Thursday, 1 July 2010

FiveFingers Revolution

You may have heard of the Vibrams FiveFingers and have already come up with an opinion on them (cool, freaky, totally unacceptable...). Why are these causing a revolt? Well, they are the one product that allows people to begin the transition to using our feet like they were designed to be used. Far too long (since Nike came about basically) have we abused our own physiology by strapping on over structured, expensive shoes that really only make us weaker and more prone to injury.

Running barefoot is how we were designed and how we have ran throughout the majority of our history, and so it doesn't take much intellectual firepower to come to the conclusion that for most people running on our own structure make sense. If you have heard about, or even read 'Born to Run', then you know of the Mexican indians that run crazy distances over insane terrain on basically a rubber slab strapped to their feet. Or you may have heard about persistence hunting, where humans actually ran down their prey before they had weapons (and still do in some parts of the world).

I could go on, but really what I am trying to share is that running barefoot is not going to become the new standard. But, rebuilding our feet so they can actually support our needs by using FiveFingers and really lightweight unstructured running shoes will allow us more time running and less time recovering from injury. It will also leave some money for other needs as expensive running shoes will disappear from our budgets.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Trek’s Speed Concept – major step forward?

From the press review and the clamour to buy one, it seems this new development by Trek has really hit the mark. It is obviously a nicely designed bike that looks fast and comes in lots of variations and price points. Add to the hoopla of the TDF around the corner and seeing Mr. Armstrong riding it once again on 3 July, and the love fest will only likely grow. The bike is going to be a top sellar this year and likely for years to come, but what I am not sure is will it have the same impact that Cervelo’s P3C had in 2006 when it became fully available.

Does this bike really take a step forward in both aero and functionality? As for functionality, it certainly looks like Trek has done a stellar job on their homework with an amazing front brake, hidden cables, hidden rear brake, aero storage fairing, a better bento box and even aero quick releases. Did I mention the implanted Ant+ receiver? That in itself is a huge step forward as all cyclists around the world have fought the battle of attaching a speed/cadence sensor on their fork or chainstays. This integrated solution looks to be such a simple and obvious design, but one that seems to be so far from any other manufacturers minds. That has now changed. This bike will change the paradigm of tri bikes as now it will become the standard to not only make an aero looking bike (I say aero looking, as the aero claims for most frames are quite exaggerated), but also going forward truly functional in supporting the rider with the storage needs that are necessary for the long course triathlete.

The only problem I see with the bike and its design is the stem/bar limitations. Trek claims that its set up is more adjustable than most standard stem/bar options, but I measured the stack and reach of my set up on my P3C and to get the same set up on a Speed Concept I would require lower pads than can be attained from Trek’s options. I don’t think Trek will suffer many lost sales due this type of issue however, but as cyclists continue to get smarter and more informed about proper bike fit and the limitations of certain frame designs, there may be an impact on the sales of this frame.

So, the questions remains to be answered: will cyclists buy a bike that does not fit them quite right to get the amazing functionality that comes with the Speed Concept? If they don’t, how long will it take Scott, Cervelo, Felt, Giant and the others to react to Trek’s ground breaking new bike?

I for one, hope that Cervelo meets the challenge promptly as my P3C is due to be replaced in the next few months or year, and I would love to stay in the Cervelo Mafia

Friday, 4 June 2010

Training Camps

I have been doing my own training camps for several years, with camps in Colorado, Texas, France, Greece and Mallorca. All of those camps were tough and had some good and bad aspects. What I intend to do in this series is to review the camps I have completed so that I can share my experiences to those who might want to plan there own; or perhaps stimulate some thought on other places to hold training camps. I will do this in reverse chronological order, with Mallorca being the first.

The plan for Mallorca was to escape the cold and wet UK spring weather and get in some high volume training. Mallorca in March is not necessarily warm, so choosing that location required some last minute confirmation and a back up plan (Tenerife in this occasion) if the weather looked to be unsat. The specific goals of the camp were to train with Ironman St. George in mind, and that meant lots of climbing and time on the bike. As St. George is a tri bike course, I chose to bring the P3C even though it is not ideal for climbing and descending (but not bad, really).

What I found in Mallorca was a cyclists paradise, decent running and an average place for swimming. In March, the sea is still very cold and there aren't tons of pools available (I did find one decent one in Palma) and our hotel had a 50m outdoor pool that was not heated (I swam in with my wetsuit...much to the amusement of the other guests).

Depending on where the camp is based, will dictate the quality of running and swimming, but cycling will be good regardless. I rode on nearly empty (of cars anyway) roads all around the South east, and throughout the centre of the island. I easily rode up to Pollenca and along the mountainous north west area, so each day had distinct options and allowed for a nicely structured camp.

Running seemed to be good, and I had a great long run along the sea from Palma along the south coast, but it was flat and in hindsight, was not super for Utah as that course demands hills in training.

My out take from this camp was: Great place for cycling at nearly any time of the year. Running is good, but needs some thought in relation to where the camp is based and the type of running desired. Swimming has to be considered a weakness (unless the camp is later in the year). The food, culture and overall quality of the island was top notch and made for a really nice holiday apart from the training.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Carbon Clinchers

Now that Zipp has joined the other manufacturers and is now producing the 404 in a carbon clincher model, is there any reason to not own a pair? I have been a big proponent ever since a mate of mine did a full season of cyclocross on his Reynolds, with not so much as a scratch. He was a pretty big rider, and could put out tons of power along with some punishing technical skills. That he did not harm his carbon clinchers several years ago convinced me that the fears many people had were overblown.

My next training wheels will be carbon clinchers.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Kona Bike

This is the Ironman Hawaii bike course. A course known for heat and winds that generally are a crosswind. In just a few months I will be racing on this course and am now doing some planning so that I can comfortably go sub 5 hours on it.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

IRONMAN Utah - the long version

The day started just before 4 am, but really a bit earlier as I only slept sound until around 3 am. I got up, cleaned up and dressed in my tri kit along with some warm clothes for the pre and post race period. I rechecked my transition bags and then sat down for a pretty normal breakfast of yoghurt w/granola & honey, a couple of small slices of sourdough toast w/Nutella, a large glass of OJ and a double tall skinny mocha (reheated).

Angie dropped Howard & me off at T2 and from there we loaded onto a bus where I withdrew into my thoughts and iPod (combination of high motivation and calming music). Much of the ride out to Sand Hollow Resevoir was spent reminding myself that I had done a lot of work, had to be strong, weather all the down moments and be prepared to hurt badly if I wanted to get my Kona slot. I reminded myself how fortunate I was to be able to compete in such an event and how amazing the amount of support that was coming my way from my family and friends. I spent considerable time focusing on the positives and how much I love this sport, and tried not to worry about my shoulder, lack of swim training and my abbreviated build up for the race. I knew my fitness was far from where I hoped it would be, but felt that I had the mental strength to push beyond what the pure physical numbers might suggest.

Upon arriving at T1, we made our way to our bikes and I did a quick check of the brakes to make sure they were centred (but I did not have my handy Pedros wrench to make any adjustments, so I guess I am fortunate that none were needed.) I did notice that my front tire was a bit soft and had to borrow a pump to top it off. I had originally planned to bring a pump, then pass to Kurt, but the tire seemed to be holding air well and I felt the likely need was minimal, and I worried that finding Kurt to return his pump may have been stressful and possibly fruitless.

Once I got my bike sorted (two bottles – water w/NUUN in a large one, and 500ml of Gatorade in the other), and attached my SRM, I went to find the loo. It quickly became obvious that using the loo was going to be a challenge as the queue was very long and time was getting short. I decided to get my wetsuit on and drop my morning clothes and then see if another opportunity might arise. No luck, so I knew that I likely would have to stop in T2 or soon after for a pit stop, but was not too worried about that. In hindsight, I think a pit stop right before making the journey to the resevoir may have been a better option as most people were focused on getting on the buses and the loos were probably free at T2.

That issue sorted, I made my way to the swim start, all the while looking for Angie and my family. The swim venue is a stunning place with the amazing red rock landscape all around the water. I noticed the amazing views but did not see anyone from 'Team Jack' and proceeded to enter the water as soon as we were allowed. I did not want to repeat Zurich from last year and find myself on the beach when the gun went off, so I swam out to the start line and did some warm up strokes, kicks and generally tried to get loose. Unfortunately, I was in the water for over 15min getting cold (without realising it) before the gun went off.

The Swim: At the gun, all chaos broke loose and within 400m my left goggle got kicked and then filled with water. After swimming (or trying to swim amongst all the energy, confusion and aggression) for a few more minutes I decided to stop and adjust my goggles. After doing that I tried to get into a rhythm, but found myself getting anxious, then out of breath, then had a minor panic attack and I had to stop briefly and refocus myself to sort things out. Once I did that, my breathing improved and my stroke began to feel better and better out towards the first turn.

The course was a big rectangle with the start going out on one long end, then a left turn into the rising sun, then another left back along the long tangent, before turning left after the island to the finish ramp. I felt pretty good out to the first turn with decent sighting and reasonable sensations (after settling down), but the chaos remained all around me with only a few moments of calm water. Once I turned left into the sun, sighting went away as the sun was bold and blinding. I decided to just follow the feet in front of me and hoped they were staying on course.
At the next turn, my calves seized and I had to stop and massage and curse. I was stopped for a solid 90 seconds or more and a kayak started to make its way to me, in obvious concern. Once I got my calves to relax, I tried to get into a good, smooth rhythm that would not cause another problem with my calves, but found myself getting cold. Real cold. I have never shivered in a wetsuit, nor have ever lost feeling in my arms and the long tangent back was a battle just to generate some heat and try to maintain a semblance of a decent stroke. At times, I felt good and swam with strength and comfort, but much of the time I felt like I was swimming out of control and freezing to death. Finally the last turn approached and I had a bit of elation hit me knowing that only a few more minutes had to be endured before the race really began.

T1: The swim into the finish was un-remarkable and once I hit the ramp, I noticed a lot of guys just sort of meandering along, which irked me as I knew the real slow athletes don’t race the transitions and I began to worry that my swim was a very slow one. I got my wetsuit top off ok, with only a bit of snag and then ran to a wetsuit stripper who did not do an efficient job and had to yank and grab to get the suit off my ankles. From there, I ran to my T1 bag then into the tent, where I found a teeming mass of humanity all chaotically trying to change. WTF, I thought, where was there any space for me to sit down and get changed... After jogging to one end of the tent then the other I spotted a free spot where I dropped and got to work. A helpful volunteer took my wetsuit and I just had to get my socks, shoes, spare cycling jersey, helmet and sunglasses on, which was not a fast process. Having not done a transition since last August, the movements were sloppy and in the tight space I did not have much freedom of movement.

Once out of the changing tent, I moved swiftly to my bike (found with no drama) and then out of transition with a flying mount that missed my saddle and landed on my Beaker Concepts hydration tail....oi! It did not snap or bend and I managed to climb on my saddle with no loss of moment (or at least it seemed) and was off on my 180km scenic joy ride.

The Bike: The course design was a 38km rolling stretch from the reservoir to the start of the two loops. The two loops had the majority of the climbs and potential for wind problems going up Snow Canyon or coming back into St. George on SR 18. The loops have 2 distinct climbs and a lot of less distinguishable but very noticeable climbing. This course has a bit more total climbing than Zurich, but is much slower due to the road condition differences and the prevailing winds. It is also a course that really is great to ride with excellent views, wide roads and great terrain that makes drafting less likely.

Once out on the road, I immediately felt cold and numb on the bike and started shivering like mad with my teeth chattering as if I were riding on cobblestone. I had the urge to push really hard to generate heat but kept to my plan and stayed on 220 watts. The first segment went by very quickly and I don’t remember much other than being cold and passing hundreds of other cyclists. I did not see any drafting and throughout the day the course seemed tough and big enough to prevent drafting packs from forming. For me, the real bike course started once out on old Highway 91 that heads up Snow Canyon. That road is the roughest on the course (but less rough than the roads in London, for sure!). It winds generally up and is primarily into a headwind that gets funnelled down the canyon. I felt really good on the first lap and stayed right on my number with a nicely conservative approach to the hills. It did drag on as I mentally thought I was about to hit the switchback called the ‘Wall’ at the top of the canyon, but it seemed to always be just beyond the next bend.
Before going up the ‘Wall’ there is a short, straight and steep hill that is tough, but very manageable due to its length. After getting over the ‘Wall’ I knew that the descent was not right off the bat, but had forgotten there were other climbs on SR 18 before the descent into St. George began. At about this point I started to pick up gels and more bananas. I consumed a clif bar, one gel and some Gatorade in the first hour, but my stomach felt bloated from the swim so I did not eat as much nor as quickly so it could sort itself out. In the second and third hours it felt better and I got back on track nutrition wise. Overall, I had 8 gels, 1 small Clif bar, 1 Powerbar, 2 halves of banana, and 1000ml of Gatorade, along with nearly two 20oz bottles of water w/NUUN. I carried an extra NUUN tablet in my bento box and crushed into the fresh water I picked up in the 4th hour. I drank a bit less than I would have expected, but it was very cool for the first two hours and I did not sweat much at all on the bike.

On the descent into St. George, there seemed to be a nice tail wind and I found that I could get down into a classic road descending position and really pick up speed (89kph for a top speed). I passed lots of folks this way and loved the free time being aggressive and aero provided me.

The second lap was easier by some respects as I knew the course better and did not stress about what was around the corner. As the lap went along there was some noticeable fatigue in my hamstrings and my injured calves, but only a minor amount and it did not stress me much. My self talk on the bike was positive the entire ride and I never questioned myself other than to ensure I did go too hard on the climbs. Once out of the canyon for the last time and on the final descent into T2 I allowed myself to assess the tactical situation and felt that there were probably no more than 50 guys still out in front of me with most of those being pro’s.

T2: This is a short story as I came into T2 and did a running dismount (not super smooth, left foot snagged the pedal as usual...), and then turned the corner and saw a volunteer holding my T2 bag. We ran into the tent together and he emptied my bag while I took off my shoes and helmet, then put on my trainers, visor and grabbed a gel. The only negative was that I forgot to remove my cycling top, but overall it was a blazing fast T2, one of the very fastest including the best of the pro’s.

The Run: This run is a brutal creation and beyond anything I really expected even after cycling and driving the course. It was up and down the entire time with steep pitches and almost no flat ground to be found. I came out of transition fast as usual and was immediately almost knocked off my feet by the roar from my family who were just outside T2. I blew Angie a kiss and off I went, running the first mile in around 6:45 (uphill of course). I took the liberty to stop at the first porta-loo to clear out my system, and then it was back on the course for over three hours of torture, where I noticed there were hardly any runners on the course.

My plan was to try and run a solid pace (whatever that might be considering the terrain) for the first 16-18 miles and then try to hold what I could of it until the emotion of the last mile or two took over. That plan was very difficult to follow as the hills just beat me to tar and the run quickly became a survival contest. After about 6 miles, I decided to break the race into 5-mile chunks (yes, I called them chunks). There was no rhyme or reason to the distance or name, but I figured five 5-mile chunks would get me to the last mile. It helped and I focused on finishing the second chunk from there, where I would be 40% through the chunks. I did all kinds of math to work out different ways of making the distance manageable.

After the first turn around at just under 7 miles (which is just after a sneaky detour up Pioneer Park in a winding and miserable way), I really began to wonder if the legs were going to make it as more fatigue than I expected was felt. I started to really try and motivate myself with my key phrases and thoughts of the family and friends who were out there supporting me. I knew the last couple miles back into town were downhill and then I would hopefully see Angie and my family. Before I got to the town, I ran up the other detour (bloody bastards), and the digital board (on my first trip up the detour the board had my number and note that I was in 42nd place) had my number and special message that was repeated by the announcer: ‘HTFU 1013, you were born to run!’

When I saw my family, my only thought was to shed my cycling jersey as quick as I could, and once I did that I gave Angie a slit across my throat to share my feelings at that point. I really did wonder how long the next out and back would take at my quickly faltering pace. From there, each little hill and descent were taken gently as my hip, and knees began to ache very badly. Over the last few miles, running down hill was probably slower for me due the pain in my knees. What caused my knees so much pain is a mystery and one that needs some thought and study after the race. The distance did continue to creep by and as I approached the turn around on the last out, I knew that I was almost in the last chunk and nearly home free, which gave me motivation. The course proceeded to beat that motivation out of me as miles 20-23 were my slowest by far (over 9min per mile pace...ugh!). Up to that point, I had ran through every aid station and taken coke and water (and an orange on one, and Gatorade on another), and now began to think whether I needed to get any more kcals to finish the race. I told myself that I would hit two more aid stations (between miles 23 and 25) and continue to run through them at race pace. I hit the aid stations and my emotions got the better of me as I turned onto Diagonal lane and knew the last mile was upon me. After rounding onto main, it was a blessed feeling and I gave it a huge burst to the finish, nearly catching the runner in front of me (who had 34 on his calf, but a number that placed him in my AG and he ended up finishing just ahead of me in my AG).

The finish was a blur and two volunteers were able to catch me and lower me to the ground, where they raised my legs and massaged my beat up muscles. They picked me a few minutes later and then escorted me to the medical tent where I was checked over and began to feel a bit more normal.

After the race, I went from nauseous and in misery to elated and full of excitement, but I did not want to know the results or speculate on Kona after the letdown of Zurich. My family found me and were congratulatory and very kind, and Angie and Troy really looked after me as I did not have good stability or good sensations. My time was not what I had hoped, so I was not super confident that I was in the top ten or in Kona consideration.

After sitting for a while and getting some warm dry clothes, I went to see Howard come into the finish. I was pretty miserable internally as my stomach felt like it was torn and my legs were completely weak. I was empty and quite weak overall, and all I could think about was my bed. After collecting my bike and gear (Troy & Angie handled that), we made our way home where I got a nice shower (although I nearly collapsed from exhaustion and a bit sick feelings mid-shower). A short, not super restful nap and then I got up and joined the others for some pizza, bread sticks and salad (took me 2 hours to eat a very small amount).

The next day, I was still fatigued, sorer and still very unsettled internally. I had a better appetite, but did not eat quickly nor much.

Overall Time - 10:13:25 (5th AG, 39th OA)
 Swim – 1:11:21(88th AG, 485th OA)
 T1 – 5:29
 Bike – 5:18:40 (2nd AG, 25th OA)
 T2 – 1:14
 Run – 3:36:28

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Tapering and Stress? One in the same?

I am sure many triathletes (and other endurance athletes) can attest to how stressful tapering for a big event seems to be. I am not sure if it the changes in daily training where the body and mind are used to a greater load that induce the irritation, anxiety and sometimes nausiousnous. The big event itself can’t be to blame for the stress that invades my body in the weeks prior, as I have raced in more than a hundred and fifty events over the last 15 years. The stress of training changes, excess energy from said reduction in training, travel and logistics issues that pop up all seem to be the primary cause, but often there are others such as equipment dramas that unfold at the most unfortunate time, or even a head cold that arrives just a few days before the race.

How to minimise this stress? The first thing to do, is to ensure all equipment is in top order long before the taper period begins, as that is one area that can induce more than stress (think heart attack). What else can a type ‘A’ do to keep the mind and body from going into overdrive? For me, music is very helpful, and not super calm or relaxed music, but just great tunes that bring about other thoughts and emotions outside of the race and all its demands. I also try to simplify the days prior to a race so that there aren’t melt downs when one think goes awry and impacts several other things. Taper is not really the time to pack the schedule with non training or racing related things (even though there seems to all that extra time). I try to add only things that are fairly simple and not too time consuming or demanding (a bit of DIY or work around the flat, or more time catching up with friends, etc.).

For IM St. George, my taper was going fine with no bike issues, travel complexities (the volcano situation was quite tenuous for several days...) or other major problems sprouting. The one thing that got me this time, was a head cold that hit me 8 days before the race, and proceeded to stick around right up to and through the race. I spent those 8 days intensely speculating how I managed to get infected and could almost pinpoint the moments.

How insane is that kind of obsession??...oh the joys of tapering

Monday, 19 April 2010

My Coaching service

I have been working with cyclists and triathletes for several years now and I have usually just focused on developing my service through word of mouth. Over the course of the last couple of years, I have tossed around the idea of getting a web presence, but haven't gotten much if anything done beyond some bits and bobs of web page design. Well, now, after getting some wise advice from Tobes, my efforts have a focus and a plan that supports my current approach to building my client base and involves the internet and social media.

Look for this blog to become more dynamic as I will start to approach topics other than my personal journey in this sport. I will start to share ideas on products that I use, nutrition and race strategies, and other more (hopefully) useful topics for endurance athletes.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Blocking and drafting

I am not talking about the race itself, but rather swimming at my local pool and riding on my training rides. Why do people walk into the pool and see three lanes clearly marked, slow, medium and fast and proceed to get into the fast lane only to do a lazy breathstroke that takes nearly 3min per 100 meters? I just don't get it. I am not a fast swimmer, but often I am the fastest at my pool, which doesn't say much for the overall depth of speed there... Nonetheless, if I show up and I see someone clearly going much faster than I would, I look to the medium lane so I avoid being a roadblock in the fast lane. I sure wish all swimmers would show the same courtesy.

My second whinge is about people who decide to ride on my wheel (in my draft) without so much as a hello. That is just plain dangerous and quite rude behaviour. If I don't know someone is riding so close, I will not think to consider that rider when I hit the brakes, swerve to avoid a pothole or whatever else. More than anything, I think it is bad form to latch on to someone for a nice tow without even offering to pay for the ride. In fact, the last time it happened I asked the rider for £10 at the stop light. He laughed. I was serious. I do get a few nice comments when some people latch on, especially if they have a power meter.

Oh well, back to my taper.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Technology & training

How badly do we need technology when we train? For most triathletes and cyclists, information from various devices are part of the basic feedback we need to understand what our bodies are experiencing. Training is often structured around the technology (i.e, using power to establish effort on the bike, or pace for running efforts). Heart rate has been the most used information in my endurance career, but has now become a back up form of information (mostly for post training reviews). I have been using a SRM Power Meter for about 7 years now on my bikes and have established power zones for types or steady state riding and any type of high intensity intervals. I use the power meter to test my fitness and from those tests, I set new training zones. My GPS watch gives me similar feedback while running in the form of pace, and I use it on every run.

Until January 2010, that is. In the span of one week, my SRM broke and my GPS forgot how to pick up satellites. In just a few days, I went from seeing power numbers, estimating calorie usage, measuring training stress scores and seeing my pace to one thing: a stop watch. How distraught was I at that moment? Well, words were spoken and my heart rate certainly hit some new highs and I found myself wondering how I could even manage a simple training session without my technology.

Flash forward to mid February and I find myself running, cycling and swimming with decent regularity and the stop watch seems to give me enough feedback (keeping my 2.5hour run from becoming a death march I imagine). There are many people who don’t use power meters, GPS or even HR monitors and they can and do race at a high level. I can say, that my training was reasonable, and in some instances (running) I really enjoyed training in the dark ages, but I do think that the technology we have give us the information we can use to make better decisions and to ensure we do the work we plan and want to do.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Olympics and an Ironman

When I first got word of my secondment to Vancouver I had some thoughts of possible conflicts with my Ironman preparations, but for the most part felt I could manage it and stay on track with my plan. I knew the job in Vancouver would be demanding and I would likely be unable to ride outside much, but my hotel was very near the seawall running path and a big 50m pool complex. It seemed, in September 2009, that I had nearly everything I needed to train effectively. The one concern was the bike as I did not want to bring my own turbo trainer due to the weight and challenges of carrying it with my 3 bags, and bike box. I went back in forth over what exactly I would do (find a spin class, or rent a turbo trainer, or buy a used one or cheap one..)

My plan was in full build during January and February and the volume was planned fairly high with a heavy focus on power development on the bike, consistent and frequent running, and swimming lots of good quality meters.

My work schedule was built around the timing of the Olympic Games and the nature of my venue, and it was fairly clear that my Ironman plan did not fit neatly with the Olympics demands. In fact, my time in the venue was much greater than what I believed it would be, cutting into my training time even more. With the Venue going live much earlier than other venues, and it also being a 24hour/7day a week operational model, I knew the latter half of January right up to the beginning of March would be super busy.

How did it all work out? Well, the Olympics won and the games were flawless from our perspective and my job was a success. My Ironman training? I would have to say, a step backward for sure. My training volume was only about 50-60% of my plan with running being the most consistent, followed by cycling then swimming. If you would ask me, I would have thought being so close to a pool would make it easy to get in 5-6 swims per week. Turns out, the pool was really busy at times and had some classes that would limit access when I needed to squeeze in a swim.

I got in a decent amount of running and met most of my daily goals, which was satisfying and helps me think that maybe my fitness is not a total lost case. My cycling, however, is where my worries are the highest and my Ironman could be a disaster if my bike prep is insufficient.

Time will certainly tell if this experience was beneficial to me in total or just professional.