Monday, December 13, 2010

Did the ITT Results at Cross Nationals Act as a Valid Call Up Method?

By now, most of us are home and the CX Nationals hangover is in full effect.  All the, "what ifs, could haves, and if onlys" have been recounted way too many times and, as we all return to the real world, or even the off-season, some lingering complaints and questions remain about the 2010 championship event.

Complaints at events of this caliber are typically equal in quantity to excuses but a few things are obvious.  First and foremost, every single one of the winners earned every thread of that stars and stripes jersey.  Congratulations to everyone!  Second is that the crowd was definitely something that American CX racing has yet to see.  Hopefully, Tom Schuler can keep that momentum rolling and Madison January 2012 will be even an even bigger spectacle to behold.

A consistent complaint that was heard throughout the week involved the Cyclocross ITT, the result from which dictated call up order for the national championship race although the ITT was on a different day, with different weather conditions.  Also, the ITT was run on a completely different course, which means different surface properties.  The possibility of different physical demands and handling skill sets affecting the outcome of the race loomed.

We looked at the new call up method and even called upon some statistical expertise with the hope of being able to answer a question that everyone asked at some point over the weekend: Did the ITT results at cross nationals act as a valid call up method?

In statistical terms, "is there a significant correlation between the time trial performance and race performance?"

In order to examine this question, only results from racers who completed both events could be looked at.  We accomplished this using voodoo magic and something called casewise deletion of missing data.  This removed the first row of call ups from the equation.  Also, it got rid of everyone that did not start the ITT as well as anyone who did not finish the championship race.  Remember that we're only looking at the validity of the ITT as a call up method.  If the ITT and the race aren't completed, then a necessary piece of data is missing in order to be considered.

Next we applied this analysis only to the races with more than 25 athletes completing both competitions.  The larger sample size leads to more precision in the calculation and thus better quality of information.

Results:  After using some spreadsheet ninja skills to work some super sweet math skills that a guy named Pearson discovered back in late 1800's we were able to come up with some results. First, all the races that we applied the above standards to showed significant and strong correlations.  The "p-value" of less than 0.05 is widely accepted in academic literature as a significant finding and the < 0.01 is even better. 

Single speed: r = .85   p <  0.05

13-14: r = 0.91           p <  0.01 for all other races
15-16: r = 0.81
17-18: r = 0.90
30-34: r = 0.90             
35-39: r = 0.87
40-44: r = 0.87
45-49: r = 0.90
50-54: r = 0.80

30-34: r = 0.66
40-44: r = 0.88

What does this mean?
Athletes that perform well in the ITT, are also performing well in the race when compared to other athletes who completed both events.

Ultimately it could be said that the different ITT day, weather, surface conditions and course difference did not matter.

Why does this happen?
Simply put, cyclocross is a combination of fitness and bike handling.  Those athletes that are superbly proficient in both of those general traits will excel in the sport and outperform those athletes who are not as proficient in both, or lack one trait all together. 

Wrapping up, answer the questions we posed earlier: Yes, the ITT has been shown to be a valid call up method and yes, ITT results and race performance are strongly correlated.

Of course, a control is needed for starting position in ITT performance. This could address the issue that start position could affect race performance.

And finally, don't forget the number one rule of statistics, correlation does not imply causation.

Special thanks goes out to Alyson D Abel, MS and her mad crazy spreadsheet ninja skills.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Reflections from the 1st Half of CX Season: Case Study in specific training

Recently we discussed cyclo-cross (CX)  in regards to sport specificity and how it is a unique discipline with it's very own set of skills that must be mastered in order to be proficient.  Accompanying that specific skill set of CX, the specific fitness of CX (Click here for that picture: CX= yellow, Crit= Red, TT= Green).  Now that we've seen what a CX race looks like the fun part is getting the athlete to duplicate those efforts, or different aspects of the efforts exerted in a CX race.

For everyone that has raced a hard fought, tooth and nail sort of CX race, there is no doubt that it is a very hard discipline.  Also, as training progresses with each athlete, some constants arise when confronted with CX specific training.  First, there is no desire or motivation to do a full speed "training race" in CX.  The physical and emotional stress is too great to ask one to race Saturday and Sunday, then turn around and do "training" races during the week.  Everyone goes flat and everyone quickly begins a downward spiral.  Talk to Euro CX Camp alumni over the last few years.  Not a single guy speaks of being "fit and flying" at the end of the campaign.  Instead, they answer that they are "beat up and exhausted."

The second constant is that "those specific intervals are HARD!"  Indeed they are, and indeed they should be!  In order to push your limits further, it is necessary to push to that border in training.  Albeit, in a constructive manner that reinforces positive adaptation.  Intervals of the intensity and duration relevant to CX racing must be managed carefully and in conjunction with thorough feedback from the athlete, otherwise it gets overdone and the athlete either 1) stops doing the specific intervals, or 2) does them and digs a big hole which could take a few weeks to climb out of. 

The spoils of getting the intervals right and doing the hard work are rewarding indeed.  Consistent lap times (showing high fatigue resistance) and that ability to ride above and beyond yourself when it really matters are easiest traits to recognize from a performance standpoint.  However the psychological benefit of knowing you are fit and riding fast is equally important. 

I've got some data compiled using some races as a guide, then looking at how the specific training relates to the demands of the races.  Let's take a look:

First we'll take a look at the  pedal forces vs pedal velocity in a Quadrant Analysis view.  In particular, the outer edge of the waxing crescent moon shape represents the extremes of CX racing.  Note how with the training, this athlete has been able to maintain that general shape, especially on the top end...

CX Races we have power data for (above)

CX Specific training (above)

Now, we'll look at another view, and that's cadence vs. power output.  CX is unique in that there is a large amount of accelerating and with that, an equally large amount of  high force/ low cadence efforts to generate high powers (vs. low force/ high cadence found in criteriums). Again, be sure to pay attention to the edges of the point groupings.  That is where races are made and that is where the athlete must improve.

CX racing: cadence vs. power production

CX training: cadence vs. power production
These specific workouts are already paying dividends as this client is seeing his form improve over the weeks of the CX season despite numerous races and limited recovery. This data set, in conjunction with that from other CX racing clients, helps to widen the view in our "library," further allowing for the creation of more effective workouts to better prepare them for disciplines as specific as cyclo-cross.  

To everyone out there wondering, "Am I doing the right thing for CX?"  Know that proper and specific CX training is distinctly possible.  And when it's done the right way, it really is fun!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Texas. Stepping into the CX Scene

We did another CX Clinic down in Austin and the biggest surprise was that there really are a large number of CX racers down south!  Everyone is a little behind the rest of the US with the CX setup, but that is changing rapidly.

