22 March 2011

Giros Weekend 3: Sunday (My Second Race)

Last. Night. Sucked. I could not, for the life of me, fall asleep. I went into bed ready to rest up just before midnight, leaving a respectable 8 hours for rest (more would be nice but oh well). At around 2:00AM I gave up and played some Call of Duty: Black Ops to pass the time and hopefully get me into a mindless state in order to pass out. It didn't go so great and I had major food cravings at 3:00AM, eating about 1/3 of a box of Frosted Flakes and a bunch of dark chocolate covered almonds (yumm). Regardless, at the time I knew it was going to cause major stomach issues tomorrow but it was necessary to try to get me to sleep. All in all, I fell asleep at 4:00AM. OUCH!

I woke up, obviously surprised at how early it felt, at 8:00AM. Got a really small breakfast (1 packet Oatmeal and Banana) and just felt very not good. Stomach issues all morning...I will leave it at that. Got all my stuff together, trying to forget I was very tired and horribly under-rested. Hopped in the car, slightly surprised by the chill in the air: it was 28 at that point, going to be 32ish at 10:00AM and about the same at 10:40AM, when the ride out would be done and the race would technically start. Today I decided to wear the CW-X Tights, which I hadn't yet worn on the bike (I was planning on running immediately after the race, making for a pretty rugged brick). Drove out with a lot of time to spare - especially because of the stomach. I was gonna rock the Generation UCAN, but my stomach was too much in shambles to put anything else into it. WHich frustrated me, because it would been perfect.

Enough of the boring stuff. RACE TIME!! Apparently it was a rather hefty crowd for a Sunday race, but that was more exciting than a let down to me. More people = more fun, more fun = more competition, more competition = more experience. Nota Bene: Transitive Property, therefore more people = more experience, and the Giros thrive!

Wasn't sure how the race was going to go today, but one word can sum it all up: Annoying. It wasn't really so much a race to win or make a break (for a few of us it definitely was) as it was mostly everyone not wanting Tim (3x1st place, 1x2nd place) to win. This caused every break to get broken about as quickly as it started. A couple guys tried to solo pound it out - one had an awesome effort that I respected quite a lot. But none of it turned to anything. There was one break at lap 2.5 (~22.5mi in out of 28.7mi) that I jumped on that I really thought had promise. The were some hills on the back straight that we used to make a really solid gap. Had at least 40 meters on the pack at one point. But, all of a sudden, everyone wanted to do work when they had been slacking mostly otherwise. So we got reeled back in, which was fair. But SOMEONE should have counter-attacked. It would have made for a true break that likely could have sealed off the peloton for the rest of the race, which was only a bit over 5K at this point. But no one did anything. They were satisfied at merely pulling in the leaders, which I believe is weakness.

It was destined to be a sprint finish. And that it was. After we got pulled back in I was pretty tired having bridged and taken a couple really hard pulls to try to keep the lead (to no avail). I dropped back in the pack, pretty sure no real break would happen (risky move, I know - but if you were there, you'd understand how the race was going). I recovered enough with about 2 miles left to start moving up: this is where I realized I could navigate the pack pretty well for this early in the season. I was in the mid 20's for position to start. Got to the high teens without much work or trouble, this made me feel good about my comfort in tight quarters. My next move had to be legitimate, as it was tighter here. I jump on a guy's wheel on the left and passed a handful, which got me in the top ten: slight surge, but nothing that would have major lasting effects. Then it got interesting. One guy on Rogue Racing, to whom I should donate my rollers, wobbled liked hell and almost took out everyone except the top 10, When this happened I got my wits about me very quick and moved into the top 10, where I needed to be in order to prep one last positional move for the sprint.

The usual suspects were at the front. Monroe extinguisher guy, Tim and a couple teammates, and a few other strong guys without big teams. We ate up a guy who tried to jump off the front, but didn't have enough - noble effort though, despite not the most intelligent move. But I give him real credit trying to make something when no one else did...this is not Le Tour. We were about 800m out and ready to go. Three jumped. I went HARD to get on wheel. Settled in. Picked off the guy who went off the front too soon with about 400m to go. Then one guy fell back just a bit. So it was three of us. We somehow just lined up three wide going into about 100m left and then hit it. I got a decent jump but was in too high of a gear, so I sat back down and recovered to downshift 2 gears. By that time no one had jumped on me and I was able to cruise in for the win, not having to dig super deep and put myself into pain. I didn't mind this as right after I was planning on doing a brick - so it worked out.

