Sunday, September 28, 2008
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
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
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
Monday, September 22, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
Monday, September 8, 2008
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
Thursday, September 4, 2008
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
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.