Saturday, April 21, 2012

96% lucky!!!

On one recent ride with my boyfriend, we decided that we are 96% lucky to live (and primarily ride) in New Zealand. Why's that?

96% awesomeness:
- quiet roads, we ride on State Highways, they are one-laned each direction but most of the time they are QUIET with few cars
- spoiled for choice: short spiky hills or looooong climbs or pancake flat or gently rolling
- the views are surreal, I mean just SURREAL!!!!
- almost year-round riding temps -- I've been without arm/leg warmers from November through April, and am starting to pull them out if I start early. Ride-able conditions from September to June, starts to get quite nippy, but okay for ~2hr cold rides July-August (around 1-5 degrees C)
- low precipitation, high sunshine hours!!!
- everyone here is an athlete of some sort. Nicky Samuels (on NZ Olympic team for London 2012) lives here, other pro triathletes as well, both short course and long course, altitude training at SnowFarm for athletes coming abroad (Simon Whitfield was here this summer!)... pretty much guaranteed to get your ass kicked if you wait a while. EVERYONE does SOMETHING.

4% not so nice, but it makes you hard as fuck!:
- WINDY, really windy in the summertime. I'm talking regularly 60-70kph (37-44mph), and on "calm" summer days usually still around 30-40kph. It's harsh out in the alpine, desert climate. In training for Challenge Wanaka full-iron distance tri last year, I remember one 6 hour ride, with the last 70km into a brutal 70-80kph headwind. I became dehydrated in the middle of no-where farmland thinking there'd be someplace to refill (nope!), hallucinated, paranoid someone was trying to kill me and so dispirited that I think a part of my soul died. The wind here does make you HARD AS FUCK, though, no doubt about that.
- CHIP SEALED ROADS, as in we don't have asphalt here. No nicely smooth paved roads! One thing about New Zealand is that it's quite poor, and the government paves the roads poorly. As in, they use oil by-products to slap on some tar on the road, then they shake gravel and rocks over the road, hoping with time and car usage that the rocks smoothen out. The rockiness is surreal, and if you're racing here but used to smooth roads, be prepared for your calf muscles to be torn apart. The bike shops joke that road and TT bikes in NZ should come equipped with suspension. It hurt so much in my first summer here, now I'm used to it, but dang, I expect a couple kph increase when I race abroad! Wheee!!! It'll be so quiet and smooth!!

Still worth it, wouldn't live anywhere else in the world:
Crown Range Rd looking down into Queestown
Top of Crown Range... the only section (~3km) I know of asphalt
roads... at like a 12-15% grade though. 
Heading up, Crown Range. 
Out to Treble Cone -- farmland!
Out to Tarras... flat/gently rolling

Gorgeous views!
Towards the West Coast, hilly riding!
Best of all, in the middle of no where! This isn't Melbourne's
Beach Rd, where MAMIL's (middle-aged men in lycra) come
out in their 10,000$ bikes just to show off. This is NZ, no
bragging, just get 'er done. On this steep climb (maybe 2ks
long), I saw no one but a lady powerhiking up with a baby
stroller. On a 15% grade. WTH! I've seen a woman run with
baby stroller in one hand, horse's reins in the other, in the
middle of no where! Proof is below... Like I said, HARD

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lake Hayes Easter Sprint Triathlon race report

Note: Bit late getting this up because race results took a while to be posted.

Easter weekend meant 2 things: another Lake Hayes sprint triathlon AND hundreds of planes, helicopters, jets etc flying over Wanaka for 3 days for Warbirds Over Wanaka. Pretty cool to see them start arriving in the weeks leading up to the event. The town swells from ~7000 to over 45,000 people just for this crazy weekend happening once every 2 years. We even saw a jet fly from Wanaka to Queenstown (a 1 hour drive each way) in under 5 minutes. That is FAST, zoooom!

To the race report! Man, have we had a lucky autumn. Day after day after week of blue-sky sunshine, not a cloud in the sky, and best of all NO WINDS. The summer winds have died down, the lakes are calm, the trees are not raging... it has been amazing to train in. It's not hot anymore, but you can hardly call 19-22 C cold, especially when the NZ sun is so strong. I've been LOVING it.

