Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hill Repeats Hurt!!!

Yesterday, I had on off site meeting that lasted until 5:00. So instead of returning to work I decided to head out on a ride. I considered riding over to the Tuesday Night Crits. I don't race crits but they are fun to watch and I know a lot of the people racing. But I really wanted to ride so I headed over to the hills by my house and did hill repeats. Can I just say right now - ouch!

I have a new route for hill repeats that I scouted a couple of weeks ago. It is nothing crazy but it does have a steep pitch in the middle and again at the top. It's also short at less then a mile. So the effort is from top to bottom. You then get 1 mile of recovery before you hit it again. Since this is my first serious attempt at hill repeats this year I decide on 5 loops. How serious was I? I actually decided to use my stopwatch and time each climb.

Climb #1 - I started the watch and took off. I faded on the steep middle section but held on to the top. Since is the first time I have challenged this climb I have no idea what to expect. The result - 3:31. Now I have a baseline to work from.

Climb #2 - I started way to fast and blew up on the middle steep section. I had to take some time to recover and then push on to the top. The result - 3:41 (am I supposed to get slower?) and I am already feeling the efforts.

Climb #3 - I realized I am starting to fast so new goal. Find a steady state that I can hold to the end. So I start off slower but maintain a more constant pace. The result - 3:30. Now we are getting somewhere.

Climb #4 - I am dead this time around. I am serious thinking about coffee, or a beer, at this point but I keep pushing. However, this time I don't attack the climb. Instead, I decide to see what the time would be if I took it at a normal pace. The result - 4:24.

Climb #5 - I intend to take everything I have learned and kick ass on this climb. My goal was for it to be the fastest climb of the day. I was really hoping for 3:20, which was a tall order. So I hit the start with a slightly lifted pace and focus on holding that cadence to the top. Result - 3:24.

Finally, I am done although I actually picked a route back home that took me over one more climb. I soft-pedaled this one to the top, enjoyed the descent and headed home for dinner. I am flogged but in a good way and I feel fine today.

So why the new seriousness in my training? Well, I finally have a goal for this year. On October 3rd, I am riding Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge GranFondo. Actually, most of my velo group is riding in this event. My goal is to simply ride strong.

This ride is going to be epic and awesome. If you have been looking for an excuse to make a cycling excursion into Sonoma County, this could be for you. I hope to see you there.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sometimes, it's just not there

Yesterday morning was simply gorgeous. It was so beautiful that the thought of being indoors on the trainer was unbearable so I decided to hit the road for a quick 1 hour ride/workout. This is doable since I don't have to be into the office until 9:00 and I only live about 15 minutes from work.

At around 6:30 I start getting ready. The only question, after deciding what kit to wear, is what type of intervals do I want to ride. I have been having fun getting a little faster so I decide on speed intervals. Since it will be a short ride, I select a high intensity set of intervals. Basically, you warm up and do internals of 30, 60, 90, 60, and 30 seconds flat out with the same amount of recovery after each. If you have the Michael Barry book, Fitness Cycling, it is workout S5. If you don't have this book, get it!

On the road, I start spinning in the middle ring to warm up. As I am riding, I realize that this is my first time on the bike this week although I have had a couple of great runs. As I keep turning the pedals and warming up I also realize the traffic seems very light so I change my route and head for Annadel State Park. There is a road leading to the park, Channel Drive, that is flat and completely car-free. In other words, perfect for speed intervals.

Now I am watching the stopwatch on my cyclometer. I planned on a 10 minute warm up so at 9:30 into the ride I start to lift the cadence. At 9:45, I shift to big ring and come out of the saddle. At 10 minutes, right on time, I am hammering the pedals as I start the first 30 second interval. And 10 seconds later I am back in the saddle, back in the middle ring and wondering what the hell just happened?

That was because I had nothing in the legs. In fact, they were very soar around the knees. So I try to figure out why I'm so fatigued. Could it be the 127 miles I put in last weekend? Could it be the PR I set on my run the day before? Perhaps it's the fact that on Thursday I ran a workshop for 130 people and spent a good part of the day setting up tables and chairs. Or maybe, just maybe, my legs are mad at me because 30 minutes ago they were propped up on an ottoman while I was drinking coffee and reading about the Giro d'Italia.

With no real reason to push it, I settled into a more leisurely ride and enjoyed the beauty of the morning. After about 30 minutes I finally managed to spin out the soreness and I did get in one decent time trial interval on the way home.

I know we have all had the days. Those days when the legs just won't respond. Sometimes there's an obvious reason (I am blaming this on the tables and chairs) and sometimes there's not. What's my advice when it happens? When I was younger I would tell you to fight through it. But these days, I think you should just roll with it, enjoy the scenery and, in the words of Paul Sherwin, live to fight another day.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Am I a pansy?

Wow! It's been over 2 weeks since my last post. By far the longest dry spell since I started this little blog. I really don't have a good excuse. I just haven't been writing. I have plenty of content just not a lot of follow through. It is amazing to me how the longer I go without writing the more the pressure builds to write something. That's just I need in my life right now, more pressure. I thought this was supposed to be fun.

Anyway, I ran into a new cycling buddy and his fiance at Riviera the other night. As I was waiting for my food to go, and enjoying my glass of wine, we had a very interesting conversation. It went something like this.

Dave: "Are you coming out to the Tuesday night crits?"
Me: "No. I can't get there by 5:30 because of work."
Dave: "Registration is at 5:30. The first race is 6:30."
Me: "Oh cool! Well then let me change my answer to I don't do crits!"
Dave: "What about Grasshopper this Saturday?"
Me: "I don't think so. I really don't have enough miles in this year for a race."
Dave: "What are you, a pansy?"

Then we laughed and talked about Kelli's 199 mile relay run she just finished. Fortunately, my food arrived and I got to leave before Dave got back to the race talk.

Later, I began thinking about Dave's question. Am I a pansy? It was time to look at the stats. So it's Fitness Journal to the rescue.

I start looking at the numbers and here's what I discovered. At this time last year I had cycled just over 2000 miles, spent 20 additional hours on the trainer, had zero runs, and my longest ride was 135 miles. In 2009, it is a different story. So far this year I only have 1400 miles on the bike. I also have 12.5 hours on the trainer and 72 miles of running. My longest ride this year is 70 miles and that was yesterday.

So except for the running, the data is starting to show a pansy-ish approach to this year. Maybe Dave was right. And then I remembered my goals for the year. You know, less cycling, more cross-training, more time with friends, etc. So I am right on track.

So I decided that at this point I am a self-imposed pansy. I have purposely chosen to take things a little easier this year. It definitely has its rewards. Although I am probably carrying about 10 extra pounds I still have desserts when we go out to dinner. Why? I am not training for anything so who cares about a little extra weight. Another friend, Paul, is backing off the wine consumption to drop a few pounds. A self-imposed pansy like me cannot even grasp that concept.

So there you have it. I am meeting my goals and having a lot of fun in the process. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll have french toast for breakfast.