Running Power Meters… First Impression

Being on the bleeding edge is exciting. But you can also get cut deep (hints the “bleeding” part). Power meters were once bleeding edge technology, but today they are common sights. Ask experienced cyclist or triathlete the best upgrade they can make, and they will (should) tell you to get a power meter (If you don’t already have one). But running power meters? That’s bleeding edge!

There really are only a few names in the game right now as it comes to running power meters. The big name is Stryd, now on their second gen unit. The other is RPM2. A few others are out there, but they are more fringe and aren’t specifically power meters like Lumo run and SHFT. The biggest question hanging over running power meters is, are they worth it? Continue reading

5 of my Top Posts- 100th Post Celebration

Today I just realized that my post this week was number 100 on Triathlonpal.com! Crazy to think I’ve already made it up to number 100.

And to celebrate, I want to look back on 5 of my tops posts (according to view statistics)

1. Super League Triathlon Pro Race Report
This is my most viewed post, and for good reason. Super League triathlon is a big deal. It has the potential to make big waves across the sport. I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the series turns out. Check it out to see my thoughts on the race.

2. Hammer Nutrition: Fully Charged Product review
To be honest this one has taken me a bit by surprise. I was not expecting it to be so popular, but since it is a fairly new product on the market, people want to know what it’s like. Thanks to Trisports.com for hooking me up for the review! Check out the post and see if it’s something you would like to try (and use the code TEAMSHARE15 to get 15% off at Trisports)

3. Finish Line Super Bike Wash Product Review
Another product review in my top posts. I think people just like to see other’s experiances and know what they are getting. I use this stuff every time I clean my bike. Love it!

4. A Tour of My Pain Cave
This is another fun post. I give you all a tour of my “Pain Cave” or my trainer set up. This has changed a bit since the relocation. It’s so much sweeter now. I’ll have to revisit this one soon.

5. Zwift and FTP Tests
Zwifters are fanatical! It really has grown quite the following over the short time it’s been on the market. I beta tested it, but am no longer on the program. Still, it’s a great program you should check out!

I hope you all enjoyed this trip down memory lane! I sure did! Thank you all for reading the blog as consistently as you do, and if you are new around here, subscribe to stay up to date on all that happens. Here’s to the next 100 posts!

Race Report- Bridge to Pier Triathlon

Your first triathlon will always hold a special place in your heart. Somehow, we feel a special connection to the place we first cut our teeth in the sport. The first time we put Swim, Bike, Run together in a single event. For me, that was on Oak Island, NC at the Bridge to Pier Triathlon.

I had this event marked on my calendar this year, but through a series of random events had decided not to register. Then, the monday before the race, I get an email telling me this was going to be the final year for the event. “I have got to do this” I told my wife. So… We did. I signed up at 7:30am on thursday, 30 minutes before online registration closed. At 4:30am Saturday, with the car loaded down with food and toys for the family (oh… and my triathlon stuff too lol) we started the 2+ hour drive to the race.

Pre Race

We got a nice view of the sunrise over the lovely North Carolina farmland. I ran over an opossum trying to cross the road. We made 2 potty breaks… 1 along the side of the road, and our 2 year old didn’t go back to sleep at all in the car. But we got there with plenty of time for the family to change out of their PJ’s and for me to pick up my race packet and set up in transition.

I figured out pretty quickly why this was the last year of the race. less than 100 people were in transition. A big thanks to Jones Racing Company for not canceling the race. I hope they didn’t lose money on it. On the flip side, my whole rack in Transition was first timers. Something I love about the sport and this race in particular. I shared some encouragement and got all my stuff in order. They announce that the official water temp was 76 degrees… Wetsuit legal! This would be my first race with a wetsuit, and only my 2nd swim in one!

Swim- 1/3 mile 12:16

The swim was rather choppy. Being in the ocean I had expected as much, but it seemed a little more so than usual. I was in the first wave with about 12 or 14 other guys. Going out to the buoy was rough! Once I made the tun I couldn’t see the sight buoy over the waves, and it didn’t help that our swim caps were red and the sight buoy was orange! I had to strategically time my sighting so I was at the top of a wave to get a good sight on the buoy. As is normal for me, I couldn’t swim straight and had to swim most of the course alone. I made decent time though, and I even think the course was marked a little long. My time 3 years ago for my first tri ever I did was 10 minutes. I know I’m a better swimmer now, so that would be why my swim was over 2 minutes slower.

The other obstacle was the rocks right along the edge of the water. I got out way off the mark from the flags they put down, so the rocks hadn’t been cleared. I still ran as much as I could to get to the timing mat up the road about 100 yards or so.

