Sunday, October 28, 2007

Moosilauke Hill Climb

After a thoroughly enjoyable rainy mountain bike ride, the kind of ride where you're reminded why you ride bikes, I headed up to NH for the Dartmouth ski team's time trial up Moosilauke. Sandwiched between these two events was the Belgian Beer Festival, something very worth attending, and I ate so many waffles and cheese-filled pretzels that my stomach was actually too full to drink any water when I got home.

I found myself on the starting line for the time trial, and all of a sudden I got really nervous. I'm not amazing at uphill running races, but I'm not horrible either, and although I had been telling myself that I just wanted to run as much of it as possible (often, you have to walk large parts of these things because they're too steep), I realized that I actually wanted to do well. Uphill running is generally a good indicator of where your ski fitness is, although there are exceptions. So, the course started out really flat and not-rocky along a river, and although I ran this, it was more of a jog/trot than a real run, because I didn't want to waste myself. I knew that the "last sure water" sign was at 1.6 miles, and the whole thing was 3.7, but that was all I knew about the course other than the fact that somewhere it "kicks up steeply", according to the trail description.

I had started fairly early, number 20, with 30 second interval starts, and the girls in front of me were mostly slow with slightly larger than normal behinds. I had caught most of them by the last water sign, I caught the last two shortly after that. Although this was good for my ego, it wasn't great for my time, and I was feeling pretty complacent. It got a little steeper for a while, and I speed hiked, trying to keep my tempo up and my strides light and quick. A couple guys came by me; the original plan had been to stick with anyone who passed me, but these guys were just flying.

I carried on with my plan of running wherever possible; there were many places where this was possible, in fact, most of the trail was runnable. I maybe should have taken that as a sign to run fast, but I kept waiting for it to get steep, when I knew I would need my legs and I didn't want my calves to cramp up. After a couple short switchbacks I got to the first open area, and I got blasted by some freezing mist. Note to self: when the top of the mountain is shrouded in a cloud, and you're perfectly comfortable running uphill in your layers, you will probably be cold if you are no longer running uphill. Just thoughts for next year...

I had no idea how long the open area lasted, I remembered from hiking Moosilauke last spring that it was open for a while, but I guess we had been on a different trail because before I knew it, a little hump of a rock appeared out of the mist and there were some bundled-up folks cheering me to the finish. Huh? Finish? Already? I guess you aren't supposed to finish an uphill running race and feel like you can do it again, but at least I didn't start to hard and blow up. I happen to be a queen of blowing up. Generally in a spectacular fashion, but sometimes just with a whimper and a tear. Although this wasn't a great race, in fact it didn't really feel like a race at all, I was pretty pleased with how it had played out, and I ended up just about mid-pack, and pretty close to some fast girls.

So, yeah, uphill time trials. woot. Two weeks until West Yellowstone, gotta stay ski specific here. I'll be at the Connecticut VERGE, though, getting lapped by Lynne Bessette. Gotta stay humble!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Eighteen Days

Until I get to ski on snow!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The highlight of this weekend was biking home from a house warming party with a full quiche duct taped to my water bottle cage and top tube. It came home in perfect condition. I couldn't bring the salad home, though.

Oh, I raced, too. But it doesn't count, because I couldn't finish. Great course, free food afterwards, amazing day for a race. I'll be there next year. Too bad I haven't figured out this whole circular motion thing with your feet to propel you forwards on these strange steel machines. Maybe it takes practice. Although I'd say the bigger problem was falling on my face every chance I got. Apparently you have to pick up your feet higher than the barrier to jump over it.

Photo stolen from Josh, without permission. I'd say it sums up how my race went on Saturday.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Gloucester Goals Recap

As a reminder, they were:
-focus on Gloucester for two weeks
-increase mileage to >0 miles per week
-Tiered goals based on percent back, place, and people I beat
-Ride cleanly, put on time in runup

So, I focused on Gloucester. Kind of. I actually rode almost 200 miles in those two weeks. I know, you're laughing, but thats 200 times more than I was riding before. Lets keep in mind I also trained 31 hours over those two weeks, with one of those a rest week (For me most of my training is running, rollerskiing, and core strength).

