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CX Race Scheduling Taking Form 2014

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At last BikeReg is showing some of the first CX races of the season and I’m starting to plan. I know, I know, it’s only July. What’s the hurry? Truth is, doing 10+ races in one season isn’t going to happen without some serious planning. Here’s what I’ve jotted down so far. The * indicates races not yet scheduled but based on history, they are anticipated. So don’t hold me to any of this!

Saturday August 23, CompEdge CX Race at Forest Park, Springfield, MA

Saturday Sept 6, Big Elm CX at Butternut Ski Area, Great Barrington, MA

Sunday September 7, Quad CX, Maynard, MA* (Tentative)

Saturday September 27 and Sunday September 28, Gran Prix of Gloucester, Gloucester, MA* (probably just Saturday)

Wednesday October 1, The Night Weasels Cometh, Shrewsbury, MA (Tentative)

Saturday October 4 and Sunday October 5, Providence Cyclocross Festival, Providence, RI (probably just one of these days)

Saturday November 1 and Sunday November 2, Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross Race, Northampton, MA*

This is ambitious, and I likely won’t hit all of these races. In my life, everything is subject to change. That said, I loved the course at Quad CX but the race isn’t scheduled yet, and co-blogger Heather is doing Big Elm that same weekend, and driving from the middle of the state to the far west of the state to the far east of the state over one weekend is a bit much. But still, I might sneak that one in. Gloucester will probably only be Saturday.  I might be doing the Rugged Maniac OCR back in western MA on the 28th, because cyclocross isn’t enough torture for me.

Night Weasels has been on my list for a couple of years but childcare is ALWAYS an issue (please, where have all the good babysitters gone?  I swear they are IMPOSSIBLE to find). It’s an hour 15 from my house, and I work 45 minutes away, you can see logistically it is difficult. But hey, that’s what personal days are for. Now if I can only find a sitter….

Providence might just be one day. Depending upon a number of factors, some financial, I may get a room and stay overnight. We’ll see.

I’ll have to wait to see how the rest of the schedule shakes out, and how the rest of my life is accommodating my desire to abuse myself on cold autumn weekends. I do know one thing:  I need to start training right now, because the last few weeks have been light on challenging rides. Intervals, hills, and doing things that push me out of my comfort zone need to start happening ASAP.

Also, for a week in August I am on vacation. I plan to be very active and will be riding, but not big miles. It will be, however, be doing some big mountain riding as I am heading to Whistler, BC to the best mountain bike park in the WORLD. That, my friends, will not suck.

 

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I still have mid October, November, and December to consider as well.  But those feel like a long way away right now, and this feels like a good place to start.

-Karen

Recovery

If you follow this blog at all, you’ve probably heard me talk about the chronic problem I have with post-ride migraines and general sickness. The more intense the ride, the worse it is. This experience seems inconsistent, but I’m sure it isn’t.  I’ve tinkered with hydration, pre and post….and that seems to help, but isn’t bulletproof.

Then I came across this article about how post workout nutrition on the bike is different for woman compared to men. The article leads with the popular notion of chocolate milk as a “perfect” recovery drink (an idea I was totally on board with) as being “not enough” for women.

Disappointing, because I freaking love chocolate milk.

But this was good information. The biggest take away I got was this tidbit:

“Women have a much smaller window than men—30 minutes versus 2-plus hours—in which to optimize recovery through nutrition.”

This week I’m on a stay-cation from work and riding a ton. The perfect time to tweak my pre, during, and post fueling habits. Here’s the rundown:

Friday  Rode 3 x (partial commute to and from work and then MTB in evening)  Headache by 9PM

Saturday Rode 21.6 miles hard in heavy headwinds.  Headache by 7PM

Sunday day off

Monday Mountain biked HARD in extreme terrain for 6.7 miles or 1.5 hrs. Headache and muscle fatigue by 8PM

At this point, I made some changes.  Water bottle filled with 70% Gatorade, 30% water.  Sip every 20 minutes.  Eat every hour while biking.  Eat immediately after ride is done.  Things changed for the better after that.

