Sunday, February 27, 2011

10-Hour Snooze

Training for an endurance event can eventually take its toll on old bones and saggy muscles. Well, even young bones and muscles for that matter can feel the pressure after a while. Yesterday was one of those "I can't do this" days. The plan said 2.5 hours on the mountain bike on the road with a 5 minute warm up at 85%, then 1 minute rest, then go all out at race pace for 12 minutes. This was the same routine Donna and I did last week. The 12 minute ditty was an effort for me last week, but all in all the ride felt great before and after. Even the weekend went ok after that session. Yesterday, however, was a completely different story after a week of 2-3 interval sessions at a higher than normal heart rate. The weather was perfect for a road ride on a mountain bike with calm winds and temps hovering around 37. The ride started ok and I felt ok, but when I ramped up the heart rate the holy-shit-this-hurts affect started. I said, "Oh Buck up, damn it, and just do it." I pushed through it watching every minute on my watch waiting for the 12 minutes to end. It was sheer torture. After that, it was a struggle to get home and when the watch hit 2:29 I was pulling up to the garage door. The real story is always told by how I sleep. I can't recall the last time I slept 10 hours. 3:30 or 4:00 am is usually wide-eyed time, but not Sunday morning. I didn't wake up until 6:00 am -- exactly 10 hours after I shut my eyes. One thing I learned is that you often don't know how tired you are until you get on your bike and try it again the next day. So today, I'll do just that and see how I feel. I may be home in 20 minutes cutting back the raspberry canes (I'll do that anyway today). The alternate workout for today is a big fat OFF, which may also be on tap if I don't perk up in a couple hours. Fatigue and overreaching is something the endurance athlete has to be on the lookout for, and know when to recognize it. When you see it, take a break. Starting tomorrow, a week-long break is on tap and Coach Eatough knew exactly when to build those into the plan and boy am I grateful. Thank you Chris!

Friday, February 25, 2011

You Know You're Big Time When You're In Wikipedia

The Transylvania Epic folks recently posted in Facebook that Jacquie Phelan is coming to the TSE and is looking for a team. WHAT!??? Legendary Jacquie Phelan? Holy shit. She's a phenom -- an icon in women's mountain biking history - and she's coming to Central PA? I'm not sure how many icons I can take. Rebecca Rusch. Sue Haywood. Selene Yeager. And now Jacquie Phelan. When I started mountain biking in 2000, my first "jersey" was a light blue cotton t-shirt. What did I know. I just wanted to ride my brand spanking new kale colored Cannondale and I didn't even know there were special clothes to wear on it. I bought the bike in the fall, and over the winter I started perusing bike catalogs and websites and realized, gee, I should be wearing that fancy special fabric all those biker-types wear. And one of the very first jerseys I bought was from this cool website called WOMBATS which stood for Women's Mountain Bike and Tea Society which was started by, you guessed it, Jacquie Phelan. At the time, reading a little more about her, I realized she was a co-founder of NORBA in 1983 and a legend in her own right. She raced and won races and was GOOD! Time got away from me and I sort of forgot about Jacquie until now. Today, she's even got an entry in Wikipedia! She's right up there with Lance. I'm humbled.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Last week's training was focused on "Top End Power" and this week is labeled "Transition to Race Season" with many of the workouts similar to last week. Time in the saddle is reduced to 9 hours, but the time is what a prior Team sponsor called "quality" time. That sponsor was Tim Cusick, and he and his side-kick and female athlete extraordinaire, Kathy Watts, are now both coaches (and hosting a training camp for Peaks Coaching this year in California) and I now totally understand what he meant by quality time. Quality time, in Tim's world, is intervals, sprints, tracking power output in watts, etc. All that "stuff" that serious competitors always, always use in their training. If I'm not mistaken, road racers and time trialers are constantly doing this type of training and not as much endurance. Mountain bikers, in my opinion, don't need quite as many sprints built into their training plans and thank god the Eatough plans don't have too many intervals -- except for last week and this. There's one interval session that I've grown to like because of the convenience of doing it next to my house and getting a really good workout. I call it "good" because the next day I'm whooped and beat. If the training pushes you and you feel it the next day, something's working, and I label it a good workout. Tuesday's plan said "If you trained properly on the weekend, you still need this day for full recovery." We did and I did. Last Friday Donna and I did a little 12-minute ditty going at race pace inside our 2.5 hour road ride on mountain bikes. Ouch. Saturday was the hill interval thingy, and Sunday I just kinda lazed up and down the side of a mountain 2 times. Monday was off, and I was tired yet on Tuesday and did the Alternative option of an easy spin on the trainer for 45 minutes. Last night was the 10 x 2 (I do three minutes just cause I need a minute to get my HR in the range) at 85% heart rate with 1 minute at 60% in between. They seem easy enough while doing them, but damn do they tucker me out the next day. Yes, today my arse is dragging. I'll push through tonight's "exploding" workout (Standing starts: 4 x 1 minute "getting all the power you can out of your body.") Tonight's workout is painful and I'll be screaming. But the reward will be a nice, warm piece of vegan chocolate cake. Yummmmmm...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ice, Ice, Baby

