Sunday, January 30, 2011

Exit Pain Cave, Enter Euphoria

Day two of the multi-hour weekends of the final two weeks of winter endurance training: another 4 hours on the trainer. This time it was incredibly different. On a wim, rather than doing my planned 5 hour back-road country ride, I hopped on the trainer this morning after 4 hours on the trainer yesterday. Hurt and tired, I had this gut feeling I wanted to ride the trainer again. And so I did. At the three hour marker, I wondered how much more I could tolerate. Digging just a bit deeper, I endured another hour. It was a real struggle to get through the full four hours and many, many times I was near exhaustion and dead-tired; but when I finished, something magical happened that I never experienced before -- exercise euphoria. I went into this state of total relaxation... and total peace and comfort. There were no aches or pains or tiredness. Just complete tranquility. For a couple hours afterwards, I was high - totally off earth and de-stressed. I don't think anything could have brought me down. Low and behold, the euphoria I felt IS a real condition complete with scientific studies to prove it. From Fit Day: This effect is especially pronounced during prolonged periods of strenuous exercise. Massive amounts of endorphins are released to help you mask any pain and help you push past your normal threshold. The euphoria comes from runner's high and release of endorphins. From a good article on Runners high in the NY Times: The runner’s-high hypothesis proposed that there were real biochemical effects of exercise on the brain. Chemicals were released that could change an athlete’s mood, and those chemicals were endorphins, the brain’s naturally occurring opiates. Running was not the only way to get the feeling; it could also occur with most intense or endurance exercise. I'm sure some of you had gotten into this state before, but this is my first and what a feeling it is. If only we could harness that whenever we wanted. Wow. I'll just bet the TSE will be another euphoric experience. Pushing beyond the norm seems to bring it on, and we'll be breaking through thresholds we've never experienced before.

TSE Winter Training in PA

I just don't understand why some folks don't like the bike trainer. There are no stop signs, traffic, bumps in the road or trail to slow you, logs, thorns, flats, ripped off derailleurs, busted links, bloody legs/arms, concussions, broken front teeth, heavy camelbaks, running out of water or super high and super low heart rates. Just nice, easy, steady, concentrated spinning for 4 hours. What's not to love about that! Oh, that's right.... boredom, sore ass, sore hands, painful back, throbbing knees, boredom, painful ass, sore hands, painful back, throbbing knees, deliriousness and repeating oneself... I loved Donna's comment, "This sucks." And when I congratulated her on finishing it she said, "never again if I can help it." Saturday's plan called for 4 hours of riding -- no other options. Of course Central PA had it's normal spitting snow kinda-weather. While Fit Chick gave me some inspiration with her quest to ride in any weather, I decided to save it for today (Sunday) and get out for the five hour ride in a little sunshine. So Saturday was a 4-hour trainer session. The ONLY thing that gets me through them is Coach Troy. I haven't found anything better to break the monotony and focus on the ride. Thanks Troy. And today? I'm going it alone for five glorious hours. Dear hubby won't have anything to do with 30 degree temps and is heading for the YMCA. I think I'll follow Fit Chick's lead from last week and take the fat tires out on back country roads. I'll send a postcard.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wishing I was Doing This

A 375 mile, 3-day endurance bike ride in WARM weather with 650 other like-minded cyclists in Puerto Rico. Fit Chick is enjoying this ride as I type. That's where I wanna be right now!

Could Rick and I Be Food Snobs? Are My Friends Too?

A food snob is defined a number of ways with the ultimate definition basically being someone who doesn't eat the norm -- someone who prefers what everyone else doesn't. Snobsite takes a food snob to the extreme and puts them high on a pedastal -- above everyone else.
From Snobsite: Whereas you favor potatoes and onions, he traffics in celeriac and garlic scapes. Whereas you’re keen on Granny Smiths, he insists that you haven’t even tasted an apple until you’ve sampled a Newtown Pippin. Whereas you regard your outdoor gas grill as just wonderful, he grills only with fruitwoods and mesquite, brushing the coals with moistened vine cuttings when available.

