Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Devil is in the Details (pt2)

But you could also say God is in the details. So, depending on whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, this post is either going to be a pain in the butt or omnipotent. (ok... it probably won't be omnipotent, but I'll try.)

This week let's talk about the details in your equipment. There are LOTS of guys that are giving up free speed for no good reason other than laziness and/or some common misconceptions. So hold on to your Gatorskins, this is going to get hairy. Let's dive right in. (I'm going to blatantly take some info from the internet here... I'll try to give all credit due)

Coggan suggested this formula (to keep in mind)
0.1 lbs (50 g) of drag (at 30 mph) = 0.5 s/km = 5 W = 0.005 m^2 CdA = 0.0005 Crr

Tires and Tubes:
Somehow, despite all of the efforts put out by Biketechreview and Tom Anhalt (Bikeblather, an extremely good read.) there are still a plethora of "serious" cyclists / triathletes who don't pay any attention to what rubber hits the road.

Let's say you're riding a Pro4 Service Course Michelin (CRR .0043) and I'm riding Conti GP4000s' (CRR .0034) a difference of .001. Not such a big deal you might think. But what if I said it was eating up 9 more watts of your power output to go 25mph? Over a 40k... that's the kind of time differences that don't just win (or lose) races, but can separate the podium from "mid field." Now imagine if you were on a "bulletproof" tire like a Gatorskin... I shudder to think.

The argument of course is one of durability. It's going to (maybe...) be slower to change a flat than it is to ride on an indestructible tire. For the most part I think this is BS. Considering your race tire is in great shape (it should be, it IS your race tire, not your trainer) it should be able to stand up to most of what you're going to find on a tt/tri course. Tacks/Glass/Thorns/etc are going to flat most tires, race or not.

Some of those runs are using latex tubes as well. For the most part from what I've seen, switching from butyl to latex in both tires is worth about 5-7 watts.

---aside on latex installation---

A lot of people are turned off by latex tubes because they think they are more likely to flat. With proper installation I believe they would find this is actually the opposite. However, proper installation takes a little more effort than butyl tubes, and improper installation DOES lead to popped tubes, so this thought process lives on. Here's the steps I take when installing mine. (I prefer velox tape as opposed to an actual rim strip that can move for most rims. I use veloplugs with a layer of packing tape myself.)
- shake the latex tube in with some talc powder.
- bead it and the tire as normal (might help to have a few lbs of air in the tube)
- BEFORE YOU START AIRING run your hands along both sides of the tire pushing the tire back to see if any of the tube is caught under the lip. If it is, a couple of "flicks" of the tire should move it back under. Do this step on both sides and take your time. This is where probably 99% of the errors come from.
- Once you are satisfied that the tube is under the lip of the tire, start airing it up.
- Profit! (or get the crap scared out of you when you hit about 90psi if you did it wrong.)

/aside

It's also important to understand that certain tire widths match up better with certain rims. Especially the older aero wheels (non-dimpled zipps, similar era HED's, Trispokes) that were designed on the "narrow is aero" philosophy, you can go from a great wheel to a terrible one when you throw a 28mm tire on it. On that topic, generally a wider tire has better rolling resistance, but a worse aero profile. That's where things can get tricky in picking a tire... Trading RR for aerodynamics is often a profitable tradeoff on the front wheel, where the RR is usually positive on the rear (especially on a modern tri bike that will "hide" a lot of the tire.

TLDR; Tires and tubes... pick wisely.

Cable routing:
This is another one that is not only costing people some speed, but also just killing the aesthetics of the front end.

Here's the difference between my old Felt and the current Cervelo's front end. (Sorry the Felt isn't a head on shot, I didn't know I'd need a head on picture 5 years later... I also didn't know about clean front ends...)


Lots of stuff sticking out around the front. Oh the good old days.
Very little for the wind to see cable wise. 


Now if you believe this

Famous aero dork picture!

Then you can see that having a bunch of cables hanging out and about is NOT a good thing. I use Nokons and/or Alligator links to get the really tight bends, but you can certainly emulate 99% of that with some smart/creative routing of your own. As great as di2 is, I have seen some nightmarish setups (see Andy Potts before his Tririg makeover)

Clothes:
Oh so easily forgotten. Clothing choices can do a lot to help (or hurt) you in a race. If you've watched Kona this year it would be easy to wonder if Ryf couldn't have saved 2 minutes over her bike split if she had worn a little bit more aero top. (along with an aero lid) Not saying that even if she had gained the time she would have won, but it's something to wonder.

Did the wrinkles make the difference?

The last few years we've seen the shift to the "aero top." The Castelli and the PI really kicked it off, but now most places have their athletes with sleeves, or at least with the option. Jim Manton's recent ST thread is an excellent read. An easy takeaway for this quick read "Skin is slow, wrinkles are worse."

I've had my own experience with the Castelli T1, and I'm still with mixed feelings. Some things I'd suggest everyone consider.
- Are you going to swim in it? (if applicable... no sleeves allowed in a no-wetsuit swim)
- Is it restricting your stroke if so? (I felt like it definitely was)
- How fast can you get it on (wet) in T1 if you aren't wearing it for the swim.
- Are you going to wear a tri jersey underneath? 
- How much time will it save on the bike?
- Are you going to wear it on the run? (a lot of tri's require *some* top for men)

Besides the aero top, when I was in the tunnel I found a onesie to be a couple of watts faster than my two-piece kit. I expect a lot of that was both the "rising sun" of my exposed lower back and the bike jersey'ish pockets on the two piece. Those big pockets can also be a source of drag in the water.

Hair:
You've almost certainly seen Specialized's Win Tunnel report on shaving your legs... and while other credible sources have NOT seen anything as impressive as 10+ watts... it's really a no-brainer to shave your legs unless you have a good reason not to.



That's a good place to stop this week. I really appreciate everyone taking the time to read through. Hopefully you've found something useful, or at least a little enjoyment. Thanks for reading!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sweating the Details (Pt.1)

This is going to be (at least) two parts... with the first part being less about equipment and more about how we think about a race and leading up to it, and the later parts being a bit more specific about things that can save time.

So let's dive right in to some of the "small" details in triathlon, or in the first case, a HUGE thing that's often thrown in the back seat as a small detail.


Nutrition - It has almost certainly won or ruined more races than any other single thing, but for some reason it just seems to never get the proper amount of attention. The number of people who fiddle their way through race day nutrition is staggering. Of the people who do have some idea what they are going to fuel with on race day, most of them have never practiced with it in race simulations. How many people who start getting sick on the bike could have known weeks in advance if they had fueled with the same stuff on their long training rides? How many people never get a drink of Ironman Perform until their big race? And I'm only talking about the bike so far... where, of all 3 disciplines, people likely have the most coherent strategy.

Once we're off the bike and off to the run... I'm pretty sure most people's strategy is to wing it. "I'll live off the aid stations" is a common motto... and can be a very good one, so long as you know what 'living" entails. How much do you sweat? Do you need solids or are you just going with liquids? Do you lose enough sodium that you need to forgo water and stick to sports drink? Do you need to supplement that still? When are you starting the coke? How many calories do you need every hour?

This one is mind boggling. There are TONS of articles out there to help you get a good grasp on this if you are in the dark. You also have all winter to TEST things out for yourself to make sure it works for you. I would guess this is probably the one thing most AG'ers would gain the most time from in their A race.

Race Plan - These next few go hand in hand, but lets start with "the plan." When you toe the line to a race, you should have already played it out multiple times in your head. Thinking is tough when you are racing hard, (heck I've had a hard time figuring out which direction my visor goes on before.) so the more things you have "nailed" onto cruise control the better. Having your transition set up "your way" (however you get things on fastest) knowing what to sight off of in the water, figuring out how tight turns are (and how much speed you need to scrub, if any) on the bike, where the aid stations are, when you are close enough to start sprinting for the finish, etc are all things that can make you just that little bit faster for no "effort." With all of the tech advances (and hell, a lot of bigger races have youtube video's of the course) with maps and such, there is NO reason not to have the course thoroughly scouted before you ever get in the car to drive to the race.

The Checklist - This one is elementary, it's just a list of everything you are going to need for the upcoming race. I've got two lists, one for local (leaving my house) events and one for destination (staying in a hotel) events. Right now, go make your own list, save it to your phone and grab check it before you leave every race (or traveling) day. Here's the basics (mine is more extensive, but I take a considerable amount of tools with me when I travel.)

Swim
- goggles
- extra cap
- Suit

Bike
- Bike
- Shoes
- Helmet
- Computer
- Bottle
- Sunglasses

Run
- Shoes
- Number Belt
- Visor/Hat

That is cut and dry basics. Nutrition, flat kits, socks/clothes to change, tools, etc should be on the list too, but that's a lot more personal. Those things, basically everyone needs.


Race Week - Race week (at least for your "A" races) is about getting to race day morning at 100%. There are a lot of things I hear (and see) people doing that could very well be costing them time on race day.

The first place things start going awry is the taper. Tapering is not intended to produce any (more) fitness, it's intended to let your body recover while still maintaining the level of fitness you've acquired. That means you have to give your body the opportunity to recover. It's easy (I would know) to freak out a few days out when a run goes poorly...you feel like you've "lost it" and the only solution is to go hammer out some sprint repeats. Of course, it doesn't work like that and in the end you just end up sabotaging yourself. It's been said before, but TRUST YOUR TAPER.

Next is the course. GO SEE IT FOR YOURSELF before you are racing on it. Look at the swim, drive the bike and if you've got the chance do one of your rides on the run course. (or drive it) Know where the "hard" parts are, be ready for them. Make yourself a note on your forearm on race day if you need to. "Pot hole mile 12" written down your arm might be the difference between a great race and a DNF.

