Monday, June 30, 2008

At Least It Wasn't a Spider

So I'd kind of been ignoring the fact that my throat was sore at least part of the day EVERY DAY since the Lumberjack. I felt below average, but not horrible. I just thought it was pollen or something. Then I had a really good ride at Wednesday Worlds.

Too bad I woke up the next day and found it was hard to swallow my breakfast. Worst of all, it was a weird scratchy pain concentrated in one side of my throat. It felt like a poisonous spider was living in my throat. Gross, I know. I finally got out the flashlight and took a peak. No spider, but a really nasty spot on the back of my throat. I went the doctor and found out I have a viral infection. No antibiotics for me, just rest and wait. Which is how I spent my weekend.


I think the Shenandoah Mountain 100 is officially out of the question. I've decided to set my sights on the doing the 12 hour solo division at the 24 Hours of DINO instead. That gives me four more weeks to get ready and less financial risk involved. I guess it's not "risk" when you know you're not getting your money back either way, but I at least want to get a finish time for my investment.

Plus, if I make my goal of 100 miles (10 laps) I will break the course record set by Indiana mountain biking's favorite daughter and one my "heroes", Sally Marchand Collins, who was 3rd at the 24 Hours of Adrenaline world championships last year. Of course, her record is a few years old, as the last couple of years she has been part of the famous 24 Hours of DINO duo "Drunky the Clown and The Sundance Kid". There hasn't actually been a female 12 hour solo contender since 2005, but it still sounds cool.

It wouldn't kill me to hang up my "reverse sandbagger" mantle for just a little while and take an easy "W", right?

Either that or I just inadvertently smack-talked every fast female in the state into coming to beat me to it.

It should be a good time either way.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Brown County and Butt Kickin'

As seems to be the case lately, I've been a very busy girl the last few days. I've been getting my assigned training in, but not with time left to blog about it. At least my priorities are in the right place.

As my pictures indicate, I went to Brown County Tuesday night. My assignment was 2.5 hours of long and short hills with at least 10% of the time in Zone 4-5. It wasn't necessarily supposed to be on the dirt, but I added that part myself, as I still feel very behind on my off-road riding for the season. I also thought the loose structure would be a good chance to ride some of the newer out-and-back trails that I haven't be on much, since they don't work so well for the hills reps and TT intervals that seem to dominate my dirt time. I actually had several 4-5 hour mountain bike rides scheduled leading up to the Lumberjack, but like clockwork, it managed to rain for all of them. Anyway, I wanted to get some time in on the new trails, as they are a lot more technical and I need to bump up my rock skills if I want to improve on my last place finish at the OC next year.

I doodled around for the first half-hour or so, taking pictures and bathroom breaks. The new trails are a lot less hilly than I remembered, consisting of a few short, rocky inclines to muscle over. Basically, I felt like I was going mostly downhill for the first hour and which was actually kind of boring, as I'm not that great of a descender in general and wasn't feeling very daredevlish. I also forgot how much earlier it gets dark in the woods, so my ride time came up short. I did get 10% Zone 4 time, but just barely. I will be going back Saturday and to try to get in the whole trail system at a moderate pace.

Last night was my second Wednesday Night Worlds, and I had a 100% improvement, meaning I made it 20 minutes without getting dropped instead of 10. I also met my goal of chasing back on the first couple of times I was gapped by the field, but eventually they did pull away. Luckily, it was a multi-lap route and I was able to jump in with some stragglers on the way in after attacking some really hard climbs by myself. It was definitely the best workout I've had in some time and my legs are really sore and dead today.

Fortunately, today is much-needed rest day. I was actually responsible this week and got my homework done on Monday, so all I "had" to do after work today was come home, watch a movie, and catch up on my blog. It's a wonderful feeling, even it if won't last for long. Tomorrow is back to the grindstone.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Indiana Rocks!

That title is lame, lame, lame, lame, lame, lame, but here are couple of pics from Brown County last night.

I hadn't been on this trail in a while and this thing is new. Indiana's own little tribute to the pacific northwest.

