Monday, November 29, 2010

Training Week 8 (of 32): Specificity Week - Climbing

Don't you love the word, "specificity?" I had to look the pronunciation up on that one because my long tongue kept getting tied up trying to say it. Spes-if-ic-ity. Got it. Ok... what is it in relation to mountain bike training for the Transylvania Epic? It means the focus is on something specific and for the next two weeks that means climbing and Lord knows I'm the worst climber out there so this week and next week will be good to help me work on my weakness. Part of my problem with climbing is a very poor weight to power ratio. You see, I'm too chunky to be a decent bike rider and that doesn't make for good bike climbing skills. But I'm working on the weight part and my training plan will help me work on the power part for climbing. I'll be in the trainer during the week and will get out on some good mountain climbs this coming weekend. Here's a sample of a trainer workout:
15 min warm-up with easy spinning
15 minutes at 75% effort (for me, that's about a 132 heart rate)
5 minutes easy spin
15 minutes at 80% effort (144 heart rate)
5 minutes easy spin
15 minutes at 75%
5 minutes easy spin
4 x 1 minutes at 90% with 1 minute rest between (90% heart rate is 162).
I live on a hill, so Saturday will be some hill climbing next to my house and if the weather sucks, I'll do a half and half ride: half on the trainer and half on the hill next to my house. Hopefully the weather will hold out and I can get to Michaux on Sunday to climb with my bud, Donna. Nothing like suffering with someone. Actually, after years of training by myself its really nice to have someone to train with for a change. Even Rick is hopping on his trainer during the week and we "train" together. It's awesome. (Although, I had to ask Rick what pedaling so slow does for him...). A whole new realm of training has opened up. It's fun!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Icing on the Rest Week Cake

It was only 6.75 training hours this week -- 6.75 gloriously easy, restful, re-energizing hours. And the better part of rest week hours? It's about the only time Rick will ride with me and I LOVE riding with my hubby. Thank god it got warm enough for him to ride today because as of last night, he was not going to ride with the high temps only to be around 42 today (probably only in the high 30s in the woods -- WAY too cold for Mr. Brown). The temps made it to about 45 with no wind and it was very comfortable. We rode some of the Lykens Watershed sections of the Rattling Creek trails for about 1.75 hrs and only saw two other riders (compared to last week's packed parking lot and about 2 dozen riders). Dean went with us today. He was thrilled to get out two weeks in a row and I'm thrilled that we are getting acquainted again without him beating up on me too much. He's really not too bad of a guy once you get to know him. It was a delightfully, relaxing day - a delightfully restful weekend.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Having a 'Tude

Bosses, motivational speakers, stress management advisers, and even parents are quick to tell you everything in life is about your attitude. Mom used to tell me as a kid, "you're a sore loser, you have a bad attitude." But then years later, at my work, I was presented a plaque that said, "Jill -- for bringing a positive attitude and a smile to every day." Go to any stress management class and they'll start preaching, "its all in your attitude - how you "think" about things" The past four months while my mother was ill, my stress levels and attitude were put to the test and what did I discover? That everyone is right -- attitude IS everything and yes my dear friends, it IS all in your head. Positive thoughts and good karma DO really work. Say to yourself, "I think I can, I think I can," and you will. The Nike marketing theme, "Just do it?" Works. It's an attitude. You know how sometimes that little devilish monster gets in your head and it starts scratching at your brain saying, "what did you think you were doing -- you can't do this - you are nuts!" And if you fight it with the good thoughts - shazaam - you feel better. See, positive thoughts work! And my final test and realization of good karma has been this past month. On October 4, I got it in my head that I CAN do a 7-day stage mountain bike race and my attitude hasn't been quite the same since. Oh yes, the 'tude is still very, very positive, but having entered this race also changed my attitude and perspective on many other things. My attitude towards my gardens was always perfection. I had to have every weed pulled, every plant marked, every bed trimmed and every bush cut back. The plants had to compliment each other in the herb garden and vegetables had to be in perfect rows. Since my mom got sick and I entered this race, my attitude about the gardens is, what does it matter? So what if there's a weed -- the birds will pick at the seed heads. So what if herb garden contrasting plants doesn't match. Does anyone really know that silver lacy wormwood is a good contrast for the wide, dark green comfrey leaves? So what if the rows aren't perfect -- better yet -- don't plant any next year, what does it matter? You can go to the farmer's market and get local produce a LOT cheaper than the time you spend in the garden. And the 'tude for the training? It's nonstop focus. All I think about is being ready to ride 25-46 miles for 6 days in a row and being fit enough to succeed. I'm not so much worried about winning or even competing - it's all about the success of finishing. The challenge is against myself. There's that attitude again...I'm going to finish this thing. Anyway, what else am I going to do all winter?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Toast and Anticipating R&R Week

