Wed, 16 May 2007
When I pulled the yellow computer out of the box, I thought it was a very cool gadget. It had all the regular features you need - speed, cadence, time, and intervals. It also had the feature it was really meant for - power.
At first I would go out for a ride and see this new set of numbers flash on the screen. I started to see a nice 150 watts on a flat road. I saw 390 watts on a hill. I saw 0 watts on the downhill. It seemed to make sense.
I do love the fact that the new 2.4 SL PowerTap (the little yellow computer) does not have any wires. None! I have the hub built into the wheel on the back (Zipp 808), but all the features like speed, cadence and power are all done with no wires. I hate it when you have a nice bike and have to add wires all over the place. This feature alone is well worth upgrading from the older wired versions. Was that way to OCD?
After working with the PowerTap for a few weeks, I needed to understand what this was all about. Neal Henderson (Boulder Center for Sports Medicine) started me thinking about how important it was to train in the correct zone. He said things like, "You can train all you want, but unless you are training in the right zones, you may actually be going backwards." At first I didn't understand this. How can training, either fast or slow, actually not do you any good? Was it possible to do workouts that actually don't help you go faster?
Here was the best comment Neal made, "you need to train slower to race faster." You can listen to the entire interview here. It is well worth the time just to listen to Neal talk. It all seems to make sense now.
So what's the big deal about power?
Like Coach Mike and Neal said over and over and over. You need to train in the correct zones. You need to know your zones. You need to follow your workouts and you will get faster. That is the one thing that Coach Mike said to me so many times that I never believed. He would say these ultra confident statements like "Stu - if you do the work you WILL get faster." Or here is my favorite, "Stu - Just do the work and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish." HUH? What?
Here is the difference for me. I think the easiest way to explain is to show you the way I trained in the past and how I train / race now:
Last Year: Ok. I will try and go out on the Ironman route (on a training day) and try and average 17 MPH.
Result: The first part of the ride had a 20 MPH headwind. I went out, stuck to my game plan of going 17 MPH. With that big of a headwind, I was having to kill my legs in the first 20 miles. I was basically shot for the rest of the workout. I had the desire, however, so the next 40 miles I was still trying to keep up the pace. At the end of the day I was just gone. This workout, however, had results that would hurt my next few workouts. I simply went to hard at the wrong times. I averaged 16.5 mph. I didn't even accomplish my goal for the day.
This year: Ride the Ironman route with power at 65% for the 1st hour and 70-80% the next hour and a half. The last 30 mins I would ride at 85%. [*** This is just one example. I do many different types of power workouts in training.]
Result: I don't even look at speed. I may from time to time just out of curiosity, but for the most part it really doesn't matter. I stuck to the plan and felt great after the workout. The wind was the same, but with power you don't even think about the wind. [***As a side note, people that did Wildflower talked about how windy it was. I'm going to be totally honest when I say that I didn't even notice it. Why? When riding with Power, you can eliminate a lot of the elements like wind, rain, and hills. ] So this ride had the 20mph headwind, but I just stayed at my power level, and it was no big deal. On the flip side of this, when I had the wind at my back, I would (in the past) often lay back a bit as I was going 20mph. Why go faster? This year, however, I would keep that power at the level for the workout and I found myself going 28, 29 or even 30 mph. [*** This happened at Wildflower as well. On the hills and with a headwind, I would stay in the power range, and when the wind was at my back, I was just flying past people. I was staying very steady from a power perspective.] At the end of the ride I averaged 17.4 mph, and felt so much better than in the past.
Coach AJ (part of D3 Multisport) talked about "burning matches." He told all of us that you only have a set of matches. We agreed that for the race at Wildflower, I had 3 matches to burn, and that was it. I thought about this all day, but looking back, I might have burned matches, but with the help of the PowerTap I was in total control. I kept my power at about 190-220 on the hills. Could I have gone faster? I'm sure I could have, but keeping my power at this level made it so I didn't burn too many matches. When the day was done, with the help of Neal, Coach Mike and Coach AJ - I burned my 3 matches on the 3 biggest hills, but kept my power in the levels I needed to have something left on the run.
