Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review; 3LC (3 Legs Cycling) Climbing DVD

If you have spent any time on this blog you’ll know that I spend a fair amount of time on my Trainer, dark, early mornings and late nights while the kids are asleep have me creeping off to the garage and spending an hour or two or three gazing at a monitor and leaving teeth-marks on my stem! So when the guys at 3LC (3 Legs Cycling) offered to send me a DVD to review I of course said yes!

The premise of the DVD is that you are coached through a specific set, the disc I was sent focused on climbing. Now I like climbing in fact I would rather go up a mountain than down one, at least for now, so I was intrigued with what they could send me that would instill that grind factor.

From their website:

It’s no big secret...climbing is tough - but we’re here to help. Join Team Sky’s British and European track champion Peter Kennaugh, Steve “the Pocket Rocket” Joughin, and a crew of local Manx riders as they dig deep for the hilltop finish. Keep up and you’ll be dancing on the pedals in no time”. 3LC Climbing will help you:

  • Improve your power at VO2 Max
  • Change pace while under the stresses of climbing
  • Alter cadence to suit specific efforts
  • Develop your sustainable power at lactate threshold
  • Remain competitive on those long climbs

So how was it you ask, well here you go…

After a warm up, including a quick sprint, you are led through three climbs; a gradual big one, shorter smaller one and a short steep one. RPE and cadence are used as the measures and not just gear changes, in fact during the intervals you are only asked to change gear twice during the last minute and the big push over the top. The use of cadence increases the intensity but it also allows for some flexibility, cadence can be reached in any gear so if you have had a long day at work you can still feel like you had a decent session rather than a disappointing one because you could not reach the right Power or HR output. That being said for this review I set up Trainer Road for a 60 minute free ride session so you could measure my output compared to my current FTP setting of 250. As you can see I was north of that for a fair amount of time. I wasn’t quite hitting the cadence cues and was probably pushing a gear too high, something to remember next time. I also had my Garmin EDGE 500 to measure and record cadence and HR. #datageek

The actual session left me gasping for air, it’s not easy, or at least I did not make it easy, while each climb is relatively short (5-7 minutes each) they are intense and you are winding up the intensity every couple of minutes, as mentioned each is slightly different and that adds some nice variety and a different challenge each time…but as you would expect there is no mercy!image


I will be honest and say that based on my experience with the Spinervals DVD watching people on bikes in a room did not appeal, that being said I was pleasantly surprised as not only do you get the dulcet tones of Peter Kennaugh Snr calling out the changes which is akin to actually having a coach in the room with you. In addition there is a pretty slick on screen interface which tells you what you should be doing and what is coming next in case you get lost. You also get some pretty quick wit and banter from the folks on the bikes, these include the likes of Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) ex Pro Rob Holden (Banana-Falcon) and from Steve Joughin, the original Manx Missile two time winner of British professional road race title who encourages the rides to visualize a climb that they are riding as they move through the training session.

It made an interesting change not to have a music sound track too, although while that can be motivating it’s probably good practice for me to train without that musical crutch given that for racing Tris iPods are banned.

Another nice touch is the inclusion of some stretching sessions on the DVD which, let’s face it, we all need, and are cycling specific which is a bonus. Here is there promo video which includes World Champion Mark Cavandish.

The DVD is priced at GBP24.99 (no the UK/Isle of Man does not have the Euro!), is region free and comes with free shipping worldwide. This may seem a bit steep but I think that there is a lot of value in the actual coaching through the session and the stretching sessions adds some extra value.

Of course too much of anything is a bad thing so I would recommend using this in combination with other Trainer tools (and of course the open road) so you can avoid learning every line off by heart and annoying everyone you know!

This DVD was provided free of charge by the good folks at 3LC. See previous gear reviews in the Reviews Tab above. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at quadrathon@gmail.com.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Less than 10%!

Another week of hay!

Seven days x 24 hours equals 168 hours! Put like that it always sounds a long time when you compare it to a training week, but I am no pro and I work and all that good stuff so when I manage to eek out another 12 hours or so of training it feels like a pretty good week even if it’s <10%!

