Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ice Hike

I went out to Pontiac Lake this morning for some hiking. I expected the ground to be frozen, but I figured that the conditions would otherwise be OK. I knew I might be wrong when I only saw two other cars at the trailhead; then I almost wiped out when I stepped out of the car. The parking lot was completely iced over.


On the trail, the tread was covered with a thick layer of ice. It was very bad near the trailhead, but conditions improved some once the trail really got into the tree cover (more crunchy snow instead of ice).




I walked along the edges and managed to go the whole day without falling (farther up the trail, you could basically walk anywhere). The GPS said I covered 4.7 miles in 2 hours. Anyway, it was borderline stupid to be out there today, but I had fun.



Edit: GPS data now loaded...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Wrap

So, I'm back home from my Christmas travels. Sarah and I (and Suzie Q) went down to Muncie, Indiana last week to spend Christmas with Sarah's family. It was pretty low-key, but I didn't get enough sleep. I got some exercise in before I left and then one day while I was down there.

From Muncie, we came back to Michigan to visit my family. We had a nice visit there also, but I didn't sleep enough there either. I got two workouts in on this leg of the trip. One day was a minute drill from Ross. Kevin and I went on a Fartlek run the other day. I got a Garmin eTrex Vista for Christmas, so I took it on the run. Here's the data. The data isn't bad, but it looks like it got off a little in a few spots. The time info is also not right, because it includes a few minutes of me futzing around with the GPS at the house. Anyway, it should be a fun toy.

We left my parents' house just as a big snowstorm was rolling in. The roads were bad most of the way home. It took us about an extra hour to get here, and I was driving a bit faster than most of the other cars (I credit the snow tires).

The lack of sleep had me feeling like a cold was coming on, so I didn't work out yesterday when I got home. I slept like a rock last night and I feel pretty good this morning. I'll do some kind of workout today, I'm just not sure what yet.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hill Sprints

"Happiness is a warm puppy."

- Charles Schultz


So, what's new since my last post? Hockey was good on Sunday. We had a big snowstorm in the morning, so I figured we might be short on skaters Sunday night. As it turned out, just about everyone showed up, we had 4 or 5 guys on the bench. I actually played pretty well; at least I felt like my "hockey fitness" was better than it had been all year. I don't know if it was the change in workouts or what, but it was good. The strange thing about the game was that I thought our side should have been much better than the other side (even though the best player was on the other side), but we got blown out. We had trouble breaking out of our end and we had trouble scoring, but in between, we were pretty good. ;) Our side did a lot of flying around and a lot of work, but we didn't really get much done.


Tuesday night was another strength workout. After doing only bodyweight exercises last week, I went back to using the weights some this week. No issues there, but the workout turned out to be longer than I like. It ended up taking an hour and 10 minutes. I prefer to keep my strength workouts to 45-50 minutes if I can. Workout quality can start to suffer if I go too long.


Last night I went outside and ran some hill sprints. I worked a little late, so it was dark by the time I got out to run. The road was a little snowy in parts, but not too bad. More distracting than the road was the German Shephard tied up at the top of the hill. He'd start barking like crazy every time I'd get up to the top. I ended up doing 8 sprints (run up, 15 pushups, walk down, immediately run up again). I felt like the running wasn't too hard (maybe the snow kept me from going full speed?), but the pushups caught up to me. Still, I was feeling pretty tired after I got home. I've also noticed a little soreness in my legs today, so I guess it was a good workout.


My upper body is not recovering from the workouts as fast as my lower body (probably because it's not used to being worked so frequently), so I'm probably going to give the upper body a break tonight. I'm not sure exactly what I'll do, go run or use the jump rope.


I start my Christmas vacation tomorrow. I may go skiing someplace local tomorrow (there are two small ski areas within about 15 minutes of my house). We'll see.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Camera Dump

I finally pulled the pictures off of my camera and phone; you'll see that some of them have been on there for a while. Here's a sampling:


Me chasing John Osgood at the Stony Creek CX race. The warm weather is a distant memory now...




Video of the barriers at Stony. See, no hop!


video

Me and Sarah in Georgia over Thanksgiving.


A guy at work owns this yellow motorcycle... I think it's so cool.



Kitchen remodeling...






Suzie running through the snow this morning. I'm not sure how much actually fell because we get lots of drifting, but I know I shoveled about 8 inches out of the driveway.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Beat Up...

... from the feet up...

That's how I'm feeling today. I did some pretty hard workouts off the bike this week, and today I'm just feeling beat up. I was going to go on a long hike, but I think I may trade that for a short walk around the neighborhood. This isn't the time of the year to push too hard.

I did ride my bike on the trainer this week. Just half an hour or so of pedaling technique work. It was the first time I'd been on the bike in about two weeks. I felt a little strange at first, but once I got going, it was OK.


I've been thinking a bit about the Mitchell Report. Just more "evidence" about widespread cheating in professional sports (although, I gather that there is very little real evidence in the Mitchell Report). Anyway, what I have to say is this:

For me, the whole point of racing my bike is to test myself. The point is to transform yourself into the athlete that you want to be by training, eating, sleeping, sacrificing things that detract from your goal. Satisfaction comes, not from beating other people, but from the realization that your placements and your improvement are a result of your hard work. I don't understand how someone could be satisfied with their achievements if they knew that they came, at least in part, as a result of their cheating.


Photo by Andrea Tucker

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Musings

Aghh... I just wrote a nice long post, and somehow it got eaten before I could actually post it. I will try to reconstruct...

So, hockey was OK Sunday night, but I didn't feel like the fitness was very good. In our game, fitness makes a big difference; for the most part, everyone has roughly the same skill level. Still, my hockey fitness could be much better. It's the little things I catch myself doing when I get tired that bug me: making a looping turn instead of stopping, not going after loose pucks as hard as I should, etc. I think that improving that stuff would make me one of the better players in our game.

There was an article in the Detroit News today about Nicklas Lidstrom's durability. The guy has only missed 22 games in the 16 seasons that he's been with the Red Wings. Pretty incredible! He thinks that part of his durability and longevity has to do with his conditioning. There was an article in the paper this summer about Chris Chelios that said the same thing.

I did my first strength workout in quite a while last night. It went much better than I expected, especially the upper body stuff. I think that the Paleo nutrition plan has helped me maintain a little more strength than I could have in the past. I'm a little achy today, but not too bad.

Tonight I tried out a slightly modified version of one of Ross's "Enhanced Interval Training" workouts: 400m run, 20 pushups, 2 minutes rest (Ross gave you less rest). I made it through 6 intervals before I called it a night. I was going to do 7, but I had really slowed down by my 6th run, so I called it good after 6. I may be a bit sore from this tomorrow. I'm not used to running so fast for that long.

Friday, December 07, 2007

2007 Season Recap

So, the 2007 season is in the books. It's a good time to look back and see how things went.

My goal for the mountain bike season was to finish the Stony TT in less than 55 minutes. Since I ended up going to Alaska, I didn't race the Stony TT. It's hard to say if I would have managed 55 minutes or not; I think I would have been close. In general though, I felt like I had a pretty good year on the mountain bike.

My goal for the cross season was to race well enough to feel comfortable moving up to the "Killer B's" for next year. I accomplished a lot this year in 'cross. I got rid of my "hop", I feel better on technical parts, I learned what I need to do at the start, and my fitness improved until the last couple races. Anyway, I feel good about moving up for next year.

The other major change I made late this year was switching to a Paleo nutrition plan. I've been really happy with how this has worked for me (even though I have to cook more) so I'll be sticking with it.

Speaking of next year, I think there are two main things I need to work on. The first is technical riding (especially cornering and descending); the fundamental drills I worked on in the backyard seemed to help, but I started them pretty late this season. The second thing I need to work on is developing leg strength. The last 'cross race at Waterford drove it home again for me.

Greetings!

Greetings from the land of Not Training. I've had a pretty relaxing week, but we've had people in the house working on the kitchen, so things aren't exactly normal either.

I went for a short run Tuesday night and last night. I picked up some new running shoes (pictured); they're spikeless cross-country racing shoes. So far, I really like them. They're super light and I can tell that they're making my feet work. My feet and calves got a little sore the first time I ran in them, but it's been getting better ever since. Even though the shoes are very breathable, my feet haven't gotten cold yet (last night, it was in the high teens); I'm wearing thin wool socks when I run in them. On a slightly warmer day when it's wet or slushy, I may have a problem though.

I went 5 rounds with the heavy bag last night too. By the end, it had started leaking again. I called Everlast earlier this year to see what they'd do to resolve the problem, and they offered to let me buy a new bladder for $60. How nice! I tried a temporary repair, which obviously didn't hold, so now I'm done with it. I'm going to chuck the bladder and fill the bag like a traditional bag (with sawdust and padding). I figure that the bag is rated to hold 80lbs, so it shouldn't matter if it's water or something else.

I got Ross's latest offering this week too, Full Throttle Conditioning. Good stuff in there, as always. He makes a nice analogy at the beginning about fatigue "locking up" your "toolbox of athletic abilities". It's kind of hard to explain without going into the whole thing, but it was definitely nice.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Waterford Race

We got the weather they predicted last night. A couple inches of snow, plus a little ice on top of that. It rained just a little during the race this morning. It was tough going through the course, you had to break through the snow and ice to hit solid ground; it felt even tougher on the paved track.

Anyway, I felt decent on my warm-up laps. It was tough going but I felt OK, and I felt pretty good around the slippery corners. I lined up on the front row at the end.

I knew I was in trouble right off the bat when the race started. The pace was a lot higher than I expected, even Mark Caffyn went by me at the start (nothing against Mark, but he doesn't usually start faster than me). By the time we hit the grass, I had recovered a bit, and was back up in 7th or so. Still, the guys up front were really laying it down. I managed to get past a few guys who started fast and faded fast and I finished the first lap in 5th.

On the second lap, John Osgood went by me at a pretty good clip. Shortly after that, I fell on slippery corner. I got up quickly, but then I botched the remount after the runup (I got on the bike too fast when I needed to run to a flat spot). My fall and stall after the remount helped John open a big gap. Another guy also got by me and had a little gap during that sequence.

I worked my way back around the "other guy" on the third lap, but the gap up to John was really big. I kept pushing, just in case someone fell or whatever, but I didn't pick up any more spots. So, I ended up finishing 6th, one spot off the podium. A bit disappointing, but I'm not sure what I would have done differently today.

So, what happened here? My fitness felt OK, but the course conditions highlighted one of the weaknesses I identified earlier this year, Force (in Friel lingo). The snow covering the course made it almost like riding through a giant sandpit (Mark's analogy). I think it really favored guys that were heavier and stronger, especially in the early laps (it got a little easier near the end once we'd worn a line through the snow). Looking at the podium, you saw guys that were all considerably bigger than me. Certainly, some of them might have beaten me on a clear course, but I don't think everyone would have.

Couple more points:

- I need to re-examine my nutrition during the Peak and Race phases. As of this morning, I'd lost 6 lbs since the Peak phase started. Yeah, some of this is upper body muscle (since I also stop lifting during the Peak/Race phases) and a little is fat, but at 6 lbs, I think I'm also losing lower body muscle. That's a bad thing...

- I wonder if I should have taken a little air out of my tires today. I ran them at 30psi, same as usual, but I wonder if I'd have been better off at maybe 25 psi (or less)? I decided not to try it, since I've never ridden with pressures that low.

I'm not going to worry about this stuff too much just yet. My plan is to just enjoy being done with bike racing for a little while (and to drink some beer!).