Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review; The Sufferfest, The Wretched

I was fortunate enough to get an early hook up for the new Sufferfest “The Wretched” and I took it for a spin last night…or should I say, I was ingested partially digested and regurgitated as a wincing, quivering, sweating blob of Sufferlandrian pride after 50 minutes on the Trainer.


With IMAZ in the rear view mirror it is starting to become time to turn my attention to the future but it was also nice to crack out Thor; my Cervelo R3. Thor has been in cryogenic suspension aka my ECO travel bag since returning from Canada in August, left unassembled to avoid temptation! Once assembled he was on the trainer and we were good to go after a couple of false starts of lining up sensors etc to ensure my Garmin and TrainerRoad were correctly working and I was off.

As with all the newer Sufferfests there is a storyline that runs through the training, this one is that as a past Champion you have fallen from grace and have been couch surfing for the last year. With a free ride into this year’s Tour, alas all those Cheesy Puffs have taken their toll and instead of keeping the edge nice and sharp, it’s blunt, rusted and chipped! Time to saddle up, shut up and climb up!

The ride itself consist of four climbs, the first is folded into the warm up and is accompanied by a throbbing narrated assault on Box Hill (of 2012 road cycling Olympic fame). I actually found the original online so consider this a teaser…

After this warm up…yes this is the warm up you are presented with the full assault of 7 hours of European climbs to be completed in 35 minutes along with footage from this year’s Tour de France. The second and third climbs are a steadily increase incline ergo effort and end with a sprint finish with all the usual suspect in the mix; Sylvain Chavanel, Thomas Voeckler and Cadel Evans.


Oh so pretty, oh so painful…note ski lifts!

The final climb is by far the longest and actually translates into a low cadence high wattage steady effort that lasts just under 10 minutes but had me cranking out just under 300 watts, put into real numbers this equates to something around 21-23mph at a cadence somewhere in the mid 70s and good mix of climbing seated and standing! In between each climb you get to spin off the lactate with some quick 100rpm spindowns and there are a few false flats thrown in for good measure. At the end your treated to easy spin down and a doughnut…ok I was joking about the doughnut!

There is a upbeat music track that accompanies the visual with a good mix of indie rock and dance music to keep you motivated along with the usual on screen prompts; when distilled down these equate to STFU and HTFU. A newer “dashboard” was introduced in There is No Try and this is replicated in The Wretched which give clean and clear instructions on effort (RPE) and cadence.

For illustration purposes I tracked my effort using TrainerRoad and you can see the level or “power” output below.


In Garmin Connect it looks like this;


I am a big fan of the Sufferfest training videos I was an fairly early adopter and starting using them in December of 2009. They represent engaging, intelligent training and for the price are quite possible the biggest bang for your buck, (pound or euro) that you can get.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere with winter looming around the corner along with crappy weather and shorter days it’s time to dust of the trainer…it only makes sense to have some fun with it along the way!

This video was provided free by the evil good folks at The Ministry of Pain of Sufferlandria, for other reviews of Sufferfests check them out under the Reviews tab above. If you would like me to review something drop me a line at

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ironman Arizona; kit list

A couple of people have asked so here it is, I think this is everything;

Dinner the night before;

  • Orecciette pasta from Green’s Vegan Restaurant in Tempe; “Grandmas’ favorite pasta (little earlobes) with your choice of mock meatballs in our homemade tomato sauce with fresh vegetables”

Breakfast the morning of;

  • Bowl of Granola – homemade but see this link for an idea, coconut milk
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Sipped on water
  • S!CAP

Race Kit;

Morning Clothes; over my Race Kit;

  • Orca Fleece
  • Adidas run leggings
  • Saucony Kinvara shoes (flip-flops are an accident waiting to happen)
  • Headtorch
  • Took my track pump to top up tires




Tre sexy, no?



