Archives for February 2013

Trainer, trainer, trainer

Well, this is going to be a short and sweet entry.  This week was a short on time week.  The wife was out of town all week, which meant I was solo with the kids.  Couple that with having some work deadlines to meet and that meant that I had no time to get outside and ride the bike.

The only rides this week were on the trainer for 3 nights.  Less than 3 hours total on the bike, and it was torture.

But still, if I have any hope of salvaging my race season, it was torture I felt I had to endure.

I too headed out of town on Friday to join my wife in NYC, which also meant missing the Comfort race.  It also meant I would be off the bike altogether for 4 days.

Between the shitty training capacity over the last 2 weeks, missed opportunity to train and inability to get any real training in before the next important races, I felt I couldn’t not jump on the trainer.

Probably the one thing that really hit home as far as forcing myself onto the trainer for 3 days straight was this graph:

pcm

What you are looking at here is the Performance Management Chart from www.trainingpeaks.com. A buddy of mine turned me onto the site, and this chart in particular to point out how quickly not riding can affect your fitness, and ultimately your performance.

The blue line is the Chronic Training Load, which also supposedly fairly accurately reflects your current fitness level.

See how that blue line drops off quite a bit through the months of December and January?  Basically, that shows how my fitness dropped over the holiday time period due to inactivity.  Even a few days ‘off the bike’ can seriously impact your fitness levels.

Had I not gotten myself onto the trainer for those 3 days last week, my fitness would have potentially dropped significantly, negating quite a bit of training that I have done so far this year.

Insanity!

This chart also drives home that I have got to get out and ride more if I expect to really improve any more.  As it is, my 4ish hours per week is only maintaining my current fitness levels.  I need to get back to my goal of 6+ hours per week like I was able to at the end of January when the gains were so pronounced.

According to this chart, my fitness levels are roughly equivalent to where they were back in the fall.  My performances thus far in the 2013 races back that up as well.  And to put it bluntly, that ain’t gonna cut it…

Either I’ll just say F it and scratch any hope of placing in the state series, or I’ve got to find a way to get more time on the bike.

I’ll admit that I’ve been battling a bit of F it attitude over the last few days.  It seems impossible to find a way to consistently find 6 hours per week to ride the bike.  Especially on race weeks when I’m already devoting a whole day to biking.  Asking the wife to allow me to spend another 3 hours the other day of the weekend to get in my training is just asking for trouble…

So what’s a guy to do?  It is becoming harder and harder to keep a positive outlook and I’ve been falling more into the F it and give up thought process, which really, really bums me out.

For now I will keep at it and hopefully my cardio will allow me to train hard again.  With this severely limited ride schedule, high intensity interval training is really my only option to pull off any fitness gains.

Next week is the Mellow Johnny’s Classic at Flat Creek Crossing Ranch.  Last year I finished 32 out of about 50 people.  My original goal was a top 3 finish at this race, but now I have adjusted that to a more conservative top 7.   Depending on who all comes out to race, I may be lucky to get a top 7…

Disappointment and Concern

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Well, race #2 is in the books and for me, it was disappointing and concerning.

Ever since the Rocky Hill SuperD and XC Race last weekend, my cardio has just been out of whack. My first ride back on the bike after last weekend was my planned Tuesday interval ride. I was crazy busy so I couldn’t get out during the day so I set up the trainer to ride that evening.

I am going to jump in here to say I picked up a road bike for training purposes. A good deal on a Specialized Allez Elite.

5825

I climbed on and began my warmup. Almost immediately I could tell that things weren’t right. My heart rate was very sluggish to rise and was well below normal for even a warmup. I pushed on and began my first interval, which was to be an all out for 3 minutes. I pushed and pedaled hard but could not get my heart rate out of the 160’s, let alone to my target of 180.

Well, I figured I needed more rest, so I dialed it back and just did a steady tempo for an hour instead.

On Wednesday, I did some research looking to figure out what was going on with my body. Long story short, I self prescribed a little more rest and recovery.

Onward to Thursday, I again had another interval session planned but had already decided I wouldn’t likely do the intervals. I did attempt to push hard for a couple of minutes to see how my heart rate would respond, and again, was tough to maintain a higher heart rate. I decided not to push it and settled into a steady tempo ride for 45 minutes.

I was becoming worried, moreso that my Saturday performance would be off than anything else. I still wasn’t really concerned that I might have done any real harm. At any rate, I was still excited to be racing at Cameron Park in Waco in the 2nd race of the series.

Saturday’s race start time was 1:30 and through a bunch of scheduling, I was able to leave the house at 10AM. I arrived at Cameron Park at noon, which would give me plenty of time to prepare and warm up for the 1:30 race start.

