March 29

March 29, 2006

Buying speed - The Cervelo P3C Ironman Speed Machine! Fat loading and training update.

This is the race machine! Cervelo P3 Carbon with a Profile Aero Drink bottle between the aero bars, and an Arundel Chrono water bottle system on the down tube. My race wheels are a front Zipp 404 deep rim and a rear Zipp 900 disc wheel. The cranks are SRM power meter pro. The seat is a ISM Adamo triathlon time trial seat from Blackwell research designed for extended periods of time in the aero position. My aerobars are Easton Aeroforce and Delta Force, the front fork is the super light and super aero Easton EC 90. To stop (not planning on using these much), I am relying on my super feather weight Zero Gravity brakes. I'll be riding on soft latex Zipp tubular tires. (The rear tire in the photo is a Tufo tubular which I have not yet swapped out).

The new machine is 9 minutes faster than my old Elite (pictured above) based on 202 watts of power average over 180 km Ironman bike distance.

Why is it so much faster? I think for three reasons:

1. More aerodynamic frame. The Cervelo P3 is probably one of the most aerodynamic time trial frames available. All of the tubes are very thin and aero profiled, and the seat tube wraps around the rear tire better directing the air flow over the back wheel.

2. Profile water bottle. The water bottle between the aerobars is actually more aerodynamic that NO WATER BOTTLES at all!! Check out this wind tunnel test of eight different water bottle placements including a bare frame (no bottles). The most aerodynamically efficient position is the Profile Aerodrink between the aero bars which is almost 3 minutes faster at Ironman distance than no bottles at all!

3. Arundel down tube water bottle. In another wind tunnel test, they confirmed that a water bottle placed on the down tube is more efficient than a bare frame, but they also found that an aero shaped water bottle like the Arundel placed on the down tune is far more efficient.

I estimated that with the new water bottle placements from the wind tunnel data and the new Cervelo frame, that I could see about a 10 minute time advantage over the 180 km Ironman bike course.

To confirm this, I ran an out and back watts test with the new bike and found the following comparison between my old Elite and the new Cervelo set-up:

Watts Ave Speed Ironman time Difference
Elite* 202 34.61 5:12
Cervelo P3C* 202 35.57 5:03 9 minutes faster

*without race wheels

I am planning on keeping about 5.5 hours worth of Hammer Gel mixed with Nuuns salt tablets and water in the Arundel on the down tube. The Profile aerobottle will be used for hydration. Aid stations are every 10 miles at Ironman, so that means I can re-fill my water bottle approximately every 30 minutes or so. If I drink a full bottle between every aid station, I should be able to maintain adequate hydration.

I will keep a spare tubular tire and a couple of Co2 cartridges in my jersey pocket so as not to interfere with the air flow around my seat post.

The rear view mirror shown in the photo above is NOT a race component. I ALWAYS use a mirror when training. Be safe and make sure you know what is coming from behind!!


My training has been going fairly well, but it is hard to say for sure. This training season has been very difficult because most of my running and cycling has been inside. It's really tough to get up to the kind if intensity inside that you can do outside on your bike. Plus, getting through the winter is becomming more and more psychologically difficult for me every year. Motivation and energy levels were the biggest problems. There were even times when I got on my bike to start an intervals workout, spun the cranks a bit, got off and went to bed.

But, on the other hand, if I look at some objective measures of my current fitness, things look pretty good. My efficiency as measured by my heart rate to produce power is lower than it has ever been. Typically, I am seeing heart rates as low as 109 bpm at an easy 150 watts on the bike, and I did a few miles the other day timed on the track at exactly 8 minute/mile pace at a cost of 132 bpm heat rate which is a good 8 beats lower than anything I have previously measured. How exactly this will translate to endurance for Ironman, I can't say.

My longest ride recently was a 4.5 hour outside ride where I equalled my race pace from last summers Ironman cda. Aside from that, I did a 4 hour and a 4.5 hour inside long ride at a much easier pace. As far as long runs go, I peaked about 4 weeks ago with a 2.5 hour run at 8 min/mile pace which is my optimal Ironman marathon pace of 3.5 hours. I used to peak my long runs at 3.5 hours, but at a very slow pace. I took Iron Dave's suggestion of not going so long, and instead picking up the pace on ALL of my runs including the long run. I think it is working because my running feels very efficient. Again, how this will translate to a full 26 mile marathon on race day, I just don't know.

My swimming has kind of been a struggle. I was able to complete my fastest 100 meter swim ever a few weeks ago, but since switching to my wet suit, my arms just can't seem to adjust. For some reason, I always get super sore and fatigued arms from that sleeved suit. I am swimming almost everyday in it trying to become comfortable, but it really seems like a struggle. On the other hand, I am swimming exclusively sets of 500's now at race pace which are consistently between 8:40 to 9:00 minutes per 500 meters. That would translate to an Ironman Swim time of around 1:06 to 1:08 which could be a personal best for me.

Fat Loading

I am trying something new with my diet leading up to Ironman Arizona this time. It's called Fat Loading. There has been some research that suggests that a high fat diet for 5 to 10 days followed with 1 to 2 days of carbohydrate loading leading up to a race saw improved performances by athletes in the study over athletes in the control groups. I am interested in trying this pre-race diet out because I have noticed in the past that my training performance and efficiency always improves the day after a very large, fat filled meal like a cheesy pizza. Ironman age group super star Dan Morwood is helping me out with this diet.

Here are some links:

After 2 days of loading, I am feeling a bit lethargic, but not really hungry at all. I am watching my total calorie intake carefully so as not to put on any weight, and after 3 days I have lost about 2 pounds. May targets are 284 grams of fat, 100 grams of protein and 173 grams of carbs. It's pretty tough to do because almost every high fat food contains plenty of protein. So far, I have been able to get close to my daily fat requirement, but I go over on the protein.

This was my avocado salad lunch today:

1 avocado, 2 tablespoons of guacamole, 2 teaspoons of canola oil, 2 table spoons of ranch dressing. Yumm!!

This will be my last update until after Ironman Arizona, 2006!! The weather forecast is calling for highs of near 30 degrees for race day, so I'll probably spend most of next week trying to acclimatize to the heat. I'll wear extra clothes during workouts and around the house, etc.


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