Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When more is more.

Despite all of the talk of "smarter" training and all of that, sometimes, *more* really is what you need.

It's Jan. 30th as I type, leaving one more day to add to the training log. That means I'm going to have a new milestone in the books tomorrow. I should end the month with 155 miles under my soles. That's 13 more than last month, and starting to put me close to the 40mi/week mark. A big goal for me is still to hit 200miles in a month, although it's a good stretch down the road before I check that one off the list.

- Aside -
I wanted to give a thank you to Mizuno for listening to feedback and changing the Wave Rider 15's to a closer successor to the 13's than the 14's. Anyone who ran in the 13's know's what I'm talking about. They were without a doubt the best "neutral" training shoe I've ever had on my foot. (and I've tried a lot) The 14 took everything that was good about the 13 and changed it... disappointing (a light way of saying it) tons of Mizuno-philes. The 15's however took a step back to what I loved about the 13's, with a couple of "upgrades" that I can live with. I'm on my 4th pair right now (kind of nervous about the 16's that have just recently been released) and I've been getting about 450-500 miles out of them.
Loud and Comfortable, the ultimate combination.
-End Aside -

Of course I'm still sticking pretty close to the 10% rule. I'm also putting in most of these miles at an easy pace (I'm a believer that "easy" pace can and does change from day to day. Some days easy is 7:5x min/mi's, some days it's 8:4x's. It's important to slow down when your body is saying "this is what we're working with today) which is fairly necessary, especially since I've not totally forsaken swimming and biking.

As a matter of fact, I did my 20' TT test last Friday night. I was dreading it for a few reasons...
1.) It'd been about 5 months since my last one.
2.) I haven't been putting in a lot of cycling the last few months
3.) 20' tests suck!

That said, I managed to hold 291 watts for the duration, despite having a little of a "u" in the middle. (Came from upping my power a little too high too fast) which was up about 7 watts from my last test! Still under 300 watts sadly, but 4.3kg/w! That puts me on "the scale" at "very good." I know I know, the chart doesn't mean much (other than letting me measure my ego) but hey, I started at "untrained" :) I've got to take some pride in my work.

Speaking of pride in my work, here is a picture of the pain cave!

Not pictured... the OTHER fans.
Just 4 walls, a bunch of fans and a big stereo. Also a set of Krietler rollers if I'm feeling like living on the edge. Hopefully the weather will start warming back up in the next month or two and I'll be able to start getting back on the road!

Swimming of course has taken a back seat. I'm going less (2) days but doing longer workouts each time. My times have started dropping back down so there is at least a little hope that I haven't lost all of my speed from last year in the water. I'm considering taking lessons again to see if I can squeeze out any more "free" speed from my form. I'd love to get down to a 6:30/500m but that's still likely a good ways off. Oh well.

Sadly the last few races I've been looking at/signed up for have been canceled due to sh*t weather. Mother Nature is really giving TN the go-round. The last two weeks it has been snowing/icing on friday, and yet today I'm wearing shorts (it's 68 degrees!) despite it pouring down rain with the chance of Tornado's.  Tennessee weather is stupid.

Well, that's the update in my life. Working, training, cooking, sleeping. That seems like all I get done!

Thanks for reading!
-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Just some reminders for the new year.

As the Mentor Group has been doing good and I've been spending a little more time "socially" with other athletes around town (group rides/spin classes, swimming with other triathletes) I've been reminded of some of the questions that a lot of us take for granted everyone knows. It's easy to forget I've been training / racing fairly hard going on 5 years now... I still feel like a beginner in so many ways. Anyways, I thought it might be a good idea to throw out some general advice that is helpful to the new guys (and important for the rest of us to remind ourselves of every now and then.)


- First... get lessons. Most of us didn't come from a swimming  background, so there's not much point in just going to the pool and fighting out 25m at a time without knowing what you're actually doing. I started taking lessons with kids classes (I was 24) and while yes, it was a little embarrassing, I learned and corrected mistakes in hours that would have taken me weeks/months to figure out on my own.  I just can't stress this one enough. Swimming is usually the *cheapest* of the 3 sports anyways, so you can afford to splurge on something that will turn out to be a great investment.