Day 1, I was 10.04% back from Lynne Bessette. This means I got a tier 2 goal! Yay! Day 2 I was 12.6% back from Lynne, which is a Tier 3 goal. I got another tier 2 goal with my top 30 on day 1. And a tier 3 with my top 40 (of like 38 finishers) on day 2. Now lets talk about people... of the random names I chose for tier 1, I beat Pauline Frascone by default (she crashed out and couldn't finish) on day 2 (Pauline if you read this, I hope you're alright!). I didn't beat Melody Chase, but I rode with her and was at times in front of her on day 1. Perri Mertens didn't race. Or sign up. Tell me why I picked that name again?

Tier two names: I beat Hannah Kirshner on day one, but she beat me on day 2. I don't think Meg Bilodeau raced, or at least didn't finish. I was nowhere near Marci Titus-Hall (shouldn't that be a tier 1 name?). Of the tier 3 names, I beat Allie Kenzer by default (I think she and Pauline took each other out. I hope you're both ok!) on day 2. But I was nowhere close to her on day 1. Sue Mclean beat me on day 2 (didn't start day 1?), and I beat Erin Duggan on day 1 but not day 2. Ok, so beating random people doesn't mean anything. What counts, is that I wasn't lapped by Lynne Bessette! That, and I was by far the strongest runner-upper of the little groups I was riding with.

So, it feels to me like most of these goals were fairly meaningless, but at least I can feel good about making some of them. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I had fun racing at Gloucester, and i feel like it was a successful weekend for me. I was neither last nor lapped, and I actually had fun out there. The coolest part was actually riding with a group of riders, instead of being out there suffering alone in no-man's land. Granted, they then all beat me, but it was fun anyway. And fun is why I do this sport.

(picture blatantly stolen from picasaweb)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Gloucester pictures

Now that the internet finally works from home, here are the pictures:

Hotness Incarnate

Everyone's getting into the hot spandex...

Ed riding the sand before the highway through it got cemented.

Roz with the hole shot (and the awesomest face)

Rachel explaining just how she totally won that battle with the course tape...

"owwww my legsssss"- you can only wear an outfit like that if you know you'll do well. Which he did.

Pure determination.

Another one of Thom, for good measure...

And one of me. About to pass all those non-runners...

I plan on putting together a series called "pain faces", because I have so many varieties of pain faces... don't hold your breath though, it might come this week, it might come next week...

Monday, October 15, 2007

GP of Gloucester, day 2

Ah, day 2 of racing. My nemesis. I woke up, and felt like hell. My lungs hurt, I was coughing up lovely clear phlegm, and I was gasping for breath walking up the two flights of stairs to the hotel breakfast room. We decided that we had a while until I raced, so we went up to Rockport to be tourists and found some of the most amazing pastry I've ever eaten this side of the Atlantic. After some rock-hopping, it was back into race-mode. And then I found out that the course hadn't changed, at all. Only faster. My desire to race just went way, way, down.

I lined up in the back row again, and the start was similar to the first day, only less enthusiastic on my part. I hadn't even started racing yet and I already was thinking of how much it was going to hurt. I did the same thing as yesterday, moving up slowly, until I couldn't move up anymore. Make up spots on the run-up, lose them on the pavement, things were going alright for two laps. Third lap I kind of blew up, lost my group, started to wheeze, felt like hell, started sliding backwards faster than Lynne Bessette moves forwards through the men's B pack. This mostly happened on the pavement, as usual. Finally Kim Blodgett caught me, and I clung to her wheel like my beagles to the garbage they try and eat, until I felt a little more recovered.

By the time we got to the pits, I was feeling a little readier to punch it, and we caught back up to Linnea's group of herself, Hannah Kirshner, and Erin Duggan. I rode with them for the next couple laps, mostly just willing my legs to keep up on the pavement, and then in the sand on lap 5, I started riding sloppy and took myself out. It felt good to lie down, so I sat there in the track for a moment, causing Kim and Erin to dismount, and Linnea and Hannah to get away. Running out of the sandpit, my left thigh was kind of numb, I guess I whacked it pretty hard on my saddle. I got back on the bike, and it felt really funny. Oh, my saddle is twisted by 30 degrees. Good thing the pit is right there.

Got everything straightened out, lost another couple places, and tried to convince myself I could catch the girl in pink arm warmers. When I was just as far behind her after the run-up, my will to race sort of drifted away from me. My legs were sending clear messages that they were done, and since I had backed off, my brain was clear enough to hear and interpret these messages. After making sure that the next girl behind me was well behind me, I soft pedalled in and wallowed in my physical misery.

