Sunday, August 21, 2011

Elite State Track Championships

I decided to try something different leading up to this race. For all the races I targeted this season I've tried to do a little bit of a "taper" in the weeks before the race-- gradually reducing my training volume while maintaining the intensity in order to be fresh for the big event.

Well, despite all that, and in spite of trying hard to duplicate the training regimen I had in Japan before we moved back in the spring, my kilo times have just been getting slower and slower each time I've raced this year. Very, very frustrating! So this time I threw out the rulebook-- no taper. In the two weeks prior to the Elite State Track Championships I trained a normal heavy training volume, with four days on the bike and two days in the gym weekly. I figured the usual stuff wasn't working so it was time to experiment.

So how did that work out? The laboratory of pain known as the one kilometer time trial was the first test of my new non-method. Below Alan Vugrincic and Alex Farioletti get set to suffer.

Yeah, it didn't work out that well, which shouldn't be a big surprise to anybody with a simple grasp of the basics of exercise physiology. I already said this was an experiment borne out of frustration, right?

Vugrincic killing it for the top time.

My start was mindless and good, backstraight speed acceptable, first lap ticked off successfully and into float mode for the second lap. The float felt alright to me in the moment, but later Vugrincic told me it looked like I was already suffering at that point. The third lap came down like a ton of bricks. The power dropped out of my legs and I slowed to a crawl. It must have looked really bad, as the announcer took to warning racers following me not to "do a Broekema" and die a tortuous, slow death on the last lap.

The result speaks for itself: One minute thirteen seconds and change. The slowest kilo I've done in two years, and the slowest in the series of five kilos each of which had been slower than its predecessor. In March I did my fastest ride ever, a 1:09.70. Then, back in the US I did a 1:12.53, 1:12.68, at nationals a 1:12.90, and finally I fell out of the boat completely into the 1:13's. Marvelous.

The kilo podium. Allen and Alex both put down smoking times to take the first two spots.

Next up was the team sprint. We had to have had the most interesting team: Our starter, Mark Altimirano, at an incredibly youthful 58 is just old enough to be my high school drop-out dad, while our second man, 19 year old Daniel Farinha, is plenty young enough to be my own illegitimate son. Three generations of track racers on the same team!

And we did pretty damn well, too. Our start was smooth, if not lightening fast, and we all dropped into formation like clockwork, truly a thing of beauty when it happens right. Everyone's exchanges were tight and I didn't throw it down the toilet by "doing a Broekema" on my lap, either. Nice! 1:12 is not exactly lighting the world on fire, but it was a really nice execution. Thanks guys!

There was drama to come. Alex Farioletti and Fergus Tanaka's team set down a blistering 1:09 to smoke us good right off the bat. Then the LTO Velo heavyweights, Vugrincic, Allen and Malenke, who were heavily favored to blitz this event struggled off the line and put in a -for them- very sub-par time. We looked like a silver medal. Not too shabby!

But wait-- There was a late call from the officials that Alex's team had made an illegal exchange, and they were relegated to second. Gold medals for grandpa, dad and the kid! Not exactly the way you'd like to win a race, though. Most in attendance agreed that the call was tenuous at best, and in any case Farioletti's team had the best time by three whole seconds. Not like it was close or anything. But, a gold medal's a gold medal, I guess.

Time to hit the reset button and go back to the drawing board. Today I've finally accepted that this season I've dropped down a big notch from where I was before the move, and I'm not gonna get back there any time soon. On to next season, then.

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