Friday, February 29, 2008

It's bizarre to be this muscular. I mean, it's cool, but it's so different from the way my body has always been. I never willingly did any exercise until my mid-20s, so when I wasn't waiting tables [which is a workout] I grew fatter and less fit. Until something in me changed and I wanted to start working out and eating better. Exercise became a habit -- aerobics, biking around the city, calisthenics. Eventually I joined a gym and took up spinning and resistance training. It all led to what I am now, an athlete.

Man, it was freaky last year when I realized I was an athlete. I felt like a poseur saying it out loud. And now I'm spending 15-18 hours a week on my bike and in the gym -- 10 hours on rest weeks. I am very muscular. My pants all fit differently now that my hips have narrowed and my quads have grown. Yesterday, I sat upright on the trainer and put my hands on my hips as I pedaled . . . and felt the shifting and flexing muscles beneath my skin. I used to wonder at being able to feel my hipbones, now I wonder at feeling the firm layers of muscle all around them. And I'm crazy fit too. I can work hard and long and jack my HR up to 90%, and then drop it more than 40 beats in a minute.

And all this has its practical side too -- it's not just about riding a bike: snow shoveling is a chore, but not because it's hard. Carrying heavy things? No problem. Running for a bus? Easy-peasy.

I've often wondered what it's like to be a man, to be tall and broad and so very, very strong, and have that be 'normal.' They must experience their bodies differently than I experience mine. My strength has been hard won . . . and while men work at it, it comes much more easily. And they're SO physically powerful. It must be heady.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dammit, I'm catching a cold. I've been SO careful -- scrubbing my hands and being lavish with the Purell, trying to get enough sleep every night, paying attention to my nutrition, sucking on zinc and using zycam religiously. But I'm feeling really exhausted and rundown and today I have just a hint of that taste in my mouth that says "you sick, bitch!" And I have a slight cough.

The LAST thing I need right now, nine days before training camp, is to be sick.

I've started sleeping in [to 6 am, ha!] in the mornings and doing my workouts after work. Which I don't like -- I hate having the workout hanging over my head all day, and I'm so tired after work. But I just can't face getting up at 4:30 am. I was hoping that more sleep would leave me refreshed and energized, but I wake up tired and headachey and sick to my stomach. Everything I eat makes me feel nauseated.

Arg. Maybe I'll take a sick day tomorrow and try to get some intensive rest. Or maybe I'll do it this afternoon.


ps to Jeff -- I REALLY need a lesson in how to use my powertap. That instruction book is pretty pathetic [in more ways than one]. And what exactly is 'torque' in this context, and why do I need to zero it?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I am so sick of snow and cold. At least Saturday and Sunday were temperate and dry enough for outdoor riding--and if only two days in a week are going to be ride-able, I'm glad it was the weekend--but now we're right back in the slushy deep-freeze. It gets me down. Or possibly I just need a nap.

Used my new power meter for the first time this morning. I'm used to being able to see my cadence, HR and time all at once, so it'll take a bit of getting used to to only be able to see one at a time. I wish I could switch the speed display to show cadence. I also wish the unit recorded my max HR. I guess that will be recorded in the downloaded info, so that's fine. I'll adjust. And after I establish a baseline, my coach will have me train using the power output instead of my HR.

Should I get a fluid trainer? My knee is aching right now from a couple hours on the magnetic trainer this morning. [Riding outdoors doesn't cause this pain.] Would a fluid trainer be better? I have to decide by Thursday, if I want the team discount.

I DO need a nap. Yawn.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Couple of good long rides this weekend. Weather finally cooperated, so I got 5 hours on Saturday and 3.5 on Sunday. As far as I have to go, I'm definitely much faster and stronger than last year at this time.

On the way home Sunday morning, we came across the scene of an accident where a cyclist had been killed. I didn't find out the details until later -- it was enough trying to deal with another cycling fatality. It turns out it was one of the racers in the 'Tour da Chicago' unsactioned, unofficial, alleycat race series that happens every winter. Roads are not closed, so racers take crazy chances speeding through red lights and stop signs. This time, Lady Luck turned her back on one rider.

The other racers witnessed the accident. It wasn't the driver's fault --- she had the green light. She couldn't know that a race was coming through that intersection. Witnesses say she tried her best to avoid the cyclists. I can't even imagine suddenly driving my car into the middle of a race. Horrible.

