Monday, October 1, 2012

Personal Best on Ironman - finally nailed nutrition!

So here´s the race report from yesterday´s Ironman race in Calella. All in all, I am very happy and proud about my finish and personal best in 9h23m!

The weather looked horrible on Saturday as it was raining cats and dogs the full day, and OOB Coach and pro athlete, Jens PB and myself got wet feet while picking up race bags. Spent the Saturday meeting a bunch of good Danish people, helping them getting race ready, a good chat and had an early and good sleep.

Sunday morning was dry, as I picked up Blanca and we set forth through Barcelona´s Sunday-morning-streets full of drunk people. Its always an interesting contrast, when you consider what you COULD be doing on a Sunday morning - and though Ironman is a hard start on a Sunday, I have no doubt what I prefer at this moment in my life :)

My mood was good and I was relaxed - the pressure was somewhat off for this Ironman, but I was indeed motivated. The preparations had been sub-par with a bit of stomach flu in Cairo, loads of travels and no race bike for approx 3-4 weeks, due to a warranty change of the E-118.

The sewers in Calella had been flooding due to the heavy rain, which brought back memories of Challenge Copenhagen 2010. But appears the Mediterrean is so polluted anyway that nobody took notice. Came well of the beach and was between the first 10 to round the first buoy - no fights and had a good pace and good found feet to draft on most of the way, so finished in 1h02m in a swim which is known to be 2-3 minutes slower.

Good transition and tucked well into aero-position, only to feel the consequences of not having my TT bike for the last few weeks - pains in shoulders and neck. My aim was 215 watts, which felt easy now and pushed by a few hundred bikes, happy about my new Zipp disc and wide front - no wind and around 90 km into the bike leg I averaged 38.7 km/h - fairly more than expected. The wind picked up, which sent me back to around 37.7 km/h. The Calella Challenge is known for intense drafting and this edition was no exception. Bikes like pearls on a string with 2-3 meters apart, makes it hard to pace well. Anywho, finished in Personal Best bike split at 4h48m - stomach and nutrition had been well, so felt good when running out to the marathon.

A new (to me) strategy was to bring all my own nutrition for the 42.2 km run - which meant 8 GU gels or 200 grams of carbohydrates, a gel every 20 minutes or so. For the first time ever I had no GI problems so finally nailed this issue, that has been haunting and stopping me in every of the 7 other Ironman races before this one! I kept a steady pace of 4:40 until around 25km, which felt bearable. Around 30-32 km I started feeling somewhat tired but kept up as well as possible. I dropped my last to salt tablets just as I started feeling small cramps, but Jens was on the spot with a bucket of fast Saltstick tabs - all good. My homie Marc Lopez gave me splits and told me I was 3rd in the Age Group with 2 minutes up to number 2, which at that time felt impossble to push through. Pace fell to 4:45 and then at 36km I started getting in some more trouble, dizzy and hurting legs - but stayed around 5:00 for the last 5km and finished the marathon in 3:28 - probably loosing 10-12 minutes on the last 7-8km. But the closest I have ever come to a perfect execution on the mother of triathlon distances and as always, a bunch of new things learned.

Cheers and thanks for checking in!  Thomas

Monday, July 9, 2012

After the rain comes sun! Ironman Frankfurt

So, I think its fair to say that preparations for this race was as close to perfect as it will ever get. Legs felt good and rested, mind felt positive and the days before the race I was just confident that the parameters that I could influence in preparations had been optimal. But as you know, this is not always the full equation in Ironman racing - I have all the respect in the world, to the outside parameters. And I am learning to improve how to cope with this in every training and every race i do. Ironman Frankfurt was about to becore a big lesson learned on this!

The swim was amazing - dark clouds lured above us, the lake was hot (almost 24 degrees which is warm in a wetsuit). I started with the pros and 300 age groupers which was definitely an advantage. Not even one fight in the water, but I also had a hard time finding feet to draft on. Hence, ended up swimming most of the time by myself. Exiting the water, I was quite certain that I did not reach the expected goal of sub 60 minutes. Running in to T1 I asked a German about the time and he shouted "FIVE NINE" which made no sense to me until I was a few kilometers into the bike and saw that I had swam in 59.30 minutes - my best ever.

Quickly found a good and planned pace of 218 watts on the bike, legs were on fire and I overtook many athletes going around 42 km/h on the flat first 30 km. Then came the rain ... and the wind. I recall the stings of raindrops hitting my arms, but it was quite "hyggelig" and still had a good time and kept pace well. Hitting the first cobble stones in a small village and had to hold on to everything, bottles and gels which were jumping up and down. Midway through this cobbled village, I realize in horror, that the screeen for my power meter is gone. Break and start to run a few 100 meters back and a nice lady had picked it up. Chain fell off. Shit!  Back on the bike and I started regaining the lost terrain again. Rain now really got bad and for the first time ever, I had to pee badly - and so I did ... 5 times in all on the bike, like a race horse. Not a big issue as the rain quickly washed everything clean. Nutrition went really well and I felt good in stomach and body.

Around 80 km, going fast downhill into a roundabout, a pony-tailed gentleman in front of me, realize that he is coming in too fast - he blocks his breaks, slides and crashes like 2-3 meters in front of me. I have the option to go over him or try to find a "soft" landing, BUM!  Later in the goal area, a German guy called Marcus told me he saw me crash and said "it reminded me of a MotoGP crash" I think I was sliding like 10-12m on the wet asphalt - but to my surprise I had only little pain and only small scratches on the right elbow - pfew, lucky - keep pushing!  Still heavy rain and so, like around km100 I am going at a fairly slow and controlled pace into a turn and my front wheel just disappears, without even touching the breaks. BUM again. Same elbow, but now also the hip and I hear the helmet slamming hard into the asphalt. This time I am in big pain and stay on the ground until some nice spectators come over to help. I am shaking in pain and cant even answer their question "Are you OK?" - wait, I am not OK ... not at all, but 25 years of skateboarding, you slam a lot. So back on the bike. Now the elbow is bleeding badly and its painful to be in the aerobars on the bad asphalt and going over bumps, so I took a painkiller, which relieved  the pain slightly.
Finally, 5 km before T2, the disaster completes itself, as I have a rear wheel flat. I cut up the tubular with a small cutter, but struggle too long to get the tubular off - it´s glued so hard. This was probably the moment where I gave up the fight, be it wrong or be it right. But struggling 5-6 minutes with the tire, I could see that this was just not my day. So rolled down to T2, changed and started the 42 km run.

Andy Raelert Crashing in the same corner at 10 km/H

I can only say I was not too motivated, now this was my 4th Ironman  (St. George, Zurich & Calella) in a row, where I was not doing too good - but at least I wanted to take some lessons on running and nutrition. Must admit it was harder than expected to maintain the planned 4:40 min/km pace, maybe slightly due to pains after the crashes. With 10 km to go, I could see that I could probably sub the 10 hours if I kept a pace just around 5:00 min/km. And so I did, finally finishing in 9:55, around 4 minutes from my personal best.

Good mood though - you win some and you loose some. Motivation is already back!

Cheers - Thomas

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Last few weeks before Ironman Frankfurt

So now less than 3 weeks until I am racing Ironman Frankfurt and a few words on what I do differently than other years.

In training: 
I have definitely seen a increase in training volume the 3-4 weeks a I am now close to 20 hours a week. But its not as last year, where 2-3 very long weekly bike rides would dominate and make me dead tired. Along the "Progressive Adoption" methodology, I am still doing harder sets, with higher quality (more watts, higher heart rate), just a slight increase in hours per set and a few more sets. Now close to 14 sets per week or averaging 2 sets a day. Last week the distribution was 3 swim, 4 bike, 4 run and 2 core sets.

Again, planning the week like this, I get less tired overall and recover faster than after the very long runs (above 1.5 hours) or bikes (above 4 hours). It´s easier to fit this into a daily schedule, I normally do one set early morning before works and then another set in the evening, unless its a brick set.

Have agreed the tapering will only really commence about a week before the race - another positive effect of not tiring one-self with load of volumen and dead long sets.

Rest & eat: 
I am almost afraid of putting this on paper, just out of fear of loosing my current good "sleeping mojo", but I am sleeping like a champion at the moment. Goint to bed no later than 22.30 apparently just has a good effect on my sleeping pattern and I easily hit 8-9 hours, which is needed for better recovery. Weekends I even do a little siesta, which of course is important to show my surrounding how well I integrate to Spanish customs :)

As mentioned, I dropped weight by following a strict diet some 2-5 weeks ago and was at steady 69 kg last week.With the volumes I am putting in now, I can still remain at racing weight (70 kg) while eating more carbohydrates (rice, quinoa & some pasta) and just maintaining the engines going in a healthy way that supports fast recovery. I totally cut out alcohol, which is potentially also has a positive effect on my sleep. It´s dead boring to live like a monk like this, but I can feel that it´s worth the sacrifice - so will stick to this until having a well deserved "Weisse" in Germany after the race.