Next is diet. Everybody freaks out when they start cutting back the volume. It's really easy to go overboard and hamstring yourself by cutting too many calories and not giving your body the fuel it needs to recover. If your diet is solid already (it is, right?) then my general plan is to eat almost exactly the same as when I'm training hard. Of course if your diet is all out of whack to start with...

Which leads us to what to eat when you're traveling. I was VERY lucky at Nationals this year that I got sick AFTER the sprint race. I had already had a meal at the place I suspect made me sick the night before the Olympic. I swore then that I wasn't going to chance a big race again on something as silly as pre-race food testing. When you have a race coming up, take the day or two before (at least) and have your meals planned. You can taste the rare cuisine AFTER the race is over, but beforehand stick to things that are easy on your body, nutritious and common. Request a Fridge in your hotel and stop at the grocery on the way into town...whatever it is. Don't ruin a season on an ill-fated trip to Denny's.

Once you're AT the venue, it's time for lazy bum mode. Go to check in/packet pickup, get your bike checked in and then get out of the sun and off your feet. Now isn't the time to go sightseeing, hanging out at the athlete village, or whatever else the venue might present. Go watch a movie, go take a nap, whatever it is, make it easy on yourself. The only time you get to break this rule is to do your short workout(s) on the day or so before. Otherwise, you should be a slug. Dinner the night before a race and the morning of should also both be thought out well in advance, and of course...alcohol is not optimal (especially the morning of...)

Or the TL;DR - Get a lot of sleep, do your taper workouts and as little else as possible, have a meal plan, don't be an idiot.


That'll wrap up part one. Next week I'll talk about some equipment choices that can make a big difference in your finish time.

Thanks so much for reading!

- Christopher Morelock


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Watching others do work at Rev3 Anderson

"I said my race season is over and I meant it dangit."

That was the battle that raged in my mind at the end of last week. I was 100% sure I was going to go to Anderson to hang out, but as the time approached I felt the urge to get "one more" race in for the year. Eventually reason won out (I have good reasons to take a break and would expect more out of this race than I was in shape to produce.) and I loaded up the car Saturday morning and made the drive to Jimmy and Sharon's house to hitch a ride with them up to the venue.

We arrived (mostly, emergency "dehydrate" gas station stop aside) without incident and I had my first experience with Chipotle for lunch. While certainly a decent meal, I'm not sure what the big fuss is about... give me a MOE's any day.  After refueling we got Sharon checked into the race, hung out with Rocky Top Multisport Club for a bit, drove the course (and got Jimmy and Sharon's required lover's spat out of the way... heh...) got a good run in and finally got checked into our motel.

Our motel was actually NOT quite this shady... barely.
The Deane household (who seemingly hold stock in LQ) are good folk to bunk with though, so even with less than 5 star accommodations I had a great time. I even had an opportunity to show off my handyman skills and fix the toilet. (a couple of times)

Saturday evening we had the pre-race dinner at Olive Garden, where I got to sit in with the RTMC guys and gals and have an all around good time... without the stress of having to race the next morning :) I think the one thing that really brought us together over dinner was how Gorgon-like our waitress was. Man she had a crazy stare.

Soup or salad?
After that it was back to the motel to see how Kona was going (and watch Rinny's incredible run!) and down to bed.

Race morning came early and was accompanied by a light drizzle. We managed to get one last flush out of the toilet (after filling the tank with buckets of water) and then it was off to the races... well, at least after we rounded out our exquisite dining choices with a stop by Bojangles, where Jimmy made the epic mistake of not specifying "bo-rounds" and ending up with french fries. (Who serves fries for breakfast?)

Transition Pre Flood.

Since transition was split we had to take the bus over to t1 and the swim start. About the time we exit the bus and begin walking to t1 the rain decides to pick up from a light drizzle to a moderate pour. Jimmy and myself hang around the edge of the gates and meet up with most of the RTMC guys and gals when the rain begins an epic downpour. We sprint for the nearest shelter, but I'm already soaked through... my Nationals jacket is more windbreaker than actual rain shield so I am absolutely freezing almost immediately. With the car a bus ride away however, there isn't much I can do but suffer.

On the plus side I got a good group picture for RTMC as we hid from the rain

You can make out the nutty downpour behind me. Oh yeah... Cobb Mobb trucker and T.

Eventually due to the weather the 70.3 athletes must settle for a shortened swim, but fortunately nobody is forced into a duathlon.  I wish everyone a good race and find my way to the viewing dock, shivering and waiting for the start. After the gun, Jimmy makes his way up to get a glimpse of Sharon going in, and then we make our way back to t1 as the rain begins to subside.

swim venue
 We hang around swim exit and see all of our friends come out of the water, then catch the bus back to t2 to watch the finish (and finally change into some dry clothes)

Nick coming into T2 
I hang around the line watching the college athletes finish (and one fellow barfing more than I thought possible. He may have been on the Schleck fueling plan and had 30 gu's AND a deep fried turkey...) and cheer on the RTMC athletes as they came through. Nick put down a sub 40' 10k and finished 5th overall in the Olympic, Allison crushed the Aquabike and... as usual... Sharon rocked the Athena's.

