Saturday, July 28, 2007

Take me out to the vel-o-drome

Take me out with the crowds....

The rickster and I rolled for the beginner session at Hellyer this morning. There were 58 novices out there. Holey cow! They had to break us into a bunch of groups, and we had to be wary when moving laterally on the track to watch out for other groups.

I was a total noob with the fixie thing. The first time I tried to mount the bike, I stomped down on the pedal like I do with my road bike. The only problem was it was coming back over the top before my butt even started to lift. I bailed out of that mount and tried again. I spun around the track a few times and then tried the scary dismount. The mount was definitely worse. I started to get more confidence in the warm up. We did 30 laps in a 'paceline'. I was one of 3 ultra-noobs in a row, so we were definitely gappy. The elastic effect was great coming out of the corners and going into the corners. The first few laps I was doing lots of speeding and slowing. Rick was definitely more confident right off the bat. I did get a lot smoother once I figured out where the accelerations and decelerations were. I could account for them and keep my momentum.

We saw alicat, merkely, flandria and hunny. Alicat had a couple of the mintie mafia there with her. We also saw David P from LGBRC - one of my former coworkers. There were lots of roadies catching on the the newly-discovered coolness of being a trackie and also a good showing of the tattooed messenger set with cutoff jeans and itty bitty gears. They definitely had the stops, starts and handling down despite their lack of raw power.

It was a lot of fun, and I think it will be good conditioning for crits. I plan to go a couple more times in the fall to complete my beginner training. Then, who knows? Maybe I'll try the occasional Wednesday race. I think it will actually take some mind share to learn how all the exotic track races work. It might be fun!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Twilight Critters

I went out for my first dose of midweek pain at the San Jose Twilight crit last night. It was a blast, though I'm not sure I'd call it a crit. It is more of a really long circuit race/workout. We did 16 laps of about 2 miles each. I learned some good things, especially about how to conserve energy on the hill thanks to Irish Mike from the SJBC. I even threw down a fairly decent 'sprint' at the end, which was more of a seated drilling of the pedals (and I was off the back, so it didn't really mean anything). I still haven't figured out the best line threw the tight turn at the bottom of the hill. I seemed to find the right line about 1 out of every 3 laps.

I think I will definitely go again, because it was fun. Plus, I need to amortize my $40 SJBC club membership over a few more races (each racer has to be a club member for insurance reasons).

Monday, July 23, 2007

Post Harry-Potter Coma

Well, I didn't get completely stuck in Harry Potter land this weekend. We saw the new movie Friday night. We watched Le Tour on Saturday morning, did a couple hours ride and spent some time with the beginning of the Alto Velo B ride. I couldn't go to Big Basin with them due to my literary conquests planned. So, we hit the Saratoga Starbucks and came home.

I started the laundry. The book arrived at 1:00. It was wrapped in a box that said "Attention Muggles: Do not deliver until July 21 or later!". I started reading, but then a nap came over me. I spent the late afternoon and evening reading. I talked to my parents on the phone. By bed time I had devoured over 360 pages. The last load of laundry was rotated.

Sunday, we watched Le Tour again and got caught up in the excitement. I only got a couple chapters read before heading out on a 3 hours ride, which became like 3.5 due to a flat tire and a stop to buy cumin at the grocery store near home.

I read for a couple hours before dinner and a half hour after. Then, I had another break to attend to the spiritual life. We returned home at 9:00, and I finally finished at 11:00. Phew! Overall, I was happy with the resolution of the series. There were shades of Lord of the Rings in this one as the characters had to carry 'something evil' around their necks and it made them a little crazy. Oh well, the rest was pretty original and interesting.

Well, no more fantasy world for me. I am back to the grind today with my post-Harry-Potter coma.

Friday, July 20, 2007

My Harry Potter weekend...and book reviews

This weekend other than eating and training, it will be all about Harry Potter. The movie will be seen tonight and the new book will be fully digested by Sunday evening. Rick is letting me slack and overindulge in Harry Potter as part of my birthday extravaganza (which will continue throughout next week). I intend to enjoy every minute of it! I won't post any book spoilers on here, though.

