Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rest Week Riding

"You still ride during a rest week? Shouldn't you "rest" during rest week?" Uh, yea...but it's an "active" rest. An easy, active rest. You ride a bunch less and the riding is super-easy. Tonight was one of those restful rides. It was 1.5 hours at 65-75% of the maximum heart rate spinning at 90-100 rpms. Well, that's not quite how my ride really went. You see, I live amongst hills and very bumpy back, country roads. So the bike of choice is a cyclocross bike at this time of the year and how many rings do cross bikes have? Only two. Thus, those hills in the highest gear of a cross bike don't really keep your heart rate at 65-75%. Now the rpm thing is actually getting better (thanks Brett!) and I managed to keep spinning fast except on the hills. Then I pondered, "is it better to grind in a low gear (remember, it's only two rings), trying to keep the heart rate as low as possible or is better to try to keep the rpms up by standing and then the heart rate goes sky high? I dunno. I just rode my little bicycle and enjoyed every second of beating the rain and slushy stuff heading our way.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A REAL Rest Week

For many years, a day off or rest week has been filled with doing other stuff that's pushed aside while training my fool ass off for this bicycling addiction I have. Cleaning, cooking, and the big one that consumes the majority of my time in spring, summer, and fall - gardening - fills my idle time. But this year? No way. I've finally learned how to ignore it all and just sit back and relax. I got my confirmation this weekend that it's ok to relax and do nothing from the movie, Eat. Pray. Love. In one part of the movie, Julia Roberts is in Italy and she gets an "education" on the sweetness of doing nothing, a.k.a. dol·ce far nien·te   [dawl-che fahr nyen-te] which means pleasing inactivity; literally, (it is) sweet to do nothing. Last night while the president was telling the world it was ok for the US to bomb Libya, I laid in bed with not one, two, but all three of my cats and two glasses of wine. I tried to read but ended up just looking at words. The sweetness of nothing was more attractive. And it was the best. There's something to be said for the sweetness of doing nothing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nine Weeks to the Trans-Sylvania Epic 2011

That means we're just about 1/3 of the way through the 12 week Chris Eatough Trans-Sylvania-Specific Training plan. Week three is over and a rest week is on tap for the upcoming week. This past Friday, Saturday and Sunday totalled 7 hours of riding -- half on trail, half on the road. The trail ride was Saturday with Donna in the wondrous Michaux State Forest, PA. Classic central PA goodness: rocks, roots, climbs, and turkeys in the center of the trail. Donna spied them and luckily I caught a glimpse of them before they high-tailed it into the woods like a bat out of hell. Following Chris's training plan is working out well for both of us. I can tell it has the perfect combo of easy/hard rides, intervals vs rest day because my body is adapting well. This week I'm not near as tired as last and with the upcoming rest days, I should be ready to rock and roll when the real riding begins the week of April 4. That's the first of 3 weeks of 13.5, 14.5 and 15-hour weeks. Hopefully, we'll get to Swatara state park either the 13.5 or 15 hour week for some endurance riding. We both like the trails over there and Donna thought it would be good to do a long endurance session on those trails. I like the idea. But for now, it's rest and relaxation for the next few days. Normally at this time of the year, I'm stressing over the gardens but I have a saving-grace -- cold weather! It's been chilly and I have no desire to get in the garden so this week will truly be rest week. After this week, only 8 weeks to the Epic. It'll be here before we know it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Brrrrrrrrr Rrrrrride