  • TT bottle had 20 ounces of water and 4 scoops Gu Roctane (approx. 1000 calories), goal was to drink this all on the bike primarily during the second half
  • Torhans bottle was filled with 30 ounces of water, goal drink one bottle an hour, I probably drank around 4.5 bottles in total
  • S!Caps, kept in a baggie and stuffed up my shorts leg, goal was to take one an hour every hour on the bike and run
  • Gu Roctance Gel/Bonk Bar these were handed out on the bike I grabbed 2-3 each hour and had one every 30 minutes
  • Power Bars I had one in my T1 bag and one in my Special Needs bag, I ate them both, I find them to be easier to chew than more “grainy” bars, but they are a bitch to unwrap!
  • Cliff Shot Bloks two packs of these in my T1 bag, less messy than gels
  • Note, the PowerBars and Shotblocks were pre opened, that is I cut the ends to make the unwrapping easier

Special Needs;

  • Bike; Power Bar, Single Serving of DZ Nuts, very welcome at mile 65, I should have put this in my T1 bag and applied earlier
  • Run; Long sleeve running shirt, gloves, spare Headsweats/Hammer Visor. I wasn’t sure how cold I would get and how annoying a sweaty visor would be

Not used;

  • My T2 bag also had a FuelBelt R20, this was not taken on the run

Should have packed;

  • BodyGlide, I “Glided” myself pre swim, (ankles, wrists, neck) could have done with some in T2 for the run
  • DZ Nuts into T1 bag for the start of the ride; prevention is better than a cure
  • There should have been a carton of coconut juice in each bag and spare S!Caps , these were forgotten and left in the hotel fridge in the morning…oops!

Looks like a lot right! Well it is kinda and I prided myself in keeping it simple! Pretty much everything was well used and practiced, the only exceptions to this were;

  • My helmet, it only arrived the week before and I had only ridden 30 minutes in it 2 days before the race
  • The Hutchinson Fast Air; never needed in training so never used!

Finally here is the race day video from, the swim looks way worse that it was or maybe I just got off lightly?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ironman Arizona

I will try to keep this to the point but inevitably this might get a bit long in parts!

Before getting into the nitty gritty, let me state that I did have some goals…beyond finishing that is, put simply there were:

  • Swim; <2:00 hours
  • Bike; 6 hours
  • Run; 4 hours
  • Transitions; 30 mins

Realistic, ambitious, crazy…well, yes, no and maybe! Either way if met they would give me a 12:30(ish) finish.

So with them stated let’s moved on. Per my last post the whole Ironman thing takes several days in advance of race day to get ready for; the drive out, the race check in, expo, practice race swim,bike and bag drop off, athlete dinner and briefing.

Check in (4) Check in (5) Check in (10)

By the time race morning comes you’re feeling pretty intimate with the race, that being said the morning of race is still pretty nerve racking. After double checking the bike and topping up the tires, lining up for the porta-johns, dropping off my Special Needs bags it was time to put on my wetsuit.

As many of you know the swim was (and is) my weakness, so I spent much of the night tossing and turning about not making the swim cut off of 2:20 so a sub 2:00 was a realistic time based on the two full distance swims in the pool which were around the 2:00-2:10 mark. After donning the suit it was time to line up with the other 2500 athletes and get into Tempe Town Lake. This was to be my first “mass” “deep water start”, that is everyone at once from treading water to “GO” and I knew I needed to get in, get wet and get comfortable before the canon went off. The previous days practice swim had us descending down a  ladder into the water, for this entry we were required to climb over the railing and jump in and swim away asap to avoid being jumped on…stress levels were climbing. Oh and did I mention the water was 64 degrees…trust me that’s a bit chilly.

Anyway as I Inched forward it was time to jump in and with only a small hesitation, the next thing I knew I was floating back up to the surface and swimming away to the start line area a couple of hundred yards away. With over 900 first timers there was a lot of nerves in the air and I was surprised to see many of the swimmers inching along the side of the lake outside of the water. I was happy with my decision as I became acclimatized to the water I bobbed along a bit as the gaps around my filled up and finally found a kayak to hang off of until the one minute warning.

With a minute left I swam away and found some space…and then were off. I had heard about the washing machine and was expecting some of it but it actually wasn’t too bad, I was kicked in the face a couple of times and caught an elbow to the ear which dislodged my goggles which I had to stop and right but other than that it was an ok start. Here are some aerial shots to give you an idea of the size of it.

image image

I settled into a comfortable pace and was surprised to see that I was passing people and of course I was being passed. The joy of this swim is that you can be followed along the side of the lake and I was incredibly lucky to to have TriBeccaTO sherpaing for me and she managed to get some great photos.


image You can see how snug it gets!

