Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's in the blood.

First, Happy New Year! 2014 was not the year I had hoped it would be when it came to races and health, but nonetheless it has been a good year, especially outside of Triathlon. Hopefully 2015 will blow all expectations out of the water!

So, back to a more serious tone for a blog post. I've vaguely written about my battle the past few weeks with recovering, feeling wiped out, and taking my trip to Provision and having blood work done. While I'm still in the midst of it (not back to training until Jan. 5th at earliest) and by no means an expert on anything medically related, I'd like to share a few takeaways of what I "think" I've learned.

Let's Iron out the details of this bad pun
Going into the blood test, I had a suspicion (from too much googling) that I had low iron. A lot of the symptoms (and causes) lined up with my situation. So when I first saw my results and both my iron levels and my hemoglobin were on the high side of normal, I was a bit confused. After some explanation and then later some much further reading, I came to learn a new word. Ferritin. (Actually Serum Ferritin) and while my iron levels were high (free floating iron) my ferritin (stored iron) was low, creating a sort of anemia, particularly in exercise.

Fortunately, the solution is pretty simple. Start taking iron to get the levels normal, then change the diet to keep them there. (Nobody wants to take iron long term, the side effects suck, as I'm now acutely aware.)

The next thing on the list was my Happy Vitamin.

Sunny D...amirite?

Who would have thought that a fairly introverted video game playing nerd who does most of his rides on the trainer, swims in the pool and runs before dawn would have low vitamin D.

I'll be straight up honest with you, I didn't know crap about vitamin D. I thought it came in milk and helped your bones be strong. (hey, I was right)

It also plays a role in a TON of bodily functions, including your mood and some believe your athletic performance. While concrete evidence that it raises performance doesn't exist (that I'm aware of) a deficiency in it will almost certainly hamper performance one way or another.

Then there was/is my diet.

I (did) eat basically the same thing for breakfast and throughout the day, then cook something (a little) different for dinner. I learned that in my late teens when I was bodybuilding (There are only so many combinations of "can of tuna, grilled chicken, protein shake, cottage cheese.") and, honestly, it was extremely simple. Something I didn't have to think about at all. Grab and go. And I was pretty sure most of it was healthy...oats, eggs, Greek yogurt, fruit, granola, nuts, etc. After coming back from my doctors visit (where he reminded me a little variety might go a long way) I actually counted some of what I was taking in every day. The one that surprised me the most...

"equinsu ocha
No, I'm not going on a holy crusade against the white devil. (You speak Wachootoo?) I'm just saying, I didn't realize I was eating over a hundred grams a day. (Yes, not carbohydrates in general, sugar.) I know the cavemen out there just fainted, so I'll give you a moment.

So I guess it's no wonder my insulin levels were WAY too high. Sure, a lot of that was sugar from fruits (apples and banana's) but man, that's a lot of sugar. I also sweeten basically everything I drink besides water with splenda, which depending on which war you're fighting is either strictly worse or only moderately better than just sugar itself. So...yeah.

All these things are fortunately caught early(ish) the most important one (to me) being my insulin... while it's not a "problem" now, a few more years of doing the same thing had a strong possibility of leading down the road that ends with insulin resistance and eventually diabeetus, which I would prefer to avoid if at all possible.

So to my point... I think it would benefit most of us (if only from a curiosity standpoint) to have a blood test, just to see what's up in there.

Mine was ran through directlabs.com, an online company that actually does the testing (then emails you the results) who, after buying what you want tested (I had the package of hormones and blood work, which ran $300. Skipping the hormones will be less but T levels were something I needed checked) will send you a requisition and then it's a matter of making an appointment at your local Labcorp (where you get drug tested if you've ever had to for a job interview) who does the actual "poking."  A week (or less) later you'll have tons of info to look at, and while I would highly suggest having someone who knows what they are talking about to consult with, you could get by with doing your own research on the internet.

So, again, Happy New Years! Be Safe tonight (and in general) and have fun!

Thanks so much for reading, I appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Coming to a race near you!

Congratulations to everybody who made the team, I'm looking forward to racing with you guys in 2015! Special shout out to my local bunch, Jimmy, Sharon and Allison. I implore you all to keep an eye on our facebook page for all the updates this coming season!