I still have so much to learn. Coach Mike looked over my numbers and is working with me to get more out of my cycling. With power you cannot hide. With power you can look at a good day and figure out how to make it better. That is what Coach Mike did for me. He said he was happy with my day, but now has a plan to make it even better for Ironman Wisconsin.
So the question is this. How can you go faster and actually work less? How can you have a great race and still train better the next time? The answer is plain and simple. Train and race with power. I think this is one of those tools that might do more for amateurs than pros. I just think that an amateur can gain SO much with this simple tool. It takes so much of the guess work out of the mix. If you ever get the chance, just try it, but be warned. Once you try a PowerTap, you will NEVER want to ride without one. You can come out to WIBA this year and try a PowerTap with the great team at CycleOPS.
Category:RaceAthlete -- posted at: 9:24pm EDT
Tue, 8 May 2007
Here it is. I decided to get a show out today, and not do a lot of editing. This show gives you a feel of what WildFlower was all about. You can also see that the battle between Bold and Stu turned out in my favor!
Schmackage Complete - at least for now. I will certainly not let down the training as there will most certainly be a rematch at Ironman Wisconsin. I hope you enjoy the picture of Bold cleaning my bike (as per our wager), and the results verification. Enjoy!
Tue, 8 May 2007
Race Report for Wildflower 2007
Getting to the course was about as difficult as the training. It all started 4 days before leaving from Chicago. I had to go on business to Columbia, South Carolina, so instead of flying directly to LAX, I started with a 3 day trip to the campus of USC. Looking back it was not too bad as I had to pack and sit back 3 days before leaving. The trip was actually very relaxing, but I was ready to race and wanted to get to Los Angeles.
On Wednesday night I had planned to fly to Chicago, stay in a hotel and leave at 6am Thursday morning. Things where right on schedule until my plane from Columbia to Chicago cancelled. So back to the hotel in Columbia I went. I cancelled my hotel in Chicago and made flight arrangements to make it in time.
Thursday was hectic as I left South Carolina at 6am and arrived in Chicago at 7:30. I did not have too much time to catch my LA flight and I still had to run to the car and get my bike and new set of bags. I ran to my car, switched bags, and ran about 500 yards with a backpack, bike, and new roller bag. I took a quick train to my terminal and got checked in with about 5 minutes to spare. I made it.
I was hoping the movie on the flight might be a “Rudy? type. Something to get me fired up. All I can say is never watch the “Painted Veil? if you want to get ready for a race. Maybe it was better as I was not wasting energy screaming for Rudy to get in the game.
After a downer of a movie, I landed in LA, turned on my phone and saw 10 voice messages on my 1st phone and 8 on my other. Yikes. I think I was the last one to land. After answering a few calls, and catching the “Kahuna Shuttle? to the El Monte RV, I was set.
I drove the 30 foot hotel on wheels back to LAX to pick up my group of people. I can’t talk much about the driving of others, but TriBoomer hit my RV just 30 minutes into the trip. I wonder where he got his drivers license. The plan had been to drive up as a group, but the “Kahuna RV? and “Colorado RV? decided to get a jump start. It was just TriBoomer and My RV. No directions to the race, just a general idea that it was “North.?
Mind you that TriBoomer had already hit my RV once, so I was a bit nervous. After making our way to the 8 lane LA freeway, TriBoomer radioed me and said he was going to take a bathroom break. I thought he was kidding, but I guess not as he pulled over ON THE FREEWAY. I didn’t have many options so I had to do the same thing. I can tell you that while the RVs are easy to drive, they are not easy to pull over on an 8 lane road. After the bathroom break, we where back on the road and heading to Wildflower.
After a few more bathroom beaks, dinner at a cool roadside gig, a stop at the grocery store, we made it to the HUMUNGOUS campground that would be our home for the next 3 days. We made camp on the side of the road and slept.
The next morning I woke to the most incredible of all views. The Kahuna and other RV mates sure did pick the spectacular location. It was simply awesome. The nights are cool, but the days were perfect. It was now Friday, and most of the day was spent getting ready for the race, and packet pickup.
The Wildflower “experience? is something that grew on me. At first I was not sure it was going to be all that cool, but as time went on, I can see why thousands of people want to race this wickedly hard race. Everything about the race was awesome.