I was pleased with winning this race but sort of bummed that the race wasn't all that exciting. I'm looking forward to some breakaways and killer sprint finishes, especially within the breakaway group. That will probably feel a bit more like a sprint finish in a running race, which is a more aerobically crushing feeling but not as murderous on the muscles. I haven't had one of those yet, so hopefully will get it soon!

I finished off the day with a solid brick run. It ended up being 10K @ 6:56 pace, which I was thoroughly impressed by. It was definitely tiring, and my calves/quads were rather shot after the two races this weekend. But it was worth it. Chatted up with a Duathlon guy after my run and we're doing a brick next Sunday with the race. Should be fun!

19 March 2011

Let the Cycling Season Begin!!

Today was my first cycling 'race' of the year. And it seriously showed (I mean it!). The series is called the GVCC Spring Giros, a Saturday/Sunday circuit road race that is every weekend in March in the Rochester area. The UR Cycling Team uses these as our tune-up races to get into the racing zone and get the cobwebs out...which is always necessary, especially in cycling. I missed the first two weekends due to spring break, but I'm back and pretty pumped. Only catch, my one cycling race of last year, lack of experience, and minimal group riding this year will make for a very slow start to the season. Not a worry though, I'm well aware and prepared for using these races to get into racing mode and gain a lot of much needed skill and experience.

Todays Race: Giro #5 (4th Giro - #2 was cancelled due to 4-7 inches of snow), 3 loops, which equals something near 27 miles, but that is a bit of an overestimate. RunPartner tells me 8.5 so 8.5 it is!

Going into this thing I knew it was going to be rough. But I didn't think I was going to make it so hard for myself. There were a bunch of small breaks early on (first lap or so) that didn't come to anything. I was in a couple of them, but realized they weren't going hard enough to make something useful. So I stayed up front, took a few pulls, and waited for an attack. A break (which ended up being the true break that won) went and a couple minutes later a few of us bridged the gap. People fell off, and it really looked like the peloton was going to overtake us. At this point I was getting pretty much toast and didn't want to blow up. So I allowed myself to fall back to the group. My judgement was very poor. The break did not fall back. A few guys bridged right after I dropped off, but I didn't have it in me at the time to go with them. My fatal error, falling off the lead pack just because I thought we were going to get gobbled up. Lesson #1, Check!: When you commit. Stay committed, unless you literally get popped off. This error led to me working my ass off to get back in it. Since the contenders had surged, there were only a few guys willing to work to get the leaders back. This was not nearly enough, at least as unorganized as we were. Had three of us committed and went for the leaders, we could have made a really honest shot at it and likely gotten them. I discussed this with two guys after (guy named Mike being one of them).

Because of my miscalculation I took it upon myself to work as best as I could to reel them in. The group was 5 people, and by the end was 2. Without my hard work I think we would have only caught 2 of them, leaving 3 off the front. Sadly, one of those individuals we caught was Ronan (UR Team), who made a great move to get up with the leaders when I dropped back. After realizing I wasn't going to be in the winning group I worked hard as hell and made the race an excellent workout and really pushed myself. Lesson #2: Make a very well organized and timed attack to catch the leaders, however this was nearly impossible without knowing anyone at all who was in the peloton (Kevin and Chris were in the following groups).

Coming into the finish, I was in the main group and on the hill with about 1 mile to go I dropped back. This happened solely because I literally had no feeling in my hands (numbness + thick gloves, not cold) and could NOT, for the life of me, get into my small ring. I was watching my hand push the lever, but couldn't get it to engage. So that caused me to quasi-blow-up on the hill, giving the group 10 meters on me. The next part was downhill. I gave it all to regroup with them, entirely solo. It worked, miraculously. Now I was in shambles, trying to navigate through 15 people to make a shot at the sprint that led to this finish about 800m away. I narrowly rode the edge of the pavement and got up in the top 8 of the group (places 3-10 at this point). With 300m I hit the pedal (too soon, but people moved here and I wasn't about to let another gap open). The intensity dropped a little from 200m-125m to go.

