Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A trip to watch the US Pro TT, and a Memorial Day Race Report.

So I had a bit of a rocky trip to Chattanooga over the weekend. I had planned to leave Friday afternoon and come back Monday afternoon after the Pro Road Race.  Sadly my friend had to work late on Friday and go in at 2 in the afternoon on Monday... which really cut into that plan. I was a bit bummed, but figured that the TT was what I was really interested in anyways, so I'd manage.

Of course, I forgot to pack my camera...

Sometimes I'm not the brightest star in the sky. :(

Part of the very odd VW plant

As for the actual race day... it was pretty awesome. Everything had a very friendly feel to it... I just wandered around between the little "fair/expo" setup, the Volkswagen trailer setups, and even the pro warmup / buses / mechanic areas. Honestly, if it were me personally, I'd have been a bit more leery of some random guy walking around my multiple thousand dollar wheels/bikes/helmets (I really want one of those Lazer Wasp helmets) but they were pretty cool about it, the KENDA team mechanics even let me quiz them on their new Microshift components (the TT shifters look AWESOME! Almost exactly like SRAM's 900's.)

Pretty snazzy TT shifters from Microshift

I got to stand right at the start ramp for most of the women's field, and at the first turn (I was on TV! Hi Mom!) for all of the men. Carmen Small had an insanely good ride, she was crushing that second lap. Zirbel also caught me off guard... I was thinking to myself "Is he on a road bike?" and sure enough... he won the whole thing on an Orca with Aerobars. Of course, he's a beast who has been towards the pointy end for years. (with quite a few 2nd places at the USpro TT)

Small on her Shiv. The only thing that's odd is that she is running two GP Attack tires, which were supposed to be the front only part of the GP Force/Attack race combo.
Zirbel opted for a modified Orca instead of the TT bikes the rest of the team were using. His position looked great regardless, so I suppose it came down to what made sense regarding the UCI's regulations.

After the finish (and in light of a ridiculous sunburn I suffered... woops) we returned to our hotel and proceeded to explore downtown Chattanooga. Despite drinks borderlining on ludicrous prices at most establishments, we were able to find a nice calm pub (Hair of the Dog if you're ever in the area) where the staff understood the plight of two sunburned spectators. On a side note... Chattanooga Whiskey (it's a brand) is absolutely terrible. I had considered myself a connoisseur of rot gut booze up until this point, but wow... that stuff was bad. After a moderately mellow (considering the circumstances) evening, we piled in the cab and turned in early. (Like 8:30 early...haha) The next morning we grudgingly packed our stuff and started the trip back home. It was on the trip home that I remembered there was a race on Memorial Day (Foothills Sprint) that I had been a bit bummed to miss when I was planning to attend the events in Chattanooga... well, no excuse not to be there now!

Weekend Saved!

I got home and got the shorties slapped on the CAAD, cover on the rear and Jet 9 suited up with some latex... then vegged out in front of the TV and played some Video Games. (While tactically ignoring the piles of laundry I needed to do) you know, the perfect pre-race routine :)

//Race Report\\

I start off the morning with the normal routine, 2 Eggs, Corn tortilla shell, 1cup Oatmeal, 1 Banana, 2 cups of coffee and 32oz of water. I load the car and make the short drive to the venue (seriously like 2 miles from my house)
I unload, get signed in and find a spot to rack and set up in transition. I see Josh (Wade, who also has a blog worth checking out) and his father and we spend some time chatting.

I get a long warmup in (something I've been trying to change lately, as historically I don't do much in the way of warming up.) with a couple of bike repeats, a long(ish) run (where I ran into/met Lloyd who was warming up on the bike - thanks for reading Lloyd, shoutout!) and a longer than usual swim. I could tell my swim wasn't on par with where it was last year, so I decided to seed myself back a bit farther than usual.  (Also, had 1 Apple Lar Bar about 15' before race start for those who are sticklers about nutrition on race day)

Swim: (6:06)
I probably lined up too far back even though I was correct in my assumption that I would be a bit slower than last year. Honestly, after my DNF in Florida, I was a little bit nervous despite this being a short pool swim. I got in the water and felt great however. I knew I wasn't pushing my pace too hard, but I was passing people regularly and figured I'd do myself a bigger favor by feeling great coming out as opposed to burning a match sprinting. I even had a second to give my mom and dad a thumbs up during a stroke towards the exit side.

Yay swimming

Transition 1: (1:11)
Not the fastest transition, but two seconds faster than last year. I guess that's fine considering I've literally done 0 practice since the end of last year. The run from the pool to t1 is fairly long and over some loose gravel, but my rawhide feet bottoms accept it with impunity. I slap on my helmet and glasses and run out of t1. Hop on the bike and we're off to the races.