OK, so now for the other books I read this summer:

A Thousand Splendid Suns - I felt this book was stronger than Kite Runner in an objective, literary sense. It was less predictable and more believable. Subjectively, it had me crying relentlessly from the first chapter. The heartache and misery of the women in this story (and sadly what many real-life women experienced in that place and time), was almost unbearable. Even though there was some relief to the suffering at the end, it was still at great cost to one of the characters. This book left me with an insatiable desire for justice and equality. Sigh.

A Long Way Gone (memoirs of a child soldier) - this book was well written as a story and I found myself forgetting it was a memoir at times. It felt more like fiction (or maybe I wanted it to be fiction). There were tears of sadness and joy as I worked through Ishmael's story. I highly recommend this book. It shows that all sides of the conflict in Sierra Leone were evil. Ishmael was a soldier for the government, not the rebels (RUF). Not surprisingly, both sides employed the same tactics and human rights violations. A good reminder about the nature of war and how there are very few 'good guys' when the guns come out. Another book leaving a longing for more justice and peace in the world. Double sigh.

Locke, 1928 - this book takes place in the Chinese immigrant town of Locke in the early days after its founding. It is a fictional tale. The characters are interesting and well-developed. The central character is a white prostitute working in the town brothel as a result of some compounding back luck (or possibly bad decisions) that fell into her life. I liked this story, though a lot of the Chinese mythology woven into the story is outside my understanding and experience. There was a lot of good symbolism in the story - some of which I got and some I didn't due to my lack of exposure to the myths in question. This is a good, short read if you have a weekend away and want something different from the usual romance/mystery fare.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Today is a new day

I've been feeling a little less frisky than Linus Gerdeman this last few weeks. But, sometimes all you need is one good kick a** training session to get you back on track. I did the exact same route and interval sets that I did last Monday and shaved 13 minutes off last week's pace (over 17.25 miles!). Maybe the 12 minutes of hell on Sunday with its subsequent frustration and anger was needed to reset me a little bit. I feel my explosive power coming back. I felt like myself for the first time in a while today.

Now, I'm off to conquer a Partner Portal and several other impossible projects with their delicate diplomatic relations while I'm on a roll! Look out, because come December when all this along with my thesis is behind me, I'm going to be like a new woman!

Monday, July 16, 2007

A New Low

I got pulled from a race for the first time yesterday....the Lafayette Crit. I started popping and decided to slow down and reintegrate so I could help my team mates. However, when the peloton came back around, Bob pulled me. I didn't realize that would happen or I would have kept working like a maniac off the back.

Then, I beat myself up for the rest of the day when I realized the last race I finished in the pack was Menlo Park Grand Prix in March. And, the last race I finished in contention for the final sprint was Early Bird crit in February. Now I'm really starting to question my ability to make the whole thing work. I am seriously lacking confidence right now. Is it just because I've spent all season doing mixed-category crits and hilly road races? Is it just a mental problem? Or, is it a fitness problem? Or is it both? Will I ever be successful?

Have any of you struggled this bad in the beginning and then overcome it? Please inspire me if you have. I need to be pulled out of my funk.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Finally Some News on the Mt. View Crit!

Finally I can move on with my life...I think I'll go to the track that day :) I am bummed not to have a Mt. View crit, though. I was looking forward to doing 2 races in my own back yard!

**Image courtesy of the NCNCA web site.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

chatterbox fall down, go boom!

My head hurts. Probably because I tried to split it open on the myrtle wood coffee table this morning. Cyclistrick was getting all geared up to ride to the train and was asking for goodbye kisses. I plucked myself off the couch (had been firmly planted in front of Le Tour) and wrapped my arms around his neck. The last thing I remember was saying "oooh, I'm lightheaded". Next thing I know, I'm on the ground twitching as the blood makes its way back to my head and Cyclistrick is standing over me looking very scared. Apparently he tried to catch me, but due to my extra 'leverage', he was unable to keep me up. I whacked the coffee table and the arm of one of our chairs on the way down. Owie!

I told him that maybe he should have put the helmet on me before kissing goodbye....

It's been a good 10 years since I had a nice pass-out. Usually, I catch myself and bend over briefly when standing up. Today, I was preoccupied with nuzzling and failed to stop the inevitable. Bummer.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

So proud of the teammies....