Tuesday Rode 36 miles on the road and then did a 2nd ride– 5 miles mountain biking on moderately difficult trails. NO HEADACHE, NO ILL EFFECTS

Wednesday Rode same 5 miles mountain biking on moderately difficult trails.  Went home, had lunch.  Rode an easy 15 miles after lunch on the road. NO HEADACHE, NO ILL EFFECTS.

Eating and the timing of eating, combined with some beverage that assists in keeping my sodium and electrolytes in balance seem key.  The timing is just as important as the ingredients. I’ve visualized it as keeping this balanced nutrition in the pipeline, preloaded, and post-loaded.

Today I’m taking a rest and recovery day. I’ve done 67 miles this week and my legs, hips, and back are hurting. The mountain biking (on my new Giant) has been super intense and awesome. My legs are literally twitching from the effort over the last week. Tomorrow I plan on mountain biking again, in the rain no less. I need to check out a race course about 25 miles from here in the middle of nowhere. I’m going alone and a little worried about it, and wanted fresh legs for the adventure.

-Karen

Spring is Here. Really.

It’s been a long hard winter for most of us–I couldn’t write here anymore because I didn’t think it would help to complain. So I didn’t. I was always here through, biding my time.  Now that Spring is here, I’m ready to begin again.

Not that I ever fully stopped, but this year has had a slow start.  I still have snow in my yard, but for all road biking purposes, it’s gone. Roads are wet with melt and muddy with sand that hasn’t been swept, but who cares?  It’s above freezing at last.  I’m way behind where I was last year in terms of fitness and miles, but not so far gone that it will take me long to ramp up.

Saturday I got out for a just shy of 40 mile ride, with a huge climb right in the middle. I’d like to start doing at least one “big” ride a week.  Right now big is 40 miles.  But soon I’d like to get 50-60-70 miles at a time.  I’m trying to stick to my plan in terms of working out–right now I’m only averaging 3x/week.  I’d prefer 5, but that will come.  I started running again, once or twice a week. I have my eye on an off road duathlon in April that I’ve done a few times before.  I’m talking my brother into doing it with me (this time I’d like to beat him).  It’s a 1.8 mile trail run, 5.5 mile MTB/CX off road ride, followed by another 1.8 mile trail run.  It’ll be done in an hour, but it’s a nice warm up for racing this year and I like the cross-training aspect of a duathlon.

Downhill: Mud, Sweat & Gears 2011. Ashland, MA

Downhill: Mud, Sweat & Gears 2011. Ashland, MA

The one tweak this time is that I’ll be doing it on my cyclocross bike.  The other times I did this race I did it on my mountain bike.  But I asked the race promoter and yes, CX bikes are legal.  They are also a hell of a lot faster.  I’m not a fast runner, and last time I was in the last 1/3 of the race after the run, and then moved up considerably during the bike portion of the race.  Unfortunately, the running at the end pushed me back again.  I’ll take any advantage I can get, and the carbon fiber Kona will do nicely.

Everyone get on your bikes!  Spring is here!

-Karen

Delayed Spring, Delayed Training.

Mid march and the icy grips of winter seem to be easing at last. Like most cyclists, I’ve pushed back any kind of structured training week after week, trying to stay active by shoveling snow, skiing and snowshoeing. I’ve ignored the trainer because I freaking hate it. Sorry but the trainer sucks. I’d rather ride in the snow (and sometimes I have).

