Halfway

Halfway through the year and halfway through the Transcendence Series . Back in February when I was getting organized for Stories, this poin...

Jan 28, 2012

Dangling off the back

When I woke up this morning and saw the balmy temp of 13 degrees on the thermometer, I was not looking forward to the scheduled group road ride. Nick was going mountain biking and I really wanted to join him.
But it was the road ride on my training schedule, so to the road ride I went. It only warmed up to about 23 by the time I left, and the sun was still hiding behind the clouds. I bundled up - wool socks, toe warmers, neoprene booties, winter gloves and my Gore jacket. If I was gonna suffer on the road, I didn't want to be freezing. The group assembled at Starbucks was small, but there were some speedy riders. I knew I was in for another fun time of trying to keep with the group when Kaylan showed up with his fancy new road bike. If I was struggling when he was riding a cross bike - uh oh! Some of the other normal faces weren't there, either taking a break or waiting until the temperature rose a little in the afternoon.

We rolled out at a more reasonable pace then my last group ride, but it wasn't slow at all. I was solidly in the middle of the pack, watching wheels and trying to stay out of the wind. As we rode over Powers, the pace increased a little - prep for the big acceleration on Mark Sheffel, I figured. My hands were getting pretty warm and getting my bottles out with the heavy gloves was tricky, so I took a few seconds to swap out to my lighter weight gloves. Fell off the back while doing that and was really concerned because the right turn was getting close. I was working pretty hard and got onto the back of the train just as they made that right turn. Then... Nothing, the pack closed down. No one wanted to go to the front and fight the wind it seemed. A few of the So-Co Velo riders (Brent especially) got pretty annoyed that there wasn't any action and said something to the group. That did it and off they went. I did a better job of reading wheels and staying out of the wind this time - took a few really short pulls, but did my best to just stay in the middle of the pack. I almost made it to the hill on Link Rd, so I was pretty happy about that. Down the back of the hill and I settled in for another long time trial and trying to limit the losses.

Once again, the pace stayed pretty high even after the turn around at the race track. I almost stayed with the group into Fountain, but someone decided to attack on a small hill. Despite a desperate sprint to try to get on the wheels, I watched the pack ride away. Took a few seconds to recover and catch my breath, then started reeling in the other dropped riders. Luckily, it wasn't too far until the refueling stop at the gas station. Another casual roll out from the gas station, then another noticeable elevation of the pace. Again, I was holding wheels, but starting to loose some ground. I got a couple of pushes from Brent - sprinted for all I was worth, but was in the second group entering Ft Carson. It was a quick pace, but without attacks through Ft Carson, then time for the ride home. I took a short cut through the neighborhood, rejoined the small group heading for Cheyenne Mtn Zoo and did my best to stay with them until the Zoo. All in all, another hard, long day in the saddle - hopefully all the solo time trialing and attempts to stay in the pack will pay off later!

Jan 27, 2012

A trip around Lake Minnequa

One of the best things about working down in Pueblo (besides the easy access to great trails at Lake Pueblo) is the proximity of Lake Minnequa. Half a mile from my building is a nice, mostly flat gravel path around the lake. It's a great place for doing running workouts. I can also take advantage of the normally warmer and drier weather - sunny, no ice and quiet trails. There usually are a few people out and about, walking dogs ect. But mostly quiet so it's good for getting up to speed and working hard.

Well, yesterday was a little different. Instead of the normal assortment of joggers, dog walkers and so, I was confronted with a new partner. Horses. Yes, there is the Norris-Penrose center right near my normal running area, but I rarely see them out on the trails. I see evidence of horses, but rarely the horses. Well, not only did I see the fresh evidence of horses yesterday, I saw four horses on the trail around Lake Minnequa. One rider was out for a cantor - he was the nicest horse rider I've met in a while. Two were out training younger horses - I was happy I wasn't on my bike. They were skittish, skittish. I was a little nervous even running past them. And the last one was just strolling around the lakeshore, enjoying the Pueblo sunset. Seeing that many horses on a fairly "in town" path was kinda odd. There is a stable right next to the lake, but... More adventures from Lake Minnequa coming soon!

Jan 26, 2012

Seasons change

After pondering where my focus would be for the season, I finally made a decision and will be returning to my roots as an endurance athlete. Kinda, sorta. I came to Xterra as a road triathlete and marathon maniac. I thought nothing of racing a half iron one weekend and a marathon the next weekend. There was something attractive about the mental challenge and need for strategy in the longer events. When I met Nick, I fell in love with mountain biking and the fun of getting dirty. But I wanted to stay a triathlete. So I turned my focus towards Xterras, hoping I could overcome my lack of fast twitch and turn the endurance from my many marathons into speed. For three years, I've chased the points in the Xterra Championship series. It's been fun, seeing new trails and meeting new people. But it's also been frustrating. I've seen old faces stay the same distance in front of me and new faces quickly climb the rankings. And starting this season, I found myself not even wanting to travel to the events. And without motivation to get to the race it's hard to want to race.

So it's time for a change. And while I'm not planning on running many more marathons, it's back to the endurance world. Ultra endurance mountain biking. I've done a few longer races and loved them. And the 24 hour races require so much more then just fitness. So that's the plan. I will be racing the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series this year, stepping up to the challenge of my first 100 mile mountain bike ra e. I'm also adding in a few more 24 hour races with Nick - focusing on getting the strategy dialed for our team. Never fear, there are still a few Xterras on the schedule. But more for fun and getting my love of the race back.

Jan 19, 2012

Indecision

I though I knew what I wanted to do and where I was headed. After spending hours pondering, scribbling lists and making plans, evaluating all the choices and events crowding the year, I was pretty sure I'd settled on my goal. Now, not so sure again. I've looked over my notes and budget stuff for the season and find myself questioning again. Right now, the entire year is open - I'm not committed to anything but a few fun events. Emphasis on the word fun. I'm not making my living racing - my day job still pays the bills. So it's a lifestyle, albet at a fairly high level, but still a lifestyle. So what kind of lifestyle am I looking for? Race fun or chase points? Good courses and challenging events or wide open fitness courses? Low stress, but still all out hard or high drama and stressful. Looking at it like that, should be an easy choice. And that's why I'm still questioning.

Jan 15, 2012

Solo suffering on skinny tires

After last Saturday's group ride, I was hoping to be a little smarter and stay with the group a little longer. I was pretty tired from the previous workouts, but felt like the tips I'd gotten from Adam, Renee and Dug would make up for the fatigue. Stay out of the wind and don't burn any matches though taking long, suicidal pulls at the front. Then the group started assembling and my heart sank. There were some fast riders pulling up for the trek down through Fountain for Saturday Morning Worlds. On the rollout through town, there was no easy pace to warm up. The pack was riding over 20mph before we even rode over Powers Blvd. Yikes!!

After the right turn on Mark Sheffel, things got crazy. I was ready for it, in the front and on the right wheels. And that's about as far as it got. The pace was high and attacks fierce. I was on the train and tried to just pull through like Renee told me. The minute I hit the wind I was stumped. There wasn't any way I could get over - I couldn't even maintain the pace. That happened a few times - for which I must apologize to the group. I was riding on my limit and it wasn't enough to stay with the pace. I was also a little squirrely since I was tired. Not a good combo with that pace. When Adam attacked, I was done. I couldn't get on the wheels streaming by. Off the back I went, well before the turn on Link. And this time I didn't have anyone with me. Time for a solo effort until the group turned around. I did my best, chasing hard but I didn't make up any ground at all.

I would be dropped twice more on the ride. After the turnaround I jumped back on wheels. Normally the pace slows down a little on the way back through Fountain. Not this time - they were still pushing and I was unable to keep on my chosen wheel. At the regroup and refuel stop I got a chance to catch my breath. Things eased up a bit up to and mostly through Ft Carson, then someone attacked on a small hill. And that was it. I was done. I watched the group ride away and then made my way home. I did see a few riders as the pack distigrates when people split for home, but that was it. One of the hardest rides I've done yet. I was perfectly happy to hold the floor down and watch the Marathon Trials when I got home!

