Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bracketing Battenkill

The last training I did before Battenkill last week was run. The first training I did after Battenkill this week was run. I do not recommend cyclists run on recovery days before important races, nor should cyclists run the day after for recovery. My body still isn't right. Why did I do this?

Work got in the way of a decent interval workout last Wednesday. My training schedule lately has me running on Thursdays, which traditionally were recovery days for big rides on off-Fridays or weekends. But since I was less than satiated on Wednesday, I decided to up the pace a bit from my pedestrian 7:20-8min pace I've been doing since I started running four months ago. I decide to run my five mile loop and thought breaking a seven minute pace would be a decent step up.

I went out at a pace that was quite aerobic and kept it there. I run with my GPS, but I haven't set it up for running with pacing information. I got back to work in 33:30, a 6:42min pace. That was a pretty big step up for me. I was most pleased that nothing seemed to be tweaked afterwards. This pace was far from recovery pace.

Mondays are also supposed to be recovery days. But like Thursdays, they get filled with a run. This past Monday was 24hrs after the Battenkill race. I was feeling pretty wrecked and wondered how to conjure up the motivation to run. Normally I would take a complete rest day or go for a super easy 45 minute spin on the bike. I decided to run a loop I thought was only 4.5mi at as easy of a pace that still felt like running. I was wrong on the loop distance. Turns out it was 5.6mi. When I got back to the work campus, I figured what the heck, I haven't run 10k yet, so why not just finish it off with a loop through campus. I think my pace was 7:54, conversation pace. Tuesday I found myself in a more wrecked state.

So before the BK race, I ran my fastest yet, and day after, my longest run yet. Other than sandwiching these runs around a bike race, my body seems to be adapting nicely to this running stuff. Has me thinking... thinking deep, dark thoughts about the dark side. I'm at the threshold where running could negatively impacting cycling training I think. I have to decide soon if running should strictly be a remedial program to improve my bone density, or do I want to do something more with running. Thoughts of running Mt Washington next year enter my mind. Whiteface Mtn also has a foot/bike race championship, where the two races are two weeks apart. Of course, there are local 5k's too. At some point, cycling competition might get stale, and bringing a little running into the mix could keep life interesting. Lots to ponder.

Here's a personal interest factoid. We got to use disposable radio frequency identification (RFID) tags at Battenkill this weekend. How many people did you see with feathers sticking straight up from their helmets? Here's a group from the Masters 50+ field:

How many had trouble making them stick? I had to use electrical tape to secure mine. Anyway, I knew RFID tags were becoming so cheap that they are being put on everything. They can be made for pennies. Since I am an RF engineer, I just had to dissect mine when I got home to see "how it works." This is what I found inside:

The silver pattern is an antenna. There is no battery in this circuit. There is a tiny silicon chip at the center of the antenna. It is less than 500um x 500um in size (looks like pepper speck). The antenna has all kinds of useful information printed on it. I was able to track it down and then find what chip is used in the RFID tag. A blow-up of the chip is shown in the image.

So how does it work? Radio frequency energy is beamed down at the finish line from the structure above the line. The "DogBone" antenna captures some of this energy, enough to power up the microchip. The chip then deciphers the information encoded in the RF signal to determine if and how to respond. The chip has lots of memory in it, such as a unique ID code. If the chip is receiving a message from an authorized source, it responds with a message, like "ID# 47293478493 is here now," by modulating the reflection coeficient of its antenna. This means RF energy that reflects off the tag is encoded in much the same way as sending a message with a mirror using sunlight, except many orders of magnitude faster. This whole process happens in a tiny fraction of a second. It may not be accurate enough to precisely time line crossing, so the high speed video system is still needed.


Anonymous said...


Don't be shy, you can try to top this series too:

USA Track & Field New England Mountain running series (similar to BUMPS for running but with a nice Mt. Washington lottery bypass for doing the series)

Eric K.
(fading back to lurker status)

PS. Disclaimer: my wife and I promote the Ascutney bike and run hill climbs

Alby King said...

Ouch - Isn't it usually the other way around with runners taking up cycling to avoid impact? I get the bone density angle, but moderation sounds mighty sensible.

Hill Junkie said...

Eric - had no idea there was a mountain running series. Looks like several of the climbs are dirt or have dirt sections too. I'm not yet conditioned enough to run up a mountain, but maybe by July I could give Ascutney a go. Perhaps there's a USATF license in my future.

Cary said...

On the bright side, more running won't negatively impact your skiing in the winter. Most argue it's more specific due to the increased weight bearing, but in the end it's all cross-training.