Friday, January 19, 2018

2018 Goals


I will set my goals differently this year such that I will also include fitness/training goals aside from my target races to join in.

And so, in no particular order, here they are:

A-Races:

  1. Milo 21k. I backed out last year as I (1) felt that I didn't have enough training to go sub-2:30 and (2) the medical requirements were too much of a hassle to do. Hopefully I will be able to toe the line this year. 
  2. BikeKing Duathlon. This is one duathlon race that I almost always sign up yearly. Great org and great venue (SCTEX?!?!!), this is definitely one of my A-races.
  3. National Duathlon Championships. My first ever duathlon was this one so it'll be good to come to race-friendly Subic again to see how I fare vs the best.
B/C-Races:
  1. One (or two) PhilDua Series races. This'll be good tune-up dua races to get used to race strategies whether nutrition, pace, or transition related.
  2. Pinoy Fitness Sub1 10k. My officemate and I have signed up for this March race on a bet. Training for this race will help me get my pace up in time for duathlon season.
  3. One local 21k race before Milo 21k. This is for tune-up as well.
  4. One international 10k or 21k race. Will have to see if this will be in sync with any of the family trips.
Fitness goals:
  1. Lose 15 lbs. I am now hovering at 170-172lbs which is over the BMI for my height. I REALLY have to manage my eating habits so that the calories I burned during training won't go to waste.
  2. Achieve a peak TP CTL of 75. This is a Trainingpeaks training parameter which stands for Chronic Training Load, or how fit someone is based on his/her training logs for the past 30 days. My CTL is currently at 48 so I have a lot of work to do here.
  3. Achieve a bike FTP of 210. This can only be achieved by religiously riding on the prescribed days set by my TrainerRoad plan. 
  4. Set a sub 2:20 21k and a sub1 10k. Yup, we'll see how this one goes.
  5. Ride for 100km. Had only achieved this once. I don't mind finishing another one. :)

Let's go!!!


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2017 In Review


Before I start blogging for 2018, it would be best that I do a quick recap of how I performed last year.

My goals for 2017 were:

  1. BikeKing Duathlon (DONE!)
  2. Powerman MOA (WASN'T HELD)
  3. Completing the PhilDua series (DID ONLY 1)
  4. Milo Metro Manila 21k (Mmmm, chickened out. Hahaha!)
  5. A RunRio 21k (NOPE, BUT DID 2 21k races for Q4)
  6. An international race perhaps? (DONE! Taipei 21k!)
  7. Powerman Clark (the full distance?) (Schedule conflict)

I did 8 races (running and duathlons combined) last year compared to 6 in 2016. I think I did fairly well considering that I improved my half marathon time in 2016 by 16+ minutes in 2017. Running the distance twice was a major milestone as well, since I haven't been that dedicated to the distance for some years prior to 2017. The half marathon is a "just right" endurance race for me since it is not time consuming in terms of weekly training, but it still is a long distance that you need to properly plan for it with proper pace (that comes from training) and nutrition strategies. Further, ideally, you could do 4-5 in a year versus probably 1 or 2 for a full mary. I don't want to close it at this point, but it seems that the 42k is already ticked off in my bucket list (4 times done, with the last in 2012) such that I don't feel like doing one anytime soon.



I scored two PRs in the duathlon (Duaman and PhilDua Leg2) but I could've logged 3 if not for the longer bike leg in the Bike King Dua. I logged a better pace in that race but it wasn't enough for the longer bike leg distance.

But if I were to summarize, 2017 was a good year for me in general. Although laziness and family obligations kept me from logging some of my workouts, I still nailed most of them ---even just by getting out of bed, getting my gear on, and walking out the door to run or ride. It could've been better of course, but it was all in all a good year.

Onto 2018.....


Monday, January 1, 2018

Race Review: Goodnight Taipei Half Marathon

The good:
  1. Afternoon gun start. Relieves the pressure of having to wake up early.
  2. Cold December weather at about 19C as this was in Taiwan.
  3. Water station (with water, bananas and energy drink) every 3km
  4. Finisher face towel upon crossing the line (along with the good looking medal).
  5. Great giveaways like the night light, and 2 big siopaos upon finishing.

For improvement:
  1. Online registration in English would be nice (had to use the Chrome translate feature so I was a bit worried on how/where to get my racekit. Good thing the organizer was very helpful when we chatted over FB messenger)

My race:

I was under trained (long run wise) and gained about 2-3lbs coming into this race. The only thing going for me here is that the race was (almost) entirely flat as it was held in a big recreational park in Taipei. The Dajia Recreational Park is a great venue for runners, bikers, and any other past time that you would like to do. It's about 2-3 (or maybe even 4?) times longer than our Rizal Park as we were able to run 21k in one loop.

Onto the race, it was great to know that Dennis (owner of Running Fatboy blog) was able to race alongside me as well. Per, his wife, was also there for support. 

I was planning to improve on my last 21k (2:27:15 at Nutrilife last Oct15) but it was going to be difficult due to the lack of conditioning as mentioned above.

But the mind is a very (very!) powerful thing.

As the gun went off for the 21k runners to start, I eased right into target pace in the first 3kms (about 6:50-ish per km). The plan would be to mimic my Oct 21k strategy by pacing myself in the first 16k then going for it on the last 5.

But my eagerness had other plans, especially after I took my first gel as early as km3 (first aid station). Other gels were taken at the km9 and km16 aid stations.

I improved pace, playing between 6:45-6:50 which was a far cry from my 7:00-ish pace last Oct for the first half of the race. By km13, I saw Dennis whiz pass by me (as expected based on the race times he posted from his HM races). It was good that I didn't give chase and opted to keep myself at bay with the pace range that I was at for fear of bonking in the latter kms.

Heart rate was amazingly low (at 135-145) from km1-15 as the cold weather and flat course helped me relax.

By km16 my heart rate eventually crept up in the 150s but I was still doing good pace wise. I knew I didn't have the long run preparation but I also knew that I had done 21k races many many times (although way wayyy in the past). My last 21k last Oct showed that I can still finish sub-2:30 if I willed it. 

This was the driving force that I kept telling myself (along with the hope that I can catch Dennis, but, for naught) as I drove home in the last 6kms of the race. The legs started to show a little bit of weakness but I was still able to keep pace, overtaking struggling 21k runners as I closed out the remaining kms. 

"This is your last race for the year," I said to myself, "Make it count! Come on!"

It was a battle to keep pace, although never in my mind did I think of stopping or walking. I was just hoping for a glimpse of the finish arc to keep my moral up but to no avail. Nevertheless, I kept my pace.

My Garmin beeped as I reached the 21st km. Still no sight of the finish arc.

21.3km. Still no sign. 

The race was supposedly for 21.3km so the thought that this may exceed further than that (22? 23 kms?) worried me. Still, I pushed on as I hoped that the organizers missed it only by a bit.

Alas, after 200 meters or so, I finally saw the arc. I made a sprint for it, overtaking another runner for good measure, with my Garmin stopped at 21.6kms upon crossing the line ---my longest run for the year (and possibly for the last 2 or 3 years!).

Garmin time clocked at 2:27:22 for the whole 21.6km distance although my TrainingPeaks app said I scored a PR for a half-marathon since my first use of it (2014) with a time of 2:24:04 (yey!). This was a big improvement (exactly 3 minutes and 13 seconds) from my Oct 21k race (yey again!).

This could've been a bigger improvement had I followed the long run training sked religiously and, more importantly, had I controlled myself from a lot of eating since October. Yup, lesson learned, but I will cherish this victory for now as a great year ender. :)





Thursday, December 21, 2017

Analysis Paralysis (Or Why I Gained Weight)

You can analyze the past, but you have to design the future.
---Edward de Bono



I've been whacking my brain for a few days now trying to find out why I have gained weight since around late October this year. Prior to that, I was averaging around 167-168lbs but have gained around 3 lbs on average every time I weight most mornings ---despite continuous training.

I have a good idea that one major culprit is the weekend eating at restaurants and weekday lunch outs but I needed to get further info based on my training logs.

Good thing I use Trainingpeaks, which has kept a record of all my training logs since I first signed up (2014).

After a little Excel-ling, hehe, what I found confirmed my hunch.

Before I show you (7 or so faithful followers) the charts, take note that I have noticed the weight gain around early November.

Below shows my run and bike distance per week:


If you look closely, the bike distance (orange) started tapering off around August and has not gone back up to the 100km per week that I had on most weeks prior to that. The run distance (blue) remained constant up until mid-October which was a day after my first 21k race for the year. It hasn't come back up to pre Nutriasia 21k mileage after that.

Next up, we have the calories burned per week. It was hovering at around 3500-4000 calories per week up until that drop in mid October ---same time as mentioned above--- and has not recovered decently since then.


With that in mind, recall what I mentioned earlier that I noticed the weight gain around early November, gaining roughly 3-4 lbs (which I can't seem to bring down since then).

Next, I looked at the average for certain time frames for this year as I needed to get further proof of the drop. I was able to find the root cause (which only stated the obvious):


The decrease in run and bike volume per week since mid October to deprived me of about 613 calories that I could've burned. The run distance per week loss (-6.5%) was very minimal but the rides (-15.8%) may have done the damage. 

I am able to back this bike distance per week deficiency due to Saturday am family obligations that I needed to attend to during that period ---which was the same sked as my weekly long ride (that contributes about 50% of my target ride distance).

What I needed for more analysis is the calories taken in per week (unfortunately I couldn't/wouldn't log my daily calorie intake) which could've made for a better study but the above will have to do for now. Of course, eating less would have to be a given due to the 80/20 diet/exercise theory but I guess I will have to be more conscious of it moving forward (bad timing now though due to the Holiday season, hehe) along with increasing my run and ride weekly volume back up again.

As family obligations will still be around and CANNOT be deprioritized, I will have to find my way around it to get my training done. Maybe wake up at an earlier time or work out during the evenings would be possible? Hmmmm....

As they say, knowing the problem is half the solution. Acting on it would be an entire thing on its own.




Thursday, December 14, 2017

Training for Taipei 21k & Trainerroad


My runs have been quite successful pace-wise lately, but much has has to be said for my long runs. As I am about 2 weeks away from race day, I would have to start tapering off by next week. My long runs have been wanting (16k was my max a few weeks ago) so I would have to log a solid 18k this Sunday to prep me mentally and physically for Dec 30th.

The endless kainan (parties, lunch outs, weekend binging, etc.) are not helping to resolve my weight problem ---I have even gained 3-4 lbs. Ugh. I am trying to do some semi Keto eating but the semi part of it is just not making it lower my weight (I love desserts too much).

This festive season will definitely add more pounds but what's keeping me from falling off the wagon completely (I am still clinging onto it for dear life) is that I am still motivated to run, which burns more calories vs rides, due to my upcoming race. At least, somehow I think, it offsets the calories I put in.

Hopefully, I get to resolve this mindless eating soon so that my running pace is not affected dramatically.

***

I am 3 weeks into the Low Volume Sweet Spot Base plan from Trainerroad (TR) that I started subscribing to since Oct (as a bday slash motivational gift to myself) along with an Elite Qubo Smart Trainer. It was either I bought a new bike frame (aero road) vs the smart trainer. After endless debates on my head, I opted for the latter due to a cheaper cash layout and, hopefully, a better way to increase my FTP instead of improving my rides aesthetically.

TR is a software used for indoor cycling training similar to Zwift and The Sufferfest.

Having been a user of The Sufferfest (video download versions) for the past 3 or so years, I decided that I needed to improve on my cycling for races. Sufferfest (video download versions) don't have that structure for me as I just tend to put it on my training schedule as I wished. There had to be a better way I said to myself.

Recommended by a friend slash semipro cyclist, I found TR to be more "present" in terms of training structure. Its dashboard is pretty basic, i.e. not much to look at except for the ride data. It doesn't have the "badass" theme that The Sufferfest has but TR makes up for it by way of endless number of workouts, and a very structured Base-Build-Specialty phase workout plans that you can follow on your own. Plus, the dashboard grows on you eventually. ;-)

Screenshots from the phone version c/o bikerumor.com

The on-workout messages prepared by the people at TR is very good as it guides you throughout the workout. It "talks" to you on how to improve form, how you breathe, and what the workout is for. It helps you on what to do should similar difficult situations are encountered once you ride outside. It teaches you to be relaxed even if deep within you are suffering, to pay always attention to your form, and guides you through improving your own pedaling with consideration of the 4 quadrant phases of the pedal cycle.

You can play YouTube videos that you like (especially for 1.5 hour workouts) on the background and minimize the TR screen so that the two (YT and TR) share approximately 75/25 of your screen which is good enough for me. Alternatively, you can also install Spotify on your phone or laptop and play it while you do the TR workout.

I hope to see increases in my FTP in the coming months as I prepare for my 2018 racing season. Even without an aero frame or a tri bike (for now, hehe), the training that TR will provide will hopefully give me that edge to improve on my bike race speed and mental toughness.