Monday, 26 February 2007

A trip to the chiro with sunflowers

Once a month I see my chiropractor. She runs a skilled eye over my unbalanced, twisted, knotted body, gives a touch here, a tendon strip there, a pulsation, an acupressure, a trigger point activation, a cross fibre rub and the very occasional manipulation crunch. She tests my responses and reflexes, asking questions, giving advice, and works away at my tired muscles so they can support my skeleton which can then more effectively drive those tired muscles. She has an eclectic background and uses a range of modalities to suit the needs of the individual client. Each month I hang out for my tune up. A few times she has asked me to bring in my bike and trainer so she can have a look at what is happening on the bike (as best you can on a trainer). She is ACE!! and is an integral part of Team Lawrence.

I am far far removed from being an elite athlete, but am on a huge journey with some big goals, that may or may not happen. To get there, I need some help. I can’t do it on my own, it’s too hard (I know, I have tried). I have (in no particular order) my coach, my chiro, my partner, my training buddies, my occasional masseur (I should see him more often – he is also ACE!!), my Strength and Conditioning coach friend, my Wednesday night coach/es, my competitors (talk to your competitors, you learn a lot), my naturopath sister, my own athletes to name a significant few off the top of my head. I am learning to surround myself with people who do not give off dead energy or are black holes – I need to save my energy for my bike and for also supporting Team Lawrence, as much as they support me.

Lori Ann Meunzer (2004 Olympic Track Sprint Gold Medallist) says at the end of her DVD One Gear No Brake (thanks Monstertrucker!!) all it takes is a bit of belief to make a sunflower bloom. Self belief can be one of the hardest things to do and to keep hold of. If you believe in yourself, so will others. But as Meunzer notes, from experience, the sunflower sometimes needs the recognition of others that their goal is valid and significant, and needs the support that follows that recognition. So it really is crucial to surround yourself with a team of people who truly believe in what you are doing (including yourself). Even something as simple as finding a GP who understands endurance sports and cycling can make the difference between a quick return to training or a blown season and disillusion and frustration.

So today I see my chiro, will go home feeling lighter, more supple and fluid, relaxed, no longer fighting my body, happy and positive. In turn, I can support my supporters because I feel good, feel fit and strong, and am ready for another great training session. Hey, I may even cook tonight!

Standing starts

A few weeks ago we practiced standing starts, well progressive efforts from a standing start really: 100m/200m/300m/1.5 laps on progressively larger gears 92/94/96.

We focus on my standing start technique. Hold the bars firmly but don’t lock out your upper body, stay supple not rigid, let the bike flow beneath you, be firm in your middle torso to let the legs do their powering, look to where you are going – corner 2, don’t turn your head, use your eyes!!!!

Coach has a recording of a start gate, beeeeep 15 seconds, silence, 10 seconds, silence then 5, 4, 3, 2, slide back, 1, kdshing release GO! Once I went early (flashbacks to the 500mTT at State Masters in Janaury), “Your early” calls Coach as I stand on the pedals slipping away from his light hold. “I am dragging the gate” I smartarse back , 5 pedal strokes on. “Must be a bloody light gate then if you can still speak” comes back the reply.

Standing starts are meant to be explosive, a nuclear release of energy and power catapulting you through the straight ahead into the banking of the corners. Me, I fizzle and zing like a newly lit sparkler, waiting for the flame to catch the firecrackerstuff that bursts into light. It takes 4 or 5 strokes before my sparkler is fully lit. I worry about going early, or late (2006 State Masters, my first start ever out of a gate: the gate releases and I pause. The official actually says to me “You can go now.”) You win or lose the 500m TT at the gate (if you haven’t won or lost it beforehand in your head, but that’s a different blog). I worry about pulling the bike off line in that first stroke out of the gate.

It is complex. Keeping your bike forward and straight like a freshly fired arrow requires core strength, leg strength, upper body strength, mental strength, power to get the pedals turning over and up to speed as soon as possible, good technique as well as strength to hold your body out of the saddle, but keep total control of the bike whilst you power it forward and through the bends. Focus. Total mental and physical commitment to get to the finish line as smoothly and as fast as you can, whilst not forgetting to breath. There is no time to dwell on anything, any little error that just cost you a fraction of a second. Let it go, keep it smooth, keep the leg speed up and power through the cranks, keep breathing deeply, upper body relaxed to get the lungs full and let the bike flow along the black line. And we are not into corner 3 yet :-)

Hello world

This is my first ever blog - so why blog? Do I have anything of worth to say? Will I have enough to say?? I am on a mission - to race the Individual Pursuit at World Masters Champs in Sydney this year (hey, they are in Sydney for the first time, so why not??). Sharing my mission with the world will help me keep a record of it, and perhaps might prove that having a fulltime day job, being, well, over 39!! and a bunch of other stuff (life, committee duties etc) is not so much of a hindrance to achieving goals.

I first raced the IP at State Masters titles in January, never having attempted it before, not even in training. I had done no specific training for it, had no idea HOW to race it, raced on my little blue avanti with standard track bars and wheels, and scored a silver against Julie Coller who rode extremely consistently and strongly, and to a plan (that's important - take note). Me, I rode like a rabbit being chased by a greyhound for the first 4 laps, caught site of Julie up the length of the home straight in front of me, had a moment of indecision, then blew up half a lap later and rode like a rabbit hit by a car for the final 3.5 laps. I am sure there is some blood I sweated out still on the boards of the Joe Drome.

I came close, but not close enough. So here is my mission: to learn to ride the IP properly (ie to a plan - that's important, take note) and learn some self control when firing out of the blocks and into the first couple of laps, and bring my time of 3:07 min (even the older gals rode faster than that! All due respect to them) below 3 min then, ultimately, to the 2:40 mark or thereabouts, ie get fitter. Sounds simple.

I came close enough to get the hunger for this bizarre event - not quite a sprint at 2000m, not a full endurance ride at well under 3000m; 2 and a half minutes of nuclear muscle burn, redlining the VO2max, star spangled tunnel vision (ie I think I am gunna faint), thinking way too many thoughts (see last comment), demanding your legs move harder and faster when all they want to do is stop NOW, whilst hunting down your prey across the track from you, while they hunt you down. That is the IP and welcome to my journey to master it.