Friday, February 27, 2009

4x4 vo2

Within a 90 minute workout I had four 4min efforts at vo2max, the zone just before going anaerobic.

round 1 - Struggle to find the zone, struggle to keep it. Legs complain, lactic acid building up quickly making them heavy and slow. Brain complains, doubt is heavy inside, and I nearly throw in the towel. But there are only two minutes left, you can do anything for 2 minutes, right? Keep going, keep hurting, keep pushing until the final five seconds tick by.

Recovery - slow the legs, jump to a Much easier gear, and focus on breathing to get the heart rate down.

round 2 - The mind and body want to find the path of least resistance. Working at this level is the opposite of Want. Some form of Just Do It (rhymes with "shut up, self") and I keep going. I mean, I finished the first one, right? Keeping watts in the zone is a struggle. I am missing the gear that facilitates this activity on the trainer. I flip between hard/slow pedal strokes and quick/easier - neither are ideal, but slow tends to be my best opportunity at staying where I need to be. Another minute. Grueling churn, recognition that this is my moment for pain, and the countdown begins with 20 seconds to go.

Recovery - a little bit of gasping, a lot of coasting, and try to get back to the Endurance zone as quickly as possible.

round 3- It takes a bit to ramp up, to get the power where it belongs. Legs Do Not Want. It doesn't matter, this is happening anyway. Into the heavy gear, the second highest I've got, and find a groove. Any distraction - scratching my leg, a random thought, blinking.. and the watts drop below zone. I yell at myself "come on!" as if that will help get back to the zone. It is a slow four minutes. Feel the burn. Whatever.

Another break. I've nearly finished off the water bottle. Sweaty, tired, one to go.

round 4 - again, slow to ramp up to power. I find myself standing a few times to break the effort. Get up & go, pedal, try to groove, mutter "c'mon!" and keep going. My seat is sore ~ the friction of riding indoors has added up in a painful way, and trying to push with That Much force irritates. Slow going. I will the movie to break into a fast song, but it doesn't. This is a struggle without tunes. I crank it out, but the final few seconds have dropped below the zone and I can't bring them back. I consider trying, extending to make up for those 5 seconds, but recover instead.

Well over an hour into it, and I Finally feel like I'm warmed up. I'm ready to go, I could try that interval again. Runner's High or insanity? It is a struggle to remain in the saddle and in the endurance zone for the remainder of my workout, but I finish. A quick change, and I'm throwing dinner together. Chipotle Raspberry Chicken & Poblano Nachos with fresh Whack-a-mole. (Not Junk Food) Carbs, Meats, Vegetation, a little dairy cheese, and a whole lotta flavor.

By the time dinner is over, I'm Very sleepy. I fall asleep reading a book, legs cramping. I apply the Rolling Stick, and that improves Significantly. I sleep well, and my legs actually feel great today. Hoorah. Now I need to go jump in the saddle for a 90 minute recovery ride. Spin away.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kitchen Confessions

veggie hate

I do not like broccoli. Steamed, stir fried, raw? Gross. I'm okay with broccoli soup, so long as that flavor isn't overtly predominant. Yes, I know it's good for me. I still don't like it. I agree with Dr. Hibbert on this one: "One of the deadliest plants on Earth. Why, it tries to warn you itself with its terrible taste." Okay, maybe not the deadliest part - but the rest is spot on.

Peas - there are two instances when these rollypolly green things show up in food I make. Chicken Pot Pie, or Pasta Primavera. That said, No bite can be peas only. Ew. Let's blame this on growing up where a side of peas was a given. Snap Pea Pods will show up in a stir fry, but I can only handle a few before I want to gag. Maybe I need to cut those into smaller pieces so I can have more than one flavor on the fork?

Give me spinach! Give me hearty, leafy greens, even string beans! Red or golden peppers, a nicely roasted squash, even roast cauliflower! Just please, no peas or broccolis.

