Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tinman 2010

Last year, after a disappointing race at the Contact event in Rotorua, Tinman gave me a lot of confidence.

This year I've been training hard, had a couple of hard races, and have been a bit tired recently. So we had a relatively easy week, and I was keen to see how I'd go this year.

We decided to stay the night at the Mount (having gone to some afternoon drinks at a mate's in Rotorua). We found the best Mexican ever for dinner. Food = awesome. Chillies = not a great feeling tummy the next day. Lesson learnt (if it wasn't already obvious)

The swim

Last year at contact, I took 31 minutes, which was very, very poor. At Tinman, two weeks later, I somehow did 26:30 including T1, which was just a bit silly.

This year, I did 29:16 for the swim, and 1:56 for T1 (which is slow, but oh well). The swim was definitely slower all round. Last year Kieran Doe did 16:12 including T1. This year he took 18:22, plus 55 seconds for T1 (he was the fastest both years). So clearly it took longer.

I also didn't do swim as tactically well as I should have. I did try to draft, and I was feeling much better than at Contact (and my arms never got sore), but I could have gone faster, and should have pushed harder at the start, and held on for the rest. Lesson learnt.

The bike

Last year I took 1:10:50, averaged 196 watts (normalized power of 202), average HR 171. This year, I knew I could hold a slighter higher output, and was feeling pretty good. I took 1:07:40, averaged 202 watts (normalized power 209 watts), average HR 171 (so higher power for same HR).

This year I discovered the pain in the a** that is the bunches (didn't really have a problem with it last year). I was riding a fairly consistent output (thank you, power meter). People around me were not. They seemed intent on chasing me, passing me, then slowing down (to a speed slower than I was going). I was particularly pleased when a bunch passed me, two people tucked right in in front of me, two behind me, and a couple to the side, boxing me in (which resulted in a drafting warning). This also made my average watts lower, because I ended up drafting (unintentionally) intermittently .What was interesting was the different legal drafting made - up to 20 watts some times - so good to remember.

Then again, I know the Half will be like this, so lesson learnt.

Addendum - just checked, and despite having some dude get in my way, and not being able to get one of my shoes on properly, I had the 16th = fastest T2 (out of the dudes - 4 women were faster), which is choice.

The run

Last year I took 43:54 (for the 10.5 or so k run). That included the run out of transition. This year I took 44:19 (plus some additional time for the run out of transition - maybe 40 - 50 seconds). So slower, but I was not feeling quite as good, and my hip was hurting a bit.

This year I took just over 20 minutes for the first 5k (norm pace of 4:01 mins/k - compared to last year's 4:02). I kept trying to push, but was slowing a bit, and then got to the mount track. Once again, it was hard, but I held an okish pace all the way around (but didn't push on the down quite enough). I didn't have quite the same kick at the end as last year, so was about a minute slower all up (second 5k+ [it's a bit long] took 24 or so minutes (4:24 mins/k), with a norm pace of 4:20 mins/k - compared to an actual 4:18 mins/k and norm pace of 4:03 for the rest of the run). I had an average HR of 176.

So not as good as last year, but my hip wasn't feeling awesome, and I haven't been able to run anywhere near as much as I had at this point last year.


So, I was about 2:30 slower this year than last. But that's almost totally because of the swim. I rode better, and didn't run too badly.

I was a bit disappointed after the race, because I hadn't felt like I could push as hard as I wanted. But on reflection, I didn't do too badly.

What's pleasing is that I felt pretty good afterwards, and I feel really good now. I'm not sore (well yet, anyway), and keen to crack back into it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Blue Lake (Contact Tri-Series) Race Report

Last year I went into this race having been ill a couple of weeks prior (which stopped me from doing the bike in the Karapiro Half). I hadn't really recovered from that, and I had a disappointing race.

This year I had done the Half, and had been training quite consistently, so I hoped I'll do alright. But my hip injury started flaring up again (mildly) again, and for the preceding week, Id been feeling really tired. On Friday I had a scheduled day off, and I was not feeling great, and felt like I was coming down with something. So I started pumping myself with vitamins, etc, and took Saturday off too. Come Sunday, I was feeling ok - not 100%, and still a bit tired, but not so bad that racing was a bad idea.