I have decided to opt out of going to Ironman France to cheer for many friends racing there this weekend. Its a tough call, but getting on a 9 hours exhausting tour bus ride there just seems to risky in terms of staying well in above patterns. 

Not much more going on really. I will race on and in same gear as in Challenge Calella. Will change tires and have a final bike tune-up before it gets sent directly to T1.
Have been discussing potential race plan with Coach Aleksandar. In short I will aim for 215 watts on the bike, which should then get me safely below the 5 hours. And run around 4:35 or 4:40 to finish the marathon (theoretically) below 3h15m.

Cheers and let the count down begin!   Thomas

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Coffee Trick!

Our old friend Ronnie Reagan said: "I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon"

I have very few real dependencies;  one would be that I like a glass of splendid Spanish red wine, but that´s beaten by far, by my addiction for a good, solid coffee in the morning. Not latte, not an espresso shot or any other fancy stuff - just a plain biggish black coffee, like the Americans like it. It´s actually difficult to find a good coffee bar in Barcelona, so I use a french press and have a grinder for the whole Starbucks beans I can get just on the corner. Or just a plain Nescafe can do the trick. 

I am certain that you can find loads of studies on the goods and the bads of Coffee, but for sure coffee has a medical proven positive effect on performance, both mental and physical -  useful in training and racing. That´s why many products that we devour during races, such as gels and energy drinks, holds some amount of caffeine - in short it gives you a good kick to perform better.

However, when you are a coffeholic like me, the effect of the caffeine-based products are somehow lessened, as the body is just too used to getting this little extra kick. 

Now, here is a little trick that will get the coffee and maybe caffeine-pills make you fly on race day:  The week before the race you cut off or dramatically cut down your coffee intake. Now, that is VERY hard in the beginning. I suffered insomnia and headaches, which just again proves that I am highly addicted. You may even feel that your legs are slow and dull the week leading up to a race. But once you get that longed-for coffee on race morning it will fire you up like nothing else! 

Try it before your next race, or even better, try it in training and see if works for you too! 

Happy weekend - wake up and smell the coffee!   Hugs T

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New stuff on recovery

This is re-post that I have updated since I learned quite a lot the last 2 years and thought I´d share. 

First, now training along the "progressive adaption" philosophy, I am not even near as beaten up as previous years. My average run session is maybe 45-60 minutes and bike sets tend be 2-3 hours, where I last year had weekends with 10-12 hours on the bike, which obviously leaves you with a much higher need (both time and quality) for recovery. Good news is that I am proving to be faster and stronger, and I feel that my legs are almost always recovered and ready to fire on a new quality session. Here is now 9 things I do to recover faster:

  1. Stretch - My good Swedish friend Haakon Weibull once said "Warm-Up and Stretching is gay"... very precise with a good Swedish accent. Some say "nay" and some say "yay", but most people still recognize the benefits of stretching. I spend 15-20 minutes after long trainings, working with some pretty straight forward exercises. Girls digs boys who stretches ;)
  2. Shower - may sound pretty obvious, but hit the cold water over the legs for 5-7 minutes, which has some (still unexplained) magic effect. It´s painful and it sucks - but it works.
  3. Drink - I have learned that I can drop dramatic amounts of liquid during longer rides or runs, even when hydrating well during the day. So drink well, isotonics, coca cola or whatever works for you. Until your pee goes transparent again!
  4. Eat - as soon as possible, preferable within 20 minutes after the training 40% proteins (tuna, chicken and what not) and 60% carbs (pasta, rice og smoothies works for me). You´d need around 1.0 - 1.3 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight and around half of that in protein right after a long training.
  5. Supplement?  I used to do this a lot, but this year I am leaving it  out, except for a vitamin pill. If that works for the best Norwegian x-country skiers it works for me too. 
  6.  Compex - this electronic muscle simulator works wonders on sore muscles. It´s fairly expensive (I got mine for 300 euros) and hurts a bit - but gets your legs back in shape in 25 minutes. Takes out the feeling of "heavy legs" which means a lot, especially if you do back-to-back quality (short and fast) trainings!
  7. Trigger Point Ball & Ball Roll
    This one is new to me - I use it mostly on calves and hips, but works anywhere really. Apply pressure and roll over the sore areas and will release any contractures you may come a cross. It´s really simple and takes no more than 3-5 minutes a day.
  8. Massage - actually this year, I am doing all fine with the Compex & Trigger Point, but will go and see David Serra in Cerdanyola for a pre-race tune up before the Ironman in July.
  9. Rest - even though my room mate still laugh at me when I pass out on the couch, this is the best moment of the day. Spanish people got it right with the "Siesta" - it´s next best thing after sliced bread! Hit Mythbusters or whatever on the old telly and sleep until some foolish soul wakes you up.
Hope it´ll work for ya too! Enjoy... Besos - T

Friday, June 1, 2012

The stuff that moves me forward

I have always been an insane gear freak. And triathlon is definitely one of the best (or worst if you want) sports go spending big time, though my affection for snowboards, rock climbing and electric guitars has taken its toll on my bank account too.

Getting into triathlon some years back, I was all over the place, trying practically everything that was advertised to make me faster, stronger, lighter - or alas, just look better!  But this season I have kinda narrowed in - I know my favorites now, no need to experiment. Thought I´d share a few of these with you today:

First - my new Asics Noosa 7 runners
Many may know that I have tried ALL running shoes and at some point I had like 12-15 active shoes (trail, race, training, etc). I got the the Noosas 1 full size smaller than my usual 42, thanks to professional help in Endurance Sport in Copenhagen and suffered no blisters in the last 2 half Ironman races. You may, or may not like the color scheme - the Asics DS Trainer are the same shoes, but in more conservative colors.

The SRM Powermeter. 
It just works (at least now it does after a trip to Germany and back), but at a 4000 euros price tag incl. the Power Control 7 computer, its a big consideration to add it to the arsenal. I can easily say that my improvements on the bike over that last 6 months has largely been due to my ability to train at the right intensities (Thanks Aleksandar) and measure my improvements with power.

The Argon 18 E118:
Not much to add - a picture says more than 1000 words, right? I was speechless the first time I saw it. This is my 4th Argon 18 bike. Really all a bike frame needs to do is:
  1. be light, stiff and produce low drag
  2. hold wheels, pedals, handlebar and a seat in the most aero position you can maintain during 180km.
But this one is a beast (quoting Jeff Hammond from Argon 18) and it looks mad with Shimano Di2 and Reynolds wheels.  Can´t thank Guillermo Lladó enough for hooking me up with these bikes and for always keeping the machines running. And also thanks to Pedro de Arriba for helping on bike fit. Many ask me these questions, so the bike weighs around 8.2 kg in race shape and would have a retail price tag close to 13.000
Check for Argon 18 sales in Spain and for the best and friendliest bike fit, available in Spain or Denmark.

The White Fusion Tri-Suit:
If you have been to a triathlon race in Denmark for the last few years, you would recognize the White Fusion Suits as the Danish national dress. Danes are VERY aware of product quality and also their style, hence its no wonder why Fusion is doing great. No other suits give me that comfort and quality needed on race day, and then its actually black... where it needs to be black.

Further - I run on Clif Bar and  GU fuel. Blueseventy Helix Wetsuit, Giro Selector Helmut and Oakley Radar Sunglasses.

Those were the safe few. Feel very free to ask questions to above or to any other  gear that I am using in racing or training, either here or on Facebook.

But remember what Lance Armstrong says:  "It´s not about the bike". 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Half Ironman Challenge Calella - Fem un homenatge!

My first ever triathlon was in the Half Ironman Challenge Calella, with my homies Toni & Ferran, back in May 2009 - so many things has happened and I have learned so much and enjoyed every step of it. This day we are all there again, but now with so much more friends - triathlon is really like a nice family and it makes me extremely happy to see friends racing and cheering on the side. And of course racing on home turf is emotional and you want to do good - and so we did!

The morning was sunny and calm - a quick dip and off in the 3rd AG wave in the flat, coldish and salty waters of Costa Brava. Quick found a good pace and cadence. For the first time I was swimming in competition with the Garmin 910XT HRM, which monitors performance in all 3 sports and even times your transitions. First new and very valid data is, that I was swimming at 70 strokes per minute (up from 55 SPM) - which is the fruit of the swim technique work I did with Aleksandar, when he was here in Barcelona a month ago. Now, to me, a higher cadence theoretically makes you faster, but also helps you use stronger muscle groups (shorter stroke) and actually works great in open water. Maybe thats why you always see pros with very high cadence - all the way to 80-90 SPM. The swim was (again) a bit longer - some mentioned 2050m, but made landfall after 31 minutes, which is (again) a personal best - so good to see another good improvement in the swim and I still feel I could push slightly more.

