Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Little Inspiration

So, I've been wallowing in self-pity for the past couple of days, reviewing the debacle that's been my nutritional and training life for the last two weeks. I was feeling good after Yankee for a day or two and then things started going downhill. Not only have I not been updating my blog, I haven't been training. I've ridden once since the race at Yankee and have also used every opportunity to shove any and all food in my face. I purposefully skipped my WW meeting last week because I couldn't deal with the repercussions of my behavior.

Last weekend, we took a short trip to Staten Island for the wedding of one of my friends from high school and although we had a great time, there was so much eating and drinking involved I think I might have actually slipped into a food coma.

The more training I skipped and the more I ate, the worse I felt and the more I wanted to skip training and continue to eat. It's happened before. In fact, it's pretty much my M.O. Last year, what started out as a somewhat promising racing season quickly deteriorated as I found more and more excuses not to train.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty disgusted with myself this morning and was ready to chuck the whole thing and resign myself to a life of sloth and obesity. Motivation was clearly lacking. Then I had some time to kill and I decided to catch up on a few blogs. (I haven't been able to read any blogs since our Internet was down for three days and only came back on last night. Please don't let me start a rant about the worthlessness of Comcast.)

At any rate, I was reading a race report from Cohutta 100 written by endurance racer extraordinaire Danielle, and suddenly I felt inspired. Here was the missing motivation, finally.

Now if you ask me what made Danielle's posts so inspiring, I'm not sure I could pinpoint it. I think part of it is her enthusiasm for the sport and her commitment to keep improving, even after all the success she's had and the races she's won. I also thought about how much encouragement she gives to other racers she meets, even those like me, who are not very good.

This is starting to be a bit sappy and philosophical, but the truth is, this is such a great sport with so many encouraging people. I forget that sometimes. But this morning, I thought about everyone who has been so supportive of this struggle of mine. There's not just Danielle, but another hardcore friend; my teammates, including Jake and Laurie; blog readers and fellow racers, Ali and Di; and of course, my husband, who's spent so much time building my training plan, working on my bikes and teaching me things. There's also my mom, but I could go on and on.

The point is, I've done too much work and enlisted the help and support of far too many people to let this racing season go to hell. So as hard as it's been to keep motivated lately as other things creep into my life, I'm making a commitment to myself and those who have encouraged me to continue to put effort into this.

We leave for Key West on Sunday, but I'm going to take any opportunity I can to ride between now and then. Once I get there, I'll have my usual exercise repertoire of walking all over the island. I'm also going to clean up my eating and try to keep my drinking to a minimum while I'm there. Next stop on the race schedule is 6 Hours of Addison Oaks on May 9, which will be here all too soon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


The fact that someone has given a person like this a public forum for speaking is completely astounding. If this were yousuckatcraigslist, I'd label this guy "asshat."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trail Rash

Me: I don't know what time I should shoot for now. I did 1:40 on Saturday and 1:32 on Wednesday. But Wednesday's time was probably just a fluke. I should probably pick something in between the two. Or maybe I'll shoot for 1:35 and follow my original plan.

Chris: No, you can do it faster than that. You should shoot for 1:27.

Me: I don't know. I don't think I can do it that fast. What if I'm slower during the race?

Chris: You always ride faster in a race. Your goal should be 1:27.

My official time today was 1:27:51. I guess I should listen to my husband more, because despite several crashes, one of which was a fairly spectacular endo, I still managed to finish the race with a time 20 minutes faster than I raced the course last year. Twenty minutes. That's how much I shaved off my time. For me, that's huge.

So it took a bit of the sting away from the fact that I only beat two people, when I was really hoping to end up somewhere in the middle of the pack. I would up finishing 7 of 9 (that's right, a Star Trek reference, but it's true). Still, the group was faster overall than last year. I think the winner of my age group last year had a time of 1:28 and this year the winning time in beginner women 30+ was 1:10.

As you can see, I got a bit banged up with all the crashing. All the rain and drizzle combined with roots and rocks made for some slippery sections. That punctuated with some less than stellar decisions on my part made for the most crashes I have ever had during a race. Luckily, Maddy and the G-dog were on the job as soon as they saw my wounds, so I'm sure the healing will begin forthwith.

