Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cadillac in a Cow Field, and Other Points of Origin

Today's route took me past several miles of pasture.  The pasture is never crowded and stinky, but nicely populated with horses and cows.  I enjoy riding by and watching them.  Today there was no livestock, but there was an 80's Cadillac parked in the middle of the field, trunk popped open.  A cowboy, the real kind, dirty and hard working, was carrying huge rolls of irrigation tubing from the field to the car.  The unexpected is often what I find funny!

Then I thought of this man's devotion to his job.  Obviously his truck was out of commission for the day.  Now things weren't going to go as planned, and I'm sure his day will be greatly lengthened by using the Cadillac instead of the truck.  Isn't that what successful athletes do, those of us who have to work?  We find a way to squeeze in a workout so we can meet, or have a chance to meet, our goals. 

I'm new to endurance sports and only recently have I really begun to understand some of the physiological aspects of training that I've been reading about for almost a year.  See, I can ride as far as the day is long, provided I change my pace to match my time goal.  But my biggest goal for 2012 is to finish The Tour of the Tucson Mountains in under three hours.  So I am adding some restrictions to my long rides.  Provided it's not a particularly hilly ride, I want to average at least 18.5 mph on my long rides. 

To meet my goal on race day, I'll have to average just under 23 mph.  So over the next four months I'll be gradually increasing my LSR pace to 20 mph and increasing the distance to just over 100 miles.  Then, with the race day rush, pace lines and all of the resting and fueling that precedes the big day, I think I'll have a legitimate shot.

Now I've done this type of pace over shorter distances, 20 to 25 miles or so, but today's ride was 50.  I had no idea if I'd be able to pull it off.  To add some jeopardy to the situation, my last workout was, physically, a disaster!  I ran just 9 instead of 11 miles, and did so well over a minute slower than was called for.  However, that's the type of experience that I will find strength in on a race where I start too fast or just have to battle the whole race. 

And this week was huge for me.  I learned a lot about nutrition, both theoretically and empirically, did my first real brick workout and was emotionally tested.  To sweeten the pot, this was the first week in which I attempted a long run and a long ride. 

The ride was a huge success.  Now, the conditions were favorable due to a very slight breeze blowing south (which is the uphill-direction), and cool temperatures.  In addition, I tried a new fuel method as was suggested in Racing Weight.  It involved consuming some protein during the workout.  The idea is that one of the biggest things to overcome is actually the muscle damage caused during the workout.  So in place of my second planned CliffShot, I ate a ZonePerfect bar (my in-laws bought me two cases of them for Christmas).  Note that the book talked about Accelerade, but either way, protein and carbohydrate is the key. 

The pay off was huge.  The last two miles are always the toughest as I have to climb about 250 feet in elevation after riding for over two hours.  The same goes for running, I always end with this climb.  Normally, at the end of a long ride I'm beat and push to maintain about 13 mph.  Today I stuck pretty close to my 18.5 mph average!

This week I compiled a distance of just 112 miles (not a lot of riding miles), but they were tough.  As I mentioned, I did my first true brick workout, and almost puked at the gym from a circuit training workout. 

A point of origin is where something begins, its genesis.  I feel this week will be a point of origin for me in 2012.  I have some lofty goals that have been a bit daunting lately, in my mind.  They've weighed on me.  But after this very tough week, I'm feeling I have an emotional foundation from which I can face the training challenges ahead with confidence.   

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