04/13/15

BSX Insight Bike Test 1

Just a few days ago, I received the highly anticipated BSX Insight device (Multisport unit).  I had originally thought about waiting until after 70.3 NOLA to do a bike test, but after a quick conversation with my coach, Brian Grasky (a USAT level 3 coach), we both decided we were too curious to wait.  This device is the world’s first wearable lactate threshold device.  What does that mean?  No more blood draws/finger pricks.  We both knew that I would go into this test being fatigued since I had done a big race simulation on Friday morning, a hard swim set Friday afternoon, and a 6.5 hour training day on Saturday.  We figured the results may run a little low, but at least put us in the ball park of what the actual result would be.  Based on my high levels of fatigue, we figured the test would read about 10 watts lower.  See chart below (a TSB less than -20 indicates high level of fatigue):
Screenshot_2015-04-12-13-11-00

To get started, you need to pair your BSX Insight Device with your phone.  Simply turn on the bluetooth on your phone and follow the prompts to pair the device.  My phone found the BSX device in just a matter of a few seconds.

Secondly, you have a series of questions that it asks that you need to answer to the best of your ability to get the test protocol set up correctly.Screenshot_2015-04-12-12-26-04

Screenshot_2015-04-12-12-26-12

Next, for the bike test, the BSX device needs to pair with your power meter and heart rate monitor.  My HR monitor synced with my BSX device almost instantly, and the power meter took about 10-15 seconds.  Once that is done you get a little tutorial of how the test will be run and you are on your way to the pain cave.

The test starts out extremely easy and ramps up every 3 minutes until failure.  My test lasted a little over 33 minutes (not counting my own little warm up and cool down), which is about perfect.  I made it about 30 seconds into the 420 watt phase and then cracked.  This is a huge improvement for me from when I first demoed the product at the Maverick Multisport Pre-season camp in January where I only got 10-15 seconds into the 400 watt step.

Once I stopped the test, the BSX app went to work and came up with the results:

Screenshot_2015-04-12-13-09-34

This is about what I was expecting based on my level of fatigue making the results a bit lower.  This is the second time I’ve used the device and both times it was very accurate.  The first time, as mentioned above, was at the Maverick Pre-season camp when I was well rested.  My coach and I knew going into the test that my FTP was between 345 and 350 watts.  The results for that test was 345.

As a reminder, Brian (my coach) and I thought that my level of fatigue would lower the results by about 10 watts.  My latest 20 minute critical power test (CP20 test) was 380 watts.  By taking 95% of that 20 minute power test, that puts my FTP at 361 watts… putting the BSX on target for this test.

Overall, I like doing the step test better because it takes out the guess work needed in pacing as hard as you can go for the CP20 test.  No more starting out too fast and not getting accurate results because of not being able to complete the 20 minute critical power test.  It also works well for people who may not push themselves hard enough in a 20 minute critical power test.

Want one of you own?? Use MAVMIKE at checkout to save $40 on the multisport unit and #stopthepricks!

bsx

 

10/16/14

2014 triathlon season in review

My first attempt at a video blog.  Hope you all enjoy it.  Thanks to everyone that had a part to play in this last season… already looking forward to 2015!

Save money when shopping with my sponsors with these codes:
Cobb Cycling – MAVMIKE saves you 5% and free shipping
Infinit Nutrition – MAVERICK saves you 10%
Energy Bits – MIKE502BITS saves you 20%

10/7/14

Turn, Turn, Turn – Enve Wheels

Since I first started in triathlons about 10 years ago, I have ridden several different wheelsets for both training and racing.  Wheelsets such as Mavic, Spinergy, Blackwell Design, Zipp, and most recently Enve Composites.  All these wheels were ridden at different points in my progression in the sport from amateur to professional.  And almost every season, I had a different pair than the year before, hoping that I could gain some sort of advantage from the newest model.  Or perhaps, I used a different brand for training and racing.  But, I finally found a wheelset that can handle all my training rides and races:  Enve Wheels.  Anything I could throw at these wheels, they handled tremendously.

