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Goodwood 2011 musings

Like most years the Goodwood marathon is one of the top, if not THE event in my longboarding year. It certainly is the longest and most competitive distance event in Europe to my knowledge. This time around things were no different – I’ve been focussed on how I can improve my time since I started training back in April.

Tim Pritchard and I arrived early enough to set up a camp and generally collect our starter packs and get ready. The couple of hours before the race went by in a flash. I made some adjustments to my setup and after some stretching was ready for the off.  Tim, Matt Elver and I made our way on to the track together and snaked through the masses of lycra-clad rollerbladers, many roller-derby girls and got pretty near the front. With a little bit of manoeuvring and some grumbling from those around us we managed to get our boards down. The race marshals counted down from 10 and we were off. After about 10 metres Matt got knocked or tangled up with another rollerblader but other than that the start was clean and problem-free.

Tim and I got into a fast pace and the first lap really flew by. During some sections of the first lap he pumped and I managed to keep up by pushing as hard as I could, but only just. I should have pumped too but didn’t want to loose valuable time changing my stance but I was already aching and didn’t feel like I’d warmed up enough. After crossing the line for the second lap we were soon passed by Matt who seemed on very good form. I was really taken aback by how fast Tim was pushing and really struggled to get into a rhythm. After turning into the section of the track where there was a headwind I was lagging further and further behind. Pausing to drink some water proved a step to far.  Tim put in a few power pushes and just pulled away, I couldn’t keep up.

My breathing was all over the place and I decided to pull back a little, in the hope that if I maintained a high average speed then I could possibly catch up with Tim again in the later laps of the race. I had successfully done this the in 2010 with Alex Bangnoi. Soon after, I then also got overtaken by Ben Williams on a rather funky LBL Pusher V2 and Moe Neve. Shortly after that I managed to get into a good zone.

For the next laps, I pumped on every downhill and  straight where the wind was behind me or in the downhill sections and and pushed the rest of the time. It is at this point that I versitality of the G|Bomb showed through. Being able to pump the board was a very welcome break from the pushing. I also found that I was much quicker when I was pumping compared to when I was pushing. This was most noticeable on the flat or gradual downhill sections of the circuit. Along these sections I maintained speeds of around 24+ kph (15mph) compared to 20-ish kph (12.5mph) when pushing normally. I felt really comfortable on the G|Bomb  and I was pleased that I had adjusted to it in such a quick time. I have found my ultimate race board.

As the counter on my GPS climbed above the 43km mark at around the 2 hour mark,  I started to wonder how many laps I’d done. One error was that I didn’t carry a pen with me and being focused on pace, I’d not really paid attention to the number of laps I’d done. I really didn’t want to be one lap out so decided to do another, in hindsight I did this perhaps unconsciously to honour Alex Bangnoi with whom I’d raced around with for an extra lap at Goodwood in 2010. ;-)

In the end I finished in : 02:00:15, in 4th place – not bad!

A great podium picture of the top 3 finishers – well done guys! Check out the funky Skatefurther banner!

Here are the readings from my GPS for both 2010 and 2011.

2010 :

2011:

You can see from the above pictures that I was 1.4kph (0.86 mph) off last year’s pace.

Since the race I can’t help wondering why I was slower. I’ve tried to change many things in preparation for this year’s race, from looking into different techniques by reading the Chi-Running book to uphill training with the aim of improving strength. I perhaps made too many changes and don’t think that I ate right on the day. The previous day I hadn’t managed to resist a couple of beers either – schoolboy error!

Additionally, given my time in 2010 I may have been a tad over confident, it may have also been the headwind too. Who knows. One thing is for certain, I really feel that I got the setup right this year with the  G|Bomb although I may tweak a couple of aspects. I will also look at the pushing and tucking method, especially for use in headwinds. I also want to train for longer distances and give up on the grueling short uphill strategy as this isn’t fun. Regardless of my performance I had a really great time with everyone and had a great day.

This is the complete setup I used:

– Board: Subsonic G|Bomb Illuminati in light flex
– Front truck: Bennet 5.0 with Lime 80a Reflex barrel bushing boardside and Orange 86a barrel roadside (with rounded edges), with bushing saver fix
– Front wheels: ATOBE Wigglers wheels 77mm 82a
– Back truck: Seismic 30° with red springs tightened to 2.5 turns
– Rear wheels:  ATOBE  Bonneville wheels 76mm 78a
Siesmic Tekton bearings
PSD FWD+ Short footstop

More importantly, Goodwood like the other longboard events that are too-few, is also an unmissable opportunity to meet and get together with fellow longboarders. It was great to see such people as, Keith O’LearyTom ParkerNick RandallZoltan NagyBen WilliamsMoe Neve  Jon SteelChris White Gary EwensMatt Elver and not forgetting Tim Pritchard. Laura Hatwell was sorely missed though as were the other members of the Skatefurther family who weren’t able to make it.

It was also great to oogle at some really very nice setups, mainly a brace of G|Bomb Illuminatis and the urban legend that is the Longboard Larry Pusher V2.

Another awesome aspect was that the PSD footstops was really well received and deservedly so. Quite a few people bought a one on the day and all feedback on them was great. Here are several in action.

It was really nice to have to time to chill with some of the others after the race. After a good rest Tim, Keith and I went for a chill lap in the Summer sunshine. The circuit really is an amazing skate…

Tim summed it up nicely in his write up, which includes his impression of the G|Bomb:

Keith, Chris and I took the opportunity to ride the super smooth circuit for one last lap. All 3 of us pumping and using my footop’s which was another great feeling. I took a ride on Chris’s G|Bomb Illuminati, extra low brackets, Bennett front 17* Seismic red springs -7* and AToBe Wigglers/Bonnevilles. It was far more stable than my top mount LDP and return to centre equally, turning equally and less like a fish weaving. The pump feels much more centred, you kind of make longboard type turns, and it pumps/accelerates and you can make tiny pumps with your toes/heals dipping. The height is really low which felt pretty normal, until I stepped back on my board which felt enormous. The G|Bomb certainly has potential for a true pusher/pumper, but, I may well stick with my Pulse? The mega quick alteration of angles on the G|Bomb is also a massive advantage, I’m sure we all agree, especially front and back for us LDPers. I’d love a G|Bomb, and I have no doubt that it could be my ideal board for a race, but, I may never know. 

New strategies, more training but the same board – bring on next year already! Tim’s write up of the day can be seen Pavedwave and all the results of the day’s racing are here. A big thanks goes out to the organisers for putting on such a good event!

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Training-tastic

So my weekend of training is finished. As I sit here slightly aching and full of food I know that in a weeks time the race will already be over. Seeing as I only started training properly around a month ago, I’m pretty pleased with how things have gone. I’ve learnt a couple of things too which I want to record here so that I don’t forget.

Eat right
Sounds basic, but is easy to get wrong. Realising that I wasn’t going to have all that much time to put in the miles, I decided to go for an sprint approach with my regular sessions. The route I used is short in distance terms, around 4km (2.4 miles) but has an elevation of around 135m (442 ft). Here is the different times it took me to travel the route:

Jul 18, 2011: Pace: 4:04min/km, Speed: 14.47km/h
Jul 21, 2011: Pace: 3:49min/km, Speed: 15.72km/h
Jul 27, 2011: Pace: 4:20min/km, Speed: 13.83km/h
Aug 02, 2011: Pace: 4:02min/km, Speed: 14.83km/h

So what happened on the 27th July? Well, I arrived back home thinking I was going to pass out. Coming up the hill I felt like I had no energy and like I was skating through treacle. It was a horrible feeling. From that day on I decided to eat more during the late afternoon to fuel the longboarding runs. The results are that I have got a little faster (last run) and I am also decidedly less grouchy upon arrival home.

My favourite snack of choice at the moment are home-made cereal bars that I used during the Paris Ultraskate.  Why make them? Well, here are some advantages:

1/ You know exactly what is in them
2/ They contain different levels of sugars to give you quick and sustained energy
3/ Really easy to make

Long Distance energy bars – all credit goes to the fantastic Diet-Sport-Coach site (in French)
By slightly changing the ingredients, you can make either a sweet or a slightly salty version – good to ward away boredom for when you have to eat a lot of them during ultras, etc…

Method:

Mix for sweet:
> 250 g powdered almonds
> 100 g fructose (powdered or agave syrup)
> 50g brown sugar
> a small potato (80g) cooked and mashed
> Add 80g sesame and/or lin seeds

For salty version:
> 250 g powdered almonds
> 75 g fructose (powdered or agave syrup)
> 100g peanut butter
>  80g sweet potato steamed and mashed
> Add 80g sesame and/or lin seeds

Mix everything up into a paste. It might at first appear really dry but just mix in enough and it will turn into a paste. Leave it to set in the fridge overnight. The next day, cut the paste into bars and wrap in cellophane. You can also wrap the paste around fillings such as dried bananas or dates.

The last big training push
During the weekend, I had some time to get the final bit of my training in. Since I setup the Illuminati not too long ago and had a couple of issues getting to grips with it and it was a real feeling of relief to feel everything come together. I’ve mainly been playing around with bushings (see last link) and also trying out ways to strengthen them.

I knew that it was possible to setup and get used to a board that is both good at pumping and pushing. From using it at the weekend, I think that I have came close to achieving that.

The weather around Lausanne has been pants for the last couple of weeks; muggy and showery. Not really very summery at all. All in all I did nearly 60km (37 miles) during the weekend at race pace for as much as possible. The most interesting run was on Saturday. I actually had a false start that day. I came out of the flat ready for a skate and after 10metres it started to rain. That was in the morning.

In the afternoon as I was waiting for the bus to take me down to the lake, I got my picture taken by a passing photographer:

Once at the lake, I’d done about 12km when again, it started to rain. Luckily, I decided to press on and the rain didn’t last – I did almost go home at one point because the rain kept threatening to come down.

Here is the route I took according to RunKeeper:

I’m happy with the speed. The route is certainly one of the more interesting ones to skate around on, but that does mean that you need to keep your wits about you. I had multiple near-misses with children on bikes, roller blade or just people randomly changing direction. There were also several crossings to deal with, although for the most part I managed to time them just right to get the ‘green man’. When you’re not dealing with all that, there is a lovely view of the lakeside. The surface really is top notch too. Physically, afterwards I felt pretty good and made sure I did my stretches. That reminds me…

Tim Pritchard recommended that I read a copy of Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. There is some interesting stuff regarding technique. After reading it, I’ve tried to keep in mind the following when I skate:

– Strike the ground when pushing with the mid-foot, making as little noise as possible
– Stay as straight as possible, lean forwards more the faster you want to go
– Don’t reach too far forwards, concentrate your push to the back
– Focus on the point where you want to be going (as much as your board and the terrain allows you)

I would really recommend this book. There are some very waffle-y sections and some running information that isn’t very relevant to longboarding, but the philosophy, warming up/warming down, stretching, race preparation and training plans are all well worth the read.

T minus 5 days-ish
So now comes a nice part of the training: eating and resting as much as possible! I’m really looking forward to the weekend, as well as the race it’ll be a good chance to catch up with old friends (Matt Elver, Keith O’LearyTim PritchardTom Parker, Nick Randall, Zoltan Nagy), and meet some new faces for the first time in person (Chris White, Gary Ewens of Smile Longboards, the UK Longboard Larry distributor, and who knows else!).

A sad fact though is that Alex Bangnoi will unfortunately not be able to make Goodwood this year- it won’ be the same without you drifting me around the track ;-). The French will be duly represented though by Matthieu Josse, a young gun who shot to 8th place in the Ultraskate rankings at the Paris Ultraskate. I think there are going to be a few surprises this year…let’s see!