Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I'll be resuming posting next Monday, since it'll be hard to walk.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Men: This week I'm shifting my strategy and picking more "within the top ten" guys and more "heavy-hitter" women. There are some great bargains to be had at the moment due to some glitches in the FantasyTri ranking system. Here's my lineup, my cost, and my rationalization.
Stephen Bayliss: He's the class of the Ironman SA field and a pretty economical choice for below $8000. Reynard Tissink is in the field, though, and could very well challenge for the win.
Ben Collins: Although he wears a "funny" suit to practice, Collins could be one of the better athletes in Ishigaki this weekend. Among the other American choices are Chris Tremonte and Jimmy Archer, neither of whom should threaten. If you want to pick a possible winner, David Dellow might be your best bet.
Richie Cunnigham: Richie is money in the bank. If he doesn't win, he'll come in third. Once Amy ate his leftover meatballs off his plate in Newfoundland, a continuous source of allusive amusement.
Tim O'Donnell: For some reason, the FantasyTri people have Tim listed at $4585. I'm not sure how that happened with several wins to his name last year. Second best bargain of the week (second best?!)
David Thompson: David is a fighter, and although I don't think he'll win St. Anthony's, I bet he'll place. It will be interesting to see him out there against Crowie in the short course stuff again. If you want a winner, pick Matty Reed.
Bella Bayliss: By the magic of marriage, Bella neé Comerford is listed Bella Bayliss and, as such, hasn't been awarded any results. You can pick up this multiple IM winner for $250. Natch.
Leanda Cave: She's fast, and is one of the better athletes in the IM 70.3 Galveston field. I'm going to tip her as the winner.
Kim Loeffler: Third place at IM NZ, and that was about 7 weeks ago. I'll bet she's been working on her speed on top of a huge base. I predict podium.
Shonny Vanlandingham: Other than the best name in the sport, she should do quite well at Xterra West. I don't know if she'll win, but she'll be in the mix and get me some points.
Karin Thuerig: 9th at Clearwater last year and she only costs $250?! She'll get you some points.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Early morning and the cops are clearing the street of debris; the fence guys have come along and slowly built a wall a few feet back from the curb; they've butted up the feet of the sections and zip-tied them together; soon there's a channel 30 meters wide and the street has that abandoned feeling usually reserved for very late at night.
Sadly, no race rolled past my door this morning (my front door is that grey archway 2/3 down the block), although I have to confess I felt that tingle one feels walking past the finish line on race morning, the tingle that says maybe, maybe...
I've raised my arms at the finish only a few times in my career, and never at a race bigger than something local, but when you see Phillipe Gilbert do it on the cobbles of the Cauberg, or Crowie do it (with a sharp flex added for good measure) under the palms at Kona, something in your chest wants to raise those arms, too.
We've all done it, I'm guessing, when we knew no one lurked nearby to see us. Pretending to win goes back to our first solo experiences with games, when we hit towering home runs into phantom Fenway lights, or sank countless Bird-esque jumpers that almost touched the rafters of the old Garden. Now we crest a hill after a long climb along and raise our arms just to see what it feels like, and the old magic still flows.
For me, seeing a crew set up barriers along a set of curbs sets those dreams of magic alight. You see yourself, alone after a long breakaway, or running down Boylston street by yourself (Oh those beautiful foreshortened shots of Boylston Street, where the second place runners seem so close, where their dreams of coming back seem plausible for only a second!), or realizing that your pursuers won't make up the distance you've put into them over 140.6 miles.
You enter the barriers at the finishing chute.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Terenzo Bozzone: Out of the three big "hitters" in this race, I like Terenzo's chances the best. Macca is awesome, but he sometimes does contract races in which he goes and jumps in the water and pulls out after ten miles on the bike. Like Lance, he's all about Kona. Terenzo is all about winning. Andy Potts just had a baby and that's enough of an "intangible" (when the hell is, say, a child something "intangible?") to make me pick against him. Terenzo is also the most economical of the big guns.