Pre-swim. I don't know why I grimace when I smile for a
Swim: I tried to go out hard, and did for a while, but everyone was swimming stupidly, far right, and pushing me out faaaaar right until I finally had to just swim over everyone as I veered left again. I easily lost 30"-1' just correcting that. When I did approach the exit, I saw a huuuuge group ahead of me and thought, well wow I must be the last chick out. Turns out there was a massive group of guys, but I was only maybe 4th or 5th girl out of the water. Still much to improve on:
- be able to hold a sustained hard effort, not just for the first 100-200m.
- swim more on the inside than the outside, because if everyone pushes you out again, at least you won't have to swim over so many people to right yourself! 
- get faster...
Coming out of the water!
Bike: Transitions at this race at reallllly hard, I find. T1 goes like this: out of water, go up a 30% grade hill for ~60m, which means your heart explodes, then run past T1 to make it equal for everyone, run in from the other side, grab all your gear, run over grass and gravel to the gravel road and, for an unskilled mtber like me, pray to god I don't skid out when riding over ~600m of poorly maintained, pot-holed gravel road to get to the paved road. It scares the shit out of me each time I do this race.
Run with bike out of T1.
The bike itself was pretty sweet. Due to construction on one of the roads, we had a modified bike course which was 1.25k longer, and a significant hill was taken out. Yes, it meant it was flatter and faster, but it also meant that the hill didn't spread anyone apart... and that meant drafting. I saw many groups of riders taking advantage of this and that was dispiriting. I maintained my distance, and passed when I could, but it's hard to pass an entire group without busting a gut... and then they pass you right back anyway. Did have a REALLY good ride nonetheless, it felt fast, I felt fresh and went hard. That's something I'd been unable to do for a long while, and it was good to race entirely by feel, and to race hard. I came in, pussy-footed along the gravel section yet again, and got ready to run!

Coming in, getting yelled at by a kid to run faster. 
Run: I'd call this a hilly course. The hills are not long, but you are either going UP or DOWN at an uncomfortable gradient for the entire run. It's awesome trail running! I went out hoping to catch the 3 girls that were drafting off each other in the bike, show 'em who's boss, and I did catch maybe 2 of them? Either way, I made sure I ran uncomfortably hard the entire time (and not just comfortably hard, which is what I tend to do... honestly, it's embarrassing that my sprint and half-ironman speeds are so similar)
Running into the finish chute! 
Turns out I got 8th open female (18-39), out of 22, with the 2 top honors going to pro triathletes. Cool beans!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Want a free coach?

Hi all, since September of last year I've been in the process of becoming Triathlon New Zealand Level 1 Coach certified. Not only do I have to complete learning modules, read, watch coaching DVDs, etc... I also have to show them that I can bring two athletes through ~12 weeks of training and to the finish line of a triathlon race!

So... I'm looking for two keen athletes that have a race they want to complete and want a FREE coach for the 12 weeks (3 months) leading up to the event. I can communicate by e-mail primarily, and skype every so often as well! I'd prefer to use TrainingPeaks as the benefits to using this software are huge, but if you'd prefer simple e-mail or .doc or excel spreadsheet training plans, I can do that as well! If you're someone new to the sport and want to give triathlon a go, or if you're stepping up in distance and want some help getting there, I'd be super keen to help you out! I am willing to coach anyone from try-a-tri to Ironman distance racing.

Of course, the coaching would be free as I'm not currently accredited to coach, but am in the accreditation process.

Shoot me an e-mail at krys(_)tyna911(at), remove the brackets. Hope to hear from some of you!!

Update: 1 athlete has gotten in touch with me; 1 free coaching slot available! :)
Update #2: Both spots are now taken!! Thanks all!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Normalized Power... making it FUN!

