Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year, Everyone!

I am working again today and I don't have much to say, but I thought I'd check in and kill a few minutes.

Last night I did my second roller ride of the season. I know, I'm a little off schedule with those, but I think it will be okay. It was exactly four weeks since the last one and last night's ride was 15 minutes longer, 15 average watts higher, and my average HR was 5 beats lower. Nice.

My New Year's Eve plans include a $12 bottle of sparkling wine from Spain that I'm pretty excited about, but there's not a lot on the agenda besides that right now. I'm sure we'll think of something. I just heard a radio story about inexpensive wines for the holidays and they said that Cava from Spain was good and inexpensive, so I'm wanting to test this out.

I don't really have any resolutions or official goals this year. The thing on my mind right now is to try to reduce my hike-a-bike time at the OC by about 80% from last year. This is a specific goal, but not too measurable because it's not like I hit my lap button every time I got off my bike last year. However, I think I will know when I'm close and I think I know how to make it happen. It involves riding a certain nasty dirt road climb A LOT between now and then. That will take care of the wussy related hike-a-biking and the remaining places that I have to get off for technical reasons I can live with. At least for this year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Weak

Not too surprisingly, I've not been able to keep up my massive training schedule that I had in Oklahoma. I managed to ride for about an hour yesterday and today, but I felt very weak and slow. I'm not sure if this is an after effect of my stomach bug, my long drive, or the fact that I rolled the crap out of my lower body with my long-abandoned TP Massage Ball kit Friday night.

Ever since I got back, it feels like every running injury that I had in college decided to come back and hurt all the time, even when I'm inactive, despite the fact that I haven't run in about three weeks. My only guess in that 15 hours of cycling, plus the muscle cramps when I was sick, plus the 12.5 hours of driving caused some serious knotting. I tried to work some of it out Friday night, but it was very painful and I think the subsequent healing might have contributed to my lack of power the last couple of days. I plan to keep up the routine and eventually it will become less painful and hopefully beneficial in the long run.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Think My Appetite Is Back

I am sitting at work on Christmas Eve, because for HR reasons that I do not understand, we are open today and I have volunteered to be the sacrificial lamb for my area. That basically means that I need to catch up on a few things from my vacation and answer any questions about students loans that come in that the front-line people on the phones need help with. I doubt there will be many of those today and I'm procrastinating on the small bit of work that I do have to do.

While I am procrastinating I'm a looking over the blog for the Break Epic stage race that is set to debut in Colorado next summer. It looks like it's going to be really awesome, but unfortunately, I'm fairly certain that I will have neither the necessary money nor the fitness by July. Maybe 2010. Last night I read an article in the February issue of Velo News on the growing numbers of off road stage races in Latin America. I didn't really put me off of my La Ruta dreams, but it did get me thinking that I might want to keep my first big stage race within the confines of the United States border, since there are starting to be more options available within our own country.

Anyway, as I was perusing the various Break Epic details that are available at this early juncture, I was surprised to see that they already have the menu planned for the race. It would have sealed the deal for me if I had been more seriously considering signing up.

I suppose that means that my stomach is better. My breakfast felt a little weird going down this morning, but the desire to eat again must mean that I'm very close to normal. I have to say that my illness wasn't a completely bad thing. It happened during a stretch of time that I wouldn't have been able to ride much anyway, and luckily very early in the season. Plus, despite all my riding last week, I still ate a lot and was still feeling like a complete fatty from my long layoff over the fall. Even though the scale says that I only lost two pounds, the fatty feeling has completely subsided, which is quite liberating. So I got the kick in the butt that needed to get going again last week and then an effective, if unintentional "cleansing" period. I just need to not make a pig of myself the next two days and then by Friday I will have nothing else standing my way for the 14 week march to the Ouachita Challenge.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

24 Hours of Woozy

It started at 1 a.m. on Monday. I stumbled toward what I thought would be the kind of routine middle of the night bathroom trip that is common among chronically well-hydrated people. However, as I inspected my tired reflection in the mirror, I was overcome with that "I don't feel so good" feeling and the realization that my dinner was not sitting rather strangely in my digestive tract.

I went back to bed and proceeded to spend the next two hours writhing in pain that started in my abdomen, moved to my chest and back, and then radiated through the rest of my body. This was not the situation I wanted to be in just a few hours before I was scheduled to depart on the 12.5 hour drive back to Indiana.

After two hours of writhing and looking through the kitchen in vain for something to ease my discomfort, the offending food, bacteria, or virus, I not sure which, began to make it's way out of my body in the most unpleasant manner. This required spending two more cold, boring hours in the bathroom, after which I finally slept for a short time before getting up and announcing to my parents that I might or might not be making the trip back to Indiana that day, but I that I would definitely not be making my planned 7:30 departure. Somehow, they had managed to sleep through the ordeal, despite my complete lack of effort to be quiet. I was somewhat disappointed that on one of the rare nights that my mommy was in close enough proximity to take care of me when I was sick, that I wasn't successful in waking her up to do so. For the record, I did stop short of yelling for her like I did when I was a kid, which did seem a little over-the-top for someone my age.

So I slept another two hours and then decided that I needed to suck it up and make my weak, wobbly way home, since I was supposed to be at work on Tuesday and the forecast was much better for a Monday departure. So I began the long journey at 9 a.m. central time, and made it the whole way on a cup of jello, a few crackers, and some tea. This lack of nutrition didn't help my focus any, and the trip back home was a hard one.

I finally made it home at 10:30 p.m. eastern time and it took me a while to get greet my husband and cats, get unpacked, get reoriented to my house, and take a shower. I managed to get everything put away, except for a few items of street clothing that weren't dirty enough to go in the hamper. All and all, I finally made it to bed at 1:00 a.m., weak and spacey, but proud that I had managed to get through my 24 hour ordeal in one piece.

~~

I feel about 80% normal today, since I slept until 8:00 and didn't go to work until 10:30. I managed to eat my normal breakfast, although a half-size portion. I didn't make me feel sick, but it didn't really make me feel better, either. I still don't have much of an appetite, but I'm not sure that's really a bad thing this time of year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Totals

Well, my vacation riding time came to a seven day total of 15 hours and 13 minutes. Today is Day 8 and I think there is about a 95% chance that the total will not go any higher this trip. It is 23 degrees outside and I have exhausted my supply of hand and toe warmers. I have really bad circulation in my hands and feet and they don't really make their own warmth very well, so chemical hand and toe warmers are a must below 35 degrees. I think I'm at the point where I'd just be riding to keep up my streak and try to pile on some more time to my total. Keeping a running total is cool, but in the end, it's kind of a meaningless number. I've still had one of the top three training weeks of my life, so as long as my motivation carries over into my real life this week, I'll consider my mission accomplished.

I got a copy of Off Road to Athens in my Christmas gifts last night and I had to watch it as soon as the festivities ended. It was really good, but it, combined with my sore legs, caused me to have really weird dreams.

I dreamed that I had been chosen to race 'çross in Europe with a large group of professional racers, including Katie Compton. I think won the trip because I was the only female to show up at some regular season race. Anyway, while I was at the race, a bunch of little kids came up to me and wanted my autograph because they thought I was a pro, too. While I was signing autographs, one little girl stabbed me with her pen. Sometime later in the dream, I went to her house to ask her why she stabbed me and it turned out that she was abused at home, so I decided to adopt her.

Needless to say it was not a restful night. I think the part about the little girl stabbing me came from having to be around my cousin's psycho 9-year-old son all day yesterday, but I definitely will not be adopting him anytime soon.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oklahoma Pictures

I'm on Day 6 in Oklahoma with a total riding time of 12 hours and 48 minutes. It doesn't look like I'm going to make my 8 day goal of 20 hours, but I'm still doing pretty well. I'm starting to get pretty tired, but my early New Year's resolution for 2009 is to not be so terrified of overtraining. Plus, next week is going to be very light with Monday being consumed with driving and Wednesday and Thursday being consumed with holiday festivities.

Since today was the first day since Sunday that I haven't had to wear lobster gloves to ride, I decided to snap a few pictures.


Stonewall High School, my alma mater.

My bike laughing at me when I showed it where I used to play softball.


