Wednesday, 12 March 2014

It's all about the bike

That's pretty much the mantra that I went into the race at the Gong with.

I had set a few goals earlier in the season and the bike leg at the Gong was one of them. It's such a smooth fast course* that when I first raced it last year I knew it was just begging to be ridden hard. So I had set myself a goal to ride sub 60mins this year.

Coach Spot did manage to snag a pic. I do love that Johnson Bikes frame....

One thing you learn as a triathlete is that triathlon is one sport. Not three. You can't approach the race with any other mindset or you will be in for a shock. Saying that, and knowing that, I decided that this race I was going to lay it all out on the bike. The swim was merely a warm-up and the run, well, I had made peace in my mind that it was going to suck...

Couldn't have said it better myself Clipper

Pre-race wasn't exactly what I had in mind... Driving down late Saturday night with Ribbons in the passenger seat was just the start. Stoked that we were able to crash at a mates place down there (super appreciative of that!!) and even more stoked that it meant I got to cuddle on a pull out sofa that night (might have been just what I needed... haha). The morning was alright, so I thought, until we got in to registration and realised I had left my aero bottle in the fridge. Winning. So had to buy a bottle to fit and then try find somewhere to fill it up which was a mission... lucky the Giant boys had a cooler full of something liquid. That'll do. Snuck into transition seconds before it closed to set up. Great start... ha

The warmup 1500m swim was nice. The water was stunning and I really quite enjoyed it. I didn't swim backstroke in the end I actually tried to hold a reasonable pace. Something about that start buzzer that just makes you race no matter how hard you try not to! The usual 200m fist fight was no different than usual, maybe amplified thanks to the boats in the harbour funneling everyone into the fight. Spot will tell you that I should have got out the water with the pack that was a bit in front of me, and he's right, but I'll take a 24:25 as I had other things on my mind...

Now I'm going to dissect my race data from here on, so if that kind of thing tickles your fancy then keep reading (sorry Spot, no HR data) if not then here's an escape: EXIT

TP Race data:
 - Bike:
 - Run (jog):

So not really knowing or caring so much where I was in the field, I set about my mission of a sub 60 bike split. I took the first trip up the hill steady getting some fluid in and getting my head right, then once I hit the short descent into the flat I put my head down and just pushed numbers and tried to judge how I felt. I know my FTP from the months spent at Turbo Studio which meant I knew what I should be able to hold over a 60min TT. That was what I chased.

The first half of the first lap I was feeling sensational. I was flying past the age groups who went out before us and just before I hit the turn around I spotted the first of my wave. I made sure I went past at pace to try stop them from latching on.
At the turn, split of 10:14 with Normalised Power of 276W. Nice on track so far.

First lap out to the turn.
First lap out to the turn. Happy with the time and the power here

At this point I inherited a TO on a bike that would sit just behind me or in front of me for the rest of the lap, he was very vocal and don't think he enjoyed me utilising all of my 15 seconds on a number of passes. A bit further down the road I came across the main pack. They weren't really pushing that hard so again I put my foot into it and tried to get past swiftly in the hope they would let me go and knowing that there was a TO on my tail I hoped that I might actually get away with it. Nope. In fairness they must have kept the distance as there was a TO with us for almost the entire bike leg, but as I hit the hill heading back into town they filed past me (same gene that causes punch ups at the swim start causes "must go up hill first" syndrome). You can see in the data below from the turn on the first lap as I started to catch the guys I knew were in my wave I put the foot down a bit.
My peak power over 10 minutes (286W) and 12 minutes (284W) was spent in this lap trying (unsuccessfully) to put some distance between us. Second split of 9:25 with NP of 288W. Lovely.

Lap 1 back to transition
Lap 1 back to transition. Pushing a little harder here while passing but also taking advantage of being able to get out of the wind while I do.
Peak 10min and 12min power as I put the foot down to pass the group.

The complete first lap I was pretty happy with. A time of 19:43 was right on the money and I felt like it was a pace that I could hold for the full hour. The Normailsed Power of 282W was almost whack on what I wanted, so I am happy with this first lap of data.

The complete first lap data

The next lap I tried to play a bit smarter on the leg out to the turn. I paced off the pack and we worked together for the lap out to put the pace on, also gave me a chance to get some fluid and a Shotz caffeine gel in while I could keep tabs on everyone. Our mate on his motorbike stayed with us most of the time and spent plenty of time counting us and yelling at us but we didn't break any rules so he eventually let us go. Although just before the turn there were a few who started to feel the pace and slow up a bit, which gave me a chance to have a bit of a crack again.
Third split, 9:49 with NP of 284W. Still good