Today, the legs are officially toast. The final 3.5 hours of week 5 of winter training seemed a bit, well, tiring. Not quite sure why -- could it be today was the last of a two-week endurance stint putting in an average of 14 hours a week (about 12 on the bike). Could it be I haven't spent this much time on a bike since about 2007? Could it be I'm exactly 10 pounds heavier than I was back in 2007 and it's just a little bit harder to carry around? Could it be I was on a singlespeed for 3.5 hours today? I dunno... could be anything - could a combination of them all. But I DO know, I'm very, very, very much looking forward to the next rest week. A total of 6 hours! And only 4 of those are on the bike. Although I know I'll be ready to ride again after Thanksgiving - I'm still enthused to continue preparing to be ready for the Transylvania Epic. One of my goals over the next week is watch the diet - big time. I'm boycotting Thanksgiving turkey -- poor thing. (for those that don't know me, if I don't know that the turkey was raised humanely (free range), I won't eat it. And I know for a fact my sister-in-law ain't buying no free-range turkeys.) I'll stick to the vegetables and mom's wonderful rice pudding. Gotta go take a nap.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Training Woes

Winter training. Spring training. Eating to train. Eating NOT to gain wait yet still keep the energy to train. Training in the dark. Training in the cold. Training with friends to beat boredom of training by oneself. Trying to gather friends to train (who equally have no time to train and some live too far from me!). Training hard. Training easy. Training moderately. Tracking training. Talking to dad about his horse training and how his training really is similar to my training. Amazing -- Chili training like a race horse. Core training. Stretching after training. Drinking wine after trainer. Yum. That's the best part. For someone who was so sick of training three years ago I didn't want to ever track another minute of training or calorie of food, I sure got myself into it this time - big time. This week is the first of 6 endurance weeks over the winter and the training plan has about 14.5 hours of bike hours for the week. I now remember why I got really, really sick of training. Working full time, commuting two hours a day, and coping with darkness at 5:30 makes it quite the challenge to get those hours in without taking a day of work off. Yesterday, I was super-fortunate to have Veterans day off and got an incredibly delightful 3 hour road ride under my belt for the week. Hubby joined me for half of it which made it even more delightful. Right now, the heart rate is to be between 60 and 70%, so its easy to ride with hubby. Today, I woke up feeling the accumulation of 4 days straight riding in my entire body. Luckily, today is core/stretching/walking day and I'm grateful. Tomorrow and Sunday are 6 more hours of riding and I'm adding 2 hours of paddling tomorrow too because I love my husband and miss paddling with him. Sooo... the week will end up with over 17 hours of training. And I'm loving every training second. I adore a challenge. Next week? Repeat. Bring it on baby!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chili's First Ride at Raystown Lake, PA - The Allegrippis Trail Network

Interesting trail system. There wasn't a log in sight and there was a guy out blowing leaves off the trails. There were very few tiny rocks and no lung-bursting long climbs. This was definitely a totally new experience for me. To be honest, I was missing the rocks and log hopping. Yes my friends, I'm one of the few that can't rave about the Allegrippis trails. Don't get me wrong, Rick and I were super-duper impressed with the trailwork that went into the system. The builders clearly put some TLC and sweat equity into the network. It's obvious there was a ton of planning, designing, and volunteers to make it happen. The bench cutting is incredible, not to mention the layout and the tons and tons of dirt hauled to create the pump-track effect. For all those reasons -- cheers to the trail designers and builders. Job well done guys and girls and kudos to all involved. But it just wasn't the style of mountain biking I've grown accustomed with and love. Rick and I both commented how much we liked the natural flowing sections that followed the contours of the land, and then all of sudden -- whoops! Who put that huge mound of dirt there? It was flowing SOOOOO nicely, then shit! Another moto-crossish mound of dirt. Rick nor I were enjoying some of those dirt piles - especially the steeper ones because we both weren't using momentum like the trails were intended to be ridden. I was hanging on the brakes on the downhills and didn't make some of the uphill sections. But then again, this was our first time. Maybe, with practice, it would be more fun for both of us. At some point though, I'll have to learn to ride these trails 'cause I'm doing 46 miles of them next June! Yes, I'll go again (I have to!), but after the TSE next year, I may not make the trip much. Rick and I both agreed its not worth the long drive 'cause its not our preferred style of riding. Give me some logs to hop and rocks to roll over. Throw in a couple mountains to climb and I'm in mountain biking heaven.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Lowly Push-up

Years past, my winter training for cycling and multi-sport always included regular trips to the YMCA to give the weight machines and free weights a little workout. I read that cyclists can improve leg power with regular weightlifting. They also recommended a couple upper body exercises to prepare for the jarring and technical workout (not to mention falling) that comes along with mountain biking. This winter, I find a new training plan that states, "we aren't bodybuilders" and only recommends several core exercises and the one and only upper body strength builder you need -- the push-up. From my training plan, "Add push ups twice a week. 3 sets. First set for warm up, 2nd and 3rd sets as many as you can do. Push ups are my all time favorite exercise for all around upper body strength." I started thinking about this, "OMG... how will I keep my strength without the lat pull-down machine? I can't live without my chest-press - or tricep dips. And holly hannah - my bicep curls and shoulder presses. Where will I get my definition from??" Well guess what Chili, the lowly push-up does it all! Long before weight rooms and free weights, man (very few women did push-ups back in the day!) was doing push-ups and building a bunch of strength and muscles in the process. Shoulders, chest, triceps, biceps, back, core, legs, and even butt muscles are ALL engaged with one push of body weight a mere 8 inches. The mechanics of a push-up work soooo many muscles at once, that your body can't help but become stronger. "As a symbol of health and wellness, nothing surpasses the simple push-up" states an article in the New York Times. So there you have it. You don't need weights or machines to build definition and strength. All you need is your good old body weight. And it's free and can be done anywhere, anytime. Now drop and give me 10!