Friday, April 11, 2008

cadence state college camp day 2, friday

So Annie and I only got about 6 .5 hours sleep. I crawled down for breakfast and had more of the same: scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, a waffle, orange juice, and more weak coffee. I was stuffed though, and had to hurry up and get ready for an 8:30 am departure, which did not actually happen until 9am, so that gave me a bit more time to digest.

Holden led us out to the TT course, and my legs were telling me they needed an easy warm-up. They were complaining loudly. Holden was spinning not terribly fast, but when he got to the hills he kept the same pace, which meant my power was spiking to 270 just to be able to draft him. I did not have enough coffee, so I was a bit cranky, and I thought about a rebellion. Finally I heard Annie complaining to Mike behind me that she was not feeling great, so at Mike's urging we decided to spin at our own pace to the TT course. That was 27 minutes into the ride. 20 minutes later we started our first warm-up efforts. I picked up the pace and looked down at the Power Tap, thinking I would start at 175....185...195 etc. up to 240 watts. I was pushing hard, my PE was up around 8.5 and the PT said . . no joke . . 85 watts. WTF??? So it went like this, me trying to push some power out of my legs for a 3-min effort and me legs telling me to f'off. Holden told me if that is the case in a race warm-up, to back off, never push yourself to do a warm-up effort if your legs are tight and stiff, rather just gently push the power up as gradually as you can to get them primed for the race effort. I tried this.

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.

At one point, I looked at Mike and said, "it must be really frustrating for you, as my coach, to have high expections for me and to keep seeing me fall short time and time again." He agreed, and said that clearly my training plan was not working, and we needed to try something different. He suggested that maybe I go with a one day on, one day off training plan, where the days on would be very intense, but there would be one or two days of rest in between. This sounded reasonable to me, because my main problem seemed to be my inability to recover from hard efforts, especially multi-day or back to back efforts, as quickly as my peers.

"You know my LT has been the same for a year now." I said. "That might be true, but you are a way better technical rider than you were last year, and that is going to make you a faster racer," he countered. Damn, and I was trying to be negative here, throw me a bone.

We met up with Von Leech, and dinner was at another lame college-town smoke-filled mediocre food and service joint called Champs. They did have good beer, and a unique beer-delivery system which Ryan demonstrates here. We had a nice time eating, drinking, and inhaling cigarette smoke with a bunch of kids 18 years younger than me. I mean, surely, there are restaurants in this town where people go to get away from the college kids. Smoke-free even! Well maybe that is just me being cranky.
For dinner: 1.5 pieces veggie pizza, small roast veg salad I shared with Ry, some fried calamari, 1 glass wine, 1/2 beer, 2 scoops artechoke-spinach dip, and later, 1/2 of a small choc. chip ice cream from coldstone creamery

And so it went. I got through another Friday at another Cadence camp; I am fearing a bit for my legs on the ride tomorrow. I think I need to turn the light out now, it's midnight. enough.
annie and I before the ride

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