Jenni got off the track Saturday night after her first run and looked at me. “What was your run all about…..”
OK. Back up about 5 minutes. This weekend we had 66 sleds competing and 22 of us were getting some training in before the race Sunday mornings. I was first off the handles and was sitting there looking down the track. It was frosty and there was visible snow on the parts I could see. Not really conducive to a fast track. I had no idea what the track was going to be like.
“No PB’s tonight. That’s OK, the track will be better tomorrow morning.”
I remember two things about that run clearly.
It sounded different. I remember thinking this is kind of a strange sound whistling past me.
When I got to the finish I looked up to see my time. It was at that point that I realized I was still going really fast and so I had to put on some serious breaks to stop myself. I missed seeing my time because I had to focus on stopping myself.
One of the parents was at the finish dock. “Did you hear my time? I missed it.” “I think he said 46 something.” Really? I went over into the timing booth. “What was my time? I missed it.” “46.493” “Really?” “Yup.”
OK. My previous best time was 47.449. That is just shy of a 1 second improvement.
What does that mean? How hard is that to do?
There is clearly a learning curve in luge. And when you are starting out the jumps in time are really big. The first one is 10 to 20 seconds just by not breaking at the start. But as you get closer to what is possible on the track, the jumps in time get smaller. A really good run is in the low 45 second range. A super fast run is in the upper 44’s (we do not get that very often, the ice has to be just right.) When you start to get close to the 45-46 second range the steps become smaller.
A 1 second step is a leap at my point on the learning curve is huge. I would have been stoked with something right around 47.0 46.9. I felt like I could get into the 46’s. I was stunned that I went as low as I did.
Jenni got off the track Saturday night after her first run and looked at me. “What was your run all about??????” I just got a goofy grin on my face “I don’t know, but I was going fast!” And things just blurted out.
What happened? Well the track was pretty good. Not great but pretty good. The good club sliders were putting down times that were slightly higher than what they would normally slide, but within their good range. I did some work on my sled before going to Lake Placid. I taped up some gaps between my steels and the kufens and around the spot where the bridges go through the pod shell. Both of these help lower the drag on the sled a little bit. I was wearing my racing booties which are better shaped and help to keep your feet pointed, also reducing the drag.
AND I have been sliding pretty good. As good as I have ever been sliding. I feel like my form has gotten a lot better in the past month. I am definitely more comfortable on my sled. Laying farther back. Keeping my head farther back. I don’t feel like I need to see everything on the track. I am trusting my brain to know what is coming more. I am trusting my sled. That all means I am feeling confident on my sled.
We see stuff like this when people are learning to slide. You will kind of plateau out for a while, then something will click and you move up a level. I’ve been on a plateau for a while. Sliding really consistently but a little frustrated because I have not seen that promised leap in times. I’ve been chipping away at it. Because I have been chipping away at it, this was really unexpected.
My second run? The club guru came up to me between runs. “Let’s see another one.””I heard the wind whistling.” “That’s good. It means your brain is processing things and has time to notice what is going on around you.”
The second run was virtually a carbon copy of the first run (that’s the consistency thing coming through). My time was a little slower 46.524. (3/100 slower than my first run if you do the math.) When I look at the split times for the two runs my seconds was actually faster (about 3/100 in fact) right up until the end. That difference was a little bit too heavy of a steer in the last corner of the track.
I was the 4th fastest slider Saturday night on both of my runs. That’s one bobble (by the good sliders) from the podium on race day. A podium in an open race.
Was I stoked? Uh yeah. No wait, change that. HELL YES!
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