You know, just hangin out

Bike: (28:09)
I've been paying pretty close attention to the pros/cons of running my road bike with shorties over my dedicated tri bike. On the downside, I was a tad slower this year (:12 to be exact) despite almost certainly having better fitness overall, however, I felt smoother on the hills and like I was putting in less damage to my legs the whole time (of course that's entirely unfounded by anything other than "feel.") Being able to have a true "climbing" position helped on this course too imo, since it's a pretty fair course to only be 10 miles. My actual ride was pretty uneventful, I spent plenty of time catching people who had outswam me, and burned through the course at a pretty solid pace. Historically I've suffered pretty good on the last "big" climb, but I hit it smooth and in control this year. I'd say this was a great ride despite being a bit slower.

I can turn! I can turn!

Transition 2: (:30)
Coming back in on the bike you enter the parking lot where there are speed bumps. It's deceptively easy to carry a lot of speed through this area, and when I hit the first bump my foot goes shooting off the top of my shoe. I recover, but slow it down over the next one. I ride in with style (leg over the top, hold it...hold it... woosh) and serve up a quick T2 at :09 better than last year! That's pretty nice.

Run: (17:08)
This is a pretty short run at only 4k, but it's one that can really put you in the hurt locker. Heading into the turnaround is almost all uphill, and all but the very last couple hundred meters into the finish is also a gradual climb. I have to say I felt great going out and continued to feel good all the way back in. I was :41 faster than I was last year, which is to be expected due to increased run mileage, but I think also somewhat due to a bit fresher legs off the bike. I suppose I still have an embarrassingly slow run (first 4 overall had the 4 fastest run splits of the day... me in 5th... the 17th fastest... yeah...) but progress is being made!

Sprinting to the end

Overall: (53:02) 5th Overall (2nd AG)


After the race it was chill out time. I talked with Josh again for a bit and we checked results to find we both got 1st in our AG (As we're now in different AG's... since I'm old and all that...) and finished 5th/6th overall. I met another BT'er (Volfireman) when we were cleaning out transition, always awesome to put a face with a name on the forums! Waited around and got my award/towel, then packed it in and returned to the house to start the chores I had been neglecting. Ahh the sweet spoils of victory...

Our Local TT series starts next Wednesday night, so it's possible I wait until Thursday for next weeks updates. I'm terribly excited about the new course we have mapped out, it looks straight, fast and fun!

Thanks everyone for reading, I truly appreciate it!

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Off to watch the US Pro National Championship!

Well, it's only a couple of days away. I've been terribly excited (I reserved my room last year! and I suck at advance planning!) about this race for some time, and as it's closing in let me just say the level is rising!

Of course, the chance to see some of the top guys racing is good enough for me most of the time, but of course getting to see Captain America is going to push it over the top for me!

Hey dude, wait until I take the photo to check the air pressure... jeez
Sadly DaveZ crashed out on stage 6 of the ToC last week (which was an awesome race btw... BMC is doing some dominating so far this year!) on his warmup, so boo for that. Hopefully he's in form for Saturday because man, I want to see him race! I'm also hopeful that Tyler Farrar gets a go at the finish of the road race. I've always thought he was underappreciated in the shadow of the Manx (and now seemingly booty pincher Peter Sagan)

He should actually apologize for that hat... In other news: Fabio is still a badass
So my weekend is filled up with spectating (and likely some imbibing as well) the best Chattanooga has to offer. Unfortunately it means I'll be missing a race on Monday... which I am not all that happy about. I need a good race back under my belt to shake off some of the doubts that were left by my untimely DNF in Florida.

That said, training is taking a turn for the positive. I've been hitting above my power goals for sets on the bike, running without injury or even really any pains (other than general fatigue of course) and swimming long (400-600m) sets at the same pace (~1:30/100m) that I was swimming 100m repeats just a couple of months ago. There's still a LONG way to travel until IMLou, but at least the road isn't quite as dark as it seemed. I still need to come up with what races are going to finish up this years season (possibly the Atomic Man 1/2 Ironman? I have been wanting to do it for a while now) but on the whole things are looking positive.

On the project front the Scott is almost done! I've got one chainstay left to finish sanding, then it's one last coat of Carbo-Lift, some cleaning, and ready to be painted! So Excited for a project that has drug on longer than I expected to finally be so close. I'm hopeful that it turned out to be worth it. (Which means, it looks awesome finished... fingers crossed.)

I have just started work on the Softride. After a heated bidding war on ebay, I came away with these

So much money for so little substance :/ Story of my life.
The necessary mounting hardware for the beam. I spent more than I wanted to, but not having to worry about the headache of crafting something to work is more than worth it to me. Now the question that has to be answered is... what am I going to "DO" with the thing?