Matt Chrabot: I got to swim with Matt last month and he's going really fast. He wins races in Mexico and is the best ITU American athlete on the start line in Mexico at the moment (Jarrod hasn't really been racing, yet).
Brian Fleischmann: Another good, economical choice. These second tier American ITU guys do quite well in Central American races.
Andrew Hodges: Another safe, economical choice. I've raced and traveled with Andrew before and he's a good athlete, very solid, very dependable. Not much chance of a DNF and, if he swims well, he'll probably figure in the race since he's a good runner.
Ben Hoffman: Ben is a super-strong guy and that will suit him well on this powerman's course. He's got lots of good results in the past two seasons and I think he'll pop a good one this weekend in NO. Also economical.
The women's field at NO is pretty dumbell-shaped. Yvonne Van Vlerken, Dede Griesbauer, Heather Jackson, Linsey Corbin, Amy Marsh, Sam Warriner at one end (PROs) and then a whole bunch of lower-case pros at the other end. I went with one hitter (Griesbauer—she's from New England) and some little-know athletes (Jolene Wilkinson, Anne Basso). For the ITU race, I went with Anja Knapp (those Germans) and Misato Takagi (the Japanese have been making a run at ITU races in recent years). Monterrey is such a second-class field that it's hard to pick. Since the fields for the women are shallow in both races (sorry, girls), the game is really to pick people who are just going to fill out the top ten. Make your piece with not getting the winner (it's a crap-shoot) and just try to score, like it's a cross-country race.
Did I mention I came in second during week 15's game?
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Paris—Roubaix is the one endurance event where all the sporting clichés about "war" and "battle" almost seem to ring true: the cameramen shoot the cyclists from the ground up, dangling the lens inches from the speeding cobbles, so they appear huge, like Japanimation giant robots; the yellow-and-black flags stand out straight in the wind; the trees are leafless; the sun (if there is sun) is broken by dramatic cloudbanks; the light is tragic. You can imagine what the countryside would have looked like hundreds of years ago, as armies marched across it towards their intimate, inelegant slaughter.
The battle of Paris—Roubaix is also inelegant. It is a race decided by force and luck, the kind of contest that scrappy baseball players look at, smirk, and comment upon with a whistle, saying "I'd rather be lucky than good any day." Of course, the rejoinder goes, it's nice to be lucky and good. Poor George Hincapie, his decade of attempts probably closed, usually came with the good part figured out, but had to rely upon his shit luck. Fabian Cancellara was so good that he didn't have to rely upon luck at all—like the greatest ones, he made his own "luck" by being just so much better than everyone else.
Triathletes love Fabian Cancellara—he rides bikes that look familiar to us, and he rides them the way we like to ride them (big power, full on, no thought of tomorrow—he's a hammerhead). But Cyclocrossers love him too—witness the skills on display at The Tour of Flanders, skills he showed again while changing his bike right before blowing the field to pieces in Northern France. With the hallowed double under his belt, should all the tri-geeks be worried about FC showing up in Kona in 2011, instead of another dominant cyclist?
Monday, April 12, 2010
Funny you should ask about the stack and reach numbers. I just flew out to California last weekend to go through Dan Empfield's FIST clinic, which was very interesting and informative.
Anyway, I can back calculate stack and reach numbers based on your position. Keep in mind, stack and reach is simply the x and y coordinates of the top-center of a bike's head tube relative to the bottom bracket. It sounds like you know this already, but some people confuse it with other things. There are a number of setbacks using the stack and reach system, but there are a number of benefits as well - such as easily comparing your stack and reach numbers to other manufacturers bike selections to see what works. Determining best fitting bike options using stack and reach are best done when you pre-determine your aerobar and stem setup and use those during your bike fitting. That being said, we can work in reverse here and back into stack and reach given your current setup.