T1- 1:15

Another 50 yards from the timing mat and I was in Transition. It’s a little weird that they put the mat for Swim end and run start so far outside of transition. That would explain the long T1. I was very pleased with how fast I got my wetsuit off. For my first wetsuit race, I was thrilled actually!

Bike- 16.25 miles- 43:13

cycling has always been my strength! since I’m in the middle of building towards the Half-Iron distance, I didn’t quite have the short course speed I wanted, but I rode at about 95% of my FTP as much as I could. That high-end sustained power just wasn’t there. Still, I biked down about 3 guys in front of me and was the 5th guy off the bike. (Once you count the other waves, I was the 6th fastest bike split of the day). I was thrilled with that again.

I had some tought mental issues at the start of the bike when my power wouldn’t come up, but I eventually got it there and by the time we crossed the bridge again I had passed the only guy I knew  would be competitive in my age group. I knew he was a decent swimmer and a poor biker, so I planned to catch up and put as much time as I could into him on the bike. I got about 2 minutes on him, but I also knew I couldn’t match his run.

T2- 0:57

Not much to say about my transition. Again, this is pretty slow for me for a T2 time since the run start timing mat was a good 50 yards up the road.

Run- 4 Miles- 29:02

Like I said, I didn’t have the short course speed. and I hadn’t done a brick since my last race in late April. So my run suffered. I struggled to hold 8:00 and had horrible side stitches. A mile in a started to feel better, and 1.5 miles in I got passed by the guy in my age group. Right before that, as I saw the guys up the road and started to feel better I had a thought of running them down, but that all faded. I did my best and held on for 9th place overall! I’ll take a top 10 when I can get it!

Wrap-up- 1:26:40

I love this race. It may be because it is the place of my first race, but they just do sch a great job making it family friendly and encouraging first timers. I thought my 4:30am wake up and 48 hour prep time was spontaneous (I am not spontaneous at all!) but there was a guy there who woke up at 2am and decided to race and made the drive from even further than me that morning for his first triathlon ever! They really went out of their way to encourage him. It was awesome!

Some takeaways for me personally is- Run more! I know your bike pacing is key to a good run, but I really havn’t pout the speed work in that I need, even for a 13.1. Also, my open water swims need help. I should put more time into that.

A big thanks to Trisports for keeping my kitted and equipped. I also felt great in my Brooks shoes and a HotShot before the race kept me cramp free even with red-lining the whole race! Of course, Honey Stinger filed me race from start to finish.

Next on the schedule is hopefully an olympic sometime in August and then it’s off to the OBX tri for the Half-Iron Distance!

What’s your next race?

Are you stressed out?

Are you stressed out? That’s a phrase we hear a lot. I’m stressed. Don’t stress about it. Man, this is stressing me out!

We throw that word around, but do we really know what it means?

The actual definition of stress is either “pressure or tension exerted on a material object” or “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”

So really, there are two types of stress that an athlete needs to be aware of. The first is the kind we are all focused on: training stress. If you use Training Peaks you are probably very familiar with the term TSS or Training Stress Score. This is developed to help an athlete track the amount of tri naming stress they were placing on their bodies. This metric has become very popular now simply because it is such a good way to measure training load. It takes into account not only the duration of your training, but also the intensity of it as well. Over time an athlete can know very well how much they are able to handle as well as how much they need to increase their training week after week to see continual benefits.

The other type of stress is life stress. where training stress is mostly physical, life stress is mostly mental. We all know that feeling we get when work gets crazy or things are piling up around the house. The mental strain affects us physically and can adversely affect other areas of our lives such as training.

I recently got clued into this and how the two are so closely linked. I knew they were, but had never really tested the limits of how much stress my body can take. (Side note: this is not something I recommend as you will see.)

Coming off my first peak of the season I took a good week off and then slowly started to edge back into tri naming. I had a few weeks wiggle room in my plan so I wasn’t really going to hit things too hard at the start of this next build to give myself some more time off without being fully “off.”

About that time, my boss took his summer vacations and I was the one tasked with picking up the slack. Things went very smoothly, but there was a larger load of stress on my shoulders than I have been use to. I handled it well and was able to keep raining like I had planned, but then a few nights of not sleeping well on top of it all and I could tell I was not my normal self.

During this time I had also been tracking my Heart Rate Variability (HRV). This is a metric that, like resting heart rate, can clue you into how well you are recovering. My numbers had slowly gotten worse without my tri naming really ramping up yet. I knew something was up but I didn’t do anything about it.