I probably don't eat enough veggies. My main intake is dinner. Can't bring myself to v8 or otherwise "indulge" at breakfast, and sometimes lunch just misses the mark, unless it is explicitly salad. Maybe I can resolve that by coming up with a quiche & salad lunch option? Sounds like a weekend baking project.

storage fail

My veggie drawer becomes a veggie graveyard. I forget what is in there. Even if I plan out menus, there is a high likelihood that Something will be forgotten, and get a little funky before it finds the trash.

My freezer is only slightly less of a dead end than the veggie drawer. I'm getting better at using frozen chicken breast purchased in bulk. But that place is a one way ticket for other cuts of meat. The few frozen veggies I buy have a 50% chance of being used.

Worst of all are leftovers. Rarely are these consumed. I try - honestly - to make appropriate portions for the two of us, but it's not always the easiest task. I know it would be useful to consume leftovers, how wonderful to use that food for a healthy lunch option! But, that seems to fail more often than not. Sometimes the meal just wasn't good enough to revisit. (I'll admit, there has been a bit of a slump lately.) Other times, even if it was good - it no longer is by the time it comes out of the microwave. And then, what's the point?

I feel very wasteful. American. In the way anyone from any other country would see us. There is a certain shame in food gone to waste.

dishes suck

I have not achieved mis en place for - I was going to say 'the kitchen,' but that would be lying. I have applied this to One Shelf for my purse & things. Instead, I am prioritizing work, working out, refueling, and then resting. I feel slightly lazy on that last note, but it is keeping me from being overwhelmed. Somewhere in the balance of time, money, and effort - cleaning up is only getting the scraps of effort. It is a little embarrassing, but there you go.

I can't even admit how far behind I am. It is bad. Do not visit.

So what changes?
small steps

The kitchen table is No Longer a dumping ground. Mail does not go there. After work stuff doesn't go there. Because... If it is clear, we can eat dinner at the table. If we can eat dinner at the table, we're more likely to get up together and stick the damn dishes in the dishwasher. Then we can turn around and wash the few hand washes, wipe off the stove, and the kitchen is ready for whatever comes next.

We'll see if this trickle down dish theory works in practice.

and a new challenge

I've never done lent. I've never been catholic, so it wasn't even on the radar ifyouknowwhatimean. But here is an opportunity to do something for a specific length of time. My challenge to myself is No Junk Food. Because last week after chatting w/ my sweetie about wanting to eat better I ended up ordering a Wendy's #6 with Frosty, medium. Yurk. So ~ here's to no junk food. I'm not totally depriving myself, there will still be a Small bite of Quality chocolate or a nibble of coconut milk faux ice cream, but not bars, not bowls, and certainly no greasy paper bag and cardboard container meals.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jack Frost TT

Saturday - easy 2 hour club ride with friends. A few efforts, but overall a calm and flat ride.

Sunday - Vancouver Lake. 50 degrees and 70% chance of rain all day, but we luck out. Not too cold, a bit of wind.

I didn't sleep well. I never sleep well pre-race. I'm tossing and turning until midnight, thinking about sleep, willing it to happen. I wake up by 4am - at most 4 hours of REM. I try to keep relaxed, eyes closed, and hope 7am happens soon so I can justify getting out of bed. I'm nervous. I try to not think about the race, since that increases the jitters. Oatmeal and juice and water. Pack the yogurt and "recovery" hershey special dark chocolate milk. We kill time, waiting till 9 to finish putting the last few items in the car. It's cloudy but dry. I receive a very kindly written email from a dear friend, titled "You are an Athlete." It was the perfect pick-me-up.

The parking lot is packed - we luck out when a guy warming up in his tent motions to us, scoots his tent over and allows us to wedge in to a little spot only the MiniCoop would fit in - just a few spaces down from our team tent. We haul out the bikes, trainers, helmets, shoes, bags, food, chair, and misc. gear. I make camp on top of the cooler & eat a cup of greek yogurt. I try not to think much about the race, but I'm nervous and it isn't getting any better. Between that & staying hydrated, I visit the portapotty a few times, grubmling over the park restrooms that are 'Closed for the Season.' Ugh.

Matt starts his warmup - I have a half hour before I need to jump on. The sun makes the clouds and lake glow various shads of beige. Maybe it's just the amber tinted glasses, but it's beautiful. One tiny little sprinkle is the only hint of rain so far - we are hopeful and the road is dry.

On the trainer. I double check my warmup, and realize I'm a little short on time. Cut even shorter by having to pee, again. But I know that needs to take priority, there is no room for a full bladder in a race. At 12:15 by my watch, I get out on the road. I make a few passes, two sprint efforts, and roll back toward the start - I want to ask the guys who've finished just how wide the turn around is. As I'm rolling past the start line, they call my name. The line holds a space for me 2 from the front - I am on in 1 minute. I thought I had more time. I see my friend two spaces behind my slot - my goal is to prevent her from catching me for as long as possible. I pull in behind a tiny girl with braids in white and yellow on a very shiny TT bike. 30 seconds - she is released. She isn't pedaling, and almost falls over! They shout at her to go - and she saves it, barely.

I roll up. The guy on my left braces my arm, holding me up until I clip in. The guy behind me is holding the saddle rails, wheel between his legs, to keep me upright. "Are you square?" Um... yeah, almost. They help me while I scoot a fraction to the right, and now I'm on the seat. Pedals ready. In 5, 4, 3, 2, putting pressure on the pedals, 1 I try to go and Zeor - my bike is free and I push out the gate. I stand, get it up to speed and settle in. The poor girl in front of me isn't that far away, and I'm gaining.

I check my numbers - watts are 220-250, well above my goal, so I settle back a bit. For the first 30 seconds my mind wants to know what insanity has led me here - why I think I belong in this race, and wouldn't it feel good just to pull off, and Not turn right to stay on course? My legs have other ideas, and spin a bit harder to shut her the hell up.

I'm still gaining. Around the right hand turn, and it's easy to pedal. I catch the petite TT before we pass the finish line, not even a half mile into the race. I make it to the big right hand turn, a very fast corner, and take it tight but avoiding the pothole. I crank it thru the corner as I hear them cheer for me by name. Not long after, I see M coming toward me, nearly done with his race. "Woo!" I shout, and I guess I was smiling. Heh.. guess the pain hadn't started yet.

I keep going, and in a moment I'm passed by a woman on a very Aero bike with a very pointy helmet. That's okay - she's TT, I'm just a hack in her first race on a road bike. But it took her a while to catch me.. I must be doing okay. Watts are in control, I try to keep it close to my target of 178 functional threshold watts, but I keep going over. That's okay right? What with the tail wind, maybe this will help me out since the return will be a struggle.

I keep going, powering over the little undulations, never resting the legs. I have a side stitch down the right side of my rib cage - boy would stretching help that. My right leg's IT band is burning, but I'm not going to ease off. Two more true TT women pass by the turn around, just over the half way point. It's in a parking lot, there are cones set up that give a nice wide turn. I am thru, a little slower than I should, but I didn't get to scout it before hand. I jump back up to speed, and notice how close my friend is behind me. A half mile down the road she passes, and calls out encouragement. There is no drafting - but I drop no more than 200 yards behind her.

Up ahead - what? Someone is going a slower, I watch my friend pass her. A few minutes more, and I know I can too - I ramp up the power and I pass maintaining about 250w. Into a headwind. It's a struggle, but I'm managing to keep my power up, trying to maintain 190-200.

The wind blows hard - there is no shelter. I get down in the drops, tuck in my elbows and shoulders and head. Heels down. With the visor I can see only 4 yards in front of my wheel, so every 15 sec or so I glance down the road and keep pedaling. The Fall Out Boys are in my head - This ain't a Breeze, it's a #%&@ Head Wind! But it's a beat I can pedal to.

On the right is the driveway we turned around in this morning. The end is near. I see a little left hand turn, and psyche myself out thinking it's the last left before the finish. Not quite, but not far. Pushing harder, wanting to pull my friend back as much as possible before that white line. 1k to go. I try not to get too excited, to save something for the final burst ~ might have saved too much?

200m - go go go go go! Seated acceleration. Not a sprint really, but I felt darn fast riding past the finish. No air to shout my number, so I'll just have to hope they caught it. I didn't catch my friend, but she didn't finish too far in front of me. I roll up next to her, energized and ready for another effort. What?? She's gasping, slow - I put my hand on her back, congratulate her, and roll back to the tent.

It's too easy to ride my endurance zone on the way back in. My legs aren't shot. I don't feel like puking. Dang, guess I had more to give. But for a first effort, not too bad. In total, I think 6 women passed me. I overtook two. It looks like I pulled 12.145miles, 37 and a half minutes, 19.4 mph avg at 187w average. 9w over ftp! Looks like that baseline might reset some of my zones.

Turns out my friend wasn't who I thought it was? I guess she didn't race, because she Killed It with an awesome finish the day before. So - whoever you were with the short hair and encouragement, thank you for being my rabbit. Great race!

Monday, February 16, 2009

another ride

It's silly how extensively different performance on the bike can feel one day to the next.

Saturday was fabulous. Not freezing, tho there were efforts where I could see every exhale, but not nearly warm enough to be mistaken for spring. We rode the Cedar Canyon loop, and I was strong. Not the last man thru the hills - not by far. I even caught up with the second to front fraction of our group in a downhill push... and managed to bring on a minor nose bleed when attempting to blow away the congestion, but that just means it's hard core, right? 42 miles, just shy of the 3 hours I needed for the day. It seemed a little windy, but I didn't have my typical 80% speed reduction, so either it wasn't bad or I'm a lot stronger now.

Sunday morning is Very cold and Rainy. A combination that I avoid. So, we jump on the trainers before breakfast, see if we can get a little indoor ride in to start the day. By 30 minutes I'm running out of juice - nothing left. Even the little on bike snack couldn't carry me thru. Time to eat.

Later that afternoon it's sunny, and I'm needing to ride. I decide on a loop, hoping it will give 2 hours. Matt grabs his TT bike and we hit the road. It's windy. Far more windy than yesterday ~ wind that does slow me down. What happened to yesterday's mojo? I can see watts and know the effort I'm putting down, but I can't see speed. This is probably a good thing, because low digits on the road can be disheartening. Out past the purple shadowy branches of the blueberry farm, working against the wind. We turn the corner, and it is worse - a speed stopping headwind. I make myself small, tuck my shoulders and arms in, lower my back, and curse the brim of this new wool cap that is being blown down, limiting my field of vision. Chug, chug, chug. Legs churn, attempting to battle into the wind. Matt takes off on his very aero time trial bike, and he's suddenly small on the horizon. I chug along.

A few miles later, and we decide to go different directions. He's headed home, and I am going to continue on my loop. More head/side wind for me before I get to turn toward home. A climb up the back slope of Helvetia that is fortunately sheltered from the wind. I wave at other riders - going the opposite direction, very smart - and continue on. Once I get down the hill I stop and tear off the hat that continues to flop down like an overgrown widow's peak. Now the wind is at my back, and I fly home. I put in one or two sprints, needing to feel the speed and the effort on pavement. The tail wind takes me home quickly, and I'm very short of my 3 hour goal for the day. I'll need to figure out a different solution.

Race reports start to trickle in. The race we didn't do. There was a bang up wreck in what would have been my field. Point to the coach for keeping me out of that mess. I know I'm getting stronger - but am I ready??

Friday, February 13, 2009

Avoiding Housework

There is a huge list of chores to do. Ones I hate to do. Ones that scoff at my attempt to take control and make wild promises around New Years. So instead, I took on a project that was much lower on the list, but held high personal satisfaction and quick results. I cleaned my craft room / dog den. I finally hung the cute chandelier I bought - a year ago?

This is a room I want to spend more time in. The piles of miscellaneous crap left over from Christmas gift wrap needed to go. Now, the room is back in order ~ so I shall share.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Body of Change

I understand weight lifting. I can see the cause and effect, the quick results, the measurable increase in ability. Cycling, endurance, cardio efforts - these are things I do not quite comprehend, do not know how to quantify.

