Friday, June 18, 2010
I decided to post this today because I realized that I'm going to be doing my big ride tomorrow and I won't have time to Spark--Lord willing, I'll be out of the house at 4:00 am, on the rode by 5:00 a.m., and back home sometime before 10:00 pm. Long day! Anyhow, here are my final words about my 150 mile training ride, a blow-by-blow analysis of my training plan.
ON THE BIKE: Last week, after the ride, I bought a set of aero bars and I was so excited about them that I actually rode for 5.2 miles the next day. I was surprised at how good I felt on the bike and thus decided to take another 10 mile recovery ride the next day. Then I took a more intense 22 miler on Tuesday, followed by two days off the bike.
However, I needed to get some time in at Anytime Fitness and thus walked for 30 minutes at 3.0 two days in a row. Combined with the fact that I did not rest well this week and it becomes obvious why I was a bit weary on the bike yesterday. Thus, I plan to take three full days off the bike now, a 22 mile training ride on Tuesday (just above the pace I hope to ride on Saturday), and then another three days off the bike. I will likely go for brief walks between now and Tuesday but I will rest completely on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
By the way, I love the new aero bars, although I can’t hold that position for long. They do create an additional position or two which are not aerodynamic at all but for which I’m grateful. Specifically, they allow me to sit straight up and take the pressure off my hands and arms without compromising control of the bike.
Finally, because it was so overcast, by which I mean the clouds were thick, I didn’t apply any sunscreen until the final 54 miles of the journey. This was no big deal but I did end up feeling a bit queasy by the end of the day and I wouldn’t have wanted to be exposed any longer. The thing that concerns me most is that the weather is calling for a bright sunny day, though not too warm, which means I will be receiving direct sunlight for 14-16 hours. Yikes!
So here’s my plan: (1) I have purchased a white cycling hat which I can put on under my helmet and I may buy a white helmet as well. This will help reflect the sun off my head and give me something to moisten if that would help. (2) I plan to stop by Dick’s Sporting Goods to see what kinds of sunscreen products they have. (3) I plan to stay out of the sun as much as possible this week. (4) I plan to stay out of the direct sun as much as possible on the day of the ride, both on and off the bike.
I am more concerned about sun exposure than any other element of this ride and thus I must take preparation for it with utter seriousness.
NUTRITION: My daily nutritional plan is going very well, probably better than any other single aspect of my training. I am actually beginning to lose weight again, which feels great, but I’m giving my body all it needs to thrive in general and succeed on the bike.
As for yesterday, here’s how things went: For breakfast I had a homemade breakfast sandwich (Thomas’ Multi-Grain Muffin, egg, slice of ham, slice of cheese: 350), a cup of milk with whey protein (220), and another cup of milk (90). Then while I was waiting for the weather to clear I had an apple (125) and a Caribou Coffee chocolate northern lite cooler (210). On the bike and during rest stops I consumed 5 bottles of Gatorade (500), 4 mini Clif Bars (400), 2 Nature Valley trail mix bars (420), 2 Archer Farms strawberry fruit bars (220), 1 Fiber One chewy bar (140), 1 large package of Jack Links peppered beef jerky (280), 1 small package of Jack Links peppered beef jerky (120), 1 homemade quesadilla (small mission flour tortillas, Sargento sliced pepper jack cheese: 190),1 hot dog (270), 1 banana (125), and 4 cups of milk (360). Finally, for recovery I had 1 cup of milk with 2 servings of whey protein (350) and a quesadilla with another cup of milk (280). That’s a grand total of 4,650 cals but I burned somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 cals!
That’s quite a deficit but I had overcompensated the day before and I never felt hungry or thirsty on or off the bike, in fact, I had to back the consumption off toward the end because I was over-hydrating a little too much.
Four more things: (1) As for caffeine intake, I had the northern lite cooler, one “energy pill” before the ride, one at the 50 mile mark, two at the 100 mile mark, and 2 more at the 125 mile mark. It worked perfectly to ingest caffeine this way and thus avoid the issues with sugar spikes so often caused by other “caffeine delivery systems.” (2) I managed my sugar intake much better this week and never felt like I had too much or too little of it. Keep paying attention to this and do exactly as you did this week. (3) I took 2 pills of Ibuprofen at the beginning of the ride and 2 more at the 96 mile mark which worked pretty well. One way or the other, I’m going to be in pain! I might want to consider going back to the Ibuprofen/Tylenol combination I used to do. (4) Toward the end of the ride I peed a lot more than usual which is a sure sign that I was over hydrating on the ride. I think I can get away with consuming 2 bottles every 2.5 hours and then drinking more at the rest stops as needed.
