Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year, Everyone!

I am working again today and I don't have much to say, but I thought I'd check in and kill a few minutes.

Last night I did my second roller ride of the season. I know, I'm a little off schedule with those, but I think it will be okay. It was exactly four weeks since the last one and last night's ride was 15 minutes longer, 15 average watts higher, and my average HR was 5 beats lower. Nice.

My New Year's Eve plans include a $12 bottle of sparkling wine from Spain that I'm pretty excited about, but there's not a lot on the agenda besides that right now. I'm sure we'll think of something. I just heard a radio story about inexpensive wines for the holidays and they said that Cava from Spain was good and inexpensive, so I'm wanting to test this out.

I don't really have any resolutions or official goals this year. The thing on my mind right now is to try to reduce my hike-a-bike time at the OC by about 80% from last year. This is a specific goal, but not too measurable because it's not like I hit my lap button every time I got off my bike last year. However, I think I will know when I'm close and I think I know how to make it happen. It involves riding a certain nasty dirt road climb A LOT between now and then. That will take care of the wussy related hike-a-biking and the remaining places that I have to get off for technical reasons I can live with. At least for this year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Not too surprisingly, I've not been able to keep up my massive training schedule that I had in Oklahoma. I managed to ride for about an hour yesterday and today, but I felt very weak and slow. I'm not sure if this is an after effect of my stomach bug, my long drive, or the fact that I rolled the crap out of my lower body with my long-abandoned TP Massage Ball kit Friday night.

Ever since I got back, it feels like every running injury that I had in college decided to come back and hurt all the time, even when I'm inactive, despite the fact that I haven't run in about three weeks. My only guess in that 15 hours of cycling, plus the muscle cramps when I was sick, plus the 12.5 hours of driving caused some serious knotting. I tried to work some of it out Friday night, but it was very painful and I think the subsequent healing might have contributed to my lack of power the last couple of days. I plan to keep up the routine and eventually it will become less painful and hopefully beneficial in the long run.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Think My Appetite Is Back

I am sitting at work on Christmas Eve, because for HR reasons that I do not understand, we are open today and I have volunteered to be the sacrificial lamb for my area. That basically means that I need to catch up on a few things from my vacation and answer any questions about students loans that come in that the front-line people on the phones need help with. I doubt there will be many of those today and I'm procrastinating on the small bit of work that I do have to do.

While I am procrastinating I'm a looking over the blog for the Break Epic stage race that is set to debut in Colorado next summer. It looks like it's going to be really awesome, but unfortunately, I'm fairly certain that I will have neither the necessary money nor the fitness by July. Maybe 2010. Last night I read an article in the February issue of Velo News on the growing numbers of off road stage races in Latin America. I didn't really put me off of my La Ruta dreams, but it did get me thinking that I might want to keep my first big stage race within the confines of the United States border, since there are starting to be more options available within our own country.

Anyway, as I was perusing the various Break Epic details that are available at this early juncture, I was surprised to see that they already have the menu planned for the race. It would have sealed the deal for me if I had been more seriously considering signing up.

I suppose that means that my stomach is better. My breakfast felt a little weird going down this morning, but the desire to eat again must mean that I'm very close to normal. I have to say that my illness wasn't a completely bad thing. It happened during a stretch of time that I wouldn't have been able to ride much anyway, and luckily very early in the season. Plus, despite all my riding last week, I still ate a lot and was still feeling like a complete fatty from my long layoff over the fall. Even though the scale says that I only lost two pounds, the fatty feeling has completely subsided, which is quite liberating. So I got the kick in the butt that needed to get going again last week and then an effective, if unintentional "cleansing" period. I just need to not make a pig of myself the next two days and then by Friday I will have nothing else standing my way for the 14 week march to the Ouachita Challenge.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

24 Hours of Woozy

It started at 1 a.m. on Monday. I stumbled toward what I thought would be the kind of routine middle of the night bathroom trip that is common among chronically well-hydrated people. However, as I inspected my tired reflection in the mirror, I was overcome with that "I don't feel so good" feeling and the realization that my dinner was not sitting rather strangely in my digestive tract.

I went back to bed and proceeded to spend the next two hours writhing in pain that started in my abdomen, moved to my chest and back, and then radiated through the rest of my body. This was not the situation I wanted to be in just a few hours before I was scheduled to depart on the 12.5 hour drive back to Indiana.

After two hours of writhing and looking through the kitchen in vain for something to ease my discomfort, the offending food, bacteria, or virus, I not sure which, began to make it's way out of my body in the most unpleasant manner. This required spending two more cold, boring hours in the bathroom, after which I finally slept for a short time before getting up and announcing to my parents that I might or might not be making the trip back to Indiana that day, but I that I would definitely not be making my planned 7:30 departure. Somehow, they had managed to sleep through the ordeal, despite my complete lack of effort to be quiet. I was somewhat disappointed that on one of the rare nights that my mommy was in close enough proximity to take care of me when I was sick, that I wasn't successful in waking her up to do so. For the record, I did stop short of yelling for her like I did when I was a kid, which did seem a little over-the-top for someone my age.

So I slept another two hours and then decided that I needed to suck it up and make my weak, wobbly way home, since I was supposed to be at work on Tuesday and the forecast was much better for a Monday departure. So I began the long journey at 9 a.m. central time, and made it the whole way on a cup of jello, a few crackers, and some tea. This lack of nutrition didn't help my focus any, and the trip back home was a hard one.

I finally made it home at 10:30 p.m. eastern time and it took me a while to get greet my husband and cats, get unpacked, get reoriented to my house, and take a shower. I managed to get everything put away, except for a few items of street clothing that weren't dirty enough to go in the hamper. All and all, I finally made it to bed at 1:00 a.m., weak and spacey, but proud that I had managed to get through my 24 hour ordeal in one piece.


I feel about 80% normal today, since I slept until 8:00 and didn't go to work until 10:30. I managed to eat my normal breakfast, although a half-size portion. I didn't make me feel sick, but it didn't really make me feel better, either. I still don't have much of an appetite, but I'm not sure that's really a bad thing this time of year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Well, my vacation riding time came to a seven day total of 15 hours and 13 minutes. Today is Day 8 and I think there is about a 95% chance that the total will not go any higher this trip. It is 23 degrees outside and I have exhausted my supply of hand and toe warmers. I have really bad circulation in my hands and feet and they don't really make their own warmth very well, so chemical hand and toe warmers are a must below 35 degrees. I think I'm at the point where I'd just be riding to keep up my streak and try to pile on some more time to my total. Keeping a running total is cool, but in the end, it's kind of a meaningless number. I've still had one of the top three training weeks of my life, so as long as my motivation carries over into my real life this week, I'll consider my mission accomplished.

I got a copy of Off Road to Athens in my Christmas gifts last night and I had to watch it as soon as the festivities ended. It was really good, but it, combined with my sore legs, caused me to have really weird dreams.

I dreamed that I had been chosen to race 'çross in Europe with a large group of professional racers, including Katie Compton. I think won the trip because I was the only female to show up at some regular season race. Anyway, while I was at the race, a bunch of little kids came up to me and wanted my autograph because they thought I was a pro, too. While I was signing autographs, one little girl stabbed me with her pen. Sometime later in the dream, I went to her house to ask her why she stabbed me and it turned out that she was abused at home, so I decided to adopt her.

Needless to say it was not a restful night. I think the part about the little girl stabbing me came from having to be around my cousin's psycho 9-year-old son all day yesterday, but I definitely will not be adopting him anytime soon.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oklahoma Pictures

I'm on Day 6 in Oklahoma with a total riding time of 12 hours and 48 minutes. It doesn't look like I'm going to make my 8 day goal of 20 hours, but I'm still doing pretty well. I'm starting to get pretty tired, but my early New Year's resolution for 2009 is to not be so terrified of overtraining. Plus, next week is going to be very light with Monday being consumed with driving and Wednesday and Thursday being consumed with holiday festivities.

Since today was the first day since Sunday that I haven't had to wear lobster gloves to ride, I decided to snap a few pictures.

Stonewall High School, my alma mater.

My bike laughing at me when I showed it where I used to play softball.

My awesome home town. Yes, that's pretty much the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pizza Belly

I actually managed to ride after all. It just required my practicing extreme restraint at the pizza buffet and keeping my consumption level at a place that would allow me to ride without feeling like I was going to throw up in my mouth. That is actually a pretty big accomplishment, as I tend to go way overboard in all-you-can-eat situations. We got back in time for me to sneak in two hours before dark and I'm still kind of on track for my goal this week.

When I was riding in the sunny warm weather on Sunday I was wondering wishing I'd brought my bike on a trip home sooner. It's a great training camp enviroment because of the utter lack of distraction. However, today I've discovered that it's not going to be quite as smooth of sailing as I had originally thought.

Tomorrow is still up in the air because my mom wants me to go to work with her, but I still haven't got a straight answer as to what time we will be back. I'm trying not to stress about it too much, as today worked out fine, but I'm just so happy with the work that I'm doing while I'm here that I don't want to mess up my streak.

Swept Down The Plain

Greetings from Oklahoma!

Sunday I rode in shorts and short sleeves because it was 75 degrees and sunny. The only drawback was the knock-you-0n-your-ass wind, which I rarely experience anymore.

Bloomington has lots of trees and hills and the roads tend to follow the lay of the land, so they are pretty curvey. All of this combined makes it very hard for the wind to get a clear shot at you when you're riding.

On the other hand, the area of Oklahoma where my parents live is pretty open. Not flat, because my ride can best be described as about a half-mile of going up a 4-6% grade and then going back down a 4-6% grade for about a half-mile. However, the the roads are straight and the trees are scrubby, so I could see for miles and miles at the top of each hill.

I just wanted to clear that up because when I first moved to Indiana, I got really tired of answering the question, "So is Oklahoma really flat?" This from people in the middle of cornland. Actually, the eastern part of the state is mountains and the western part is flat, but I grew up in between.

Anyway, I can't remember two more different days than Sunday and Monday. The temperature dropped over 50 degrees overnight, so yesterday I was riding in 25 degrees plus knock-you-on-your-ass wind. That was pretty unpleasant, since I'd only really come prepared to ride in mid-30's weather. At the time I packed, the forecast looked liked I wouldn't even need anything that heavy. However, I found myself being whipped all over the road with frozen nostrils and snotcycles on my gloves anyway.

Today is not much warmer, but the wind has died down. However, my grandma called me while I was having breakfast at 10:00 and asked me to go out to lunch at 12:30, so that kind of throws a wrench in my prime riding time today. I could have made myself get up and ride early knowing that there was a good chance this would happen, but without definite plans, I took a chance on squeezing a few more degrees out in the afternoon.

I'm surprised at how crappy of a mood I'm in about not getting ride in 25 degree weather, but I was just doing so well since I've been here. I had visions of monster hours of boring base-building rides on the road bike to kick-start my fitness before I got back home. I guess the important thing is to not let this one hiccup get me down. The weather is supposed to be much better the rest of the time I'm here, so I've got to take advantage of it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Long December

And its been a long december and theres reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I cant remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass

Okay, December is still only one third of the way through, but I have a feeling it's going to speed up a lot after today. I'm taking tomorrow off from work to prepare for my 10-day "holiday trip" to Oklahoma. I will be back before actual Christmas, so it's not really "going home for Christmas". By the time I get back, it will practically be 2009.

In keeping, I have posted my 2009 race schedule on the sidebar. I thought it was pretty important to get that out there early so anyone planning to do the same races can go ahead and start shaking in their Sidi's. Or not.

It's actually not very different from 2008. I definitely want another shot at the OC and the Lumberjack. My one change is that I'm leaning toward the Wilderness 101 over the Shenandoah 100 for the second half of the season. However, I've resolved not to pay an entry fee on any other hundred milers until I have actually finished the Lumberjack, so the decision won't be made until mid-summer and may be affected by which races are sold out at that point.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rollin and Tunes

I considered using yet another punny title for this entry, but I decided to spare you. I'm not sure why I like punny titles so much, but it seems like I use them at least 80% of the time. This brought to mind my 11th grade English class where we were learning about comic devices in literature and how I remember the teacher saying, "A pun is the lowest form of humor." I never really got that because even bad puns require some wit, so I googled the phrase a moment ago. Apparently, it is true that some authors have called the pun the lowest form of humor, but I also came upon this quote: "A pun is the lowest form of humor, unless you thought of it yourself." - Doug Larson

I guess that explains everything.

Anyway, I finally knocked out the 2009 inaugural roller ride. After a fumbling start I was able to make it the entire 45 minutes without a dab. However, my hands were numb by the end from my death grip on the bars. It also got pretty uncomfortable because I wasn't able to adjust my chamois without crashing. Hopefully, my skills will improve before it's time to do the longer rides. Overall, it was okay. My power was about 30 watts below where I wanted it to be, my perceived effort almost exactly where I wanted it to be, and my HR was a lot higher than I wanted it to be. I guess that's what they call being out of shape.

However, the most important data that I gathered during this session was my mental notes regarding how my 2008 trainer play list holds up a year later. Starting roughly at the beginning:

My Dixie Chicks selections still hold up pretty well. "Wide Open Spaces" is an anthem about personal growth that struck a chord with me several years ago when I stilled lived in Oklahoma and was still exposed to country music on a semi-regular basis. I really had no further interest in the Dixie Chicks, but a couple of years ago I rented the documentary "Shut Up And Sing" about the backlash they got from country music fans after the lead singer spoke out against George W. at concert in England. Much of the filming revolves around the writing and recording of "The Long Way Around" and it was kind of stuck in my head afterward. Last year it became my a trainer staple as I imagined a punny narrative of how my first year of endurance racing would play out. Tonight the open-ended conclusion sounded like a non-punny narrative of how my first year of endurance racing did play out.

"Unwritten" was actually the song that caused me to start rethinking my "classic" play list. It was fun two years ago when riding in crappy weather was still a novelty and there was a lot more unknown factors in my racing future. Now it just sounds kind of played out.

"Little Red Corvette" is still good in that it can just be pleasant upbeat music when I want it to be or when I'm feeling a little more imaginative, I can draw out a few bike racing metaphors. If only I had a red bike or kit.

Really the whole sexual encounter=bike race theme seems to work out pretty well. When I first got my iPod, I just went through Adam's music library and pulled things in "All The Things She Said" by t.A.T.u. I just thought some teenage Russian faux-lesbian pop might be good for humor value. However, it didn't take much trainer time for my mind to turn what "she said" from teenage Russian faux-lesbian things to an imaginary scenario about chasing down a smack-talking competitor. This has never actually happened it real life, but it's a good visualization to get me through a hard interval.

However, out of all the songs I heard tonight the Flashdance theme "What A Feeling" struck the strongest chord with me. It starts out all depressing and moves on to "thing won't suck forever, I CAN have it all" upbeat goodness. It was just what I needed.

These were just a few of the random thoughts that went through my head tonight and this isn't a comprehensive list. I didn't even make it to "Eye of the Tiger" or "Livin' On A Payer" in the 45 minutes time period. They are embedded further along in the play list for when things start to get extra long and boring. I really should rearrange, edit, and add some stuff, but our computer was recently repaired and iTunes has not been working right since. Maybe I need to pursue a remedy for that situation more aggressively.


By the way, I'm the first to admit that I probably have the most horrible music taste of any human being alive, so feel free to make fun all you want. I'm not really sure where this fits on the humor hierarchy, but have a good laugh on me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Snow Plyos

Today was the first real snow of the year and my first real training for 2009. For the last couples of months, any exercise has either been racing or the "I feel fat and gross and need to do something variety". Tonight I started my plyometric routine that will be my Monday and Friday staple for the rest of the winter. I took it semi-easy tonight to test how sore I will be tomorrow, but it was still pretty hard. At least it's hard in a fun way and I think it's a good way to get my muscles ready for those puke inducing efforts during the Ouachita Challenge where I'm already toddling up a steep pitch in a full anaerobic stupor and then I have to muscle over some rocks. I'm going to have to work really hard if I want to reduce my hike-a-bike quotient next year.