Had full intentions today of riding 3ish hours on the Rattling Creek Trails in Weiser State Forest, central PA, and the riding came to a screeching halt - literally - when I fell 4 times on ice and ended up trudging through 6ish inches of snow in all the low, shady spots on the trails. I ended up bagging it after an hour, climbed the hard top road to the top of the mountain and down the other side, back up and down to the van, then home to the trainer for an hour to get my time in. Barf. Crap of a day. Rick was at the YMCA. I can't wait for it to get warm and have clear trails again. Heck, I'd even take freezing temps as long as the trails are clear. One more week doing the winter training plan and next Sunday calls for a race somewhere. Hmmm... a race on February. Will have to do a search.

Training Like a Pro. Really?

Yup... even FIT CHICK uses Chris Eatough! So, yeh - we're training like Pros! No, not really; but, its fun to think we are. But the training us mere mortals typically don't do here in Central PA is the traveling to a locale closer to the equator. At least four of me/Donna's female competitors at the Transylvania Epic have trained or will be training south of the border. If it's not Arizona, they will be enjoying warm temps and riding somewhere equally exotic. Sue Haywood has been in Sedona AZ since January sometime. Amanda Carey is heading to Tuscon AZ for two solid months after spending a week or two in Maui. Sonya Looney will be sponsoring a camp in Sedona later in the spring. And while it ain't Arizona, it's equally awesome -- Rebecca Rusch is currently in Argentina and Fit Chick (Selene Yeager), (who doesn't claim to be a pro by the way), spent three days in Puerto Rico. And us desk job working stiffs? Well, we make do with what we have in Central PA - something that fits into our hectic weekend schedules of tending to family, home, cooking and hubbies. For me, that was something like riding up and down the 3-minute hill next to my house 10 times yesterday at a nice comfy heart rate of 155-160. I'm sure Violet (elderly neighbor) was peering out her window thinking, "oh dear." It was cold and windy, I had to be ready to head north with Ricky to a kayak rolling session by 2:00, and I was feeling tired from the day before so I opted to stay as close to home as possible. The plan called for 10x 2 minutes at 85% heart rate on a hill, spinning at 60% in between each effort. The hill at my house is actually a 5-minute hill from top to bottom. I ended up doing a minute to get into the 85% zone, two minutes at that effort, then coasting back down for a minute. It was perfect. Ten times up and down that baby and I wasn't tired, cold, nor minding the wind anymore. It's amazing once you BUCK UP and do it how glad you are you did and how good it makes you feel. We then went and rolled our boats for two hours and ate at an awesome restaurant that caters to local farmers, Emmas Food for Life. Great day. Can't wait to ride Weiser state forest today. Will give you an update on that too. Toodles!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Friday Afternoon Delight

I can't recall ever riding with anyone but Rick or myself on my beloved back roads around my house -- until yesterday. Donna made the trek north to the hinderlands to do a little 2.5 hr road ride on our mountain bikes. It was a beautiful, 60ish degree day that we couldn't let slip by. On tap for the ride, was a 5 minute stint at 85% HR, ez spin for a minute, then all-out race pace/time trial effort for 12 minutes. We were bucking a semi-decent headwind to start out, so my planned route was altered to get a break from the headwind. After about a 30 minute warm-up, off we went into time trial mode. I am NOT used to that kind of effort and seriously have to start bucking up now that spring is here and we can get out. It was kinda hard for me. My heart rate was hanging around 170-174 the entire 12 minutes and I can tell it was hard on me because today I feel near dead. Super-duper tired is an understatement. Donna, on the other hand, seemed fresh and energetic, before, during, and after. Damn youth. She suggested getting in on some road rides to help build my speed. I was never a fan of group road riding. Maybe I'll do a couple, just not sure yet. Although... all the really good cyclists do group road rides in their mix of training. Crap... I'm doomed! Today is windy as hell, but I'm going to get out for a two hour endurance spin on the road and tomorrow I'm checking out Weiser trails and hope to get 3 hrs in of more endurance - probably with some climbing. It was a great afternoon of riding - thanks for coming north Donna.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Last Night's Trainer Session with Mumford and Sons