I deliberately stepped off the bike this week and stepped into my running shoes although another rainy weekend put the kybosh on my plans! But first the numbers; 11:52 training hours broken down as follows:

Swim; 8750 yards; my swims are getting longer and I am comfortably hitting the 1250 mark unsupported, I am always working on my form and trying to improve my SWOLF which is made easier with the 910xt. Sunday’s Open Water Clinic was cancelled due to bad weather again and is now looking likely to be in April some time!

imageBike; 42.3 miles, only two rides this week but two very solid ones; both were Sufferfests, which if you have ever ridden tend to kick the shit out of you! I am still using the TrainerRoad as a means to gauge things and it is working really well. I am sure when I win the lottery and have time to write up a review I will but in the meantime check out Ray’s. I had planned to ride after the Clinic but that was 86d also due to the weather!

image image

Run; 33 miles, a big increase in the miles this week, with 5 runs, the fifth was a very wet, windy and muddy trail run in place of the Clinic and ride; after all if you are going to get wet you might as well get dirty too right! This was in contrast from the first which was a chatty run with a fellow Daily Miler; Thomas who was in town! He is also doing IMAZ and lives right by the course so will be font of knowledge in the future I am sure!

imageI borrowed this picture but you get the idea!

So not a big mileage week compare to recent ones but I am happy with the depth of it, and especially with the running which while not fast is at least getting me back into the groove, I feel if I can keep my miles in the mid 30s I’ll be in good shape through to Vineman…of course now I am starting to experience the difficulty in finding the balance in training! One last thing worthy of a mention, just, is that I can say that I am adding stretching and the like in to the routines and feel better for it already although there is a good 6’ between my finger tips and toes!

Eight weeks to Race Day!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday…hopefully I see you all Monday!


The clinic was delayed one week due to storms resulting in the ocean looking a bit like this!

image Fun times!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hodge Podge!

Bit of a hodge podge this week on the training front, domestics meant I was limited on time and too be honest that was ok, looking back on last week I think I over cooked it…by Tuesday of this week I was toast! I might be stupid but I am no fool so I deliberately scaled it back and focused a bit more on form in the pool, admin on the bike and fun on the running. I still managed 10 hours so it’s solid enough.

Swim-wise; 4 trips to the pool for 7585, longest was 2500, I am upping the ante on the “unassisted” part of the set, that is without a Pull Buoy etc. I am now at 1250 yards, I need to get to 2500 yards by the end of May to give me a 50% buffer on race distance of 1500meters (1640yrds), the plan is to add 250 yards every 10 days or so. I had planned for an open water swim clinic today but that got cancelled as SoCal got beaten up by a late storm!

On the bike…well I should say off the bike this week with only 50 miles to my name. Some admin things completed, new pedals, cleats and shoes fitted and almost working properly, it’s going to take a little time working into the new shoes I think! I also ordered some upgrade components, the Slice has a nice frame but in my opinion the components, especially the brakes are junk. There’s no rush so I just going to upgrade a bit at a time. This time it’s a new drivetrain which means removing the FSA cranks and converting the BB30 bottom bracket to fit a Shimano BB and cranks, it’s all doable…at least by the LBS and then I will have a nice (lighter) and IMHO better looking Ultegra crankset and front and rear derailleurs. If this all sounds like double Dutch go and read this and then come back! I also ordered some new shifters but then can wait till I figure out the bars etc. The overall goal is for lightness tempered with quality. Wheels will be the big thing in the future to save weight but they will also be, most likely, the most expensive thing too!

Run, well today was a blast, 10 miles on the trails, it was at an easy pace but not an easy run with 2100’ of gain. I managed to fall a couple of times too, something that’s rarely happened in the past and a good indication that my trails legs are nowhere to be found around here, no harm done although luckily a bush caught me on the second one otherwise I would have rolled down the hillside as I landed totally off trail! Here are the best bits!

This week, more focus on the run; 1700 miles in 3 months on the bike and swim has left my run a little neglected. Also some attention on getting some flexibility and a little preventative care; roller etc, I am insanely stiff and so I will be doing a little something something to work on that through the end of the month!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Swimming; pausing for a breath!