Allison and Beccah bringing in the Aquabike with the shortest run ever.

Sharon making it look easy.

After the awards the rain had begun once more, so we quickly loaded up the car and made our way to the local Mexican restaurant to chow down on an awesome post race meal (mine being shrimp covered in bacon. I felt like I deserved it...)  then it was back in the car for the (overly long due to road work) trip home.

Congrats to all of the RTMC guys and gals, who all did awesome... and to everyone else competing (or spectating) that had to deal with the deluge on Sunday. There were times throughout the day that I wished I was competing (standing soaked in my clothes looking at people in their wetsuits was one of those times) but overall I'm perfectly happy that I chose to stay on the sidelines.

Already the cogs are turning for 2015 as I tentatively start to pencil in my race schedule. You'll definitely be seeing a lot ore 70.3 distance races in my future, and hopefully more traveling events. 

So, thanks for reading. It's a short secondhand report, but I had a blast. 

- Christopher Morelock

Oh... and this picture is so sick it needs posted again. (and again)

That is flat balls of steel. (image from Competitor)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Don't call it a comeback...

I been here for years!

Back in the saddle again. (Man, cross genre puns)

Bad LL Cool J reference aside, it is good to be back to training. Don't get me wrong, my "holiday" was much appreciated, and in a lot of ways I was sad for it to end. The first couple of days of "laziness" for a chronic endurance athlete are, in my experience, always the worst. Honestly it's not the thoughts of "I'm going to get fat" or "I'm going to lose all my fitness" that drive me crazy... (although those thoughts do exist) it's the sudden... seemingly rather immense amount of time that you come across.

It's actually after the first few days... you find that all the laundry is done, (no mountain of socks and shorts to dry) the dishes are no longer piled up (water bottles...) and the house, for the first time in what seems like forever, has been vacuumed. Personally, video games were always a big part of my life growing up, so I expected to veg out in my time off... but I found even that got boring rather fast. Eventually I set myself the goal of totally re-organizing and cleaning my garage, which I must say was a smashing success. I also managed to clean and re-cable all of the bikes and while I didn't do any work on any of my projects (hello CR1... it's been a while) I am now back in a serviceable area to do such work, should the urge strike me. I also scored a 650 Zipp Disc for the Zipp 2001... which is awesome.

Matching Zipp bottle too! Woohoo.

In other exciting news, this picture surfaced on Cobb Cyclings Facebook page last week

Top Secret stuff until Saturday at least
This is a custom HC170 that has (somehow) been modified for *somebody* who is racing on the big island this weekend. My personal hope is that the modification to the HC170 was longer rails, and I would guess that's fairly likely. I've thought for a long time that this saddle would be awesome with a tri version (it's mainly a road race saddle) although I can definitely see there are likely only a limited number of athletes that would agree. Most people prefer a bit more padding in tri than the HC170 can provide... but for those of us who like a minimal saddle...well... I like the idea for sure. And as for who's riding it... well, I guess the cat is out of the bag as of yesterday (and I had to re-work part of this post... sigh)

Can he set the record on the big island?

In shameless promotion to a friend (and because there is a 0% possibility you'll be seeing any race reports involving me and "off road" conditions) here's a link to Jimmy's report on his first Cyclocross race of the year.

I just now realized none of the triathlons I do involve an actual physical podium... 
This weekend I'll be hanging around in Anderson SC for the Rev3 (Err... Challenge?) race with Jimmy and Sharon (who will be racing while I continue to live vicariously through others) so if you are going to be around the race feel free to say hi. I'll of course be decked out in my Cobb Mobb gear so I shouldn't be hard to spot... just look for the goofy guy in the trucker hat.

This guy... coming to your town! (If your town is Anderson... otherwise probably not.)
Next week I'll try to have some good pictures from the race, some more nonsense to spout off about, and maybe even some tidbits of actual USEFUL information sprinkled in. (although no promises.)

As always, thank you all so much for reading. I appreciate it.

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IMCHOO, a race from a different perspective.

Most of the time I'm at a race, it's because I'm racing. Historically I've never been a good spectator when it comes to any sport... I just lose interest too fast. So when Jimmy and Sharon asked us (myself and Jenny) to go check out IMCHOO with them, I was a little hesitant. They were volunteering from 11-2 on race day at run station 6 so that Sharon could get entry into the 2015 race, but were game to go down Friday night and spend a the rest of the weekend just kicking around Chattanooga. This was the week I had planned to head out to Florida, but as those plans fell through, and considering I was on a self imposed break from training, I suggested it to Jenny and next thing you know... we were going to IMChoo.