I got registered, and began my warm up. I was feeling pretty good, heart rate was responsive and everything felt great. Legs felt strong and more importantly, cardio felt good as well. I felt normal and that was a good thing!

As we gathered at 1:15 for race staging, we get word over the PA that the race is delayed 30 minutes due to paperwork issues. Bleh, well, it would have been nice to know that a little sooner so I could have better scheduled my pre-race prep work. I had just taken a Honey Stinger and was primed to go. Ah well, now it was time to keep legs from cooling off too much over the next 45 minutes until the new start time.

At 1:45, we met at the staging area and they separated the age groups. The start area was a crowded mess and it was difficult to get to the proper place. Not to mention the stagger times were only 1 minute between age groups so that left even less time. I have always felt that last few minutes were so tough just before a race, but this time it was a rush to get into place, get set and go.

My goal for this race was going to be to hit the singletrack with the top 3 so I could avoid any potential jam ups in the singletrack.

The whistle blew, and we were off. I settled into the 3rd spot and hit the singletrack feeling strong and happy to be in the position I was. We were smoking through the singletrack for only a couple of minutes before we started hitting the prior age group. Well, crap, looks like we’re going to get traffic jams anyway. For the record, a 1 minute split SUCKS and they need to stagger more. I was really banking on good time in the singletrack ahead of the pack for my overall performance.
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Through the initial singletrack I was strong and felt great. I had no problems keeping up with #1 & #2 until we hit a longer slightly uphill climb. It was here where a couple more from the pack passed me up. Those long, gradual inclines are my weak spot.

No worries, I was able to keep strong with the leaders the remainder of the first lap, although it was a PITA dodging so many of the earlier age group riders so early in the ride. Every single climb was a traffic jam, with forced dismounts where I can typically clear with ease. I was a little ticked at this, but you do what you gotta do.

I finished the first lap and felt good. I figured I would be able to bang out the same, if not better times over the next 2 laps to finish strong.

Unfortunately, my chest decided otherwise. It was just as I was dropping into the singletrack on the 2nd lap that my heart rate started dropping. I didn’t really feel tired, but something was definitely wrong. I tried to power on for a little bit, but it quickly became apparent that my heart was going to have none of it. I was forced to slow down and at this point I started feeling really, really shitty. Like so shitty that I was seriously considering if I should quit the race.

I pedaled on, with my heart rate lower and lower. I pulled the effort way back and thought I would just try to finish out the lap and make the decision to finish or stop. Towards the end of the 2nd lap, I at least felt semi-okay again. I was going much slower than usual and my heart rate was way low, yet I still felt like I was running at race pace.

I decided I would go ahead and try to limp through the 3rd lap to finish out the race. Some finish would be better than nothing.

I felt a little better on the 3rd lap, but I had slowed considerably. I pretty much just dialed it back to ‘fun ride’ tempo in an effort to finish the race.

I finished the race, and while tired, I was more disappointed and concerned than anything else. Disappointed as I am starting to fear my whole season is in jeopardy and concerned because I didn’t know wtf is going on with my heart.

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Don’t let the levity of this picture confuse you, I was hurting =)

I hoped that I still finished in the top 15 as I did have a very good first lap and felt while my other 2 laps were slower, that maybe I was able to maintain a decent position.

We waited for the race results. We waited… and waited … and waited. Now, I think it is worth mentioning here that my wife is currently out of town, and my daughter and son are being watched by not 1, but 2 sitters so that I could make it out for this race today. My absolute last cutoff for heading back to Austin was 5:30. I finished my race at 3:15, SURELY results would be out by 5:30, right?

Wrong… The results never came and I eventually had to throw in the towel and head home.

The next day the results were posted. I showed 16th, but my time is off by more than 2 minutes. Looking up at the #14 finisher, that time matches my time exactly and one of the other racers informs me that when they finally did post the results, that I was originally in 14th before at some point getting bumped to 16th. Who the F knows, but it really didn’t matter too much anyway. 16th it is I guess…

I have plans to get to see a doctor this week, and keep bike time to easy spinning at most, and possibly off the bike altogether. I don’t have a race next weekend, but Mellow Johnny’s is in 2 weeks and I really, really want to not only race that, but finish strong.

After all of the build up from last fall and the winter, so far I am hugely disappointed. And I chalk it all up to that stupid SuperD at Rocky Hill.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get in to see a doc soon and hopefully they will be able to tell me what is going on and when I can expect to be back to normal.

Race Day Recap:
Weigh In: 160 lbs
Bike weight: 26.6 lbs
Nutrition: 2 servings oatmeal, 1 banana, 1 cup coffee, 1 honey stinger 30 mins before race, 1/2 water bottle during race
Weather: Dry and clear, 62 degrees
Dress: Bibs and short sleeve jersey
RPE: Great strong first lap, 2nd lap felt like death, 3rd easy slow lap
CTL: 27.3
TSB: -3.8 (steady)

What a race!

The Waco race was so much fun! My GoPro battery died during the first lap, so I whipped this [Read more…]

Rocky Hill Roundup – TMBRA 2013

First race in the new year long format of the TMBRA 2013 race series. It was muddy, sloppy and [Read more…]

Rocky Hill Roundup Race Report

RHR-0403-X2

Well, here it is!  The first race of the year was this past weekend and I was hardly able to contain my anxiety.

Training rides for the week were to include a rest day, followed by intervals on Thursday.

For my day off the bike, I actually had a bike fitting scheduled at Bicycle Sport Shop.  I took the rig in and just wanted to have the confirmation and confidence that my current setup was ideal for my riding.  I didn’t really have any specific issues with my ride, and actually I am very comfortable on the bike, even for multi-hour rides.

I was planning to start upgrading some components, and just wanted the confidence that I would be getting the right stuff.

At any rate, the fitting took about 2 hours and we went over various things with my bike including pedaling, position and posture.  Turns out Travis was pretty happy with how I was configured, and we only did a few minor tweaks.  We have a couple of suggestions for later which I am going to explore, but did not want to do anything drastic just a scant 3 days before my first XC race.

Probably the biggest change we did was getting new inserts.  Turns out, according to their measurements, that I have pretty high arches.  Some new insoles that conformed better to my foot really helped keep my foot more stable in the shoe and overall improved my pedaling comfort.  As an added bonus, there was less play in the shoe which has to translate into better pedaling efficiency.

I also found out that my saddle is a little too narrow for my sit bones, but I’m not ready to pull the trigger on a different saddle just yet.  For now, I will be upgrading my handlebar, stem and seatpost.  I’ll look towards saddle next.

I’ve already placed an order for an Enve Sweep carbon fiber handlebar and a new Easton Stem. Todd hooked me up with a Thompson Elite seatpost, but I haven’t put it on just yet.

My plan will be to put on all of those new components after this weekend’s Waco XC Race.

Anyway, my Thursday interval ride went well and felt good.  I did take 1 attempt at the Commons Ford 1 Mile PR, but finished about 7 seconds behind my best time.  I know my current PR was a short all or nothing ride so it doesn’t quite equal this effort.  Anyway, I’ll get a new PR on there soon enough =)

Todd came by on Friday and we went out for an easy spin to keep the legs fresh.

Saturday was the Kids Kup and the SuperD.  I took J out to the Kids Kup where she was super excited to do the Kids Kup.

After the Kids Kup, it was time for the SuperD.  There wasn’t a big entry field, but this is something I felt I could give a good run at for 1st place.  I had already decided that I’d put forth a hard effort, but I little did I know that a 5 minute hard effort would impact my race on Sunday.

After pre-riding the SuperD course and warming up, I felt pretty good with my prospects.  We lined up and the Start was called.  I was immediately in last place as I had mis-geared my starting setup.  Lesson learned there…   I was able to get into 2nd pretty easily, but getting the hole shot was no longer an option.

I followed Alex into the single track and held his wheel.  I knew there was a portion of the course that opened up onto the jeep road and I decided early on that I would make my move when we hit the road.  I was going to attack and attack hard to get the pass.

Unfortunately for me, Alex really powered it up on the jeep road as he was anticipating a possible attack.  This caused me to really have to push hard and likely in the end, this was my undoing.  I made the pass, but it cost me dearly.  While I maintained speed and composure right after the pass, I could feel that twinge my legs and chest that indicated that no matter what I wanted to do, my matches were burnt and I was going to be stalling out.  Sure enough, when we hit the last little climb, I could tell I was done, and rather than be a dick, I moved over and let Alex by uncontested.

Rocky Hill Ranch SuperD

Having lost the race right there, I then took it easy through to the end.  No need to risk a crash on the small jumps at the end of the course.  I rolled across the finish in 2nd place.

RHR-SuperD-Podium

You can see a video of the run and read a little more over here: Rocky Hill Roundup SuperD

It was right about now that I started feeling pretty rough.  I was exhausted, more so than I can ever recall being.  I was faint headed and nauseous and could hardly stop coughing.  I could tell that I had really given my heart and lungs a very strenuous workout.  It would be a solid 90 minutes before I would recover enough to feel normal again.

