Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dear Old Mom - Again

My dear old mother is at it again. She fell and broke her hip yesterday. She's in the Hershey Medical Center having surgery for a hip replacement today, Wednesday. Poor thing is in a bunch of pain again. It was a "classic hip fracture" the Orthopedic surgeon told us. They call it a femoral neck break where the ball at the top of your femur snaps off. She'll be getting that ball replaced with a new one. The hip socket is ok and will not be replaced. It's an 8-12 week recovery. So guess who gets to cook, clean, and wash clothes for my parents again for the next couple weeks? It's all a test... and of course I want to pass so I'll study hard. No, the training for TSE will not let up. I can get a LOT of biking in from 4:00 am to 7:00ish, and have an entire day to do everything else. With a little luck, mom will be back on her feet just about the time it will start to get nice out. She knows I'm "in training" and appreciates how much I need to ride. So she'll be very flexible with me helping her and riding. Rick is a sweetheart too and will take care of stuff here at our house (keeping things straightened up, cooking for himself, etc). Life is STILL good!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Endurance Period 2 Wrap Up - Over the Hump for Winter Training

Believe it or not, we are in week 12 of the 20 week winter training plan. So that means only 8 more weeks of winter, right? Yeh -- I'm not in the winter/cold/snow mode this year since all I want to do is bike my ass off and its much, much nicer when its warm. I don't want it to snow (getting that wish here in central PA!), I'm wishing for warming temps to get outside to ride, and I'm getting tired of the trainer; although I'm sure the past two weeks are why I'm a tad weary of the trainer and will be raring to go next week. Endurance Period #2 was just finished up yesterday. It was a two-week stint of a planned 17.5 and 18.0 hours. Being a working girl and with the Christmas holiday AND the cold temps preventing me (not Donna!) from getting out, I didn't hit those hours. I did, however, eek out a 13-hr and 12-hr week -- all but 3 hours on the trainer which may explain the weariness of it. Both of the weeks included another 2 hours or so of core work bringing the final tally to 15ish hours for both weeks. Given my prior-years training hours were never this high, I'm a happy camper even without hitting the planned 17.5/18 hours. This week is a very welcome REST and I won't have any trouble whatsoever adhering to the plan. The plan is to also drop the 5 pounds gained since Thanksgiving. Damn cookies, cheese, and lack of willpower.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Buttercup Hit a PR on the Trainer

4:00 hours, 50.53 miles, 135 average HR, 2574 calories burned. Me, myself, and I headed to the cave at 5:30 am and emerged at 9:30. That left plenty of day for the cooking frenzy I'm about to begin for Christmas Day. I have to admit, I never imagined I could sit indoors on a trainer and ride bike for 4 hours. I shocked myself. All it took was Spinervals Hardcore 100, paying attention to Coach Troy's cues, and EATING. I had a bagel with fruit spread before I started, a Clif bar and Hammer bar during, and a Boathouse Farms Thai Chi Tea. Now I know I can do the entire 3-DVD set which is about 5 1/2 hours (maybe for the 5-hour January endurance session). Bring it! Tomorrow will be a mere 3 hours with a rest day on Christmas. Sunday I'll be back at it for 3.75 hrs and I'd love if Mom nature would cooperate and I could go outside, but she's stubborn sometimes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Riding With the MBM Crew to See the Eclipse (In Spirit)

The MBM riders, decided to see the lunar eclipse this morning up close and personal from the comfort of their bike saddles at 2:50 am. Unhuh -- Donna, Brett, Zach and Sheena went for a spin at 2:50 am this morning to watch the lunar eclipse happening only every 400 years or so on Winter Solstice. Nice. You can read about the fun they had here. I rode with them in spirit. Rick and I both got up about 3:00ish to see the eclipse. He opted to go back to bed, I opted to get on the trainer and take a spin for an hour or so. Nothing like spinning at 3:17 am. Yeh baby...

