In the days that followed I did what any athlete would do in a similar situation, I began to question my preparation. Had I prepared adequately? Was I right to expect that I could produce the necessary power? In short, what went wrong? Fortunately Training Peaks makes available a ton of data, and I decided to look there for answers. I found them, too.
First, a quick review of what the data means. These are my definitions.
FTP - Functional Threshold Power. The maximum sustained power a cyclist can produce for an extended period of time, typically one hour. Equivalent to the power generated at Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR).
NP - Normalized Power. An average power, expressed in watts, for a period of time, adjusted to express the impact on the body. A ride on rolling hills at an average power of 120 watts will feel harder, and require more energy from the rider, than riding a flat course for the same duration at an average of 120 watts. In that case the flat ride will have an NP of 120 watts while the NP for the rolling hills ride will be higher.
IF - Intensity Factor. The average percentage of FTP produced for a period of time. IF = 1.0 means the ride was done at an NP equal to FTP. If the goal is to ride at an average of 85% FTP, IF will be 0.85.
VI - Variability Index. I am still not completely clear about this one. VI expresses how much the power varied from an ideal. Typically a time trial is done at a smooth, continuous power level. On a flat course VI should be close to 1.0, with anything between 0.97 and 1.03 being excellent. I am not clear how hills affect this number. A good strategy is to work harder on climbs and recover while descending. Seems to me that this will increase VI, unless the software also takes into account elevation changes.
The remaining columns in my analysis should not require explaining.
What I did was go back and get the most recent useful ride data and compare them with my Honu ride. To a certain extent this comparing apples to oranges, because none of the rides have the same profile. By focusing on a twenty minute continuos climb I was able to find something significant.
On May 8th I did a workout on Pineapple Hill -- Hwy. 99 from Haleiwa going up towards Wahiawa, which consisted of three ascents of twenty minutes each. On May 15 I did the Honolulu Triathlon, which has no hills, but I did ride at my planned Honu intensity, the goal being to sustain 85% FTP as smoothly as possible. On May 22 I did Pineapple Hill again, but this time only one ascent followed by a long flat ride with some all-out intervals.
The results of these rides and my Honu ride are given in the table below. (Click to see a larger version.) There are two sets of columns. First, the data for the entire ride. Then, for all except the Honolulu Triathlon, data for a twenty minute continuous climb. Note that I include all three ascents from the 15th.
These data show that in the weeks leading up to Honu I had the strength to do well. The one thing I did not take into account was the effect of the long, intense swim. I think this confirms the conclusion I arrived at in my race report, that to do any better ay Honu I need to improve my swim efficiency. Of course there is plenty of room for improvement in my bike and run performance.