- Don't put too much faith in your wetsuit. Don't get me wrong, they are great tools, but don't fool yourself into thinking that you'll be a better swimmer / safer / able to do a farther distance just because you're wearing a wetsuit. Also, don't do all your lap swimming with a pull bouy because you "won't be kicking" in a race. You will and you should.

- PRACTICE your open water swims! I know a couple of people who are actually pretty good lap swimmers that have a Tough time in OWS events. It's because they don't ever practice it. Swimming in Open water is a lot different... the water is (usually) quite a bit colder and a whole lot darker (in most of my ow swims you can't see more than a couple of inches in front of you with your face in the water.) than the pool. You also have no black line or lane dividers to keep you on course, so it's important to know things like "do I swim with a pull to the left/right?" or "what are the landmarks I need to follow." Other things like where the sun is positioned (is it going to be right in your face? Clear goggles probably aren't the way to go) and how strong of a "pack" swimmer you are (can you handle getting smacked in the head/face for a few minutes without freaking out?) are other issues you need to have addressed long before race morning. It's long been said that weaker swimmers should start on the outside edge toward the back... but it's important that you understand just how "weak" of a swimmer you are. Are you switching to back/breast stroke 100m in? If not, it's possible you want to start a little farther up so that you can avoid the truly weak swimmers who can end your day with a well timed frog kick.

- Practice getting out of your wetsuit. Don't be standing around in transition tripping and falling because your wetsuit got stuck on your feet.


- Wear your helmet. Always. I don't care if you are just riding down the greenway for fun. My worst wreck (the one I ended up having to have surgery on my collarbone for) happened as I was traveling somewhere around 5-8mph. There's no excuse for this one... don't be an idiot.

- Buy the frame, not the components. In real estate they say to buy the worst house in the nicest neighborhood. Bike buying is a lot like that. Your neighborhood is the Frame and your house are the components. The difference between a Felt F5 and an F1 (Felts racing road bike) is ~ $8,000.00. Yes, you're getting "nicer" carbon lays (which is often questionable as to whether it's actually an upgrade or not) on the frame, but basically what you are paying for having Shimano Di2 and Dura Ace wheels over SRAM Apex and Mavic wheels. Wheels in general are not something I factor in when buying bikes... If I am going to run race wheels...I will be picking them. Everything else is just training wheels IMO. Di2 is certainly top of the line, but Apex shifts flawlessly too... basically anything Shimano Sora up, Sram Apex up and Campy Centaur up is race ready (along with other stuff like the Microshift I reviewed) so paying $$$ for the groupset doesn't make a lot of sense unless you've got the $ to spend.

- Get the bike that fits you, not the one that's in stock. (unless it's the one that fits you!) This is important for any bike, but extremely important when it comes to a TT/Tri bike.  Most road bikes that are in the "ballpark" of being your size can be made to work for you with the right stem/crank length/etc. On a Tri bike that is a lot less likely because of the weight distribution and steep seat tubes. A P5 might be your dream bike, but if it fits terribly, it's going to be a lot worse of a purchase than a Speed Concept would be.
It's also important to know that anything you see on a bike to determine it's size (usually S/M/L/XL or sizing from 48 - 60 or so) is basically useless. The companies do not share a standardized sizing system, so a 54 Trek and a 58 Felt might actually have the same measurements. Get a fit done before buying if at all possible.

- Learn to ride with and around people and traffic comfortably. Even if you never plan to do group rides or bike races (you sad, sad person) learning to ride safely with and around others is terribly important for your longevity. (you know... in life) Most LBS' have group rides and a lot have practice sessions to get new people comfortable in packs.

- Ride more, and ride hard if you want to get stronger. Cycling doesn't beat you to death quite like running does, so going hard often isn't as likely to get you hurt. Just adding junk miles (pedal a little... coast some... etc) won't hurt you, but getting stronger is all about intensity!

- Tegaderm. Buy it and hope you don't have to use it, but be glad you've got it when you need it.

- Learn the Rules.


