Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tour of the Hilltowns!

There is method to my madness of showing up at one of New England's most challenging races when I absolutely lack race fitness! First, I am going to have a bit of fear jumping back in the pack and would like to get this out of the way as soon as possible, so I can actually race my bike a bit at Green Mountain. I would much rather race Hilltowns, with a flat/downhill first 20 miles that I thought I could hang for followed by a decisive 3-mile climb at mile 20 that shatters the field into groups than a race based on a top end (of which I have none) or a race to every corner. Ideally I would be able to ride at the front for the flat part, ride my own climb and hopefully have a bit of company since I still have some threshold power, then ride in a paceline in a small group. It would be a good test for the leg. And well, mission accomplished! I just about got blown out the back early in the race with one fast surge, but descended at the front since there is so little to be gained by racing this section, then watched everyone surge up the start of the climb, and pedaled my way up from last place, catching a few people, then rode in with a terrific little group quite understanding of my limitations! I was completely dragging by the end, struggling just to maintain 150 watts, and there were massive hills on the course that had not been there last year, but it was awesome. My leg only started to knot up once, but it recovered and did fine with the bumps and standing up. Great to see everyone too. Hats off to the other Anna M. Now I get to go home and train! Pictured: A clean bike is a fast bike, or at least a clean bike.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cat 4

When I was a kid, I used to tease my brother, who was fanatical about biking and the Tour, by shouting "biker!" whenever a cycle-tourist rolled past our house. He'd race to the living room window, expectations deflated when someone mosied by in full blaze yellow. We still say it. Back on the bike, and in New Haven where drivers on cell phones in SUVs race you to every red light, I am now happily wearing my blaze yellow vest. My Achilles/calf is slowly limbering up from rubber-band status, the switch from Shimano to super-loose Crank Brothers pedals is working and I felt able to spin today. I can begin to imagine pedaling hard, even standing up, not so far from now. Not quite Hilltowns-worthy... In the meantime, I am trying to learn how to swim better. I watched this video of an Olympic 50m free, laughing at the idea of it as instructional video and at the boxer-like posturing of these sprinters. This one that seemed a bit better. Or you could try to recover like Dara Torres. Swimming, resistance stretching, physio ball, they are all refreshingly new.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Way to go Leg!

Quick because I am going pedaling but doctor's appointment today and I AM OUT OF THE BOOT! X-rays showed "a surprising amount of new bone formation." I can do everything except go running, but even that I can probably start in a month or so. Way to go leg! That's more like it! The straight-talking x-ray tech didn't disappoint (last time she told me I was in the "baby stages of healing"), exclaiming "wow! look at how much muscle you've lost!" Wow indeed and that's the next project but hurray for now. Thanks everyone.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Update from Training Camp

My recovery is suddenly getting fun and interesting, a project to reinvent myself improved. I seem to be done with the freak-out period after those mediocre x-rays, now I am being less drastic in adding new activity (my recovery has been filled with overdoing it, then backing off) and starting to see some gains. One endeavor has been, in the words of a friend, "working on my physique." I have a New Haven friend to thank for the lifting, since after an unsuccessful too-early foray to the gym, when just the walking involved with Yale's expansive gym proved excessive, I was ready to give it up. But he urged me to try again, after more healing, and the routine of working out in the gym around motivated people, followed by a nice time in a coffee shop, that was priceless. Since then I have been doing upper body lifting and core strength three times a week. The gym here in the Berkshires is great, and funny. It's me and a bunch of retirees, some of whom are really fit and some who are not. Power to them. One guy was sitting on a weight machine completely absorbed in a library book (a guide to camping). I said "looks engaging," to which he replied "yeah, tough to get the lifting done!" Others are lifting in khaki pants. But we are all in the same boat and this group has been supportive. I am also thankful to the office for storing my race bike, which enabled mobility, huge given that I've been "house-sitting" or whatever you call it - watering plants and picking the flowers off the cilantro plants in the garden - this week at my mom's with no readily available rides by car. I'm going to build up an old cross bike as a commuter bike, put a rack and panniers on. I was finally allowed to swim at the six week mark, and it was fantastic, free to be boot-less in water. I was also happily shocked to see I can actually swim, though I still make note of "swam this far without stopping," as though I wrote in my training log "rode one hour without stopping!" All this is good but I sure hope the bone is healing. I find out tomorrow. This morning I am riding down into Connecticut where I can get a ride back to New Haven (should be nice to visit my life) - actually a sizable ride, so I hope everything feels good. Nice job New Englanders at Fitchburg!