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…

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.

Why?

In the wake of yet another senseless mass murder I am left with the same question as many others: Why?

The murder slaughter of 20 children and seven adults is beyond comprehension. I have a brother who once was a little baby in my arms, I had two of my own children and helped raise three more, and I have a tiny grandson – I cannot comprehend the grief and loss felt by all those moms, dads, siblings, extended family, and friends. I hope I never can. 

Why does this have to happen? There are several factors in my opinion  none of which can be isolated and controlled completely.

The fact that people who are bent on killing others and themselves have ready access to machines designed for the purpose of killing not animals but humans is one factor. I am all for hunting if that is your bag. Kill it, eat it, go for it. I don’t hunt – I did when I was young but lost my taste for killing animals when I killed a jack rabbit for no other reason than to kill it. When I presented my “trophy” to my Dad he asked why I had killed it and what I was going to do with it. I had no reason and suddenly had no desire to ever hunt again. 

On the other hand, I carry a gun for a living and have no qualms using it under the correct circumstances. That was not an easy decision and that situation haunted my dreams (literally) for years. But I have no doubt I’d be scarred forever if I had to use it. But I know I will when necessary.

Another factor is mental illness. Unfortunately, there are people who, for whatever reason, and wired for self-destruction. I have seen it several times where a person is determined to take their own life and most are eventually successful even if it takes a few tries. Why is this? I cannot answer that but there are those who can, and they need to be brought to the forefront to inform and educate all of us to recognize the signs and symptoms in order to help these tortured souls. 

Another factor I see is the de-sensitization of humans to the value of human life. Think about all the role playing video games where opponents are killed. Think of every action movie where waves of disposable soldiers/firefighters/police officers/bad guys/bystanders are slaughtered with reckless abandon. Each and every one of those disposable humans would have had a family were they real. Sadly, many people have a hard time discerning fantasy from reality and this notion of disposable humans becomes a part of their psyche. 

I don’t feel I am disposable. The people I work with aren’t disposable. They bleed, they die, they leave family behind. 

Along those same lines most people who think about suicide don’t take into consideration the finality – there are no second lives, no do overs. If you are a believer, you know the consequences of those actions are horrifying. Regardless, after that selfish suicidal act, someone has to find the remains, tell loved ones, clean it up, and deal with the aftermath. There is no glory in that. 

None. 

Rather than glorifying the people who shoot and kill disposable humans at will until their ammo runs out, we should at take a moment to remember the consequences of those actions. 

Maybe instead of crying out that our liberties are being assaulted when we can’t buy a gun designed for war, we should work to assure that our most vulnerable are not being assaulted. Instead of complaining when we cannot buy a war machine that will shoot 30 rounds a minute to keep in our house we should be looking to provide a mechanism for those weapons to be placed only in the hands of those who need them – the soldiers they were designed for. 

Maybe instead of allowing our passion for change wane in the coming days we should remember everyday each and every person killed in atrocities like Sandy Hook. 

Why do these atrocities happen? I don’t know, but I am tired of them. 

Time for summer

Ponca SP and Mother Nature’s teamed up to turn an already tough race into something completely different . I was (really) nervous going into the start of the race after a heavy shower turned the  trail muddy and slick in some spots. But, I fell i with the group I wanted to and rode conservative, if not tentative, for the first lap. Lots of crashes on an obstacle in the course, some pretty horrific, left me thinking that conservative was fine by me.

As the race went on the track improved and was perfect by my third lap. I picked up my pace on that lap to finish strong with some left in the tank. I finished where I thought I would, with finishing being the key. The conditions were never horrible, but it was my first muddy race so getting through it and managing my nerves makes it a big win for me.

When I finished last season my plan was to have an easy spring and get into competition mid-summer. But with the Nebraska MTB schedule being changed, making it basically finished mid-June, I decided to go ahead and hit some early races. It wasn’t a mistake ( I had fun ) but I clearly wasn’t ready and my spring schedule never really allowed me the luxury of getting into race condition. Consequently, the 2012 season is over for me on the MTB with a lukewarm to poor outcome.

However, now my summer is clear to spend some quality time with my wife and family. We have a couple big trips planned which I am very excited about. Aside from that, I am planning on getting at least one century in and some long gravel rides. I just want to go ride my bike.

I’d like to think I’ll be ready to amp it up again for some cyclocross races this fall, but if I’m not its not the end of the world.

Here’s to summer, and I hope to see my cycling friends in the fall.

…and, its over.

Big weekend, that is. 

Relay for Life, done, Cold, damp, but very good. Thank you to Katie for putting this together.Aside from losing B for a short time, it was great fun.

Maskenthine XC race, done. Race went off without a significant hitch. Lots of volunteers, lots of riders. I raced, hard and well first 1.5 laps, then faded. Didn’t finish as high as I would have liked but performed well.

Norfolk Classic Criterium, done. Aside from one person trying to ruin everyone’s party, it turned out very good. Lots of volunteers, happy riders, good races. Not sure where this event is going in the future. It was a bittersweet end of the weekend.

Thank you to everyone who helped put on these events, you know who you are. If I didn’t thank you in person, I will try the next time I see you. 

A special thank you to my wife: Couldn’t do it without you.