It seems I'll be spending Christmas on the sidelines this year. My forced break, which is now spanning into 2015, has opened my eyes to the fact that endurance athlete does not necessarily mean healthy person. While on the surface I am distraught by my imposed stop-work, deep down I know that it is something that is necessary if I'm to ever improve (and more importantly, if I'm going to be a healthy individual, inside and outside of endurance sports)

I suppose I've felt the need for a break like this for some time, at least on some level. Fear however (the fear of "losing" fitness and not being in shape for the next year) kept me solving every problem with a hammer. Need to get faster, do more. Last race didn't go well... do more. Sink leaking... add volume! Now I've come full circle with that self-fulfilling prophecy and I'm sidelined in the perfect time to be working on my running.

Blood tests are back, and while I'll spare you (at least this post) the findings in detail, I will say that there were some real deficiencies in my diet. Now that I can address them and heal back up, I suspect when I return to training things will be better than ever.

On a less bleak note, tomorrow is the big day! From all of us at the Triathletes Wit (that is to say, me.) we are wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Festivus, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa... Winter Solstice... whatever. Enjoy it and be safe!

On Schwinn?


So until next week.

Thanks so much for reading!

-Christopher Morelock

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

More waiting

Despite a doom and gloom (with a good dose of whining) overall feel to this post, a positive note to start things off on!

I was chosen to be a Cobb Mobb team captain for 2015!
It was this picture right :)
I'm extremely excited to be working with the Mobb again for the next season, and this year you'll be seeing a lot more of these sweet kits at your local races! If you haven't liked the Official Cobb Mobb Facebook page, why not head on over.... we're closing in on a million likes (give or take a few hundred thousand) and your's might be the one to push us over.

Also, a new Team Manager for 2015, Dana Rucker!

The boss

Last week I spoke about my general feeling of "uhgg" for the last few weeks and my scheduled trip to see Dr. Kevin Sprouse at Provision. Our initial meeting went well and he struck me as both down to earth and knowledgeable. My outward vitals checked out a-ok, so it was, a bit disappointingly for me, a prescription of rest and a trip to Labcorp to have blood taken for at least the next week. 

Thursday I had my blood taken. It was pretty much the most miserable day in recent memory. They pretty well set you up for failure since you have to be "fasted." No coffee or food meant I had a raging headache before I walked in the door. Then the lady seemed to keep pulling vials out, going so far as to remark "that's a lot." Thanks... Fortunately I had the foresight to bring some food with me, so I was able to drive myself back to work without endangering the general populace, at least no more than normal.

Today (Wednesday) I'll be back at Provision for my follow up to discuss my blood screening results. It's been another week of doing nothing for me, something I'm not particularly fond of. I still feel beat, although less so than last week I believe, and certainly better than I felt after the vampires took half of my blood last Thursday.


Despite this, I'm still using this time as productively for my social life as I can. I even made a big hit at the Christmas party on Saturday.

The Cobb Mobb hat really set off the holiday attire, right!?


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Feeling Low

I'll start with the good news, Desmond's surgery went well and he's now well on his way to a healthy life! All his tubes have been removed and he's all smiles! Again, Lindsay's blog if you want to check in for yourself.

As for myself... I'm on my way to the Doctor, probably an hour or so after this blog post goes live. Since the 5k on Thanksgiving I can't seem to recover. Running at a very high rpe at a very slow speed, feeling lethargic in general... just run down. Usually a day off or so (at the most) solves this kind of feeling, but now it's been over a week since I logged a workout and I still feel about the same.

The best I can describe how I feel is like I have just done a 8-10 mile run at moderate pace. Not "hurting" or sore, just tired. I feel that way all day and have for the past week or so despite taking a clean break from training. I'm scheduled to meet with Dr. Kevin Sprouse (of Garmin Sharp) at Provision Wednesday... hopefully he has some insight into what is up.

As I've been getting ready for the appointment I've been mentally logging when I felt poorly. I didn't feel great at the 5k, and cut my bike ride short the night before, so that's a definite point on the map... but now I've started second guessing further back in the past. Have some of my "bleh" spots the last year been some underlying cause? What about my sickness at Nationals? What about when I was sick in Panama City a few years ago? Hopefully I'm just chasing shadows and drawing lines where there aren't really any... but it's a scary thing to think about.  Hopefully it's as simple as a virus I'm fighting off or something similar. I will certainly keep my thoughts on paper about it.

