Monday, January 19, 2015

Disgust with a silver lining.

This Sunday they cancelled Mighty Mites. The mountain got hammered by rain, and there just wasn't enough good terrain to train on safely. Other training groups did the same thing. It's just been a tough year in South Central Alaska for those that like snow. My enthusiasm, which usually starts waning in March, is ebbing as I write this.
 
On the bright side, as I drove down the Seward highway to Girdwood yesterday (not for skiing, but for a wedding), I couldn't help but notice that I could have easily ridden a 'cross bike since there was nothing but sand on the side of the roads. Maybe I'll be riding on the pavement in mid-March (or earlier), grinding out those endurance workouts on the road instead of adding a fresh coat of sweat to the garage floor. That's something to look forward to...
 
I ski when it there's snow, and I ride when the roads are clear. I would just rather the weather make up its mind so I can get in some sort of rhythm.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Chipmunks.

This year marks my daughter's first year as an Alyeska Mighty Mite. After a few years kicking around a very small ski bump and a year with their ski team, she moved to the big leagues and to the big mountain. She's coming from a hill where the snow is always groomed, the visibility is never bad, and the hill itself is nothing challenging once you get comfortable sliding. It develops certain habits in skiers who stay there too long, and she just wasn't progressing as much as I would have liked.
 
I am still a fan of that hill. I ran an adult racing league there for over 10 years, but like my daughter, it was time for me to move on to new opportunities. I decided that if she was going to move to Alyeska, so was I. I used to coach with the Alyeska Masters, and the old Masters head coach is now the Mighty Mite head coach, so I worked my connections and got us in the program. It's nice to know that I'm likely one of the slowest and least-credentialed coaches out there. It's actually reinvigorated my love of skiing.
 
To be honest, I was nervous about the Mighty Mite tryouts, and wondered if she was good enough to make the cut. I'd long ago decided I wasn't going to coach her, and instead be her ski buddy. I'd let other instructors and coaches teach her (with varying success), and limited my inputs to the rare reminder of what they had told her. If she wanted to do a power wedge at Mach 5, and was happy doing it, I wasn't going to correct her. However, the main flaw in my approach was that she had become a ski bump skier instead of a skier who could handle a variety of terrain. She had the basics, but she had never been never really challenged by coaches or terrain.
 
This winter has not been kind to Alaskan skiers. The Lower 48 got all of the cold weather and snow, and we got warm temperatures and rain. It was 24F in Phoenix when it was 44F in Anchorage. Alyeska has limited terrain open, all of it was at the top of the mountain, and all of it was on the advanced side. Now imagine doing Mighty Mite tryouts at that venue, as the mountain is packed with post-Christmas skiers and boarders with new equipment and questionable control. My nerves were shot.
 
Turns out, I worry a little too much, and she made it in. She's a Chipmunk, and as it turns out, I'm a Chipmunk coach. My little girl is going to improve in ways I could have never imagine as she chases her group all over the mountain. She's going to learn skills that will stick with her for the rest of her life, and she'll make friends that she'll likely ski with for decades. I really don't care if she races after she leaves the program, or if she ends up skiing far faster than her old man.
 
I just hope she wants to ski with me.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pushing Through It.

The kids gave me yet another cold, and my power has a serious hit. I'm trying to complete every workout, but sometimes I just crumple and have to limp my way through the rest. Other times I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, so it isn't all gloom and doom. No matter how bad I fail, I still feel better after I get off the bike than before I got on, which keeps me coming back for more. I could let my failure to complete all of my scheduled intervals at the prescribed intensity get me down, but I have a lot of trainer hours ahead of me before it will really matter. I do what I can, and walk away satisfied with the effort.
 
Every night I sleep with my cheeks full of cough drops like a chipmunk with the sniffles, doped up on cough medicine. Every morning I wake up with a sore throat and clogged up sinuses. One of these days I won't, and the numbers will start creeping back up. I'll start building again, instead of just trying to maintain.
 
I look forward to that day, even though I know the kids will get me sick again the next day. That one day will be magical.

The Snack Bar

My workplace has a very well-stocked snack bar. By well-stocked, I don't mean it has a wide variety of items to allow one to make prudent diet choices while still satisfying their taste buds. No, it is pretty much comprised of the absolute worst "food-esque" items you can find, and vast quantities of them. The few "healthy" items present were purchased in a weak attempt to be a good alternative, taste like cardboard, and usually expire before they are consumed. The snack bar is a monument to everything that is wrong with the food in America.
 