REST: My rest did not go so well this week. It started out well but then I had more caffeine then I should have early in the week which compounded as the week progressed. Thus, I didn’t sleep well the three nights before the ride and, though I wasn’t nearly so sleepy as I was two weeks ago, I was tired. In addition, I probably exercised a bit too much this week which left me feeling less than recovered and strong on the big day.
So my plan for this week is to go off caffeine completely, taking medication for the headaches and trusting God, and a good diet, for the energy. This will allow me to sleep better and to respond better to caffeine on the day of the ride which means I won’t have to take so much as I otherwise would. Further, I will not ride for three full days and then I will ride only 10-20 miles at just above the pace I hope to keep on Saturday. After that I will not ride, walk, or otherwise exercise for three more days and hopefully I’ll be well rested and ready to go on the big day.
MENTAL TOUGHNESS: I was very pleased with my mental game yesterday for several reasons. First, despite some significant challenges today I never gave up and, to my surprise, was able to finish the whole ride. Second, when problems arose I did not get discouraged but considered them opportunities and did my best to make the best of the situation. Third, when my energy and strength was low I found a way to continue and never once thought about giving up. Fourth, as the miles piled up and my mind got tired I remained focused and did not allow myself to lose concentration and crash, and there were indeed opportunities for that to happen: huge potholes, large pieces of metal and wood on the side of the road, and a few dead animals. If I would have hit any of these it would have ruined my ride and perhaps ended my season. So I was very pleased that I had the ability to stay focused after so many miles.
RECOVERY: I was very tired when I got home because I had expended so much energy to get there and yet I somehow found a way to recover well and I’m sure glad for that fact today! (1) I had a cup of milk with 2 servings of whey protein along with a quesadilla and another cup of milk. (2) I took a nice hot shower, rolled out my muscles with a rolling pin and massaged them all as well. (3) I laid down and allowed my body to rest and a find a way to deal with the queasiness in my stomach. Again, this process went very well which is mainly displayed by the fact that I have very little soreness in my arms or legs today. They’re tired but not so sore.
The course I chose today was harder than the Paul Bunyan Double Century will be, the conditions were challenging and not similar to what I will face on that day because it is mainly a north/south route, and I was not well rested. All to say that I’m not sure my performance today is indicative of what it will be on that day. I don’t think I should give up going for the gold and yet I do think it wise to adjust my goals.
Therefore, I have decided that 14.0 mph will be bronze, 15.0 will be silver, and 16.0 will be gold. I created a chart which details the various times implied by these average speeds and it would be good to give significant thought to it as I prepare my strategy for that day.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Finally got my computer fixed so here's part two of my ride debrief. The ride actually took place one week ago in preparation for my big 200 mile ride which is tomorrow.
At the beginning of the first loop I felt a bit tired but still fairly good and had to hold back a bit. I was gunning for a sub-6:00:00 century but I was facing an E wind for the first 9 miles and didn’t want to wear myself out before I began!
I finished that leg at 15.5 and then turned so that the wind was at my back or so I thought. As it turns out, the E wind was more of a ENE wind which turned and remained a N wind for the remainder of the day, sometimes blowing NNE and sometimes NNW. This meant that instead of getting that help on my tail for some 20 miles I had to push through a side wind for the next 30. It was not brutal, only 5-15 mph at various times throughout the day, but it was just enough to take the edge off of my ability to ride faster.
In addition, the route I took has quite a few rollers in the first 20 miles and since I was gunning for that sub-6 I went out too fast and spent too much too soon. So I just adjusted the plan and decided to set a comfortable pace which I felt I could keep and ended up finishing the first 39.2 at 16.2 mph. Respectable, I suppose, but less than I had hoped for.
I rested at home for about 15 minutes and then hit the road again and headed for Maple Lake. I was under the impression at the time that the wind was an ENE but as I said it was more of a true north and therefore I had to deal with head winds for 5 miles, side winds for 18.5 miles, and a tail wind for 5 miles. I stopped in Maple Lake for about 20 minutes and then headed back home and dealt with the exact same wind conditions so that I spent the middle 57 miles of my journey pushing through 10 miles of head winds, 37 miles of side winds, and 10 miles of tail winds. This is why I averaged only 14.6 on this leg.
