Monday, April 30, 2012


I remember last year hearing about this non-USAC race, and people were going back and forth about why don't they make it USAC vs. why it's good that it's not.  I don't actually have an opinion on the subject, but the race in question was the Quabbin Reservoir Road Race.  I pre-reg'ed early because they threatened to cancel the women's field if it didn't look like there would be a very big field, so I was committed, more or less.  The preceding week my training was going really well.  Numbers-wise I was back to where I was before getting sick, and actually up a couple of watts.  That was really encouraging, and a relief to know my whole season wasn't going to be a game of catch-up.  

I got up early on Saturday morning for the 2+ hour drive to Ware, MA.  My googlemaps directions totally sucked and I got incredibly lost once I got off I-90.  Some guy in an Audi decided he was going to follow me - joke's on him, I had no idea where I was going.  Eventually I found my own way to get there, no thanks to my abysmal directions, and arrived with adequate time.  It was cold.  The race begins with a 3 mile gradual descent (that you then climb back up for the finish) and it was hard to dress properly knowing how chilly it was going to be on the way down.  I hear that last year it was raining, so it was nice that at least the sun was shining down on us.  

The majority of the 3000 feet of climbing on this course is in the first 34 of 65 miles.  The field was pretty large, and I haven't ridden in a large pack in almost two years.  I kept telling myself to relax and just work on positioning.  I didn't want to be last wheel when we hit some climbs and people started getting shelled. For the first 30 miles or so that worked out really well for me.  I was near the front and feeling very comfortable.  One girl was off the front but no one seemed very concerned because it was so early in the race and very windy out.  After about 30 miles we hit one longer climb and I started going backwards.  C'est la vie, it was nice while it lasted.  I ended up with a group of 5 girls who, well, I've never been stuck in a race with a group with such a poor grasp on how to organize a paceline.  Seriously.  One girl would get on the front and hammer her brains out, then yell at everyone else for not pulling through.  I decided someone needed to organize things a little and started giving directions.  "Okay, let's get a nice little paceline going and catch up to the pack!  Come on, nice short pulls and then move over and drop back so the next person can pull through!"  I moved over to let someone pull through and it was the girl who'd been dragging everyone else around.  I motioned her through and she yelled, "But I've been doing all the work!"  To which I responded, "It's OK, everyone's cool, just pull through and then get off the front and move to the back to recover.  Come on ladies, we need each other, let's work together and communicate nicely, OK?"  As everyone in the group started to organize we started making time on the pack.  We had to go through a caravan of non-race related vehicles to get up there which was wicked sketchy.  But, we caught the pack.  I told everyone "nice work!  Thanks for helping out!"  Sheesh.  Seriously, I don't mean to get negative here, but I know this wasn't anyone's first race or time riding in a group, you KNOW how to paceline.  And what's with all the angry people?  Maybe I've just been away from road racing for a while, but I don't remember my NCNCA peeps being so bitchy.  Whatevs.  

Anyway, we hadn't been back with the lead pack for very long before we hit another punchy little climb and I went backwards again.  Long and short of it is - I had 30 miles of awesome in my legs, not 65.  The second half of the race I spent working with a different, slightly more friendly and cooperative (although totally clueless on how to form a nice paceline) group of girls who'd gotten dropped well before me but worked together to catch me.  That is, until we hit the last climb and I went backwards, again.  

But I'd prefer not to think about limping across the line alone, off the back, but rather focus on the good.  I had a truly stellar first 30 miles.  My endurance apparently sucks, and I haven't gotten many long rides in since March, but I'm good for the short distance, which, really, is what's going to count come September.  And there's plenty of time for long rides as we ease into summer, here.  

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to follow up Saturday's sufferfest with a lovely Sunday that included mountain biking, sailing, napping, motorcycle rides, PBR, and ice cream.  

Anyway.  Happy Monday!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Busy busy!

It's sort of crazy how much less time I have for all the little things when my work schedule goes from 25 hrs a week to 40+ (full time at the shop and continuing with a couple personal training clients - to say nothing of the 12+ hours I should be spending on my bike).  But it's good.  I feel good about the change.  Working at the shop is fun.