To start off my first block of rinsing building to my next peak, I had an FTP test scheduled. That morning I could feel a little something off, and my HRV confirmed what I felt. The app I’ve been using (HRV4training) told me to take it I didn’t listen. I ran into the test full speed… and blew up catastrophically! I was a mess.

Thankfully I knew what my FTP was from a recent test so I just left things the same. But, I learned an important lesson: stress comes from many places. Take it a rest day when you don’t have one planned is ok. When you pr body tells you it’s time to ease off the gas, LISTEN!

Sometimes stress comes from many places. Just because you could handle more tri naming stress, doesn’t mean your body isn’t already at its limit due to other factors like sleep and life stress.

The moral of the story, don’t overdo it. And track your HRV… more on that soon!

Review- Klean Recovery, Electrolytes, and BCAA+ Peak ATP

A few months ago I received a package from Klean Athlete with three products to try out. I was excited to give them a try since this year seems to have been the year of nutritional gains for me. Klean Athlete sent me some things that have been right up my alley of thinking, specifically their Recovery Product.

To make this a bit easier to follow, I hit each of the three products separately after giving some general information so you can know what you are getting.

And that really is what Klean is all about. Continue reading

HotShot Review

Every once in a while, someone in story looks at an age old problem and comes up with an brilliantly unique solution. Example, increased aerodynamics through ditching the traditional double diamond frame shape like Dimond or Ventum bikes. Obviously, only time will tell if these ideas will work out in the long run. Questions abound from the stability, stiffness, and recently even the safety of such designs. There is a reason traditional designers have stood the test of time!

But on the nutritional side of things, the age old dilemma that has plagued about every athlete at one time or another is that of cramping! The team behind HotShot is looking to be that radical solution that challenges the traditional approach to cramping.  Continue reading

Eagle 5k Race Report

I feel a little silly writing a race report for this race since it’s going to take me longer to post this than it did to run the race, but I’m really excited about this race.

The Eagle 5k was a local race to support none of our local schools. It wasn’t a big deal. The timing was done on the school administrators phone (with some fancy app I’m going to have to find out more info on…). The serious competition was the school’s own cross country team. But… I set a PR!

I’ve known for a while that I’m capable of breaking the 20 minute mark in the 5k, I just have never been able to do it on race day. Continue reading

Cary Du Classic- USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championships 2017- Race Report

My first “A” race of the season is now complete! There is nothing quite like the feeling you get after a solid block of training, a perfect taper, and stepping up to the start line with great form. I’m pleased to say I was able to do that this year at the Cary Du Classic!

This race has been on my schedule for the last 3 years in a row. The last 2 years it has been the host of the USAT Long Course Du National Champs. Each year the race itself has gotten better, and each year I have improved on my previous year’s performance.

However, this year’s course was significantly altered from the previous years, Continue reading

A Good Race Always Starts with a Good Plan- Part 2

It’s race week here at Triathlonpal HQ, so I am in full taper and race mode! I’m getting ready to race again at the Cary Du Classic which agian is the host for USAT’s Long Course Duathlon Nationals.

I’ve written before about the Art of a Taper for the week(s) leading up to your race, and I’ve even written about the advantage of detailed planning for the bike leg with Best Bike Split. But this week I’m honing in on my total race plan. Yesterday I sat down and write out every detail I could think of for the week leading up to race day, and then race day itself.

Why?

Because I’m a total “Type A” triathlete and OCD about most things.

Why should I?

The less you have to think about on race week and especially race day, the better. Also, the longer the race ad the further you travel for it, the more this gets magnified!

Continue reading

Review- Profile Design 1/Fifty Wheelset

Faster. That’s the adjective that every endurance athlete is working towards. We want to go faster, so we train harder, eat smarter, and buy that fancy new gadget that promises a few seconds here and a couple minutes there. For a triathlete, that focus usually comes on the bike. It is simply the easiest place you can “buy speed.” So we look for the best way to spend our limited resources to get the biggest bang for our bucks. One of the most popular ways to get those precious few seconds back is with a set of aero wheels. And with these new wheels from Profile Design, we can save a few bucks, and still get that aero benefit we are looking for!

What are they?
The new 1/Fifty wheels from Profile Design are a lower cost option to their higher end TwentyFour series wheels. As the name suggests, they are 50mm deep carbon clinchers that put them right in that range of all around wheelsets. They are not super deep to only be used for time trials or triathlons, and they are not shallow to mainly be used for climbing or training. That 40-60mm range is really a Sweet spot for rim depth.

What’s the difference between these and the TwentyFour series?
Like I said before, these are the “budget alternative to the TwentyFour series.” Where a full set of 58/TwentyFours will set you back $1398, the 1/Fifty’s will only cost you $999. Look for them on sale and you can even snag them for $750! Obviously, my first question in seeing that price difference was “what am I giving up to save that $400?”