All isn't terrible however. I've had the opportunity (that is... time) to be in good company more often.

Me Jenny Jimmy and Sharon

So, there's a bright spot out there.

Fingers crossed, wish me luck for a quick recovery.

Thanks for reading,
Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Important things (and a race report to finish)

So, first an important piece. This week one of my best friends son Desmond will be undergoing open heart surgery at Vanderbilt. I hope you could take a moment to send prayers, positive vibes, good mojo, whatever you've got to the family and to Dez. I am most certain that they will appreciate it, and I know I will.

Dez, isn't he cute!
Here is a link to Lindsay's (Dez's mom) blog... stop by if you've got a second.

The painting has begun on the Scott. I got a very rough layer down over the weekend but am currently waiting for the weather to break to really get the first "good" coating on. I expect it'll take a couple of layers to get it looking slick, and then it'll be sticker time. My excitement to finishing off this project is renewed, now that I'm so close to the end.

Base laying

As far as the Turkey Trot went on Thursday... well it went. I would say a mixture of poor pacing on the course (the back 2 miles was probably too up sloping and windy to have managed 6'/miles on... should have tried for an even 6:10 or so.) and some trollish wind led me to an unexciting 19:38. Still in no man's land, although it is a little encouraging that I may indeed be able to get into the 18's by new years on a more even course (with some better pacing and more suffering.) or at least that is what I will be telling myself every time I head to the track between now and then.

See me... I'm the idiot that's half naked.

Again, please give a thought for Desmond (and his parents!) if you can spare it. Thank you guys for checking out the blog, I appreciate it so much.

- Christopher Morelock

P.S. DID YOU SEE THAT STAR WARS TRAILER! Swwwweeeeeeet!

fancy flashlight :)


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Winter Projects

Finally, after about a billion delays... The end of the CR1's rebuild is almost upon us. It's been a monster of a project that has spanned YEARS, been put off time and again, been plagued with unexpected setbacks and has just generally sat in the back of my mind (and garage) waiting patiently to be finished. It has also taught me an astonishing amount about carbon fiber, bike building in general and possibly most importantly... patience.

After finishing up with the carbon wraps and filler (getting it to an acceptable level of smooth/evenness. I'm sure a better body man would laugh at my feeble attempts) it was finally time to pick my tools for painting it.

I use the Vasa for more than a stand, I swear.
It came down to whether I wanted to put up the money for an airbrush, or go the rattle can route. Eventually I would like to have an airbrush, but since I should be saving for Black Friday (the missus wants an Xbox) I decided the CR1 would be getting the can job. It had turned out fairly well on my CAAD, so why not.

Eastwood Epoxy Primer

The problem there is finding a primer I felt confident in using. After a good amount of time scouring the internet I was led to Eastwood Paints. They make a 2k two part Epoxy Primer that comes to your door in a rattle can! I was skeptical, but after spraying down the Frame and Fork I have to say it was worth the price. There was just enough in the can to do the frame/fork with a light-medium coating, so if you were planning to lay it on thick you may need more than one can.  Anyways, here's what we were left with.

The fork is looking great!

The frame is a little spottier, but should look slick with the paint applied.

For the actual Paint I'll be using Dupont (matte black) from the local automotive store. Then some stickers I picked up from ebay, and finally some Eastwood Matte Clearcoat on the top. I'm excited to almost be done with this... what started with a small crack in the top tube turned into a nightmare and is finally coming back together as a great learning experience.  Hopefully I'll be back on the CR1 before Christmas.

Being that I can't work on the Scott all the time (between the weather cooperating and having to let primer dry.) and that both my other bikes and my Corvette are all in good shape... I needed something else to (right?) keep me busy. (It's not like I'm going to do housework.) So, I present you with my first try at building a Lightsaber.

Yet another fascination to spend time and money on...

I built this one (so far) for a little under $20 (and some random bike parts I had laying around.) not counting the internals I plan to add to it (battery, LED, etc) It's all good fun, so I suspect I'll be building some more in the future :)

/ End Star Wars Nerd Out

Thursday is both Thanksgiving AND my 5k. Hopefully I'll have a good race, I'm still not convinced an 18:5x is going to happen, but I'm confident I'm well on my way to it and that Thursday will be a step in that direction.

