Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Summer Grind

       Since nothing too far out of the ordinary has occurred in my world I couldn't think of central theme to this update. Nor do I have the motivation to whip up a proper intro. So here are a few bits of random information that have happened since the last check in.

* The remaining two weeks of training in Lake Placid were a success. The last day was spent rollerskiing up Whiteface in the rain. A whole hour of threshold training and not once did we hear the thunder. Since it was all uphill the rain wasn't as obnoxious as it usually is.

* The garden is teaming with fresh vegetables. Despite my best efforts there is only so much a lettuce I can eat.

* Before I left the county, I had a pea plant growing in the window. The watering of said plant had ceased with my departure. When it did finally have a drink, it was given soap water by mistake. At this point it was left for certain death. As of yesterday, I noticed a pod starting to grow in response to my vein attempt at revival.

* The coaches mentioned that they thought my shooting had improved since last year. It felt like it was heading in the right direction, but with the significant changes I still thought it had some breaking in to do. On the other hand if not one, but two coaches that have been working with me for a month want to tell me the shooting has improved, then I'm not going to argue.

* The actual rifle it's self has undergone some significant changes for the better. A before and after picture would have been a nice way to show this. That one will have to wait until the final touches are done. For now the rifle feels like a better fit than it ever has.

* Last week was the end of a three week training cycle. Three weeks in a row, nothing under 20 hours. After the drive back from Lake Placid I started the following Monday off with a four hour ride. This was about when the stretch of heat and humidity kicked in. There were about three high intensity sessions per week. The energy lasted to about the half way point, before every session was part of a countdown to Sunday. It's July and a winter sport, who needs energy anyway?

* The last day of that training period was the Nordic Trail Fest at the Nordic Heritage Center. The whole event was well populated and it's nice to see the place be in heavy use. The premise of the event is to essentially run or bike in circles from 12:30PM to 6:30PM. You're welcome to divide it up with a team effort, or you can thwart it on your own. I ended up going with the latter. My legs were not happy with my brain's commanding decision. 55km (33 miles) was the longest I had ever run on purpose.

* The very much needed recovery period has made for a nice break. I've been able to catch up on goals I've put aside lately. Some any normal 30 year old would have to deal with and others exclusive to me. This blog, rifle work, vehicle inspection, garden weeds, waffles and season three of The Simpsons for example.


With any luck and dedication the next update will have some more pictures in it.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

So On and So Forth

      Rest assured, I'm alive and well. All systems are a go. Living quarters is still the OTC in Lake Placid. It will be this way for a couple more weeks. Despite going to bed early and consistent afternoon naps I'm still training hard enough to be amply tired. Despite having meals ready available three times a day and training spoon fed to us I still find myself cramped for free time.  This is just another quick update with some photos to keep everyone up to date.

See! It's not so bad.
      Thanks to the support I gained I was finally able to bring the cross bike in for some much needed repair. We're looking at a new chain, disk set, bottom bracket repair, front and rear fork alignment, new brake pads, and two new tires. It will be ready and fine tuned to help me get lost on the woods roads of northern Maine in no time.


One step closer to isolating the limiting factor between a miss and a hit.
      The shoulder injury I took on a few weeks ago is undoubtable healing. The rate of recovery however, is annoying. If an injury last more than 12 hours I consider it annoying. This one is going on three weeks. More and more use of it is becoming possible. This is essential when the training load is as high as it is this time of year. You can only off load a certain muscle group so much, before you run into overuse of another.

The real clutch to rebuilding you position is the modelling component. 
Enjoy morning runs? I hope you enjoy wet shoes to. 
      Shooting is also heading in the right direction. A bit slower than expected, but still progressing. I thought I had it figured out for my standing position by the middle of May. I wasn't confident with prone and didn't bother settling down on a formula. Turns out I was way off in both prone and standing. After the brief camp with the team shooting doctor the process of reworking the muscle memory from almost point zero up to a knee jerk reaction level began. Since then, it has become more and more familiar while the groups have been getting tighter and tighter. I was able to differentiate between how to do a precision test well versus hitting targets during high intensity training combos. There are shots that still drift far away, but the misses are not from lack of effort.

