Mar 10, 2011

Hard days are good days

I walked out of M2 last night and the breeze of warm San Francisco air hit my face. I felt there is absolutely nothing I wanted at that moment. I didn’t want to move, eat, drink, anything. The MUNI display said the bus was approaching in 10 minutes. I didn’t want to stand, I no longer felt my legs, so I figured I might as well start walking toward the underground train, and if the bus catches me, I’ll hop on. I made it about 70 percent of the way to Van Ness and Market when I saw the display at McAlister say 2 minutes. I figured I’d wait. The bus, then the train, then I was lucky to connect with another bus and half an hour after that warm breeze first hit my face, I was home. There is really no part of my brain that was functioning at that time, almost like I was stoned, I turned on the autopilot. Bedroom. Change. Compression tights. Dinner. Thirty minutes of TV. Sleep.

I love days like yesterday. It’s a day I know I gave all that I had and then some, and left absolutely everything on the bike. Not a single interval could have been harder, not a watt was wasted, I even managed to push it over 1k on the last 10-second burst when I thought my legs were going to either completely fall off, or I was just going to puke. Considering I was on the instructor’s bike facing the class, I really tried not to puke.

I haven’t written about my training in a bit, but it’s coming along. I find that for it to be most effective, I have to be a bit nutty, a bit masochistic, always motivated and never satisfied. How else would I have been able to drag myself out of the house at 5:30 in the morning on Tuesday and go up the same hill 8 times? It’s really not as bad or as boring as it sounds. Each time after the first one is a challenge. “Oof, that was a hard repeat, wonder if I have enough in me to get another one at the same power level?” That’s the thought that keeps me going, can I do one more, and then one more, and maybe I have one more in me after that one. Once you get used to pain that comes along with pushing high numbers for a long time, you stop focusing on the suffering and start looking forward to the moment when you can stop an enjoy the reprieve. And guess what? That only makes me push harder and go faster.

It feels that a lot of this year has gone by already. I mean we’re almost half way through March, and I’m only in my third training block. However, considering they are each four weeks long, I guess it makes sense. I’m kind of amazed at the things I can do now that I couldn’t do 10 weeks ago and also surprised at how quickly I was able to get used to putting in 200+ miles a week. I guess it’s true what they say: the human body is very adaptable.

Racing has been a lot of fun so far, in part due to the fact that my fitness is at a level where I don’t really have to worry about being dropped or having to be an absolutely passive (a.k.a. wheelsucker) rider in the peloton. Now I get to think about strategy, and positioning, and trying to figure out who’s going to do what when and why. The higher level of fitness has definitely turned racing from a sufferfest into a chess match, not that there aren’t times when I’m suffering, but I’m suffering alongside others, and not solo off the back.

Training sessions that make me feel like what I’ve described above are the ones that make everything else possible. And I’m glad to have those days, I’m glad to be able to force myself to have those days. I think I’ve stated my training philosophy before, but I think it merits repeating: Force yourself to suffer as much as you can possibly tolerate in training, so hopefully you never have to suffer that hard in a race.

Now for a couple of days of recovery and psyching myself up for Madera Stage Race this weekend.

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