Thursday, February 26, 2009

Big Gains

Yesterday was a 20 minute power test for me. I was a bit anxious about doing it, as I was coming off 2 1/2 weeks of high intensity. I had hopes of improving my wattage since the last one in November.

I got a good night's rest. After enjoying my coffee, my breakfast consisted of tuna, 2 eggs, sweet potatoes, and strawberries. Yeah, it is not your bowl of Wheaties, it is SO MUCH better for the engine! Then I did a few easy household chores ... just to keep my mind off the test while my food digested. Gosh, I would have thought I was racing today.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, I got started with the warm-up. I was thankful for the warm temperature, even if it did come with some pretty strong winds.

My warm-up was about an hour long (it takes me this long to start feeling good), I punched the interval button and was off. I paced myself at the lower end of my Threshold power for the first 5 minutes, opened it up for the next 11 minutes, and then entered then entered the realm of "cardiac attack" for the last 3 minutes. You know, eyes bulging, tunnel vision, drooling, thinking "what the heck am I doing ... I am going to stroke out!"

Afterwards, I had to fight off the feelings of wanting to collapse in the farmer's field, waiting for the vultures to circle my withered shell. But after 10 minutes of easy pedalling, I became human again.

What an effort! At that time, I felt that I had improved, but only by a bit. Just before my vision narrowed, I had looked at my average wattage, but the numbers were hard to see. So when I got home, I downloaded my workout.

Holy cow, batman! I had increased my FT by 6%! Coach said that was "friggin impressive." I was stoked. All that time in the saddle doing intervals in miserably cold and sometimes wet weather, all those days in the gym, those times on the trainer, and above all, giving up Mayfield's Extreme Moosetracks ice cream ... has finally paid off. I have something tangible that I can measure, not just a subjective "good vibe."

This makes it a lot easier to keep going down the road I have chosen ... to see just how good this 40 year old body can become. The sacrifices just don't seem like sacrifices anymore.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tried and True

I have been using Chamois Butt'r since late June 2008. I made the switch from Assos immediately after the Cowbell when I branded myself with my chamois. After 12 hours or riding in dry conditions my chamois had cut into my buttocks. The scars are just now fading!

I started using Chamois Butt'r prior to my being sponsored by them. For me, I want to know that a product works before I ask for sponsorship. Nothing worse than to HAVE to use a product that sucks!

After using Chamois Butt'r Eurostyle for 6 months and in all sorts of weather, I must say that this product keeps the 'taint happy. You get the 8oz Eurostyle for $19.99, twice as much as Assos. I use much less due to the thickness and "stay-ability" of the product. I know this because my white saddle is much less polished and people have not asked me why my shorts are oozing a white substance.

My saddle sores have been minimized and I do not have to re-apply during a long training ride or a 12 hour race. And it is made in the good 'ol USA, very important these days.

I have samples, so if you want to give it a try, just ask and you shall receive.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Croom 50

Zeke and I treated this "ride" as a training race ... one where we would stay together as a team. Since we are going to race TransRockies in the 100+ category, we needed to see how we would work together and see where are strengths and weaknesses lie.

Zeke wanted to start off sooner than the official 8:30am start, but I made him wait. I needed time for my food to settle and I wanted to see how we would work around some of the slower riders.

The first 12 miles to aid station 1 Zeke was blazing trail. I was loving the tight, twisty, whoopty-do singletrack. My legs were happy today. Since this was not an official race, we tried to be very courteous when passing people. But in spots it was still a bit difficult not to rub some elbows as the trail was very tight. And there were times when we would be passed and I was happy to allow them by as I knew they had their own agendas.

I was doing just one bottle, which, by the way is SO NICE; no Camelbak today. We refilled at Aid Station 1 and I choked down a banana. We were off in no time and still feeling the love.

This trail is mentally taxing because a lot of it looks the same and your reaction time has to be quick or you might just end up in the briars, down the ravine, or kissing a tree. It is physically taxing because it is so flat (1675 feet gain in 50 miles) and you are always hammering.

As we neared Aid Station 2 (mile 29), we were met with bikini bottoms, pink flamingos, and Beach Boys tunes. These volunteers were having a great time and treating us riders to some good food. PB&J sandwiches, homemade cookies, pretzels, oranges, bananas, and so much more. I opted just to refill my bottle and grabbed another banana. No experimentation for me today.

After Aid Station 2, Zeke began to lose focus. I could tell that he was beginning to hurt as the pace slowed and a few expletives were directed at the sand pits. Knowing him, I think it was a combination of this type of flat, monotonous course and not getting enough calories in. Later, I learned, he was also having issues with hand numbness.

Heading towards Aid Station 3 (mile 39) I told Zeke that we need to stop for a few minutes and that he needed to get some more calories in. Bypassing the "swamp water", cheddar cheese cubes, and meatballs, I played it safe with a PB&J sandwich. Zeke had a banana and a couple cookies.

Then Jason rolled in upon us. Breathing a bit heavy, he had "raced" to catch up to us; he had started about 15-20 minutes after us. We all left together. Seeing as how he would not be able to keep us with Jason's pace, Zeke took the leash off me. I asked if he was sure and he said yes. I was like a beagle going after the rabbit.

For the last 12 miles I put it in the big ring and let 'er fly. It was a good TT effort for me, to stay on Jason's wheel. It was a good finish to a great day. However, just a few minutes after we had finished and grabbed some water, Zeke rolled in. Hmmm ... somebody else picked up the pace in the last few miles as well. I think next time I will lead the team! No sandbaggers at TR allowed.

What a wonderfully beautiful day! Great weather, good friends, dedicated volunteers, and a fun course. It was good to see Reenie and Tom; they looked very happy to be on their bikes ... and not having to ride on snow!

Zeke and I have a lot of work to do ... but today was a good start.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

6 Days and Counting

The wait is agonizing ... especially since I have had and continue to have some hard efforts planned for the road in 20+ degree weather. Ughh!

Next week Zeke and I are heading to sun shiny Florida for some warm weather and a fun ride, the Croom 50. It will be so nice to have just ONE layer, and perhaps even sleeveless jerseys.

Right now the forcast for Tampa is sunny with highs in the 70's.

I am so over this Michigan-style weather. This is Tennessee ... for God's sake!