Since stack and reach for a rider is dependent on aerobar selection, proper stem length, stem angle, and spacers under the stem, you’ll ultimately end up with a different stack and reach for different aerobars. Your stack and reach for your setup with the Hed integrated aerobars is going to be very different then your stack and reach coordinates using the Profile T2+ aerobars. Let's say you attach the same stem length and angle to both of these aerobars and slap it on the fit cycle. Since the Hed elbow pads sit about 3cm lower relative to the stem clamp, they'll require about 3cm more head tube length (or 3cm more stack) to keep your body in the same position. You could use spacers instead of head tube, but this starts drifting outside the stack and reach methodology. On the reach side of things, the back of the Hed elbow pads sit about 3.5cm further forward than the Profile T2+ elbow pads. In order for your body to be in the same place, you'll need an additional 3.5cm of top tube length (or 3.5cm more reach) with the Profile aerobars versus the Hed aerobars - assuming your using the same stem setup.
I only mention the above and risk confusing you since I think you have a good understanding of the way this works. All that said, Dan gave us a neat conversion link to compute stack and reach numbers from Serotta's "X,Y" coordinates that we determined during your bike fitting. Serotta X,Y coordinates are similar to stack and reach but are measured to the center of the stem clamp (versus the top of the head tube for stack and reach). Similarly Serotta X,Y coordinates are also dependent on aerobar selection, but those are easy to correct for with known conversions we have in our system. I like X,Y better since they allow me to try different stem lengths, stem angles, and spacer stacks in a design in order to match an X,Y position for a rider. The stack and reach database is great as long as you've done the fitting with the correct aerobar and stem setup.
So this is as good an opportunity as any for me to try his conversion. I have your X,Y stem clamp coordinates converted for the Hed aerobars (about 53.4 and 65.9mm), so I'll assume we set your existing bike up with a 12cm 10deg stem with 20mm of spacers and a 15mm conical headset spacer below it when we were matching it up with your position. I plug them into Dan's calculator here:
You only need to fill out the top 8 fields to compute a stack and reach. This spits out a stack of 54.6 and reach of 44.6. That lines up close to the 58 P3 in Dan's tables (I'm likely off on what stem you're currently using), so at least my conversion and math is in the ballpark.
But let's look at this another way. You're clearly on a long stem with spacers stacked up underneath it. Let's try to set up the 'virtual size cycle' with a 11cm 10deg stem with only 10mm of spacers over the headset cap instead of 20mm. The calculator now spits out 56.1, 45.1 stack and reach. By choosing a more moderate length stem with fewer spacers it makes the size 61 P3 look like a much better match. You're in a similar position to what I use with the longer reach and less drop. I chose a size 61 P3 and now P4 to better accomodate this position. I always feel I'd rather take up vertical distance at the front of the bike with an aero head tube instead of cylindrical spacers anyway. The head tube is more aerodynamic, and the bike will ultimately handle better with less distance from the top of the headset bearings to the stem.
Anyway, I hope this exercise sheds some light, and I guess I should thank you that now I can use Dan’s X,Y conversion calculator if anybody else is looking for stack and reach. Please let me know if you have any questions about any of this. I tend to go and go with the gory details sometimes, so I apologize if you lost me in the 2nd paragraph. :-)
Friday, April 9, 2010
I love games, and I love games in which there's something at stake (this means I have to stay away from gambling for real money). I once neglected my summertime job to manage a fantasy baseball team simply because I was minding the team for a friend who was away from computer access for six weeks—I couldn't deal with the possibility that he might return to find his team in last place. Soon I was buying Baseball Weekly and obsessively canvassing ESPN for "fantasy bargains," which sound like something scumbags look for in Las Vegas. I stay away from the major sport fantasy games mostly because I love things like cycling, triathlon, tennis, and running, and most of those don't have a viable fantasy contingent.
I blogged about Fantasy Tri last fall, and they seem to be getting a lot of the bugs out. Along with Fantasy Cyclocross (Possible? you say—yes) I now have an outlet for my two favorite sports. So you should all go and sign up, and here I'm going to do some handicapping with the field for Sunday's first ITU Dextro World Championship Series. This is the first big race of the year (the World Cup races kicked off last month in Mooloolaba; the ITU has a confusing system in which "World Cups" are less important than the "World Championship Series;" it's kinda like if the NFL had a couple of championships, one called the Superbowl and another called the Superballs—you would have no idea which was more important unless you lived within the system for a while, like Cannondale's crazy frame naming system) and many of the short-course triathlon world gliterati will be racing. I'm going to try to handicap the top ten prospects of each start list, but remember my system for handicapping is entirely unscientific. Fantasy Tri's system relies upon "salaries" assigned to each athlete depending on how accomplished they are. For each race you're given a certain amount of money, and then you can "hire" athletes for your team. You get to choose the athletes, but their total salary can't exceed the money you've got (everyone starts with the same money). You score depending on what place the athletes come in, so it's probably more valuable to pick 2nd place, 3rd, and 5th rather than picking the winner and, say, 7th place.
N.B. Home course advantage, I've discovered, does not exist, unless you are Australian and male. But even that statistical hiccup has an explanation and a big caveat: there are proportionally more Australian ITU athletes than any other nation, and they flock to their home events. At Mooloolaba 2010 Australian men made up 31% of the field and they took home 50% of the top ten spots. When the competition heats up, however, home advantage fades away. At the Gold Coast WCS (Pop Quiz: which series is that? Figure it out, do it now!) last year 9% of the field were Australian and 10% of the the top ten. Australia is one of the "have" countries in terms of triathlon, so you gotta figure that there's a good amount of parity at the most competitive races. So, if you're thinking of stacking your team with Australians, you might want to think twice.
Jan Frodeno (GER)—$5588. A pretty good bargain at this price. Frodeno didn't finish outside of the top ten last season. At 14% of my budget (the budget this week is $40000) I'm taking him. Figure 7/1 for him to win, and 4/5 for him to get inside the top fifteen. YES.
Laurent Vidal (FRA)—$5322. Another really strong choice, although I didn't take him. Another "not outside the top ten" from last year (except a bizarre 26th finish at the ETU Europe Championships, which had a pretty deep field). You've got to love his dancing. He's got a win under his belt but isn't quite at the level of Frodeno, Kahlefeldt, et al. 9/1 for the win, and 5/4 for a top 15. YES.
Kris Gemmel (NZL)—$6872?! A bit overrated here, I think. Ranked 8th in the world and seems to bring it for big races. Still, you're blowing a big part of your budget, here (17%). 5/1 for the win, although he doesn't really win very often..10/9 to finish in the top fifteen. NO.
Dmitry Polyansky (RUS)—$4374. Not too much cash, but other than one big win (he got Tiszaujvaros last year) he doesn't have too much under his belt. 15/1 for the win, 5/3 to finish in the top fifteen. I'm not taking him. NO,
Jarrod Shoemaker (USA)—$5322. Great bargain. He won Hamburg last year and he's really learned how to run with the big guys. 7/1 for the win. I'd take him. YES.
Alexander Brukhankov (RUS)—$5463. More expensive than Shoemaker with a much, much less illustrious record. Don't do it. 20/1 for the win. NO.
Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS)—He's the man, I'd say, even at $7543. After a great win at Mooloolaba I think he's ready to storm the season again. 2/1 for the win. 5/5 for the top fifteen. YES.
Bevan Docherty (NZL)—Who doesn't like Bevan Docherty? But at $7388 he's WAY overpriced. Might be a bit long in the tooth these days...Still, he can really pop one when he wants to. 18/1 for the win. 10/7 for a top 15. NO.
Simon Whitfield (CAN)—Another bargain at $5911. Three wins last year and one of them was at Hy-Vee against one of the best fields, well, ever. Simon is one of the most competitive guys I know and he really, really loves his daughter. Why would you bet against that? 6/1 for the win. 10/9 for a top fifteen. YES.
David Hauss (FRA)—Huge bargain. Hauss scored me points a few weeks ago, and at $3083 it would be hard not to take him. He won't win, but he will get you some points. 30/1 for the win, 10/7 for a top fifteen. YES.
I realize that's six yeses and you can only have five athletes of each gender per team. So. Who are you going to leave out? Who did I leave on?