The weeks leading to the race, I worked with Coach Mike to set my race plan. My power numbers had been set, but since Wisconsin doesn’t allow me to ride a lot of long 3+ hour rides in early Spring, I had done most of my tests inside. My FTP (functional threshold) was at 196, but my first outside test put me at 220+. I was a bit worried as I felt a 3+ bike race at 162 average power (using my FTP of 196) might not allow me to kick the ½ marathon, so I talked to AJ (another awesome coach from D3) about a race strategy. After talking, we agreed that it was important that I get to the 13.1 run with something left in the tank. The plan was set.
1st hour: about 140 Watts
2-2.5: Between 155-160 Watts
Last 30 min: 170 Watts
I woke about 4:50am, got up and started to eat and drink. My plan was to eat a bit more than usual. I tend to feel hungry before many races, so I added a few more calories. I drank some OJ, water and a little Gatorade. The entire week prior to the race a felt like I was not drinking enough and my body did not feel 100%. I felt sluggish and even sore. Not sore as in “workout sore?, but like lazy sore. Do not know how to explain, but it was driving me crazy.
The plan was to ride the bikes to the start or take the boat. Yes, take a boat. We left the RV and went to the boat location. We jumped on a pontoon boat that took us on a 15 min boat ride in the most amazing of all scenery you could imagine. It was certainly the most amazing start to any race day that I can remember.
The pontoon took us right to T1, so we only walked about 100 yards to rack the bikes. I relaxed and was ready to go. I was not “hyper,? just ready to go. I felt a strange calm. With Coach Mike by my side (he was actually not with us, but he has guided me well), I was ready to kick some tail on the day.
I racked my bike and was ready to go. I was early and had about 90 minutes to wait. I just sat on sidelines and watch the world go by. I was thinking about my nutrition plan:
I was going to drink at least 2 bottles per hour with 1 scoop of Carbo-Pro and 1 tablet of NUUN. I had 3 bottles on the BMC, so I had 1.5 hours before I needed to stop. My plan was to carry small bottles of powder and NUUN with me. I was going to stop and mix my bottles midway. The plan was basically the same on the run. I was going to carry the bottles in my shorts and a bike-type bottle in a carrier on my back waist. I got a lot of comments from people about this, but after doing the race – It worked GREAT (thanks to my friends at Endurance House.)
The gun went off and my plan was to swim SLOW. I needed to have a good day on the bike. I went slow and tried to get on the feet of a few people. That worked on and off, but I got clocked about 100 yards in and I saw blood. Darn. This was like an Ironman race. My nose was not broken so I kept going. I was having a great time. I worked on good form, swimming straight, and staying well within myself. As a side note, I did notice people swimming 100’s of yards off route. Do people not understand how important it is to swim straight? I sang a bit to myself, laughed at some things that happened during the adventure getting to Wildflower, and basically had a nice and very easy swim.
I took a glance at my heart rate a few times during the swim. I know I can swim a 1:03 at Ironman distance, but I was thinking I would do about :30 today. I exited the water in :32 minutes. I felt totally relaxed, and was feeling like I just did nothing more than a warm up. I had a mantra for day – “I’m in total control.? I had done the training, and I was ready to do this bike. The swim and run where not as important to me. I NEEDED a good day on the bike.
Official Time on the swim was 32:38, with a 2:26 T1. So far the plan was perfect.
I got on the bike and looked my new best friend, the 2.4 Powertap. This, along with BMC and Zipp wheels have made huge differences for me. As I excited T1, I looked at my trusty “yellow friend? and kept it around 140 Watts. There was a big hill at the start so I obviously had to pull a bit more wattage, but I kept it around 190-210. Coach AJ talked about “burning matches,? and that you only had a few to burn during the day. I thought I would burn one here, and one at “nasty grade.? At the top on the hill I felt perfect and ready to go. I did not like the fact that I was getting passed. I did not let this get to me, but I was a bit bummed that so many people were just flying past me. Was all this training for nothing? I was so upset, but stuck with the plan. I started to think about the day, and got back into the right mind set just repeating the mantra “I’m in total control.?
