more pics here.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
more pics here.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
. . . in the few days since I left my garden had burst into bloom. And this was only the beginning, my wisteria, clematis, climbing rose and peonies were all coming along nicely. What a heart-warming surprise to come home to. As Candide said, "we must cultivate our garden"; that is the meaning of life. When one door closes, another one opens, we just need to accept this change and let ourselves pass with open minds and hearts through that door.
for all the pictures from the weekend, click here.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
I want you 2 skip coffee. Much more important for you to sleep an extra 45 to 60
min than get caffeinated.
I don't want to go on and on about the ride today. Basically my legs were not recovered, and it was tough for me to keep up in the warm-up, but since it was my warm-up dammit, I took it easy and made them wait. But once we hit the first rollers it was just brutal, and I feared that I would not break through it. I tried though. Mike talked to me, Holden talked to me, but I was falling farther behind on the hills and I was pushing until my legs were numb. They were getting tighter two hours into it, not looser. I wanted to scream and get the hell off my bike. Why was I spending so much time on my road bike anyway?
So I told Holden that I wanted to head back to the hotel. We stopped at a rest stop where this picture was taken, and Mike and Holden tried to figure out how to get me back to the hotel without getting me lost or hit by a car. It turned out that I had to do one more 5 mile climb with the group to get me to a road where I could safely get back. It was a death march. An absolutely beautiful road and the perfect climb for me, long and windy with a gradual grade, but today it was Mount Misery. When I got to the top I bid them farewell and started a long descent. When I got to the bottom, I felt relieved. I could pedal the 10 miles back and just enjoy the scenery and not worry about keeping up or slowing anyone else down. So I stopped and took some great pictures :
really cool old abandoned gypsum(?) factory
and meandered my way back to campus, through campus, and back to the Marriott. It was a stunningly beautiful day and I was lucky to be able to enjoy it in good health. I was going to get back, shower, stretch, and find myself a coffee shop in town and do some writing. There was this great coffeehouse called “Saints”—the very same joint where I stood up Ryan this morning, and I set up camp there.
(By the way Ry, I am truly sorry that due to self-absorption brought on my by my bitter dissapointment I assumed that Kuhn had called you and told you we would not be meeting you, that was truly lame and I would have been pissed if a friend did it to me, I owe you a beer, even tho by the next time I see you you will have forgotten about it)
It was nice to have some time alone to coax the cacophony of negative thoughts in my head into an epiphany of sorts. My life had turned from a honeymoon at the end of 2007 into an extremely stressful uphill battle in terms of my career, my athletic pursuits and my financial and personal life. Maybe uphill was too linear a term; really in all of these pursuits, especially my emotional life, it was more like a rollercoaster, and the uncertainty was making me crazy.
Annie interrupted these thoughts with a phone call asking if I was okay. Yes, of course, I would come back to the hotel and meet them all for dinner at 5:30. That was not completely true. I wanted to get into my car and go back to Philadelphia and see Max. I had heard via email from Chris that Max had hurt his back mountain biking, and I wanted nothing better than to spend my Saturday evening with him and Gryphon, Madison, Chloe and Diesel, our little pack of hounds.
When we got into the lobby, the choice was to go out to dinner or order in so we could take advantage of coaching on power file analysis and a demonstration of some basic bike maintenance. Everyone wanted to eat in except me-- outvoted. We ordered from Ruby Tuesdays, Annie and I got a bottle of red wine and a six-pack of Harp for the group, and we sat in the room and watched Mike messing around with that sweet new Cannondale SuperSix he got for being the fearless leader of VisitPA. I finally got an idea of how to adjust a derailleur; might come in handy when I don’t have a mechanic anymore.
Holden talked about the importance of ignoring the PT and learning to really cultivate your ability to perform by perceived effort. This is something I struggle with, and I said that I felt like I treated my body more like a child that needed to be disciplined rather than a highly trained vessel with emotional, intellectual and physical needs. In other words, these needs require that I shut up and listen once in a while, rather than try and control. I really feel that I need to develop that trust and innate understanding of my body’s needs and this was the key to becoming a successful athlete rather than merely a recreational rider.
We then looked at the setup in TrainingPeaks and the various charts and graphs pertaining to power & performance. Mike had analyzed our power data from Friday and Saturday and pointed out some interesting things, although I found it valuable, any talk or comparison of my power data was conspicuously absent, since my numbers were so much lower than they should have been.
It was getting late, and everyone headed off to bed. Mike and I discussed my baffling underperformance this weekend and tried to piece it all together. I had rested before the camp, taking off Monday and Tuesday. I had eaten plenty during the camp. My TSS scores on Wednesday and Thursday were not off the charts. I had been sleeping well, although probably not quite enough.
“What about your sudden weight loss?” he asked.
“yeah, well I did lose 5 pound in 3 days, but I have gained a couple back. I don’t think it was the weight loss itself so much,” no, I was thinking, just the extreme distress and despair that came when the only person I have ever really loved in my entire life decided that he needed to cut me loose. I think those three days were some of the worst of my life, and I have not been right since, even though Max and I have since patched things up. “I have not had one good workout since then . . . ” I said wistfully, biting my lip.
