Archive for March, 2008|Monthly archive page

Race report

Not only did I finish the race today, but I got 10th place! I’m not sure how many people started the race, but it was something like 20-25. My result isn’t that impressive when you consider that I finished in the middle, pretty much, but when you remember that in my last race I made it only half way before getting dropped, it sounds much better.

The day was about as cold as my last race (which was four weeks ago), but it was much less windy, and that made for a much nicer ride. The race started off pretty fast, in exactly the same manner as the last one did, with a fairly smooth pace until the bottom of the hill when a couple women attacked and we all had to haul ourselves up the hill as fast as we could. Those two women stayed at the front of the pack and pushed the pace whenever they felt like it, and before too many laps went by, they had broken away from the main pack. We chased after them for a while, but eventually they got far enough ahead of us and the pack gave up. After that, it was a race for third place.

I was only vaguely aware that there were two people off the front, though; I was spending every moment concentrating on making sure I got up the hill each and every time without getting dropped. Two things helped me out; one is that we had a prime lap early on, before I got tired. In the last race they rang the bell for the prime a little over half way through when I’d begun to wear out, and when the pack took off, I couldn’t keep up. This time I wasn’t as tired, and the pack didn’t speed up quite as much, so I had no trouble hanging on. The other thing that helped was that once the pack gave up chasing those two women off the front, it slowed down and I had a chance to rest. A couple times I looked down at my heart rate monitor and saw that my heart rate was 155, which is low for a race.

So I found myself in the middle of the finishing sprint, which has only happened a few times in my race experience. I didn’t really know what to do. There are strategies to follow, such as positioning yourself in just the right place to get the best angle heading up the hill to the finish line, or starting your sprint at just the right place so you won’t wear yourself out before the end but won’t get left behind by those who started earlier than you. I’m aware of these things, but I don’t really know what to do about them. And I don’t really know what kind of sprint I have — how much I’m capable of accelerating up the hill at the end of a race. So I just did what I could to keep up with others around me; I think I passed someone on the hill and someone else passed me, but for the most part I was in the same place at the bottom of the hill as I was at the top. I got 8th in the field sprint, which meant 10th overall.

I’ll learn about sprinting with experience, of course, and hopefully I’ll develop more power to get me up the hill faster. I suspect my strength might be sprinting, if I were a strong enough rider to have strengths, which maybe I will be one day; at any rate, my strengths do not include hill climbing, that’s for sure.

Our speed was slower than I thought it would be: 20.6 mph. The category 5 men rode at something like 22 or 23 mph. Perhaps riding with them wouldn’t have been the easier option after all. For the curious: my average heart rate was 169, my maximum heart rate was 181, and our mileage was 16.9.

Saturday ride

Yesterday I took off, partly because of the rain and partly because I needed a day off, but I did do some yoga at home.  This afternoon I rode for an hour, trying to take it easy — which is always made hard by the hills and today was made even harder by the wind.  But tomorrow is a race, so I don’t want to be tired for it.  The race will probably be cold and windy, unfortunately.  The high tomorrow is supposed to be 46, but when I race at 10:30, it could still be in the 20s.

Wednesday yoga and foot update

I did a half hour of yoga this morning, and it felt great. I need it so much; if I don’t do it three times a week or so, my muscles get tighter and tighter, and it feels awful. It’s just so hard to find the energy for it sometimes.

My timing has been all off this week with the riding; I thought today and much of the rest of the week was supposed to be rainy, so I rode the last two mornings, even though the temperature was only in the 20s. But this morning was sunny and warm, in spite of the forecast, and unfortunately I needed a rest too badly to get out there. So I missed what was probably the best riding day of the week. Damn.

I went back to the podiatrist today, who suggested a custom orthotic, which sounded fine to me until I learned that my insurance wouldn’t cover it and it would cost $450. So we’re trying a non-custom insert, and if that doesn’t help, I’ll pay the money. But I’m feeling optimistic — my foot has been better lately, and maybe the cheaper ($40) inserts will do the trick.