First it starts with old road parts on a used frame.  Then, new CX bike that actually works well.  Next, add spare wheels in the pit.  Follow that with a complete spare bike (usually the bike from the first step).  Follow that with 2 completely new, mid level bikes, one with tubular tires.  Finally, two high end CX bikes with tubular wheels and tires to boot.  With the level of enthusiasm in Texas for cycling in general, look for this region to rocket through this progression and produce some quality CX riders in the future.  My prediction, Kevin Fish.  Watch for him.  The schedule for CX is currently restricted to reduce the number of events, but that can't last; as CX gains in momentum, so will the demand to have more races. 

Joseph Schmalz (KCCX) and Chris Wallace (KCCX alumni) helped to teach the clinic, and a fantastic job they did!  Those two have a vast amount of knowledge in the sport and simply having them at the clinic helped others to see up close how the next level does things.  Thanks to them for helping.

Finally, everyone followed up the clinic with the CX season opener at the Driveway in Austin.  Fun times were had by all!

Finally, I found this video of lap 1 in the UCI GP Gloucester CX.  Everyone wanted to see how fast the pros go and what it looks like for them.  Here you go.  I watched it a couple of times and found that I liked the levers in the frame as it shows the braking (front vs rear) zones and how fast the rider rips through the gears upon accelerating.  Also, be aware that this guy is in the BACK of the field.  Your contenders are probably noticeably faster on every section.


GP Gloucester Lap 1 UCI from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

CX Clinic 2.0. Austin, TX

The first clinic in KC was so much fun that we decided to do another one in Austin!  October 16 prior to the season opener.  Here's the flyer and some pics from CX Clinic 1.0 in KC.

Se Cx Clinic Atx

Shadd Smith teaching at the CX Clinic in KC.

Alyson Abel enjoys some skills practice

Joe Schmalz teaching pre-ride strategy
The tents are up and we're ready to go

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

CX is Upon us!

For everyone north of the Mason Dixon line, it's official: the 2010 road season has drawn to an end.  Now it's time for Cyclo-cross (CX)!  Most of us pull the CX bike off the wall, air up the tires and take it out to marvel at exactly how rusty the CX skills have become.  Some of us, okay, many of us have been looking forward to the "real" 2010 season for some time and are ready to get things started.

In the KC area CX has over 25 high quality racing days on the calendar.  This has given rise to CX as the new primary season for cycling. And why not have CX as your primary competitive season?  Two bikes, and a multitude of tires and other equipment are used.  Events are short and easy to attend for the entire family!

So just jump onto your knobby tires and it's off to CX we go right?  Well...  As the sport continues to evolve and grow, so does the preparation of the competition.  Source Endurance has been researching the specificity of CX and how best to train for it.  The process is challenging and the results show the spoils of all the hard work, both from the research and the athletes who have collected a number of top honors and a few UCI points. 

For some of these athletes, CX season started in July with some running and plyometrics.  For some athletes with goals late in the season (December- January) CX will start with a transition period with the best form beginning around Thanksgiving.  However, each SE client will agree on this statement: CX specific training is hard! 

CX is a perfect example of a sport that is decided by outliers.  So just what is this picture below?  It's a multi- file range... okay, let's just say we're using it to compare pedal forces with pedal velocity.  Green is a TT (Nationals in Bend, OR), Red is a criterium stage in the Nature Valley Grand Prix, and Yellow is a CX race; all from the same athlete.  You'll note that as a whole, the majority of the points are in the vicinity of the green.  However, if you look at how the red (criterium) and yellow (CX race) differ you'll notice that while both are difficult events, they are undoubtedly difficult in different ways.   That multitude of yellow points in the upper left of the graph are the data points that decide races.  Information like this helps us to understand what the sport specific demands to CX are, and how best to tailor a training program to the demands of this discipline. 

In the meantime, here is a brief video of Joe Schmalz as he begins his 2010 CX season preparation.

Join Source Endurance as we host our Cyclo-cross clinic this coming Saturday, September 11.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Source E and KCCX/ Verge pb Challlenge Tires presents a CX Clinic

SourceE KCCX CX Clinic

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Benefits of a Mid-Season Break, Part 3:The Spoils

Before we get into the fun stuff below, let's talk about managing the mid-season break.  There are two types of conditions that every break will meet.  Planned and unplanned.  Examples of each (let's see if you can figure them out): vacation, illness, business trips, injury...  easy right. 

The majority of clients Source Endurance works with have 2-3 peaks per season and depending on the individual, everyone needs some sort of break.  The mid season break can come in many forms; complete off the bike, some easy riding, unstructured training or any combination.  The goal of the break is to rest, re-motivate and prepare for that next peak on the horizon.

Here are a couple of Source Endurance Clients that have taken the mid-season break, in both of the aforementioned conditions.

Athlete 1: Unplanned.  Injury.
This athlete was hot on the heels of some of the best form of his life.  Just peaked, was looking forward to a couple more races, then onto a bit of respite from the High Intensity (1,2,3) Training he had been executing to perfection when it happened..... A bad crash (circled) left him with some nasty road rash and a fair number of stitches along with a number of other maladies which left him off the bike for 9 days, more than he's ever been out of commission in his adult life.

The most important thing to convey to Athlete 1 is that now, getting well became the #1 priority.  He likes to ride and train as cycling helps keep him sane, and happy. These injuries are definitely degrading his quality of life and must be addressed before any recoup of fitness can be had. 

There was and always will be a detraining effect when one is on injured reserve for that much time.  Studies show that doing nothing can quickly lead to loss of fitness.  However, it's important to remember that detraining is relative to some degree.  His form was not gained in 9 days and thus he will not lose it all in 9 days.

Following his return to training, a slow build was necessary to ensure that there were no aggravation of the injuries.  Once he got into his normal  rhythm again, the trajectory was impressive.  Within one training cycle he was at the same level that took him all of 2010 to achieve.  Equally as important is that now he is rested, refreshed and ready to do some hard work again.  This combination will allow him to finish out his road season strong at the state road championships in October.

Athlete 2: Vacation in Italy May 24-June 2
Athlete 2 has had a very good 14 months on the bike.  He earned his upgrade at Superweek in 2009 and now is placed on his team's Elite squad.  With this comes some elevated expectations.  No longer is it simply okay to "just finish" a race.  He is expected to contribute in some way at every team race he competes in.  A tall order for a newly upgraded athlete.  However, he took the challenge head on and made some great strides in 2010.

