Learning Patience

One of the things I’m working on this year is finding the right balance of training and rest. It’s always been dificult for me to take time off the bike, like many cyclists. I get the feeling that my lungs, heart, and legs shrink with every minute I’m not on the bike. Everyone knows you become stronger while resting, not training. I know this. But I still grimace when I look at my training diary and see multiple days that say “1 hour easy” or “OFF day.” This psychological flaw was probably planted by all my soccer coaches, karate senseis, and track coaches over the years saying, “pain is good. Pain makes you better. The more you train the better you get.” Maybe they didn’t realize I took this literally. Or maybe I got this exercise craze from my dad, who at 55, works out two to three times a day. Anyways, I didn’t learn the flaws of this high school football coach mentality until I hurt myself.

I overtrained, while also pinching a nerve in my back, due to excessive rowing/erging three years ago while I was on the UO crew team. I had to take time off from the erg, which lead me to pestering my parents about the fact that they owed me a road bike (a promise they made to me once I finished my first year of college). I caught the cycling flew flu, and switched sports. I soon forgot about the overtraining thing. That was a mistake. I spent the next fall and winter doing 1 minute intervals 3 times a week for two hours a session, then I put in 120 hours of riding in one month. That ruined my next full year of racing. My resting heart rate went up to 60 (usually it’s in the low 30’s). I couldn’t ride more than a couple hours without bonking and turning home early. And I got dropped in the Cherry Pie Road Race after about 40 minutes (a very flat race too). Luckily Gilad started coaching me that winter and put an end to my training craze. He had me take three months easy. I didn’t fully recover until late in the summer.

But last year I did too much without quality rest again. I wasn’t overtrained, but looking back at my training diary, I can see that I was overexerting myself during the spring, which lead to being sick for six weeks in June and July. And I didn’t rest enough while I was sick either. Throughout the year I went into interval days already tired and I went long on days my body told me to rest.

This year will be different. I have changed my ways already. I’m about quality now. And if I see that I can’t maintain my watts, I cut the ride short and go hard the next day instead. Ivar is also helping me track my fatigue by using Training Peaks to make sure I don’t do too much.

On Tuesday I did 3×10′ uphill intervals, then 15 miles of hard climbing. It felt great. But Wednesday I was a bit tired. So instead of doing 4×9 mile hill repeats, I only did 2. As a result of listening to my body this fall, I already feel stronger than I did last spring. I constantly tell myself it’s not about the length of a training week. 25 hours isn’t necessarily better than 20. Quality training and quality rest is more important. The goal isn’t to have the hardest workouts, it’s to have the best race results. OK, now that I wrote all this nonsense, I guess I have to follow it…

No Juice on the Shootout

I first realized how destroyed my legs were from yesterday when I stopped to take a pee before we got out of town.  There was a medium sized group of 70-80 this morning, and I pulled off to the side of the road to relieve myself before we got to the last stop light, which marks the start of the race.  I got stuck at a light, and had to push 350-400 watts for a couple minutes while I chased the pack down.  I got there just in time too, right as they got to the last light.  But those two minutes sucked.  My legs had no juice in them.  Like a big lemon that has just been squeezed and nothing else will come out and you think, “Really?  That’s all the juice that’s in there?  A lemon that big only has 3 tablespoons of juice?  I’m never shopping at Safeway again.  What a rip off.”  But then later in the week you end up going back to Safeway because it’s just too convenient, even though the produce is garbage and their lemons have very little juice, just like my legs today.

I took a couple pulls in the beginning of the ride, then dropped back in the middle to suck wheels after I realized I was going to be worthless today.  A break of 2 guys got away, and stayed away.  Near the top of the hill after the bridge, I began pulling again, and somehow still managed 4th up the final hill 20 minutes later.  Maybe the rest of the guys just let me go because they were tired of riding behind someone who’s worn out bibs left too little to the imagination.  Or maybe my little spurt of energy was coaxed out by the memory of a comment I received early from one of the guys.  

Him: “That there looks like a traveling bike.”  
Me: “Huh?  Me?”  
Him: “Yeah, a touring bike. Seen some miles hasn’t it?”
Me: “You will suffer dire consequences for those words. I swear I will avenge my bike’s honor. It may be today, tomorrow, ten years from now while you’re asleep in bed. But mark my words, I will have my vengeance and you and all those you love will pay for what you have said today.”

6th place. I showed him.

Boo YEAH!

What a great ride today. It started out with some frustration with my power tap CPU. I never know what buttons do what and sometimes I get it on a weird setting, like showing torque instead of power, or I zero it while I’m pedaling which seriously screws with what watts it thinks I’m doing. If you have a power tap you know what I’m talking about. Maybe. Anyways, I swore at it for a couple miles and finally got it set correctly.

The bike gods gave me some terrific weather, sunny and low 70’s all day. They also blessed me with no flats, no crazy drivers ( first time in weeks), and legs that couldn’t be stopped even if they were towing a fully loaded cement truck.

I rode out to Kitt Peak, climbed up to to the top, screamed down in minutes, and hammered back home, averaging 260 watts for 6 hours over 120 miles. I had plenty of energy at the end to hammer all the way through town, where I raced a school bus filled with middle schoolers. They were sticking their heads out the windows screaming at me to keep up, banging their hands on the side of the bus in excitement. The bus driver was probably freaking out like they always did when I used to ride the bus. I stayed with them or caught them at stop lights for a good few minutes, then sprinted by them right as they turned onto another road.

A ride like that calls for immediate consumption of a giant bowl of oats. Behold, Oatsatron 5000:

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Huge quantity of oats, three spoons of brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon.

I  had an interesting experience just now. Someone knocked on our door, I got up to answer it. It was a guy coming to pick up a wildlife survey that he had dropped off for Aaron to fill out earlier today. I went over to the coffee table to get it and Chops, Tony’s dog, ran to the door and attacked the guy, barking and biting at him. The guy tried to defend himself as Chops tried to kill him. I ran out and tackled/tripped on top of Chops, who yelped and ran back inside, where I caught him, grabbed him by his throat with one hand and lifted him up about five feet off the ground, then slammed him on his back on the cement floor. I hope I broke something. I hate that damn dog.

Luckily I don’t think the guy got bitten too hard, but he took off pretty quickly after I apologized. Chops is going to cause a law suit one of these days.

Oww

That hurt. Power test today. I did a 20′ test up Mt. Lemmon. I ate too close to the start of the test (eggs with hot sauce, toast, oats, pear). I got to about 7 minutes and was feeling like gold. Legs were fresh, lungs were barely working. And then it hit me, my stomach started rising up and out of my throat. My intestines seemed to be using a plunger to force all those unwanted eggs back up my esophagus. I finished the test of course, but it was pretty crappy. About 30 less watts than what I was shooting for. I’ll do one in a few weeks again but next time I’ll start out slower and eat way before I ride.

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Aaron and I in 2006 at the top of A Mountain.

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A couple days ago in 2008. Only difference is my jersey.

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Horse with an ice pack.

This is my first rest week since I got down here.  I’m aiming  for 15 or 16 hours, which is giving me a lot of time to apply at restaurants and coffee shops.  I’ve filled out applications at 12 places so far.  Come on, how hard is it to get a crappy job filling up someone’s coffee cup?  I blame the politicians for not fixing the economy.  If people and businesses are low on money, why don’t they just make more?  It’s so simple.  So simple.  Jut print more money.  That way everyone’s happy, especially the horse above because she’ll finally have enough cash to buy an ice machine and a bath tub without mold and scum all over it to take a nice ice bath instead of using that old ice pack.

I went to the gym today after riding and was shocked to see how little I weighed.  Especially since it was evening after eating a large dinner.  I usually weigh myself in the morning.  As I was taking a rest in between squat sets, I noticed that the majority of the other weight lifters were wearing tank tops.  They were all admiring their upper body muscle in the mirrors.  I was wearing a tank top too, but unlike them I was admiring how thin my arms were.  Although I’ve lost upper body mass, I haven’t felt a loss in power at all.  In fact, I’ve been feeling harder, better, faster, stronger.

Ahh, Mike brings up a good point.  After I become harder, better, faster, stronger, and more aerodynamic, hopefully a more technologic bike will show that I am not human after all, but a true robot, rocking.  Then I will be able to race around the world at least one more time.