The rest of the day I took it really easy and tried to go to bed early. I was still very anxious for the XC the next day and was very excited about the coming race.

On Sunday, Little Red woke me up about 5AM. I had planned to be up at 6, but there was no way to go back to sleep at that point. I got up and got everything ready. Had a bowl of oatmeal and some yogurt. A cup of coffee and I was out the door.

I arrived at Rocky Hill Ranch by 7:30AM, in plenty of time for the scheduled 9AM start. Unfortunately it was raining, and had been raining for quite a while. It was sloppy and muddy. Due to this, the race was delayed just a few minutes until 9:15, and the course was diverted around some of the most muddy parts of the trail.

Part of the reroute meant that we would be climbing the jeep road for a longer time period. That didn’t really bode well for me, as sustained climbs of that nature are not my strong point. “No worry”, I told myself, as I still felt that as long as I could keep up with the leaders on the climb that I’d be able to hang in there through the single track.

I did my warmup and lined up on the front line for the race. The GO was called and we were off, albeit a little slower than typical. My feeling is that everyone knew we were in for it on this initial climb and there was no need to charge off hard right off the bat.

I started out in fine condition, sticking in the #3 position for most of the first bit of the climb. Towards the end of the climb however, several others had moved ahead. I wasn’t worried just yet as I felt I would be able to make up time in the singletrack where my bike handling skills would support me.

As we hit the singletrack, it was super sloppy. My wheels were spinning and I was sliding all over the place. I was riding on less aggressive 2.1 width tires, both up front and in back. Maxxis Ignitor up front and Maxxis Crossmark in the back. I would find out later that people running more aggressive tires said they felt strong in the mud and did not have slipping problems that I reported. Duly noted and I’ll have to pick up some tires when courses look to be muddy again in the future.

Even though I wasn’t as fast or as strong in the singletrack as I usually was, others were having issues as well. While I estimate that I hit the singletrack in position 10 or 11, I was able to make my way up as high as #6 before eventually being overtaken in the final 200 yards of the course by 2 racers. Just as in the SuperD the day prior, when it came to the final sprint, I just had zero gas left in the tank and lost out.

I finished the race in 8th place. I am disappointed as I really wanted to be in top 5, if not the top 3. My buddy, Kirby, who I feel I am pretty much on par with, finished 4th, and only 6 seconds out of 2nd! It was a close finish for 2-4. I really feel I should have been in the mix with those guys. They finished about 1:30 ahead of me. Was it due to the mud? Or the SuperD on Sunday? Or is that just where I would be under normal circumstances? It is hard to say…

In the end, it was still very fun. My anxiety really tore me up the week prior to the race and I hope that I can get that under control, particularly the couple of days before the race. I need my sleep!

Race Day Recap:
Weigh In: 161 lbs
Bike weight: 26.6 lbs
Nutrition: 2 servings oatmeal, 1 serving yogurt, 1 cup coffee, 1 honey stinger 30 mins before race, 1/2 water bottle during race
Weather: Wet and muddy, 59 degrees
Dress: Bibs and short sleeve jersey
RPE: Rode hard, but felt sluggish
CTL: 27.1
TSB: -5.2 (steady)

Heart Tired?

heartI’ll get around to posting up a race report from this past weekend, but for now I want to focus on something else.

During the SuperD on Saturday, I pushed myself to the limit.  5 minutes at or above maximum HR (180+).  After the run, I was nauseous and light headed.  It took 90 minutes to regain my composure and to start feeling somewhat normal.

Even so, for the rest of the day my chest still hurt.  My lungs were tight and things just didn’t feel quite ‘right’, but not so much that I felt in any danger or needed to seek medical attention.

Onward to Sunday, I feel a little fatigued, but legs felt great after warm up and I felt poised for a good performance in the XC race.  Unfortunately, due to the weather, the course was sloppy, slippery and muddy so I felt like I wasn’t able to go like I was expecting with a dry course.  Indeed, I felt a bit sluggish, but did not know if it was due to the effort on Saturday or due to the poor trail conditions, or a combination of both.  Regardless, I didn’t perform as well as I had hoped, or as well as I felt I could have.  I just didn’t have the punch to make it happen.

Once home, I uploaded my trail information to Strava and noticed that my average HR for the XC race was only 171.  My typical heart rate during race efforts is in the upper 170’s.  Still, it is anecdotal at best.

I took off Monday, but wanted to maintain my training and had a planned interval ride scheduled for Tuesday.  I wasn’t able to get out during the day so I popped the Roadie on the trainer and proceeded to do my training workout.  I was able to warm up without issue, but noticed my warm up heart rate was sticking around 130, when usually under that kind of effort I’d be in the 145-150 range.

