Monday, April 28, 2014

Shoes, swithbacks and bruises.

I didn't do a blog post last Monday.  Nothing spectacular happen.  I did have a speed goal for my Saturday ride on  the 19th.  I skipped all the hills at Bear Creek and just stuck to the flats going as fast as I could.  I did 17.1miles at 10.4mph!  But yeah, only 748ft of climbing.  If I could only do the entire course at that pace, I'd actually finish in less than 2 hours.  But I can't.  Hrm.

So I've been hemming and hawing for a few weeks about buying new shoes and/or getting a bike fit.  So of course I decide to do both 2 weeks before the race.  Not very smart.  Nancy with the Dirt Divas (the social club I've been riding with for a few years) is a "fit expert".  I sent her a message last week and of course she (and members of the club) were headed to Moab for the extended weekend and she didn't think it was a good idea to be changing things around the week before the race (this week).

That left the shoes.  So last Thursday (I didn't get my scheduled ride in that day due to work issues and difficult children that morning), I ran into Bicycle Village (Colorado chain) the other day while Jeremy and the kids went to get dog food, it's right next to Petco.  The problem with my current shoes were they were too narrow and also a little too squishy in the toes (so why did I buy ill fitting shoes the first time? My husband would also like to know this. I don't know, I guess I just wasn't paying attention). I had looked online and pretty much no one makes wide women's shoes, but Shimano run a little wider, and I should just go with mens.  So I ask the dude for 41 mens Shimano.  Yeah, no.  They only carry men's down to a size 42.  I wear women's 8.5, which I thought was plenty big to go with men's.  Guess not.  I ask for the women's Shimano and the only one they have in my size is the expensive $160 pair, the SH-WM82.  They fit awesome, and they are pretty.  Not terribly excited about the price though, the next ones down were $120, but white.  I decided to pass.

The next day I left work early, hit 3 different local bike shops (LBSs) in Golden after Jeremy had already checked out the one he races for.  No mens in my size, the womens were all too narrow and each shop only carried one or two brands.  I know now that Sidis, Specialized, Scotts, and Giros are too narrow for my fat feet (The woman helping me at Big Ring though had AWESOME legs).

I left Golden frustrated but then headed to North Table mountain, a trail I've never done.  After climbing to the top of the mesa on a really steep road (12% average grade, I think I stopped 4 times to catch my breath) I found the really fun single track downhill with rocks and switchbacks and stuff.  First switchback, hop off my bike and walk it.  Beat myself up a bit, I've been getting better at these, I can do the two at Bear Creek (yes, there are only 2) no problems.  Next swtich back, I try to make myself do it, get up there, and then freak out, try to come out of my pedals, don't make it, fall over hit a rock super hard with my hip.  Ouchy.  Then I proceeded to walk every single switchback.  There are 8.  I counted in Strava.  Grrrr..  Annoyed with myself.  After this race switchbacks are my next goal.  I know it's totally mental.  I just have to trust myself to do it.  I bet I wouldn't have even hurt myself as bad had I attempted it and then fallen, rather than just let myself topple over on the rocks.  I slept like crap that night because the huge bruise is on the side I sleep on most.  I thought about posting a picture but I decided to spare y'all that.  But I did make one really technical section that had a few 8+in drops.  I was proud of myself for actually attempting then actually clearing that.

So the next morning I went and bought the Shimanos and took them and my new Garmin Edge 500 that Jeremy got me for my birthday (which isn't until May) out to Bear Creek.  They are AWESOME.  My feet are soooo much happier.  I think I feel a little faster due to the stiffer sole, and I think my knees feel a little better because Jeremy moved the cleats back a bit.

So Saturday is the big day.  I can already feel myself overthinking every little detail.  I was awake at 6am this morning trying to think out how I'm going to get the kids and their chairs, and their bikes, and my bike to the race start after the soccer game since there probably won't be any close parking...  Yeah.  It'll be an interesting week.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I'm a huge "data nerd"

I love data.  It's fun.  Check out my weekly distances from Strava (also Why Strava Doesn't Suck).  Look improvement!  A steady increase in mileage over the last 5 week.  I will also be getting a real GPS soon, an early birthday present from the husband.  More data!

I did the entire race course this weekend, the missing bridge is back, plus the 2 miles to and from the park.  23.9 miles, the most I've ever done according to Strava.  AND I even had my very first on-trail flat tire, which I fixed all by myself, something I haven't done since I was a kid (we used butter knives instead of tire levers back then).  It did end up taking me about a half hour (during which time at least 30 people asked if I was okay, or had everything I needed which was nice but got annoying after about 10).  So I can do it.  I can ride my bike 20 miles.  Of course my speed was still 8.4 mph.  Still not fast enough to do it in 2 hours.  I went back and looked at the results from last year again.  While all the women finished in 2 hours, there was one guy who did 2:20 (he probably had a mechanical or something but I'll take it), and I'll be racing at the same time as the people doing 30miles so I won't be the absolute last person out on the trail.  I hope.  Well I have 3 more weeks anyway.  I'm going to go hard again this week.  I think I'll do intervals Tuesday and Thursday and maybe speed work Saturday, then "taper" down for 2 weeks to "peak" (I learn these things from the husband).  I guess.  Meh.

