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Older & Wiser: Nasty Cough

Older & Wiser: Nasty Cough

I've had a cough for the last couple of weeks. I initially thought it was nothing, and just kept training, which felt fine. But it held on & got worse rather than better, so I've just stopped training altogether & concentrated on getting the rest I need.

I'm finally on the mend & expect to be ready to hit the weights again on Friday. But I don't want to just jump back in where I left off, so I'll be repeating the second week of Mass Made Simple before moving forward & completing the program.

A week off, plus repeating a week means I'll be 2 weeks behind. The initial plan was for 7 weeks of mass building, but the extra two weeks pushes it to 9, and I'm not sure my body will want to do that. So once I hit week #5 of the program (which will be week #7 on the calendar) I'll be alert for signs of deeper fatigue: lack of motivation, stalled progress, trouble sleeping.

Focusing on next summer has made it much easier to make the right decisions this week. I feel like I have plenty of time to rest & recover and I'll still be able to bring my A game when it matters.

Measurements: Before

I meant to do this before the first workout on Tuesday, but I doubt much has changed in two days & one workout.

Here's the current state of things:

  • weight: 187.2#
  • calf: 15.5''
  • thigh: 32.5''
  • hips: 40''
  • waist: 38''
  • chest: 39.5''
  • biceps: 12.5''

The calendar says that I'll wrap up with Mass Made Simple around October 25, so I'll take the "after" measurements around the 30th.

Mass Made Simple

Mass Made Simple

Even before the last race of the Over the Hump season, I could feel that I needed a break. I was looking forward to being able to just ride wherever I wanted, if I wanted. And finishing 5th in that last race, and 7th overall, really made me feel like I'd done what I set out to do.

So what now? Well, it's a good time to take a big-picture look at my health & fitness, and to play the game so that I arrive in May 2020 stronger, fitter, faster and more injury-proof than I am now.

I talked with a nutritionist, who said that I generally eat pretty well, and suggested a few improvements to try. I'm trying them.

I've taken a rest week, and I'm now starting to do some light barbell work to acclimate my body to that kind of work again. (Mostly a modified version of Cosgrove's Evil 8, without the power cleans or good mornings.)

I've started Dan John's Mass Made Simple program. It's classic "bus bench" stuff: show up, do the workout, enjoy the results. The core of the workout is a barbell complex (row, clean, front squat, press, back squat, good morning) similar to Cosgrove's Evil 8, and a heavy helping of squats.

The first workout went really well, and today I'm definitely sore, but not hurting. (I went slightly easy on the complex to make sure I had the gas for the squats.) I'll up the weight a bit on the complex next time.

And honestly, I think just a 40-minute complex/squats/pull-up workout will be an excellent way to maintain my strength gains once I get back on the bike & start base building again in a couple of months.

Take-Aways from Over the Hump 2019

Take-Aways from Over the Hump 2019

I think the biggest difference between my first race results (12th) and my last (5th) was not fitness. It was being far smarter with my energy expenditure.

It's easy to think that I'll remember what worked and what didn't when next year rolls around. But I know myself better than that. So here's the stuff I picked up over the last few weeks/months of training & racing.

Pre-Race Protocol

Clean & fix bike the weekend before.

I really noticed that the drive train was happier after I cleaned & lubed the bike. (Not surprising.)

This is also when I'd address any problems that arose during the previous race. (Derailleur adjustments, wheel truing, etc.)

Monday shake-out ride

This gives me a chance to shake out any fixes I did on the weekend, and confirm that nothing is loose or misaligned after the weekend cleaning & tweaking.

I've found that the legs felt much snappier & performed better when I get a little low-volume intensity the day before. Climbing Coachwhip seemed perfect. (~10 minutes climbing at 165+bpm.)

