Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Week #49: Surviving December

"Survive December, succeed in March."

That is what I said last week, and since then I've been trying hard to live it. December is, in my opinion, the worst month for a cyclist. I suppose it might not be so bad if your holiday travel is limited to single day of sugary food celebration, but for many it requires extensive travel and/or time away from home and the normal routine. Even if there isn't travel, there are likely about a zillion holiday party thingies to throw off the routine and put tons of inappropriate food in front of your face. 

For example, I have three work-related lunch things and an afternoon departmental party in the next two weeks. This is a lot to handle for a girl who eats home cooked lunch at her desk 90% of the time. That will be followed by another week in which I will be in Oklahoma for most of the week and in Illinois for a few days on top of it. I will finally be home on the 28th or 29th, depending on various choices I need to make regarding driving and pet care. (If you're going to be in Bloomington between December 21-28 and would be willing to fill some food bowls and scoop some litter, you will have my eternal gratitude and maybe some good beer.) Then I can reestablish a proper winter training program.

I suppose that right now many are just trying to keep their edge for the rest of the week until the end of the regular cyclocross season, followed by a convenient end-of-season break, while the more ambitious/masochistic will attempt to hold their fitness through the holidays for nationals in January. For me, it feels more like a month in limbo. It's the one month of the year where I can't ride after work, even with my 4 p.m. departure time from work, and it doesn't seem worth it to ride the trainer with my impending time out of town, rather needless torture on which I can't really building anything. So I'm just sort of in do-what-I-can survival mode while waiting for the next Week #1 to arrive.

This weekend was definitely proof of this. It was my last scheduled visit with Frank until after Christmas, so when a winter storm threatened on Thursday night and early Friday morning, I refused to let it mess with my plans. After 11 white-knuckled hours I arrived in State College more exhausted than usual and woke up to a fairly thick blanket of snow covering everything the next morning. The plan had been to ride some easy in-town mountain bike trails on our 'cross bikes and then tack on some flat-ish gravel for distance. Of course, my legs felt like total crap, which I just have to learn that they will always feel like crap the day after a long drive and accept that I will have to train through it when I'm in Pennsylvania. This was not the weekend for that lesson to stick, though. We bumbled around one lap of the snowy trails and headed home. Unfortunately, as photogenic as a winter riding is, I didn't capture any pictures due to lobster gloves.

This weekend's scenic not-selfie.

Sunday brought more snow, and I *should* have made a trip to the fitness center at Penn State. I'm always lazier when I'm at Frank's, as well as when it's cold, which it definitely was, and I find orienting myself in a new gym very intimidating. Which is why I should have just sucked it up and gone, so that it would go more smoothly during the more serious training times of January and February.  

Have I mentioned that being in a long-distance relationship makes training a lot harder? Only a whole bunch of times? Okay. 

This weekend was basically a lesson in what not to do from a training perspective. I know that some things are more important than bikes and that the situation's only temporary, much like the month of December, but I want to keep striving to do the best I can in the situation. Sometimes it's hard to see the line between takes-this-shit-too-seriously jerk face, and lazy, excuse-making slug. Avoiding the latter is more the goal of my training these days than actual race results, because I've spent too many years wildly swinging between the two extremes. 

So I have to figure out something when the odds are against me and remember to keep making an effort when I want to give up, because something is better than nothing. January will come, as will March, and finally August. Those are the times when I hope to shine, but for now I just have to keep the pilot light burning. 

Our Sunday workout consisted of walking around choosing a Christmas tree, and for Frank, the manly job of sawing it down.

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