rainy season training, in gifs

[A typical training week now that it's rainy season in Japan...]
Monday: Rest day. Check out training plan for the week.

Tuesday: Longer spin day, with intervals that don't look so bad so I'm all...

An hour later...

Wednesday: Short, sweet recovery.

Thursday: Power intervals. Ten times. DONE.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: 2 hours inside because of the rain.


Rinse. Repeat.

getting faux-ched

So, it’s getting warmer out. I mean, it’s shitty out now, but weather.com tells me we’re going to have an awesome weekend [starting Thursday, of course]. This also means layering and hiding behind coats is no longer an option. Time for everything to start getting shorter and tighter!
Wait...shorter? Tighter? Um...I am pointing to my still extant muffin top and...hi, wait, what???
A part of me kind of wants to tell spring to fuck off for a little longer. I’m pretty sure I haven’t lost any of that weight I gained the first year of law school which was...oh...like...THREE YEARS AGO. I mean, I can stay in denial for at least another 3 years, but with every women’s magazine on the planet touting ways to get into shape for “bikini season” [cue massive internal groaning], I’m well aware that I’m falling short.


To say that I started cycling to stay become fit would be like saying Tiger Woods is unfaithful. Not entirely inaccurate, but in both cases, we’ve managed to find something else along the way that piques our interests and addiction ensues. Unlike Tiger, I’ve been a willing participant in broadcasting my lack of game cycling skills, but honestly, guys, failure is exhausting.
And when you only have hardcore training plans and/or Chris “Imma make you do intervals until your heart feels like it’ll pop, then you can rest for 3 seconds before we do it all again because you want to be like Lance, don’t you?” Carmichael available to whip me into some semblance of shape, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. And while I’m completely okay being the slowest cyclist on the planet, I still finagled my way into a meeting this past weekend with a coach.



Enter Dave Sommerville. One of the handful of Cat 1s in NY, and one of three [yes, three] Cat 1s that work at NYC Velo. His UCI card has two “1”s and a “2,” which he wants to turn into a “1.” This would make him a triple Cat 1 in road, cyclocross, and track. His training plans are like from another universe of fast and painful.
I know this, and he knows this, which is why he’s not really my coach [more like my faux-ch]. But because DS is an awesome guy, for the price of dinner, I got a good two hours to form some sort of structure to my crazy pedaling. The man’s been racing pretty much as long as longer than I’ve been alive, so a lot of dinner consisted of me shutting my mouth and just listening [and scribbling]. He made most of his suggestions to me sound easy, but I suppose that comes with the territory when doing 1400+ laps around a 50 degree banked velodrome is your definition of fun.


I was sent home with some solid advice on where to start, reasonable goals to strive for [even without a road bike! Yay!], a stack of literature, some goodies [not that jersey though, more on that later], and the assurance that I have yet another pair of eyes looking out for an affordable, geared “hobbit bike.” I spent a good chunk of the rest of the night scouring ebay, though not much is popping up in my size. Of course, a little more digging revealed quite the beaut, but if I had $3k to blow, I’d like to think that I wouldn’t still be pulling at my pudge and pouting [but it’s not about the bike...right, Lance? RIGHT?!].
Okay, it's not about the pudge, either. But if I'm going to show up to my graduation in Lycra, I'd like to at least look fast doing it.
So I got some new goals, some more body fat to lose, and a motherfucking training plan, son! Now let's see what I can do with myself by graduation...

commute to train

"It's cold out today. Or, that's what I thought when I got in my car."
I'm met with a variation of that comment at least once a week when people see me with a bike in one hand and a helmet in the other. A friend once informed me, in the middle of that frigid cold snap we had back in December, that no one should be riding in this weather. It's probably true and sometimes - other than the fact that the bike just gets me there faster - I'm not sure why I still do it. I know I'm capable of riding through a Boston winter. I have nothing to prove by repeating the miserable experience.
Because while winter bike commuters deserve a gold foil star sticker, that doesn't make them - myself included - any better than any other cyclist. Tolerating the short commute from my apartment to school and back in something like 0F temperatures isn't fun, but it takes a little lot more to do that, then go home to get back on a bicycle for a few solid hours.