The weather this year was amazing. The water warm, little wind, and barely a cloud in the sky. So whatever happened, it was a great day for it.

The swim

I struggled at Karapiro. A lot. But I have seen improvements in the last couple of weeks, and had a couple of hard sessions at squad (I may have overdone it slightly). Last year I was abysmal, and took 34 minutes (including T1), so it could only get better.

I started off wide, and had a good, hard, first 200m. I lost the feet in front of me, then unfortunately had clear water, so swam to the first buoy by myself. I started feeling decidedly average, and worried about whether I was over the lurgy. I saw a slow fat dude to my left, so decided to follow him. And follow him I did. I was right on his feet for over 1km, and apart from about 2 - 3 minutes when I lost him, and worked hard to get back, I got sucked along. He wasn't fast, and it was criminally easy, but I figured that if I wasn't going to be fast anyway, I might as well put no effort in.

Having got out of the water, and run up to transition, I checked the Garmin, and it said I'd been 30 (including the run). I had a very slow T1 (just not feeling like hurrying), but I officially took 31:47 including the run up to T1, until the point I excited transition on the bike - so I would have been sub-30, which ain't flash, but not too bad either, in the circumstances.

I'm also a bit surprised, because my Blue Seventy is being repaired (one of the seems came undone), so I had to swim in the Xterra. I didn't realise before now, but it take in a lot more water than the Blue Seventy - which certainly feels like it slows me down!

The bike

The course this year had changed. It has two instead of five laps, and heads out towards Lake Tarawera. It's not all that much easier than last year, so was still tough work!

By dint of my slow swim, I had no friends on the bike (no change there). I felt pretty good, and was able to hold a good average pace for the bike. Before the 1/3ish way through turn-around I saw a guy from Wellington we know (and, swimming aside, I should be faster than), so I kept pushing hard to try and catch him. I continued passing people, never got passed, and although I didn't catch my targets, I wasn't far off.

I averaged 201 watts, with a normalized power of 224 watts - not too bad for 1:24:46 of riding (I have cut pushing the bike, etc from that time). AHR 170, max HR 187.

I was strong on the hills, but couldn't push as hard as I would have liked on the downhills/false flats - something to work on I suspect!

The run

Felt really average to start he run, and was worried about whether I had the energy. I started off at an ok pace, but it quickly slowed from there, and I was running pretty pathetically.

I got passed by a couple of guys starting their second laps, but when I got passed by a chick on her first, I decided to buck up, and started following her. After a few uphills, I got my groove back, realised she was slowing me down, and I pulled away. I caught quite a few people from then on, and was not passed again. I didn't push the second lap hard, just tried to keep an ok pace. I knew I was down on energy, so didn't want to do anything silly.

I took 54:12 - about the same as last year, when I wasn't very pleased. This year I was happy to be able to pick up the pace when needed, but otherwise just didn't have the energy.

Overall pace was 4:51 mins/km, normalized pace of 4:34. AHR 169, max HR 175 - so certainly not as high as I should be able to hold for the run, and indicative, I think, of general fatigue.


Not too bad. A tactically (if not technically) good swim, an ok bike, and a slow, but strangely satisfying run.

I was clearly lacking energy, and unlike last year, have a whole heap more training/fatigue in my legs. I was really tired after the race, and today decided to take swimming off, to get over whatever I'm suffering from, and generally freshen up a bit.

Until next week, when I see if I can do better than last year at Tinman =)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How can we make driving a car safer?

Recently, people have been killed on our roads while driving cars. How do you think the roads can be made safer for drivers?

Here is a selection of our reader comments:

They never obey the rules

Drivers on New Zealand roads are just arrogant. They drive around wearing jeans and boat shoes, and they don't seem to think that the road rules apply to them.

The other day, I was waiting at a round-about for someone, who turned left without indicating. Today I was driving past a school bus at 20km/hr, and was passed by another car. I regularly see drivers exceeding 50km/hr/100km/hr respectively, and sometimes see people running red lights.

Unless and until drivers are prepared to obey the road rules, they should just not be on the roads, and anyone who is killed while driving brings it on themselves.

