Challenge Roth 2011 Race Report

12 07 2011

Challenge Roth, now I know why they say this is the best race ever! It is is fun, it is fast, it is a great party! Unlike North America, there are beer gardens every where in the race. People are cheering and drinking all the way. There is even a beer garden in the finish line. Nothing like the nonsense “fenced area”. People are genuinely happy and cheering for you. It is all a great party.


The swim – 1:01:16 hrs

The swim went as expected. It could have been a bit faster if it wasn’t a wave start or if I had started in a earlier wave. I had to pass a lot of people, and the water is pretty dark, so you don’t see people until you’re very close. I went through at least three major group of people, which I had to find my way around them. I was in the purple wave, as you can see below, no purple caps around me… But the good thing is that there was not much contact overall, so very peaceful swim. I even spotted my wife taking pictures and waved to her as I was swimming!


Transition 1 – 10:06 min
Europe is just different, specially Germany! Every transition in ironman distance races I’ve participated, you go to a tent, get butt naked and you change… But usually there is a male and a female tent. Not here! Women and man change in the same tent and best part is that “it is OK”. it is just a bunch of grown-ups doing an Ironman. No pictures for this part of the race! ūüôā

Bike – 6:15:30 hrs
After my swim, I was pretty pumped for the bike ride!

However, this was the one part of the race I could have done better. I started with a very high Heart Rate (160 bpm) and I never got it under control. I decided to follow my target power (190W) and see what happens. I finished my first lap with 190W and 160 bpm averages, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to sustain that pace, which is pity, as I averaged just over 30 km/h with that power. However, on the second loop, my power drop to about 160, and I just could not get it up. To make things worse, my heart rate didn’t drop by much, it was around 150 bpm, which is what it was supposed to be at the first loop. I’m starting to think I should incorporate more Swim-Bike (like brick) workouts in my training. I’m not going hard on the swim but I still have problem in the races. Anyhow, the course is fast. If I was just biking, I would average 30-31 km/h with 190W.
The course is just great. It starts with a small uphill to cross the canal and it pretty much goes downhill or flat to Eckersm√ľllen, where you have the first aid station and lots, I mean lots of expectators! From there it is fast rolling hills with great surface up to Greding, where there is the worst hill, it is not too bad though. It is like Papa bear in Lake Placid. Then again riling hills till Solarerberg, which isn’t hard, but there are so many people cheering that you go up there like it was flat. I have to check my power meter later, but I’m sure I climbed that with 350w all the way. Btw, this picture is from the Solrarerberg on the second loop, when there was “no one” there!

Once the crowd is behind you, you’re back to rolling hills. There is on section that is fairly technical, with a few 180 and 90 degrees turns, but I have only seen one accident, a guy had basically no shorts on his left butt cheek! But fortunately the wound didn’t look bad, just a big scratch.
One thing that I changes from my training, was the gel. Since I didn’t have a lot of energy on the second loop, I decided to try the energy gels from the race, which were MUCH easier to digest as they were liquid. Looking back, I should have had more of them. I have to find out where to buy them in Canada (GREAT gels!)

Transition 2 – 6:06 min
Like transition 1, everyone was naked, but this time I had a person (she was in her 50s) holding my bag helping me to put my biking clothes away… Which was a bit odd since I was changing the bike shorts and putting my try shorts on, but, I had to do it. I turned my number belt to put my number in front so that it was a little more discrete, but trust me, there is nothing discrete about putting vaseline between my legs while a older lady is holding the transition bag in front of me. But seriously, the volunteers were FANTASTIC.
Before the run, I made a quick pee stop… And there was no lineup!

Run – 4:45:06 hrs

This is when I always ask myself: “Why, why do I do this?” and I always think “OK, this is the last time I do this”. But this year I also though “Shit, I already signed up for next year!”.
Anyhow, I started to run with those feaking side stitches and that was not a good sign… Fortunately I felt much better about 1 km into the run. The stomach had settled and I was ready to go, with one detail, I was running at 9.6 km/h with a 155 bpm heart rate! So one thing was for sure, my 12 hours goal was out of the question. I started to count the remaining kms! 41, 40… Boy did they ever come slow. First aid station walking, hydration, hydration… back to the run. We actually started on the shade, but it didn’t take long to get to the canal where the sun was just burning the hell out of me. My plan was to just kept going until I couldn’t run anymore, but walking every aid station. I was 100% sure I wasn’t going to run much of it… But surprisingly my Achilles didn’t hurt at all (until the next morning) and I just kept running at 9.2 km/h (yes, it did go down a bit), 150 bpm and waking the aid stations and any hill. Yea, they were VERY steep at that time, 20% grade for sure ūüôā
Fortunately, about 16 km to go, the sun disappeared…

Along the way out of no where, my wife kept popping out and taking pictures. I have no clue how she got there, but there she was… I think she was running faster than me! All these nice professional pictures were taken by her. Oh, yea, and she even shouted several times “Vai marido, S√£o s√≥ 11 km, voc√™ ainda tem uma hora para fazer abaixo de 12!!!!” (Go honey, there are “only” 11 km to go, you can still do it sub 12 hours!)
Great support, but I knew that 11 km in one hour would be completely out of the question, I was trying to stay at 8.9 considering the aid station walks!
A few minutes later, about 8 km to go, it started to rain, now a thunderstorm! But I could only think about two things “single digits to go” and “holly crap, I hope Beatriz is fine”. I kept running even faster (back to 9.6 km/h, a super sprint!) with my wet and heavy shoes… Until I got into the town of Roth, where some teens were inside the water fountain cheering for the wet runners! Once they saw me smiling and lifting my arms, they all got out of the fountain and ran about 100m with me cheering “Schnel Hans, Du shaft es!” (fast Hans, you can do it – I can’t spell German btw).

The finish – 12:18:06 hrs
First of all, I’m absolutely sure the last two kilometers were in miles! Man, how long could they take? But I kept going, no walking for the last 4 km, a real Ironman!! The only people actually running were relay people, which I could identify because they had an “S” on their calf… Everyone else was surviving! ūüôā
As I crossed the finish line, still under rain, there were a few brave expectators cheering, but it was by no means full. Nonetheless it was another emotional finish, one to remember!

After the race
I got into the huge tent where I got a massage. After that I started to shake compulsively, I was wet, tired and a bit dehydrated. I then went to get my street clothes, and to my surprise I was told I should take a shower! Yea, there were HOT showers at the finish line! I have never seen that, but boy it was good!
For those wondering, that was the only part of the race with male and female separate areas!

This a race like nothing I have ever done and I will do my best to race it again and again!!

Auf wiedersehen Challenge Roth!!!


PS: official finisher photos are here I have way too many triathlon pictures to spend 59 euros on new ones! You know the drill… Hands up, crossing the finish line! ūüôā



22 06 2009

I’m not really sure what to expect. I don’t think it really matters how much you train, it never seems to be enough.

I’ve been training specifically for this race since January. Many miles, a lot of sweet… here is what I have done:

January through June Training Volume

January through June Training Volume

Duration: 301 hours and 23 minutes

  • Bike: 4085 km
  • Run: 850 km
  • Swim: 162 km

The interesting is that yesterday I finished my first week of taper, which was just 12 hours of workouts. It included a “little” run of 1 hour and 40 minutes and I took really easy, I even cheated… I was 4 minutes short! ūüôā

Well, now is time to rest. This week will be really short. I’ll be racing on Sunday, so I wont be doing much till then. Just a few short workouts, like 1 hour bike and 30 min for run and swim workouts.

I was supposed to peak two weeks ago, but with the Muskoka Long Course, the total time was less than what is was supposed to be for that week, but in other hand, I got much more intensity out of it.

I’m also changing my habits to see if I can beat the clock. I mean the time-zone! We have a 6 hour difference between Toronto and Nice, so I’m going to bed about half hour earlier each day. Today I woke up at 4:30, tomorrow I want to be up at 4 and 3:30 on Wednesday. That will leave me with about 3 hours to deal with when I get in Nice, which is much better than 6, specially considering that I only have 3 days before the race.

I find the trick is to wake up early and have breakfast right away, which reminds me, it is almost time for lunch (9:40 am).

Carbs, carbs and carbs!

I feel GREAT! Ready or not, here I come!!!

Around the Bay, around the corner!

27 03 2009

Sunday I’ll have my first race of 2009: Around the Bay (30 km run)

I didn’t know, but the race¬†is now the oldest road race in North America, older than the Boston Marathon which was born three years after the Around the Bay Road Race. Pretty cool!

This will be the longest run I ever done. Before that, the longest distance I ran was 25 km. So, the plan is to beat my Personal Best, which means finishing! To be honest I’m not too concerned about the race, I really just want to have fun. My main goal is Ironman France, so this will be a good training.

I¬†haven’t’ really tapper for this race either. I already trained for 11 hours this week. The only few¬†changes¬†to the original plan was:

  • Switched my day off to Saturday, instead of Friday;
  • Cut my long bike from 4:15 hours to 3 hours;
  • Eliminated my 35 min recovery run, just because I’m going to a Raptors game tonight…

The long ride was a bit brutal though. Not because it went any harder then usual, but it is hard to wake up early enough to still start working at 9 am! Good thing I’ve worked from home today… so no traveling time required! But, back to the ride, it was pretty good:

  • Total Time: 3:05 hours
  • Average power:¬†182 Watts
  • Heart Rate Average: 133 bpm
  • Distance: 71.5 km (Ironman France all the way to the top of the mountain!)
  • Calories:¬†2765 kcal

This was my best climb so far, but I did one change. I started taking a gel each 30 min, instead of 45 minutes or even 1 hour as I did in the past. That worked really well. The last few kilometers were awesome, lots of energy. I averaged 216 Watts for the last 5 km with a 145 bpm Heart Rate Average! Here is the data from Computrainer displayed on the Polar Performance Software:

3 Hour Bike Ride - March 27th

3 Hour Bike Ride - March 27th

Anyhow, back to Around the Bay. My expectation is to finish it in 2:45 hours, but up to 2:30 hours is unlikely, but possible.

I’ll post my results on Sunday after the race…

Training Progress – March 15th

15 03 2009

One of the problems of having a blog while training for an Ironman is that there isn’t lot of time to write. I can honestly say that I’m either working or working out. That is why you got to love the sport, otherwise it would be impossible to do it.

Anyhow, I’m a number’s guy. I kept track of all my workouts for the last 3 years or more. The good thing about it is that I can track my improvements. For example, exactly a month ago, I did a long bike ride and a recovery run:

February 14th March 14th Note
Workout Bike CLR6 Bike CLR9 Long ride
Course IM France IM France Computrainer
Duration 3 Hours 15 min 4 Hours
Distance 74.1 km 98.5 km Highest point of the course is at 72 km
HR AVG 139 bpm 134 bps
Calories 3107 3583
Power AVG 173 W 175 W March 14th average at 72 km mark was 180W
Workout Run RRR3 Run RRR4 Recovery run
Course Close to home Close to home
Duration 30 min 35 min
Distance 5.3 km 6.2 km
HR AVG 153 143 10 bpm drop!
Calories 550 582
Speed AVG 10.6 km/h 10.6 km/h

So, in other words, I am getting a bit better. I started my Ironman program in January and so far, it has being an average of 11 hours of training per week, which includes one week where I was sick for 3 days and another that I went snowboarding for 2 days:

Training Log - January to March 15th

Training Log - March 15th

I got to say, the last day was pretty¬†hard. I swam 3.8 km in the morning, and went for a run¬†(2:10 Hours run). I was truly tired after the 18th km.¬†The nice part of the Sunday run, was that I ran with Paulo, another buddy of mine, who is a pretty good runner, at least for my standards!¬†For years, when I ran with Paulo, he is always waiting for me, going ahead and coming back… which is not very motivating I have to say… but yesterday, was no different. ūüôā

Having said that, I ran to his home (about 7 km in 37 min) then we ran together for about one hour and half. That was awesome, because he really kept me honest. Specially on hills, it was very hard to keep up, but when you’re chatting you tend to forget about the pain (and sometimes to breath too). Paulo, thanks for the run, we have to do it more often!

In any case, it was a hard but nice workout, when you consider that running is my weakest sport. Here is the graph from Polar (nice HR average):

March 15th Long Run

March 15th Long Run

ErgVideo 2 – Second Impression!

8 01 2009

It’s not about WHERE you ride, it’s about HOW HARD you ride

Yesterday I rode the Muskoka Half Video from ErgVideo for 6 minutes and posted my First Impression. Today I had planned a Brick workout (1 hour bike, 20 minutes run), using the same video. 

If you read the First Impression post, you probably noticed that I wasn’t thrilled with the product… 54 minutes later, I loved it! Here is the thing, when I first bought the Video, I had a complete different idea in my mind. I thought it was just another video that wasn’t available for the Interactive Real Course Video (IRCV), so I was getting it from another company. Well, as it turned out, these two products are not exactly the same. As I pointed out in my previous post, IRCV simulates the course and it is up to you to perform. (Nothing wrong with that!)

I exchanged a few emails with¬†Paul¬†Smeulders (President and Developer¬†ErgVideo)¬†after my first posting. The first thing he mentioned was¬†“It’s not about WHERE you ride, it’s about HOW HARD you ride“, which is a pretty good way to summarize the product. In Paul’s words:

While you get the feeling of familiarity with the course profile, if you are not training the required abilities or performance factors needed to excel in the cycling leg, simply riding a course profile repeatedly won’t necessarily guarantee you are executing a specific workout designed to get you there efficiently. Many people ride long courses slowly, every time, or according to their daily whims. ErgVideo rather forces you to expend effort according to a preset power plan. In the cases of Triathlon style ErgVideos, you are following how a successful high-level athlete is attacking the course. While it may not suit your tastes precisely, you are going to get a very specific focused workout that you can’t cheat or. Moreover, you can see all of the important details of your ride, and adjust them, using the web-tools feature in the ride designer.

ErgVideo has a different approach then IRCV, it imposes you a pace according to your capabilities based on a real course. I really didn’t buy the concept at first. However, after riding the course for 1 hour, I noticed that the¬†beginning¬†was extremely easy, not because of the profile, but simple because I have the tendency to start hard and slow down at the end (on a good day, it will be the other way around). ErgVideo really forces you to pace yourself, which is something that I need to improve.

Technically speaking, you can just create a erg course and you’re done! Yes, but lets face it, Computrainer Coaching Software (CS) is not the best motivating tool, it is just like a trainer on steroids. When you combine it with a video of a real course profile it adds a new dimension to your workout.

I summary, ErgVideo is not a course simulation tool, it is a workout simulation tool!

What’s next?

I will continue to use IRCV and Computrainer 3D to get¬†familiarized¬†with real courses that I’ll be riding, which will give me a pretty good idea of is waiting for me at each race¬†¬†(e.g. riding IM France course, made me consider a new¬†cassette). I will also use ErgVideo for my day to day¬†training, specially intervals. However, before I buy another video, I’ll bug Paul a little bit more to find out which videos will best match my workout plans.

Oh, one more thing, my wife used the Muskoka Video for one hour too, I’ll let her comment! ūüėČ

Note: special thanks to Paul for replying to my numerous emails. Great customer service!

ErgVideo 2 – First Impression

6 01 2009

I just got the IM 70.3 Muskoka ErgVideo, which is my first ErgVideo. I also have the IM Louisville IRCV (Interactive Real Course Video), from RacerMate (the company who builds the Computrainer).

Before I even start, let me tell you that I only installed the ErgVideo and rode it for 6 minutes, as I had already done my bike (1 hour and 20 min with 8 x 20 sec Power Intervals/2 min recovery) this morning and I will swim tonight. So, with that in mind…

Unlike IRCV,¬†ErgVideo uses a¬†different¬†¬†approach to build the course. ¬†It uses an “.erg” file that is¬†synchronized¬†with the actual video. The erg file is build based on the power that was generated by the original rider when riding the course. IRCV has a course build based on the grade of each segment. So what?

  • No SpinScan: Because ErgVideo forces the computrainer to keep a power output¬†proportional to the power generated initially, it can’t calculate your SpinScan. SpinScan is calculated based on the power you generated at each 15 degrees of your pedal cycle, but because on erg mode it changes the¬†resistance¬†to match the pre-set power output, it can’t really tell your efficiency.¬†
  • Pre-set Effort: in order to make the ride possible for any rider, you can scale the power required to keep up with the original rider. Here is how it works, based on your Functional Power Threshold (FTP) you entered the level of effort that you would like to obtain at the end of the workout. ErgVideo then uses the inputed data and compares to the rider FTP, then for each part of the ride it will¬†proportionally¬†adjust the power you need to generate.¬†
    • The good: you will be forced to maintain the pace (not effort) of the original rider (unless you set the same FTP as the original rider), so you can’t really rest when you want! If you are training to that specific event, you will learn the course, and be prepared for the difficult spots.
    • The bad: you are not simulating the effort you will require to finish that course, as you are manipulating the intensity, plus you wont have the same weight as the original rider, so you even if you had the same FTP, the effort required would be different. The other¬†disadvantage¬†is that you can’t really plan a strategy for the ride, you must go as hard as the original rider had chosen to go when he/she was riding it.

After trying it out (6 minutes!), I believe that the biggest benefit would be building your plan based on the 9 Pack Video, which would include different rides (base, hill repeats, etc). In that case you would have a different video for each workout, making it quite interesting… but that would cost $300+ for all 9 videos!

In summary,if you want to prepare for a specific course “and” you have the option between ErgVideo and IRCV, I would suggest the latter, as you can pace yourself like you would in the real race. But, if you want to have videos to play while you doing you interval training, then ErgVideo is a pretty cool option.

Again, this is my first impression, I may be missing the point. There are options to build the course (i.e. repeat certain parts X amount of times) that I’m not quite sure how to best use. Ideally I would like to have parts of the video to use with my Power Intervals, Short and Long Hill intervals, etc. But not sure I can do that with one video… I only used it for 6 minutes! ūüôā

BTW, I was under the impression that the ErgVideo Software would come with an Automated Threshold-power testing protocol:

  • From the ErgVideo Website: “New Software Release: ErgVideo 2 is here!¬†Fully Automated Threshold-power testing protocol”
  • From the ErgVideo Manual: “Your Actual Threshold Power is a physiological measure which you can determine through testing, or by estimating the average power you could sustain over an hour. ErgVideo 2.0 includes this capability with special testing ErgVideos.”

What was not clear to me was that you need to BUY the actual videos in order to have the¬†Fully Automated Threshold-power testing protocol! It is not a feature on ErgVideo 2!!! If you read the home page,¬†the next bullet is even about the integration to iTunes and Windows Media Player, which is clearly a feature that comes with ErgVideo 2, not a specific video! After reading the manual I understood what they meant… I have to say, I was pretty disappointed with that.

If you read this, please read ErgVideo 2 РSecond Impression!

France… What have I done!

16 12 2008

This morning I rode the IM France course on my CompuTrainer for the first time… lets just say, I hope my course profile is completely off. I fast forwarded to KM 35, where I started and I could barely ride for one hour, in fact after one hour I bailed and loaded another course to cool down.

IM France Bike Course Profile

IM France Bike Course Profile

How am I suppose to do this after swimming 3.8 km? And I have to run a FULL marathon afterwards? Seriously, what was I thinking??

Ok, it was hard,¬†bloody¬†hard! But, when I built the course, I didn’t use a feature called “Elevation Noise Smoother”. Basically when you get you GPS data (from Google, in my case),¬†elevation data is usually pretty inaccurate, or “noisy”. Small inaccuracies in altitude can lead to some pretty poor, choppy recreations of the ride. The elevation smoother that uses signal processing to remove the measurement noise from your altitude data. The diagram below compares the real GPS altimeter data to the smoothed data. *


Elevation Smooth

Elevation Smooth

That would explain why I had a lot of 15% grade hills¬†and a lot of small downhills in the middle of the my¬†journey¬†to the top,¬†which in reality shouldn’t be there (I hope). Anyhow,¬†I just fixed the course with the¬†“Elevation Noise Smoother”. Next workout I hope it will be a bit better!¬†

Here are the numbers for my workout (excluding the cool-down):

  • Total Time: 1:01:27.27
  • Distance: 21.34 km (from km 35 to 56.34)
  • SpinScan Avg: 63
  • Power Avg: 171 Watts
  • Speed Avg: 20.8
  • RPM Avg: 71
  • Calories: 601.95 Kcal (877 according to my polar)

* From CylcingPeak Software webpage:

Note: I’m having problems with the CompuTrainer HR receiver. Racermate is going to send me some replacement parts.