Monday, October 31, 2011

Coach, This One's For You

I am going into my fourth year of being coached by Lynda Wallenfels.  I, as well as she, still sees the potential in extracting a few more watts out of my body for the 2012 season.  I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today, fitness-wise, without her help.

The start of the 2010 Cohutta 100 ... would have been a contender for the win had she not been struck by lightning!

My relationship began with Lynda in September 2008.  What prompted my decision to hire a coach was a combination of increased workload with my job and motherhood and what I suspected was over training.  I had been self-coaching with this:

But as I had less and less free time, my coaching became sloppy and soon led to lots of riding with no real structure.  My hard training days turned into long days at moderate intensity and my easy training days turned into long days at moderate intensity.

The "straw ..."  happened at the Mohican 100 in June 2008.  I suffered miserably for 100 miles.  Too stubborn to DNF, I pushed on through to the end watching one lady after another pass me like I was standing still.  By mile 60 I was in tears, begging sticks to jump into my derailleur and end my misery.  When I rolled across the finish line in 7th place, almost an hour off my winning time in 2007, I vowed that I would hire a coach.

And I did.  Enter Coach Lynda.  Based on recommendations by Krista Park, Danielle Musto, and Jeff Kerkove, I hired Lynda.  I also chose her because she was a working Mom who was able to kick ass in the endurance scene.  I met her face to face at the 2008 TransRockies.  Any reservation I had about her as a coach was dismissed as she rode past me on a long, steep climb like I was standing still.  Oh yeah, she was also on a single speed!

We got to work right away.  The hardest part for me was "letting go" and entrusting her with the task of creating my training schedule.  At first it looked and perhaps felt too easy.  It was like she had put a governor on my engine.  But soon enough, I began noticing changes, especially in how I felt.  Less overall fatigue and stronger on the bike.

Showing Lynda and Dave a little Southern hospitality at Mulberry Gap.
I would say my biggest accomplishment with Lynda was winning the Cowbell Challenge in June 2009 and in the process beating Rebecca Rusch, an awesome and very well respected ultra endurance racer.  That day I felt like I had no chain on the bike.  Despite temps in the high 90's, I rode the perfect race.  That credit goes to Lynda's coaching abilities.  Within 9 months, she was able to understand my physiology and tweak my fitness to an all new level.

The hardest part of being coached by her is the distance between us.  She lives in Utah, I in Tennessee.  At first, I was worried about her getting to really "know" me.  Thank goodness for cell phones, power files, emails and internet.  Never fear, her knowledge of power, acute/chronic training loads, training stress scores, and other analyses that are over my head allow her to "know" and fine tune me.

She was also the one who figured out my gluten intolerance.  For that, I am forever in her debt.  Although she is not a nutritionist, her knowledge of it has been invaluable to me.  I am in the best physical condition than I have ever been in. 

Is a coach what you need?  Perhaps.  If you have hit a plateau in your training/racing, if your life is so hectic, you don't have time to plan/analyze, or if you are new to the sport and have no idea where to start, I suggest you check into it. 

Coach Lynda offers many levels of coaching, from coaching programs to training plans.  What I really like about her is her ability to take in all the variables and fit a successful plan to my life style.  I think it is easier to train a professional athlete who has nothing else to do but train and race.  Where a great coach shines is in her ability to successfully train working people who have jobs and families (tons of variables!)

Thanks, Coach for a great 3 years.  Hopefully, you can help me to crank out another 3 wonderful years!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

ProGold Product Review

A few months back, Bruce Dickman sent me a box of goodies.  I feel that I am at a point where I can honestly assess them.

Otherwise known as their Xtreme Lube.

Fortunately for me, this year has been a dry one.  I have had very little mud on my bikes.  Where this has excelled has been on long, dry and dusty fire road training sessions.  My chain has been noise free in these conditions.  Last month I spent 3 days in Pisgah.  Although it did not rain, there were multitudes of creek crossings.  The only chain maintenance I did was to wipe the chain each night.  I did not have to apply any more lube.

This product makes bike washing fun.

It is insane how well it cleans and shines your bike.  I am uber picky about how my bikes look.  Any amount of dust, dirt, or mud causes a facial twitch that will not go away until my steeds are sparkly clean.  This product definitely decreases my work load.  My Avalanche is jealous!


The shop towels clean well, yet are non irritating to sensitive hands.  Ladies especially, if the only thing keeping you from being a grease monkey is, well, the grease, fear no more.  Purchase a tub of these and you can wrench on your bike in the morning and then enjoy an evening out on the town.

Pro Gold rocks!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Berryman Epic Race Report

A little known piece of single track heaven in the wilds of Missouri.