My awesome home town. Yes, that's pretty much the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pizza Belly

I actually managed to ride after all. It just required my practicing extreme restraint at the pizza buffet and keeping my consumption level at a place that would allow me to ride without feeling like I was going to throw up in my mouth. That is actually a pretty big accomplishment, as I tend to go way overboard in all-you-can-eat situations. We got back in time for me to sneak in two hours before dark and I'm still kind of on track for my goal this week.

When I was riding in the sunny warm weather on Sunday I was wondering wishing I'd brought my bike on a trip home sooner. It's a great training camp enviroment because of the utter lack of distraction. However, today I've discovered that it's not going to be quite as smooth of sailing as I had originally thought.

Tomorrow is still up in the air because my mom wants me to go to work with her, but I still haven't got a straight answer as to what time we will be back. I'm trying not to stress about it too much, as today worked out fine, but I'm just so happy with the work that I'm doing while I'm here that I don't want to mess up my streak.

Swept Down The Plain

Greetings from Oklahoma!

Sunday I rode in shorts and short sleeves because it was 75 degrees and sunny. The only drawback was the knock-you-0n-your-ass wind, which I rarely experience anymore.

Bloomington has lots of trees and hills and the roads tend to follow the lay of the land, so they are pretty curvey. All of this combined makes it very hard for the wind to get a clear shot at you when you're riding.

On the other hand, the area of Oklahoma where my parents live is pretty open. Not flat, because my ride can best be described as about a half-mile of going up a 4-6% grade and then going back down a 4-6% grade for about a half-mile. However, the the roads are straight and the trees are scrubby, so I could see for miles and miles at the top of each hill.

I just wanted to clear that up because when I first moved to Indiana, I got really tired of answering the question, "So is Oklahoma really flat?" This from people in the middle of cornland. Actually, the eastern part of the state is mountains and the western part is flat, but I grew up in between.

Anyway, I can't remember two more different days than Sunday and Monday. The temperature dropped over 50 degrees overnight, so yesterday I was riding in 25 degrees plus knock-you-on-your-ass wind. That was pretty unpleasant, since I'd only really come prepared to ride in mid-30's weather. At the time I packed, the forecast looked liked I wouldn't even need anything that heavy. However, I found myself being whipped all over the road with frozen nostrils and snotcycles on my gloves anyway.

Today is not much warmer, but the wind has died down. However, my grandma called me while I was having breakfast at 10:00 and asked me to go out to lunch at 12:30, so that kind of throws a wrench in my prime riding time today. I could have made myself get up and ride early knowing that there was a good chance this would happen, but without definite plans, I took a chance on squeezing a few more degrees out in the afternoon.

I'm surprised at how crappy of a mood I'm in about not getting ride in 25 degree weather, but I was just doing so well since I've been here. I had visions of monster hours of boring base-building rides on the road bike to kick-start my fitness before I got back home. I guess the important thing is to not let this one hiccup get me down. The weather is supposed to be much better the rest of the time I'm here, so I've got to take advantage of it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Long December

And its been a long december and theres reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I cant remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass

Okay, December is still only one third of the way through, but I have a feeling it's going to speed up a lot after today. I'm taking tomorrow off from work to prepare for my 10-day "holiday trip" to Oklahoma. I will be back before actual Christmas, so it's not really "going home for Christmas". By the time I get back, it will practically be 2009.

In keeping, I have posted my 2009 race schedule on the sidebar. I thought it was pretty important to get that out there early so anyone planning to do the same races can go ahead and start shaking in their Sidi's. Or not.

It's actually not very different from 2008. I definitely want another shot at the OC and the Lumberjack. My one change is that I'm leaning toward the Wilderness 101 over the Shenandoah 100 for the second half of the season. However, I've resolved not to pay an entry fee on any other hundred milers until I have actually finished the Lumberjack, so the decision won't be made until mid-summer and may be affected by which races are sold out at that point.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rollin and Tunes

I considered using yet another punny title for this entry, but I decided to spare you. I'm not sure why I like punny titles so much, but it seems like I use them at least 80% of the time. This brought to mind my 11th grade English class where we were learning about comic devices in literature and how I remember the teacher saying, "A pun is the lowest form of humor." I never really got that because even bad puns require some wit, so I googled the phrase a moment ago. Apparently, it is true that some authors have called the pun the lowest form of humor, but I also came upon this quote: "A pun is the lowest form of humor, unless you thought of it yourself." - Doug Larson

I guess that explains everything.

Anyway, I finally knocked out the 2009 inaugural roller ride. After a fumbling start I was able to make it the entire 45 minutes without a dab. However, my hands were numb by the end from my death grip on the bars. It also got pretty uncomfortable because I wasn't able to adjust my chamois without crashing. Hopefully, my skills will improve before it's time to do the longer rides. Overall, it was okay. My power was about 30 watts below where I wanted it to be, my perceived effort almost exactly where I wanted it to be, and my HR was a lot higher than I wanted it to be. I guess that's what they call being out of shape.

However, the most important data that I gathered during this session was my mental notes regarding how my 2008 trainer play list holds up a year later. Starting roughly at the beginning:

My Dixie Chicks selections still hold up pretty well. "Wide Open Spaces" is an anthem about personal growth that struck a chord with me several years ago when I stilled lived in Oklahoma and was still exposed to country music on a semi-regular basis. I really had no further interest in the Dixie Chicks, but a couple of years ago I rented the documentary "Shut Up And Sing" about the backlash they got from country music fans after the lead singer spoke out against George W. at concert in England. Much of the filming revolves around the writing and recording of "The Long Way Around" and it was kind of stuck in my head afterward. Last year it became my a trainer staple as I imagined a punny narrative of how my first year of endurance racing would play out. Tonight the open-ended conclusion sounded like a non-punny narrative of how my first year of endurance racing did play out.

"Unwritten" was actually the song that caused me to start rethinking my "classic" play list. It was fun two years ago when riding in crappy weather was still a novelty and there was a lot more unknown factors in my racing future. Now it just sounds kind of played out.

"Little Red Corvette" is still good in that it can just be pleasant upbeat music when I want it to be or when I'm feeling a little more imaginative, I can draw out a few bike racing metaphors. If only I had a red bike or kit.

Really the whole sexual encounter=bike race theme seems to work out pretty well. When I first got my iPod, I just went through Adam's music library and pulled things in "All The Things She Said" by t.A.T.u. I just thought some teenage Russian faux-lesbian pop might be good for humor value. However, it didn't take much trainer time for my mind to turn what "she said" from teenage Russian faux-lesbian things to an imaginary scenario about chasing down a smack-talking competitor. This has never actually happened it real life, but it's a good visualization to get me through a hard interval.

However, out of all the songs I heard tonight the Flashdance theme "What A Feeling" struck the strongest chord with me. It starts out all depressing and moves on to "thing won't suck forever, I CAN have it all" upbeat goodness. It was just what I needed.

These were just a few of the random thoughts that went through my head tonight and this isn't a comprehensive list. I didn't even make it to "Eye of the Tiger" or "Livin' On A Payer" in the 45 minutes time period. They are embedded further along in the play list for when things start to get extra long and boring. I really should rearrange, edit, and add some stuff, but our computer was recently repaired and iTunes has not been working right since. Maybe I need to pursue a remedy for that situation more aggressively.

~~

By the way, I'm the first to admit that I probably have the most horrible music taste of any human being alive, so feel free to make fun all you want. I'm not really sure where this fits on the humor hierarchy, but have a good laugh on me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Snow Plyos

Today was the first real snow of the year and my first real training for 2009. For the last couples of months, any exercise has either been racing or the "I feel fat and gross and need to do something variety". Tonight I started my plyometric routine that will be my Monday and Friday staple for the rest of the winter. I took it semi-easy tonight to test how sore I will be tomorrow, but it was still pretty hard. At least it's hard in a fun way and I think it's a good way to get my muscles ready for those puke inducing efforts during the Ouachita Challenge where I'm already toddling up a steep pitch in a full anaerobic stupor and then I have to muscle over some rocks. I'm going to have to work really hard if I want to reduce my hike-a-bike quotient next year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sunshine

I didn't do my one task of a 45-minute roller ride this week, and it probably won't happen seeing as tomorrow is Thanksgiving and Friday-Sunday are wonderful work-free days on which I can ride outside. I really was *supposed* to do the roller ride on Tuesday, but I put it off. I told myself I *had* to do it tonight, but it was just so sunny and not-that-cold and hardly anyone was at work anyway so I left at 2:00. Unfortunately, this not a reasonable solution for every time I want to avoid riding indoors this winter, but today it was just what I needed. I've been feeling fat and gross and down lately and this is about the worst time of year to start putting the training wheels in motion again, since there's dark and cold and junk food around every corner. In the past, I've really struggled until Christmas was over and then I could get down to business after the distractions died down.

