Just Like Starting Over

Below a post from Heidi Littenberg, Reno Wheelwomen and Silver Sage athlete. Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab has been the proud title sponsor of the Reno Wheelmen since 2007.


Maybe John Lennon wrote his classic song, Starting Over, about me and my bikes?  It seems that way, as a summer full of work and big deadlines forced me to mothball my 2014 riding/racing plans in mid-July.  Training, racing, and just enjoying being active became rare occurrences as my huge workload engulfed everything for several months.  Both of my bikes sat there, looking at me longingly, just hoping I’d have some time and enough energy for even a quick spin.

Nearly four months and ten pounds later, I’m in Starting Over mode.  Just like the song, I’m re-establishing the relationships with my bikes and my body.  It’s far more challenging than I expected.  During this reboot process, I’ve found that being sedentary is indeed addictive, eating too much is far too easy, and the voice telling me to get off my butt isn’t loud enough.  So, I chose a recent milestone (my birthday) as my fitness kick start, like a New Year’s resolution.

Each day, for the most part, I focus on the workouts Julie Young provides, using each one as a stepping stone from “just get moving” to “full training mode”.  Some days, the “get off my butt” voice isn’t enough to get me going. But lately, it’s getting louder and I’m listening to it more and more.  The “get off my butt” voice has the assistance of a great coach who is giving me the structure and progression I need to make it out of the dark cave in a safe and sane way.  Without the structure and the exercise progression, it’s likely I’d be letting my situation turn into a downward spiral.

I’m an impatient person by nature (I think it’s genetic!), so having that guidance to be patient and focused on quality is equally as important as the “get of my butt” voice.  Julie’s calm nature reminds me that Starting Over mode is a journey that has to be taken one step at a time.  The next step is to start laying out goals for 2015 that can form the basis of “full training mode”.  I’m excited to start looking at myself as something like an athlete again.


Mental Opportunities of Training and Racing

The month of April started with the goal of having a successful day on the bike with my Rio Strada teammates at the Rapha Prestige event in San Francisco.  This longer, much climbier ride/race was definitely outside my comfort zone and I did as much as I could to train for the distance and elevation gain involved.  Unfortunately, the best laid plans didn’t help me on the day and my back decided it was not in the cards for me to finish the ride.  I really felt like I let my teammates down, especially when I saw the team’s “DNF” on the final result a couple days later.

That day was like a hard punch to the stomach.  In the days that followed, I hoped to find something positive in what happened, but it was extremely difficult to do that.  Julie took the time to give me much support and guidance.  The advice she gave me made that day an anomaly when it could have been the start of a bigger downward spiral.  She helped me turn my focus forward.  I resolved to work harder on my core strength, climbing and distance riding.

I also decided to do some races for flat out speed… FUN stuff… mood enhancers for bike racers!  For me, that’s a good, fast criterium.  Only a week after that down day at the Rapha, I won my first race of the season.  Then, somehow, some way, that win turned into four straight podiums over a four-race span.  It’s a huge turnaround for me that has resulted in wanting to do more to improve and get stronger — mentally and physically.  The momentum is going the right way, much faster than I ever could have imagined.

Through this last month, I realized more than ever the value of having a great coach.  It’s not just physical, it’s very mental, also.  Having that voice of reason and experience to help you see the forest for the trees and not focus on the wrong things… it’s priceless.

Heidi Littenberg, o2fitness athlete


Fast at Franktown

Many thanks to Julie Young for helping get my first sub 20-minutes on this course. All the work is paying off.

Bragging… sort of. We had our first Reno Wheelmen, Tuesday night twilight race in Wahsoe Valley last night — the Franktown Time Trial. It’s been a goal of mine for at least a year to break 20 minutes on this course and Tuesday night I did it! Thanks Julie Young for all the coaching that helped make it happen!

Heidi Littenberg


Rio’s Heidi Littenberg Hits It…

Heidi’s Folsom BP Criterium

The first race of the season is always an overly nervous experience.  Several days before the event, my mind starts being consumed by it.  Have I trained enough?  Am I fitter than last year?  Everyone else has been training just as hard or harder.  Will I be able to keep up with them?  Those thoughts are followed by attempts to chill out by reminding myself that the race is really the start of something and that the end result doesn’t matter as much.  Despite that simple truth, I rile myself up too much thinking about how things might shake out.

This year, my thoughts about the first race were just as much about myself as my new team.  Really, it’s my first time on a team after several years of being a “solo opportunist” of sorts.  So, the nervous anticipation for myself was compounded by thoughts of hoping I can keep up with my teammates and hoping I can work with them to do something special for one of us.  I had to remind myself that I’m learning a whole new racing dynamic, wanting to be helpful for others, even if I’m just using the race to take a gauge of my fitness.

This race, being a 1/2/3 field, was fast and full of surges.  Attacks happened early and often.  We did our best to take charge of the peloton and not be followers, which meant we were on the front in the wind, working to reel in those riders.  We took turns working hard and putting out some huge efforts without the luxury of a draft, until we were fried.  I learned, among other things, that one huge benefit of being on a team is hearing, “Get in, Heidi” from a teammate after taking a big pull on the front of the pack.  I had two awesome friends there, making nice holes in the wind so I could recover.  I can only hope I was able to repay them in kind.

