the hardest time of the year

I should be embracing rest. I do not ever embrace it well. Truth is, I’d fire this plan right now and do my own thing if I didn’t know that according to everything I read, rest is correct.

But, I hate it. In fact, it goes against everything I want to do. Sitting down and just typing this out is a struggle because I have things to DO. Action. Verbs. Sitting here is not an action verb.

I am supposed to sit down and think about 2018 goals with the bike. Sometimes publishing them publically is hard because what if I don’t meet my goals? The older I get, the less care I give about not meeting the goal because even getting close is still progress. Maybe the goal was too lofty? Maybe there was a hindrance that kept me from achieving the goal? And so, here are my goals of 2018 keeping in mind I am starting a new career on Monday.

  1. I want to do the state time trial championship in less than one hour. Last year, I finished in 1:03:19. Is it possible to take 3 minutes and 20 seconds off this time? I think so.
  2. Race weight. I figure I can lose about 10 to 15 pounds before it would negatively affect me. I plan to do that by March.
  3. Work on strength and stretching. I have a small anterior superior hip labral tear that I could have had since I was a runner, I don’t know, but definitely having some hamstring and posterior hip issues that don’t fit in the profile with the labrum issue. Physical therapy and strengthening/stretching already started and will continue. May check out pilates.
  4. Masters National Road Championship which means I have to work on my road racing and crit as well.
  5. Black Bear Rampage – I’d like to do a 3:30. That’s a bit of a lofty goal, but I think possibly doable.

Other than that, individual road races I’ll do as a team member helping whoever to win for the team. I hope the new career isn’t so much of a time commitment that I cannot have the exercise on the side. I need it for sanity’s sake and it’s the best prescription for anything that ails you… except overtraining issues.

I have one “race” left this weekend for 2017. I put it in quotes because I’m not doing the distance I had initially wanted to do due to the hip but the 25 miler. However, I plan to attack it with the same tenacity as all races and try to crush it without setting myself back further. Speaking of which, I had a bit of a (small) crash involving the head at the easiest trail around last weekend. Helmets really work well!

Keep in mind while I put all this in words, the other half of myself just wants to race my bike and beat people regardless of all the other “stuff.”

So far the sane one is winning.

Maintaining Motivation

Thanks to stumbling across Ali’s Facebook post on signing up for ORAMM without a year of intention, I decided to ask another friend about ORAMM and had she done it. “Three times.” Wondering how it was as a “race” – I use that term loosely because there is no race pace on 60 miles and 10,000+ feet of climbing if you don’t train for awhile – and her response, “Let’s go do ORAMM together.”

Yes, let’s.

I have not ridden my mountain bike this year as much as years past. I think Black Betty only has 450 miles or so on her. That’s way behind the usual mileage I would have accumulated since her joining my small steed of bicycles last year. She rides smooth though. I had a 45-minute zone 1 recovery ride (I am the worst at these) last week and decided rather than spin around at zone 1 on the trainer while reading a book, I’d take BB to the woods and zone 1 there looking at stuff in the woods. I ended up deciding pretty quickly into the ride that I wanted to fly. Surely 45 minutes flying wouldn’t hurt me that much, and thus is the reason why I am the worst at zone 1 recovery rides. Zone 1 seems a better fit for off the bike and in the bed with a pint of ice cream OR riding as hard as you can for 45 minutes. It is hard to find the in-between for me and will always be the hardest ride. Most of those are either not done at all, or overcooked to not-perfection.

I haven’t signed up for ORAMM yet because I’m waiting on a transfer ticket cheaper. I figure I can save some money that way. I suppose sometime in the next 4 weeks I will need to put some miles on BB. I don’t mind as long as they are fast miles. Ha!

From their website, I love the wordage:

Do not underestimate the extreme difficulty and danger of this event. The course is extremely demanding and travels over rugged terrain with extreme elevation changes. The forest remains in its natural habitat. It is not uncommon to see wildlife such as a wild cat or a black bear. Be ready to cope with any circumstances!! Please note that firearms are not permitted in certain areas. Aid stations will help with safety matters, but it is the competitor’s ultimate responsibility to insure his or her own safety. A few course-related facts: the 63 mile course record was set in 2014 by pro rider Thomas Turner, who finished in 4 hours 23 minutes. One rider completed the course with only one month of riding under his belt, however this rider quit riding altogether after the race! Others too have retired their biking efforts after competing in this race. This is not your typical race. Regardless of how you finish, you will have competed in the most exciting mountain bike race in the entire Southeast!!!

Perhaps this is the race (ride) that will cause me to hang up my bike forever. It’s the risk I’m willing to take! I just wonder if I should go get a 28 or 30 on the front before this hellacious event. I do think it will shock me back into climbing a little. I feel like I haven’t been climbing like I used to before I had a regimented plan. I guess you can’t train time trial, sprinting, short efforts, and climbing all in the same season effectively on the amount of time I have available to train. That’s the hardest part for me… feeling like I’m losing in an area because I don’t have time to focus on it. Here’s a good 7-9 hour focus on the climb right here. I have no idea how it’s going to go and if it’ll just be a suffer fest from the start, but I do know two good friends going up there, and maybe somehow we will suffer together. I haven’t done a mountain bike race more than 50 miles (Fools Gold, and 5 Points 50) it wasn’t so bad. I wasn’t in that great of shape either.

I get a little bit lost when I don’t have something big in front of me and lose a little motivation. Yes, Oak Ridge and River Gorge are big, but I’ve done both. Maybe it’s that I need something in front of me that I haven’t done before to inspire the same dedication to training and outlook. I hope to have good (very decent) results at Oak Ridge and River Gorge, but my strengths don’t really play up to either very well quite yet, especially in River Gorge. I still have memories from last year’s climb at the end and how I was thinking about being in labor and what I had to do to deal with that pain. Same situation. Uncomfortable and unrelenting. Now if I could shave off just 5-10 lbs before August, that would be gold.

Speaking of which, what’s for breakfast?



Baseline After Hiring a Coach

Today I wentFTP102015 out and pedaled as hard as I could with an upper respiratory mini infection and a fear of cars that rivals the fear of dentists in most people. The wind was whipping, and I just counted down the time it would take to get there, warm-up, and take the test. Of course, I had to pedal home as well crossing a railroad bridge where new ties were being installed. As soon as I finished, I decided to de-stress with a small mountain bike 30-minute spin. Hilarious. De-stress in the woods where I do not have to think as much about cars and idiots buzzing me on the road. It is no secret that I do not have a love of road biking. In fact, I would say that if I knew I would never have to do it again, I would be ok. People speed on back roads intended for 30 mph to up to double the speed, spend time on their phones and generally can use the excuse that they did not see the biker or runner and have no consequences.

After hiring a coach, I was a bit skeptical about doing this test. I knew it would not be an all-out effort as soon as I finished. I am not sure I even know what all-out for me would really look like. I have biked in the same zone for so long that I am stuck where I am. When my HR hits about 160 bpm, I start slowing down and breathing. It is so automatic that I do not even notice. Sort of like the way I brake in the same way in the same places on the same trails locally.

Even my heart is habitual.

So here is a sort of baseline on starting paying attention to training with a coach. I’m using Steve Carpenter with Echelon Cycling and Performance. So far, I am frustrated having to slow down. I am told this is normal. Cannot wait to see how 2016 unfolds!

edited later to add: By the way, have you ever wondered about Strava’s estimated average power? Some rides it seems that it is very much overestimated but in this case, I would venture to say it was pretty close to the 200-205 watts range. I have no power meter on my road bike, though.