Anyway, I am super pumped on life today because I had a fantastic ride yesterday.  It's the first time I've felt really strong since getting sick a month ago.  And the numbers backed me up - highest power output for the given workout to date!  It was one of those days that I had to drag myself out the door to ride, too. The winds were gusting, it wasn't particularly warm, and I was feeling sort of tired and blah.  So it was pretty cool to have such a great workout.  Positive Reinforcement.

This photo was actually from a week ago, when it was almost 90 degrees out and I stopped to soak my legs in the ocean on the way home.  When I miss the Sierra Nevada and Tahoe it helps to spend time on the ocean.  It's the only thing big enough out here to compare.  We went for a sail on Saturday night.  It was pretty cool, until it got dark and the wind sort of wasn't doing us any favors.  But it's such a contrast to sailing in the summer, where you've got dozens of powerboats zooming by, and you can't really stay out until past dark (it's sort of illegal), but harbor patrol isn't out yet, and it was so quiet.

Anywho, I have a race this weekend that I'm actually pretty excited for now that I've had a good, encouraging ride.  There's a huge women's field too, so yay bike racing!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Back at it

I had a good weekend.  It started with a fun party for Cody at the house that involved a game of glow-in-the-dark ultimate frisbee that was, I would venture to say, a spectacular success.  Especially since no one was seriously injured, which seemed like a very real possibility when you have 30 adults running around a dark field littered with hidden rocks, bushes and furry black dogs, and with nothing but a glowing dollar-store necklace to illuminate them.  Well, not quite.  I think our saving grace was the enormous full moon that actually lit up the field pretty well.  Anyway, glow-in-the-dark ultimate.  Awesome.  And it helped work out the rest of the crap left in my lungs from 2 weeks of sick.  And I made chili, that everyone seemed to enjoy, despite the fact that, uh, I just dumped everything in a big pot and cooked it for a day.  Master chef here.  Right.  Secret ingredients or something.  And cupcakes!
This was the tiramisu batch, which was probably the most photogenic, what with the marscapone/whipped cream topping.  Yeah, and sometimes I eat cupcakes full of wheat, sugar, and butter.  Yum.

Anyway, while the party was incredibly fun, by far the highlight of the weekend for me was getting out for 3 hours on my shiny new bike on Sunday, with some 3x8 LT intervals.  They hurt!*  I wanted to quit a thousand times, my HR was sky high and my power really dropped off by the last one, but I woke up this morning feeling better than I have in 2 weeks.  Physically, yes, but mostly it helped my head a ton.  Motivation, enthusiasm, morale, and overall cheerfulness have returned.  Excellent.  But I've decided to bail on Battenkill, since I feel like I need to regain any  lost fitness to jump into a race like that.  Instead I'll head down to Plymouth for the little Myles Standish State Forest Road Race.  It's shorter, and closer, and generally less demanding.  But I need to race my bike!

*I feel compelled to add that, yes, of course they always hurt, but aiming for the same power range I was training in 2 weeks ago, after 2 weeks of no intensity at all, was unusually, but unsurprisingly, difficult.  But my new bike is rad!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Food to the Next Level

I'm often accused of taking my nutrition "to the next level."  Or, as Cody says, "you're really picky."  It's not so much that I'm picky, but when it comes to cooking dinner I consider what I ate for breakfast and lunch and all my various snacks throughout the day and come up with something that's not redundent and fills any holes that I think I have in my daily nutrient intake.  It just makes sense to me.  Like, if a person (not me) had bacon and eggs for breakfast and some sort of pasta dish for lunch, you're not going to have a bacon quiche or pasta for dinner, right?  Am I right?  Well, that's how I look at it.  If my major protein during the day is soy, in the form of tofu, or a protein shake, I'm not going to have soy at dinner, much like the bacon thing (okay, I know there are lots of people who eat bacon more than once a day, that's cool, do what you want, but it doesn't work for me).  So when Cody says, "why don't we have veggie burritos for dinner?"  And I already had Mexican food inspired salad with black beans and avocado at lunch, I'm probably going to veto that.  And suffer the consequence of being labeled picky.  For the record, Cody understands why I make the choices I do, he's just pretty much given up on cooking for me.  That's cool, I like to cook, and I hate doing the dishes, so it's win-win. 

Anyway, at work I've been accused of "taking it to the next level" after drinking a green smoothie, kombucha (which like, everyone drinks), and fresh veggie juice. 

Cucumber, kale, carrot and beet.  Pretty much the elixer of life, as far as I'm concerned.

Even my uber-healthy marathon-running personal trainer extraordinaire friend told me that.  And my mom told me that my green juice "looks like snot."  Come on, lots of people drink beet juice!  Or maybe I just have an inordinant number of friends and acquaintances who are elite cyclists.

Anyway, after thinking I was so healthy on Monday, I woke up on Tuesday with what I can only assume was a sinus infection.  Another day Off The Bike.  WTF?  I followed my mother's advice and used my neti pot and breathed lots of hot steam and applied hot compresses.  This morning all that pressure is off my sinues, but all that stuff drained into my throat.  I am so over this sick crap.  And I'm especially pissed off that I've been taking such ridiculously good care of myself and yet not getting healthy. 

Fine, Immune System, we'll play it your way.  I'll do hard training rides with no leg warmers and no hat, and then when I get home I'll eat white flour and sugar, and follow it up with a drink of bourbon and then smoke a cigarette.  Fruits and vegetables?  Never heard of 'em.  Maybe after this you'll learn to appreciate how good you have it and start doing your f'in job. 

In an unrelated note, I love this post from one of my favorite bloggers.  The focus in the fitness industry on body image and not health is something I'm actually sort of happy to get away from.  I find it really frustrating to have clients who are totally healthy, have low body fat, and aren't happy because they don't look like someone in a fitness magazine.  Dude, stop.  When I tell them what they'd have to do to look like that they think I'm joking, then they notice I'm not laughing.  Right. 

Okay, I guess I should go do some work or something.  I've got wicked short-timers'.  1 more week! 

Monday, April 2, 2012

5 to go!

Yes, 5 more mornings of rising at 4 AM to open the stupid club.  Right.  Not to be overly dramatic, but I truly believe my life will be a lot better (not that it's bad right now, quite the opposite) when I'm not struggling to get my beauty sleep several days a week.  Say what you want about studies about sleep patterns and people who can function at a high level on 6 hours a night - if I'm not getting at least 8 I am not going to be at my best (that's putting it mildly...). 

Welp. I had the entirety of last week off the bike.  Yes.  The entire week.  It's like my immune system just totally quit on me. Pretty much total system failure.  I got out for 1.5 hours yesterday (it was lovely) and am feeling super pumped, and also apprehensive, about diving back into training this week.  What if I can't get through my intervals?  What if my power sucks?  What does this mean for Battenkill?  I found myself looking at the course map for Battenkill and the elevation profile and thinking, "If I can just make it until mile 45 or so when it looks like it really kicks up then I'll be happy."  First of all, it's impossible (for me, at least) to make any sort of realistic assessment of the course based on the profile and map.  And even more important than that, what the hell kind of set up for success is that?  No, really, what?  If a client, or a friend, or anyone for that matter started telling me that I'd tell them that they'd just lost the race before it even started.  So no more negative thoughts, Mar, got that?


Positive thinking.

Climbing strong, feeling light and fast and effortless.  I feel so good on my fancy new bike!

Confident on the descents.  Confident in the dirt.  My technical skills elevate me from a back-of-the-pack cat 2 to competitor.

Calm.  Relaxed.  Confident in my ability to read the race. 

Fun.  Bike racing is fun. 

Dude, I'm going to be so fast for CX season.  This time last year I was running lots and occasionally getting out on the bike.  This year I'm doing a big hard road race with the best on the east coast.  Money in the bank. 

There, better?

Much.  Actually, I really do feel a lot less anxious than before I typed that.

Regardless of result, I'm totally pumped to go race bikes again.  I'm happy to have two weeks of training to get back after being sick, and I'm so psyched to do some suffering tomorrow.