Monday, August 26, 2013

My New Mistress: Added a Guru CR901 to the stable!

As promised, it's time to officially introduce my new ride!  I've been waiting to post something until I had the bike in my possession and had at least spent a bit of time on it.  I've had it for 4 days and have fit in 3 rides, so I think I can give a decent early review.

Anyway, here it is; my new Guru CR901 courtesy of Shama Cycles:

 The new ride, sitting outside of Shama Cycles, ready for pickup!

 Standard Shama setup, pulled right off my Guru Merus.

Big improvement in cleaning up the front end; largely due to the TriRig Omega brake.

So first, a quick overview, skipping a few details...
Frame: Guru CR901
Aerobars: Hed Corsair
Drivetrain: Sram Red (with new Red Yaw front D)
Chainrings: Quarq Q rings 54/42
Crank/PM: Quarq Elsa
Front Brake: TriRig Omega
Rear Brake: TRP R970EQ Magnesium
Pulley Wheels: Tiso Ti
Chain: KMC X10SL Silver
Wheels: Hed Jet 9 Front/Jet FR Disc Rear
Tires:  Currently S-works Mondo Open Tubulars, switching to Vittoria Evo Triathlon

Before I get into a review of the bike itself, I'll answer the question that my wife has asked me about 100 times over the past 2 months: "Why do you need a new bike again?  Didn't you say that the titanium bike we bought last time would last you forever?".  Sheepishly, I must admit that I did claim that my Merus would be a lifelong bike....and I stand by that!  But, holding to the N+1 theory* on bikes(explained below), it was time for a new one.  Primarily, I wanted to get into a much more aggressive position, which I really was struggling to do on the Merus.  Moverover, the ride quality and aerodynamics of a frame upgrade made it worth it to me.  Not many others would agree, but I don't go to work in order to hoard my money...

My Merus served me well and I had some great times on it.  I did 3 40k TTs on it, all of which were under 60 min.  I posted a modest 2:30 bike split at Timberman 70.3 last year and it's really served me well on the local circuit as well.

 Really I had a pretty good position on the Merus, but it felt a bit compact and cramped.  I also wanted to go lower and out a bit more.  I considered a lot of options.  The new Cervelo P3 was very tempting from a value perspective; superb aerodynamics for a great price.  I'll admit that the Boardman AirTT was attractive, but I might be prone to influence after seeing it win Kona last year.  But finally, I decided to stick with the guy who has taken care of me for 4 previous bikes.  Philip Shama probably thinks I'm the worlds easiest sale, but with what I was looking for on position, the CR901 was the best way to achieve my priorities: 1. Position, 2. Ride Quality 3. Aerodynamics.  (1 & 3 being part of the same equation)

My position on the CR901 is better than it's ever felt.  I did 70 miles solo on my second ride on the bike and spent the entire ride in my aero bars.  Incredibly comfortable and smooth.  The idea is to keep this position for 112 miles:

It may not look like it, but it's a big change from before.  A lot longer.  Body position is better, but more importantly, I'm much more comfortable.  Just need to spend the time in the saddle to really make this my "all day" position.

Aerodymics should be significantly improved as well.  Check out the cables on my Merus above.  Now look at this:

Yes, small cables (and straws) create an disproportionate amount of drag. This is a blantantly stolen image, but it's needed to make the point:

Add to that the frame and position aerodynamics, and it should be a measurable improvement in speed for any given power output.

Finally, it's time to answer the question of how it rides.  I've had the luxury of riding nice bikes for the past few years.  I own a custom carbon KirkLee road bike and the Merus, and I've ridden Guru steel and Ti road bikes.  I also used to own an Orbea Ora, which was my first ever "real" bike...meaning one meant to be ridden on the road. 

I can honestly say that I was stunned by the ride quality of the CR901.  Waaaaay beyond my expectations.  I thought it would be a marginal improvement in ride quality over the Merus, with the added aero benefits of position and frame drag.  Boy was I wrong.  This bike is butter smooth and with the comfort level, it's great for all day riding.  I didn't expect it to contrast so much with the titanium frame, but it did. 

Halfway through my first real ride!

