Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Another Ambit3S issue

I did a nice brisk set of hill repeats today, and the GPS altimeter in the 3S simply couldn't figure out what I was doing. The sets look like I was doing a hill that's 3 feet tall. That's a bump. In reality, it's more like 25 feet. Also laughable, it looks like I went for a 55 foot dive in the water for 5 minutes on the warmup run. Whuh?

The Peak version would have solved my problems, but it still wouldn't be listening to my power meter. It also would have left a much larger hole in my wallet. But more and more I'm anxiously awaiting the Ambit 2's arrival, as it will much more likely become my day to day training watch.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ambit 2 on its way

In a way, this is an update on my Ambit 3S purchase; I've just bought a used Ambit 2, on its way to me from Texas. The reason for it is simple  - I've grown to like having the watch when I race, and for my most critical race, the 3S will run out of battery charge at some point during the run. The 2 has everything the 3 does except:

  • Bluetooth smart connectivity, which after using for the past several months I've decided isn't all that neat. Nice to be able to sync to my phone? Sure, but not necessary. Annoying to not have the ability to record my power meter? Yes, this has, over time, pissed me off. Is there any use for the notifications from my phone? No. If I get them, it means my phone is right there, and I just use my phone! Annoying that I was only able to find ONE type of footpod to work with it? Yes. But, all that said, now that I have the footpod, it's fine.
  • Underwater heart rate capture. I have used this exactly once, and found it completely uninteresting.
  • Custom workout creator: I like this feature a lot, but I never use it as much as I think I will. I know what my training plan is, and I also change things up a lot. I don't use the watch to hold me to pace, I listen to my body to do that.
The 3S, day to day, for everything other than power, is still an excellent device which I plan to continue to use. That might change as I use the 2 more, at which point I'll have to figure out whether anyone wants to buy a used, electric blue Ambit3 S. We shall see. What I find to be the most valuable metrics - for me, your mileage may vary (no pun intended!) - are:
  • Open water sighting
  • Open water total distance vs planned distance on races
  • Power metrics (which I don't have currently through Suunto, only through the Joule)
    • power on hills
    • power on flats
    • average vs normalized power
    • power vs temperature
    • power over time
    • power vs speed
    • power vs cadence
  • bike course distance
  • run course distance
  • run pace
  • run cadence
  • heart rate (training only)
That's what I look at after a race to see how I performed versus my plan. A lot of that I don't currently have in the 3S, but I will have in the 2. 

Happy tri'ing!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pat Griskus Olympic Tri

Hadn't planned this one in the calendar, but my buddy talked me into it. I was planning a couple of hours of tempo riding, but an Olympic makes a nice proxy.

Got there nice and early at 5am, picked an easy to find spot near the swim exit and set up. Took a 20 minute nap in the car (love the minivan!). Felt chilly, went for a 1/2 mile run to get the blood moving, helped enormously. Wetsuit on, brief warmup swim to test that the goggles (using the backups, expecting a glare this morning) were airtight, then ready to go!

For some reason I didn't line up on the front and push my way to a lead spot, so I had to watch some slow feet for 50 yards or so until I sprinted past and staked out my own water. From there, I held pace and line wonderfully. Stroke felt really good and even, although the chop after the first turn made it difficult to hold form. By the second turn, everything was very powerful and I motored in to a 45th best swim overall on a 1:30 pace, quite respectable for me and how much I (don't) swim (enough).

Crap transition, still can't get the damn wettie off the feet. I'm going to cut the ankles up a bit to the calf, this is starting to piss me off. Cost me at least a minute futzing with the damn thing. Finally got on the bike and started off.

Hurray the power meter is working today! Quickly dialed into FTP pace and was surprised how I couldn't feel the difference between 250W and 300W. Yay for adrenaline? Anyway, I fought the whole ride with thinking I was pushing hard enough and looking down to see I had more to give. I need to spend some time on the trainer getting those two in sync again! Overall, a nice bike, 17th overall, which slid me in to about 20th judging by the bike count in transition. Average power was 220W, normalized 250. There's a LOT of room in there to ratchet up, could've given myself another couple minutes, but I was pleased. A good T2, no mistakes.

Run felt fine - feet a little frozen, but I'd taken the time to get socks in T1, so they came around fine. Great course - starts out flat, then a nice descent, another flat, turnaround, two loops. You get the nice hill in there at about 2.5 miles and 5 miles, and it's a slog, but it's quick and offers relief afterwards. My cadence was way too quick starting out and I didn't figure out what was wrong until the overall 3rd passed me on his final lap and I got a good eyeful of a nice long powerful stride. The switch went off in my head, I started rotating my hips wider and driving from the core and boom, off like the dickens I went. I couldn't manage much more than a shuffle up the hills, but nobody else did either. My old nemesis\racing friend Peter passed me just before the hill on the second lap and bested me by a minute to the finish, and at the moment it happened I knew I'd lost a podium spot. Crap. Ended up 3rd AG, 27th overall, and could've easily had that minute (or more) back with a better T1. Everything counts!! Regardless, my best run performance to date with a 42:21 10K with solid hills.

