Well it won’t surprise you when I say our day started early. We went to the pool for an hour swim. You would think a 60 minute swim couldn’t be that bad, but let me tell you: from my years of being a swimmer, some of the toughest workouts were the short ones. Coaches love to get in, get right to it and rev those engines. That’s what we did. Sprint day in the pool.
After a good, hearty breakfast it was off to the criterium course (aka a “crit”). A crit is a bike course or path specifically created for bike racing. They vary in length and terrain. This one was a 1k loop around a large grassy area with a lake nearby. There were some ups, downs, and holes to dodge in the road too. The focus today was cadence. We had to ride in a fixed gear (no shifting allowed) around the course. So if you wanted to increase speed, you couldn’t just change gears and power it up. You had to pedal faster.
I have to be honest, I’ve never pedaled as fast as I did today. It reminds me of my college coach when he would say to me regarding my 200 fly strategy, “On that last 50, swim like a bat out of hell.” Well that’s sort of what it feels like. I found myself spinning my legs so fast they felt like they were going to pop off!
We did some more bike handling skills, riding in groups, pace lines and also added some challenges. The coaches would create different scenarios like 1 rider leaving 5-10 seconds before the “chase pack.” Then another time there were a couple more in the lead group while others tried to chase them down. It was a fast-paced, fun event. I’d never been on a crit course before today, so another new experience for me.
After lunch it was off to run. We did dynamic drills (constantly moving, warming up the muscles, working on form and technique), hill strides and some short sprints in there too. There was a pattern to today: FAST. Speed work in the pool, on the bike and on the run. I’m learning you have to learn how to get up and go. ITU Olympic distance racing is not an endurance race like an Ironman or half Iron. This is a sport of speed bursts, strategy, attacking and counter attacking. Knowing how to change speeds and do it effectively and efficiently will pay off in huge dividends!
We finished off the day with some strength work, dinner and a presentation by USADA–United States Anti-Doping Agency. This is a 3rd party agency outside of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) that works to ensure USA athletes competing in Olympic sports on the national and international stage play clean. As Barb Lindquist told us, “Consider drug testing as a badge of honor. You did some thing pretty spectacular and you’re worthy to be tested.” I think that’s a pretty cool way to look at it!
Well that’s it for another full day in Colorado Springs. Bed time! By the way, my birthday is a week from tomorrow on the 28th. If you need gift suggestions, don’t be shy to ask!….just kidding, well not really! Lol. Goodnight!