And our tribute to Arkansas. Well, I'm sure that's not what the trailbuilders were thinking, but rocks and Arkansas are forever bonded in my mind now.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


That would be the best way to describe the last week for me. It seems that the Lumberjack took its toll on me mentally and physically, even if I didn't finish. My training was actually decent, in that I did more or less everything that I was supposed to, but my efforts were less than spectacular. However, work, class, and everything else seemed to suffer as I tried to drag myself though training for the week. I spent the whole week mentally stressed about my homework and procrastinating, and I still did a fairly crappy job. The worst part was that I was never able to just get it done and have the load off my chest, which only made the stress worse. I finally just settled for a very half-assed job tonight and a vow that I would tackle the next week's work as soon as I get home tomorrow.

I had a fun and interesting weekend, despite being very worn out from it. Saturday was jam-packed as I had a two-hour ride with hill repeats at Brown County in the morning. Then I had to rush back to town to get cleaned up and take care of some stuff that needed to be done, because I was volunteering as a corner marshall at the Bloomington Crit in the late afternoon/evening. I got an easy corner, so mostly I just got to watch the race, and Adam got off work earlier than expected to join me. Then a couple of our friends from Muncie showed up unexpectedly to race and we all went out to eat afterwards. It made for a good time, but a much later night than we had planned.

This morning I tried to catch up on my sleep and then I headed out for a three-hour road ride. My legs were tired, and I was pretty bored, but I made it through. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing errands, resting, doing half-assed homework, and spending much-needed quality time with my husband.

So I finally got through the week and (mostly) did what I needed to do, even if I had to drag through it. Unfortunately, I am writing this at 10:20 p.m. and I'm a long way from being ready for bed. So I better get on that so that I don't go into another week worn out and draggin'.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday Night Worlds

Tonight was my first Wednesday Worlds training ride and I did surpass my goal of making it 10 minutes without getting dropped. In retrospect, it was kind of a weak goal, but I don't suppose it hurts to start small sometimes. I didn't make it much longer than 10 minutes and I won't waste space on excuses why. I just have a lot learn about road riding in groups, but that's precisely why I'm doing it. I've been so scared of group riding in the past that I will only try once or twice a year. Then I would get dropped and wouldn't try again for a long time. So for now, I'm just working on showing up and trying to get a little better each week. It's not even about the fitness really; its about adding skills to my arsenal that have been sorely lacking in my cycling career so far. The good news is that I have 14 more chances to get it right before the season's over.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ride Fast, Take Chances

I wanted to post for two reasons: 1) because I need to prove I'm still alive post-Lumberjack, although nothing exciting has happened since 2) there are 15 hours left to vote in my poll, but I've pretty much come to my decision already. However, I see the new helmet option just got a tie-breaker vote sometime this afternoon. I guess I still haven't used my vote yet.

Anyway, I decided on mostly option four (JFR) with the possibility of a new helmet if a make it through some Wednesday Worlds training rides over the next few weeks. That has as much to do with not wanting to be the dork in the visored helmet on the roadie training ride as anything, but whatever. I need to show that I'm actually going to do the ride more than once before I invest, I guess.

I'm at a bit of an impasse regarding my schedule. I entered the Shenandoah 100 months ago, but as the hardest course in the NUE series, I'm having serious self-efficacy issues after this weekend. I'm not saying I will still do it and I'm not saying I won't.

I'm saying that I have three, three-week training blocks, each capped with a DINO race between now and then and I will decide later. The surprising thing is that I when I looked at my calendar and saw this I thought, "Cool, we're just about to hit the fun part of the season." The last two years I've been sort of burned out and jaded by the time the AMBC race rolled around mid-season. This year, I'm really looking forward to it, as well as the last half of the season.

My other realization is that for the first time in forever I'm not coming off bad race thinking I have to start training for the next race. I'm just thinking I need to start training. Period. Not for any specific race, but because I'm sick of being slow. I need to get fast.

I'm the first to encourage myself or anyone else to push their boundaries and attempt races, events, or categories that we're not 100% ready for yet because that's how evolution happens. But as my favorite Vanderkitten socks say: Ride Fast and Take Chances. I'm really good at taking chances (to the point of stupidity sometimes), but I need to work on the riding fast. Playing the martyr gets old after a while.

I've spent 2 1/2 years planning what I'll do when I outgrow local Indiana racing, but the fact of the matter is that I'm still very far from it. The competition is a lot stronger and deeper than it was when I first started racing. I need to take care of first things first.

So we'll see how the coming weeks shake out. I would really love still be able to to knock out my first hundred-miler in 2008 and I totally want to ring the gong at the Shenandoah, but I also want to be reasonable in my pursuit. I may have to get my hundred during 24 hours of DINO in late September, even if there's no gong or glory. I may even have to wait until next season.

For now, I've got one more easy day of riding and then I'm taking a crack at Wednesday Worlds. I'll worry about the rest of the week's workouts (and the rest of the summer) after that.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I Should Have Been Freaking Out

My problem is that I only listed three things to be nervous about. Apparently, I missed a few things. There's an episode of "This American Life" with a story about a mentally challenged man who writes down every single fear he can think of in hopes that he can control them. Maybe I should have tried that. At least I'd have a book to publish like he did.

So here's the deal on the Lumberjack 100 (25).

We left for Michigan yesterday, and about an hour into the drive, our hotel calls and says they have to cancel our reservations because the entire town is flooded and without power. However, we can't find any info stating that the race is cancelled, so we pressed on. When we got about 30 minutes from the venue, we found out that couldn't drive any further north because all the bridges were out. We finally made it there after a long detour and the race was on. So we had a to scramble to find a place to stay in the middle of nowhere, since most of the places close to the venue were booked months ago. It made for a really stressful afternoon.

We found a cabin not too far away and not too scary. However, I have a horrible fear of hotel bedspreads and was up most of the night with nerves and heeby-jeebies. I'm just going to have to bring a sleeping bag when I travel.

I also had to force myself to choke down dinner, as I had zero appetite the day before the race. On the one day of my life when I really needed to eat, I had no desire to. Even peach pie with ice cream wasn't going down too smoothly.

I hoped the lack of sleep wouldn't affect my race, and maybe it didn't, but something sure did. I stuck to my plan of going really easy at the start, but I sensed trouble as soon and we hit the Big-M parking lot and my HR jumped from 140 to 160 on a very slight incline. When I hit the dirt it was 180 and within minutes I was up in the mid-190's despite really trying to relax and granny gear on even the smallest hills. For reference, my LT is about 184 and max is around 196, from casual observation. I was in the 194-196 range a lot, which it usually all-out cross country pace.

It didn't take long for the field to break up and pretty soon I was pretty well alone, with one other girl. We rode together for about half a lap and I was hoping my body with get with the program, but it never did. Finally, she pulled away and I fell apart. I ended up taking nearly 4 hours just to complete the lap and felt terrible. Obviously, by the time I made it through the lap I was so horribly off pace to make the time cutoff that I decided to call it a day.

Of course, I'm really disappointed, but not with myself. I did what I could with what I had today, but for some weird reason, that wasn't much. I just have to keep working and have more in the gas tank for next time.


After today, I'm having serious doubts about my relationship with Perpetuem. It's worked fine in training since the winter, but is not proving to have a very good track record in races. For the last three week or so, I've been using the Glacier Mist flavored Rapidaid on my hard training rides and at the Brown Country race with a lot of success. I normally hate sports drinks because of the aftertaste, but this tastes like Certs mints dissolved in water (weird but good) and is surprisingly refreshing.

I didn't use it today because I thought it didn't have enough calories, but late in the lap I was wishing for a happy shot of sugar to brain more than anything. That seems to be my biggest struggle; even when I stick to my Perpetuem schedule, I still end up feeling bonky because it doesn't digest quickly under the hard efforts that are inevitable in mountain biking.

Adam and I are fans of "A Prairie Home Companion" (more NPR) and they have a joke about "Powermilk Biscuits", a fake product that supposed to "give you the confidence to get up and do what needs to be done". That was how I was feeling about the Rapidaid today, but alas, I was not able to procure any in time to save my race. Not that I think it would have, but it might have helped.

Adam also told me that they had Powdermilk biscuits at the aid station, had I only got there in time.

The Lumberjack in Pictures

Adam showing off on Friday.

Our cabin. Not so scary.

All smiles on the way to the start.

Why is my heart rate 180, already?

Eight miles in.

Calling it a day.

This one still kinda makes me want to cry...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Just Pedal

Okay, okay, you may be wondering how I am two days away from my first 100-mile mountain and NOT freaking out. I should be freaking out, right? Well, maybe not if I'd trained perfectly all winter and spring like a good little girl, but I think if that were the case I would be freaking out due to delusions of grandeur right now (trying to get the hole shot on Chris Eatough or something). Luckily, right now my delusions of grandeur are limited to, "Maybe I'll pull off a coup and beat like two people."

So what AM I thinking regarding the Lumberjack? Just pedal. That's my race plan.

At the Ouachita Challenge I was so many months removed from my last contact with either other racers or singletrack, that I got way too concerned about actually racing and blew myself up early. That won't be a problem on Saturday. I will line up in the back and when the gun fires I will pedal. Just pedal, drink water, and take a slurp off my flask of Perpetuem-based goop every 20-30 minutes. I refuse to give a crap about who is in front of or behind me until the finish line is in sight.

So that is why I'm not freaking out. I'm pretty sure that despite my sub-par training, I still have what it takes to finish if I pace myself. At least I won't have to hike-a-bike over a bunch of rocks this time (at least that's what I've been told). I do get a sick feeling in my stomach when I think that maybe I don't have the fitness to finish or that I won't make the time cutoff or that my pedal will fall off mid-race again, but what can I do?

Just pedal.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Let's Make A Deal

While I was waiting for the outcome of my recent job interview, I couldn't help but think of what I would do with the significant raise that would accompany my impending success (insert bitter pause here). Anyway, it was right after my "One Green Square" post and I made a deal with myself that if I got the job and could put 100 green squares together, I'd let myself buy a power meter. It was very motivating at the time and very un-motivating when the key part of the deal fell through. So I'm been re-negotiating with myself ever since.

The deal seemed to work, but I don't have the guaranteed future income to back it up, so I'm going over my options:
1) Insert a less-expensive, but also less useful object (like a Giro Atmos)
2) Suck it up and find a way to pay for the power meter (suck what up where?)
3) Focus my attention and dollars on racing more, since a bad day of racing beats a good day of training
4) Accept that I can't buy talent (or motivation) and couldn't afford it, even it were possible

So I'm putting it out there for YOU to decide (see the poll at right).

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Different Kind of Road Ride

This road took a ride instead of being part of one. What you're seeing is a ~2x4 foot slab the opposite side of the road washed onto the edge of the other lane.

Today marked the 13th mountain bike workout that I've had scheduled this season (not counting races) and the 8th that has either been straight up rained out or the trails have been way too muddy. I was supposed to help teach the beginner group at the Midwest Women's Moutain Bike Clinic today, but it was cancelled due to heavy thunderstorms and flash floods. The weather was okay in the afternoon, but I was relegated to the road once again.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Like An Ice Pack For The Soul

This was my workout tonight. Yeah, yeah, last hard workout before Lumberjack, etc. However, I came to the conclusion that emotional injuries should be treated like physical injuries: if I try to train through them then it will just exacerbate the problem. So I'm going apply rest and a "cold compress" and I'm fully confident that I'll be a better woman for it tomorrow.

The Great Flood

This was the view from my office window yesterday afternoon. I couldn't get a picture of the Mustang mostly submerged in the middle of the street. Luckily, I parked in a garage two blocks away, but a lot of my co-worker's cars were flooded.


The storms didn't interfere with my training too much last night, since I was assigned one hour "so easy a 5-year-old could stay on my wheel". So that was easy enough to do on the trainer. Tonight is my "last hard workout before the Lumberjack", but it's just short max effort intervals, so more annoying than hard. Tuesday was supposed to be my last kick my-butt-and-make-me-cry workout, but the rain killed that. Now it's just cross my fingers time.