Yeah, I know, it's old news. But listening to the things my friends are doing, and then actually trying to emulate even just a tiny slice of their training, is kind of like finally admitting to yourself that you're dating an asshole. First, you attribute that whole gap between yourself and your Cat 1 and 2 friends to mutant elite genes that you just don't have. Like this is as good as it's going to get, right? [Wrong.] Then those friends start to encourage separation from that lifestyle and you start to believe that it's actually possible and you're not going to die [of heartbreak or otherwise] in the process. Finally you're like WTF, I can do way better than this and I'm going to prove it and you dump the motherfucker [or in this case, the couch and TV].
But when people have real jobs that don't include "student" somewhere in the title, training apparently involves things like getting up at 5.30am to spin for an hour, then going to work and afterwards hitting the gym, running and riding on the weekends and spending every waking moment not in bed or on the toilet in the saddle. And finding myself in that slight limbo where I don't really know what I'm doing, I'm tempted to regress to the familiar confines of my couch and wasting countless hours on the Internet. Even if, like any overdue break-up, I know that once I man up about this, I'm never going to want to go back to what I had going before.


So I've been trying. To not make excuses, that is. I'm trying to spend more and more time on the rollers [love those things] while retaining all my other time commitments. Which presents a very obvious and elementary math problem of not having enough hours in the day [another reason why I am currently in awe of all of those in training; they have somehow managed to control time by leading fairly regular lives while getting in 3-4 hour rides at least every other day]. And on top of all that, they also have the ability to push themselves really, really hard. When they're alone. In their houses. On their trainers. If that doesn't turn you on, you need to go find another blog to read [...maybe this break up won't be so hard, afterall?].
With my complete lack of discipline and the desire to stop when things get ridiculously sweaty, at least half of me is fairly sure that I'll meet spring still out of shape and whining in the pedals. But like my regular announcements to best friends after a break up that I will never, ever date another man again, I'm hoping that thinking positive in the face of the seemingly impossible might be enough to prove me wrong. If not, I'll at least get skinny trying.
Or so I hope.

sunny sailing

I never really understood the obsession with protein until my hot cousin married a yachtsman.
Tall and ruggedly handsome, sporting the perpetual tan, I was impressed. He also happened to be a super nice guy, and we shot the shit about the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup, the then-new yacht used by Team New Zealand that ended up breaking into pieces, and what it feels like to be on a yacht that is fucking flying. On water.
He also told me how, when he was racing full-time, he was eating about 10,000 calories a day.
Back then, I was all wtf. But following and befriending a few real cyclists, it makes sense, and consuming that many calories doesn’t seem so much like a death sentence to skinny. Well, that and the fact that my cousin’s husband had a regimented diet balanced out for his sailing skills.


I don’t have a nutritionist, unfortunately, so I’m left to my own devices of “don’t eat too much processed shit” and “eat balanced meals.” Which translates to “eat stuff that won’t break the bank.” Too bad when you start riding a lot more, you tend to get hungry. Like all the time.
So in comes protein [to supplement my massive caffeine consumption], which is supposed to keep you fuller longer and help build muscle and all that goodness. But being a former vegetarian, I'm a tiny bit wary of animal products. Still, when a friend comes up to visit his parents who own some free range chickens, and hands you half a dozen fresh eggs, dinner for the next week is going to be omelettes and sunny side ups and scrambled eggs.


