Saturday, August 31, 2013

Stubborn As A Longhorn!!

Not my bike but I wish it was!
Props to the unknown taker of this awesome photo.
Tomorrow morning I leave for Texas.  It feels like 1000 years have passed since I left and nothing could possibly be the same.  I half expect to return to a ghost city inhabited by zombies.  I always feel this way after a long season.  My next two weeks will actually still be on the road, even if they are within Texas borders.  I'm sure they will go quickly and before I know it, I will be heading for Austin.

A lot has happened for me this summer.  I would like to say I am older and wiser.  I know I accomplished the older part but wiser?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I have not had much sleep due to insomnia for the last four days.  Yesterday, I had a long ride planned but after little sleep, workouts that were harder than intended the previous couple days and not quickly and fully refueling the day before, I was wrecked.  I took a nap, drank lots of water, ate quality food, and nothing.  I felt like death warmed over in an oven.  I emailed Brian that I wanted the day off.  He applauded my decision.  (He wrote 'golf clap' in parenthesis.)

Yeah, funny that.

But good judgement makes me uncomfortable, soooo..... I did this next:

Not to rest on the laurels of good decision making, I resumed my campaign to get permission to do the bike leg of the Austin 70.3 relay.  After such a disappointing season, I thought it would be fun.  A couple members of one of the tri clubs I am involved with were thrilled to pick up the swim and run legs.  But Coach Brain had balked at it.  And by balked, I mean shut the idea down instantly.  I began a campaign of whining through a barrage of emails that would have made any spam bot jealous until I finally wore him down and he grudgingly granted me permission to ride.  The email that finally slew the giant included this image, though I fully admit it probably applies far more directly to myself than to him.

Whose stubborn?
Ran into an old co-worker on this trip and we commented on how far we had both come.
She said "I remember you as being stubborn."
I laughed and said "well that hasn't changed!"

I am a little too tired to celebrate my victory beyond saying:

Thank you.

(Yesssss!!!!!!!  IWONIWONIWON!!)

kidding.  don't change your mind.

His response:
Poor Coach Brain.

I have to admit that while I did not find the prospect of racing 56 miles the least bit daunting, his concern makes me wonder what I am not considering.  I'm not immune to the fact that he's almost always right... about everything.  And I pushed for my way on this like a bull trying to get to grass in the next pasture.  I also know that his agreement was grudging at best and that if I can't hold it together, I am quite sure he will shut the whole plan down.  You know... I trust him and in spite of my relentless assault on his inbox, if he had stood his ground, I would have listened.  Now you can ask anyone who has known me for the length of my stay on this planet, that few people garner that level of ob.... obed....  I can't write that word so just fill in the blank.  (I hope they paramedics that I sent to my mother's house to revive her after reading this paragraph got there and she is feeling better.)

Hook 'em!
Just let me get out of the way first, mkay buddy?
Ah well, enough second guessing.  It is the LONGHORN 70.3!  Bottoms up, Coach Brain.  I'm sure you need it after putting up with me this week.

Go big BATMAN or go home!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Operation: One Week!

I asked Coach Brain what it was going to take for me to be able to go back into normal work.  He said you have to be healthy and not falling apart for ONE WEEK.  That kicked off "Operation One Week" immediately.  I handled several group rides and some faster solo workouts just fine but the one day I tried to run, my hip shut the party down almost immediately.  At the end of the week, I got clearance to do more volume with occasional bursts of intensity as dictated by the local Strava segments.
I liked the look of this but...

... since I always like to see how I stack up against the boys,
I like this one even better!!!

Still, the running is still something of an elephant in the living room.  Even though I am happy with the idea of a big period of bike focus as a way to push past the this fitness plateau, I am concerned that there are weakness or dysfunctional movement patterns that will either get worse as a result of this or at the least flare up in spite of it.

Recently, a post came up in my twitter feed that included a video of legendary running coach Alberto Salazar's strength program for his elite runners.  What struck me was how the program focused on movement that were dynamic through the planes of motion and in most cases were proprioceptively enriched.  And how much fun it looked like it would be!!  I posted the comment to Facebook that if the two personal trainer friends of mine did not see my chronically injured self embracing a routine that looked a lot like that, they had permission to kick my chronically injured butt!

I brought the video to Brain's attention and he agreed that I would benefit from such a program, especially if it could be incorporated into my normal daily activities, so he wrote this one for me.

"Saw the video. I've got the routine.
1. horse poop flinging.  Grab shovel fill 25% fling left refill fling right.  Repeat.  Change stalls.  Now fling over the stalls but make sure the adjoining stalls are occupied.
Drill 2. Zig zag drill.  Escape angry people zig zagging over to the tack area.
Drill 3. Grab saddles squat then heave saddles over head
Drill 4. Zig zag drill from angry saddle owners
Drill 5.  Find cow.  Tip over.  repeat
Drill 6.  Hop drill  find small something to hop over sideways.  A passed out midget might work.

That should get you going for the first few weeks."

Little did he know how often the horse show grooms' partying leads to ideal opportunities for Drill 6.

