Most people do crazy stuff when they turn 40 - the classic midlife crisis type affair. There's buying a snazzy new car (does a 4WD Merce...

May 28, 2010

Swimming Blind (without the pace clock)

So the pace clock at 24 hour fitness wasn't working today. I tried hitting the power switch a couple of times, but the second hand only moved a few clicks, then stopped. At first, I was a little annoyed. How would I do my workout if I did not have a clock to work from? There is a little clock on the far side of the pool, but with foggy goggles, it is almost immpossible to read. And I could not get mid-set splits from that clock. Then I remembered I had my watch on. Small, but enough to get the intervals. I still would not be able to mark each 100 like normal, but it would be easier to read then the clock. Besides, in an open water swim, I don't have someone telling me my split every 100. Swimming the workout blind would be a good marker to see what times I hit. And it was good. I just looked at my watch at the start of each interval and the end. I was hitting good times, but I do need to work on faster without the clock. I found I had a tendency to settle into a comfortable pace without the pace clock. Pushing to that next level in the swim will be easier if I do a few more "blind" workouts. It will help develop a better sense how fast I am moving, which will translate well into the open water.

May 26, 2010

PT heal thyself

I decided after three races and several rides where my lower back tightened up to the point of hardly being able to ride that I needed to see someone. And while I have learned everything that the sports PTs know while I was in school, that was a few years ago and I haven't used any of special tests or manual therapy skills since I graduated. Also, with the issue being in the back, I would not be able to do any self manipulations or moblizations even if I remembered them. I just knew that there was something wrong with the mobility and the musculature around my spine and pelvis.

So I went to the PT clinic near my house - trying to act dumb. My self diagnosis based on the pain and movement patterns in my back was pretty close. She did some mobilization and trigger point work on my back and deep hip rotators. Oh man, that hurt. I could tell that the mobility along the vertebra was really affected the minute she started with that. But it helped a lot. My back was not as stiff afterwards. Now I just need to behave myself and do the stretching and strengthening exercises (that I really should have been doing all along) so that this doesn't come back.

Why didn't I go into sports? Because I didn't want to work on people like me! Just because it's not hurting doesn't mean it's better and you can stop with the exercises. And if the PT says 25, doing 50 is  not better!

May 23, 2010

Xterra South Central Championships 2010

Well, the Xterra South Central Championships is complete. The course is fabulous and a ton of fun. I finished 8th pro and 9th woman. My swim was good, got out of the water in a good position. But my bike was just horrible. Worse then usual. I crashed twice, bent my rear derailure hanger something horrible, had to stop and rebend it. Managed to finish with the gears I had left. Felt good on the run, but I could tell the humidity was taking it's toll on me. I'm not sure what the times of the rest of pro women were, but Renata won.

May 21, 2010

South Central Preview

When everyone found out that I was going to Waco TX for the South Central Championships, the question was "What is there to do in Waco?" Well, actually, I think this will be one of the hidden Gems in the Xterra series. The course is fantastic - a mix of everything. The swim is in the river, with a slight current one way and wind driven waves the other way. Right now it's looking like we won't be able to wear wetsuits. I got in today and it was a bit murky, but the water felt great. The bike course is going to be a challenge. There is fast, flowing sections amid the trees, short steep climbs, long down hills followed by long climbs and plenty of technical sections to keep even the best riders on their toes. I pre rode twice and had to get off and walk a few sections each time. There is also not a lot of places to rest and recover - constantly on the gas. The run starts out with a brutal stair case climb called Jacob's Ladder. It gets more interesting from there, with urban trail running through the disc golf course in the first half to the same narrow single track from the bike course. I am really looking forward to Sunday and getting out and racing.

I also have to say that the host community is behind the race the whole way. I am staying with the the bike course designer and his wife and they have been working constantly to make sure that the course is marked and we are able to get out and pre ride. The hospitality has been just incredible.One of the other pros is staying with a lady about 20 minutes from the race site and she has full use of one of the family's cars. I only had to drive to the store - I am within minutes of the park. Yesterday, we went to a "meet and greet" at one of the local bike stores (Bicycles Outback) and I got the chance to meet a few of the local organizers. After that, there was a dinner at one of the orgainzer's house. I have never tasted fajitas that good in my life. I don't think that I will be able to eat fajitas at a resturaunt again and not compare them. This homestay has been a treat and has made the whole weekend so much easier.

May 20, 2010

Welcome To Waco!

I got in to Waco yesterday after a pretty uneventful drive. It was really windy in the pan handle and I ended up putting both bikes in the car. Good thing - the reason it was so windy was because there were a few tornados in the ugly clouds north of where I was driving. Decided to take the back roads down through the middle of TX - actually really pretty driving.

When I got to the home I am staying at  (Thanks Cat and Ian!) Cat was already to go show me the course. Seemed like the perfect way to unwind from that long drive, so I quickly got ready to head out to Cameron Park. First thing I noticed was the humidity. There is so much water in the air down here it's hiding all the oxygen! Second thing I noticed was how much fun the course is. There is no rest on this course - it's up, down, twisty, switch backs, swooping, flowy descents. Most of the course is on narrow single track winding around trees and rocks. This is a true mountain biking course, without even having a mountain in site!

I was lucky that I was following Cat. She and Ian helped design the course, so she knew all the little ins and outs. It also made the ride a lot more enjoyable - I wasn't out in the park all alone, hoping to see an arrow. There are so many twists and turns that half the time, I had no clue where I was. I just knew that some how, the arrows would lead me back to the start line! The ride today was a lot easier since I'd followed Cat yesterday - I felt at least somewhat aware of where I was on the course and the landmarks to be looking for.

May 17, 2010

Chalk Creek Stampede prelimanary report

Chalk Creek Stampede is in the books. It was a really good weekend, with some intense racing in both short track and cross country. I finshed 2nd in my age class in both races and 3rd out off all cat 1 women in both races. It was fun to get back on the course from my first mtb race and see how my fitness and skills have progressed. Nick also did well, riding the single speed for the cross country race. I will get a full race report up in the next few days. Time to start planning for Waco!

May 14, 2010

More Turtle Trouble!

Just in time to head to Nathrop, the turtle starts acting up. Nick had no problems on his trip to Fruita for the Rabbit Valley Rally, but so far... The plan was for me to go swim early, then come home and drop Nick off at the storage facility. He would drive the Turtle to work, then we could load up and head to Nathrop after I got home. Well, the first part of the plan worked great. I had a good swim and got home with plenty of time for both of us to get to work. Then Murphy's Law hit. We could not get it to start. There was a brief moment where everything sounded good, then nothing. Even with starting fluid, there was nothing happening. Just a lot of exhaust and noise. Then the starting fluid ignited in the engine compartment! Nick ran for the fire exstinguisher and hit the engine with a burst. So much for saving time! And hopefully we still have a turtle after work. Nick thinks the fuel filters might be clogged. It's happened before, where the filters clogged and the engine wouldn't run. So Nick's going to try changing the filters and see if that helps. Otherwise, we're tent camping in Nathrop this weekend..

Footnote - we did have a turtle after work and it started perfectly. So who knows. But it was a good thing that we were able to get the turtle up and running because it rained all night. A cold, wet rain. I would not want to be in a tent last night!

May 13, 2010

Good day on the bike

Today was one of those days where you looked out the window and just wanted to crawl back into bed. There were heavy, low hanging clouds draped over the mountains and a hint of snow on the trees up high. Luckly, I didn't have the option to hide in the house all day. I was meeting Coach Jane from CTS and we were planning on hitting the trails in Red Rocks for a few hours. The tempurature was about 38 (and this is the middle of May!?!) so I dragged out the winter clothes and my Osprey backpack. Nick got me the pack so we could go bike-packing later this year (and he was getting tired of carrying all my stuff). It's a great pack - fits comfortably and holds a lot of gear. I packed a few extra layers and bundled up. It was a perfect day to try out the new rain jacket Nick bought me a few weeks ago. There was a defiinate chill to the air as I left the house, but I was comfortable. I choose a flatter route to CTS - through Stratton and down around Bear Creek Park. As I rode through Stratton, the mist solidifed into light snowflakes. But the trails were in perfect condition. Tacky, smooth and fast.

Jane and I decided to avoid the mud in Red Rocks and rode up Buckhorn. The roots were a little damp, making some sections tricky, but otherwise the trail was awesome. It was so quiet, just under the cloud layer with all of the trees dusted in a light snow. When we got onto Captain Jacks, it was the best day I'd had on the trails. Fast, flowing and tacky, with no one else on the trail. I actually felt relaxed and confident coming down Jacks, instead of worried about sliding out in the gravel. Despite the cold (I changed jackets at the top) riding turned out to be the best part of the day. Although spring would be nice - today reminded us of a February ride, not May, sometimes getting out and braving the cold brings more rewards then just a great ride.

May 12, 2010

Chalk Creek Stampede coming up

The first mountain bike race of the season (for me - missed Rabbit Valley as I was racing in Vegas) is coming up quick. We're heading to Nathrop with the Turtle for the weekend for some classic Colorado racing - hills, false flats and head winds! Short track on Saturday and cross country on Sunday. I didn't get to ride at Nathrop last year and in 2008 it was my first mountain bike race - ever. Nick made me race in the beginners class (Cat 3)! I'm looking forward to seeing the course through more experinced eyes and with better riding skills. There's also a lot of long, power sections along the fence line. That's one of my weak points, so it will be another good chance to evaluate my progress. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and it will be nice out. This has been a strange spring - we haven't had one.

May 11, 2010

Training partners - or how to make a ride really hard!