There is not a ton of information out there, but through some of my own digging, and then my observations actually being able to ride both sets of wheels I was able to find some minor differences. The first is that Profile Design says they are us using the same rim shape they used on the TwentyFour series which was validated using CFD. What they don’t say is that they validated this rim shape at the 50mm depth. That means this is still a fast shape, just maybe not perfectly optimized for the 50mm vs the 38, 58, and 78mm depth.

The only other major difference I found was that PD also went with round spokes on these versus bladed spokes on the TwentyFour series. This doesn’t seem like a hunger deal, but from wind tunnel test I have heard from the likes of Flo and others, bladed spokes make a big difference. I’m not sure what kind of hit aerodynamically that would be in this case, but I know it’s there.

The final difference is the culmination of a bunch of little things. Both sets come with brake pads, rim tape, skewers, etc. but the overall presentation in the packaging is lower with the 1/Fifty wheels. Obviously, they were thinking about cutting cost wherever the could. I also noticed slight differences in a few other accessories like the skewers. I couldn’t really tell if there was a performance difference between the two, so I reached out to customer service and here is what they said:

“You pay a little more for the twenty four series wheels and that is one of the items that are upgrade from the 1/fifty version. Both skewers sets will do the same job, the twenty four series are just a little bit lighter and slimmer design.”

So there you have it. In my mind it is really like the difference between opening up a brand new iPhone or other Apple device versus pretty much any other electronic. Those of you who have gotten a new iDevice know what I’m talking about. It’s that attention to every last detail and the whole experience that is extra nice. Once you get out and start using it, all of that fancy packaging is gone, so you don’t really care. But first impressions mean a lot.

How do you like them?
The 1/Fifty’s are not bad wheels. Obviously I like the TwentyFour s better, but I hope that would be the case for spending $500 extra. Profile Design touts their number one selling feature to be their best in class braking performance compared to other carbon wheels, and the 1/Fifty’s line right up with the others from Profile Design. I felt a slight drop in performance compared to aluminum wheels, but nothing I noticed too much. These wheels did great in any weather I threw at them.

As far as ride quality goes, I noticed an immediate improvement over my stock wheels, and I know it was worth the upgrade. I could hold my speed longer and I even felt a little smoother ride. I am aware that all of this is totally subjective, but I was pleased all around.

I did have one issue with these wheels. When I installed them, I went for a trainer ride to make sure everything was adjusted properly before heading out to the open road. I immediately head a popping noise coming from the rear wheel accompanied by a jump in the drivetrain. I narrowed down the possible culprits when I realized the rear derailed was not jumping, and the chain wasn’t skipping. It was like the whole drivetrain came loose for a second and then caught itself. That’s the only way I can describe it. My thought was that the hub was defective.

I sent in a request for warranty service and the great people at Profile Design took care of me. They sent me a prepaid shipping label to send the wheels back to them and they sent me a new set the day after they received my old ones. Since I had to ship them across the country both ways it took about 2 weeks to get my new wheels, but in the end it worked out. Obviously I would have wished the first set had been good to start with, but I’m happy with the great customer service and the end result is that I’ve got new wheels on my bike!

I found out after the fact that this was in fact a manufacturing defect. Trisports, where I bought my wheels, sent me an email warning me of the issue and gave me a contact directly at PD. Since I already had the issue resolved I didn’t need all of that. Talking to my editor for Trisports University she told me I was probably “the point of the spear” in finding the defect. It’s nice to be a help… but I’m also glad I didn’t crash on the wheels! As far as I can tell, the wheels on sale now are defect free! (As of writing, Trisports has them listed as out of stock but estimated to have them in by mid June)

Would you recommend them?
That’s a tough question. It really depends on your finances. If you can snag these for $750 like I saw around Christmas sales, go for it! These are a great buy at that price. If you are paying full price, my main question is if you can afford to squeeze out that extra $400. If yes, then the 58/TwentyFour or 58/78 TwentyFour wheels are within reach. If you are the type that is going to kick yourself knowing you are not on the fastest wheels around, you need to make the jump up. If you are the type of person who is all about the budget, go for the 1/Fifty’s!

At the end of the day, if you get these wheels (without a defective hub lol) you will be happy for a good product that is a definite upgrade from your stock training wheels.

(Disclaimer: yes, I purchased these wheels myself. I got them from Trisports.com over the Christmas season while they were on sale. You can check them out there and use the code SHARE15 FOR 15% off your entire order.)

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