In other news, the group riding has been proving much more enjoyable than I initially expected.  I've been solo for so long, I had forgotten how much fun and how challenging it can be.  I am finding myself routinely pushed out of my comfort zone with things like cornering, bunny hopping (at 20+ mph over a sharp edge on a bridge!!! These people are MAD!!), and riding in the rain.  I was so proud of myself when the group ride cancelled one day due to a storm, three die-hards and one duck rolled anyhow.  We averaged 19.4 in the pouring rain and I had my heart in my mouth the whole time.  Still, I had to step up or get dropped.  I couldn't coddle myself through every corner like I had been doing since the crashes last year.  It was also my first rain ride since the wet weather crash in June of 2012.  Guess what?  I lived and I hung on.  I had grit everywhere from eating a rooster tail for 20 miles!!  It was awesome!

The ride leaders making decisions.  So happy I decided to get wet.

In all, "Operation One Week" hasn't earned me a proper schedule but it has reminded me HOW MUCH FUN it can be to ride.  I have had some wonderful rides on the road bike (Little C) both solo and in a group, and some awesome hammerfests on the TT bike (Big C).  I am enjoying having both these days as they widen the spectrum of my experiences tremendously.  It also earned me clearance to spend a lot more time on the bike and I get to walk one of those hills multiple times a day in preparation for running.  After all, in Brain's words "Grasshopper must walk before she can run."  (Yes, he called me grasshopper.  Grasshoppers are much more agile than ducks so clearly he has been mislead.)

The local terrain has thrown a few surprises my way.  The road bike has proven that it is more than up to the task of navigating these little bumps whether they are in the middle of the road or on the back of a beast.
Little C hanging with the locals!
More than one type of hump on this ride!

And Big C has been totally content letting me able about on Little C, provided that I understand my job when I do take the big horse out of the barn!!

Big C lounging about and waiting for his turn.
Don't bring the big horse out of the barn unless you intend to live up to it...
By that I mean "hammer like a fool!"

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Little Gratitude.

I have a lot of friends who raced in the USAT Age Group National Championships today.  As much as I wanted to be there, as the reports started rolling in I realized that I would have been in for a very bad day.  The issues I am currently dealing with would have left me compromised in the swim start, which has been described as a melee, and there is a good chance that the experience would have mad CapTex look like a walk in the park.

I cannot thank my coach enough for having the guts to tell me not to race.

Sometimes as professionals, it can be tough for coaches to make calls like that.  Clients, especially adult amateurs, can often have the attitude that if you won't tell me what I want to hear, someone else will.  For coaches (and riding instructors and all other people in positions like these), leveling the truth at someone can often result in a loss of business/income.  It puts these professionals in the position of having to choose between compromising their principles and compromising their income.  Nobody wants to make that call.

Brian took the high road and I am grateful that he did.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Screw Lemonade, Brew Beer.

"Your Virtual Goody Bag Is Ready"

That is what the email said.

It's race week for everyone racing USAT Nationals.  I was so excited about this race.  Not because I felt like I was SOOO awesome for getting there but because I had set the goal and truly thought that I was going to achieve it.  I was looking forward to being a part of the action (as opposed to reading about it), meeting people, being in the atmosphere that only comes with Championship events.  That was not meant to be.

I'm not gonna lie.  I have been fairly upset about it.  It's less this specific race and more just not understanding why I can't seem to put it all together.  The pieces are all there, laid out in front of me, but when the going gets tough... I shatter like glass.  I don't have an answer and there may not be one.  It may simply be that I am not ready.

Up until now, I have been trying to make lemonade from all these lemons... SCREW IT... I'm brewing beer.

My asthma started working on shutting down that party back in May and by July had pretty much accomplished the goal.  During all of that, a low grade issue with my hip had more or less flown under the radar.  It's hard to worry about a niggle when you can't breathe.  As the breathing got better, it became apparent that there was something wrong.  With no races on the schedule and being in "off season" mode, I simply shut it down.  My last run was last Tuesday and my last ride was last Wednesday.  I haven't done a thing since.

My other race machine!

Well, not exactly nothing.  I had another conference call with my coach discussing the developments and making some changes in our approach to training and racing, with the hopes of finally pushing over this fitness plateau that I can't seem to breach uninjured.  I paid a visit to a really talented chiropractor and ART guy.  I have taken an average of two naps per day.  I have replaced some of my coffee with tea.  I picked up a different band set (without handles and with softer bands) and a yoga mat, and started a program of simple PT exercises.  I rode my 1978 Schwinn Breeze around the campground a bunch of times JUST because it was fun... then stopped when I started thinking about my lines through the corners because, really, that thing is just not mass start legal and the campground is NOT a crit course.

So tired from all this resting!!

What I haven't done?  Train through pain.  I haven't made it worse.  That is progress.  Now I am hoping that I can turn this around with minimal setback.  In the grand scheme of things, if I miss a few days, a few weeks, even a month... I will bounce back from that fairly quickly.  If this spirals down into a repeat of previous years, I will be out for half a season, gain ten pounds, then spend the first four months of training crawling out of a hole.  Since the most likely culprit in all of this is the inconsistency that has developed from being chronically injured, it seems like the best solution is to try to promote healing as quickly as possible... and sometimes that means doing a whole lot of NOTHING.  And drinking a beer.  Or two.

When I start training again, I am going to be changing my tactics.. a lot.  Coach Brain is on board with the idea and I am kind of looking forward to the possibilities.  I am not looking forward to the stupid socks.

More to come...

...AFTER another nap!