Monday, February 25, 2008

Like a good mixed tape

Nothing but fresh tracks in the photo.

January wasn't all that satisfying. After coming off a big block of rest and holiday cheer it took me a couple weeks just to start to feel good again. The weather sucked and it was a little easier to make excuses when it was 33 and raining, especially since there was no real fun on the horizon. When February rolled around I made a pact with MJ not to miss any workouts...

I think everyone can relate to either making or receiving a good mix tape. I used to make them all the time and really put some thought into them to impress the girlies. You have to start them off with some ketchy familiar tunes, but not so familiar that they are already played out, to draw the listener in. In February the training started to get more fun with the introduction of some actual work which, like the good tape, got me interested again. I wasn't suffering through 4 hour LSD anymore, I was training through 5 hr rides and the motivation was really high. With some racing on the horizon in the middle of the month I was committed to training through it and the feel good tunes were really doing a job on my overall frame of mind. The next couple songs are a bit more upbeat- in- your- face- style listening... New stuff that ignites the senses and forces you to learn the lyrics, roll down the windows on a warm spring day and sing it at the top of your lungs as you speed. Too bad there weren't any warm spring days, but I was singing through workouts at the top of my lungs. I started to actually enjoy training in really poor conditions and was thriving off the workouts while wondering in the back of my head who was making "the excuse" that day.

Once you have the listeners attention it's time for some headiness. These are the tracks that make the hair on your arms stand up a little. Maybe a little bit slower, but with a riff or lyric that makes you want to cry... When you are listening to a really good one you know it's coming but hope there is just one more song before you have to flip the tape... Near the halfway point of my training block I was really into it and was struggling to maintain total focus and train right through the Tour de Groundhog race, which would have been the right thing to do. Unable to resist, the competitive side of me eased up a little the week before the race so I could be fresh. I figured figuring our where my fitness was in a race situation wasn't that bad an idea and it was too far away to suffer from being spent like I did at Faust Park.

The flip side. A solid 2cd place finish at the CX race was just what I needed. The first half of side two is meant to throttle the listener. I was amped up, energy was high, motivation was high and the weather still sucked. That wasn't getting me down though. Now I had the second half to look forward to. With real racing coming in just two weeks I was into making it count. I was recovering from every effort really fast so I wanted to pile on a little extra work before taking a rest.

At this point you have sent the listener on an emotional journey with peaks and valleys like Summit County. It's time to unleash some fists of fury on their ass and have some fun. I managed to get in some decent hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then took a breather on Thursday to clean up the CX bike and Epic, which were trashed. On Friday I was committed to getting a 3 day block of solid work in before I cut the engines and cooled the wings. I had my best workout of the year on the rollers, a 1 hr sub threshold effort, which was so easy I wanted to keep going but ran out of time. I ended up getting 2 hours of continuous indoor riding which must be some kind of record. Saturday after work I was still buzzing and managed to stay upright on the ice while getting more hours in at Forest Park in the dark. I started to run out of tape, but like staying up really late listening to cd's to find the perfect track to add to the flow, I was getting tired and needed to rest.

I woke up to snow on the ground Sunday morning. Not as warm as they predicted. Wanted to get 5 hours in to push it the fitness. I got suited up with foul weather gear, embrocation on the feet, and extra pair of socks and fenders on the CX bike. Within 10 minutes I had slid sideways on some train tracks and nailed my rear wheel on the next one, pinch flatting my tube. I had no choice but to go home and get more. The roads were really wet and slushy but I still had the music buzzing in my ears and wanted hear how it ended.

I re-stocked my supplies and got back on the road. The River Front Trail was covered in snow with a layer of ice underneath. If the bottom layer had tracks you would get sucked into them and lose control. I hugged the wall and thought about how much this was like riding a mountain bike in mud. The thought of it being erfect training for St. Joe was satisfying. I was cruising along when I came up on some more tracks and thought it would be better to hit them at speed. I thought wrong. I ate shit all over the place. I was pretty much O.K. other than pulling my right quad trying to jump over my bike as I was going down... Nothing but a 3 second hiss in between tracks... My legs were heavy on the climbs and my feet were numb but I pushed on. I was worried about making it back before dark but I pushed on. The bottom layer of ice under the snow was soft on the way back but I stayed focused and upright. The thought of a mega meal and some sweets made me push a little harder, the next couple days would be for resting...

I felt pretty good about finishing up and bringing the heat the way I did for the ride as well as the month on the whole. Time to rest a little. For me, the last couple tracks were always about breaking up the flow with some total cheese. Just a couple songs to set your feet back on the ground and take a little breather before you flip the tape and listen in for the lyrics or solos you might have missed the first go around... I'll be listening for them when it's time.

Don't be fooled by me pissing in your ears like this though; I almost always listen to live Phish when I train. Like my training, after every blazing Phish show, you know that at the end you are going to be treated to a raging encore.

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