The NENSA camp ended today, with a 7.5k (for the girls, 9.3 for the boys) time trial up Franklin Falls road. This is the course that the US ski team uses, and it goes uphill. Jess did this one back in the June camp, but I'd never done it before. We started warming up and I noticed that my hips were still pretty sore from the no-pole intervals we'd done two days ago (six hours of training ago). I also noticed that my left quad was super tight, but assumed that would work itself out, as it had just been compensating for my gimpy right knee. I guess playing ultimate frisbee is a bad idea when you can't really run without limping.
After about 25 minutes of warmup, we all line up, in surprisingly humidity-free weather. Everything looked so sharp and in focus. I guess thats what happens when you aren't looking through a fog. Will said "GO", and we all took off. For about three strides, I thought I might ski with Jess. I quickly figured out that if I didn't ski my own race I wouldn't be finishing this one, though, so I backed off. I definitely felt the past week of training, even though I hadn't felt too tired doing the actual workouts. I figured everyone else was just as tired, so I tried to V2 as much as possible on the gradual winding uphills in the beginning. I kept tipping over towards my left side, still no idea why that was happening.
It felt like the short flat part before the climbing took forever. It was like I was going through the motions, putting power into the motions, and nothing was happening. Its like when you push the accelerator in my car... you give it gas but it don't go nowhere. Eventually, despite feeling wobbly and weak, I made it to the uphill section. This is sort of when the problems really began. First my left calf cramped up. I fought down the panic that it was my shin (the compartment syndrome one I just had operated on), and loosened my boot a little. Soon afterwards, as I tried in vain to push in a strong, rhythmic tempo off both legs, my hips started to seize. I thought I could work through this one, but it quickly became faster to doublepole up the hill than to V1 it.
The first section of climbing leveled out, and I thought maybe I could recover on the flat part and do some V2. This is when my left quad gave a feeble squawk of protest and stopped working. I managed to not fall down, and proceeded with project straight-legged skate. This doesn't work very well, so soon I was double poling again. The hill kicks up pretty steeply about halfway through the course (I think), and this was pretty bad. I maybe have been at a standstill at some point. I started alternating 10 strides of V1 and 10 double poles. My shoulders were pretty tired, but they weren't cramped up into the knots that my hips and legs were.
The climbing finally flattened out, and my double pole started to move me forwards again. I tried to keep my attitude a little less negative than it was tending towards, and that probably staved off the tears of frustration. There is nothing like training really hard and being unable to perform. Yeah, it was a long camp, but everyone else went through it too. I guess I could blame the antibiotics.
Anyway, I rolled across the line, trying not too look too pathetic, although I think Tom caught some of the double pole pathetic-ness on camera. ah, well, I swallowed my pride when I decided to come to this camp sick. My knee has now swollen to about twice the size of the other one, so I think some time off and lots of ice and ibuprofen is in order. I think it was probably the 2 hr hike/run followed by the 1.5hr "recovery" run (we got lost and 45 minutes got doubled by mistake) followed by spenst and ultimate frisbee was just a recipe for disaster... will I ever learn?
This camp was good though, because it is always motivating, if sometimes in a negative way, to see what other athletes are doing at any given time of year. It was too bad that there were so few girls, but Jess and I had a good time anyway. I felt like I learned a bunch, picked up some valuable technique changes I should make before snow falls, and I've reaffirmed my need for some quality rest. Especially before cross season and ski intensity picks up... Very glad I'm not racing GMSR this weekend...