So I just officially found out I didn't get the job. Luckily, I got through the bulk of the devastation over on Tuesday, when I just had a bad feeling. So other than a little, "What's a girl gotta do to get a freakin' break?" whining to myself, I'm already mostly over it. Three years of rejection have taught me a thing or two.

I already went and bought my "rejection lottery ticket", which I do everytime something crappy happens. I figure karma's got to work out somehow. My father-in-law and I had a debate last weekend regarding Powerball versus Hoosier Lottery. He likes to play "better" odds while I just go for the big money.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dark Mood

This what the sky looked like at 2:30 this afternoon. The picture is actually brighter than it looked in real life. We've been pounded by thunderstorms and heavy rain all day, which has put an end to any hopes of doing 3 hour mountain bike workout tonight. Of course, it just got sunny a little while ago now that Coach Dave has sent me a crazy hard workout for the trainer instead.

Unfortunately, my mood has not been getting sunnier. I few days ago I mentioned that I was feeling too good, which basically meant I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I guess crappy weather ruins everyone's mood, but I'm feeling especially down today. I was supposed to hear something about the job I interviewed for a couple of weeks ago during the first week of June. I realize that the first week of June isn't even half over, but the sick-to-my-stomach nervousness kicked at 6:00 a.m. yesterday. Waiting is the hardest part.

So I kinda knew a few days ago I would be feeling really down again soon enough, but I was hoping I would find some answers on how to handle it before it did. Right now, I got nothin'. At least nothing within my control. I'm just going to try really hard to work through it without pushing myself too hard.

Monday, June 2, 2008

DINO #2: Brown County

Yesterday, I found my mountain bike mojo on the descent of the beginner loop at Brown County State Park. Two minutes later, my pedal came off. What's a girl to do?

What's wrong with this picture?

I woke up with a complete lack of desire to race my bike, probably due to the severe beating I was subjected to at Warsaw and how terrible I felt last Monday. I got up, got dressed, and soldiered on, only considering downgrading to sport for a few minutes in the registration line. Then I decided to woman up and take my rightful place as expert class pack filler.

I warmed up like I was supposed to and got my heart rate well above lactic threshold several times before the start of the race. However, climbing the very steep half-male paved climb to the singletrack during my warm-up about killed me, so I got even more nervous about the race.

When I rolled up to the starting line I saw that there was a record women's field with nine sport and six expert. Only during the 2005 AMBC race, when the Slingshot team, including MyHeroDanielleMusto, showed up was there ever a larger expert women's field in a DINO race. Sad? Yes. Things looking up? Let's hope so.

There was a last-minute announcement that the sport women were only doing one lap which solidified my decision to ride conservatively and let whatever would happen happen. When the gun went off the pack went into hare mode and I went into tortoise mode. It actually worked out well for me. I picked off a couple of people on the singletrack and things were going fine. I suffered on the big singletrack climb during the first lap and I thought I was going slow, but apparently I wasn't. I even passed another expert girl who had a flat tire and a couple of guys.

On the second lap, and expert guy lapped me, but since we were on a gentle, twisty descent, I decided to push myself and try to stay within site of him as long as I could. It worked. I was cornering the best I ever have in my life and I actually freaked myself out a little because I leaned so far into one turn, but stayed completely stable. Then my pedal came off and I couldn't get it back on, so I had to do a pathetic walk up the hill, coast down it back to the finish.

It's kind of weird, but I really wasn't that upset about it. I consider DINO races a measuring stick more than anything and when the results were posted, I could still tell I measured up pretty well. Extrapolating from who was directly behind and in front of me when the pedal broke, I was on track to go about 10-15 minutes faster than last year and was much closer to the other experts than last time. The best part was that I was getting stronger as the race went on instead of my usually mid-race blow-up. Either I'm a smart girl for finally warming up right or I'm actually on to something with this endurance racing thing (once I put in the training for it). Maybe both.