Didcha know one time in 9th grade I really was the very very last person to finish a cross country race?  I wasn't fast or in shape anyway (notice a theme?  I've never been fast.) but I forgot my running shoes on the bus and was wearing flip-flops.  I tried to borrow my sister's shoes (my sister who is 6" shorter than me) and they were too small.  I ended up taking them off half way through the race and finishing in my socks, walking most of it.  The picture of me crossing the finish line with the shoes in my hand made the high school year book even though I didn't actually go there yet (9th graders were still at the junior high but did sports with the high school).  So yeah, wouldn't be the first time.

Oh, and yeah, one more thing, since since this started about my love of data, I also think I've mentioned that I've been dieting. I'm going to sneak in a little brag on that here, I've lost 12lbs since Sept (check out my fun graph!  I've also got one that goes all the way back to July 2010 when I had my last kid).  I actually have a little bump at the bottom of my quad muscle above my knee.  It's awesome.   I'm again going to give it one more week then pump my calories back up to maintenance (2300 vs. 2000) for the 2 weeks before the race.  Maybe that will magically make me go 10 mph.  Yeah, no.  Probably not.  (Oh and if you don't know me, I'm 5'9", just to put some context to those weights).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Speed is Your Friend" and Self-Doubt and Stuff

So this past week was my 2nd official week of training for my mountain bike race.  I will admit that I've only been loosely sticking to my LW Coaching training plan because it seems too easy for me (apparently I was in slightly better shape than I thought, slow, but in decent shape) but the next level plans are both 12 weeks and well the race is in 4.  Still doing pedaling drills on Tuesdays, 45min rides on Thursdays, but going longer and harder on the weekends.  I decided that for my big weekend ride I was going to focus on two things, increasing my distance and going faster on the downhills.  Last week sometime I was bored and googled (that's totally a word now, by the way) "How to get faster on your mountain bike".  Seriously, yeah I googled that.  But I found a couple of good articles:

Top 10 Ways to go Faster on Your Mountain Bike


How to Mountain Bike Downhill and Uphill Like a Badass I mean Confidently and Safely

Part of the second one that really stood out to me was this:

(I like it so much I made a pretty meme, I've also been making a Mountain Biking Pinterest Board if you are interested)

Speed is my friend.  Float over the rough.  Right.  Speed pretty much scares the shit out of me.  Fear keeps me from going faster.  I've always told Jeremy that the reason I'll never be as good as him at biking and/or snowboarding is fear, well that and testosterone and probably a decent amount of natural athletic ability on his part and not really on mine.

So that was my goal.  I decided to double up on the climbing part of the loop to increase distance and climbing and to otherwise take it pretty easy on the flats and uphills in order to save some gas for the increased distance but to try to lay off the brakes as much as possible.

So I picked up the babysitter after the kid's soccer game (required as the husband is working weekends) and went (even though it was suddenly cold after a nice pretty sunny morning, and my tights weren't dry so I had to wear my ugly red leg warmers, and those things are ugly, Jeremy got them for me off the clearance site).  It felt quite different than the last couple of weeks, to take it easy, which is actually the way I used to ride all the time.  Kind of nice a relaxing (the trails were also virtually empty due to the weather, all the smart people had already got their rides in before the rain clouds came in).  The down hills were kind of scary but really not that bad.  I do think I still braked too much, still something to work on.  On the second time I went up the east side of Mount Carbon I decided to really push it since I was almost done, but then ouchy, my knees both started to hurt. I had adjusted the tilt of my seat and maybe accidentally brought it forward or something.  But I still pushed hard, then went as fast as I could down, again scary, really scary this time, the down is on the edge of the hill and the trail isn't really flat but sloped with the hill.  But I made it.  And then I realized that the fancy shock-locker-outer thingy my new fancy Scott Spark has had been locked the whole time.  No wonder it was scary.  I need to remember to unlock that thing!  I also should probably go for a real bike fit.

So when I checked my Strava (yes I use Strava even though some think it's not-cool) I had made new personal records on every single downhill, and on the uphill at Mount Carbon (comparing myself to myself is why I like Strava).  I've cut two minutes off my slowest time on that climb.  Total of 18.4 miles, 1,600ft of climbing.  I felt pretty good about that.

Then I noticed that for women that still puts me at 86th of 98 for the Mount Carbon climb, or 87%, which then made me feel dumb.  Why am I doing a race again?  I'm still pretty slow.  But I'm doing it.  It's nice to have something to train for, a reason to push myself to improve. I'm okay with coming in dead last.  I think.  Ugh.  Self doubt and all that stuff.

But I'm doing it.  I've told every one I'm doing (the entire internets apparently), I've paid my money, and I'm doing it.  If I come in last, honestly, it won't be the first time.  Sucking at things has never kept me from doing them before, maybe it should have, but why let it start now?

I also haven't lifted weights in a week and a half.  Apparently not doing a decent job of figuring out how to balance that with the race training.  Meh.