At least I had hot pants. For everyone who saw the silver knickers (or the blue hibiscus ones) on me, or the green shiny ones on Linnea, and you're jealous and want some for yourself, check out, Linnea is selling these spandex, although shes just starting out right now and theres not much on the blog. You could have your very own hot pants.

Pictures are coming.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

GP of Gloucester, day 1

We got there early so Ed could partake in the madness that was 125 cat. 4 men trying to negotiate a course together... after watching those shenanigans, I felt like anything was possible. The course was fast and dry, and the sand was completely rideable since it was slightly damp, creating a nice trail going through it. The B women went off at noon, and Anna was riding my bike again so I was rooting for her. She asked me, before the race, "should I try and sprint to the front? Or is that not even worth it?" I told her to go for it and not be surprised when she dusted everyone. I didn't see the women's start, but halfway through lap 1 Anna was already in the lead group, with one girl dangling out front by 20 seconds. A couple laps later, it was pretty clear Anna was going to win, and she did so in dominating fashion. "Am I technically allowed to race this category? What is the worst they can do? Disqualify me?" Ah, conscience, but this was her second cross race so I think its totally legit.

After the killer B's went off, I got in a couple laps of the course, and then went to line up. Linnea and I were in the very last row, of approximately 5 or 6 rows. I wasn't nervous until I stood there and got really, really, scared. Lynne Bessette had just had an awesome race with the B men, but she was probably going to do it again... and I really didn't want to get lapped.

I had a fairly relaxed start, moving past a couple people and then getting stuck with the train of riders going around corners waaaay too slowly. I stayed calm, mostly, and when we got to a slightly steep runup, one girl dabbed and then kind of fell over, and I snuck around on the inside, while Linnea got caught behind her. I was pretty much constantly moving up through the first lap, and by lap 2 I was falling in with a small group with Melody Chase and Kat Carr, with Kim Blodgett just behind me. We picked off one or two other riders, but mostly just stayed in that order. I found that I was a LOT faster in the run-up (oh, if only it were longer...), pretty good on the corners and in the sand, and absolutely atrocious on the little uphill road part. It was like my life force was slowly being sucked out of me the longer I spent on that pavement. I would get gapped there, because my legs are unable to unleash the mad watts that these people who ride bikes have at their disposal, and then I would make it up on the corners afterwards using this secret trick called momentum. Ahh, physics.

Coming through the bell lap, I felt like hell (but thats normal in a cross race, no?). But there were so many people out there screaming themselves hoarse for me that I fought, and kept trying to move up. Past the pits I noticed that there was another Velo-Bella ahead of us, it looked strangely like Anna Milkowski, but I had just heard the announcers talking about how she was having such a great race, so this couldn't be her... apparently, she blew up. So, we hit the pavement for the last time, and Kat accelerates away from us the way road racers apparently know how to do (I knew I should have actually raced this summer), and Kim went ahead of me without even trying, and I settled for third in our little pack... I don't know if there were more people close to us, but I beat Anna Milkowski, and its not like she had a mechanical. That must have sucked for her. Anyway, I finished in 28th, of 48 starters (I think? Maybe more?). I like that.

So then we watched the elite men, and my parents were fully introduced to the craziness that is cyclocross. My mom really fell for Tim Johnson, she was rooting for him like crazy. And then we ate lobster and life was good.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Pictures from Amesbury

A little late, but...

When we were in VT last weekend, I bought some gummies. They were in a paper bag, which I left on the counter. The next morning, Ed got all upset that I'd eaten all the gummy coke bottles. But I didn't. The mouse did. Proven by the mouse shit in the bag. I knew mice ate lots of things, but gummies? I hope that mouse got sick, because those were MINE.

The competitive spirit is coming out. Its about time...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

With the times (almost)

My cross bike is now officially a 9-speed beast. No more of this 8-speed-can't-change-out-wheels-shifts-like-a-dinosaur-playing-soccer drivetrain. Actually, it shifted fine. If its not broke, don't fix it. But, I just wanted to be able to swap out wheels and go road riding. Or be able to take a wheel from neutral support at races. You know, little things. I also figured I would put on cantilever brakes while I had her all stripped down. These were free brakes, and I soon discovered why. The rear one had a cracked plastic doohickey that is supposed to hold the spring rigid, and the front ones don't fit on my posts. Maybe I can get that part for the rear one. So, we're still stuck with the damn mini-V brakes that have the smallest possible margin between getting the cable tight enough that I can actually slow down and rubbing against the rim. Hopeless. This is when a barrel adjuster would be nice.