See you at the races—women's handicapping coming tomorrow.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
1. I am not able to state that I practice ART, as it is a licensed name. I do, however, practice the general concepts as they are commonly used manual techniques in the manual therapist’s arsenal. The concept involves breaking adhesions between two adjacent tissues, as distinct from muscle knots originating from an active trigger point, which we’ll review in a moment. Let’s take muscle and myofascia as a common example. The clinician strives to break an adhesion between these tissues by pinning the myofascia manually – that’s me using my hands – and then actively mobilize the muscle – that’s you contracting the muscle. By pinning the myofascia, it’s ability to be tugged along during a contraction is reduced, and the muscle has the opportunity to break free of it’s adhesion. That, in a simplistic nutshell, is how ART works. It helps to break down adhesions which may be limiting the normal mobility of various tissues. These adhesions form as part of the training response, as training typically stresses the system to micro-failures, which then heal up. Sometimes they just heal up inappropriately. The body is amazing, but not fool-proof. As example, we produce cancerous cells all the time. The body finds them and gets rid of them. Once in a while it misses, and you get a life-threatening problem. It’s a QA (quality assurance) problem, really.
2. Trigger Point Release, on the other hand, is a non-trademark term. I do this technique (officially) all the time as well. Yet another tool in the arsenal. TPR works to reduce the resting tension in a muscle which is overly tense. How or why it is overly tight (contracting a bit more than it should be) is unknown. How or why TPR works to reduce an active trigger point to a latent trigger point is also unknown. The leading theory involves localized ischemia (blood flow restriction) which forces the muscle to shut-down (release). This reduction in resting tension is what you distinctly noted when you said “the leg feels a lot longer than the other one now” the other day.
3. As noted above, these are both tools, working on different issues in a muscle. They do not work interchangeably (TPR will do nothing for an adhesion, and any type of ART will do nothing for an active trigger point).
I've been getting friendly with ice recently, as I try to recover from Achilles tendonitis on my way to IM St George (tick, tick, tick...). The thing is, as usual, is that research on this therapy (it goes by "cryotherapry" in the SAT Vocab World) is wildly inconclusive. Also as usual, athletes everywhere give anecdotal support to this kind of therapy, resulting in a kind of Pavlovian Informational Cascade ("Cascades predict that you can get massive social imitation, occasionally leading everyone (the "herd") to the incorrect choice. (Because everyone knows that there is very little information in a cascade, cascades are "fragile"; a little bit of new public information can make a big difference)."). Of course, individual experience with one kind of therapeutic treatment is the worst kind of "scientific" evidence (I put scientific in quotes, because individual experience is anathema to science).
Triathlon suffers badly from this kind of informational cascade, in which people make decisions based on the decisions of others, rather than their own instincts, beliefs, and observations. Athletic and cycling companies thrive on this kind of susceptibility, and I'm obviously taking part, with a row of sponsors just to the right of this post. Triathletes (who mostly come to the sport from recreational athletic backgrounds) often don't know what they're up to in terms of training, racing, and preparation, and it's not their fault. The internet has allowed a cacophony of opinion to blast upon all our ears, and the opinions are often differing or contradictory. The only thing triathletes are left to do is to choose which person they'll follow, and those decisions are based on the kind of subjective information with which we judge and root for sports teams (sense of shared identity, aesthetics, good-boy/bad-boy attitude, and what kind of success). Since athletic accomplishment is important to the triathlon community, athletes adhere passionately to the leaders they choose to follow—a brief perusal of the incendiary opinions on Slowtwitch will show the vitriol triathletes reserve for those who do not agree with their perspectives.
The Ice Bath is one of those subjects. Dig around out there and you'll find a host of anecdotal support for the process. Dig a little farther and you'll find studies that are pretty inconclusive on the efficacy of the ice bath. Here's a little digest of studies that may help you make a decision:
Sports Training Blog—"Cold water immersion or an ice bath may be an effective treatment to decrease skin, muscle and core temperatures, decrease metabolism, reduce inflammation, enhance blood flow, decrease pain and reduce muscle spasm...Performance in a time trial on successive days (over a 5 day study) was reduced with passive recovery and hot water immersion and maintained with cold/contrast therapy."
