Monday, March 25, 2013

Day # 1 of Intensity "Pixy vs Norvasc"

Last Saturday was my first day of intensity training in 2013. It also happened to be my first race of the year. Although jumping into a fire is not a totally bad idea, this was not in my master plan. I usually start upping my intensity around March 1, and work up to a short track race and then a XC race. This year, although in better shape than usual on March 1, things got messed up.

If I can back things up a bit: I started Norvasc, a blood pressure medication at the end of February right after my trip to Arizona. Norvasc is not a banned in cycling drug, for all the anti Lance fans out there. A few days later I experienced some fatigue and felt quite lethargic with my riding. I assumed I was over extended in my training and took a week of rest. …. then another week. After 3 weeks of sleepy, lethargic 1 hour recovery rides, I ended up back at the doctor and being taken off the medication. Apparently, I experienced some less common side affects that the drug company did not list on the pharmacy sheet.

Uncertain on race day of what day four off the meds would do for me, I took the start line to test my health and to attempt my first day of intensity training. I used caution with a mass co-ed start and lined up in back. Once I cautiously worked my way into the single-track, and it was quite a squeeze down at the first turn, I was forced to sit in a bit to wait for safe passing room on this very tight, wet, narrow course. I did rub a few tires and elbows, as to be expected with this type of course.

It eventually opened up for me and I glanced down to see numbers on my heart rate monitor that I had hoped to see on March 1. It was such a relief, that it almost brought tears to my eyes. While most racers on course were wanting to vomit in pain, I was teary-eyed with happiness. It felt so good to be healthy and able to race, I never noticed any pain or effort. It was like business a usual as I worked through my usual lap 2 stomach cramps and then the diesel kicked in as it usually does. I felt like I powered into the finish and was handed a block of wood and a beer.

Elated with first race day feeling, I headed out on a 50 mile hilly road ride the next morning. I had not been able to ride more than an hour or so at a time over the last 3 weeks and here I was out for back to back days and a 3+ hour ride while feeling good. I can not wait for the snow to melt, so I can get back on some rocks. Oh yeah, and I do have to go back to the doctor and figure out what to do for my blood pressure next, but for now, I am out riding and enjoying.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

North Carolina

The appalachian mountains never stop to amaze me with their verdant beauty: dirt roads twisting and winding though mountains of towering rhododendron and laurel. Water gushing, and seeping through every crevice. Steep banks filled with galax and moss. The forests are extremely lush and remind me why so many choose to call these mountains home.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Chasing the Sun

As the winter rolls on, the anticipation of spring grows ever so strong. By the time March arrives, us mountain bikers want spring so bad, that we start to believe that it is actually here, when it is not. And then, right on cue, March inevitably bites us on our backsides, forcing us to accept another month of winter. Being a trail builder makes this time of year even more difficult, because I want to ride in the woods more than ever, yet daily freezing and thawing of the ground makes most trails a mess. My best judgement steers me to facing the chilly winds on the road bike.

My solution to this dilemma is to leave New Jersey and chase some sunshine in a foreign place where the sun shines strong and the trails stay dry more days than not. Destination: Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson Arizona. A mini blizzard on arrival made for some beautiful contrasts in the dessert. Hard to believe, but five inches of snow was completely gone at trail level in a day or two. Wildlife sightings over those fews days were incredible. A hawk with a broken wing, unable to reach his nest, had created a war for nesting in the big pines and coyotes were wondering through the yard multiple times a day.

A few days later I was enjoying a variety of single-track in shorts and short sleeves. The injured hawk went missing, and was most likely eaten by coyotes, picked over by ravens and feathers used for nesting by birds. Just like the snow that came and went, supplying moisture for life, life itself is completely absorbed quickly, feeding itself. Life goes on in this harsh but beautiful sunny place. There is perfection in the system.

My visits to WOW in Arizona are always appreciated. ....Back in New jersey, recharged by the sun and the beauty of the desert, I wait for spring alongside the daffodil sprouts in my back yard. As an athlete, I have great appreciation of the seasons. Just like our bodies needing rest to grow, the seasons supply rest for the forest and all it's wildlife. I am glad to be over the hump of winter and waiting for the next stage ahead.