Monday, April 30, 2012

The other side of training

Most training is done to prepare your body for the physical endurance and exertion of an event. Training routines work on three different physiological aspects: Energy (anaerboic/aerobic), Cardiovascular (Lactate & Anaerobic Threshold), and Muscular (strength, endurance, speed) systems.

Although I don't follow a training plan, I do try to focus on completing a variety of workouts each week that touches all three systems. The process goes something like this: while brewing my morning cup of coffee and munching on some almonds, I think to myself, "I haven't done strength training in awhile, maybe I should do that today . . . ?" Very scientific stuff.

However, there is one more system that needs training if you ever want to go faster, farther, or reach new heights: Mental strength. When you're lungs are burning, your legs are rebelling, and the finish line shoots out into oblivion it takes mental control, determiniation, will-power and impossible belief to overcome the physical barriers to reach the prize.

Last week for me, while severely lacking in beneficial physical training provided ample opportunities to grow my Mental Strength system.

The week started promising. I had a great plan that included 120 minutes of intervals, a Zone 2 75-mile ride, and a 40 mile single-track ride. However . . .

  • 40 minutes into my interval ride, the 15 year old trainer broke--go figure. (I have to ride the trainer because of my work schedule and having young kids).
  • The night before my planned 75-mile ride, my daughter came down with an ear-infection. 
  • The day I planned the 40-mile single-track ride, my kid-sitter had an unexpected death in the family and traveled out of town for the funeral.
  • Furthermore, Chad worked a bazillion hours last week, getting home well after dinner time every night, including Saturday. No evening or Saturday rides for Chad or I.
  • Sunday we had Coffee duty at church and a April/May Family Birthday celebration.

This is normal. Which is why I do not hire a coach or pay for a training plan. There is not a 100 mile XC race training plan out there that accomodates sick kids, dying relatives, and broken trainers.

With the days quickly disappearing between now and LJ100, I could not afford to get derailed. I am already concerned about being undertrained following my bare-bones training regimen, and then to miss an entire week of training . . . I started to become mentally defeated.

"Failures do what is tension relieving,
while winners do what is goal achieving."

—Dennis Waitley

Although we had no money in the bank I did have a gift card to Breakaway, a pocket full of coupons and a credit card. I got some funny looks and comments while buying a Trainer on a sunny, 60-degree Spring day, but it is an essential tool to my training and I could not get through the week without one.

I kept my road bike locked onto the trainer all week. At every opportunity I hopped on for a spin: 30 minutes in the morning, 45 at lunch, an hour after the kids went to bed—every. single. day. 

Sunday we had a small window of time, I offered to stay home with the kids so Chad could do a 60-mile gravel road ride. After playing soccer with the kids for a bit I parked the trainer on the deck and spinned outside while they played. By now riding the trainer was self-torture. Was I getting any benefit, really, with these short spans of riding?

I questioned my sanity when 5 minutes into the ride I looked up to see Bear (my 2 yo) squatting, full moon exposed, and going to the bathroom in the yard. Having a 2yo boy is a lot like having a puppy. Sadly this incident could not be cleaned up with a plastic bag and a wipe. It required a shovel and a bath. And after all that, I climbed back on the bike.

It would have been easy to let the days slip by this week. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to sit down on the couch to read a book or to just relax and accept that this was a crazy, busy, demanding week and allow myself a break from training.

This morning I was feeling down about my low-mileage week. And then I realized how I didn't quit. With every road-block and every whine of the body, I made a way and pedaled through it. 

Some weeks aren't about the physical training but about mental preparation. It was a great week afterall. Perhaps one of the most important I'll have.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Trail Running

This week I decided to take a break from dune climbing in favor of trail running. Although, in some ways this wasn't much different as I was basically running all over the opposite side of the dune. As you can see below, there was still plenty of climbing. 

Pine needle covered trail.

Halfway up the hill . . .

The trail turning upwards again.

One of my favorite parts of the trail. It just keeps going up and up and up.

This hill eventually takes you to the highest elevation in Muskegon County.
From the top you can see Muskegon Lake, Lost Lake, and Lake Michigan.

According to the Garmin Forerunner 305, I climbed approx. 2,500 feet over a 4.25 mile run.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


With less than 60 days to the Lumberjack 100, it was vital for Chad and I to hit a 50-mile single track training ride. Unfortunately the two weeks preceding dealt us some unexpected stress, limiting my training and halting Chad's altogether. A big thank you goes out to my Aunt and Uncle who watched the kids for us so we could get in this important ride.

