Thursday, January 29, 2009

Waiting 13 Years For My Breakthrough Season

I went to high school with Frankie Andreau but I didn't really know him. I remember seeing him interviewed on TV, right before he started his last Tour De France, and he was asked: "How do you think you will do this year?" Frankie smiled and said something like: "About the same as last year, not much changes at this point in my career." It was nice to see a professional athlete grounded in reality. I am neither.

The Iceman is a popular 27 mile point to point race every November. It officially ends my season. I had a great time at the race ; the weather was good, course was perfect, some friends and I rented cabins on beautiful Lake Skeegmog right between Kalkaska and Traverse City...perfect weekend. I had a less than mediocre result that ended my less than mediocre season. I told Cin at the end of the race that I think I am done racing. I didn't say this out of exasperation, I said it realizing I cannot generate the watts necessary to be a competitive racer.

I have a Polar 720i heart rate monitor that records my time and heart rate when I ride. Every month I down load the data onto my computer. The computer charts how much I ride and at what intensity level. I hadn't paid attention to these charts all season. In December when I finally looked at it, the data made very clear what I already knew: I did not ride as much or as hard as I have in the past. I knew other commitments kept me from riding as much as I wanted to last season but why I rode at a lower intensity wasn't so clear. All season I had trouble pushing myself to ride close to my anaerobic threshold, even on group rides that would turn competitive. I couldn't tell if it was physical or mental, not that it mattered because I wasn't a racer anymore.

Once the snow made the trails unridable I set up the stationary trainer, not to train this time, just to exercise. I was riding the trainer in late December when I noticed my heart rate was 164 BPM and I was feeling fine. I normally have to push myself a little to ride at my aerobic threshold. OK then, lets crank it up to my anaerobic threshold, 172 BPM. I held it there for 30 minutes. It wasn't easy but I managed just fine. Maybe my problem last season was just motivation. What if I am a little more careful this year to push myself when I need to and find clever new ways to fit cycling into my schedule? Is it possible to have your breakthrough season at 43? My first race is the Yankee Spring Time Trial on 4/19/09. I will push myself until then. If I finish in the top 50% of the Expert racers, or under 53 minutes, I will really make an effort to place this year.

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