Friday, May 30, 2008

The Perfect Workout

I have no idea what brings about the perfect workout. Is it conditioning, nutrition, sleep, weather, or something completely unknown? All I know is that this morning ranks up there with the best workouts I’ve experienced.

6:45 AM in the pool: 200m warm up, 800m race pace swim, 400m of intervals and cool down for 1,400m total.
From the moment I hit the water this morning I was feeling fast. I have adjusted my strength training to include more specialized shoulders/chest/and back work and I have been able to tell a big difference in the water. When I started my 800 for time I panicked because my pace was faster than I would normally begin with, but I decided to just power through and attempt to keep that pace. Total = 800m in 10:20. That’s a 1:17:05 pace for my hundreds. So I absolutely killed the 800, and while my upper body was drained I was still feeling strong through my next set and cool down.

8:00 AM on the track: 1 mile warm up, 600m supersets x 4
It was a quick transition from the pool to the track and I was still feeling fresh. The first mile was slower than my usual warm up, but I felt like I had plenty in the tank. I usually try and predict when I’m going to hit a wall or the hump in a set of repeats (third one of four is a pretty good guess), but today I ran strong through all four of the supersets. Wow! Seriously, this was the best I have ever felt during this workout and that is a good sign with Dawg Days only 3 weeks away.

I’m not sure if it was the cool and overcast morning weather, my strong Gatorade mix, or just being in the perfect frame of mind for today’s workout, but it was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. Mornings like this one are why I’m pursuing this sport, and why I’m looking forward to the starting line in three weeks. I may be a long shot for XTERRA Nationals with the changes to my race schedule, but it won’t be for a lack of effort. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Too Long

So after the XTERRA Ft. Yargo race (and a disaster of an experience with my chain) I was super frustrated with my Rig. I was so frustrated that the bike just hung in the garage untouched until today. This was a big mistake. Today I finally wheeled the bike out of the garage, packed it in the car, and took it to Biker’s Choice in Hendersonville. The bike still had my XTERRA race # on it, and I quickly realized I was totally over the poor race results in Georgia and ready to forgive my Rig. More importantly I realized what a sweet bike I have and that I had let it sit neglected for far too long. Hopefully ready by early next week, the Rig is having a new crank and new chain put on in addition to being outfitted for the desert. I’m having the Reba front fork rebuilt and changed from 80mm to 100mm, while keeping my cockpit dimensions the same. I can’t wait to ride the SS again, particularly in the desert with the new travel adjustments.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Everything is better underwater

Planning for the transition to a new job and a move across the country has made it hard to find time for training. The stress and rainy weather aren’t helping either. However, this morning I was able to get to the pool before work and have a great workout. There is just something about water that is soothing. The stillness and muted view of the world that comes from being underwater is fantastic. As a kid I used to put on goggles and a snorkel and just float in the bathtub face down examining the bottom of the tub. My favorite vacations are the ones where we go snorkeling, even if there is nothing in the water to see. I could just float and swim staring at the sand all day long. This morning I had a great workout and then plenty of time to just play around in the water and blow off some steam.
It also makes a big difference having my training partner, Chris, back after a month hiatus. Even if he’s a couple lanes over in the pool, or we are breathing too hard to talk on the track, there is something about training with someone that makes the workouts easier. Thanks for reading.

Training Update:
Wed. – swim 2000m
Thursday – resistance training
Friday – Bike 12, run 2
Sat./Sun. – recovery
Monday – Swim 2000m + mow yard = hills workout
Tuesday – Track workout, 1 mile warm-up 600m supersets x 4 (my least favorite and most productive part of training)
Wed. – Swim 1800m

Friday, May 23, 2008

Big News!

The most important news is that I have accepted a job at a major institution of higher education and will be relocating to Phoenix, Arizona. This is an incredible professional opportunity and it brings me closer to my in-laws (who are fabulous), and to a climate where I can be outside year round. This move and new position are certainly challenges to my goals of racing and competing for a spot at XTERRA US Nationals in November. With only one XTERRA event complete (9th place), I am currently in 22nd place in the SE region. There are plenty of races left in the season, but only the top 10 from the SE qualify for nationals.
My racing schedule is undergoing a major overhaul. Check out the new schedule on the right, but the rest of my season comes down to Dawg Days in Little Rock and Snow Valley, CA. These two races will give me three races total and a chance at qualifying for XTERRA Nationals. Of course, I need to finish well in these races –probably top 5 – to have a chance, so training in the coming weeks will be extremely important. Training, packing, and saying goodbye will be hard to do, but I’m sure I’ll find a way. Stay tuned for more updates.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Back from Denver

