Monday, July 28, 2008

More Running

I did a little more running Friday night. It worked out that running was about all I had time for. My wife wasn't feeling good, so I took care of the baby all evening. It was a little after 8pm when I got her to bed, so I didn't have much daylight left for riding. So, instead, I rode over to the middle school track and ran a timed mile (I was planning to do this Saturday anyway). Nights like this, by the way, are exactly why I want to be able to run.

My target for the mile was to run 6 minutes flat. My pace for the first half mile was perfect at 3:00. I started falling off a bit on the next lap, where I was at about 4:37. The last lap was all about holding on. I thought I might have a little left for a hard finish, but I didn't (which, I suppose, means I paced myself pretty well). I ended up running a 6:13. I can't be too disappointed, since I've only been back running for a few weeks, but I did hope to go quicker. My best mile time (in high school) was in the low 5 minute range.

In general, the running I've been doing hasn't had much impact on my cycling. This weekend was a little different though. My legs felt really drained for both of my rides this weekend. It looks like I'll have to be a little careful in the future about when I mix in harder runs.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thursday Ride

Lots of people associated with the club have been telling me I should do the Thursday night "fast" dirt road ride. So, last night, I finally made it out. What I neglected to consider was that there was a road race at Waterford Hills last night and that there's a big charity ride going on this weekend. When I got to the shop, there was only one other guy there waiting for the ride. Eventually, two more showed up, and that's all we had.

Only one of the four of us knew the route, but we were all at roughly the same fitness level. Anyway, so the "fast" drop ride turned into a not-quite-so-fast no-drop ride. I thought the pace ended up being pretty decent anyway, we just had to stop a few times and regroup.

I ran at a low tire pressure last night, about 30psi, thinking I'd like it for the dirt roads. I did like it for the dirt roads, but then I almost got dropped right at the end of the ride on the paved roads heading back to Clarkston. I'm sure it wasn't that I was tired, it was just the low tire pressure, right?

This is roughly the route that we followed:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Running, etc

"It's not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential."
- Bruce Lee

I've been running a bit over the past few weeks. My thought is, as my daughter gets older, that my training time will become increasingly limited. In these situations, I think running is a nice workout, since it requires very little total time. You don't have to check your tires, fill up water bottles, find your gloves, etc. Just put on a pair of shoes and go. It's also pretty easy to squeeze in a run before work or at lunch.

This time around, I'm taking my running progression very slowly. In the past, I've gone too far too soon, resulting in some nagging knee pains, which quickly end the whole running experiment. So far, I've still not run more than 9 minutes, but I have done 8 runs over the past 2.5 weeks. With my runs being so short, but consistent, I have avoided the knee problems that plagued me in the past.

I still haven't decided how far I'll build. I'm thinking 30 minutes as a nice round number. We'll see how it goes.

Tonight I'm planning on doing the "fast" club dirt road ride. I'm sort of expecting to get dropped. We'll see what happens... I suppose it will probably depend on who shows up.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Ride

So, I didn't do the "epic" ride that I had planned. It rained all last night and a good bit of this morning, so I figured the trails would be pretty wet. This is what the radar looked like when I woke up, so I knew I wouldn't escape the rain...

So, instead, I waited for the rain to pass, and then I went for a long paved/dirt road ride. I took my GPS along with me, so here's the data (short story: 3hours, 46miles). For not having ridden much lately, I thought the ride went pretty well. I was definitely bushed by the end, but I basically felt OK.

This weekend was Quake on the Lake over at PRLA. I stopped and watched the boats for a minute or two both ways. If you look carefully, you can see the rooster tails in my wonderful picture.

The dirt road portion of the ride was new to me. The roads were pretty decent for being dirt roads. A little wet and sloppy in spots, but mostly very good. I'm sure the trails would have been much worse. It looks like you could ride a long way on dirt roads out there in White Lake, Davisburg, etc.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Negative Momentum

My mid-summer break was nice, and I'll definitely appreciate it in November, but with such a long break comes the possibility of accumulating some negative momentum. My training didn't go great this week and I didn't feel good about it.

I keep tabs a bit on what is happening at Ross's website and over at Crossfit. I happened to see that Crossfit has an add-on for endurance athletes, CFE. I've always been interested in the high-intensity approach to training, and this is exactly what goes on at CFE. Compared to more traditional programs, ride times are incredibly short (20 minutes or so). I could find plenty of success stories with people who had goals like: "just finishing", but I had trouble finding more than that. How did it work with competitive athletes? I finally found an answer that satisfied me here. Basically, the conclusion was that there are no free lunches. If you want to be a competitive endurance athlete, you'd better train endurance. (I still like this stuff for the off-season though!)

Anyway, questioning my training program did nothing for the momentum, although deciding that CFE probably wouldn't work for me helped.

I was supposed to race on Sunday at Ruby Campground. I've decided not to do it. I didn't feel good about my training this week, it's a long drive, and I've never ridden there before. Instead, I decided to skip today's workout and do what will likely be an "epic" ride tomorrow. I'll post the details after I do it. ;)

I feel much better this afternoon now that I decided to skip the race and got tomorrow planned out. I also stopped by the bike shop to pick up some stuff and had nice chats with a couple guys there. I also heard a rumor about a new 'cross race late this summer. It sounded cool, we'll see if it goes anywhere.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why Race?

"Cycling is about proving to yourself who you are, what you can be... proving to yourself that you can mold and shape your body, your form, your morale... You are your final product."

- Erik Saunders (from “Pro”)

I've been hanging on to that quote for awhile, but it seems appropriate to pull it out for this post.

I've been asking myself the question: "Why do I race?" At some point, it becomes important to know the answer to this question. When you're trying to decide how much you're willing to sacrifice to become good at racing, it helps to know why you need to race in the first place.

Everyone is different, but for me, Erik's quote is pretty close to my answer. I race because it's hard and because it rewards commitment. Racing impacts what I eat, how much I sleep, what I do with my time outside work, whether I sit or stand, you name it! In that regard, bike racing is a true "lifestyle" sport (in my opinion, moreso than other so-called lifestyle sports like skateboarding or surfing).

The second part of my answer has to do with chasing "peak experiences" (flow states, whatever you want to call it). I've definitely experienced this a few times, in different areas of my life, and I think these experiences are worth chasing after. One thing key I've found, is that to reach these states, you have to be fully prepared. This is what the statement in the Wiki article ("Balance between ability level and challenge") is about. For sure, you're never going to have a peak experience racing a bike if your preparation is lacking.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Cross Training Weekend

My first week off training went pretty well. Aside from still having to go to work, it was pretty relaxing, and I got to spend more time with Cora. I still managed to get a little exercise in though...

Thursday night, we took a little family walk. I had Cora in a carrier, rather than in a stroller, so I was feeling the extra weight by the end. I did a little hill sprint / bodyweight exercise session afterward.

On Friday morning, I went over to Indian Springs with my rollerblades. They recently repaved the trail out there, so it was some very smooth skating. I'm definitely not used to skating for that kind of distance though. It took me a little under an hour to do the whole loop.

Saturday afternoon, I packed my meager hiking gear and went out to Pontiac Lake. I hiked the majority of the mountain bike trail; with my shortcuts, it was about 9.5 miles. It was kind of interesting. I went backward from the riding direction, so I could see riders coming at me. I didn't see nearly as many bikes as I expected, and, since I ride out there so much, I knew the areas where I really had to be careful. My GPS data is here.

Sunday was more laid back... my only physical activity was mowing the lawn. This week is another Transition week, so I'll just keep trying to find interesting things to do as time allows. I'll get back at riding next week again.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mid-Season Assessment

I had planned to take a break after the Stony Marathon before starting into the second half of the season. I'm definitely ready for one; after racing Saturday, I don't really want to ride a bike for a little while. This is also a good time to re-assess (if necessary) how the second half of the season should go.

Really, the first half of the season went about as well as could be expected. I knew that having the baby would change things, but I didn't know how and I didn't know what kind of schedule I'd be able to keep. It took a couple months, but I've finally settled into a bit of a routine again.

I had my two best placements ever in mountain bike races (3rd and 4th) this year, along with a very bad showing at Brighton (last in the TT, DNF in the XC race). Still, even at Brighton, I was encouraged that my fitness was decent: I finished 4th in the Short Track race, even though a crash sent me to the back of a very big field.

The second half of my season will be focused primarily on cyclocross, but I also want to try to place well overall in the Michigan USAC Mountain Bike Series. So, my training will focus on 'cross, but I'm going to keep showing up at the mountain bike races. We'll see how well that works.

Short term, it means I'm going to take a couple weeks off from focused training. Based on past years, a break like this is necessary if I'm going to have any kind of motivation left to race 'cross through December 7(!).