Monday, April 12, 2010

Human Lab Rat

The last two weeks have been insanely busy. I'm grateful I have plenty going on, but I have to admit, sometimes it might be a tad bit much with working 40, training 20, and then working with the charity / trying to still eat, sleep and occasionally spend time with family and friends. However, some things have been just amazing, like Easter church with my Mom and Don, riding on Good Friday with Jocelyn, and getting some tests done that I have always wanted to do!

I was asked to be in a research study put on by the University of Pittsburgh Sports Performance Complex and the sports / physiology researchers. They are comparing "elite" women triathletes to the women at a specific base within the Military to help them learn to train them and prevent injury. It's a pretty amazing concept and I think it's wonderful any time you can be part of something that furthers science. I would have done it for free, but they even wanted to pay me.. yep, count me in!

I met some wonderful people that walked me through the whole process and the goal is to be mapped on a bell curve with these women while gathering data to assist them! It's really exciting and I couldn't wait to see what it was like!

After arriving in the very sterile environment where I was the only subject present with about 6 PhD students, I realized I was very loud, and dressed very differently. Let the fun begin! I did the flexibility test first (no pictures of that), where they measured all of my arm angles, hip angles etc. It was no work for me! Just lay down and they moved me and used some crazy angle device to call out the readings.

Then it was time to get strapped into the biodex. There are only five of these machines present in the entire world. UPMC has one of them! The goal was to do different exercises and the machine moves with you but resists against, measuring the work that you do on the computer. I had to do 5 reps at 50% and then 5 as hard and as fast as I could go. With 6 people standing there staring at me, I wanted to do a good job and attempt not to look like a weakling. I'm not sure I succeeded. We'll see!
Matt strapping me into the biodex. I felt a bit claustrophobic, but I got over it quickly.

During the reps I was NOT smiling like this, I promise!

The last test of that evening was maximum power on the bike for 30 seconds. I warmed up for about 10 minutes and then it was time to get the party started. I had 10 seconds to go as hard as I could and then the machine would start to "break" against me. For thirty seconds it was all out as hard as I could go, which I think most of us can attest at triathletes we NEVER do. Talk about a gut-busting workout.
If you can't tell, I'm pretty much maxed out here just praying that I make it the entire 30 seconds. My legs were screaming, but I just stuck with it! I don't know that I could have made it 10 more seconds if my life depended on it!
The second night it was VO2 max. Here I am showing off the stylish face max and pack. It was not a fun feeling having that thing on my face and breathing into it. My heart rate went up about 10 beats the second it went on. I did a lot of positive self talk with things like:

"you can breath just fine"
" it will be over soon (and hopefully will not end with you falling off the back of the treadmill"
"you can do this, even if you look like a goober"

etc. etc.
Here I am in the beginning. They didn't get any tests toward the end as they gradually increased the angle of the treadmill ever three minutes and took my blood lactate level! I can't WAIT to see the results!

The last type of test was to measure force and landing. I had these shiny balls attached which were lite up and captured my leg movement on a computer. I had to jump, fall, and land perfectly with each foot on each side of the box which measured my foot pressure/angle etc. It was pretty amazing.
Just to make it a little more difficult, they blindfolded me. Great! Oh.. and then you get to land on one foot also. Seriously people, I'm a triathlete, I don't HAVE coordination! You can see one of the cameras behind me. Rumor has it that each one costs about 60 grand. Wow, wouldn't want to break one of those.
The one foot landing!
Um.. doesn't look toooo far?!
Shine on you crazy diamond (in the words of pink floyd!)
I leave you with what must be remnants of my cheer leading days. Yes, I tend to throw up my arms at times. I'm not sure why I did, I was just trying to land, and then jump as high as I can. I heard triathletes can't jump... I guess no one told these people but they found out quickly it was in fact true.

All in all, it was really awesome to get this opportunity. I'll let you know how it turns out!!

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

No comments: