24 April 2011

MIA: In more ways than one.

It's been about one month since I last updated, and I was trying to keep it at 1-2 updates per week. A few weeks ago I started to come down with a little something, and instead of just taking it easy and recovering (water, sleep, etc), which I did, I added on a great deal of mental lapse and apathy that led to a rough(er) week than it would have been. On the bright side, I'm back at it and feeling great again (physically and - more importantly - mentally!). That week also showed me how critical proper nutrition and diet are to good performance. In response to my poor decisions nutritionally, I decided to buy the book Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes by Monique Ryan. So far (~60 pages) it's a great tool and I just want to get all the way through it so I can utilize the knowledge from it as a whole. However, it has been great as a read and reference (i.e. after my 50 mile ride today, it was good to see what exactly I should do to replenish my fuel stores).

Back to that last week of March: Thursday I came down with 'something' - I wasn't throwing up or miserable, but my body completely tanked it. I literally struggled on an 8:30 pace 2 mile run Friday. That made it very clear that I should bail on the cycling races last weekend (last weekend of Spring Giros...kinda bummed as I threw $30 for 2 races instead of 8. Oh well, health is more important...I suppose). It took a bit to recover from that, but the runs the next week resulted in total leg cramping. Then I got frustrated and had some additional mental lapse. I finally got myself fully back together about 2 weeks ago, losing a good nearly month of quality training. I recovered enough to feel mediocre going into a race last weekend: Bloomfield, NY. Cat 5 (29 and under) Road Race, 22.5 miles (2x11.25mi loop). Mostly rolling hills, but these were nothing compared to the snow and 40MPH winds...which sucked, to put it bluntly (and truthfully). The weather was ugly and not enough people came out to the race, so the two Cat 5 groups raced together, but were scored separately.

Going into the race I felt in far worse overall fitness than I was 3 weeks before at that first Giros weekend. However, I tried to put thoughts of this behind me and focus on the fact that I should be excited to race - not disappointed in my own faults and poor preparation. I didn't have the comfort I normally do at higher effort levels. For what hills there were I could seriously feel the 12 pounds I had gained. Normally I can cruise up a hill with a good rise of the heart rate, which falls pretty quick so long as no one tries to move hard out of the hill. But that day, I was struggling up the hills (rare) and my legs weren't coming back under me (more rare). I sat in most of the first lap, and was fine staying in the lead pack. On the second lap I tried to get my body back into the zone to feel speed, by taking a couple pulls and testing the field on some hills. But this was to no avail. Normally it would shake out the legs and get my confidence rolling, but at Bloomfield it actually cut me down. Nevertheless, I put in all I could as we came down to a field sprint finish. People sprinted out of the corner up the last hill, which was a fairly steep and short one about 800m from the finish. I went, hard, and as I crested the hill felt completely crushed. There were two guys (1 was in the 30+, 1 in my group) off the front by 25m, then myself and another 30+ guy who was just ahead of me, then my teammate, Kevin Howard. We were met with 45MPH crosswinds and snow. At this point myself and the guy with me were trying to battle the winds more than each other (especially as we knew fighting for position would not affect our placings). I pushed really hard but nothing wanted to go. We gained on the two leaders, but only closed the gap to about 1 second, or a good 10+ meters. I finished seconds in the 29 and under category. I was pleased with the result, considering my weight gain and fitness - but there was no reason I shouldn't have won if I were in the shape I was in March. The winner (and of the 29 and under race) was a strong rider, but I had beat him in both Giros that I raced.

Needless to say, I'm now back on track and working hard. ECCC (Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference) Championships were this weekend. Expect a race report mid-week. Races: TTT, RR, Crit.

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