Athlete 2 is also very good about knowing his own limitations as well as keeping his life in balance.  To this end, he understands that if he does not take some down time, his motivation wanes and he will be effectively done for the season.  The best remedy: Vacation in Italy, of course!

Athlete 2 finished off his successful spring campaign, then jet set himself to Europe for some well deserved R and R.  When he came back, he found that all the remaining races were indeed "big deal" events.  Time to get back to work.

We've been concentrating on more short term powers with a focus on repeatability since his return to competition.  The numbers don't lie.  There has been improvement across the board.  Athlete 2 has shown improvement relative to his pre-vacation form in every major energy system across the board.  This should bode well for him and his team as the season progresses into the final stages of the 2010 road season.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Benefits of a Mid- Season Break, Part 2.

As the season progresses, many athletes see a degrading performance, both absolute and relative.  Indeed the athlete has begun to burn up.  The reasons for this are many and no one-reason is an answer that can be easily remedied.  However, the underlying root of the issue is that the fitness trajectory at the onset of training was unsustainable  in the long term, and fatigue is now beginning to show on the athlete.  Typically, the textbook case for this is the athletes who transition, in one day, from "base miles" in the the spring, to doing every event and group ride on a week in, week out basis.  The athlete goes from little or no intensity to 3-5 high intensity workouts per week.  Then, they find themselves out of gas in July, limping through August and totally packing in their 4 month road season before Labor Day reciting, "back in my day," and vowing to do next year even better.

The most saddening part of this formula is that the best form of the season was never realized.  Usually 4-8 days into the "off-season" the athlete is great again and would probably be on great form with just a little work.  A similar scenario plays out for those who are targeting a two peak season.  Following that first peak, it is common for an athlete to be both mentally and physically drained.  They have been working hard and keeping focus on the task and now with no new shining peak on the horizon, the question of "why?" comes to mind.  Don't fight it.  Take some time to relax and rest.  The internal pressure of those "A" races should not be marginalized.  They are hard and they do come with a cost.

Also, in order to properly prepare for that first peak, it is not uncommon for the athlete to have undertaken that unsustainable fitness trajectory.  Even still, improvements are quick and fitness is good.  However, the cost that comes with the steep trajectory is that a break must happen to continue the improvement.  Failure to do this will result in constantly degrading powers and performance which can have disastrous effects and tend to push an athlete towards one extreme or the other.  On one hand the athlete may decide that in order to gain fitness, more training must be completed, which will exacerbate the problem and result in a complete breakdown (typically illness).  Heading the other direction we've already discussed, quitting the season.  Both of these methods deprive the athlete of the opportunity to do something truly special late in the season, like hitting new peak powers, setting new PRs, and putting a notch in the "W" column.

What's the difference between Burning Up and Over Training:
Difference between burning up (overreaching) and over-training is this: When riders burn up, they mostly just need to rest for a few days.  It's nearly impossible for an athlete who is 'riding by feel' to over-train.  This is because they typically succumb to burn out, illness, or injury, and simply stop training all together.  Over-training is not something that happens in such a short time as a month or two, but rather is something that occurs in a more chronic state.  If you take 3-4 days off and you feel rested, you are not over-trained but burned up/ over-reached.

In the final piece, we'll look at how to manage a mid season break and look at a couple of athletes that have benefited from the break already in 2010.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Benefits of a Mid- Season Break, part 1

 Ahhh, the mid-season break.  Where the rider can sit back, relax, digest the previous months of training and prepare for that second peak.  The benefits of a mid-season break can be many and depending on your goals, a break may be the only thing that can save or preserve your season.  The mid season break does a few things: prevents burn out, prevents burning up, and provides for a transition between disciplines.  In the next posts, we'll look at these and show how the break can be a good thing.

Burn out.  It's that desire to do absolutely nothing.  You know that feeling, when you want to go ride, but you don't want to ride hard.  Or when you just want to sit at the coffee shop an extra hour then head home.  Burn out comes most often for the ones that see marked improvement early in the season, in part because they are driven to succeed more by the improvement they've seen already seen; and partly because they have immense internal pressure on themselves to continue to see success.  Then, as soon as the improvement stops, BAM! It all comes crashing down and their season is, for all intents and purposes, over.  Burn out is as much to blame for the loss of star athletes from sport as injuries, school or anything else and it must be managed.

Your mid season break should put your training on a secondary focus for a while.  Sure, go train some but not very long and only if you want to.  However, it's a great time for a vacation!   The mountains, the beach, or even just chill-axing at home on your stay-cation.  Or, even.... re-re modeling your basement (sorry Tom)!  The goal is to step away and come back with a refreshed mental state.  You'll need it as late season peaks are tough.  No longer can you rely on the winter and reduced daylight hours to slow your competition.  Everyone is going fast and you'll need to step it up to see success late in the season.  Look around at those that succeed in August every year, is it coincidence that they probably started late or took some time off?  Doubtful.

The length of the season is daunting.  For those in the south, it starts in late January and runs through October.  For those north of the Mason Dixon line, it begins in April and runs through Cross Nationals in December.  Either way, that's a LONG time to be on form.  Maintaining that desire to succeed for an entire macro-cycle is very difficult. Something as simple as inter-cycle rests help to keep the athlete mentally sharp.  Keeping your goals and expectations in line with your fitness is essential to managing that mental drive.  Like physical form, that mental drive is a finite resource and must be managed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sports Drink? What Sports Drink? by: John Hobbs, MEd.

It seems that there are as many combinations for sports drink preferences as there are wheel and bike frame combinations.  Athletes range their choices from science driven recommendations to one incident I remember where a bonking friend downed a ham-steak mid ride claiming bonking was all in his head.  Needless to say, I pulled all the way home.  My interests are aroused whenever I see an article looking at macro-nutrients during activity and looking at performance.  The research article by Breen, Tipton, and Jeukundrup entitled “No effect of carbohydrate-protein on cycling performance and indices of recovery” was no different and looked at a variety of markers coming from a single study.  A large product line already exists for carbohydrate sports drinks as the benefit of is well accepted in science and in sport.  Carbohydrate and protein “recovery” mixtures also have a market place foothold, although these do not have the depth or the history of empirical data.  Ratios of the two nutrients as well as the types need further studies before an ideal recommendation can be made.  So taking this one step farther, researchers are looking at the effects of these supplements when ingested during exercise.  As the researcher of the article state, there is already some data showing conflicting results.  This could be from differences in methodology, looser or tighter controls, differences in the types of measurements made, or just differences in the findings that have not been figured out yet.
            The methods used by Breen, Tipton, and Jeukundrup appear to mimic a real world application very closely while maintaining laboratory controls.  Twelve cyclists were utilized, a respectable number of volunteers when compared to similar studies, with each athlete being subjects under both conditions.  All of the athletes underwent two hours of cycling at a work rate based on measurements from each cyclist before completing a time trial based on the predicted amount of work completed in an hour TT.  Most athletes don’t warm up for two hours before an event.  The purpose of this exercise time was likely to deplete the athletes without driving them to fatigue before the end of the lab session, a difficult task to do since science has yet to determine exact causes of fatigue and all of their roles.   The athletes were supplied either a carbohydrate or carbohydrate and protein mixture, depending on the trial they were completing, while riding.  Then the hour long time trial based, on the amount of energy used, was completed.
            Several forms of data were extracted from this one group.  First, the power outputs measured at various points of the time trial were not significantly different nor were the times to completion.  So a direct measurement of performance indicated no benefit of the protein addition.  Additionally, an isometric strength test post exercise failed to show any difference on recovery from either drink.  To look at muscle damage, the researchers used levels reported soreness and levels of an enzyme called creatine kinase in the blood.  The idea behind using this enzyme is fairly simple.  It is normally located inside the muscles.  If there is muscle damage, the enzyme is released out of the damage section in to the blood.  A similar test is used to check for a heart attack.  This also revealed no benefit of either drink.
            One point to be discussed is the supplement ratios.  The drinks had 65grams/hour of carbohydrate with the mixed drink having an additional 19grams/hour of protein.  This equates to 260 and 336 calories per hour, respectively.  With a study design like this, a couple of questions would have been raised depending on the results.  If a difference would have been seen, the question would have remained if the was the cause of the increase, or was it just the fact that there were more calories in the mixed drink.  In this case where no difference was seen, we can have questions at the deeper level.  Did the 260 calories maximize the benefit that can be seen in sports drinks due to absorption, hormones, or other causes?  Or would a calorically equivalent beverage have proved to be more or less beneficial?  Additionally, would a control trial with no caloric intake have had similar results indicating that carbohydrate substrate was not the limiter in the testing protocol?  With these questions, however, we have to see the practicality of these studies utilizing this many treatment groups.  The more conditions there are, the more time required, higher drop-out rate, increased cost, and facilities for the study.  The researchers hit on some of these points during their discussion.  However, it has to be remembered that the research in this field is still relatively young with varying results.  A slight modification on the conditions may cause a difference.  The athletes in this study rode for three hours.  What happens during 100+ mile races where the pace is fluctuating over climbs and chasing breaks?  Changes in hormones occur depending on the intensity and duration.  One aspect not touched on is the fact that no difference was seen between the two groups meaning that the protein treatment was not shown to hurt performance either.  So, if you prefer to drink your “recovery drink” that has some protein in it during the race because you like the taste, left the bottle of sports drink in your car by accident, or any other reason, these data indicate it can’t hurt. With all these questions, it can be asked “what good was all this then?”  The article provides several data points to further elaborate on with future research and at least have a larger basis for recommendations to athletes.

Breen, L., Tipton, K., Jeukendrup, A. (2010).  No effect of carbohydrate-protein on cycling performance and indices of fatigue.  Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 42 (46), 1140-1148.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tour of Lawrence Street Sprints Video

Thanks to Keith Walburg for taking the time to record this fun filled evening!

Tour of Lawrence, Street Sprints from Keith Walberg on Vimeo.

Monday, June 21, 2010

So You Wanna Race With the Pros?

So what does it take to race with the Pros? How do you improve fitness all season to get to the point where you ride as part of the peloton and not just sit at the back tailgunning? What are some intermediate goals one should strive for on the way to the elite level of cycling in the USA? Those are all questions we've got at SE in one way or another the last few weeks. I'm going to use SE client and member of the Nature Valley Pro Ride team (yes, his websites need updated), Joseph Schmalz and some of his power data to show his progress and how his performance has improved.  Okay!  Here we go!

4-11-2010: Tillis Park CT; St Louis, MO.

This is Joe's first criterium of the 2010 season.  you can see by the ragged speed (blue) that there were lots of accelerations, common in criterium racing.  I drew a horizontal line at the 600W mark as that seems to be a good reference for the overall difficulty of the races.  600W is a number that all Cat 1 racers can produce frequently.  However, only the best riders can produce it consistently throughout the race.  Even then, it is very fitness dependent. Some things to note here:  the abundant >600W efforts the first 1/3rd of the race, then during the final moments, the drop in speed and power beginning at 48 minutes of the race, total efforts >600W= 19.  Some other numbers for you math whizzes out there:
Efforts per minute until the winning break occurs: 0.68 per minute
Efforts per minute entire race: 0.28
Race Time: 68min
28.9mph avg
1241 kj
120.3 TSS
1.034 IF.

4-25-2010: Tour of Saint Louis; StL, MO

This was Joe's first win of 2010 and day 2 of racing in monsoons!  That being said, it apparently didn't effect the number of hard efforts made in the race.  The power and speed fluctuate wildly the first 52 minutes until the winning break formed and rode away with Joe in it.  A couple weeks ago, that only took 28 minutes, which shows improvement of peloton quality.  Also of note that the average power is not particularly "hard" which points to the jumping as being the deciding factor of the race.  Towards the end, Joe only had to jump one time in order to shed his break away companions and take the win.  Some other numbers for you math whizzes out there:
Total efforts >600W: 28
Efforts per minute until the winning break occurs: 0.58 per minute
Efforts per minute entire race: 0..37
Race Time: 75min
25.7mph avg
1257 kj
118.5 TSS
0.977 IF.

 5-31-2010: TX Criterium Champs; Fort Worth, TX.

This race was HOT, HOT, HOT which undoubtedly led to a global decrease in performance of the peloton.  Still, it was hard and there were no race winning moves.  You'll notice that the the time between jumps was basically consistent all race long.  You seen the trend of speed of the peloton creep upwards the last 30 minutes or so indicating that this was indeed a quality field capable of racing all the way to the finish.  Still, this race saw an attrition rate of over 50% and appears to be well worthy of the TX State Criterium Championship.  Also, you'll see that this was a ~90 minute race which adds to the impressive ride done by Joe and the entire field.
Some other numbers for you math whizzes out there:
Total efforts >600W: 41
Efforts per minute entire race: 0.47
Race Time: 87min
25.9 mph avg
104.5 TSS
0.850 IF.

 6-12-2010: Tour de Grove Criterium; Saint Louis, MO. 

This was an NRC quality field but with the monsoon conditions, it was a race Joe could place well at.  There was no "winning break," once again.  However, the average power was considerably higher than even the TX CT Champs.  This brings the difficulty a notch higher.  No longer can you sit in and stay "rested" to make the jumps unless you are truly one of the more fit.  With the quality of the peloton elevated because of the professionals in the race, not many riders were able to jump multiple times.  However, you don't see that sort of drop off with Joe.  Actually, he continues to improve on the number of efforts he can make over 600W (16%).   This shows that Joe is improving in overall fitness as well as top end ability.  You'll see again, that the number of efforts over 600 do not slow one bit as the race progresses.  This was another very difficult race and saw an attrition rate over 50%.  Joe placed 6th in this race in what was the longest, slowest, wettest, ugliest field sprint in a long time.  A complete "HTFU" race!

Some other numbers for you math whizzes out there:
Total efforts >600W: 49
Efforts per minute entire race: 0.62
Race Time: 78min.
26.9 mph avg
133.0 TSS
1.012 IF.

 6-18-2010: Nature Valley Grand Prix, Stage "4", Minneapolis, MN.

The Nature Valley Grand Prix is one of the premier stage races in the US and just to be invited to toe the line is an honor.  This race is a truly professional race.  So.."what's it take to ride with the pros?"   If you want to race with the pros, you'll need to be able to jump at >600W at over THREE TIMES the rate of a "hard" amateur race.  You need to be able to do so as the pace of the race is blisteringly fast.  You MUST be able to do all this while in traffic and having riders on either hip as you lean your bike so far into corners that you begin to question the laws of physics.  Oh and for all you aspiring professionals, you'll need to be able to do this for an entire stage race.   The speed never let up in this race (slowest lap was 27.9 average!) and the average power "dropped off" after the first 6.5 minutes and showed no respite for the remaining 62minutes. Just look at the dazzling number and frequency of efforts over 600W!  They are frequent, numerous and unrelenting.  It seems as if the racers never get tired!  For Joe, this is a culmination of his training beginning back in those cold dark days of winter when he was training on roads wet from snow melt.  His in-season AND off-season work ethic definitely continues to pay dividends!

Total efforts >600W: 113
Efforts per minute entire race: 1.66
Race Time: 68min.
28.9 mph avg
103.5 TSS
0.949 IF.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tad Hughes Custom. From Skeptic to Superfan!

The fit is an elusive piece of equipment that is not tangible, is not a shiny bit, and will never be coveted by your peers.  But it can make a night or day difference in performance, especially late in events.   There has been a fair amount of research as well as anecdotal evidence that shows that a fit is a valuable tool that can improve performance, yet many can rationalize why we have not been properly fit, yet.   I spent a weekend in Houston a short time ago and stopped by Tad Hughes Custom to see, hear and experience the service from a specialist. 

First some background about Tad:  Tad has been involved in the industry since he was 14 years old; performing many duties including: rider, high end mechanic, and the Colonago Technical Director for the USA.  In time, all this led him towards the art of the bike fit back when it was voodoo being performed by those with some obscure and unknown knowledge.  He has worked with pioneers of the craft such as Andy Pruitt, Michael Sylvester, Scott Holtz, and Paul Swift to develop his own program over the course of thousands of clients that encompasses everyone at every level.  As a specialist, Tad has taken the fit process to a new paramount, encompassing biomechanics and the influence they have on injury prevention and performance.  From my time with Tad, I deduced this logic that drives Tad’s theory: Pain free riders are injury free riders. Injury free riders are faster and have more fun than riders with nagging or acute injuries.  The bike must always adapt (sometimes via custom hardware) to fit the rider instead of the rider conforming to the bike. 

Tad works with clients of all skill level but his most intriguing challenges are those with limitations outside the norm.  Tad takes a thorough biomechanical evaluation of flexibility and structural limitations of every client, recording his findings and keeping them filed in similar fashion as a medical record.  This would be especially useful for clients as time progresses to make adaptations for weakness that develop.  And it is the best possible way to eductate Junior riders to be aware of his/her limitations and biomechanical parameters.
As a client, I expect that the bike will be made to fit my body including my flat feet (which effect the way pedal forces go through your knees).  I expect that adaptations will be made to account for my background and history including injuries and disciplines.  Basically, I expect a specialist to so good at what he/ she does, I will not be able to suggest how to improve the service.  Those are very high expectations which hard to meet and Tad Hughes Custom invested the time and energy to actively listen to all of my issues, then went on to exceed every expectation. 

Immediately, I noticed the difference.  To begin with my feet felt… great.   The arches were properly supported; a remarkable upgrade from before.  Second, my back was straighter and thus more flat, allowing for better aerodynamics.  Tad made some other adjustments that enabled me to enter my pedal stroke a few degrees earlier and which made the pedaling motion feel much more complete, improving efficiency.  However the most surprising and enexpected sensation was that my bike still felt like my bike.  Surprising right?!  No awkwardness.  My bike.   The next day was a 2.5 hour road ride with lots of starting and stopping followed by an 85 mile road race.  To my surprise, absolutely zero soreness.  I wasn’t even tight.  You know the fit is perfect when there are no physical repercussions.    In a follow-up meeting a few weeks later, there is still no residual pain or “awkward” feelings.

As a professional in the industry and a formally educated and trained coach, I have an intimate knowledge of athletics, performance and biomechanics.  Tad’s knowledge of biomechanics and how they relate to cycling, and the implications they have towards performance are unrivaled. Everything feels superb and I must say, I am impressed.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beyond a simple explanation of doping...

From our friends at:

The Science of Sport: Scientific comment and analysis of sporting performance.
Ross Tucker, PhD and Jonathan Dugas, PhD

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing?!

By: John Hobbs MEd; Source Endurance Senior Consultant

Free radicals and antioxidants seem to be popular buzz words in the health media. Free radicals, also called reactive oxygen species (ROS), have been associated with several negative processes in the body. They can increase cell death without inflammation that would have normally stimulated adaptations (Hoffman-Goetz & Pedersen 2006) with further end results that can include aging and disease conditions (Murphy 2009). Furthermore, if I told you exercise increases the production of ROS, some people would use this as a great excuse to never go to the gym again or at least have the competitive cyclist wondering what kind of damage they did in last weekend’s three hour race.

Why in the world would anybody want these in their body? Well, they may actually do some good. An entire spectrum of chemical receptors turn processes on and off in your body. Some signal that you should have eaten that energy bar in your pocket as you bonk while others signal to repair damage and cause responses to stress. Restow et al (2009) looked at the effects of the naturally occurring increase in ROS with exercise on some of the health benefits associated with training. And making the research more applicable, the ROS were combated with vitamins C and E, two commonly ingested antioxidants. The results showed that the increased insulin sensitivity associated with exercise was decreased with antioxidant treatment. Additionally, individuals who were trained at the beginning of the study and were part of the treatment group showed decreased insulin sensitivity meaning that by this measurement, they had taken steps back in their exercise related health benefits. The possible implications of this are large. As indicated by Restow, this could have a major effect on diabetes prevention and treatment. Additionally, this is just one health benefit being analyzed. Future work may indicate more of the effects of exercise being undermined.

What if health isn’t your main priority? You just want to go fast and win races. Gomez-Cabrera et al (2008) looked at just that. Their work indicated that using vitamin C as an antioxidant may inhibit the training induced increase in mitochondria in skeletal muscle. Mitochondria are essentially the power plants of the muscle creating usable energy from carbohydrates and fats. More mitochondria means less stress on the body and an increase in lactate threshold. This leads to you to going faster and farther. VO2max also increased with training in untreated groups, but the same response was not seen in the Vitamin C groups. Additionally, your body comes with built in mechanisms to deal with the ROS. The researcher’s findings indicate that the supplements may also hinder these natural mechanisms.

The purpose of this is not to encourage you to throw away your multi-vitamins and avoid fruits and vegetables. However it serves as a bit of education and hopefully discourages you from super-loading on vitamin C after your training rides. Also, it puts a bit of perspective on the processes in the body. Many times, some is good and more is bad. And we tend to focus on the bad and do not stop to think that there may be some underlying benefit. Another example would be histamines. Yes, those guys that are associated with your allergies that cause you watery eyes and other problems. So what good can these things do? They are released in response to a wound as part of an inflammation response (Lewis, Heitkemper, Dirksen, O’Brien, & Bucher 2007). The same group of chemicals that can be annoying enough to have people pop anti-histamines in the morning facilitate the early stages of healing your road rash. In the end, your body has ways of naturally responding to and adapting to stress. The trick with training is learning how maximize these natural adaptations and minimize the negative effects.

Gomez-Cabrera, M., Domenech, E., Rogmanoli, M., Arduini, A., Borras, C., Pallardo, F., et al. (2008). Oral administration of vitamin C decreases muscle mitochondrial biogenesis and hamper training induced adaptations in endurance performance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87, 142-149.

Hoffman-Goetz (2006). Exercise and the immune system. ACSM’S Advance Exercise Physiology. Baltimor, MD, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Murphy, M. (2009). How mitochondria produce reactive oxygen species. Biochem Journal, 417, 1-13.

Ristow, M., Zarske, K., Oberbach, K., Kloting, N., Birringer, M., Kiehntopf, M., et al. (2009). Antioxidants prevent health-promoting effects of physical exercise in humans. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106, 8665-8670.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Athlete 4. Overland Park, KS

The last installment of our Athlete profiling and progression series.  Thanks for reading!

Athlete 4 is finding his time more and more crunched by life.  He is married, has a full time job, two 100% active kids, lawn to mow....  He hooked up with Source Endurance to provide some structure to his training and to help him be at his best when it matters.  Indeed, he was in 2009.

Athlete 4 finished the 2009 road season on a strong note at the Gateway Cup, then immediately stepped onto his CX bike and began to make some noise, culminating in some impressive rides at US National Championships in Bend, OR. 

Athlete 4 is a talented sprinter and has an enormous ability to tolerate acute enormous workloads.  Our challenge is to help him utilize his other attributes in order to further compliment his superior short term powers. 

To begin his 2010 season, Athlete 4 was greeted with one of the most severe winters in Kansas history.  With no chance to 'sneak in' those long rides on the random warm days of winter, the focus on his training was shifted from quantity to quality.  His volume was reduced and intensity increased.  After all, it's no fun spending ALL your time on the trainer.  He was given the flexibility to get outside, even on the coldest of days in order to break the monotony of watching old Tour de France videos.

With the onset of tolerable weather, his volume has gone up, and the difficulty of his training has followed suit.  March saw Athlete 4 focusing on exposure to threshold powers with enough training races and group rides to spur some top end development.  Indeed, his only race to date was not the overall level of difficulty expected from a long road race with a good quality field. This skews the graphs below a bit as Mean Maximal powers are typically race driven.

Athlete 4 has been able to use his power meter in order to become "race ready" in the midst of a bare early season Mid-West calendar.  We have taken his peak powers along with his recent race data (newly analyzed) and built a schedule for him that should have him ready to race in his upcoming events.  Despite not "training" his top end, Athlete 4's short term powers have already eclipsed what he was able to accomplish in March 2009.  This reinforces the advantages of having years of data to draw from because we know what he should be doing for this time of year.

Cumulative Powers: March 2009

Cumulative Powers: March 2010

Mean Maximal Powers: March 2009 (dotted) vs. March 2010 (solid)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Athlete 3: Austin, TX

There will be some clues as to who each profiled athlete is.  Feel free to post a reply and guess.  Each athlete knows who they are and are welcome to post it if they like.  Happy reading!

Athlete 3 came to Source Endurance following four years of Triathlon and dabbling in other sports.  He had previously been an elite racer and has international racing experience.  His injuries have kept him from being competitive in the past and now he wanted back in the game.  Athlete 3 also realized that lately the bar has been raised for cycling in central Texas and guidance would be needed to be successful at this level once again.  His 2009 goal was simple, "use 2009 to return to a competitive level in the elite field."  After a successful  2009, he turned his attention to cyclo-cross in order to give himself a bump in the top end that he could use in 2010.

This year Athlete 3 strives to once again be a protagonist in some central Texas races by continuing to improve fitness and racing with better tactical awareness as well as being more pro-active late in the events.   Athlete 3 states that the frequent accelerations needed to excel in technical criterium races is also a weakness.

Athlete 3 balances all this training with his profession as a software engineer, wife, 2 children (one baby), a new home and troublesome swimming pool.

By examining Athlete 3's training and racing history, we were able to see the deficiency in his short, sharp accelerations.  To address this, Athlete 3 did some things that many road racers never think of.  First, he did some CX races.  The one hour of hard riding every couple of weeks enabled him to improve his top over the off-season and he began the 2010 road season with a better top end than he ever had in 2009.  Also, we focused on his VO2 max early in the season in order to help him tolerate the multiple maximal efforts in each race required at the elite level.  The results were better than expected.

March 2009 Cumulative Power Distribution

March 2010 Cumulative Power Distribution

Mean Maximal Powers: March 2009 (dotted) vs. March 2010 (solid)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Athlete 2: Lawrence, KS

There will be some clues as to who each profiled athlete is.  Feel free to post a reply and guess.  Each athlete knows who they are and are welcome to post it if they like.  Happy reading!

Athlete 2 is a younger rider who has grown in his ability and experience at an astounding rate over the last 3 years.  Improving is not a matter of "if" but "how" and "how fast."  Athlete 2's strengths are self-rated as, "feeling a race and knowing when the defining moments are coming."  He can sprint in groups and he can create and drive breaks.  His liability, as self-reported, and supported by his power files, rests in his ability to close out long races.

This is where his training has been focused the last 2-3 training cycles.  With the help of SE, he's been taking on the high volume training targeted at forcing aerobic development with threshold work occurring after a considerable workload has been accomplished.  Athlete 2 is also furthering the stimulus of this volume training by stacking multiple days consecutively in a manner that is challenging, yet allows him to recover given one or two days of easy rides.  This training is meant to mimic the high work demands needed for the late selections in road races as well as the later stages of stage racing.  

We don't have a lot of racing data from Athlete 2 in March of 2009 (hence the low short-term powers), but we do have a good deal of training and training race data to compare.  The results are an across the board increase in aerobic power.  It will be interesting to see where his abilities peak as there are no signs of his current upward trajectory slowing.

Mean Maximal Powers: March 2009 (dotted) vs. March 2010 (solid)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Athlete 1: Houston, TX

There will be some clues as to who each profiled athlete is.  Feel free to post a reply and guess.  Each athlete knows who they are and are welcome to post it if they like.  Happy reading!

Athlete 1 is a veteran racer who came to Source Endurance on the heels of a less than stellar 2008 season.  He was looking for some improvement both objectively and subjectively and has he shown it!

Following his 2009 season Athlete 1 discussed his 2010 goals and outcomes to be addressed.  His short term/ off-season goals were to continue to build and keep the workouts dynamic enough where he was still having fun.  For his spring campaign, he had a handful of early target events that nearly mirrored 2009.  Also, he wanted to be able to continue to capitalize on difficult, epic races and his affinity for racing well out of small groups.  Athlete 1 expressed a need to improve on his late race powers as well as Time Trialing (applied to stage racing, as part of multiple stage days) and the ability to recover following systematic attacking.

Athlete 1 battles the same limiting factor that many Source E clients deal with: Time.  His profession and family require a considerable investment of time and thus the "ride all day everyday" theme is not practical.

So we get to work......
The first thing we did was to analyze Athlete 1's power files to substantiate his claims, then to set out to correct them.  What we found was that in the early "epic" races, Athlete 1 was in need of more kilojoule (pronounced, "aerobic work") capacity for the long road races as well as exposure to threshold+ efforts late in the event.  We took some things differently with the training including more focus on efforts that will emulate the 2009 events as well as adding some larger volume when his schedule would allow.  The results....

Keep in mind the scale of the graphs as shown by the horizontal lines.  Even though in 2009, Athlete 1 did a fair bit of HIT, the volume was no where near what was seen in 2010.  Indeed, we did push the envelope of aerobic development and the results are showing as he sets himself up for his first "A" race of the year. 

Cumulative March 2009 Power/ Time
 Cumulative March 2010 Power/ Time

Mean Maximal Powers: March 2009 (dotted) vs. March 2010 (solid)

As a side note: Athlete 1 did enjoy a substantial weight loss over the winter. That, along with his power increase sets the stage for the story of a veteran racer in the midst of a rebirth is being written as we speak!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring un- Fitness?

Spring.  “The season of growth.”
In nature this means an explosion of life as the woods come alive after a long winter of sleep.  The birds come back after their vacations south and the snow melts.  Finally.  However, concerning athletic performance, the foundation of spring started long ago…..

It is easily evident to distinguish who put in the hard work over the offseason to keep themselves on track, and who is painfully behind the curve in meeting their performance goals.

The athlete is bombarded everyday with feedback pertaining to his/her performance, whether in the form of objective or subjective indicators.  Objectively, the power meter tells all and does not lie, nor does it sugar coat.  Those hard numbers are instrumental in returning to peak fitness in time for your season goals.  Subjective ability is what the athlete sees and feels in competition and is derived from athlete comments and from the scheduled consults. How is the athlete feeling?  Is the fitness there?  Where does it lack?  What needs immediate correction?

Source E uses both of these measures as key tools to tailor a path towards peak fitness starting in the offseason.  Over time we modify training, making course corrections, based on both avenues of input to keep each athlete on course both absolutely and relative to his/ her peers.

We’re starting to get some meaningful data from 2010’s early events as well as training.   Some of the clients Source Endurance has multiple years’ worth of training and can track progression over time.  The results are astounding!

Over the next 3 days, Source Endurance is going to examine one different client per day (if they would like, they can identify themselves), each with similar goals from the previous year.  These clients all have data from previous season(s) and viewing the progression is a wonderfully fulfilling thing.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

SE riders start to hit stride!

Driveway. Austin, TX. April 1.
Men Elite: Colton Jarisch 3rd.  
Men 3/4: Jaime Reyna 15th.
NWA Classic. Fayetteville, AR. March 28.
Men P,1,2: Shadd Smith 3rd, Joseph Schmalz 4th

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jerry Bueno Upgrades!

The Fayetteville Stage Race was epic in many ways.  During this hard fought weekend, Jerry Bueno gathered enough points to earn his Category 3 upgrade.  Congratulations to Jerry!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SE Clients Grit Their Teeth on an Epic Weekend!

Fisk Knob Time Trial March 21.  Grand Rapids, MI
Men Open: Tom Burke, 2nd.  1st Amateur! 

Fayetteville Stage Race March 21-22. Fayetteville, TX

Stage 1, RR
Men 35+: Jerry Bueno, 1st!
Men 5: Phillip Luce, 5th
Men P,1: Colton Jarisch, 12th
               Brandon Cowart, 15th
Men 3: Andrew Ennis, 14

Stage 2, TT
Men 5: Phillip Luce, 3rd
Men 3: Andrew Ennis, 14th
Men P,1: Colton Jarisch, 13th

Stage 3, RR
Men 3: Andrew Ennis, 1st!
Men 3: Brian Darby, 2nd!
Men 35+: Jerry Bueno, 4th.
Men 5: Phillip Luce, 6th
Men 35+: Jerry Bueno, 4th.
Men 5: Phillip Luce, 4th
Men P,1: Brandon Cowart, 12th.

The Driveway Criterium Austin, TX. March 18.
Men P,1,2,3: Jed Rogers, 12th.

Tuesday Night Worlds Kansas City, KS
March 16: Shadd Smith, 1st!  