          Depending on how you look at it nothing else is new. This will technically be my last update from my twenties. I'm pretty sure the root of turning 30, 40, or 50 and so on stems from the turning over of an extra digit in our base ten numbering system. Don't ask me how, but I think I would only be turning 26 in a base 12 system. Not such a big deal now, huh? Despite being within striking distance of another Olympic team and contemplating retiring there after, one way or the other, I'll probably Peter Pan my way through the next decade. Perhaps not as resource dependent on others, next time around though. At the moment, it's all about this rest day. Then it's all about making the most of training while it's being stream lined to me here at the Olympic Day Care Center. Enjoy the summer!

     
Here goes Russell in his thirties. 


So long dandelion season. 


Those days when your legs are not into it and the hot humid weather isn't helping it helps to remember how loud this afternoon was in Nove Mesto. 


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

This Is Still Our Normal


       When I found out that the team shooting doctor would be in Lake Placid to work with the national team circa early June I had my doubts. It's a long drive, I wouldn't have a place to stay at that point, the first camp starts a week after, and why not go for a thorough skype session instead? Despite going though with it at the very end of a tough training block, I have to admit that the trip was worth the effort. If you're going to do something, at least try to do it right. I needed Matt's in person perspective with my shooting even it meant going out of my way to make the meeting happen. Injured shoulder and all, the trip was success.

        Training has been going well. Or at least "going" in the literal sense. Even after I've contacted the pavement the movement was still happening. Everything was going smooth at about 20mph when my pole planted between my legs. An all to common mistake in roller skiing. I've gone down in this fashion so many times before, all I cared about was landing in a way that didn't break my pole. On the plus side the ski pole didn't snap. On the down side, my shoulder took to bulk of the fall. I do recall the feeling of my leg and elbow sliding on the unforgiving pavement. I was going pretty hard at the time and the impact knocked the wind out of me. At first, I scrambled to my feet carefully, as to not break my pole on the way up. Then frustration followed. The same frustration that comes with every fall. Then came the pain, as I hung out on the side of the road I checked the damage. The blood coming off my arm looked worse than it was. That poor scared elbow had recently healed from a bike to ice slip earlier in May, and there is was hemorrhaging all over again. The part that concerned me was the shoulder pain. That problem had held on since then. It's getting better, but it's made certain training methods difficult.

       On Wednesday I headed north, then west, then south, then meandered through the Adirondacks until I found myself in Lake Placid yet again. The place felt familiar, as if I had been there a week ago when it was actually almost a year since the last visit. Not unlike home, it was cold and raining. The dinning hall at the OTC was open just long enough after a long drive and short run to catch dinner before calling it quits for the day.

       My first meeting with Matt Emmons was Thursday morning. The roller ski session beforehand was cut short when my shoulder wasn't into it. I put on what I thought would be warm enough clothing for an outdoor shooting session in June. I was wrong to underestimate the covered range. We were both on the same page with what we wanted out of set up for prone and standing. It took a while to move the various components around to the right places. In then end we had a set up that made sense both fundamentally and for my comfort zone. There is a lot of science to precision shooting.
       
      Matt is a world Champion in precision shooting. Not only that, but he's also very good at conveying the important parts of shooting over. This is what I want in shooting from a coach, because it takes a lot of trust to make any major changes. To give you an idea of Matt's skill level: it was windy that morning. When my grouping wasn't spectacular, Matt put my cuff on and tried my rifle out for five shots. He was baffled when the group wasn't perfect. It wasn't his rifle, he shot pretty fast, and it was very windy! He opened up the front sight and swapped it out for a slightly smaller ring, got back into position and shot what we (biathletes) would call a perfect group.