In fact, if anyone dies on our roads, it's a direct consequence of the person in Hamilton who failed to indicate at a round-about.

Juan, Whitby

The roads are just too dangerous

Seriously, our roads are just too dangerous for cars to be on them. They are narrow, poorly built, and simply not safe for cars to drive on.

Cars should be prohibited from driving on anything other than highways/motorways.

If people want to get on our roads and drive, knowing what the risks are, then they simply bring accidents on themselves.

Jimmy, Ashburton

Poser recreational drivers

Every weekend I see recreational drivers heading around Tamaki Drive to stand outside Movenpick for 30 minutes to get an ice cream. These people aren't heading to or from work, they are just driving for fun, in their recreational vehicles. They sometimes drive at 30km/hr, while enjoying the scenery, and they won't pull over, and let me pass them. Disgusting, arrogant, people.

They should be banned from the roads, so honest, hard working people like me can get into work on the weekends without any impediments.

John (partner, Bell Gully), Mission Bay

They are just too damn inconsiderate

The the other day I was driving to the coast and got stuck behind a 4WD towing a trailer, which was heading up the hill at 50km/hr in a 100km/hr zone. It took up the whole road, and the driver wouldn't pull over to the left, nor would he/she indicate to tell me when to pass.

I felt like driving up beside him/her, and forcing them over to the left. Just so arrogant.

Frankly, drivers bring it on themselves, and until they start driving more considerately, they don't deserve our sympathy if they get hurt.

Bruce, Hamilton

Monday, November 15, 2010

That was really f*cking hard (Karapiro Half report)

I apologise in advance, but this will be an expletive laden post (having now written it, there is only one expletive. I can add more if you are disappointed by this).

That was the toughest race I have done. I finished in about 5:35, and apart from the first 100m on the swim, I never once felt good.

Was a bit strange spending the night in my own bed, and eating breakfast at home. We got up in good time, but I was feeling a bit tired. Had breakfast, and headed down.


About 41 minutes (about 43:30 if you include run up to T1 and T1).

The water was lovely - calm, not too cold. The course was, after a buoy 100m out, in theory dead straight. That actually made it hard to navigate (or hard for others to navigate...).

Kate followed me until just after the buoy, then I did my best to draft off her, until she got a bit of a gap at about 1km, and I never caught up. I ended up doing about the second half on my own, and while my time wasn't stupidly embarrassing, I had to work really hard, which I think I paid the price for later...

One of my problems (fitness aside), was that I tend to navigate quite well - and struggle to follow people when they aren't... Something to work on.


About 3:07:11 (plus a bit more for T2). That is a really tough course. Really, f*cking, tough.

I tried to get into a rhythm early, but I just never felt good. I was aiming to hold 200 watts on the flat, and managed that (without seeming like I was working too hard) for the first half (apart from the hills). But I never felt great, and certainly wasn't flying.

At about 55km, I started feeling horrible. I had no power, couldn't get anywhere near 200 watts on the flat, and barely got above 200 on the hills. I did push for the last, flat, 10km (and was averaging a bit over 200), but I knew I was shot.

I averaged 189 watts, with a normalised power of 205. Last year, at Rotorua, I averaged 193 watts, with a normalised power of 207 (and was about 15 or so minutes faster - so there is scientific proof that Karapiro is harder!). My average HR was 163. This was disappointing, as on a training ride the preceding Saturday, I did the course (minus 10, flat, km), and I averaged 175watts, with a normalised power of 197 watts, and an average HR of 153. So my race performance was well below what I should have been capable of.

I think the bike difficulties were due to a few things:
  • Generally not feeling awesome, which will obviously happen some times;
  • How hard I had to work in the swim; and
  • Nutrition - I had two bottles of drink, and two packs of Power Bar Energy Blasts. Plenty of calories, but I did get thirsty (so needed a third bottle of drink), and, even though I like the Power Bar things, I was so sugared out, I couldn't face any more. So next long race, I need some real food on the bike.

About 1:45. The first 500m were in about 4:18 mins/km, but it went downhill from there. I was feeling just awful for the first 5km, and wondered whether I'd have to walk/actually finish. But I persevered, and settled into an ok (albeit that at the time it seemed like a terribly slow) pace.

