June 28, 2006

Dude, at elevation zero.

It's called decompressing -- after several years with no real vacation, it was time to get the heck outta Dodge... and even though I don't live in Dodge City, I do live in Kansas, so I can say that. So there.

Getting in a few good sessions of sleep-deprivation training was on the menu for the first part of the vacation, resulting in a marathon 26-hour drive from dawn, to dusk, to midnight, and back again, through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and both Carolinas - until the mighty Atlantic Ocean was in view. It'll be a while before I'm ready to dive into those waters from the pier at Atlantic City, but the view was still marvelous!

Nine days later, I'm back -- fully rested, having NOT taken a bicycle with me. Again, gunshy of overtraining, I got some solid speed work in, some distance, and a good mix of recovery and 'other' rides in before the vacation commenced, and then I let the body rest completely. It worked..and now that I'm back, and back on the bike for commuting, I can feel that spring in my legs again, that snap. Freshness... able to push, and not feel like the tank is empty.

So, looking on the horizon is the reason for all this preparation -- The Larry Schwartz Memorial Tinbutt 12-Hour Meltdown Ultra Distance race in Stillwater, OK.

As I write this, it's a mere 17 days until the race clock starts at Lake McMurty, and for once the trepidation, nervousness, and jitters are gone. For once, I feel like I'm operating with a cooler hand and a steadier will. Could I really have been drinking THAT much coffee???

I think so.

On to race strateg-ery:

Number-one: Don't pre-mix anything. Bring an extra bottle, but not hte arsenal of 15 water bottles like in previous years. No fueling strategy plays out that long for me.

Number-two: mandatory stop at the end of each lap. Fresh liquids, fuel, and vitamins.
Multiple laps haven't helped in years past, and have ended up putting time against me as fatigue set in, and fluids ran out at the end of the second lap. In tangent to that, the heat will be a factor, and hot Sustained Energy is simply not drinkable for long. Seen it too many times, and experienced it a few, too. Not worth it. Stop - refuel - roll out -- if time off the bike can be minimized, it will be like not stopping at all.

Basically, it’s gonna be about speed, I think – between stops, and consistant speed - not the endurance popping speed of years past, trying to make up time lost only to blow even harder.

Five minutes off the bike to refill water bottles, grab food, etc. – 9 stops, 5 minutes off per lap for a 10-lap/220 mile attempt, taking back the 15 minutes of extra time at the end equals about 30 minutes total off the bike. That’s a tall order for 12 hours, and an on-bike rolling average of over 19 MPH. I’m not saying that 220 is my goal, but I’ve certainly done the math.

My official goal of 200 miles, via 9, 22-mile laps for 198 officially, and 2 extra miles for myself at the end, is a little easier -- but not by much. There’s only about a 1.8 MPH average difference between lap totals, so 198 miles is still in the 18’s, and so on. But, I also figure I got 177 miles with a solid 45 minute break off the bike between my last two laps in 2004. I didn’t keep track of off-bike time, and it came out fine – I had enough to get 198 if I hadn’t stopped, so it’ll be more about quelling fatigue and staying motivated and hydrated and fueled.

I'm certainly not going to run this race by the numbers entirely, though -- at least I'm in a position now that I won't let the numbers get inside my head anymore. I've done faster times without really even thinking about it that much, and that's the mode I plan to be in. The only thing I'll worry about are how fast I get the stops handled, and the rest will take care of itself.

With visions of the beach in my head, I won't have any problem finding a "happy place" to put myself if the fatigue and duldrums set in! I'll be able to bank on the sleep deprivation training later in the year, at Tejas --- but for now, my only goal is Tinbutt.

I'm not abandoning later goals -- but they aren't worth thinking about right now.

Focus is about the NOW, not the later. My task is Tinbutt - and I'm really ready this time!

A couple more weekends left for training and tapering, and then I'll be southbound to my homeland... Oklahoma, here I come!

