First off, to Ruth S, thanks for having the stones to make the tough call. I'm sure yesterday's nice weather was like chalk in your throat, but you did the right thing. Hopefully everyone understands that you now get to re-do about 50% of the work that went into the thing in the first place, and everyone leaves their whiney pants in the drawer and realizes that however inconvenient it is/was for THEM, it was/will be a lot more inconvenient for YOU.
This season, for me, is wrapped around doing well at Killington. What is "well?" To borrow an oft-used phrase, I can't define it but I'll know it when I see it. That's a tough part about setting goals in cycling. Who knows who's going to show up? If I race master's, I might be racing against that whole former pro cyclocross mafia. It's a well known fact that Boston tough guys don't actually reach full strength until the age of 46. On the other hand, if I race in the 3s, there's bound to be a group of guys who were 5s three weeks ago, 4s two weeks ago, and will be 1s in July. What am I going to do against that? Nothing. Nothing is what I'm going to do against that. So the goal is to show up confident and in great shape, race like I mean it, and come away satisfied with my preparation and execution. It's all I can do.
To this end, I've tried as hard as I know how to stay in "base and build" mode as long as I can. As anyone who's ever used 580 of their finest watts to come around and drop me at any town line sprint (and that's on my good days) knows, I have significant gaps in my game. That's part of the goal selection process - I ain't trying to win on the Champs Elysees, you know? Time trialing and climbing are the things I need to improve in order to feel like I'm ready to rumble. A hard block of training those skills came to an end yesterday, but peaked on Saturday. About 20 minutes into a 70 mile ride going over Mount Weather and Blue Mountain, a team mate wasn't in love with the pace I was setting and came up to say "hey, let's be realistic, have you got 70 miles of this in your legs?" With no doubt or hesitation, in fact I was almost eager to say it, I said "yup!" And I absolutely did have it. The best I felt on a day when I never felt less than very good was in the final rolling 15 miles, where I was just caning it on the front, having a ball. Just before this, we'd climbed Blue Mountain, which I was able to climb at a little over 90% of threshold (an output which I would have called my threshold a year ago) without feeling like I was going deep at all.
So the puzzle before me is how to get another month of improvement out of "baking the cake" before I spend the last month putting the icing on? Yesterday's ride, which was 2 solo hours of "ok, I just got clear of the group, how long can I stay away?," tells me that I've physiologically adapted to hard miles. By the way, that's a fun game - you do 20 minutes of warm up and then try to make your ride's average wattage continually tick up for the remainder of 2 hours. It's hard as shit (you spend a LOT of time in the 11 on anything that's even remotely down hill), but it gives you a good carrot to chase. I did crack while trying to do the last 15 minutes at 100% of threshold. I was cooked. But is adding another half cup each of "painful" and "not short" in the next block going to cause the sauce to thicken brilliantly, will it cause the pot to boil over, or will it turn it into a hot mess?
The other part of the equation is confidence. I can train and train and train and I often hit the start line with a self-defeating mindset. That may be the harder thing to work on. Quitting beers has me a couple of pounds down (4 of 8 left to go) but also helps me know that I'm not sabotaging my efforts with stupid crap. A post-ride turkey sandwich instead of bacon cheeseburger, fries, and a beer makes a big difference in the mind as well as the body. When you burn off 3200 calories of "whatever the crap was that you ate before" and replace it with something quite a bit better than whatever the crap was that you ate before, every aspect gets a benefit. It's funny how related nutrition is to confidence for me, but I do think they are really closely tied. It's the area where I've done least well in the past, even if I generally eat way better than the average bear. "Hard weekend ride" does not equal "deserves a huge cheeseburger and 5 Leffes."
Next weekend is Morgantown, which if you haven't already signed up for, you should. There are a few guys who we know are going to be psycho fast. Fortunately, one of them wears the same pretty shirt that I do. Figuring out how to help stack the deck in his favor is the question for the week. Hopefully a recovery week this week will put me in a position to be a big help to him but sometimes I come out of lighter weeks stale as anything. We'll see.
In totally other news, we're working on our race. The later part of this season is looking like it's going to be an action packed barrel of monkeys.
I know this whole post has been self important, introspective, quasi-whining dross. What part of that weren't you expecting when you clicked the button to come here? So there.