I left work fairly late Friday and after scooping up Jenny we headed to Knoxville to pick up Jimmy, who was going to catch a ride down with us. (Sharon, who had just accepted the award for Young Engineer of the Year, was already in Chattanooga.)

We met up with Sharon and some of her friends at a happening place called "Universal Joint" which had some of the best BBQ Nachos I've ever had.

A good use of an old gas station
After we ran through our welcome at the Joint, we headed to an excellent Gastro Smokehouse / Bar called "Beast and Barrel." Being the kind of guy that can appreciate bartenders who actually put some craft into the drinks they serve and not just using some pre-made mix, this place was right up my alley. The drinks were astoundingly good, the finger foods were perfect, and the atmosphere was exactly what you'd want from a place to be able to spend some time in good company. Hell, they even made a drink called "The Armstrong," a yellow tinged concoction with one large round ball of ice. What's not to love.

Popcorn, bread and jam, orange walnut salami, an old fashioned and a glass of scotch. (I wasn't inspired)
After that we retired to our "lovely" motel. I won't call it out directly, but it rhymes with "The Squinta." To save some dough we stayed by Hamilton Place instead of downtown, so it was about a 10 minute drive to and fro.

Saturday we spent the morning wandering through the athlete village (Little Debbie tent was closed on Saturday, the day before the race... that's holding to your morals.)

Sharon seeking freebies.

It was also Saturday morning that we found some very meaningful graffiti sprayed on a sign on the side of the road. It was simply too good of a shot not to get a picture with my Endurance Conspiracy shirt.

Everybody seems to be a fan of American Psycho these days
Now I'll vent my one frustration of the weekend, and that is the "Bike Chattanooga" transit system. I absolutely love the idea, and even *most* of the execution. One big thing kills it however... even though you pay for 24 hours, you have to check it into a station every hour. I'm sorry Chattanooga, I understand you wanted to make it somewhat inconvenient so that people wouldn't rent them that weren't going to be using them... but an hour? Why not two hours at least? The problem with an hour rental is that it means you're at most going to get 45 minutes of actual "exploring" done before you have to frantically search for the next docking station... Zeus forbid you run into a station that's already full of bikes. We actually did considerably less riding around Chattanooga because it was entirely too much hassle, which is unfortunate because Chattanooga is a great area to relax and ride around.
/rant
Trying to get Aero on the cruiser.
The rest of Saturday was rather relaxed, and we turned in a little early after our full day of exploring.

Sunday morning came early. I wanted to stay in bed through Jimmy's alarm, but the crick in my neck from our "plush" beds was spurring me on to get up and moving... I'm getting too old to sleep on rough beds I guess. We unanimously decide that Waffle House is the better alternative to the hotel breakfast (first time I've ever thought that...) and after fueling up it's off to watch the race!

When we get downtown the swim is under way. When we check the online tracker I at first suspect that it's messed up (no way the IM tracker is fubar'd, right?) as the first person out of the water is under 40 minutes! That's smoking. It seems that, barring bad luck in the future, IMChoo will be considered the Augusta of full distance races. Personally I have no problem with this, I like that different races have different conditions... of course if you read Slowtwitch (or other forums) you'll know my opinion isn't universally shared, but to each their own.

Coming down the river
Swim exit
Unfortunately it turned out very difficult to get a view of the exit to transition, and of course all of the bike was outside town... so I have no good bike pictures to share. That's one thing I hope gets changed in the future, although I can see some logistics problems.

After we wandered around the "village" for a while we went on the hunt for some coffee, finally resorting to a Starbucks (bleh) to get our caffeine fill. 

At this point Jimmy and Sharon needed to head to their aid station to get ready for their volunteer positions. Originally I had planned to stick around town with Jenny and hang out / watch the transition area, but since you couldn't really see anything we decided to see if they could use any extra hands.

Our station was at mile 6 (and 18 I think) of the run. We were scheduled with a school band, and the theme was super hero's. Unfortunately Jenny and myself had no costume, so we were prepared to stay in the background. This was my first experience volunteering anyways, I didn't want to get in anyone's way of what I assumed was a smooth running machine...

Holy crap... if YOU (a competitor) haven't ever volunteered... DO IT. It's downright scary how "on a hinge" these things sit. We had tons of coke, but nobody had opened them! When I tried to explain that it needed to be FLAT coke, I got looks as if I was growing an arm out of my ear. There was a good amount of ice, but it was being used to keep stuff cold, not to be handed to athletes. There were a ton of people to hold out pretzels, but not a lot handing out coke and water, and seemingly the hardest to get the volunteers to understand... you have to YELL what you have in your cup... all in all, if you were in the first bunch of people to come through our aid station... Sorry ;) It took us some test runs to get it rolling.

