Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On New Perspective

Hi all,

Ok...so on second ( or third or fourth) thought, my blog post of yesterday was pretty darn discouraging. Not so much fun to read about someone whining about how they aren't getting any faster....

I went on a group ride this morning, and aside from the bad (feeling intensity when you haven't done it for awhile, and even worse, getting pulled over by the CHP for running a stop sign...), it was good for me. It was good to see my friends, and good to get back in the swing of things and even better to get some attitude adjustment from folks (you know who you are :-)). One of the downsides of riding alone or in small groups with folks faster than you, is that it is really easy to get discouraged. Whether or not I actually AM getting faster (debatable uphill..), I will always feel slow compared to some folks who are more suited to it, and in many cases, training more than I have time for. It is good to be reminded that we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and that I shouldn't be so quick to give up when it doesn't look like things are going my way. :-)

Thanks, guys! It was good to see everyone this morning, and good to feel the draft again, and get the adrenaline going a bit. The world seems a bit sunnier (even though it was foggy today...)

I also feel lucky that I didn't get a ticket, although of course I was as guilty as the next person. Watch out, cyclists! It doesn't take that much effort to stop at a stop sign or 2 or 10, and may pay off in the long run.

See ya out on the road. Ride fast, have fun, and be safe.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kill me now.

Many many years ago, when I was just a wee child, I remember learning that if you work hard, it pays off. Although that really is true to some extent, the other side of the story, which they don't quite tell you in the children's books and fables, is that life isn't fair.

I explain this to students when they complain about having worked really hard and not gotten the grade they wished for.
Disgruntled Student: "but you don't understand, Professor. I spent 20 hours on this assignment"
Me: "I know it seems unfair, but it doesn't actually matter how much time you spent on it. In the real world, if your boss asks you to design a bridge, you have to design a bridge that won't fall down....it doesn't matter if it takes you 2 hours or 20 hours or 2000 hours...although if it takes you 2000 hours you might be looking for a new job..."

As a professional, it is not about the hours you put in, but the output. This concept does not often seem fair, but it is the way it is.

And sadly enough, it is the way it is in athletics as well. I am really frustrated right now with my riding, to the point where I often question why I do it at all. I question everything, from why I ride, to why I train, to why I am slower than I'd like to be. I remember when I was in 5th grade track. I signed up for 'distance running' because it was deemed 'hard'. Why do I always put myself through so darn much pain? I was not good at it...but worked really hard to become mediocre. Same thing in high school cross country. I was not great, but worked really hard, and eventually made one of the all-state honorable mention teams. Every race was torture.

I have been climbing. A lot. The week of Christmas, I did OSM/Painted cave/ECC FOUR times! Well, three-and-a-half. ONe of those times I got to ECC and felt so bad I had a mini meltdown and just came home. I am trying to capture my inner mountain goat, only to find out that there just isn't one! I haven't been putting in as many hours--just not motivated to be in the saddle that much, the rest of life has become more interesting and important. On Saturday, I climbed Refugio, and camino cielo until the road turns into dirt. It was brutal. Even after all of my climbing training, and a bit of a rest while I was in the Bay area, things should have been good....but alas I was as slow as ever. My new Garmin said I was anaerobic for the entire climb. This cannot be right. 1.5 hours of anaerobic? Maybe my LT has shifted since I last tested it... I climbed with friends, and they all kicked my butt. Seriously.

And then, being my competitive self, I looked at the hillclimb results. One of our local superstar runners had dusted off her bike after 18 months (yes, she hadn't ridden in 18 months), and decimated the competition (well, except for Lyne Bessette....but I don't think she counts), posting a time the likes of which I will never see.

Moral of the story? Hmmm. Life is really not fair. I'm not really sure what that means for me, maybe just another point of reflection. The bottom line is that I'm too competitive to play this game when I'm out of my league. I don't like to be the person everyone waits for at the top of each hill, and yet I just don't have enough hours in the day (or the desire) to train 15-20 hours a week right now. I love to race crits because I am a power rider, and I think I can win most of the races I start. But this is because I am tactical, and let's face it, you don't have to be as cardiovascularly gifted to survive a 45 minute crit. And the slow twitch to fast twitch ratio in my body just seems to prefer the power stuff. The flip side is that I just don't want to crash, and a lot more crashes happen in crits than in hilly road races. So what am I left with? Riding for fun and giving up the racing? Hmmm. just more to think about. And I'm not sure I am ready to face the answer.

With that, I will head back to my other domain, where in the graph of time-in, to results-out, I sit on the happier side of the curve.

Happy Monday!

Monday, January 4, 2010


It's been a long time, dear Blog. Thought I would update, because it is a new year, and because I am frustrated.

I am a busy person. I balance a busy life: Professorship, (department chair currently), dogs, show dogs, an active lifestyle (cycling, running, pilates), a messy case of hypothyroidism, and usually do ok at it. I am actually happier than I have been in quite some time. However, every time I log into facebook and see another post about someone going to the gym at 5am, or training 25 hours a week, or climbing 30K feet, or a team email berating the folks who are not goign on 120 mile training rides with 10K climbing, it gnaws at my self esteem. Should I be riding more? Training more? Do I really have to do this to feel good about myself?

I haven't been going on group rides lately. I decided to try and climb more, and drive my car less, which means less car trips to ride my bike. It seemed possible, since I live right in the midst of wonderful riding. It is mostly working for me. I still have great riding buddies, I am still getting out, and I'm having more time to get my work done, as I am avoiding the extra 45 minutes in the car, or the extra 20 miles to ride to/from the group rides. I still will do some of them now and then, but for the most part I'm pretty happy with this plan.

