Road to Kona: Epic Riding

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Build 3, Week 1. 5 weeks till the 2016 Ironman World Championship. This past week was the biggest week of training I’ve done all season and the largest since our 40hr/8day training camp in the Grampians, Victoria back in October 2015 when we were training for IM’WA (The race Fiona qualified with her 9:59). This weeks 29.4 hours of training included 33.1miles (53km) of running, 385.2miles (620km) of cycling, and 11miles (17.7km) of swimming.

Mon: Lunch time 30min recovery bike. Post work 41min 2.1km recovery swim followed by a 30min run with Sydney (our dog).

Tue: 90minute 4.5km 6AM swim set from our Swim Coach and IM bound athlete. Followed with a 55min recovery bike to work that gave had me flat 10min into the ride due to some glass. 3hr ride home with 180min at Zone 3 covering 90km in 2:20:16.

Wed: Lunch time 30min recovery bike. Post work 66min run finishing in the dark getting startled by a massive kangaroo behind me that I never saw.

Thur: 90minute 4.5km 6AM swim set from our Swim Coach. Followed with a 55min recovery bike to work. Post work covered 100km in just over 3 hours heading into a storm with pouring rain and intense wind. Set 6 KOM’s that day thanks to the crazy tailwind with the highlight being “Ilparpa rd – west to east” in which I covered the 8.9 miles in 17:04 at 31.5mph and 304watts.

Fri: A very rare occasion of a full day completely off. But, we went to see Ben Hur at 6:20pm and had a mostly vegan Thai dinner (included calamari) at Lil Kim’s Restaurant.

Sat: 8AM wake up for a 9AM swim start. Included Coach’s set and then added another 2km for 2hours and 6.7km of swimming. This was the 2nd longest ever swim I have done. The first was 2 ½ years ago when I swam 3x4km from 11pm-3am as part of the Make-A-Wish, 12 hour Swim-a-Thon. I had fun focusing on IM Swims and had gone 1:10, 1:16, 1:17 at the Alice Springs indoor 25m pool. A few hours later at the peak of the day we ran along the N. Stuart Highway from Bunnings Warehouse to the highest point of the Stuart Highway between Adeliade and Darwin. The run is a good Queen K race simulation and had us cover 21.3miles/34km in 2hr57min. We finished off the day with 1 hour recovery cycling at Anytime Fitness before heading home for a plant-based meal of “meatballs” made with tofu and nuts over pasta and garlic bread and a bottle of champagne to celebrate the training week and the big day coming to us on Sunday.

Sun: Alice Springs – Standley Chasm – Glen Helen – Mt Sonder Lookout – Alice Springs: 284KM, 9hrs4min, 5,059’ of climb, 3,583 calories, 216NP, 340TSS.

Each season since Challenge Atlantic City 2014, Fiona and I have logged an epic bike ride of 135miles/217km or longer. This week I came up with substituting our typical 5-6 hour Sunday ride with the last Epic of the season which is the first time we’ve done 2 Epic’s in one season. There were 3 goals on this ride:

1)      Ride together to Standley Chasm Z2 and then power up to the top at the same effort we will power up to Havi. This ride is 5.1mile climb climbs 398’ according to the “Jay Ck to Standley Chasm” Strava segment.

  • Of my 14 recorded Strava attempts, I got my 2nd best effort at 292watts in 15:42 compared with 324watts 2 ½ months earlier before the season of building. It’s lower than my race plan due to the fatigue from the 3 hour run the day before but was consistent and steady for the piece. I waited for Fiona at the top.

2)      Get the KOM for the “Glen Helen Classic” Strava segment by riding at IM Race Pace. This ride is 46.7miles in an up-side-down W shape with 2 climbs of 500’ or 1,598’ in total.