* less than a week for you to apply to the Cobb Mobb 2015 team! Last Chance!

Thank you all, as always, for reading. I really appreciate it. Have a Great Thanksgiving.

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Well... it's cold.

I just can't resist a good Sean Bean post.

It's officially cold in Tennessee. Actually it's cold, rainy and all together nasty at the moment. Honestly, that doesn't bother me quite a much as it does most of the folks in the area, mainly because I do most of my riding inside on the trainer year round, so it's not such a shock of misery every time mother nature decides to dump on us. Running requires a little more planning in the early mornings (breaking out the gloves and jackets) but is actually kind of refreshing after a few months of running through sticky morning humidity. Of course swimming is unaffected other than getting strange looks from my neighbors when I make a mad dash to my car from the house in a t-shirt and shorts as I head to the pool.

IMAZ was Sunday, and that pretty well wraps up everyone's tri season. (if it wasn't already) This is the time of year I both look forward to and dread... running season. This year (after...knock on wood... having a streak of no run related injuries) I've started adding speed work back into my routine, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to break my streak of 19:1x 5k times by (or on) New Years. With all the Turkey Trots, Santa Hustles and whatnot there are going to be quite a few chances between now and then. I've had some track workouts that I'd consider "positive" in predicting an 18:5x, but nothing that makes it a foregone conclusion, especially given my tendency to go out too hard.

Speaking of Santa... yes I'm going to whine that the Christmas music is already playing. I get it, being first to roll out the deals / songs / whatever is worth something, but jeez, I walk in the mall on my Birthday and am already assaulted by Jingle Bells.

I know, right?

Finally in a break from my random bandwidth wasting post, I'd ask a moment of something less lighthearted.

The plans are in the works to do the Sufferfest Knighthood challenge  sometime in January. For those who aren't in the know (and are too lazy to click the link) that's 10 Sufferfest video's in a row (10' breaks between) usually done by the insane for a charity. Normally I'm not much on faceless charity, but a close friend of mine son (who is under a year old) will be having open heart surgery in December, and I'd like to try to set this up to raise money for them. I unfortunately have about 0% knowledge in this field, so if you've done any "personal" fundraising I would love to hear some input.

In my mind it would be a direct "donation" to his paypal, that way there's no middle man touching the money.

Other plans I'm going to try to iron out between now and then include
- live stream (twitch maybe?) of the 10 hour session
- Frequent updates/communication on FB/Twitter/Here/etc.

I'd also love to hear other opinions/suggestions on this.

Thank you all for reading, as always. I'll have more information on the challenge as things become a little more clear to me.

- Christopher Morelock

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Birthday FTP test + quick thoughts

So Friday was my birthday, and despite usually not making a "deal" out of such things, I figured it would make a good day to do an FTP test. It's been a good while since I've done one, I've had my "break" after September to get lazy, and I figured I'd need a solid "grounded" number to work on over the winter.

Expectations, as you might imagine, were not very high. The last test I did was in the midst of a bike focus, where I was riding 4+ days a week. No way that's happening on my 2-3x current training. Nonetheless I have had some ok days the last little bit, so I was hoping to not embarrass myself too bad. It was also a good chance to play with my GoPro camera... I've actually had this thing for almost a year, but have never taken the time to learn the software so I have been hesitant to use it. Well... time to learn!

As for my actual test, I used a slightly modified version of Coggan/Allen's protocol. Since I had been training through I had a longer than normal warmup before my 5' "all out" to shake out the legs, then 15' instead of the usual 10' to spin/recover. After that it was time to go after it... conservatively. I started at something I knew I could hold (260w) and just held that for the first 5 minutes, slowly increasing for the next 10 minutes (I think I ended up around 274 or so by the 15' point) and then giving everything I had left for the last 5'. Of those last 5' I present this short clip of my suffering (and my cluttered trainer cave)

video

Excuse my poor excuse for editing skills... I've only had a quick crash course in the software, and even less experience with how Blogger deals with it.

I ended up with 285w for 20' or a 270w FTP. Still 4w/kg, but a pretty good drop (about 20 watts) from where I was. I do think I started a little too conservatively, but I was more interested in negative splitting than risking blowing up at 15' in.  I'll test again in a month or so and start a little more aggressively.

