Tuesday, March 25, 2008

MO Running, Less Cycling

We took the little guy to my family's home in Missouri this past weekend. This meant two things (as far as this blog is concerned); 1) a lot of time w/ family and Jack and 2) no time for training.

#1 was great, and always is. I mostly forgot about training, racing or even riding the bike. Sometimes it can be a little too consuming, and it's good to get away and focus exclusively on my family.

#2 was an interesting exercise in how much my conditioning has changed in the past 3 years of cycling as my primary form of exercise. Because I needed to do some type of exercise during the 4-day trip, I chose to run one of my old routes. It's about 3 miles, with some nice hills thrown in for good measure. Distressingly, I found my hip flexors quite sore after the 1st run. Knee pain also reared its ugly head again, as I suppose my old IT band problems have not been stretched out properly. The second run I did kind of worked through the soreness, but it was humbling indeed. I think I can manage a good pace, but running-specific muscles have atrophied.

The worst part, though, was getting back on the bike tonight. After flying for 5 hours last night (Jack was a trooper, sleeping most of the time), I was surely dehydrated and tired today. But I was determined to get some hard efforts in, so I worked in 3 x 6 mins at 30 min TT pace, with 30s sprints thrown in every 2 mins. This sounded easy, but keeping the TT pace at 275W and the sprints at 350W was a challenge today. But now that it's done hopefully the rest of the week will feel OK.

I also have signed up for 3 races in April. Because I missed 2 races in March that I wanted to do b/c they were full, I have decided to just sing up early regardless of my availability. I figure it's a $20 insurance policy so I can race if I choose. Anyway, I need to get back to racing, as it will have been 2 mos since the Long Beach criterium. That's too much time between races.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Time Off

I always have a hard time knowing if the workout I'm choosing is the right one. After the long ride last Saturday, my anxiety about keeping my base fitness is somewhat low. So I decided to work in an exclusively interval-based workout last night. I only had 40 mins b/c I had to work late and time was limited, but 3 sets of 5 x 15s maxed out sprints had me really working hard. As for the power, I am not sure I was at the right level (400-450W for most of them). I felt winded, and my HR was mostly at the top, but my legs weren't that tired at the end. Maybe I should step it up? The funny thing is that I am not sure I could generate any more power if I wanted to...this seems to be a limitation of indoor training. You can only focus on how much something hurts, not how good the bike feels or how fast you're going.

I have some time off for the next 5 days, as we're taking Jack to see the family for Easter. I won't be able to ride again in any form until next Tuesday. I always have read that it takes 7-10 days to lose fitness, so hopefully I won't move too far back from this time off. Maybe it will even do some good...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Essence

I tried to sign up for the LA Circuit Race, and was told Saturday afternoon that I had was 3rd on the waiting list. This is somewhat frustrating for two reasons; 1) I had tried to sign up pretty early and 2) if I'd known I had a good shot at getting in I wouldn't have ridden 60 miles/5k feet of climbing on Saturday. Anyway, the Saturday ride was good and included some very hard work. Climbing Latigo for the first time in a while (50 mins at 85% effort), I felt good. Hard efforts after that had me cramping in the quads, but it was manageable.

Today, Sunday, I decided to only do something short on the bike (i.e. no racing!) so I could spend some time w/ Jean and Jack. I have to admit, when the weather turned out to be good today (contrary to fcst) I did have a moment earlier this morning when I thought about running down to LAX to race. I would not have been sharp after yesterday's effort, but it would have brought me one race closer to an upgrade to exit Cat 5. But that would have meant burning the whole afternoon, so instead Jack slept on me for an hour and Jean was able to go on her first real post-birth hike.

This to me is the essence of the balance I'm trying to achieve this year. I've gotten a lot of riding in lately, and I thought it was important to spend time w/ Jack and hopefully give Jean some free time. She has been so supportive of my crazy racing efforts, even encouraging me to go today, but it's better the way things worked out today. There are plenty of other racing opportunities in the coming months...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect...?

After spending 3 days in Japan, in addition to the 20+ hours on the plane, last night I was very much in need of some type of hard work on the bike. While in Tokyo, I managed to spend a few mins on a stationary bike (overlooking Tokyo from the 26th floor of my hotel - not too bad!), but overall there was little time for work on the bike.

After returning Wednesday, I went back to work on Thursday and managed to get out early to go home and see Jack. He reached out and grabbed something for the first time yesterday, so I wanted to come home and see him for a little while before I set out for Camarillo practice.