I am drawn to it like a moth to a flame.
 
The joys I temporarily find in the sugary embrace of a cinnamon roll inevitably lead to deep pangs of regret, but I return time and again. I read the label and note the calorie content, but by that time it's too late. I'm already a lost soul. My will power crumbles in the face of processed sugars. I'm a weak man.
 
My lofty goals of losing weight before the new year have been replaced with the target of simply not gaining too much. So far I'm holding steady, thanks to a steady diet of trainer workouts and occasional bouts of nutritional sanity. I'm hoping that I can turn the tide before the end of the year, to turn that corner that allows me to control what I stuff in my mouth. I'm hoping to find the discipline to go back to regularly and reliably counting calories, because last time it was extremely effective when I wanted to lose weight. I'm hoping to get down to where I was a couple years ago, or maybe even a little lighter. I'm hoping, but that isn't the same as doing. Doing requires effort, and lately I've been less inclined to make it.
 
I hope that changes.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Twins.

In my flurry of fall bicycle-related consumerism, I bought a wheel.
 

It's a Chinese-made, 88mm carbon tubular rear wheel. I went in with low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the product- especially given the price. It's nothing mind-blowing, and the wheel components aren't all that impressive. I bought it to back up my disc wheel on my TT bike for hilly TTs or when side-winds made using the disc a white-knuckle fight for control. I may also use it for flat crits and road races, depending on how it rolls. It's certainly not a wheel that will see use every day.
 
The more I look at it, the more I think we're somehow related.
  • We're both fatter than the majority of the competition.
  • We're heavier than the majority of the competition.
  • Our components are of questionable quality.
  • We require specialized care to keep all of those components from flying apart.
  • We may look good to the uninitiated, but anyone with any sort of eye will immediately see through the fa├žade.
 
The snow has started to finally fall on Anchorage (only about 2 months too late), so this wheel won't see pavement for 5 or 6 months, depending on how fast the snow recedes in the spring. Until then, I'll hang it on the wall and stretch a tubular tire over it. I'll glance over at it once in a while as I sweat on the trainer, watching the dust settle on the shiny carbon. In the spring I'll start to glue up tubulars to try to control my cycling urges while the roads clear.
 
Maybe then I won't resemble this wheel quite so much.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Side Effects

I feel fine. At least, I think I do.
 
I'm no longer doubled over with intestinal cramps periodically, praying that whatever was causing the discomfort would come out one direction or another. I'm back to pretty much eating whatever I want without any side effects (other than the usual weight gain and lethargy).
 
And yet, when I get on the trainer to knock out a workout, I am not all there. I'll start off great, grinding away at a decent wattage and holding it without killing myself. Then about 30 minutes into the workout the wheels will come off. My legs will feel empty and weak, my heart rate will steadily climb the levels much higher than normal, and I'll limp my way to the end of the workout.
 
A week ago, I was knocking out workouts much harder than this and still felt like I had more in the tank. Now I just want to curl up with a fuzzy blanket and watch Anthony Bourdain on TV.
 
My body isn't processing food properly just yet, even though it is interfering with my training schedule. It seems odd to get upset about setbacks so early in the trainer season, but after the race season I just had, I am anxious to move forward. I just need to get my body to agree with the plan.
 
I feel fine.
I feel fine.
I feel fine.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

This Kid is Trying to Kill Me.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. After two days of staying home with a sick kid it was bound to happen. I woke up this morning with a good night's sleep (for a change). The back didn't hurt. In fact, nothing felt off at all. I got on the bike, stared cranking away, and within two minutes I could barely turn the pedals.
 
Nothing there. The guts started knotting up, so I backed off to a little above Recovery pace and tried to see if things would turn around. They didn't. At the 30 minute mark, covered in sweat and still not putting out any wattage, I decided to call it a day.
 
I don't know what bug I have, but I don't like it. It seems like every time I hit my stride and start feeling good, something comes along to knock me back down. The only thing I can do now is brush myself off and start all over again. If I don't, I know I'll feel even worse in the long run.
 
This kid is trying to kill me. He's cute. He's lovable. But obviously he's evil. I guess that proves he's mine.