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Official -- My Transylvania Epic Training Bud

It's official kids - my training partner has come out. Donna's doin' the Transylvania Epic (TSE) ! Her and Brett helped mark one of the stages last year and said the atmosphere at the base camp was really cool. I watched last year's race unfold via the Internet and was SO wishing I could do it. This year, we both decided to just buck up and do it! The plan is, if I end up being the only Master 50+ female and they eliminate the category (which is what the fine print says if 5 girls aren't entered), we'll be a duo rather than in open women. Donna and I met about 9 or 10 years ago and rode our first race together at the 12 Hours of Ole Bull Midnight Madness in 2002 on Team "Dirtpuff Girlz." Many years later, we're still annoying the hell out of each other with riding, skiing, racing an adventure race or two in a season, hitting the BSM (Broad Street Market), and talking about one of our favorite topics - food. Yup, we even think the same thoughts on food. Donna inspires me to eat more healthy and try to keep my weight in check. She, of course, is the thin sexy one of the two of us. I was blessed with a cheesy butt, grey thin hair, and a flat chest. But opposites always attract, right? Thinking through the years, we've had many "firsts." We rode the first Ironcross together -- circa 2003. We rode on our Cannondale mountain bikes and lugged those monsters up Wigwam. When we did a training ride for the Ironcross, I'll never forget her standing at the bottom of Wigwam looking up and saying, "Brett - I don't think I can do this." And Brett was saying under his breath, "Oh buck up and do it." But instead, he said, "sure you can honey, just grab your bike and start climbing." I had my first mud race with D -- Blue Marsh. One to remember, for sure. My first 24-hour race was Seven-Springs and guess who was on my team? Yup...Donna. Along with Roxanne Morgan and I think Teresa Spitler. As much as I hated riding in the mud at 3:00 a.m., I went back for a couple more through the years -- always on a team with Donna. We did a couple of the Goals Adventure races which were all memorable - F____ was typically the word of the day. Donna had her first garden last year and I sure hope I was partly responsible for that. I'm sure there's more firsts -- just can't recall them all. Training for something like the TSE is much, much more fun with a training partner. There's nothing like a little encouragement from your friend to endure many, many training hours in preparation for the big week. And we're both extremely fortunate to have such wonderful, supportive hubbies. I think it was a tough pill to swallow for both of them ( time, etc), but both are now totally receptive of us doing it. Heck, I think Brett is even training with Donna and while Rick isn't training with me, he totally accepts me putting in the training time. He knows what this thing involves and is on-board with what I need to do to get 'er dun. He even scheduled his vacation so he can be there with us. Thank you hubby! There is nothing like good friends - thank you friend, Miss Donna!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Endurance Week Wrap Up

At first I was really bummed that I didn't get the planned 17.5 hours in. I made it to 15.75. Then, I remembered I NEVER rode more than about 12 hours in a week and I just put in 13.50 saddle hours this week. That's a record! OK - I'm happy now. It was a cold 28 degrees today, but tolerable since there was no wind. Since it costs $3.00 to drive to the mountain bike trails closest to us, I decided to ride out of the house to the local mountain trails. There was climbing, a handful of rocks, and a fun bushwhacking section that had me walking back up the mountain. I was trying to see where the trail went and it pretty much went no where forcing me to turn around. Oh well. There was also a sign that no one can resist to see what it means: "Restricted area. Stay out." Of course I had to go look. The spot I ride was coal-mined years ago. And the restricted area is yet another cave in of an old mine shaft. They put a single strand of wire around it and hang up the restricted area signs - hardly enough to keep anyone or anything out. There are numerous deep holes/mine shafts in this mountain and valley and some are pretty scary. My dad tells the story of my grandpa going to work in the coal mines by walking through a tunnel in the mountain. Interesting times 75 years ago. There are very few operating coal mines left but numerous abandoned mines. Today I was sharing the mountain with horse back riders and 4-wheelers. But I didn't mind any of them because we were all where we weren't supposed to be but I saw aboslutely no signs whatsoever that said we couldn't be there. The horse folks had their truck and trailer parked out in the open for anyone to see they were riding where they shouldn't. At least a bike and 4-wheeler can sort of sneak in, but the horses can't. Odd they didn't seem to care much. I guess that's proof the land owners really don't mind anymore. The endurance week was good overall. The longest days were 3:15 hours, 3:00, and 2:30 - well on my way to being ready for 7-days straight in 5 months and 1 week. I'm happy with it.