Yes, I think there are a good number of stock frames on the market that provide better aerodynamics.  Yes, those frames may provide a better overall bang for the buck, assuming one fits well on the stock frame (which most do).  That being said, I feel confident that this bike is going to optimize the process of translating my fitness and training, into race results.  I think 'fit', despite being harped on a lot, is still overlooked by most folks.  Custom is a luxury, but having a frame that fits my position and riding style to a T is something I put a lot of stock into.  It needs to translate into race results, but early returns look good.  And if nothing else, I'll look good while riding it too!

* N+1 is the answer to the question "How many bikes does a person need?" where N=the number of current bikes.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Taking requests...

Quick request that if anyone actually reads this, please let me know if there's anything specific you'd like to hear about.  Races, training, family life, equipment, etc.  I'm not always as diligent as I'd like in keeping this page update, but I also want to keep my limited audience entertained!

The next post is going to be about equipment, because, well...I take my new bike home on Wednesday!

Training Update - No room for self pity....

Injury, a missed race, busy time at work, poor recovery and suboptimal workouts have made the past weeks weeks a little rough.  It's easy to let these things snowball and get beat down from it.  Dealing with injury really is more mental than physical, and the other factors make it even more difficult to deal with.  I'll admit that it's been getting to me, which only makes getting out of the funk more difficult. 

Meanwhile, up in the northeast, this weekend was Timberman 70.3; a key race for the E3TS team.  Jorge, Jana and the rest of the team were all up there ready to dominate, and that's exactly what they did.  Jorge with a 4:22 and 2nd AG.  Jana with a 4:39; good for 1st AG and 2nd OA amateur female.  As a whole, the E3TS team had over 15 PRs, 5 podiums, and 5 70.3 WC qualifiers!  What a race!

Reading through those results, I decided to pull up my race report from last year's Timberman, a race where I set my 70.3 PR at 4:41.  Reading through it I'm reminded how much attitude and a positive outlook played into my success on that day.  It's  a tough course, but also gorgeous and fair.  I'd go back there in a hearbeat.  I had a ton of fun racing there last year, and it really struck home that this is what this sport is all about; fun.  It's a lot of work and sacrifice, but it's also a hobby and an escape from the drudgery of daily life.  If it stops being fun, then what's the point?

Me at TMan last year.  I had a solid race, and
spent most of the run smiling!

I'm excited about Cozumel and I'm not as far behind as I could be.  I've changed up my race calendar a bit, and have 3 races before the Ironman:
  • 22 September: 5150 Galveston  
  • 6 October: Du the Bear Duathlon
  • 3 November: Oilman Half Iron
The 5150 stands out most of all, since I rarely race olympic distance races due to too much emphasis on the swim!  But with the time I've been spending in the pool, maybe I can hold my own.  We'll see.  At the very least it should be good race prep.

At the end of the day, my training over the past month as been stagnant but I also haven't lost much.  I'm bouncing between failed workouts and awesome workouts, so while I'm not making the strides I want to make, I'm also not failing completely.  Fifteen more weeks to go, so there's not much time to waste, and there's also a lot of time left to make some huge gains.  Time to do some work!

3 weeks of no running but still not a huge drop off

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bridgeland Race Report - A Slightly Different Perspective

Sorry...I've been a bit delinquent in my posts.  Honestly, I've been a bit discouraged by the foot injury, the resultant sub-optimal training and missing one of my favorite races (Bridgeland).  To top it all off, I'm responsible for screwing up Analise's first triathlon in 2 years.  Fortunately, that might mean I lose my job as her full time mechanic....

...or at least one can dream right?  Anyway, instead of posting my input on it, I thought I'd share Analise's race report instead of sharing my thoughts on it.  She got a bit verbose, but she's usually pretty entertaining!

Bridgeland 2013 Race Report

This report begins 2 years ago.  I was 9 weeks pregnant and did this race.  It was my final race pregnant.  I had a great race.  They messed up my time.  I was super pissed because I knew I wouldn't be racing again for at least another year....

Two weeks prior to the race, I pull the race results from 2011.  Behold!  The results had been corrected and I placed 3rd AG.  Andrew gets injured...I sign up for the ultimate REDEMPTION!!!!!