The bike was set to be epic - the main road is N-II which is honestly my favorite training grounds. Except for the bumpy (speed bumps) entry to/from Calella, where people crash and drop bottles, it was to tuck into position and push the agreed 244 watts and enjoy the show. No winds, so flew out at around 39.5 km/m at 244W, turned around and to my surprise now had a slight tail wind, so coming home at speeds above 45 km/h was just amazing. I had a Basque and French guys on my wheel on all flats, who took turns to blow by me on the small hills. I later took over the Basque on the run and I never saw the Frenchie again. Don't push to hard on the hills - it´ll burn your legs and fill them with lactic acid, which you will pay for on the run! Entering T2 after 2h13m on the bike - another PB and 40.4 km/h on average. Turned out to be the 2nd best bike split amongst all age groupers (non-professionals) of the day. Only 16 pros went faster on the bike!

My hope was to go under 1h30m on the run, and felt really good running at the right goal pace of 4:15 min/km until km16. Nutrition worked well and I tried to push as much as I could from km18, but I kept loosing a bit of time, so ended up running 21.6 km in 1h32m, fairly OK after a good effort on the bike. I would still like to run better, as I can see the people I swim and bike with go around 4:00 min/km. Nutrition worked perfect all day and although it got quite warm I never had any stomach issues as I have had in the past on hot days. Finished in 4h20m - new PB on the distance, which I think we can approve, considering very little tapering plus the slightly longer swim and run!
Finished 4th in my age group.  And 12th position across all age groupers!

Now 6 weeks to IM Frankfurt - looking forward to evaluating the race with coach and start really preparing for this seasons A-race!  Cheers T

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tuning Up - Lighter is better

"You Big Heap of Meat" - was the rude outburst from coach Aleksandar, when he saw me in Speedos before a swim training, some 3 weeks back. No offense taken, of course he was joking, but also opening my eyes, that:
  1. The heavy sets of strength-swim during the winter had built an above-normal muscle mass on my upper body, arms, shoulders and chest.
  2. My racing weight would potentially be way lower than the 72-73 kg that I have always been aiming for - the level where my last belly fat seems to disappear. 
So currently aiming to drop from around 73 kg to approx. 69 kg, which should be feasible in the next 3-4 weeks leading up to the Half Ironman, Challenge Maresme by the end of May.
Various calculators on the web can tell you, that dropping weight will make you faster, except maybe during swimming where the extra body fat makes you float a bit better. But on the bike and on especially on the run, low weight converts into faster races.

For a Marathon I have seen predictions that running 4-5 kg lighter will make you (theoretically) 8-10 mintues faster, which is HUGE in a world where we are basically chasing grams on the bike and minutes on an Ironman.

In the next post I will reveal a few little tricks to manage weight and what I apply to drop weight in a healthy way - It´s simply really. Wish me luck

Macca (left) is or was known to be the heaviest ever Ironman Champion at almost 80 kgs.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Finally a flawless execution - Banyoles B Distance

Almost recovered with the knee after the crash in Valencia, the last few months has been a bit more race specific. Banyoles is the Catalan championship in the "B-distance" (2200m swim, 80km bike and 20km run) and a local classic, that normally attracts the best age groupers.

The swim was cut a bit short to 1650m due to 14 degree water temperature (as in Valencia) but it actually felt OK. Amazing to have Blanca there and give me warmth before the cold swim. Plunged right into it and bruised my knees on the bottom - I simply don´t understand why they insist on a "jump-start" instead of a water start.

Banyoles Swim Start

Well - off we go and actually felt really well. No anxiety and for the first time (probably ever) I felt swimming was great. I kept pushing all the way and I could definitely feel that the effect of many strength swims had me stronger now. I think I could have gone bit faster for this distance, but came out in 26 minutes for 1700m, which would be PR - very nice!