Thanks to my training pardner', Donna, I was spinning to the beat of the tunes of Mumford and Sons, Sigh No More, last evening. If you saw them perform at the Grammy's you know how awesome they are. If you didn't learn about them here -- they are incredible. You can watch the video here -- its a can't miss. The trainer session was to be a 15 minute warm-up, following by 3x3 @ 80% HR @ 90 rpms with a 2 minute rest between each, 3x3 @ 80% HR @ 80 rpms with a 2 minute rest between each, then 3x3 @ 80% HR @ 70 rpms with a 2 minute rest between each. Then spin easy for the remainder of the 1.5 hr session. I'm one of those people who has to spin to the beat of the songs and when Mumford starts jamming, the legs started spinning with ease. I can't say I followed the above exactly, but I definitley got the 3x90,80, and 70 rpms in, but the HR got a little higher than 80% (more like 90%), and they weren't in any kind of order. Following the beat of the songs, the rpms were more like 71, 69, 82, 89, 69, 85, 91, 82, 79. So they weren't exact! It still worked and I feel awesome today. My weight was even down for a change! Oh yea.... what training - and some good tunes -- does for the bod...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weekend Training Rounds 1, 2, and 3

This weekend's training was much lighter at 4.5 hours compared to last weekend's 9 hours of riding. Saturday was still a little chilly -- and even snowing at one point -- so it was yet another trainer day. Luckily, there was specific interval-type training on tap so I could easily adapt it to the trainer. But, alas, Mr. Brown needed his workout too and his winter choice is the YMCA. My early morning Round 1 trainer session was followed by an afternoon Round 2 at the YMCA. It was another 1/2 on the bike, then some weights. I haven't been doing much weight work, so I'm a little sore today. This morning (Sunday,) was Round 3 for the weekend. Sometimes you can't trust the weatherman and after too many false alarms for whatever the prediction may be, I decided to take a wait-and-see attitude for Sunday's ride. The thought on Friday was to get out on Sunday and ride for 2.5 hours given it was to be in the 40's and sunny. This morning, Accuweather wasn't calling for anything above 37 in Gratz with partly sunny and winds averaging 18ish mpg. Brrrr.. When daylight came, I could see it was overcast AND flurries were flying again. So I opted for the trainer one more time. Another interval was on tap and this one was actually fun and made the time go by fairly quickly on the trainer. After a 30 minute warm-up, every two minutes I did a race pace "burst" to get my heart rate up to 165, then left go back to 75% HR and held it two minutes. Repeat 20 times. It was a good workout. The afternoon actually turned out semi-decent weatherwise and the temps hit low 40's, so I spent it washing too-dirty bikes. Great day -- great weekend.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Going All Out

Every time a planned trainer session is on tap, I look at what is to be done and say to myself, "huh, that's seems too easy... I can handle that." And then I get on the bike and start the interval and end up wheezing, gasping, screaming, gyrating, struggling and in the end, fizzling out and not finishing it fully (it's only a couple seconds that I fag out and cheat myself - can that be THAT bad??). Last night was another one of those kinds of nights. The plan said warm up for 30 minutes, then simulate a race start with one foot on the ground and the other clipped in, then push off like you are starting a race. Stand on the pedals and go all out for a minute. "Use your whole body to explode on the pedals." After that all-out minute, you recovered for 5 minutes. The first interval is always the hardest no matter what the interval is at hand and this one held true like all the others. Pain, pain, pain. I was literally gasping for air at the end of it. At the 12 second mark, I glanced down and said "SHIT! Another 45 seconds of this!" It was hard. I was thankful-beyond-belief for the 5 minutes of recovery after each and every minute. Rick came in the room for the 2nd and remaining intervals and looked at me like I was dying. I really think he was a little worried I was hurting myself. Breathing was difficult at the end of the interval. By #5, I just couldn't get the full body power out of the full minute. I think that one was cut short by about 1/2. And I couldn't WAIT to get off the bike at that point. Only 5 minutes of going all-out (and I mean wind-sucking all out) is NOT easy. Try it some time! It's training like that that makes glad I'm an endurance rider and not a time trialer, crit or cyclocross racer. I ain't got it in me!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cubicle Push-ups and Screwing Up the Trainer Session

There ARE benefits to being in an enclosed cubicle -- push ups! When you can't get them done in the evening or in the morning because of sleeping in from tiredness of riding long and hard, do them in the cube! Nice.

Last night's trainer session was easy in practice:

- Warm up for 20 minutes building up to 80% max heart rate.
- Stay at 80% for 4 minutes
- Go all out for 1 minute
- Repeat 4 times, rest 5 minutes, repeat the sequence again.