Au Sable River on the North Country Trail
The Plan: To ride easy, get in at least 5 hours of riding. If we didn't hit 50 miles, that would be okay, I just wanted 5 hours on the saddle. We drove north to US 10 trail head of the North Country Trail: that would be our home base. We could ride south for about 10 miles before bikes are no longer allowed on the trail. At that point we'd turn around and ride back, getting 20 miles total. We'd stop to eat a quick lunch and then ride north for 15 miles before turning back, giving us the remaining 30 miles.

I could tell Chad and I had different ideas of what a "lunch break" was going to entail. I expected a quick roll up to the truck, swap out water bottles, grab a sandwich and ride off into the woods!

Chad, not so much. At lunch he informed me he was sitting in the truck and wanted to read a book for 20 minutes or so. I had a feeling this might happen when I saw what he packed . . .

Yes, that is Pace Picante Sauce and tortilla chips. Not my idea of ride-ready food . . . 
The Ride: We started off at a good pace, about 10 MPH. It was a little harder than I had planned, but I was feeling good. If you have not ridden the trail south of US10, do it! It was very scenic and a lot of fun. At one point Chad hollered back "Look at that hill to the left!" All I could see was a wall of brown and orange leaves. That was one mother of a hill (for us lower west michiganders). Then the trail arched to the left and we began a long, weaving climb to the top.

The first 10 miles went quick and it was time to head back. I knew we had a lot of climbing to do but we'd be rewarded with some fast, swooping descents. After 2 short hours, I couldn't believe we were at the truck and it was time for lunch already.

My legs were all warmed up and ready to go!!!! 

But instead we sat in the truck. As the minutes ticked by the more my body began to shut down. A little switch flipped and said it was nap time. 

I nearly hurled when Chad opened the Salsa. Ugh. By the time we (meaning he) was done with lunch, I was cold, tired, and lethargic. But there were 30 miles to go yet.

Chad quickly rode away from me in the first mile. I could not get my legs to work. I felt woozy and was pedaling square. I told him to go on ahead, we would each turn around at the 1:30 mark. I wouldn't get in 50 miles, but I would achieve 5 hours on the bike. It was disappointing, but acceptable.

After 45 minutes, my legs came back to me and I was once again riding happy and free. Before I knew it 1:30 passed. I looked at my mileage and realized I only needed to ride out 1 more mile to get 50! Screw the clock, I was getting my 50 miles. 

I ended up crossing paths with Chad and he rode the remaining bit of trail with me so we could ride home together.

It was a great ride and a lot of fun. 

Total Miles: 50.12
Time: 5:16:32 (not including the lunch break)
Elevation Gain: 11,012 feet

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Bravehearted

>Check back later this week for a post about my first 50 mile single track training ride.

Courage doesn't always roar.  Sometimes courage is the little voice 
at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.  
~Mary Anne Radmacher

This past weekend we went on a family XC ride. The kids were bouncing with excitement when we told them. Bear rides in the Wee-hoo and Sage rides her own 20" Specialized Hot Rock. 
The ride started out great, taking a very non-technical and flat 1-mile section of trail. After warming up with two laps we headed over to the "hilly section." Bear was excited, it's like riding a sweet roller coaster. 

Sage, however, was nervous. I could see in her eyes a battle waging between her wanting to conquer the trail and her growing fear. The feeling must be like trying to push negative sides of a pair of magnets together.

This section starts with a small drop into a narrow single-track. Sage rode out front and I could hear little gasps escape as her bike gained momentum, shooting her down the trail. After managing to navigate some tight turns she stopped cold at the top of the first big drop. She wasn't going to do it. I helped her walk her bike down the hill. 

And then, as it usually happens, we had to ride back up a hill. Thirty seconds into the climb and she started complaining that her legs hurt. I bet they did. It's not comfortable cranking a bike that weighs as much as you do uphill. 

But we still had a ways to go and we weren't going to walk up every climb. It was time to pass on a secret from mother to daughter, mountain biker to mountain biker, the nugget of wisdom to carry you up any hill gleaned from Jens Voigt: telling your legs to  Shut up! I informed her that they even make T-shirts that say "Shut up legs!" She thought that was pretty darn cool. Up the hill she climbed, not complaining once after that. 