        The last few days of the week were busy. The dome light to door in my truck was disconnected. This plan backfired on me when the warning light for the headlights stop ringing when you left the lights on. Thankfully, I only drained the battery twice. Both times in the OTC parking lot. Since it was the end of our three week training stretch my battery was running low. Naturally, I forgot my road bike back home and with the shoulder injury it ended up being a slight running camp. We ironed out the smaller details in shooting as best as we could. It's still going to take some time to become accustomed to the changes, but it's going in the right direction now.
 
         Now it's back to crunch time. That's the time when we you have less than a week to cover all of your bases before you're back in training gauntlet. With the confidence in the new set up I can start working towards updated the parts on the rifle stock. The next step in training has me back in Lake Placid for long training camp. Since that's more of a next week issue and this is technically a recovery week, I'm going to have to resist going into details about more training. 
 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Success!

             Plot twist! Lo and behold the support rolled in just in time. The rallyme site that I set up in April with a 45 day limit didn't have very much of attention until the last two days.  It was like racing 50km where none of the athletes make any move until the 48km mark. So, it goes without saying that the help was appreciated.

          Who would have thought an Olympic sport would produce so little money for the athletes?  Resources have been stretched thin the past three years. Yet, the amount of time and energy needed to compete at a high level doesn't let up just so you can find a job in the meantime. I've proven that I can compete with the upper end of the sport on a good day,  but the upper end of the athletes do pretty well for themselves. The level just below them, such as myself, doesn't necessarily train any less than they do, the difference is that they simply don't have the spoon fed support to carry them along. This is where the conflict of interest comes from. It's also where everyone who donated to my cause put a thorn in the problem. Do I forfeit and thwart the odds in the real world? Maybe next year, but not before the Olympics are over. Funding the gap between what I'm trying to achieve and what I can afford to achieve was lessened by your contributions.

         The first step from here is to maintain what's going right while also work on fixing what isn't. On a more tangible level this means I've recently finished out of a short rest period and going into a heavy training period. That much I can do, shooting has always been the tricky part. This year, the coaches and I decided to rebuild the foundation of my position in shooting. Since this has been harder than expected the plan now is to meet with USBA's shooting coach in Lake Placid next week. Were I on the A-team this would be easy, but without the OTC residence it becomes a long drive for a denial of a place to stay. The chance to work with someone who can help me find the right fit that looks right on a proven scientific level is worth the drive and expenses.  And, while I'm there, I should probably use this opportunity to pay back my coach for that pricey rifle harness he covered for me three years ago... There's also that.

         I hope this makes it clear that the donations are very much appreciated. None of it will go to waist. I would also like to point out that the vast majority of the support came from the state of Maine. The link was to the site was sent to a wide range from around the US. In the end it was the local crowd that was really behind me. So with that in mind, lets show the world what humble Maine can do.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dark Humor and Optimism




       What do you think: if a biography of my biathlon career was made would it be found under the dark humor aisle or the inspirational come back section (not sure what the technical name for that genre is) of the book store?  To be fair, I did say I despise asking for money, I'm not very skilled at it, and with or without help it's far from over. After all, they can't stop me from training! Still, the current status of my fund raising attempt is not suggesting the latter for my biography theme. 

        I can always train well. Training has been going well. Last week was the first 20 plus hour week of the year. My foot has been questionable in that I'm not sure if it's injured or not. Sometimes it hurts to walk on it other times, like yesterday, I run on it for 30kms and it doesn't complain. The roller skis and pole tips are weathering the training storm well. I was even able to home repair a bike into mostly working! 

       Shooting is still in the hacking phase. The plan is make the stock work for as much as I work for the stock. We're still moving the guts of my prone position around trying to find this perfect fit. Standing has shown some progress with this new outlook. Prone will do the same, but needs more trial and error at the moment.   