However, I've been at the point of "I seriously need exercise" for a while now, but I've been in a nasty cycle of feel crappy, so I don't do anything, so I feel crappier and do even less since the Iceman. So I got out of work and did a two hour dirt road ride on my mountain bike and I'm feeling tons better. Somehow getting on my bike seems a whole lot easier when I'm missing work to do it. Too bad that can't happen more often.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Last Dance

Today I got one more singletrack ride in for 2008. It's getting to be the time of year when the trails could turn irreparably slushy at any time and stay that way until March or April (let's cross our fingers for March). It turned out to be a really nice day and I was surprised how many people were out in 30-something degrees. However, it was sunny and didn't really feel cold at all. I was actually overly warm except on the longest descents.

I've been thinking for several days that it's probably time to start my "prep phase" for 2009. Basically, if I want the Ouachita Challenge to not totally suck next spring, I need to do some serious winter training. If I don't want the serious winter training to suck, I need to start getting myself used to being on the bike again. For example, I have 90-minute roller rides in Zone 3 planned for every Thursday in January and February. I came to the conclusion that I need to get in a 45-minute roller ride this week and start working up if I don't want January to kill me.

Today was definitely a testament to the amount of work I have to do to get myself back in shape. I knew I rode badly at the Iceman, but I really didn't have any frame of reference as to how badly since I'd never been on that course before. As for today, Brown County tells no lies. I was climbing stuff in my granny ring that I would normally climb in my big ring in a race situation. I'm pretty sure I'm almost down to my beginner-class fitness from 2006. I'm definitely up to (and above) my beginner class weight.

The worst part is that I haven't found the self-fulfillment and emotional balance that I hoped this break from the bike would bring. This isn't to say that it hasn't benefited me; it just hasn't benefited me in the way I had hoped. Basically, the last couple of months have been an important lesson in how avoiding discomfort doesn't lead to happiness. I'm still not exactly sure what does, but I think I'm closer than I was this time last year.

The one bright spot of the day was the realization how it really hasn't been that long since my tires first touched Brown County dirt April 2006. It was my first time taking my clipless pedals off road and about my fourth time off road period. That first ride I was super proud of myself that I did two laps of the beginner loop without having to unclip. Today I felt like might actually be less fit than I was then, but with much better technical skills. However, when I think about how I made from two beginner loops in April 2006 to finishing a highly technical 60-mile race in April 2008, I realize that I'm not doing as bad as I thought. Furthermore, 28 is still pretty young in endurance mountain bike world, so hopefully, I still have plenty more years and plenty more big improvements left in me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Birthday Girl

Okay, okay, so I've refrained long enough on my "down-low" birthday. By "down-low", I mean that I decided that I was too old to go around telling everyone "November 12th is my birthday. I'll be 28" two weeks ahead of time. It appears that word spread on Facebook anyway, so I might as well live it up. TODAY'S MY BIRTHDAY. I'M 28 NOW.

I don't have any exciting plans for tonight, since I wanted to delay my celebration until Friday night when I don't have to worry about going to work the next day. I'm actually off work for the morning because I'm cooking a 20 pound turkey for my office's "Golden Turkey" pre-Thanksgiving meal, so part of tonight's celebration will include brining a turkey. Woohoo!

Maybe the cats will make me another sign or something.

In other news, today is the first day of the La Ruta de los Conquitadores. It doesn't look like anyone in my immediate blogosphere is participating this year, but it will still be fun to read the updates on the Internet. Despite my slow start in endurance racing world this year, the La Ruta is still central to my future plans. It may just take a couple more years than I originally planned.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Welcometh Home, Ice-Woman!


This was the sign that was sitting on the kitchen table when I got home from Michigan last night. (The cats have pretty good handwriting considering they have no thumbs, right?) Of course, thanks to modern technology rarely used in mountain bike races, Adam already knew my results beyond my vague text message report of "hard" and "slow".

Really, I think that's all anyone needs to know, but I'll try and elaborate a bit.

Even though I'd originally entered the pro/expert class because that what's my age/license says that I am, I quickly wussed out when I realized that the pros had a special 2:30 start and I would not be able to hide my slowness in the massive crowds. Luckily, the Iceman staff was accommodating and let me downgrade to sport women 19-34 at the minute. That was the best decision ever since I ended up going roughly an hour slower than planned and was closer to the bottom than the top of the sport class.

Apparently, I get slower when I don't train. Who knew? I realize there are a lot of people in the world who can stay pretty darn fast on minimal training. I am not one of them, but I seem to forget that without frequent reminders.

Basically, I made it through the race in slow anonymity and had a nice vacation. The course was much harder than I expected. It was not technical, in that there were hardly any tight turns, roots, or rocks, but there was a lot more climbing than I expected. The course was full of little steep, sandy grinders that caused me to keep going anaerobic and sucked a little more of my power after each one.

I need to address this whole steep-hill, anaerobic, power-sucking issue before next spring, but I'm not totally sure how to go about it. Do I focus on my climbing/baseline power so that I don't go anaerobic or do I focus on being able to go anaerobic without it sucking my power so fast? I'm not sure. I guess this would be a situation where it would be nice to have a coach again.

Oh well, I'm not getting back on that horse until at least April. Until then, I'm going to do about 3-4 more weeks of running, 2-3 weeks of transition/prep, and then basically do the "super-base" block that my coach assigned to me last January and February. I'm very confident that it would have been an effective plan had I done more than 25% of what I was supposed to do during that time period.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Waiting For The Day To Be Over Randoms

Seeing as today is the last workday for me this week, I'm trying to get through the last few hours so that I can move on to all things Iceman.

First of all, I wanted to share this article, because I thought it was really cool. Unfortunately, they haven't developed any therapeutic uses for this discovery yet. Nevertheless, I think it can have repercussions about how we view what we eat. I've been slowly moving away from taking too much stock in theoretical calories in versus calories out counts, as the scale and the math never seem to sync. The old school explanation would be that I'm somehow "cheating" on my counts, which is quite possible. On the other hand, the more I learn about this stuff, the more I think that unless you're undergoing elaborate testing in a laboratory, you don't *really* know how many calories you are consuming and burning.

That's just a random thought. Take from it what you will.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Out of the Darkness Comes Light

It appears that in between Halloween and the election, that another important milestone has slipped through the cracks. Last Sunday was the beginning of the "126 Days of Night" in which people with 8-5 jobs are not allowed to see the sun except on weekends and sometimes lunch breaks. At least there are no vampires (yet).

I think I may start my own techo-pagan religion where instead of celebrating solstices and equinoxes, I celebrate man-made changes of the clock.

The irony is that my year of craziness set in during the dark days of winter 2008 and never seemed to let go of me, even during the sunniest days of the year. Of course, at the time, I thought my inability to pry myself from the bed every morning was because it was cold and dark, not because I dreaded what the day would bring.

After many months of railing against my dissatisfaction with my job and a general cloud of anxiety about various athletic and non-athletic aspects of my future, I'm starting to "go with the flow" a little more. Of course, this has resulted in my giving up my coach and pretty much all formal training, realistically facing my issues at work, and basically admitted that I have no freaking clue what will happen tomorrow or next week or next spring and trying to okay with that.

So as the darkness settles in on the world once again, I'm actually pretty at peace with it. I've been running through my neighborhood in the evenings with a headlamp, which is still kind of scary, but fun. I'm already starting to get less sore and more fast again. I've also remembered how well I sleep during the winter (at least when I don't have crazy Obama/McCain dreams swirling through my head) and that January, February, and March are usually my best training months because of the general lack of other distraction that time of year. I just pushed too hard, too early last winter.

For the time being I'm in what I will dub the "racing off-season", which is a nice little paradox like "active recovery". For all practical purposes, I am having my off-season now, even though I'm still going to a few races. I'm enjoying the running, so I'm going to stick with that on week days until I feel "hungry" enough to get on a trainer. I'm not sure when that will be. I may end up running the Boston Marathon next spring instead of racing the Ouachita Challenge (kidding).

The good news is that I am well covered when the time comes for riding a bike in winter weather. My new knickers and tights arrived yesterday. The website said the 3-5 business days to make and ship the knickers, but they were at my door in 6 regular days. That's darn good turnaround time for semi-custom clothing. Plus, they apparently make fully-custom clothing to your exact measurements for a slight premium. Anyway, I'm pretty happy with both items, at least from the quick try-on yesterday. It looks like the knickers will be field-tested at the Iceman this weekend, as the Traverse City, MI forecast is 41 and raining for Saturday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's On

I jumped at Reenie's suggestion at ordering Boure knickers, since they custom bib-able. I also ordered a pair of the the full-length bib tights, as they appear to be only women's winter bib tights in production that haven't been marred by the encroachment of the "monobib" design. I still have my beloved Castelli's from a couple of years ago and they are "vest style" up top, which is awesome for winter. Unfortunately, the zipper on the vest is broken and I haven't been able to get it replaced yet. I think it's doable, but my regular dry cleaner turned down the job as too difficult. Maybe if I go to a shop that specializes in alterations.

Anyway, I'm excited about these new bib prospects. I will report back when they get here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Umm, Well Made Cycling Clothing

I saw these in the latest issue of Velo News and had to check out the website. They look wide enough in the hips that they might actually fit my girl body, but I'm afraid they would probably be too long in both the torso and legs for me. The size chart says that the XS is for men with sub 30 inch waists. My waist is well under 30 inches, but men with 30 inch waists have much smaller hips than I do.

I'm back on my pursuit of bib knickers again, since it's fall and because I had a discussion with two other like-minded female cyclists a few days ago. The women's cycling clothing market frustrates me so much that I'm looking into man-world again, but I don't think it will do me much good. I'm too short and hippy for man-world.

We had discussions about commissioning some girl-modified bib knickers from Champion Systems, since their minimum order is low, so maybe that will work out. Otherwise, I may have to launch my "Just Shrink It, Please" web campaign that I've been plotting. Somehow "pink it and shrink it" took on a negative connotation in the "fast growing" women's cycling industry and companies came up with all these crazy modifications that make no sense. Really, I don't think female cyclists are THAT much different from men. We still like nice stuff, but we just want it our size.

Monday, October 27, 2008

USGP Louisville

I was going to wait until results were up on the Internet before I wrote my race report for the weekend, but really I just didn't feel like typing in the precious two hours between the time I got home last night and bedtime. However, I'm in the write-y mood now, so I'll go ahead and recap.

Not that there's much to recap. I came home with two more next-to-lasts, although I may get some arguement on this point. To that I will just go with the idea that that there is no one truth, only many personal truths, and my personal truth is that I've managed to be next-to-last in every race so far this season. I might not have been the next-to-last name on the list when the results came out, but for all practical purposes I was. Faster girls getting mechinicals doesn't really impact my progression as a racer, which, until there are podium spots up for grabs, is what actually matters to me. However, I suppose I am showing SOME progression. Last year I had 5 DFL's, and 2 next-to-lasts, so I guess 4 next-to-lasts and no DFL's is an improvement.

Now I'm just really tired from getting up at 4 a.m. two days in a row, racing, and standing around all day watching races. I just looked in the mirror and my hair's even more flat than normal; I think its tired, too. Or it could be the weather, but I'm going with tired.

So anway, it was a pretty good time overall. Two cool points of the weekend were:

1) Having Georgia Gould cheering for me (not by name or anything, but still), as I rode by during the race.

2) This one is for Sarah, who likes to talk about the "pain cave" and the "fatigue tunnel". When Tim Johnson went out on the a solo run for the win yesterday afternoon, the announcer was saying, "He's stepping out into the desert of pain. He just got one last drink of water, and he's heading out into desert like Moses." I would definitely like to see "the desert of pain" used again in the future...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

So I Ran Last Night

Okay, it wasn't so much running as doing a one minute super easy jog, one minute walk for thirty minutes (covering a whopping two miles). I could probably have gone harder (my average HR was 128), but I wanted to be able to walk today. I'm not really sure why it is, but running kind of destroys my legs when I try to do it. I made it a point to be cautious, and I'm only moderately sore today.

Just so no one accuses me of being a flip-flopper (even though I'm a total flip-flopper and will explain why in a moment), I must state that the attempt at running had absolutely nothing to do with training for cyclocross. In fact, my motivation was quite the opposite. It was attempt to maintain some form of aerobic activity, avoid a completely sedentary lifestyle, and quell the tide of weight gain without dragging a bike into the situation. With four and a half months of darkness about to set in, trying to get on a trainer when I'm already not feeling it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

On the matter of my flip-floppiness,I just feel like I spent a lot of time over the last few months talking about my awesome plans to get fast once such and such happened. When such and such point came, I was on task for about a week and the started flailing again, since the core issue was never resolved. I have recently come to realize that neither my fitness nor my depression will submit to the time lines I prescribe for them. I guess I need to just quit being so hard on myself for not pulling it together faster, and let the progress happen as it will.

That means I will have to lay off the talk of schedules, plans, and goals until I have a more solid base on which to support them. Of course, that may mean my blog will be a little sparse for a while, but I suppose there are worse prices to pay. I can promise a double race report on Monday.

I will say that regardless of fitness, the Iceman is ON and it's going to ROCK! Chrysa was able to procure an entry a couple of weeks ago, so we've got a nice little weekend vacation scheme going.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Also...



Last night, I was struck by the sudden urge to watch my favorite endurance racing movie, albeit not endurance mountain bike racing. I supposed 24 Solo is the lone competitor in that category and while I enjoyed it, I already knew what happened before I watched it, so there wasn't a lot of suspense. I wanted to find a clip from Hildalgo where his "pit crew" chief tells him how hard the race will be and that "men go mad". Oh well, this was the best thing that You Tube produced.

Hmmm

So far only one picture my race last weekend has surfaced. I actually look way less pained going through the sandpit than I thought I did. I made it through the first two times and was only stopped on the third because the girl in front of me spun out and I almost ran into her. However, it was not easy and making it through required screwing my face up into (what I thought to be) the most horrible scowl I can imagine. In reality, it appears to be more of an Elvis curled lip thing. Kind of funny.

I saw somewhere that this is "No Fat Talk Week", so I will refrain from commenting further. However, I think I may save this link to look at next time I want eat junk food when I'm bored at work (a bad habit I've developed lately).

I know I said that would have more on what it would take for me to call a race good. I was going to try and do something funny with my crossresults.com rider page since they attempt to rank your "nemeses" and "victims" for you. It's actually pretty accurate at the moment except that according to them one my nemeses is last year's 13-14 age group national runner-up. The whole age group thing is weird and I'm pretty sure she's actually only 13 right now, although she's already much taller and faster than me. That's way too much untapped potential to be my nemesis.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Harbin Park CX

Yesterday, I attended day three of the three-day Cincinnati Internal Cyclocross Weekend at Harbin Park. When thinking of a race report, two phrases come to mind and I couldn't decide which would be a better title.

"I would have beaten her if I just had a little more fitness."

This is sort of an old inside joke, but I can really only think of one person who will know what I'm talking about, so I will explain. When I was racing beginner class in the DINO series back in 2006, I went to check the results after one of the races and overheard one of the other girls from my class talking. She was saying something like, "Oh yeah, she was the one who got in my way at the start. I would have beaten her if I just had a little more fitness." This was funny because: 1) I'm fairly certain she was talking about me and didn't realize I was standing right there because I'd changed into my street clothes. 2) It's one of the more "duh" statements I've ever heard in regard to bike racing.

Obvious as it may be, I couldn't help thinking of that phrase during the early part of the race yesterday, because I was once again in next-to-last place in between the same two girls from the last race. Apparently, the 20 additional racers that were present yesterday made very little impact on "our" race. I was attempting to battle it out with the girl who beat me last time and I kept passing her in the twisty sections, only to be passed in the straightaways. Apparently, pedaling over grass is like kryptonite for me; I've got to work on the raw power thing. To complicate matters, this race had a lot more bumpy straightaways than the last one and a lot fewer corners. So when she finally passed me on an long, grassy uphill and pulled away, I couldn't help but think, "I could have beaten her if I just had a little more fitness."

"There's no coasting in cyclocross."

Crying is fine, as long as your legs keep moving.

After, she pulled away, I proceeded to be caught by the 35+ age group women who started 30 seconds back, and then by some of the juniors who started after them. Yes, I know I'm weak when the 10-12-year-olds start passing me, and I probably shouldn't admit that. However, the last two races I've had a kid come around me and just sit up. They just stop pedaling on the gradual declines. This bothers me because I'm in a world of hurt and can't stand to lose any bit of momentum. I build speed where I can and maintain it as much as humanly possible. I never stop pedaling, except to lean into turns or absorb shock on bumpy downhills.

Yeah, I know that any adult who's slow enough to be passed by juniors has no room to complain, but it's just an observation I've made.

Overall, I would call this race "Yeah, Fine, Whatever", which is a step or two down from "Perfectly Acceptable". I placed about the same in relation to everyone from the last race, but 20th place sounds worse than 5th and I was hoping for an improvement.

When I set up my Training Peaks account, it prompted me to create an annual training plan and it asked my three top goals for the season and the limiter that had the most effect on each goal. I actually had a hard time thinking of three, so I left one blank for 2009. I was thinking yesterday that number three should be "write a race report where you actually call a race 'good'." I'm not sure about the limiter though; they don't have the choice of "self-esteem" or "all of the above". I'm actually giving some thought to the criteria for meeting that goal and maybe I'll have more on that later in the week.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Random Fact

I just thought I'd share a random fact that I've been meaning to work in for a while. I'm completely deaf in my left ear. You probably wouldn't even know from talking to me, unless you were directly on my left side and I kept turning my head around to hear you. It's not normally a problem, except in situations with a lot of background noise.

It is, however, a little difficult from a cycling perspective. It seems like fairly often I will have a stranger come up on my left while I'm riding and want to start a conversation. I can't hear them without turning my head almost completely around because of the wind. Then I'm crazy sketchy girl who can't hold her line. Awesome.

I also can't use and Ipod when I'm riding outside. You know how people usually just put the right ear bud in and leave the left out so they can hear traffic? Well, if I put in just the right ear bud, I can't hear anything except the music. I'm pretty sure that's a good way to get run over. It doesn't really bother me that much, but I always think of it when other people mention listening to music while riding. I suppose it would be nice if I could...

Like I said, none of this really affects my life in any major way. It's weird because I feel like it's a big enough part of me that it's strange to me when people don't know it, but it's obviously not a big enough part of me that I've been compelled to mention it before now. Of course, I guess I just don't think about it that much; I just see people talking with their cell phone on their left ear and I think, "That's silly. You have your phone on the wrong ear."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cat 1 Yogi

Tonight I did my first yoga class. Of course, yoga follows a more logical categorization method than cycling, so level 1 is the easiest rather than the hardest.

As part of my "emotional training plan", I am assigned to find a physical activity that will be my best friend. It's supposed to be something that I do every day, no matter how crappy I'm feeling, even if it's just for 15-20 minutes.

I like cycling and all, but it's not really best friend material. Cycling is more like a crazy party friend who's great for a night out, but will occasionally leave you broke and hungover if you're not careful. "Every day no matter what" isn't necessarily the best thing when trying to follow and effective training plan. You need the highs and lows. Plus, it's way too involved with the changing of the clothes, pumping of the tires, etc. to do for 15-20 when you're feeling crappy.

On the other hand, I can do yoga for as much or as little as I want without ever changing out of my pajamas, at least once I've been to a few more classes and have a better grip on what I'm doing. Plus, it will probably be beneficial for my cycling, as well, although I don't think I would have ever been inspired to try it solely for that reason.

So now I can start practicing what I've learned, and hopefully increase my skills in time. I'm looking forward to creating more balance in my life, literally and figuratively. I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Monday, October 6, 2008

It Must Have Been Love, But It's Over Now

My vacation is over. It was a painful transition going back to work this morning, but as I near the end of the first day, I'm starting to feel normal again. I also remember why it took me over two years of working full-time and racking up hours and hours of vacation time for me to take a week off just for the heck of it. It's just so hard to go back. Random mental health days are cool, but a whole week just had me spoiled.

~~

Yesterday's training ride was doomed; that's all there is to say about that. I had planned a two-hour ride with 60-90 minutes of steady Zone 3 to try and build/maintain my endurance before the onslaught of sheer power and lactic acid that will fill the rest of the fall. However, I set out on the ride in a crappy mood because I had to come back to work today. Then I got stuck a busy intersection for a long time and was nearly run over by a rude driver when I finally made it through. Then when I got to the main road where I was going to start ramping up my effort, I turned in behind a big group ride and had to make my way through. That might have actually been a good thing because I really pushed to get through and pull away, which made the steady state seem easy afterwards. However, it made me feel like I was being all bitchy and I'm-faster-than-you, when all I really wanted to was to get down to business.

Then I finally got settled in to my desired pace and things were rolling along nicely. I was just thinking I might go a little longer than planned, when I heard the a weird whistle and my bike began to shimmy. I slowed to a gentle stop and, sure enough, there was a small cut in my front tire. I switched out the tube, but my Co2 wouldn't engage. I called Adam for help, but he wasn't answering his phone. Finally, some guy came along and let me borrow a C02, and I was able to ride home very tentatively, since I wasn't feeling too confident that my tire would hold air.

Oh well, I guess some days it just isn't meant to be.

~~

There is one funny thing about being stuck back in front of a computer all day. I got to catch up on everyone's weekend blog posts and I was in a very commenty mood today. The weird thing was that I found myself writing "I like..." over and over.

It made me think of my last time at church camp (I used to be REALLY into church camp) the summer before my senior year of high school when none of my friends showed up and I had to stay in a cabin with a bunch of 8th graders that I didn't know. We had to do some exercise where we wrote nice things about eachother on something or other. My comments were extremely generic, because I didn't know any of the girls and they all called me out on it afterwards.

I felt I little like that on my comment spree this morning, but a little more sincere.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sprintervals

Today was my first hard workout that wasn't a race since my FTP test four weeks ago. It was 3 x 15 sec. sprints, followed by 5 minutes in Zone 5b, repeated 3 times. It reminded me that I like riding hard, at least when I'm well-rested. I've always loved sprints, but even the 5 minute intervals gave me a pleasant sense of self-satisfaction when they were over. It occurred to me during this workout that with my love of skinsuits and sprints, that I would really like track racing. Too bad the nearest velodrome is about an hour and a half away.

I've always been kind of skeptical about the "runner's high" and other endorphin-related mythology. I've been contemplating this a lot lately, as movement/exercise is a component of my emotional "training plan" for the fall. Even with careful observation, I can say the average zone 1-2 ride does very little to elevate my mood. However, throw some lactic acid in the mix, and I'm suddenly a happy camper. Am I secretly more masochistic than I imagined? I'm kind of liking this.

All of this bodes well for the next couple of month's racing. During my free time this week, I signed up for a Training Peaks personal account. I like the freedom to make my own training decisions right now, but I also like having a calendar and electronic toys to play with. And I have been playing to my little heart's content. I already have my workouts planned through the last 'cross race on December 7th, although I'm sure a few changes will occur. In short, I won't be spending much time on the bike (~5 hours/week), but when I'm riding, I'll be riding hard. It's just the way it goes with the frequent and intense racing of 'cross season: race, recover, and repeat, as needed.

I think this could be a very good thing for me.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Brown County Ride



I went to Brown County yesterday, but I didn't ride the whole trail system as planned. The new expert trail took a lot more out of me than I expected. It's not crazy freeride hard like Adam tried to tell me it is, but it's hard. With a few exceptions, I at least theoretically knew how to ride everything there, even if I didn't manage to do it in practice. I got pretty sloppy by the end, due to handling skills inertia: the principle of mountain bike physics that states that bodies successfully riding over obstacles have the tendency to successfully ride over even harder obstacles, and bodies stopping and/or making mistakes have the tendency to have to stop more frequently and/or make even stupider mistakes.

As for the exceptions, one of them is pictured above. It appears to Indiana's first naturally occurring rock garden. Pretty cool. If you'd asked me to ride this trail a year ago, I would have thought it was the dumbest idea ever. I was very committed to not riding anything excessively technical, because "I would never actually see anything like that in a race." Until the Ouachita Challenge kicked my butt and changed my mind about technical riding. So now I have a nifty little place to practice. Too bad our good friend the freeze-thaw cycle will keep likely keep me off of it for the three months preceding the race.

The trail does have a couple of freeride-esque features of which I want no part. I can't actually remember how many switchbacks there are, but at least two of them end in large drops off of big rocks that terminate into piles of other rocks. Big drop+rough landing does not make me happy. Oh well, overall, I liked what I saw.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Nothing Makes a Perfectly Acceptable Cyclocross Race Even More Acceptable Than Cracker Barrel

Do you see where I'm going with this?

I somehow forget to mention my cyclocross season kickoff in my plans for my week off. I guess that shows how excited I was. Anyway, I raced in then OVCX race in Louisville today and, of course, we went to eat at Cracker Barrel afterward. (This is not a violation of my no junk food policy, as that mainly applied to junk food consumed while sitting in front of the television. If I just finished a race, I'm wearing clothes besides my pajamas, and I have another human being with me then it makes it slightly more legit.)

Anyway, the race...

A few months ago when I was experimenting with my whole zen phase (I'm learning secular meditation works way better for me), I visited the Buddhist temple (?) down the street from our house. It was interesting and a little confusing, but one of the things I did take away was that their three mains sins (they used a less harsh word) were greed, anger, and delusion. Today I learned that avoiding these things is not only key to reaching nirvana, but also to having a satisfying cyclocross race.

Despite still be very sleepy and definitively un-pumped when we arrived at the venue, I knew I had to get out and do a proper warm-up if I didn't want to feel like complete doo doo during the race. Since 'cross is full-bore from the gun, it's pretty important to already have your lactic acid blockers running before you get to the starting line. Unfortunately, this means getting your lactic acid production running before you get to the starting line. This is a lot more difficult when you don't have competition prodding you to go fast yet.

However, today I had no problem getting my "juices" flowing on my warm-up, because the course was making me work pretty freaking hard just to cover ground. I ended up just riding two laps and it was enough, even without any intervals.

As I was rolling back in from my second lap, I was told by the official that they were moving our race from 11:00 to 12:00 and they were taking the one set of barriers out of the course. We were racing with the very young juniors and the promoters had decided the course was technical enough without a set of double barriers preceding a run-up hill. I feel like a wuss admitting this, but I didn't totally disagree with them.

ANGER. The consequence of the last minute schedule change was that my warm-up was all for not. There wasn't a whole lot to do, except go back to the car and wait, since there was another race going on and I hadn't brought a trainer. As I did this, the girl from a couple of cars over came back came back all worked up about the change. Of course, she looked way faster than me and maybe had more on the line, but I couldn't help thinking how mellow and basically un-like my former self I was compared to her. Win or lose, it's just a cat 3/4 race, anyway.

DELUSION. Much of this change in attitude comes from accepting that I'm bad at 'cross. This isn't self-deprecating low self esteem here; I just don't have much natural power. Last year, I took 'cross very seriously and I was repeatedly put in my place by first timers. Today, I showed up and I road well for me. I beat one person, as was my goal and I was very close to the girl in front of me. The top three in my class were all what I would call "legitimately fast" girls, so I don't feel bad about being behind them. My handling skills were on point and one my competitors said I looked like I had a lot more power than last year.

GREED. This one might be a little harder to keep in check. Seeing as I had a better-than-expected race today and was totally within sight of picking off another girl by the end, I'm suddenly inspired to train again. That's cool. I haven't done a hard workout since the DINO Town Run race, and I was planning on using this week to get back into the groove. My "sprintervals" workout that I had planned for Friday suddenly seems almost appetizing.

However, I soooo not going start allowing myself to start looking at start lists and researching who, according my ego and random results I've Googled, I should and should not be able to beat like I did last year. That's how delusion starts.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Four More Hours

I'm counting down until 5:00 p.m. I think that's pretty normal for a Friday when I don't have much work to do and I'm just kind of holding down the fort until time to go home. However, today is special, because when 5:00 p.m. hits, I'm off for 9 glorious days of work-freeness. I'm taking a "staycation" next week, so that I can recharge my batteries. I don't really have any plans except for doing my stress management exercises, riding at least an hour every day, and avoiding putting junk food in my mouth.

On one of the days, probably Wednesday, I'm going to go to Brown County and make a leisurely tour of the entire trail system. I'm not sure how long this will take, since I don't plan on going fast and they are continuously building more trails out there.

Apparently, new expert trail has opened since the last time I was there and I want to check it out. Adam warned me that it looked really hard from the videos on HMBA, and it probably wouldn't be something I would like. According to him, it's "the kind of stuff dudes on 5-inch travel bikes like to do". Or it could be exactly the kind of stuff I need to ride before I try racing outside of Indiana again. I supposed I'll find out when I get there. The plus is that I won't have to compete with the 5-inch travel dudes for space, but if I do something stupid and hurt myself, it may a while before anyone finds me. So I'll just have to make sure I don't do anything stupid and I should probably go watch that video first.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Secret Singletrack



This is the entry to the trail that Adam showed me on our couple ride the other night. Nice, huh? It's actually better once you get past the first tree, but it sure doesn't look like much here. I went and did the ride again by myself last night to make sure I remembered it. I did, and I had a good time.


Once you come out the other side of the trail, it dumps out on a flat country road that runs along the edge a creek the whole way. It's really pretty. A lot of the country roads east of town are like this: glacial ridge with a creek at the bottom on one side, and pancake flat on the other (usually with a log cabin and horse on the other side). It's pretty fun because it allows me to at least pretend I live in the mountains.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My New Training Plan

I am home alone for the next few days while Adam is away at Interbike (I better get some good presents when he gets back), so I may be spending my free time blogging a little more than usual.
Anyway, while I don't like to disclose my "secret" mountain bike locations, I thought I'd let the world in on my "secret training plan" for the fall. It starts with with this and this.

Triathlete training books/articles always say to maintain your strengths and train your weaknesses. The meaning is a little more obvious when the athlete in question has to manage a regimen of swim, bike, and run, but cyclists only have to train for one thing, right?

Well, not really. If this were the case, the would only be a "physical" category when calculating the CNS balance. Lately, I've come to realize that the physical part of my cycling was grossly hampered by the emotional part. Not in the "positive self-talk" sport psychology way, but in the "I don't want to ride because I'm already in physical pain from all the crap that happened at work today" regular psychology way. So far I've learned that the problem isn't what's happening at work, but how I'm reacting to it. I'm sure this program has sport psychology benefits, too, but first things first.

For the moment, the physical component in is maintenance phase while I build a stronger emotional (less uptight) foundation. I need to unwrap the ball I've been winding myself into for the last few years, and really since about kindergarten. Who knows? I might be freakin' fast without all the tension wearing me down, making me hate training, and hampering my recovery.

For my competition: Just remember, while you're out doing your "six hour rides" or your "hill repeats", or "lifting weights", I'm at home doing "Soft Belly" and drawing pictures of my feelings. AND I'M COMING FOR YOU.

Okay, okay. Just a little joke there. I really have no idea where this experience will take me. It's just as likely that I might decide that my non-overbearing perfectionist self thinks racing bikes is stupid. Only time will tell and I've decided to accept whatever resolution comes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Walking Away a Winner

When I got home from work today, there was a package in the mailbox for ME and I hadn't even ordered anything. So my next question was, "Who the heck do I know in Harrisburg, VA?" Since it's sort of the East Coast mecca of mountain biking, I could name a lot of a people who live there, but probably none who would be sending me stuff. Upon opening, this is what I found:




The note says, "Sorry you couldn't make it. Enjoy the fall!"

Thanks, I plan to.

Not to say I didn't get a little sad at the contents: "I had a number plate...it was laminated and it had my name on it...and my name was even spelled right. I was going to be number 203..."

Fine. What's done it is done. When I first posted this picture back in June, I said it made me want to cry. It still kind of does, but it also brings to mind something else, namely 90's era country music.




I'm walking away a winner,

Walking away from a losing game,

With my pride intact and my vision back I can say

I know where I'm going and I know I'll be alright

I'm walking away a winner walking back into my life.

I had big plans for myself this season, but I didn't really understand what I was getting into at the time. For example, my "goal" going into the Ouachita Challenge was to finish in sub 7 hours. Goal=number I completely pulled out of my butt without a freaking clue. So I'm going back next spring with the same goal in mind, except this time I know what I'm getting into. I know that hitting that mark will be a huge challenge, but it's one worth taking on.

My training has already begun. Yeah, I know I've been saying I'm laying off for a bit this fall, but this training has nothing to do with the a bike. More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Annual Couple Ride

Today was the Adam and Lindsay Rodkey Annual Couple Ride. No, this is not an official thing that we do once a year, but it's annual because every time we try to ride together, it generally ends so badly that we don't try it again for another year. For example, the last time we rode together was October of last year at Brown County and it ended with the worst crash I've ever had, because I was pushing myself too hard on a descent so that I wouldn't slow him down.

This is the general outline for why things go badly. He's way faster than me; even with me going fast and him going easy there's still an ability gap. So I tend to ride harder than I want to ride, still get dropped, and then feel bad because I'm wasting his time. I like to think of cycling as a mutual interest and topic of conversation between us, but not necessarily something that should be done together.

However, yesterday he offered to show me a new cyclocross ride that I've never been on, and I decided to accept for a number of reasons: 1) I wanted to learn the route. 2) I knew I needed to ride hard today, but I didn't have a specific plan since I'm now coachless. 3) It's been nearly a year since the last time and I thought, "Why not?"

It actually went pretty well, because I decided not to worry too much if I was slowing him down too much. He had already done his real training ride earlier, so this was bonus for him anyway. The route went through some bike trails and neighborhoods and then dumped into a bit of singletrack and the end of a dead end street. Then it connected with some country roads east of town that are among my winter dirt road staples.

I was riding pretty decent until the final turn going into town, which was maybe a 5 mile stretch. There's a big hill at the beginning of the road that always kills me and today was no different. After reaching the top, I realized that I was pretty far into the red zone and that I wasn't going to get my HR back down below threshold unless I started going extra slow. This is the point where the couple ride actually went well for once. Had I been alone, I probably would have given up and soft-pedaled my butt home, but since Adam was with me, I put my head down and just rode back to town as fast I could stand. I figured if my HR wouldn't stay down, I should just go for it; I don't have anything to be fresh for in the next few days anyway. So he just tucked in behind me, and acted as a silent motivator on my wheel. It was kind of cool.

I will probably try that ride again by myself on Tuesday to make sure I can navigate it on my own. It should be a good addition to my winter training route catalogue. It still might be months before Adam and I try to ride together again, but this time went well enough, it might be a semi-annual thing. ;^)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

After a couple of weeks of brain-wracking indecision, I have decided to go coachless for the remainder of the fall season. I'm completely sad and completely relieved all at once. Sad for obvious reasons, and relieved because I can officially do (or not do) whatever I want cycling-wise right now. I'm going through some big changes right now and I need freedom.

Plus, the biggest period of improvement that I've ever had was on extremely simple self-designed training for 6-9 hours a week. Quite frankly, I was faster then than I am now, mostly because of consistency and weighing about 15 pounds less from not engaging in so much stress-related eating.

I will probably return to professional coaching again at some point, but for the time being I plan to save my money while I get my head on straight.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Double Digits

So here's another reason why I should have raced 'cross last weekend: the results. Double digit fields in both the 1/2/3 and 3/4 fields (if you add the two age groups together). This was the first race of the season and not even UCI sanctioned. That rocks!

If only mountain bike fields were growing like that. Racing tends to be more fun with more people; I guess it makes it more like a race instead of a time trial.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Nothing Takes the Taste of Shame and Humiliation Out of Your Mouth Like Cracker Barrel

Yes, that was another Prairie Home Companion reference (or at least paraphrasing one).

The DINO season finale was a bust for me. Town Run park is a crazy little 7 mile BMX track stuck in the middle of Indianapolis, which makes a unique specter on the series calendar. I've done decently there in the past, but there is always the possibility of some unknown local who knows how to rail every turn showing up and kicking the butt of a more seasoned non-local. Thus, the shame and humiliation.

Luckily, Cracker Barrel there to ease the pain afterwards. It helped me remember why I race bikes. I've been debating the question of my motivation to race ever sense I read the "happy cow" article on the VeloNews a few months ago and today biscuits seemed like as good of reason as any. Lately I've also been exploring stuff like "it's the thing that keeps me from becoming a crazy cat lady", but I'm not ready to expand on that so.....biscuits.

Anyway, by the time the race was over, I knew it was time for cyclocross. I've been suspecting it was time for cyclocross since last Tuesday when a cool breeze struck me with the overwhelming urge to drink hot apple cider, wear a skinsuit, and carry a bike over crap.

Then I had a "change of theme song". For someone with admittedly horrible musical tastes, I have a need to apply lyrics to almost every situation in my life. For the last nine or so months, "Mama Mia" has come to mind when I think of 'cross (a cheating lover that you just can't let go of) to "Wide Open Spaces" (new faces, room to make the big mistakes).

Mostly, I'm sick of cracking under the pressure I've placed on myself to simultaneously cat up to Expert and break into endurance superstardom this season. The beauty of this is that I already made this mistake with 'cross last year and my cheating lover and I have come to a pleasant mutual agreement: That I'm bad at 'cross, but that's no reason break up with it.

Right now, that's exciting for me. It means I get to sashay up to the registration table, flop down my Cat 4 license, suffer for 30 minutes, and walk away satisfied if I beat even one person. Because I'm bad at 'cross, the competition is pretty impersonal, and wearing skinsuits and carrying your bike over crap in cold weather is fun. Especially when it's followed biscuits.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bump

I really don't have a lot to say at the point in the week. I haven't been feeling well and training is sliding again. However, I thought that my silly dream post had sat at the top of the page long enough. Hopefully, I will have a decent race report to fill in with Sunday.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Way More Interesting Than My Real-Life Cycling

As I have alluded to in the past, I have quite an active dream life. It's way more interesting than my actual life, which is probably why I'd sleep 12+ hours a day, given my own devices. I like to say that my subconcious is my greatest form of entertainment. However, this weekend's dreams were especially cycling related and fairly entertaining, so I thought I'd share.

In the middle of various other events of Friday night, I found myself competing in a 6 hour race. It was a fun little course consisting of a one-mile lap which ran through a hospital emergency room, down a technical descent, and back up a gradual hill to the start. The dream picked up during the final few laps where I was racing to meet my goal of 60 laps in 6 hours. I was trying to make up time by becoming more and more aggressive on the descent every lap. There were three possible lines: one steep and rough with no drops, one with multiple 2-3 foot drops, and the possibility to just ride off a 12 foot drop to the trail below. So the last two laps, I rode the 12 foot drop...on my Anthem. It's wasn't quite a "flying dream", but close enough, considering my technical skills in real life. Anyway, the course was lined with cheering fans as I sprinted up the final climb to the finish and I completed my 60th lap with just seconds to spare. Cool, huh?

Saturday night took it a step further when I dreamt I was looking through and old scrapbook and found a newspaper article where I was quoted regarding the controversial relegation of (imaginary) mountain bike legend Juan Andreas to silver during the 1996 Olympics. Of course, this sparked (more imaginary) memories of how I met the famed Juan Andreas on the set of an MTV reality program documenting the a group of mountain bike racers at different competitive levels during the summer leading up to the 1996 Olympics. How do I know it was 1996? Because we wore A LOT of neon crap that has since worked its way out of the sport for the most part. Apparently, I had been chosen as the female neo-mountain biker to add a bit of a "Made" element to the show. I can't remember the male newbie's name, just that he was a frat-boy like dork. The sexy Juan Andreas was the real star of the show, and he had just broken up with female medal contender Victoria Something-Or-Other of South Africa. Anyway, after having affairs with all the female cast members Juan Andreas fell short of the gold, due to some unnamed bad call from the officials. We parted ways, but I apparently learned some valuable lessons about the sport, got quoted in a newspaper, and made some good memories.

I don't know. I kind of like this version of mountain biking history better. The one problem is that I was actually 15 during the summer of 1996, but it didn't seem to both Juan.

So how was YOUR weekend?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Down With FTP? Yeah, You Know Me.

I finally had a successful FTP test today. I would call it a "perfectly acceptable first FTP test" after not even being able to make it through the 20 minutes a few weeks ago. I wasn't going eyes-bugging-out hard the entire time, but it was a good effort, good enough to make it through at pace. I averaged 148 watts for 20 minutes, which is about what I expected. It's not stellar, but it's farther up the chart than my sprint power. I would like to see 200 by next spring, but I'll have to ask Coach Dave if that's a reasonable goal or not when he gets back from this weekend's collegiate moutain bike race.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Closest I'll Get to Running This Cyclocross Season

I'm not vehemently opposed to running as part of a cyclocross training program, but I think a lot of people consider it more necessary that it really is. For example, Adam started his fall running program yesterday, but I think that it's just because it's something he likes to do this time of year. Plus, he has a lot of triathlete friends, so I think it gives him a chance to have something in common with them. However, I will never fully buy in to running as effective training for cyclocross.

