Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pain in the Neck

I was hauling around some 80lb bags of water softener salt Monday night, and today my neck and shoulders have just been killing me. I'm 99% sure it was the salt that did it...

Last night, I went for a run again. This time, I warmed up for 10 minutes on the trainer first. I was able to complete my run as-scheduled with no knee problems, so it looks like warming up properly is key. I was reminded of some facts regarding in the winter, in the dark, in a neighborhood that doesn't get plowed... it gets icy in spots that are driven over a lot. I didn't have any trouble, but I could feel the ice underfoot a few times. I figured that if I keep this up all winter, I'm sure to wipe out. So, I went in search of solutions...

There are a lot of add-on traction solutions available, but I'm going to try the DIY way, found here. The nice thing about this is that it's pretty cheap (I spent about $2 on sheet metal screws) and, if it doesn't work, I can take the screws back out . So, I took my old pair of running shoes and sunk a few screws in. I'm going to run tomorrow, but the roads may be clear enough that I'll use my normal shoes. Once I run on another icy day, I'll write about how it worked.

Also, for those in need of some "motivation", you might try, Nega-coach!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I decided on Wednesday night that I was done racing for the year. Just way too much stuff going on and my fitness had already slipped. It took me until Thursday before I felt recovered from the jet lag. I don't regret not racing this morning.

After I decided I was done, I actually had a pretty enjoyable week. I got a lot done at work, played with my daughter, and drank some beer... excellent!

Starting yesterday, I decided that I'd better not be a total slug, so I got out for a run in the morning. I had to cut it short when my knee started bothering me. I think part of the problem was that I wasn't warmed up enough. I think this isn't such a big deal in the summer, when just walking around outside will loosen you up a bit, but in the winter, just walking outside will probably tighten you up. I did some easy spinning on the bike after my run and everything loosened right up and I felt OK. So, for my next run, I'm going to spend 10-15 minutes pedaling the bike inside (or doing something else inside) before I go out.

This morning I got outside and finished raking the leaves in my yard. It was actually pretty comfortable, since it was sunny and I was working. I'm leaving for hockey in another hour or so. This will be the first time in quite a while that I've skated two weeks in a row... I'm expecting good things!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


This week has really been a struggle. I'm definitely having more trouble adjusting to the time change this week than I did going the other way last week. I only slept about 4 hours Sunday night, and then last night I was up for about 2 hours at 2am.

Work has been full throttle since I've been back. I haven't had any energy to train since I've been home (except for hockey Sunday night). I was pretty tired this morning, which may actually be a good sign, since I was very alert in the mornings earlier this week. I'm hoping to be able to get a trainer ride in tonight, we'll see.

I've pretty much decided that I'm not doing the Waterford 'cross race this year. I don't see me being able to stay in reasonable shape over the next few weeks. I'm also really questioning whether or not to race this weekend. I barely trained last week and I don't have much motivation right now. It will probably come down to a last minute decision.

So, that means that my cycling season will be over after this weekend, or, it's already over and I just don't know it yet. I've basically now recognized that it's difficult from a training standpoint and from a motivation standpoint for me to race in November and into December (I've had trouble with this in past years too). I'm taking this into account in next year's training plan. I'll try to be in good shape a little earlier in the 'cross season, and maybe not worry too much about the last couple races.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2008 Cycling Review

As the cycling season is winding down, I'm starting to reflect a bit on this year and what I want to do for next year. I didn't accomplish all of my goals for the year, but I also knew when I set them up that they'd be pretty ambitious, especially given the arrival of my daughter.

My goals for 2008 were:

  1. Race well enough that I felt comfortable moving up to the Expert category in MTB racing for next year.
  2. Finish top 5 in the USAC MTB series (Sport category).
  3. Finish top 10 in the B category of the cyclocross series.

Despite some good finishes in some mountain bike races this year, I didn't meet any of these goals.

There were a couple of general trends that caused me to miss some of these goals. One was that I wasn't sufficiently motivated to do some of the MTB races. In fact, had I just entered all of the MTB races I planned to, I would have finished 5th in the USAC series. The second trend was that I felt like I was out of "racing shape" for a number of the races I did this year: 3 of the 5 MTB races and 3 of the 7 'cross races I'll likely do. That's not such a good ratio.

In terms of 2008 training objectives, I had two. The first was to improve my strength; I planned to do this by working hard on my off-bike lifting and by making sure I completed all of my scheduled Force workouts. I actually did pretty well with this, particularly in the spring before my daughter was born. I definitely felt stronger on the bike this year and I think it resulted in an improvement in my racing.

My second training objective was to improve my technical riding skills to the point where I would no longer consider them a weakness. I improved a lot here too, but I still consider technical skills a weakness (at least, for MTB). An important thing I did over the winter was to spend time in the garage just working on basic balance stuff; I think this helped a lot. I also practiced some basic cornering on a dirt road / parking lot, which was also helpful. One of the things I didn't do much was mountain bike group rides. I always put this on my list of things to do (and I'm sure I will next year too), but I just don't do very many.

My goals for next year probably won't be too different; expectations will be higher though. What I probably will change is how I go about trying to achieve them. I'm pretty sure I will be changing my training plan for next year. My idea is that by going to a higher-intensity plan, I will be in race shape for more races. It should also help me use my training time more effectively.


(Sorry, this post was made out of sequence, I originally wrote it on Nov 6.)

A poor training plan well executed is better than a good training plan poorly executed.

Once again, a few things are converging for me. One, the early sunset (about 5:30pm) has driven me inside onto the trainer for my weekday rides. Two, the book I'm reading about training with power has me thinking about setting up power targets for my rides (which I can estimate on my trainer). Three, I've been having a suspicion that part of the reason my fitness hasn't been where I wanted it this year was that I didn't execute my training plan very well.

So, Tuesday night I set out to do a 90 minute endurance ride on the trainer. I followed the power recommendations in my power book, 69-75% of my functional threshold (the upper end of Zone 2). At this power range, I was definitely working a little harder than I normally do for my endurance rides; I was having to be a little concious about putting pressure on the pedals to keep my power up. However, based on my breathing, I don't think I was working too hard. Even though my legs were pushing a bit, my breathing stayed pretty relaxed.

Wednesday night, I did my favorite Spinervals anaerobic workout, "No Slackers". It was tough, as usual. It got me thinking about how infrequently I'd done really hard rides this year.

Anyway, my thinking is that maybe I've not been riding hard enough in my training sessions. Or, maybe a better way to think of it, I haven't been necessarily doing good "quality" training rides. Things to ponder as I set up my schedule for next year...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Back from Asia

I made it back from China yesterday. I managed to stay awake until my daughter went to bed... about 7pm. Then I slept until about noon today. I'm still a little tired. So, I decided to skip the Munson race this morning, but I will go to hockey tonight.

I got a chance to do a little sightseeing before I left Korea on Thursday. I visited the Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul. I also went to the cultural center on the same grounds. It was pretty interesting.

China was interesting. It is busy and crowded like a typical Asian city, and big like the US. Traffic was pretty crazy: cars, buses, pedestrians, bikes, and scooters everywhere. The air quality where I was, Shanghai, was not very good. I could always see smog, and my eyes and throat burned a little bit. Not good...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Korea Update

So, the past week has been pretty crazy. I made a quick trip to Mattawan at the end of last week. I stayed up a little late Friday night to get some time in on the bike (on my dad's bike), and then got up early to do the same Saturday morning.

Then, a quick drive back to Detroit on Saturday morning to catch a flight to Korea. Given the current economic situation, I had to fly coach. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great either. Fortunately, the other people in my row were nice... and skinny. So, a quick 13 hours later I was in Japan, then another couple hours and I was in Korea.

