Monday, February 28, 2011

Holy crap, it's March already??

Ah, Monday morning... the morning where this year I have resolved to claw my way out of bed early to ride the beautiful hills of the Inner Sunset (like 9th Ave. and 10th Ave.).  Never mind that I didn't actually get started on this until February (ahem).

However, today when my alarm dutifully went off at 5am, I just didn't have it in me.  Something about riding hard the day before combined with an Oscar's party where dinner was based around ventre de porc confit (please pardon my French; basically, a giant slab of bacon slow-cooked in lard).  So, after smacking the snooze button a few times, I finally just turned the alarm off and went back to sleep.

Now, if you're like me, you'll understand that I was mildly annoyed with myself all day for having done that.  I should have just followed rule #5 and gone out and suffered like I was supposed to.  Instead I felt like a sorry-assed weakling who hadn't properly earned his lunch (or, perhaps more importantly, peanut M&Ms with his afternoon coffee).  Still, I managed to surpass my climbing goal for the month in the Strava KOM Challenge, so it wasn't all bad.

Then, it hit me.  This was the last day of February.

Oh, crap!

On March 27 is the Oakland Half Marathon.  And I'm registered with an expected finish time of 1:45:00.  And I haven't been doing a lot of running lately.  In fact, not much at all since my less-than-stellar performance at the KP San Francisco Half Marathon where I finished in 1:47:50 after getting dehydrated in the warm sun around mile 8 and subsequently popping.

So, I guess I'm going to be doing a lot more running in March.  And not much tapering.  Which is OK.  I'm pretty sure I will be just fine if I do a once-a-week mileage ramp-up like so:

  • 3/8 - 8 miles
  • 3/14 - 10 miles
  • 3/21 - 12 miles

The 13.1 on 3/27 is really just the next in the progression.  I run an easy 5-miler @ 7'45" on Thursdays anyway, so I'm not starting from nothing.  But this is certainly going to cause a little bit of suffering, and honestly I'd rather be suffering on the bike right now!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Power-to-weight ratio and speed; or, I suck at math

On Wednesday, a group of SF2G'ers rode into work via Calaveras Rd.  Brooks showed up with a shiny new PowerTap, and as we were climbing up Calaveras, we were chatting about power:weight ratio.  We were both working on PR times on the climb, so not much glucose was available for higher-level thought.  Which is to say, we were not able to resolve the question posed.  Which is fine, because, hey, who really wants to think a lot when there's such beautiful scenery around and lactate build-up in your legs to distract you?

But while waiting at the coffee machine in the break room at work today, it dawned on me - Duh, the math for this should be really simple; we're just talking about ratios, here.  Then again, I suck at math.

Anyway, the basic question was: If you remove X amount of weight from the bike/rider combination, what does that translate to in terms of additional speed (unspoken assumption was at a given constant power output).

So, let me kind of talk through it, and I'll let my readers judge my reasoning and math skills...  Note I'm going to ignore most units of measurement here, because I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter.

For the purposes of this discussion, let's assume that the rider is going to produce a constant power output.  Power is angular velocity x torque, so if you both increase cadence 10% and reduce torque 10%, you still have the same power output.  Right?

So, let's say that a rider loses 5% of their body weight.  For a given speed, that would seem to dictate a 5% reduction in power output.  But we stipulated earlier that our rider is going to maintain a constant power output.  Seems to me that we then get to apply that 5% to either torque or angular velocity; the former would manifest as pushing a bigger gear, the latter simply spinning at a higher cadence.

Because it's easier for me to wrap my head around, I'll go with higher cadence.

So let's say our intrepid rider is turning 34x23 @ 90RPM up a climb.  That's 10.4mph.  5% reduction in body weight would allow 5% increase in cadence to keep the same power output; 94RPM, 10.9mph.  10% reduction, 99RPM, 11.3mph.

