Monday, May 28, 2007

Rolling Forward

I came off the CT camp mentally drained. There was a lot going on besides just the camp. I took Monday and Tuesday fully off, feeling like I was on the edge. Turns out I was as I'm nursing my second cold of the year. It's my own fault - I slept maybe 4 or 5 hours per night at camp, and then last week getting back into things and having a busy work week, I slept only 4 or 5 hrs per night each night. This is my killer - lack of sleep. OK, it wasn't just work I must confess - Lisa kept me up late one night watching the 2 hr finales of 24 and Lost.

Anyway, before I got sick, I went out on Wednesday to ride a benchmark ride. This is a ride that I typically do once per month to see where I'm at. I look at my time, avg HR, and avg watts for the 40 mile course that goes up through Bethel and around the reservoir in Redding, down into Wilto and back. My best time ever on this course was 1 hour 48 minutes. This course is a tough one. It doesn't have any killer climbs, but it rolls constantly and has enough to really deaden your avg speed. Back to last Wednesday. I set out not intending to do a test, but instead to do a few longer intervals. I headed up Hattertown road and could feel the camp fatigue in my legs, but I was still holding a high wattage and a good pace. I decided to try and hold this for 1 hr at this HR which works out to be my mid C zone. Well, one hour in, I felt great and kept going. I hit the 40 mle finish point in 1 hour 43 minutes! My avg watts were way up especially considering my lower HR.

I was thinking about why I had such a good ride. This year, I committed to keeping the ball rolling forward with momentum. It's a simple analogy, but think about the beginning of the season when you first begin your serious training towards your A goal. This is when you first start the ball rolling. The goal is to build momentum, so as that when you approach your A race, you are peaking. The problem is that in the past, I'd do things to either slow the ball down, or stop it all together. Things like training too hard through illness, training too hard on consecutive days, not absorbing my training, not paying attention to my nutrition, ... You get the picture. This year, thus far, I've been getting smarter. I've taken more days off, yet feel stronger in general. I'm not a slave to my exercise log. I still aim for a very consistent routine, but I'm very honest with myself when assessing whether I need extra rest or not.

Of course, I am writing this as I sit here full of congestion. Remember, I mentioned I was getting smarter. "Getting" being the key word. I've always said I am a much better coach than I am an athlete.



Monday, May 21, 2007

Camp Roundup

Apologies for the lack of blogging at the CT camp, in case anyone besides Baker is actually reading this. This camp was so unbelievably busy - I just didn't have the time. This was by far, my busiest camp to date. In fact, Baker asked me yesterday "how do you think this camp went?" The Sunday of all my camps, I usually know exactly what I thought of the camp. This time, I responded with "to tell you the truth, I haven't had any time to digest it yet." Now that I have had a bit of time, I can say that this was one of the best ones, if not the best one, yet. (I know - it sounds like every current camp that I finish up seems to be the best one yet, but honestly, I really do try to up the ante each time.)

As I posted in my last entry, it started off with me a bit stressed and minus two bikes. Thursday was an awesome day including a 90 minute swim, a 5 hour bike with an 8 mile time trial in it and a 5 mile great climb, and an easy 30 minute beautiful trail run along this lake that's in the middle of nowhere. Then we had bike fit and aerodynammic analysis and dinner.

Friday, we met at 6:45am in the front lot to make the 5 minute drive over to the parking area in Salisbury for the Appalachian Trail. We were doing an out and back 90 minute run. The first 15 minutes of this run is up hill on the trail, some parts so steep that you have to walk. Then, it rolls up and down for 5 minutes, before another 5 minutes of climbing, including scaling a rock wall. Once up the wall, you are greeted with one of the most picturesque views around. It's an overlook that shows off the Berkshires and Connecticut, including some lakes. We then ran along the ridge for a bit and up and down a few more ridges, before returning. It's an amazing run, even though Mark took a face plant at one point earning him four stiches just below his nose! He had a pretty good nose bleed going. When we returned to the parking area, I mentioned to everyone that if they ventured off course, they'd end up getting punched in the nose by Baker, just like Mark did. Big Rock's came over to me and said "how cool is this that I ran on the Appalachian Trail on my 65th birthday!"

We headed back to the Inn for a great breakfast, and then dressed to ride. The weather forecast called for showers, so most dressed with quite a few layers. Kenn V. earned mvp honors by showing up for the ride dressed in what appeared to be a warm-up/track suit, like he was next in line on the bench in an NBA game. The ride was the Hudson River ride - an out and back ride to the Hudson, going over the Kingston Bridge. This Bridge is high and long! It's a 72 mile round trip on what I consider rolling hills. The campers argue that my definition of rolling hills isn't the same as their definition of rolling hills. The plan was for everyone to ride steady and at their own pace. I notice that when I ride with many at these camps, they seem to ride a bit harder than maybe they should, and I didn't want them digging too deep today, considering what they went through Thursday and what they had ahead for Saturday. I took off early and rode out to the bridge at a steady effort. This is a great, solid ride. It has hills constantly, yet you can stay aero and steady over the majority of them. Everyone did really well on this ride.

We met back at the conference room after this ride and had a long discussion on nutrition. This is such a hot topic and I gave my two cents on what works well for most. One of the main things I suggested was that those that are ultra regimented and over focused usually seem to be the same ones that wind up running into trouble on race day. The other suggestion I mentioned was that if you had a plan to use low glycemic carbohydrate sources like the hammer products, which I recommend, then stick with only low glycemic carbohydrate sources.

