The 2012 season went incredibly well for me. I had a head full of steam in the spring, qualified for the Nature Valley Pro Chase, and went absolutely bonkers preparing myself for the Nature Valley Grand Prix. The story of how I disappeared this spring probably starts there...
NVGP is known for the Menomonie Road Race and the Stillwater Criterium. Both courses have mondo-climbing. Those who know me in real life will be aware that I climb as well as a rock dropped into the ocean. Local Pro-Am racer Tim Rugg attended NVGP the year before me, and gave me as much advice as 'get ready for hills, dude!' And so I did.
I went beyond monk-mode nutrition wise and was chronically underfed as I prepared for NVGP. I went straight through my healthy racing weight of 180-185 (where no one calls me fat), and continued to plummet below 175. I made it to 167 with many restless nights of trying to fall asleep before my hunger kept me awake. All this weight loss was done while training very hard, racing our local Wednesday Night Training Race in Greenbelt most weeks, and putting in some 100+ mile megarides.
It was all too much, too quickly.
I was VERY flat at NVGP. You can read about how the racing went down in my past posts, but I came home knowing that I had dug myself into a hole with my rapid weight loss and my ad-hoc self-training. Going forward, I knew I had to be more honest with myself about my body, my abilities, and my knowledge.
The first step in recovering from my slightly heartbreaking performance at Nature Valley would be to allow some weight to come back, and feed myself after I trained. I quickly came back up to high 170's and low 180's, and felt better, day-in-day-out.
The second step would be to recruit the help of a cycling coach, who turned out to be Ken Lundgren of Elite Endurance. I knew a few riders who worked with him, and his philosophies and methodologies 'clicked' with me. I can nerd out with the best of them when it comes to cycling equipment and wattage theory, but I prefer to have some 'old school' thrown in there. We don't race by comparing w/kg figures from power files, after all...
The third step was to reload for a late season event. I frequently participate in the Mayor's Cup in Boston, held in September. I ALWAYS got popped in this race, and I wanted to see if I could get myself closer to the finish this year before getting pulled. With a more reasonable approach to nutrition and coaching from someone who knew what they were doing, not only did I get further at the Mayor's Cup than I ever had, I finished the race! Not only did I finish the race, but I landed myself in a few off-the front moves. One of these moves in particular, I found myself HAMMERING on the wheel of a dude in a neon green Liquigas kit...Ted King. Pretty cool.
With the pride I took in finally finishing the race, I was ready to go nuts in the offseason and put in some hard work. Unfortunately, as I did in a similar fashion prepping for NVGP, I went a little TOO nuts and tore my left hip flexor and the accompanying tendon. It took me 3 and a half months of couch potato training for the tear to properly heal. Using the clutch in my car SUCKED, I couldn't walk up stairs very well, and I was all over the place in terms of daily pain. As frustrating as it was, I FINALLY healed up enough to ride as the race season was well underway.
My first real ride back was the All American Road Race, which I won the previous year. I weighed a noble 205 lbs and got dropped with some many miles to go. I took no shame from this, and continued on a solid, healthy track of progress. With Coach's guidance and no aspirations to starve, I've steadily seen my fitness rise as the spring rolled on and we arrive to summer.
Last weekend I raced at the Tour of Washington County. I have NEVER finished that RR with the main field. I still didn't, but I made it to the end of the main loops and cramped up BAD departing the race loop and rolling up the finishing straightaway. This, on a course where, in the past, I'd have been so freaked out that I was over some number of pounds in bodymass, I finished without once having the thought of 'I wish I was sub 180' or 'going back on the lettuce and coffee diet'. It feels FAR better to pedal with some drive behind it than to be starved and go about 200 yards further with the field because your watts per kilograms are technically better. Also, who doesn't prefer seeing bigger numbers on the powermeter to smaller numbers on a scale? Okay, there is definitely a limit to all this, but I think you get my drift...I wasn't taking care of myself before and I'm healthy now, blahblahblah...
With a shortened race calendar to go, I look forward to continued improvement, and a lot of fun on the way!