Oct 11, 2011

Turning pages - season recap


It's time to close the chapter on this 2011 road race season and look forward to a new season in 2012. While the training plans, the workouts and the races to be raced are still being planned out, it's a bit early to start speculating about what's to come and how I see the next season playing out. However, it seems to be a perfect time to talk about how this year went, the successes I had and the mistakes I've made. I think the easiest way to thoroughly discuss this without running on all sorts of tangents is to proceed in parts.

Nutrition

At the end of 2010, I weighed in at about 176-178 pounds, and I had a goal of racing at sub-170 in 2011. Ultimately, I don't believe I entered a single race at under 170, but to a large extent I was successful at racing lighter than I have previously. Matt Fitzgerald's book, "Racing Weight," played a huge role in that accomplishment.

Early in the season, I was able to get my body weight down to decade-plus low of 165 pounds, but my body simply didn't want to stay there, and while I was losing weight and feeling leaner, I kept oscillating between 172 and 175.

I counted calories using livestrong.com and had a picture of what my nutritional intake was composed of - 60 percent carbs and an equal share of 20 percent fats and proteins. This was an acceptable ratio for an athlete according to Fitzgerald. I may have not been much lighter, but eating more nutritious and less processed foods made me feel much better on the bike.

I must admit that it was a bit frustrating not being able to get down to my target weight, but I never gave up and by the end of August, by body stopped fighting me and my weight seemed to naturally drop to 170-173 pounds - this made me very happy, as it was a sure sign that my body was finally getting used to the "lighter me." A six-pound drop over a course of eight months is not that bad after all.

I will continue using the lessons from Fitzgerald's book next year, and hope to actually race at sub 170 sometime mid-season - I'm SO close!

Self-coaching

If you've been reading since the beginning of the year, you'll recall that Joe Friel's book was to be my guide, and to some extent, it was, but I feel that I have made many mistakes in approaching this season.

I didn't properly recover from the miles of 2010 and decided to skip the entire base period called for in Friel's book. I started training very hard right off the bat in January and was feeling strong in February and especially in March, taking a very respectable 4th at Madera. Peaking in March like that, however, may have also resulted in the injury I suffered in April which forced me to take some time off and ride very easy for most of that month. 

Thereafter, I felt that I plateaued a bit, at least relative to the field. I felt that I was getting stronger, but many of my placings a were about the same as early season, top third to top quarter. I guess the more accurate way to phrase that would be to say that in retrospect, my results have plateaued, while I felt my fitness improving, but likely not to its fullest potential.

Next season, things will be way more by the book, and while I may be ready to shoot myself by the third month of base, if it means I'm racing stronger in May and June, it will be well worth it.

Racing

I raced a lot, but did I race too much? Almost 40 races in one season left me completely mentally wasted by the time the year came to a close (does that answer the question?). I even missed a few starts toward the end of the season because I simply didn't want to get on the bike and race that day. 

There is a positive side to all of this, as I've done many races that I missed in the 2010 season, for whatever reason, and between the two years, I've raced about 75 percent of courses used for races on the NCNCA calendar. This will hopefully let me pick races that I can do well in when I'll be peaking and choose good "training" races during the build periods.

I will be much pickier with my races next year. I will definitely race the ones I really enjoyed this year, and the ones that are good ass-kickers training-wise, but I think on other weekends, I'd rather do a hard ride (Roasters maybe), and get just as good of a workout without the mental stress - it does add up. I'm going to cut myself off at about 30 races, maybe ... perhaps.

Criteriums

Last season, I avoided these like fire for reasons you've all heard: danger, crashes, broken equipment, having to get to work on Monday (without a cast), etc. This year, I reluctantly gave them a try and ultimately started to enjoy them a great deal. To my own surprise, the crits I like the most are the technical ones, with undulations and hills. Benicia was definitely my favorite crit this season, even if it wasn't my best result.

I will definitelly do way more of them next season. The one thing that disappoints me about crits, especially coming from racing exclusively longer road races, is that being a 4 and not yet a Master, I can only race one race per day, and sometimes, I'd like to get into two. Hopefully, the upgrade to a Cat. 3 next season will let me do a few 1/2/3 races in addition to the regular 3 races.

M2

Yes, yes and another yes. Going back indoors in the Fall of 2010, was the smartest thing I did last year. While I cannot promise results to anyone, I know that once or twice (depending on weather and my schedule) a week indoors does wonders for my power, and at the end of the day, watts are about half of what wins races. If you're in San Francisco and looking to boost your cycling performance, consider M2. Yep, this is totally a plug, but he deserves it and I wouldn't be raving about it if I didn't feel that I reaped great benefits for training there for a year.

Experience

That's the other half after watts - strategy and being in the right place at the right time (intentionally and not by accident). I feel that I gained a lot of it this year, in road races and in a crits. In other words, a good chunk of the blueprint is there, now it's about having the patience, brains and power to execute.

Going long

I love racing, but I also love days when I can spend 12 to 15 hours in the saddle cranking out a double century - and racing a double century is even more exciting. I've learned this year that there are two things I aim for in a double. The obvious one is a fast finishing time. The second, an extremely low stopping time. My best rest per miles ridden just happened at Levi's Gran Fondo with 4 minutes of stopping time for 103 miles of riding. The goal for next year will be to replicate something proportionally similar in a double.

Wrapping up

These are the things that I'm taking away from this season. In a week or so, I'll blog about the training for next year that will start in November and the secret training that will start much sooner, but until then, I'll just reflect on the year that passed and ways I can make the next one even better. 

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