Thursday, January 17, 2019

Lots of rain, little riding, racing this weekend

My last post (from what seems like forever ago) was about how was super frustrated with mountain biking because I felt like I couldn’t improve. I had written it a little while before I posted it, and I had another post in the works about how something had recently clicked and I was beginning to feel so much better on the trails. But that was back in November. We were riding so much then that I was becoming so fast and confident. The trail features that used to trip me up I could now (mostly) effortlessly fly over. Then the rain came, and came, and so did shorter days, and all the opportunities and motivation to bike went POOF. No longer were we riding a few times a week. Instead it was once every other week if we were lucky. And no longer did I feel like I could write a post about improving because my speed was falling and so was my confidence. Because of this lack of mountain biking, I haven’t been very inspired to write any new posts (sorry!). But it’s finally starting to dry out here, days are starting to get longer again, so we’ve been able to get a little more riding in lately (two whole trail rides so far this month!). But oof those rides have been rough! My endurance and power have gone bye bye and now I’m struggling up what were once easy hills and have to build back up to longer rides without my lower back hurting (which seems to happen when my legs are weak and I put more stress on my back). Though my confidence on the trails isn’t exactly what it was, I’ve been surprised that I’m not as much as a scaredy cat as I thought I’d be. Maybe I did actually improve and all that improvement hadn’t disappeared! My brain is definitely working harder than it should be and I have to concentrate more than I would if I were riding more frequently, but I don’t feel like I’m starting from scratch.

Such a sad drop of miles at the end of the year :(
But of course I haven’t been just sitting on my butt and not exercising during all this rain (that’s not even possible unless someone really wants me to go crazy). I’ve just been forced onto my trainer, which I’ve been using as easy day workouts, causing my biking muscles further deteriorate. Also I decided I wanted to keep building up my run and so I decided to train for a half marathon. It was going to be something good to do while the trails were too wet to ride and when Alex was supposed to be gone for work. But the trails are drying, Alex’s schedule has changed, and my running has been feeling better, so I don’t think I’ll actually race the half marathon. I’m not into doing races just to do them anymore. They're expensive, stressful, painful, time consuming, and just not exciting as they used to be. Especially simple road running races where unless I’ve specifically trained for it and want to PR, or a bunch of people I know are doing it, they're just not worth it. Because why would I spend all that money and time to run a certain distance when I can do it at my leisure for free? But that’s not to say I don’t like racing, it just has to be something different and more exciting.

Which brings me to a little, local off-road duathlon that I’ll be doing this weekend. Since there aren’t that many off-road triathlons, this one fills a void in my racing heart. I did it last year and it was fun, just a 2 mile run, 7 mile bike, and 2 mile run. My first off-road multisport race! With wide, flat dirt fire roads for the bike that was the perfect opportunity to fly on my cyclocross bike. And it was the first race I’ve ever outright won! Unfortunately not the most competitive field, but still exciting to win. And now I want to win again, but this whole lack of mountain biking has really dampened my motivation to train for it. Last week I finally got to take my cross bike out for its first ride in months, and though I was surprised that I felt pretty confident on it, my legs were sore the next day after riding for only 15 minutes. That whole power and strength thing necessary in off-road riding was nonexistent in my poor little leggies. This past weekend I did the tiniest brick ever and my right knee started killing for the first few steps of my run, but luckily it went away. But I’ve been trying to do more short rides on my cross bike this week to prep a little. No matter what, this race is definitely going to be interesting physically. I’m hoping it’ll kick my butt back into training mode because I want to do a few XTERRA races this summer and I do want to actually be well prepared for those!

Hopefully I'll be as happy at the duathlon this year as I was in this picture from last year!