Cycling

Training for a Century Ride: Part 4

August 4, 2009

Kathleen & Bert Pre-Race

Three virtual coaching sessions (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) with Sage Rountree were the key to Kathleen Burke Jensen successfully completing her first 100 mile bike ride as a member of Team Fatty (FatCyclist.com) in the LiveStrong Challenge on July 12th in San Jose, California. Sage coached Kathleen on all aspects of preparing her mind, body and bike for this challenge. Let’s join them as they review the ride and discuss what worked well and what to improve on next time…

SAGE: Kathleen, congratulations on your century accomplishment! How did everything go?

KATHLEEN: The ride was completely amazing! Overall the experience was a huge success for me personally. I achieved my primary goal of completing the ride (without injury) within the allotted time before the course was officially closed.

Here are a few of the things that I think really worked for me on the ride…

Training. Being out on the road for 8 hours (6 1/2 of that was actually on the bike) was totally manageable thanks to the plan you laid out to build up our mileage weekly. I never really dragged—well, except for the hill. My legs felt relatively strong even when we were battling a headwind.

Nutrition. This was an incredibly well supported ride. LiveStrong put on a top-notch event with fully stocked rest stops packed with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas, peaches, oranges, trail mix, Gatorade, and of course every type of PowerBar snack imaginable.

This wealth of nutrition was doled out by the most cheerful and plentiful groups of volunteers who offered to hold our bikes and fill our water bottles while we made a beeline for the toilets.

I learned I did not need to carry quite so much of my own food, though I was happy to have my Clif Shot Bloks, which had served me well in training.

Clothing and Sunscreen. My new Sugoi cycling knickers worked like a dream in conjunction with the Chamois Butt’r that I carried with me and applied liberally at every stop. Another lifesaver were the DeSoto arm coolers that protected me completely from the sun. The Blue Lizard sunscreen stayed on, and I’m happy to report that not one part of my body experienced sunburn.

Wearing a Headsweats hat under my helmet helped manage the sweat and gave me something to soak in ice water during the ride. Toward the end I also soaked a bandanna in ice water and filled it with ice and then tied it around my neck. A real lifesaver in the heat.

Getting Off to a Fast Start

Getting Off to a Fast Start. As the top fundraising team, Team Fat Cyclist got to start at the front of the race all by ourselves, with a police escort for the first 9 miles. It was a one-of-a-kind experience and just as amazing as you might imagine. Of course, the speedy cyclists in the pack of 700 who started behind us caught up pretty quickly, but that just means we formed a peloton. And it turns out then when I’m fueled by adrenaline and carried along in the slipstream of others, it is possible to go 20 mph for at least 9 miles! Of course, when the escort finished and the speedy speedsters were no longer being held back, it became very quiet and lonely on the road around me.

SAGE: Sounds like the red-carpet treatment! While there’s a huge benefit to being in a draft, it’s also easy to get sucked into a pace you can’t maintain, and to spend a little too much energy up front. What problems did you run into during the day?

KATHLEEN: Here’s what didn’t work so well.

Hydration. Although you’d counseled me to stay hydrated, I didn’t count on a couple of key things for the day of the ride.

One, I was so incredibly pumped up by the good vibe and high energy of the riders and volunteers around me that I totally lost track of the passing of time and miles. Plus, the dry heat of San Jose was a far cry from the moist air of the coast, and I failed to notice when I stopped sweating.

My symptom was an annoying headache that started forming at mile 50 and had me stopping to talk to a medic at mile 72. LiveStrong had medical stations at each rest stop with doctors and paramedics. Once the problem—dehydration—was diagnosed, they doused me with cold water inside and out and sent me on my merry way. I kept chugging water and Gatorade from then on.

SAGE: Ah, yes. Sometimes it’s useful to set a timer to remind yourself to drink, and to check that you’re finishing at least the better part of a bottle each hour. Fluid needs will rise exponentially in hot and dry conditions.

KATHLEEN: I had one other *somewhat major* setback during the day.