And then we came to another drop. This one was down a hill and onto a ridge overlooking a river. Sage stopped again. By now the stopping and starting was getting old. 

She was frozen with anxiety. We stood there for 15 minutes. I felt helpless watching the tears spill down her cheeks as she internally waged war against her fear.

Me - Just walk your bike. 

S - No!

Me - Okay, then ride it.

S - I can't! 

Back and forth we went. As a parent, this is incredibly frustrating. I know she can do it but she didn't believe in herself. 

Finally we had to go. We had some place we needed be and we couldn't wait any longer. I grabbed her bike, walked it to the nearest safe passage and we took the shortest route back to the trail head—leaving Sage utterly defeated.

I was frustrated and upset. We had spent more time standing around and listening to Sage cry than we did riding. Ugh. I didn't know if I was ever going to take her mountain biking again.

And then I remembered when I first started mountain biking. I was afraid. Still am a lot of times. Mountain biking is scary. Any one of us that has ridden single-track can admit to having a white-knuckled, goose-pimple raising experience.

Sage must have been consumed with fear and anxiety standing at the precipice of that dark, harrowing turn of the trail down the chasm. The drop must have looked really steep, the ridge really narrow, the river really wet and cold.

And yet she was sitting in the backseat of the car asking when we could go mountain biking again. 

My Brave-hearted Girl.

The more I thought about it, the more I began to admire Sage. Mountain biking is really scary for her and yet she still wants to do it. Sage doesn't quit. She doesn't let the fear win. She knows in her heart that she will come back and she will conquer that section of trail. If that's not courage then I don't know what is.

She is one brave little girl.

Friday, April 20, 2012

2nd Annual Skip School to Go Mountain Biking Day

Thank you Ada Bike Shop for giving me a legitimate reason to take my daughter out of school in order to have Mother/Daughter bonding time and to chase down some sweet single track. Last fall Ada Bike Shop hosted their very successful first annual Ladies Night offering giveaways and expert advice. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to expose my little shredder to an amazing community of women cyclists.

And if we were going to drive all the way to Ada for the evening, it only made sense that while we're there we hit some of the trails in the Grand Rapids area. It was an amazing time and I am looking very much forward to going again. See poster at end for the details.

Pre-Ladies Night Ride at Luton

Post-ride refueling at Schnitz World Famous Deli. Look at that smile!
The kind of smile you only get after shredding some sweet single-track.

Getting the party started.

I have a few dance moves of my own.

Sage meeting her new idol, Pro-racer Danielle Musto. Sage still talks about this . . .  

There were probably a few disappointed women when a 6 year old won the pair of Speedplay pedals. All I have to say is that she had been asking for clipless pedals for months. That was the only thing she wanted. It was a dream come true when she won them. And don't call her a future cyclist. She IS a cyclist. Ride on Sage!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

More Dune Climbing

This morning I woke up a little dreary but feeling better. After 3 days off for my trip to Chicago followed by 2 more unplanned days off for a health issue, it was time to get back on that saddle.

I needed to do something inspirational, a come-back. Intervals on the trainer just wasn't going to cut it. The sand dunes were calling to me. Why Dune Climbing?

Because that's North Muskegon's answer to Rocky Balboa's steps.

Philadelphia stairs from the famous Rocky movie, The big sand dune in North Muskegon
However, I figured actually riding a bike was key--being that I'm training for a bike race and all. I rode my bike at an easy pace for 6 miles to the sand dune. Locked the bike up to a tree and began climbing.

I was bound and determined to beat my previous attempt and get in 5 climbs. I'll admit that I queued up my iPod to "Eye of the Tiger" for this workout. I maybe even did one of these at the top . . .

And then I rode home. Tonight I'll do 40 minutes of strength training followed by 20 minutes of stretching and light yoga. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Out of Service

My week has been derailed. Not only do I have a giant stack of work that materialized this week, I am now dealing with a minor health issue that is side-lining me for the next 24-48 hours. Hopefully I can get back to my training schedule soon! Chad and I have a big endurance ride planned this weekend and it would be crushing to miss it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Too much of a good thing

>>I've edited the Savory Sweet Potato Energy Ball recipe. Originally I recommended consuming them within 2 hours of removing them from refrigeration. However, I realized later that I was eating them up to 6 hours after I packed them and did not have any issues with digestion.

