Falling further behind

I wanted to continue with Saturday because the new wheels that I mentioned recently (Swiss Side Hadrons) were finally installed on Friday. They did actually arrive on the day I mentioned them, from the postal service (along with all of our next door neighbor's mail, oddly), but it took me a while to put them on.

Well, Saturday was probably a good day for breaking them in, as it was windy and wet.  Well, the wet part didn't matter, but the windy part certainly did.  The first thing that hit me are how much noise they make.  I didn't realize this until they arrived, but it turns out that they are not carbon fiber wheels, as I thought.  They're lightweight, aluminum wheels with a carbon fiber faring.

There's plusses and minuses to that, and I probably would have bought them anyway, knowing that, but I was irritated that I did not see that mentioned on their website.  That construction was what led to the noise to which I'm referring; it's a regular vibration of the faring that you hear whenever the wheel is moving.  It isn't obnoxiously loud, but it's certainly noticeable.

The second thing was a little bit of a sail effect (a slight, and I do mean slight, lateral force on the wheel; it was barely enough to be noticeable) from winds at low yaw angles and when turning.

The one problem with that wind, though, was it made it difficult to judge performance (and the water didn't help either).  I was a bit slower than usual, but the wind and wet probably caused that; certainly, they were contributing.

In any event, despite the weather, I did the twenty-three mile version of my Arlington trail loop (that actually goes through a bit of Alexandria as well).  I did it in 104 minutes, which left my speed all the way down at 13.0mph.  Considerably less than normal, to be sure.  That was with 888' of elevation, averaging 112W power.  So-so numbers across the board, really.

And with a heart rate of 123bpm, which is fairly high (max 131bpm, which is so-so).  Unsurprisingly, given that, I had 23:36 over 125bpm, which is not good at all.  The only good sign is that the average over that time was 127bpm, which means I was mostly just creeping over the line.  Still, I need to do better.

Sunday should have been a hard ride, but I didn't leave myself enough time for a long, hard ride, which was what I wanted.  How'd that work?  Well, I overslept this morning, so it means that I got hosed up even more, now.  I'll probably need to do another short, hard ride like I did the other day.  That isn't terrible, but it isn't terribly good, either.

As for what the ride was, rather than what it wasn't, I did my fifteen mile loop in sixty-five minutes, for a 13.9 mph average.  That isn't terrible, but again isn't all that good.  Elevation was around 850', and power 113W.  The power number's pretty decent, but that's at average heart rate of 124bpm, which is obviously higher than I'd want.  And my max was 133bpm, though the average while over was only 127bpm.

Riding just has not been going well over the last couple weeks.  I'll discuss a bit more of the why in my next post.

Falling behind

In writing, that is.  More than I thought, in fact.  Lately, I've been chewed up by a game a friend introduced me to, Marvel Puzzle Quest.  Silly idea, the game, take Bejeweled and give it a Marvel Super Heroes twist.  However, it works well; I'll talk about it later.

For now, though, I need to go back over the last several (ok, more than several) days of riding.

Last Thursday was an easy recovery ride, doing my eighteen mile course.  Looking at the data, it seems to've gone reasonably well, with 13.8mph average speed and 109W avg power.  It wasn't great, though, as my heart rate max was 141bpm, which is definitely too high.  Wish I could remember whether it was due to exertion or a car dive-bombing me.  It was close to twelve minutes over 125bpm, though, and that's certainly too much.

Friday did not get off to a great start; I overslept, then did a short ride of just under eleven miles (my wife needed to leave early, so I needed to be back early to get the kids ready).  I think I must not have been feeling well, because the power is only ok, and my heart rate is all over the place.  I think I had battery issues, too, because the plot shows a couple of jumps.  Ahh... I think I remember... I let the battery get down to roughly nothing while playing the game in the morning, then put it in the charger.  Since it was charging, I expected it to record everything ok, even though the battery was very low, but it had some issues with that.  It mostly worked out, but that's annoying.

Power was ok, at 119W avg, but speed was terrible, at 12.8mph.  My only explanation is that I did the toughest part of my normal ride, with almost none of the easy parts (about 700' of elevation in those eleven miles).

Saturday should have been a hard day, but I overslept even more than the day before (by about an hour, really).  Because of that, I just did my usual eighteen mile loop.  Performance was ok; speed of 14.3mph, 121bpm heart rate, 110W power.  But the heart rate was going out of control quite a lot in there.  Max was 137, with eight minutes over 125bpm.  Far less than ideal.