“Didn’t you go on some extreme workout the next day, when you weren’t eating?”
Yeah, I did, a 3.5 hour hard mountain bike ride when all I had eaten all day was a bar and some coffee. I killed one-brake Jake at Belmont, and by the time it was getting dark and we did half the Wiss, he made me stop and turn around since I was so upset. “Go home and live to ride another day Andrea” he had said. But I did not want to stop riding, as exhausted as I was, because I knew once I got home my mind would go into overdrive. I’ll never forget those words.
“There has to be something else though,” Mike said. It still just did not add up.
I told them I would not be riding with them in the am. It was supposed to rain, and I knew it would be more of the same if I tried to do the 50-miler. Everyone else was hurting as well, except maybe Annie the Giant, who was bitterly disappointed this afternoon when she got back form the 87 mile ride and Holden was too tired to take her swimming. Mike told her she was nuts and to get some rest.
So that was Saturday. I was hoping I would feel well enough to take the mountain bike out Sunday, but knew it would probably not happen. So it as off the bed with heavy legs and an even heavier heart.
Friday, April 11, 2008
I went 2nd in the TT. The two riders behind me, first Annie, and then Mike W, passed me like I was one of those ubiquitous cows on the side of the road. For the first 5 minutes I was able to keep it somewhere in the range of 190 watts, barely. But when the hills kicked in my legs just would not move. I had Mike coaching me, then Holden, and I was trying, really pushing hard, but I could barely get my watts up over 150. It was awful. I tried not to get too negative about the whole thing but of course that same soundtrack played in my head, the one that wondered why I was still doing this despite disappointment after disappointment. By the time I finished the TT, in 34 minutes, I was totally gassed and was ready to spin back to the hotel. That was so painful, frustrating, and unfortunately all too familiar for me on these camps. California in 2007 and again in 2008 the same thing happened: on the third day of hard riding, I have a field test and I can't perform.
I am still a fairly strong mountain bike racer, but not strong enough, in my mind, for someone with a coach and a plan who spends 13 hours a week training. Mike did say that I was often on these trips with others of stronger ability and they tend to last longer into the week than I do. And you know I give him credit for saying that, because in some ways coaches have to be part coach, part salesmen, part cheerleader, and it can’t be an easy gig. They rarely tell you that you suck, of course that might have something to do with athlete retention and job security. But the question in my mind is why, when I work so damn hard, am I always one of the weaker ones in these camps? It seems like the expectations going in are that I will be one of the stronger ones, and then...yes, by day 3 I am smoked.
Why do I want to keep banging my head against this wall again and again? With all the money I spend on coaching and training at Cadence, and all the money I spend in entry fees, bikes, bike parts, equipment, nutrition, etc. There are so many other things that I could be doing with my time, including writing, reading, working in my garden, cooking, going to art galleries, going to concerts, nurturing valentinebaby into a viable business, fixing up my house, learning to speak spanish, writing a cookbook with my 90 year old grandmother, seeing my family, traveling, and on and on. All of these things and many more have taken a back seat in my life while I chase this dream to race my bike. I have no desire to take it much further. I am not going to become a pro or start my own team. I just wanted, for the first time in my life, to clear out a little space so instead of being pretty good at a whole bunch of things I could be really good at one thing, or so I thought. I really was never that good at clearing my slate though. There is just so much more to life than the bike. Not that I am going to stop riding or training--no way--I will always be a cyclist at heart. But chasing points and doing the entire series and racing every weekend, I've had enough. I need to get more balance in my life.
So I took it hard, kind of like I did here; Only there was no Colin to cheer me up. I went back to the room and called Max, who spent many years racing but decided, finally, that he wanted to have a more balanced life and gave it up. Like me he has many varied interests and finally, the sacrifices that he was making to excel in his sport ate at him enough that he changed his life, utterly. I want to do this I guess, but I am not sure how. Many of my friends are cyclists, they all race: their spring, summer and falls ebb and flow with the race calendar. Many of them don't do too much else. And that's OK, but I would never be happy with that; even if I were good enough to be a NORBA pro. I would always feel like I were missing out on so much. So there is a part of me that is incredibly frustrated that I am not reaching my goals, and another part that is relieved that I am not doing better because it makes it that much easier to say goodbye to this tortured lifestyle.
After lunch and a nap, or in my case lying in bed half-sleeping half thinking about all of this crap, we were supposed to meet in the lobby at 2:30. Kuhn, Mike W, Ryan and I were going to go mountain biking, and Annie, Holden and Patty were going running and swimming. Mike told me I could not go mountain biking, that I needed to rest up for the big 80 mile mountain climb effort of Saturday. I was crushed. I had taken my poor neglected yeti all the way up to state college for nothing, I literally gave them the keys to my car and watched them pull away, while I went back to the room and wrote all this crap down.