Saturday- the night prior.  I have been training consistently for about 5 weeks.  I am starting to feel it but I am not truly THERE yet.  I am still really excited to be racing again and this is my REDEMPTION race.  Andrew and I were busy all day running errands and picking up the packet (about a 3 hours affair with baby.)  We are hosting a dinner party that night as well, so we had a whole lot of prep work.  We get home with just enough time to start dinner and for Andrew to put my bike together.  I am running a HED disk in the rear and a HED Jet 6.  Andrew's question of course was whether I wanted a flat kit for a 13 mile course.  Normally I wouldn't take one for a race so short.  I would be riding a "naked" bike.  Since I haven't raced in a while, I said pack the flat kick because IF I did flat, I would replace and continue on so at least I would have some race data prior to IM Cozumel.  The HED Jet 6 needs a tube with a longer valve.  We discussed this at length.  The longer valve tube would be in my "bottle" and the short valve tube would be in my bike bag.

Our dinner party was a smashing success.  After which we got invited to a dinner at "Uchi" which is a premier restaurant in Houston.  We are a pretty awesome couple...

Race morning.  We wake up at 0400.  Departure time is 0445.  I do my race prep...get my bottles ready, eat a small breakfast.  We were a little late getting out the door and ended up leaving around 0500.  We get to the race later than anticipated, transition closes in 25 min!!!  IF Andrew was racing it would be the end of the No pressure.  Get the bike ready, and the baby with B.O.B. ready.  I am secretly excited that Andrew would have to "man" TJ (our baby) for the duration of the race.  TJ is very high energy.  I blame myself for running and working out while pregnant.  The kiddo just doesn't sit still.

Transition.  I get my stuff ready, do a double check.  Everything is ready.  It's a big race for Houston.  About 1500 participants.

Walk over...We run into an Awesome couple we know through Triathlon.  She is my age and is racing because her husband is "babysitting."  We really need to work it so only 1/4 of us needs to "babysit" while racing.  They are awesome.  At swim start we pack the B.O.B. with my gear and some of our friend's gear.  By the way, if you don't know friends who bring their kids to races, you are missing out.  Those strollers fit all kinds of stuff.  And it holds "A LOT."

I take my crocs off for race start.  I definitely step into a fire ant hill.  Painful.  The worst is the nest day where they puss up.  GROSS.

At swim start I run into my friend again.  We actually start the race together.  Unfortunately, she started on my left side.  (I drift left while swimming and I apologize Elizabeth for swimming over you!)  I swim the 500 meters.  I was a huge success.  I am an open water pa nicker.  The only time I had to breast stroke was when I was way far left.  I needed to sight to get back on course.  (Sorry Elizabeth if I reswam over you.)

I get out of transition feeling good.  I transition and talk to a guy coming back from the bike.  I signed up late, so my number was a mix with everyone who signed up late.  He stated I would have some wind on the way out...

I get my bike.  I  LOVE MY BIKE!  I am sort of angry with my parents for not getting me into it earlier.  My bike is awesome.  A purple Guru.  I call her P.P.E.  Purple People Eater.  and we do eat up the people on the bike.  I feel it...we are going to be awesome.

As I start, she seems a little wobbly.  I think that maybe it's because I do most of my training on her on the trainer and not on the road.  At the first turn, I almost go down.  I notice my front tire is flat.  I pull over a little bit later.  I am not panicked.  I know that Andrew and I discussed it.  I went to my kit.  I knew that I wouldn't place, but at least my coach could get good data.  I pull out the tube from my bottle.  Hmm...It's a short valve.  Maybe Andrew put it in my bike bag.  Nope.  Bike bag is definitely a short valve.  I am .25 miles into my bike on PPE and I have no way to change the tube.  I sit.  I ponder.  I walk back with my head hung low.  First Tri back in 2 years.  My REDEMPTION, and I am flatted on the course with no way forward, only a way back. 

At least I had a great swim.  I "TRIed."  I don't blame anyone but myself.  I should have checked everything myself.  I am in good sprints.

Good job to Triny and Meril!  You are my master heroes. 

I had fun.  That's what it's all about.  I finished the day with a 9 miler in the evening.  All in all...I swam 500m, rode .25, and ran 9.  I guess I did do a tri afterall.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bigger Fish to Fry...

So no race for me tomorrow.  I did a short jog on Friday morning, and the foot actually felt pretty good, but I'm not risking it.  Discretion is the better part of valor!  (thanks for the reminder Jindy)

So instead, I get to play race support!  I got Analise's bike and gear ready today and I actually think I'm more nervous than when I race.  She hasn't done a triathlon in 2 years.  Actually it was Bridgeland in 2011, when she was 2 months pregnant, that she last raced.  We're going into this with no expectations, but it's just exciting for her to be back out there!