Tonight was a 2.5 hr trail ride on the home turf -- Weiser state forest in good 'ole Halifax, PA. Actually, the west end is in rural Halifax/Carsonville and the East end is more towards Lykens. It was coldish at the bottom of the mountain -- 36 degrees when we arrived. Rick dumped me and headed to the YMCA to check out the cute young, spunky girls on the treadmill while I was riding. The snowmobile parking lot was the starting point which means -- you guessed it -- the climb. Always the climb -- what else is there when you are training for the Trans-Sylvania Epic? We were to do intervals tonight too: 8 x 2 minutes at 85%. Well, that turned into 2 x 30 minutes at 85-95% with the Deep Hollow climb (yes I did it twice to get the time in 'cause I didn't want to do singletrack because Rick was worried about me riding by myself on singletrack -- he's a naggy mother sometimes.) Half way up the climb I was thinking, "huh... there's a little snow here." Three-quarters of the way up the mountain the snow got a little heavier. By the time I got to the top, it was a winter wonderland and the trees were chattering with ice cover. It was beautiful! But cold - definitely below 32 with all the ice on everything. I wish these pictures would have turned out better but I think you get the idea. It was a good climbing ride. Average HR 137 with 1,484 calories burned. Once again, a perfect endurance HR. Rick had to remind not to ruin the good training ride by eating garbage. So supper was millet, broccoli, and wholegrain sunflower/flaxseed toast with almond butter.

The Quest for the Perfect Calorie

Is there such a thing as the perfect calorie, perfect food, or perfect health? In my endeavor to train for the TSE and become fitter, calories are playing a huge role -- not only the quantity but the quality make the difference in day to day performance. You can read a hundred books and get a hundred opinions on what's best and what's not. Every dietitian, nutritionist, and health guru will say their diet is best and will doubt certain foods others find nutritionally sound. It's confusing, stressful, and downright exhausting trying to figure out the labyrinth of bad and healthy food. I have no less than 26 cookbooks and 22 (maybe more) books on food, health, diet and nutrition. From going vegan to the paleo diet -- I've read too many of them. And what did I discover works best? Whatever makes my groaning, achy muscles feel strong and ready to perform. Yes -- the best diet is the one that is kind to YOUR body and the only way to figure it out is to start experimenting. No one can write the perfect combination for you -- you have to find it for yourself. Wine makes you feel good? Drink it. Goat's milk works for you? Include it in your daily regimen. I know an awesome multi-sport athlete who thrives on pop-tarts! I'm writing this because today, I feel strong as an ox and fit as a fiddle and I'm sure it's because of what I ate yesterday. I found when I eat what I think is too many calories of a certain food, I'm rewarded the next day with no aches, pains and an overall really good body feeling. Last night I gorged myself on peanuts and soy nut butter. My calories were high for the day -- about 2,600 (compared to about 2000 normally), but I feel GOOD this morning. The day also included the "quality" calories my body likes (sample below). Through the years, I've tracked all kinds of calories for all kinds of diets with the final daily count always being the calories, protein, iron, carbs, fat, and calcium to assure I'm getting adequate portions of each every day. The past few months I've been focusing on the kinds of food I'm putting into my body and I think I finally found a combination that works best and that's exactly what you need to do too if you're looking for the perfect calories. Experiment. Try new things or a combination of old and new. Try eating more or less. Increase your carbs (you'll be amazed at how good you'll feel if you up your carbs over 300 grams a day if you are training). Track what's going in your body. Track how you feel the next day. And remember what works, and what doesn't and apply it more on a permanent basis. You too will find YOUR perfect calorie. Here's what mine are. And what's interesting is this mirrors the Jack Lalanne diet with the exception of the sweets. He didn't have any for 76 years. But I love sucanat and Grade B Maple Syrup - my "natural" substitutes for white sugar which I dump on nearly everything, including salad (I don't use salad dressings but take great pleasure in pouring a tablespoon of syrup on my salad).

A Sample of Chili's daily diet that seems to work:
  • Soy Protein
  • Beans and Legumes
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
  • Salmon, Tuna, or Shrimp (2-3 times a week)
  • Soy and Almond Milk
  • Lots of kale and swiss chard in all kinds of ways.
  • Eggs (free range only)
  • Chia Seeds
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Nuts of all kinds
  • Whole grain bread
  • Some whole grains: Quinoa, millet, amaranth, bulgur
  • Blackstrap Molasses as needed (when I "feel" like I need iron).
  • A little whole grain pasta (not too often)
  • Sucanat and Maple syrup as sweeteners
  • NO DAIRY. (I think this is the big one that really made the difference on how I felt once I gave it up).
  • No red meat or poultry - although I'll eat it on occassion if I know the cow or chicken was raised humanely and locally. I'm struggling with the chicken though -- they're too cute too eat! But the cows are cute too.
Remember - experiment. Try different things to find your perfect calorie.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Now THAT's Training

