Thursday, September 18, 2014

Time Spent in the Suffer Zone

      Our stay in Lake Placid is winding down. Coaches and athletes are on there way out today. It's been a delight to stay in one room for more than five days at a time. In the last few weeks the team has been run through the full gauntlet of training ideas. Ranging from five hour rides, time trials, shooting test, all the way to sprinting through speed traps. Some results missed expectations, but for the most part progress is still a thing. I appreciate the resources of  Lake Placid. I don't see much reason to hate on it. Nevertheless I've made plenty of good use out of my time here and that being said I'm looking forward to heading back the home for brief time.
        On my last update I was attempting the last week of a three week cycle. This is never an easy task. One of which I've described more than once. This last week was different though. This one ended with the infamous Climb to the Castle. You can drive up the road to the top of the White Face alpine hill. On this early Saturday morning it was a mass of skinny granola eating dudes in spandex and rollerskis suffering it out to reach the top first. I hope you like the occasional dark humor because to me these kinds of races make me think of what it would be like trying to drown yourself in a puddle. You see, this race has no rest, no downhills. Whatever fatigue you put on yourself in the first five minutes is going to be with you the whole race. You're always in that hypoxic oxygen deprived suffer zone. This is not a life or death situation. In theory I could have stopped as soon as I decided I had had enough. Realistically this isn't going to happen. No matter how little rain water is in that puddle you're going to give it your best shot. Tim lead out of the start. Shortly later Welly Ramsey took over and strung the pack out. When Tim took back over it didn't last very long. He soon pulled over, looked at me and said "I'm not going to pull the whole thing". I lead for an X amount of time. When I thought I had done my fair share I backed off and hoped to survive in the draft. When I moved back I realized it was done to about three or four of us. Then it was just Tim and I. It wasn't long after when I cracked and watched Tim get a lead that I couldn't compete with. Tim's not an idiot so I didn't expect his pace to fade much. The goal from here on was to stay in second. While most of the field had a heavy use of V2 I found it easier to work with my V1 better when I was alone. It didn't seem to be any slower. There are still some technique issues to work out with uphill V2. It was foggy at the top. As soon as the road turned for the last 200 meters it was also windy. And we're not talking about a tail wind here. It was debatable whether or not a narrow double pole would have better than skating at this point. After almost 40 minutes of an unending climb there was no hope for a strong finishing sprint. It was down to one grinding gear and the hope that the end was close.
           At the end of the day I was second overall. Tim took the lead and Welly was third. I was pleased and suspect everyone else good race or not was just glad to say it was over and done with. We had one more session that afternoon and it was still dark and rainy out. Hearing the beep your watch makes when you stop it for the last time at the end of long week is feeling of relief I'll always remember.
            The following Sunday brought more competition. It was not in the endurance sport form however. I can't go into too much detail and still keep this blog casual. I will say it took us about nine plus hours to do 18 holes of golf. My team didn't win (I've never actually done the golf thing) but we had an exiting day trying to. We had two more easy days after that. Both of which were dearly needed in the name of super compensation.
         This is where the the "USBA test week" technically began. It kicked off with some shooting test. After some meetings with coaches we concluded that trying to push precision points and range times at this point in the season was futile. Shooting has been going well lately and the primary focus from here on out is to keep that trend going. I have a good system for prone and standing and the goal is to keep reconfirming it. For the record the shooting test that day went well. Event the point scoring and timed drill were not that bad. Admittedly the second round yesterday wasn't as good, but that's how shooting works most of the time.
          The time trial we did last week was also a success. For the start of a training period I was more tired than I wanted to be. I'm pretty sure I may have gone too hard during the prior day's session. The blood lactates were low and I really didn't have that extra gear. Shooting was solid. Total range time was under two minutes. Something I wasn't trying to push. There were three misses in prone and clean in standing (85%). Ski speed was better than I thought. It was nothing special but a good time trial overall.
           After an easy day of skiing on the treadmill and a 90 minute run we had another hard effort. This time there was no shooting. It was mostly uphill, but not as steep as the previous climb. I was tired and it showed. The result was solid, but it felt stale. The training was starting to catch up with me. We did the time trial twice. I had less energy for the second round, but better tactics. Maybe next time I'll get the best of both in one.
          Two days later we had another climb up White Face. This time from a different angle and on foot. We ran up the actual alpine hill. A few of the athletes had done this race a couple of weeks earlier. Being one of them I was not looking forward to thwarting this hill again. It's another shot of pure suffer. While only 14 or less minutes it's not as taxing as the Climb to the Castle but it's a great test for engine power. Something that steep doesn't favor top end speed. It's short enough to prevent any pacing, but long enough to utilize full engine use. It wasn't even the half way point that I recall telling myself "The faster you go, the sooner you don't have to do this anymore." That's how you know you're pacing appropriately. The final stretch didn't seem like it was going to end soon enough or at all for that matter. When I crawled over to my coach after the finish we took a lactate sample and I put up a 13.1. Which might be the high for the season and my finish time was 17 seconds faster than the first time.
            The uphill race was the last positive test of the week for me. We had one more day left. This time we were testing our top end sprint speed, and upper and lower body power. These kinds of efforts are not my strong point. The 100 meter sprint test made this obvious. The speed trap the coaches set up in the parking lot proved it fair and square. The other test consisted of measuring the distance we could go with 20 double pole cycles and then again with legs only. Aside from not being much for sprinting when you're only 5'6'' (168cm) there isn't much you can do to defend yourself in double poling.
Try to imagine that cold and damp feeling coupled with an obnoxious head wind. 
              At this point we were all pretty tired. It wasn't a lot of training and it wasn't even two weeks. Nevertheless the next few days will be light. There was more on the plan, but with the Utah camp looming around the corner it would be nice to have some more energy stored up. Overall progress was made the in last six weeks since I left the county. Summer is nowhere to be found in upstate NY anymore. From what I hear it's not around back home either. This the best time of year. Or at least until it's cold enough to rain, but not enough to snow. Aside from that Fall is best. With the progressive trend and the next three week cycle soon to start up again there's still time to leverage it. Sitting in a car and navigating my way back home for nine hours sounds like a good way to start.



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