I hadn’t planned to write anything really revelationary about swimming but it was when I saw a comment I had left (under a previous moniker) on DCRainmakers blog back in 2008 it kinda jarred me; imageIt’s not that I am a good swimmer now, ‘cos I am not, I seem to fooled myself into it more than anything. There is a zen saying to be a “x” do what “x” does. So with some help from You Tube videos, an online friend who has viewed and commented on video of me, a poolside friend who took it and who has patiently watched me flounder from struggling to finish a lap (25 yards) to struggling to finish 40 laps (1000 yards) and a couple of fellow bloggers who have supported me. It is now that I find myself 3 months into “swimming” able to, well, swim. I wish there was a secret, there isn’t. It’s just sheer hard work and time in the water.

For those of you who hold the same opinion that I had in 2008 here are my top 10 tips that I have found to be useful:

  1. Form Form Form; as best I can tell swimming is 70% form and 30% endurance, if you doing it wrong you will exhaust yourself
  2. Take some lessons; I had a few and they helped some but more than that, as mentioned, a couple of folks are mentoring me, that’s priceless
  3. Go little and often; 3 or 4 times a week is much better than twice and doubling the distance. Focus on form before you tire out and loose it
  4. You Tube is your friend; find video of awesome swimmers and watch it, if you have an iPhone or similar watch just before you swim and try to emulate it; you choose, Thompson, Phelps, Beard or von Hazel, see below for a good one
  5. Get stuff that works; leaky, misty goggles suck!
  6. Get some toys; there are plenty of other toys to play with; fins a pull buoy, kick board and hand paddles all allow you to mix it up some
  7. Measure your success, what you measure becomes important; distance, time and strokes are a good place to start
  8. Have fun; set yourself a challenge and give yourself a reward when you make it, swim with a friend or family, enjoy it
  9. Phase it; like running or biking there should be a warm up and cool down either side of your swim
  10. Stick with it; Since December 1st I have covered 86,000’ (48.8 miles) who knew in 2008 that I could do that!

Like I said I am no expert and I have a long way to go to turn my pool 1000 yards into an open water 4224 yards (2.4 miles) but lap by lap I am getting there!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Going big!

After last weeks taper/rest week I wanted this week to be big, big in time and big in distance, it was going to be a bit of a challenge due to domestic arrangements but with finangling and fancy calendar work I managed it.


Doubles every weekday including a double swim on Friday, even though it only shows 1 mile it totaled 2500 yards.

The breakdown for the week:

Swim; 5 swims for 8350 yards, my new Garmin 910xt arrived and I am loving it in the pool, it tracks laps, splits, strokes, here’s an extract from Garmin Connect


I will not even begin to start a review, if you want more info check out DCRainmaker’s awesome writeup here

Bike; 182 miles, yeah a big week in the saddle including a revisited FTP test on Trainer Road, I have been using it since the beginning of the year and my Power Threshold has increased from 212 to 250


Sunday was big ride day so I setout to try and best my longest ride distance of 88 miles, I managed it with 102 on the clock, not the fastest ride I have done but it did have 4750’ of climbing. It was a perfect day!


Run; 11 not worried about this at all although I need to get on top of before it gets away from me!

So ends another week ends and another starts! This one will be scaled back some as my usual Sunday “big” day is being replaced with an open water swim clinic.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cinders…you shall go to the ball!

Four months in the finding and several, well more than several and not all Tri Shoes either, pairs tried and returned I have finally found a pair of Glass Slipper Tri shoes that fit; Time Ulteam Tri Carbon

DSC_0092 DSC_0091
DSC_0090 DSC_0089

Those that did not make the cut:

Bont; A Three, Sub 9 – both had heel slip and tight on toes
Louis Garneau; Tri Speed, HRS– heel slip on both
Sidi; T2 and T2.6 – tight toes
Shimano; T31 – too tight over foot, T600 too expensive
Giro; Trans, Apeckx – Trans was close but not right enough
Mavic, Huez, Pro, Galibier, Zxellium, Avenir – heel slip in all of them!
Lke CX311C – too narrow

Now I just need to perfect that flying transition to avoid scuffing all that lovely carbon fiber!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday…roll on Sunday!


Well almost wordless…my Sunday bike ride will take this route, the photo is from the summit!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Desert Tri; Sprint

Well as this is my first ever Triathlon race report you can expect it to be a bit long, mostly for me it’s a bit of a mental brain dump on lessons learned.

Night before and set up; An early night after pizza and pasta. The alarm was set for 4:30am, this allowed time to shower, shave etc, have breakfast, load the bike on the car, drive to the race etc. I had laid out all my stuff the night before, put my numbers on my bike, helmet and race belt and so the morning was really just a case of following the production line of items laid out, (can you tell I am a Virgo!?!)

The drive was 15 minutes and I arrived in good time, I was pleased to find that on my row I was the first and so I took the prime end spot and claimed about 2’ of width for all my stuff. I had purchased a Zoot Tri Bag and was really pleased that I managed to get everything in it, it was comfortable to wear and appears to be fairly robust, I am sure I will get around to writing a review at some point. I unpacked and laid things out in what seemed a sensible order;

  • Helmet with sunglasses and liner (my helmet is a bit big without) on my aerobars
  • Cycling shoes with socks rolled down (they’re road bike shoes and are scratchy inside so no bare feet for me)
  • Garmin Edge 500 on bike; I had turned this on and got a satellite lock to minimize the wait/wasted time (my 910xt is due at the end of the month)
  • I had a nice bright towel to stand on/dry my feet and a couple of bottle to wash the sand off my feet; it was quiet a long run from the end of the swim along a sandy path
  • My race belt with number was on my saddle; I planned to wear it for the bike
  • My bike was in a low gear as the mount line was on a hill which continued up before leveling off and toppling over 10’ past the line wasn’t on my things to do list!
  • Running shoes had my 305 in and again I had turned it on and then off again
  • A small Fuelbelt handheld with 12oz of water to carry on the run
  • A visor; actually not a Visor, I forgot to put it out and left if in my bag


I checked and double checked and with the exception of my Visor I was set it was a little after 6:00am and my wave started at 7:33am. I dug out my wetsuit and left it on the rack and went to look for the porta johns.


The next hour was spent getting body markings, finding coffee, another trip to the porta johns, watching the sunrise walking the first and second transitions, looking for sight lines on the swim, checking out the other competitors and what they were doing and drooling over some bike porn. Although while there was a fair share of disc wheels and carbon fiber there was also a mix of cruisers, mountain bikes and even a tandem!

Pre Start and Start; With half an hour to go I wrestled into wetsuit, lubed my neck, wrist and ankles did the two cap thing to keep warm and keep my goggles and headed to just the side of the start line to warm up, well actually get cold would be a better description. I waded out to my waist and without a second thought just went for it, OMFG the water was cold! I swam for 25 yards or so and turned around and bobbed about a bit before heading back in. I waded in and made some small talk with other competitors and then the first wave went off, I walked to start line and stood at the back, three minutes later my wave went.


I waded out and started to swim, it was going ok until I swallowed some and took a good splash in the face with the cold water. The coldness of water and tightness of my wetsuit was making catching my breath really hard. At this point any semblance of form seemed to vanish and to be honest a little bit of panic set in. I saw a surfboard to the side and aimed for it. The further out I got the colder the water seemed to be, I took a moment to breath and set off. Again the coldness of the water was shocking to me. This was really repeated for the rest of the swim along with flipping on to my back and a bit of breast stroke. I was swum over a couple of times and punched and kicked a bit too as the waves behind caught and passed. Finally I was within wading distance; 5’ counts right(?) and I waded out. I was bitterly disappointed, I knew this was going to be my weakest of three but I was just not prepared for it to be what it was.

As I left the water I was determined to make up for the poor start and as other walked to the transition area I made sure to run and strip off the top of my wetsuit as I went.


T1 and Bike; I reached my bike and started the reverse wrestle of the wetsuit, first one leg and then the other, this took some time; the suit is too small I have decided, it also pulled off my timing chip so I had to put that back on. I dried off one foot got my sock and shoe on and then just put the other on; drying could wait, race belt, liner, hat glasses, I hung my suit over the rack, (this would haunt me later) and started the run to the mount line.

100_0387 100_0388
I jumped on the bike and started to peddle with no real problems compared to a few others I saw wobble, I reached the top and couldn’t clip into my pedals; I had left the damn cleat covers on! I reached down and pulled them off threw them to the side, clipped in and I was away.