I was rather tired by the time I got home and so I took a 45 minute rest stop, took my shoes off, drank some water and a couple of “energy pills,” relaxed on a comfy couch, and then headed back out for the final loop. I decided to ride north into the wind to the Saint Francis area so that I could finish up the final 27 miles with the wind at my back. Being that I was pretty tired and that I was about to face the most difficult leg of my journey, I resolved to average only 12 mph if that’s what it took to finish the whole 150 and I went into “survival mode.”
I don’t mean by this term that I felt I would not finish because I knew I would, rather, I mean that I settled into the mix of cadence and strength which I knew I could sustain for the duration. I must have said to myself 10 times or more during this final loop, “Just survive, Charlie, just relax and survive," meaning, "don't worry about pushing hard focus on finishing well."
I made it to the halfway point at an average of about 12.5 mph and I was satisfied with this because (1) I did what I had to do to survive the hardest leg of the journey and I made it and (2) I could tell that I still had in me what it was going take to finish the journey. So I hung out for a while at my fourth and final rest stop, a little cemetery off to the side of CR 8, and I just tried to enjoy the day and give my thanks to God.
I had originally planned to drop into Saint Francis but then changed my mind. However, I realized there was a flaw in that plan—I only had about 2/3 of a bottle of water and one energy bar left to make it the final 27 miles.
As I thought through this problem I remembered that I was over-hydrated just a bit and was going to have the wind at my side for 11 miles, and then at my back for 16 more. Thus, I decided to go for it and just stop at some friendly-looking house along the way if I got desperate.
Those first 11 miles went a bit faster than the way out, but not by much. I probably averaged 13.5 or 14.0 and made the turn south at a cumulative average of 14.5 mph. But not long after that the wind hit my back I got a surge of energy and just flew home. On the one hand, the wind was a great help and, on the other hand, I got more and more excited with each passing mile because I realized I was going to make it! By the time I got home I had picked up almost 0.3 of average speed which is rather amazing. When the odometer reaches such high mileages it is hard to gain or lose even 0.1 and to think that I picked up just shy of 0.3 in a space of only 16 miles, well that shows how fast I was going.
And it was such a rush because I couldn’t believe I had that much energy left at the end of the ride! I was pushing harder at the end than I was at the beginning and this too added to my mounting joy. Pretty soon I was within 10 miles and then 5 miles and then 4 and then 3 and then 2 and then 1! I came flying around the west side of Parell once more striving to come in at 10:10:59 or less and how my heart filled with joy when I read the verdict: 10:10:23 at a cumulative average of 14.7 (when I did the math I realized that I was just a hair away from hitting 14.8).
Over the next 15 minutes or so, as my adrenaline went down and the pre-meditated trauma of the day set in, I wondered if had pushed too hard at the end. But I said to myself, “Just survive, Charlie, just survive. Make your recovery meal, move slowly, take your shower, and crash.” And that’s just what I did.
As I lay in bed contemplating the day I just couldn’t believe it had all happened and I was finally home. Yesterday was undoubtedly one of the greatest cycling adventures of my life and I’m so grateful to God my Father for it!
Tomorrow I will share an analysis of the various elements of my training plan.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I began pursuing health, again, in January of 2009 and went from 242 to 213 in about one year. But then my weight loss halted and I have hovered between 213-18 for the last year and have been unable to lose more. Lately I renewed my efforts because I really want to hit 210, and then 200 or less if I can, mainly because it will help me bump up a level or two in my cycling life. Well, praise be to God, over the last few weeks I've gone from 216 to 218 to 215 to 214 to 213--and then 212.4 this morning!
I'm so excited, I just can't hide it! I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!
I really am more interested in pursuing health than weight loss and I do seek my happiness in the more important things of life. But I must admit that I really enjoyed dropping that extra pound!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
My computer is still in the hospital so I'm not able to post the rest of my debrief on my 150-mile ride. So instead I will simply report that today I took my final training ride before the big 200 mile ride. I went for a quick 22-miler and tried to ride at about the pace I hope to ride on Saturday. It went fairly well but I was a bit more uncomfortable on the bike than I hoped to be after four days off of it but I suppose that's to be expected after such a long ride.
I only had 5 weeks to prepare for the big one and I don't know if I'll make it but I do know that I've done everything I could do to prepare. So one way or the other I'm ready to let the chips fall where they may and be satisfied with my effort to this point.
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