- Smart running is the key to running longevity. You can't be an idiot about running. I used to be an idiot. I'd go out, regardless of what intensity I was supposed to run at, and just run the distance about as hard as I could finish the run at. Sure, that works for a while, but then you go too hard one day and "blammo" there goes the hamstring/knee/ankle/ACL/MCL/Whatever. It's been said many times by better runners than me, but when it comes to running "Mostly Easy, sometimes hard" are words to live by.

- Wear the right shoes! Don't worry about what the fad is (looking at you, barefoot running) go to your REAL local running store (not Foot Locker) and get the right shoes for you. They might not be as sexy as the new Super Ninja Sock Racer pro's... but you might actually be able to run in them :)

- Don't sweat trying to make yourself run a certain way. Focus on getting a good turnover and landing within your center of gravity, otherwise, who cares if you land forefoot/heel striking. Tons of fast guys are heel strikers (some of the fastest in the world as a matter of fact)

- Listen to your body! It's better to cut a run short / ease off / miss one day than it is to miss months because you are injured. Consistency overall is key, but don't hurt yourself just because you "had to get that last mile."


- Practice them! Transitions are often overlooked but a very important part of Triathlon. They can make or break your times depending on how good (or bad) you are at them. Be Good. Take a little time each week to practice the basics at least!

- KISS. The less crap you have hanging out in transition the better off you are going to be. After a tough swim (aren't they all) things you think were easy to remember can get a little muddled in the rush to get out on the bike. It's times like this you don't need to make life tough for yourself. Things you NEED.
-bike shoes
-running shoes
-number belt

that's pretty much it. Anything beyond that you really need to examine as to whether it's necessary or not.

There it is. A nice easy list of things we should all consider.
Thanks for reading!
-Christopher Morelock

*PS - New Camera has been purchased! I'm excited... can't wait for the UPS man!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Curious Case of Nokon Cables

A rainbow of frustration?
"Misunderstood" is not a common term in the cycling wrench's vocabulary. For the most part, we get it... and of the things we don't get, we have the LBS (and the internet!) to help us out. Being a bit of a hobbyist in addition to avid rider, I sometimes get a stern look or two when I voice what I plan to do to my bike (Aero Brakes!? Adjustable Stems? A Zipp 2001 frame???!) but nothing has ever brought straight fear to eyes of people like the mention of Nokon Cables did. Some stuff you'll probably run into if you search up info on them on the web.

"They are impossible to install!"
"They Squeak!"
"They are expensive!"

...and on and on and on...

So first, let's get the hypothetical stuff out of the way. WHY do you want/need Nokon cables? Well, looks always come into play when we're talking about items like this, but personally... I actually NEED them on my TT bikes. Regular cables end up with massive bends at bad angles  due to the extremely low front end position I ride. That is what ended up pushing me to try these guys out. They'd also be extremely functional for a winter bike, since everything is pretty well protected by the liner. (they are a lot more popular on Mtn bikes it seems) Anyways... let's assume you want some and, being the savvy internet guy (or gal) that you are, you order some. (They are expensive... or at least expensive to me. They are VERY expensive if you have to pay your LBS to order them for you! :O But you didn't hear me say that.)

Here's an easy guide to what you've set yourself up for.

Straight out of the UPS box!

Everything unpacked. Left to right - Liner (extra) Liner+Links, Cables, Noodles and spare parts

So, that's what you've got. That's enough stuff to cable either the shifters or the brakes (but not both) so to do a bike you need to sets. That's going to run somewhere in the realm of $110 - $150 (depending on what color you want and how much scouring you do on the net) new. (Not sure about the used market on these)

Lets quickly go over the stuff.
- Liner - I just use what comes with the set, but a lot of people like to run the Jagwire liner instead... I dunno, never caused me any trouble but whatever does it for you.

- Links - This is the bling. It comes out of the pack already on some liner (probably long enough)  so you don't have to go through too much tedious work getting them on the liner.

- Cables - each pack comes with a set of brake cables and a set of derailleur cables.

- Noodles - These guys go at the end of your liner and under your bar tape (into the shifter/brake) super flexy so you can get some really nice bends out of them.

