Wednesday, April 17, 2013

 I meant to post this shortly after my last race.  I've been trying to figure out why my training seems so sporadic this year and yet, my results and fitness seemed to be better.  I'll have to chalk it up to having more miles and more experience in my legs. 

The graphs below are from; which is the site that I used to plan and track my training.  The first chart is my progress in 2012.  You can see three distinct Base phases (where the yellow and pink lines are far apart). Those were the long rides that I did in January through early March.  The fourth spread is the first Build phase.  And the blue line is the gradual build in fitness.  Now remember that the lines are all relative.  I don't think you can say that a blue line of 70 in 2012 means that I was more fit when compared to my blue line of 50 in 2013.  I don't know enough about that line or have enough years with this site to really determine if that is true.  Also, all of the blue dots are rides.  The higher the dot, the higher the intensity of the ride.  2012 was all according to plan.

2012 Training Peaks Fitness chart (1/1/12 to 4/15/12)

The next chart is for the same time period in 2013.  You can see that I didn't get the same Base fitness rides in and that they were not for the same longer (two weeks) periods. However, (and it is hard to see on these pics) the blue dots are trending higher.  In other words, the rides that I have done, have been more intense. So not the same amount of hours or miles, but slightly higher intensity.  This makes sense from just comparing what I perceive last year was, compared to this year.

So what does this all mean????    I'm not really sure.  I do know that I felt better at Swanson at a higher heart rate and for a longer period of time.  I also know that my performance fell off at the 3 hour mark (indicating lack of base).  Either way, I need to work with what I have and move forward.  Syllamo 50 is in a month and I have a few more weeks to add the the base while keeping some intensity rides up.  I likely won't know how it all works out until about the 3 hour mark of Syllamo on May 18th.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Psycowpath #1 - Swanson Marathon Race Report

Wow!  This one created so much confusion for me that I don't really know where to start.  It might take a second post to sort out, but here goes:

The opening race of the mountain bike season was this past Sunday at the Swanson Shoot Out, race #1 of the Psycowpath series out of Omaha.  As noted two posts back, I haven't had the same amount of training as last year. Of course, it has been a colder winter, so maybe everyone would be in the same boat. As I drove to the local Hy-Vee for a pre-race breakfast, I actually had thoughts on how bad this race would go and what I could do to salvage the rest of the season.  Maybe all racers are full of self doubt, it seems like a common thread among other race reports.  But I was just sure that with the lack of training and more specifically the lack of concentrated base training that I'd blow up early in this race.

Jason, Jeff and I carpooled together and arrived with plenty of time to get a good parking spot, take our time  kitting up and placing our coolers in a prime spot for mid-race replenishment. We hopped on the bikes and pre-rode a portion of the course. Just last Thursday, I had installed new Specialized Renegade tires and moved my gearing back down to a 34T in the front (I run a 1x9 setup). I only had the chance to ride singletrack once prior to the race (Friday night), so I was happy to feel pretty good during the warm-up and course recon.

Ryan Feagan and Daryl gave the last minute instructions and we all lined up for the start. Now I should explain that I had peeked at the start list Saturday night. I saw 3 top Cat1 riders, and 2 other marathoners that had beaten me previously. I also figured that a few other fast people would show up for morning registration, so with my self doubt firmly embedded, I was thinking that a 10th place would be a decent start to the season.

I have no idea what changed my mind, but I decided "F-it" and took the front row with Kent McNeill, Cam Kirkpatrick and Kevin Limpach (the fast Cat1s). At the whistle we took off hard and Jim Winklepleck came streaking around us. I settled into 5th spot (behind the four mentioned) and off we went. I could hear others behind me, but I made the snap decision to stick to Cam's wheel as long as possible and hopefully build a lead on those behind me. Outta sight, outta mind...and hopefully recover enough to hold off a few of them by the end.

