Thursday, August 6, 2015

Update so far from 2015.

So I've been a bit lax about updating my blog in terms of my racing accomplishments (or lack thereof) this year.

After Ironman 70.3 California (a couple weeks after, actually) - my family received some bad news that ended up with my wife in surgery.  I won't get into the gritty details of it, but it curtailed my training a bit, cancelled some of the races I intended to do, and really put things in perspective that - regardless of how it feels at times - endurance sports ARE NOT the #1 thing in my life.

Because of that process, and because there just hasn't been a whole lot to report - I haven't been updating here.

However, there are a few things - so I'll touch on them all in one post.  =)


This was a duathlon in April that was supposed to be one of three duathlons that I participated in.  One of the goals for 2015 was that I would do four to five duathlons and become an All American in that discipline and also qualify for Duathlon Nationals (and hopefully qualify to represent the US in Duathlon Worlds).  It ended up not being the case for me (races 2 and 3 in this series were cancelled and this race didn't go so well) and I kind of scrapped the idea altogether (or pushed it to 2016, who knows?).

Anyway, the race itself is a small but very competitive duathlon that is incredibly well run by Bill Escobar over at Elite Sports in Ventura, Ca.  It's a 5k run, followed by a 20 mile bike, with another 5k run.  There's no bells and whistles in this race (i.e. it's not an Ironman type of race) - just a simple, easy, local race that is fun for everyone involved (pro or beginner alike).

Transitioned up and ready for the duathlon.
My plan going into the race was to take the 1st run somewhat easy - but stay with the front of the pack.  In my mind, this would allow me to really push the bike and then go all out for the final run.  Everything was going good as I was the 4th runner in - about 20 seconds behind the first runner in.

On the bike, things were going very well, as I moved up to third place rather quickly with both the first and second place athletes in my sights.  I was gaining up ground, almost in line with the second place guy when - at about 15 - POP!  My front tire just exploded.

I immediately pulled over and tried to change it - but it was to no avail.  I couldn't get the tire off of the rim and I didn't bring tools to remove it (I did have a spare tubular).  With about 4 miles and some change to go - I elected to just walk/jog my bike in.  

Nearly everyone passed me during this time and this race became a "throwaway" race for my goal of qualifying for Duathlon Worlds.  Once back in to transition, I racked my bike and decided I would run the last run leg as fast as I possibly could (seeing as how my legs were completely fresh anyway).  I managed to place the fastest run split of the day - with just a 16:23 (although it was 16:08 by my watch).  Was pretty happy with that and I left the race telling myself the only reason I wasn't on the podium was because of a flat tire.


This is a pretty great event and was one of the first 10ks I did when I decided to get back into running and doing regular races. Back then, I wasn't a father, so I was running solo.  But now - I have a little munchkin that does all of my running races with me.  

For some weird reason, strollers aren't allowed in the 10k - so I ended up doing the 5k with my son.  

The race goes through neighborhoods in Long Beach with a small stretch on the Wrigley River Bike Path - which is pretty scenic for what it is.  There's plenty of twists and turns, but - for the most part - it's a fairly flat course which makes it a good stroller course (as you're not going to lose a ton of time).
Brucie ran his own race after the 5k.  And, by "ran" I mean he "got sleepy and grumpy and refused to move unless someone was holding him".  *shrugs*  Kids.

 I was able to line up at the front of the race and take off with ease.  They had a guy on a mountain bike pacing the race and I was right behind him the entire time.  For 5ks, it was pretty easy - I held about a 6:00/mile pace for the whole thing and felt pretty good throughout.  The weather was perfect for a race - slightly overcast, a nice, slow, cool breeze at all times.  Perfect running conditions.

Pushing my son throughout the neighborhood

Finding some time to goof off for the camera a bit.

As with any race - the final push to the finish line yields some rather unflattering facial expressions.

The race went pretty well and nothing to complain about.  The only slowdown was having to weave around the people from the 10k who were finishing up (the 10k took off before the 5k and there were people still running on sections of the course where the two races overlap when the 5k took off).  That's to be expected though and wasn't too big of a deal.  Overall, no complaints at all.
Pushing it down the finish line in the home stretch.
I finished with an 18:02 and crossed the finish line first.  The timing company had two people ahead of me after the fact (a few days later) - but I figured that was an error as no one was really close really when I crossed the line.

We ended up in first place overall - and got a cool trophy for our efforts.  On top of that, we got free pizza! (which, to me, is WAY better than the trophy)

Bruce and I on the podium with his trophy for a race well done and an overall win.

Writing this post - I realize that I have just given away one of my biggest secrets - the tablet!  When I race with my son - I usually load up a tablet with some of his favorite cartoons (Monsters Inc, Bubble Guppies, etc) and turn it on for him at the beginning of the race (Pro Tip:  Make sure to "lock" the screen so he can't change it).  This usually keeps him busy throughout, which avoids any unnecessary stops.


