Friday, October 30, 2009

I hope Worlds isn’t on a rest day… That’d be terrible.

For those of you that have seen The Big Lebowski, you will appreciate the following quote (edited for our young readers). “Saturday, Donny, is Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. That means that I don't work, I don't get in a car, I don't *bleeping* ride in a car, I don't pick up the phone, I don't turn on the oven, and I sure as *bleep* don't *bleeping* roll!”

Although I’m not Jewish, I think this is applicable to most athletes and their day of rest. It’s a hallowed day for us - free of the stresses of training. We can sleep in, relax, watch a movie, go to Hobby Lobby or whatever else religious people do on the Sabbath, Shabbos, etc.

I take my rest days just as seriously as I do my bike training. I’ve been told that there’s no such thing as overtraining, just under recovering. I don’t know if that’s actually based on scientific fact or just something people tell me to trick me into going to Hobby Lobby. But I do recover hard. And it pays big dividends. What do I do that’s so important? Well, a strict schedule of movie watching, napping, reading (preferably in a hammock when the weather’s nice), Hulu, more napping, massage and eating, followed my another movie are on tap for my recovery days. See what I’m talking about? That’s all important stuff!

What’s the down side of taking recovery so seriously? You might even ask how could there be a downside to resting, but I digress. Sometimes, my rest schedule conflicts with things like weddings, school activities, and world championships. The Paracycling Track World Championships are set for November 5th through 8th in Manchester, England. That means two of my events fall on Saturday and Sunday, the Jewish and Christian days of rest.

Since I’m not a particularly pious person (although I am considering joining the Order of the Eastern Star after reading Dan Brown’s latest novel), my personal Shabbos is on Monday. Phew! No racing on Monday! Close call! That would have been awkward, not to mention a tough conversation trying to explain why I couldn’t race Worlds because I had to stick to my rest schedule - don’t want to be under recovered! As athletes we have very strict training (and recovery) regimens and something silly like a competition can’t get in the way of that!

*Credit for this idea goes to Clark Rachfal, one of my teammates, and very serious recovery-er.

** I wrote this for the OTC newsletter, and thought I'd share it with all of you outside the fishbowl.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Track Camp

Track World Championships are fast approaching. That means it's training camp time (as opposed to just regular training) which means trips to LA and the indoor track there. The team this year is an amazingly cohesive training group. Basically, we can slay each other properly in training.

Craig promised that we'd want to quit and give up at some point during this camp- he actually said it four times during our meeting- and he wasn't kidding. We spent about 7 hours at the track each day mainly doing power work. That means race gear- if not over geared- efforts either individually or as a group.

*Sidenote* When I say "race gear" I mean the gear that we'll race on in competition. "Over geared" is a bigger gear that we'll race on, but it helps build strength. Think of it as starting a car in 2nd or 3rd gear- it's much harder to come off the line, and you turn a slower rpm, but once you're up to speed, you're rolling. The same is true on a bike. Because track bikes have only one gear, you have to choose what gear you'll ride in competition ahead of time, usually after testing several different gearing options. There's also "under geared" which requires a much higher rpm than race or over geared, and helps build/maintain aerobic function and smoothness on the bike when you feel like you're spinning your legs off.

Anyway, back to camp. Craig wasn’t messing around when he came up with our training plans. We had 7 training sessions on the track- 2 a day, and one on the last day before going to the airport. The final full day, I guess it was Saturday, was the hardest. The afternoon session was especially rough. We did 4x 3 kilometer efforts, which is race distance for me. It may not seem like much, but it really is.

The two tandems were up front like locomotors, followed by Sam, myself, Craig V and Taj. My goal was to just hold on as long as possible, as they were rolling WAY faster than race pace- nearly 35 seconds faster. Craig’s promise was true: I wanted to quit.

Throwing up and crying both require an amount of effort, so I just hoped I'd die instead. With hindsight, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but at the time it was definitely a viable option. And a very good looking one at that. Sitting on the apron of the track between the efforts all I could do was put my head between my knees and close my eyes.

I’d never been so close to crying, vomiting and quitting all at the same time. I told myself it was all for training, and it would pay off in the long run. This was spelunking deep in the pain cave, where few people had gone before (some of my teammates were right there with me) and making gains in the name of personal exploration and pushing my boundaries.

Obviously, I’m not dead (yet) as I’m writing this, but my legs are toast- which was the point of camp. Now it’s recovery for a few days then back into the pain cave for one more camp before heading across the pond for World Part II. Craig knows what he’s doing- he warned us after all- and I trust that Law and Order (my legs) will do justice to the boards of Manchester when the time comes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Don't go to LA for the Views

I'm just gonna come out and say it, I hate LA. Now, I'm sure it has something to offer to some people, but I haven't found it. I have found smog, way too many people, traffic, garbage and too many interstates to keep track of. The one good thing they have is the track- the only indoor 250m in the US. Because of that, we come here to train quite a bit, and always stay in the same hotel. In all my trips to LA and the Hampton Inn, Carson, I've stayed on the same side of the hotel all but one time. The view? The 105, or the 110, or the 405 freeway- see, there are too many for me to keep track of, not that they're any different from each other anyway.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Need a Job?

Anyone interested in time travel? Help this poor guy (or girl) solve a personal mystery, right here in the Denver area!
I love Craig's list.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Well, I've Never Been to Brasil.

Well, I've never been to Brasil... Chicago was eliminated in the first round of voting today. I was shocked, stunned, and sad, not so much about not getting the bid (which is still disappointing) but that we didn't make it out of the first round! 4th out of 4? Come on now, what's that all about? I really thought Chicago had a legitimate chance and that the final vote would be between Rio and Chicago. If Chicago had been defeated in the final, ok, I can handle that, but 4th really sucks. We're not even on the podium...

What I don't understand, is how Americans, in and outside Chicago, some of my friends included, were so strongly opposed to hosting the Games. Why don't you want to invite the world to the greatest city on earth? Take pride in your city, state, and country and host one of the most magical experiences anyone can imagine- for athletes and spectators alike. The Olympic Games have an energy that's hard to describe with any other word than Spirit. It's electric, it's alive, and it lives in the athletes competing, and any spectator will be able to feel it. As an athlete, having the Games in your hometown and having the opportunity to represent your country and city on the world's stage can only be topped by a win in your hometown, on the ground you grew up on.
"The traffic would be terrible!" Is a shitty reason to so adamantly oppose the Games. "Well, where would I park my car? There would be SO many people here, I don't know if I could handle it." So leave! And take your negative attitude with you. Typical Americans only thinking of themselves. Saying you don't want the Games is like saying you don't want to win the lottery because you'd have to pay taxes on all that money. (Dave actually came up with that one.) So to all those people out there that didn't want to deal with (more) foreigners in their city, you got your wish, so shut up now.

After recovering from what felt like a punch to the stomach, I started thinking about it a bit more. Rio will do a great job. They obviously have something to offer that the IOC liked. The Games have never been in South America, the people are passionate, and from what I hear they put on a great PanAmerican Games in '07. They even have a big Jesus! After (North) America hosting the Games, South America is the next best. Our coach made a good point today- the further the Euros have to travel, the better it is for us. Everything is in Europe, so they can't travel well. All we'll have to do is hop a quick flight south, there's no jet-lag involved for us, we wouldn't need to travel a week before (or we could just do prep camp down there). And I heard the food is good down there too. I think Rio will benefit a lot from this win, and it'll really put them in the world's spotlight. Pressure makes diamonds, and I think Rio will come out shining bright.

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die. -Daniel Burnham
I really like this quote, but wasn't sure how to incorporate it in my post. I wanted to share it with all of you.