Sunday, October 07, 2007

Intensity

Date: Oct. 7
Mileage: 23.1
October mileage: 124.1
Temperature upon departure: 42
Rainfall: .31"

Everything about my October training plan has been a bit of a struggle for me ... more time crouched over sweaty weight benches, less time on the bike, with the time I do spend on the bike generally of the red-faced-and-huffing variety. This picture I took on Thursday was all about pleasure ... a mountain bike ride with Geoff. That was a day off. The days on, of which I am gunning for five a week, consist of trips to the gym and these lung-burning cycling intervals that I don't enjoy but believe are crucial to my fitness - if only in my own mind.

I still haven't figured out how to integrate my intensity training with the fall monsoon. A workable medium between hot, cold and face-stinging rain is nearly impossible to find. Today I rode the most difficult route in my rotation - the sprint climb to Eaglecrest (which is less of a sprint and more of an energetic chug.) My legs are currently in great shape for such a project, but my lungs protest and protest, and gulping down all of that 40-degree air is not helping matters. By the time I reach the ski resort, my chest hurts, my throat hurts, and my clothing is saturated in enough sweat to nullify all of my rain gear. Then, just like that, I have to turn into the 40 mph descent and its sub-freezing wind chills, blinking back the rain in a confusing strobelight of spruce trees and pavement, until I start riding the brakes because I don't know which way is up and I can't feel my toes.

When I finally reach the bottom of the hill, I'm so fatigued from the climb that all I want to do is tip over and take a nap. But I'm so chilled from the descent that I have to mash the high gears through all of the six miles home, just to stay warm. When I finally make it home, I'm so completely wiped out by my 90-minute ride that I really do need to take a nap, but instead I choke down a lunch for which I have no appetite and slog off to work.

How do people train this way? It's tedious in all of the ways that long, slow mileage is fun. And between the sore lungs from these intensity rides and aching muscles from weight lifting, I'm almost starting to dread my workouts. But I'm not going to quit, because I do think it's helping. I'm finally confronting all of my weak points - the knee crackling and lung burning - and the longer I face my weaknesses, the better I'll understand them, and the more likely I'll be to overcome them when it really matters.

On a lighter note, it seems there are even tackier choices for full-face neoprene masks than the one I posted yesterday. eBay offers a wide assortment of designs, all with their own touch of sophistication. I think I should hold a vote. Which one should I buy?

Choice B: The full-face skull mask. This one says, "My mother never let me dress up as Freddy from "Nightmare on Elm Street" on Halloween, she always made me be the fairy princess, and now I just want to light things on fire."

Choice C: The bald eagle. Never mind that it looks more like a constipated duck. This one says, "I'm proud to be an American. And I have definitely never lived in Alaska."

Choice D: The clown from "IT": This one says, "Oh yes, Georgie, they float. Down here, they all float! And when you're down here, you'll float too!"

Choice E: The Confederate flag. I won't venture to guess what this design says about its wearer. I think these face masks are marketed toward winter bikers (as in motorcyclists); but I gotta say, I'm not sure about the crowd I'm falling in with here.