Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tamsin Jones Goes Dakar

Through the serendipity of the universe I caught this girl in a 2008 Romaniacs Highlights vid(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N253-lHScro&feature=related), found out she's Tamsin Jones of GB AND found out just in time to follow that she's going to compete in the Dakar down Argentine way in a few days! Race info site--http://www.tamsinjonesdakar.co.uk/. And she's got a blog http://tamsinjones.wordpress.com/

I wish her a wonderful excruciatingly freakin awesome time!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Magic Number--1000

As in 1000 calories. I've had my treadmill for 2 years now, and since accidentally pushing a button and discovering it records calories burned(and setting it for my weight) I've found the calorie ticker to be a great way to measure progress in how hard and also how long I can work hard.

So when I first started walking on the treadmill, I burned in the 300-400 cals/hour range, pretty normal for the average treadmill(TM) user. Before getting the treadmill I did enjoy going for walks outdoors for 90 min to a couple hours so one day I hopped on and walked and walked, found out the TM timer reset at 100 minutes(I figures out I had to stop the TM, back out to the journal then start again for it to record anything over 100 minutes). I wondered how long it would take to burn 1000 calories(cals), or if I could in one fell swoop. The first time I did it I didn't make it quite to 1000, I was pooped and had to quit.

However, while I was walking I had the idea that 1000 cals could be a benchmark, that I could make a goal to burn 1000 cals in 100 min, and then keep burning it faster. I figured if I could burn more cals quicker that would mean I was able to work harder and also burn my energy more efficiently because working harder also mean my muscles are working harder longer(endurance), and I will be able to sustain a higher heart rate for a longer time(efficiency).

Pulling out my notebook(remember I told you to buy a notebook the other day to journal your workout stats), here are the stats for my 1000 cal workouts over the past two years:

4-15-08 120 min, 7.3 miles, 940 cals
4-29-08 107 min, 6.5 miles, 820 cals
5-8-08 140 min, 8.4 miles, 1000 cals (did it! VERY wiped!)
9-14-08 100 min, 6.5 miles, 1000 cals (100/10000 goal met)

5-12-09 115 min, 6.7 miles, 1000 cals
5-14-09 95 min, 5.5 miles, 1000 cals
6-15-09 97 min, 6 miles, 1000 cals
7-12-09 93 min, 5.5 miles, 1000 cals
12-23-09 86 min, 5.4 miles, 1000 cals
12-26-09 78 minutes, 5.4 miles, 1000 cals

So playing with math, my improvement can be quantified (ha, numbers don't lie):

My first attempt I burned 128.8 cals per mile, or 7.8 cals per minute

My last do-it I burned 185.2 cals per mile, or 12.8 cals per minute.

Pretty cool improvement?! In order to burn more I've got that incline up at least to 10% grade(it goes to 12), and obviously I work at going faster. For now I have a mix of tempos on my playlist, some are running pace, some are fast walking and I mix it up.

Now I want you to note where that improvement of 78 minutes comes in on 12/26, from the last one on 7/12 of 93 minutes(shaving 15 minutes is pretty good, no?!). RacerXVT has an excellent article about recovery, overtraining and the importance of cycles.

I've been using this for about two years now, PLANNING for recovery and rest to rebuild. It's kept me injury free and it's been fun to see progress.

As well as planning a daily and weekly cycle(see the article) I also use a yearly cycle. From January to about June I focus on a more intense workout plan, increasing weights/lifting heavy, building strength and cardio endurance/efficiency. Over the summer I focus on riding and back off the intensity of the workouts, focusing more on keeping flexible and maintaining the conditioning I gained in the first half of the year. From October through December it is rest and a basic maintenance workout schedule(mostly cardio), heavy on the rest because frankly its the holiday season and it's important to me to enjoy the fun and family and friends.

So you'd think I would suck at burning 1000 cals, that my rest and relaxation would have set me back so I'd have to catch up. BUT the numbers dont' lie, the rest did me good all the way around. This cycle plan of recovery WORKS. I'm ready to start again, and even better than when I backed off!

And again the mark of 1000 cals seems to be a good number to use. I don't eat or drink while doing it in order to stretch my resources, so I'm running on piss and vinegar at the end, though it gets easier every time and now a 1000 cal workout feels like what the hour long one used to feel like(which the hour long now feels like a 30 min). In the beginning I had to include the cool down in the last 150 cals, now I pound it through WFO till it hits 1000.

