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.

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