The 1st hour I averaged 147. Just about perfect. The last 15 min, even at about 140 I was starting to pass people. HUGE smile. My plan was now to push the watts up about 10-15 or about 150-155 total watts. I was instantly starting to pass almost everyone. I was in control and rocking. I never really noticed the wind because the PowerTap just takes all that out of the mix. If you stick to the plan, you eliminate hills, wind and speed. Kinda cool. I never even looked at speed. It doesn’t really even matter when you have a PowerTap.
We turned back with the wind at our back. In the past, without a PowerTap, I would have gone a nice cool 20mph. With the wind at our back, I was going 20 at about 135 watts, so I kept it up about 160 watts and was flying past people. I had a huge smile as I watched people look at my butt on these sweet 606’s. There was one point I was going 32mph with no hills. Ok, I admit, I did look at speed from time to time, but I do not use it as a guide. I just kept the power at my plan, and was now flying past the people that passed me the 1st hour.
I was almost to nasty grade (the huge hill that everyone warns you about), so I decided to hit “lap? on my PowerTap. Yeeee Haaaaaa. 157 watts. The plan was working perfect. I was now at mile 41. I was actually excited to get to this part of the race. While it was a hard climb, I was ready and had almost a full tank of gas. When you have a plan, things are just easier.
I was also nailing my nutrition. I had stopped to mix my Carbo-Pro and NUUN. It was tasting perfect and I was getting in 300 calories and plenty of fluid thanks to NUUN. I just love this stuff. I mixed the tablets up so I was never sure what flavor I would get. I love the new flavor called Kona Cola!
Ok, so Nasty Grade was hard, but nothing I wasn’t ready for. I kept it around 190-220 most of the climb. I was nailing it. When you train right, coached right, and have a nutrition plan, the days is so much better.
I’m still not the best at 40mph descents. I tend to hold the breaks a bit, but these were a lot of fun. At mile 53 I was ready to get to the run. I felt perfect, but not sure how my legs might react.
Official Time on the bike was 3:24:57, with a 2:29 T2.
Power numbers: Leg 1: 147, Leg 2: 157, Leg 3: 155
So far the plan was perfect.
I felt like I needed a bit more sodium so I doubled my NUUN in the first bottle. I got to the run and after about 100 yards I was just amazed – I felt great. Not just good, but great. I was so ready. Could this really be right?
I was in total control.
I was in a weird position. I had put so much thought into the bike and nutrition that to be totally honest, I did not think about the run much. I laughed to myself at about mile 1. What’s the plan Stu? I looked at my HR and I was feeling about a 5 (perceived exertion (RPE) scale), but thought I could stay at this point all the way home. Looking back I went out a bit too fast, but not by much. Looking back, I was about 7 beats too high at the start with my HR. I was flying and passing everyone. I was running with a 60 year old guy and we just kicked all the 20 year olds. (I’m sure that is the first time I’ve ever thought about being 40 and kicking the 20 year olds.)
I was feeling perfect until about mile 5. This route was brutal. All the talk was about the bike, but this run route was very difficult. I was running up this one hill and was almost started going backwards. Even with the unique “Cal Poly Coeds? helping about mile 6, I was sill not feeling the best. That is also the first time I’ve seen anything like that on a race course! Gotta love college.
I finally hit a level part of the route and said to myself, “You are in total control.? I stopped taking in Carbo / Nuun for about 1.5 miles and started to feel better. I had to drink again to keep up the pace. I think I ran into problems from going out a bit too fast. I started drinking my mix slowly and finally felt good again. This is how it was the rest of the race.
I did not see anyone from the team the entire day until I got on Brett’s feet. I saw the jersey and was past him with only a few words said. I was surprised I did not see Greg all day. Did I miss him?
I kept running and came up to a long mile downhill run. I was feeling great but not sure how I would feel coming back up the same hill. About ¼ mile up the hill I saw Greg. I looked at him, we both looked at our watches. The game was on. I had two choices. 1) lay back and cave in, or 2) give it all I had!
For some reason I had it in my mind that I had him by 2:47. Don’t ask me how I thought that, but since I started 5 min before him, I had to kick it, our I was done. I figured I needed to “be in control? so I just kept on moving. I knew the last mile was down the hill so I figured I would run it in about 6 or under.
I was hammering down the hill, and to be honest, I was not even thinking about Greg. I had a plan, I stuck to it, and I nailed it!
I finished strong. I was so hoping to go sub 6, but the victory was in the plan. This was an important stepping stone for me. Very important. Maybe one of the most important of all times.
Official Time on the run was 2:00:46
Official Time: 6:03:16
So the bottom line is very simple. I was ready, and the plan worked.
Now I plan to beg Coach to give me a week off before starting to train for Ironman Wisconsin. I know now that I CAN do it.
I’m so excited to keep up the training on the bike. The PowerTap, wheels and bike have made a significant difference, and now I’m more excited than ever. I’m ready for the rest of the journey.
The swim will start to rock once I can leave the pool and train exclusively in the lakes. Once June 1st comes to Wisconsin, I leave the pool for the season and join my buddies in the lake 2 or 3 times a week.
The 2:00:48 ½ marathon was NOT what I wanted to see. I can do so much better than that. I have worked so hard on the bike that I’ve been just trying to “maintain? the run. Over the next 18 weeks, I really want to ramp this up as well.
We watched our fellow buddies and teammates race on Sunday, and headed back to LA about 3pm. We had to spilt up for logistical reasons, so AJ and I spent the night just off the beach. We woke about 6am to take a short jog to the ocean for a nice walk in the water. A perfect end to a perfect week.
I needed this race. I needed it for so many reasons. I needed the confidence that I just did not have on the bike. I needed the confidence that I could have a nutritional plan. I needed to know that I could execute a plan. At the end of the day “I was in total control.?
I’m so ready to start my training for Ironman Wisconsin, and even more ready to say on September 10th 2007 – “Greg, I got you again.?
As I drove home I realized how lucky I am to have great friends, great family, and the ability to train and race in this great sport of Triathlon. Life can change so quickly so I plan to enjoy each and every moment of this Ironman Wisconsin journey. I hope you will enjoy the ride with me.
Category:RaceAthlete -- posted at: 11:12am EDT
Sun, 25 March 2007
All eight Team RaceAthlete members get interviewed! Catch up on all the latest in and around the RA community.
Tue, 27 February 2007
Also, check back this weekend for an AWESOME interview with the incredible Lisa Bentley!
Category:RaceAthlete -- posted at: 7:53pm EDT
Sat, 17 February 2007
Nothing but numbers during a 1 hour 20 min test:
5 Min Power = 210
Average HR = 153
20 Min Power = 176
Average HR = 151
FTP = 167
5 Min Power = 273
Average HR = 158
20 Min Power = 192
Average HR = 161
60 Min Power Test = 184
FTP = 182.4
Category:RaceAthlete -- posted at: 7:42pm EDT
Thu, 15 February 2007
Chat with Melanie McQuaid XTERRA World Champion. Also talk with Jimmy from Inside Triathlon Magazine. And finally, come with Team RaceAthlete on a journey to Temecula, CA.
Sat, 3 February 2007
It all started in the parking lot with my awesome RaceAthlete Team. Here is Stu, after an early wake-up, a 2 hour car ride, a 4 hour plane ride, luggage, a 90+mph van ride, looking for bikes, parts, yikes!!!! So what does Stu do? Floyd and Melanie McQuiad were in the parking lot. I looked over at Mel and said, "Hey Melanie, can I jump on your bike?" Without a second thought she said, "Sure, come on Stu." So what do I do? I jumped on the bike WITH Melanie and rode for about 20 feet. (I do have the video to show this event). That is how cool the weekend was. A lot of smack talk, a lot of jokes, and a lot of fun. She was about as cool as anyone could be. I have met a lot of cool people, but Mel is certainly one of the best. She offered so much to us. She rode with us and even took us out on a run. Just the team. After a few miles I was running alone with her just talking. We even got a bit lost finding our way back to the group. Either way, it was a great hour run that I will never forget. I do want to point out that I'm NOT star crazy. I just love people. Not just any people - just good quality - honest people. Now the fact still remains that I only spent 3 days with Mel, but over those 3 days I found an awesome WORLD CHAMPION. I even told her this at dinner. As we sat back in San Diego over pizza, I said "Melanie, I had you all wrong. I mean I ALWAYS thought you were top notch, but you are much more than that. I can't put my finger on it, but the bottom line is you are every bit a World Champion. Period!"