Basically I just kept plugging away, my sighting wasn’t great and found myself overshooting the first turn and had to be corrected by a kayaker. According to my Garmin I actually swam 2.73 miles so basically I added an extra 600 yards!


Finally the end was in sight and I reached the steps where I was basically pulled out of the water as the steps out were at the water’s edge. From here I pulled my wetsuit top down and was then assisted by the wetsuit strippers who had it off me in less than 10 seconds! Swim done it was off to T1…

IMAZ (40) image

A fairly uneventful, but not too speedy (10:05), transition I was on the bike. The bike course is three 38 mile out and backs with the majority of it on the Beeline Highway. The course has a false flat with much of the Beeline having the climb outbound which of course translates into a downhill coming back. The only unknown factor is the wind. I had had the opportunity to visit Tempe twice earlier in the year and have ridden the Beeline three times with wind blowing me from every side, today was going to be a mix.

Based on the Lactate Threshold tests I had the week prior my plan was to keep my HR under control and within the range of 125-136 and under a max of 155. The three loops were to be ridden “easy”, “solid” and “cruise”. Once out on the Beeline I was faced with a headwind going uphill, no doubt this sucked, my splits and speed were well down on my goal of 19mph average. Of course the upside was that there was a tailwind coming back! To put that into some perspective the first 20 miles took 1:13:19 (average speed 16.2mph) on the uphill with headwind and 58:17 on the downhill with tailwind (average speed 20.95mph). For the next two loops the wind was reversed and basically this balanced out the climb with the tailwind.

In terms of nutrition my plan was a gel or something every 30 minutes, basically aiming for 200-250 calories per hour along with a S!Cap and 30 ounces of water. I had thrown some DZ Nuts into my Special Needs Bag which I grabbed on my second loop around mile 65 which necessitated a quick stop to apply it…much less risky than crash with my hand down my shorts!

While Becca aced the swim photos she was not so lucky on the bike;


She was however out on the course doing a “Wonder-womanful” job and had been busy was a box of chalk!

image IMAZ (76)

The official bike photos are pretty good!

image image

I am waiting for the download link?!

Here are the bike splits over the 112 miles…officially I was off the bike in 6:15:59, 16 minutes slower than hoped but only 5 minutes slower than planned overall. I had moved up 53 places in my Age Group from the Swim; from 259 to 206 and 579 places overall from 2353 to 1774. It seems crazy to think that I passed nearly 600 people on the bike but the reality was that for 6 hours it was only the Pros and the best AGers that passed me…by my math if the bike was 350 miles long I stand a good chance of being on the Podium?!?


My bike was caught and I was off to T2 which, while faster than T1 was not fast (9:05), I was a bit wobblier than expected and it took some time to get on the CEP sleeves and get my socks comfortable, I ride without socks. Out of T2 I was a minute under schedule.

image image

Shoes on and I was out on the run. Time to play to my strength. Ha ha ha! Lie the bike I was planning to run by HR with it pretty conservative for the first 13 miles and then “hanging on” for the second half to the finish. This would dictate my pace and seemed like an easy plan to follow, while I had a goal of four hours I was really trying to complete it under the heading of; “there is no such thing as a good bike and a bad run”, that is if I overdo it on the bike I am going to pay for it later, if you have read Chris McCormack’s book these are what he calls “matches” burn too many of them too soon and you have none left for later.

The run is three 8.4 miles loops around Tempe Town Lake. My pace for the first 10 miles was in the 10’s (average 10:16) slower than planned but god enough for a 4:30 marathon, which is respectable, I had fallen into a nice rhythm of walking the Aid Stations for a little break. It was warm on the run but the sun was setting and in the desert in the winter it doesn’t take long for it to cool down although I was making good use of the hand out sponges along the course.

image IMAZ (87) IMAZ (89)

With all of that said what I hadn’t planned for was the GI issues that hit me as I started the second loop, put bluntly I wasn’t sure if I was going to throw up or crap my pants or a combination of the two. I was struggling to keep any decent pace up, felt weak and nauseous. Becca found me at an Aid Station and said I was looking pale and felt cold!

IMAZ (92) IMAZ (93)

I spent a little time in here and then moved on…

The next seven miles were the worst, I was moving but there was a lot of walking. It had gotten dark and cooler which helped and while the support of the crowds was nice it was actually nicer being away from the raucous cheering and noise etc. I fell into a run walk pattern that kept me moving along basically running and walking between light poles. Over time I would extend the running portion from 1:1 to 2:1 to 3:1 beyond that though was hard and so for no the 3:1 seemed to work. As I got to the Aid Stations I also developed a pattern of drinking 1/2 cup Perform with 1/2 cup water…I actually only sipped this, then a cup of warm chicken broth and a sip of coke. Sounds like a terrible concoction but the quantities were small, they basically contained everything I needed and it worked and let’s face it you do anything that works! Over time I stared to feel better and extended the running, counting my paces; run 50 walk 30, run 75 walk 30, run 100 walk 25. I stuck with the last ratio almost to the end and by the end I was feeling 1000% better so much so that I ran the entire last mile at 8:21 picking off as many people as I could but yet trying to leave a big gap either side of me for the finishers photos! Here are the run splits;


Despite such a shitty run I had gained ground moving up from 206 to 184 in my AG and from 1774 to 1594 a total of 754 places since getting out of the water overall and 75 places in my AG  where I finished 184 out of 263. Having carved out some space in the finish all that was left was to cross the line and be thankful…mission accomplished!

The spoils!

IMAZ (101) IMAZ (105) IMAZ (102)

So several days later I am left to reflect on the race and of course think about what went right and wrong;

The good;

  • My swim, while not fast was solid I cramped a couple of times but shook them off
  • The bike is about as dialed in as it’s going to get, race wheels and and aero helmet were well worth the $1600 (cringe) investment
  • The nutrition and the hydration plan worked on the bike, I was never hungry or thirsty
  • Training in my race kit, while new the Hammer kit was a match for what my training kit has been for months
  • Racing by HR, this was new to me but it allowed me to race “within myself” and not blow up

The bad;

  • My sighting was terrible, this probably added another 10-15 minutes to my swim
  • My Transitions are very slow
  • I probably need more running off of the bike, the problem with this is a 4-6 hour ride followed by a 2 hour run is time prohibitive
  • The GI issue, well this could be lots of things, the only thing I did new on race day was to have a concentrate of Roctane on the bike, I don’t think it was this as if it was it would have manifested itself sooner

Final thoughts. Undertaking an Ironman is no small feat, the commitment to training is huge over 200 hours, covering 2000+ miles across 17 weeks is a lot and I put a few things on the back burner to focus on the training.  The cost is another issue, the entry alone is nearly $700, I need to do some more analysis but during the last 12 months I have probably sunk around $15,000 into this endeavor…I have no regrets but it’s worth pointing out. The weekend of the race I was very fortunate to have an Iron Sherpa, Becca. This took a lot of the stress of things away and allowed me to focus on my things, it goes beyond saying that I am very grateful and in addition to getting some great photos so was my Social Media maven for the day.

Talking of Social Media it only remains to say a huge thankyou to everyone who followed alone on Twitter, Facebook, Daily Mile, my blog and posted message of support and congratulations, they really mean a lot!

The Garmin details are here;






And here are the photos;

I am sure I will have some more to say but this is a good place to stop for now.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Race eve…a bunch of photos, cos that’s what you want right?

I am checked in and processed. The whole process takes several days;

  • Day 1 drive here
  • Day 2 packet pick up, expo (shopping!) quick ride, athletes dinner (skipped in lieu of a really good vegan restaurant) athlete briefing
  • Day 3 Practice swim, drop off bike, pack transition bags wander around a bit and be surprised when it’s 5:00pm that’s about an hour ago now!