While thinking about this, I realized that for every type of riding I did this year (group rides, hilly races, windy races, etc.), Enve wheels kept turning as if nothing bothered them.  Turn, Turn, Turn… over and over again, never wanting to slow down, slicing the air, staying stiff while climbing and cornering, and, probably most importantly, staying true (no wobbling from side to side from a bent rim/spoke).  Over the course of this last season, I put thousands of miles on my wheels.  I hit some pretty nasty things along the way, but the wheels stayed true and never cracked.

I also did a lot of training with some roadies from the Louisville area.  One of them is well known in the region and does really well in races all over the country.  The wheels were super responsive and stiff with the accelerations that roadies do in training and racing.  I managed to hang with the group, and did my fair share of pulling them around the country roads surrounding Louisville, many of which are full of curves, fast descents and fast climbs.

Racing with the 8.9’s, was no different.  The triathlons I did over the course of the year had some that lay at each end of the spectrum of hilly, windy, technical, etc.  The first race I did this year was New Orleans 70.3.  I managed to pull out a PR that day with really windy conditions.  The wheels handled the crosswinds fantastic.  The next race(s) I did was the Triple T in southern Ohio.  These courses are the most technical someone could find for an on-road triathlon.  Several switchbacks, steep climbing, sharp cornering going down hill… my wheels did great all weekend here.  And I managed to be at the top of the fastest bike splits for all of the 4 races over the weekend.  Then, in my last race of the season, IM Louisville, I got another PR on the bike (and a course PR as well).  Louisville is a very unique course… not too technical (maybe a turn or two on the entire course), lots of hills, and a couple steep climbs.  Just a little bit of everything.  The Enve wheels kept turning for those 112-miles and helped set me up fora 4th male pro finish!

I’m not the only one that thinks Enve Wheels are the best out there.  Triathlete Magazine named Enve Wheels the Best in Class for 2014 for wheel choice!

Enve wheels are your wheel of choice for everything out there. Not just this season, or next season.  Not just this ride, or a the group ride.  Every ride… every season… every course.  Unlike the song by the Byrds, Turn Turn Turn… Enve wheels are your choice wheelset for every time!

06/23/14

Syracuse 70.3 2014 Race Report

Syracuse 70.3 is a great event. I’m a fan of races that take place more out in the country than the starting in the city. The roads are usually better, and the course is often much more scenic that races that take place around a big city. Syracuse fits this sterotype. The course is very scenic and makes the 70.3 miles go by rather quickly.

Last year I placed 4th in Syracuse 70.3. However, I knew that this year the times would be much faster to finish in the money. Big names like Andrew Yoder, Ben Collins, Jordan Rapp, Lionel Sanders, and Paul Ambrose were all on the start list, along with others I didn’t mention. I usually get a little worked up from looking at the start list, but this time is was different. I didn’t really care about the names on the list. I looked at it that I have nothing to loose and everything to gain from where I stand at this point. I felt physically great on the days leading up to the race… everything was clicking really well. I just was hoping that I would feel on top of my game come race day.

I woke up at 4:45 on Sunday morning and had a small (first) breakfast that included a serving of Energy Bits (use code MIKE502BITS to save 20%) to help give me sustained energy throughout the race. We headed out the door (the first time) ahead of schedule. About 5 miles down the road, I realized I had forgotten a crucial part of the day back at home. My two bottles of Infinit for the bike and my flask of NAPLAM for the run (use code MAVERICK to save 10%). We turned around and sped back to the house. We headed back out on the road for the second and last time, thankfully. It could have been worse… I could have left my front race wheel somewhere (but that’s a whole other story that happened in Galveston last year!).

We made it to the park in plenty of time thanks to guidance of my awesome homestay by taking the back way into the park from the south and avoided the 3 mile line of cars coming from the north. We pulled into the parking lot and headed to transition to get set up with about 75 minutes before the start of the race.

It was a wetsuit swim this time. 67 degree water… none of the fudging the number to make it wetsuit legal like they probably did in Raleigh a few weeks ago. I wore my TYR CAT 5 Hurricane sleeveless wetsuit. I had a 10 minute warm up. The pro men line up and “drifted with the start line” out into the swim course. The gun went off and the race had started.