Yesterday was the Coyote Creek circuit race in San Jose. 3 of our Cat 4 girls lined up in the open-category field. The Velo Bellas were there in force and clearly intended to win the race (which they did for the W1/2/3 portion).

I'm proud to say that our girls nearly swept the Cat 4 podium - Jen 1st, Karena 2nd, and Evan 4th. Go team! We celebrated at a pool partay afterwards.

I sort of wish I'd joined them. To be honest, I was afraid of the open category race after my last experience with that. And, I promised myself a good break from racing. However, the group ride my coach sent me on was so painful and so early that racing wouldn't have been any more painful or any more frustrating.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Last 1/3 of season plans

Well, I think I've finally nailed down what I'm doing the rest of the season. Here goes:

-Lafayette Crit
-Mountain View Crit (is this thing actually happening? anyone know what's up?)
-Timpani Crit
-Dunnigan Hills RR
-San Ardo RR
-commence off-season lounging about (and work on thesis project)
-Lighthouse Century for fun

So, if we haven't met in person and you are at one of these races or events, please be sure to say "hello".

Monday, July 2, 2007

getting back in the groove....

It was back to the bike this weekend. I had done sprintervals with Flandria on Tuesday and an endurance ride on Thursday, but not much else during the week.

Saturday we set out to climb Montebello. But, it seemed hot on the exposed section when we got up there, so we bailed out after Pachetti Winery and settled for an easier Mt. Eden loop. We stopped at Starbuck's in Cupertino on the way home. I was not highly motivated.

Saturday night, we went to our friend Erika's house for her almost-annual, almost-solstice BBQ. I managed to steer clear of the alcoholic beverages. I only had one cookie and the rest was all fruits and veggies and hummus and grilled fish and meats in small quantities - this all being part of my plan to slim down a bit during my off period from racing. Unfortunately due to the opening of the Albany crit 35+ to W1,2,3,4 (don't want to re-live the Santa Rosa corporate crit); I will be racing a week earlier than anticipated. So, I will need to stop starving myself next weekend so I am well fed for Lafayette on the 15th. I have managed to lose 3 of the 6 pounds I'd gained since the season started. Yay!

Sunday, we met up with Erika and her friend Steve for a 'leisurely' climb up Highway 9 and then we were going to decide what to do after that. As long as we were in the flats and slight grades, I was able to set a comfortable, but brisk pace for the group. I was even the lead climber through the first 3 or so miles of Highway 9 (to a little above the junction with Pierce). But, then Steve took over at a pace I could not maintain when the road kicked up to a more steady grade. He's a skinny little mofo. Probably 6'3" and less than 150. Erika followed. She's a svelte 130ish. So, I continued at my own pace which had me blowing from threshold to just above threshold for 45 minutes. I finally cracked about 3/4 mile below the top. I had to stop and take it back down to aerobic, which meant riding about 3.5 miles per hour the last 3/4 mile. Ugh! We had a few minutes to recover at the top. I realized my caloric defecit was killing me and shoved a whole Clif bar in my mouth. We decided to continue to Page Mill.

I started in the lead up the first grade with Rick on my heels. We gapped the other two on the first blistering descent. Then, we were still in the lead up the next grade and descent. Then, Steve came up and attacked. I got on his wheel. Then, Rick countered, and I got on Rick's wheel. Then, they both had me gapped by the top of that hill. On the next slight downhill, I maxed my HR sprinting to over 40 mph to pass both of them. Unfortunately, we were faced with yet another hill. I thought that was the last one. Dangit! The two boys left me in the dust on that last climb. Erika came up behind me just as we were about to reach Page Mill. We took a breather (thank goodness). Erika decided to continue north to 84 to descend. They boys and I decided to bee-line down Page Mill and Altamont for the Los Altos Rancho to refuel. I was HUNGRY!

I had a nice sandwich with turkey breast and veggies - no mayo or cheese. That pretty much took the edge off, but I was still hungry when we got home.

It seems I may have improved my anaerobic capacity with all those hikes in the mountains, but maybe lost some power. So, I will be working on the high end power the next couple weeks. Should be fun!