Another improvement I've seen is in how much warm up I need. I "technically" have asthma and in the beginning needed to warm up for a good 15 minutes before turning on the gas or else I'd get wheezy. Now 5 minutes and I'm ready to hit it hard. Haven't had any asthma symptoms since I don't know when either(topic for another post!).

In the future I want to share what I've learned about using heart rate information, zones, HIIT, weights, etc in building endurance for riding. Giving yourself the 1000 cal test is a no brainer way to mark progress in endurance. As long as you use the same method of cardio each time(walk/run, biking, rowing, etc), you'll see how you improve. And that's a real kick in the pants!

ETA--thought for new bench marks, 1000 cals in an hour, 1500 cals in 100 min? though there is glycogen depletion to consider, topic for another post!

Friday, December 25, 2009

New Year's Kick in the Butt!

Yo-k Maggots! Time to prepare for your annual New Year's goal of working out and beefing up. Per RacerX advice on cyclical yearly resting to prevent over training, I make my 6 week or so layoff from weights around TG and Xmas(how convienient is that, it's also very busy and hard to focus anyways, and besides that it's fun to eat yum food). This gives my bod a good rest and time to repair thoroughly and also you don't really lose horrifically much in 6 weeks. So...in prep for my next 5 months of hitting it hard, each night before I go to bed for the last few weeks of this year I've been doing some body weight exercises: 3 sets of 12 full squats(unweighted) ALL the way down, 3 sets of 12 pushups, and 3 sets of reverse crunches(these get the lower abs as well as the hips--2fer)to loosen me up so I don't hit the new year cold turkey.

Article about the importance of resthttp://www.racerxvt.com/virtual_trainer/overtraining.html

list of lots of great articles for you to read on your Christmas vacation and to get you riled up to hit the new yearhttp://www.racerxvt.com/virtual_trainer/Archive_Quick_list.html

If you have been good at keeping up with the gym, don't feel guilty about giving your bod a thorough rest in these next few weeks! Also, go buy yourself a notebook so you can keep track of some stats, it will encourage you and you can see definate progress and make a plan and no foul using the guilt of blank days to motivate!

K, while you're sucking down the nog, heres some reading to help hatch your plan. I can't bible thump enough on how any work you do to strengthen your muscles and boost your cardio endurance will pay off fast and big on the bike. The first advice you usually hear when someone asks "how do I ride better" is tons of seat time on the bike. Most of us dont' live in a perfect world where we can put in hordes of seat time(tho we would dearly love to). Working out with a plan with weights and cardio will have you in shape so when you get on the bike you can focus on technique, instead of catching up on conditioning.


Get more strength and get your cardio more efficient and gunk cleaned out and you will be shocked n awed at the magic pill you just got to your ability and grr.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Eddieville GP Race Report, June 2008

MX PlaydayWe got to Eddieville and had about 4 hours to ride the MX track. My first thought as I pulled up to get on the track was “I’m going to kill myself”. But I made it through the first muddy rutted turn, and over the first little pointy topped jump, and thought “maybe I won’t”. I had a ton of fun, and hopefully didn’t seem to annoy too many people with my pokeyness. I was the only girl for most of the time on the track. The track has some pretty steep hills, and in addition to the whoop section, had uphill AND downhill whoops. There was a really steep drop off hill (more later on that one…)you make a quick left and go up a little hill, and poop, you’re pointed straight down a rocky slope. BUT there’s another uphill on the other side (heh, heh, for now…) so dropping down like that isn’t so bad—I loved it because it was REALLY steep, and I could practice dropping down on rocks for the trail(and not being scared, bwa-hahah). I found out that it’s harder than it seems to “just” roll the jumps!!! You really have to be on the gas to get up some of the hills, and they had lips on top so it would shoot you into the air(well, DUH, that's kinda the point, it "is" a MX track! ). But I managed, and even did bunny hops. My bike (WR) of course is NOT set up for jumping, so I wasn’t into getting big air, but I did get little air and it was really fun! I practiced really hitting the corners, and actually wasn’t that bad on those! Even when my bike would get squirrely in the soft stuff or crossing ruts or screwing up a line, I was able to ride it out and “fix” it. I only semi-crashed once that day, when I hit some deep soft dirt and leaned over too much and spun the back wheel out around(like KTMchicks picture I think). But it gave me a better feel for the dirt and I didn’t screw that up again. It was so helpful to ride the track on a low key day, to get used to people passing me, roosting me, jumping downhills next to me—that was really cool, though my husband was freaking out watching me. Everybody was nice to me. I did notice that when I pulled my ponytail out of my chest protector so it hung out, I didn’t get roosted so much It rained for about a half hour, and I rode till I couldn’t see anymore—I thought I should suck it up and not be a baby and practice in the slick and slop covered goggles .So I put in 35 miles that day on the MX track. The “official” whoop section(in the pix below) had really big deep whoops. The really good people doubled them. My technique was(stand up ) weight the pegs and swoop down into them, and do a little bunny hop over the top. Not fast, but it was smooth if I hit it right—you did have to do the first one with the right speed and swoop or else the rest were butt slappers and you started see-sawing and boinging.

RACE DaySo we get lined up, it’s a wave start, and the women are the next to last line. Once again, I’m thinking “I’m gonna kill myself”. I met Flying Ant a little bit before, and she is SO NICE , she looks like a teenager in her gear on her bike . I think there’s like 18 or so women, everyone is saying it’s the most ever. There’s me, Ant, and I see another 30-something mom next to me, end the rest are young whipper snapper chicks. My 14 year old son is in the line behind me, in the Junior A class on his yz125. Fun watching everyone zoom off, then it’s our turn. We stand behind the bikes, then jump on and start them up. I start slowwww, my clutch isn’t engaging where it usually does, DUMMY the solution just let it out more I think I’m goofed up cuz I can’t hear my bike(oh well, now I know). I planned to take the first loop easy since I’ve never done this before, and didn’t want to GO OFF COURSE(or I’ll be disqualified)—and my husband is sitting on my shoulder “Don’t kill yourself! Don’t die! Don’t break your bike!” So it’s track for awhile, and it’s perfect, even better than yesterday. I passed a couple girls that stalled in the soft shoulders, and of course all the kids whiz by. Then a bit of trenchy singletrack with baseball rocks, patches of rutty mud, and then it goes around the lip of a pond—off camber all the way around, an easy enough bermy turn, but if you slow down and choke you tip over right into the pond. Some more single track, then back onto the track, with awesome curves working my way uphill. By this point (of course) I’m all by myself, which is good cuz I can focus on following the arrows—which is tricky because the track gets changed around and there are connecting trails and roads, so I really have to pay attention.Then I go swooping down and up between the hills like a roller coaster, and come to an off camber sandy on top of hardpack AND whoopy section—I’m SHOCKED I’m not sliding down into the drop-off gulch to my right—and bam I see an arrow pointing a hard right and no ribbons to block the trail that continues on(which is how stuff is marked) which way do I go? Of course I grab the brakes so I Do Not Go Off Course (although at this point there is no “observers” this far out…) and fall over…a horizontal stop. So I get my (first) crash out of the way, the dust clears and I can see that there really is two choices to make a right turn and go on. Which there is a nice little steep hill to get up, you have to gun it to get up, no wussiness allowed. The way follows down back and forth and along the waddi/gully, including a right turn then 5’ drop down with a sharp left turn. No problem—there are no trees, roots, rocks or ruts to think about :0). I’m doing this! And I’m not dying! Now for some grass track that winds around the shoulder of the hill. I’ve never ridden on this before—everybody “warns” its slippery. It’s not slippery, but it’s baseball clods that shift around. Really just like tiny whoops, but not easy to slow or stop on, so I have to pay attention. Then it goes through a rock garden, yay something familiar , and goes into whoopy single track with scattered little 3’ tall witchy-hat hill-humps. Back onto the track, and now it’s downhill curves working back to the mx track. I get to the mx track, and come to that super steep drop off downhill I told you about in the MX day. The rocks are gone (yay!). I feel good about it because I know there is a nice uphill on the other side of the downhill, and if there is a turn at the bottom it would be marked at the top of the hill, just like the few times before—and it should be cuz you can’t see anything until you go over the edge. So I take the plunge, and oh @#$%^, I see there is a sharp narrow opening right hand turn off at the bottom, and there is ribbon across the bottom of the hill(this is like a 40’ plus drop which is nearly vertical at the top and very steep for most of it). I try to remember how to stop (NOT) slow down on a loose super steep slope, and end up crashing. But I Did Not Go Off Course!!!! There were people watching too So I pick up my bike and my lever is bent off forward—note to self, NO MORE CRASHING! Second note to self—do not let my mechanic put any more new levers on my bike until I get handguards(which are in the mail), AND I like my old shorty lever better anyways. A little more mx track and I go through the checkpoint. I look back, and I see a miracle, there are two