I had a great 5 days in Denver and Boulder. What a beautiful part of the country. Not as much training as I hoped to get in while I was there, but plenty of good times with close friends. Thursday we went to a Forrest Yoga class taught by one of our friends. Because it was one of the first classes at a new studio we were the only ones there. That meant we had almost 2 hours of private yoga with one of the best instructors in Denver. Sweet! Friday and Saturday were the UPA College National Championships where I was able to support the CUT boys in their run to the semi’s (farthest they’ve been since my senior year in ’03). I never managed to get away from the fields and up in the mountains, but I was content to support the team with the mountains as a backdrop. Despite getting back late Sunday night I was back at it on Monday with a good swim workout and run on Tuesday. Stay tuned for new changes to my racing schedule….

Training Update:
Monday: Swim 2000m, heavy on pull sets / resistance training and abs
Tuesday: Run 3 miles, close to race pace with hills / resistance training

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Training at Altitude

Out here in Denver, CO to visit friends and watch the UPA College National Championships.  I'm hoping to see CUT win another national title.  Today is an easy day with some Hot Yoga at a studio where one of our friend's sisters teaches.  Should be a solid weekend hanging out and training at altitude.

Training update:
Tuesday - 50 minutes on the MTB
Wednesday - 2,000m with 400m builds (swim), resistance training during lunch

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Energy

New energy
It is true that we often don’t realize how valuable or important something is to us until we lose it. That is the case for me as last week the rest of the XTERRA season was in jeopardy. After one lack-luster race with mechanical problems on the bike, I was looking forward to a summer of XTERRA races and redemption. That was all up in the air the last several weeks as my ability to make any of my scheduled races came into question. As of now, it looks like I will only be able to make one more race for the 2008 XTERRA season. Months of hard work, training, and dedication have left me with only one race left to leave it all on the line. The added pressure is that by finishing top 3 at this final race I may earn enough points to qualify for XTERRA nationals by a very thin margin – very thin, but possible.
The news of this last race of the year (when I thought I was done for the year) has given me a new energy, new hope, and new dedication to training. I have approximately 5 weeks to prepare for my last race and build on the solid foundation I have put together up to this point. 5 weeks. I plan on going all out in preparation for this race and am more excited than I have been about any competition in some time. Stay tuned for more on why I’ve had to change my plans for the season…Trust me, it’s good news!

Training Update:
Monday: AM - 1800m swim, Lunch - resistance training, PM - 5x hill repeats (running)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Training and race schedule update

I’ve had trouble focusing after two big race weekends back-to-back and a week of traveling and rest between the two events. What seemed like a long four months of training leading up to Ft. Yargo has flown by and I am left without a concrete plan for the next weeks/months before my next XTERRA race. I haven’t decided if I will make the trip to AL for the Southeast Regional race or if I will just use that weekend to train and try to rock the Dawg Days race in Little Rock later in June. I still have some time to decide.

Training Update:
Saturday – DSG! 22 miles racing on the MTB
Sunday – Walk hills for 1 hr (recovery)
Monday – Swim 1,800 (drill and pull), weights during lunch
Tuesday – 1.5 hr nonstop on MTB, weights during lunch
Wednesday – 1 mile warm-up, then 2 x .5 mile hill repeats (running), Brick workout during lunch 10 minute hill climb on stationary bike, 5 minute sprint on treadmill - repeat!

Monday, May 5, 2008

DS&G Slideshow

Dirt Sweat & Gears 2008!