- Spares - Well, spares and connector pieces. You'll probably need a couple more links out of the bag to finish off all the cabling. DO NOT SPILL IT! I made that mistake and spent another hour searching for tiny blue links on the floor.

Alright, now then. Here's where we're starting.
Felt S32 with 3T Mistrals... retrofit. Yes I know, I have too many bikes
My S32 was my first "Real" bike, and I still love to ride it. That said, it has been disassembled for the last year or so, and it's time to get it back up and running and ready to race.

Sadly my 3T Brake levers are on back order... so I'll only be showing the cable install on the shifters... but it's basically the same. (The main difference being that I would be running the cables through the base bar)

Ready to start the install
The first thing to do is get the cable ready to install. Just slide the noodle onto the end of the liner (You can also cut the liner a little shorter... I never have though... just flush has always worked perfectly for me.) and then slide the links to meet up with it...  you should end up with something like this

How everything should look before you start the install.
Note that the liner runs all the way through to the end of the noodle.

Something I need to stress (for the first time) at this point is that the links MUST BE TIGHT.  99% of the troubles people have is being lazy about this and not getting them tightly linking. Now it's basically a matter of installing it.

I tape my noodles twice, but use as much or little as you see fit.
Now just like installing regular housing you have ever done. The only big difference is that you can make some pretty tight bends with this stuff. Back when Dura Ace 7800 was top of the line, I remember at least one pro team running there's back in under the bar tape (pretty extreme) like so

Great example of how crazy you can get the bends.

Once you've got the length determined you need to finish off the end pieces. Now's the time to dig in the bag of extra's and find the two little ends. One is the small black "bead." It sits right after your last link, followed by one of the longer black "end" links. It'll look like the below.

How the end that plugs into the frame/stops should look.
One small round bead, then the black end bead.
Now you've got to make some choices.
1.) Are you going to run the liner all the way? If this is going to be out in the rough weather, it might be a good idea just to run the liner the whole length. (also you'd want to run the liner if you've got internal routing - considering your bike doesn't have it's own internal lining)

2.) If not, are you going to cut the liner off flush with the link, or a little shorter. Like I said, I always cut mine off flush (mainly because it's infinitely easier and I'm lazy) but I've read that it's "ideal" to cut it just a bit short.

Now it's just a matter of taking your time and getting everything set up right the rest of the way. I still have no idea why installing these causes headaches... so long as you don't rush it I've never had any hassle at all.

Use your own discretion here. You can go pretty short if you want to, but I like a little flair.

So there you go, your expensive flashy bling bling cables are ready to roll. Now, get out there and ride the thing!

Thanks greatly for reading!
* Don't kill anyone who doesn't agree with your opinion of Lance... he has finally entered my group with religion and politics on topics I don't talk about :)

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

An Ode to my darling (Planet X Stealth)

I love bikes.

I know, no big revelation to those who even remotely know me. I'm a FIRM believer in the N+1=N formula in determining how many bikes you should own. Beyond a general enjoyment for all bikes, and a hard to sate lust for bikes that I do not own (There are a couple of new bikes I'd like to ride and a plethora of "vintage" bikes I'd love to collect.) there is a special place in my heart for my own personal bikes. Each of them have their own personality and characteristics, from the down and dirty "beat me up" feel of my CAAD8 to the spectator friendly showboating that my Zipp 2001 never fails to deliver... they all do something for me.

That said, my Planet X Stealth will always be my #1 ride.  I mean, just look at this beauty.

The old War Horse
There are not many people who can say they know a bike like I know this one. I ordered this guy in 2010 directly from Planet X USA (now defunct I believe) as a frame only. Every piece beyond that was chosen by me, and in some cases modified or replaced to squeak out every bit of custom preference/performance I could get out of it.  Is it the fastest frame... undeniably not. Much of the shape is "aero looking" as opposed to actually aerodynamic. Nonetheless, the price was right and I still think it holds it's own with most "non-super" bikes... and besides, position is the key to aerodynamics, and let me tell you... I can get pretty steep on this thing :)
It's not supposed to be comfy :) I mean c'mon... it's only 56 miles.
And talk about a frankenstein of a bike... here's my current build.