  • The last time I raced this segment was with the Alice Springs Cycling Club in August 2011. I went 1:56:42 that day at 24.1mph thanks to the typical East to West Tailwind on this course. This was my 2nd only ever road race after the Mt. Washington Hill Climb. I rocked up on my Scott Plasma Premium III Tri bike but had to head back home since I didn’t realize I wasn’t allowed to use a TT (rookie). The event was completely new to me and I was immediately annoyed with the drafting. No matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t shake the other 5 riders on my Specialized Tarmac Pro. Then I went with 1KM to go and blew up.
  • The leader on Strava completed the distance in 1:45:56 at 26.5mph. I expected to get the KOM. So Fi and I started at the Hugh River and took off. I consumed Clif Shot Bloks every 20min and drank water. The short undulations and crappy bitumen are always intense as Fi and I typically head west to train throughout the season. The wind wasn’t disappointing, helping me hit a max of 45.6mph right before a cattle grate after Peak 1. I continued plugging away. I held 262NP with avg power of 257. While I wasn’t at goal power, it was greater than my best IM efforts thus far. The cooler temperatures also helped keep my HR down at 125 which is 8-10bpm lower than race pace which is also explained in the power. Besides looking at cadence, HR, and power, I was focused on the average speed. I hit 26.5mph at the midpoint before the next hill and had visions of increasing this to 27mph+ by the end. The tailwind didn’t increase to the level I thought and was still behind the leader with 5-10km to go, but, I finished crossing the imaginary line in 1:44:30 taking off 1:26 from the previous leader. Of course, he was drafting with the 3rd placer the entire time but I’m on a TT so I don’t have any excuses.
  • After finishing, I crossed over the Finke River (the oldest river in the world) which had some water crossing over the road from the recent storm on Thursday. A minute later I ascended the “Mt Sonder Lookout” segment with the hope that maybe I could get another KOM here. The 28second effort at 601watts gave me a 2 second lead and allowed me to become the KOM and share it with the QOM; someone I know quite well, Fiona Coyle. J
  • I headed over to Glen Helen Resort, 135km away from Alice Springs, the only place to buy anything out here. I grabbed 2 Sprites (since they don’t have caffeine and we were going to be having a caffeine pill for the way back, as well as 2 Blueberry Muffins for an Outback Deal of $19AUD).
  • I headed back to Namatijira Rd and took a seat. A minute later, Fiona arrived QOM champion 18:10 ahead of the next placed person. We then headed back to the Mt. Sonder lookout and ate our muffin looking out at the mountain where I had proposed to Fiona 3 years and 5 days earlier. We were at the 4hr 12min mark knowing we now had 135km ahead of us and an accommodating 20-30kph headwind; it was going to be a long day.

3)      The last goal was simply to get back. The 135km ahead of us with a headwind that would surely make the effort painfully slow didn’t disappoint; it took us nearly 5 hours.

  • I kept an eye on the TSS and NP. While I had covered 180km in 5:22 and the NP stayed adequate for a long period of time; I was only focused on keeping the TSS to around 330. At Cairns, my 4:59 effort used up a TSS of 287 so to finish this ride with a 340TSS shows that I essentially worked quite a bit harder even though the effort was nearly 4 hours longer. In summary, our power meters are able to monitor all efforts. Efforts are gauged from intensity and volume. This volume was much greater than an Ironman but because the last 5 hours were just finishing it, the intensity was low.
  • Mentally it was quite fatiguing. The last few hours I just wanted to finish and get back. With 50min to go I got a random flat; now I’m awaiting the 3rd…. I was doing my best to stay focused and get Fiona home, allowing her and encouraging her to stick on my wheel the whole way back home since she had groin discomforts with all the riding we’ve been doing. But we did finish and we celebrated with a rare but well needed beer.

So there you have it. A week which included my longest ever bike, multiple KOMs, my longest ever single session focused swim, and one of my largest ever training weeks. (Fiona got in 26 hours which would be one of her biggest too!). I hope you enjoyed some of these insights into our training because race day isn’t just about what you do on THAT day, it’s a reflection on what you’ve done ALL season long.

Happy Training.

2 responses to “Road to Kona: Epic Riding

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