Dirt Sweat & Gears 2008 was a huge success! I rode for team Cul-de-sac as part of a five man team and we finished 4th with 7 total laps in the 12 hours. Riding with the guys this weekend was special, because for a couple years we were all neighbors on the same street and could ride whenever we felt like it. It had been way too long since we ALL got together for a ride.
Because of my traveling and schedule last week I spent Friday night at home instead of camping out at the race. The tornado warnings and straight line winds also had a role in the decision. I showed up Saturday AM after a 2 hour drive in the pouring rain to find the rain had stopped, but left a muddy mess. After fishtailing the van through a muddy field to the campsite I jumped out, said hello to the guys, and was informed I drew the short straw (in abstention) the night before and was riding the first lap. I learned a valuable lesson in my last mud race and brought my Trek hard tail that I wouldn’t worry about getting crazy on in the slop. It was a Le Mans start to the shooting of a double barrel shotgun (Fayetteville, TN).
I jumped out to a good start thanks to good bike placement before the start, and found myself slipping and sliding all over the open field track. The 1st mile was open field riding in the mud and people jockeying for position before entering the woods. Once we hit the woods it was standing room only as everyone was walking/carrying their bikes and sliding all over the place. At mile 3, I was able to get on the bike, but quickly thrown over the bars when my front wheel became so clogged with mud the bike stopped and threw me. At another point the bike came to a complete stop on a serious downhill as the front and rear tires became thick with mud. I couldn’t get the clay to stay out of the front fork or the rear triangle and kept having to stop and clean it out every 100 ft. Miles 3-6 continued this way – walking, riding, cleaning – until I finally took off the front V-brake which gave me some additional clearance and I was able to get rolling.
The sun came out and the trail dried up a little for the final 3 miles which I was finally able to ride with some speed. Lap 1 – 2:09:09, ouch. The sun came out in force, the trail dried up, and the lap times kept dropping. I was eager to get back on the trail and redeem myself after the slow 1st lap, but I had several hours to wait while my teammates tore it up on the trail. With the exception of one bad exchange (sorry Jason) we had a great time cheering each other on and hammering out some decent times. As daylight started to become an issue we had completed 5 laps (everyone rode one) and I finally got the chance for my second lap of the day. I broke out the new 29er and hit the trail with a mission. I hit the open field with the bike in the big ring and just hammered it. I couldn’t believe what I was riding was even the same trail. I didn’t recognize most of it because it was so fast and dry. I felt strong through most of the riding, but my calves started twitching on some of the downhills in the last couple miles. Lap 2 – 1:14:52, sweet.
We squeezed in one more lap after dark and called it a day with 7 laps complete and in 4th place. The awards ceremony was a wild affair with Gary Fisher himself giving out several complete builds and signing them on the spot.
The crowd dispersed to campsites, beer tents, and the bonfire. We enjoyed some good brews and good stories before calling it a night.

Friday, May 2, 2008

You have chosen...poorly

The SS choice this past weekend was completely my bad, but it didn't help that everyone who voted in the poll (all of 2 of you) voted for the SS as well. In the end, it was clearly the wrong choice.

Where is the fun?

A good friend asked me about having fun at last week’s race in Georgia. In reading my race report, and other write-ups, I think it came off sounding much more negative than the overall experience actually was. As a matter of fact, the bike leg of the race was one of my top 3 experiences I’ve ever had on a mountain bike. Really you ask? Absolutely.
Yes, my chain came off 13 times, yes the bike was geared wrong for the course, and yes LOTS of racers passed me….but there were sections that were amazing. It was amazing not because of the equipment or the conditioning, but my skill as a rider. When I realized that I was going to have mechanical and SS issues for the 11 mile course I knew I had to squeeze as much speed from the course as I possibly could. This meant keeping all my momentum (no braking, lots of holding on and praying). I scared myself so badly so many times by just gripping the bars and leaning hard into turns. The dry course and packed dirt with my new tires stuck together like glue and I was able to keep incredible speed through corners and on downhills. I’ve never been so confident on a bike (because I felt I had to be) and never been that fast on narrow single track and in traffic. It was awesome. I finally got to see all my training and time spent in the saddle pay off. It also gave me confidence that I can ride like that more often and push myself more in my training. So, the experience was fun. I continue to impress myself with the running I’m able to do on the trail as I always thought this was a weakness for me, but I’ve been strong in both my races and in training. So there you have it. Race results aside, riding a bike, pushing yourself, conquering your personal fears and reaching new heights is fun. I look forward to plenty more of this in 4 weeks down in Alabama.

Back in action

One week ago I was on the road to Georgia for the first XTERRA of the season. I had no idea what to expect, but I’m growing more excited about the prospect of continuing to compete in the American Tour Points Series. I learned some valuable lessons, not all of which I’m aware of yet, and I have four weeks of training before the Southeast Regional Championships. This championship race in Alabama will attract racers from all over the country who are trying to qualify for the World Championships in Hawaii. The pro purse of 20,000 will mean there are going to be some amazing athletes in attendance. So, not only will it be extremely competitive, but it will be an official XTERRA distance race – a long and difficult course (1.5k swim, 29k MTB, 10k run).
I’ve been traveling for work this week and that made finding time for training difficult. This week it has been one easy run and two light weight sessions. Although the easy run was a long endurance climb in beautiful Arizona. I’m excited to get back into training this weekend, kicking things off with the Dirt Sweat and Gears Race down in Fayetteville, TN. A 12 hour race with 4 buddies promises to be more than a good time. The SS is still out of commission after last week’s race so I’ll get to spend plenty of time in the saddle of the new race bike that I’ve ridden very little. It should be a great day if the weather can hold off a bit. I’m headed down early on Saturday and camping out Saturday night – good times!