Speed. Higher heart rate. Panting. That's what I call training. This past Sunday was wimpy: 65-75% of max heart rate at 90-100 rpms. B.O.R.I.N.G. 1) I'm not a spinner and found trying to keep 90-100 rpms for 2 hours a nightmare. In order for me to stay at those kind of rpms, I have to put it in a very low gear and I'm barely crawling in low gears. and 2) while I was enjoying the lower heart rate 'cause I was tired, endurance riding is a lot of fun (in my opinion) and it doesn't seem much like work. Tonight was different. 2 x 20 minutes at 80% of max heart rate. And after a day or two of rest, it took some work to get the heart rate up and once it was there, I felt like I was flying! I was on the cyclocross bike on the road and I glanced down a couple times to see 20mph. Kids, that's fast for old Chili. Her normal average on Jake is about 13mph. I truly felt like I was really training. Working. Sweating. It was great. The plan also said feel the slow burn and spin at 70rpm. Yeh baby -- it was burning and the big ring was being pushed. It was a good training session. Wednesday - another rest day in prep for 4 days in a row of riding.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Two Weeks Done, Ten To Go to the TSE

Two weeks of Trans-Sylvania Epic-specific training is on the books. We have one more week that is similar to the last two, then a "lighter" week of 8 hours to rest a little and give the bod a break. One thing I noticed, when the rest days are here, the hard-at-work muscles, joints, and bones are ready for that break. Today is the rest day, but I was really, really feeling it yesterday. As soon as the ride was over, I was done for the day. As beautiful as it was (50ish, calm, very springtime-like), I slept most of the afternoon and laid around the remainder of the day. No garden work, no house cleaning, no reading, no bike-cleaning/repair, just vegetating. I was tired from head to toe - mind, body, and soul. But all it takes is listening the bod when it says rest, and all will be well. This morning, I feel rested and ready to roll. No silly, not on the bike, just with the normal daily rest day routine. My dear mother had a bit of set-back again, so I'll spend a good part of the day helping her with cleaning and grocery shopping. The only difference between this week and last week's training is an extra 1/2 hour added on to the 3 hour trail ride on Saturday and I'm heading to Michaux this time around for that long ride. Yeh! Nothing like a Michaux fix every now and then.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Little Bit of Awesomeness

Another awesome training ride today for the event of the year, the Trans-Sylvania Epic. It was a little chilly at 43ish, but certainly better than 32ish. We rode the awesome rattling creek trails in good 'ole awesome Lykens, Pennsylvania.

Donna had her Awesome straps.

and I didn't.

Hubby took one look at my thing under the seat and said, "what the hell is that?" I'm old (fashioned) and haven't gotten with the program yet, honey. "It was free in the bottom of a give-away box left at our mountain bike bash a couple years ago. You taught me to save money for retirement, so I'm using the free stuff." Huh... can't imagine why it was in the free box. For those of you that are wondering what Awesome straps are, Bad Idea Racing seems to have the "dirt" on them. Check it out!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Swatty Patty Training for TSE

Had an awesome 2.5 hr training trail ride on St. Patrick's day (a.k.a. "Patty") on the Swatara Park (a.k.a "Swatty") trails. Without a doubt, Brian and the SAMBA crew know how to build some sweet, flowing singletrack. Donna, Brett, and I did all the loops once, and some twice to get our time in. Ricky hung out with one of his co-workers for about an hour, then waited for me (thank you Ricky!). The training plan said:
Trail ride. Short hard efforts on the hills (7 x 2 mins at 85%) and steady and efficient everywhere else. Spin easy for 2 mins beween efforts. If possible, choose rocky trails with short hills.
The one thing Swatty lacks is rocks so we had to settle for the hills which are also not plentiful on this trail system making it a challenge to do the 2 minute efforts -- at least not while riding the entire network. But alas, hill repeats always work and there's one good climb on "C" trail that's at least a 3-4 minute climb. So hill repeats we did. Up and down, over and over, the same hill, seven times. We definitely got in some good practice on the "steady and efficient" part with these curvy, flowing, meandering trails. It's soooo nice to be back outside again. Today is an easy 1.5 hr road spin -- mine will be about 20 miles from Millersburg to Gratz while Rick visits with his mother after work today. Tomorrow is another trail ride for 3 hours heading back to the Rattling Creek trails, this time with Donna and company in tow. Time to practice a little rock hopping.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Couldn't Resist