Riding with your husband who wants you to get faster is great - he really pushes me and ignores all my whining. It's been pretty frequent that we've been riding up Stratton or Buckhorn and he's behind me, threatening to take off my baby ring. I'm getting better about being able to produce even power in the middle for most of the climbs around here, but I still really like that granny gear. So what is an easy way to make a ride even harder then riding with Nick and his friends? (I don't get the "girl" treatment with them. If I can't keep up, then I need to go home)

Ride with both your husband and your coach! Adam joined us for our ride on Sunday and that meant no slacking for Tracy at all. I'm setting the pace through Stratton up to Gold Camp road and the anticipated "No baby ring!!" comes from down the line of guys. And all I hear is chuckling behind me. (Nick told me later that Adam replied "what if I'm already in my baby ring?" and Nick told him he wasn't talking to him. That's when I heard the laughing.) Get to the top of the Chutes and it's off again. I grab a wheel and hang on for dear life as they set the pace towards the Columbine drop in. I did make it all the way down Columbine, even with the really loose conditions. It was not elegant, as I managed to get unclipped twice and bounce off a few rocks - but I stayed upright! Our second lap around Stratton and I was really hurting. The guys were perfectly happy hanging on to my wheel and letting me kill myself on the climbs.

This time, when we got to Gold Camp, the plan was to ride up to Buckhorn turn off and decide the rest of the route there. I found a nice wheel and stayed there past the two tunnels, catching my breath and recovering from the climbs. Just after the second tunnel, I locked my fork out and shifted to a harder gear. The guys were too busy talking - no one noticed as I stood up and drifted to the outside of the group. Then I attacked - and I actually managed to take everyone by surprise and get a pretty good gap on the gang. It took Adam a few minutes to catch on. I kept the pace going until the main parking lot, then waited for the rest of the group. (Nick said that I did take everyone by surprise and I had about 50 yards on the group before Adam reacted and started chasing. Matt didn't know if he should try to chase back on or not and Dave started in with the Phil and Paul narration of the attack.)

After the ride and my run, I was dead tired. Ice bath, and flop on the floor was the activity for the rest of the evening. But it was a great day and I'd had a good time riding with the guys. It's really nice that I'm starting to be able to keep up a little better.

May 8, 2010

Track Time

After setting my run pace and heart rate intervals during the VO2/LT testing, it's time to head to the track. Once again, I haven't been on a track in a number of months. I've been doing speed work on the trails or on the roads, but not on the track. Because I haven't been on a track, it was kinda a shock to the system. Running fast on the trails or roads is very different then the consistancy of the track. There's no cheating around that oval - it's just running and the clock. No distractions, no hills, just the focus on running a specific time per lap. I love that, even though I don't really get on the track that much.

The track I use is a dirt/gravel oval right near my house. It's really convient - I can run there for my warm up and run home for the cool down. There's no fence around the track, so I don't have to worry about getting approval to use it. And it's usually pretty quiet. I've never really had an issue with anyone running or walking there. If anything, I would be the annoying one - I don't like running the same direction for every interval! I'm sure I'll be spending more quality time there in the next few months - getting my speed back for the end of the season.

May 6, 2010

LT/VO2 Testing

After a fun recovery week from Xterra West Championships, it was finally time to get the LT/VO2 testing done at Carmichael Training Systems. Yesterday, I did the bike tests and today I finished up with the run testing. Always fun times - trying to go to max effort wearing a snorkel! I've had a bike testing series done before, at BCSM last year, so I was looking forward to seeing what kind of improvments I'd made on the bike. It was also helpful in that I knew what was going to happen, with the wattage increases, the relentless fingersticks and getting asked "how hard is this effort?" but not really being able to answer because of the headgear. And that's just the LT test. The VO2 is even worse - it's a max test and the pain continues until you stop. I was nervous about the run testing. Back in undergrad, we did some sub-max tests, but nothing with the head gear. I didn't know how running with that on would feel like.

The bike test went well. The LT testing is funny - it's comfortable, easy to maintain, then boom. The watts go up and all of a sudden things aren't comfortable anymore! I'm pretty happy with the numbers we got. There was definatly a signifigant increase in both my lactate threshold and my VO2 max. And the increase in watts for the VO2 max was huge. But there is still room for improvement and that's going to be the fun part. Numbers are great, but you have to be able to use the data for training to see improvement. With focused training like Adam as been doing and with patience, I'm very hopeful for the rest of the season. And for next year.

Having never done a LT/VO2 test for running, I had no baseline for performance. When I was trying to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials, I just picked the pace I needed and did my workouts at or faster. But that was in 2003 and when I was running huge mileage. Because the bike has been the weakest link, Adam and I haven't been focusing on the run. I haven't been doing any track workouts, so I haven't been challenging the top end speed at all. That made the test pretty hard. I could really tell when I was reaching the speed where my body was not used to running. We'd guessed at where the LT might be, based on history and recent performances. And we pretty close! So again, room for improvement. Training the right systems and focusing the run balanced against the bike will be very important

May 1, 2010

Win This Afgan!!

 I will be giving away this hand-made, one of a kind Red, White and Blue afgan to the person who donates the most to Operation Rebound between May 1 and May 31. Now is the time to show your support for Operation Rebound and help wounded service men and women return to active, healthy lives!

Full details are on my website!
Donate online or print off a donation form and mail it in by May 31!