Cracking open the first one in the pan a few nights ago, I was tempted to bike down to M1’s parents’ house. Or at least steal a chicken. These things are huge. These eggs are to grocery store eggs what Chris Hoy would be to a sad anorexic hipster. And as delicious [looking] in comparison.
I've actually been hoarding a few; making that half dozen stretch. And as odd as it may sound, this is dinner food. I somehow still can't manage to eat much before a ride. Call it a digestive system used to a day that starts at school or the office, but eating anything before 9am [even with a ride planned] takes a conscious effort. Although, of course, that could just be a sign that I need to do more riding.
At least these delicious protein bombs have me pedaling faster on the way home...

rim friction

Inexplicably, I get less sleep on the weekends than during the week.
Well, "inexplicably" to the ordinary person. Usually asleep by 1am, up by 6am the following morning, I try to be out the door and on the bike by 7. Anyone who goes out on training rides knows the deal. Besides, riding early means less traffic and having the planned route all to yourself. And riding alone means I can sometimes sleep in until 7, without worrying about scrambling to meet a friend.
Even on 5 hours of sleep, the freedom of flying down wherever on a bicycle is totally worth it.
After a long week, I was aching to go on a ride Saturday. I got up and did the usual routine of not stretching enough and forcing myself to eat before jumping on my newly-freewheeled bike. I had a shorter ride planned and my bag stuffed with gym clothes and running shoes to force myself to head directly to the gym afterwards. And coasting down Beacon, I was on the fringes of zoning out. Finally.


Still searching for that happily numb flat-lining my brain does when I'm out on a ride, I pulled on the brakes at a red light. And as I attempted to hop back on, I felt resistance.
Confused, I looked back at my rear wheel and saw something I am [unfortunately] all too familiar with. A misaligned wheel [from when the hub was flipped over on Friday] was rubbing up against one of the brake pads. I was only about 7 miles in.
My slowly forming bubble of happiness popped. In fact, it shattered into a million sharp pieces which then dug into a rapidly reviving stress monster. My adjustable wrench was lying on the floor of my apartment. I was somewhere in Waltham. Total suck fail.


I refused to turn back and just pulled at the brake pad to loosen it whenever I stopped. Each tug was coupled with a sigh that was also fueling an exploding sense of bitchery. This was the worst day for this to happen.
Ironically, I was only able to zone out much later as I ran on a treadmill. The wheel got realigned after my scheduled time in purgatory [read: the gym] and the promise of a better ride the next day alleviated the panicked sense of bike hypochondria.
Yeah, I know, another [preferably geared] bike I can use for training rides would be [more than] useful. I'm working on it. Really.
[I know, I didn't post this weekend...but if you're really curious about what I'm up to, I just may be on twitter...]

a cyclist's dilemma

I got rained on yesterday - for the first time this summer.
It wasn't even heavy rain, and lasted a mere 5 minutes. But lacking a front fender, my legs were instantly covered in beads of water, raising goosebumps on my unevenly tanned appendages.
It was the first time, in a while, that I was sort of uncomfortable on my bike. And between dodging puddles and eyeing the overcast sky, I was actually thankful that I had a run scheduled yesterday afternoon, and no ride.
As much as I'd love to move to Seattle, sometimes I wonder how much riding I'd get in if I actually did.


The nicer weather's definitely been spoiling me. Rain shouldn't even be a problem, just sort of messy. There's no ice or snow involved, no layers and layers of clothing to stay warm, no feeling as if I'm pedaling with all my might but not moving. But I'm still trying to dodge the outdoors, and using gyming, errands, and overdue hat orders as excuses to stay inside.
Lame, I know. I mean, I know. The worst part is that gymming is just...so much easier. Running indoors on a treadmill at a gym conveniently located on my way home from work takes no psychological effort. On the other hand, planning a route, making sure I have everything I need [tubes, pump, energy bar, water, etc.] for a ride, then actually throwing down even a so-so number of miles is much more mentally straining. And when it's wet, humid, and rainy out, motivation conveniently slips away and is nowhere to be found.


I'm running again today [the guilt!]. But only because tomorrow morning looks like it's going to be clear. And that means a real bike ride.
Faux-roadie-proseur weekend, here I come!