Normalized Power (NP) is a trademark metric of TrainingPeaks. It is a complex algorithm that takes into account your actual power output, and the intensity and variability at which you performed a power-meter measured ride to create a Normalized Power value. This value is the power at which you could have performed your ride had you done so at a constant power output (i.e. if you were more efficient).

You can read more about Normalized Power and other fascinating metrics here. Once you've wrapped your head around the concept... WE CAN HAVE SOME TRAINING FUN!!

First of all, as a triathlete I am given the bad reputation of being unable to hang on even the shortest of climbs. Cyclists, true cyclists, like to go boringly slow for much of their ride but simultaneously everyone in the group magically decides to "sprint to that sheep" or "hammer to that cafe around the corner so we can sit for 2 hours and drink coffee". Triathletes are boring; they only go out for "steady-state" rides, eat Powerbars and probably pee while riding even in training rides. In essence, triathletes try to keep their power output as constant as possible throughout the ride. It's true, in a race, you want to minimize power (and thus energy) spikes to put out the most power the most consistently that you can. It's more efficient to ride consistently strong than it is to coast for a period, HAMMER for 10 minutes and coast for another 10. The latter is so energetically costly, it's not even funny. However, training "like a triathlete" is not the best value for money.

I like to go out riding and pretend that I'M A REAL CYCLIST, damn it! by hammering certain sections, coasting and looking like a tool spinning real easy as old grannies pass me by, then balls-out hammering again. Why? Although it is energetically costly to do so, and I end up feeling drunk within one hour of riding like this, it stimulates different energy systems, different muscle fibres, and honestly stimulates you mentally. It's sort of like fartlek runs... you run like a crazed idiot for a period, then you calm it down and jog slower than a baby can swim. Thus, when you take your workout file and examine it in TrainingPeaks, you should see a pretty low Avg Watt score, but your Normalized Power should be REALLY high. The bigger the gap, the more exciting your life becomes!

In contrast, your non-drafting triathlon race workout file should have almost identical Avg Watt and Normalized Power scores. Why? Because you're a good triathlete, after all, and did not hammer the first half of the ride only to bonk in the last half of a 90k or 180k ride. You used your power meter, rode consistently and, in comparison to the other non-TP using racers, finished strongly! Booyah!!

Get training, get racing, and don't forget that you can get a TrainingPeaks membership, with a 10% discount using this link using discount code TPA11. Enjoy!!

It's a nice life out on the roads, no doubt about that:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Goldrush 375k multisport RR: DAY THREE!!

Was I ever excited to sleep in my own bed the previous night. It was our last day of the race, and my biggest, so I was nervous to get it under way. We woke up at 5:45am, I dressed in a million cycling layers as it was still dark and chilly as! I think about 1-2C? The official clothing count included: full-length bibs, warm socks, shoes, full neoprene shoe covers, undershirt, jersey, arm warmers, windproof jacket, full-length gloves. We drove out to Tarras, I got into my wave. They were delaying the start until first light so that we wouldn't have to wear bike lights.

I must preface this by saying that when I'm cold, I'm pretty useless. That's why I love hot-weather races. Everyone else wilts in the heat, while I just sweat, drink a lot, and am happy as shit! I'm absolutely giddy for Hawaii 70.3, and my best races have been in extreme heat (90-100F plus).

Stage 8: 42k road bike

It was cold. From Tarras to Hawea Flat was actually quite windy, with a Northwesterly headwind. No surprise!! Only a 50kph or so headwind, but damn, it was a chilly one. I was pretty useless, as I'd lost group after group. I knew I was getting tired when I started to get grumpy, thinking to myself: "Why is everyone DOING THIS WRONG? Why don't they just go at the speed I want them to go at??" Each group was either going too fast or too slow for my liking. What can I say, not my best moment, I was a very whiny cyclist this morning. I came in in 1h30 and the only benefit to this slow cycle was that it flushed out most of the soreness I'd been having in my calves from the 2 long runs of the previous days. I passed off my bib to Tracey and she was off for a ~3hr kayak down the Clutha river from Albert Town to Bendigo Reach. 