We ended up staying about 3 more hours after our shift ended, not only because our station needed some help, but because of how freaking fun it is to volunteer. Jimmy (Jimmy most of all) myself, Sharon and even Jenny (who is fairly anti-people on the whole) all had an unbelievable amount of fun. We tried to give encouragement, chase down competitors who missed something on a handup, and just try to give a smile for the people suffering. It was awesome to see people battling through. It was inspiring enough that when our group leader walked around handing out volunteer bracelets (for registration the next day) I even took one. I regained my sanity soon after, but I still took it ;) 

Here are some pictures from aid station 6


The calm before the storm, still setting up.

Jimmy has never been seen in the same room as Batman... so it's feasible he IS Batman...
I got my pink cape later in the day. Handing out Gu
1st place at 6 miles
Jimmy letting him know which way is straight ahead ;)

Bill on his run to a Kona Qualifying time.

Jenny being a ninja and setting up the coke table.

Jimmy and Sharon and some fellow with Superman Pajamas.
Eventually poor Jenny was sunburned and I was starving (and we both had to get home for work the next morning) so we begrudgingly left our station to find some dinner and start the trek back home. Jimmy decided he hadn't had enough so he stayed the night with Sharon (who got her registration for 2015) and all was well on our side.

Congratulations to everyone who competed in the inaugural IMCHOO. You all did awesome, Ironmen(andwomen)! 

Me, I'm back to moving around and re-motivated to nail down my weaknesses. You'll see me volunteering at Chattanooga again next year, and almost certainly will see me toe the line in 2016, especially if Jimmy follows through and makes 2016 his IM race.

Thank you everyone for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

P.S. 
Registration for the 2015 Cobb Mobb team will be opening soon after Kona. Keep an eye out, the team is going to grow in members and in awesomeness in 2015! 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The beatings will continue until morale improves (last tri 2014)

I'm going to try a different kind of format for this race report. If you feel this or the old way was better let me know.


So Sunday was the Anchor Splash sprint, the final race in the Fleet Feet Sprint Series. I went into the race in a tenuous lead, about 7 points up from the nearest threat. Being the last race, this one counted for double points, so I still wasn't a lock, but a solid finish should have been enough. Cue the ominous music.

I'll be honest with you guys... I'm tired, both physically and mentally. That's not to put an excuse out there (and it isn't, I think despite some setbacks I actually had a pretty good race Sunday) it's just the truth. Things have been very hit or miss this season, and although I've stayed healthy, I've not done the kind of "growing" as an athlete that I had hoped for. Some disappointing races (specifically Rev3 Knoxville and AG Nationals Olympic) along with the whole fiasco after Cedar Point took their toll on me, more than even I had realized.  Don't fret too much, I'm taking this week off to veg out, heal up some nagging injuries, and catch up on my house cleaning... along with a much needed trip out of town this weekend (going to cheer at Chattanooga! If you're going to be there I'll be in my Cobb Mobb shirt, say hi.) and I'm sure by the time I'm back I'll be going crazy not training... but as of today... I'm glad to be sitting on my butt getting fat. Anyways, back to the report.

The Anchor Splash is basically just the "old" Trideltathon course (this year Trideltathon was a little different, being a retro/reverse tri.) with a shorter swim.  Jenny and myself arrived pretty early and I get body marked, have a chat with Lloyd and Terry, and head over to transition to set up. Despite arriving while it was still dark outside, I am still relegated to second row middle of the rack. Not the optimal spot, but what can you do. I get a good mile or so run in, and then ride the course with Nick. After that it's back to transition for the final check over things and over to the pool to get started.

I'm given a choice at this point, either get in the water and warm up swimming, or stay on the deck until start time. The problem with swimming is that you have to be out of the water for the National Anthem / announcements, and it's still fairly chill. I decide not to shiver it out, and forego the swim warmup. After all the loudspeaking is done, it's time to get the show on the road.

walking to the start area
I hop in (feet first... no diving) and take off towards the first wall. I still don't have my new stroke "on demand" especially in a race scenario, so I know I ended up falling into bad habits. Eventually I get passed by the guy behind me (sigh) and follow his feet the rest of the way. My Castelli Stealth top turned out a bit tighter in the chest/back than I accounted for... glad I tried it out in a short race first. I come out of the water in 4:47 and make the long run to transition.

In transition I try not to waste any time, get the Kask on, grab the bike and head for bike mount. As I put weight down on my right pedal my foot slides off of the shoe and I catch myself right on the top tube...with...well, you can probably guess what I catch myself with. I take a breath, calm down and finish my mediocre (and rather painful) t1 in 1:16

post slip... let's try again...

Once I'm out on the bike and into my shoes I try to get down to business. While not a long course, the bike ride is rather challenging, with a downhill ending in a 90° right turn and a set of train tracks being what nearly spoils my season.  I overshoot setting up the turn and realize I'm on track to hit the median... I brake, but when I hit the tracks I know I've lost control. My front tire touches down and I skid, and with all the bike handling skills and/or luck I've got stored up, I manage not to wreck. Nonetheless, it shakes me up a bit and certainly kept my speed in check on the second lap. I come back into t2 with a 16:55 bike split. Good for the most part, but pretty poor for me on this course.