All are at least somewhat good options. I'm pretty well stocked on Tri bikes, so possibly that is a no-go, and I have no fixie, so maybe I want to channel my inner Hipster. Having bottom facing dropouts does suck, but you can't have everything. (And in this specific case, I suppose it would mean I would have to settle for a single speed... or some welding)

So hopefully I can get a ton of pictures of the race this weekend to share, as well as some good stories. Thanks for catching up with what I'm up to (besides nerding out and playing a ton of DMC: Devil May Cry - which is an awesome reboot btw.)

As always, I really appreciate you guys taking the time to check out my thoughts.

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Get on with it

And now there is nothing left to do but get to work. No matter what the end result, there's no chance at even having a shot without a LOT of work. That goes for a lot of things. Unfinished projects left laying around need to get sorted and worked out ASAP.

Of those projects, the one that has been spoken of the most (and taken the longest...) is my CR-1. What should have been done well before the end of winter has dragged on (and been somewhat forgotten admittedly) well into spring. I'm close to having all the paint sanded/stripped off of it, at least to an acceptable level to start priming over it. I expect to have this bad boy ready to be re-assembled by the end of June at the absolute latest, and then only because I'll have a few weekends coming up that I won't be able to work on it.

Sssssoooooo Close. You can still see filler around the bottom bracket!

Next would be the Airborne Guardian... my initial adventures in Mountain biking have been less than optimal (that is to say, I've wrecked a good amount.) I still enjoy the idea, especially since it opens up avenues for me to ride with my close friends (which is all but impossible on roads... either I simply get nothing out of the ride or they are dead 10 minutes in.) while still getting something out of the ride. The problem I ran into was the tires. Greenway tires are great for a lot of things... but it's not off road trails. Adding a set of Specialized Ground Controls should eliminate some of the problems (no traction whatsoever) I was having, but now we've ran into another snag... the tires don't clear the front derailleur in either the small or largest chainring. It's a minor rub that probably wouldn't do any harm, but already I'm itching to grab the files and start removing body from the derailleur. And hey, who doesn't want to lighten their component kit :P Amirite?

Pet carrier, Wheel cover and spray paint can not included.

Stupid Derailleur... Just wait til I find my file in all this mess...

Then there is this little fellow.

A garage full of parts and beam bikes...

 A Softride in need of beam parts, particularly the little washer that holds the beam into place. Somebody has already tried to fashion one that's serviceable, but I think something a little closer to the original can be sourced / made with a little time/effort. Sadly this bike has bottom facing dropouts... without some welding it'd be tough to turn it into a single speed (which was my first inclination) It may also end up wall art or possibly another road bike. Any way you look at it, it's going to get stripped down and re-painted a most garish (and 90's) combination of Purple (color of kings) and neon Yellow. This little fellow is pretty low on the list, more of a "fun" side project, but still.
As you can see, the rigged up washer holding the beam has seen better days...

Then there's the 2001. It's desperately in need of some Nokon cables and to be re-adjusted to match my "new"(er) position. I guess I risk looking like TJ Tollakson's clone when I do that, but hey, I've been to the tunnel... I know what position works for me. I will be eschewing the nut cups for real elbow pads however :)

And then, finally, it may be time to update the brakes on the Planet X. I do like my Simkins Egg brake still, but for the sake of simplicity to adjust (and possibly just a little more bling factor if I'm totally honest) I may be making the jump to Tririg Omega's. I really like the look of them, and if stopping power/ease of adjustability is as good as is to be believed, then they're right up my alley.

Of course all that doesn't mean jack squat if I'm not working on the motor to go with the rigs.

It's time to start adding some miles in the saddle. First order of business if these wild dreams of mine are to come to fruition is to be able to ride 112 miles in 5'ish hours and still feel good when it's all said and done. (as well as taking this time to nail down nutrition on the bike... something I've half assed in the past) That means more TITS (alright!! wait...) and more long, difficult sets. It's going to be a long road to IMLou, and there's no time to waste if I'm going to be there in the best shape of my life.

Thanks so much for reading.

- Christopher Morelock

Oh yeah, on a completely unrelated to anything triathlon note... I replaced the exhaust on my Corvette earlier this week. NXT Step Performance kit is the equivalent to Microshift components (that is, half the price of Borla/Corsa, if you can stand that it's made in some random Chinese factory) and I'm very happy with it. Very little resonance and fairly quiet inside the car, while still being considerably throatier than the stock exhaust.
Not the easiest vehicle to transport bicycles.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dare to believe?

How about a little talk about dreams.

I finished Rev3 Cedar Point (140.6 Full Rev) in 12:19:xx at the end of 2010.  It was my first, and to date only full distance race. Finishing a 140.6 means a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, it was a mellow accomplishment. I crossed the finish line feeling... well... tired. Not terribly excited, and not sure if I would ever return to the distance. Like most people, I had big dreams of Kona one day, but 12:xx isn't about to put a guy my age into contention for a slot for the next couple of decades.  And so, I moved on to other races and distances. At almost no point did I have any interest in revisiting a 140.6.