When the time came for the first hard interval (HR Zone 5, max effort), I pedaled and pushed hard, but to no avail.  I was barely able to get my heart rate above 160, let alone get my HR up to near 180.  After trying for about a minute and a half, I gave up and decided to just do a 1 hour tempo ride.  Even then, it took steady effort to keep my HR at 150, which typically is pretty easy to do.

Now, today, I had remembered seeing some articles about suppressed HR, I did some Googling.

http://www.slowtwitch.com/Training/Heart_Tired_revisited_3274.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23195630

Unfortunately there are pretty much no studies in this area, but it is a commonly observed pattern, particularly around extreme endurance training.  The symptoms correlate to what I am seeing, but the cause does not.  These articles suggest prolonged endurance efforts as causing the issues, and mine was a short, highly intense effort.

In any case, I can say that my chest still doesn’t feel 100%.  I was supposed to do another interval training day today, but I’m going to take the day off and may not ride again until this weekend.

It is a bit of a downer to think that I may not be 100% for Saturday when I’ll be in my next XC race.  I was really looking forward to dry trails to see how I fared in more ideal conditions.  Heck, there’s even part of me that thinks it might be best to not race at all this weekend, but if I’m going to continue my series goal, I can’t really miss any of my ‘planned’ races.  I’m pretty tight on what races I can and can’t make and I feel missing Waco would put me at a disadvantage.

Rocky Hill Roundup SuperD 2013

Heading into the Rocky Hill Roundup race weekend, the weather was looking sketchy. Fortunately, the rain held off on [Read more…]

Cameron Park Waco Cat 3 Loop 2012

This is my first of 3 laps at the Fall 2012 TMBRA mountain bike race at Cameron Park in Waco, [Read more…]

Blown Week 3

Well, I guess totally blown wouldn’t be fully correct, although it did turn out to be a light week.

Tuesday and Thursday were planned interval rides. This time Over/Under intervals on the road bike. I managed to ride these and felt great doing it. Training going according to plan.

Between Tuesday and Thursday I only had about 2.5 hours in for the week. The coming weekend was going to be light due to having family in town, but I had hopes to be able to somehow pull off a miracle somewhere and get some good time in.

Well, that didn’t really materialize, but I was able to squeeze in a short afternoon ride on Superbowl Sunday.

So I had dropped Betty off at the shop last week to have a tune up and make over. I also dropped my front derailleur and went with a 1×10 setup. After much deliberation I decided to go with a 32 tooth front chain ring to go with the 11-36 cog cassette in the back. I finished out the upgrade with an MRP chainguide.

My one short ride on Sunday was my first shot a riding the new setup and I must say that it went well! I can see where this setup wouldn’t be ideal for a lot of road miles, but I sure don’t want to be putting in a ton of road miles on Betty anyway, so all’s good.

32T x 11-36

32T x 11-36

According to this tool, with 32T-11×36, at 80RPM cadence, I will be running about 20mph. I tested that on my ride on Sunday and found it to be spot on. I only spun out when going downhill on a major paved road. I’ll take it!

Of course, the real test will come this Sunday when I hit the dirt for the first race of the season!

In addition to getting the 1×10 setup and tune up, I also replaced my rear brake pads, and the bike shop recommended I replace my bottom bracket which had been creaking for a while.

Other than that, I have put in some fresh Stan’s, and other than a wash and lube, I’ll be ready to go for Sunday!

I have to admit that I am very anxious about the first race. I have gone back and forth on wondering what the race will be like and what my strategy should be.

My biggest concern are the 2 big climbs of the race. The first is right off the bat and is a solid climb. After 250ft gain in a mile and a half, the trail is some good flowy stuff. I need to have 2 things happen on that initial climb. I need to not blow up, and I need to keep with the leaders. If I can do that through the top of the climb, I feel like I’ll be sitting pretty.

I have no doubt I can hold my own through the meat of the trail and my only next concern comes with the final climb of the day, which is a punchy 12% grade, 60ft or so of ascent over 1/10 of a mile. From past rides at RHR, this climb kicks my butt. It’s very close to the end of the loop, is steep, and loose. I know I’m going to be hurting on this one, but I just want to fight through the pain and make it over the top with good momentum to carry me through to the end.

So this week I’ll have a bike fitting on Tuesday, followed by a spin to keep the legs fresh. Thursday will be intervals and then the weekend will be here. Super D race on Saturday and XC race on Sunday.

Go for the gold!