And to top it all off, the ground was a little wet and I slipped and slid pretty hard going around a sharp turn near my house (I am not appreciative of the car that was really, really close behind me coming down the hill before that turn).  Lost a fair bit of skin on my right hip, a bit more on my butt, and a little more on my right arm and hand (what kills me about the latter is that I have gloves that would have prevented that scratching, at least, but wasn't wearing them).  Not fun, especially when it came time to change bandages.

Sunday was a hard day.  Very hard, in fact.  I only did 16.6 miles, but that was in sixty-two minutes, with close to 1400' of elevation.  In fact, I scared myself a bit at one point.  I wanted to beat my record on the big hill on Williamsburg at the end of the ride, so I seriously pushed my way up.  Well, it worked, I topped my previous best by a second, but I looked down just after to see a heart rate of 199bpm.

I never felt any pain, or anything like that, but that's probably higher than I really want it going.  Of those sixty-two minutes, I spent thirty-six minutes in zone four, with almost ten more in zone five.  New record.  But yeah, that was the pain cave.  Still, I was pretty proud of it.

I'm very bummed, though, to not have any power data.  After turning on the cycling computer, I needed to go back to the bedroom to get my heart rate meter, and somehow that meant that the power meter was never found (I originally thought this was a Stages bug, but now I'm leaning towards it having more to do with Cyclemeter.  Still need to get in touch with the latter's company).

After that brutal ride, Monday and Tuesday were both easy rides, as planned.  Monday was my eighteen mile route, and Tuesday was the longest version of my figure-eight course, at almost twenty-nine miles (the one good thing about the injury is that none of the places that hurt touched the bike.  So sitting and laying down were problems, but biking wasn't.  Funny how that sort of thing can work).

Tuesday was mixed, in some ways.  I got a nice photo of the sunrise, which was particularly nice (the sunrise, that is), but I had to do it with my phone.  Good for sharing, less so for photo quality.  The Capital Dome, which is currently covered in scaffolding, looked particularly near, did not come out well at all, which was hugely disappointing.

Both days I had trouble with my heart rate, especially in the latter half, but not really badly.

That brings me to Wednesday, which should have been a hard ride, but it completely slipped my mind (maybe I was worrying about the weather?).  I didn't leave myself much time, though - I had to rush out the door after playing that stupid game some more - and I barely had time for my fifteen mile ride.  And the data certainly bear out that I was rushing.  My average heart rate was 124bpm, which makes it obvious that I was going much too hard.  I spent seventeen of the sixty-four minutes over 125, and that's not good.  And I averaged 133bpm over those seventeen minutes; also not good.  It wasn't just edging over from time to time.

It was another day where I found myself wishing I had a video camera on my helmet; I nearly ran into a bird that flew across my path.  And when I say nearly, I mean a matter of inches.  Neat to watch; would have been neater to have captured.  I'm getting a camera soon; I'll probably not even look at 90% of the recordings I make, but stuff like that will make it worthwhile.

So Thursday, I had to make up for Wednesday's miss.  And I overslept badly enough to not have time to ride in the morning.  I squeezed in a short ride at lunchtime, instead, and what it lacked in length, it made up for in intensity.

I did close to ten miles, with over 1000' of elevation, going at 15.5mph.  I did a calm warm-up for five or ten minutes, and it was all 'GO!' from there.  I was a little disappointed that I didn't set any records in the hills, but at least I was close.

The heart rate distribution was pretty similar to Sunday's, with seventeen minutes in zone four, and over ten in zone five.  Max heart rate was a little lower, peaking at 195bpm, but it got up into the 190s several times.  Power was... rather good.  I didn't set my instantaneous power record, but did set it up through five seconds, which was a nice surprise.  Over a longer timeframe, it was merely pretty good, but I was still pretty pleased.

I'm definitely improving in short-/medium-term power, which is good for my sprinting.  Not sure how much it does for me over longer distances, but it can't hurt.

After that abuse, Friday was obviously a recovery day, and another one where I had to rush out the door to get the ride in.  I did my fifteen mile loop in sixty-six minutes, averaging 13.6mph.  Meh.

Heart rate was 124bpm avg (pushing it, I think), with 113W power.  I should be getting more power at that heart rate.

I'll talk about the last couple days (this update has been sitting in the browser for several days now) separately.


Somewhat better

I woke up a little bit early this morning; needed to go to the bathroom.  Like the last couple days, it was a less-than-pleasant experience, but at least this time I had some imodium to take afterward.  I also downed some water right away, though probably not as much as I should have.

Regardless, I got on the bike, and did roughly what I described yesterday.  That is, I did my 25-mile figure-eight ride, going hard up the hills (and moderate to hard, otherwise).

