Thursday, September 4, 2014

Long Time Coming, Pt. 2 ...

Back in the beginning of May, my younger brother had his bachelor party in Chicago. It was a really fun, long, booze-filled weekend. And because of that, hen I flew home on Sunday it was the perfect time to begin my "official" training for the year. My plan was pretty simple - the only thing I could imagine that might make all those hills even a little bit easier was to carry less up them. And that meant losing weight - as much as I could without going too far that I had no energy. And that last part meant I wanted to do it quickly, so I had plenty of time to adapt on the bike. So on May 4th, I started eating clean and increased my mileage.

The "eating clean" part wasn't super extreme, but it was an adjustment. Basically, I started being very regular about what and when I ate - a bowl of granola in the morning, raw spinach with some deli smoked turkey and a small yogurt for lunch, and then some chicken or turkey breast with some beans or rice for dinner. And absolutely no snacks between meals. I drank only water and one glass of chocolate milk per day and gave up alcohol entirely for the first month. To keep it sustainable, I had one cheat meal per week (usually, Joanna and I would hit Chipotle for dinner on Friday) and if I was burned out on the same dinner night after night, I substituted a small panini and some sushi from Wegman's. In all, I was probably eating about 1300 calories per day. That was a pretty big reduction in calories, but it was actually surprisingly easy to do. To be fair, the first week was very easy because I was still recovering from my weekend in Chicago, and maybe after that I had adapted enough to be in a zone or something. Whatever the reason, I really never felt like I was all that hungry, which was kind of surprising considering that I was also increasing my miles on the bike significantly at the same time.

The first week and a half, I saw very little weight loss. When I started, I weighed 174, and I was only five pounds lighter after the first two weeks. But I knew that could be deceiving and that the key was to stay the course. By the end of May, I had started to gain some momentum and I was at about 160. And a week later, I was at 155. At that point, I "relaxed" my efforts in the sense that I allowed myself an occasional beer and ate "normally" for special occasions (like my brother's wedding in the middle of July), but other than that, I stayed with my plan. By the end of June, I was maintaining my weight between 150 and 154.

At the same time, I had not only increased my mileage but I was pushing my effort more.

My singular focus for the year remained the SM100, but I started to see general improvement in performance in just about every other event I lined up for as well. In May, I took the win the 4 hour endurance class for the inaugural Woodstock Wrecker in Patapsco Valley Park outside of Baltimore. Then I had a pretty good ride at the Stoopid 50. (I went off course by four miles, but still finished in under 6 hours and felt good on a  tough course all day.) Then in July, I won the SS division of the Stewart Super Six Pack, and followed that up with a win in the SS division of the half-marathon at Rattling Creek.

Despite the successes, it wasn't all smooth. The diet never caused me problems, but over the course of the summer, I definitely hit a few pitfalls. In fact, I got injured the first ride I did when I got home from Chicago in early May when I end over the bars and landed chest-firt on a thin tree stump. That was a tough hit and it took me a few weeks to really feel better. But by far the most disruptive thing I dealt with all summer was work.

In June, I got involved in a project that had a lot of very tight deadlines and required huge amounts of data. Over the course of the summer, and especially as I got closer to the end of August, I was working a lot of very long hours, including one particularly nasty 48 hours straight the two days before the Rattling Creek Marathon (which was why I ultimately decided to do the half-marathon instead of the full 50 miler.) I had been on a pretty nice schedule of riding every day, and the long hours at work threatened to derail it all. I decided that I wasn't going to let that happen no matter what, but I have to admit that it got pretty tough a few times. I was lucky that I could sneak in a few rides before work - other than that, I probably would have fallen off my plan. Ordinarily, I'm pretty lucky as work-life balance goes. But I was on an understandably short timeline with what I was working on, and that meant I had to fit a lot of work into a few weeks. It was just unfortunate that it happened to fall at the same time as the run-up to Shenandoah. The last day I was at work before leaving for Virginia, I worked 13 hours.

And there was one other issue that arose that same week. A week ago, I made the decision to race the Fair Hill Endurance race in Maryland and when I went to clean my bike up the night before, I discovered a crack in the non-driveside chain stay.

Not exactly what you want to see the week before your biggest event of the year ...
Now, I knew right away that I could always race the Misfit, but I hadn't done so in over a year. I took it to Fair Hill, which now became a lot more important because now it was a shakeout ride for a bike I hadn't used in a race in a long while. Meanwhile, Joanna took the Niner frame over to Scott at Evolution to see what my options were. I didn't have much hope, but I figured it was worth a try. The ride at Fair HIll went pretty well on the Misfit, so I wasn't devastated by the loss of the Niner, but at the same time, after spending the whole season on the Niner, it wasn't exactly ideal to lose it so close to SM100.

And so a week before the race I'd focused on all year, I was spending all my time at work and was now without the bike I planned to ride. Not the best way to close out a training block …

To be continued.

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