Fast forward to the last month or so. I won't say that my training has felt stagnant because that is not the right terminology... I suppose the only way to describe it is to say that, when getting up for 4a.m. swim sessions (which kills my social life the day before and the day of) and 2 a days even on the weekends I am already "giving up" (I think the term giving up would imply that there is something I feel I'm "missing" to do that... which I don't... but you get the gist of what I'm saying) a lot of "social" time, but I'm not actually training all that many hours per week.

So the question comes to... what does it matter if I'm biking an hour or two hours? My night is spent biking either way. Does it matter if I swim 4-5k instead of 3k at 4 in the morning? I'm still getting up at the buttcrack of dawn.

So what I'm trying to say is...

I want to do another full distance race.

Not only do I want to do another one, I want to KQ while I'm there.

Take a moment to laugh. It's fine, that's kind of how I felt when I first started to consider it. Then I thought a little more.

In case you think I've lost my mind and / or haven't ran the numbers... you're wrong. I have.

At IMLou (where I'll almost certainly make my bid) I need to be sub 9:40:xx (and more likely closer to 9:3x:xx) to have a shot. That means finishing in the top 30 or so... OVERALL. It means having a year and 3 months (I'll be shooting for 2014) to get into the shape to play with the big boys. It not only means having a perfect day, but also staying healthy (a problem I seem to have) and able to arrive on race day ready... All of that said... I think it's possible and so do some people who's opinion I trust.

The problems
I have no idea where the hell I am in this picture
1.) Swimming
I need to swim at worst a 1:06. Anything below that I can make happen would be a boon. IMLou is supposedly a fairly lax swim, albeit not wetsuit legal generally. It's also not in salt water... a bridge I'll still have to cross if I expect to race Kona... but one problem at a time. I think this one is well within my ability with a little bit of work and some added volume.
Something I'm going to have to do... HTFU for real
2.) Bike
First, I will have to re-accustom myself to my fairly extreme position. This one is easy to do, albeit it'll take some time to stay comfy(ish) over 112 miles. I'll also need to do many more *long* training days at race pace. Of course raising my power across the board is of importance too, but I believe I'm currently at the level to ride the 112 in the low 5 hour range... which leads us to the real hurdle.
My laughable 4:57 run at Rev3 certainly isn't going to do it
3.) Run
I have to be able to run a comfortable marathon AFTER that low 5 hour bike ride. That means I need to be running in the low 3:20's. With a 1:31 half mary being my last long(er) open running race... well I'm going to need some pretty serious volume increases to have a shot.

All this in some of the most unfavorable (there is a reason IMLou doesn't fill up very fast) conditions you can ask for on the IM circuit.

And so, when faced with that... you might be asking me the same thing I asked myself. "What chance do you have?" And to that I can only say...

I'm good at suffering.
At least I finished... right?

Physically and Mentally. I can suffer better than just about anyone I know. That may not be the kind of credentials that most people think would be useful for a KQ hopeful, but then again...what do they know.

The other option is to delay until 2015. This will give me another year to build a solid running base. Of course that also means adding another year to the plan. While I'm not exactly an "instant gratification" type of guy, I do understand that planning something two years out leaves a lot of room for "life" to get in the way. Nonetheless, I want to make sure I weigh my options carefully. Certainly another year, on paper, looks like the way to go to make things more of a "sure thing." Of course we're talking about a 140.6... I know enough to know that nothing is a "sure thing" when that's the distance we're talking about covering. My last race (what there was of it) has also reminded me quite vividly that I am not some unstoppable force..

And so, here I sit, at the crossroads. Time isn't on my side... my choice has to be made in the near future. Do I dare to believe it's possible? Am I just buying in to all the motivational posters and Nike advertising? Can a guy who spent the first 25 years of his life doing everything in his power to avoid any kind of aerobic activity (to speak nothing of the other things I put my body though) really expect to compete with the big dogs.  12:19 to 9:35? Seems like a hell of a mountain.

Normally, here at the end of my post, I'd quote something terribly moving and motivating about what I'm going to do and how I'm going to do it. Well I won't. I don't know what's going to come to pass, if I can do it or not... hell, I don't even know if I'm GOING to do it or not. I suppose the good news is that IMLou doesn't fill up overly fast, so I have some time to bail out if things go south. Even if I don't race it, a year of volume training probably can't hurt my longer racing... 1/2 IM Worlds has still evaded me as well, so even if things go south, perhaps there's hope to salvage something.
Sorry if this one is all over the place. Just putting my thoughts down on "paper" helps me out a lot of the time.
Thanks for reading, I appreciate it greatly!
- Christopher Morelock