Only disappointment was the watch - I tried using 'lo-fi' mode for the bike and run to maximize the battery to see if that would work better for the iron distance, but alas it's useless. I had no pace information at all on the run, and the tracking looks like a 2 year old's art project. I'm going to experiment with the 5s GPS recording mode to see how that drains the battery - I'm skeptical of the 15h advertised time, especially with the 1h swim which records at 1s intervals. If it won't make it 12 hours, it won't cut it.

Superb day, I went to the Bronx Zoo with the kids, wife, and my father who was visiting from out of town, then drinks and grills for dinner to celebrate an early Father's Day. An excellent summer day, with an excellent race. I'd go back for sure, well run and a great course.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Challenge Quassy

Keeping it nice and tight this time.

Woke up early around 3:30, ate a normal breakfast sans coffee to keep my stomach at bay. Worked like a charm, no GI at any point. Got a ride from my pal in town, bikes were already there from the night before. Tried a new bottle for the aero bar cage with a tube and bite valve, homemade. I'd give myself a C+, it worked, but not great. May chuck the whole front bottle altogether, it's a pain. Tires pumped, checklist done, wettie on, down to the beach we go.

A little chill in the air, but the water feels perfect. Skipped warming up, this has worked well for me of late. Countdown, bang, off we go. I had a little flutter in my throat, not really nervous, just not relaxed, but it was gone by the first buoy. Didn't swim particularly well, but not bad either. Just couldn't seem to focus on form as well as usual, but I was swimming wicked straight and passing dudes, so all seemed well. Turned the first buoy and started swimming directly into the big yellow ball in the sky...bummer, left the tinted goggles ashore. Sidled up next to a dude who was pacing alright with mirrored goggles and figured he's be a good ride. He led me straight to the next buoy, nicely done. However, he then turned the wrong direction, so I did as well. After a couple minutes I realized the sun was no longer right in my face, which meant I was going the wrong way. I stopped and got my bearings, wasn't *too* far off course, but definitely smoked a couple of minutes. Blast. Finished the swim in a laser straight line just to spite myself.

Apparently took a nap in transition. No sense of urgency, but honestly, I didn't want a sense of urgency. Hadn't done any course recon outside of a drive, and was keeping my spirits high and expectations low. Off we go, let's ride!

Felt very strong and sturdy, and passed lots of whippersnappers from the under 35 crowd in the first 15 minutes. Started to pick off a few fish from my age group as well, things are going well. Played cat and mouse with a couple of solid riders and settled in to the pod, this was where I was going to be. You'd figure at some point I'd figure out what all the warning signals mean and actually replace the right battery before race day, but alas, no power meter data AGAIN. However, the trusty Suunto told me I was humming along on an average of 22 mph, which was exactly where I planned to start the first third of the ride before the long climbs set in. From feel I knew where I was at roughly power-wise and I knew things would hold together. I was NOT prepared for how screaming fast the descents were, holy crap. Easy 50 mph, clutch for death. Fortunately, I didn't wipe out on the pothole I hit at full bore. Unfortunately I did flat my rear tire. My bomb proof wheel was still true and lovely, but I knocked the stuffing out of the poor latex tube in there. Back to butyl, I don't have time for this. I took longer than I'd like to change the tube, mostly because I actually said a couple of prayers along the way, being that I only had one CO2 cartridge and one spare. Thankfully, fwoop the tire filled and off we went. However, I was definitely riding scared at this point. No recon = riding the brakes. Whole lot of hills, and then more hills, and my back started to hurt. Sat up to spin one of the hills and it felt better, came into transition happy to get on my feet. Tossed on the flash new Hammer visor, XX2i shades, and hit the road.

Some wayward thoughts of quitting were creeping in, I just wasn't sure I wanted to run. Got off to a blazing walking start (guffaw), stopped to take a piss at the aid station a mile in, and saw my buddy through the pisser window. He was looking pretty ragged, and I might have looked worse, so we hung together for some laughs for a bit. Around mile 3 he fell back, and I took off. Everything felt absolutely fine, head to toe. From there I ran like a flaming antelope. Looked down and saw low 7s and high 6s on the flats, and ran completely inside myself. Didn't even try to dance up the steeper hills, just kept the love train going. Warm fuzzies thinking about that run after the fact. With a mile to go I started thinking about the kids and the party, and held back again to give myself a nice boost to run into the chute with. Another friend passed me by and tried to egg me on, but I was really in outer space at the moment and didn't want to share it with anyone but the Mrs. and the kiddos. Found a nice chunk of space to finish grand in and brought it home.

By no accounts a well run race on my part (Challenge, on the other hand, was complete pro!), but fine for a first race of the year, still learning, and walked away intact. The family had a ball at the park while I was out there, and we finished the day with a back deck barbeque with neighbors.

Next day I wasn't too sore, but I was completely exhausted, fell down the stairs in the morning, coughed and sounded like an asthmatic duck, so I called in sick. Wise move. I spent a few hours sleeping on the couch, ate a feast, and started to bounce back. Early to bed, next morning I felt 98%. I'm recovering well and fast, and seem to have a pretty good grip on what I can do out there these days. There's room to push harder, but it's all just training for the big dance in September.