And racing? Well, right now, I can take it or leave it. One of my teammates crashed really badly last year, and although I didn't know it at the time, it did affect me pretty substantially. I went on to race (and win) after that, but I really don't want to ever crash like that. There is a pretty huge luck element in racing, and although I love the adrenaline rush, I also love my life, and want to keep it going for some time! I am having a lot of fun riding, but as I will never be a mountain goat, the safer road races are probably not in my future. I am a sprinter.

Do I seem weak to the folks who train 20 hours a week, and don't see me on group rides anymore? Do I seem like a pansy because I am opting for runs or walks on the beach with my dogs and a 3 hour ride, instead of a 5 hour, 120 mile 'team' event? I think I am battling my own mind on this one...and as usual, I am my worst critic. I keep telling myself that I am enjoying life, and I have the power to choose to enjoy it, and it doesn't just mean always doing the hardest thing.

Happy 2010 everyone!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mothballs 09! Photo documentation

Sometimes, Photos speak louder than words. Plus, they're more fun. So here is the photo journalism version of my race report. Photos by Carson Blume (www.carsonblume.com).

At the start...I wasn't even there yet! (yeah, smart move...start from the back)

Early in the race...still feeling good, and working the front. See Jane on my wheel and Heather in the background.

Bridging to the break. Heather on my wheel.

Killin' it in the break. Serious suffering! (and tons of fun, too!)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mothballs 09! The "real" start of my season.

This weekend was the start of the SoCal road season, in the form of the Poor College Kids RR and the infamous Mothballs Criterium, which happens to be just about in my backyard!

I flew home from Italy on Friday, after 4 hours of trains, 14 hours of flying, 4 hours of waiting in train stations and airports. Needless to say, I didn't really know what time it was or where I was most of that time. In addition, the digital entertainment was messed up on my flight from Frankfurt to SFO, so I saw the same movie twice! (and only one).

So in a brilliant move, I get up the next morning to go race my bike! The road race was a W3/4, and it was a beautiful course (if you are a good climber). My race was slowy slow slow until the turn around (it was out and back), and then things picked up on the way back. The race basically all came down to the one long climb, which cracked my airplane-legs to a crisp. Ouch. I got gapped on the hill, and there were 13 people up the road. I chased and chased with another girl, TTT style, and buried myself trying to catch up. I just about made it. Got by the following car (once I got the driver's attention...he didn't see me and the lane was too narrow to go around on the outside without violating CL), but alas just caught on to the pack AS THEY WERE sprinting. Oops. 14th place.

Sunday was the crit! I am a better crit racer than road racer, even though the crits always freak me out at the start. This one was huge! They were running 1/2/3/4 all together, and the field was huge. I didn't have any teammates in the race, and some of the teams were heavily stacked, and I saw a lot of 1s and 2s so I knew it would be hard. My strategy was simple, ride smart, ride safe, follow anything that goes down the road, and go until you crack. My legs felt surprisingly OK in warmup, I think the Jet legs are finally flushing out, and I was fully warmed up and ready by the 3pm start time. I had seen my male teammates put in some superb results earlier in the day, and I wanted to do well, too.

The first couple laps were tame, a couple little surges but nothing much. I was just sitting in, surveying the field, figuring out who was going to be the action for today. I was hoping for speed, so that it would be safer. I love to corner and descend, so the faster the better in a crit. I covered a couple of little attacks, and then about halfway in, I was sitting mid-field when I saw a break go. I had a feeling it might stick, so I gunned it around the outside. I saw my friend Heather having the same thoughts, but she was on the inside. I hooked onto her wheel, told her I was there, and we bridged up together, both working hard. Yay! The break was now 7. I looked back and saw a big gap--no one else was coming. We organized quickly and started motoring. I knew it was goign to be a hard 30 minutes if we were going to make this stick. We worked well together, and I even won a prime, and lost one, too. Anyway, we were all getting tired near the end and I knew we had left some horsepower back in the main field, so I didn't wnat to let up. My heart rate was in the 190s most of the break, and I was fatiguing. I was going too hard to eat my gu, so I was also probably needing fuel at that point. With 3 to go, I really didn't want to get caught, so I buried myself. I pulled way too much at this point...but I honestly didn't know how much gap we had. At least no one can complain that I didn't work hard enough! Everyone was tired, and after I pulled the entire last lap, the others in the break managed to sprint around me. I know, I know, bad move....but I would rather get top 6 (which is what I got, 6th) and have worked hard, than to let up and get swallowed by a motivated main field. :-) Learning....after the finish I learned that we had a huge gap and there was no worry of the chasers. Oops!! Anyway, the girls in the break were strong and I was thrilled to have the legs to hang on with them. I was the only cat 3 in the break, and the next highest 3 finisher was 11th or 12th! I learned a few things today:

1. Crits really are fun, even when your race is at 3pm and most of the fans have gone home to watch the super bowl.
2. The ChickenRanch Skinsuit really is magical!
3. It helps to have someone to tell you how much gap you have on the main field
4. It is worth the effort to be in a break. Safer, and just plain awesome to work that hard.
5. Riding hard with the guys for the past year has really boosted my power.
6. My heart rate really does go to 203!! (ack!)

Road season 2009 is ON!

(pictures later if there are any)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

More Sorrentine Sites!

I can't believe Cars drive on these little alleyways...and fast, too!

A Sorrentine Dog

Walking in the rain...Shopping is even fun in the rain!