- Planet X Frame (M)
- Oval Concepts Jetstream fork (Hey, worked great for Cadel!)
- Simkins Egg Brake (front... stopping power and aero!)
- Ritchey adjustable stem (to get lower)
- Profile Design Ozero base bar (great shape) and Ski bend aerobars (need the angle to mantis)
- Nokon Shifter/Brake Cables (for the required tight bends from having the base/aerobars so low)
- Dura - Ace 7800 Downtube Shifters retro-mounted as bar end shifters (for length)
- Specialized Virtue Bottle with drilled holes to mount flush in triangle
- Campagnolo Record Carbon Front Derailleur (because carbon is awesome)
- A Fizik Arione Tri2 saddle (the cheap one)
- Dura - Ace 7800 Rear Brake (for peace of mind stopping power)
- Dura - Ace 7400 Crank (7800 Chainrings) and Square Taper BB (103mm length) to narrow Q-Factor
- Dura - Ace 7900 Rear Derailleur (cause it's soooo nice)
- KMC 10xsl chain (the best chain ever made)
- Rear-Mount Gorilla Cage under the saddle (Lieto style... Gorilla to actually keep it from launching)
- Cycleops Rear wireless PT Wheel w/ Wheelbuilder cover, on Conti GP TT tires (latex tubes)
- Hed 3 front wheel w/ Bontrager Aerowing TT tire (latex tube) because Wiggo rides it :)

I know, it's a bit of a monstrosity. That's part of the reason I love it.
The looks I get and questions asked are pretty great also. The one's I get asked over and over are

1.) Is that a Campagnolo Front Derailleur?
Working my sorcery, I have a bike with both Campagnolo and Shimano!
Yep.  I run it because it looks cool and because so many people get their mind blown by it :) It's also near heresy to Campy-philes so that's an added bonus!

2.) Why do you have that crank on your bike?

State of the Art... in 1985
Short answer... the Q-Factor on this crank (plus an appropriately short bottom bracket) is insanely low, with only a couple of possibilities to rival it. (What is Q-Factor?) (One of the original writings on Q-Factor)There are tons of arguments about whether having a narrow vs. wide Q-factor on the bike. For me, it's both more aerodynamic and more comfortable. It's also impossible to achieve with modern cranks that I can think of. Fortunately, Shimano has had the "best crank in the biz" thing down for quite some time, so these guys have performed as flawlessly as the 7800 crank I had on it before.

3.) What's up with those shifters?

DIY weirdo shifters!

The downtube shifters (which is what they are) throw people off. I made them by scavenging some old 7800 bar ends and a pair of 7800 dt shifters. You need some of the internals of the bar ends to make it work unfortunately. The extra little bit of reach they give worked out perfectly for my bars, and plus I feel a bit more "comfortable" with them in my hands as opposed to the bulky shimano bar-ends (which were really made for commuting bikes... not tt bikes anyways.) I really wish Shimano would put out some bar-ends similar to SRAMs... but alas. (I also never liked the R2C Zipps although they are cool)

4.) Finally... it's the position. I get constantly assailed with "is that comfortable?" To which I laugh.
No. It's not comfortable.

Children... out of my future.
The question of comfort comes up a lot when you get to talking about fit. There are two camps basically.
- Those that don't want to sacrifice comfort for aerodynamics
- Those that want to be as aerodynamic as possible at the expense of comfort.

I don't think everyone's "tolerance" is the same, but I do think most people simply get into a position that's aggressive, have neck pain the next day and give up on it. I spend hours every season in position on the trainer to make it as "normal" as I can for race day. I've never had it make much effect on my power (for a triathlon) or my run. My 20 min tt Avg. Watts is indeed lower, but I don't ride 56 miles at that kind of power anyways.(/rant)

And of course I'm always looking for new toys... Current prospects are the skewers from the guys over at +1mph faster and some of the Tririg toys. I'm always on the look out for an old Argos TT fork or a BlackWell Time Bandit fork as well, although both of those are pretty rare nowadays. Oh well, hunting is part of the fun :)

As far as racing in the near future is concerned, I'm considering a 10 miler at the end of the month. I figure it'll be a good warmup to the Knoxville Marathon (half for me) in April. I'd also like to get another 5k or so in, as I'm ever trying to crush that mythical (to me anyways) sub 19'

I hope everyone's week has been well. Until Next Time.