Stage 9: 39k kayak

I, in turn, got out of the damp, cold clothes, had a quick quick shower in Luggate at my boyfriend's place, shoved food in my mouth, then headed down to Bendigo Reach to 
1- set up my bike gear 3k away from the river
2- sit tight, get a mini calf massage from Chrissy, massage therapist/support crew to Tracey
3- eat food
4- wait for Tracey to come in so that I can start my run/ride. 

Those two pictures pretty much sum it up. Even though it was warm, the sun was shining brilliantly... I was STILL cold. I was tired, and all my energy was being used to keep warm, although my body wasn't even doing that efficiently. Thankfully, the adrenaline kicked in. I was absolutely calm and lazy, in a borrowed puffy jacket up until 2 moments before Tracey's kayak hit shore. I ripped everything off, a bib was jammed onto my upper body and I started running in the direction everyone else was going. 

Stage 10: 3k run + 53k bike

Yep, I ran. I wasn't feeling too hot, so I used the 3k to warm up (which I did, quite quickly in fact) and to loosen up the muscles. Nothing impressive here, quite slow as far as 3k runs go. I got into my shoes, ran to the road and started cycling. The first thing I did after 5' of settling in was take a 2x caffeine Gu gel. Wheeeeee!! Comparing this morning's ride (42k) with the afternoon's (53k) was like night and day. To put it in perspective, I did the afternoon's ride, at 11k longer, in less time than I did the morning ride. I finished the 53k in 1:28, and the cumulative run+ride time was 1:43. Woohoo!!! 

It was a ride from Bendigo Reach along Lake Dunstan, through the gorge and into Clyde. I knew that I had to make a call: run the final stage (11k trail run) as planned but risk losing 3rd place open female team, or give the bib over to Tracey who was still quite fresh, with no running and a mtb stage of hers was cancelled from day 2. I handed the bib over and was quite happy to do so as I quickly realized that I biked the shit out of that ride and was TOAST. 
I'm done!!!!
We then headed over to Alexandra to see Tracey come in, and I ran the last stretch of 150m or so with her.
I love this photo - not artistic or nice in any way, but we are
so in sync, our shadows match and everything! 
Finish line!
WHEEEEE!!! 3-day race DONE and in the books! 
This race was DONE, what an epic adventure. In the end, this was mentally tougher than an Ironman as it covers 3 days. Although the time actually spent racing, and each stage, is quite short... you put so much energy into each stage, stop, get tired, but then have to reawaken the body to "GO" again. By day 3, I was so exhausted, it's like trying to race on day 3 when you've got 2 days hard training in you. It's like trying to race a HIM when you did your last long run of 18-20k's the day before. But I did enjoy my time, and realized what a cool group multisporters were, even though they can't swim!!
Now it's all about recovering, putting my head down, and training straight through to Hawaii 70.3. I do love living like a monk, not racing for a stretch, and just training solidly for weeks. No racing, no drama, nothing exciting, just good ol' fashioned hard work. 

Goldrush had me really thinking about exploring new races... not necessarily to "race" them but to "experience" them. For example, I've tentatively got a 50k or 80k trail run race in the books for August in Naseby (central Otago again). If I can figure out more about the run course of Ultraman Canada or Ultraman Wales, and if they are not pavement-run focused, then I'd want to attempt that in a year or so... I'm dying to submit my entry into Leadman Epic 250 (5k swim-223k bike-22k run) in Oregon of September of this year or Vegas March 2013. That's something I'm reaaaaally excited to try. 

I think I want to find a nice blend of training most of the year to go fast (70.3-focused), and maybe 1 adventure/long race every 1-1.5 years. It's exhausting and, honestly, slow to always be training for Ironman. I'm finding it really pleasant to just go out riding for 2-2.5 hours, really killing it compared to the 5-6 hour rides where I'm just not at a level to DO those at anything but slow and steady. 
Wheee!! And it'll be an exciting couple of months/years ahead. For now, my heart is on Hawaii 70.3 June 2 and nothing else.