Bike Repair. In all the excitement of the day, I nearly dropped my bike at one of the rest stops and “saved” it by grabbing the derailleur cable. I realized my error when I got back on the bike and couldn’t shift into my big gear in front. Since my mechanical know-how is pretty much limited to fixing a flat and raising my seat stem, I stopped at the next rest stop. LiveStrong had real bike mechanics at every stop, and the guys at this one did a beautiful job of fixing my cable. First the mechanic chided me for having a cable coated with sports drink, which he cleaned off with loving care. Then he made about a hundred adjustments. From then on, my shifting was a dream.

SAGE: I know you’d been concerned about a mean hill on the course, and we sent you down to ride repeats on it for recon. How was it in context?

KATHLEEN: What can I say? Since my husband, Bert, and I had ridden this monster (1,000 feet over 2 miles) twice back-to-back to prepare, I was not worried about the hill, though I definitely had a “let’s get it over with” attitude.

Tackling this climb at the 68-mile mark at high noon on a hot (80+ degrees) day in full sun was nothing short of brutal. At first, I just dug deep. But for the first time I actually reached the limits of my physical abilities.

Off to Tackle the Hill

I made it about halfway up, and then as it got even steeper I got off and walked. It was some small comfort that a lot of people around me were walking, too. Trudging, really, with our heads hanging low. I did this for maybe 10 minutes and then I decided to give it another go. I’m happy to report that I made it to the top on this second attempt, though the pace was beyond glacial. I’ll take it! This was my chance to face something super hard and prove to myself that I could live strong.

SAGE: Fabulous. Everybody experiences a dip in motivation and effort at least once during such an event, and often it comes right around the two-thirds done point. Congratulations on making it up and over! Did things pick up as you neared the finish?

KATHLEEN: Our last rest stop at mile 85 was so exciting. Only 15 miles to go! Of course I could ride 15 miles. Well, time did seem to stretch out a bit the closer we got to the finish. I was getting cranky at the red lights that kept interrupting my rhythm, until I decided to just enjoy the little rest breaks.

Mini pacelines had been forming throughout the race, and we latched on to a few riders again in these last miles. Within blocks of the finish line, Bert and I were giddy with excitement that we were actually going to achieve this monumental goal we’d set for ourselves. And then the finish line was in sight. I could see my family cheering and hear the announcer saying our names and “Go, Team Fatty,” and I was overwhelmed.

One bonus about biking 100 miles is that you can eat pretty much whatever you want at the end! I enjoyed a cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate malt shake with whipped cream on top. Yum!

I slept like a log that night and felt great the next day. The only minor discomfort that I experienced was a tightness behind the knee. But that went away in a couple of days with ice and rest.

So once again it goes to show that if you have a great coach and really train, you can do anything. I’m living proof.

SAGE: I’m so happy for you. Don’t be surprised to feel tired for up to a month after the event—it takes a while to recover from such an epic ride, and rushing back to harder training can make matters worse. Many folks think they’ve lost fitness when in fact they’re simply not yet recovered. When you do get back, start small and build from there—and have fun choosing a new goal!

SAGE ROUNTREE is author of The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga, The Athlete’s Pocket Guide to Yoga, a contributor to Runner’s World, and a member of PowerBar Team Elite. She loves competing in triathlon and running races of all distances. Through her business, Sage Endurance, she teaches yoga to athletes and coaches clients in running, ultrarunning, triathlon, and duathlon… {more»}

KATHLEEN BURKE JENSEN loves to write, ride her beautiful horse, and train for exciting new physical challenges. She’s constantly looking for ways to do all three things; if not simultaneously, then at least back to back throughout the day. For more on her adventures, visit her blog Forging Ahead »

BERT VALENTIN JENSEN hopes that viewers of his photos feel something special for the familiar. Like sitting down with a good friend whose stories make life larger and curiously connected. And if his work resonates with them like a great big bell, well that’s good too. Maybe the bell tolls for thee at BertVJensen.com »

1 Comment

  • Reply Charisa August 4, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Pretty cool accomplishment and you fought cancer in the process!!

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