Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Question: Race wheels or Power Meter?

There is a comparative question that has been posed in the cycling and triathlon world more often than "Ford or Chevy?", "Advil or Tylenol?", and "American Idol of The Voice?".

"If one had an extra $1500 in their pocket, would you suggest race wheels or a power meter set-up?"

It got people talking about what is the best use of money and the cheapest speed you can buy.  It was argued that wheels might get you 10 min over a 112 mile bike vs a cheap aero helmet that might get you 5 minutes.  Not sure if these stats are even true. 

This was asked of me this week.  Here's my reply:

If you're looking for short term gains:  get the wheels.  They won't save 10 min in 112, but 3-5 min is conceivable   The faster you are the better improvement you get.  Aero benefits are based on the square of your speed, so the benefits at 20mph are 4x greater than at 10mph.*    

If you want long term gains:  get a power meter...assuming you have the knowledge (or coach) to use it properly.  Without proper use, a power meter is a fancy toy.  If used correctly, I've seen gains of cycling AND running better off the bike, to the tune of hours in an Ironman.**  

I asked this same question of my coach 10 years ago.  He gave me the same answer.  I bought wheels (immaturely, immediate gains won over).  A year later I'd wished I'd gone with the power meter.  I use a power meter now, and suggest power for all my athletes who can afford it.  I all but mandate one for anyone with serious goals mentioning the words "championship," "pro," or "Kona."

*A good aero helmet is actually more aero-advantageous than wheels, but have fewer vents so the drawback of less ventilation and heating (depending on the helmet) may not outweigh the speed difference.  Get a Rudy Project Wingspan--among the fastest and best vented aero helmet on the market and the #1 helmet in Kona (where I hear it gets a bit warm).  'Like' GEC on Facebook and message me for a code to get 40% off!!!

**Tucson Endurance Performance Center is an authorized retailer for all major power meters--Quarq/SRAM, PowerTap, SRM, Rotor Power.  Combine with GEC's expert coaching using power and you have a world champion caliber combination!  'Like' Tucson Endurance Performance Center on Facebook for free coaching with the purchase of a power meter!!!

Enjoy the ride!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Don't Get Stranded!

Many times I see athletes stranded where there is really no reason to be.  Yes, we all have cell phones and a ride is a phone call away, but we should be more prepared and be self sufficient as cyclists.  What if your ride isn't available?  And, if in a group ride, don't rely on others if you get a flat.

What every cyclist (or triathlete) should have in a seat bag/jersey pocket/bento box:

Tube(s):  I carry 2.  Make sure the stem is long enough for your rims.  Two lightweight tubes can be squeezed into most any seat kit.

Tire levers:  Have 2, and know how to use them.

Patches:  Get some glueless patches and toss them in there.  They can be used as a patch on your last tube, or to patch up a small rip in a tire.

Tire boots:  Cut your tire?  No worries.  Put a boot between the tube and tire and you'll likely forget it's in there and go another 1000 miles.  You can either cut up an old tire and use it--a 3" strip with the tire bead cut off works best, or you can buy boots.  An energy bar wrapper works well, too.

Air:  CO2 is the choice when with a group--don't make others wait while you pump, but a small pump is good in case you run out of CO2 or if you want to save a few bucks.  I use a Genuine Innovations SecondWind--pump and CO2 inflator in one!  Carry 1 more CO2 than you have tubes.

ID:  Copies of an ID card and your medical insurance card in case it's a really bad day.  A Road ID is a better choice.  Every rider should have one of these or something similar.

$20.  You never now.  I have a Nathan VitaBand--ID, medical info, and cash all in one!

Cell Phone:  Last resort.  Or first resort on a crummy day when it's time to go home and take a nap. Put this in a Ziploc if you sweat or rain is a possibility.

Put all this in a seat bag, or a Ziploc in your back pocket, and you're ready to ride!

Monday, June 18, 2012

GEC Athlete Toni P's biggest Overall Win! Chinook Half Ironman, Calgary

Coach notes (Coach Brian Grasky):  I've been working with Toni for approx 4 months.  She had been a strong athlete but hadn't pulled together a long course race yet.  She attended the spring Escape the Heat Camp in March and we started working together after that.  She's a model athlete--trains hard, no excuses.  And this is the payoff!  She also had a 1/2 marathon PR last month!  Congratulations Toni!
This was a great race for me.  I won first overall!  My time was  5:36:49.  In 2010 I was a 5:51:13.  That’s not a bad improvement!

The swim is a two-loop 2km swim in a local man-made lake, followed by a 96 km out and back to Kananaskis Provincial Park, which is pretty much the entrance to the Rocky Mountains.  The run is a two-loop course through Fish Creek Provincial Park, which is relatively flat with the exception of the large descent/ascent out of the Fish Creek Valley.  Even though it’s a hilly, pretty tough course, it is beautiful!

My pre-race routine went smoothly.  I woke up at 4:30 am not being able to get back to sleep.  I finally got up at 5:00 am.  I went outside and walked down to the road and back.  It was a fresh morning and cloudy… supposed to be sunny and 71 degrees on race day.  It probably hit 71, but not until 2pm or so.  I made my breakfast of champions – quinoa, protein powder, almond butter, a little bit of coconut milk and berries.  After rolling and getting my gear together, we headed to the race course – only a 12 minute drive from home.  Sweet!  I set up my transition area and went for my 10 minute warm up run at 7:20.  I did some dynamic stretching and was feeling nicely warm by the time I finished.  I got my wetsuit on and had one last check of my transition area, then my 17 year old daughter, Clair and I headed down to the water. 

Swim - The water temperature was apparently 60 degrees, but I think that was only on the surface.  Anyway, it really helped to get in and get used to the water.  I had a neoprene cap on under my race cap.  Clair and I started on the far right side of the beach and it was perfect.  The gun went off and I never saw Clair again (she ended up being the 3rd person out of the water behind 1 pro guy and an aquabike guy.  Fast!). We had to get out and run around the buoy before our 2nd lap.  I just jogged around it.  On the second lap I started to get a cramp on the right side, kind of high.  I guess I needed to breathe deeper (belly breathing as coach says).  I came out of the water and had a hard time getting my Velcro undone because my hands were numb.  There were wetsuit strippers who helped me.  Right when I was dropping down for them to strip it off, another guy was dropping down too and I kneed him in the head really hard.  I felt so bad!  I saw him on the run and he told me he had just gotten stitches out of his head 2 days before the race!  Oops! 

Bike - I ran to transition and had a good smooth transition. I did remember to grab my Hammer coin pouch with my Endurolytes in it.  Phew!  I needed them for sure.  Love the pouch tucked into my shorts idea.  It worked great!  It was 59 degrees F at the start of the bike and dipped to 49 in the middle and was 70 at the end.  I really felt good on the bike. I averaged 19.26 mi/hr.  My total time was 3:04.19 for 59.17 miles.  I had 3 scoops (400 cal) of Perpetuem in my bottle cage, water in my aero bottle, and 3 Power Gels (330 cal) over the course of the bike. As I got close to the end, I took a mental note of how I was feeling and thought about T2 and my pacing for the run.  I was feeling good for the most part, but my legs felt like they were going to cramp right as I got close to T2.  Same place as last time!  I decided then that I would take endurolytes as soon as I started my run.

Run - I came into T2 and Brad said I was first woman!  I was pretty stoked about that.  I stayed focused and had a really smooth transition.  I still had my Endurolytes tucked in my shorts, so all I needed to do was change my shoes and grab my hat.  My feet were totally numb! I ran out of T2 and the pacer bike pulled out to lead me.  Totally excited!!! I really tried to keep my pace at an 8 min/mile, but I was 7-7:30 min/mile and it felt easy. I kept telling myself to run my race, race my pace.  The first lap was pretty easy.  I was enjoying it and had no problem staying focused. The long hill out of Fish Creek was a killer.  I walked a bit of it and then ran the rest.  At the start of the 2nd lap, I was still feeling good, but worried about cramping. I came down the hill back into Fish Creek and that aid station had Endurolytes!  So I grabbed 3 and some Heed.  I had to count my steps for a while because I was feeling some fatigue and struggling a bit mentally at about mile 7. After a gel from the next aid station, I felt better and thought I would be good to the end.  I maybe should have taken one more gel because the hill and the final mile were pretty brutal.  I just kept moving my feet and visualized me crossing the finish line in first place.  That is what kept me going and trying to finish strong – a first place finish!  Crazy!!!  My dad was at the corner, which was at the start of my last stretch.  He cheered and said he was proud of me.  That put a smile on my face and gave me a little extra burst of energy.  I crossed the finish line and felt like collapsing.  I did it!!! 5:36.49.  15 minutes faster than last time.  Sweet victory!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Meet Fat Betty!


2012 brought a new member to the GEC family…Fat Betty.  In the words of Moto Moto on Madagascar, “She’s sexy, she’s huge.”  Betty was born an Air Force Outdoor Recreation van and graduated into service with GEC in Feb 2012.  She likes short drives to the U of Arizona Pool, svelte bikes on the roof, and waiting patiently outside of Jamba Juice. 

Fat Betty can be seen hauling camp athletes to the pool or run locations, filling (and I mean filling) a parking lot space at races and events, on the roads in Tucson and the rest of Arizona here and there or parked at the Tucson Endurance Performance Center.  

  •          2001 Dodge 3500 1 ton Maxi-Van
  •          360ci (5.9L) V8, 245HP, 4-sp automatic
  •          Michelin tires (what else?)
  •          Color:  dark metallic grey
  •          Sponsored by:  GEC,, Michelin, Rocky Mounts, Genuine Innovations
  •          Bike racks:  10 on the roof, 4 on the rear hitch

Operating Limits

GEC Coaches
Anyone over 12 with a pulse
Passenger Capacity
Driver + 14 triathletes
Depends on how wet and cold it is up on Lemmon
Bicycle Capacity
10 (roof) and 4 (rear hitch)
How important is your bike if you’re piling in?
Gear Capacity
15 sets of swim, bike, and run gear
Med supplies for anything from a stubbed toe to a 7.62mm.
How steep is the hill?
Gas Mileage
Let’s not talk about this

Check out to see races near you Fat Betty will be attending!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Grasky named 2012 ITU Cross (Off-Road) World Champs Team USA Elite Coach

Grasky named 2012 ITU Cross (Off-Road) World Champs Team USA Elite Coach

In May, I was selected by USA Triathlon to be the Team USA Elite Team Coach for the 2012 ITU Cross World Championship.  Cross triathlon is the ITU’s word for Off-Road Tri, or Xterra.  In fact, this race took place in conjunction with the Xterra Southeast Regional Championship in Pelham, Alabama. 

I was selected by USAT for this position from a recommendation by some of the elite athletes and with my experience coaching and racing off road at that level.  My role was to manage the athletes and their interaction with the ITU, to ensure they have the information and equipment they need to race on the course, to lead workouts on the course race week and talk to how I would race it, and to help pre-race with whatever they need, and to help them know their position and competition on race-day.  We held a team dinner and several training events to get ready for the competition. 

The Elite women pre-race

On the team was an Xterra World Champion, an Xterra USA Champion, members of the Luna Pro Team and more top Xterra pros than I could count.  The experience was amazing.  To be surrounded by this group of athletes in a role of authority was humbling.  The group of athetes was amazing throughout the entire week and raced their hearts out! 

Results:  the Junior Elite women went 1-2 and the Junior Elite guys went 3-4-5.  The top American male pro was Craig Evans in 2nd behind Conrad Stoltz of South Africa.  Josiah Middaugh was 4th.  And the proudest for me personally…the top American woman was GEC athlete Suzie Snyder!

This experience was a highlight of my coaching career and something I hope to be a part of again!

Suzie and Shonny taking the USA's top spots in 4 and 5.