Too much good food, but not too much good company 

I spent my weekend in Chicago with two long-time friends. It's a central location for all of us to meet and a great place for retail and culinary therapy.

I made the choice before I left that I would not obsess about eating healthy. Perhaps I should have rethought that decision. This year our weekend seemed to revolve around . . .
. . . Beignets

My stomach just groaned a little while posting that picture.

Here is a quick list of the highlights of the weekend:
I believe for every beignet consumed you lose 3 days worth of training and eating healthy. Doing the math, I flushed a months worth of hard work down the drain. Oops.

Reality has slapped me in the face today. Work, training, kids, . . . the routine. Time to get some stuff done.

Friday, April 13, 2012

4+ hours of Single Track

Yesterday was a "rites of passage" for me. I attempted my first xc ride, all on single-track, that was greater than 2.5 hours. I have never attempted this feat before. And with Lumberjack 100 looming in the near future, it was a necessary threshold to cross.

The plan: 4+ hours of single track riding with minimal stops. A friend of mine met me at the half way point for the last 2-hours of riding.

I had several concerns going into the ride:
  1. Will I be comfortable on the bike? Sore bottom, knee (which has been giving me fits), sore back, chaffing, numb feet, numb hands--all areas of concern for me.
  2. Nutrition. I'm trying to avoid packaged gus and gels which I have used in the past. I've noticed that on xc rides that I experience moments of fogginess or lack of focus. I believe this is caused by a sugar crash. My goal is to come up with several food choices that I can easily eat on the trail and that will help maintain an even level of sugar in my system.
  3. Overall fitness. XC riding is very demanding and requires the rider to be standing and out of the saddle frequently to maneuver tight turns, technical sections, attack punchy climbs, etc. Four hours into a ride am I still going to be able to attack a tricky section of trail? I didn't know.

Preparing for the ride

1) To address my concerns about being sore on the bike I:
  • Used lots of Bag Balm
  • Used the Stick to roll my It-Band and leg muscles, working out any knots and giving them a good stretch. That should help alleviate the pain I've been experiencing on the side of my knee and up my quad during rides.
  • Wore a good pair of gloves with minimal padding. I've found gloves that are too padded do not work well for me and cause all sorts of numbness and trigger points.
2) Nutrition
  • 1 heaping scoop of Endura in a water bottle for every 2 hours
  • 30 ounces of water in my camel bak for every 2 hours
  • Homemade Lara Bars (dates, nuts, cinnamon all mashed together in a food processor)
  • Savory Sweet Potato Energy Balls
My sanctuary.
The Ride
The weather turned out to be a cool 50 degrees and sunny. Knickers and a jersey with arm warmers were the perfect option for clothing.

It was only my second time riding single-track this year and it showed during the first 8-miles. I was timid and slow. Approaching a wide and sweeping descent a magnificent owl swooped out onto the trail in front of me and landed on a branch to watch me pass. It was amazing. I had encountered my spirit guide which renewed my confidence and gave me strength. After that point my riding skills improved dramatically.

After 45 minutes I ate my first Savory Sweet Potato Ball. It was surprisingly moist and easy going down. So far so good.

After 2 hours of riding I was tired, but appropriately so. I was still standing and attacking all the technical sections and my confidence was high—I bombed down the descents and kept a steady pace on the flats and hills.

It was really nice to see my friend when I went back to the parking lot to restock my food supplies. I was excited to have company for the remaining two hours. She was all ready to go so I quick refilled my water bottles and we were back on the trail!

The trail we were on was demanding. There are very few sections where a rider will experience "flow." There are a lot of rough and bumpy miles and some technical areas as well. It was a challenging ride, physically and mentally. By the third hour of riding my low back was becoming sore. This motivated me to get out of the saddle even more and to rely more heavily on my legs to take the impact.

The fourth hour was mentally challenging. It was good to have a friend to offer encouragement and motivation. Physically, however, I felt pretty good. My legs were cranking along and I was still riding aggressively.

When we finally emerged from the woods and into the parking lot, my mileage was 1/4 of a mile short of being even and so we rode a giant circle around—must have a whole number on that odometer! I was glad to be done and overall felt good: a sure sign to me that my nutrition plan worked well.