Thanks for Reading.

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A New Year and a Fresh Start

I know, I got some Splainin' to do. Missing updates and all that...
Happy New Year!

Now that that is out of the way, let's dive right in.

First, let me again remind all you readers that's Mentor Groups are now open. Here is a handy link to mine... and although I admit to being on the low end of awesome mentors (and there are some truly great ones) I promise to try my best to be as great of a mentor as possible. I also want to say that these mentor groups, although targeted towards "beginners" are not exclusively for them. Heck, I've had people in some of my past groups that I would say knew a ton more than I did. So just because you're a tri veteran, don't think they aren't for you.
New Years Day I had a 5k, my first since Thanksgiving. I was pretty excited because... well... I love racing. Then I opened the front door at 6a.m. Pouring down rain and colder than my last exes black heart. (okay, not quite that cold)

Brightest shoes in the picture! That counts for something...right?
I'd say I had a good race report to put down, but basically... it was a cold rainy flat 5k. I probably went out of the gates a little too hot (5:58/mi pace for the first mile) and suffered for it the last mile (6:18/mi pace) which is about par for the course... I always have a tough time keeping right at (while still under) red line the first 1/2 mile. I do know that there is no way I can ever wear gloves again while racing. They annoyed the crap out of me at about mile 1.75... I think it was because they were soaking wet, but it could just be that when I start feeling like crap I blame it on this case my gloves. (In Augusta I very nearly threw my Garmin 305 in the trash because I was blaming it for continually "beeping" to let me know I was too slow off pace haha) That said, the Calhouns First of the Year 5k was a great race. Although sub 19' still eludes me, I squeaked out a 19:21. It was good to have another solid foot race under my belt, and of course a great way to start off the year! (/Report)

Christmas brought me a couple of nice little presents. The big dog was the much needed replacement to my poor 305 Forerunner.
Not my arm. I purposefully found the hairiest arm I could... since I have Sasquatch envy.
That's right, a good ole' 310xt was under the tree for me! My 305 was struggling to survive (too many trips in the water under my swim cap I suspect.) and ready for retirement, but I was too cheap to buy a replacement... fortunately Santa found it in his heart to get me one!  I'll work out a review (despite being pretty late to the party) soon, but as a teaser let me just say... man this thing was a PITA to set up. It came with instructions in like 8 different languages (funny, instead of them all being in one big book, there were 8 separate books!) none of them actually said you needed to go to to get the software needed for it to sync (wirelessly!) with your computer. Frustrating. Nonetheless, after some forum trolling, I got it set up and I'm loving it! It's also quite a bit smaller than the 305, which is good for guys like me with such tiny arms :)

I also got this bundle of joy!

Christmas is every day I can enjoy watching a squirrel with a giant head out my window
Yes, that's me holding a Big Head Squirrel Feeder. Silly and probably a bit more expensive than it should be by looking at Amazon's price, but nonetheless, I giggle like a kid every time I look out my window and see a squirrel eating out of it. I mean... just look at how awesome this is...

Chuckling even as I type this
Maybe It just doesn't take much to entertain me but man I love this thing.

Back to business...

To recap the year, my totals were
- 3313 miles biked
- 1146 miles ran
- 377,650 meters swam

Not a bad year, especially considering I was unable to run / bike much of the first quarter. Of course, I'm looking to absolutely crush those numbers (especially the running one) this year.

All that leaves us with is the New Years Resolution.
Mine, almost embarrassingly, is to learn how to dance. There have been a couple of recent occasions (like my friends weddings) where I would really have loved to have been able to at least hold my own in a slow dance.  I know, an odd goal, but one I want to knock out nonetheless. I'll leave the fitness resolutions to the people who sign up for a 4 year membership to the globo-gym and then quit going by March. :)

Until Next time, I hope your Holidays were Awesome. Here's looking for an even better 2013!

Thanks again for reading... oh and Happy Birthday to all my multisport friends :)

-Christopher Morelock