I was looking for Jordan Rapp to swim on his feet. I had done some research on the top guys and thought he was my best bet to stay with during the swim. I couldn’t tell which one he was since he had a cap, goggles, and wetsuit on. So I missed the front group due to getting stuck behind a group of 4 slower swimmers. I realized the group I was in wasn’t swimming as fast as I could on my own, so I came around from the back and worked my way to the front of the group. By this time, the lead pack of about 12 guys was too far ahead to try to catch up. I focused on good body position/rotation, strong kicking, and grabbing as much water as possible with each stroke. I exited the water about 3:30 faster than last year and dragged about 5 other guys out of the water at the same time. I used the wetsuit strippers since I’m really slow at taking my wetsuit off on my own. Ran to T1 and got ready for the bike.

Less than a mile into the bike, we cross some railroad tracks. A guy two places in front of me crossed the tracks and then about 20 meters past them, he flew off his bike. I had never seen anything like it… it was like something kicked his wheels out from underneath of him. His bike went flying to the left and he flew to the right. I swung wide to the left to avoid the bike which laid in the middle of the road and got back into the aerobars and started trying to catch some guys and settle into my goal wattage of 300-310 watts.

Miles 2-12 is where about 1000 feet of climbing occurs on the course. From the top of these hills, we had a net downhill to the finish line, with at least 3 more climbs that required my granny gear. I decided to cap my wattage at 340ish watts while climbing these hills, because I didn’t want to build up a bunch of lactic acid early on in the race and end up bonking later in the race. When I finally got to the top, I passed a few more guys and then was on my own for the rest of the ride.

By about the 45 mile mark, I got within about a ½ mile of 2 guys, one of them was the winner of Ironman Australia earlier this year, but couldn’t reel them in. I finished the bike course just under 300 watts (probably because I spun out my legs a couple times on some of the down hills instead of just coasting down a few steep decents). I looked at my data from last year, and I averaged 275 watts…so nearly 25 watt increase!! I have to take a minute to thank my coach, Brian Grasky, who has really stretched me in my training his year. I’m gonna take another minute to thank Rotor power meter and their AMAZING Qrings that help me smooth out my pedal stroke and produce more power with their elliptical chainrings. Of course, the Argon bike was stiff enough to handle the watts, the ENVE wheels were light for climbing and super areo on the flats and decents. My John Cobb V-Flow Plus saddle was amazingly comfortable was well (use MAVMIKE to save 5%).

I got off the the bike in 11th place. I was wondering how my legs would handle the run for two reasons… crazy amount of climbing (one hill 1 mile one long, two other hills about ½ mile long) and attempting to run fast after pushing some watts that were much more than I had done before in a 70.3 race. With the exception of running up the hills that were like running stairs, my legs felt good. I would start to get into a good rhythm and then hit another hill that ruined my groove.

You threw off my groove!

When I could find that happy place, I was able to run some 5:50’s miles, but running a mile uphill took me about 7 minutes on the last lap. At the last turn, I saw the competition starting to gain ground on me from the last time we met there on the first lap. I figured I had about a 1/3 mile lead on them with 5K to go. No letting up now. I picked up the pace with what I had left and started to run out of steam in the last mile of the run and crossed the line just a few seconds over my goal time. I wanted to be under 4:10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over all, I was 10th male pro and 14 minutes faster than last year. No money… but I finished 1 minute behind Elliot Holtham (winner of IM Australia this year). I’m very happy with this result. I know that I still have lots of work to do to climb to the top, but I feel like I’m knocking on the door now. I think that I need to work on my swim the most. I have made big improvements already this year in the swim by swimming with one of the top 10 swim clubs in the nation, the Lakeside Seahawks, but I know I can get faster by working with them more.  I need to cut off another couple minutes in the swim to be out on the bike with the top riders and pace off of them. I know that I can run just as fast or faster than most of them… so I’m close. Very close.

Now it’s time to recover and get ready for Muncie 70.3 in 3 weeks. Primal Sport Mud is going on my legs again tonight (use MAVERICKPRIMAL14 to save 40% on your first order).

Thanks to Maverick Multisport for putting together a great roster of sponsors.  Thanks to Vibra Health Care for their support.  Thanks to my wife that traveled with me in the car all the way from Louisville to Syracuse to cheer me on.  Thanks to my family and friends that gave me words of encouragement the last 10 years when I first started racing triathlons.  I’m extremely blessed by God to allow me to race and do what I love.  It all would be impossible without Him.