Lap 1 ends and I'm still there, lap 2 and Cam is slightly outta sight of me when he must have hit something. He is dusting himself off from what looked like a hard crash and gets back on after letting me by. Cool!  I'm in fourth, but say it's just temporary until he comes back around me. I hold him off for lap 3 and on lap 4 we catch Kevin. He is obviously trying to stretch his back out. I begin to wonder if these guys have gone out too hard? Maybe they aren't invincible.

We finish lap 5 just after the Cat1s have started. I stop for water bottles and Cam goes by (I think it was lap 5). I hear the Cat2s start just behind me and I try to hold them off as long as possible. Eventually, the leaders catch me and I let them by, finally settling into a group more of my marathon speed. I figure that Cam wouldn't let that happen to him and will now be gone. I'm racing for fourth and keep looking over my shoulder.

Nothing spectacular really happens during the rest of the race. My laps were consistent until the last 3. Lap 9 finished at 3:50, so I knew that I had to go onto lap 10. Pride kept me pushing as hard as possible, I wanted to keep all 10 laps under 30 minutes and I didn't want to get lapped by the marathon leader. I finally finished the 10 laps in 4:15.47.  Good for what I figured was 4th place out of 34. It wasn't until later that I learned that Cam also had to pull out early (also back problems?).  I was handed a very unexpected 3rd place.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, I know these posts are boring with all words an no pictures. I'll work on that.

Next post will be on theories as why my body was actually ready for this effort (despite the best efforts of my mind).

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My first MTB  race of the year is this weekend at the Nebraska Psycowpath series.  They do a fantastic job with the organization and the courses. So they attract a pretty large crowd. They also have a "Marathon" class which is an additional format (on top of the normal XC races).

The marathon races last for 4 hours, but if you complete a lap prior to the 4 hour mark then you can go for another. Most laps/first racer wins. Thus it can become a race of attrition, pacing and strategy (so you don't have to go out for that extra lap after the 4 hour mark). I wasn't the fastest in this group last year, but I was the most consistent and won the series. I had 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 10th for my placings in the six races. I'm not feeling as strong as last year for this first race, I don't really know what to expect. I'm sure that the competitive juices will start flowing on the starting line, I just hope that I don't blow-up.

My bike is still in winter mode. In the next few days I need to put the suspension fork back on, switch out the front chain ring and chain. Replace some worn out bearings and check other vital parts. This is not something that you normally do just before a race. I hope that I can get it done on Thursday and then ride the bike Friday and Saturday to shake out any bugs.

Lastly, I was hoping to have my tires last the month of April before replacement. On tonight's ride I noticed what looked like something stuck to the tread. When I stopped, I found a bubble start to push-out from between the treads. Basically a start to what ended up happening to me two years ago in the picture below. I guess I need to replace those before this weekends race as well (at least I found it now).

End of this tire

Monday, April 1, 2013

1st Quarter 2012 vs 2013

Compared to last year, this year has been very odd for me and my training.  Not necessarily due to the colder weather this year, but it seems due to motivation. As an example:

          Total Hours          Miles          Strength (included in total hours)
2012      142:45              1349           25:45
2013        84:15              1028             3:15

The really odd part is that I seem to be carrying a lot of my fitness from last year.  I know that I don't have the same strength or the same endurance base, but the longer rides do feel pretty good right now. Obviously, I haven't done the same hours, some due to skipping out on the P90X program that I did last year. I didn't realize until I pulled this data, how close I was on the miles.

Oddly, CIRREM (February, 2013) went fairly well.  After a decently hard start for the first 20 minutes, Jason Dal and I settled into a medium pace. I stayed with Jason until about the 3/4 mark and then went hard for the last hour. Chasing down several rabbits and coming in at a decent time. Could I have went faster? Maybe....I probably could have been faster by another 10 minutes overall by being more consistent in pace. But maybe since I went easy in the middle, that certainly gave me more at the end.

Either way, I will be toeing the line this weekend for the opening Psycowpath Marathon race. I guess I'll find out how things really are after this race.

Me at the end of the 2013 CIRREM, pushing it hard at the end.