That's easy enuf. So how the hell did I screw it up? I replaced the go all out for 1 minute with spin easy for one minute. And the whole time I was thinking, "wow, this is a good workout." Ha! What a dork. So the workout was good, but not what it was supposed to be. Tomorrow is another day. Tonight is off because of a bike trail meeting in Lykens, but the plan also says rest if you feel you need it and I sort of do. I could do a workout if it was on the plan, but I'll take advantage of rest when its permitted. I'm not as tired as years past after a high-hour week (hit 16 hours total for the week - 14 on the bike - a record!), but I can tell I'm definitely not up-to-snuff just yet from the long hours last week.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wrapping Up the Winter Endurance Riding

It's done! Long winter rides are over and spring is looking ever-so welcome. Thanks to my bud, Donna, we finished out the final two week winter endurance period with a lovely 5:15 hour, 51-mile tour of beautiful Adams and Cumberland county. Donna's in-laws are from Adams county and we stopped for a quick visit along the way while we rode miles and miles of back roads through rolling fields of orchards. Donna and Brett were married on a hill, in an orchard, and Donna showed me the spot on the Weiser Farm where they tied the knot - beautiful. Most farms in Adams county are orchards, except this one in the pictures. There were burrows, llamas, turkeys, chickens, ducks, guinea chickens, and goats - all pets. My house would look exactly like this if Rick wouldn't have prevented me from getting the critters I wanted over the years (sheep, goats, geese, chickens, and a horse - all pets). The ride had two decent climbs and lots of rollers. Can't be sure of the elevation gain, but suffice it to say it was a bunch. Probably not near enough to be "officially" ready for the TSE, but enough for the end of winter training. I'm looking forward to more country road riding with Donna. Besides a handful of times Rick went with me, I've ridden road by myself for many, many years. Lower Northumberland and Western Schuylkill counties have awesome road riding with very little traffic and big rollers. It's a nice change to ride with someone - thanks bud! We now have a little break in long hours to focus more on power, then rest before we start spring training on March 7. Two more really fast girls signed up for the TSE -- Sue Haywood and Vicki Barclay. Vicki won Ironcross last year only 4 minutes behind Laub if that gives you an idea how fast SHE is. And of course Sue is the famous should-have-been-in-the olympics a couple years ago mountain biker. I say "should have been" because she rightfully earned her points and got screwed because of an event that wasn't recorded and she lost her spot to go. It was sad to see that happen. Of course, we won't see them during the race -- they'll beat most men -- but it's nice to see women enter and it inspires me to ride, ride, ride, and ride a little more this spring. Can't wait!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Home Stretch for Winter Endurance

Yes, it's just about over. Phil said it would be and could we ever doubt Phil? Spring IS around the corner. Last fall, when I looked at two weeks of bike riding 16-18 hours at the end of January/early February, all I could say was you got to be kidding me. In January? We're going to do a 5 hour ride in Central PA? We'll see. So here it is.... last week was the beginning of the final two week endurance period for winter training and yes, we're doing it! You saw my post on last weekend's riding (8 hours total on the trainer which equates to 12-16 hours on the road - damn!) and this weekend is the FINAL endurance session for the winter. Saturday's weather isn't cooperating for a 5-hour ride so it may be yet one more trainer day but I'll make that final decision on Saturday. But Sunday is looking awesome and I (we!) fully intend to get out for a change and ride for a couple hours. It's a pretty darn good feeling to know this is it for the winter endurance and we should be able to ride outside the next time a 3+ hr ride is scheduled which isn't until March 19 although I'm sure I'll be sticking in a 3hr ride or two between now and then. The Michaux Mash is the following week, March 26. Yeh! no snow (fingers crossed)-- and trails will be waiting. The light at the end of the winter training tunnel is growing brighter and it's a welcome sight.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Trainer Time vs Road Time - From the Pro

From a respected Pro when asked the question on his thoughts on trainer time vs road time:

I think trainer time is worth AT LEAST 1.5 road time. We don't ever stop pedalling on the trainer, there is less affect of momentum, and we tend to ride harder (probably because it's kind of boring, there are no distractions, and we don't get the buzz from the movement).
I say 1.5 times, or even 2 times if you are really putting in quality time on the trainer.

OMG! If that's the case, then I just put in a 12-16 hour road riding weekend this past weekend. My trainer time was 4 hours on Sunday AND Saturday -- both days in the endurance zone which in my opinion, is a quality workout. Ha! Bring on the TSE!

Coach Laub - I hope you are reading this! Because I know you are putting in the same amount of time if not more. Wow... no wonder you're an animal at racing!