After hopping off at the dismount line I pay for my crappy transition spot by having to duck under the rack and mess with getting the bike settled. I throw on my shoes (and gravel!) grab my cap and belt, and run for the exit, clocking :38.

Going out of t2

With a 3 mile moderately hilly run ahead of me I settle into my pace pretty fast. I haven't been running much in the past few weeks so I knew it was going to hurt here. Mile 1 goes by pretty fast and I grab some much needed water at the first aid station, soaking my hat with it. I end up running the next mile with another guy and we pick off a few people in front of us until we are smoked by Ashley (who crushed... and finished 6th overall men and women!) and we hit the second aid station. I drop my cup of water but at this point have to keep going without it. We pass one more guy who tries to match with us at the last couple of hundred, but we manage to put him back pretty easily. I get out sprinted to the line, but still manage an acceptable 20:33. Not a stellar run, but not a heartbreaker either.

Getting outsprinted... it's basically what I do.

So in the end I managed a 44:07, good enough for 5th overall and 2nd in my age group. David, who finished in 4th overall got his payback on me from our duel at Storm the Fort where a narrowly outsprinted him at the line. He convincingly outran me Sunday.

I've got smirks every day, but no smiles today.

With Nick finishing second overall and points counting double, I ended up losing my grip on the lead of the points competition by a single point, and Nick got the overall at 48 to my 47 points. He did an excellent job staying consistent and finishing high up in the races that mattered most.

As far as the rest of the year... I think I'm about done. Some running races are definitely in the future, but I have decided to definitely NOT start at Rev3 Anderson. For those of you with races left this season, good luck and keep the rubber down.

And so, I'll leave you with a good old quote.

"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get back up."


Thanks,
Christopher Morelock


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hydration Solutions for dummies

The corner is turned. All is well. I am at peace with everything over the last week, no hard feelings or bitterness. All that I said about the good and the bad of my race in Cedar Point still applies, and my race is no better or worse because of the results. WuSah.

Now, back to the regularly scheduled blogging. Today I'd like to talk about some of the different hydration (particularly front end) solutions I've had experience with.

Choosing what's right for you.

The first thing we need to identify is how much water you are going to need for the distance. These are things everybody has to decide for themselves, based on the distance itself, the number of aid stations, (and your willingness to rely on them) whether you are carrying "nutrition" in a bottle or as solids and how much of an aerodynamic penalty you are ok with.

As far as "distance" is concerned, here is my "go-to" in races I've done.

Sprint - no bottles
Olympic - 1 bottle
1/2 and Full - at least 1 bottle nutrition, 1 bottle water, have had up to 3 bottles on my bike at one time.

That has worked for me in the past. It's by no means the "right" thing, it's just my thing... but you should find YOUR thing.

*It's also a good time to go ahead and nip that "this pro does this" thing in the bud. It usually came up about Kona time and somebody would pull up a picture of whoever pro riding with round bottles (and often a non-aero helmet)
THEY ARE IN A DIFFERENT KIND OF RACE THAN AGE GROUPERS. A lot (not all) of pro's expect to sit in during an IM race. A good example was during the Lieto/Alexander times. Lieto was aero'd out, because he needed to put time in on the bike and try to hold off the charge on the run. Alexander could sit in on the bike in the main group, then expect his run to carry him to victory. When the rest of the competitors figured out what he was doing, you saw a change in that strategy. So while looking at the pro's can be a good thing, it's good to remember they have a different kind of race than AG'ers do. *

An older setup from Craig

Next we need to look at what the positives and negatives are to different setups.

Round Bottles
The standard round bottle cage on the down/seat tube is the best place to start because it's the one we are all familiar with. This kind of setup has numerous advantages, the biggest likely that you are used to it. All the fanciest super aero hydration solutions on the planet won't do you a bit of good if YOU DON'T DRINK. Why do people usually not drink... well, fear of dropping the bottle/crashing/not being comfortable with it is a big one. Most people train with round bottles, so you get plenty of practice with them. It's familiar, almost a muscle memory. It's also makes refilling on the course a non-issue. Just throw your old (use old bottles at the start of race day) one and grab a new one at the aid station. Since the bottle is sitting up, you dodge most of the spillage issues as well. The downside to this setup is that you are *probably* giving away some watts. Most newer, sleek tri bike designs are better off without a round bottle.

Rinny's Felt


Aero Bottles for Down/Seat Tubes (Virtue, Bontrager, Andurel, Elite, P4 bottle, etc)
These bottles were at their "height" with the Specialized Virtue (made to fit the Transition) and the Cervelo P4's "integrated" bottle. The idea is to have a bottle of water without the penalty of the round bottle. The upside is obviously the *usually* more aerodynamic frame bottle. The downsides are that you are not able to refill any of these bottles (at least without major modification) on the go. Since the cage is designed for the specific bottle (and the bottle is expensive besides that) you are also locked out of throwing an empty one and picking up a full one on course. During shorter events where 20oz or so is enough, these are great solutions. They are also a good spot to keep your flat kit (if you have one) if you have the extra space available. Personally, I have had success with keeping my nutrition mix in this style bottle, and getting my water elsewhere. Works good if you like liquid "feed" but obviously not if you're a solids kind of guy/gal. It's also worth noting that you need to get good at getting the bottle back into it's cradle after a drink, since if you don't get it seated right and then hit a bump, you've likely lost your bottle.