Anyway, you learn things about your bike every time you take things apart. Like, the part that goes into the frame thats connected to my stem is ridiculously short (I didn't call it a thing! I called it a part!), and that is why I have that ridiculous-looking spacer on there. Or, the cable guide under my bottom bracket is held on by a spoke nipple, because the a**holes that put my bike together way back when must have been too lazy to freakn tap the screw hole.

After I noticed that my cable guide was held in by a spoke nipple, I was laughing so hard that I put my derailleur cable through the brake cable hole on my rear shifter. I saw this, and still laughing, realized that was wrong. For some reason, instead of taking the cable out, I put it through the derailleur cable hole on the other shifter. I proceeded to collapse on the floor because I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. It was a neat-looking little spiderweb, but I probably would have a little trouble shifting.

so, yeah, everything works now. I have a modern bike!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

And more training

Instead of racing my bike last weekend I elected to go hike the Franconia ridge with Anna and some friends of hers. This is my favorite hike of all time, heading up the bridle trail and down falling waters trail, a relatively short 9 miles that can be done in 4 hours and leaves you plenty of time to find ice cream afterwards. Anna, however, is peak bagging this summer, so wanted to get Flume and Liberty also, and the Flume slide trail is much more enjoyable going up than down. So after some car shenanigans including drive the wrong way down a one way highway onramp (I wasn't driving), we start hiking, and it quickly turns out that these friends of Anna's aren't really in that great shape.

The trail starts really flat for a long time, and I was just itching to run, but didn't want to be an asshole, since it is nice to have company. By the top though, the frustration was getting to be a bit much, and it took another peak before I could calm myself down. Am I that much of a jerk that I can't enjoy a nice hike in great weather without thinking of training zones? Apparently I am. Granted, its October, and I have 47 days until my first race. Eventually I got to a good place in my mind, and relaxed to enjoy my favorite views of my favorite mountains. By the top of Lafayette, Mike (one of the non-skiers) was dragging a bit, so since we were ensconced in a herd of French Canadians and couldn't seem to break free of them, he started teaching me German. Es tut nier lide, aber ich spreche kein Deutsch. Sprechen ze English? Sorry for the spelling, we weren't doing a spelling session so let it lie.

By the time we got to the hut it started to rain, and since I was just wearing Linnea's hot, hot, blue hibiscus spandex and a polypro I got really cold, even after I put on the rain jacket. It was a long slow hike down to the car, solidly cold and almost miserable, but we were chatting and having a good time so that made it better. Until we went in search of ice cream and all three ice cream shops in Lincoln were closed. We had to settle for dunkin donuts coffee and ice cream from the freezer in a mini-mart. Sad.

Spent the night in Vermont and skied my favorite rollerski loop on sunday. The first time I did this loop, back in the day, it took me 3.5 hrs skating, it was the middle of the day in July, I had one small bike bottle and no food, and 10 miles of the ski were spent trailing a line-painting truck inhaling some deliciously toxic fumes... Those were in the days when 3.5 hrs of skiing would really wipe me out, and the paint truck didn't help. Things have gotten considerably better now, and there weren't any line-painting trucks, although it would be nice if they repaved that section of road again... Started in Londonderry, since there was an antique show in Weston and I couldn't park there, and made good time to the base of the big hill. Then I climbed uphill for 20 minutes and 15 seconds. Sometimes, I can delude myself into thinking that Boston is fine for training. And then I do things like an OD with a 20 minute hill in it, and I realize, there is a good reason I come to VT to do these things. The day was gorgeous, fall colors out in their glory, there is no better way to be a leaf peeper than playing outdoors. I wouldn't mind some snow, though...

Friday, October 5, 2007

Bike shop interactions

I walked into the bike shop last night.