Some observations;

  • The water is cold, the practice swim is such a good idea, it took a good 15 minutes to get used to it…now add 2499 other people and let’s see how it is!
  • 2500 is a shitload of bikes! Let’s guestimate $2500 per bike, trust me I have seen both ends of the spectrum today; that’s $6,250,000 worth of bikes down by the river!
  • The Beeline highway has been resurfaced…so smooth!
  • There are 900 Ironman virgins at this race…including me!
Ok I could go on but here are some pictures!
Testing out the new aero helmet on the Beeline Highway
image IMG_7219
Processed…kinda funny to see I am representing Team GB, me and Leanda Cave are here!
image image

Yeah I am a Hybrid!


Bags packed, CW top left, Morning clothes, Run special needs, Bike special needs, T2, T1…doesn’t look much right…
I like it simple

IMG_7238 IMG_7243

Bike drop off…it’s a shit load of bikes!


T1 and T2 bags

All that’s left is to apply the Tri Tats that I picked up…this is how you do it right?


Here’s the race strategy based on my LT testing;


Oh one other thing.

Ok after a couple of walks back and to the a parking lot my race GPS is working here are the links, the pc link is for the actual race, the others are for the App downloads where you look up the race and then me, 'cos I know you all have nothing else to do on Sunday
On a pc

And a massive thank you to everyone...I am really feeling the love here in Tempe!

Friday, November 16, 2012

IMAZ Training Wk 16 &17 (Taper)




Week 16 & 17 Totals


Just a placeholder to dump Week 16 and 17 of my IMAZ Training

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Follow me?

Less than 100 hours to go…and now I find myself waking at 4am making lists in my head!


Race Day Tri Tats…lick and stick!

A couple of people have asked how they can follow my progress on race day. Being the Social Media maven that I am there are few ways;

Ironman Live shows the race online, they follow the leaders (not me!) through to the finish and then leave the camera on at the finish so you can see people crossing, I hope to be done in around 12-12:30 hours so that will be 9-9:30pm local (AZ) time

If you have an iPhone you can down load IronTrac, it’s 99c filter by 140.6 and add Arizona, then you can look me up by my last name

I will be carrying a GPS transponder go here scroll down and find my name and click on it, this is real time for the bike and run…not the swim! This link won’t be active until Saturday at the earliest

TriBeccaTo will also be live Tweeting for me from my account and probably from hers, she is bringing the cowbell, pom poms, chalk, flag and a few other surprises and will no doubt keep everyone informed!

We’re loading up and driving out tomorrow…let the racecation begin!

Monday, November 12, 2012

11th hour dramas…or why I shop where I shop!

Well, and fortunately, not quite the 11th hour.

After I rode my LT test last week, it was noticed that my rear tubular tire was delaminating! Put mildly; OMFG!!! Clearly not what I needed! Fortunately Competitive Cyclist offer a NQA; No Questions Asked policy. I hoped online at 8pm PST in the evening and had and online chat;

One moment please while we route you to a gear expert. You're currently number 1 in queue. Check out for up to 80% off the best gear on the planet. We'll be right with you.

Thanks for contacting us. My name is Daryl D., how can I help you?

Daryl D.: Hey how can I help you?

Stuart: hi i recently got some Mavic Cosmic Carbone 80s from you and the rear tire is delaminating. I have an Ironman race in 10 days and need replacement tire, can you help out?

Daryl D.: Possibly,  do you have a photo of the issue?

Daryl D.: and is the tire delaming or the wheel/rim?

Stuart: Yes, where can i send it to?

Daryl D.:

Stuart: gimme 2 mins

Daryl D.: alright well I’m only here for another 8 or so.

Daryl D.: we close up shop at 10PM

Daryl D.: is it the tire or rim?

Stuart: the tire

Daryl D.: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Daryl D.: sorry about that

Daryl D.: tried to paste something and ended up inserting a standardized response.

Daryl D.: What’s your order number?

Daryl D.: I'll send you out a new tire after I get the e-mail

Daryl D.: or if you can include it in the e-mail I can make that happen

Stuart: just sent email, logged in to get order number but can't find it?

Stuart: my name is Stuart BXXXXXXX

Daryl D.: e-mail address? (I didn't get the e-mail yet)

Daryl D.: So, to get a better idea of what's going on, is the tire coming un-glued from the rim

Daryl D.: or is the tire coming apart?

