Team members are all excited as they are going for their first paddle in a kayak. However, they did'nt realize that the boats do not steer themselves!
Adventure Racing team training camp in ChinaTeam MildSeven training camp, Week#1.
I am back again. Here in Dali China, which is located in the province of Yunann at 6500ft, coaching the Asian adventure racing team that will compete in the MildSeven Outdoor Quest (MSOQ), November 1-4th, 2001. The training camp is broken into two segments. I am here now coaching the team for 24 days and then Paul Huddle will take the team through a second training camp October 10-26 prior to the start of the race on November 1st.
This year we have 8 athletes that will make up two teams. The past week has gone very good. The team members are all very young and the first day had me worried as I watched them paddle around in circles in the two person kayaks. Fortunately Tiang Ying Qi (pronounced, Ying Chi) is an expert paddler and, along with having the experience of training and racing last year at the MSOQ, was able to help me with teaching the new athletes proper skills needed to steer the boats and paddle efficiently.
The training this year for the first training camp is very similar to Ironman training with swimming replaced by paddling and the addition of in-line skating and mountain bike ride and tie. The race is four days long and will average 8 hours a day for the fastest teams so they need to prepare to race an Ironman 4 days in a row. Longer aerobic workouts combined with higher intensity threshold sessions were performed this past week and will be built upon over the next two weeks. Not much team work will be schedule into the training this first go around as the athletes need to get fit themselves and train at their own speeds/efforts individually. This means going out for bike and run interval sessions and doing their own pace/speed during the intervals and then re-grouping for the cooldown.
Key workouts this week included a 5 hour ride around the lake (nothing like sitting on a mountain bike for 5 hours in the rain), a 3 Ĺ hour run up the mountain to 9000ft and back down, hard 4min run and paddle intervals, an uphill off road time trail on the bike and a 90min continuous paddle. I forgot to mention that it is the rainy season here so all but one ride last week was performed in the rain. Fortunately it is hot and humid so you donít get cold when riding in the rain.
The team is averaging 4-7 hours of training each day and this will climb up to 5-8 hours/day for the next two weeks. They get a complete day off every 8th day (which is today) and more then look forward to this break. The fortunate thing with Huddle and I training the team is that we train along side them and are finally able to get fit, or should I say forced to get fit.
Enough about the training, this is my fourth trip to China and I need to point out a few differences in cultures from what I am used to at home:
1. Meals are a competition: Itís all about how much you can eat, how fast you can shovel it down and how much noise can be made. If I tend to do this when I return, just realize that after 28 days in China I have simply given in and donít even realize that I am not in China anymore.
2. People drive down the middle of the road and honk their horns continuously. After a while you donít even hear the horns as they just fade from one honk to another. If you need to pass another vehicle you simply pull out without looking, honk your horn and force the driver coming the other direction to pull off onto the shoulder or into the ditch. Itís amazing that there are not more accidents, but everyone drives this way and expects the other drivers to do so. I am starting to get used to seeing two cars pass a third while having one car coming from the other direction. All this, 4 cars abreast, on a narrow 2 lane road. Again, if you notice me driving more like I am in a NASCAR race when I get home passing in the corners 4 abreast, itís the unconscious in me thinking that I am still in China.
3. There is no such thing as personal space. The more people you can cram into an elevator or onto a bus or train, the better. When I first arrived I though this was rude, but soon realized that I was in CHINA, not Kansas anymore and this was just the way it was here. Again, when I return and tend to always bump up against people or talk face to face only inches away when having a discussion, I am just still feeling a little Chinese and not trying to make a pass at you.
There will be plenty more stories in the next two weeks. I will be posting up dates at weeks end for the next three weeks with pictures. The team doesnít know yet, but some of the training will consist of a 7-8 hour run/hike up to the top of the mountain (13500ft), which is just out our back door of the hotel, a 3-4hour continuous paddle and a simulated 6-7 hour race day.
Craving for a cheese burger and fries,