The video (assuming it actually works, which I guess is a big assumption) stuff was neat, and it possibly opens up a few more avenues of working on this blog. I definitely WON'T be moving to an all video type format (I personally don't enjoy them) but I can definitely see it being something I implement on certain occasions, especially for reviews where pictures + description won't totally convey what I want.

Anyways, the rest of my birthday consisted of me getting a little dressed up, eating lots of sushi, drinking a little too much sake and eventually ended with me ordering the parts to build a lightsaber... That's what happens when the missus goes out of town and I'm left to my own devices on my birthday.
With the hat to help hide how out of control my hair currently is.
Sorry that this post has primarily been useless to you guys, but it helps me (an incarnation of "chaos theory") structure myself if I actually put my thoughts down on some form of media. Next week I *hope* to have something interesting to show off, so long as I don't get distracted and actually get it finished. I'll also post some pictures of my lightsaber when I finish it!

I added this to last weeks post after Wednesday so in case you didn't see it (and just to put it out there again) Applications are open for the 2015 Cobb Mobb Team. Apply at this link!



Thank you guys for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Just some thoughts on what's new

Vasa

I'm excited. It's (almost) my birthday and since I skipped going on vacation at the end of the year I figured I should get myself something nice...and useful. So here's a new addition to the home gym... the VASA Ergo trainer

Perfect fit...kinda...sorta...

I've only had it set up for a day or so, and only got to use it once (for a feeble 500m... this thing is tough) but I'm very stoked about this thing and the (hopeful) benefits for me. Being able to just go into the garage and bust out 500m before my bike ride of the day was/can be huge. My commute to and from the pool from my house/work has always been a "limiter." It can eat up over an hour traveling on a good day, sometimes up to 2 if traffic is bad. That means every time I hit the water it's got to be a "serious" workout... going to swim 1k doesn't make much sense.

This thing changes that. It lets me get some small time in that I can really focus on my pull/push (the parts of my stroke that need the most work anyways) without any more hassle than walking out into the garage.

After I've had it for a while I'll have a review up. Like I said, excited to use this thing. Price is pretty steep, but I nabbed this one used from ebay and put it into the realm of "justifiable," especially if I end up using it a lot... which I plan to.

---------

Ironman Florida

It seems like it's been a super hot topic. For some reason I just feel like sharing my opinions on it, despite knowing better.

The swim was cancelled due to current. A lot of people were up in arms about this, that Ironman has gone soft...etc..etc. The question then becomes how you balance an "extreme" event with common sense. Despite the call for a damn hard race, using a venue that is obviously unsafe for the competitors is foolish from a business and moral standpoint. Double red flags means the water is off limits to the public in Panama City... as a race director how do you put athletes in the water in those conditions? If your safety personnel can't be where they are supposed to be because they keep drifting out, how do you put athletes in the water? Just hope nothing goes bad? Would I be bummed out if the swim was cancelled at a race... hell yeah. Would I understand in situations like this...yes.

Looks can be deceiving

Whether you call yourself an Ironman or not... it's up to you. I've always thought these discussions were odd. If you do a 140.6 at Rev3 are you an Ironman? What if you do an IM70.3... what if the swim is cancelled and you don't get but 138.2... what if you go off course and go 142.7. The key here is, 99.9% of the people that will ever see your tattoo or hear you say "I did an Ironman" will have any clue what the difference is between any of those. Call yourself what you want. A name won't change what you have done.

---------

Just a shoutout

I don't usually just sing the praises of a company, but I felt I needed to give a special shoutout to Powertap, who despite having a reputation for some of the best customer service in the industry, went above and beyond to help me out recently. I won't go into details about it, but suffice to say, if you're on the border of deciding which kind of power meter to go with, this is one of those times I'd say go with the company that will stand behind their product and try to do you right.

Good product, great service
---------

So, Friday I turn 31, nothing to do but get a little older I guess :) Fortunately as of so far, I've been getting faster as I've been getting older!

Thanks everyone for sticking around and reading, or at least skimming through. I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock


*

It's that time... Application time! Join the 2015 Cobb Mobb team!

First year was a success, and only better things to come!
Apply here!

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!