Entries in Za Plan (42)
Heavy weekend, sportsfans. The work had to be put in and the doctor prescribed the pain pill for sure. I needed to get my large carcass to threshold for these two days putting in roughly 6 hours of super specific training.
Saturday I woke up and was as sluggish as our cat. I kept thinking how am i gonna do this? I pulled up my panties and rolled. The plan was Carter but very specific. Leverage the rollers the entire way there, and back to hit threshold intervals at certain periods. 5-600w hold....375 hold....finish strong. By the 10th set, I couldn't have even spelled my name if asked. Cross-eyed. It felt good to try and hit and hold on the ceiling. I am definitely behind over last year but whatever. I get to ride, right? I quote Private Joker in Full Metal Jacket: The dead only know one thing: it is better to be alive.
I finished and limped it home, wasted but smiling. Life is great. I love putting the work in. Because I can.
Today was more of the threshold. It involved hurling said large carcass up Flag again on the fat tire bike to do some stuff at the Ranch. The legs were screaming from yesterday so the mission was to be 'complete'. In other words, focus on maintaining composure on the bike rather than let the suffering demons distract you and the next thing you know you are all hunched over the machine slobbering. It's an interesting game to play with yourself when you are blowing yourself out. Just focus on spinning nice circles, back in the right position, and you will see the watts creep back up. All in all, I felt decent and so begins the creep forward. I supposed I'm going to have to throw a number on one of these days when I can find the motivation.
No planes this week so I am smiling from the depths of my soul. Birthdays coming up for the boys so the energy is high to say the least. "Can we open the presents now? How about now? OK, now?. It's the equivalent of "Are we there yet?" After the ride we took the kids up Betasso on a hike. Cool to hike it in slow mo rather than bomb it on the fat tires. I ended up carrying little man back the whole way. Awesome. The legs about seized after this AM and yesterday.
It's good to be home....
Work has been all consuming as we acquired a fairly large company and have been knee deep in integrating. The good news is that the new crew and offices are in some of my old stomping grounds in Scotts Valley, CA, a stones throw from Santa Cruz. The even better news is that there are some core bikers in the new crew and I'm getting dialed into lunchtime ride action, etc. Got to get a bike out there....
I dialed in some trail runs in the early morning hours amongst the redwoods. This picture says it all. The trail then dwindled down into sweet single track, famous in the area. The running has been going on but I applied myself these few days and flew which was cool. I felt light.
But STILL, this year will be different. It already feels different. Darren gone and my father having had a scare combined with the increased level of intensity at work and i feel lost again. Lost in the sense that i have no ability to focus and it's incredibly hard to put the cross hairs on anything meaningful these days and believe in it. The family has been my sanctuary and I'm blessed for that. I've got to dig a bit deeper and try and keep my hands on the control stick as this gets squirly. T's in my camp and he knows me by now and can help me traverse the nastiness as I continue to try and stay fit, but ultimately it is up to me. What I want and what is important.
I'm going to go into channel zero mode on my ride today. See what comes about and see i I can focus mysely on this ride and understand a bit what the engine has left in it.
The real loads started this week. New batteries in the Drop-o-Meter. New chain on the roadie. I have been keeping fit and drilling it without any structure but the focus on the lens has been twisted quite a bit this week, back to za plan and all things 'light'.
We're freaks. What can I say? I'm leaving my hotel this AM for a run to push on with za plan and as I am returning, some dude hauling boxes out of a truck to deliver to the hotel says: "What's wrong wit'cho legs, boy?"
When he says this, I am like that little boy with an array of mean kids standing in a circle around me all pointing to a pee stain on my Tough Skins. He continues on..."Wit doze lines, you see doze lines?" I' thinking to myself, "WTF old dude? They're tan lines...and quit looking at my legs" and then it clicks. We've got some weird body things going on as cyclists. As I ran up to the hotel, I was likely a shock to him as his words were to me. Cyclists are like T-Rex's with an even worse color scheme. Skinny arms and atrophied chests with freakishly huge legs. And add to this these fairly ridiculous tan lines and it's a friggin cartoon. Going to Mexico in March with the fam, I felt like that embarrassed little boy above. I go out to the pool and there are like euro studs with banana hammocks rocking full up Bain de Soleil tans (OK, there were plenty of rotund euro dudes too with said banana hammocks that made me laugh). Here comes the American dad! I saunter out to the pool with my t-shirt kept on with my baseball hat on low and towel around my legs.