Since I started training, I've surpassed 1,000 miles. Not all outdoors, but still those miles happened by these legs, in that saddle.

I have new calluses building up on the outside heel of my hands. My biceps are thinning and becoming more defined. I'm seeing my quads slowly change shape, with new muscles becoming evident. Holy crap, I'm developing a cyclists body. It is slow, the changes are tiny, but I'm seeing tangible results from the effort, and it is inspiring.

I know I'm stronger on the bike than.... I think I can safely say Ever Before. Heck, I just turned in a 50m + 25m weekend in FEBRUARY! But I haven't tried to analyze the numbers - I wouldn't even know what to look for. Instead, I'll celebrate small successes, like seeing a newly defined curve in the quad muscles, and call that progress.

A February Weekend


Cool and crisp - thin low clouds. I roll out with the race team for an Endurance pace ride, feeling confident that if I can just tuck in I'll be able to keep my effort where it needs to be, and not push Too Hard. I'm ready for three hours out, and place myself in the middle of the pack. Not so far forward that I have to do the work, not so far back that I suffer in the yo-yo effect. We're fairly smooth, but on top of another group and riders are confused on where they belong. The pace picks up as we try to separate out, such that by the time we stop for a flat I'm feeling a bit cooked.

The pace was quicker than intended - sloppy from the mixed groups and rushed to get off the high traffic roads. I take advantage of the break, we all regroup, and head out together again. It's relaxed a bit, a pace I can maintain. By the time we reach our only climb, I'm the last man up but it doesn't bother me. I am slow, but not as slow as I've been. Matt tries to chat with me, asks how I'm doing. Great, so long as I don't have to make words - I nod, and just keep going.

This is a double climb, and as we dip down before the second part he suggests picking up some speed. I do - a bit too much. It's a sharp turn. There's gravel. I fly in to the corner and lean in to the turn, the agility of the bike and the distance between the asphalt and my elbow frightens me. A little adrenaline burst, I shift into a less aggressive posture, and come out upright. Scared, slower, but upright. I'm going to need to practice descents and sharp turns on this bike, as she seems much more spry than prior steeds. I chug up to the top, and feather the breaks all the way down the very steep descent.

Another quick break, I strip off the arm warmers, and we start up a pace line 15+ strong. Left over Right. I have no idea what that is, watch for a bit, and figure it out. I get in line, work my way up to the front, maintain pace and effort, and slide over to the right where I ease off just enough to allow the line to wrap in front of me. I slide back down thru the line ~ and go again. Bob gives me props. It's sunny. It's beautiful. It doesn't feel like early February.

Eventually we make it thru Forest Grove and point the train toward home. Someone from another group has jumped in, and the pace up. Between that, a very sore seat, the efforts so far, and the rolling little hills I'm cooked. Some of the guys are keeping an eye on me. Or the back of the pack, but that's me. They stay with me - my wing men - guiding me back to the group even tho it takes miles to rejoin. I'm beyond grateful, and they never once complain that I'm keeping them back. The slight change in pace allows me to recover, and I am able to finish the ride with the group, and full of energy.


The alarm goes off, and I check the weather report. 27 degrees. The hour by hour reports that it'll be 38 by the time our ride starts, and 45 when we finish. An hour later I let the dogs out, and it's only one degree warmer. It will not hit 38 by the time we leave.

We dig thru the gear for wool and balakavas and neoprene booties and jacket and lobster claw mittens. I grab my capris, knee high wool socks, and am ready to go. Our 4 1/2 mile ride in to the start is freezing - the capris aren't nearly as protective as I'd thought, and my skin feels as tho it's been pierced by thousands of tiny ice daggers. I scan the parking lot, and strike Gold when Kender digs out his jar of Hot Embrocation. I pull the capris up to my hip & slather on the warming goop. Without this, I would have had to go home.

This is an easier ride than yesterday, but my body is less able. I don't know if it was the effort from yesterday or working thru the bitter cold, but it is a struggle. It never warms up. But we roll on, and roll home, and straight to the shower to warm up. What happened to yesterday's sun?