This was the second time doing this race for me and I had a blast - just like last year.  Everyone had a great time at the race - with a lot of people saying it was the funnest race they've ever done.  Really good event put on by A Runner's Circle.  

Before I get into the race, I want to issue a HUGE THANK YOU to Josh Sprague over at Orange Mud who put this thing together and got the guys from the Orange Mud team together to race this.  He put up the entry fee, really organized everything, and pushed us all along.  Super awesome act by a super class act guy.  Speaking of which, without turning this thing into an entire sales pitch, if you have any needs that are hydration pack related - I highly suggest checking them out.  They are, without a doubt, the best hydration equipment I've ever used and I can't recommend them enough.

So as we were preparing for the race, we were in a Facebook chat and talking about the various things involved with a relay when some dumbass (me) decided to make a joke that got WAY out of hand.  Basically, the aforementioned dumbass (me), posted this picture:

And that snowballed into "Sure!  Why not?  Sounds like fun!".  I'm 99.9% certain that everyone except for Jake "The Perfect Body" Jackson was kidding and being sarcastic when they agreed to it - but a few weeks and several "in store modeling pictures" from Tim Christioni and Alex Suchey later - we were all in speedos and ready on race day.

Great picture during the National Anthem.  

The race is a relay style race - with each person doing the same 5.5 mile course.  There are 5 people on a team (Tim, myself, Josh, Jake, and Alex) and they combine the totals and call it a marathon (even though it's slightly longer).  The course is no joke.  It's all uphill for the first 2 miles or so, then undulates for the next 1.5 or so, then it's a steep downhill stretch with various undulations the rest of the way.  To top all of that off, it was ridiculously hot outside.  By the time Tim went out on the first leg, the sun was out and beating down on everyone.  

Then there was also a guy who was attacked by a swarm of bees - which is insane (and I head he ended up okay afterwards).  

In any case, Tim went first and I would stand there, patiently waiting...

It's embarassing to post these pictures, but I do look like Captain Cool Guy here.

It's hard to tell if Tim just did a Jimmy Walker "DY-NO-MITE" right before this was snapped, or if he's just about to pass out and drop like a rock.

Me taking off with the baton to start the second leg.
Well, the run went okay.  I didn't really push too hard (mainly because I COULDN'T - I just didn't have the legs for it) and my energy drained really fast going up that initial hill.  I managed to finish my leg in 40 minutes or so (which is more or less where everyone but super fast Jake finished), which I'm ok with.

Coming in and dropping the baton off to Josh for him to start the 3rd leg.

Winding up to give him a bit of extra motivation as he starts his leg.

Never in the history of asses has there been two less appealing asses side by side.

As a team, we finished in 3rd place in the Open Division - which is pretty damn good.  If we, as a team, were to focus on this race - I'm pretty confident we could break 3 hours and make a strong push for the top spot.  Maybe next year???

Alex and Tim.

Alex and Josh - If you're thinking that Alex didn't move and the background was just changed - you'd be right.  

Alex with Jake.

The team after Alex finished and we confirmed our 3rd place finish!  If you're wondering why I'm not wearing speedos - it's because, by that time, they were completely soaked and considered hazmat.  Also - the Park Ranger came by and told me I had to put a shirt and pants on because I was scaring the children.

So that's basically where I've been race-wise up until today.  The main race left on my schedule is Ironman Lake Tahoe in September and the Long Beach Marathon in October.  Due to how my training has been leading up IMLT - it's turned from a race with specific goals to "just finish with a time you'll be happy with" type race for me.  For Long Beach, I'm intending on breaking 3 hours while pushing Bruce in a stroller - which will take some creative planning.  I'm more worried about keeping him still and avoiding a pit stop than I am with my ability to reach the time.  Outside of those two races, I'm going to be doing the Renegade Racing Holiday Series - which will be a 10 mile, 5k, and 10k race - all while pushing Bruce in a stroller.

Goal for those is simple:  Podium or win outright all 3.  We'll see if it happens, but that's the thought.  Also - if you're interested in any of the Renegade events - be sure to use code BRYANDISCOUNT to save a bit of money off of the end price.  It won't work on the deal for the Holiday Series - but if you want to race any other event, or just a single race from the series - feel free to use my code.

Product Review: Powertap P1 Pedals

The Powertap P1 Pedals on my Tri bike.

First off, before I get into this review, I'll say up front that this isn't going to be a review that details the ins and outs of everything this power meter can and can't do.  If you're looking for a review like that - head over to DC Rainmaker's Review - where he goes into mind numbing detail (in a wonderful way!) on these pedals (and pretty much anything else that is electronic and endurance related).
My review will be much more simple - basically just touching on my thoughts on the pedals, how I feel they work, and what I like and don't like about them.

So with that said - here's a bit of background that eventually led up to the purchase of these pedals for me.

I've used a variety of powermeters since I've started competing and training for triathlons.  Very early on in my triathlon life - I saw the value of being able to calculate the amount of effort I was putting in on the bike and using that data from everything to training, to pacing myself, to testing equipment, etc.  Not only did it allow me to quantify any gains I was making, but it also allowed me to have a bit more fun with my training because it allowed my inner nerd to have a good time playing with numbers.

Anyway, my first power meter was a Quarq Cinco - which worked fine but had a few issues.  The biggest of those issues is that it was married to my tri bike (I'm not a very skilled bike mechanic and I don't have the real estate in my garage to have anything resembling a work space for bikes - so swapping a crankset from one bike to the next is something that wasn't realistic for me).  Eventually, the lack of ability to transfer from one bike to the next (and some other issues with data recording) led me to sell that and get a Powertap wheel.
The Powertap Wheel was a great powermeter that I never had any real issues with other than having to change the battery (which was kind of a pain - even with the included tool).  Not a deal breaker, and not a huge deal.  The biggest problem I had with it was that I was stuck using that wheel if I wanted to record my power.  That meant using a disc cover if I wanted to race with it, or switching tires on the wheel if I wanted to record power on my trainer.  Eventually, that become cumbersome and I, yet again, jumped ship to another powermeter.
This time I purchased a Stages powermeter and, without getting into the details, was not happy at all.  At first I loved it, but the data it provided did not work for my needs and being married to a particular crank length didn't work for me.  I ride different lengths of crank from my road and tri bike, so my attempt to change the length on one bike to get the Stages to work ended in failure.
This lead to me going back to the Powertap G3 wheel - which had the same issues as my original Powertap wheel (except the battery was a bit easier to change out).
I played around with the idea of the Garmin Pedals when they were first released, but was turned off from a friend who had a ton of issues getting the correct data from them and seeing him struggle with that (and the day to day installation), turned me off.

That's not to say that any of the above powermeters wouldn't be a great choice for somebody - they just weren't a great choice for me.  I needed something that provided accurate data that allowed me to work and train the way I needed and use the numbers in the way I wanted to use them.  I needed something I could swap from bike to bike without having to have any real bike mechanic skills.  I needed something that I could put on the bike and just ride with.

Enter the Powertap P1 Pedals.

When I first got wind of these pedals, I was immediately impressed and wanting a pair.  They seemed to fit everything I wanted in a powermeter.  While I've ridden Speedplay type pedals for pretty much the entire time I've been competing - it would be a small sacrifice to make in order to get power on my bike without any of the issues I had with previous devices.  I was really excited, and managed to maintain that excitement through the various delays that happened.
The one thing about the guys over at Powertap was that when something was delayed - they would explain it.  "It's not quite where we want it to be accuracy wise" - there was always an explanation (and usually a video on their social media channels to accompany it).  It made the wait a bit easier to handle because there was a face explaining things to you (not to mention Powertap's sterling reputation in the powermeter and cycling world).  There were other powermeters I considered - but most of those seemed to go "dead air" and ended up being vaporware.

Once the P1 Pedals were made available for pre-order - I immediately reserved my pair (I actually did it in the first seconds of the pre-order going live on the site - as I was afraid that they would quickly backorder).  They shipped, I received them, and - to make a long story short - I couldn't be happier with the pedals.

The Powertap P1.

Top of the pedal where you put the cleats in.

Bottom of the pedal where the battery port is.

Engaging mechanism on the rear of the pedal.

Front of the pedal.


First and foremost - the best thing about this pedal is the ability for it to be swapped from bike to bike with absolute ease.  As I touched on earlier, I'm no skilled bike mechanic.  In fact, I think it would be a stretch to call me an "unskilled bike mechanic" - I'm not even that.  Beyond changing a flat tire - I'm pretty much useless for all things bike repair.
Which is why I love these pedals.  The installation (and uninstallation) process on them is literally the easiest thing I've ever done.
All you need is an 8mm hex wrench, the pedals, a crank without pedals on them, and - oh - about 20 seconds of your time.  I'm serious.

The only tool you'll need is a 8mm hex wrench.  You don't even need a fancy one - the one on my multitool works just fine.  No torque wrenches, nothing to calibrate, nada.

Simply put the pedal into the crank arm, then put the wrench into the socket and turn.  Voila!  That's it.  You turn the wrench,, it tightens, and you're done.  To remove, simply turn the other way.
Once you have it off of your bike - you can now put it on any other bike.  In this example - we're tossing it on my road bike.
Same process - put it into the crank arm - turn, and you're done.  Now - just a note - for carbon cranks you're supposed to use a spacer.  I'm too lazy to get the spacer out each time and these cranks aren't really carbon (they're aluminum with a carbon coating or something like that) - so I don't bother with it.

Repeat the process for the other side and you're ready to roll!
It's an incredibly simple process that bike mechanic simpletons like myself can really appreciate.  

Another thing I like about the pedals is that the communicate in both bluetooth and ANT+.  This is great for me (well, kinda) because my multisport watch is a bluetooth watch (the Polar V800) and my bike computer is a Powertap Joule GPS.  While I can't see myself using anything but the Joule GPS when riding my bike (it - like just about any other dedicated bike computer - just has more data fields, functionality, and ease of viewing than my watch does) - having the option is still pretty nice.  Except, I don't really have that option.  Not yet anyway.  The V800 will recognize the P1 pedals (with a bit of effort), but it won't record any data off of them.  Apparently this is a Polar issue (as, from my understanding, they're using a bluetooth protocol that is somewhat dated and doesn't exist in the mainstream "cycling data marketplace").  However, indications from Polar is that they're coming around on this and will make it so the V800 supports third party powermeters (specifically with the P1).  While I'm not holding my breath on that - the potential option is a nice thing to have.

The battery life from these are outstanding.  Powertap quotes the battery life at about 60 hours - and I got just a hair over there until it went completely dead (~64 or so) - so that's pretty accurate.  In addition to having great battery life - having a AAA battery as the battery is a great idea.  I'm a father of a 2 year old who has more crappy electronic toys around the house than I can shake a stick at - so I have a whole army of these batteries around the house.  It really works well for me rather than making a trip to Radio Shack every time my bike computer says the battery is getting low.  On top of that, swapping out the batteries (which I've only had to do once), is as easy as can be.  No complicated tools (just a hex) and the battery goes in without an issue.  It's literally one step above changing out batteries in a remote control - it's that easy.

I also like having access to my right/left power data - even though I'm still playing around with this and getting it to work the way it should.

The best thing about this is that you simply plug the pedals in and play.  Easy as that.  There's no complicated "zero-ing out process" or weird calibrations that need to be done before you ride or anything that needs to be changed from ride to ride due to the powermeter.  You simply turn on your head unit, hit the zero offset button (which takes 5 seconds on both the Joule GPS and Garmin 500 units - I'd assume it's similar across the board for most head units), and ride.  Easy as that.


While it wasn't a deal breaker, and while it isn't the end of the world, I'd be hesitant to say that I'm kind of bummed this wasn't compatible with a Speedplay style cleat.  I've gotten so used to just clipping in wherever my pedal was (i.e. not trying to find the "top" of the pedal to click in).  It's a very small, very minor annoyance - and it's something I knew 100% going in - but it's still something.

Another very small annoyance is that the cleats for the pedals are proprietary - which means that in order to use the P1 Pedals - you HAVE to use the P1 cleats from Powertap.  That's not a huge deal - but it does eliminate the possibility of buying multiple "cheap Look style" cleats for my various cycling shoes to fit in the pedals.  As of now - I only have one set of cleats - so I'm using my tri shoes for all of my riding (regardless what bike I'm on).  I intend to get some more cleats - but it was a slight bummer that I couldn't just stock up on the $5 clearance cleats at my local bike shop.

On that note, however - I felt I would do a bit of testing and compare and contrast the P1 cleats to a "Look style" cleat (I have no idea what brand the other cleats are).  I did this with my shoes and my wife's triathlon shoes (she has a generic "Look style" cleat on her shoes).

At first glance - it looks like there is no difference between the P1 cleat and a standard Look-style cleat.

Side view of the P1 (yes - those are Crocs with Socks - keep hatin')

Side by Side view with a standard cleat reveals some slight differences.

Again, from a different angle - you can see some slight differences in the cleats.
For what it's worth - I snapped my wife's shoes into the P1 Pedals and they clicked right in.  While I didn't pedal with them outside of moving them with my hands - they seemed to work just fine.  With that said, I've read reviews that claimed that some Look style cleats would work, but as the cleat started to wear down, it would slip out of the pedals.  

Another complaint/concern I've read about is whether the pedal (with its increase in "pedal height" for lack of a better term) would cause cornering issues.  I can attest that, for me, it hasn't - and I've done plenty of tight cornering on it with my road bike.  I ride 172.5 cranks on my road bike and haven't had a single issue - so no complaints there.  I think that it isn't a problem at all, and think that people may have "eyeballed" the potential problem and just assumed.

All in all - this is the best powermeter I've ever owned and I couldn't be happier with it.  The negatives on it are very minor things that aren't a big deal and it checks all the boxes when it comes to what you would want in a powermeter.  I couldn't be more pleased with the P1 pedals.

Having the ability to race with power the use the equipment I want is great.  Loving the way they work on my bikes!

Another shoe of the P1 Pedal.