SpeedEndurance—Concludes that ice baths are inconclusive, and that you're best off going with how you feel the next day.
SportsMedicine on About.Com—Points out that for aerobic work ice baths may help, but may hurt weight training performance.
RunningTimes—Anecdotal support for the therapy plus the theory behind it.
Scottish Institute of Sport—Study that warns against the use of ice baths (mostly in a rugby/weight training context).
Clinical Sports Medicine—Digest on recovery procedures. Points out that there has been little clinical support for positive effects of ice baths.
Peak Performance—Discussion of different types of hydrotherapy. Points out that hot water can be beneficial, too.
Time to decide for yourself.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Bike: I've gone back and forth on the TT bike/Road bike thing for a while. Gordo says road bike, and I'd provisionally decided to do that. Cliff and Mike Lovato, though, think TT bike, and since Mike and I are built somewhat similarly (he's definitely a bit slimmer and fitter, though) and ride somewhat similarly, I've decided on using the P3. From an aerodynamic point of view, the S3 would have been fine, and it certainly would have climbed all those hills with alacrity. The problem is that there are a lot of 2—3% grades on the St. George course, climbs in which you should still be in your aerobars (Chris Ramsay has passed on some study evidence that found you get a benefit starting around 11-12 mph in the aerobars). Toss in 16-20 miles of steep, non-technical descending and the TT bike starts to look a bit better. Yes, it's heavier, and there's a lot of hill to carry that weight over. As usual, though, aerodynamics trump weight concerns (it's true—I know you don't believe it, but it's true).
Hydration: The jury is still a bit out on this one. I'm thinking about using a CamelBak, the least PRO thing one can do ("Hey," you're thinking. "George Hincapie used one, once!"). I used one during one of my race rehearsals, and it kept me well hydrated the whole time. Carrying all one's water at once will make the bike heavier, and it's something to struggle into in T1, and all those straps everywhere must have some kind of drag. I don't have one set up right now, so I'm hesitant to try and find one at the moment. I think the system will be 2 20 oz bottles behind the seat with 2 tablets of nuun in each one, and one aero bottle on the frame with another 2 tablets of nuun. If my race rehearsals are right, I need to get through about 140-150 oz of fluid with 14-15 tablets of nuun to feel "right" at T2. I may carry an empty bottle between the handlebars with a nuun tablet bouncing around inside and fill it up at one of the aid stations. I really don't like mixing sugars during a race (read: Gatorade+Powerbar products), so I'll be hesitant to take anything but water from the aid stations. The CamelBak is starting to sound more sane...
On the run I know I need to consume more fluid and fuel than I did in Canada. During brick runs I've discovered myself getting really thirsty in the first half hour off the bike, consuming more than 20 oz of liquid. That was a good note to get in more hydration than in the past.
Fuel: This seems pretty dialed at the moment. I'm consuming one PowerBar and one PowerGel per hour to hit my 320 calories per hour number. The problem is carrying all that fuel. I'll use a Bento Box (I know, I know...They're worse than CamelBaks) with 4 of each in them, and then take on the other fuel (plus my 120k treat, a king size PayDay) at the special needs stop.
Wheels: Right now it's looking like Hed Stinger Disc rear and 404 front, although I'll bring the rear 404 if it's really windy. Another post on this later since it's going to be a divisive topic, perhaps.
Helmet: Gordo says traditional vented helmet. I think an aero helmet is always better. Going with the aero helmet, but I'll bring the normal one if it looks hot.
Compression: Yes, socks. The sleeves absolutely wrecked my calves in Austin.
Shoes: Newton Distancia Racers.
Friday, April 2, 2010
At first wear, these shoes are incredibly comfortable. The toebox is quite roomy (maybe a little too much?). I would suggest, if they continue with this sizing, to order down 1/2 a size (I usually wear 12.5s in Newtons—I think a 12 might fit a little better), but I'll let you know as soon as I wear them more.
They feel a bit heavy, but nothing out of the ordinary for a trail shoe. I'm looking forward to trashing them on Portland's muddy trails.