I experienced no noticeable numbness in my hands or feet. I didn't feel a twinge of pain in my leg. My low back was sore, fatigued from the demanding ride. But this morning my back feels good. In fact, I feel great today!

Recipe for Savory Sweet Potato Energy Balls.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Savory Sweet Potato Energy Balls--work in progress

As I've confessed before, I am not a chef. Most food experiments I conduct in the kitchen make my husband shudder. Proceed at your own risk . . .
Savory Sweet Potato Energy Ball

My goal was to find an easily digestible snack that is moderately low on the glycemic level yet will provide enough energy to help fuel endurance rides. I also wanted something that was savory as there is a lot of sweet options out there already. I wanted to stay away from nuts as the other snacks I plan to consume already have a variety of nuts in them—I'm concerned that too many nuts may cause digestive issues at some point over a 12-hour race.

My body has always done well with the sweet potato, I'll often eat one the night before or even for breakfast on race day. Sweet Potatoes are a great food for athletes as they are rich in nutrients and are the "best source of beta carotene (more than any other fruit or vegetable). According to resources I've found through google . . . 

 (I confess, I ate a chunk right out of the microwave.)

1 Lg. Sweet Potato
A couple shakes of Sea Salt
A couple shakes of Dried Basil
1/4 cup or so of Old Fashioned Oats--I recommend grinding them up in the food processor

  • Wash and peel the sweet potato
  • Poke the potato with a fork, or knife, whatever you prefer
  • Microwave on high for 5 minutes, test softness. You'll want the potato nice and soft so that it is easily mashed with a fork.
  • Add See Salt, Dried Basil, and ground oats.
  • Mash all of it with a fork.
  • Roll into bite size balls.
I used little paper cups for each ball and then tossed them in a ziploc bag. However, the energy balls were very moist and stuck to the paper. It became a little messy. I'll need to look into an alternative, perhaps foil or plastic. I am very happy with the nutrition they provided on the trail and they were very easy to consume, going down well with a swig of water.

Make the night before or morning of your ride. For a 10-12 hour race, I recommend storing them in a cooler if possible. However, I was still eating them 6 hours after removing them from refrigeration and had no digestive issues. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Iceman 2010--My first Iceman Cometh

The next few weeks I will be publishing race reports from the past two years.

Iceman Cometh Challenge

It seems like the entire year was building up for this one race. And what a race it turned out to be.

My husband Chad and I took Friday off so we could drive up in the morning to set up camp. On the eve of Iceman, Mother nature granted us the first snow fall of the season. Half-way up north it was a full on snow-storm.

After pre-riding the last 5-6 miles of the course a few things were clear: it was going to be COLD and MUDDY.

At the expo we picked up some cold-weather cycling gear: booties, full-finger gloves, and hat for Chad. We got back to camp early in the evening and enjoyed a relaxing dinner. Everything was going smoothly until . . .

Chad went to try on his booties over his mountain bike shoes. The clasp on his shoe broke off into his hands. His shoes literally fell apart (they were 17 years old). We made an emergency run to the expo (which was only open for 30 more minutes). We found the ONLY pair of mountain bike shoes in his size in the entire building. The owner gave him an awesome deal and even threw in SPD cleats. Crisis averted! I was really hoping we wouldn't be duct-taping Chad's shoes onto his feet in the AM.

The morning of the race I felt ill. I tried to eat breakfast but couldn't stomach my usual diet. I managed to keep down some oatmeal with a banana smashed in it.

There were over 3,700 racers. They started us in waves based on finish times from last year. If you hadn't raced before (like me) then you were put in a late wave with other first-timers in your AG. There were 49 waves of riders. The first 20 were "veterans" of the race. The next 20 waves were the Men's AG. After 40 some waves, the women's AG finally began.

I knew if I wanted to place in the top 5, I had to, at the minimum, be out in front of everyone in my wave. The fastest women in our AG that had raced before had a huge advantage of being in the first 20 waves and wouldn't have the traffic jams we'd be facing in the back.

The first 14 miles or so went according to plan. One other woman and I dropped our entire wave and were way out in front. We began passing the guys immediately. Because the 20 waves in front of us were all Men's AG, we only passed men (at least for the first 25 miles).

The course was not technical. But it was slick from the snow and ice and the single-track was really muddy, like peanut butter. Every time we hit a section of single-track, we'd have to slow down to a near stop because of the traffic jams of slow and inexperienced riders. We'd bide our time behind them or try and leap-frog them through the woods. Once we got to an open section we'd fly past dozens and dozens of racers.