Daryl D.: Delaminating, generally isn't something that will happen to a tire

Daryl D.: alright just got the photos

IMG_7104 IMG_7105

Stuart: no there is a strip the runs around the tire, it's well away from the rim...delaminating is probably the wrong term

Daryl D.: that is definitely a tire issue

Daryl D.: no delaming is definitely good for what is happening there, it's just rear

Stuart: yes, the front one seems ok

Daryl D.: So you didn't have an account with either of the e-mail address in there

Daryl D.: did you happen to use another?

Daryl D.: nevermind found it

Stuart: I can log in but can't see any order history

Stuart: the account email is

Stuart: ok

Stuart: great

Daryl D.: so I'll ship you out another power link tubular

Daryl D.: you should see it on Tuesday

Stuart: is there anyway it can be overnighted?

Stuart: to my home address for delivery Sat

Daryl D.: No we don't offer Saturday delivery

Stuart: I leave for the race on Wed and it will need to be glued etc?

Daryl D.: yeah

Daryl D.: um I can next day it but you'll see it on Monday

Daryl D.: and I'd have to charge you $15 for it

Stuart: that's ok I am happy to pay the $15

Daryl D.: alright

Stuart: they won't deliver on a Saturday?

Daryl D.: no, we don't offer Saturday delivery

Stuart: ok Monday will work, the LBS can glue it and i wont need it till the weekend!

Stuart: I really appreciate all your help!

Daryl D.: not a problem

Daryl D.: should I just charge the visa on file?

Stuart: do you have Credit Card details on file?

Stuart: lol yes that's perfect

Daryl D.: yeah can you confirm the last 4

Daryl D.: there 2 cards

Stuart: xxxx?

Daryl D.: perfect. done

Stuart: awesome!

Daryl D.: Is there anything else I can help you with Stuart?

Stuart: no you have been super helpful! Thanks for staying late!

Daryl D.: not a problem have a good evening

Stuart: you too thanks!

Your chat session has unexpectedly disconnected. Please feel free to contact us again.


On my doorstep tonight…and that’s why I shop at Competitive Cyclist!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Want some “free speed”…it’s on sale!

There is, apparently, no cheaper means to free speed in a Triathlon than an aero helmet. Given that it’s your noggin that is the largest thing that is on the front end of the bike cutting the wind having something that makes that more aero dynamic makes perfect sense. There are several very in depth studies about this and numerous articles have been written about this for websites and magazines.

The one big thing that they all have in common is to maximize the benefit you need to have an optimized bike position and be able to maintain that throughout the race. What does that mean? Well in a nutshell it means you have to keep looking forward! Why? Well this is what happens when you look down or anywhere else;

image image

Your helmet basically turns into a sail and creates even more drag than your bare head (my speculation). With that in mind and knowing what I know about my own positioning on the bike, which while good is not perfect and of course the reality is that from time to time I do look down I did some research and ordered one of these;

image image

The Giro Air Attack, yeah it’s kinda funny looking but it provided the three things I was looking for;

  • It was an aero helmet; free speed!
  • It allowed me to move my head around (and minimize the side impact from cross winds)
  • It had a visor, it stands to reason that this must be more aero dynamic than an open face and sunglasses (although I was unsure how hot it would get)

Delivery from Amazon was scheduled for the end of October, that gave me roughly three weeks before race day to make sure it worked. I was happy to see some Pros wearing it recently at Triathlons and it has been seen on the cycling circuit for quite some time now. Then I got an email saying delivery was delayed until March! March!! In fairness I got the email a week or two ago and so back to drawing board I went. The only other helmet that was available was the Kask Bambino (as worn by Bradley Wiggins) but I really couldn’t justify the $500 price tag…trust me I tried!


There were some other that I tried along the way that I ruled out as they didn’t fit or were self-excluded as they were out of stock. Then I got an email from PBK saying that Lazar helmets were on sale; happy happy joy joy! So I opened a browser and set about shopping, and here is the end result. Sure I look a bit funny but I’ll take fast over funny any day!

image image

If you want one yourself, they are still on sale with 40% off, check them out here!