I had to put this on the back burner in order to get things done prior to foot surgery.  Not that I am laid up for awhile, I have time to blog away.

This one was my last hoorah for the season.  Seeing as how I was going to be out of commission for at least a month, I was going to leave everything out on the trail.  The pre-ride went well and my legs felt rested.  Coach had me doing some threshold work leading up to this race and I felt that I was ready to ride 5 hours at intensity.

Race day was brrrr! cold.  I woke to temps in the low 30's; quite a shock to my system.  I dressed lightly as I knew it would warm up and the start was a gravel road climb.  I warmed up briefly and then jumped in line as close to the front as politely possible (I was still several rows back).

The start was fast like last year.  I settled in and although my legs did not feel the best, I thought they would come around soon enough.  It was hard to tell how many ladies were ahead of me.  No worries though; my race was with the trail.  As I hit the steeper pitch going up the gravel, I felt a twinge in my right hamstring.  It lasted maybe 5 seconds; I did not think too much of it, but later it would be a premonition of what was to come.

I hit the single track with no ladies in sight.  I was locked in to a train of about 15 riders.  I settled realizing that soon enough the trail would open up.  When it did, I tried to kick it up a notch, but nothing happened.  My legs had that "achy lactic acid build up" feeling.  Really?!?  I was only 8 miles in and my legs acted like they had already pedaled 40 miles.

Hoping that my legs would come around, I focused on nutrition and momentum.  I attacked the downhills, trying to gain precious seconds.  It seemed to work as I caught up to two ladies on the descent leading to Brazil Creek.  There was a bottle neck at the creek crossing.  I guess they were afraid to get their feet wet.  It reminded me of the Planet Earth series where the herd of wildebeest were getting ready to cross the croc infested river and no one wanted to be the first to take the plunge!

As I was waited to cross, I glanced at my watch.  I was 5 minutes off last year's pace.  I grabbed my zip tie on the other side of the creek, hit the pavement for a short section, and then dove back into the woods on the Berryman Trail, just behind a lady in a Trek racing kit.  I happily let her pace me up the climb.  Even though I was in the Ozarks, these mountains are old and eroded so the climbs are neither steep nor long.  But today it felt like every climb was like Pinhoti #3.

I passed her when she stopped at a gravel road crossing.  I was now in my own little bubble.  I then used my HR to pace me.  At around mile 16, I caught up to another lady in a black/red kit (later found out this was Laura).  I struggled to stay with her on the climbs, but was able to catch back up on the descents.  As I rolled into the Berryman campground, I once again looked at my watch ... 8 minutes off last year's pace.  That was demoralizing, but then I realized I had caught up to a lady in a Sheclismo racing kit.  This gave me a much needed burst of positive energy.  I refilled my Camelbak, grabbed a gel flask, and set off on the next section of trail.  I lost track of Laura during this transition.

I hit the next bit of single track with renewed hope.  Even though I was off my game, having made contact with two ladies gave me renewed hope.  I was able to hammer this 10 mile section of single track.  I kept expecting to see Ms Sheclismo at any time, but did not make contact with her until we picked up our 3rd zip-tie at about mile 32.  It was here that we exchanged names.  Ms. Sheclismo was Sydney Brown.  I knew that name!  She was one powerful roadie who loved to hit the mountain bike scene every now and again.  We took it relatively easy on the double track climb leading to the gravel road.

Sydney thought that we were #1 and #2.  We decided to work together on the 6 miles of gravel back to the campground and aid station.  I took the first pull.  Sydney came around me and began her pull.  Within 10 seconds, I knew I this wasn't going to end well.  She dropped me like a bad habit.  I tried to keep her in sight, but slowly watched her get smaller and smaller until she was gone.

That was an ego buster.  Luckily, my ego is not that big.  Once again, it seemed to take forever to reach the campground.  Last year I reached this point in 3:27; this year it took me 3:48!  But when I finally arrived, there was Sydney!  The game was back on!  She pulled out as I was reaching into my drop bag for my little bottle of happiness ... a Red Bull shot!  I grabbed a water bottle and began the chase.

I knew I could best her in the single track.  I had ridden the last section the day before and was familiar with its sketchiness.  I had to attack and attack HARD!  The last 6 1/2 miles were on gravel and Sydney definitely had the upper hand there.  I was amazed that my legs responded!  I felt none of that achiness that I had the first 40 miles.  I caught her within the first mile, made the pass, and put the hammer down.  At first she was able to hang on, but soon I could not hear her squeaky brakes any more.  I figured I needed at least 2 minutes advantage in order to have a fighting chance. 

