“If it feels good, you’re probably not doing it right.”
How many times have you heard that from a coach when you’re trying to make a technique change? When you’re doing hard intervals? When you’re racing? For the record, it’s true when you’re talking about most things related to extremely challenging endurance sports. If you feel pretty awesome, then chances are, you’re not putting yourself out there and pushing your limits. I know this is true because the farther up the hill I bounded this morning during L4 intervals, the longer I spent at the top hanging over my poles.
However, there are times when you DO want to feel good. When you’re tapering before a big race, for example. When you’re cruising easy during training. Or near the end of a rest week after a hard camp. And that brings us to where I am now…starting to feel so good at the end of an easy week that I’m bouncing off the walls.
So what have I done with my excess energy when training load is low? I accomplished my goal of baking a beautiful, fluffy whole wheat sandwich loaf of bread. Of course, that consisted of various experiments beforehand that involved a lot of flour flying around and a great big mess, but luckily I had on my trusty pink apron that Liz made me so I emerged from the fracas clean as a whistle.
I worked on my balance, which is something I’m sure you’ve indirectly noticed because I haven’t shown you any more photos of me in the ER getting stitches. I also did a lot of yoga on the deck in the sunshine, and perhaps even took “shavasana” to the next level when I proceeded to fall asleep in the middle of it. Talk about being relaxed!
Most importantly, I’ve been having fun doing a lot of dancing. Uh, I mean, working on my spatial awareness. Annie P. commissioned me to choreograph her a dance, so that’s been exceedingly fun. The deal was if she made her fundraising goal, she has to film this dance on every travel day for the rest of the year (cue embarrassing airport dance scene) so of course I wanted in on the project. So every day we’ve had our 10 minutes or more of dance class, and it’s going really well. I’m basically getting to do my future dream job of being a dance instructor and Annie is going to look awesome in every airport she graces with her presence. It’s a win-win!
But wait! How did the end of Lake Placid camp go? Oh gosh, it was pretty good, thanks for asking! It was also very hard with all the interval sets, strength, speeds and over distance workouts catching up to me, but overall it was a high quality camp and I felt that I made progress towards a lot of my technique goals while building fitness. Of course, the infamous Climb to the Castle roller ski race was an event in itself. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s an uphill 5 mile race on the road up Whiteface mountain, and yep, there IS a castle at the top (yes!). The average grade of the road is 8.5%, so it’s a great chance to practice for the final climb in the Tour de Ski, which gets up to 28%. The time trial is always painful, and you never get a chance to clear the lactic acid slowly building up in your legs. Add that to the fact that everyone in the field has different wheel speeds on their skis, and there’s usually a strong headwind on every corner, and it’s a great chance to practice suffering for 40-55 minutes!
My most adrenaline filled part of the morning actually came 15 minutes before the race even started. The race starts about 2 miles up the Whiteface road, and there’s a side road where we usually warm up. I hadn’t been on that road in over a year, and I forgot that there’s a little hill right before you need to make a sharp right hand turn to get back onto the course so you don’t start flying down the mountain into town. So of course, by the time I realized that I was going to need to make the turn or else start rolling down the access road I was going too fast and couldn’t make it. A volunteer grabbed at me and slowed me down just enough that I decided to bail instead of taking my chances with the stop sign 2 miles down. I flew into a patch of sand, got the wind totally knocked out of me, but there was no blood, I was fine, and I didn’t even break my poles. Of course, at that point I might have also been in mild shock and when the gun went off I absolutely didn’t care about racing at all. It took about 20 minutes for me to get into the “I care about this” mindset, which is awful, I know, but I finally got there. However, I got a good chance to practice going hard uphill for an extended period of time, and got to practice racing when things didn’t go perfectly in the warm-up, which is good for me!
I’m very excited to show you what’s coming up next week…our 3rd annual 100km ski! For about 6 hours, the SMST2 team will be tearing up the New York pavement in our team’s annual ski-a-thon fundraiser. It’s a loooooong time skiing, but it’s fun, and what’s wrong with a little 6 hour team bonding session? Wish us luck!