Friday night, John Brennan, Jeff Molson, Baker, Ken O. , and myself ventured out to an irish pub at another Inn to discuss John's exciting new business "My Athlete". This is going to be a winner, trust me. After a few too many Guiness's, we headed back to get some sleep before the big Saturday plans.

Saturday started at 5:45 am, with a short drive over to the pool. We did a swim session until 7:40, including some fun relays at the end. The losing teams had to do side planks and push-ups. Then, back for another solid breakfast, including an omlette I had with habenero peppers that the chef tried to talk me out of. I tasted these for the first two hours of the ride. We met to ride next and this ride was going to be a big one. I took out the first group at 10 am, and Baker and Kenny took out the second group at 10:20am. We were to meet in Kent center after an amazing amount of climbing including a jaunt up a 20% grade. From here I'd access how everyone was doing and decide the latter part of the route. My group did really well during the first three hours. we rolled out into a bit of drizzle and I could tell the group was a bit dejected by this and the fatigue from the past few days. I pulled them aside early and told them on days like this they need to go "emotionless". They can't think to much and let their emotions interfere. Instead, go into robot mode and just pedal. If it's slow pedaling, who cares? Just pedal and don't think. The drizzle past quickly and it was dry the rest of the ride. we lucked out unbelievably with the weather. While most of the surrounding area got wet over the four main days of this camp, we had barely a shower.

We regrouped in Kent center with some coffee and cookies, and then I sent a group back up rt. 7 to rt. 112, while I took another group up rt. 4 to 43 to 63 and over music mountain. Everyone rode really, really well! Most thought they'd be flat today after the previous two days and they rode strong. Scott Smith is riding at a new level, as is Mark M.. Dangle puts a lot of negetive pressure on himself but he rode very well. I got a chance to ride with every single camper today, for a good bit of time. We arrived back at the Interlaken around 4'sh and headed out on a hilly 6 mile brick run. Then, everyone received massages before dinner. Lot's of wine was drunk this evening, including a few bottles while Baker showed his infamous Saturday night video. Once again, he came through strongly. What he throws together and edits in just a few busy days is quite amazing. After everyone cleared out at 10pm, I met with Sean and Greg who are producing some spin dvd's with me. Greg had been filming all day which was quite bizarre for me. This meeting was very positive and I'm really excited about this business venture. Thes two guys are very, very good at what they do.

So after not much sleep, I awoke, grabbed some coffee with Baker as we tradionally do every morning of camp, and prepared for the 7am long run. It rained during this run, but that didn't matter. It was another stunning course. For those of you that have never seen this part of CT, you are missing out big time. I have put on camps around the country now and this one is probably the most scenic. Plus the roads are great and have no traffic. I started out in the back of the run talking with some of the campers. There was a group of four at the front and I bridged up to them and sat right behind them. After 15 minutes, they all slowed somewhat significantly. I ran the same pace as they started. I was curious to see if they would start out too quick, like most do on their long runs, and sure enough, they did. Most ran the very hilly course in 2 hrs to 2 hrs 20 minutes. We had brunch and then said goodbyes.

It was a great camp! Lots of training, lots of laughs and great people. I know that those attending will benefit significantly from the training they did. They should all realize that they are capable of handling a lot more than they may have thought.



Thursday, May 17, 2007

Never a dull moment

Yes, it's been quite awhile since my last post, but I'm back. We just finished the first full day of my CT camp and it's been extremely busy and eventful. Man, what a start to this one. Yesterday morning, I loaded up my car in the garage, and put my race bike and my new road bike on the back rack. The bikes were cleaned and ready for camp. The new road bike is my new favorite and the one I'd be taking to France this summer. I kept thinking about what needed to be done for camp, and wondering if I had forgotten anything. As I back out of my garage, I hear the crunch of metal. I stop quickly and didn't even need to get out of my car to know what just happened. Anita, my kids sitter, had hand surgery the day before and spent the night at our house. She has a car that's low to the ground that I didn't see. Long story short, both my bikes were toasted. The frames and wheels bent and cracked. I was sick to my stomach. I couldn't even speak. I grabbed a frame I had in my basement and made the drive up to the Interlaken, where I had hoped to switch the useable components off of my wrecked bikes onto this frame, and then head out and mark some courses. I was missing some parts that I had to run into Litchfield and then Torrington for, before returning back to Lakeville. This took most of the day. I called up my contact at Cannondale, Matt Cappiello, to see if he might be able to help me out, while I was building up my bikes. The cell phone coverage up here sucks and I was cut off leaving a message for Matt. Matt called me back and said, "Eric, is everything ok? All's that I heard was you were backing up and hit... Are your kids ok?" Boy did that put things into perspective for me!

The campers arrived and we went out for a beautiful run. This was just what I needed. We then had a great dinner, followed by the initial meeting. We have a fun group of 17 - they all seem adventerous and more importantly, they all have good senses of hmour.

Today was huge day - a 90 min swim first thing in the am, then breakfast, then a 2 hrs easy ride to the time trial start where everyone timetrialed the 8 mile course all out to provide me with some good HR info, then we refueled at the sag and road another 3 hrs including a good 5 mile climb. We followed that up with an easy trail run, then Greg pelican from Bethel Bike, who had joined us on the ride and run today and did a great time on the TT course, discussed bike fit and aerodynamics in cycling and demonstrated proper fit with a size-cycle. He did a great job, providing some very useful, informative information.

There were three MVP's today who will fill you in more. They all owe write ups for the site.

Thanks Matt C. for helping me out big time and for also putting things into perspective. Thanks Lou from Cannondale who Matt rallied to get me a demo bike to use for the camp and dropped one off late Wednesday night.

I'm wiped out and going to try and get some sleep.