If you didn't want to spin that fast, you could shift to a higher gear (increase your torque) and reduce your cadence (angular velocity) to maintain the same power output.

So, just to be clear, it seems to me that e.g. a 10% reduction in body weight would allow for a 10% increase in speed at a specific power output.  Or, just as importantly, it would allow a 10% reduction in power at a specific speed, which might be a big deal if previous efforts were at or slightly above LT power.

I'm concerned only about climbing here, and so am purposely ignoring the effects of wind drag, etc. which aren't major factors when climbing.

Anyway, like I said, I suck at math.  Is there a flaw in my logic here, or do I have it right?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Another trip around the sun complete

So, I turned 38 today.  As birthdays go, it's not one of the major ones, but now I'm starting to get nervous. Why?  Because a couple of years ago I said "I want to run a full marathon before I turn 40".  Note the use of the word "before".  To achieve that goal, I get 2011 and 2012... any marathon I run in 2013 would almost certainly be after I turn 40.  Grumble.

I had planned on achieving that goal this past year; I was registered for the 2010 San Francisco Marathon.  Earlier in the year I managed to recover from a bout of IT Band Syndrome and ran the KP San Francisco Half Marathon and the Oakland Half Marathon, each in under 1:50:00.  I was feeling good.  After Oakland, I took a week off to recover (physically and mentally), and then started another ramp-up for SFM.  But disaster struck -- The ITBS came back, and runs over 4 or 5 miles were excruciating.  The worst part was the frustration... at not being able to complete what I considered easy runs... at not being able to stick to my plan... at the physical therapy regimen that wasn't working this time around... with myself for even having an overuse injury.

I became pretty discouraged.  Running, rather suddenly, stopped being fun.  Luckily, a friend at work prodded me into biking from SF to Cupertino, which eventually got me hooked up with SF2G.  Between riding into work and pounding pedals on the spin bikes at the gym, I managed to keep my fitness up and finished the 2010 Bay To Breakers in 54:53.  But I wasn't able to complete my marathon training and took a DNS.

So, fast forward to 2011... My foot race calendar has been settled: KP SF Half, Oakland Half, Bay To Breakers.  After March, with the exception of Bay To Breakers (which should be easy, since I always keep at least one running day in my training plans), I really want to focus on cycling; do 3 or 4 big endurance events, lay the foundations for racing next year (and dabbling in some racing this year), and experiment with cyclocross when that season rolls around.

Which means, as far as the marathon goal goes, 2011 is shot to hell already.

Now, here's the rub... I'm not sure I want to commit to a training plan to prepare for a 2012 late-winter or early-summer marathon.  The former overlaps with cyclocross season, and the latter overlaps with totally awesome Bay Area road cycling weather.

The upshot: I think it's time to adjust my goal.  Of course I know that periodic reevaluation of one's goals is a good thing.  But I have to admit that this one is a little tough to swallow.  But one thing I don't want to happen: for running to stop being fun again.

Welcome to Bike, Run, Eat, Sleep!

The other day, a friend asked me what I thought about a particular cycling accessory.  As I am wont to do, I had already formed a pretty strong opinion about the item and sent a somewhat verbose answer back to my friend (as well as an unsolicited follow-up about a related topic).  He was apparently surprised by this and asked me where my bike blog was.

...which got me to thinking... Hey, why don't I write a blog?  What a great idea!

To be honest, I've thought about it before in the context of keeping a public training journal while preparing for running events, but never really got around to it.  Since then, I've been inspired by my wife's blog writing (Eating Dirt) as well as that of another cycling friend of mine (Cycling Musings).

So here it is - Bike, Run, Eat, Sleep (not necessarily in that order).  Here's where I'll share my thoughts about, primarily, cycling and running (and occasionally eating and sleeping, which are both greatly assisted by the other two): training, events, gear, epic rides, and whatever else that I can reasonably justify as being related.  I hope you enjoy reading it.

PS.  Hey Jeremy, thanks for the nudge :-)