Day Pace vs Plan Pace

By Coach Jorge

Anyone training for a Triathlon or a Marathon has experienced the following scenarios:

  1. You have particular session in your training plan or provided by your coach, say a long bike ride or a moderate paced run and as soon as you begin the session, your body feels “OFF” and lethargic. Your legs feel like lead or weak and your perceived exertion level is through the roof. You give your body the chance to come around by sticking to the session but as time goes by (or miles tick away) you don’t feel better but worse; the more you try sticking to your prescribed pace, the harder it feels and even if you slow down, it feels much harder than usual. In the end, you either toughen it up and complete the session or choose to cut the session short and “live to fight another day” though not without feeling disappointed.
  2. Same as the first scenario, but this time you begin your prescribed training session but this time around the opposite occurs; your feel like your body is at its best and you go through the session with ease. The pace feels almost too easy, your legs feel strong, you are “ON” and the perceived exertion level feels easier than usual; it’s like you could exercise longer or at a faster pace but you don’t because the session calls for ‘x’ intensity. In the end, you either stick to your prescribed session limiting your ability to ‘do more’ or you decide to go with the way you feel and you complete the session by doing maybe a longer duration, higher intensity or both.

Whatever option you chose in the above scenario, it isn’t important for now, but it illustrates a point: all endurance athletes will experience either situation at one point or another during their training program and that’s perfectly normal! It also demonstrates the difference between training by “Plan Pace” and training by “Day Pace” which relates to training paces (a.k.a. training zones).

You can check our YouTube channel video explaining: Training Levels  just click here. But in a nutshell, when we exercise, our body goes through what’s called “exertion continuum” which means, whether we are riding long and easy or running hard and short, it places a particular strain on our bodies at different levels through our body systems: cardiovascular, metabolic, neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, central nervous, etc.

This is important because whether you start running easy and progressively increase the level of exertion, the continuum occurs in the different levels almost at the same time. For instance, let’s say you start jogging and then you start speeding up every few minutes until you can no longer speed up and have to stop.

At the respiratory system - You inhale/exhale oxygen at a slower rate when jogging and faster as you speeding up to meet your muscles oxygen demand.

At the cardiovascular system - your heart will beat slower when jogging meeting the low demand for blood to the working muscles and steadily beat faster and faster as you speed up to meet the greater blood demand.

At the metabolic system – when jogging, your muscles will utilize fat for fuel primarily*, but as you speed up, you will rely more on carbohydrates primarily.

At the muscular system – when jogging you will utilize Slowtwitch fibers primarily*, but as you speed up, you will begin recruiting more Fasttwitch fibers to meet the exertion demand and/or as your Slowtwitch ones fatigue.

At the central nervous system level – the communication between the brain and exerting muscles will occur ‘easier’ when jogging as this may be something your body is more used to, but as you speed up the communication will become more difficult as nerve ending & /muscles fatigue

*We always use a mix of substrates for fuel; that is we never *only* use fat or carbs for energy. The same occurs with muscle fibers, whether going easy or hard, we cycle utilizing the different muscle fibers types and the intensity/duration just determines which ones contribute to do the work the most.

It gets much more complicated but you get the point; when we exercise, most systems interact in a complex way and ALL contribute at different levels to meet the energy demands of a particular activity load (duration + intensity) until we complete it or stop due to fatigue.

This is crux of training: ALL the sessions we do are to improve our fatigue resistance, and we do this by managing the load our bodies can handle a given time gradually increasing it. And we use training paces/zones to differentiate various intensities in order to maximize certain training adaptations and make training more time efficient; even though these are arbitrary man made exertion divisions.

In other words, your body doesn’t really know whether you are training at ‘x’ or ‘y’ intensity beyond how it feels for you (hard vs easy). And there are no ON/OFF switches that determine or prevent adaptations because it all happens in a continuum.

That’s why, most elite coaches or plans utilize periodization in order to break down your training into blocks to focus in specific adaptations through different periods improving gradually your fitness, avoiding doing too much too soon, addressing your weaknesses and maintain your strengths.

But back Training Plan Pace vs. Day pace – knowing that training paces are: man-made, your body works in a continuum and whether running easy or hard ALL interrelate contributing and adapting at different degrees, then it is easy to understand why as coaches, we give a variety of training paces and sessions.

Now, how those training levels are determined is another topic for another article. And you probably have heard many definitions like: VO2max, pace at VO2, Lactate Threshold, Ventilatory Threshold and much more. This can get confusing and frankly pedantic because each coach/system may preach it like their way is THE way. And that is not the case at all; as the saying goes: “there are many ways to skin a cat”.

We at E3 use field testing and estimate Critical Power or Critical Velocity because it’s very practical to apply for athletes in the field which is where we train/race, there is ample research about it and many elite coaches use it. BUT, if you prefer another way, go nuts! Regardless of how you determine your training paces, ultimately you know some sessions will be easy, hard, short, long or something in between.

And this is the important part, whether you follow a general plan, you design your own or you have a coach who personalizes one for you, a session is meant to produce training adaptions in your body. And over time, yourself or the coach will monitor what your do and how you adapt adjusting your load based on your feedback, ability to recover, etc.

BUT, even the most involved coach who tracks, evaluates and adjusts your plan based on body language, feedback and fitness markers, will NOT completely be able to predict how your body will respond on a given day. Why? Because other external factors also affect your ability to adapt/recover. This can range from your every day diet (what you eat before or after training), training fuel (what you eat during training), where you train (weather/terrain), your age/gender, your life priorities (work, family, etc.), stress levels, recovery, health (colds), etc.

For instance, even when I regularly review my athletes logs, feedback, power/GPS/HR files, and use other controls to adjust/plan their training, I can’t predict *today* how their bodies will respond: tomorrow, in a week or in a month. because they may have extra stress due to family commitments, an unexpected work project, a cold, a bad diet due to social events, a bad night of sleep, etc.

Hence when a plan has a 30 min at ‘x’ pace or ride 60 min at ‘y’ power/HR, that’s the Training Plan Pace; or what the plan/coach suggests assuming your body is adapting/recovering in optimal conditions (perfect scenario). But when the body is been affected by other factors, you must adjust your training based on how your body feels on that particular moment. And that’s Day Pace.

Going back to scenarios presented at the beginning, if you were to experience #1, instead of forcing your body to do something it is not ready to tackle *that day*, instead you could adjust it by training by Day Pace which it may be a lower/easier intensity letting you to train without further straining your body in a negative way.

On the other hand, if you were to experience #2, then you could take advantage of the extra energy and train by Day Pace completing the session at a slightly higher intensity and/or longer duration getting an even better session.

If you are progressing your training within your own limits, besides the days when you feel “ON” or “OFF”, you will have “normal” days in which you can complete the session as Plan Pace. Most likely you experience Plan and Day Pace sessions regularly. This is why a training program must be flexible and coaches/athlete need to have open communication to allow athletes or coaches to train by Day Pace when appropriate.

Having this flexibility empowers athletes by listening their bodies in order to adjust based on how they feel (no one knows your body better than yourself!). And for coaches, it builds trust with your athletes allowing them to adjust sessions based on what they see/notice/hear, enhancing communication and growing to know their athletes much better improving adaptation/recovery rates.

So next time you go onto your 4th run of the week, no matter how easy it should be on paper, if your legs feel like lead & your body/mind feels “OFF” don’t force a predetermined pace or fret because you are running slower than usual. If you adjust by day pace instead, you will let your body get what it needs and  most likely adapt better, recover faster and train more consistently.

If you really feel crappy, an easy/short run or rest day may be in order so you can come back at it tomorrow. And if you feel invincible, enjoy the session, indulge ‘a bit’ training-wise and share the info with your coach because you have achieved a breakthrough session!

Happy Training and be flexible!

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Give the Gift of Coaching!

The 2016 triathlon season is quickly approaching and so are the holidays! With many IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 races selling out quickly, most athletes sign up for races nearly 1 year ahead without even knowing how they will get themselves ready for race day.

  • Do you know a special someone whose dream is to finish their first triathlon, qualify for their first World Championship, or even win their AG or races overall
  • Do you know a special someone that has made a commitment to a race without knowing how to best prepare for race day?
  • Do you know a special someone that may benefit from a gait analysis, swim analysis to get rid of injuries or improve performance
  • Do you know a special someone that wants to improve body composition, lose weight or improve energy levels with a nutritional plan

From now until the end of December, you can give a gift of “E3 Coaching”. We will be offering 1 free month on our Basic Integration program and 50% off for the 1st month on our Premium and Performance Integration Programs. Finally, we will also offer 25% off for our gait/swim analysis and nutritional plans. (doesn’t apply to other promotions or athletes currently enrolled in the PRO membership)

Why are We Different?

Our coaching model is a process-based approach with FOCUS ON THE ATHLETE! We do not use a general cookie cutter approach to force our athletes to fit into a particular “system”. Instead, all of our programs are fully personalized and built based on the athlete’s specific needs, goals, limitations and life priorities (family/work)

We offer a variety options for you to consider! Don’t know which program would be best for that special athlete in your life? Check out our Coaching Programs, Bio-mechanical Analysis and Nutrition Programs or CONTACT US TODAY with any questions may have!

As the purchaser (you) will receive an email with an E3 coaching gift certificate that you can download and print out to give as your gift. It is then up to the athlete, to decide if they view our services valuable and want to keep E3 as part of their journey toward their ultimate goal. These emails will be delivered to you on December 21.

Happy Training & Happy Holidays!




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Jana Richtrova

Coach Jana earned her E3 Level 1 certified coach and is in the process of becoming a USAT Level 1 coach. She also has an impressive personal racing experience having won the Amateur Title at Ironman Cozumel, qualifying for the Ironman World Chamionhsip (Kona) multiple times, winning the USAT Long Course National Championship, and winning various races overall/age group.

She has experience as a top performing athlete as a NCAA Division 1 Basketball player when she was recruited to come to the United States from her native Czech Republic to play for the University at Buffalo.

As an E3 Eliete athlete she brings a wealth of racing experience & enthusiasm  into our programs and having been an E3 coached athlete for 5+ years, she is very well versed with our coaching model, pillars for performance and various programs

Coaching Resume:

  • USA Triathlon Coach
  • E3 Level 1 Coach

Athletic Resume:

  • Ironman Amateur Champion – Ironman Cozumel 2013
  • 2nd Age Group and 11th Female Amateur at Ironman World Championship 2015
  • 2013 USAT Long Course National Champion
  • USAT Age Group Regional Champion 2012 & 2014
  • Qualified for Ironman World Championships (2012, 2014 & 2015)
  • Qualified for 70.3 World Championships (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014)
  • Overall and Age Group wins/podiums
  • USAT All American Honors 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Personal Records

  • Ironman – 9:58 hr
  • 70.3 Distance – 4:36 hrs
  • Olympic Distance – 2:05 hrs
  • Half Marathon – 1:27 hr
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American Liver Foundation Run Plans

If you want to get a copy for our plans and different levels click on the links below:

RFR Running Plans

RFR Run Plan Details




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Off-season – Training challenges, are those good?

With the off-season there is usually a phenomenon that comes with it – Training challenges! You know how they go, it is the beginning of a new month and your friends asked you to join the ‘this is a crazy bad ass’ challenge by doing an activity every day for so many days/weeks/months. There may be a variety of formats but the jest is the same: do so much of something pushing the boundaries of what you have done before.

And the goal for most challenges come from the right place: to help participants to remain motivated, encourage them try new things or to address areas of their fitness toolbox that may have been neglected during the training season. Still, the question is, are these challenges a smart way to do some training during the season?

The answer is: IT DEPENDS! Yeah, like with anything training related and if you are familiar with my coaching approach, there is very rarely a single definitive answer to training. Nevertheless, you may often hear coaches/athletes preaching specific single ways to do things as the only way. This may range from: “only forefoot striking is the correct to run, barefoot/minimalist shoes are better than cushioned shoes, you have to ride an arbitrary number of miles to race and Ironman, etc.” the list goes on and one, but when one objectively review the current evidence, it is very easy to realize that’s never the case. Why? Because some athletes succeed because of a particular way of training and others don’t. Most importantly, some athletes succeed because of the coaching approach and other in spite of it (this is a theme for another article!)

Well, if you know me, then you know I rarely proclaim such definitive arguments simple because in most cases the answer it tends to be “it depends”. And going back to the topic of challenges, the reason this may help or not comes down to the type of challenge you may choose to participate in, the training load (how much and how often) you will do and how this fits into your long term goals (big picture).

Let’s say during the racing season your running performance was your biggest limiter, then a challenge focusing on running more may be a great way to address this in a fun way, push you outside your comfort zone and correct something that will benefit you in the long term. The important operating word here is “may” and that’s because, as long as you approach the challenge in a smart way doing enough of it within your own limitations, then it will benefit you in the long run.

For instance, if prior to the challenge you were running 3x per week and your challenge is to ‘run every day for 30 days’ then, the challenge may help you as long as you build up slowly, you don’t follow arbitrary distances or paces, run more by feel and understand the point is to run a bit more (every day) and that spending some time on your feet (whether 5 or 30 min) is much important than anything else.

On the other hand it may NOT be a good challenge is you start running an arbitrary number of ‘miles/min or shooting for unrealistic paces; by doing this, in a matter of days your body will be unable to handle the load and you may either have to skips sessions forfeiting the challenge to avoid injury or push through (to keep up with the challenge) and risk ending up injured.

The same applies regardless of the challenge, whether you are doing pull ups, or swimming more or whatever. If you have NOT been doing the activity consistently in the past, then you have to approach it with caution and use the challenge in a smart positive way to motivate you and enjoy the benefits you can gain from it. Otherwise, the challenge may turn into some sort on unhealthy obsession (“I have to do this because…”) and turn into a negative force and a sure way to screw up your season before it starts.

I am not saying challenges are bad and that you shouldn’t test your boundaries or push outside your comfort zone, please do! But be smart, objective, realistic, do it within your fitness constraints and remember the training challenge should be a positive way to help you for the coming year.

As a coach, I sometimes do this with my athletes, I either let them know we will have a ‘training challenge’ ahead to focus on something or they know the focus of a particular training block it will be ‘x’ and then together we can focus on addressing the goal within the specific limitations.

In summary, whether you coach yourself or have a coach, training challenges can be a fun, positive way to help you address specific things during the off-season. Just setup objective goals, be smart and don’t lose sight of the big picture – the challenge will be positive as long as it keeps you healthy while pushing outside your comfort zone.

Keep enjoying the ‘off-season’ and be on the look for our Off-season FREE webinar which will be announced in coming days. Also learn more about our services here

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Introducing the PRO Program!

For the 2015 season we are introducing our PRO program; this is a way to get our services at a discounted cost with added benefits such as free classes, training camps discounts, sponsors product, etc. Simply, choose one of our programs and give us 12 months to prepare the best training program to help you achieve your best performances yet!

All our programs are 100% personalized created to address your specific needs, athletic goals, time limitations while striking a balance your life priorities like family and work. Here you won’t find any marketing buzz, no magic ‘systems’ and no shortcuts. Our athletes succeed based on hard and consistent work.

Check our different options

Our Full Integration Program is our top of the line service with a complete approach ideal for those athletes with challenging time constraints and/or those seeking to bring their performance to the next level. We address your specific athletic goals, target your individual needs and consider your limitations, all to strike the optimal balance between peak athletic performance and life priorities (family, work, etc.)

We follow an integrative approach addressing all elements of a triathlon program including a fully personalized plan, nutrition, testing, fueling, biomechanical analysis, execution plans, one-on-one sessions and performance modeling; all vital for maximal performance.

Our Basic Integration Program is an ideal option for the athlete seeking an integrative approach addressing important elements of triathlon training without the all the features available in the Full Integration

The Performance Plan is a great alternative for athletes seeking structured training and coaching support without the full integration of our other programs.This allows the athlete flexibility to tweak the structure in a personal way and get other services as need it.

Coaching Services Comparison Table


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Join our E3 Tri Team and Elite Team

E3 Training Solutions is committed to helping every day, amateur and elite athletes achieving superior performance through proven training concepts, latest science and technology. We offer Full Integrative Coaching Programs, Nutritional Programs, Performance Analysis, and more.  We offer three Triathlon Teams:

The E3 Triathlon Team is deeply committed to creating a friendly and supportive environment in which we welcome athletes of all athletic levels to train, socialize, and compete in triathlons, road races, and other endurance events. We offer an ongoing enrollment through the year . (learn more and sign up!)

The E3 AGroup Elite Team is for athetes who have achieved age group success but are seeking to reach the top of the age group ranks. We support it through coaching services, sponsorship deals and more. (learn more)

The Pro Elite Tri Team is for ‘up-and-coming’ amateur athletes that have reach the top level of success in the AG ranks and met the USA Triathlon pro/elite criteria as an Age Grouper. We support it through coaching services, sponsorship deals and multimedia presence, in order to develop their athletic potential to become the elite athletes for tomorrow. (learn more)

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Karen Vasso

At age 25, Coach Karen Vasso was depressed, overweight, and struggling with her health. At the urging of her brother, David, she made a plan to “get healthy”, joined a gym, and met him several times a week for workouts, which included swimming with the Masters team for which he was a coach. Karen’s vow to “never, ever, ever compete” was quickly shattered under the coaching and expertise of the Masters program, when one day during a time trial she took :53 off her 50m time, and the dream for Nationals was born.

Not wanting to journey alone, she challenged her triathlete teammates to join her in her pursuit at the New England Championships, and in return, she would join them in an open water race of their choosing. Karen caught the open water bug immediately, and several years later (after adding two New England relay records, five National Top 10 times, and numerous regional and open water podium finishes to her name), she made a decision to leave the pool racing behind, and make open water middle-distance marathons her focus.

Karen began her coaching career five years ago with a large Masters team that consisted of nearly 50% triathletes, from beginner, to elite, and even Olympic levels. She comes with the experience of learning to swim as an adult, which makes her an ideal choice for teaching adults. She has a contagious passion for open water swimming at every level, a unique approach to coaching, and a deep sense of commitment to helping make the goals of other athletes a reality.

Coaching Resume

  • ASCA Masters Coach Level III
  • E3 Level 1 Coach

Athletic Resume

  • 4 Marathon open water races, with podium finishes (Swim Around Key West 2-man relay-10K; Swim Around Key West solo -12.5 miles; Lake Willoughby-5 miles; the Kingdom Swim-10 miles)
  • Numerous sprint distance open water races, all podium finishes
  • 7 Triathlon relay podium finishes (Cranberry Trifest; FirmMan ; Lobsterman; Mooseman; Timberman)
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Jessica Douglas

By training, Jessica is a physical therapist, with 11 years of experience in private practice.  Recently, she was certified by the American Physical Therapy Association as an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist.  Over the years, she has focused much of her practice on working with athletes, studying and correcting muscle imbalances and biomechanics of the leg.

Jessica was a three-sport athlete in high school, and a runner for years after that.  She began training for triathlons when an injury prevented her from running and she bought her first road bike.  She dusted off her swim cap and goggles, long unused after years as a lifeguard, and after a few months, entered a sprint triathlon and dropped out of the race after the bike, as she was still unable to run.  After surgery to repair her injury, she began training in earnest, and competed in several sprints tri’s that year, with a few podium finishes.  She was hooked.

Around that time, she began working with Coach Jorge, who led her to complete her first half marathon, taking 6th in her age group.  They have been working together as coach and athlete for 2 years, and colleagues with E3TS since its inception.

Jessica is a self-proclaimed “anatomy junkie” and loves teaching others how their bodies work to perform each activity, whether it is running, cycling, swimming or strength training.  She is focused on keeping the proper muscle balance and maintaining the necessary strength and mobility through sport specific strength training.

Jessica completed the E3 Training Solutions Level 1 Certification and currently is training to complete the Level 2 and Continuing Education program.

Coaching Resume:

  • Master of Science in Physical Therapy * Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
  • E3 Level 1 Coach

Athletic Resume:

  • She has completed multiple Sprints/Olympics/Half Ironman and has also podium at local races.
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Rev3 Quassy Half Ironman – Race Report

In my previous post, I set the tone as to what kind of training, approach and preparation went into this race. As a quick recap, August 2009 was the last time I raced a Half Ironman. After that I start rehabbing a micro tear on my shoulder (rotator cuff) so I didn’t swim at all. Also, in 2010 I began the rehab from a knee surgery.

It is important to notice that neither of this two injuries occurred because of my endurance training. The shoulder injury was an acute one that occurred after I was dumb enough to jump into a boot-camp type of challenge with a friend and due to my lack of specific preparedness and bad technique; I suffered the injury while doing pull-ups (totally my fault). The knee injury evolved from a bad bike fit that *I* screwed up after traveling back and forward with my bike and not correcting it. Both, stupid mistakes but live and learn.

Anyway, most of 2010 I didn’t do much of anything most of the year, 2011 I was able to bike some (did cyclocross), run a bit, not much swimming and by 2012 I began to get back to training but very slow and conservative to make sure my body was fully recovered. I competed in a few sprint tris and began feeling like my old self to the point at the end of the year I decided I was ready to get back into full training mode and shoot for my return to long distance triathlon racing. In the Fall I signed up for Rev3 Quassy.

And fast forward to June 1st, the day before the race, I spent it as I have done the past few years, in ‘coach’ mode supporting some of my athletes racing the Olympic distance. It was great to be there cheering for them and seeing have great performances. All of the posted PRs and Jeff ended up in the podium even after a bike crash

But it was not the best as an athlete as I spent a lot of time walking, under the sun and heat day but I couldn’t help it and I didn’t care at all. Later in the day we had our team dinner which was another chance to talk to my athletes about their day performance or last minute pow-wow about the racing plans I provided.

At that time, it hasn’t clicked yet that I was actually racing the next day but soon enough, when we returned to the hotel and put on my bib number tattoos, it became more real. The rest was uneventful as I went to bed relatively early and unlike previous times when I can barely sleep due to the excitement, I slept like a rock until the 4 am alarm went off and it was time to fuel before the race. One of the things you kind of untrained due to the lack of racing is the ability to down a big breakfast that early! But I managed to eat my bagel, some fruit juice and soon enough we were on our way to the race site.

When we got there I put on my game face on and I was ready to race!

But in all honesty, I was feeling nervous and like a total rookie after so many years of not racing this distance. I literally had butterflies in my stomach but thankfully all that soon disappeared as I got into transition area and seeing my athletes relaxed me as I went into coaching mode.

I set up my transition in a few minutes, and I was good to go. From there everything was normal until the swim start, by then I began feeling ‘good to go’

Swim – 32:41min (slower than planned) 24th out of 140

Ok, this was probably my worst leg of the day bit somewhat expected. I knew my swim time would be between 30-32 min (my prediction based on a few open water swims) so I was surprised at first to see 32+ min swim. But after thinking back it make sense; I started at the front of the swim and as soon as the gun went off, I was at the front and holding my pace with the leaders. I them quickly settled into a nice pace and was following drafting some fast feet. But as I turned to breathe I gulped some water and this threw me off. For the remaining of that section I had trouble swimming comfortable, I felt like I was not in control and like I was totally out of my game, I was swimming of course, you name it, totally bad!

At the first turn around I eventually settled and kept on swimming though not yet comfortable. Towards the end of that section I calmed down completely and before the last turn around I finally got into a groove and began swimming relaxed passing people left and right. But I think that came all too late and couldn’t make up for all the lost time. As I exited the water I didn’t look at my time, I just focused on transition and getting to my bike

Transition 1 – 1:48min (prediction 2 min) 20th out of 140 (yup I passed 4 guys in transition!)
Not bad, execution was well for most part but I could have been more fluid as I felt rusty for sure!

Bike – 2:43:23hrs (prediction 2:45h) 14th out of 140 (I passed another 6 guys)

The bike leg was pretty solid for most part. Prior to the race and based on all my testing and race simulations, I estimated my Critical Power (CP) around 260-265 watts, hence I set up a target for the race to ride around 205-210 watts average for the entire 56 miles or around 80% of my CP. That said, the average would be lower as the racing wheel I have, (power tap 2.4)  ends to ready around 10 watts lower so to be safe I was shooting for 195-200w

My actual numbers were as follow:
Work: 1928 kJ
TSS: 178.4 (intensity factor 0.808)
Norm Power: 210
VI: 1.07
Distance:  56.311
Power: 196 watts
Cadence: 89 rpm
Speed: 20.6 mph

All in all I was around where I wanted to be but there were a few things I would have done different and I think it will come from getting more into regular racing ‘rhythm’, something I was certainly missing for this race! First, my ride was more variable of what I would have desired. If you take my average power (196w) and my normalized power (210w) the variability (NP/AP) was 1.07. This was slightly higher than my 1.05 goal. Now why is this big deal? Well, anytime your ride is more variable it means you spent some time riding above your target and sometimes below your target. The latter is normal in a rolling hilly course as Quassy simply because on long down hills you spend less time generating power and more time coasting enjoying ‘free’ speed.

For instance, around mile 46ish there is a 1+ mile downhill where I avg just under 37 mph for almost 2 min while my power was under 46 watts. There were around 16 times I did something like this lasting anywhere between 25-90 seconds so you can see why the ride may be somewhat variable. In fact, I spent  around 12min coasting looking at my power/cadence distribution charts. Now the important part, this can become ‘less’ variable with the times you ride uphill. This is because while you spend so little energy going downhill, you spend more energy going up, problem is, how much higher you go on those up hills that will keep the ride constant or make it variable.

In my case, and where my racing rhythm is a bit off, is that, on up hills while it is normal to have to produce a higher power to get your body overcome gravity and pull yourself up the hill, how much above your target will make your ride more ‘spikey’ and variable. My target for the race was to NOT go above 220-225w on long sustained (not so steep) climbs and stay below 230-235w on short more steep climbs. I didn’t execute as well on the 2nd part of the ride as I went over this target sometimes.

The other reason my ride was more variable than planned was because when you get to accelerate and spike your power way above your target and above your critical power as I did at times, you burn ‘matches’. Philip Skiba explains this very well in his article “Understanding Work Above Threshold” but in a nutshell, anytime you ride above your CP, you dip into a finite energy reserve called W’ (formerly known as anaerobic work capacity). This means, that as you use this finite energy source, and when you use it significantly you have to either stop or slow way down.

In long distance tris this is important because even if you use your W’ to some degree that doesn’t affect your bike, it may very well end up affecting your run! In my case, I spiked my power 7 times over my CP and sometimes above my 20 min max power. So this execution mistakes probably cost me ‘a bit’. (You can see this below, yellow dotted below line was power target, yellow dotted above is my CP, the line I didn’t want to cross much, the solid yellow line is actual power;  you can see some of the spikes above CP or the times ‘coasting’ as power dropped/speed increased).

Also, haven’t raced a Half Ironman in a while threw my ‘feel’ a bit and towards the end of the ride I slowed down a bit, not because I ran out of energy (in fact I was feeling very strong) but because I didn’t want to overdo it affecting the run so I finished conservative. In retrospect, I should have kept my pacing as it was…

Now the main mistake I did on the bike was with my fueling. As I mentioned on my ‘Comeback’ article, I did a lot of specific bike training though I think I didn’t do enough fuel adaptation. That is, in some of the longish rides I did, I missed the chance (rookie mistake) to really practice my fueling as in race day.

Therefore, during the bike I consumed a bit aggressive number of carbs which would have been fine if not for a lack of focus in the last water stop. What happened is that for every gram of carbohydrates that you consume, you have to dilute it with water to keep the concentration to a level that won’t upset your stomach at best or result in an Exercise Related Transient Abdominal Pain aka a “side stitch” at worst. The literature suggests keeping the concentration between 6-9%. For people prone to stitches (like me) you want to stay on the low end. Well, my mistake was that I not only didn’t practice my fueling to the extent I did on race day, but also, in the last water stop where I meant to get water, my mind thought water but my mouth yelled “Gatorade”. As I grabbed the bottle I realized my mistake but just kept going.

I figured it would be ok, but didn’t do the math in my head, therefore my carbs: water concentration ended up been over 12% (uh-oh!). Anyway, I didn’t think much of it during the bike, I focused on riding, passing as many people as I could and unlike other races where I tend to get passed by many stronger riders, this time around I was doing the passing and maybe 3-5 guys passed me at the most. I was very excited about my bike as it has placed me in a great place and I know I have a lot of room for improvement. Nevertheless, the fueling mistake would end up costing me on the run a lot…

Transition 2 – 0:58 (prediction 1:30min) 13th out 140 (I passed another guy in transition!)
This was great, In and out! I did waste a bit of time putting my socks on, but hey, I can’t race sockless this distance J

Run – 1:27:24 – 6:40 min/mile pace (prediction, sub 1:25hr) 6th out 140

The run started great, I came out of T2 feeling great and excited after seeing so many familiar faces.  I was also told I was perhaps 4 or 5 in my AG and that gave me the motivation to focus and settled into a nice rhythm, after all, running has always been my strong leg and I am usually confident I can make up time, catch people ahead, etc.

All went well for the 1st 3ish mile, having done the course a few weeks back, I knew this portion would be faster than my race pace target of 6:30s. I ran 6:15s for this portion due to the downhills and I was feeling great and I passed 4-5 guys, however by the middle of mile 3 as I fueled in the previous two water stations with coke and water I began having an old yet very well-known feeling; a dreaded side stitch! Having had this before, I knew I had to go into ‘damage control’ ASAP so I started trying to switch my breathing patterns, took shallow deep breaths, and began inhaling through my nose, exhaling through my mouth.

All seemed to work as I could feel some discomfort but it felt like I was been successful keeping it at bay. Then the 3rd water station came and as I fueled drinking more coke and water, the side stitch smacked me harder than a 20 ton trailer. I was running through the dirt road uphill section on the back of the curse and every step was beginning to feel like pure agony. All I could feel was like some evil alien made its way into my right side abdomen and it was using a knife to cut through my stomach to exit and be free! For the next mile or so I just remember gritting my teeth and trying to hold into the fastest pace possible while grabbing my side abs in pain.

I didn’t look at my watch but I could tell I was not only NOT gaining on guys ahead of me, but I was actually been caught by others. I kept on focusing on my breathing patterns and just struggling to run at a decent pace. I slowed down to over 7 min/miles and the pain was so bad I rolled my top up turning into a mankini (not pretty at all) and pulled my shorts down some. All I wanted was to avoid anything touching that area. As I ran a small out and back section between mile 4.5 and 5.5 it became obvious I only had 2 options. Either, I would have to stop, walk, slow down, forget about the time, placing and racing, let the stitch to go away but eventually I would be able to fuel and complete the run. Or if I wanted to attempt keep racing, I could take a riskier move; endure the pain for another mile or two and stop fueling all together (maybe drink some water). I figured by avoiding fueling (carbs), the pain may go away as the concentration in my body would normalize;  and by sucking up the pain for a few miles, I would be able to speed up “going for it” at the risk of hitting the wall. After all, I was going to go without fueling for over 7 miles.

I chose the latter and went with it. Over the next mile the pain became somewhat bearable so I sped up to 6:45s, then it got better and ran 6:30-35s and I was able to get into a groove; well that until mile 11ish hit. That’s when it happened, the inevitable occurred, I ran out of energy and blew up like a Mexican Piñata!

From there on, I just toughen it up running as fast as I could for the last few miles. I managed to pick up the pace the last 1/2 mile but the damage was done. When all was said and done, I finished 6th in my AG and 21st amateur overall with a 4:46:14, over 1:14 min my pre-race prediction (not bad at all).

Thinking back, I am not disappointed about the result at all as I know I had a good performance considering my training and my time away racing this distance. I do know the mistakes I did were preventable and something I will work on so it WON’T in coming races. I am very excited about my fitness and honestly I am feeling better, perhaps of what it was when I stopped racing long course back in 2009.

I have big goals for this season and I plan to work hard to go after them. I don’t know if they will become a reality and I don’t care. Nothing happens if we don’t try right? And if they do come a reality, it will just be the icing on the cake because what I am enjoying the most is the training and the time I now get to spend with my athletes while doing it, so it will be a win win!

Timberman 70.3 here I come!

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