Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 RACE SCHEDULE, TRAINING AND THE HUNT FOR DOC BROWN

I didn't do a lot of racing in 2011 for a number of reasons.  I was working 8:00 to 8:00 Monday through Friday and 9:00 to 1:00 on Saturday. I'm not complaining because that is part of owning a business. After spending that much time at work and away from my family I couldn't leave and go train so I chose my wife and daughter. I'd cram what I could into Saturday and Sunday but I over did it every weekend and ended up hurting myself. The end result was only doing a few races last year. I did Musselman but only did the Aqua Bike because of an injury that kept me from running. I did Shore Line and Finger Lakes even though I was injured and did pretty well all things considered.  So in 2011 I limped through three races with results I didn't feel all that great about.

2012 will be a much better year. The business that was bleeding my family dry in many was is thankfully no longer part of our lives so my work life balance is much better. This will allow me to train like I should, be injury free and post some fast times. My schedule is looking pretty good so far.

1) Flower City Challenge Duathlon (4/28)
2) Spring Classic Duathlon (5/19)
3) Musselman Half Ironman Triathlon (7/15)
4) Shoreline Sprint Triathlon (7/22)
5) Finger Lakes Olympic Distance Triathlon (9/9)
6) Ragnar 24 Hour Relay Race (I still need to fill the team roster) (9/28-9/29)
7) Rochester Autumn Classic Duathlon (10/7)

If my budget will allow it I will add a race or two out of the area. I have a friend doing a really tough race in Connecticut that I would love to do but I will have to wait and see what happens. I am sure I will add in a few random 10K races with my wife as we figure out what we are doing.

I have been trying to train smarter this year.  I would love to use a coach to train but I would rather spend the money I have a new bike this year.  Who knows what will happen.  Maybe I can get a new bike and use a coach.  For right now the new bike is priority # 1 so I am using the same plan I have used the last couple of years.  I am taking a different approach to the plan this year though.  I am actually using a heart rate monitor and following the suggested heart rate effort per workout.  What I have noticed is that I have worked too hard in previous years when I should have been just taking it easy.  A zone 2 effort workout is one of those runs or rides that you just lose yourself in.  I do get tired but my body is asking me to stop and as I get closer to the end I find myself going faster without pushing my heart rate any higher.  I hope this translates into a faster second half to my run splits this year. 

So far my run and swim are doing much better than at this time in previous years but I can't really make any judgement on my bike fitness without being on the road and that won't happen for a few more months.  I have gotten out on a few random road rides but that doesn't really count.  I did one ride with a friend who hasn't been spinning on his trainer and I was significantly faster than him so it appears that the long hours spent on the indoor trainer are paying off but I won't know for sure until I have put in a few good rides on the road.  If I can stay injury free this year I think this will be the best season I have had yet.

My hunt for Doc Brown is still on.  For those of you who didn't go to the movies during the 80's I am referring Doc Brown from Back to The Future and his time machine.  I am still searching for my time machine except mine won't take me back in time and it isn't a Dalorion.  I am hoping it will help me improve my bike split and prevent hip injuries this year.  I have narrowed my hunt to the Trek Speed Concept 7.8, Felt DA4 or the Blue Triad EX.  I am leaning towards the Trek and Felt  because of the wheels that come on the bike and that makes me lean a little bit more towards Trek because the Bontrager wheels that come on the bike are as good if not better than what I ride on today.  That is important because the SRAM wheels I have been riding for the last two years have broken spokes about 6 times and I had the carbon crack once last year.  SRAM has been great and sent me new wheels and even upgraded my wheel set but I still had problems after the upgrade so the wheels that come on what ever bike I go with need to be as fast as what I am riding today but stronger.  I know Trek can do it.  I am not sure about Felt and the Blue has a nice wheels set but they are not as nice as the wheels on the Trek.  I posted pictures of the bikes.  Let me know what you think by posting a comment.
Trek Speed Concept 7.8

Felt DA4

Blue Triad EX


Train smart and be safe out there!

Friday, January 13, 2012

MY QUEST FOR THE PERFECT SPEED MACHINE

So I started looking at new tri bikes about 3 weeks ago.  I thought by this time I would know what bike I wanted for sure but I am only somewhat sure of what I want.  I can compare this shopping experience to going out to dinner and looking over a large menu with a lot of options that sound really good.  Do I order something I am familiar with or do I go for something I have heard of before but I am not to sure about.  I also want to make sure I am getting the biggest bang from my buck.  That means I should being feeling very satisfied at the end of my meal and like I should maybe loosen my belt.

I first went to a bike shop I have been working with for years and looked at Specialized and Quintano Roo.  This was much different than buying my road bike 5 years ago.  When I bought my road bike the guy at the bike shop looked at my height and put me on a few bikes and asked me what felt the best and I ended up with the road bike I had wanted for more than half my life time.  Luckily for me I picked a bike that fit me very well.  Each shop I have been to has done some fitting analysis and some have been more detailed than others.  I road the Quintana Roo and thought is was okay and that is not what I want for the price or for a 118 mile bike leg of an Ironman.  I am sure the bike is perfect for some people but I didn't ride it and say to myself, "this is it"!