Jan 7, 2012

Back on the train

Another fun Saturday Acacia park road ride is in the books. Despite some darn chilly temps in the morning, the sunny skies and threat of snow swelled the crowd. It didn't seem like that big of a group when we rolled out of Starbucks, but riders kept appearing out of nowhere. The pace on the rollout along Boulder and Plate was pretty chill today - and I was a little more comfortable in the group. That set me up nicely for the first acceleration. I knew it was coming and was ready this time. With a good position in the group and better awareness of tactics, I was able to mix it up a little on the front. Wasn't easy, but I was taking pulls, watching wheels and closing some gaps. I did get a little push once when I wasn't as quick z I needed to be jumping on wheels. I have to admit, I still have a lot to learn when it comes to road biking and large groups. I was sticking with the group, but had my nose in the wind a lot. More then I should have, given the composition at the front.

A momment of bravado just before the left onto Link Rd spat me out the back pretty easily. I knew it when I took off after Jayson that I was gonna pay, but didn't think it though that much. I rode up and over the hill on my own - got to watch the group splinter kn the hill although at a distance. Then started the business on chasing. No way I was gonna catch them, but I wanted to limit my losses. One of the other women in the group, Coach Renee, waited for me and we rode together till the group came back. It was nice, we caught and passed four guys in the road. One tried to pull with us but did a lot of wheel sucking.

Once the group was together again, it was time for some coaching. Coach Adam was in the group and gave me plenty of advice on pulling, positioning and technique. Renee also had some good advice, and she's a badass on the road. As she put it "If you're the only girl pulling in a group like this, that's not a good think. Pick moments and stay out of the wind. Don't waste energy chasing, let the boys do the work!" Yep. I'll remember that! The manual repositioning on the road also help reinforce the message. Dug J with Bandwagon racing also gave some good pointers. He was really helpful in the last group ride and I've remembered a lot of what he said. Hopefully I'll hang with group longer next well!

Jan 6, 2012

Working on the 2012 Schedule

I've started planning my race schedule for this year and think I have a good start. I was torn between Xterra and some ultra endurance mountain bike races at the end of the season, but decided to stay with my Tri roots for at least another year or two. After the start I had for last year, it seems silly to not keep working on the Xterras. That and it's a fun group and there are some new races that sound really cool. The full Championship schedule has not been released from Xterra yet, so there might be some additions there. But I'm pretty sure that's all I will be able to afford to race! In terms of local Xterra, two new events - Curt Gowdy and Pueblo both sound awesome. And of course, I have always enjoyed Lory, so I'm not gonna miss that one.

In the mountain biking, I am planning on staying close to home. The Rocky Mountain Endurance Series is my goal. I will miss a few of the events, but will race the marathon length races at the ones on my schedule. I have done a few long distance mountain bike races, so I think these will be fun but a food challenge. There is one more 24 hour race then last year - Enchanted Forest. We've heard some really good things about the venue, organization and course. Missed it last year, so making sure to take that trek this June. Then at the end of the year, maybe a few laps around Palmer Park at 24 Hours of COS.

Whew! It a busy looking year! Time to buckle down, drag my butt outta bed and put in the hours. Staying healthy is the key to getting the training for a successful season.

Jan 4, 2012

Chocolate (Desert?) Pancakes

These pancakes are perfect for a chocolate fix in the morning or a simple and fancy desert. All that changes is the size of the pancake!

Mix:
   1 1/4 cup flour (I'm using Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Flour)
   1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
   heaping 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (if making gluten free)
   1/4 cup sugar
Add and stir until combined:
   2 eggs, beaten
   1 1/4 milk (for more chocolate flavor, use chocolate milk for all or part of the milk)
   1/2 tsp vanilla
   2 tbsp melted butter

Possible additions:
   1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
   1/2 cup chocolate chips
   1 cup blueberries

If cooking for breakfast, use 1/2 cup per pancake. If cooking for desert, use 1/4 cup. Cook on hot skillet until bubbles form on top, then flip and cook for another 2 minutes.

For breakfast, serve with vanilla yogurt, fresh fruit, fruit preserves or dust with powdered sugar.
For dessert, serve with whipped cream or ice cream, chocolate sauce or fresh fruit.

I made a batch for breakfast with chocolate chips and strawberries mixed in and ate them with just a dusting of powdered sugar. Really yummy and even healthy thanks to the strawberries. I don't think using maple syrup would be good, given the sweetness of the chocolate chips.