Another great day to be alive! Got to wake up, eat a hearty breakfast in the Olympic Training Center dining hall and head back out to the crit course (if you aren’t familiar with a crit course, read yesterday’s note for an explanation). We did a race simulation set. We had 30 minutes to warm-up and then the fun began. The set was 3 rounds of 5 laps around the crit course (total of 5k) followed by a 2 lap run (2k). So here we practiced doing a hard bike, T2 (transition from bike to run), and finishing up with fast feet on the run.
Some people call these “brick” workouts. I prefer to call them “simulators” because that’s what they are–race simulation exercises. You get your heart rate up, you sweat, you work hard, you have to focus and practice getting in that game mindset. These are what prepare your body to race. You want to become accustomed with the burning sensation so that it’s a familiar feeling come race day. Your body knows what it feels like to bike hard and go immediately into a fast run.
The cool thing about this was the different scenarios. We were divided into different groups and on the first round it was the swimmers versus the runners. So the swimmers (those who come from strong swim backgrounds) were in the first bike pack followed by the runners in the chase pack. Next round was mixed up a bit with people going at different times, but then groups having to bike together for 2 laps doing a pace line (drafting, alternating leaders) and then being allowed to go “free for all” on the last 3 laps. The last round was a staggered start and then “free for all” on all 5 laps.
This game was pretty fun because it required us to adapt to the situation we found ourselves in. Sometimes it is more advantageous to stick with a group versus pulling off alone; other times, not so much. When you get in a pace line and can draft off each other, you have a much great chance at going faster than someone biking solo. But then there’s the other side of that–if you are in a bike pack with people you know can run fast, it might be better to attack, go solo or ride up to a front pack to create some distance between you and the runners. There’s a lot of strategy involved. And of course on the international stage, countries are pitted against each other–like the Tour de France. You might find yourself inconveniently boxed in with no way around it–oops!
All in all, we worked hard and had fun. Then we were off to an open water swim. We swam in a beautiful lake at the Colorado Country Club nestled right by the mountains–so picturesque!!! However, we were interrupted by Mr. Thunder and Lightning, so out we came. We headed back to the OTC where they set up the 50m pool as an open water course–no lane lines and massive buoys. It was pretty cool to see. We practiced open water swim technique: turning around buouys, siting, sprinting to one buoy, dialing it down and then picking it up again. We did similar race-like scenarios in groups and had fun with it.
On a side note: one of the girls found several small fish in her suit from the open water swim. They were tiny, minnow like fish, but large enough you could see their eyes, fins and scales. The coaches on deck knew something was up when they heard screaming coming from the girls’ locker room!
We had a restful afternoon and my body needed it after doing speed work and new drills the day before on top of simulators today. After dinner we headed to a meeting with the USA Triathlon liaison for the International Triathlon Union (ITU). ITU is the international tri governing body. She explained to us the intricate ranking system, Olympic qualification standards, procedures and more. It is amazing to see the strategy that goes into securing 3 spots for the USA in both the male and female divisions for triathlon. In short, each country is ranked according to their best athletes. The higher the ranking, the better shot that country has at getting 3 spots for the Games.
USAT (like all governing bodies for our Olympic sports) has people dedicated to watching the world rankings and how they fluctuate. Bottom-line, we want to bring home medals. We want to put our athletes in the best possible situation to succeed. That is what the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is dedicated to. Again I am amazed at the village behind our athletes. Yes, it takes hard work, determination, perseverance and a vision to succeed on the athlete’s part, but a dream can not be realized without an entire support crew behind each athlete.
So to my support, THANK YOU! Thanks for the encouraging notes, messages, comments and as always, your prayers are much appreciated! You put wind in my sails.