The fact of the matter is that running for 30 minutes at aerobic pace in proper running shoes has very little to do with carrying a bike and jumping over stuff while wearing mountain bike shoes. I don't think of it as running, so much as I performing a complicated task while your body is racked with lactic acid. So you're better off either increasing you cycling fitness so there is less lactic acid to complicate matters or practice the specific action you will be performing so that you're so good at it that the lactic acid won't matter.

Whatever. If you like running, go for it. If you don't, it's not necessary.

However, all of the not-running that I've been doing lately doesn't detract the anticipation I feel for my autumn favorite college sport kicking into gear. While the logical conclusion for most people would be football, I still have way more interest in the good ol' Oklahoma State Cowgirl cross country. It's not much of a spectator sport and it's been a few years since I've known any of the remaining team members, but even at 27, I still check the weekend's results every Monday morning.

I am one of those losers that never gets over their teenage glory days, even though mine weren't even that glorious. Being a college athlete was the coolest thing I've ever done and running simply didn't hold much appeal to me after it was over.

Anyway, in my search for pre-season polls etc., I've stumbled over a couple of pieces of great sports journalism that I couldn't stand not share. I just hope I'm not the only one who finds them funny.

"The bottom line is this: Kovtun can run and she could emerge as a leader this cross country season." - OSU website

"Oklahoma St. is like a mule with a spinning wheel. No one knows where they got all this talent, and darned if they know how to use it. They are the wild card this year, could be the champions, could be 10th." - Trackshark.com, in reference to the men's team

So forgive me for sharing yet another bit of nerdery; it seems to be the theme of the week. Saturday is my next FTP test and I'm hoping for some good results (or at least results). After that, I'll start transitioning back to big girl training again, and it definitely won't include running. Scary.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Is It Weird To Sing To Your Bike?

I had a good weekend with my mom, but the whole thing left me a little drained, not to mention the fact that I ate about 20,000 calories in a 3-day period. I'm just going through a stage where I get very tired and stressed easily, and the only thing that makes me feel better is solitary time with a book or movie. Needless to say, it's hard to get much of that with company all weekend.

So I was pretty grumpy last night knowing that most of my last day of "freedom" would be spent driving to and doing a race simulation on the mountain bike and I was hating the idea so bad that I almost backed out. However, I knew I really needed to get this workout in for a variety of reasons, so I compromised with myself and agreed to only do the 2:15 race simulation and not the "up to 5 hours" of bonus riding that was prescribed "if I felt like it".

Things seemed a little better this morning when I woke up and I felt a little less disgusting from all the weekend's food consumption. To make things better, I decided to drive a little further to an undisclosed location in Southern Indiana and avoid the Labor Day traffic at Brown County. This turned out to be the best idea of ever, as I had a fairly nice trail system all to myself for the entire three laps. I'm sure the location won't be too hard to figure out for those in the know, but I think I'll not advertise, as I'm now fully convinced that the extra driving is worth it. To make things even better, my effort was noticeably less gut-wrenching than my race two weeks ago, so my fitness must be coming back, at least a little.

Anyway, on the way there the song "The Boys of Summer" came on the radio and I had the sudden urge to sing along to my Anthem, which was sitting in the back. It sounds a little weird, but it was somehow totally appropriate and mood-lifting. I'm also guessing that I'm not the only person who's ever sung to their bike, or at least felt like it. The part about "I don't understand what happened to our love, but babe I'm gonna get you back, I'm gonna show you what I'm made of", struck a cord with me.

Heck, the name of this blog came from my trying to entertain myself on the trainer with the tale of underdogs Lindsay and Jake (my cyclocross bike) trying to make it to the elite class of the Louisville USGP last season. So we didn't make it (and still won't this year), but we had a good time.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Meh

I just haven't been inspired to post lately. My training is just kind of cruising along, without anything super exciting. I don't have another race for two weeks, and then its just a DINO race, which I expect to be much like the last DINO race, except slightly less painful. I'm a long way from being back in the mix competitively, and I'm okay with that. I know that several steady, unexciting weeks of training are necessary to get me where I was earlier in the year. I just want to not get last place in my class at Iceman and I will be happy. Ten weeks to get that accomplished.

Training will slow down a bit for the next couple of days, since my mom is coming to visit and then I've got my next big butt-kicker workout on Monday. Maybe it will garner some training tales worth telling.

***

The one interesting thing I can think of is that last night I did an easy 45-minute ride with sprints mixed in. I've been dying to sprint really hard since I got the power meter, but botched TT's and the last race had my legs feeling unsprintable until my day off on Sunday. So last night was a good time, but when I got home and compared my data to "the chart by which I measure my self-worth" (kidding, of course), my suspicions that I'm no Thor Hushovd were confirmed. Right now, my max power is hanging out in the "untrained" territory near the bottom of the page. Of course, I'm actually required to sprint in races, like, never, so I suppose that's okay.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Extra Rest

I seems that last week's race took even more of a toll on me than I thought, as I'm still not recovered from it, despite a relative easy training week since. So after a long debate with myself, I decided to stay in bed this morning instead of getting up at 6:00 to do a long ride at Town Run. I need to be getting more long stuff in, but I also think that another butt-kicking effort in my unrecovered state would mostly just dig me into a hole. So I stayed home, slept until noon, and enjoyed crazy dreams about tornados and putting underwear on cats (because that would somehow protect them from the tornados).

I'm trying not to feel guilty since I think I made the best decision for my next couple of week's training. With things ramping up, I can afford to start tired and now, hopefully, I won't be.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wednesday Night Weirdness

As I mentioned the other day, Coach Dave has scheduled all my workouts up until a few days before the DINO 6/12/24 hour race. Things are looking pretty good, because its about as close to the perfect "get back into shape and try to save the end of the season" plan as I can imagine. It starts off very easy, with each week increasing in volume and intensity. Sundays are long and moderate/hard to get ready for the 12 hour, but the weekdays are pretty kind so that I'll be able to recover. For example, this week had my usual Monday off, then easy 45 minute spins on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. My only "hard" workout for the week was a 1.5 hour group ride last night.

For my group ride, I made another attempt Wednesday Night Worlds. It was a little strange because the ride started out relatively easy. I had to push to stay on a few times due to the yo-yo effect of riding at the back of the pack, but most of the time the pace was comfortable even for me. Then the group spontaneously turned back toward town after only 35 minutes and broke out in a superfast pace line. I didn't even get a chance to tack on, much less get dropped. It turns out they have a loop they use for crit practice out there that I didn't know about.

After separating from the group, I just headed home because I wasn't really feeling it anyway. I was still tired from the race on Sunday and I found it really hard to get into the idea of a group ride since I'm not going to be doing it every week. There's too much of a learning curve involved (last night as an example) for me to do well just randomly showing up once in while. I'm not saying I won't do it again; I'm just saying last night wasn't the night for it and I'm cool with that.

The rest of the week should be good since I'm just riding short and easy every day until Sunday, which is a two-hour "race simulation" with up to four hours of total riding if I feel okay. I'm hoping to go ride at Town Run Park, the venue for the next DINO race, while Adam races a crit in Indianapolis. I'm thinking if I can get in three laps hard and three laps easy, that should be a good start for my 12 hour training.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Forgot the Best Part

I forgot the best part of my race report when I wote it earlier today. To demonstrate the depth of my glycogen depleted stupor after the race, I must add the part where I managed to moon a whole EZ up tent full of relative strangers. My train of thought went something like this:

1) Wrapping towel around my waist so that I could pull off shorts
2) To self: "Gee, this would be easier if this stupid towel wasn't in way"
3) Flipping towel up and pulling down shorts
4) To self: "Wow, that breeze on my butt feels nice. Wait, why do I have a breeze on my butt?"
5) Quickly yanking towel back down
6) Looking around to see who noticed

Everyone acted like they didn't notice, which was nice of them, but it also made it awkward for me decided if I should apologize for mooning them or just act like nothing happened. I opted for a short "Sorry guys!" and an embarrassed smile. If they knew what I was talking about, fine. If not, fine.