Korea has been good so far, but I'm not sleeping nearly enough. Probably too much of the day is wasted sitting in traffic... tomorrow I go to China, where I hear that I will come to understand a whole new level of traffic.

Most interesting foods this week have been "thousand year egg" and raw beef. Both were actually pretty good, but I'm not sure I'll be adding them to my regular diet.

I've only had the time to exercise a little. Some very quick bodyweight stuff on Tuesday morning, and some time on a treadmill this morning. The hotel has a very nice fitness center. I should have a little more time to exercise tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow I catch a flight to China. I'm there for only about two days, and then I come home on Saturday. Definitely looking forward to being home... not looking forward to how I'll feel once I hop on a bike again...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Vet's Park Follow Up

A quick follow up to the Veteran's Park race stuff. Andrea and Bruce have posted some nice photo galleries from the race. I think you can see in the pictures from Saturday that I wasn't feeling good... maybe it's just in my head...

I'm reading the book "Training and Racing with a Power Meter" by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan. Even though I don't have a power meter, I'm finding this to be a really interesting book. OK, really interesting for a training geek. Lots of interesting ideas about how to interpret data, track progress, set up your training, etc.

I'm getting ready to head out for Korea this weekend. I should be able to keep the training up this week, and I'll do what I can next week. I'm thinking that I'll probably skip the Munson race (it's the day after I get back), and then I'll try to do the last two races. I can't imagine I'll be in very good shape for them, but we'll see what happens.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Vet's Park - Day 2

I ended up still feeling pretty decent last night, so I decided to go ahead and race this morning. Today was a little colder than yesterday, but still pretty decent weather for early November.

I could tell from my warmup laps that my legs were a little better today than yesterday. I spent a little time in the parking lot during the C race practicing my starts, basically just getting clipped in from a stop. I don't know why this has suddenly become a problem.

I got a decent start today... "decent" now being defined as not tipping over. Generally, the race wasn't too eventful. I rode most of it by myself, trying to catch up to a Giant rider and trying to hold off a Cycletherapy rider. All three of us put hard efforts in on the last lap, but we never got close enough for it to matter. It seemed like my advantage over these guys was that I was much quicker over the barriers; otherwise, we were very even (or maybe they were a little faster).

I ended up finishing slightly worse today, but it was also a bigger field. I got 24 out of 32. Looking at relative lap times, even though I felt better today than yesterday, I actually raced about the same. Neither performance was as good as Lower Huron.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Vet's Park CX - Day 1

It's been a weird week for me. I rode at the track on Tuesday night. I was one of four people out braving the cold weather and sleet / snow. Late Wednesday, I noticed my nose was getting a little stuffed. Same thing on Thursday, I wasn't really sick, but I wasn't really feeling right. This week was supposed to be a rest week anyway, so I decided not to ride at all until I got feeling better. I felt about the same Friday. I started taking some vitamin C and Zinc supplement, which actually seemed to work pretty well. This morning, I felt decent, and so I decided to go ahead and do the Vet's Park race today.

I didn't feel very good on my warmup laps, which I expected, I hadn't ridden since Tuesday! As for the race, I botched the start again! This time, I missed the pedal with my right foot and bogged down. I really need to practice that. In general, I had trouble missing my pedal today, I kept hitting the pedal with the (slippery) arch of my shoe. This cost me lots of little chuncks of time. I need to practice that too.

Anyway, I felt good for about one lap, and then I was pretty miserable. My legs were just totally dead, it seemed like any little effort made them burn. I don't know if I was actually much slower than I would have been otherwise, but I definitely felt bad. I ended up 20th out of 28 or so.

So, the plan for this afternoon is just to relax and see what happens. I figure I'll either really get sick, and then I won't race tomorrow, or, I'll end up feeling OK, and then maybe today's race will be a good warmup for tomorrow. We'll see what happens...