With that we left dinner and she drove us back to the airport. Ironwill had to stop to get her kids a gift, so Mel and I sat in a display chair at the local CVS store. It was so funny. She was reading People Magazine as I sat reflecting on the weekend. I looked over at her and just smiled. She taught me an important lesson.
World Champions, Rock Stars, Presidents, and Movie Stars have so many people looking at them with this amazement. People look up to these people. People sometimes even idolize them. For me it was far different with Mel. She is just another person that once you meet her, gives YOU inspiration to be your best. She inspires you to be a better person. While on one of our rides I asked Melanie if she still had the passion to win. She gave me one of those smiles and simply said "absolutely." So the bottom line is if you ever get a chance to meet Melanie, take full advantage as you may never get the opportunity to meet a better person!
Category:RaceAthlete -- posted at: 5:21pm EDT
Tue, 30 January 2007
Check out the full report on www.RaceAthlete.com. You can also view other RaceAthlete team member articles.
Category:RaceAthlete -- posted at: 11:55pm EDT
Sat, 9 December 2006
38,000 Feet! United flight 609.
Ok, it is only December. WOW. Winter is just starting and I have this dream. YES its a dream. It's a dream I have already lived. Maybe 100 times, maybe more. It's the dream of a warm sunny Wisconsin day where I pack my water bottles and get ready to ride. I pick what triathlon top I will wear. I pick my favorite bike shorts. Come on, you all know that on the special rides you have your favorite jersey, socks, shorts and glasses. I'm getting all excited thinking about it. You get in the car, drive to the starting location. You unpack the bike, get the bottles in place, pull the pump out of the truck. The tires get inflated to the perfect psi (110 for me). I check nutrition. Sun screen is always next. Yep, SPF 50+. Next are the glasses. On they go. Are they clean? Yep. Perfect. On this day, I will finish the bike ride and take a nice 5 mile run on the path. I get the running shoes ready. Set! Perfect! I talk smack with my buddies. This might be the best part of the day. They ask to use my pump. Fine. They ask to use my sunscreen. Fine. I ask if they need anything else from my took kit that I ALWAYS have in my trunk. Every tool you might need. Perfect! I ask if anyone wants to try a new flavor of GU. I have takers. Awesome! Everyone ready? Yep! And so the day starts. The first mile is always social. How are the kids? Wife? School? Work? Isn't life grand! My knees crack in the 1st 10 rotations. I'm ready now. I check my watch. Working. Heart rate? 120. GPS? Yep, we are going 16mph and on main street! Seems right to me. Helmet is on a bit croaked. Adjust a bit. Ahhhhh, much bettter. Legs feel good. 42 miles to go. Bummer. I wish we had 112. Oh well. Easy day. What? Do you remember the day when you got your first road bike and 40 miles seemed like eternity? Ok, back in line. The sky. Blue! Clouds? None! Wind. None. Wow, I'm glad we took off work today. I wonder what is going on at work? Yeah right. Smile. Mile 2. Aero position. Hills. Hey look at the cows. I love cows. I see sweat. Yep.
"This is your captain speaking. Will will be landing in Chicago in about 20 minutes. I wanted to thank you for flying United Airlines today and hope you enjoyed your flight. Current temperature in Chicago is 14 degrees. Winds are out of the North at 15-20mph. I hope you enjoy your stay in Chicago or wherever your travels take you. Flight attendants prepare for landing."
The dream ends but not without a smile. You see, I live in a dream world. I live for the moment I look down and see my new RaceAthlete jersey! I live for this nutty sport they call Triathlon.
If you want a team jersey they will be available around the 15th of January. They are at the printer (full sublimation). How cool is that!!!!!! Tri tops are coming as well. Once I get the final look, I will post that as well. The jerseys are 2XU. Very nice!
Category:RaceAthlete -- posted at: 12:31pm EDT