I should have made my move and passed the other woman by mile 8 or 9. I was confident I could drop her because I was climbing much stronger than she was. However, I thought it would be best to stay on her wheel until the mid point of the race. That was a mistake. The single-track was too clogged up, there were too many guys on the trail. She'd get around someone and that same person would cut me off. It was poor sportsmanship on their part, but it's also part of the race. Next year I will know better. She was able to get a gap on me and I just couldn't bridge it. And there was no one riding our pace that I could work with after that. I was on my own.

Not in any kind of pain. No pain at all. Really.
I pressed on, passing hundreds of guys. There would be rows of guys hiking their bikes up a hill and someone, thankfully, would holler "rider up!" and they would part to make room for me. Most of the time. There was one guy, as I mentioned, who saw me coming and stepped right out in front of me knocking me over.

During the last steep climb my quads started to pop and cramp. I have never felt such pain. I dug deep and attempted to block it out. I was in so much pain, I knew if I got off my bike at this point that I wouldn't be able to get back on. I survived the climb and entered the last single-track section. It was so clogged up and muddy, most people were walking their bikes. I managed to slowly snake a path through the hikers but my pace was slowed to a crawl.

I coasted the last 100 feet because of the cramping in my legs. After finishing, I laid on the ground for about 15 minutes while my quads and hamstrings cramped, it was sheer agony.

I am happy with my race. I missed podium by one spot. And was never passed during the race, I did all the passing--just couldn't catch that one elusive woman (she rocked the course). Next year I will have a seeded start and am hoping that it will be a much different experience.

That's a lot of mud.
By the way, it was so muddy, my bike chain was making really bad clunky sounds and it was impossible to shift the last few miles.

After the Race

Pro Racer Mackenze Woodring, flying up a climb.

One of the great things about Iceman Cometh are all the pro racers that come out. The pro race is held after the rest of us mere mortals suffer the course. By the time you finish the race, lay on the ground moaning for awhile, and change clothes you can grab yourself a beverage and hike back out along the course in time to watch the pro racers dance up the same hill you just saw Jesus on hours earlier. The post-race party and atmosphere was a lot of fun and I am looking foward to returning year after year.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Look where you want to go.

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend. I know many people that were able to get out for trail rides Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday. Wow!

Sadly I've been battling a mild illness—I'm not sure if its allergies or a cold. After being up coughing all night Thursday and early Friday morning, I opted to not do a 5-hour training ride. A friend called me early one morning and said there was room for one more in their car if I wanted a ride to Yankee. Initially I declined, still feeling rather lousy. But the pull of the trail was too great and I gave in. It was awesome to get in a few laps of single track (even if I couldn't breathe).

Over the weekend we attempted a family ride. My daughter has been relentlessly asking me to take her on a "long" bike ride around Bear Lake (about 7 miles). With no plans on Saturday and my husband off on his 4-hour ride on the NCT, a bike ride with the kids seemed like the perfect activity.

As a mother I feel like I am constantly hounding my kids: look both ways, use your hand breaks, stay on the side of the road, etc.  Eventually I felt like our fun family ride was turning into a nag-fest and so I decided to shut my mouth when I saw her looking over there, over here, behind her, etc.

What happens when you're not looking.
While distracted by some kids playing she looked behind her, unknowingly turning her bike and riding face-first into a fence. Sage learned this weekend exactly how important it is to look where she wants to go.

Her two front teeth were knocked loose and she has a giant gash on the inside of her mouth. It's gnarly looking. Thankfully they are baby teeth and everything will heal up as it should.

She was one tough kid, riding her bike almost 2 miles back home with barely a tear nor complaint. As one of my friends pointed out (and us mountain biker's like to say), she's hardcore. 

Look where you want to go . . . 

Reflecting on her accident I became philosophical and reflective. I've been feeling like I'm hitting a wall of my own: I'm unmotivated and stuck in a bad cycle of poor nutrition and slack training. Perhaps I've been focusing too much on the place I'm at now instead of looking to where I should be going. Where do I want to be as an athlete in 6 months? A year? Two years?

I purposefully have not allowed myself to think about goals. Daily life can be so overwhelming that I have not wanted to put time and energy into thinking past the kids bedtime each day. However, it might be time to make the time. 