One other observation from my husband was that this year I was actually "in the race" in terms of my competition. He said he thought I could actually be competitive this year. That's because last year, not only was I last in my age group, I finished 10 minutes behind the person in front of me. Today I was only 40 seconds behind the person in front of me. I probably could even have beat her if I had only crashed twice instead of five times.

Even though there were a few things that were disappointing, overall, I think it's great progress. A little more confidence and a lot more time on the trail working on my skills and I could be a "contenda."

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Quick One

I wanted to do a quick post about my weigh in today. I ended up with a loss of 1.8 pounds since my last weigh in, bringing me to a total of 28.2 since I started in mid-December. It was better than I was expecting since I feel like I've been off the wagon a lot. My primary saving graces were probably my continued training and the fact that I've been avoiding eating out almost completely due to the fact that I'm trying to save money for my impromptu jaunt to Key West.

It is good to know that I'm still making forward progress even after all this time. I know my attention span for good nutrition seems to be really short.

Now I have to get my minutes done from the chapter meeting (that I should have done three weeks ago) before my fellow Board members kill me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Now What Do I Do?

After Saturday's somewhat lackluster performance, I really wanted to take another crack at Yankee before the race. I was certain I could do a bit better, and I wanted to dial in my goal for Sunday. I wanted to choose a time that was somewhat realistic, but that would still necessitate me pushing myself.

As I already mentioned, I was about 7 minutes faster on Saturday than my race time last year. Still painfully slow, but at least an improvement. I figured I might be able to cut it down to 1:35 for the race.

I headed out after work, hoping I could get there by 6 p.m. No such luck. By the time I got on the trail it was a little after 6:30. Also, in a very stupid sequence of events, I forgot my state park sticker, which had been sitting in the kitchen at home since I got it at Christmas. When I hit the trail, I was feeling a bit frustrated, annoyed and somewhat concerned about finishing before it got dark since I forgot to check what time sunset was supposed to be.

Still, I decided to make the best of it. I had found my trusty digital watch, which had been missing for almost a week and was able to track my progress. I learned a couple things:
  • I'm still slow, but I'm faster than I was. (Okay, I already knew that.)
  • I ride the end of the course much faster than the beginning. In the beginning of the race I was riding 10 minute miles, but they were getting to be closer to 7 or 8 near the end. I think this is a function of the terrain itself. The end is just faster, although it seems to be dragging out when I'm ready to be done.
  • I really don't even need to ride that much faster to have a much better time. I just need to ride more. During my first pre-ride, I walked a bunch of uphills and even some downhills (I know it's ridiculous, but sometimes I just can't get my head past the fear of some sketchy downhills and it seems safer to walk). Yesterday, I rode many more of the uphills and I rode all the downhills. It made a huge difference in my time not to keep getting off the bike.

I ended up finishing yesterday's ride in 1:32:02. That's right. It was eight minutes faster than my time on Saturday and 15 minutes faster than my race time last year. Since my original goal for the race was 1:35, I now feel like I should adjust that. Part of me is really scared it was just a fluke, though. I'm not sure what to do.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gearing Up

(That title's for you, DG!)

Well, the Yankee Springs Time Trial is less than a week away. Last Thursday we had our first team meeting. A bunch of us got together in Jackson to meet and socialize and talk about the upcoming season. There were a few I hadn't met before, but there were also several familiar faces, like Brad, Jake, Laurie and Mitch. It was fun to hang out with everyone and talk about racing. If I wasn't excited already, I certainly got that way quickly.
This Saturday, several of us met at Yankee to pre-ride the course. I rode with Mitch and Laurie. (Thanks, guys. It was nice not to have to drive myself for once!) I was hoping to have a spectacular performance and be so much better than last year. Unfortunately, that wasn't exactly what happened. As soon as I was out on the course, that familiar fear returned. I was so hesitant in the beginning that I fell behind the group very quickly. I know I really hurt myself when I'm mountain biking because I lose a lot of momentum due to my fear on the downhills. Then I don't have as much speed to get up the next hill and it becomes a vicious circle.

I got a little bit braver once I got used to it a bit. I'm really wishing at this point that I had spent more time on the trail this year. I know the trainer miles will help my strength and stamina, but they don't do squat for making me feel comfortable on a trail.

I ended up crashing twice on the ride, but not bad either time. I also walked up a lot of hills I should have ridden, due to the aforementioned going slow on downhills and also due a bit to waiting to long to shift. I wish I could have one last crack at the trail before the race. I'm wondering if Wednesday might be an option. I'm going to try it.

