Monday, November 30, 2009

From high to low, and season goals

Ugh, my back and neck kill right now. Not sure if that's a result of my bike landing on my head after a spectacular cartwheel down a hill, or if it's from all the damn driving. Either way, it's a good reminder that what goes up, must come down. Haha, get it? Like my bike coming down on my head? Sigh . . .

Yesterday I went down to the NCNCA district championship cyclocross race with miss 3 time olympian, Katerina Nash. She's a Truckee local, so picking her up was on my way. Sadly, despite 4 hours in a car together, I wasn't able to absorb her speed by osmosis. Still a fun time, and I say with no small amount of personal pride that she crushed it (undoubtedly due to the comfort of my car and my great skill as a driver). My race on the other hand was just pitiful. I had a decent start, managed to not get crashed in the first two turns (come on ladies, keep the rubber side down!). The first two laps were good, then I just kind of faded. I was racing right where I thought I should be relative to the other girls in my category, but then I just went backwards. Ugh. My third lap was kind of a disaster. After slowing down A LOT I had my aforementioned acrobatic crash (Katerina crashed there too, and almost the entire men's A field!). I ended up getting caught by 4 girls who I'd already passed and dropped, and a couple more who were way back, and a couple of women's B's, and a couple of 35+ ladies. I couldn't really respond, couldn't try to follow, just survived the rest of the race. I knew going into it that I wasn't feeling superb, almost a little under the weather, vacation hangover, so I'm not super bummed. I know where I should be, and can be, sometimes things just fall apart. This week calls for lots of rest, and sleep, and recovery, and good food, so I'm ready to rock and roll by next Saturday in Portland. It looks like it's going to be wet!

I'm also trying to think up goals for next year, and to get a rough draft of my season calendar. It's tricky, you know? The most obvious and obnoxious goal is to GET MY FREAKIN' CAT 2 UPGRADE ALREADY!!! But I feel like that's a given. I'm thinking I want to race the Cascade Classic and not get time cut. I want to do a sub-hour District TT (40k). I'm thinking maybe top 10 at Nevada City? Or is that waaaay too ambitious? Unattainable? Sigh . . . I don't know. And should I include cyclocross in my season goals? Cyclocross seems like a whole different season, so I'm thinking no. I feel like any decisions and commitments I make now are going to affect me for the next 12 months, so I want to make them worth while!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Marian Pretzel

I think the biggest omission I've made in my training is not giving adequate time to core and flexibility. Early in the season last year I did some pretty focused strength training, but as intensity increased that kind of fell off the radar. Flexibility is something I always struggle with - not enough time, it's too cold/messy in the house, just ate, etc. Lots of excuses.
In October I started up the strength training again. No legs, just core and upper body. Cyclocross provides more than enough heavy lifting for the legs, but I'll add some lower body work after nationals. I attribute a portion of my recent gains in form to having a stronger core. I can feel it, and I can see it. I loathe the idea of going to the gym, but when I'm actually there I kind of like it. I'm a total meat head.
I'm still struggling with the flexibility, however. I'll have a week or two where I'll do yoga ("practice" yoga? nah, I just do it) almost every day, then I'll get busy/lazy and stop. I don't necessarily feel like adding flexibility makes me faster, in the sense that I'm still putting out the same amount of power, but it makes my body feel better overall, which can only help. I'm always promising myself that I'll go to yoga class (I have a gym membership, so they're free if I attend the classes there, although they're only so-so) but again, lazy/busy. Also, going to a class is WAY outside my comfort zone. All the more reason to go. On Monday of this week I went to a class at a nice yoga studio called Yoga Loka (the one in Reno . . . there seem to be lots of these scattered about). I got fully schooled. I am still sore, 2 days later. Seriously, I haven't done a backbend in at least 10 years, and somehow I managed to get into one. Holy crap that 90 minutes was harder than my last 4 cyclocross races put together. It probably didn't help that I'd lifted weights that morning, so my arms were a little rubbery. My muscles were literally shaking in downward dog. Wow. And balancing poses? Resting on my lower arms with my legs balanced on my elbows? I have bruises on my elbows where they were resting on my mat! And I couldn't even get the weight off my feet! Golly. But like most (not all) things that I struggle with, I want to do it again. Awesome core workout, awesome for flexibility, good for my head. Sold.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Two more down, three to go.

The Head Tilt - verification of mighty suffering.
Get off your brakes!

Last weekend I got in another two good days of 'cross racing. Saturday at our local series, and Sunday in Sacramento.

The local race was a new venue and one of the funnest courses I've ever ridden. It was a lot of grass, a nice sand pit, some fun decending and off camber turns, fast barriers, and 2 sets of stairs to run up. It was mostly all up on the way out, and down on the way back. I love courses like that, where you can just flog yourself to the point of "I'm-going-to-die", recover, and then do it again. My legs felt so-so, but as per usual at these Reno races there weren't to many ladies present so I was able to get the W. I won beer and money, which is good because otherwise I would've been hard up to come up with gas money to get down to Sacramento the next day!

I'm currently sitting 2nd in the Sacramento CX women's A series standing, so I wanted to have another good result there and keep it that way. The course was okay, flat grass, one set of barriers, ho hum. Not very interesting, but good for training the power with all those constant accelerations out of the turns. We race with the jr. men, and I made the bad mistake of starting behind one of them. The kid looked fit, but he had the slowest start of almost anyone there. I had to make some kamakaze passes and dig deep, but I managed to bridge up to the leaders! Wow, that pretty much shocked me right there. There were 4 of us in the lead group - myself, Emily (from last weekend), Joan Gregg (who has never failed to totally whoop me), and Linda Elgart, who was riding super strong. I was tired from the day before, and mostly sucked wheel. I took a couple of pulls, suffered, got gapped off a couple times, caught back on, suffered. On the last lap I got gapped off and couldn't get back on, so I pulled off another 3rd place. The podium was identical to the first Sacramento series race of the year, but instead of getting dropped by Emily and Joan, I hung with them! Woot woot! Hells yeah, I actually AM getting stronger! The training my coach has had me doing is really going to have me peaking for nationals! Not that I ever doubted it, but it's totally radical to be able to see some substantial improvement.

Next up is the NCNCA district race in Golden Gate Park this weekend, and then I begin my northern odessey to the land of mud and cowbells (aka Portland, followed by Bend). There are over 80 women registered for nationals!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Need a Lucky Penny

Ever since, oh, August I've had some rather terrible luck at the races. OK, OK, I don't actually believe in luck or karma or divine intervention, but this is getting ridiculous. I've gotten flats at 5 races since then. It doesn't sound like a lot, but when you consider the time and energy and financial resources that have gone into them it's a metric shit ton. Seriously. And on Sunday an ill-timed flat with 2 to go cost me a win.
I ended up skipping the BASP race (tired, broke, lazy) and just heading to Folsom. Not nearly as big a turn out, but one girl there totally smoked me at the first Sacramento CX race, so I figured it would be a good test. She had raced the night before, so I'm sure she was pretty beat, but I got a big gap and it kept grown. You know what was utterly and totally amazing? I was fastest on the run-up, and through the barriers! I suck at running, and am usually just in survival mode, so this was a big deal, and it helped grow my lead and confidence. Until . . . I learned what happens when you forget to unclip before a barrier. No endo, but a nice slide. That kind of killed my lead, but with 2 1/2 to go I dug deep and increased my gap again. And then . . . I pinch flatted my tubular. Again.
Okay, let's see here - isn't the whole POINT of a tubular that you can run low tire pressure and not flat? Well I may not be a feather weight, but I'm not a porker either. And now that's TWICE that I've pinch flatted my tubular while running about 30 psi. WTF?! I'm over it. Selling the carbon wheels, this is ridiculous. Obviously I'm just not finesse enough to run tubulars. That's fine. Hmph.
I wasn't too far from where my wheels where, but by the time I ran/gingerly rode over there I'd been passed. Swell. Got a fast wheel change from my pops and started chasing, but with 2 to go I couldn't get it back. 2nd. Not bad. Won a little cash and a tube of women's specific Hoo Haa Chamois Cream. Sick.
So there is good news out of this - my fitness is great! I know my closest competitor was tired from the race the night before, but I think if she'd been fresh I could have hung with her. Maybe not necessarily dropped her the way I did, but not get so totally smoked by her as I did earlier in the season. This is excellent, excellent news. This weekend brings a double header - Sagebrush CX on Saturday followed by Sacramento CX on Sunday. And a good chance to test my legs against awesome competition! This time I'll be tired and she'll be fresh, so it'll be a challenge indeed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Decisions decisions

I'm lagging in the news update blogging department. Where to begin?

Well, going back two weeks (has it been that long) and our Santa Cruz trip! While it mostly revolved around my cyclocross races (more on that later) good times were had by all. Cody got to hang out and drink beer, he even raced the costume 'cross race! and we hung out at the ocean.

The racing was rad, though my performance was just so so. I always spend the whole race recovering from my meek little starts. And to be perfectly honest I don't have the fitness to recover well from bad starts. I can get around a few people, but by then the people I want to be racing with are long gone. I need to either a) start more aggressively, or b) be so freakin' fast that I can catch and pass the leaders even after a bad start. Right, well, it seems that option B is unlikely to happen anytime in the near future, so I'm just going to have to be more of a bitch at the start of a race. Anyway, the courses were awesome and it was a total blast, I just wish I could be a weee bit faster. I feel like I'm approaching the next level of speed and fitness, it's just slightly outside my reach. But feeling that it's so close, so attainable, is good motivation to keep working on it. At any rate my mounts/dismounts/barriers have improved dramatically. So one step at a time, right? Haha, get it?

Moving on!

Last weekend I skipped the local 'cross race (sad, I know) and went down to Berkeley for a meeting and ride with my new road team, Touchstone Climbing. It's gonna be a great year for us, I think! Hoping I can get my shizit together for the upgrade, this perpetual state of 3ness is getting a little tired.

And now . . . ? It's been a good week of training. I had a gnar ride yesterday (see previous blog post), then tried to ride in the Outlaw 'cross race this morning. Bad idea - my legs were totally thrashed from my intervals yesterday, and my run the day before. Ouch! Did one fast lap then just cruised around and worked on my cornering for a few more, then called it a day. I've always had a hard time convincing myself to suffer at 8 AM on a Thursday. So now I'm debating on what to do with my weekend. I have a little bit of a scratchy throat, and have been feeling just a touch under the weather this week, so I'm feeling really cautious about subjecting myself to anything that's going to make it worse. On the other hand, the BASP night race is on Saturday! Fun fun! And on Sunday I'm debating on if I should do a big long road group ride with my new team (fun! But not necessarily the best training for 'cross) or if I should head to Folsom and race 'cross again. Or, the really lazy option - stay home on Saturday and go race in Folsom on Sunday. Jeez, aren't my weekend plans enthralling?

Seriously, though, it's hard listening to everyone talk about base miles while I'm still in cyclocross mode. It makes me want to drop everything and start training for road season. But I won't! I'm having a blast racing 'cross and I'm not calling it a season until I get that top 30 at nationals. My road season will just have to start a little late.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Training Like it's My Job

I went for a hard ride today. "Hard as you can go" intervals and lots of saddle time. The weather was gorgeous (a little too gorgeous for November, really). I live on top of a pretty brutal hill (brutal at the end of a long hard ride, at any rate) and it was one of those spectacular rides where I almost wanted to get off and walk the last 100 yards. I get off the bike and immediately want to consume my body weight in food. After chicken and dumplings soup (thanks Mom) and chocolate milk I take a hot shower, totally dull with fatigue and contentment. The only thing to spoil it? Dragging myself off to the office afterwards. Like, the real office, not the "I-wish-my-job-was-racing-bikes-and-the-great-outdoors-was-my-office" office.

Someday . . .