Time for a fitness check-in. With a summer of running under my belt, a month and change of ski training, and fall finally starting to make itself felt, it was time to see how the t-rex arms were doing in terms of propelling me down a ski track. Thanks to the achilles tendonitis I have been doing more rollerskiing than I had expected, but not nearly as much as when I considered myself a serious skier. Not sure what that makes me now... a ski coach who can't stop racing? Or just a pure racerhead who'll take endorphins any way they come?
The double pole test is four times up a steep lil' bugger of a hill in Concord, and you add all your times together to get a final result. This is a good measure of fitness, because it's not just one sprint up a hill - it tests your strength endurance, as well. Can you keep up the speed on your fourth time up that mountain without your technique falling to pieces? Our juniors do the test about once every two months, interspersed with other fitness tests like the 3k on a track, and the no pole time trial, which is evil incarnate, but I've managed to avoid doing any double pole tests all summer. The last time I did a test was last November, and I set a new PR at 12:28. I figured that probably wasn't going to happen just yet, as I don't consider myself all that strong right now. Except my core, that seems to be alright.
After a solid warmup, I started the test with one of my juniors, but quickly left her behind. I felt really good today, snappy and strong through the core, which was a nice change from the achy and sore feeling I'd had earlier in the week. I'm coming off an inadvertent rest week, since I sprained my ankle a week ago Tuesday, so got a couple extra rest days last week, and made the strangely mature decision to not push recovery too fast. I had felt good on Tuesday during bounding intervals, too, so I guess it wasn't too surprising that the feeling lasted. Going up the steep part I had "I'm so strong!" on repeat in my head, trying to lie myself into speediness. At the top, I saw 3:06 on my watch, and though I wasn't super winded, my legs were burning, and I was a little bummed, since usually times just get slower after the first one of these.
The second rep I started behind Frank and Andy, two other coaches. They started a little faster up the initial steep bit, but I was keeping pace, mostly, and thinking about getting a good forward position and then rocking on my heels. Around the corner and suddenly my right pole starts slipping. What's going on? I look down and notice that the ferule has rotated by 90 degrees, so I pause, grab the tip, and rotate it back with my left hand. Damn, apparently that pole grip needs some glue. Then I realize I've rotated the tip so that it's 180 degrees off! D'oh! I grab the tip again and rotate it back to the correct position, cursing under my breath. This whole operation has taken maybe 3 seconds total, but feels like forever. gah! The brief pause in forward momentum has actually given me a break, and I attack the remaining hill with gusto, to a time of 3:06 again. Well, I guess fixing the pole didn't affect my time that much.
Third time up and I'm still chasing Frank and Andy, this time closing in a bit as the hill flattens out and I up the tempo. This is starting to really hurt by now, it feels like somebody has replaced my legs with jello. Strange that it's my legs dying and not my arms, but I hope that's a testament to how much I was using my core rather than the arms. Frank and Andy are done now, having starting one rep earlier, so I have to do the last hill on my own, but there is a big gaggle of juniors that started about a minute ahead of me. Rabbits! I resolve to leave everything I've got on this hill, focusing hard on getting the poles into the pavement early and applying power with my core. I'm raggedly out of breath with my entire body shaking by the time I finish, but I managed to keep the times consistent, so I'm pleased. I do a quick calculation in my head - 3:06 + 3:06 + 3:03 + 3:04 = 12:19! New PR!
I'm suddenly feeling a whole lot more confident about this upcoming ski season.