Friday, October 8, 2010

The Endless Cycle

This week has been... interesting.  Tutoring has really picked up, as have my classes, and I'm finding myself in a serious time deficit.  It's led me to really start thinking about my training and how I'm structuring CX training.  Originally, I was following my Ironman mentality to training of More is More, and cramming 3 hours a day of training in.  This is neither smart nor realistic for my current situation, which is working 30-35 hours a week, taking 12 hours of classes, doing a solid 10 hours of homework/reading, 3 or so hours of "career development" in the form of independent research/filling out applications, and 6 hours of observations in a 7th grade class, which also involved prep time, since I'm teaching some lessons.  Plus, racing on the weekend.  Needless to say, I'm a busy girl.  Add in trying to have some semblance of a life, and that frantic pace is increased.  This breakneck speed is only good for a semester, thankfully, and come December, it'll calm down, but for right now, this is my life.  I'm not unhappy with it, just tired. 

I started really thinking the other day: between work, school, training, racing, and having friends, it's hard to find enough time to sleep.  The question then becomes: when is training helping or harming you when it means cutting out hours of sleep to get it in?  I think at this point, my body needs that 7-8 hours of sleep rather than 6, even if it means only training 2 hours instead of 3.  Since Nationals are 2 months away, and I have a serious desire to race in them, I need to focus on my training and racing, but at the same time, I have to be doing so with the intention of peaking in December, not crashing and burning long before then.  So things like sleeping, staying healthy and taking vitamins and eating well are equally as important as training.  And in CX, training isn't just about riding, it's about intervals, riding hard, and also equally about technical skills, and being able to ride with people: all things that I didn't exactly focus heavily on while training for Ironman.  And by didn't focus heavily, I mean didn't focus on at all.

This leads me to my switch in training values... I was talking to my new friend from Charm City (a lovely gentleman who, when I finished my race and had my only water bottle locked in a teammates car, offered me a drink.  He's also last year's collegiate cyclocross national champion, so I'm very glad I met him!) and asked him what his training schedule looked like.  He gave me a basic outline, and I almost yelled out a hallelujah chorus when I realized I could cut back on the hours and just focus on intensity a lot more.  So, I'm toning down how much I train, and ramping up how hard I train.  It's been going well!

Wednesday CX practice went extremely well (for me, anyway).  It was the last time I'll ever ride my old Surly, since it's being returned to the team I borrowed it from last year.  I cannot express enough gratitude to them for letting me experiment with cyclocross, it honestly changed my life.  Anyway, more on that later.  I managed to actually keep up with a couple of guys who had been eluding me in previous practices, actually remounted and dismounted correctly, though I still need practice, and really gave it my all.  We do 2 sets of 4 laps, and usually no one finishes the second set, since it gets dark, and normally I stop after 1-2 laps of the second set.  Assuming I make it through the first at all.  This time, I finished 3 of the final laps, and only stopped because it was getting dangerously dark on course.  I was incredibly proud!  Practice is tough because it's primarily very talented guys racing each other, which does nothing to prep me for races, since I'm lucky if I have a "race" with 2 or 3 guys.  I need more practice at racing against people and taking corners together and whatnot, so I may have to start begging some of my teammates to spend the last lap riding at my pace and trying to beat me up. 

After a good practice, to make things even better, our lovely new Raleighs arrived!  I could not be more excited about it, honestly.  Having this bike is going to be incredible.  Mom and Colleen came over for dinner and we had a girl's night of pizza, then it was on to margarita and bike building night with the team.  I came home late but with a new bike, and I was ecstatic.  Pictures of my beautiful new bike will be coming shortly.

Thursday morning, Matt and I tried out our new rides on the Towpath.  At first, I had some trouble remounting, and as I told him when I dismounted to get around a truck blocking the path, "I keep forgetting that I know how to ride a bike."  I know one of my big limiters with CX is that I psyche myself out, and I need to stop doing that and just ride.  Next week, he and I are talking about practicing running with the bikes, instead of just running, so that should be interesting.  After he left, I went and practiced remounts and actually got them quickly once I just told myself I could handle it. 

I'm stoked for this weekend's races in Westwood.  Plus, since the races are relatively close to home, I can have some semblance of a normal weekend and actually do things like laundry.  In the meantime, it's on to other projects and other work...

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