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I’m not really sweating it, but I’m eager to get started. My schedule is tough but I’m pretty good at wringing a workout out my my busy life.  To get started, I’m looking at different events to guide my training goals through the spring and summer. The Fall will take care of itself and be exclusively focused on cyclocross (of course). Here’s what I’m looking at for spring/early summer. Nothing definite but here’s the (very short) list:

Rockbuster Duathlon-Ashland, MA.                                                  Saturday April 19th, 2014

This is a 1.8 trail run, 5.5 mile off road bike, 1.8 trail run. I’ve done this race twice before in the fall under the name of Mud, Sweat and Gears. It’s a good event, a mass start, and a lot of fun running around the woods. I contacted the race organizer and asked if cyclocross bikes were allowed and they are! I’m going to see if my little brother can join me for this one, as he has before.

Root 66 Domnarski Farm Mountain Bike Race-Ware, MA             Sunday June 1, 2014

This one is close by. Sort of. The landowners encourage pre-riding so I hope to get out there in May to recon the course. I’m planning on renewing my US Cycling License and will be doing the Cat 3 (Beginner) Masters Women Race. I’ll be a little nervous only because I haven’t done a mountain bike race in about 12 years. I don’t plan on doing any other MTB races at this point but I’m surfing bikereg.com to see if anything looks fun and is on a free weekend. The best part about this race is that I plan to be on a brand new bike by that time. As soon as the government forks over my tax return I’m marching down to the LBS and picking out a new bike. Yay!

I’m still considering the summer. I need to connect with Laura of PA for a century ride, either organized or not. It would be my first century ever. I’m looking at doing an Obstacle Course Race for fun (and for beer). I’m also looking at the D2R2 at the end of summer (as I consider this every summer, I still have yet to sign up) plus a few other events. Lots of want to’s. There will only be a few that will work out for me.  Meh–this is how is goes. I do what I can.

-Karen

One Leg Drills

I’ve been an avid cyclist for 14 years now, and never heard of the “one leg drill” before.  I’m hanging around the right people on Twitter, and just learned the term. After Googling “one leg drill cycling,” I learned plenty.  Recommended in the early weeks of base training, a one leg drill is performed on the trainer and is made to build strength.  Watch this great video to illustrate how it’s done.

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I’ve been reluctantly spinning on the trainer from time to time lately, no more than an hour–I just can’t take the tedium of a longer time period.  The weather coupled with my work schedule hasn’t allowed riding outside.  I last rode outside almost 2 weeks ago, and before that, another 2 weeks.  This weekend looks highly questionable for outside cycling; as I type even more snow swirls and falls outside.  It is 8 degrees.

So OK, I want to do the work, and the work will have to be on the trainer.  I unclipped, spun for .3 mile, re-clipped, then repeated on the other side another .3 mile.  Guess what?  It was HARD.  I should have done more.  More importantly, I should have done it in an easier gear. I went back to the Internet (after I finished spinning) and got the following instruction:

Unclip one foot and rest it on a chair next to the bike so you are left to pedal with only one leg. With the bike in a low (easy) gear turn the crank at a comfortable cadence. The first thing you’ll notice is that getting through the top of the stroke, the 12-o’clock position, is difficult. Focus on smoothing this top transition. At first you may only last a few seconds before the hip flexors fatigue. When that happens switch to the other leg. When it fatigues clip both feet in and pedal for a few minutes applying what you have learned in the single-leg pedaling. Repeat the drill several times throughout the workout.

I did notice the “dead zones” in my pedal stroke they discuss in the video.  I can see how this engages more muscles and works the leg much more specifically.

I’m really having a tough time with the lack of real riding over this winter, and there is no end in site.  I am trying to stay active in the evenings, but oftentimes I am not free to workout until after 9PM, and let me tell you, that just ain’t happening.  So I’m going to try and do the one leg drill thing, at least once a week, and several times during the workout.

-Karen

2014 Cycling Goals: MTB, CX, Dirt Road Races

OK, OK.  It’s goal setting time. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about it, but over the years I’ve learned to become more flexible in goal setting (it’s true!  I’ve lightened up a bit!).  That said, I have so much I want to accomplish.  I think it’s reasonable to break out the year into chunks to better manage all the things I want to do.

