Sear Mini-camp: Day Two
Cue dramatic music… Time to do battle on the HILL.
Today marks the pivotal point in this competition. I took Coach Mike’s statements about recovery and details to heart and really tried to put everything I know into practice last night. While I got home later than I would have liked, and wanted to just plop on the couch, instead I focused on doing several things that would help me recover for today’s races. I massaged my legs for about 90 minutes. It takes a lot of effort, but it really helps. My legs feel noticeably better afterwards. I also took a bunch of vitamin C (both in tablet and powder form) to try and help my throat out. Breathing so hard in the cold air was pretty harsh on it, I felt like I had swallowed a cheese grater. I was also careful to eat moderately and get as much rest as I could.
It all payed off.
Even though breakfast was being served at camp, I ate most of mine before I left home to give me plenty of time to digest. I knew some very hard work was ahead. I did have 1/2 of a bagel and a banana once I got to camp. After some short instruction, we rolled out for a ten mile warmup to the base of Lookout Mountain. Wow, it was quite a shock to the legs to get them going around in circles again! I soon settled in and was feeling pretty good – all things considered. Even though it wasn’t super-freezing, I put on about 5 layers and stayed very warm. I knew that I could shed some stuff once the competition got underway.
We pre-rode the climb to get an idea of where the finish would be, and how the wind was blowing, etc. Today’s event was the one I was least confident about (not being a natural climber), but I could tell that my recovery had gone well and I was feeling better than I did yesterday.
I experimented with different strategies today – starting easier, standing, sitting, etc. My first attempt I came in first place with a 7:09. I stood, sat, shifted, thrashed, and basically did anything I could to get up the mountain. My time was 7:22 on the next two. First place on each of those as well! I was feeling quite good and on the last run I stayed seated the entire time and never shifted from the 39×19. That climb definitely felt the best, even though it wasn’t my fastest, which was cool because it was the last one. I was riding a lot more consistently than I had yesterday. I also concentrated on sending extra clothes to the finish with Mike so I was able to stay perfectly warm on the descent. BIG difference from the day before. I was really happy with my overnight recovery and my performance on the three hillclimb TT’s.
Paul finished second on each of the climbs (7:23, 7:??, 7:44) and didn’t seem to be quite up to his normal level. My times today were enough for me to jump into first place in the overall standings, I now lead Paul by 11 seconds. That’s really cool because it means I get to start last in tomorrow’s time trial which will be a definite advantage. It should be quite a showdown!!
We rolled back to base for more great food, then headed out to a nice big parking lot where Mike and Christie had set up cones and chalk lines for the skills clinic. The drills were very educational and fun for all (except for Mike and Paul, who took turns dumping it onto the pavement). Again, I tried hard to keep an open mind – too easy to get trapped into thinking I already know it all… I learned some good stuff about braking while pedaling, and using my head and eyes to lead me through a turn instead of letting them passively come along for the ride. To finish, we rode through an obstacle course that put all of our skills to the test. It included a limbo section and another part where you pick a bottle out of a bucket with one hand, transfer it to the other hand, and drop it off in a second bucket. All while pedaling, riding a straight line, and looking ahead. I also learned how to hang off the side of my bike and drag my fingers along the ground. Never know when you might need that skill!!
The evening finished off with another great meal and a lecture on training program design and race tactics. As part of the tactics discussion we were divided into three teams and were given a package of balloons and some tape. We then had 5 minutes to race against each other to build the highest structure. Our team was short one person so we were the underdogs. We blew up our balloons as quickly as possible and then fumbled around for a bit trying to decide how to proceed. The other teams were going the pyramid route. Someone on our team said something about ‘start tying the balloons’ and then corrected themselves and said ‘taping’. Tying gave me an idea, though. We started tying them together in two’s and were able to lay them crosswise one pair on top of the other. With a little tape and the creative (but disputed) use of some overturned paper cups to brace the second layer of balloons, our structure quickly rose to great heights! We smoked the competition, and it was a great illustration of how you can still pull out a win even with the odds against you. Being opportunistic and creative count for a lot!