With about 125m to go I pulled out with two other guys and went for it. Three (#3-5) had already gotten some slight ground and were fighting each other. Myself, and three others (#6-9), went at it. We lost one guy, passed one of the three ahead, and it was now clear we were very very tightly fighting for places 5-7. I pushed hard, and was dying - just like my competitors. The three of us finished within less than one-tenth of a second. One guy was about 6 inches ahead of me and I had 3 or 4 inches on the other guy. I ended up in a somewhat respectable 6th place, considering all my wasted energy.

Tomorrow will be interesting. I have NO idea in the world how my legs will feel in the race. I'll be fine for easy/moderate riding. But hills and pulls could get very interesting. Gonna do a 20 min rollers spin just to loosen up and stretch. See ya tomorrow!

11 March 2011

Food, Beer, Life.

I love food. I love beer. And most of all I love life. But without food and beer, life would lose some glory. Food and beer are like that delicious crunch that perfectly supplements the softness of a spectacularly baked cookie. As I approach that major transition into 'real life', cooking is being put on the front burner (NPI, but I hope you liked it). Both my mom and dad have instilled a joy of food (good food) in me from my early years. My dad didn't cook all that much, but he's darn good at it. He'll look at a few recipes, brainstorm, and just go with it. From the hip, not by the book is his style. Something new, but delicious, every time. He's definitely got a really good hold on some tricky stuff, which is surprising considering his lack of care to follow recipes to a T. I like that part of it all. When I cook, it is for enjoyment - mine and others'. My mom also carries a very creative aspect, she could make the simplest dish and it would be an instant classic. Two things I absolutely adore are her ground turkey dip and American chop suey. Definitely my favorite appetizer dish and entrĂ©e. The kicker is, both of them are so simple, but can be doctored any way you imagine. Mild, spicy, extra veggies, different spices or cheeses: each change gives it a unique flavor, and it's wonderful to have something just a bit new every time.

With this approach to being out of college, I'm experimenting more and more. My brother has also been a good influence as I know he will someday have a successful career in the food industry. He's got the heart, the joy, and the head for it. And he's got the brains to set up and run such a difficult undertaking. Since I've been home on break we've been toying with Mexican fusion styled food, which I've never made before so it's been fun and delicious. We made a good quesadilla dish with a couple different salsas earlier in the week. Tonight we made burgers with a Mexican styled Tzatziki dip. My brother made some baked potato chips, which were great with the dip. That being said, my food endeavors have only begun and I can't wait to have my own full kitchen and new cooking supplies.

Check out my Facebook for pictures of foods and beer!

04 March 2011

Upping The Volume

Now, as a runner, doing a lot of mileage is something I discuss and come by very often. Especially knowing people training for marathons and doing up to 120 miles per week I know well of how rigorous that level of training is. Personally, I have never approached that level of training in volume. My biggest mileage week ever was 72.7 miles off of pure running, which totaled at about 8.7 hours and consisted of 4 (yes, 4) doubles. So not that impressive of a 70+ mile week seeing that this winter I was averaging about 10 miles per day of running for 5 days in a week on top of swimming and biking. Anyways, 70+ miles was a lot for me - it eventually led to my injury that fall (2007).

Today, I wouldn't consider dropping a 70 mile week as that would have no applicability to my current training. However, I have really amped up the training the past few weeks. I went from my typical 13-15 hours per week up to around 20 hours. I was on pace this week until vacation began and I had to make an early trip to Boston. I'm staying with my brother this weekend and maybe through mid-week. Got a lot of crazyness going on so training will be on the backburner until further notice. I'm not too concerned about it as a little downtime may actually be good for me as I did ramp up the volume pretty hard, and I was starting to feel a little bit of minor aches and what I think is just the effects of over-training. It was a real good 3 week test of what I could pump out for net volume and see how I responded. At this point I'm definitely tired and there were for sure some workouts that flat out sucked. I liked getting to that point of just grinding out a 2:15 long bike ride when I had no desire in the world to do it - just to know I could get it done.

So the volume build was successful: I found that I can handle about 20 hours per week, even if it resulted in a bit of overtraining. The rougher days were when I didn't get as much sleep as others. Whenever I got 9 or more hours I felt pretty darn solid, less than 7 was a bit tough. What I think is going to be critical to success is maintaining swimming volume (although I don't have access to a pool in Boston), making cycling workouts A LOT more intense, and keeping running about where it was - maybe add in a tempo as part of a brick. The cycling thing will come pretty naturally as the UR Cycling season is getting rolling along.

That's it for now - volume build was good and I definitely learn some stuff. And now the key is intensity and quality.