Monday, March 29, 2010

Rest Week - Wahoo!

Yippie, I survived another 3 week cycle of training with my new coach, Mike Schultz. I actually felt pretty good at the end of my third week, which was a very good feeling. I did a four hour singlespeed ride on Saturday and it was fantastic. I haven't been riding the SS much (mainly because its either too hard or too easy for a given workout) but I don't think its possible for me to have a bad ride on a least I have yet to have a bad one. I'm always smiling ear to ear at the end and I think I like the "hards" being really hard, and the "easys" being really easy.

I set a new personal best up the Potatopatch climb, 41:15 with an average HR of only 158. Holy shiznet...who's legs are these and how did they get on my body??? I think I can break 40 minutes with a slightly higher HR. I used a 32x19 on my 29er SS and it was a great climbing gear. I then headed over to Jacks River Fields, anxiously awaiting the beat down on the Mountaintown and Betty Gap climbs on the return trip. Surprisingly enough, M-town wasn't bad at all and Betty Gap wasn't that bad. It was hard, but in a good way...not in a bleed out your eyeballs way. Once back at Potatopatch, I flew back down to Bear Creek. I opted for the upper switchbacks but I felt like I was driving a Suburban down an ATV trail on my 29er for some reason. I just felt wide and cumbersome...definitely need to ride that bike more to get a better feel for it in the narrow, techy singletrack. The rest of Bear Creek was great though - just aim the bike downhill and hang on!

Once I returned to my car I realized I still needed to ride for another hour, so I headed back out to Pinhoti 2 and finished the day on that and some forest roads. Big grin!

Now I'm getting a nice reward of an easy week which will consist of lots of relaxing out in the sunshine. Our house is somewhat of a disaster area since we are replacing the wood floors - I'm contemplating moving my home office out onto the deck this week to get a healthy serving of Vitamin D!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another Annoying "While You Were Working" Post

So yes, while YOU were working, I took the afternoon off and headed up to Ellijay for a nice long ride. I wanted to make sure I took advantage of a 72 degree sunny day, as its possible we may go from the 60's straight to the 80's. This time we rode the Gates Chapel-Crandall loop clockwise. It was definitely a bit harder in that direction and despite my improved fitness, FS 17 was still a the pros say..."It doesn't hurt less, you just go faster."

I was happily surprised to see that I was a good bit faster on the loop than a year ago. Its nice to see training actually making a difference. I was looking back at my training log from last year (the one I kept while I was preggers) and my first thought was "WOW, I sure did a lot of riding and running while I was pregnant!." My second thought was "WOW, I'm spending the same amount of time as I did last year, yet I'm seeing some pretty significant gains."

I think in general, I'm more motivated this year since I have so much less free time(bike ride time). When I was preggers, I was just riding to not let myself fall apart. Now, every ride has a purpose, whether it be for aerobic adaptations or just rejuvenation.

I have a busy month coming up in April, including the Blue Ridge Adventure Race and the Cohutta 65. I also registered for a trail run race and an off-road duathlon to keep things interesting. Plus, I can always say "Well, I'm just a mountain bike racer" if I get schooled too bad by the runners!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Sun Shines Again!

Despite being at a traning seminar last week, I managed to get in some good riding time while getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D in the process. I felt naked riding in only a jersey and shorts on Friday and Saturday, but it was a fantastic feeling.

I rode the Silver Comet on Friday after our training let out, and was reminded why I don't ever ride the Silver Comet anymore. Sure, it was convenient and a good steady workout, but I missed the hills, quiet roads, and the smell of cow poop and poultry farms that I have become accustomed to.

On Saturday I rode a combination of FS roads and pavement, which I call the Gates Chapel to Crandall Loop. I think it is the same loop that was used for Southern Cross a couple of years ago, but I climbed Potato Patch Mtn, instead of descending it. I was five minutes faster up the 5.5 mile climb at a lower average HR than I was a couple of months ago, so that was promising. Feeling the warm air blasting me on the downhills was so rejuvenating. The second half of the ride was pretty mellow, as my bike decided to self-destruct a bit on me and I couldn't push it on the downhills. Apparently, I had worn my bottom derailleur pulley down so much at Heritage Park that the chain actually fell off of it and was running through the cage next to the pulley. Of course it didn't take long to wear through the carbon on the cage, so now I need to replace it, or find one in the junk pile at the shop to cannibalize. (insert cha-ching cash register sound here)

Sunday we managed to sneak in a road ride before the rain hit..ha ha! I fear I'm becoming too much of a roadie these days, but it allows me to train a lot more specifically and the post-ride clean-up is generally a lot less hassle. I'm looking forward to another good week, though I can't say I was thrilled to see snow flakes when I left for work this morning. 70 degrees again by Wednesday...whoo hoo!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Heritage Park 6 Hour

After three days of rain, and more predicted for today, I was pretty much dreading this race, but knew it would be the best way to get a reasonably hard workout in with the less than desirable conditions. I hadn't raced or ridden at Heritage Park in probably 5 years, but the course was supposedly more flowy and smooth than it was previously.

I did a hard workout on Thursday and I immediately felt the leftovers in my legs when we started the parade lap. Since I didn't have snappy legs, I wasn't as close to the front as I wanted to be when we hit the woods and it ended up getting pretty bottlenecked in the first section of singletrack. Some guy, maybe 3 riders up, went down and caused quite a slow down. We worked our way through and then it seemed we got held up again once we hit a twisty, narrow section that was tough to pass on. It wasn't so much that we were going slow, but it just wasn't smooth...lots of slamming on brakes and then having to accelerate again..what a waste of energy! Near the end of the lap, it finally opened up, and I was able to ride my own pace. I was slightly concerned because we were less than 45 minutes in and I could already feel some fatigue in my legs on the climbs. Ugh..gonna be a long day.

The course wasn't nearly as nasty as I anticipated - probably 50% of it was dry - but the other half was either wet or muddy and I was regretting my choice to not switch out my CrossMark tires with something more mud appropriate, like Nevegals. I was also regretting the fact that my spare bike was a singlespeed with way too hard a gear for that particular course. I'm pretty sure it would have crushed my soul if I had to ride it after the third lap or so. I had the lead at the end of the 3rd lap, but at the end of my 4th lap, I had to stop and have a somewhat lengthy pit to spray off my drivetrain and lube the chain. (Again, wished I had brought a spare GEARED bike, so I could just swap and go). I got passed while pitting, but I doubt my bike would have survived another lap. I managed to catch back up to the girl that passed me, but she picked up the pace once she knew I was back there. I didn't really have the horsepower to stay on her, and I had to take it easy on the muddy sections or I would have ended up on my ass.

So 6th lap, same thing happens. I catch back up so now I feel like I have to try to work hard again. Ugh..a part of me ( tired legs) wanted to just lollygag along till the race was over. I snuck past her while a guy was passing, but she stuck to me like white on rice. I tried to give it one last push up one of the longer climbs, but my crapped out legs weren't getting the job done. She ended up passing me back when I ended up off the trail when we overtook a slower rider.

I didn't pit on the final lap, hoping to close the gap, but I didn't really have the strength for anything other than a steady crawl. My bike was dying a slow death and sounded like total crap. And since I didn't pit, I ran out of Perpetuem at the beginning of the lap...not that it probably would have helped. So, I had ended up in 2nd by the finish, about 2 minutes down. Despite not feeling great, my time was good enough for 6th in the Expert Men's category, so I guess I wasn't going THAT slow. I think feeling fatigue on every climb just makes you FEEL like you're going super slow. The course was pretty tough, especially with the soft and muddy sections, and it seemed like there was never any reprieve. Lots of up/down with plenty of momentum killing roots and I just never found a good rhythm. My upper body is totally worked from the billions and billions of roots that we had to ride over. Definitely a good way to keep me on the bike for 5+ hours though..I had forgotten how LONG that actually is. Hopefully I'll get some more long rides in before the next one of these.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Recovery "Ride"

Nothing on the training menu today other than recovery. I didn't even have to get on the bike but it was so nice, I couldn't resist taking Jayden to Red Top Mtn State Park. We hit the "mtn bike" trail, which is really nothing more than a gravel road. It was Jayden's second ride, and her first off-road ride.