Feeling the Affects of a Bad Diet

Non-holiday season is pretty much a healthy-food eating lifestyle. Well, at least I try on a daily basis and yes, I give in every now and then, but not often. But when the holidays arrive - ferget it! I must be related to Elf and I too agree the major food groups are candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup. The fight to resist temptation to over-indulge on bad food all year is shot to hell come Christmas. My thoughts of being healthy by not eating dairy, sugar, and fats are just that at Christmas - a tiny little thought stored in the unused portion of my brain. Cookies, cheesecake, cheese, cheese balls, and desserts dance around on my cheesy belly from Rick's birthday (December 12) to New Year's. There's no resistance to a lovely slice of New York Cheesecake with sour cream topping. I know the multitude of bad about cheese cake (and you know it's pretty much ALL bad - saturated fat, factory-farmed dairy products laced with growth hormones and force fed government-subsidized corn that is tainted with genetic modification, and processed graham crackers also tainted with genetically modified and highly processed grains. I told you I know the good and bad stuff!). Yet, at Christmas, I indulge. May be this year will be the year I'll pass on it all because yesterday came yet another sign of my need to pay attention to what I'm feeding my supposedly-in-training-for-the-TSE body. It was cold, so a trainer ride was in order. This time though, I knew I had to eat a little more to get through it, so I did. But I've also been eating more the past two days and the more is all bad stuff - cookies from a work party, vege pizza complete with cheese; candy, chocolate meltaways, crystallized ginger, etc. There was no energy and the ride was shorted by about 3/4 of hour. I felt awful yet again but this time was not a lack of food feeling. It was a sluggish, lack-luster, low-energy feeling. It's an eye-opener when your body sends signals of the lack of proper nutrition and too much fatty, sugary, non-essentials. Part of me is really tired of thinking about food, yet the part that keeps my legs from turning the way they should on the bike reminds me, I better be thinking - and thinking hard. Yesterday's feeling will make me pass on the cheesecake that I'll spend a couple hours making on Thursday. It's a creation, but it'll be for my family who loves it dearly. This year, I have more important foodstuff to focus on. I have a 7-day mountain bike event to be ready for in 5 months and 1 week!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cookies Aren't Good Fuel for a Trainer Ride

Doh! Some really stupid little Buttercup did a 3-hour trainer ride yesterday and thought her 3 or 4 cookies she had in the morning would be enough carbs to help her get started on the ride. Holy cookie crumbs Batman - butter, white flour, and brown sugar just ain't' gonna cut it! She had a big bowl of oatmeal at 7:30ish, cookies, and a salad with eggs about noon before she started the ride about 12:30. And she did fuel during the ride with about 400 calories of her own concoction of seed/energy bars, but they too must not have been sufficient fuel for no sooner was she done her 3 hours, she pretty much was a limp biscuit. She got a nice big dish of Butternut Squash with some brown sugar, a couple pretzels and a big glass of water. But she had to lay down. Her entire body was very weak, tired, and exhausted. She also had only about 30 grams of protein up until that point and she said to hubby, "I think I need some protein too...". She couldn't even get up to make supper. So her dear, wonderful hubby made a beautiful meal of spaghetti, natural and locally raised chicken, and snap peas and Buttercup sucked it all down (a big pile). Forget the calorie counting for a second and just eat -- and she did. She started feeling better within a half hour and today feels great. So that's the 2nd time she messed up the eating before a long trainer ride. The ride itself was spot on - 3 hours with a perfect endurance HR of 137. Maybe one day she'll learn how to eat??? Dumb bitch.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Why Doesn't Central PA Have This???

Check this out... a gal from Canada who did the TSE last year - Vegan Vagabond - started her 16 week winter training at this Ottowa Training Center called Eurosport. Never heard of Tacx Fortius trainers, but I guess they are the canadian version of the US Computrainer. This facility and the set-up is oh-so-suhweet -- your own trainer, screen, computer, and a personal fan! Just BYOBike. Wow... why not in Harrisburg?!? If a biker out there is unemployed and looking for work, how 'bout starting your own business. It would be a minimal investment and I'll just bet you could fill the room over the winter! I know of some places you could get a low interest business loan to get started!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Survive Winter Cycling Training Indoors