My thoughts are with the fallen cyclist's family, the racers who lost their comrade, and the driver who has to deal with having killed a person.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

So, I've been accepted into the Elite Development Program. My team wants to increase and retain amateur elite racers in our ranks, so they've started this program to support our current elite racers and mentor promising racers to develop them into elite racers. Elite being cat 2 and higher.

And I'm in. Which is very exciting and a huge honor and humbling to know that time and resources will be expended on me. But I've realized that I'm not sure exactly what this will entail -- other than the current elites taking time to coach me on the road [get around that guy, he's going to get gapped], and knowing that its a big commitment of time and energy. Nothing specific has been communicated as of yet. I'm sure it WILL be. Just have to wait and see.

I'm starting to get really burned out on the trainer. I'm motivated to do my workouts, its just SUCH a chore to do it indoors and stationary. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that I have the option of training indoors when its so cold out . . . its just the nature of the trainer to suck out your will to pedal. Maybe its my trainer. Maybe I should invest in a CycleOps fluid trainer. I hear the fluid trainers are worlds different from the magnetic trainers.

Speaking of CycleOps, I got my powertap yesterday! Just a week after I ordered it. I was expecting at least 4 weeks [as warned by the rep and on the web site]. But it's HERE. I have ample time to get it installed and learn how to use it before camp. Yay.

Only 16 days until training camp!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I watched about 3/4s of Gone With the Wind last night. Scarlett O'Hara BEATS A HORSE TO DEATH. OK, she beats it so it will continue to pull her cart, containing her sister-in-law and the s-i-l's newborn child, from Atlanta through a dangerous countryside to her rural family home, Tara. But as she arrives, she beats the horse savagely and it collapses, dead. And doesn't bat an eye.

And this is the heroine of the film, the person you're supposed to identify with.

Then, she discovers that her mother has died, her father is mentally ill, her sisters are sick, and there's no food. If torturing the horse to death was acceptable, why isn't butchering it for meat even suggested? They're living on radishes. EAT THE HORSE you just KILLED.

I don't remember any of this from watching as a child.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Today was low/mid 40s and rainy and I rode outside for the first time in weeks. It felt GREAT! I am so sick of the trainer and the cold and snow and ice. It was wonderful to actually go somewhere, wonderful to ride without my knee aching. I somehow managed to miss the real rain --- it was misty and damp and occasionally drippy, but the raging headwind kept me dry. Right after I got home, the thunder and showers started.

I wish I had kept better records of my training last year so I could compare and know if I'm improving. Riding into the headwind was as difficult as it always is, but then Greg Lemond [in my favorite quote] said "It never gets any easier, you just go faster." Am I going faster? God, I hope so. All the hours on the bike and in the gym, just trusting that it will make a difference. But if I had to race Hillsboro today, well, it wouldn't be my finest hour.

I finished reading "The Rider" for the first time, yesterday. And as I rode today, I recognized the voice inside my head -- not that different from Krabbé narrating his race, thinking back over past races and training rides. We all must do it. Although its a bit less existential than the book, I'm sure.

Unfortunately, the rain flooded my basement. Again. And my magnetic trainer sat in a couple inches of water for 12 hours. I wonder if it will work now. I wonder if this is what screwed up my other magnetic trainer. I guess I'll find out tomorrow after I spend a couple hours carrying newly minted garbage out of my basement. At least there will be less this time. And then I'm calling a plumber to figure out why after 5 years, its started flooding all of a sudden.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The more I think about it, the more furious I am that the Hillsboro race organizer used Beth's accident as the reason/excuse for chopping the women's 4 race in half. He notes that Beth raced Hillsboro last year.

You bet she did. She raced 44 miles with her brakes rubbing on her wheel and she still came in sixth. She was such a strong and dedicated athlete, she took such joy in racing.

So making the Hillsboro race MORE like the race that she died in, in the name of safety, is just wrong. It's insulting! And it's frightening. A one lap race is so much more likely to be LESS safe than a two lap race.

And I am SO SICK of the women's races always being cut down. They never cut down the men's 4s races. God forbid. [Or the men's 3s -- but they think nothing of cutting the women's open.] I'm sick of being "understanding" of the excuse that the women's fields are so much smaller. Well, SO WHAT!? We still deserve a real race. You'll never grow the sport if all we get are one lap road races and 20 minute crits. Juniors get longer races.

I'm sick of women getting the shaft. I train hard and long, just like the men, why is MY race sacrificed!?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

So registration for HIllsboro-Roubaix is open. The men's fields filled quickly, but the women's fields never do. There are 100 slots in the Women's 4s race and I'd be completely shocked if we get 40. And that would be a large field for women. Heck, 25 is a large field for a women's road race. So no need to preregister.