02/14/14

Cobb Saddles Review

Biking, in some shape or another, has always been a part of my life.  I started out riding the big wheel around in circles on the little cement portion of the driveway when I was younger.  I tore up that driveway.  Power slides, burning rubber (probably more plastic than rubber), and, of course, going super fast:

Sadly, I out grew this speed machine and moved on to something a little bigger and with one less wheel.  I got my first bike and learned to ride it without training wheels.  Just a little  guidance from my dad and… off I went.  However, I can remember 12 mile round trip for breakfast a few times a year as a tradition with my family.  These were my longest rides.  Getting off the bike felt so good to relieve that saddle soreness.

The wooden blocks on the pedals were because my legs were too short yet to reach the bottom of the pedal stroke. My dad, being a wood shop teacher at the time, came up with a great solution!

Eventually high school rolled around.  I was known for riding my bike to school and work when everyone else that could drive took advantage of their four wheels.  Not me… I preferred two wheels.  By the middle of my junior year, I finally decided it was time for a real road bike.  I had no clue what I was looking at, and bought one off the internet (big mistake).  I rode that thing in my first triathlon and for my first three years of racing.  I’m not sure what saddle was on there, but believe me… it wasn’t very comfortable.

This is one of my first rides on this bike. I hadn’t gotten any bike clothing yet… the spandex scared me a little back then.

Fast forward to college.  I finally broke down and bought a TT bike for triathlons.  I had a Selle Italia Gel Flow saddle on it.  It was fine for shorter rides, but when I started doing 70.3 and 140.6 races, the long miles on that saddle really hurt.  By my Senior year at college I got my first really nice bike.  It was a huge step up from what I was riding at the time.  The saddle that came with it was a Fizik saddle.  It didn’t take me very many miles (less than 20 on my first outdoor ride) to know that this bike saddle was one of the worst that I have ever been on.  My plastic big wheel seat from my toddler years was more comfortable that this thing!  Unfortunately, I was a poor college student and decided to just man up and deal with it.

After moving to Louisville, I was connected with a new triathlon store called VO2 Multisport.  They suggested I try using a John Cobb saddle.  The most popular one they sold was the V-flow Plus.  They put it on the bike I was getting and I immediately knew this was the saddle.  Every saddle I had before this wasn’t very comfortable to start with, and over time either my body got used to it or the saddle broke in a little bit and it became tolerable.  But Cobb’s saddle was on a whole new level that the rest of the saddles I tried.  I used that saddle until I wore it out (probably over 20,000 miles on it).  When time came to buy another one, I didn’t even bother looking at another brand.  I knew Cobb’s saddles were the best for several reasons.  I never got saddle sore while riding… even during a race with minimal padding in the tri shorts.

John Cobb has lots of information on their website about their saddles, but here are a couple images to help you decide which one may be the best one for you:

 

They also have a new saddle called “Fifty-Five JOF (just off front)” that isn’t on these charts.  For more information straight from John Cobb himself about this product, click here.

When ordering your saddle, remember that you can save 5% on your saddle and receive free ground shipping by using the coupon code “MavMike” at checkout.

 

 

01/23/14

Rotor Qrings Review

I have been cycling with power since the fall of 2011.  Power meters are a great tool for any cyclist (as long as you or your coach knows how to interpret the numbers and apply them to your training).  It keeps you honest by giving you data to know the difference between feeling like quitting because you feel like your struggling, but instead to keep pushing through it when the numbers are still within the goal  Power meters also let you know when to quit.  If RPE is sky high, but watts and HR is low, then you’re body is depleted and you’re better off bagging the remainder of the workout.

I had been riding with SRAM Quarq power meter from 2011-2013.  My training was revolutionized when I started training and racing with power.  I was able to pace myself better in races (especially 70.3 and 140.6 distances).  However, this year I made the switch to the Rotor Q-rings.  After one ride on with the Q-rings, I was a believer in all their claims they made on their website.  Here is what I’ve noticed in the first few rides on the rings:

1.  20-25 watts higher at the same RPE – During my hard intervals that I’ve done on the trainer, I noticed that my RPE that used to produce about 300-310 watts (slightly over HIM pace) is now about 320-330 watts.  I am confident that I should be able to hold 310 watts now on a HIM race, which is about 20-25 watts higher than last year.  This, according to some on-line calculators, translates into about 4 minutes faster for for a 56 mile ride.  For an IM race, assuming the watts are consistently 20-25 watts higher, that is a little more than 8 minutes faster for 112 miles.