The last thing I need is to repeatedly and bewilderingly slam into a wall. This week I am hoping going to sit down with a pen, paper, and an open mind to begin mapping out goals for the short and long term.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dune Running

Living in West Michigan allows for unique cross-training opportunities. One of the benefits is the abundance of sand and sand dunes. My goal was to do 10 runs up this big dune:

Is it too late in the week for April Fools? Well, I intended to do 10 runs up the hill.
But I didn't quite make it:
Three times.

It was steep.
And beautiful.
Have I mentioned that I . . .
I plan to keep dune-climbing in the mix. It will be good training for the hike-a-bike sections of Lumberjack 100. 
Hope everyone enjoys their weekend and has a good Easter.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Getting in the hours

Training for a 100 mile mountain bike race is taking me to new places--the backyard?

There are only so many hours in the day, fortunately, because, let's be honest, if there were more hours we'd find more work to do in spite of ourselves. Unfortunately, it also constrains the time I can allocate to riding my bike.

My husband Chad runs a family business, for those that are reading that have built a business of your own, you already know what kind of time commitment and dedication that requires. Luckily I have a somewhat flexible job, so although I'm caring for the kids alone most evenings and many Saturdays, I am able to squeeze in a 60-90 minute workout on my lunch a few days a week. Sundays we generally reserve for family time.

That schedule has been sufficient for most xc racing. But a 100-mile race is an entirely different breed. My race time in the saddle is going to go from 2+ hours to over 10 hours (hopefully not much longer than that!).  60 minutes on the bike three times a week just isn't going to cut it.

I'm going to have to come up with some creative solutions, especially as I approach training days that are going to require 4 to 5 or even more hours of riding.

Yesterday I started work early so that I could get in 2 full hours of intervals on the trainer with my old friend Coach Troy. Then, after quick change of clothes it was back to work with a recovery shake and half box of Cheezits to eat at my desk.

After a few hours of accomplishing important designer publishing stuff that currently ranks me as one of the coolest moms in my daughter's Kindergarten class, it was time to pick up the kids and whip together something edible for dinner.

Chad made it home from work early, 6:30 PM, just in time to squeeze in a 40-mile ride in the fading sunlight (he is training for Lumberjack 100 as well!!!). We gave him a quick kiss hello followed by one good bye as he headed back out the door, completely transformed from Carhartts to full spandex.

Then it was bath time for both kids. Story time. Bed time. Clean the kitchen. Fold some laundry. Tuck wandering children into bed a second time—if you're a mom, you know the drill.

Yup, I was ready to crash on the couch with Tom Clancy.

Instead I did this:
My bike, on a trainer, on the deck, in the backyard.
More time on the bike. I could not stomach the idea of spending another 75 minutes in our basement so I set up the bike on the deck. It wasn't anywhere near as nice as riding single track, but it beat the basement--hands down.

Can someone help? How do you not overeat on long training days?

I'm finding that on endurance training days, I eat too much. I believe the issue is fatigue, not hunger. My body wants to take a nap but work and my kids need me to be productive. In fact, I need to be more efficient and productive to make up for the time I spent riding. As a result, I end up snacking to stay awake.

Even though I've cut cornstarch/syrup and added sugars from my diet, I'm considering keeping a bowl of hard candies around. Perhaps if I have a Worther's I won't feel the need to mow through a bag of chips.

Thoughts? Ideas? Please.

Thanks! And in closing I leave this post with a picture of my kid, just because he makes me smile.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Crybaby Classic 2010 Race Report

The next few weeks I will be publishing race reports from the past two years.

From Sport to Expert.

Crybaby Classic
Nub's Nob Ski Resort at Harbor Springs, MI
September 2010

Everyone said moving from Sport to Expert was a big leap . . . and it was.

My main goal was to 1) have fun and 2) NEVER QUIT.

Everyone also said that mountain bike racing is red-line, super-high intensity from the start. And everyone was right on that point too.

We started with an uphill climb. I managed to stay close to the group. Thankfully we went from there into a down-hill. And it wasn't a coasting downhill, it was an all-out, big-ring, turn your crank descent. It was awesome.

I was  geeked that I was still with the field going into the heart of the loop. But, DANG, it was brutal. I have ever breathed that hard before. I had buckets of snot coming out of my nose. My legs were jelly 4 miles in . . . and I still had over 2 laps to go!