I'm very bummed out to learn that the women's races have been cut down. The 4s race has been 2 laps, 44 miles, in past years, but this year will only be one lap. I know this is because the women's fields are smaller, but how do they expect to grow the sport if we never get a decent race? I'm sick of 20 minute crits and 17-22 mile road races. So my first reaction is to be PISSED OFF. Followed very quickly by waves of fear: the Proctor RR -- in which my teammate was killed last year -- is only one lap. One lap isn't enough to wear out the less fit riders. Everyone is antsy and nervous. Inexperienced riders doing inexperienced things. I don't want to crash because a bunch of sketchy racers can cling to the pack for one lap.

This means my team will have to shift strategy. We have our monthly social get-together this evening -- a good place to discuss tactics.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I don't know what's wrong with me today. I feel like I'm hungover . . . except I haven't had any liquor. Somehow I doubt that I got drunk on lettuce or soup. Maybe it's Clif product that's to blame.

I didn't get up for my workout this morning. The alarm went off at 4:30 am . . . and I reset it for 5:30 am. And then turned it off and slept until 6:30. I went to bed at 9pm, so I should've been OK. But I just felt awful.

So now I still have 2 hours on the bike today. I'm on a rest week [thank god!] so no drills or anything fancy. Just 2 hours of endurance. I hate having it hang over my head. This is why I like doing it before work.

In better news, I just ordered a power tap! My team is getting a nice discount from a great company -- I couldn't pass it up. I can't wait to start training with power.

Not that I'd be charting very high today. I wish I could take a nap.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I'm exhausted. I've been training hard and unfortunately not getting quite enough sleep. It's taking its toll -- my workout this morning was all suffering. My legs hurt, I have no energy, and I'm wearing holes in my skin where my bones press into my saddle. My mantra was "just get through this. Just get through it."

If I didn't have a coach who told me what to do every day, there's no way I would have pushed myself this morning. The coaching has been the key to all of my improvement -- the coaching and my willingness to DO the workouts faithfully.

Thank god tomorrow is a rest day. I get an extra hour of sleep in the morning and while I DO have to sit on my bike for an hour, I just have to soft pedal. I'll spend some time stretching and using the roller on my ITB. And hopefully be ready for seven hours of endurance this weekend. At least I can nap on the weekend.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I work in a high school. You would be amazed and horrified at how many distinct tunic-leggings-Uggs permutations are possible.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Just a note to my adorable spouse -- and anyone else who didn't realize I was joking -- I'm not taking any diet aids. As tempting as it is to paint six-pack abs on my belly and pose for my "after" picture, it's not going to happen.

In related news, I was downcast this morning to see Queen Latifah hawking Jenny Craig. Queen's message was great -- lose just 10% of your weight and exercise a little and you greatly reduce your risk for all sorts of health ills -- but Jenny Craig? I admit, I've never tried it, so what do I know. It just seems unrealistic to expect people to maintain a healthy weight if they don't learn HOW to eat right. Of the programs out there, Weight Watchers [which I'm also not participating in] seems to be the one that is the most sensible and "real world" oriented. I mean, how long can you go on Jenny's pre-packaged meals?

I WISH there were some magic bullet that would make losing weight -- and maintaining weight -- easy. But there's not. It's hard. And you're often hungry. You have to give up pleasures like scotch and jelly bellies and soy cream. you have to be incredibly persistent and attentive, never giving up. If the desire to be slim were all it took, Lane Bryant would be out of business overnight.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Two words: saddle sores.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Looks like I'm going to be on the trainer all weekend. And the rollers. Sigh. Thank god for AMC and TCM. For some reason old movies get me through hours on the trainer better than anything else. And I've realized that I haven't actually seen a bunch of classics all the way through. The other morning I watched Virgil Tibbs confront the abortionist and solve the murder . . . I think I've seen him slap the old rich guy 20 times, but somehow [spoiler alert] I never got to where the counter boy at the all night restaurant ended up being the killer. You could totally tell though.

I'm happy to note that I'm down ten pounds since New Year's. I have a few more to go before camp, but I'm on track. I guess the Hoodia is working. And the Relacore. And the Cortislim. Hey, they couldn't say it worked on TV if it weren't true.

My workouts are ramping up a bit now, so I've been getting up before 5 am almost every day. One good thing about the snow -- I can sleep in tomorrow!