Lap 2 out to the turn, taking it a bit easier, and getting some fluid and gels in where you can see my cadence drop.
Lap 2 out to the turn, happy with the time here working with a few others
I spent most of this section back at the front trying to pull away without smashing my legs which had started to let me know they weren't to happy with how I was treating them. I thought I may have broken away, looking back there were only two guys I could spot that stayed with me, and I was a little upset when we hit the little climb back into town and they once again slipped around me. Maybe I need to ride more hills ;)
Fourth split, 9:41 with NP of 291W. Excellent. But those two pricks could have helped out a bit! haha

Lap 2 back to transition. Working hard at the front trying to open a gap, you can see my cadence and power maintained throughout for this effort.
Lap 2 back to transition, happy with this time, had to put in a bit more power this split

The complete second lap was again a pretty good time and I was happy with the numbers. The power was a little higher thanks to my effort on the leg back to town, starting to hurt a bit so focused on mentally getting on with it!

The complete second lap data

I chased pretty hard to stay with the two guys on the next lap. The wind had come up a little and I could definitely feel it in the legs. They were ready to give it away. Not to mention my head was telling me that there was that 10km run that I had to do soon. Luckily I overpowered that thought. Don't need that right now. I just hammered away at the numbers and don't really remember much else about the lap, besides cursing the wind every few minutes. Although what pleases me most is the data from this last full lap.

Fifth split, 10:16 with NP of 286W. Now this is slower, and right now you are probably thinking I blew up, as I am certain Spot is. And at first I was the same. Although looking closer at the data you can see that my Normalised Power on this split is actually higher than the first (276W) and third (284W) split, which would suggest otherwise! My average cadence actually lifted each segment also from 84rpm to 86rpm and on the fifth segment 92rpm. Also you can see my peak 1min (386W), 2min (313W) and 5min (296W) power at the start of this lap as I pushed to not get dropped by the two remaining guys riding with me. Interesting. I think this is a pretty good example of a wind effected segment. So. Tailwind on the way back then? Nope.

Lap 3 out to the turn. Had to put in a bit to stay with the 2 others
You can see my 1min, 2min and 5min peak power here as I chased the 2 others down
Lap 3 out to the turn, a little slower, but as I explain above the wind played a role
Sixth split, 9:51 with NP of 289W. Again slower than the second (9:25 @ 288W) and the fourth (9:41 @ 291W) although very very similar power over the three segments further suggests to me that the wind played a bit of a role on that third lap and even on the back half of the second. The other explanation is that on that first lap before hitting the climb into town I was starting to pass all the guys from my age group, which means that for a few km's I was able to cycle up behind each rider until I had to pull out to overtake which allowed me to keep out of the wind for a good portion of that lap as I made my way through the field. Interesting

Lap 3 back to transition. trying to hold what I could!
Lap 3 back to transition. Happy considering how that felt!
So the third lap overall was a little slower, although the NP of 287W shows that I was still putting in the work. So ultimately I am pretty happy still. Also this lap contained my peak 20min (279W) and peak 30min (278W) power figures.
This is what you want to see in your data. The exact same theory as racing on heart rate, you want to race steady and solid and if anything pick up in the back of the race

The complete third lap data

Great place for the peak 20min and 30min power. Shows that I pushed home hard with all I had left

Overall I'm pretty happy with my bike split and even happier that the data I have actually shows that I raced almost as good as I was able (always room for improvement) on the day.

Summary of the laps. From transition to turn and then back
Overall data
Overall averages and maximums

Oh. I almost forgot that 10km run. Well I'll say one thing. It was nice to know that I can still run at a pace like that when I could hardly throw my leg over the saddle coming into T2. Thought I was going to die. 43:56 will do just lovely. Although I would like to find out who hit me in the stomach with a nine iron in that last km. Had my hand pushed so hard into my guts that last bit trying to unsuccessfully dull the pain of an epic stitch!

Pic thanks to Spot

The lovely 10km jog on shattered legs

*Alright. This next bit is for all those people saying "Triathlon 40km, it would have been short, not that impressive".

Yep. Fair call. You know what? It probably was short. In fact my Garmin had it at 39.02km. Not hiding anything there. BUT. If you stay with me for a minute lets do some simple maths.

By the watch: 39.02km (lets call it 39km) in 59min and 24sec, gives about 1min 31sec per km. Lets multiply that by a full 40km. We get 1:00:55. I'd be freaking stoked with that. Now would I have held that same speed for another km? I'd like to think so, especially considering the first few hundred metres are spent mounting the bike and getting my feet in the shoes which would have bought the speed down a nominal amount. So I think I would have held that speed just fine.

Don't like the Garmin time? Lets use the official time that was from the mat around the corner after the dismount line of 59min 56sec. The same maths gives us an adjusted 40km time of 1:01:28. Yep still pretty happy with that.

So take which ever of these figures that helps you sleep better at night. I rode the course that was put in front of me and I rode it as hard as I could. Unless you were out there with me I'm not horribly interested in a discussion about it being a short course.


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