If you ride bicycle a bunch, you more than likely train year round. And if you're lucky enough to be located in the snow belt, you likely have experienced the numb fingers and feet while trying to ride outside in sub-freezing temps. That uncomfortable frozen feeling probably forced you indoors to try indoor winter cycling. Two of the most popular indoor winter cycling sports are spin classes which are very popular and sometime very intense, and riding a trainer - a mechanism to sit your own bike on and ride for miles without moving an inch. I, personally, have never experienced a spin class; but I've heard from many people they are incredibly good workouts. Problem is, from my perspective as an endurance athlete, they are too short. I've never heard of a spin class lasting longer than an hour. Granted, you need that intensity at least once a week, but it still seems too short to me. The trainer, on the other hand, is convenient and at your fingertips whenever you have time to ride. Problem is, I've heard the majority of people say, they can't last longer than an hour riding indoors (which makes the spin classes seem attractive, huh!) Even the legendary cycling coach, Joel Friel, states its a rare individual than can sit on a trainer for hours upon hours. He also shared other tips for the Endurance Factor Website. Three years ago, I had the pleasure of experiencing indoor trainer riding with a group. For an entire winter from November to March, a group of 4 to 8 of us would ride for three hours at a time - the coach would go four. The group setting make it entirely tolerable. The other nicety was a CompuTrainer which takes all boredom out of indoor riding. It's a computer device that provides visual riding on dozens of preset courses with a device that connects to your rear tire and simulates the course by putting more or less pressure on your tire. But, us normal folks typically don't have $1,700 to drop on a Computrainer, so once I was on my own again, I had to figure ways to endure 3-hour sessions on my own. Yes my friends, I am one of those rare cases that can endure hours upon hours on a trainer. Here's what I found works:
  • It helps if you have someone to train with, but when you don,'t:
  • Good music works. Pick your favorites and load them on your MP3
  • Good movies work. Plug in the DVD and the movie and start spinning.
  • Spinerval DVDs are awesome workouts. Build a collection of about a dozen so you don't get bored with playing the same DVD all the time.
  • Pay NO attention to the time on your bike computer.
  • Pay NO attention to the time on the wall.
  • Pay NO attention to the time on your heart rate monitor.
  • Focus on the sounds or the DVD ONLY
  • If you watch your movie or music all the way through, you know you are on the trainer for somewhere between 1 and 2 hours - 3 hours if you get long movies or Spinerval DVDs.

Did I mention you really shouldn't watch the time? That part is REALLY important. I found if you totally focus on anything BUT the time, you can survive. Before you know it, an hour is over and you're just getting warmed up! Avatar (2-3/4 hours long) is on tap for this weekend. As is Titanic (3.25 hours), or maybe "Tough Love", a 3-hour Spinerval session.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Buttercup Wimped Out on Sunday

She didn't buck up yesterday...

It poured raining all day, so we knew it was an indoor workout day. It was also Ricky's birthday and he wanted to go to the YMCA and Walmart. Buttercup planned to do the spin bike at the Y for an hour, then come home for the 2nd hour. When she got there, someone was on the lone spin bike. Damn it. She wasn't using those recumbent things -- they just aren't the same. Ok, how 'bout the stepper-type machine. Drat - someone is on that. Ok... the elliptical will do with some good tunes. Double drat - the MP3 batteries are dead. She was left with a treadmill with a TV. B.O.R.I.N.G. For an entire hour, Buttercup walked a 2.5% incline watching the life story of Taylor Swift. Can you believe her?! She shoulda walked over to the guy on the lone spin bike and said, "hey... bucko.... aren't you soon dun??" And then socked him in the shin. That woulda worked. Needless to say, when she got home, the incline whooped her enough that she didn't get back on her own bike. That wimp. She ended up curled up and cozy with her kitties at 7:00 p.m. Maybe she was tired too from the day before where she bucked it up big-time and climbed like a mountain goat. Oh well...there will be days like that every now and then and its ok. Tonight's the night to start the 12-days straight of endurance riding and she's pretty psyched after sleeping off her wimpy day yesterday. She's looking at it like a little test of what's to come in 5 months of 7-days straight of 4+ hours of riding per day. The spinerval DVDs are lined up, and Avatar is on order for the weekend session. Go get 'em girlie!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winter Backroad Specificity Training - Mahantango Valley and Mountain

We got lucky on Saturday and the temps crawled into the 40s and I headed outside for a road ride instead of sitting on the trainer. I decided to do the 2x30-minute climbing day since I knew it wouldn't be hard to keep the heart rate at 90% while climbing the closest - and my favorite - mountain destination. When Rick and I first met, we sat atop this mountain and just soaked it all in - the young couple falling in love and the beauty of the scenery. It was SOOO romantic! Mahantango mountain isn't very high (I think the elevation is about 1,000 feet), but the view is incredible looking into Mahantango Valley. The valley is steeped in history of Pennsylvania German settlers -- my roots. Mahantango Valley is probably most popular for its highly collectible, museum-quality furniture from 200 years ago. Today, only 75 pieces are known to be in existence making this folk-art furniture extremely valuable. A blanket chest sold at Sotheby's 8 years ago for $211,500. Wow. At one point years ago, a local auctioneer told me and my mom he knows of some pieces in little old ladies attics in the valley. My mom and I were drooling. We both adore this type of furniture and when I see an old house in the valley, I wonder if there's a museum piece in the house. Back to the mountain. The mountain is a popular north-facing slope for hangliders. When the wind is right, its quite entertaining to watch these guys "jump" off the slope. See some pictures here and a pilot's story about hang-gliding at the Sac. But it's also an incredibly intense climb when starting at the low point, Mahantango creek. It took me exactly 25 minutes to do the steep 1.5 miles on two-ringed Jake. Yes my friends, I didn't have a granny to do this and I was wishing I did. And the training plan said "2x30-minutes at 90%." So that meant when I got to the top, I turned around and went back down and did it again. I had to fight the little monsters who were tugging at me to NOT go back up a second time. But I bucked up, and did it. My heart rate was one beat under my max at one point for this ride and ended up at an average of 142 for the 2.75 hour ride for the day. Excellent training session - excellent ride for the day.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Trainer and YMCA Kinda Weekend

It's hubby's birthday weekend! He turns a wonderful young 55 on Sunday. We both aren't quite feeling the 50's yet so for now, it's just a number. I think he's bumming about the weekend because none of his little friends are planning any kayak trips this weekend - probably because 1) it's cold and 2) all the river/creek levels are not good right now for any runs. So Ricky's 2nd favorite activity in the winter when there's no snow to cross country ski yet is the YMCA. And hubby is on a money-savings kick right now with gas at $3.09 a gallon, so we're doubling up on stops while we head to the YMCA (it's 12 miles from our home with several stores along the way). Because tomorrow is a busy day, I'm hitting the trainer for 3 hours bright and early at 4:00 a.m. I plan to do weights and walk on the treadmill at the YMCA. And Sunday's weather is questionable too so I think I'll repeat the trainer ride Sunday morning. The plan gives specific outdoor intervals, but they can be replicated on the trainer fairly easily. Sunday will be taxing on the body -- 90% effort for 30 minutes, two times. That's heavy duty - just below race pace. My average heart rate will be about 162. With some good tunes, though, it's not hard to do. Oh boy. I can't wait to have a cookie when I'm done -- it's cookie season!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Week 9 - More Climbing and Prepping for Weeks 10 and 11

Last week and this week of the Winter Mountain biking Training plan are focusing on climbing. Fairly high heart rates and intervals are primarily what it's all about. The weekly hours aren't quite as long with about 11 hours being the weekly total, but the high heart rate can tax the old bod after two weeks. What's going to be interesting is going right into the 2nd set of two-weeks of endurance building. There's no rest week in between. Endurance weeks are L.O.N.G. hours maxing out at about 17 or 18 by the end of the week and it's extremely important to attempt to get as many of those hours in as possible to be ready for 7-days straight of racing in May/June. Ouch. I don't think I've ever gotten that many bike hours in during a single week. It definitely will be a challenge to get those hours -- especially now that's its too cold and dark to ride outside or at night. The majority of those hours will be on the trainer. The other challenge is how will my body take it not having a break. The next rest is between Christmas and New Year's and will be a welcome R&R period. Until next time, ride-on!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Focus Baby, Focus

It's also called determination and persistence. Once the old brain cells get in the right mindset, there's no stopping it. The mindset, in this case, is training for the Transylvania Epic. It takes a bit of determination to train to be ready for racing mountain bike for 7 days straight. Sometimes, though, you need a little encouragement from a friend. This weekend was a test. It was cold -- classic Pennsylvania December weather. The temps were about 32ish both Saturday and Sunday with flurries and wind making it feel something like 19. I had planned to road ride Saturday and head to the woods on Sunday. Of course, I wimped out on Saturday seeing snow on the ground, and the high temps for the day at 32. So I ended up on the trainer at 4:30 in the morning. It was totally unplanned. I woke up (my normal 3:30ish am), piddled around a little sipping coffee, then - on a whim - decided to get on the trainer without any food in my system and a salad the night before. Needless to say, I felt like shit the entire day and didn't realize until about 5:00 pm that I needed a mega dose of carbs. A nice dish of butternut squash with pecans and sucanat did the trick and by Sunday morning I felt great. While I was feeling bad on Saturday, I decided I'd wimp out on my trip to Michaux to ride in the cold. Well..... Miss D wasn't having anything to do with me bailing on her and I'm very, very thankful she talked me out of staying home. We rode for 3.5 hours yesterday on classic Michaux rocky trails and it was an awesome workout - even with flurries and temps no where above 32. I was on my worst rock bike (aluminum hard tail 29er), yet got through some interesting rocky trails without any issues. So I endured 6.5 hours of riding this weekend, thanks to Miss D. I told Rick, I think I'm ready for the first three days of the Transylvania Epic. What an incredible feeling to start feeling like I'm getting in shape again. There's nothing like the feeling of fitness.