Taking a step back, I guess it's all a matter of pride. We put the work in and change our bodies fairly dramatically and likely have permanently damage our skin with the 100's of hours we live out doors and 1000's of miles we turn the cranks. I guess I'll accept it...
It hath begun. The whittle-down-rides are beginning and these are the rides designed to make a man feel like a chump until you start turning the corner and see your progress. Rides that break you into little pieces like the decomposing granite of the large mountains seen strewn around on these rides. But it's a total dichotomy:
On one hand you are suffering miserably. On the other hand you say to yourself (if you get a chance to remember to pull your head up from starting at your handlebars): Holy crap this is beautiful.
One such ride here in the Republic is Super Walker. OK, first a little background:
Most of the hill climbs here in Boulder have basically two finish points for people: One is mid way up the mountain....where 'mid way' is often what people THINK is the top. The other is the REAL summit of said ride. Anything that puts the rider on or over the real summit is designated as 'super'. Super James (Jamestown...continuing on past Jamestown and up the face well past the pavement ending), Super Flag (Flagstaff past the amphitheater to the mailboxes) and of course Super Walker (a Super Flag + the Walker Ranch loop(s) on your MTB.
So I railed Super Walker yesterday. I did it last weekend too but I wanted to dig deeper into Za Plan and start reversing the demons. I forgot what setting a tempo up Flag is like. Ridiculous. 7 minute or so delta from what I was railing last year (OK...I was on an MTB yesterday as well). If you do this ride, you'll hit 'the wall' near what you think is the top of Flag. When you have that little stream of vomit coming out of the side of your mouth, smile and think of me as I'll be laughing at you inside our head. It's awesome.
Anyways, back to the dichotomy: You're climbing this beast and the beauty is spectacular. Near the top, have a look see at Cathedral Park (and stop to have a look if you have the time). An entire set of 14'ers is your view and literally takes your breath away (OK, maybe the 7000+ feet does a little as well).
So, this is a typical training ride for us locals. No cars needed. I ride from my house which ended up being about 30 miles and 5K of climbing (different than what you will see in the map my ride link above). More of the same today to start loading it up. Yum. Or ouch. It's a dichotomy.
I just got through reading local boy Jason Sumner's latest update on VeloNews about his exploits as a worker-bee and bike racer. He's got a multi-part series dedicated to how getting a coach and working on his personal performance while having a job can all work out. Sound familiar? I'll have to pick his brain when we hook up.
His coach, Neal Henderson is an old friend and former RockyMount'r and in the article says some prolific things regarding obsessing. Trust me, I am the uber-candidate for obsessing. To be frank, I am called 'One Speed' by family and close friends. Not because I ride a single speed, but due to the fact I do everything at one speed: fast and frenetic. It's only as of late when the very first grey hairs started popping out of my head that I suddenly realized that chilling a bit actually allows for a better overall 'experience' on all 3 parts of my precarious teeter totter.
Before being coached properly, I would ride virtually every ride full gas. EVERY ride. More more more!! I wasn't thinking slow may = quality because my identification with training was throwing down with friends until we made our ears bleed and we were shelled. Then, of course, when I'd try and race, i'd get demolished and get psychotic and pissed. I'd be the surly monster in the house and 'that grumpy guy' at work. ALL of which is NOT me! I am still the boy who is the human equivalent of a Labrador Retriever who's fat tail is always wagging. Right? (say: Right, Greg)
So a change of focus on MANY areas of my life has significantly helped me. First getting coached...and by a real coach who appreciates my psyche, my real condition...my world. More specifically, one who isn't obsessing in parallel with my obsessions such as solely focusing on my wattage, heart rate, body weight and and caloric data each week. I love the fact that the first things we discuss when we get together to talk about my training week is to understand how I am sleeping and what my external stress is like. When THAT is discussed first...and often occupies the core of the conversation...it proves that the understanding of my situation when trying to be at the top of my game is clear and deeply factored in. I feared that getting a coach would be paramount to being put on some boiler-plate plan, when the plan was likely modeled after a successful (likely pro) athlete who does NOT have the life condition I have or most 37 year old daddy/husband/worker bees. My plan is constantly tweaked and course-corrected week after week while keeping the goals I have in mind and in focus....and on target.
