The "I Can Get to the Next Level" Moment

Now that I'm back from my two week trip to the Chicago Showcase and the Dodge Tour de Georgia, I'm starting the part of the year where I do my most intense training. It seems that every year I have a moment in my training or in a race in which I'm competing where I realize that I can push myself harder than I had to that point.

My "I Can Get to the Next Level" moment is different every year. Two years ago it happened in the Hamilton Heatbuster 5k in Hamilton, NJ sometime in the mid-summer. I looked at my Polar Heart Rate Monitor at about the three mile mark and the heart rate said 105 or 106 percent. Last year it was seeing a photo that Harvey Levine took of me at the Covered Bridge Metric Century in Lancaster, PA. I thought I had the intense look of a pro cyclist that day.

I've already had my "I Can Get to the Next Level" moment for this year. It came at the Chicago Showcase during a game between the teams from Minnesota and the Southeastern States on Saturday, April 16. I was working as a linesman in the game. One of the big responsibilities for a linesman is to "cover for the referee" by getting to the goal line in the case of a breakaway to determine if the puck is shot into the goal.

In the third period of the game, one of the Minnesota players got the puck near center ice and took off on a breakaway with a Southeast defenseman close behind. I was sprinting down the boards trying to reach the goal line at about the same time as the Minnesota player would take his shot.

I made it to the goal line at about the time that the Minnesota player took his shot; I turned and skated toward the goal as the shot was taken. The next thing I knew, I had collided with the Minnesota player, we had both landed on our backs, and I slid 10 or 15 feet into the boards. I hit the boards head first, more or less. I was glad to have a helmet on that day.

My head was spinning when my brain caught up with what had happened. I heard the referee blow his whistle. I started to get up, and didn't feel like I was too badly injured, so I skated to the front of the goal and looked for players that might need to be separated. The game was fairly uneventful after that, and I got myself checked out by the trainers after we got off the ice.

I was truly lucky that I wasn't injured in a way that would have forced me to leave the game, but I got a real shot of adrenaline from that moment. I knew that as hard as I was working in the game up to that point, I had not reached my physical limit. Sometime during the Tour de Georgia, I realized that this was an "I Can Get to the Next Level" Moment.

Once I've had an "I Can Get to the Next Level" Moment, I'm suddenly able to ride further or faster-- or both. I'm a bit more motivated than I was before. I'm pretty happy that this moment has occurred before I really got into training for the year. I think it's going to make a significant impact in my training progress.

In all the reading I've done on training for cycling, running, and multisport events, I can't remember anyone talk about these sorts of moments in the way that I do. Maybe I should go back and look at my books again. Do you have experiences like the ones I'm describing? If so, how does it change your training or race performance?