The run was quite hard. In total, four steep climbs, and I was getting really hot (and having to tip a lot of water over me). I think I was probably a bit dehydrated/simply fried from the bike.

I tried to pick up the pace for the last 5km, but wasn't feeling it, and figured that I might as well just finish, which I did.

The time isn't actually that bad, and it's what I ran at my first Rotorua, but still.


Just not a good day at the office. Not a fitness thing (apart from the swimming), because I know full well I can ride that course faster than I did. It just wasn't my day.

But the race served its purpose. This was only ever a training race, a good way to kick off the season, and a good chance to race locally.

I will have received a good fitness boost, and nothing I do for the rest of the season will be that tough. I've also been really happy with how quickly I seem to have recovered (touch wood). Two days of compression tights, and my legs have never been particularly sore (I suspect because I couldn't push as hard as I normally can). I'm motivated to get back into it, and was looking forward to swimming last night (which makes a change).

I need to work harder on my swim (I was actually feeling pretty good on Monday) - not only so I'm faster, but, I think, more importantly, so I'm fresher. That probably involves more swimming, and less mucking around when I am. I took that long at Rotorua last year, but was not where near as tired. I also need to tweak my nutrition.

Otherwise, I can't really complain, and I know that in a couple of months (on a mostly flat course), I will be absolutely flying.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So, it's been a little while...

I know, I know. It's been some time. I'll be surprised if anyone even reads this. But I thought, with the Karapiro Half Ironman this weekend, it was a good time to update it the blog.

After getting back from Europe, and then getting my ankle sorted, my training was actually pretty good. In fact, come early June, I was really fit. Then, the World Cup hit.

Having to watch both the All Whites and The Netherlands play meant many, many late nights/early rises, and the interrupted sleep patterns meant that training very much took a back seat.

When I tried to get back into training properly, winter had come, and I really struggled with the weather. It constantly rained, all the way until mid-September, and it got me down. For the first time, I was really struggling for any motivation to train. I did one off-road duathlon in Rotorua, and a mountain bike race, but I just couldn't keep it up.

I had the Taupo Half Marathon on 1 August, and despite my training having been patchy, I pulled out (in really tough conditions) a 1:29:04. My average heart rate was 187, with a max of 198 - basically, even though I wasn't super fit, I was able to push myself as hard as I could, which I was happy with (and what Paul had been training us to do up until that point).

After Taupo, I had a problem with my hip, which made running difficult - so, again, training wasn't great.

Then, mid-September, the weather got better, and I realised it was 9 weeks until the Karapiro Half. So I started training properly. And I was able to run.

The graph above is from WKO+, and shows my combined running and cycling training load since 11 October last year (the point at which I had enough data to make comparisons worthwhile). This doesn't include swimming (no fancy toys for that, unfortunately), but that's been going ok, and is at least as good, and probably better, than this time last year. The important line is the blue one, which tracks the average daily load over a six week period (essentially fitness). The pink line shows the weekly load (fatigue) and the yellow line is the balance between the two (form).

This shows the drop off from Rotorua while I was in Europe, a few spikes, the build to mid-June, then the big drop off again. It also shows that, since mid-September, I have been training really well, and my combined cycling and running fitness is as high as just before Rotorua last year - so at its peak. I know my running fitness is a lot lower (even than the middle of this year), but my bike fitness is a lot higher, and I'm still getting good running results.

A few highlights:
  • I have been doing the Eastside 5k races, which are run by the Hawks. It's along the river path, and it's a hard course for a 5k (because of the number of climbs). I have gone from 19:40, to 19:10, to 19:05 to, last week (after a week off), 18:38; and
  • At last night's Mafia mini tri, I did the bike with an average watts of 231 (normalised power of 247), and ran 4:02 mins/km off the bike - two weeks ago, I rode at an average power of 213 watts (norm power of 231), and ran 4:14 mins/km.
So, the aim for this weekend is survive the swim, go hard on the bike, and hold on for the run. It's a tough course, early in the season and a training race - so I'm not overly worried about the result. But I'm happy with where I'm at, feeling good, and looking forward to rocking Tauranga in a few months time.