At any rate, I ended up finishing with a time of 1:40. Last year, my time for the race was 1:47, so Saturday's time wasn't as much of an improvement as I was hoping for. Still, I know I wasn't riding at race pace and I did stop and wait a few times for people to pass me during the race. I don't think it would be out of line to shoot for a time of 1:35 for the race next week. We'll see how that turns out.

One last thing—I slept in on Friday so I missed my weigh in. I have no idea what I weighed this week, but I'm sure it wasn't pretty. I'm having trouble breaking this binge cycle that I'm in. Today's a new week though, so it seems like a good time to wipe the slate clean and start again. Now that I'm going to Key West I REALLY want to lose as much weight as I can quickly.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Key West is In, the Fort is Out

After spending several weeks whining about how I couldn't go to Key West this year because I have a new job and didn't want to ask for the time off, I finally broke down yesterday and begged my boss to let me go. I just couldn't stand it anymore. Chris had decided several weeks ago he was going, with or without me. He and my in-laws had been talking about the trip and I was pining away for Key West. Then I got an e-mail from our friend Ben Taddiken, who has decided he's going to stay in Key West for a while instead of sailing away for parts unknown. That was the last straw. Luckily, my boss is very understanding and agreed.

Unfortunately, my life is so jam-packed right now, I can only take an abbreviated trip, but a little Key West is much better than none. It also means I'll be flying out the day of the Fort Custer Stampede. This makes me a bit sad, but to be honest, it's not really my favorite race. Even though I'm focusing on endurance racing this year, I wanted to do a few CPS races as well. I picked Fort Custer mostly because it's one of those staple races that everyone does, unlike Hanson Hills, which I chose because I really like it.

I don't feel too guilty. I still have quite a few races on my schedule and given this week's irritating weather, I could really use that dose of the Conch Republic, even if it's still a month away. The biggest challenge now is figuring out how I'm going to pay for a trip when I haven't saved any money for it ahead of time.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Stop This Train—I Want Off

It started on Wednesday. It was a recovery week this week and Wednesday was one of the few days I was scheduled to ride. For some reason, though, the fact that I had to be at work at 6 a.m. to ride shotgun on a garbage truck had made me incredibly tired. So, instead of doing my 1.5 hours of training when I was supposed to, I just went to bed.

Then came Friday morning's weigh in. I knew I hadn't been perfect, but my indescretions had been fairly minor and I figured I'd come out of it okay. However, those slip ups, combined with fewer hours of training due to the recovery week, resulted in a 0.4 pound gain.

I should have eaten conservatively on Friday considering I knew I was going to have house guests this weekend and I probably wouldn't eat well. But someone came into one of the meetings I was in and passed out ice cream cookie sandwiches. I didn't have time to protest before the ice cream fairies left the room and so I ate it, instead of just letting it sit there like I should have.

The day only got worse. Chris and I went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner, where I proceeded to drink a margarita, eat almost an entire basket of chips by myself and then eat shrimp enchiladas loaded up with sour cream. When I got home I (un)wisely decided to finish off the box of Samoas I bought from some evil Girl Scouts earlier in the week so they wouldn't be around to tempt me.

Saturday I was supposed to do my training test, but I spent the entire morning cleaning for my house guests, which I should have done the night before. I ended up skipping the test. That's the first time all year I've missed two days of training in the same week. It's not a good precedent.

As anticipated, Saturday was a free-for-all of eating and drinking. It started with lunch (General Tso's chicken), moved on to an afternoon cocktail at a bar in Old Town, included four or five more cocktails during and after the game and dinner of a cheeseburger and fries and one more drink at about 10:00 at the bar down the road. The evening culminated with a serving of chips and salsa con queso at home. That last one doesn't make sense because I wasn't in any way, shape or form hungry, and should have just gone to bed.

Today I'll hopefully get back on track. (I haven't had any indiscretions so far, but it's only 8:30.) It's strange how much can go bad in a mere week's time. A week ago, I was so energized and determined to do everything right. This week, I'm falling apart.

I see a glimmer of hope, though, and that hope comes from the fact that I have control. It may not have looked like it in the past few days, but I can make this thing go the way I want them to. I found that out at Barry-Roubaix. I'm not destined to suck like I always thought I was. If I put the time and effort into it, I can improve. It's not out of my hands at all. And that's a good feeling.