2014 is coming

Since I met all but one of my 2013 goals I need to set some for the coming year. I’ll say it right away: these are fitness goals only. Family goals are between my wife and I.

1. Laugh and a Half marathon 10k – finish strong
2. Cornhusker State Games MTB – gold
3. Cornhusker State Games powerlifting – medal
4. Jingle Cross – survive all three days

Quite honestly cyclo-cross is the focus, and the other goals are milestones to a successful CX season. “Successful” is being competitive over a half dozen or so races and not perpetually the Lantern Rouge.

That’s it. There might be some other races or events tossed in but this is the A list.

Now to devise a plan…

April building, on and off the bike

Its has been a busy month.

My wife and I have been planning and dreaming of a pergola (an open, unattached patio cover) for some time. Since I can’t use the “I don’t know how” excuse anymore with her so we decided I could build it. We started on it the second weekend of April and over the course of a couple weekends we got it put in.

It went from this...

It went from this…

to this...

to this…

to finally this.

to finally this.

My carpentry skills are still very rudimentary but they get the job done. There are a few things we want to do to improve it – I already built the noise baffle by the air conditioner unit – but we should get most of that done this Sunday. After that it is time to sit and enjoy it.

If it ever stops snowing. Good grief.

On the bike, it has been good. The construction work and a short stint of night and weekend duty have taken a toll on my training but I can still quantify improvements. Thank you Strava for making it easy to see performance ebb and flow.

I am racing this weekend in the marathon at Tranquility. They have a 50+ division so maybe, juuuust maybe, I’ll come away with some cash. We’ll see.

 

 

A good race that wasn’t

Fat guy on a little bike

Fat guy on a little bike (Tom Winfeild phto)

I made the trip with the Hoff brothers to the Psycowpath opener this last Sunday at Swanson. An iffy morning of weather turned into a beautiful day for racing bikes – not too cool or hot, and enough breeze out in the open for a bit of refreshment.

My day went well for a while. I went out for a warm up and was pleasantly surprised in how good I felt. I had been doing some home improvements on Saturday and was a bit stiff when I got up. I managed to get loose at home but was worried that a 2 hour car ride would exacerbate the situation but I was fine. I was feeling good going to the start line.

I got a decent start with no clip in issues, and moved out with the pack. I slotted in a little higher than I should have but with some faster riders driving me I ended up burning a personal best lap on this course.

I didn’t pre-load with nutrition and hydration like I should have so going into the second lap I felt a little flat. A little Heed and a get and i was good to go again. At the end of lap two I was still way under the lap times I had hoped for.

Lap three went by quickly and I was starting to settle into a good rhythm. Going into lap four I was starting to feel some fatigue and a little crampy and a couple folks I had been leading were starting to catch up. I stood to climb up from the pavement crossing and my left thigh cramped. Still not wanting to get passed, I pushed on and made up some great time the remainder of the lap and back to the finish line. I had planned on pounding down some Heed and a gel or two to stoke the fire.

Just as I crossed the line I heard a pop and my seat dropped out from under me. I stood to keep from getting a carbon fiber enema and my thigh cramped and all hell broke loose. I ended up in the rough off course but got unclipped without too much embarrassment. My race was done at the halfway mark.

The seat clamp bolt snapped which completely ended my day because you can’t use any parts you weren’t already carrying to make repairs and who carries bolts? It literally took a $.58 bolt and two minutes to repair it on Monday.

Oh well.

Even after four laps I was still well under my best-case scenario for lap times. Had I not bonked and not broken down I most likely would have had seven laps, eight if things had gone really well. With that I would have ended up mid-pack, exactly what I had hoped for.

Tracking my performance and comparing it to the last two years is very encouraging.  I am on par with 2011, my last good year of racing, and greatly improved over 2012.

I see some areas that need work but I am encouraged and looking forward to Tranquility in two weeks.

March Update

March 2013 has been difficult as far as weather goes. I don’t recall a relatively mild winter lingering this long and its making spring seem like a very dim light at the end of the tunnel. It will happen it is just agonizingly slow getting here.

With all the weather woes, my spin bike has been getting abused quite a bit more than I anticipated, and it has done an admirable job. Granted, spin bike workouts aren’t the same as being on the road, but fitness is fitness regardless of how it comes.

I am trudging through Build 1. Workouts have gotten markedly harder and more pointed toward building sport-specific fitness. Lots of short, high intensity work tempered with longer stretches of almost-high intensity work. The first week of Build 1 was an absolute killer and it couldn’t be over fast enough. Week 2 was laid out the same as week 1, and I went through it without so much distress and I took that as a good sign.

Week 3 means added time and more training stress and so far I am handling it well. The last week of this cycle is next week which culminates in my first race – and first marathon – at Swanson. Remind me after its over that I said here its only a training race. As long as I don’t implode and come away with some decent lap times I’ll be happy.

Lifting has gone well – almost too well. I got into a groove of adding weight to everything but ended up with some very sore shoulders. Fortunately, good sense prevailed and I backed off before I injured something. Squat work is going good but the soreness from multiple sets of heavy-ish weight was lingering too long so I backed up on the weight there too. I’m still doing  many more sets than I have ever done in the past with some moderate weight. My legs look better and feel healthier (even my knees) than they have in years.

