Right now my planned schedule is weights on Monday, Wednesday, Friday (Wednesday sessions are with the trainer, Steve), sprints on the trainer (not Steve) Tuesday, 3-5 minute intervals on the rollers on Thursday, 8-10 minute intervals on the rollers on Saturday morning, easy Accuweather ride on Saturday afternoon, and then long (shooting for four hours) ride on Sunday. Last week I actually pulled that off, and I’m feeling pretty good. My goal right now is mainly just to focus on improving my overall work capacity, which will be my biggest limiter going into the TSE, and to reintroduce some the higher intensity work that sadly got pushed by the wayside last year while I focused on trying to survive endurance races. I know it’s not reasonable to expect daily quality workouts indefinitely, so I figure I’ll bump my interval session for a rest day every other Tuesday and try to stretch that out to a day off every third or fourth as my work capacity increases.
Regarding the other tests from previous posts, I’m still looking at another week or so before I get my Oncotype DX score, which will determine if I need further intervention to prevent a recurrence of my DCIS, or if my left boobie can finally move on to live its life in peace. As for the CBAP exam, I’m starting to feel better about my chances of passing, although I’m still focusing on studying/drilling on one knowledge area at a time, and I’m worried about how I’ll handle it when I’m faced with a 120 questions from across the whole 440-page BABOK at once. Much like my approach to the CBAP, my cycling study skills will need to improve in 2017.
My TSE experience is driven by the long-held belief that even though I’ll probably never have the fitness to be competitive in the GC, I might someday be able to practice my way onto the enduro podium. The latter part of last summer revolved around that idea, as I set out on my new slacker and squishier mountain bike and conquered trails I’d previously been afraid to try. After several weeks of drilling, I had vastly improved my times on most of the TSE enduro segments, but I was still pretty far off the top women’s times on Strava. Of course, none of the top women were from around State College and most had never ridden these trails outside of the TSE, and yet they still posted much better times than I had after weeks of practice. While course familiarity could give me an advantage over someone with a similar skill level, I realized that to be competitive, I needed to raise my game well beyond what was possible from just practicing the same trails over and over.
For the first time since my sadly inept first season of DINO racing in 2006, my technical skills actually felt like an appreciable weakness for me. Sometime along the way my skills got “good enough” and could out-descend most of the girls in Cat 2 XC races in Indiana, and eventually monster truck my way through most of the rock gardens in Rothrock (still not 100% on that, though). Climbing and endurance were how I lost races, so that was where I put my energy. While riding in Rothrock made me feel like a better rider, because I was capable of day-to-day functioning on really hard trails, it maybe actually made me worse in some areas because monster-trucking was all that I did.
I had a rough time coming to this realization during the part of fall where I was supposed to be putting my mountain away and focusing on ‘cross. I felt the sudden need to “fix myself” skill-wise when there was very little time left before winter to do anything about it. This led to a meltdown after a terrible day at the Raven Enduro, where I lost on a course where I’d been practicing my butt off to some girl for whom it was likely her first race ever and who had probably been riding for like a year. I’d almost gotten used to that happening in ‘cross due a dumb thing called threshold power, which I don’t and probably never will have much of, but to have it happen in a skill-based discipline was heartbreaking.
The week that followed was defined by several nights of bad sleep due to the stress, getting a large needle jammed in my boob a few times, roofers blasting their radio and banging their hammer at 7:30 every morning while I was trying to sleep off the stress, and finally finding out that I would need surgery to remove the lump that the large needle had been jammed into earlier in the week. So when I headed to Take Aim Cycling women’s weekend that Friday exhausted, stressed, and desperate for a quick fix, you can imagine how well that worked out. Bursting into tears on the last day of the clinic when I was supposed to share a “positive thought” that I’d brought back from the woods was officially the low point of my 2016 cycling year.
Ironically, I did have a huge breakthrough in my log-riding ability a couple of hours later during an ad hoc lesson that replaced the real ride I was too tired to go on. I’ve actually gotten much better at Accuweather, which is the only “mountain biking” that weather and daylight have allowed since the clinic.
The point of this is that, like the CBAP, enduro turned out to be much more of a challenge than I thought it would be, and it really stressed me out there for a while. Also, while drilling specific trails/knowledge areas can help me improve, I’ve got to pull it together and work on the big picture if I want to pass the test. I guess you can say I moved my test date back, as well, by switching to the three day TSE. Setting a more manageable TSE goal will free me up to do things like go a trip to Pisgah and do some of the West Virginia enduro series without worrying that I’m being pulled away from reconning the Rothrock trails a million times before Memorial Day weekend. Exposing myself to new trails more will help make me a better rider long-term, even if I don’t feel as much short-term confidence on my local trails if I practiced them every weekend leading up to the race. I also hope to get back down to Harrisonburg a few times this year and maybe meet up with Harlan for some one-on-one lessons when I’ve actually slept and I can focus better.
As frustrating as unexpected challenges can be at first, they can lead to great things once the shock wears off. I hate having to study for the CBAP in addition to working and training, but I’m really proud of myself for rising to the challenge and learning to actually study after a lifetime of doing well enough without it. My hope for this year is that I will also break out of my mountain bike rut and take my skill level from “good enough” to actually good.
|I also plan on trying things that involve full-face helmets and tiny flat shoes.|