Bit slow in T1 as I had issues coming out of the wetsuit being quite cold now. But happily off to the bike and the sun was shining. I must congratulate the organizers in Banyoles. This race is so simple, yet so perfect. There´s a few aid stations and guiding is done very properly. All races should be learning from this. On the downside the race is infamous for drafting and though the Catalan Tri Federation was present as marshalls, they apparently let people draft at will. I had a group of at least 20 bikes in front of me most of the way, riding light roadbikes on the hilly course, and then shaping a nice little group on the flats and downhills - drafting like this is a disgrace and I am happy I am not racing for neither fame or money in this game.

Flying on the E118 with a disc, which maybe wasn´t optimal for this hilly course.
Thanks TriEnjoy for the photo and to Guillermo for tuning the rig before the race! 

I was racing without watts (the SRM is on 3rd weeks in Germany for repair), but had agreed on a tight HR range from 162-164 and kept myself there, except on the climbs. Again, I feel that I had a bit more in the legs and was some 3-4 minutes from the fastest bikes on the day over the 75km. Not bad, but I am sure I would be able to manage my effort better with watts.

On the run, I set out at 4:25 min/km. I have been injured in the knee since the Valencia crash so haven´t run as much and as fast as I had hoped for. However, legs were good and I moved closer to 4:20 until around 12km, took a gel and another caffein tablet which gave me a boost of energy and I managed to stay at 4:25 until around 17 or 18 km, where I started pushing harder. I ran all the way through and it felt good to have the extra energy to push harder the last 2-3 km, something I never had in the past. Again, getting the pace right is so cruzial. Thanks to coach Aleksandar, who again hit the spot perfectly on planning my race and paces, which made it fairly easy to execute without feeling any real highs or lows during the day. Overall probably the best race I have ever put together. Felt I could go a bit faster on all 3 sports and finishing like 10 minutes from top10 is approved I guess.

Next up is Half Ironman in Challenge Maresme on the 27th of May. Main aim here is to run better (maybe 4:15?) and race below 70 kg, which means I must drop 3.5 kg before then - not impossible at all. Two months to Ironman Frankfurt!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Prepare to be surprised - Half Ironman Valencia

So, finally time for the first real race in 2012. After good quality trainings the last few months I felt well prepared and potentially better & stronger than ever, which now had to stand the test. We were around 20 known friends and foes from Barcelona, so jolly times on the trip 400km south of Barcelona. The course would be flat and the water cold. Coach Aleksandar sent me the plan for the days before the race for race prep and strategy laid out for swim, bike & run. I must say, it felt great to have this one-pager with advice on how to act on race day, the hard part of course, was to execute it right!

I guess we were around 200 AGs in my wave in an ice-cold water start. I made a slight mistake of starting a bit close the the ropes and got squeezed in between the (usual) frantic swimmers. Got off well, but quickly realized that the neoprene cap (meant to keep my head warm) strap around my chin, was strangulating me and in the water I could hear and feel that it kept me from breathing unconstrained. So spent maybe some 60 seconds fixing it and eventually gave up and was a bit out of breath, but bearable. I never really found a good pair of legs to draft on and found good rhythm after only 700-800m. Exit in 32:48, which is OK, as I learned that the swim was actually 2200m, so absolutely my best 70.3 swim split ever. Would compare to 28m30s on a 1900m course. I never felt tired, kept a good high and easy cadence and believe I could have pushed a bit more or kept this pace  even longer.

Coming out of the water my hands and face was so cold I could hardly get my wetsuit off and had to ask my neighbor for help.The bike plan was to stick to the 242 Watts as a goal pace. The circuit was flat but extremely windy. Further we passed what felt as at least 50+ roundabouts and the asphalt in most places was extremely bad. But hey, who cares when you are shooting after watts, right?
I quickly shot up to an average on 240w, but honestly had a hard time maintaining it due to many breaks in roundabouts and other riders going left and right in the now even tougher wind. At times I was going completely sideways to keep balance with the disc wheel. Eventually, I was hitting around 50 km/h and rode into a small chicane with dirt ditches on each side, lost the grip in some sand on the road and hurled into the road side, only to see a dried-out river coming up 10-15m below. I literally jumped or tried to and in the air I recall thinking "man, I hope I land before that riera (river bed)", which I did. Bruises on shoulders, legs and cut on left knee. Some 5-6 contestants stopped and looked horrified as I picked my self up, dusted of blood and dirt and got back in the saddle to check that the bike could at least still run. Not a tea party, right? Scratches on the helmet proves that I got away from the crash with some luck. From here it was just hard headwind, shitty asphalt and quite some pains, but made it home in 2 hours 32 minutes, which was the 4th best bike split among almost 1000 age groupers on the day. Not bad, after the crash and coming wrong out of at least 2 roundabouts. Normalized power for the best part of the ride was 239w, but I have to learn to push harder in headwind, since the opposite tailwind makes in hard to keep the effort. Further the many unnatural breaks meant that it was a somewhat interval effort, stopping and starting a lot. Very happy with the overall bike result (thanks Aleksandar), my position on the bike (thanks Guillermo & Pedro) and that I kept it going with cuts and bruises everywhere (thanks 30 years of skateboarding). Guillermo did the 2nd best bike split of the day only 52 seconds in front of me, and eventually went on to win his age group. Good start on his road back to Kona this year! 