June 9, 2006

My every-two-years wake up call

Another year, another visit to the doctor's office.
Yeesh -- this pretty much put the kabash on the notion that all I need is 'one' -- I need to get back to what made 2003 so successful, in SO many ways, and that's cardio - true cardio.
Low muscular effort, high cadence -- yeah, kinda like Lance, I guess.
I've always been more of a Jan Ullrich in my approach, I suppose -- getting fit, feeling like I'm 'fixed', and promptly falling back into dietary distress, gaining weight, losing fitness and then questioning everything. Repeat.
So, the tally THIS time out is higher-than-it-should be blood pressure (again) -- the scary part about it THIS time, is that I'm not heavy anymore.
Well, not GIGANTIC -- I can still stand to lose 15 lbs, but I don't think that I'm horribly overweight, and THAT was (along with the diet that made me that way, and the lack of activity) what made my BP high. Today, I feel like I'm getting enough exercise, and the number is back up. So, now what? Ugh -- back to diet and exercise, rather, changing up what I've been doing and getting BACK to what I was doing right before.
I was in really good shape, and I got lazy for a couple years. At this point in my life, however, I really need to STOP getting lazy - because I'm going to reach a point where I don't bounce back as well, or as fully, as before.

I have to pull the phrase cited in "American Flyers" -- RES FIRMA NITESCERE NESCIT
Which, literally means a "firm resolve never weakens", but in the film was paraphrased as meaning "once you got it up, keep it up."

I need a t-shirt like that. As a reminder.

But, I've gotten past the "wallow in self remorse" phase of my year. I pretty much already knew what I was going to do with this year, and now I have more fuel for that fire. I have the numbers from where I've been before, and this new push back towards fitness will drag them along with it. I'm confident, and I've got that 'fix it' attitude back again!

Another, bigger part of my call to arms is on the mental front, and finally putting to rest all the equipment demons, and just riding -- I've been a lot calmer about stuff lately, a lot more focused, instead of feeling anxious, flustered, and flip-floppy. More than anything, once again I return to the "mind over mileage" philosophy. We're all just here to ride and have fun, maybe push ourselves -- but that's about as complicated as things should get.

With this new attitude, and a little help from the doc, my BP is now down to where it should be, only about three weeks after the appointment. Sadly, I had to let my good friend coffee go away - but it's a small sacrifice considering what I could be in-for in 20 years if I kept things up. Granted, the occasional coffee ride is still in the cards - but it'll have to be decaf for me. It sorta tastes the same... I guess. BAH! It's worth it. I'm much easier to live with now! Shocker!!!
Also, this will REALLY help in October -- at MV24 in '03, I was wondering why the caffiene wasn't working at 1am! This year, I'll have been caffiene-free for nearly FIVE MONTHs before the event -- I'll lift my personal caffiene-ban, and will use it where it can really help me: at Tejas! Duh. The more I look at this latest lifestyle change, the more it's a win-win.
I don't even miss it anymore, after three weeks - and my health is better for it.

Looking forward for another dial-in session on the new steed this weekend, assuming I can beat the rain home -- another chance of storms enters the forecast, but considering it's gonna be like 95ºF during the ride, I don't think I'll mind that much! Just not sure if I wanna get things dirty just yet -- but if I fall into that trap, I'll just ride the one with the fenders. Problem solved!

I love the Cidermill rides -- the route is good, there are little surprises along the way, and the reward at the middle of the ride is ALWAYS worth the trip. I almost hope it DOES rain, to add a little epic-ness to the end of the long journey -- it's been a long time since I've had a good rain ride: about the closest I've gotten of late was a quick dash thru some lawn sprinklers that had been knocked out of asjustment and were spraying into the street. That felt really good.

Only 35 days until Tinbutt 2006!!!!!!

Wow -- it's coming up fast --- am I ready? I think so -- considering I didn't manage to build as impressive of a base this year, I'm feeling pretty good about going long. I only have three 200K rides in, honestly, and a couple centuries as well -- but compared to years past where I'd have a 300 and 400K thrown in there as well, I feel a little short in the legs -- but the flip side of that is the fact that the speed is coming up quick, I can probably arrange a peak at about a month out from now, and I feel rested and not like a bag of hamburger, like I did last year at this same time! Got my old friend Sustained Energy back in the pantry, too, so I won't have any surprises on the road during the long day in the sun -- barely a month away.

Bring it on!