So I already talked about breakfast, on the ride I had one sports bottle, 1 gel, and 6 m&ms, back in the room for lunch I had a recovery shake with soy milk, some of this awesome greek yogurt with raspberries and peak protein granola, and later a banana and a whole-grain sandwich and some peanut butter and dark chocolate spread. Also some triple-cream brie and some crackers.
I stretched my legs, which were incredibly tight, I mean they were throbbing when I was trying to sleep, and then I took a shower and typed some more. Coach Kuhn called at 5:30 and asked if I wanted to join him at the pool. So I threw on my makeshift bathing suit (don't ask) and headed down there. We watched Annie and Holden, (who got kicked out of the Penn State pool because of a power outage) try and do back and forths in the hotel pool without taking a breath. Mike and I had probably one of the best heart to hearts we have ever had, because I told him all of my frustrations for once, he asked me a lot of questions, and we came up with some potential solutions. I need to take recovery more seriously, I need to eat to fuel my body, and I need to not worry about my performance next to the group if they are doing something that is going to prevent me from going hard at the next effort. But I don’t these aren't the main problem.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I think I was the only one that put sunscreen on; everyone else got a pretty good sunburn on their arms. Holden actually worked on my bike, it turns out triathletes do know how to clean a chain. We headed off to preview the TT course. The TT course was a 10-mile loop with 3 turns and a rolling profile. Once on it, Mike Williams got the first of 3 flats. That's right, 3 flats on the same wheel. This was unfortunate for me, because I don't fare well when there is constant stopping. As a result my legs felt pretty crappy the first time through.
We talked about technique, practiced taking turns as efficiently as possible while avoiding the 6 dead animals strewn throughout the course, then rode it again. In case you were wondering, there were 2 squirrels, an opossum, a woodchuck, and a deer that I think no one else noticed because it was off to the side and almost comletely decomposed, and some other thing I could not identify. The second time my legs felt much better, and I was able to push harder through the rollers, until Mike told us to chill out and back it off. I had packed enough bars and gels for an easy 40 mile ride, but actually after doing the course again, and taking a dirt road back with a ton of potholes, I actually bonked at mile 41. I mean we were only few miles from home. I had to stuff down a mocha clif shot just to be able to ride home. It ended up being 47 miles in all.When I downloaded my power tap data, it turns out my TSS was a lot higher, 172, than it was after the wednesday night ride, 148. My energy expenditure was 1118 kJ. Not surprising that I bonked after eating only 2 bars, and 2 gels, 2 bottles of weak sports drink. I could have used one more bar I guess, and I thought I was in the hole a little. Annie ate one gel and one bar the entire ride. Damn, think how powerful she would be if she ate more, she seriously kicks ass now.
We got back at 5, and decided to meet in the lobby for dinner at 6. Everyone was starving. We went to Fascia Luna for dinner, one of the few restaurants in state college where Holden DID NOT work, and Annie found out, after we had waiting an hour for a table, that there was absolutely nothing on the menu that was gluten-free. Even the risotto had gluten in it!? So she had a salad and went back to the hotel room and chowed down on the carbs I had procured at Wegman's, many of them gluten-free and chocolate-flavored.
We were joined by Levi the Saris rep, who was pretty damn funny and convinced me that I needed to srping for the new PTs that just came out for disc brakes. I wanted to get one for the Yeti, but cash is a little hard to come by these days, not like when I was livin' large in 2007. While he was telling us a story about his younger days he kept referring to the US as "the lower 48." Where did you go to high school?, I asked.
"North Pole high school."
"is that in Alaska?" I asked, feeling pretty stupid. Hey give me a break, we don't own the whole f'in North Pole.
"Yeah." wow, no wonder he was so funny. It's amazing how growing up somewhere WEIRD makes you seem so refreshing to us pedestrian lower-48 public school types.
So that was Thursday. Annie and I went back to the room, and I proceeded to check email, write this blog, and generally stay up way to late since we had to be up at 6:45. The plan for Friday was ride easy to the TT course, do the TT, ride easy back, andf then in the afternoon the tri-geeks would run and swim, and Kuhn, Mike Williams, myself and perhaps Leech would tackle Rothrock State forest. I was incredibly psyched to be able to check out the trails up here, and went to bed looking forward to Friday.
When the whole thing broke apart, and I was kind of in the front of the second group. Mike, Holden and Annie and I, along with 2 other girls were working together to bridge but then I was off the back when one of the girls could not hang on. I felt like shit and my legs were screaming the whole time. This ride was tough, just like Ryan said. So I ended up riding as fast as I could, especially behind Kuhn, who is like a fucking freight train when he gets moving--damn--30 mph like it as nothing and I was hurting badly but just kept concentrating on the "visitpa.com" on his ass and trying not to focus on how bad I as bonking. If I stayed inches from his wheel (there was quite a headwind) I was able to hang on alright, but if I freaked and let another few inches open up my power spiked up to like 270 watts. I was ok, until the bigger rollers did me in. It went like this for 40 miles, pushing hard, and sometimes falling off. All in all it was a sufferfest,.