The Wednesday runs have become something I look forward to, a little. Boredom is one of the biggest factors now, but I am determined. The three mile goalpost fell a couple weeks back so to keep it interesting, and to add a little speed, I am breaking the distance into .5 mile chunks, trying to run the chunks a little faster than I would the whole distance. Hopefully I can eventually string the chunks back together for a faster overall run.

Weight is still an issue. Legs and arms are thicker and shoulders are more defined. My waist is still the same although my pants fit a little tighter because of some increased hip and thigh thickness. At least that is what I am telling myself. That pesky scale is just not cooperating. I loathe idea of cutting calories again because i have been able to finish all my workouts this spring and I have a hard time with that during times of limited caloric intake.

I compared 2012 and 2013 training hours and intensities and it was almost laughable. I have invested about 30% more time and effort into training this year over last. This year I changed how I calcuated total time and training stress counting only about 25% of all the strength (yoga, tai chi, calisthenics, weights) time I put in into the total equation. Applying the new formula to last year’s log truly was laughable. It is no wonder I honestly thought I was going to die at the first race of the year.

Here’s to the promise of spring, sunshine, and warm weather. See you back here in a month.

February Gut Check

Its nearing the end of February, so its time to post a progress report. Its not that anyone *really* cares, but it is good motivation and keeps me honest.

I am in the middle of Base 3 which, for those not familiar, is Joe Friel’s term for that last of three phases of building a foundation of fitness before moving on to more and bigger blocks of serious sport-specific training.

The base of my fitness is strength training both in the gym and on the mat. In the gym its lots of squats both barbell squats and those blasted Bulgarian squats. Thanks to my brother for turning me on to those. I hate them but do they ever work. The squats and the upper body work to help balance out the strength and body mechanics have caused me to put a little weight on but that’s ok I think. I think my bride likes it.

On the mat its lots of flexibility and core work, including Turkish Get Ups. Weird name, great exercise. Check them out here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vhJza-2xiI

The running has come around for the first time since, well ever. I am not ashamed to say I am up to 2.5 miles at a stretch which is a huge landmark for me. My goal is 3, and maybe 5 at some point. We’ll see.

I have been doing my best to wear out the spin bike I bought last fall. My workouts have been spectacular so far, and I’ve safely made it past my usual Valentine’s Day plateau and crash. I’ve added a lot more force work and am just now starting to dabble in a bit of threshold work.

Comparing this winter’s training to even my best past year’s training is encouraging. This year the work has been much more productive and the results measurable in increased recovery and  tolerable workload.

The only factor that really concerns me is my weight which is higher than I want. I am not carrying much adipose tissue so I (hope) its at least mostly muscle. My clothes fit fine and my waist is smaller than in year’s past so I take that as a good sign.

The plan is still to race the four hour marathons until May and June when its time for the State Championships, the Maskenthine race, and Ponca. Since Ponca isn’t the SC I may go back to marathon for that too.

All in all, its been a good winter. The next hurdle is taking all this perceived fitness outside and seeing how it rates against my riding buddies.

…waiting for the fallout

As much as I loathe repeating anything Kevin Cronin might say or do, we in this part of the U.S. are definitely getting ready for the fallout of a serious winter storm, with somewhere around 10″ of snow in our future.

But honestly, who cares? Its the end of February, so within the next couple weeks it will all be gone and forgotten. If this was October or November I’d be whining but not this late in the game its not (as big of) a big deal.

Me? I’ll either be working or home depending on the seriousness of the situation. If its too bad to be out I’ll stick close to home and respond as needed.

Nearing the end of January status check

Its January 27, close enough to the end of the month for an update/gut check.

My training plan started November 19 with base one ending December 30.  I am mostly through base 2, with a marked increase in intensity over the first period. I had to re-adjust what I was doing after refreshing myself one the Friel system via the Mountain Biker’s Training Bible. I pushed the intensity too high and had to dial it back. Its good because I was getting more tired than I should have this early in the year.

Off the bike I have been lifting heavy with increases coming intentionally slow. As a result, I feel as confident as I have ever felt under a barbell. The yoga and tai chi program continues as well. As proof that the active meditation works, I got rid of a nasty migraine using a combination of the two yesterday.

I am working on *running* a race this year as well, and am slowing adding distance every week. I have never been much of a runner but its something I want to be, within reason. And, with the goal of having a successful cross season this fall I need to be able to run.

Beyond exercise, work has been busy with some organized criminal activity driving area cops (including me) nuts. We have made some great strides getting the bad guys identified, and are hopefully close to throwing out a net. We’ve all  worked some long days lately with some days turning into night and morning.

The house is still full, but that looks to be changing soon. It is going to be different without them.

Without going into any details, I was reminded how much my wife loves me this week. I am a lucky man.

With only a tiddly bit of January to go, February is basically all that stands in the way of spring cycling. I am anxious to see where my fitness is then compared to my arch rival/good buddy Jerry.