Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Post Script

I just re-read my entry from this afternoon and realized that the first paragraph sounds kind of bitchy in a way that I didn't intend. It sounds like I was saying that I found it amusing that people were negatively impacted by the rescheduling of the DINO Versailles race, which is not what I meant at all.

In reality, I was thinking about a bunch of polital mumbo-jumbo and smack-talking from which I would like to distance myself. That is the part is that ranges from mildy amusing to moderately annoying. I didn't really expand on the topic, so my point wasn't clear.

I do care that a lot of people have or will have to make tough decisions about this weekend. Hopefully, everyone will be able to come to a decision that they are happy with.


When I found out that the DINO Versailles race was postponed from July 26 to August 1, I was fairly certain that Adam and I were the only racers in the state who weren't negatively impacted. While I felt genuinely bad for some people who were in the same position that I was in prior to the postponement, mostly I just watched the drama unfold with mild amusement while I contemplated my decision as to where I would race this weekend.

I won't lie and say that I wasn't disappointed about the possibility of missing the Versailles race when I found out that it conflicted with Adam's family reunion. I'm pretty hungry for competition right now, because I've been working hard all summer and I'm really hoping to net a small victory in the near future. It doesn't have to be a literal victory; I just want a chance to beat someone I've never beaten before. Preferably it would be someone who's beaten me in the past and would serve as a indicator of progress. It's been quite some time since I've had that thrill.

I cooked up a sweet metaphor about this involving the greatest movie ever, Summer Catch, but in the interest of getting to the point, I'll spare you for now.

The point is that the more races I do in the near future, the greater the chance that something cool happening before the season ends. A month ago, I was having to trim down my race schedule to make room for actual training, but as life happened, I ended up trimming both the training and the racing. Not ideal, but sometimes it's unavoidable and I'm pretty happy with how I've soldiered through the last few weeks.

So when it came down to the choice of DRT vs. DINO for this weekend, it was a tougher decision than it looked like on the surface. Yes, the DRT event had the advantage in almost every category (including letting you stand on a box), but I couldn't help but wonder if the DINO event would give me a better shot at head-to-head competition. Unfortunately, I can't count on knowing who will show up at either race.

After much consideration and some discussion with Jason, I've decided to the DRT race. I decided not to gamble on what may or may not happen at the DINO race and just do the race I actually want to do.

I need to stop acting like the sport of mountain bike racing is going to suddenly disappear from the face of the earth, anyway. I have a tendency to feel like I have to do everything immediately or I might not get the chance. For example, I spent all 2007 obsessing over the Louisville USGP of cyclocross because I didn't know when that many fast people would ever be in the Midwest again. Then it turned out that the race came back to Louisville the next year and the next year, Cincinnati had a three-day UCI weekend, the fields grew and grew, and I got my butt kicked in the 25-deep women's 3/4 field two years in a row.

The moral of the story is that what happens this weekend is but a spec in the 10+ years of racing I have left in me, and I probably shouldn't think about it that hard. Maybe Indiana mountain bike racing will eventually catch up with Ohio Valley Cyclocross and I'll have more people to race against than I can handle. That sounds perfect, especially if I can turn that butt-kicking part around.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Can Haz More Wattz All Over Again

Last night I did Jason's famous race simulation workout for the second time. The first time was back in April, but my training has since been occupied with a lot of endurance, peaking, and rest. July has been about getting my fast back and it's really working.

Last night's workout was 3 minutes Vo2, 5 minutes Threshold, and 8 minutes Sweet Spot in rapid succession. Although April's workout was broken up a bit differently (2/5/10 minutes), I average 15 watts higher at 175 watts. More importantly, I finished feeling like I could have averaged 180 for a full 20 minutes had that been my objective.

I haven't done an actual 20-minute threshold test the entire season. Jason has just been calculating my zones based off of the two simulation workouts and the two road races I did earlier in the season. When I have workouts like the one last night, I'm left wondering how I would do if I did an official test. I might blow it away, or I might crack under the pressure of a TEST; I'm not sure.

I wish I had power data from the first 16 minutes of a real mountain bike race to see how much it actually looks like this workout. In theory the workout seems like an accurate simulation of the the start of a race or at least one with no bottleneck start. But as I rolled out to Bottom Road yesterday, my intestines were not in knots and I was thinking "200 watt for the first 3 minutes won't be THAT bad." However, the first three minutes of a real race usually involves stomach cramps, trying not to crash, and thinking, "Oh the pain! Oh the pain!" It's sad, but I think I need my little yellow friend to tell me whether I'm really hurting or not.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to wait a little longer to find out how this month's training translates into the real world. Adam has a family reunion the same day as the DINO Versailles race, so I will likely not see any more actual competition until the Logansport race on August 16. DRT Consulting is putting on a dirt TT at Brown County on August 2, but I'm not sure what to expect from that.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mom in Town

This weekend I didn't race the Bloomington Crit, DRT Wapehani, or attend the 30th Anniversary screening of Breaking Away. Yes, I'm am one bad Bloomington cyclist. But I am a good daughter.

Actually, I'm a pretty crappy daughter, but the older I get, the harder I try to be a better one. Part of that meant not boring my mom by making her watch bike racing (except for the constant loop of TDF on the TV in the background). Instead we went to the farmer's market, took a boat tour of a cavern, replanted our backyard garden (well, she did), and did the church thing.

Jason was kind enough to coordinate my recovery block with her visit, so sticking with my training plan was relatively easy. I only had to do one hour with 5 x 1 minute on Sunday. It the first time I've ever made myself ride while my mom was visiting, so it was still kind of a big step for me. Unfortunately, I felt like crapola the whole weekend, with a sore throat and a headache, so even the short workout was rough. I also felt like a bad daughter because I fell asleep every time I sat still for pretty much the whole weekend.

It's kind of funny because Jason told me afterwards that I shouldn't force a workout when I don't feel well, and of course, he's right. Despite nearly five months of perfect adherance to my training, I'm still kind of fearful of falling off the wagon. I don't really want to be one of those people who's all caught up in their "streak" either, so I guess it's gotta break sometime.

I'm sort of breaking it tonight, since I'm switching my day off today with my easy day tomorrow (still on the recovery block), so that I can ride with Emily while she's in town. It will be good practice for me, since the next couple of weeks look like they will require even more going with the flow on my part.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Busy(?) Week

I just wrote out my work to-do list for the rest of the week. It has five whole items on it for the next two and half days. Strangely enough, that's a lot for me. Work tends to come in spurts at my job and each task tends to vary greatly from the next. I'm rarely able to see five tasks into the future.

While I feel like I've been running myself ragged the last couple of weeks, I don't really think that it has as much to do with the amount of stuff that I have to do as it does the amount of weight I'm dragging behind me while I do it.

The root of the problem is that I had a very difficult office-mate move in when I was gone to the Lumberjack. I was warned about it ahead of time, but that still didn't make it any easier for me to accept not being there to control the situation or accept the situation at all. The blessing and the curse is that the arrangement is temporary and hopefully will be over by the end of July. The fact that it is temporary is good, but it also makes me rail against the situation even more. Eventually, I need to develop my grown up voice (say what you mean with confidence) and grown-up personality enough to deal with this type of interpersonal conflict better, but that's a matter I'll let lie for the moment.

More importantly, the constant tension, plus a bevy of other minor-to-moderate inconveniences that I'm dealing with lately are starting to weigh on me and I'm fighting the urge to shut down, roll up in a ball, and hide. That's pretty much what I did over the weekend, since Adam was gone to Muncie to hang out and be the mechanic for the Muncie Endurathon Half-Ironman. I managed to complete my workouts in a mediocre fashion, but was in full hermit mode otherwise.

I think it may be time for me to re-read the depression self-help book that I wrote for myself back in February called, "Whatever You Feel Like Doing, Do The Opposite". That's actually the whole book, not just the title. It's a very simple and effective strategy, but it's hard to force yourself to keep going to when that's the last thing you want to do. However, I've found the more you do the right thing, the easier it becomes.

Anyway, in the interest of not ending this on a bummer note, I will say that my return to meaty, make-me-fast training last week was a success. I had an excuse for my mediocre Saturday and Sunday rides, as I killed it during the week last week. My Wednesday 2 x 20 min. Sweet Spot Bursts yielded a new best 20 minute power on the first one with only a minor drop in my average for the second. On Thursday, I did 2 x 18 min. Tempo with numbers that rivaled some of my best Sweet Spot workouts.

Tonight is my first first Threshold Bursts workout, which seems a little weird since it's already the second half of the season, but I guess I got a late start. Hopefully, I've had enough days of rest and mediocrity that I'll be able to go out and kill it again tonight.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Write That Down

This might not be the most eloquent or entertaining post, but I wanted to write down a goal for the world to see.

I've been kind trying to refocus a bit since the Lumberjack and seems that all of my goals for the season are now either met, moot, or will not be met. 100 Days - met. Finish 2009 Lumberjack - not a lot I can do on that one at this point. Finish better than last in a DINO race - technically met, but moot since I catted down.

I still have the Pisgah stage race looming, and of course my goal is to finish, but it's lost its status of highly-focused, obscessive goal. I not ready to go through another eggs-in-one-basket experience like the Lumberjack. Whatever happens, I'm not going to take it personally.

Today starts a block of the meaty, make-me-faster training I've been missing. I'm a little scared of the pain, but I'm also excited at the prospect of seeing another bump in my threshold power by the time the month is over.

So I set a process goal for the next year: To raise my threshold power to 3.8 watts/kg by October 1, 2010. That means I've got to get a lot stronger and a least a little skinnier in the next 15 months.

There, I wrote it down. Now I have to do it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Dirty Job

Over the weekend, one of the girls that I race against mentioned her fear that sticking to a more rigid training plan would make cycling like a job for her.

Many times this season, my training plan has been all that I had to hold onto. After three years of whining and hoping for quick fixes, I've finally made a real committment to something despite having no guarantee that it will get me the results I want. So far, I am seeing great results on my power meter and not so great on the race course. Nevertheless, I keep coming back every day and doing what my calendar say to do.

So it made me wonder if cycling was like a job for me. I decided that it depended on what definition of job I used.

First I thought that a job is something you would quit if you no longer had to do it. Well, yeah. Most people I know would quit their jobs in an instant if they won the lottery. That would be because their needs for food, shelter, clothing, etc. would be met and their job would no longer provide any function in their life.

So a job is something that you do to fulfill a need and that you might not do if that need were filled in some other way. According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, my day job takes care of my Level 1 and 2 needs and my cycling "job" covers the Level 4 and 5 range. The thing is that there is no such thing as winning the self-actualization lottery, so I pretty much have to have a job to cover that one. Of course, I have several sources of "income" in that area, including some parts of my day job, but athletic pursuits seem to be my career preference.

This season is paying well in the Level 5 area, but not so much for the less mature Level 4. My Level 4 self wants to pout about everyone else being faster than me and say "take this job and shove it". The problem is that I don't actually quit because I don't have another "job" to replace it with, so I just do poorly at the task at hand. This is the fight I've been having with myself for three years and it's gotten me nowhere. That's why I've decided to focus on getting my Level 5 needs filled and see what happens.

Of course, everyone fills their needs differently, so I'm sure not everyone who follows a strict training plan feels the same way. Personally, I don't mind that cycling is a job for me, because the "bills" need to be paid somehow and I can think of worse ways to do it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Better The Second Time Around?

This weekend marked the first races of my second Cat. 2 mountain bike career. Well, technically, I've never been a Cat. 2; it was still Sport last time I did it. While catting down was a really hard decision to make, I think it was the right one, at least for now.

Saturday was a pretty good day for the most part. I did the STXC, but wussed out on the downhill, because it started raining really hard. I thought I had a shot at clearing some or most of it dry, but wet was another story. I think now I will officially concede my attempts/plans at completing the DINO downhill in the near future.

The short track went pretty good, I think. I expected to feel bad since I'm still really off my form due to my break from training, but I didn't feel bad. I honestly didn't feel much of anything, except the normal pain one expects to feel in that sort of situation. However, it was just bike racing pain and it wasn't distressing, so I guess that means I felt good.

I was the only girl in my class, so I'm now the Cat. 2 "state champion" for STXC. More importantly, I finished within what I felt was a respectable distance of the Pro/Cat 1 girls. Two of them were extremely good cyclocross racers who are way out of my league, but I was able to stay within 2 minutes of the third and fourth place racers. Considering that they usually beat me by 30 minutes in full-length XC races, that's pretty good.

Today was not so good. As I mentioned, the sky opened up at the conclusion of the short track races and it continued to pour until early this morning. The course was a muddy mess and my priorities quickly switched from racing to staying upright and going fast when I could. There were four girls in the class, but the top two were badassedly fast girls who just started racing this season. They finished within seconds of eachother in a time that would be good for the usual crop of Sport/Cat 2 women in dry conditions. I finished about 20 minutes later in third, in a time that was pretty terrible, but not unexpected, considering the mud. So, for today, catting down didn't save me one bit of butt-kicking, but it did save me one lap of mud-filled torture, and for that I am grateful.

No one was around to snap the requisite mud-covered pictures of me after the race, and I didn't want to sit around in the muddy kit longer than I had to, so here are my attempts to document today's conditions.