That looks like a lot of climbing to me.
This course was alot of climbing, more than I am used to. I was working so hard to stay with the group that my legs could not handle some the climbs and I had to walk a few of them. I was the only woman in Expert that walked the hills. However, I  managed to stay ahead of one woman and by the end of the first lap, I was on the back wheel of another. I was overjoyed.

In the second lap she would pull away on the climbs and I would slowly regain ground on the flats and descents. The last big climb of the second lap I dropped a chain. That was enough for her to get away.

Even though I lost sight of her, I kept telling myself she was right around the next corner. My legs were destroyed but I was not going to give up. One more lap and the sufferfest would be over.

During the lap I was alone. No one in front or behind me. I pushed myself beyond my limit. Unfortunately, my legs just didn't have it to do those brutal 2-3 climbs and I had to walk them. On the very last hill, the one person I was ahead of the entire race, came from out of nowhere and climbed past me.

The last 2 miles was mostly flats with a long down-hill to the finish. I shifted into my big ring and cranked it as hard as I could, knowing she was just ahead of me. Exiting the single track and into the final descent, I could see she had already crossed the finish line. At that point, it became me vs. the clock. I tucked in and sprinted.

DFL by 45 seconds. 14 minutes behind first place.
I am happy.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Peak2Peak Race Report 2011

I will be republishing some of my old race reports over the next few weeks . . . 

Peak 2 Peak 2011, Crystal Mountain Resort, Michigan

I did my 3rd mountain bike race this season, the first was way back in early May and then I did a last-minute decision race about 2 weeks ago. I do alright in Sport and so I thought I would test my legs in the Expert cat. Last season I tried Expert for one race and I was DFL. I had low expectations. Furthermore, this race was nearly twice the distance of any xc rides I have done this season.

It rained for 24 hours before the race and there were high winds, gusts regularly 40 mph. And it was cold.

We lined up at the start behind the men, there were approx. 11-12 women racing Expert. We were getting situated when we heard the announcer call out that we were starting with the men! And we had about 60 seconds. None of us expected that. I was not at positioned where I wanted to be for the start, I'm sure all of the other women felt the same way.

Then we were off! The start of the course was downhill followed by an uphill to an open road. One of the women cut me off right at the bottom of the hill and then, she must have jammed her gears because she abruptly stopped right in front of me! I had swarms of people to my left and right. I had no choice but to put my foot down and then try to scootch around her. I lost all of my momentum for the climb not to mention losing the lead group of women.

This has been my experience with xc racing: nothing goes as planned. I was suddenly on my own and trying desperately to pull back some time. The trail was muddy and sticky like peanut butter and the head wind--oh the head wind!--was brutal. Being in a pack would have been a huge benefit.

I kept telling myself to just keep pushing. I passed a couple of guys and maybe 3 women . . . which put me at about 9-7th place halfway into the first lap. And then I was completely alone on the trail. I couldn't see anyone in front or behind. I settled into an easier pace.

Coming into the climb at the end of the first lap I started to see flickers of a rider behind me. She eventually caught me up the climb and finished the first lap about 30 seconds in front of me. I pushed myself once again and caught her about 2-3 miles into the second lap. I asked if she wanted to work together in the open sections, she declined, and so I went on ahead knowing that it was quite likely she would catch me once again at the ski hill.

Which she did. But this time, I just barely managed to keep my lead. And into the 3rd lap we went. I tried to keep a steady pace but it is hard when you're alone on the trail with no "rabbits" in sight to chase.

Coming up to the ski hill for the last climb and I caught site of that woman behind me again. I told myself that she had to be hurting at least as much as I was. I'll admit, part of me wanted to quit--7th place, 8th place, not a whole lot of difference. But, I knew I would be disappointed if I didn't at least try. All I had to do was keep my legs spinning.

I managed once again to hold onto a sliver of a lead into the long descent down the ski hill. At the bottom there was a hairpin turn and we had to ride about 100 feet or so up the ski hill to the finish line. I had some friends cheering me on who all started yelling "You're in third place!!!!!"

Wha??!?!?!?!?!  No way?!? I had NO idea. Apparently there were women behind me from the start, possibly caught in the same jam I was in.

I was blown away and grinning from ear to ear. I never thought I would podium in Expert. I even won some cash. It was a great, great day.