2.  The cranks are more beneficial at higher power outputs – While riding in Z2 and Z3 yesterday, I could see some difference in the amount of power being produced from my level of exertion.  But this morning when I was riding at threshold, I could see a much bigger increase in the power in comparison to the SRAM Quarq I had used the last 2.5 seasons.  It is consistent with their findings on the website.

3.  Although my watts are higher, my recovery time is the same or less – One would think that if the watts are higher, more lactate is produced by the body.  However, Rotor broke that rule.  Studies show that Q-rings help riders produce more power and produce less lactate.

I’m sure that as time goes on, my body will become more adapted to the elliptical chain rings and produce even more power as the season progresses.  And the data on their website agrees with that assumption.

I’m super excited about what this season could hold for me with the improved power on the Argon E-118 bike, the Rotor Cranks, and the Enve wheels.  Couple that with my swim times being about 5 seconds faster per 100 meters than the end of last season (thank you Lakeside Seahawks), and I should finally break that 4 hour mark.

Thanks again to VO2 Multisport for building the bike fore me… couldn’t be happier with it.

Rotor Bikes – Q Rings a Road Cycling video by Rotor

10/24/13

Cycle Smiths Louisville KY

This year was the first year that I chose to partner with Rick Smith at Cycle Smiths in Louisville KY for all my cycling needs in triathlon.  Rick’s shop has been at the new location on Shelbyville Road for just over a year.  His location is ideal for almost any cyclist.  He is close to the park for quick access to some nice roads and several ways to exit the park and get out of town quickly.  The parks also offer trails for MTB.  But more important than that is the experience you will have upon entering his store.

Rick Smith is the owner and Mark Renn is the full time mechanic at the shop.  Rick started out as a mechanic and has the best wrench in all of Louisville.  There has been several times that he took my equipment when it was needing a tune up or a repair and fixed it to where it felt like new.  For example, I had some trouble with my Zipp 101 rear wheel this year.  After putting over 20,000 miles on the wheel set over the last 3 years, it started making a grinding noise.  Rick and Mark took it apart and pin pointed the problem, ordered the parts needed and replaced them in just a few days.  Once I got back on my bike, the grinding noise stopped and the bike felt smooth again.

Rick also has taken my commuter bike and fixed the rear derailleur in the past after I crashed it.  It wasn’t shifting good and was bent after crashing it.  In just 5 minutes of putting it on the stand, the problem was resolved.

Rick and Mark also do a very good job at making everyone feel welcome and appreciated.  As I have been in the store while other customers have been there, they both do a good job at answering questions and pointing them in the right direction without pushing them beyond their budget.

All that being said, I think the most important part about a bike store is not selling a product just to sell it to make some money.  A bike store is there to make sure that you are getting the best fit for your needs.  For example, Rick would never sell a bike or equipment that didn’t fit the athlete.  I have been in several bike shops before moving to Louisville and have experienced what it’s like to spend several thousand dollars on a bike and come to find out it doesn’t fit very well.  Rick will spend some time measuring various parts of your body geometry and flexibility before setting you up on a bike.  I can honestly say that this year, after being fit by Rick, I am the most comfortable on my bike than I ever have been in the past.  And, if someone isn’t comfortable on their bike, they can’t ride fast.

Be sure to check out Rick’s store, Cycle Smiths on Shelbyville road right next to Mellow Mushroom.  The shop address is:

3928 Shelbyville Road. Louisville, KY 40207

 

10/3/13

Training and Racing with Power – A Case Study

As most of you know, I started a coaching business a little less than a year ago.  I named it Progressive Endurance, because of the concept the name portrays.  It gives the picture of moving closer to an athlete’s fitness goals.  When someone says, “we are making progress,” they are typically talking about reaching a goal that may take a long time or doesn’t have immediate results.  This is very true in the racing triathlons, or any other endurance sport.  Gains are made to the goals with hard work, and typically don’t come immediately.