March 23:  Shadd Smith, 2nd

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Colton Jarisch Upgrades to Category 1

Following a brilliant early season campaign, Colton has earned his category 1 upgrade.  Keep your eye on good things from him and congratulations to Colton!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's a Crying Shame....

I'm a KU fan, 100%.  They didn't deserve to win and this is a beautifully written, "tough" article.  Remember that no matter how good you are, on any given day, someone is always better.  Go hard or go home.

It's a Crying Shame...

It's a crying shame Kansas didn't want it sooner

By Gregg Doyel National Columnist

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Better late than never, Kansas wanted this game. Time had run out, sadly. Ninth-seeded Northern Iowa had just beaten the No. 1 seed Jayhawks -- the No. 1 overall seed Jayhawks -- in the second round, a 69-67 upset Saturday night that will rank among the biggest shockers in NCAA tournament history.
And Kansas wanted it. Finally. 

The clock hit zero, the buzzer sounded, the Northern Iowa and Kansas State fans in attendance at the Ford Center went bonkers, and right then and there, it occurred to the Jayhawks that they really wanted to win this game. 

Senior guard Sherron Collins walked toward the Kansas bench to be near someone, anyone, who might feel his pain, and finding nobody to hug, he simply collapsed in a heap in front of coach Bill Self's empty chair. Sophomore forward Marcus Morris was on his hands and knees. So was his twin brother, Markieff Morris.

Fifteen minutes later, when the Kansas locker room opened its doors to the media, the Jayhawks were still crying. Literally, bawling. All of them. I've never seen anything like it, and I've seen devastated college locker rooms -- after losses in the Final Four, the national championship game -- every year since 1998.

The Morris twins were crying into towels. So were Tyshawn Taylor and Xavier Henry. Brady Morningstar was bawling loudly, completely broken by this loss. It was a shocking sight for two reasons.

One, like I said, I've never seen a locker room this distraught.

Two, Kansas didn't play like the game had mattered this much. Not until it was late. Not until it was too late, obviously.

I'll tell you when it kicked in for Kansas, the desire to win, the realization that losing might actually, you know, hurt: With less than three minutes left, when Self stopped yelling and started coaching, and had his players cover the entire court as if their season depended on it. Which it did. From that moment on, it was obvious which team was the No. 1 overall Goliath, and which team was the ninth-seeded David from the Missouri Valley Conference.

Honestly, it was uncomfortable to watch the final three minutes. Uncomfortable because it wasn't fair, Kansas being so much bigger, stronger and quicker than Northern Iowa. It was like watching a ninth-grader beat up a second-grader. It was that much of a physical mismatch. 

And it was uncomfortable because, as those final three minutes unfolded, it crystallized Kansas' apathy over the previous 37 minutes.

Kansas had wanted to win from the opening tap, sure. Sort of like, when it's dinner time, you want to eat. Are you hungry? Maybe, maybe not. But it's 6 p.m., and you eat at 6, so you head for the table. Same with Kansas for those first 37 minutes. This was a game, and athletes prefer winning to losing, so Kansas wanted to win.

But the Jayhawks didn't need to win until they trailed 59-54 with 2 minutes, 58 seconds left. They weren't starving until those final three minutes. Northern Iowa, meanwhile, chased down this game from the opening tap like it was the Panthers' first meal in weeks. I'm not talking about shots going into the basket, though Northern Iowa had plenty of those. Ali Farokhmanesh made a trio of 3-pointers in the first half, no surprise considering he was the final-second hero of the Panthers' opening-round victory against UNLV. Center Jordan Eglseder made two 3-pointers in the first half, a shock considering he had made just one 3-pointer all season.

It was more than made shots. It was rebounds. Both teams had 16 in the first half, and again, you had to watch those last three minutes to realize just how much smaller, slower and weaker Northern Iowa was. In the second half Kansas outrebounded the Panthers by eight, but by then the Jayhawks trailed by 12 points.

Kansas' low point might have come with 14 minutes left when a Northern Iowa 3-pointer was tapped all the way into the backcourt, and Markieff Morris literally stopped chasing the ball. He figured it was a backcourt violation, never mind that Northern Iowa was still playing. Chasing everyone else would have required desire, and Morris wasn't about to show that, and so the Panthers played the rest of that possession like a power play in hockey, five on four -- and scored two points.

Final margin of victory? Two points.

But it was more than made shots or rebounds or even hustle at halfcourt. It was grit. The Panthers chased Kansas around the floor like Kansas had taken their lunch money. Kansas was bigger, stronger and faster, as I've said, but Northern Iowa was pissed. It wanted that money back. Kansas was nonchalant, aloof. If this was a baseball game, through 37 minutes every Northern Iowa player would have had dirt on his chest and knees. Kansas' uniforms would have been immaculate.

Am I being clear here? Kansas forced just four turnovers in the first half, and that's not even technically true. Northern Iowa had four turnovers in the half. That much is true. But Kansas forced only one of them. The others were offensive fouls or unforced, sloppy UNI mistakes. 

That's how the second half unfolded, too. Kansas forced two turnovers in the first 17 minutes of the second half. Do the math there: In 37 minutes, Northern Iowa committed just six turnovers. That's almost impossible to do, especially against a team with more size, speed and strength. But anything's possible when that bigger, stronger, faster team doesn't have the heart. And Kansas, until three minutes were left, didn't have it. Just wasn't Kansas' day in the ol' ticker department.

In those final three minutes, though, Kansas made like the Grinch. Its heart grew two sizes after Self called for the full-court press, and Kansas just about chased Northern Iowa into oblivion. 

The Panthers probably would have folded all the way under the pressure were it not for Farokhmanesh, who's as gutty as any player in the field. He had missed six straight 3-pointers when he found himself alone on the 3-point arc with 35 seconds left and a 63-62 lead.

It was early in the shot clock, so the smart basketball play would have been to pull the ball out, run off some more clock and shoot with about 10 seconds left in the game -- but screw it. Where's the fun in that? Farokhmanesh didn't punt. He went for it. He fired up the 3-pointer, and it went down, and this game was basically over.

When it was finished, Northern Iowa had scored more points off turnovers than Kansas. Northern Iowa had scored more points off the offensive glass. More points in transition. More points not just on the scoreboard, but more points in every way that measures effort.

Kansas led just once. It was 2-0. Other than the opening score of 0-0, this game was never even tied.
And you're going to cry after the game, Kansas? Don't bother. Too late. Nobody wants to hear that crap now.

For more from Gregg Doyel, check him out on Twitter: @greggdoyelcbs