The plan here was to stick to a 4:25 min/km pace, which I initially (pre-race) felt was to slow, an opinion I was fast to change. Biking at 242w is right at the limit of my current physical abilities and has been established as a 85% of my FTP tests (285w), and leaves only right enough juice to make it through 21 km run with some grinding and deep digging. Hitting the run course I spent the first km "finding my legs", which worked OK and I quickly hit 4:25 with no big effort. Left knee hurt a lot, but it definitely felt as if I could keep this pace home. I had a difficult time bending the knee, which meant I have to stray away from a good (new pose-based) running technique, around km10 the pain was almost unbearable but kept the pace almost until km15 (2 laps) where I was somewhat forced to stop. Considering that this was after all only a "training", I did not really feel like pushing it much harder. A bit bummed out walking until Alfonsina picked me up and I ran with her home in 1h53m.

All in all many new things learned. Nutrition plan worked as planned I felt fairly good throughout the best part of the race, except for the pain. Thanks to all for cheering and congrats to all finishers and again to Guillermo for his amazing win and to Alex for 2nd in his age group and a powerful run!

“Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.”
Hugs - Thomas

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Training on the road?

The next few weeks are gonna be hectic in terms of traveling for work. I will be visiting Milan a few times, then London and finally Istanbul. Business travel is definitely not easy to combine with Ironman training. Apart from being away from your bike and your pool, the hours working while away always seems to be more intensive and combined with massive company dinners (or even night life), these weeks are challenging, though not impossible.

First, I always look for hotel options with a decent fitness center, a pool or grounds to run (thanks Google Maps) - right now Milan is at hard subzero degrees, so I´m ruling out running outdoor. Basically all you need is a treadmill and potentially a static bike.

Use your global network to get info on good pools or trails. Maybe you have a friend in Italy, who can guide you to a good pool or awesome runs, around or out of town.

Lately I have picked up a jump rope - you would be amazed how fast this challenging little thing can tire you down, especially the calves. Further it teaches you coordination and balance. Hey, it worked for Ali - it´ll work for you too. And it´s easier and lighter to bring than your 20 kg Kettlebell.

Sticking to a good diet is difficult while on the road. For some reason, business dinners always tend to be mighty big, full of processed calories and loads of wine. In the business world it is (for some odd reason) still looked a bit down upon, if you order a Cesar salad, while your colleagues feast on Foie Gras and Creme Brule! There are no excuses, and the food will be amazing - but I will do my best to stick to less intake and still enjoy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

What? Teach an old dog new tricks?

Oh yeah - so I promised to talk a bit on improving running technique. Actually, around 2 years ago I did an effort, watched some YouTube and figured that land forefoot was more efficient than landing on the heel, which indeed is very true - and to some extend that got me slightly faster.

However, filming a bit with coach Aleksandar, made him burst into stuff like "Your technique really stinks - I mean, that is really bad". I was absolutely still hitting the ground somewhat in front of my center of gravity, I pushed my chest forward as if I tried to get to some imaginary finish line first - but worst of all was that my lagging leg (the one behind) was really hanging way behind me, which got me completely our of balance.

Not how my lagging leg (right) is hanging way behind me at impact

With a good, or at least better, running technique your point of impact should be right below or slightly behind your center of gravity. Which means that you basically needs to move less mass (yes your body weight) over the point of impact and hence, forward movement will be need less effort, which again means that you move faster - I guess that´s what we are all looking for.
You seek to eliminate all movements or activity in each running step, that does not support forward propulsion.

So - Aleksandar has developed these 9 steps to better running technique, somewhat inspired (though he will probably refuse) by the Pose Running Techniques. The idea is to get from one pose to the next pose, as fast as possible, which means you need to pick up your lagging leg faster or earlier.

Here - at impact (right foot), my lagging leg (left) is in a much better position to fire again and already moving forward


 After a few weeks of implementing this, the results have been astonishing. I am surpsied how these 9 steps actually starts being a natural part of my run. And I frankly feel I run much easier, slightly faster (this of course takes a bit more than a few weeks)  - my legs are not so "banged-out" after longer runs. It´s well worth the effort- trust me on that!

If you are in Denmark, Aleksandar offers these free Shoot Out sessions, where he takes people through the techniques. In most other mayor cities you can find Pose Running coaches who can teach you the techniques. And of course, are you in Barcelona - let´s just go running :D

Thanks Aleksandar for the great advice here - this will sure have a big impact on how I will run further on, avoiding injuries and hopefully keep me running for many more years!  Cheers 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hey Ho - Let´s Go!

OK - so 2012 has finally kicked in, which feels great. Spent a few weeks over New Years on Lanzarote working volume and having fun times in a warmer, though tougher climate - I still can´t figure how you can do a 5-hour round trip on the bike and have that darn hard wind in your face all the time.
Anyhow, here´s an update on 2012 for me - read and weep:

2012 Dreams, Goals & Plans 
So - starting from the top, Hawaii is still the biggest dream. It´s hard for me to put that down in words, but I want that so, so bad - enough said! I learned so much last year, that I want to put into action, improve and just have fun. In the end, that´s what it all is about, right? Further I feel that I have a huge amount of support surrounding me, which is amazing!
My key IM-race this year is Ironman Frankfurt the 8th of July, which offered 100 entry tickets or slots to Hawaii, but cut it down to 75 now. This potentially (or actually literally) means that I need to race in 9h20m or faster to get even close to qualify, at least top 15 in my age group in European Championship. So overall the plan is to train better and race harder. I will be doing 3-4 Half Ironman during spring time. Expect to see me in Banyoles, Terres d´Ebro and Half Maresme, with a strong preference for the great races here in Catalunya and to avoid travelling too much!

New Team - Where is the Limit?
The WITL-boys invited me to their team, which is just fantastic - nothing less. These folks are the people who originally got me hooked on triathlon (Thanks again, Josef), has a pure and strong passion in everything they do, and I share their philosophy on non-profit and just happy-go-lucky-attitude around building this club. Already after 2-3 months we are almost 400 members, amongst which many are good friends; Pep, Toni, Josef, Ferran & Ferran & Ferran and I daily meet new inspiring training partners!  I think this can go really far and the team has my full support - we will not take any prisoners!

New Philosophy, Concepts & Sensations
So - I already posted around my collaboration with Out Of Bubblegum and coach Aleksandar. We have now had around 8 weeks in the field and I feel quite some changes in my whole set-up and physical and mental well being:
  • I swim stronger: Instead of doing longer, boring sets, I now work more drills and much more intervals - its insane how tired I am after 2500m sets, burning feelings in the shoulders, and physically I can see that I have put on some swim-muscle, without moving much weights this year. My legs are much better, which means I move smoother in the water and helped by a higher cadence, I just move faster from wall to wall.
  • I bike on fresh legs:  Last year I was so exhausted at this time of the year, after long hauls on Lanzarote and trying to keep up with the tough crew in the Argon 18 Mafia, which eventually spiraled into over-trained legs and exhaust. Now I do shorter stuff (1-2 hours), loads of intervals enabled by the SRM watts and I can track that my improvements since September have been dramatic. I will be fun to actually start competing again to see if the legs can hold through 90 or 180 km, but battling the Finnish National Team on Lanzarote gave some good signs that this is actually working.
  • I run easy: During Christmas I spent some days working with Aleksandar in freezing Copenhagen to improve my running technique. Aleksander talks about 9 steps to better running, somewhat inspired by the Pose Running Techniques. I will post a bit more on this shortly, but I already now feel that I am moving faster and easier forward. It´s honestly amazing that you can teach an old dog new tricks with quite few pointers which indeed makes loads of sense.
  • I feel much better:  Obviously all of above makes me feel in better shape, which is a very fine feeling. But apart from that I sleep like a champion (less stress in the body from long trainings maybe?), I have more time to do other stuff, things are great at work and I am madly in love <3. 

Tune in soon - there´s some interesting news on gear, that I can´t wait to share!   Hugs T