Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Off season???

I started an an awesome post about off season, but it seems to be everyone's favorite topic. I know it will be discussed in a soon to be released TBC podcast. I have a behind the scenes preview! BTW, Have you checked these out yet? You can hear me talk about spectating/supporting in Kona (Yea I still get the chills), and a little bit about what's lacking in triathletes, what it takes to get there, and of course cyclocross. Find it on Itunes or facebook, its free!

So I'll let my post on off season die with the exception of a few bullet points:

*keep moving, do something

*do something different.....if you want to get faster or make some improvements, you HAVE to change it up; season after season of moving in the same way at the same pace will keep you....right where you are; are you happy with that?

*address your weaknesses

I was asked to write a race report for the CCC series race #6/ ABD Sunrise Park for the Chicago Women's Bike Racing Blog. You can read it below.... or check out www.cwbr.blogspot.com. and this is how I love spending my triathlon off season, and my cyclocross in season!

ABD Sunrise Park, Oct23 2011
By Lindsay Zucco

Sunrise Park lived up to its name providing an amazing day with the bright sun and perfect temps. Just like the many 180 degree turns throughout the course the conditions were a complete 180 from last week’s Carpenter’s Cross Mudfest. While the mud is fun, it was nice to have the sun, some dry conditions, and no need for bike scrubbing post race. The just over 2 mile course is the longest in the series with a great mix of obstacles to put you to the test including the challenging 6 pack of barriers, heckle hill, wood chips and uphill sections out of turns.

Women’s 123 welcomed newly upgraded Kim Brokhof/ Spidermonkey to the start line along with Holly Klug/Pony Shop making her come back post baby. I had to laugh at her comments about timing nursing with racing. Even though it’s been a few years for me, I myself have experienced a swelling chest near a start line. At least in cyclocross you don’t have to run much! There were 20 racers at the start and I have to say it is so much better having more girls in the field this year. With more girls on the course there are more people to chase, or to hold off, which can elevate you to the next level and make you stronger in the end. I have never been one to shy away from competition and think racing against the best will only make you faster.

After an absolutely horrible start I found myself not in a good position through the tight turns at the start of the race and was hung up behind the main field making it difficult to pass. This always frustrates me, but I tried to relax knowing there were plenty of sections to make a move. The front girls took off incredibly fast and my CX legs are still making their come back from a summer of ½ Ironman racing, but once I hit the woods and I finally felt like my legs were with me and I was able to move up a few places. I could still see a few of the front girls which motivated me to put my head down and dig. I caught a few more going through the barriers. By the time I worked my way around back to the start I could taste blood in my lungs, and saw we still had 3 laps to go. Wow. I thought ouch, but at the same time was glad because I could see a few at the front starting to fade and I was just starting to feel good. I eventually caught Ellie Blick who always has great starts and could next see I was gaining on Holly. Every spot I could, I surged to make up some ground. She kept getting closer and closer a few times I even got on her wheel, but it became obvious to me how well she can handle the turns and I still slow down too much. All the hard efforts I used to get closer would get erased in the corners and I simply couldn’t get the job done. Through much of the 2nd and 3rd laps I could still see Ellie and Lindsay Knight battling back and forth behind me. I was a little worried all my hard surges might come back to haunt me and one of them would catch me in the end, but in the last stretch through the uphill turns, the 180 into the woods and around heckle hill I dug as hard as I could and finished 8th for the day and in the prize money which makes 8th seem a little more tolerable.

Congratulations to all the W 123 racers, and to the podium for the day:
Sam Schneider 1st, Kim Brokhof 2nd (wow what a debut) and Mia Moore 3rd. Thanks to ABD for putting on an amazing course. Up next: Campton Cross, my home course! Bring your Halloween costumes and candy !

Thursday, October 13, 2011

RockStars ***

Having the opportunity to go to Kona to watch the best race at the highest level is always an unforgettable experience. The best are there to race and lay it on the line. All the athletes have worked so hard all year just to qualify, and show up there ready to race. Sure the pros are Rockstars that are amazing to watch, but I love seeing the top age groupers kill it and have the race of their life. Race morning at the pier I can hardly breathe. With the beat of the Hawaiian drums, the helicopters flying, and the sun coming up over the mtn. and Mike Reilly getting the crowd and athletes fired up its hard not to get excited and nervous. I am more nervous for Adam on these mornings than I am for my own big races. I see on a daily basis the hard work and dedication that goes into showing up at the start line in Kona.

(hanging out the night before the race)

AZ had another amazing day in Hawaii. Not feeling tip/top he gutted it out and still had a race he used to dream of. The competition is tough there, and there is nothing like racing against the best to take you to the next level.

This is my blog where I like to talk about myself, and share some of my experiences and knowledge, but this time I’m going to highlight a few of my amazing athletes who had their own rockstar seasons. As a coach I see almost on a daily basis the hard work and dedication my own athletes put into their season and each having unique obstacles to deal with that add to the challenges of training.

