Monday, July 30, 2007

Deconstructing a Bike Profile

So this is mostly me thinking out loud.

In Part I of my attempt to psych myself up for IM Louisville I'm going to take a look at the bike course profile they have posted at their website.

As you can see, the profile is similar to others in intent: Scaring the hell out of each and every one of the participants. This is done quite handily by making the vertical axis to represent vertical feet, while the horizontal axis represent horizontal miles.

Now, 1 mile has 5280 feet in it. The net result is that you appear to be climbing vertical cliffs.

So in order to make the graph correct, you'd have to have the same amount of space for 1000 feet allotted both on the vertical and horizontal axis. Which would make the graph about 10 feet long (Note for the Engineers among you: I have not calculated the exact length of a correct graph, I am merely doing what we in the non-engineering world called, "Exageration" and "estimation." So just CALM. DOWN. )

It looks like the first 40 miles or so is a low-grade climb up out of the river valley, with a few rollers, and then it's about 50 miles of more-or-less flat rollers, and then about 20 miles of slow descent into the valley again. This will be nice because the last 20 miles will be time for my legs to do some loose spinning and get a bit of rest.

According to the website, the cutoff for the swim is 2:20, and for the bike cutoff is 8:10 after that (10:30 after the race starts). I'm pretty sure I can beat the cutoff time for the bike. As several have pointed out, I've been training about a mile above sea level, with hills. Ironman Louisville is nearly at sea level.

I'm can't run 26.2 miles even on fresh legs, so, I've been practicing walking faster. I did this by swinging my arms quickly, since the Jimmy has taught me that when you swing your arms faster your feet move faster. I can pull off a sub-15 minute pace walking while doing that. I also shortened my steps.

This week, the Jimmy has me doing a couple of "shorter" rides (45 miles or so) and another Cochiti swim. This weekend, I'm doing about a 20 mile ride followed by a 3 hour run, and then the next day Sunday, a 4-5 hours ride. At this point, I'm like, "Pffft. 4 or 5 hour ride? COOL!"

I guess the taper has started. Whew. Just in time; I go back to work on August 7th.

According to this web site and this one the average high in Kentucky at the end of August is 85°F and the average low is 67°F. This morning, at noon, there was fog. FOG = HUMIDITY.

I'll talk more about how I feel about this an another day.



  1. My conclusion is that every IM course brings it's own special brand of unknown suckage variable. Like, say, the freakin' weather.

  2. So there are lies, damned lies and IM bike graphs....

  3. It is fog season here in KY, so there's no getting around the humidity. But we've had a couple of nice rushes of dry Canadian air this year, so let's keep our fingers crossed.

    Don't get caught up in the graphic, but don't underestimate the KY hills. They aren't tough (typically), but their constant presence will require some effort.

  4. HI, Geekgirl,

    I've recently discovered your blog and have been lovvving it. I live in WI and signed up for Louisville as my first IM. I'm not going to make it, so I am ceding all of my training hours to you, you know, like you can do with frequent flier miles! I am totally psyched for you. Reading your blog, I know you can do it! If I were there, we'd be walking the run together! Anyway, I have seen the course, and it's not as scary as the map makes it look...10 long flat miles out (and back) and beautiful countryside on the loop---several sections very shady., others with horses for company. You're going to love it! If you want, I can send you a longer ride-preview report that includes the great eateries you can stop at on the out-and-back along River Road. There's a place to get a latte just before the climbing begins!

    You rock!

    virtually and vicariously,
    the juice

  5. (replying to your post) I think research sounds great and I would love to read it. but don't worry about sending me stuff now because I don't want to stress you out. focus on your IM. That is cool that your Baboo is a VA Psychologist. Mental health is desperately needed at the VA.

  6. You can do the bike course - no problem.
    I like how you stretched it out - never really thought about that, but makes sense (to a non-engineer type person like me).
    One of our tri team members is doing IMKY - if you see Brenda say hey (She'll be on the pink Trek chasing everyone in front of her)

  7. A few people from around here and who are doing the race went down and road the course. They said it will be challenging, but not TOO tough!
    Good luck and have a blast!!

  8. That looks like a pretty intense race! It sounds like you've been training hard and will whomp the course like a pro. Very exciting.

    I love your blog!!!

  9. You have been training at 5000 feet of elevation and now are going to be under 1000. You will ROCK THIS THING LIKE NO OTHER. You have put the time in and you will do AWESOME. Especially with that sweet bike. I keep going back to your post of that bike and looking at it because it is so awesome. It will serve you well.
    Good Luck and we will be watching.

  10. When I meet people from Albuquerque (like the Pirate, for example) they can't get over how awesome all that sea level 02 feels. You will be fine. You have a plan, you have trained and you understand elevation maps that cover 112 miles but are squished into two inches. No worries. It's really all about nutrition and heart rate management. The rest is just getting through the water, turning the pedals or putting one foot in front of the other.

  11. I agree with the above (nutrition and HR mgt.) And oh the extra oxygen feels like a natural EPO boost.. See you in the morning for a "light ride"

  12. Yeah- bike profiles just squeeze mega mileage into a teeny tiny space and then make it seem un-doable for the mere mortals...that will in fact line up at the start and then actually "do" it and say "hey, that wasn't so bad"- like you are gonna say!

  13. I love reading your blog. I love reading how you accomplish your goals. Thanks for sharing your days with us.

  14. I've been following your training for a bit and your site gave me motivation for my first IM...CDA. I went into it unsure whether I'd make the bike cutoff. I didn't even look at the profile but I drove the course two days before and was terrified. the day of the race I was carried by adrenaline, teammates, spectators screaming my name, waving and smiling. I'm a mentally strong, physically un-gifted rider and my motto was given to my by a teammate the night before: "JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD". I ended up making the cutoff with plenty of time to spare and had the most fun I've had on a bike ride. You WILL finish feeling great with time to spare, I'm sure of it. One of my favorite lines: "Worry, but know that worrying is as effective as solving an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum." Best of luck to you!

  15. I love how you flattened out the course!!! It put things in a more realistic perspective.

  16. It's really all rollers except for the 1694 out and back--this would be the section AFTER your section 1. If you have a triple on the front and 25 on the back you will able to spin through this section. This is the only stretch where I use the granny gear. The stretch on 393 has some longer rollers and is the only part where I wish for the hills to be over...unfortunately this is the main part of "the loop" and repeats. Planning to be out there for a final RR on 8/11. If you want to fly out to Louisville, we'll pick you up at the airport. Clarksville Cyclery could likely give you a bike to rent...


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I'm sitting here, looking out the window.  I did 3 miles this morning.  Big whoop.  After recovering from CDiff last month, I got a cold...