked, unclipped from my pedals, and then "jogged" back  about 30 yards to where it lay on the ground.  Fortunately, it was still in working order suffering only a minor scratch.  I shuffled back to my bike and rode the rest of the way in without incident.  Thanks to the auto-pause feature, I'm guessing the brief stop didn't have a huge impact on my overall pace for the ride. Given the road conditions and the headwind, I was pleased with an overall pace of 19.7-8 mph.
Back at the the car, I popped open the hatch and got ready for my planned run of 10 miles.  I still had about a half-bottle of water from my ride, so I took a few sips along while I gulped down a few Sport Beans that I'd picked up a couple of days before at The Great Divide.  I was very thankful that it was a cool afternoon and I would guess the temps had dipped into the upper 50's by the time I set out to run.  The park and river trail provide plenty of shade which made for some excellent running conditions.  My original plan had been to join up with the Arkansas River Trail and do an out and back run towards the reservoir.  As I began my run however, it occurred to me that instead of heading out towards the reservoir, I could turn back towards the park, head up the hill, and create a nice 3 mile loop instead.  I liked this idea as it's similar to the three loop course that we will be doing in Austin.
When running off of the bike I'm always a little uncertain as to how fast I'm actually moving.  Usually it feels like a crawl, but often it's faster than what I perceive.   This afternoon, I'd decided just to run with my phone and since I didn't want to keep turning it on and off, I only looked at it about three times during the run.   The run broke down like this:
Lap one: (23:40)  I was feeling very strong on this lap.  In the back of my mind I was trying to remind myself to take it easy as there was still a fair amount of running to do.
Lap two: (25:06)  Still feeling good , but my pace had started to dip just a bit.  I was also running without any water and had long burned through the energy provided by the sport beans.
Lap three: (27:29) The last mile of the run was a good 10 minutes long, mostly because I decided to hike up the last hill instead of running it.  My stomach and gut were also a bit distressed due to the combination of a lack of water, only a few sport beans, and the fact that my last meal was breakfast consisting of eggs, beans, potatoes, green chili, and coffee.  Having eaten at 9:00 a.m. that morning, it had been a good 7 hours since I'd had anything to eat (guess that won't be my pre-race meal for the 70.3 race).  By the end of the run, I was entering into a pretty major "bonk" that would have really decimated me, if I'd had more running to do.

Comparison of the elevation profiles for Austin 70.3 and my Brick Simulator Loop
In fact, it took me a good hour or more before I finally felt back to myself.  By late evening I was fine, albeit a bit sore.  Fortunately, Sunday is mostly a rest day for me.  The combination bike/ run took me a total of about 3 hours and 18 minutes and I covered a distance of 49.2 miles, which is about 70% of the bike/ run distance of a half iron-man event.  It also gave me some insight into a few things in terms of race preparation:

  • Bike pace feels about right:  Somewhere between 19.5-20.5 mph seems very doable for the bike ride.  While another 16 miles is still quite a bit to ride, I felt strong enough on the bike that I think I can manage the speed.  Throughout the ride, I worked on not pushing harder, so that I would have something left in the legs for the run.
  • Run pace off of the bike is faster than it feels:  My first three mile splits on the run were 7:30, 7:56, 8:14.  During the 70.3, I hope to run somewhere between about an 8:15-8:30 pace/ mile.  This means I need to pay attention to pacing early on so as not to go out too fast.
  • Need to take on more nutrition/ hydration during the race:  I burned approximately 3000 calories during this brick.  However, I only consumed less than 200 calories and one 20 oz. bottle of water during the 3+ hours.  Way too low.  Whether it's liquid nutrition, gels, shots, etc.  I need to consume more during the event if I'm going to have enough energy to make it through the day.  Same goes for H20. Yesterday the weather was cool which helped me from becoming too easily dehydrated, but some extra water would have made a huge difference if I was still looking at another couple of hours of actual racing.

Yesterday's brick left me feeling pretty good about where I'm at in terms of my training to this point.  While the volume is a bit lower than what I might normally put in for a half ironman, it's actually better than I thought I'd do considering the obligations of work, etc.  Originally, I had planned to do another brick in a couple of weeks, but at this point, I don't think that's going to be necessary.  Instead, I'll work on a combination of some longer rides on the bike, coupled with some runs that incorporate speed work.  That along with the planned swims a couple of times a week, should set me up nicely for a taper beginning in about a week and half.

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