The ride out was a little rough and there were a couple of 90 degree turns which were busy with riders. Once out onto the open road I found that one side of the road was being used which had two lanes and one lane was coned off so I took up place on the left side and dug in for the ride. The ride was a basic rectangle and had a little downhill on the way out and then the reverse on the way back, this was born out by my splits, the fastest one was M2 2:31 (23.7mph). I blew through 10 miles in 29:28, I think this is actually the fastest I have ever ridden 10 miles and is doubly pleasing as my first mile was 4:18 I was happy to pick up the pace and just got on with it I couldn’t remember whether the bike was 12 or 14 miles but soon figured that out when I passed the 12 mile marker. Knowing that the last couple of miles would be uphill with some sharp turns I pressed on to get to the end and also to get around a few riders who were already slowing down. I was passed only three times on the bike, two guys and a girl all of which were flying and all in the last two miles.

I hit the dismount line and stopped my Garmin, I didn’t check on the time till later but it was 41:19 for 13.8 miles, here is the more detailed info:

  • Ave 2:42 per mile
  • Ave speed 20.7
  • Ave cadence 97
  • Max Speed 25.5
  • Ave HR 159
  • Max HR 167
  • Zone 3 20.8%
  • Zone 4 77.5%

T2 and Run; From the dismount line I ran down to the racks. What I failed to realize was I was running down the wrong aisle so I spent a few extra seconds wondering “where the fuck is my towel!!” until I realized my mistake and ran across to the right rack. Bike up, shoes off, shoes on, remember me hanging up my wetsuit…yeah that had dripped for 40 minutes into my shoes! Glasses, liner, helmet off, Visor on…err nope! Glasses on grabbed water bottle and Garmin 305 hit on and I was done

The run route was basically around the lake so we ran mostly on a shaley path, ahh back to the trails I thought! My Garmin took a quarter mile to catch but when it did I was pleased to see that my pace was sub 8:00 and I had no sign of wobbly legs despite going hard on the bike. With it being only three miles I knew I could just run with myself and aimed for negative splits and a solid finish. The temperature had gotten up a little and carrying my little bottle proved a sensible idea as I could squirt a little on my head to cool me off. All in all the run went well, one girl overtook me within the last half mile and I paid her back the compliment in the sprint finish. Details

  • M1 7:32 157/Ave Cadence 91/Max Cadence 98
  • M2 7:25 159/91/92
  • M3 7:03 167/91/98
  • Zone 3 17.1%
  • Zone 4 61.3%
  • Zone 5 21.6%


I had my chip off, my medal on, grabbed a drink, some food and was done!

The race data published today

  • 599 raced overall
  • Swim 577th 20:26 (not last; holy shit!)
  • Bike 141st 40.59 Ave pace 20.4
  • Run 95th 21:21 Ave pace 7:07
  • T1 3:43
  • T2 2:19
  • Finish time 1:28:48
  • AG 33/48
  • OA 274/599

Summary; Well obviously the swim was the issue; having had time to reflect and do a bit of research I should have done three things:

  1. Joined the open water swim the day before, I got there a bit late and kinda missed it
  2. Spent more time in the water before the start to just become comfortable with it, all my expected issues; fish, not being able to see in the water, other swimmers etc never really came to pass, it was just the cold
  3. Prepared myself more with a bit more research, to be honest I have no idea how I would have done this but I won’t make that mistake again

I have also concluded that my wetsuit is too small, I know it should be tight but it is too restrictive and that combined with the time it takes to get it off in T1 is just setting me up for failure, so another one needs to be gotten…oh good more wallet rape! Although it was free as I won it and if I can sell it that will offset the cost some.

In regards to my bike and run, other than the wet shoes and lack of visor I think they both went well. Although as usual it’s humbling to see what “good” people do OA winners time was 1:00:59…but I am only there to beat me and the clock!


In comparison to my targets…I wrote these down somewhere and now can’t find them so from memory:

  • Swim 14:00 +6mins
  • Bike 45:00 -4mins
  • Run 24:00 -3mins
  • T1 2:30 +1:15
  • T2 2:00 +0:19
  • Overall 1:27:30 vs. 1:28:38 +1:08…yep 68 seconds off

Next Steps; Well I hit the pool today, back in the saddle so to speak; my main focus is on swimming and in particular open water swimming! I have identified a couple of possibilities including am open water confidence course, I need to scope out the local lakes, there are a few and I am thinking about joining a local tri club for ocean swimming as I need a buddy. This combined with finding a new wetsuit…and that’s it! Other than that I am going to pretty much stick with what I am doing training wise on the bike and run till my next race in 60 days in terms of the run and bike.

More photos…