Is there such a thing as a quasi-food snob because this week Rick and I came to realize we think that's what we are. We both had invites to office luncheons and we both scanned the menus of our co-workers choices of places to eat and stated, "there's not much on this menu I'd eat." The locales were very popular, well-known, and the vast majority of folks just love the food - except Rick, me, and one of Rick's co-workers, Chris. My office co-worker's choice was Zembies on Second Street in Harrisburg (known for their hot wings) and Rick's was Gilligans. The first thing Rick looks at is calories. It's hard to believe that an "average" plate is about 1,200 calories at lunch. That would be for a typical, all-american sandwich and chips/fries with a drink of some sort. The first thing I look for is meatless and dairyless choices. It's very, very hard to find a meal without meat OR cheese. Chris takes the vegetarian a step further and looks for eggless. He's pretty much choiceless in that area except for a house salad unless there's no hard-boiled egg on it (although he will eat cheese which gives him a few more choices). All of us were dismayed to find very few choices on the menu for any of us. On the way home from work Rick and I said, "we're food snobs!" Maybe we're not the extremists snobsite talks about, but we definitely find little on the average restaurant menu. Now that Donna and I decided to skip the stress of preparing our own food for TSE, I'm stressing over what will they serve us for $250! I'm absolutely going vegan (no dairy, no meat) because I can't bare the thought of caged animal meat or eggs unless they serve free-range, local meat (will they?), but I'm not happy over the rest of the meal which I'll just have to buck up and eat. I can't imagine they'll have organic vegetables, nor nutrient-packed quinoa, soy protein, or texturized vegetable protein. What about some iron-rich lentil salad or soup? I'm likely still take some of my own food (definitely soy protein) or take food bars of some sort. Ha. I just realized, I AM a food snob! Just call me the snobby Buttercup!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh - That's Right - Training update

Yes, yes, yes. I'm still training. I got a little carried away with resting last week and haven't been posting much on the training front. Yesterday started a two-week stint of endurance riding. These are the weeks to get a LOT of saddle-time in before spring training starts hot and heavy on March 7. It will be a challenging two weeks given there's snow on the ground, the temps aren't going much above 32ish, still dark at night, cabin fever has arrived and we have to put in 4 and 5 hour rides this weekend. Sunday's 5-hour ride can be substituted with 5 hours of any outdoor aerobic activity. Donna, I believe, is going to take advantage of the snow and ski for 5 hours. I think I'm going to check out the Rattling Creek trails/roads/snowmobile trails on bike and if its too slushy, I'll don the waterproof hiking shoes and scale a mountain or two for a couple hours. The weekly night-time 1.5 to 3 hour rides are reserved for the trainer. Yesterday's first session started at 3:03 a.m. No, you aren't reading that wrong. I was on the trainer for two hours by the time Rick got up and went to work. I hadn't really planned on it, but I got hot and couldn't sleep. So why not be hot and ride bike. And so I did. Tonight is an easy endurance spin for twoish hours. Tomorrow is a trainer workout of some sort.

If Jack LaLanne Did It....

Jack Lalanne consumed 50 grams of soy protein every day. He just died at 96. Hmmmm..... Can soy be as bad as the bad rap its getting? Just this past weekend, I was looking for protein powder at our local "health" (if you can call it that) food store and all she carried was Hemp/Rice/Pea protein which the owner said (in her opinion) is the ONLY protein to take. she said "Soy's not good for you." I heard some other folks say the same thing which prompted me to do a little more research since I DO eat a lot of soy, including protein powder (non GMO of course!) Low and behold, I find this article by John Robbins who is a respected author and environmentalist for decades. He claims yes, soy IS in fact bad if not processed and pumped into rats at 400 times of normal consumption. Rats have a different system than humans (huh?) and yes, it affects them. Mr. Robbins claims the fermentation process of tofu, and the processing into powder takes the bad out of soy and makes it "safe" for human consumption. Interesting read if you have the time. And now that I find out dear old Jack also ate it for many, many years, I'm sold. Bring on the soy protein.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Remembering Father Fitness