WAY too FunnE. Happy St. Patt's Day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Relieving Training Aches and Pains with the Food You Eat

A little experiment has been going on during my training and low and behold I find there's some truth to my testing. With all this bike riding that's been happening, sometimes I get aches and pain in the joints and muscles (huh... imagine that at 51! or any age when you ride 10+ hours a week). I feel it most in my knees -- especially after last night's 70 rpm interval workout. No, it's not one of those really hurtful pains that you have to stop what you're doing, but a twinge, an old person's ache. Oh, that's right, I'm the old one and none of you are! Damn it. Anyways.... the past couple times I felt the ache, I downed soy protein or nuts (almonds, peanuts, soynut butter, almond butter, etc) afterwards and low and behold the next day the pain is gone. This morning was another test with passing scores. And I come to find there's some evidence to the foods you eat relieving aches and pains. Healthy fats and omega 3's are key. a.k.a, the nuts and soy in my diet. Below is the juice from the above link that says it all, courtesy Lisa Dorman, the running nutritionist. So eat your good fats and omegas! Oh, and sufficient water helps too.

Monounsaturated fats like olive, peanut, canola, and sesame oils, as well as avocado, also inhibit and reduce inflammation by interfering with pro-inflammatory compounds called leukotrienes, which are produced naturally by the body. Men and women who consume “Mediterranean” type diets—fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oils -- have been shown to have a lower incidence of inflammatory-type conditions such as heart disease and arthritis.

Diets high in omega 3s have been shown to increase collagen deposition and promote healing. Collagen is the main protein in connective tissue, which makes up 25 percent of the total protein content in our bodies. Omega 3s found in fish, flax, soy, and almonds specifically have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects by preventing the formation of inflammatory compounds.

Salmon, sardines, light tuna, tofu, walnuts, and ground flax are all rich sources of Omega-3s, the healthy fats that prevent the production of inflammatory compounds. Vitamin D, which is found in fatty fishes, fortified milk, shakes, and drinks, along with zinc-rich beans, lean red meat, yogurt, and peanuts, has been found to control inflammatory stress.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Post Winter First Time Trail Ride

Oh did that feel good. Finally, after a way-too long wait for snow and ice to melt off the Rattling Creek trails, I got on the oh-so-sweet rocky singletrack. I say rocky because there was a LOT of washing going on from the downpour on Thursday and it seems the trails get rockier and rockier with every rain. Some trails weren't rideable today with water still flowing -- more like gushing -- straight down the trail. But who cares -- it was awesome to be on them. If you park furthermost east and head to the furthermost west point of the trail network, it's about 12 miles and a very nice, gradual climb in the process. It took me a little longer than expected because of a handful of dismounts and detours around flooded sections which made the clock time 3 hours, but the bike time was still 2:34 at 133 average heart rate. The majority of the climbing was singletrack. Perfecto. Its kinda hard to keep the heart rate down when you're climbing and pounding through rock gardens. There were numerous times I was in the 150s. Eatough is saying keep it between 65 and 75% yet Laub says let it go into the 150s. So I'm going say the little bit it drifted should be ok. Total trip was about 18 miles. My new Mountain King tires were awesome. I had forgotten how nice grippy, tubeless tires are. How did I go so long without them. I've been running a race tire with less agressive tread and have been struggling a little. Duh... get a grip Chili! Doh.