How'd that work?  Mixed.  The first hill, which climbs S 31st St above Shirlington (going right by the apartment building where I lived for a couple years) went quite well.  I knocked 16s off my previous best (which was 92s, so better than 17% improvement), although I think the segment went ten or twenty yards further than I thought, as I tailed off a bit.  Or maybe I was just tired; I know my heart rate cleared 190bpm there.  Still, that was 7th overall, and I was quite happy with that.

There's another, very short, hill going from Fairfax Dr to the Custis Trail (just before George Mason Dr) that also went well.  I hadn't attacked that one in a long time (and have only done so a few times, actually), but took four seconds (of eighteen) off my previous best.  That put me at 10th overall (and I'm pretty sure several of the ones above me were in a car), which was also cool.

On the long climb from the Cemetary, along Rt 110, up Ft Myer Dr, then the Rt 50 access road, across Rhodes, and up Courthouse, it didn't go nearly as well.  I took four seconds (of thirty-four, and I'd hit that time four times previously) off my record for the first hill, which was great.  But by the time I cleared the Iwo Jima Memorial, I was already a second off my best, and it did not improve from there.  In the end, despite heaving at a heart rate of 195bpm, I lost nine more seconds off my best, the rest of the way.  Ah well.

I also pushed pretty hard from Gravelly Point to the Fourteenth St Bridge (forgetting that the segment extends a fair bit further than that), but ended up way off my best time (almost a minute off; would be interesting to know how the part up to the bridge compared).  And perhaps pushing there was a significant contribution to my lackluster showing a mile later, when I got to the Cemetary.

At the end, I tried to push on a segment shortly after turning from George Mason Dr onto Washington Blvd.  Unfortunately, I started well before the beginning (forgot where it started until I got there) and then blew up.  Twenty-six seconds (of fifty-six) off my record.  Ouch.

But the last hill before home, on Williamsburg, between Harrison and George Mason, I managed to hammer up and over.  I beat my previous best by three seconds (of forty-five), which is decent.  Still need to knock ten seconds off that, if I want to get into the top ten, but I think I might be able to do that if I'm not tired when I get there (not only is there the fatigue, but I didn't start pushing until the hill, and the segment starts a couple hundred yards before that.  Maybe, maybe not).  We'll see.

In any event, as you can see, pretty mixed results.  Overall, 25 miles, 1100', 17.0mph (worse than I thought), just shy of twenty-five minutes Z4-Z5 (heart-based), thirteen minutes Z4-Z7 (power-based).  Power curve?  Meh.  Decent out to 10s (935W there, done on that 14s segment mentioned above), close to my record from 1:08 to 2:27, new record 5:15-5:35 (interesting, that), and pretty mediocre otherwise.

Not bad, I guess, for being in less-than-perfect health, although I must admit to still being disappointed in a few details.  Looking forward, tomorrow and Friday will both be recovery days (although I might do extra, easy, miles on Friday because I might have some time during the day), and hopefully Saturday will be the hard group ride.

Oh, and I forgot to mention; the new wheels arrived very late today without ever indicating "Out for Delivery", for which they did have an indicator.  Don't use PostNL if you can help it.


Still not right

I've been feeling mostly better today.  Only one extended bout, although my stomach has been feeling... not right... for most of the day.

I still got out and rode, but it was a shorter ride; around ten miles.  I thought that would help a bit, although I'm not sure it did.  One amusement kind of came out of it.  I didn't feel up to much of a meal for breakfast, so I just threw some eggs in the pan, scrambling them.  But then I left them in a bit too long; not nearly enough to burn them, but enough to end up with an egg pancake, essentially.

It tasted just fine, but definitely looked odd.

I let myself be persuaded to take my daughter to school on her bike again, which worked out ok.

Overall, that's about 16.3 miles, with close to 1000' of elevation (though I screwed up twice, resulting in the elevation not being recorded on Strava for either trip to school).  On the eleven miles by myself, that was at 13.3mph, and power was only so-so at 102W.  Heart-rate was pretty good, averaging 120bpm, although I did have a spike up to 132bpm when a pick-up decided that, with two lanes available, he needed to pass within a couple feet of me (no, I was not in the middle) at very high speed.  Overall, I had four minutes above 125bpm.  No complaints there.

I could see that I wasn't all the way well, though; I was only able to push 110-120W and stay in the low 120's pulse.  That isn't bad, but is definitely worse than I was doing a few days ago.  Hopefully, I can get that back to better numbers tomorrow or the next day.

Even though tomorrow should be a "go like hell" day, I'm probably going to take it easy.  Also, I think the group ride isn't happening, since I haven't seen any emails.  And given the way I've been feeling, I'm ok with that.  I'll try to do my 25-mile loop, and if I'm feeling better, I'll attack the hills on the way, maybe.

Update: I forgot to mention, the Swiss Side Hadron wheels that I bought a while ago might arrive tomorrow.  They were shipped early last week, and made it into the country by Thursday, but have made no visible progress since.  But optimistically, they could still arrive tomorrow. I will say that I'm extremely unimpressed with the shipper, PostNL.  Their tracking (or their progress; I'm not sure which, though my inclination is to give them the benefit of the doubt, and blame the tracking) sucks rocks.  I would strongly recommend never using them, if it's an option, and you have another choice.  Six days to get from NYC (presumably where it came into the country) to here is really awful, no matter how you slice it.


Not quite tied?

I wasn't able to watch Saturday's Stanley Cup game, due to not feeling well, but just wanted to mention how impressively close the series is.  Blackhawks have a one-game lead, obviously.  They also have only a one goal lead, on the series.  Shots are tied.  No team has had even a two-goal lead at any point.

It's a shame that someone needs to lose.

Feeling better, but...

I woke up when my alarm went off, this morning, and got going pretty quickly (I probably set it five or ten minutes too late, really).  My plan was to do my 18-mile loop and get on with my day, but that fell apart pretty quickly.

Despite gulping down some water just before leaving, I still found my heart-rate going bonkers on me.  I really had a lot of trouble keeping it under 125; I kept finding it going over when I was only pushing 120-130W.

That was still an improvement over yesterday, when 100W was pushing me over, but it certainly wasn't good.

How did I do, overall?  Well, 14.8 miles, 67 minutes, 860' of elevation.  That's a 13.3mph average, with an average heart rate of 121bpm, max at 134.  And of those 67 minutes, 11 were spent over 125bpm.  I've done a lot worse, though always when pushing a lot more power.  How much did I push?  96W, off about twenty from where I should be with those heart rate numbers.

So I'm definitely not all better, even if I feel pretty good.  And actually, I felt better as the ride went along, which is promising for tomorrow.  I think if I get back into my stretching habits at night (I haven't been doing that for the last week or so), and drink plenty of water, I should be fine tomorrow.  And will hopefully be able to do the group ride on Wednesday without trouble.


Handling pain

You would think, if you just looked at the efforts yesterday and today, that the pain I'm referring to would be the 25 miles, 2000' elevation, 16.9mph ride yesterday.  But it's actually the 6.2 mile, 400', 10.7 mph ride this morning.  How is that?  Let's take a look.

Yesterday, I actually overslept, and wasn't even able to take a look at the group ride.  And I think things worked out just fine, with that (also, I checked, and the Air Force Classic is happening right now; it wasn't yesterday).

In any event, I got out a little late, and did a few miles of warm-up.  Once I felt warmed up, I went to my hill route, and attacked that (although not quite as hard as last time; I was trying to make a longer effort).  And my effort paid off, I think.  I didn't hammer any of the hills as hard as two weeks ago, but I wasn't far off, and I did way better over the distance.

Strava's climbing challenge, this month, references the Nepal earthquake, and suggests a one-day "everest"ing for a climb.  I've been thinking about trying that, and to that end I've created a couple of segments lately trying to work out the feasibility.

The first of those was a very short loop (essentially, around a big block) with a huge hill in it, that I tried on Wednesday.  It worked out to 86' of elevation in 0.6 miles.  I forget the exact number, but that works out to way over 200 miles to "Everest" by looping over it.  I also created a loop segment on my hills route that came out to 4.2 miles with 586' of elevation.  That's a tiny bit better, but still over 200 miles.

Still, the main point of mentioning that latter segment is that I beat my previous best on that one by half a minute.  And my time from two weeks ago (when I just destroyed the first hill) by almost a minute.  Interestingly, while I did way better on the initial climb on that first hill the other week, the segment extends a ways, and I ended up tying that overall time.  And on the second climb, on Lorcom Ln, I knocked two seconds (coincidentally, improving my placing by two) off my best.

From there, I took a new route that went behind my daughter's school, and into some hills in McLean, then down to Falls Church and onto the W&OD trail.  I took that back out to Idylwood, then back on Powhatan.  I meandered around a little more, thinking of it as a cool-off, but then found myself on Florida heading towards George Mason.  I decided to try for a personal record coming back down George Mason from Rt 29 to Yorktown (I used to always finish off my rides with that sprint, but haven't done so in a while).

How'd that work?  Well, I knocked six seconds off my best, bringing me into a three-way tie for KOM.  So, even better than expected.

Overall, my power curve spiked a little higher instantaneously than two weeks ago, was significantly worse from there, out to a minute and a half or so, and was comparable or better afterwards.  So, about like I wanted it.  I also hit 700-ish Watts several different times for 10-20 seconds, which is pretty good.  Heart rate had a Zone 4 mode, which was cool, with almost 44 minutes in 4 & 5.

Power zones had about 19 1/2 minutes at/over threshold, which is quite good.  And six and a half of that was 390+W, which is awesome.

And while all of that was a little draining, I felt pretty good at the end of it.

Breakfast was a bit different than my usual, of late, and I think that messed me up later in the day.  I was fine until shortly before my daughter finished ballet class, when my stomach whomped me seriously and mostly knocked me out for the rest of the day.

Which is what made this morning's ride so difficult.  Part of the problem (probably a large part) was that I didn't eat after breakfast yesterday.  I didn't want anything until very late at night, and even then, feeling empty, nothing appealed.  So I didn't eat.  Worse, I didn't drink, so I was probably pretty severely dehydrated by the time I went riding.

How bad was it?  I could only push about 80W while keeping my heart rate in my target range.  It was bad!  If I hadn't had such a long string of daily rides, I would have skipped it entirely.

I thought about making the ride a little bit longer than I did, but I'm glad I didn't.  My heart rate being so out of control is a pretty fair indicator that I probably shouldn't have done as much as I did.  It also makes me wonder if the reason I've had trouble keeping my heart rate down, in the past, after reaching an hour, is due to dehydration.  Not as bad as this morning, of course, but I wonder if a small amount might be having an effect.  Something to ponder.

Getting back to today, after finishing the ride and eating a simple breakfast, I ended up going back to bed for quite a few hours.  Not a good situation.

Update: I forgot to mention why I associated diarrhea and dehydration.  Diarrhea, if you don't replenish fluids, will cause dehydration.  In fact, diarrhea kills far more children in Africa than does malaria, and it's all due to that dehydration.  Still think clean drinking water is a solved problem?


Rushing along

Wednesday morning didn't get off to a great start, when I needed to get moving quickly, and then overslept by ten or twenty minutes.  I managed to get out of the house only about five minutes late, and rushed to the meet-up for the group ride.

I rode a little faster than I wanted, pushing my heart rate to 130-ish several times, but I did make it in time (sort of; I was a couple minutes late, but people hadn't left).

Really, though, I don't have a whole lot to say about the ride.  It was a little more strenuous than I'd really wanted, but not horribly so.  And really, after the fact, I don't think it was a bad thing, even.  I'm just glad that I took it pretty easy for quite a while, and was very warmed up by the time we started pushing a bit.

I say that not because I know that avoided problems, but just in appreciation that there weren't any problems.  It is relative, of course.  When I'm pushing really hard, I'll get my heart rate (at least briefly) up to 180-190, and I never got close to that on Wednesday.  That day, I maxed at 154bpm, and was probably only within ten of that for a few minutes.

Still, it was a good, sociable ride, especially on the return.  Power was pretty low, only 128W.  Heart rate was almost identical, at 127bpm.  I did 38 miles, with 1600' elevation, in 145 minutes, an average of 15.8mph.  Not bad.

Nothing special, but it was good to get the miles in.

Yesterday and today were pretty similar to each other.  Yesterday, I got up at 0500, and got on the bike pretty quickly.  I did almost 23 miles, and almost 900', finishing in 91 minutes (so I was a few minutes early, for once, getting home).  That was 15.0mph, averaging 122bpm and 118W.

Those are all good numbers, and while my max heart rate hit 137bpm, I think it only cleared 128 twice for a total of 15-30 seconds.  And only one of those was due to exertion; the one that was came from hurrying to make a light, since I was worried about being late.  And the second time was passing some joggers who wanted to take the whole path (group of 15-20 guys); had to keep saying, "On your left" and wait for a couple bikers from the other direction.  Very annoying all the way around.

Today might have been even better.  I woke up fifteen minutes earlier, although I think I only got out the door about five minutes earlier.  Still, it was enough to do a slightly longer course; 25 miles and a hair over 1100' elevation.  I got 120W with the same average and max heart rates, although this time the raising of heart rate came from a van that didn't want to slow down.  And it was only the one time; looks like it got up there for about twenty seconds, judging by Strava's analysis tools.

I felt pretty good about it, especially the 120W avg power.  It looks like I can push 130-140W at 125bpm, which is a pretty significant improvement over the last few months.  Makes me happy.

I am curious about the speed, though; Strava says 14.7mph, but Cyclemeter had me close to 17mph over the first hour.  That's one hell of a drop-off, if it is merely a drop-off.  One thing for sure, I had a lot more trouble with heart rate after that point than I did before.

In any event, the ride went well, and I think I'm finally ready for a hard ride tomorrow.  I don't think the group I usually ride with will be around, though; I think most of them are doing the Air Force Classic later in the day or Sunday.  I wanted to do that, but never got around to signing up.  Have to remember it for next year, though; I love the idea of being able to go like hell on blocked-off streets.

But since I'm staying home, we'll have to see how that affects things.


Threat of rain...

I got up on time this morning, but was very slow getting moving.  When I finally got out the door, we immediately started getting a touch of rain.  I kept going for a few minutes, but the light drizzle didn't go away, so I went home to at least get something waterproof to hold my phone.

I did that, changing my shoes at the same time, and then got back on the road again.  By that point, I only had time to do the 15-mile loop (although I'd already done a mile and a half or so before getting back to the house), so that's what I proceeded to do.

I discovered, to my irritation, that my power meter had cut out while I was in the house, and I couldn't get it to come back on.  So I soldiered on, with just heart rate data, and tried to do the best I could.  That wasn't too bad; I averaged 121bpm, and while I did go as high as 132bpm, I blame that on a car that got too close, rather than exertion.  Not much I can do about that.  Mostly, I kept it to 127; I had about five minutes over 125bpm, almost all at 126 or 127.  No biggies, there.

Speed-wise, I did 13.7 on the sixteen miles, which also isn't bad.

Of course, the kicker is that I saw nary a drop of rain after getting out of the house the second time.  Should have braved it.  Wish I'd at least put the phone in the baggie, beforehand.

As far as the riding itself, I was still feeling a little bit of residual effects from the century-plus on Sunday, but it wasn't bad.  Mostly, I felt it the few times when I started to push a bit (which basically only happened when I noticed my heart rate slipping down into the low teens).

So, a nice ride.  I also rode a couple extra miles later, when I escorted my daughter in to school on her bike; hoping to get her into it.  Actually, she mostly is; really need to work on my son, get him to take off the training wheels and really ride.  Soon, hopefully.


Working hard?

Last Friday, I followed through on the plan I had in my head, perfectly.

On Friday, I did my 18-mile loop, and did a pretty good job with it.  The 13.3mph speed wasn't too great, but I did keep my heart rate down below 128, with less than a minute total above 125bpm.  Rockin'.  Power was 111W avg, which is a bit below where I would like to be, but not bad.

Saturday, to take it a little bit easier, I did my 15-mile loop, although I did a little bit worse.  I finished in 66 minutes, which is 13.8mph.  That's not too bad.  And power was 115W avg, which is also pretty good.  But I did much worse with heart rate; my max was 133bpm and I spent close to eight minutes over 125bpm.  That's not good.

On Sunday, though, I was feeling pretty good.  I left the house at 0445, went a mile or so, then turned back to get a couple more items.  I got out of the house again at 0453, which was still earlier than my original plan.  Unfortunately, I decided to avoid the Toll Road for getting to Reston, and went a couple miles out of my way when I missed a turn.  Fortunately, I caught it pretty quickly, and got back on track.

When I got there, I found out that, as largely expected, the breakfast consisted of absolutely nothing I could eat.  Bagels, fruit, and energy bars.  Carbs, carbs, carbs.  I guess they didn't want to deal with plates and utensils, but I would have killed for some eggs and bacon.

I had some time to wait, and found a few of my teammates.  We hung out until 0630 (I had planned on leaving at 0600), then got on the road.  We asked for directions to start, and were pointed in the wrong direction (boy, this is already sounding familiar).  We corrected fairly quickly, although we did an extra half mile to a mile.

One thing that surprised me, was that I expected a mass start, and something like a peloton on the road.  But it was ridiculously sparse.  We ended up in a group of ten or so for the first fifteen miles.

And I should point out that we were "supposed" to do 18mph (which had me a bit concerned, beforehand), but we did manage to do that.  In Purcellville, around mile thirty, was when we really started dropping people.  In fact, our group of ten fell down to three, there.  It was me, one teammate, and another guy we didn't know who was hanging back a bit (though he decided to pass us a few miles up from there).

That just left my teammate and I, and we worked out a system.  He had aerobars (for triathlon-guy), so he led on the downhills (mostly), and I would generally pass him and lead on the uphills.  That worked well to the halfway point, when I started flagging (my first time dealing with cramps in my thighs, along with general fatigue).

But we kept going for quite a while.  Much longer than we should have, it turns out, as we took a wrong turn in Middleburg that took us seven miles out of our way through serious hills (well, as serious as it gets in that area; nothing compared to real mountains, of course).  And, of course, I ran out of water in that detour.  Not fun.

We did, eventually, figure out our mistake, though, and got back on course.  Although we hit that point on our detour, we actually did keep our 18mph speed through milemarker 72 (not really sure, after that).

Anyway, we finally hit the next rest stop at about milemarker 82, and I had to stop there, for a while, to get my muscles to uncramp (drank a lot of water, some energy drink, and had a couple electrolyte pills).  Plus, the rest helped a lot.

My teammate needed to continue on, so I didn't see him again.  Several people got to, and/or left, the rest stop while I was resting.  I mention that because, once I got moving, I managed to pass everyone else over the next 5-8 miles after leaving (and that made me happy).

From there, I did pretty well, keeping going.  I still had some cramping, but they never got nearly as bad as at that rest stop.  It helped, though, that I had a couple bananas (terrible, vis a vis my diet, but I needed the potassium) at subsequent rest stops.

The rest of the way was a bit of a struggle, and I stopped at every rest stop along the way.  Also, when I was leaving Purcellville, my phone got to the point where it stops recording (right at 99.9 miles, which is funny, considering I had set my phone up to email a few people every five miles).

Not much else to say, really; I did it, and it was a struggle.  The last couple miles, I took a pull from a woman on a time trial bike; I have no pride about that sort of thing.

Since my phone died, I don't really know what my final time was.  I managed to get it to show me finishing, but I know the timing was way off.  The time is long, by at least half an hour (maybe as much as an hour, thanks to those rest stops).  But what it has is 121.7 miles in 7:54:25.  It also has 141W power and 5450' of elevation.  Both of those numbers are badly wrong, though, thanks to the phone dying.  I wish I knew how much (I was able to get Strava to fake the distance about right, but I lost an hour or more of both power and elevation, and there's no way to get that data to come out right).  Similarly, I wonder what my "suffer score" would have been with an additional 30-40 minutes of 150-160bpm.

Still, I'm pretty happy with the results.  I'd've been a lot happier if I'd taken the phone charger on the ride (I left it in the car, and that's why I was able to fake it so that Strava saw me finishing).  I didn't realize how much the every-five-mile updates I had emailed to my wife and a couple of others would take out of the battery.  The phone was at 100% charge at the start, and it will normally 8-9 hours on a full charge (each hour sucks about 8-10%, normally).  The one other likely factor is that we might have gone out of cellular connectivity at some point, and that chews battery as well.  Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing if that's the case.

Anyway, as the data is recorded, I did a 15.4mph average.  If we assume fifty-four minutes of time added (just to make the numbers even), then that would bump it up to 17.4mph.  If we add a couple more miles as well (it's probably short by about two miles), then we get 17.7mph.  Better numbers than I'd've guessed I'd be able to do, given that I couldn't draft anything like I was planning on.  And four hours of 18mph... I'm quite proud of that; if you'd asked me, beforehand, if I was capable of that, I'd've said no, even with another person helping.

In fact, using Strava's analysis page, I see 18.0mph average speed, with 170W average (158bpm heart rate; a few lower than I'd've guessed) over those four hours.  Still lots of room for improvement, but I was very pleased.

So, lots to like about the ride.  A couple of lessons: bring more electrolyte tablets (1/hour not enough).  Two, bring the phone charger case.  Three, some nuts for snacks would be good.  Four, Quest bars work well.  Five, don't expect food to be provided.  Six, be more careful with directions.

Still, a very good experience, and one to build on.

This morning, as you'd expect, was totally about recovery.  I didn't get things ready last night; I was too tired.  I thought that might cause problems, but it did not.  I got out on time, or maybe even a little early.

I wasn't sure about how far to go, but ended up doing my 15-mile loop in 66 minutes (13.6mph).  I averaged 121bpm, and maxed at only 127bpm.  I think that's about as good as I can reasonably hope for.

Power was 109W; a little lower than I'd've liked.  I'd like it to be more like 120-130W.  Well, I'll just have to keep working on it.  Tomorrow will be another recovery day, though I'll at least add the three miles to get me to my 18-mile loop.  After that, I'm not sure; I'd like to do the group ride on Wednesday, but I'm not sure if that's feasible.  I'll have to see how my legs feel, I guess.


Killin' some Hillin

Yesterday, I didn't ride in the morning.  My shoulder was in serious pain when I went to bed the night before, and I didn't sleep well.  And I was still in pain when I woke up.  Everything seemed to move ok, but doing so was just miserably bad pain.

In the afternoon, I finally finished a work task, so I took a couple motrin, and forced myself out onto the bike.  I wasn't planning on going very far; nine miles or so, but ended up a bit shorter.  Basically, I got about a mile away, and started feeling misting rain.  Concerned that it might get worse, I turned back, and just meandered around my neighborhood, taking it easy.

When I found myself at the foot of the huge hill on Williamsburg, though, I decided I needed to attack that.  And I did.  I went up the 8% grade (avg) in 50/25 or 50/23, which was quite a bit better than that of which I thought I was capable.  That put me at 5th overall on Strava, pushing 622W for the whole 31s climb.

Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful ride, though.  Only 7.3miles and 500' of elevation.  But the good part was that my shoulder was bothering me a lot less at the end of the ride than at the beginning.

Today, I also slept in (relatively; I still got up before 0700, which is way earlier than I ever got up before having kids), and saw the doctor early.  My shoulder was feeling a lot better, and he mostly gave me a clean bill of health.  Gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory, along with some exercises to do (and told me to avoid the push-ups and back-bridges that I regularly do), but said everything looked fine structurally.  More importantly, he said biking was fine, which made my day.

I celebrated by going on a ride after taking the anti-inflammatory.  I decided to do my normal 18-mile course, except adding one big hill.  And seriously attacking all the big hills, but otherwise taking it easy.

The results?  Four top-ten finishes on big hills, with PRs on four others.  And I just destroyed my power curve for the year, up to 2:20 (and it stayed close afterwards, all the way out to an hour, at least).

Total ride? 19.4 miles (1250') in 75 minutes, which works out to 15.6mph (remember, very much taking it easy between climbs).  Three minutes in zone five, per heart rate (although that's actually low.  I finished the extra climb with the meter showing only 131bpm, and I know it was at least 181.  I certainly can't push 396W for 46s at 131bpm.  If I could do that, I'd take a few weeks off from writing software to crush the Tour de France).  And four minutes in zone 7, per power, which is pretty awesome.

Because I was relaxing so much, between hills, I didn't get a whole lot of sustained time in zones four or five, but I was really happy with what I did do on those hills.  I pushed my 20s peak power over 1kW, which is better than I thought I'd be able to do.  I raised the one minute peak from 551W to 634W.  According to Cyclemeter, I had a one-hour peak of 306W, although I now suspect that's peak adjusted power, not peak average power (and frankly, I'm not sure what the value of peak adjusted power is).  Still, that's just killing it.

So I'm pretty psyched.  I'm going to be taking it easy for the next two days, though, as I'm preparing for the Tour de Cure on Sunday (that'll be 108 miles).  I won't be pushing any watts, and I won't be doing a lot of miles (maybe as much as 15 per day, but probably less).


Legging out soreness

Yesterday morning, I overslept by a good bit, and got out late enough that I only had an hour and change for riding.  Plus, my legs were quite sore to start with, so I wasn't anxious to get out and push the pedals.

I did get out in time to get my 15-mile loop in, and finished it in a few minutes over an hour.  It was a hair over 15 miles, with almost 1000' of elevation, all at 14.2mph.  Not bad.  Mixed results on the heart rate limit, though: I spent only two minutes over 125bpm, which is excellent, but with a maximum of 140bpm (I was trying to beat a traffic light a mile from home).  Still, that's better than I'd remembered it being, and I have no complaints.

This morning, I was feeling a lot better (leg-wise), and set out about on time.  I did my shortest figure eight (25.4 miles, 1100' elevation), and in just about exactly the desired amount of time (1:45:35, in the event).  That worked out to 14.5mph, which was good.

But after the one-hour mark, I had one hell of a time keeping my heart rate down.  I think I was just about perfect up to that point, but from there on, I was regularly finding myself over 125bpm.  It ended up as twenty-one minutes over, which is terrible, and a maximum of 138, also terrible (especially the why it hit so high; I was trying to overtake a jogger before they hit a jogger going the other way.  Should have waited, as I was about 126-7 before the several seconds of effort to pass.  Still, I exceeded 130bpm several times).

I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong.  It just seems to spike up much more easily, once I've been riding for a while.  My average heart rate was just about exactly what I would like, but the spread is just way too high.  Need to figure something out.