I got my training plan for the next three weeks from my coach a few days ago and it sort of makes me want to cry just looking at the workouts.
We decided that since the season is getting off to a late and funky start that it may be best to just start over and try to peak for the Shenandoah 100 at the end of August. The Lumberjack has been demoted from an "A" race to another "learning experience", which I suppose it's good to adopt that line of thinking ahead of time rather going in and blowing myself up over nothing.
As for the crying part, that because of the muscle-fiber shredding power workouts I'll be doing before then. The idea is that if you increase your maximum power that automatically makes you faster at all effort levels, as they are all percentages of your max. Doing this will involve doing a lot of sprints over the next few weeks.
Fifteen second sprints on the road bike are fun and I will be doing plenty of that, but I will also be doing sprints at the top of hill repeats, 30 second sprints on the trainer (it starts hurting at 20), and jumping onto boxes in between sprints on the trainer. Fun, eh?
Then endurance training gets mixed back in as I start to adapt. That's going to leave me short on long rides before the Lumberjack, but I think it's okay. My problem at the Ouachita Challenge was burning all my "matches" (power, fast twitch fibers, etc.) out early in the race. The new training plan should give me a few more matches to burn and hopefully I'll be smarter about how I use them for the Lumberjack. Then by the Shenandoah I will hopefully have lots more matches to burn, lots more efficiency at burning them, and the experience of knowing how to use them correctly. Oh, and hopefully I'll be better at riding over rocks.
So that's the long term for the season. In the short term, I feel very much like I did jostling around at the start of the Ouachita Challenge all over again, as the first DINO XC race is tomorrow. The season always starts with a wave of rumor and speculation and an inevitable post on the HMBA forum predicting the DINO Series top 10 expert men for the year. We women don't get that kind of publicity; for us it's more chatting amongst ourselves about who we will think will show up, what class they will be in, and how fast they'll be.
And then by June, we're always proven wrong. Kind of like worrying about getting "stuck behind the slow people on the singletrack", eh?
I'm still nervous nonetheless. It largely has to do with the thought of racing gut-wrenchingly hard for two hours and knowing I'll probably still get beaten by several people after all that suffering. But as my favorite line of this blog's namesake tune says, "You live for the fight when that's all that you've got."
The funny thing is that trying to focus on the long-term is what's making me nervous. Since I'm getting what feels like a really late start rolling into the season (I hit my lowest weight since Christmas this morning, but it's still around 7 pounds heavier than this time last year), I'm already worrying about stretching the season out as much as possible. I've already been looking for late-fall races, which is dumb because I have no idea how I'll feel in November. Yet I'm still formulately plans and backup plans for six months from now. It's a compulsion I can't seem to break.
You may have noticed that I have the Iceman Cometh as question mark on my sidebar schedule. Yes, I could have signed up for the lottery, but I wanted to a "win" a spot through the Midwest Mountain Bike Championships program. It was a good idea at the time, but after my crappy winter training I think I've just traded a lottery for a poker game. It's all gambling, and I'm letting myself get worried about too many things beyond my control.
I don't think I'll elaborate beyond that. If I'm in a poker game, I need to keep my cards close to my chest.