I'll post pictures and have her write a race report afterwards.  Wish her luck!!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pre-Race: Bridgeland Triathlon

[Note:  Due to injury, I may not get to race this event.  This post assumes I can!]

Bridgeland is probably my favorite local race.  On the surface, there's really nothing super special about it.  The course is your standard Houston sprint course:  murky lake swim and flat, short bike/run courses.  Oh, and heat and humidity!

But the folks at ONURMARK really know how to put on a race.  Bridgeland stands out to me for a few reasons:

  • Size: There are about 1500 participants.  That's HUGE for a local race!  It also means a lot of the folks I know are usually there and it's fun to socialize and toe the line against some of the same folks.
  • Competition: It's generally a fast and competitive field.  Even when I've raced well, it's been tough to finish on the podium, and that makes it a fun challenge.
  • Atmosphere:  Lots of spectators, lots of volunteers and a great atmosphere create a fun racing environment.
  • Extras:  Generally, the expo and post race "stuff" is much better than normal local races.  

This'll be my third time racing Bridgeland and my expectations were pretty high.  My first year (2011), I placed 3rd AG and 7th Amateur in a really good race for where I was at the time.  The next year, I took 3 minutes off my time, but finished 4th AG and 8th Amateur, which really shows how competitive the field was getting.  So from a 1:06 to a 1:03, I would expect an even faster time this year.

Comparing my training to last year is a bit tough.  I'm injured, and last year I was leading up to a peak for Timberman 70.3, whereas this year I'm in a bit of a down period.  That means I'm better rested, but haven't had the intense training from last year.

The chart shows that last year, I had a more gradual build, but my positive training score is higher this year at this point.  More importantly (for this race) my performance score is higher than it was for last year.  That's great for my expected performance at Bridgeland, but not so great for my expected fitness in 4-6 weeks!

We'll see how it shakes out.  Below is the breakdown for each leg/

I've missed a lot of swimming recently due to recovery, vacation and injury.  As a result, I'm not sharp, but still better off than I was last year at this time.  I should beat my 10:33 from last year, but not by much.  I think a 10:00 is reasonable.  
My 30:20 for last year was good for 2nd AG.  I'm not sure if I'm quite there this year, but I'm not far off.  I remember feeling great on the bike in August last year.  For now, I think I can match my time from last year if not better it, so let's figure a 30:30.  
Here's the big question.  I averaged 6:09s last year to finish the 5k in 19:04.  If my foot feels okay, I can match that.  If it hurts, I'll be walking or DNF, so it really is a wild card.  For the purposes of prediction, let's assume I can run and finish in 19:00.  

Overall that puts me at about the same time as last year.  I think a 1:03:00 should be the benchmark, with a top 10 Amateur finish and possible AG podium.  This has been an up and down week, so I could be really rested and fresh, or I could be rusty and in pain.  We'll see! 

The Injury Bug Strikes!

It was definitely too much to ask for smooth sailing between now and IM Cozumel right?  That would make things waaaay too easy!

Analise has been nagging me about a lack of recent posts on this blog (what else are wife's for?).  Fact is, I've been delaying my next post, which was supposed to be a pre-race outline for Bridgeland.  However, I've been fighting foot pain since Monday morning and it's been questionable whether I even toe the line!

Bridgeland is one of my favorite races, as you'll see if I post my pre-race overview.  But if you can't run, you can't race!  I ran 12 miles on Saturday, feeling good and pain free.  I rode 75 on Sunday, feeling great and definitely no pain.  Throughout Sunday, I felt pretty good, albeit a bit tired. 

Monday morning, while at work, I started to develop a relatively sharp pain in my left foot.  No pain while stationary, but very painful when I put full weight on the foot while walking.  The rest of this week I've taken it very easy, but the pain has persisted.  I can swim and ride, but walking without a shoe has been very difficult at best.  I see the doctor on Tuesday, but I'm worried about a stress fracture.  We'll see. At the very worst I'll become an aqua-bike champ over the next 4-6 weeks and then worry about the run. 

Anyway, I rode tonight and it felt soooo good to get moving again.  I want to race and if I think I can do it without injuring myself further, you better believe I'm going to toe the line.  I won't risk further injury, but it'll have to be pretty bad for me not to race. 

My Bridgeland pre-race info should follow soon.  At the very least, Analise is racing, so that'll be fun! It might be fun to be a spectator with TJ for once....