Pre-Race Checklist
  • number plate
  • water bottles (2)
  • drink mix
  • protein shake in thermos
  • socks
  • shoes
  • glasses
  • helmet
  • gloves
  • gps
  • floor pump
  • bike
  • wallet
  • phone
  • keys
  • chamois butter
  • sunscreen
Arrive by 4:45 PM

That's enough time to:

  1. mount number plate
  2. get my leg marked
  3. check the course map
  4. pre-ride the course
Things to note on the pre-ride:
  • first bottleneck
  • first climb
  • last top-out
  • setup to final corner
  • final corner
  • sprint
Ditch the saddle bag.

My trail repair kit weighs ~570g. That's a nice chunk to leave behind for race day, and the start/finish area is always within walking distance.

Race Strategy

Line up at the front.

First or second row. Behind the known fast riders is fine, as they'll start fast & clean. Not behind unknowns.

Start fast, start clean.

A 45-minute race is no place to dilly-dally at the starting line. The leaders line up in front & get away quick. If I want to be anywhere near them, I gotta do likewise.

Grab a wheel on the flats.

The flat section along the lake is ~2:30. Get on someone's wheel & recover or gain speed.

Brake less, coast more.

I consciously stayed off the brakes as much as possible, which let me carry more speed.

And on every downhill I'd resist the temptation to keep pedaling, and instead I'd get into a low hinge and takea few deep breaths & try to recover a bit.

Look behind you.

Through the middle of the race, I found it really helpful to be aware of who was following me. (Shocking, I know.) Getting a gap was encouraging, and knowing I had not gapped my competitor(s) was helpful in deciding how to ride the lead-in to the flats.

From the top of the last rise, push hard to the finish line.

Near the top of the final rise before the finish, get a sense of who's behind me. Push over the top, close the door & keep it closed.

Post-Race Protocol

Protein shake immediately post-race

A shake with ~300cal & 30g of protein immediately after the race noticeably improved recovery.

Stretch & Sudafed/NyQuil the night after the race.

I found that I had some trouble sleeping after the race. It took me some time to wind down. And once I did, I could really feel the fatigue in my legs. I was consistently too warm to sleep.

This wasn't consistently a problem, but happened a couple of times, and when it did, it killed my recovery.

Over the Hump #12: 5th (Intermediate, 40-49)

Over the Hump #12: 5th (Intermediate, 40-49)

My final race of the Over the Hump season went really well. I managed to hit my personal goal of a top-5 finish, and racked up enough points to place 7th overall. I'm really happy with that.

The race this week got off to a much cleaner start than last week, though I had to make my way around a guy who lined up on the front row, but didn't seem to have the gas to stay near the front at the start.

In the meantime, half a dozen riders had come around me, so I set about not burning all my matches on the first punchy rise, and making the most of the flat along the lake. I found a train & jumped on, and was content to get pulled along, and could see that we were passing others in my division. When I did pull through, I just kept the same pace & tried to bring the rest of the train with me, but it broke apart and I found myself alone again on the CX section, which was fine with me.

I grabbed another wheel through the second lap's flat section, and actually felt like I'd recovered a bit going into the back half of the race. I just concentrated on cornering well and carrying as much speed as I could.

I came through the last lap feeling like I had a bit of a gap, but knowing that I'd had just a few seconds at best in every race so far. I wasn't about to let off the gas.

The course doubled back on itself several times near the end of the lap, so I could see that I had a little bit of a gap going into the final 500m or so of the race. But I wasn't about to take anything for granted. Nobody behind me for 30m or so was good, but no guarantee of anything.

I pushed over the top of the last rise and tried to carry as much speed as I could over the pump section. Coming out of the final, loose, uphill right-hander before the finish I hit the gas hard, and just tried to make sure I didn't give away any opportunities at the last moment. If anyone was going to get around me, I wanted to at least make them earn it. The only thought in my head was, Looking back just makes you slower! GO!

The way things shook out, I earned an overall score I'm fine with, hit my goal of a top-5 finish (which I thought wasn't going to happen), and have a nice pint glass as a souvenir. That's a pretty great way to finish out the season.

Next year, I'll aim to improve on that. But for now, I'm going to rest up for a week or two, then hit the weights & start laying the groundwork for next year.

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