It's a sad day in America -- Jack LaLanne died! At 96 nonetheless. Who would have thought that 45 years after seeing my very first exercise show and realizing, "gee, people exercise", I'd be doing what I'm doing today. Yes my friends, I remember Jack on TV and actually used to watch and even followed along sometimes making fun of his actions and attire of course. But; did Mr. LaLanne imprint something on my childhood brain? Did Jack's chair routine put the permanent bug in my brain that core work is important? And how about those push-ups he was always doing - is it my youthful subliminal thoughts of Jack in his tight, stretchy jumpsuit dropping and giving us a couple dozen that encourages me to don my stretchy pants and drop for a couple dozen too? Probably not, but you gotta love Jack... the things he taught us that might have left a life-long impression. RIP Jack!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just A Little Intimidated

What the heck did we get ourselves into!? The Trans-ylvania Epic organizers posted updated course description info. Holy climbing-legs Batman. Buttercup is going to have to BUCK UP big time to get through this one. Screw the cold weather and wussy attitude -- get out and RIDE Buttercup! The tally for the weekly mileage of the TSE comes in at 232 miles and the climbing is currently at 21,200 feet WITHOUT the biggest climbing day added into that. I'm guessing the climbing will top out at over 30,000 feet for the week? Jesus! My jeans won't fit until I'm done this one. Rick will kick my butt if I have to get new clothes. I'm already slightly bulging out of my pants (he says I'm just fat -- I say its solid ass muscle - teehee). Stage 2, Rothrock Cooper's Gap is the day that intrigues me most mainly because that's the day that took the longest for most riders last year. It's 43 miles and 5,300 feet of climbing. Yeh. The plan is to ride 40 miles of the Rattling 50 a couple times this spring to prepare for this stage. And I'm totally ready for spring. The enthusiasm to ride is there more than ever - thanks to the TSE and my bud Donna for entering too. Here's a tally of each stage:

Sunday 5/29 Stage 1: Bald Eagle Prologue; 10 miles, 1400 ft climbing
Monday 5/30 Stage 2: Rothrock Cooper’s Gap – Cross country. 43 miles. 5,300 ft climbing
Tuesday 5/31 Stage 3: Bald Eagle Coburn – Cross country. ~45 miles. no mention of climbing)
Wednesday 6/1 Stage 4: Raystown Lake – Cross country. 45 miles. 7,000 ft climbing (!?)Thursday 6/2 Stage 5: Mini XC’s at R.B. Winter. 28 miles. 2,200 ft climbing
Friday 6/3 Stage 6: Rothrock Tussey Mountain – Cross country. 38 miles. 5,300 ft climbing
Saturday 6/4 Stage 7: Bald Eagle Little Poe – Cross country. ~23 miles. no mention of climbing

Monday, January 17, 2011

Finishing Touches on Sustained Power Week

Years ago, I did my first cyclocross race which to this day, I feel are THE hardest types of bike racing that I had the pleasure of experiencing. Going as hard as you can for 30 or 40 minutes is, in my opinion, heavy duty, hard-core, true-blue racing. That first race had me wheezing, gasping, and in the end, DNFing because I felt like my lungs were on fire. It felt like I was breathing blood - that's how intense it was. Gunnar Shogren was in the parking lot next to me when I went back to the car that day and when I told him what happened, he said, "it'll get easier." It didn't Gunnar. Yesterday, I was breathing blood again doing the final trainer workout for the sustained power week. The on-off 8-minute intervals at 70 rpm in as big a gear as you could sustain at 70 rpms were the fire breathing part. Then, we had to jump off the bike and start doing as-many-as-you-can frog leaps for a minute followed by wall squats for 3x45 seconds.Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Hard IS good.I was ready to scream like a little girl -- I think I recall Donna saying she DID scream like a little girl for this one. For the 70rpm intervals, I stuck it out in big ring/15 cog. For the frog leaps, I was a big-time wussie. Having not done one of these since I was a kid and did leap frog, I wasn't sure what to expect. I only managed 10 in the first set, 12 in the second set, and 15 the 3rd set. After the 3-hour trainer ride on Saturday and the trainer session yesterday, bring on the rest week. I'll definitely be taking advantage of it!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oh My My - O O O O O-O O O O

He said it had to be H.A.R.D. the last hour and it was. What got it that way? "Now That's What I call Club Hits." Imagine that, Buttercup shaking her bootie to Club Hits and enjoying it - especially Usher's OMG (note for file, memorize the words and have fun with it..."honey got a bootie like pow, pow, pow,..."). What a dweeby dork. But it worked, so what does it matter. Yes kids, she made it yet another 3 hours on the trainer. The heart rate was absolutely perfect at 140 - about 78% of max which is the perfect endurance zone. She also opted NOT to eat so many carbs this time around 'cause those damn carby things are making her bootie cheesey. Yuk - a cheesey buttercup butt. Not pretty. And her training partner stayed in her cage today, but Simone, the senegal parrot, loves to sit on her shoulder. What a gal.

