Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Whistler Past The Boneyard

Morning weigh-in: 186#
Reading: I'm working through a shit-ton of books right now, mostly Christmas presents. Ta-Nehisi Coates's The Beautiful Struggle and James Wolcott's Lucking Out, two memoirs from Baltimore ex-pats -- Wolcott looking back at his twentysomething years in late-Seventies NYC, when was writing about movies, punk, porn and ballet for the Village Voice, while Coates writes about coming of age in Baltimore, at the height of the Crack Years in the Eighties -- are the two main reads right now, the bedroom and bathroom books, but I'm also working through an economic-travel-detective-journalism story by Michael Lewis (Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World), and a lit-crit look at Thomas Pynchon as a writer of historical fiction. There's also a primer on open-source GIS in there, and a couple of novels are on the back burner. So of course I picked up Gravity's Rainbow again, and began re-re-rereading...
Actually, what I'm really reading is The Flame Alphabet, by Ben Marcus, a novel in which children's speech becomes toxic to adults. I just started it, at Anne's insistence, after she wolfed it down in about three days -- she found it compelling, beautiful and disturbing, and it was interesting to watch her be totally absorbed  (and freaked out) by the book. I think it's interesting too so far, but I'm definitely not as freaked out (so far) as she was. Then again, I never had kids, and I am not the word person she is. We shall see.
Listening: More Christmas presents here too, mostly Anne's presents from me, at least for the new stuff -- I've been getting myself a whole lot of 70's AOR, Bowie and things like that, from E-Music lately. Of Anne's new music, most of it was stuff Emmi played for us, back at Thanksgiving when we all visited Ben: the latest from The Builders and the Butchers, The Tallest Man in the World, and a "folk opera" by Ana├»s Mitchell called Hadestown -- my own personal favorite.
On the way in this morning, Jethro Tull's "The Whistler" came up on random play, and I cranked it.
On-The-Bike: Yes, listening to "The Whistler" means that I am back to training, or "training," as the case may turn out. I've been reading and studying up, mostly Joe Friel's stuff, The Cyclist's Training Bible and things I find online. My goal, as in past years is to do well, or "well," at the Wilderness 101. (Long time readers may remember that last year, and the year before, I didn't even register, while in 2009 I had my only DNF ever at mile 89.) I'd like to break 10 hours, my target the last time I did it, but I think it's more realistic to say "my goal is to finish, and breaking 12 hours would be a bonus."
I think my biggest problem these past few years has been lack of time in the saddle: I should be putting in 400-500 hours a year, meaning I should be riding 5000-7500 miles a year. I've been doing about half that since 2009, and I think that things like that "time-crunched cyclist" plan were no substitute for chamois time. Unfortunately, finding time to train might be my biggest challenge -- I was thinking of starting my regimen next week, and so of course I am now scheduled to go on an emergency business trip next week...
Last night was the first step though: I did a towpath ride, one in which I did a simple test to find my lactate threshold -- 10 minutes warmup, followed by a 30 minute time trial. According to the Internet, my lactate threshold should be close to my average heart rate over the final 20 minutes of the time trial. The towpath was a muddy mess, there was creepy barking in the woods where I recently saw dogs kill a deer, and I took the road home, but I came home with a number: 159 beats per minute, close to my guess of "about 160."
Computing: So if we're talking training we're talking heart rate, and that means Garmin, maps and plenty of data crunching. I've found some Excel templates online, plus a few programs to extract HR data in spreadsheet-usable form from my Garmin's TCX file format, and I've broken out both PyTrainer and SportsTracker -- both of which work much better after that system upgrade -- but I have found no real, comprehensive, training analysis software for Linux (yet). Maybe Training Peaks? Strava?
I have, however, downloaded more mapping software.