Tour of Chicago: 2011 Race Report Part 1

Ok, picking up from Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 14, it’s time for the first part of the race report.   There will actually be a bit of overlap with the previous article just in terms of the days.  And if it seems a bit more stream of consciousness than usual, it’s because I’m doing it on the fly to kill time in the hotel.

Friday

I slept like a log Thursday night and this was actually a weird weekend sleep wise. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I tend not to sleep on the night before a race but so long as I got a good night’s sleep the night before the night before I’m fine.  The problem being that I was racing two days in a row.  I was worried that a bad night’s sleep tonite would affect me on Sunday.   Mind you, this wasn’t worth putting much mental energy into; I couldn’t do anything about it.

I puttered around the house Friday morning, dealt with dog stuff and did one last equipment check; I’m always worried about forgetting something and that’s where I get a little bit OCD about it, checking and rechecking.  I had my main skates with the 110 mm wheels (and the wheels I’d skated Thursday) and just in case of rain, I packed my 100mm frames as well (along with some normal 100mm race wheels); I have some wheels that supposedly run on wet pavement.  I had some extra bearings to dick around with those as well.

Travel, as always was a nightmare.  Between a weather delay and then sitting on the runway for an hour waiting for something to let us leave, it was mainly frustrating.  I truly hate traveling of late for this reason but driving the 15 hours would have been too exhausting.  Not that I didn’t still consider it if only to avoid dog separation anxiety.

The upshot was that I rolled into Chicago at 4pm, by the time I got my bags and my rental car, it was rush hour.  Joy.  So I ground my way down to the event site to get my race packet and find the actual race course even if all I wanted to do was go to the hotel.  Glad I did too, where we picked up the packets was NOT where the race was going off.  I went to the actual race site and got a chance to check out some of the course.  The pavement wasn’t as smooth nor as flat as the event site had led me to believe but I had made the right wheel selection anyhow.

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Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 14

In Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 13 I did a quick recap of the previous 6 week block and laid out the overall schedule that I planned to follow for the second six week (skate focus) block with each individual workout.  In brief I stuck with my same 5 days out of 7 training schedule with an alternating hard day/easy day approach as shown below:

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Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
AM OFF IL: Tempo B: Aerobic IL: Sprint OFF IL: Tempo SB: Aerobic
PM B: Threshold B: Driveway Series B: Interval

Notes: IL = inline, B = bike, SB = slideboard.

Today I’ll look at how the block actually progressed week by week (or didn’t), note anything of interest and talk about my final taper to the Chicagoland Inline Marathon..  More specifically, I was doing the Tour of Chicago, 3 races across two days consisting of a 10k pack race Saturday morning, a 2 mile individual time trial Saturday afternoon and the full Marathon pack race on Sunday.  It was going to be a hell of a weekend that was for sure and it required that I develop pretty much every physiological system as well as I could.

As I noted in an earlier part I had set some specific goals in terms of the wattages I wanted to hit on the bike (I had less of a feel for where I might get on my skates in terms of top end speeds) and had one specific body composition/body weight goal.  For the most part I hit them although this was backtracked by an equipment issue in Week 3 that I’ll mention below.  My overall goal was to be stronger (wattage and speed wise) at a lower body weight/body fat than I’d ever been.   Now let me look at each week of the block and what happened or didn’t as the case may be.

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Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 13

Ok, time to prattle again.  Previously, in Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 11 and Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 12, I looked in some detail at my post-race analysis of my performance at the Texas Road Rash, what I had determined and how I had set up my training to address the problems leading into the next major event, the Chicagoland Inline Marathon.

In short I had decided that I had a power/top speed problem along with some skills deficits and had divided my training into two 6 week blocks with a bike focus in the first 6 weeks and a skate focus in the second six weeks.  The focus was on driving up my power outputs on the bike (with some targeted interval and tempo work) along with some neuromuscular work on my skates for top speed and sprinting (essentially to teach my body how to use increased power outputs skating at high speeds).  In those articles, I laid out my specific training and the progress I made over the first 6 week block.  Read ’em.

And now it’s time for the next update.  Specifically I’ll you how and why I laid out my second six week block and taper leading up into the Chicagoland race and I’ll do this partly today finishing up on Friday.  First  I want to talk about the event itself, what implications that had for my training, and what I did and why during the weeks leading up to it.  Of course, I’ll talk about what worked, what didn’t and there will be a race report forthcoming once I get back from the Windy City.

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The Tour of Chicago

The Chicagoland Inline Marathon actually consists of several different events (ranging from fun skates to the individual marathon); more interesting to me was an event it included called the Tour of Chicago.  This was an event that in cycling is called an Omnium (an event including a bunch of different types of racing) and specifically in this case it included three races across two days.  If nothing else this would make travelling worthwhile.  Here are the events that comprise the tour.

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Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 12

On Tuesday in Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 11, I detailed my analysis of my performance at the Texas Road Rash and the conclusions I had reached.  In short, my endurance and sustainable speeds were good but my acceleration/top speed was weak as hell.  As well, I was lacking pack skills although, as I discussed on Tuesday, this was of less relative importance to me.

Today I’ll talk about the training I set up and why I did it the way I did it along with talking about the last 6 weeks of training (as I type this I’m finishing the first half of this macrocycle) and what happened good or bad.  I’ll note here that the pack skill issue was, to me, a secondary issue to the speed/acceleration issue.

Frankly, whether or not I had good pack skills wouldn’t matter if I didn’t have the top speeds and acceleration abilities to stay with the pack I wanted to be in in the first place.  So while it was something I clearly needed work on, improving my top speed and acceleration were of higher priority.  To be honest, some of this probably just represented the fact that it would be easier to work on physiological stuff in the short-term.

Fixing top speed meant focusing on two primary issues: sheer top end power output along with the neuromuscular skills needed to go fast.  The power outputs could be developed on the bike, the skill work would have to be done skating.  Again I had a final issue of trying to integrate the bike and skate training without blowing myself up.   Today I want to look at the plan I set up based on these goals, why I set up things the way I did and the results from my first 6 week block of training.

The Overall Plan

As always, I worked from the top down first outlining the entire block between the Road Rash and the Chicago race.    As it turned out, following my half-week/week of recovery following the Road Rash, the Chicago race fell 13 weeks later.  That would give me almost exactly 12 full weeks of training into a taper (the Chicago race was on the weekend at the end of week 13).  So I had 12 weeks of effective training and that represented my macrocycle.

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Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 11

Ok, time to get back to self-indulgent prattling mode, hopefully this won’t screw up my training again.  Previously, in Texas Road Rash 2011: Race Report Part 1 and Texas Road Rash 2011: Race Report Part 2 I gave a detailed description of my performance in the elite marathon division of the race (my first time racing elite or at the marathon distance).

While I was ultimately happy with my performance, in that I skated to the best of my ability, it did identify a number of weaknesses in my skating in terms of that type of event.  I had been aware of some of them going in but nothing brings out strong and weak points like actual racing.

I had originally planned to take the week following the race as a recovery/transition week anyhow; I was so wrecked from the race that I wouldn’t have been able to train even if I’d wanted to.  And after my brief flirting with overtraining only weeks prior along with the effort of the race, I didn’t particularly want to.  So I sat around for 3 days and did no training and ate too much.  I had finished my first full macrocycle and wanted to be completely recharged going into the next one.

This was followed by 2 very easy bike rides on Thursday and Friday.  I dicked around on my skates Saturday morning checking some stuff out on my course (I’ll talk about this a bit more on Friday) and then did a group bike ride on Sunday. These were just to shake out the cobwebs again as I started the next macrocycle to my next major race.

That was the Chicago Inline Marathon where I intended to do the Tour of Chicago, a 3 race event across two days including a 10k pack race Saturday morning, a 2 mile individual time trial Saturday afternoon and the full marathon on Sunday morning with points given for placing in all three to determine the overall winner.  Not only would three races that weekend justify travelling but it would let me get the 10k out of my system that I’ve been wanting to do for years without having to go to Atlanta (that 10k interfered with a bike race I wanted to do in Austin Labor Day Weekend).  As it turned out, the Atlanta event had gotten cancelled this year anyhow so it all worked out.

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