Second, stepping back and embracing my Type A-ness helped. Again, my WHOLE life from being a 6 year old kid who would go from hockey to soccer to baseball practice in one day (and LOVING it) has seemingly not changed in 30 years. So, realizing I can chill, that my 'racing' side of the teeter totter doesn't mean I need to be at the pointy end of the pro ride here in town (and being n Boulder is ridiculous by the way when the pro ride is essentially Toyota United, Health Next etc...). I needed to get real! Also, realizing that going for a ride...I mean a ride where my heart is not in my throat and am cross eyed is amazing and utterly needed. Seeing the trees on my 29'er or single speed...and by intent not affixing a power meter or wearing a heart rate device on my MTB rides was a saving grace. I preserve my MTB-ing for assurance of grins. I also injected running into the frey. I HATE running. But now I...holy crap...I LIKE running. Yikes. I said it. It changes things up tremendously for me vis-a-vis my workouts and the muscles used to stay fit.
Third, I'd say that communication has played a HUGE part in the over-all chillness. What I specifically mean here is that I never in the past communicated or would think to give advanced notice to my wife about my plans, my goals...even what kinds of rides I would be doing in the upcoming week. Example: the LAST thing a young mother who also wants to work out, have some alone time, etc wants to hear from me on Saturday morning: "Oh, yeah, um honey, I was going to do this 6 hour training ride today. Um, can you like have the kids again all day?" Being a shit head and not being sensitive to anyone outside of ME was a continual recipe for disaster and definitely wrecked what could have been some fun weekends. Bike racing is utterly one dimensional. You have to have total focus and unfortunately it is very selfish. Getting real about who I am is extremely important to my success. So, my wife and I TALK. She knows EXACTLY what I have planned for the week, and I know her desires, and there are NO surprises. We balance out our personal time and create and communicate the need for windows where we do our 'work outs' and ensure we have full on kid/together time. HUGE positive impact for all of us.
Fourth, I'd say that getting some help for my aging body has helped IMMENSELY! Working with Dr. Dave and spending some time on some ailing bones and muscles is helping hugely. I wish I hadn't waited! It has helped immeasurably so replacing a workout session with some chiropractic and massage TLC is so core and key, I can't recommend it enough.
Lastly, life is short. And while I like to play hard, being 'present' for my family and my wife and not a surly obsessive weenie is what is going to ensure the cement at our core is unbreakable and will carry us through until we are crusty blue-hairs in a retirement home together being spoon fed applesauce by a nurse. The winner of the 'race' is who is truly happiest at the end with no regrets.
My Type A is getting the best of me. I do not have the patience....hmmm, no, maybe a better word is confidence....to just allow myself to 'ride'. What the F is wrong with me??? I don't need to be going full gas now! Just flow! I guarantee that this rest and lack of structure at the moment will do me great justice and likely push out some fitness later in the season where I need it. Za Plan is going to be re-instantiated once again. I get fit pretty quickly but as these years tick on, man, I need to keep the fires turned over much much longer to maintain it. So while I wait until I hit the fitness reset button, I feel like I am crawling into a hole that I am not going to be able to train out of (in time). Somewhere between getting faster and fitter these past few years turned me into a doubtful 14 year old girl. I think I am having an identity crisis because I do not look as fit as Andy Schleck 365 days a year. And I say this (as an Abby Ale passes my lips) in the same way the 14 year old girl shoving Bon-Bon's in her pie hole stares at the People Teen Edition and can't identify with Brittany Spears. OK, crappy example given she's come undone but you get my point.
The warmth is coming. The fitness will grow. Goals are way far away. I think I need more Vitaman D in my brain. Fruita will solve that. Soon.
I'm lucky. I mean, REALLY lucky. I count my blessings every day. Beautiful family, thankfully good health. Trust me, I know the blessings when they are in front of me.