In this article, I want to talk about the benefits of using a power meter for cycling.  I started using a power meter about 2 years ago now and it has revolutionized my training and racing.  I also have a few athletes that use power for training and racing.  I want to talk about how one of my athletes made some big gains this year by uploading data from her workouts I gave her and how we were able to make big gains in her cycling fitness over the course of about 9 months.  I won’t use her real name, so we will call this athlete Tiffany.

I started coaching Tiffany a little under a year ago.  Tiffany has been racing triathlons for several years and has used other coaches in the past to guide her training.  When she switched to me, she had just come off a 3 or 4 week recovery from the end of the season.  After building her base fitness a little to get her body used of training again, I started doing some tests to find out what her FTP (functional threshold power – essentially the amount of power someone can hold at max effort for one hour) was so we could define her training zones.  Her first test, she came out at 154 watts.

At this time of the year, the goal was to build aerobic fitness and also improve her FTP.  I gave her workouts that focused on raising the FTP a couple times a week.  We also worked on cycling specific strength to give her legs more power.  In some cases, I told her what zones I wanted her to shoot for, and in other workouts, I gave her percentages of her FTP to hit.  Most of the workouts aimed at improving FTP were 1:30, give or take a 15 minutes.  We maximized the time she had available, because of life situations and also because the weather prohibited outdoor riding most of the time.  And, let’s face it, riding a trainer can be mentally difficult if you’re doing it by yourself all the time.

About a month went by and we tested her FTP again.  This time it was 178 watts, which is a 13% improvement.  I think a large chunk of this improvement was simply due to the fact that she was exercising more consistently again, so we continued to work on the same things, but just readjusted her training zones to align with her new FTP.  We tested her FTP a few more times over the next few months with the last test in May.  At this point, racing season was in full swing, and if any adjustments needed to be made, I could pick up on them with her race data.  The last test she did was a club time trial that lasted just under an hour.  Since it didn’t last an entire hour, I made an educated guess on what her FTP would be if she had continued on for the remainder of the hour.  I calculated it at 195 watts!

Over the course of  7 months, her FTP had improved by 26.6%!

Using this information, I was able to use a few different equations and algorithms to figure out what wattages she should push in her OLYs and HIM races and still be able to run well off the bike.  Almost every race for Tiffany this year was a PR on that course, and most of the races involved less than favorable conditions with rain and/or windy conditions.  As good as that is for Tiffany, the real test came this year at her A race, Rev3 Cedar Point Full Iron distance.

Leading up to the race in the final 6 weeks or so, we did very specific Iron distance training.   I gave her specific wattages with a range of about 10 watts to try to shoot for.  Tiffany was able to hit all these watts and managed to run well off the bike in race simulated training brick workouts.  I was confident that she was going to have a phenomenal race at Rev3 CP as long as she stuck to the plan and had no mechanical problems on the bike.

For her race, I gave her wattage range to hold on the bike of about 10 watts.  At the beginning of the ride, she was on the high end or just slightly above that.  And the last few miles she managed to stay within the low end of the wattage.  She averaged 149 watts for the entire 112 miles and managed to pull off a 5 minute bike split PR for an iron distance race.  Her previous best bike split came in IM Florida where the conditions weren’t nearly as windy, the road surfaces weren’t chip and sealed, and less elevation changes.  At the end of the day, she pushed through the run and hung on to a podium spot in her AG.  If it weren’t for the much longer run from the water to T1, Tiffany would have PR’d for an Iron Distance in tougher conditions.

Another thing that Tiffany mentioned to me that she noticed this year was even though she was getting several course PR’s this year, she wasn’t nearly as sore and recovered faster.  I believe this is due to a number of things, such as racing/training with power and race day nutrition (which I also provided some guidelines for her to follow) in addition to general, day-to-day nutrition (which I gave some advice).

So, if you’re on the fence about whether to buy a power meter or a pair of race wheels to get faster.  Let me encourage you to buy a power meter.  Real progress will be made with a power meter.  It won’t be free speed like race wheels, but your fitness will get better, and run times will also more than likely improve (improving your cycling will naturally improve your running).  It will take hard work, and will take time, but in the end you’ll be a better athlete.

And, if you’re a local athlete and looking for ways to improve your cycling fitness, please consider doing my winter spin classes starting on Nov. 14th.  If you come consistently, I guarantee improvement in your cycling fitness.

01/24/13

Traveling to Tucson Arizona

Yesterday started my two week adventure.  My first week will be spend in Tucson, AZ and my second week will be spent in Panama City, Panama.  This trip to Tucson is the first trip I’ve taken somewhere in a very long time that didn’t involve seeing family or a race of some sort.  So I guess you could say it’s my first vacation.  However, this vacation has more speed bumps than almost any other trip that I’ve taken since graduating college in 2009.

A friend of mine, Ashlie, took Ryan Althaus and I to the SDF airport for out 10:15 am flight with United.  However, with bad weather in Chicago the other night, that plane wasn’t able to make it to SDF.  So after some hassling  they put us on a flight with American Airlines that actually got us to Tucson about two hours sooner that what we were planning on originally.  The guy with American Airlines even didn’t make me pay for my bike to travel to Tucson, which saved me about $70.

We landed in Dallas Fort Worth Airport with some time to kill.  So we first started looking for our gate and then were going to find some lunch.  I looked at my ticket and it said D9 on it.  We got to the section of the airport with all the D terminals.  We walked past gate D10 and then D8.  Where was D9?  We asked an employee and he said there was no D9.  I looked at my ticket again and realized that was  the seat I was assigned during the flight, not the gate number.  Long story short, we found the gate and some food and made it on the plane for Tucson.

Landing in Tucson was great!  We got off the plane and it was sunny and in the 70’s.  We haled a taxi (which was my first time riding in a taxi), gave him our destination and soaked in all that was around us.  He dropped us off at a very rich/prestigious hotel.  A guy took our bags for us and we walked inside.  We told him what unit we were looking for,  but his face expressed confusion.  He asked us if we were in the right place… and it turned out our taxi driver dropped us off about 3/4 of a mile away from where we needed to be.  So much for giving the taxi a nice tip.

Ryan and I walked down the road, bike box in tote, and walked to where we thought we needed to go.  We entered another ritzy racquet and golf club… almost.  We were stopped by security asking us what we were doing.  We explained our situation, which probably sounded to them like an overly fabricated story.  Luckily, they bought it and sent us on in the right direction.  We continued down the road receiving more weirded out looks from people in cars and on bicycles as we walked with a bike box down the road about another 1/4 mile.

We finally arrived at our destination, unpacked and got a nice run in while watching the sun set behind the mountains.  When I got back and ate some dinner, I worked on putting my bike together.  I noticed right away that the headset cap was missing.  It was in there along with all my other small parts when I packed, but I’m guessing when the TSA opened it to inspect the luggage, it fell out and is currently laying somewhere around the SDF airport.

I went to a bike shop this morning and after about 20 to 30 minutes worth of phone calls, they finally found one at the Scott Bike warranty office in a parts bin.  Scott is going to overnight me the part to the bike shop so I can safely ride my bike over the weekend… and more importantly race in Panama.

This trip has contained a lot of of adventures so far, most of which worked out for the best, and even added some humor to the trip.  I’m glad that this potentially big issue can be corrected in time before leaving for Panama City, Panama in 5 days.

Now… if the rain will just stop.  It’s a desert for crying out loud!

12/30/12

Infinit Napalm Review

A few days ago, I had a phone consultation with Infinit Nutrition and worked out a formula that was tailored to my specific race distances and the need my body has while racing.   From the basic Go Far formula, we increased the amount of sodium and protein in it since I’m a heavy sweater and tend to race long.  I also discovered that Infinit makes their version of an energy gel called NAPALM toward the end of the 2012 season.  I sampled some at a race expo and like that it was actually a liquid, easy to swallow, and not overly sweet.  I asked them to throw in a package of the highly caffeinated version of NAPALM.

The phone consultation was on Thursday… the stuff showed up at my door on Saturday!  I was happy to see that they even threw in a couple bottles.  One for the custom blend they made for me and a flask for the NAPALM. (NAPALM is much more economical than buying gels.  Each 100 calorie serving is about $0.85, and with all the electrolytes, it will more than likely reduce and/or remove the need for electrolyte tablets.)

With my first race only a little over a month away (70.3 Panama – Latin American 70.3 Championship), I wanted to give this new product a solid trial run.  I mixed up 3 bottles of Infinit and 4 ounces of NAPALM highly caffeniated formula.  I had never mixed up NAPALM before and was little shocked when it said to fill the flask up to the rim and add equal water and shake it.  I was thinking, there is no way that water can dissolve that much solute… but gave it a try anyway.  I only put 4 ounce of NAPALM in the flask (it holds 6 ounces) which is equivalent to 200 calories (see end of post for more nutritional content).  I added water until it covered the NAPALM, put the lid on and gave it a good shake.  In about 5 seconds it was completely dissolved.  I took a small sip to see what it tasted like:  a subtle sweet fruity taste and some saltiness mixed in there as well.  It was completely liquid… not a paste or gel consistency, so it went down super easy.  I gathered my nutrition and headed to my basement for a nice 3 hour spin session.  This the workout that I did:

Warm up:
15 minutes easy riding at 56-75% FTP

Main Set:
2 x 20 minutes at 90-95% FTP with 10 minutes recovery
30 minutes of tempo 80-85% FTP with a 10 second burst of sprinting on  every 1:30
3 x 5 minutes at 110% of FTP  with 5 minutes of easy riding between each
3 x 5 minutes hill climbing at 60-70 rpm (Z3 effort) with 5 minutes rest between

Cool down:
15 minutes easy spinning

The Carnage after the 3 hour training session in my training shrine in my basement. Thanks to Chris Shannon for doing the entire workout with me!

This was one of the hardest 3 hour spin sessions I’ve done before, but in order to see how my custom mix and NAPALM would do for me on race day, I wanted to push the limits.  I went through 2 bottles of Infinit and all 4 ounces of NAPALM and a couple bottles of water.  I took the NAPALM at the one hour mark, the 1:45 mark and the 2:20 mark.  Not once during the ride did I feel hungry, feel that my electrolytes were depleting, or a lack of energy.  I could feel the caffeine in the NAPALM hit my system only after about 5 minutes of taking a sip.  I imagine the high electrolyte content in the NAPALM helped keep my electrolytes in check the whole time.

Another thing I noticed during this three hour training ride was the need to readjust my training zones.  At the end of October, I tested my FTP at 338 watts (4.59 watts/kilogram).  I used that number for the training zones during the ride and felt that they were actually too easy, so I rode at the high end or just over of those zones.  This is a huge confidence booster for me.  I am once again reminded that my coach, Justin Trolle,  knows exactly what he’s doing, the boot camp sessions at Pure Fit are helping, and the lessened workload at U of L Hospital has been worth it.  And of course, thanks to Infinit for helping me with nutrition, which will make or break a good finish in 70.3 or 140.6 races.  I am starting to set my goals for Panama 70.3 and feel that I have a good shot of walking away with a paycheck from that race.

If you feel that this review was helpful and decide you want to try my custom formula, please contact me via email (mike.s.hermanson@gmail.com) or my facebook page… and be sure to “like” it.  You can help me out in my endeavors simply by purchasing my custom formula or any other Infinit products.  Every time you purchase something with the link I can send you, I receive some Infinit Bucks.  Also, help me get over 200 likes on my facebook page by the end of the year!

 (EDIT on 12/31/12 – Here is the link for my custom formula:  http://www.infinitnutrition.us/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=73&formula=&name=  )

Nutrition of NAPALM highly caffeinated:

Supplement Facts
Servings Per Container (35)
Amount Per Serving

Calories: 100
Calories from Fat: 0


Total Fat: 0g – 0% of daily value
Saturated Fat: 0g – 0%
Sodium: 242mg – 14%
Potassium: 70mg – 5%
Total Carbohydrate: 24 – 22%
Dietary Fiber: 0g – 0%
Sugars: 4g
Protein: 0g – 0%


Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene): 0 – 0%
Vitamin C: 0 – 0%
Vitamin E: 0 – 0%
Selenium: 0 – 0%
Calcium: 30 – 3%
Magnesium: 23 – 5%

NAPALM has about 75 mg of caffeine per 100 calorie serving.

Simply take a swig as you run with no need to make that ‘ucky’ face.  Plus, there is no need to figure out where to store that half eaten gooey wrapper. NAPALM is green and more eco-friendly. INFINIT Creator and President Michael Folan adds “It’s better, it’s cheaper and its greener. What’s not to like?”

So stop gagging and order a bag of NAPALM – Highly caffeinated today.