The first 5 miles flew by and all was going well ... until I hit this short, root-filled climb.  As I cranked down to get over the obstacles, my hamstrings locked up!  I felt as if I had been tazed!  Not wanting to fall off my bike, I grannied down and attempted to spin.  I was able to coax my cramped hamstrings to cooperate and after a couple minutes, the cramps subsided.  However, whenever I tried to amp it back up, my hamstrings began cramping. 

My race was done.  I suppose that was my body's way of keeping my heart from exploding!  Normally at the end of a race of this distance, my HR is in the low 160's.  But when I was putting the hammer down, my HR had jumped up to the mid 170's!  I cannot remember the last time my HR was that high that late in a race ... probably 10 years ago.

As I was limping along, Sydney caught back up to me.  I let her pass and encouraged her to reel in as many guys as she could.  I thought that I was in the lead; neither one of us realized that Laura was in first.

Once again, I limped to the finish.  Last year it was on a shredded tire; this year it was on shredded legs.  I managed to stay on the podium with a time of 5:21.  Sydney ended up catching Laura on the gravel and won with a time of 5:17:50.

Kudos to Sydney and Laura for having great races.  They were both so strong this year!  I was definitely out-gunned.

I must say that Zeke had an awesome race as well.  He finished mid-pack in the SS class ... but, if he had raced his age division, he would have won by 13 minutes!  Ursula had a good race as well, despite her cramps.  She finished 5th; not bad for an old lady ;).  Zeke and I are hoping that she will get bit by the endurance bug!  Both Mary and Travis succumbed to the sharp Ozark rocks and got in plenty of tire-changing practice.

Enjoyed getting to know the Fowler's.  Both are super strong racers!

Will I be back next year?  Probably, but perhaps on a SS.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Season Finale

Sweet single track!
This weekend is the Berryman Epic, a 55 mile romp through the woods of Missouri.  Last year was my first time and aside from a mechanical that cost me first place, I had an absolute blast.  Super fun flowy trail with a few technical bits thrown in to keep you on your toes.  This would be the perfect race for someone's first foray into the endurance XC scene.  Spots still available! 

This will be my last race for the year.  On October 28, I will be having surgery to remove the bastard neuromas in both my feet.  I was hoping it was not going to come to this, but after 7 weeks of conservative therapy, the pain is still there.  Granted, it is at a tolerable level, but I cannot enjoy epic rides, short runs, or just playing with my daughter without that constant nagging pain of every footstep. Nervous, but optimistic.  Down time will be around 1 month per the doc. Time to focus on weight and core training anyway.

I was planning on ripping the trails off the map at the Berryman, but I got "glutened" by Charlie's mom last Saturday.  Carly and I went up to spend the weekend with his parents.  I was very specific and diligent about my gluten intolerance with his mom, but apparently she forgot to read a label.  She prepared chili, but instead of using spices out of spice jars, she chose a chili seasoning (unbeknownst to me).  Care to guess what the first ingredient on that label was?!? 

About 2 hours after dinner, I knew I was screwed.  After interrogating her again about the ingredients, I discovered her (and my) error.  So now Buddha is back; probably for about a week.  I do hope I can ditch him by this Saturday.  Stomach pain, abdominal distension, difficulty with deep breathing, insomnia AND racing at intensity for 5 hours DO NOT MIX!

From my previous "glutened" experience, it takes about a week for me to feel normal again.  I will be cutting it close.  Oh well, that will be my handicap, I guess.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Path Less Traveled

While Daddy was in Arkansas getting some prep work done on the lease in preparation for opening day of duck season, Carly and I decided to have our own little adventure.  We went to the Tellico River and "mini-bouldered."

I thought about helmets while Carly scaled this one.  Next time!

This girl may fuss a little when it comes to riding bikes or hiking well-defined trail, but when big rocks and water are present, she is all smiles.  We "creek-walked/bouldered/butt-slid for about 2 hours along the Tellico and one of its tributaries.  I had an absolute blast!  Carly has got Mountain Goat skills; she slipped only once.

This little fall was about a mile in on one of Tellico's tributaries.

We wanted to see what was just above the falls, but the two options were very tricky.  Me, being "The Worrier," opted to not push our luck today.  Having another adult along would have made it more negotiable.  We will be back to tackle it later.

We stopped and ate lunch.  The fish were pretty happy about that as they got their first taste of Cheez-Its.

The part of mothering I absolutely love!

 Carly's leaping abilities amaze me.  On one particular water crossing, she cleaned a 4 1/2 foot jump ... from a standstill.  I opted for the easier route; I knew my limits!

As we were scaling a rather large and technically challenging rock, Carly stated that if Daddy were here, he would be saying, "Be careful, be careful, be careful, be careful ..."  What she didn't realize is that what was going through my mind on auto repeat.

Not your typical girls' day out.

Wow!  You CAN have fun without a bike being involved.