Another huge blessing is being able to be competitive in the sport I love and I race with some of the best guys in the country, weekend in and weekend out. But to do this, takes a lot of sacrifice and dedication. So, of course when the time comes each year, I get on it and watch the diet, train in the wee early morning hours to ensure the balance with fam and work, etc.
But this element, called "work" often injects some fairly sophisticated barriers to surmount (puns semi-intended) in order to be as on top of my game as I can. Heavy stress, people management, business growth, and of course 100K mileage years on United are all part of the drill managing a world wide product management organization and product portfolio.
On the travel tip, I get to see some crazy places around the globe and meet super passionate software geeks like me. But then I get exposed to things like the following IM I had this AM with my lab director in Romania. Put this into context on how I need to try and keep some fitness while on the road...especially in the late summer as I am trying to ramp it up (lots to do with keeping my mind sane, less the body at this time of year):
So many obstacles. So little time. So next time you see me out there smile and it will surely mean the dogs didn't get me.
8 feet in Tahoe. Holy crap. All that powder and none of mi compodres will be make it up the 80 or 50 to even enjoy it. A million people without power. D'oh!
I say this because THIS is the exact tip of that storm coming in over the Flat Irons:I got out today on one of my final prep rides to get some openers in. I am trying out that Freddy's XTra as well. Holy crap. As I type this my legs are on fire. Swung by the Boulder Res and got in some hot laps on the sand, to get all Mol'd and what not. Felt super good and powered through. I feel like I did in September. I got in just enough to open and feel confident that the fire is still burning and get that taste again of butt-in-seat power to drive through deep sand lap after lap.
On the way back, I got all Kerkove-style with the camera.
Impersonation 2. Could be a Sager though.
Mmmm. Indoor training.
Honestly 'cross fans, after yesterday's sufferfest on the Poorest man, I could not envision getting all my crap on again to brave the sub arctic temps raging here at the moment. Although the day ended up getting 'balmy' to about 34 degrees, I needed to focus today on the workout how the body is feeling....and not the weather surrounding me. I've got enough of that and will have even more in the Motherland in January. And so, I finished my 2nd to last block indoors....at Rally Sport. Home to the fittest soccer moms in the country and less-than 4% body fat tri-psychos....who honestly scare the living bejesus out of me. Today required a deep simulation of a course I would normally do on the road....e.g. a Fruit Loops of the indoors. What I needed was deep sustained power with peppered with high thresholds and tempo mixed in to bridge a flat land speed work out with that of being mired in the mud....or sand. When going through the shark's-teeth like profile I created for myself today, I was envisioning the sandy beach on Mol and what I think it's gonna take to get through it, lap after lap. In my best PowerPoint, this is how I would break down what was going on:
About minute 60 I am certifiably cross eyed. I start thinking of the past 365 days this year. I start thinking that I am so blessed to do this...but will in all sincerity not see this level of focus for a long time to come. I'm not 'PRO'. I can;t believe what people who call cycling their jobs have to do day in and out...and I've mapped something like this, this year...of course beau coups % points below the average PRO requires. The family and most things in my eco-system just will not sustain it again next year. But for now...game on. I think of how happy I am with having been able to pick a point in the distance....put an indelible 'X' on it and not waver from it. That X is Belgium for me, and nothing has been able to blow it up. Nothing could have. What I thought of in that 60th minute today is how I long for my boys to do something like this when they come of age. I could give a crap if they did it on a bike, in a pair of hiking shoes, with a paintbrush and easel...whatever. It's about the journey not the destination....and frankly the destination is sort of irrelevant. It's the journey showing you, you CAN do something if you are committed. I said as much to my wife today as she caught in a moment of hallucination at Rally.
What are you going to do next year, folks? Go to Belgium? Get more proactive about calling your mom and dad? Get involved with your kids school more? Try and upgrade from your current category? Eat better? Laugh more? Work less?
Live more creatively.
Live with blood in your veins, not vinegar.
God, the journey. Sick. Write it down/pin it up/look at it every day. It'll happen.
Seriously, what's yours going to be?
Have fun 'cross fans.