Chunk #1- Januaryish to Marchish
Ride 3x a week
Run 2x a week
A good portion of my riding will have to be on the trainer. We have about a foot of cold white snow out there right now and a new weather term to discuss at the water cooler, Polar Vortex.
Events planned: None.

Chunk #2 Aprilish to Juneish
Ride 4+x a week
Run 1-2 a week
As much mountain biking as I can do (depending upon trail conditions)
Ramping up road mileage.
At least 1 CX ride (dirt roads, light trails) per week.
Events planned: Fat Tire Classic in Farmington, CT April 20, 2014 (tentative) MTB Race, Cat 3 40+ Masters
Kingdom CX in Victory, VT May 3, 2014 MTB/CX Race, 25 miles
Root 66 Domnarski Farm MTB Race in Ware, MA June 1, 2014 MTB Race, Cat 3 40+ Masters

Chunk #3 July to August
Ride 5+x a week–Base miles, big miles.
Cross skills practice 1x a week.
Intervals 1-2x a week.
Events planned: VT Overland Gran Prix in Woodstock, VT August 24, 2014 CX/Dirt Road Race, 53 miles
Monson Cyclocross Race in Monson, MA (alternative event to VT Overland) CX Race
Blunt Park Cyclocross Race in Springfield, MA (alternative event to VT Overland) CX Race

Chunk #4 September-December
Ride 4x week–cyclocross season. Hard weekends–racing or training. Hard Wednesdays.
Cross skills 2-3x week.
Intervals 1x week (Wednesdays)
Running if I feel ambitious.
Events planned:  Ooff. 10+ Cyclocross Races! Which ones? Nothing is officially scheduled yet, but here’s a partial list of races I’d like to compete in 2014.

Quad CX in Maynard, MA
The Night Weasels Cometh in Shrewsbury, MA
Gloucester Gran Prix in Gloucester, MA
Providence Cyclocross Festival in Providence, RI
Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross in Northampton, MA
Orchard CX in Hampton, NH
Sterling CX in Sterling, MA
Cheshire CX in Cheshire, CT
DAS Beaver CX in Dayville, CT

I’d like to compete in some smaller CX races, if possible. I do love the bigger races, the Gloucesters the Northamptons, the Providences….but they kill my points and I need some smaller races to even me out. Plus I feel like it’s easier to meet people at the smaller grassroots races.

My biggest goal for my 2014 Cyclocross Season is a top 50% finish. I know I’m capable of this and I need to set my sights on being fast and strong. I have a healthy season of larger race-oriented events (although I see these less as races than as events to build my strength and experience).

I have been told that the sophomore season of any sport is the hardest.  Hardest, with the most growth.  The 3rd year is supposed, supposed to be the year where that growth is realized.  Time will tell, but I’m looking forward to a terrific 2014.

-Karen

2013 Totals

This will be short & sweet. I should have written down my numbers for 2013 so I don’t have exact stats.  Fortunately I still have enough brain cells to remember the ballpark….

2013 Stats

Distance 2710 mi
Elev Gain 118,000+++ft (should have written this one down!)
148 miles run, walked, hiked or skied.

2012 Stats

Distance 2,127.8mi
Time 173hr 44m
Elev Gain 81,385ft

Happy that I crushed last year.  I took on more climbing and found that it really made me stronger and faster. More of that in 2014. I’m not sure I’ll be able to match these achievement given my heavy work schedule. But I’ll have a great time trying.

-Karen

Women Who Inspire Me: Diana Nyad

Diane Nyad wants to go to Cuba.  Very badly.

DNyad 3

It’s her #XtremeDream to swim from Cuba to Florida–no one has ever done it before.  No one knows if it’s even possible.  Only a world class athlete could possibly make it the 103 miles. She already holds the World Record for swimming.  But here’s the wrinkle in the plot….and it’s quite a wrinkle indeed.  Diana Nyad is 64 years old.

Yes, you heard me.  She’s a year away from Medicare.  She’s 401K eligible.  She’s old enough to be your mother twice over.

She’s the badass, Diana Nyad is. Her relentless pursuit of what many think is impossible is what makes her so completely inspiring to me.  She’s tried twice and failed, suffering life threatening injuries from poisonous jellyfish like box jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war.  And then there are the sharks.  Great white ones.

Let us not forget the amount of time she’ll be swimming.  For at least 60 hours.  No resting, no sleeping.  Pausing to eat but remaining in the water. No lifejacket.  No holding on the the side of the boat that will remain with her.  This will be her 5th attempt.  In 1979 Diana broke the world record for distance swimming for both men and women.  That record still stands today.

Diana borrows from poet Mary Oliver and asks, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” It’s a worthwhile question, and strikes truth quickly.  Tomorrow morning Diana will enter the dark water and try again for her XtremeDream.  It doesn’t matter if she reaches Cuba or not, she’s proven to the world she is not to be discounted. Never to be trifled with.  She’s Diana Nyad; completely awe-inspiring, Always reaching stroke by stroke toward her dream, in and out of the water.

-Karen

My Cyclocross Season Kicks Off in 1 Week

And so it begins.

The Monson Cyclocross Race will be held just one week from today.  By this time next week, I’ll be one race in to a 10 race season (at least).  I’m hoping to feel tired, happy with my effort, and enjoying a burrito from La Casita Azteca.

I’ve been super busy these past few weeks, riding whenever I can and not feeling like I’m getting enough miles into my legs.  Last week I attended a CX clinic  near my office in Connecticut (I now work in CT).  It was only an hour long but I picked up some tips and identified some really bad habits that are classic to beginners.  Truthfully, I realized how out of practice I was with basic ‘cross skills–not that I had a ton of skills to begin with–I am still super new to this game.  I have just one week to smooth out my dismount and remount.  The barriers I need work on too–this is harder to replicate but I have a makeshift barrier I built last year I can resurrect for backyard practice.

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I couple of weeks ago I visited the site of the race and used the Strava Explore feature to walk parts of the course.  I wanted to ride parts, but my bored and uninterested son wasn’t having it…..so we hiked it instead.  I found a video as well, which helps me visualize mentally what to expect.

I have a friend riding in the Men’s Cat 4–actually my friend’s boyfriend, and his race goes at 9AM, while mine’s not until 2.  I’m hoping to get some tips from him after the fellas in his group break in the course.  I finally understand now the timing of getting a pre-ride in before the event–which in my opinion is crucial.  That too will help me prepare just before the event.

Monson’s course seems to be just the kind I like–lots of off-road stuff, technical, lots of turns, not just a grass crit.  That said, I’m in the Women’s Open category, which means I’ll get my ass handed to me by the rest of the field.  I’m a Masters Cat 4.  Those Cat 1, 2, and 3s will ride roughshod over me. So, time to review my goals (in order of importance) for this race and all others.

  1. Have fun.
  2. Finish.
  3. Stay upright.
  4. Don’t finish last.
  5. Middle pack.
  6. Top 50%

I usually hit the first 4 consistently.  I have touched the middle of the pack but it runs away from me in the middle of every race, I’m still chasing that one.  One of my overall goals for 2013 is to finish in the middle more often than not.  I doubt Monson will be the race where that happens.

Making the top 50% in a race is also a goal for me this year.  This is a little more dangerous for me to talk about.  I think this is well within grasp, but I don’t want to set myself up for too much disappointment, either.  We’ll see what happens.  I’m in better physical condition overall and have a lighter faster bike, but Goal # 1-HAVE FUN-should always take precedence over all other goals.  My competitive nature aside, the fun is in racing bikes with a bunch of other people crazy enough to love cyclocross as much as you do.

At the CX Clinic, I overheard some attendees talking just before it started.  One guy said “I can’t believe I’m doing this.  I’m a triathlete, you cyclocrossers are crazy.”  Another rider replied, “Are you kidding?  Triathlons are the crazy sport!”  And that’s just it–right there.  There’s no shame in this game.  We’re all out here to have fun and challenge ourselves.  We all work up in our heads why we aren’t going to be good at something, why we might fail, why this all might not work out. But we still show up, and say what the hell?  You only live once.  And then get on our bikes and slip behind the tape.

Cyclocross season is starting.  Come play with us.

-Karen

My Dehydration Problem

It happened again.  Saturday I went out for a hilly 37 miles on the CX bike.  It was a great ride, cloudy, humid, mid to high 80′s but halfway refreshing considering how oppressive it’s been here in New England.  When I got home, I was thoroughly spent, but in a completely joyous way.  I hadn’t bonked.  I went through my water and was dry the last 15 minutes or so, but began drinking immediately post ride.  My ride ended around 3PM.

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I showered, changed, had a lovely, healthy dinner–a little white wine in hand, I happily grilled chicken on the BBQ while my other half made us a nice fresh salad and a warm buttery baguette.  It was an ideal way to spend a Saturday.  Happy, relaxed, well fed, I settled down to watch some television.

At about 10:45PM, my head started hurting.  Bad.  By 10:50PM I was clutching my skull and rubbing, trying to knead out the pain as if my head had a knot in it that just needed to be worked out. The nausea kicked in at this time as well. 11:00PM I abandoned the movie I was watching and retired to the bedroom, plugging in a heating pad to wrap around my throbbing head.

11:15PM I went to the bathroom.  Not my normal time of day–but my body had other ideas.

11:20PM I tried to got back to bed.  My head was enveloped in indescribable pain.  I was exhausted and only wanted to escape into sleep.  I’d close my eyes and my mind would speed up.  A bizarre show unfolded behind my closed eyes, a fast twisty ride filled with surreal images that I couldn’t slow down or stop.  Moving constantly, I opened my eyes and the pain amplified, but the crazy ride stopped.  The nausea intensified.  I made the decision to return to the bathroom.

11:30PM  I vomited.  More than once.  Maybe 4 times in a row.  I don’t know, I was pretty sick and my brain wasn’t working well at this point. The only think I knew was that the pain had set up camp in my brain and I only had one trick left to beat the migraine back.  I stripped down and turned the shower on hot. I sat in the shower–sat–for about 30 minutes, the hot water working my scalp, my neck, my back.  I felt the pain ease and lift.  Not vanish but it abated for long enough I felt I might be able to sneak into bed and fall asleep.  I did.  I slept 8 hours straight and felt completely fine in the morning.

I wish I could say this was the first time this has happened, but it isn’t.  More like, the 7th?  8th?  It always happens when my life gets so busy that I don’t take regular care of myself–I rush, I hurry, I skip the basics just to get in that ride.  I should have been drinking lots of liquids on Thursday and Friday in preparation for the weekend.  Each day, I sweat our fluids.  I’m sweating when I blow my hair dry, when I walk to the car, even just sitting inside and watching TV.  The AC can’t keep up with the intensity of this heat.

I had a goal of 100 miles last week.  35 on Saturday, and another 35 on Sunday and I would have made it. I’ve been doing mileage like this all year, that and much longer.  But after Saturday’s hydration failure, my other half insisted I take it easy.  I usually would fight about it, but this time I had to agree.

I really need to get my arms around, and KEEP them around this problem I have.  I wonder if others experience this problem like I do.  I know what happened to me is a result of classic dehydration.  I sweat easily and I’m probably losing fluids when I’m not working out–something I really need to be more aware of. I should have a refillable water container at my desk all day and in the car.  And I should indulge in some Gatorade from time to time.  So–just curious–anyone else have this problem?  Care to share?  Please comment if you would.

-Karen

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