After an easy day 1 to get ourselves comfortably settled in Gerlev, we began day 2 with some earnest training. Our morning started with a trip to the local track in Slagelse, merely 6km from the school. The track is associated with the Slagelse skating club but we arranged for some training time at the facility. It is a beautiful 270m flat track with slightly wide corners. Rather than me describing the track, here is a (shaky) video of me skating a couple of laps to give you a tour.
Track skating has never been my forte but I do it anyway because it is simply a part of training. We began with some paceline warm up so coach Sooty got a better idea of our track skating technique. His evaluation of my weaknesses are in agreement with feedbacks I received in the past. We did technique drills both for the straightaway and corner. For straightaway, we concentrated on single-leg glide, push with extended glide phase going forward instead of weaving, and a weight transfer drill that I had not done before. For the weight transfer, we kept both skates on the ground pretty close to each other and propel ourselves forward by only transferring our centre of gravity but without bobbing. It was similar to two-legged slalom but the emphasis was not so much on feeling the edges but in transferring the body weight. For the corners, coach Sooty stressed the importance of the underpush. He said that rather than calling it crossover, it is more fitting to call it pushunder.
A new thing that I picked up is the importance of relaxing the body while skating at high speed. It’s the efficient use of strength to turn into power instead of wasting it on unnecessarily tensed muscles. A drill that we did is accelerating to top speed and then exhale in one corner or one straightaway. The idea is that as we exhale, the body is forced to relax. I understand the concept but the successful execution will take some time to master.
Before we left the track, I did a double take at the signage posted in the entrance. Only skates are allowed on premise. How rare do we get to see that! Take a closer look at the skate icon…what are the chances a pair of roller skates will make its way to the track?
I enjoyed an easy afternoon of exploring the nearest town Slagelse. You can read more about it over at Dessert By Candy. It’s a quaint little town that I easily navigated without a map.
I’ve been looking forward to motor pacing ever since coach Sigrid told me about her experience training in Europe. At long last I had a taste of the experience myself. We drove out to a quiet 2km stretch of road with smooth pavement and little traffic. The father of one of the former sk8skool skaters brought his motorcycle and drove at a steady speed while we followed. We divided the group into guys and girls with four skaters in each group and alternated drafting behind the vehicle. For us girls, each of us took turns skating behind the motorcycle while others remained in the paceline. With a slight incline one way and a tailwind on the way back, we typically went at a faster pace to return to our group up point. For these 2km repeats, we gradually built up from skating 30km/h to eventually 43km/h. The key is concentrate on skating at high speed with good technique since the draft of the motorcycle relieved us much of the work. Stay relax!
I’ve often been told the purpose of motor pacing is to gain confidence skating at speed outside of my comfort zone. Therefore at an actual race, the race pace would feel easy compared to training pace. I was a little nervous skating behind a motorcycle so mentally I did a lot of self-coaching to remove that fear. In my head, I tried to put the speed in perspective with each increase in pace. It ran from hey, I do that at my time-trial pace to good day of training with the guys in Toronto to mass start at Ottawa Inline Festival to going downhill at A2A. Once I had those points of reference, I realized the speed was not something I’ve never done before and I focused on skating instead of freaking out OMG this is too fast I’m going to crash and die. Since I talked myself into believing it was no big deal, the whole motor pacing experience became a bit….anti-climatic. I thought it would be a huge adrenaline rush of going faster than I ever thought I could but it turned out to be a been there done that even without the bike mentality. Mind you, it was a good workout. By the end of our 10th 2km repeats, my legs were jello and I had to work hard to stay in the draft. However, it was not the mental training that I anticipated for years.
An interesting incident occurred when we did our 8th repeat. We were aiming for 38km/h and M wanted to be third in the pack instead of the last place so she could get some feedback from the skater behind her. I happily obliged. Less than 500m into the drill, she started getting gapped. I pushed her for a bit trying to close the gap but it was not enough. Eventually I had to chase down the pack. It took me about a whole km to close the gap and I was totally dying from the effort. But hey, I got that done! Next time I get dropped from the pack at a race, I’ll have to remind myself of this day and know that it is absolutely within my reach to get back into the race. I now have no excuse to give up.
I'll leave you with a video of us four girls during one of the motor pacing repeats. I was the one sporting Toronto Inline Skating Club blue/orange/black: