Monday, January 10, 2011

Port of Tauranga Half Ironman: Hotpotato Smashes Sub-6 at last (Part III: The Bike)

(Parts I and II)

T1 was pretty slow, in 2:39. I was 128th lady out of the swim (UGH) and 129th in T1! However, there was a teeny bit of a run from the swim timing mat to my bike, and a bit of sorting out to do, as I'd decided to wear socks on the ride, and needed to pack some gloves in my back pocket to save my hands in case of punctures. Losing one one place was definitely not as bad as it could have been!

The bike was two laps of an out and back, with a couple of small-medium sized detours. The course is similar to the course at Tinman- it just goes out further, to bring the total distance up to 90km.

My goal for the ride was to approximate an average power of about 155-160, by shooting for an average of 31-32 kph. I have no idea if this would be right, but it was about what we guesstimated during our ride the day before. To do this, I figured I'd try to maintain 33-35 in tailwinds, and to hold 28-29 in headwinds. I've sometimes tended to spin too much on flat courses, so I focussed on pushing biggish gears and staying aero as much as possible. I also wanted to stay in my big ring as much as I could, as shifting all the time can be a real pain in the nuts (one of those things the pros don't have to worry about).

I knew that, as in Tinman, I was starting the bike a little further back than I should have been, so I wanted to make up some time. I tried not to let myself drift too much at the beginning, and settled quickly into aero position and a decent gear. I felt pretty good, and soon picked off a few people ahead of me (who REALLY shouldn't have been). One lady had an incredibly noisy bike- I don't know WHAT was going on there. She was a bit bigger than me, so kept catching me in tailwinds, but the sounds of the bike GRINDING were so awful, I was motivated to stay ahead. Whatever gets you going, huh?!

There were still a fair few AG men coming through (judging by the results, about 100), and the super speedy teamsters were also getting on their way, so I was getting "legitimately" passed quite a lot. But I tried to at least pass a person for everyone who passed me, and for the first few ks that worked OK. I had a pretty solid ride out to the main turnaround, but lost a bit of pace on the detour on the way home.

It was probably in the last 7ks or so of the first lap that my lower back started to hurt. This has happened a few times recently, especially on hilly rides, and I'm hoping to work with Bike Fit David and maybe Phil's chiro to come up with a solution before New Plymouth.

As usual, my goal was to finish the bike before the pros finished the race, and I knew they were close to finishing the ride when I finished my first lap, so I had to keep going strong! I also had to keep up the pace if I was to have any shot of breaking 3 hours.

There was a reasonable headwind on the way back on, particularly on the "rough" section. I watched my average lap pace slow, and slow, and slow. At one point, my current pace was 24.5! I was feeling pretty uncomfortable, and lost my mojo for a little while. I also lost a few places :( (It turns out I lost THIRTEEN female places overall during the bike. Fark!) Luckily, I could see the dudes coming back, and knew there was a sweeeeeeet tailwind waiting to take me home. Thinking of that spurred me on, and I made a bit of ground back up- though it was mostly men I was passing.

Sometime on the final 25km my Co2bra (holding my Co2 pump, tubes, etc) must have shifted, and try as I might, I couldn't put it back. A pointy edge was rubbing against my inner thigh with every pedal stroke. It was quite sore and rather bothersome, but I was mostly able to ignore it. It wasn't until after the race that I discovered it had rubbed its way through my 2XU trisuit and had started in on my poor thigh, which now has a scab about the size of a $2 coin!

(I'm sparing you the thigh pic...)

I didn't capitalise quite as much as I'd hoped on the tailwind on the way home, mostly as I was struggling to stay aero. I couldn't quite catch up enough to get a legal draft, and the people passing me were mostly team riders, with a few AG men thrown in. The one plus is that the AG men were mostly 40-50, rather than 55-65 which is what they usually are!

I made it back into T2 in about 3:00 (official time 3:00:53). I was a bit disappointed, but I knew I hadn't thrashed my legs too much, and that I'd have a good run in me, which was a huge positive!

*Nutrition: I drank nearly 2 bottles of Cran-Apple Rain (sports drink for women- won a tub of it at a Club Nite) at about 200 cals per bottle, ate an Em's Mini Cookie (120?) and the best part of a tube of shot blocks (so, 180 or so probably).

A quick comment on the bike before I move on:

My AHR for the first lap was 159, which is on the low side of about right, but my AHR for the second lap was 153, and I noticed a few readings in the 140s, particularly during the headwind. This SHOULD NOT BE THE CASE.

I think it shows, at least in part, that while some of my bike problems are fitness/strength-related, posture and technique are probably THE biggest factors in my conistently AVERAGE bike performance (the rest of it is mental). I know some discomfort is normal in a 3-4 hour ride, but I am SURE I find cycling more uncomfortable than most other cyclists, and this seems to be borne out by my race performances, as well as in training.

I've been struggling with the bike for years, and gradually isolating and fixing my problems (fear, horrible bike, climbing, cornering and descending skills). Posture/position has been the biggie for awhile. I've totally BANNED glasses on the bike, to stop me arching my neck and head up, and I did a great job during the first lap of looking straight ahead- I barely knew who was returning on the other side of the road for once! The good thing is that I now have some more things to work on, and the beginnings of a plan to work on them. I REALLY want to get good on the bike- these legs have got to be good for something!!

The other point is technique. My average cadence on the second lap was 76, which is just terrible for a flat course. I was tending towards too HIGH a cadence last year, but I've slipped back into bad habits. Back to the trainer?


Lisa (bakebikeblog) said...

I just LOVE LOVE LOVE this recap! You seriously rock girl - and I cant wait for your next installment!!

Mike said...

This is coming to you from your BIGGEST supporter and Blend and from someone who was truly inspired by your race (my hunger for Sub6 at Rotorua has never been greater!) BUT I still think your bike position is doing you no favours. It looked better than Tinman but I would love to get that seat forward and up a bit and get the angle of your arms nearer to 90 and get some of that weight that is bearing down through your chamois onto the aero bars. I know the current position is to help you run off the bike (and no-one can say that it didn't work on Saturday) but I think you have a lot of speed AND (more importantly) comfort gains to be made by shifting some weight forward.

Hope you take this critique in the supportive manner it is sent :)

valen said...

great report... looking forward to the run!,

PS: HR may be low because you were tired, or had no fuel in the tank?

Westy said...

Great race reports Kate! I am slowly ingesting and will give you all my thoughts and feed back.
But for now I'd just like to mention I agree with Mike...
That bike position... no wonder your back is giving up on you, it's the only thing holding you in that position... in a good tri position the whole of your upper body weight should be supported by your arms... shoulders at 90 deg.

Kate said...

@Mike and Westy: it's a road set up with my rubbish aerobars, so what I will be looking to do is to move to a proper tri set up, as this obviously isn't working for me!