I have used the internet to do some looking around and I have read a lot of good stuff about Felt and Cervelo so I have sought them out at a number of bike shops but I keep running into one common statement.  That statement has been, Felt makes a great tri bike but you really need to look at the new Trek Speed Concept because it is the fastest bike out there.  I didn't listen right away because I haven't really seen Trek on the tri scene but spending some time with another bike shop owner I am about 80% sure that Trek might be the way to go.  Before I had a chance to ride the bike he put me through a much more detailed fitting process than the other guys and that is a plus in my book because the injuries I have had over the last year are partially related to bike positioning and I am hoping to have a much better season this year.

After getting fit and talking about the bikes I rode a Trek Speed Concept 7.5 and a Cervelo B14.  Both are awesome bikes for the money but the technology with Trek is really awesome.  I took the Trek out first and really liked the feel of the bike.  The Cervelo also felt really nice but the Trek seemed to have better shock absorption even though it is a stiffer bike.  So I like the feel of the Trek more but that is only one piece of the puzzle.  I also want to make sure the bike performs better than others aerodynamically.  Based on what I have read and heard Trek has the best aero design based on what I think I heard as YAW.  This refers to how the bike performs with side wind rather than just the head wind.

SOOOOOO....it has been a few months since I started writing this post.  I put my hunt for a new bike on the back burner and now I am on the hunt again.  Everything I wrote above is still true for the most part.  I think Trek makes a great bike but I am considering a few other options.  I am considering Blue and Kestrel.  I have a good friend who can get a great deal on both bikes.  He has ridden both bikes and has great stuff to say about them.  I rode his Blue and had an instant feeling of comfort on the bike I didn't get with the other bikes.  My only concern with the Blue is the fact that the seat post is pretty static.  That means that once you have been fit to the bike when it is built you can't change your seat height very much.  I know my seat has gone up some over the years and it may go up more or come down and I need to be able to make that change.  You could say that I want to make sure I can adjust my bike as my body changes.

The other conclusion I have come to is that the actual bike doesn't make that much of a difference.  Don't get me wrong.  It does help but the person riding the bike is a huge part of how fast the bike will go.  Things to take into consideration are how hard and fast can I push the peddles and what kind of wind drag do I create.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Shoe Review

It has been about two months since I purchased my Brooks Pure Connect minimalist running shoes.  I have put about 200 miles on them and have nothing but great things to say about them.  When I purchased the shoes the guy at the running store instructed me to take it easy and only do about 10% of my running in this shoe and build up over time.  That concept makes sense but I have trouble listening sometimes.  The day I bought the shoes I came home and went out for a quick 4.5 mile run and come to a couple of quick conclusions.  I realized is that the design of the shoe makes it much easier to strike with my mid and fore foot and forced me to take a shorter stride and increase my cadence.  Also, my feet felt great during and after my run.  My biggest concern when buying these shoes was how would my feet and body feel after putting in long miles.  I have added a few videos of me running in Black Creek Park to try and show what how my feet hit the ground.
video
video

I thought about gradually working into the new shoes but decided to listen to my body.  So far my body has told me that it likes the new shoes so I haven't gone back to my cushioned running shoes.  My calves were a little tight for the first couple of weeks but that passed and my hips, knees, ankles and feet have all felt better than they have in a long time.  I am not going to give all of the credit to my shoes but they do help.  The other reason I am feeling better is because I am running the right way.  I have a lot of friends who are struggling with injuries right now.  I have struggled with the same injuries in the past and think anyone who is sick of injuries getting in the way of training should give what I am doing some serious thought.

I can't say going out and buying minimalist style running shoes is going to fix every ones running related injuries.  I think you need to understand why you have the injuries and make the needed adjustments.  In my case I knew that I was a heel striker and that was a huge part of my problem.  My posture was another problem.  I was doing what some people call chasing my head, meaning I was leaning forward to far with my head down and in front of my feet.  Now, did I know this right away?  No shot!  I did my research and worked on my form which is still not perfect but much better than it was.

What I have noticed after making adjustments to my running form, technique and footwear is that my ailments have all gone away.  I have been gradually increasing my distance and the difficulty of my runs and I have continued to take note of some other positive changes.
1. My cadence has increased due to my shorter stride.  I thought this might make me feel more fatigue earlier in the run but I have come to notice that I feel better later in the run.  If I start feeling sluggish I pay attention to my cadence and make sure my stride isn't getting to stretched out.
2. My legs don't feel hammered at the end of a long run.  That is because my feet land under my hips and not out in front of me so I am hitting the ground with less force.  I am still tired at the end of a long run but minus any aches.

One question I do have is when do I replace my shoes?  Do I wait until the soles are worn out or do I do it sooner?

I am not saying this will work for every runner but if you are experiencing injuries every year it is worth looking into.  If you have an injury right now look at this hard and give it a try.  What do you have to lose.  I you have any questions let me know and I'll do my best to give you an answer.