Me: "Hey, I got a call that my front centerpull doohickey is here"
Justin: "We don't sell doohickeys here"
Me: "Uh oh. Do you sell whoosiwhatsits?"
Justin: "Yeah, I think we have a couple of those".
Me: "Oh, good. I'll take three"

Two years ago in Maine:
Setting: Alex has just bought a compact crank complete with bottom bracket. She is attempting to change this herself. Alex goes to bike shop

Me: "Hey Paul! I'm changing my bottom bracket. I have the take-er-out-er tool, but I need the put-er-in-er tool"

And from that day forth I was known as the whoosiwhatsit girl.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Curse you Fizik!!

So, you develop this product, and refine it, and everybody loves it. Everybody. And then, you change it. WHY?!?

I know you changed your saddle a year ago, and I'm a little slow in getting around to complaining, but the fact is, I'm still mad that you changed a good thing.

Although, the pink and white is a hot look.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Cyclocrossing Goals

Inspired by Colin, I've decided to post some of my goals for cross season so that I will supposedly feel obligated to meet them. As usual, I probably put way too much thought into this.

-Two weeks of focus for Gloucester
-develop some leg power by riding my bike
-Increase mileage to more than zero miles a week

-Gloucester: (I would like to meet any one of these tiers of goals, 3 being most likely and 1 being least likely)
-Tier 1 goals(exceptional):
-5% back from leaders
-Top 20 placing either day
-beat Pauline Frascone, Melody Chase, or Perri Mertens (relatively random
-Not get lapped by Lynne Bessette (or anyone else)
-Tier 2 goals(reach):
-10% back from leaders
-Top 30 placing either day
-beat Hannah Kirshner, Meg Bilodeau or Marci Titus-Hall
-Place as well or better on second day
-Tier 3 goals (almost realistic):
-13% back from leaders
-Top 40 placing either day
-beat Allie Kenzer, Sue Mclean, or Erin Duggan
-Place as well or better on second day
-All three tiers: ride cleanly, smooth technique, put on time in runups, ride intelligently/draft the flats, start relaxed not too hard, move up from there

-Other CX races:
-Top 20 in a VERGE
-8% back in a VERGE
-top 5 at any race
-Get better at riding runups/stop being scared of trying it
-Get better at riding flats fast (or maybe just riding fast?)
-No DFLs, or DNS, DNF (unless there is a DAMN good reason)
-No pressure, remember that I'm not training for this, so why expect results
-stop going out too fast and then fading

I've got skiing goals too, but they're less interesting since they're all about training and time trials at this time of year. So we'll stick with cross, and see if I can reach any of these goals. Stay tuned...

Monday, October 1, 2007

Amesbury Cross

Not really much to say about this one. I got there at 9am with CTodd so he could race the master's 3/4, and rode around a bunch, did a lot of laps on the course. Then Bruce let me play around on his singlespeed, why don't any women race on singlespeeds? They're so much fun! I want one! All told, maybe 2-2.5hrs on bikes. Did I eat anything? No, I was too busy running around cheering people on. Driving home, I was sucking down the second half of a water bottle and I realized that was all I'd drunk all day...

The race starts, we hit the first off road section and suddenly I can't see shit because of all the dust. Came into the barriers in the midst of things, then slowed down a little since I wanted to ride negative splits, or something like that. Then people started going past me, and while at first I tried to tell myself that I was just going to ride my own race, I quickly realized I felt weak. Really weak. And then I realized I hadn't eaten anything since that oatmeal I had for breakfast at 7am. And then I ate a gu, because I had one in my pocket. I figured I would just ride slow until the sugar kicked in.

Then I realized my heart was doing what I've always called "the fluttery heart syndrome", its sort of an arrhythmia thing that happens once every couple years and always freaks me out, and the only thing to do then is to sit down until it passes. So, I sat down. Jen, Josh and Giulia happened to be standing there and kind of freaked out as well, especially when I told them I'd just counted 45 beats in 10 seconds... So, I sat there for maybe 5-10 minutes, and then it felt normal again. I figured, well, I may as well ride out the lap, I'll see how I feel after that, I liked the course enough that I kind of felt like continuing to ride. Lynne Bessette had passed me when I was sitting in the dirt, then some more fast people, I started riding again just after Rebecca Wellons went by, and slowly got lapped by the rest of the field. I decided that I didn't feel like finishing last, and I knew that the girl in last hadn't been moving that fast when she went by me, so I started "racing". With 1 to go I caught her, so I kind of coasted through the last lap.

Overall, a sucky race, and entirely my own fault. But I had some amazing ice cream afterwards. I'm sensing a theme...

Pictures coming.