Lighten Up Already!

After reading this guy's blog and thoroughly pissing my pants laughing at nearly every single post, it's obvious Chili Bloggin is WAY to serious. Do I need to even mention training? Or do I mention training but start joking about it all the time. Thoughts to ponder. There are SOOO many really good, funny, creative-thinking blogs out there. This one sucks! I'll put my thinking cap on while I wiggle my bike butt to dance tunes this morning.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Easy Peasy Trainer Session - Not Much Else to Do in the Grips of Winter

Last night's 1 1/4 hr session on the bike trainer was a breeze compared to the past couple sufferfests: warm-up for 15 minutes, 75% HR for 15 minutes, 5 minute ez spin, 80% HR for 5 minutes, 5 minute ez spin, back to 75% HR for another 15 minutes. Then another ez spin for 5 minutes followed by 4 x 1 minute at 90% with a 1 minute ez spin between each. Easy, fun, and quick. I actually skipped the ez spins in between the first 3 sets and only used the breaks for the last 4 x 1 session. So my 5 minutes at 80% was more like 15 minutes. My entire week is a day ahead of schedule because of missing Sunday and moving everything up a day, but I'm planning to be back on track come Saturday which will be a 3-hour marathon session on the trainer. Sunday will be another interesting trainer workout called "strength training on the bike." It will involve my least-favorite thing on the bike: pedaling at a specific rpm. I seldom look at rpms and when the coach says I'm supposed to be at 90 or 100 rpm, I ignore him 'cause my heart rate goes sky high at 90 or 100. 70 rpm is the focus for Sunday which I can handle, so maybe it won't be as bad as thought. But then again, Donna said the Leap frogs and wall squats were H.A.R.D. So I'm sure I'll have some suffering going on. Central Pennsylvania is cold as shit right now and we have about 5 or 6 inches of snow on the ground. I toyed with skiing on Saturday for 3 hours but just can't bring myself to do it. My focus is SOOOO bike oriented right now that I feel like I can't miss even an hour of biking to be ready for the TSE in May/June. The trainer is getting a real workout this winter like it did 4 years ago. Actually, I think its getting MORE of a workout than 4 years ago. Nice. Coach Laub would be proud.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's Only 30 to 5 Second Intervals - How Hard Could THAT Be?

When I saw Monday night's trainer workout being "Sprints" which were 2x30 seconds, 2x20 seconds, 3x10 seconds and 3x5 seconds "as hard as you can go" with 30 second easy spins in between each, I thought, how absolutely easy is this going to be? You stand, you go like hell for about 10 seconds, then sit and go like hell for another 20 seconds and then it gets easier! Simple as pie -- I can handle this. I forgot to mention you do the above routine 5 times. The first set wasn't bad at all. The 30 seconds seemed kind of long, but I still was figuring it would be over in no time. The 2nd set was a little harder. By the time the 3rd set rolled around, my heart rate wasn't coming down during the 30 second easy spin sections. Hmmmm.... I think this might be a little harder than I first thought. "As hard as you can go" means really working the heart and after a couple minutes, it was starting to stress out. By the time the 4th and 5th sets rolled around, I was spinning for 40 seconds easy between the intervals to give my ticker a little more of a rest. Total time in the 95% zone was about 12 minutes with it coming down only to the 90% zone in between each for another 12ish minutes. But "hard as you can go" had another effect on the bod other than the ticker -- my hams. The quads endured the strain, but as soon as I got off the bike, I could feel the hams just above the backs of my knees. They were a bit overworked -- a good overworking (no injured feeling). This frickin' workout was not at all easy and I like the fact something new was feeling the workout (hammys). I now know exactly how track bike racers feel and why they are built like brick shit houses with massive quads. None of these trainer workouts are easy which is exactly what the old body needs to get more fit. Thank you Mr. Bike Trainer - you're doing a great job.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Working on Sustained Power for the Bike

I had an interesting conversation yesterday about training with a former time trial national champ. What made it interesting is he knew about everything I needed to do to train for the Transylvania Epic. There's not a lot of people you can strike up a conversation with about max heart rates, lactate threshold, and sustained power. The power part was the part that made me think a little more -- power on the bike. Right now, I'm in a "sustained power" two-week training period. Years past, "power", to me, meant hitting the leg press machine at the YMCA and gradually building more powerful quads through heavier and heavier weightlifting. I'd do squats, lunges, and step-ups to build what I thought were stronger legs. The plan I'm currently doing, though, states "we aren't trying to be body builders," and there are NO weight workouts. At first I thought, geez -- how will I build strength? After a couple sessions of big gear riding at a higher heart rate, I'm finding the power coming without the weight room. The average mph at the same HR is starting to creep up. It doesn't seem quite as hard to push the biggest gear I got like it used to and the knees aren't aching afterwards. I like that. But boy am I missing the mirror monkeys at the gym.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sufferfest Fueled by Lemon Sponge Pie

Tonight was a true-blue sufferfest on the bike - a trainer "pyramid" workout starting at 3 minutes "as hard as you can go and hold it for the duration" and working down at 30 second intervals to the last one at 30 seconds. And when done with that first set, do it two more times. "Hard as I could go" ended up being an average of about 171 HR which is 95% of my max for a total of 31.5 minutes. And my fuel? My husband's incredibly delicious, unbelievably luscious lemon sponge pie. That boy knows how to make pie. AND it made me pedal like a crazy woman for an hour and half. I love my hubby -- and his lemon sponge pie. And a tall glass of white wine topped off the night. Quite the diet, huh?!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rest Week From Training

I swear my mom planned falling and breaking her hip on my rest week. It was supposed to be a week of rest to spend time with my brother-in-law visiting us from Florida, and the same night he arrived, mom broke her hip. So I've "rested" by spending time in the ER, running to see her (1 1/4 hour drive one way), cooking, cleaning, and washing clothes for my dad, and in between it all, spending time with Kerry and Mary. Oh, and yes, I did a little very easy training. It was mostly core work with only 4 hours of riding bike (that's what was on the plan). Yesterday and today I got outside which was really, really nice. Instead of driving to the trails, I rode from the house to save some time and took it off-road as best I could including riding through a field that I didn't realize thawed and ended up caking my tires with mud. That was fun. The upcoming week will be interesting with cooking for dad, seeing mom in rehab, working, and getting in some training hours. One day at a time will be best. Better yet, one hour at a time starting at about 3:30 am. What better time to "buck up!"

Where's My Camera For Those Unusual Amish Shots

We live in the heart of Amish country and I can't begin to count the times I wished I had my camera for some unique Amish moments: carrying a kayak on top of a buggy, flying an Eagles flag on top of the buggy, getting gas in a Volkswagen at the gas station, swimming in their "pool", seeing the NASCAR sticker on the back of the buggy, and wearing Halloween costumes. Today, at the YMCA was another one of those times. Yes -- THE AMISH AT THE YMCA! There were 4 boys. Two had their full gear on complete with suspenders and bowl haircuts (minus the hats), and the other two disguised themselves a bit by pulling out their t-shirts and losing the suspenders. (Although Rick said their pants would fall down without the suspenders, so he thought maybe if they were smart, they'd put the suspenders under the t-shirt.) I've been having kind of a crazy week with my mom in rehab (broken hip), hip, we had company, and I'm already stressing myself out helping my dad with cooking, washing, cleaning, etc), so this was the highlight of my week/weekend and I could hardly hold back the giggles. Picture it: Amish boy on a stepper. Amish boy on the quad extension machine. Amish boy on the treadmill next to me spending 10 minutes pushing the buttons and finally when he gets going, he turns around and walks backwards. OMG. It was an entertaining afternoon to finish out the weekend.