A Specialized Virtue bottle on the seat tube. Also an empty behind the saddle cage.

Behind the Saddle (both Lieto style and the devices)
My experience has been with the Lieto style setups. Cervelo (and my own personal testing in the tunnel) found that keeping the bottles very close to you was a good thing, sometimes even a positive. The closest is rammed up under the saddle like Chris Lieto did, accomplished by zip tying a bottle cage underneath. The positive to this setup is again, you get to use and discard a round bottle at aid stations. The downside is that it is a position that requires some practice to get good at removing, and especially replacing the bottle in it, and depending on what kind of cage you use you can end up ejecting over rough terrain.
The systems (xlab, etc) usually allow for the mounting of two bottle cages + a little room for Co2 and whatnot. The big plus is you are opening up two more round bottle spaces (or 1 bottle + tube/tire/flat stuff) which is probably the biggest amount of added water you can get from anything listed. With this kind of setup you could come very close to being 100% self sufficient on everything up to a 140.6, and maybe there depending on how your setup looked. The main reason for that would be if you wanted to avoid aid stations altogether. With a very careful setup you could probably get one of these systems fairly close to your butt as well. Again, the downsides are mainly aerodynamic, along with the fact that you need to practice grabbing and replacing the bottles. It could also be a problem if you don't practice your mount/dismounts, as kicking over a rear system would require a bit more "oomph."

Lieto added tape to his cage to reduce the change of bottle ejection.

Actually not a bad looking holder. Now that seatpost...


Bags (Speedfil and integrated Shiv mainly)
Pretty much a reservoir of water either on the frame (in the Speedfils case) or inside of it (Shiv, Cheetah, etc) with a drinking straw for ease of use. Now that we're talking about straw devices, the primary benefit to all of them is IT'S EASY to drink out of. It's hard to forget to drink when a straw is right in front of you. The Speedfil has been panned quite a bit as an aero anchor, but integrated solutions like the Shiv actually improve aerodynamics... so it can go from bad to good in that respect. I suspect that managing the straw when you aren't using it is a big deal. All are at least semi-refillable so there is that (although how much you and your bike end up wearing may be dependent on your skill)

Opened up Shiv showing the bladder location

For the love of god... that straw...

BTA round bottle (zip ties and a cage)
This is the old standby in my book. Cheap, fast and reliable is a hard combination to beat. Aerodynamically speaking you almost always at least break even (for some it's actually better) with a round bottle between the arms. It's also extremely cheap and since you are using a round bottle you can chuck and grab on course. Since it's right in front of you it's hard to forget and you can actually see it to make sure you get it back in the cage. The downside is that you put a little more weight right at the front, and you still have to practice getting it in and out of the cage to get good at it. It's also usually right above your brake/wheel if you end up with a leaky bottle, so you could end up wearing a bit of water/sport drink at times. For the most part, if you've got a true aero cockpit on your bike, you should almost certainly be running this setup.

My old BTA setup.

BTA systems (Torhans, Nathans, Speedfil, PD, etc)
These systems have come a long way in the last few years. There are a lot of different varieties of this sort of setup, but for the most part I'm classifying them together if they are between the aerobars and use a straw. The bonus to this kind of setup is, again, you have a straw right in front of you, so there is no excuse NOT to drink. You also don't have to break aero and/or practice removing a BTA bottle from the cage while in aero. Also pretty much all of the systems are refillable on the go. The downside is you DO need to be good at grabbing bottles at aid stations, which is something people for some reason don't want to practice. Some of the systems are also very "splashy" when you are on tough terrain... the Torhans in particular has had a lot of feedback on it not keeping water IN the bottle. Aerodynamically speaking... it depends. Some tests show things like the Torhans being very good, even on new aero frames, and some tests list this kind of setup so-so. My guess is the Nathans and such are fairly close to a BTA setup, probably a bit worse depending on straw management.

Torhans 30 with a little too much uncovered straw showing.

Potts Nathan setup


Which one is right for you? Well, that's something you need to *honestly* evaluate for yourself. Having a super aero setup is good and fine and possibly right, but remember the key is to have water. It's better to be a little less aero and actually drink your fluids/fuel than it is to be crushing right up until you bonk and then limp home (see my race report from Cedar Point for a good example)

Besides that, there are a LOT of different setups out there, and this is certainly no comprehensive list, just something to give some ideas. Try some stuff out for yourself, see what works, and go with it!

Thanks for reading! I very much appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock