RACES; Mt. Leinster

I wrote a race report for this race here: http://www.imra.ie/events/view/tab/report/id/621/#138

This article will therefore focus on a technical evaluation of the route vs. Snowdon and an attempt to look at the performance in relative terms.

I was happy enough with the race. As I predicted during the week, I should expect to see a weaker performance at Mt. Leinster than at Snowdon. When you time a peak for a certain race and then give a 100% performance, it would be almost unique not to show a regress in any race that follows without a proper rest period and another cycle of Base-Intensity-Peak training leading to another Racing peak.

Once I get the summit times from Isabelle, I hope to be able to show this using the new “Relative Power” system I went through the other day. I’ve estimated 45:51 as my uphill time, however, based on my Garmin readings until I get the exact figure.

Comparison: Mt. Leinster to Snowdon

This is how the two races stack up (before considering the downhill and differences in terrain):

· Ascent Grade: 9.9% (Mt. Leinster) vs. 13.4% (Snowdon)

· Length of Climb: 6.59k (Mt. Leinster) vs. 7.76k (Snowdon)

· Uphill Time: est. 45:51 (Mt. Leinster) vs. 58:45 (Snowdon)

· Uphill Pace: 06:57 (Mt. Leinster) vs. 07:34 (Snowdon)

· Vertical metres per Hour (VAM): 826m/hour (Mt. Leinster) vs. 1021m/hour (Snowdon)

Two things made Mt. Leinster more difficult: The terrain was slower for parts of the route and the weather was warmer. One thing shifts is more towards Snowdon: The hardness of the terrain’s effects on the legs and the longer overall descent and race time.

Looking at the overall figures, there’s not much doubt that Snowdon is the more difficult race, but which represents the better performance? If I enter my estimated ascent time of 45:51 into my system it returns a Relative Power reading of 4.1w/kg as opposed to the 5.1w/kg at Snowdon. Even more interestingly is that this is the lowest reading of all 7 data points I have so far (Lug 07 and 09, Powerscourt Uphill, Clohernagh and Snowdon 07 and 09). Even at Lugnacoille 2007 I produced 4.4w/kg making this the poorest of my uphill performances. The disparity looks even worse in light of the huge difference in vertical metres climbed per hour (this is aggravated by the fact that the larger climb was attained on a more severe gradient).

The overall performance must be seen in the light of a few other elements too, however:

· It’s the first of my readings to be taken in a “post-peak” race. All other readings were from peak races or races in the lead-up to a peak

· I went into the race on the back of massive muscular damage sustained on the Snowdon downhill. The damaging effects of excessive downhill are proven to last for up to 10 days

· I was severely fatigued and had problems eating in the week leading up to the race

So all in all, the figures show exactly what I predicted before the race, my only surprise was just how far below Snowdon I had fallen in one week (19.6%). The power output of Snowdon would have seen me to the top in 37:08 (an estimated finishing time of 01:04:44). This seems too fast given its close to Paul Nolan’s record which leads me to believe my real power output was probably somewhat higher than 4.1w/kg (possibly closer to 4.5w/kg) and that the soft terrain made up for the difference as did the fact that I stopped at the top to take water. Again, though, I know from Shane that himself and Paul had enough energy to spend parts of their climb chatting away, so it’s more than likely Paul would have run closer to 01:02 last year despite his injuries (and sub-01:00 in his prime almost certainly).

The Descent

The descent is also interesting. At Snowdon I descended in 30:28, an average pace of 03:56 or 15.3kph. Mt. Leinster I descended in approx. 27:36, an average pace of 04:11 or 14.3kph. Of course, I lost about 20-30 seconds getting my shoe back on when it fell off. Clearly a huge disparity in performance can be seen though, despite Snowdon’s terrain being somewhat easier and returning more energy as its harder (this advantage is largely offset by the few tricky sections on Snowdon, the additional 1.2km of descent, the longer climb already completed, and the additional impact shock on the legs).

As the numbers stack I grow more confident that this method of evaluating races shows how much of an athlete’s current potential they managed to show in a given race. If I use Snowdon as my 100% performance, then Mt. Leinster would be rated as an 81% performance in this system.