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Dark and Windy And Rainy is Dark And Windy And Rainy"

Those are the words that come from the mouth of the recipient of today's mountain bike hero award -- Donna! In torrential downpours and wind, and at night to boot, she bucked up big-time and went for a trail ride. Holy shit....I'm pretty darned proud of that girl. She is true-to-her-word when she said she's going to follow the Eatough TSE Training Plan as closely as possibly. Last night's training called for a two-hour trail ride. I have to admit I'm a tad jealous. I imagine once she got out there and got warmed up and started getting into it, it was probably fun. Rain pelting your face, mud splashing up on everything, tires slipping on rocks and in turns, wind houling -- mother nature at her very best. Remembering the mud races of years ago, it IS fun to get all slopped up and ride for a couple hours. At least you don't smell yourself. Donna, you ARE THE Buttercup. I can hear you saying "Bring it!" That's awesome. Oh, and my ride? After what Donna did last night, my trainer ride of constant big-ring-little-ring-hopping-off-and-on-and-running-up-and-down-stairs pales in comparison.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

79 Days to the TSE - Not Counting Today

Gee, you'd think something really big is happening in my life that I'm counting the days. It's not like I'm moving, or retiring, or getting married, or building a new house, or even having a baby! It's just a little 'ole bike race - what's to get excited about?! It's not like I didn't climb mountains before on my mountain bike -- maybe not 30,000 feet worth -- but I DID make it to 6500 at one time. It's not like I haven't ridden 40ish miles at a time before. Maybe not for 6 days in a row, but I DID hit 50 miles in one day. And it's not like I haven't trained or been coached before. Maybe not for 32 weeks solid building up to one single event, but yeh - I had a coach and followed training plans. So what could possibly have me counting days?! Can't figure it out. As of yesterday, there are now 13 girls entered in the Trans-Sylvania Epic, with the most recent gal being a professional athlete -- Rebecca Rusch. She raced it last year and had issues with her asthma and ended up third. I think she's back for unfinished business. But then again, maybe it was just such an aweseome time she couldn't stay away. I think its very cool to look at the registration list and see Donna Weiser in the Open women mix with Sue Haywood, Rebecca Rusch, and the other pros racing this thing. Me? I'm still just a little old lady all be herself in the granny category -- but that'll likely change as the day gets closer and they mix me in with the other Open women. Then I get to see MY name next to Sue Haywood and Rebecca Rusch. Ha! Tonight's training will be interesting. Today is supposed to be a 2-hour trail ride, but its pouring down raining and it's also the last week of darkness. So my ride will be on the trainer and I decided to really give my bike a little workout and designed my own "trainer workout." I plan to stand, shift to a hard gear, shift to an easy gear, sit, spin, mash, get off and pretend I'm pushing, run up and down the steps, get back on and stand, climb a little (well, a LOT), and just imagine I'm on a trail. It's all about attitude, right? Well I'm going trail riding tonight -- in my brain. Damn weather. 80 days to the TSE! Yeh baby.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 1 of the next 84 Days of Training

Sloppy, slushy roads from a freak snowstorm had me on the trainer for 1 hour in place of an outside road ride. Actually, I think the trainer was more precise for what was scheduled: 90-100 rpms consistently for 1 hour keeping the heart rate between 65-75% of max. There's no consistency in road riding around my house with all the hills and dales we have. My average HR for the hour on the trainer was 72% (130 bpm), and while I can’t record average rpms on my computer, I think it hung around 85-90. Being more a masher than a spinner, getting to 90 rpms and keeping the HR down is a huge accomplishment for Chili, holding these rpms for the duration was a plus. I’m sure Donna – the excellent spinner she is – breezed through this workout.

Monday, March 7, 2011

First Day of School

Yup... today's the day.... the first day of spring training and it feels like the first day of school. Exciting, nervousness, and anticipation of what's to come in the next 12 weeks of training. And then we graduate to the race itself. It's a rare occasion you can find a mountain bike training plan specific to a certain race but Donna and I did, and we both are now proud owners of the Transylvania-specific 12-week training plan by Chris Eatough. Chris is a multi-time world champ of 24-hour races. He's an animal, to say the least, and a nice guy to boot. He's smart, an incredible athlete, and put together a training plan that working stiffs can manage. The shortest weeks are 8 hours in the saddle with the longest being 15 hours. It's ALL bike - no cross training in this one. It's interesting too how he starts you with a mix of road and trail and gradually adds more trail hours as the TSE gets closer. Road days are typically easier days to give you some rest. The Weisers planned a Raystown Weekend for the Mountain Bikers of Michaux for April 15 and it coincides nicely with 3 days of trail riding on the training plan. There are three weeks in April where there are some looonnnggg hours in the saddle. I can't wait to finally get on the Rattling creek trails and ride my butt off. At some point, I'd like to ride 40 miles of the Rattling Marathon on one of the 5-hour days. It's been a long winter. So keep watching kids. You'll be getting updates on how the continued training is coming along.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I Like Slo Mo

Rest weekends are SUCH welcome animals. There's something to be said for riding slow and accepting the fact that it's ok to be in the granny gear. Today was a 2 hour easy mountain bike. "As slow as you need to stay fresh." And so I was. It took me 1.75 hrs to go about 7 miles. There was a climb in there and I felt my heart beating a little too fast so granny paid a visit and she was SO glad to see me. The coolest part of the ride was discovering virgin singletrack. Well, virgin for bike tires. It appeared to be a hunters path, or maybe a deer path, but it was beautifully clear and easy to follow. I love finding virgin trail that's easy to ride. It wasn't much -- only about 200 yards or so -- but it was nice enough that I did an out and back on it. Many logs made it a bit of challenge which was nice to have after a long winter void of log hopping. The ride was awesome and even though mother nature looked like she was ready to throw up, she held it back all day. I like slo mo.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Raring to Go

A couple days of rest and the engines are tuned up and raring to start churning again. But wait! Hold on jumpy.... there's 3 more days of rest and we DO mean rest until you start up again. The old bod is feeling very happy with its reaction to all this training. Everything is falling into place the way it's supposed to: you train for 20 weeks following a pro's plan with scheduled weeks of building and resting with highs and lows (and dead tiredness then bouncing off the walls), you rest again, and then start in for another 12 weeks with yet another plan from a pro. Things start to happen. Muscles get stronger, power comes, energy abounds, and you just feel so damn good about yourself that you can't stand yourself. I even have a friggin' six-pack underneath that jiggly belly. How 'bout that! Training is worth ALLLL the effort. Yes, if you have a chance to train for something like we are -- the Transylvania Epic -- do it! You'll never regret it. Oh, and find a friend to do it with ! You can both commiserate together.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sortin' Potatoes

I hit 25 years at the state a couple weeks ago and the R word is on the horizon. For years, I used to joke with people I couldn't wait to retire at 25 years and NOT have to commute 100 miles a day and I'd ride my bike to work 5 miles away at the local potato plant.

Guess where I just was filling out an application. Damn that felt good.

Bouncing Back

Donna thinks I'm human 'cause I got tired and had to take a break. I think I'm human now that I'm bouncing back to life and feel full of vim and vigor. It took 48 hours to feel "normal" again after a interval-laced two weeks of training. Bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 3:00 am this morning, I did core work, read, and am about to get on the trainer for a very easy 1 hour spin while I watch the morning news. Later today, I take mom to the doctor in Hershey for her follow-up hip surgery appointment. This afternoon, I may walk for eggs if its nice (1 mile round trip) and read some more. I feel human again! Human, yes, but totally refreshed, no. This week is rest week and I'm taking full advantage of riding very little and when I do, it'll be super easy. With warm temps, this will give the trails a little more time to dry out and will be ready to be ridden come March 7 when the official spring training starts. Every Thursday starting March 10, will be "trail night." And whether Rick likes it or not, he'll have to drag his bike along every Thursday to ride somewhere. More than likely it will be either Swatara or the Rattling Creek Trails. Day light savings time starts on March 13, so we'll likely do Swatty that week if its dry. Rick is a stickler for not riding in muddy conditions. I guess I agree.