girls behind me!There’s a bit more of the loop to go before I go back through the place we started again. I know the logs are coming up. There’s some single track and grassy stuff, a hairpin turnAnd bam, there’s the logs! They are STACKS of logs (like 3 on the bottom, then 2 then 1), at least about 2’ high. There is dirt packed against them—but not too humpy-helpful, and there are 7-8, some are diagonally placed, and they’re about 8’ apart. By some miracle my subconscious gets me off my butt standing up before I realize I’m in the log patch. At the rider’s meeting they said be really careful, lots of people get hurt in there. I bottomed out on the first few, and had the brain fart to go faster, and it was FUN, and went GREAT, no log screwups . Then woo! Back out to go again. SO yeah, I’m embarrassed to report I got last out of the 14 that finished, doing 3 loops. BUT I never crashed again, sailed through the parts I crashed on, and did each loop faster then the last. My last loop I did most of it in 4th gear—I had “promised” my husband to stay in 3rd cuz he was so paranoid I’d get smashed, but I figured by then WTH. On the second loop I was getting passed by the guys, so I had the dust clouds and people passing me. It wasn’t bad though, it didn’t freak me out, nobody was mean to me either. I even did the offcamber whoopy sandy section where I crashed before in a complete dust cloud, I might as well had my eyes closed. I would follow guys through the corners too, matching their speed. I was just still slow in the straights—I’m used to having to concentrate on the trail because there is usually a lot to deal with, and hardly ever any straights, so it was a new experience to be able to open it up and not have to worry about tree limbs or general crap that comes out of nowhere. My last loop was 6 minutes faster than my second, and I know I had more snot to go faster the next go around. I just missed the cut off by 4 stinkin’ minutes!!!! Since I was in the next to last row on the start I “did” have a few minute handicap, and if I would have known how I was in the time I could have easily made up the time—or if I hadn’t have crashed…(excuses excuses). My clutch perch was also loose and would flop down so I was always pulling it up too. (wahhhhh! Crybaby!)So I made it through, and I’m so glad that “first-ness” jitters/not knowing stuff is over! I was so close to making another lap, and I felt great and had the energy to make two more laps at least! I wasn’t run over (I confess probably the worst part of it all was having my husband worry about me and me worrying about him worrying about me), I didn’t run anybody over, and I Did Not Go Off Course or get wrapped up in ribbons. All the technical stuff I nailed and got through quickly, and I was really happy to get faster each lap. AND my son didn’t lap me until late in the race—it was so heart-warming, he actually slowed just a teeny bit as he yelled HEY MOM when he went by. My mistake crashes were because I got confused about where to go and didn’t want to go through the ribbons, but that’s fixable! I was so happy to make it down the drop off the next two times and slow it down enough at the bottom to make the turn at the bottom—downhills have always been my freak-out thing, and this weekend really helped me SO much, being able to go down steep but surface-easy stuff and actually be ON THE THROTTLE (OMG!!!). My son got 2nd in his class, and my other son raced the 2.5 hour race next—soooo much more dust!!! He got 13th in his class (don’t know how many were in it), Open Amatuer. Both of them were completely pooped. I found Flying Ant and got to talk with her finally—she is so nice!!! I can’t wait to go trail riding with her. And she rocked her class!! Wahhh!!if I had signed up in her class I could have gotten 2nd(and yet again, last place, but at least a trophy!) If I had gotten another lap in I would have at least been 12th :0)—heh, at least not last! I can’t wait to do it again! Even if I do get last, it’s waaaay tons of fun for 45$--a fancy dinner doesn’t come anywhere close! And I felt great at the end too, not pooped at all. I’ll go ahead and post my pictures, I wanted to wait till I could get the race photographer’s pix cuz they had a great one of me going over the logs, but I’ll go ahead and add that later. I have a new chest protector! It goes over my boobs just right—AND the boys won’t borrow it because it has boobs !