Sunday, August 30, 2015

I survived my first 'Crash Cycle' training week!

I think Rob must be trying to kill me.

Either that, or he figures if this Crash Cycle training doesn't kill me, the Silver State 508 might not be able to, either.

In any case, I'm happy to say that I survived my first week of intense, focused training in preparation for the 508 in a few short weeks. Almost 20 hours on the bike since Tuesday!

It was a pretty tough week, but there were quite a few bright spots along the way:

  • I love riding solo, of course, but I was extremely grateful for the company of friends, particularly in the last hour or so of a long ride. Grateful, especially, to Angie, who met me on multiple occasions, always in the rain, willing to modify her training plan and slow her pace to accommodate mine (and my soggy attitude), always upbeat. And then she bought me coffee afterward. There is no way to repay that kind of support!
  • Loved having other riding partners (Tiffany, Tom, Craig) on some of my tougher days,  and for bumping into teammates unexpectedly during my rides: Deb finishing her long morning ride in the rain, George out for a speedy spin around the Valley, Chappy doing hill repeats on Truxell, Rich on his 'easy' ride which seemed to include some hills that wouldn't qualify as 'easy'. And, of course, the ride into downtown Cleveland last night with teammates, to end my 5+ hour ride in the best way possible.
  • Grateful, too, for Dave's support in all of this. This week, I was either at work or riding my bike. And when I wasn't doing either of those, I was probably using up all the hot water in my super-long shower, eating all the food in the house, or sleeping. The only evidence that I was even nearby was the growing pile of soaking-wet kits piled up in the laundry room. Dave always had dinner and a cold beer waiting for me when I got home.
  • I learned the value of a good NEW chamois, liberally-applied ass butter, and a Bactine/Medicated Gold Bond cocktail apres-velo. I also learned that my older pair of shorts, no matter how much I like them, will NOT be going with me to the 508. 
  • I'm learning how much of a mental game this really is. 
  • Happy that I'm DONE until Tuesday. And just in time, too: Sunday is GIN MARTINI day around here. Cheers!
Ready for a night on the town! David, Me Jason, Angie, Dave, Catherine, Bob, and Dominic (Photographer: Tim Neff)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How a distance-averse athlete trains for a long-distance event

Me and Tiffany racing together in the Team Time Trial in the August Eastern Ohio TT series

I love a fast, short race.

My best days on the bike happen when I have to ride until it feels like my legs are going to fall off and my heart is going to explode, which is usually about half an hour or so into a time trial. 

And because I'm a speed junkie, most of my training efforts are focused on developing power and speed, but not necessarily endurance. Endurance is what my IM friends are out pursuing while I'm back home lounging in the kiddie pool with a cold beer because my race ended at 10 AM that morning.

Now, of course, I've had to change up the plan a bit. The 508 is going to be a slog and a sufferfest, even if I can employ some of those speed-trained muscles to shorten the duration just a bit. Even if Tim and I (Team Hellhound!) have an ideal race, we're still talking about almost 20 hours in the saddle inside of 48 hours - for each of us. (And I can't even imagine doing this as a solo rider). 

The endurance crazies are quick to offer advice, and I know its well-meaning but I also think it's scary and often misguided. One friend suggested I sign up for a nightmare of a ride in southern Ohio called 'The Frank', which promises 100 of the most hellacious hilly miles or your money back. I was appalled by the suggestion. Who would DO that to themselves? It sounds like needless suffering to me. 

My coach, Rob, adheres to the 'Training Bible' philosophy: there's no need to do more than you need to do to accomplish a goal. He's got me doing mostly my same workouts I would be doing to train for shorter distance time trials and duathlons: lactate intervals, long tempo rides, aerobic threshold builds - just a lot more of them. This week starts a two-week 'crash cycle'  for me, which means more hours on the bike this week than I even have time for - but I'll make it work. What I need to train my body to do is to ride hard for a few hours, take a break for a few hours, and repeat a few more times. 

I bumped into Sarah Harper the other day at the Velodrome. Sarah is a RAAM vet, and has competed in other distance events and actually seems to like them. She suggested I may be thinking about getting into distance riding/randonneuring, but I assured her that I was not. The 508 is a once-in-a lifetime thing for me and I am only doing it because it may be my only opportunity to ride with Tim on a 2-person team. I asked Sarah's opinion about training, and she verified what I already knew: there are things you just can't train for. Among these things are sore feet, sore ass/other parts that we won't mention, sore neck/shoulders/back/pretty much everything, numb hands, sleep deprivation, hallucinations, and decaying attitude. All of these will happen during the 508. There's no need to 'train' for them. I already know how they feel and I don't wish to be reminded until absolutely necessary.

In fact, I don't like to think any farther out than what I need to do right now. I have a plan,  so all the thinking has been done ahead of time. All I need to do is follow that plan.

Wish me luck as I start a few training days of long rides and back-to-back workout days. Chamois butter, do not fail me now!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Time to get serious!

Recent text message exchange between me and my Silver State 508 Teammate, Tim:

Me: When do you think I should start training for the 508?
Tim: 10 years ago.

Time to get serious! Race-specific 508 training starts tomorrow, with a 5-hour planned ride in and out of the Cuyahoga Valley. I'll have plenty more of those in the next few weeks. The race is in just over a month (Saturday, September 19th).

We are Team Hell Hounds (2x team). All info about the race can be found on the website, like the elevation map for this race:

I'll be posting more 508-centric stuff as this journey continues.  Stay tuned...