She started making some noise half way thru, so I stopped to check out the situation. This is what I found..

Oh wait, mom, I really meant to say this...mountain biking is so AWESOME!

Here we have Sex on Wheels and Jayden on Wheels...nothing better than a happy baby out in the woods!

We stopped at a beachy section along the lake and Jay would have loved to just roll around in the sandy dirt ! (If mom would let her)

Jayden even had some dirt on her face by the time we were done, so I knew my job was done. I can't wait until she's older when she can say "faster mommy, faster!".

Snake Creek Gap #3

Yesterday was the last of three Snake Creek Gap Time Trials. I missed the first two due to other events and illness, so I was excited to finally get out there. I was anxious to see where my fitness was, as I was a bit demoralized after NGAR when I had to take two weeks off due to pneumonia, then start over with my training. The weather forecast was sunny and 60 degrees too, so that was a double bonus. My only concern was that I might be a little less than smooth on the technical sections since I have mainly been riding my road bike.

My coach told me to ride hard on the climbs, but not to get much above a 170 HR, then to recover as much as possible on the downhills. This worked out to be a good strategy as I wasn't ready to completely bomb the downhills, so dialing it back a bit was fine by me. Once I crossed Dry Creek (which was NOT dry), I picked up my pace to bring my HR up to 170. The grassy roadbed was a bit messy with some decent sized mud holes. As I got close to the first singletrack section, I eased up since I knew the first part was pretty steep. Once I was able to shift down to my small chainring on the steeper climbing, my legs found their rhythm and I was able to pull away from the guys behind me with a HR in the high 160s. From that point on, I was liking all the steep, extended climbs, as it seemed like I was pulling away from those behind me. I managed to drop some guys going up Horn Mtn and was equally stoked when they didn't catch me on the downhill.

I didn't stop at the sag, and just blazed through the parking lot, eager to hit the next climb and hopefully do some damage. This climb seemed quick and fun. Over the next rolling section, I used my small chainring a lot more than I normally would and it seemed to really keep my legs fresh for the hard section at the end. Some guy I passed asked if I was Willow (Koerber..super fast pro chick) and that made my day! I was rockin' and rollin' on the downhill to the next section of creeks. On the climb out, I was trying to take a drink and managed to lose the bite valve to my camelbak. My Perpetuem was pouring out so I immediately grabbed the hose and stuck it in my teeth. For some dumb reason I thought it was a better idea to ride with the hose in my teeth for 5 miles than just go back and pick up the bite valve. I took a sip about every two minutes until my bladder was drained and hoped that it was enough to get me to the finish, as I had no other calories.

Along the Hurricane Mtn singletrack, I caught sight of Paula and I slowly closed the gap. I hung back, rested, then made sure to pass quickly so she (hopefully) wouldn't try to chase me. I knew she was fast but I thought I was smoother in the rocks, and I had a full suspension bike, so I wanted to take advantage of the upcoming downhills and get in front of her before then. This gave me a bit of motivation to pick up the pace, and shortly thereafter I was able to pass Brenda. Now I was double motivated to keep motoring along.

I think I faded a bit near the end due to lack of calories, but looking at my elapsed time gave me the extra motivation to keep pushing. Once I hit the towers, I was home free, though I wished I had some extra weight to get me down the paved road section faster. I finished in 3:42, which was a new PR for me and I was able to smile the entire time and never did I feel like I was killing myself. Carey smoked the course on her singlespeed with a time of 3:27 and beat most of the guys there. I was happy to be second to her and got to take home some serious cold, hard cash for my effort.

After the first hour, most of my climbing was in the 160 HR range, so now I just need to figure out how much harder I can go without blowing up near the end. Its still early, so I'm excited to see what further gains I can make since I've actually started to train smarter.

Today I'm enjoying my recovery day and going to take Jayden out for either an easy ride or a short hike somewhere.