We may not have won, but we had a blast and made ourselves proud. We bonded, we fought hard, and we found out that we race well together.  That’s why I wanted to be on a team.

In the end, I think we surprised ourselves a bit by working that hard and still being able to contest the final sprint of the race.  We were able to recover at race pace and have enough in the tank to finish strong.  The three of us placed in the top 11 of a field of 25 racers after practically killing ourselves for 50 minutes of really intense riding.  While the end result was not the real goal for this race, it did show each of us that the fitness foundation is there.  The training is paying off.  It gave each of us that big first step toward being fully confident. We now know we can turn it up a notch and be the ones that make it happen.

Now it’s time to take it forward into the rest of the season.


Heidi’s 2011Race Season Reflections

Heidi_MaderaCritMy season started out with promise in February.  It quickly went awry starting with Snelling, where I DNF’d due to back pain that would always start around mile 30 of a road race.  From there, it went downhill pretty rapidly and continued doing so until a thoroughly awful weekend at the Chico Stage race, where my back problems really hampered me.  After Chico, I decided that training harder wouldn’t fix the issue.  I needed to get some help.<
I had a connection to Julie through my current club/team (Silver Sage is a sponsor).  She changed my bike fit and

within a couple weeks, I was able to actually ride my bike without pain. I also gained some wattage output that translated to an increase in speed that I couldn’t have otherwise attained.  I got some quantification of the improvements at a couple of our local Tuesday Night Twilight races and the Little City Stage Race in July.  The road race, while not the greatest placing, was the best I’ve ever felt in that discipline.  The total lack of pain meant I could actually train for road racing.  What a concept!
Through two 8-week training camps, Julie taught me some huge improvements in my pedal strokes, as well.  That change, along with a wider variety of interval workouts, caused an overall improvement in my riding/racing that resulted in several podium finishes in the last half of the season.  The changes also made it possible for me to be more aggressive in my race tactics because I’ve been more confident in my physical ability.She’s been an incredible sounding board for all my ups and downs this season, even though she probably didn’t have to do that. Her support and knowledge was the major reason I was able to turn my season around and start having FUN again.

Heidi Hits her Cycling Stride

Heidi Littenberg’s weekend race report

Heidi_MaderaCritI did the 3/4 race at Vacaville yesterday and wanted to say THANKS for all the intervals and advice. That course has a nasty little hill in the middle. During my warm-up lap, I was reminded how difficult the hill actually is. My memories from last year were that it wasn’t as long or as steep as it really is. So, when the race started, I was trying not to be too stressed about having to go over it 16 times, especially since going uphill has been a weakness of mine for ages.

The first couple laps, I kept finding myself getting nudged into bad pack positions in the turns that precede the hill. On the hill, I easily passed all those people and caught up with the front of the pack. We eventually dropped about 1/2 the pack, which made it easier to be in a good position. Early in the race, someone tried for a lone breakaway (silly in the winds, I say). After a couple laps with the lone rider off the front, I went to the front of the pack with the intent of pulling the group back together. I dropped everyone on the hill, which is something I thought would NEVER happen. I did about a 1/2 lap pull and then we started taking turns and reeled in the rider.

Every lap I felt like a rock star on that hill. I was able to do all this seated while just about everyone else was standing and working really hard. My pedal strokes felt like magic. I never struggled against my bike. I kept thinking about all the laps up Big Springs and how much those have helped.

The race only turned on bad tactics on my part on the last lap. I was thinking about powering over it and down the other side to get a gap with the hope of holding everyone off to the finish, but I didn’t trust myself to be able to go off the front in the wind (there was a very strong headwind in the final straight). I’m bummed about not going for it. I ended up 6th, but with the win I got in July, the 3rd I got in August and that fun breakaway I was in at the Wheelmen Air Center race a couple weeks ago, I’m now feeling like something’s going to happen and soon. It’s all going in the right direction.

SF has a similar hill and it’s a Cat 3 race, so I’m aiming to execute on the tactic (or something similar) I messed up yesterday if I’m feeling good and the race plays out well. I’m done with not trusting my ability and now I really want to go for it. I may be bold and be one of those people who animates a race. Now there’s a thought!

Just wanted to send a big thank you! Your coaching has helped me immensely.

Holy Cow What a Huge Difference

Heidi_MaderaCritI had a bike BG Specialized- Dartfish analyzed bike fit at Silver Sage Sports Performance Center with Julie Young…my post-fit experience below…
I rode about 45 miles today at a somewhat hard pace.  I was able to ride with the faster guys in the group, who are solid to faster men in the Reno Wheelemen races, for the whole ride.  I was definitely feeling it in my legs, but I NEVER felt pain in my back and hip.  Before we started, one of the guys I rode with on Wednesday complimented me on how strong I rode that evening and I was able to stay with him for the entire ride today.

I’m SO STOKED!!  I’m feeling like I can actually start making an upward progression now that the pain isn’t limiting me.  I’ve been hesitant to get out and train more duration because I was afraid of being in agony.  It’s so amazing to have that in the past.
I’ll be telling EVERYONE about your awesome bike fit service!
Heidi  Littenberg