Cori Frayer

Cori was 3rd in the 25-29 AG at IM Wisconsin, good enough to qualify for 2012! She is an amazing runner and can run like the wind, but on the tough IM Wisconsin bike course she had a break through bike performance. Cori had been diagnosed with melanoma about a year prior resulting in about 9 surgeries to remove the skin cancer. This made riding outside in the Arizona heat and sun all summer not the wisest choice, so much of her riding was done indoors. I tried to create tough indoor trainer workouts that simulated the steep climbs in Madison. She was dedicated to getting the work done and did those tough long indoor workouts and the results paid off and will be heading to the Big Island next year!

Sarah Arnold

Sarah had made steady improvements over the past 2 years I’ve been working with her. She is an amazing mom of 4 young kids and balances her training with coordinating the activities of 4 very involved kids, and a husband who also trains and races. (hmm I know a little about this myself!) This year Sarah qualified for Vegas and was 3rd in the W 40-44 AG at Muncie and 4th AG at Steelhead and completed the season by winning the Female amateur (nonelite) OA at Chicago Triathlon. She is extremely dedicated and hard working and completes the work, logs in her workouts and has proven she can race at with the top girls. Elite Waves next year Sarah!

Lorna Im

Lorna has made huge improvements in just one year of working together. She was dedicated to improving her swim bike and run and followed the workouts as planned. She is a busy MD who has "on call" hours making balancing work, training and family challenging. She follows the plan and gets the work done which allowed her to make huge improvements. Her goal this year was to PR her marathon time and to finish a 70.3 race. She accomplished both and went on to do 2 more 70. 3 races. She raised her FTP significantly over the season which gave her the confidence and ability to surved our killer Georgia camp.

There is no substitute for hard work and dedication. I see it every day in my own home, every time I check the logs of my athletes and every year in Kona.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Getting Dirty/ and Kona Taper

Cyclocross season is on!....but I’ve been feeling like I’m still in complete taper mode. Cyclocross training and racing is TOUGH, my HR goes way up and I am sucking air, and even walk around a little stiff and sore, but I still feel like I’m tapering because the overall volume of time is so much less than what I’ve been doing all spring and summer. This has become my Kona taper for the past 3 years. Mid October I take a break from the bike head to Kona and do some running on the island, swim a little (hmmm I’ll have to find my goggles) and cheer on Adam and this year a lot of friends. I cross train by doing some surfing and stand up paddling. I’ll miss race number 3 of the CCC. I always do which leaves me behind in the series with a lot of catching up to do, but it’s worth it. Plus this year the CX season is extra long. Nationals are in Madison in January with a whole lot of races before then and I want to make it to the starting line.

I’ve raced twice already and done numerous wet, hilly, dirty rides. I’ve come home muddy, and bloody a few times, but I have LOVED hitting the trails and riding off road. Triathlon was fun and rewarding this year, but I have also been anxiously awaiting the start of cyclocross. The benefits of switching gears like this are huge, both mentally and physically. Triathletes have the tendency to end the season, take a short break then get right back at it so they can get fitter and faster for next year..... because that’s going to be the year to qualify for Kona. Many skip doing strength, technique, skill, or work on weaknesses. This leads to going back to using the same muscles in the same way (often the wrong way) and then wonder why they aren’t getting faster, or the same body parts keep hurting. Cyclocross riding puts your body in a different position on the bike, takes you on grass, trails, sand, or snow. Much of the pedaling is done with a higher cadence and incorporating fast explosive surges and uses the muscles differently. Racing cyclocross is also a mental change. The goals are different, there are no paces to hit, other than all out. You race as hard as you can for 45 min and that’s it. It is a laid back crowd that is still competitive, but supportive and out to have some fun.
The first race of the series was 1 week out of Vegas 70.3. My mind was ready for change but my legs were completely confused what to do with the fast surges, and my technique for tight turns and cornering were rusty since I had been riding aero all summer. By the 3rd lap I was ready to go and felt like I could keep racing. That is so “triathlete”. The course was slick, wet, muddy and full of tight turns which made it difficult to use fitness to get ahead. I don’t mind the mud, but like a tougher course. For some reason girls from Michigan and Wisconsin came to race and the field was stacked. So with triathlon fatigued legs and a kick ass field I wasn’t happy with my finish, but left motivated to put the CX back in my legs. Two weeks of training on trails and dirt left me feeling much more ready for race 2 in Dekalb. Hopkins Park has a flyover, a small hill and some areas to test your fitness. This is one of my more favorite courses. I had a great start and worked my way up into 3rd place before the end of the first lap. I felt so strong and I usually gain on girls as the race goes on. However, during the 2nd lap I started feeling my rear wheel sliding out from me as I was cornering hard. Then I felt like I was going nowhere and finally couldn’t corner at all. Sure enough a flat rear wheel. I rode on it flat to the wheel pit and I managed a wheel change thanks to Bicycle Heaven Eric. However it took way to much time and threw me completely off. I knew if I finished I’d at least score some points. Once rolling again I just rode as hard as I could and actually caught back up to the end of the field. I walked away frustrated because I was riding strong and racing near the front (minus the cat 1 who showed up), but excited at the same time because I know I can be up there.

So I’ll come home little rested, maybe somewhat tan and, way behind in the CCC series, but highly motivated to climb on the cross bike again and race.