As for Camarillo, this is a criterium practice session that runs every Thursday evening. The course is flat and very fast, and last night was no exception. Usually there are quite a few Cat 1's and 2's there, along w/ the occasional pro. This means that after the 10-lap warm-up (of 50-60 laps), things really take off. And last night was no exception. I stayed w/ the lead group for the first few laps, and then I was just gassed. After getting used to the bike handling at speed, and also recovering for a lap, I managed to hook back on and spent the rest of the time working hard, but staying in contact. That was my goal, so I feel good about this. The first break was hard as I was not warmed up at all, so it was just plain painful. But after that effort and a recovery, things came a little easier. I can say with confidence that I'm faster now than last summer when I last did the Camarillo Crit Practice.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Saturday Conundrum

Well, it was time again this morning for another Saturday group ride. As I mentioned before, this is always a tough training tool to manage appropriately. And on top of it all, I felt pretty guilty even doing it. Because the flight for Japan is at noon tomorrow, we won't have much morning family time this weekend. And I used up a good portion of it this morning. This is a conundrum - if I don't ride, I end up spending 20 hours on a plane over 4 days with no exercise to speak of. If I do ride, I feel like an underperforming dad. In the end, I opted for the slightly selfish route, hoping that it would work out this afternoon.

As for the ride, it was a usual circuit to the coast, down PCH and back home via the Mulholland climb (below mtns pictured above). This is a 45 mile/4500 ft of climbing route, with the last climb being ~35 mins to complete. I took the opportunity to really put some interval work in both on the climb and on PCH, so I feel like I got some race conditioning in today. The legs are dead, so that means there was some work involved at least. The power workouts seem to still be adding value.

As for the rest of the day, we had a lot of family time, with the Kid sleeping on me for nearly 1 hour this afternoon. At least we got to spend some time together today.

Off to Japan...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Signs of Dehydration

Pretty standard night, but didn't feel so great.

After getting home and having some time w/ the Little Man, I managed to get in 35 mins in the garage. The order of the day was 4 x 3 mins, working to maximum effort by #'s 3 and 4. The proposed workout includes another set of these intervals, but I just felt beat today. Additionally, it was dinner time and Jean has been home w/ the Kid all day, so I felt there were a couple of reasons to cut things short. I always wonder if these short workouts are helpful, but I guess it's better than doing nothing.

Since I flew to SF and back yesterday, I wonder about dehydration. I didn't drink much today, and also didn't have a great dinner last night. After my workout tonight, I weighed 164 lbs, which is a pound or two light for me after so short a workout. I will occasionally weigh that little after 3-4 hrs in the heat, but not 1/2 hr in the garage. I downed some low tech recovery drink (chocolate milk), and have tried to catch back up on the hydration tonight. Maybe tomorrow will feel better!

I'm working toward the LA Circuit Race in a week and a half, but I have a Japan trip in between. It remains to be seen if that will be a good taper or a detriment to good prep. Anyway, it's a "B" race so I just need the mass start credit (and a safe finish!).

Monday, March 3, 2008

Back In the Garage

Tonight seems to be pretty typical for this time of year - I worked until 5:30, got home at 5:45, hung out with Jack for a while (tummy time), and managed to get in 45 mins on the trainer. Sometimes this is a challenge, as I don't want to abandon the family, especially when Jack is having a bad time of it. But tonight he was happy, and it was time for him to eat, so voila: a 45 minute set of intervals was possible.

I'm never sure whether I'm choosing the right workout - I really should set up a whole plan w/ periodization, etc. But for now, I will just pick something interesting and high-intensity from the Joe Friel indoor trainer workout book (a great thing!) and hop to it. Tonight was 12 mins of warmup, a total of 5 x :20 max sprints w/ 3 min rest intervals, and 3 x 3 intervals at 30 min TT pace. I think I have dialed in these power numbers, so the sprints I range from 650 - 700 watts, and the 30 min TT pace is at 275-285 watts. I should re-test this at some point, but it feels about right currently. And I think it's getting results - on Saturday I felt more power was on hand.

One final thought - I need to schedule the next race and determine if I will train through it or try to work in a taper schedule. I think LA Circuit is March 16 or so, so I need to figure this out this week. Since I travel tomorrow and won't have time to work out, maybe that can be tomorrow's task.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Group Ride

Given the multiple options this weekend, I chose to get some long-ish, occasionally hard miles in on Saturday. It was not the best weather - a lot of fog at the top of our climbs, which made for mist-like precipitation and some wet roads. But today's time trial (Sunday), which I am not riding, will be hampered by Santa Ana winds. And I got to have some time w/ Jack this morning that I normally don't get. I consider that a victory! This is the kind of balance that I'm seeking - some training goals achieved, and some time w/ our baby.

The Saturday ride, like most group rides, is always a tough training tool. There is a social aspect. There is a competitive streak. And there is a wide variance of fitness and speed. But I say it's always a good thing to just ride, and get some hard efforts in. For me, that meant a hard 20 minute climb up Fernwood, and some really hard efforts coming back down the rolling hills of Mulholland and Cornell. 50 miles and 50k feet of climbing over 3 hours was the result.

The good news is that my intervals and quasi-power-based workouts seem to be adding some new speed. I even managed to hold off a couple of stronger riders in these efforts, which tells me that I'm making some progress. That's motivating. And I got some good Sunday morning time with Jack too. That's even more motivating!

No races on the calendar for a couple of weeks - it will be a relief of sorts to just ride and not think about incorporating that into the training scheme.