Mar 30, 2011

Something is in the air

I write this with trepidation, in fear that I will bring on the proverbial jinx. It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve been able to squeeze in back-to-back outdoor workouts on the bike due to rainy weather, but this week was the week. I’m hoping that this puts the end to our rainy season because it certainly seems like … hmm … well something is in the air.

Keeping fingers crossed for Saturday
With Bay Area seasons, it’s hard to say, really. Winter is like fall; spring can be like fall or summer; summer is like a cold spring; and fall is more like summer than spring. But for the near future (with the exception of a Saturday glitch, which I hope will disappear), it looks like we’re going to stay dry.

I don’t really mind riding in mild rain, but it does make hard training difficult and somewhat dangerous. For hill repeats, this means I have to make numerous wet descents, and that just plain and simple isn’t fun. For short intervals, I have to go hard (sprint) on wet pavement, also plenty of opportunities to get a face full of gravel – not a practice I’m particularly fond of. I still have a memory of going down last year near GGB on one of those yellow pads that are supposedly there for traction – clearly not bike tire traction! I still have a mark on my hip from where I landed.

I’ve probably mentioned about how beautiful the Marin Headlands are this time of year with the green rolling hills. Heck, I even blogged about it in pictures. However, something I have long suspected, and finally convinced myself of this morning, is that my favorite view from the Headlands is looking at GGB from that first corner at Conzelman, when it’s absolutely pitch black out – not even twilight. 

Gorgeous, isn't it?
I don't know what it is, but the contrast of the lit up, red bridge against the dark ocean with the city lights in the background is very breathtaking. Which is probably why speeding SUVs going up Conzelman to stake out a good spot to take pictures frequently pass me by. But I digress.

Going back to my outdoor workouts, I don’t really know which one I like/dislike more, hill repeats or intervals. On the one hand, I enjoy climbing. I’m not the best at it, but I enjoy it. So that’s a plus for hill repeats. On the other hand, short intervals are just that – short. However, the 7 minutes over/under I did at the end of my routine yesterday did almost make me puke, as it’s supposed to. For those who don’t know, over/under is an interval where you sprint all out for 10 seconds, rest for 20 and repeat. Supposedly, 10 minutes of this will make you puke – I’m slowly working up to that. A reason I like to do these alone – no one needs or wants to see that, I’m sure.

And the hill repeats

Another  plus for hill repeats is that I can make a set shorter by going faster. If I’m on my last repeat and I just want to get it over with, I go as hard as I can. It hurts a bit more, but I’m done sooner. With short intervals, even though they are short, the pain of the last 90-second effort cannot be any shorter than 90 seconds. Now, something that I really dislike about short intervals is that the backside of the Headlands is for some reason about 8 to 10 degrees cooler this time of year. I nearly froze my fingers off on Tuesday. So, not that I’m keeping count, but it looks like hill repeats are my preferred form of torture. But intervals are a necessary evil to hit those anaerobic and VO2max systems. Can’t have one without the other. And yes, I can probably find another place to do these so I’m not as cold, but hey, it builds character, right? Plus, I don’t want to lose all of my Chicago street cred by letting the “cold” California weather get the best of me.

Here’s looking forward to more consistent outdoor training and not having to check the weather daily!

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