This week’s riding

I’ve ridden an hour each day for the last three days, largely because the weather has been decent, and the forecast for later in the week looks rainy.  But I need a rest day; I’m still not quite recovered from last Saturday’s strenuous ride, although each ride this week has gotten a little bit easier.  Tomorrow morning’s forecast looks clear, but I may stay home anyway.  I need to do some yoga and will probably be better off spending the time that way.  I can feel my muscles slowly tightening up with all my riding accompanied by very little stretching …

Saturday ride

I went on a lovely 56-mile ride today (or 58 according to Hobgoblin’s bike computer); it was about 45 degrees when we left and around 50 when we returned, a little breezy, but that’s not so bad when I have Hobgoblin to draft on (he’s a foot taller than I am, so I get all the drafting benefit and he gets none — but he’s significantly stronger than I am, so that seems fair).  Average HR was 151; on the way back I spent a significant amount of time with my HR in the upper 160s, which felt pretty good.  Right now I’m noticing just how much my quad muscles hurt when I climb up and particularly down our stairs …

It took us about 3:20 to finish the loop, which takes us, after some winding around, down to the beach in Westport, CT, and then back up north.  Riding south is a pleasure because much of it is downhill or flat, but of course we have to ride north up the hills again, often into the wind.  Still, it’s the flattest long ride around here, and I’m very grateful to have it …

Riding and yoga

Let’s see — I rode for two hours on Tuesday, took it fairly easy and had fun. Yesterday was off except for yoga (I haven’t been to class in a while and wasn’t practicing for almost two weeks, but I’m getting back into practicing now, at least at home), and today I rode for about an hour and a half, working hard this time, doing some intervals (seven minutes of work with one minute of rest five times, “work” meaning HR in the 160s). I started off feeling okay, but as the intervals went on, I could feel myself wearing down a bit. I mean, I guess that’s the point, to wear myself down a bit, but I was getting more tired than I should have been and my HR kept dropping. I think I’m still dragging a bit from my cold. Plus it’s difficult to ride hard when it’s super windy out — spring winds drive me crazy!

Doctor’s visit

I just got back from a visit to the podiatrist; they took x-rays and the doctor said it’s highly unlikely I have a stress fracture — he couldn’t tell for sure unless he sent me to a specialist to get it checked out, but based on the x-rays it looks very unlikely.  So after poking a bit at my foot, the doctor taped it up and said to keep the tape on for as long as I can — it lasts generally two days – and to come back in a week to talk about how it’s doing.  He told me to do some walking while my foot is taped up to see if the taping helps.  If so, he’ll prescribe orthotics.  He noticed when I stand up that my feet tend to fall inward and flatten out, so I could benefit from some extra support.

That sounds all right – I told him about wanting to compete in triathlons and he said that will be our goal, to get me running again and able to compete.  Also, he looked at my running shoes and said they were good ones, so it looks like I won’t need a new pair – definitely a good thing!

I can already tell that the taping is helping my foot – in fact, I’m tempted to get some tape for myself to try to copy what the doctor did and keep it wrapped up all week.  Maybe I’ll heal faster that way.

No race once again

My race today got canceled because of snow that didn’t actually materialize — which is fine with me because I’m feeling sick.  I’ve got a sore throat and have felt tired much of the day.  I’m hoping to be all better by tomorrow, as I really don’t want to miss a ride — I’m on my spring break now and have time and the weather will be nice.  If I’m not perfectly better, I may go out on a short easy ride anyway … I can’t bear to stay inside another day.

I rode for an easy hour yesterday (but was still fast, thanks to the warm weather) and did yoga last night.  I’ve been bad about yoga lately, as I’ve been just too stressed and busy to make it to class.  I’m hoping to get back in the swing of things now.

Friday’s ride

I had a lovely ride today, two hours in reasonably warm weather — upper 40s and lower 50s.  The ride started off badly, though — I’ve got a new saddle and shortly after leaving the house I could feel the back of it slipping down.  The bolts weren’t tight enough.  But thanks to my recent experience taking saddles on and off and also thanks to the realization that I need to carry around some tools, I was able to make the proper adjustments myself and keep going.  Yay me!  (I know … this shouldn’t be a big deal, but I’m no bike mechanic and never will be.)  I rode for a while feeling terribly, and then I realized I needed to eat, and after stopping once again to eat a Clif bar, things got much, much better.

This afternoon I finally broke down and called a podiatrist to see what’s up with my foot.  My appointment is next Tuesday.  I hate seeing doctors and will avoid it at all costs, but my foot really should have healed by now.  I talked with my chiropractor about it, and she checked out my foot and had me walk around a bit, and she thinks I pronate too much and that may be part of my problem.  So with some expert help, soon I’ll be on the way to getting better …

Riding update

This week has been pretty good for riding — a little on the cold side, but not unbearably so.  At least it’s been dry.  The forecast for this Sunday’s race does not look good though — snow showers in the morning and wind.  Ugh.

I did a hard ride on Tuesday morning — working on hill climbing — and an easier one Thursday morning, and today I hope to head out for a couple hours.  The temps should be in the 40s today or close to it when I head out.

An update on my foot — it’s still hurting, although showing some signs of improvement.  I’ve been taking Ibuprofin regularly to try to knock back the inflammation, and it helps, but when I stop taking it the pain comes back a bit.  This healing is taking way too long!