  In conclusion... here are a few pictures to add some more color to this update. 
And yes! I successfully skied on May first.

However, this particular day on the crust was the best. 
    
The road doubles as a river.
Not the final version. This is a experimental version. 

The trial and error of getting my head to be more level in prone.
Proof! That I was once in my early 20s.




p.s. Who ever donated that $40 is awesome ! Many thanks! 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Here We Go Again

       https://www.rallyme.com/rallies/6319


          The grind season is officially underway. This grind that is the training season that amounts to a lot of physically demanding training and thousands of rounds out the barrel. That, and a lot of other stuff crammed in and around the training and shooting. After a certain point (a point I hit more than a decade ago, but whatever)  training "hard" or "a lot" isn't enough to make the difference. This is when you have to start training "better" than the competition. The trick isn't mustering up enough motivation to get out the door, but rather knowing what you should do once you're out. Play your cards right and you'll eventually wind up on top. Thrash around like an idiot and no amount of natural talent will grant you success on the world cup level. The tricky part is figuring out what plan works best for you. Since the training season is up and running, here is how I plan on tackling this final round.

       The science part of training will be mostly similar to last year. Last year (4/2016 too 4/2017) I trained about 680 hours. That's almost 100 hours down from the 15/16 year prior. This year the year plan has me at 670. That's not too much for an experienced athlete in my position. I was hitting higher year training loads when I was in my early too mid twenties. Once the base was established it made more sense to push the harder efforts more than the longer efforts. Time spent in the speed just below race pace and time spent above race pace will take an increase this season. The strength training side of things will be more elaborate this time around. Last year's plan had good intentions for strength, but took a left turn when I injured my lower back in July. It helps to have confidence in your plan. I always take past results, other athlete's results into consideration, and mull it all over before handing my thoughts over to a coach. Once my coach does the same thing we lay out the details of the coming year.

       Not unlike past seasons the outcome of the races could have been exponentially better if the shooting had been only slightly better. Yes, most any competitive biathlete can say the same, but after being pushed to every end of the result list and team status most of those biathletes would have long since given up. Though it's been close, that's still not my style. So what am I trying this time to better the performance on the range? April wasn't over before skype meetings were happening. Components to the stock are already in the testing phase. If I can mold a rifle stock that works with me more than it does against me the odds will be more in my favor. Shooting always comes down to odds. You can never guarantee a hit, regardless of how confident you are, but you sure can give yourself the high probability of a hit. That's what I'm pinning for with my prone and standing set up.

        Finding the best set up for shooting is only part of the whole. Once we know what a stock that works for me and not me for the stock we'll start the the process of making it fire proof. Taking weight off one of the heaviest rifles on the WC field is on the to do list. Making it shiny and avoiding excessive duct tape usage won't make me shoot better, but it sure would look nicer. So much of hitting or missing comes down to the few key focus points ingrained into your head. At some point before the first round of trials in August I will have to have some idea of want thought process works the best. And if you've been keeping up with this blog you'll know how important range time is in our sport. It's another weak point for me. One that I've been trying to fix since I was 16. Every week of year has a focus and goal in the plan to bring up the shooting level.

          Training camps are an actual influential part of the summer and fall this year. There is no on snow Bend, OR camp for the B-team or a summer Euro camp, but there is a solid amount of time back in Lake Placid. Since the first camp is only five days and an eight hour drive I opted out. This will keep me in northern Maine until mid June for the fist LP camp. Spending more time training with the A-team and working with the coaching staff is what I'm looking for.
   
       That about sums up what the outlook for the summer will look like. The fall is loosely in place, but open to change. The winter is the part that matters. It's an Olympic year, so naturally everything for any winter sport will revolve around February. My RallyMe campaign has made approximately zero progress thus far. It's not over yet, and I'm plenty optimistic. Still, if it was over, it would be okay. Supported enough or not you can't stop me from trying. As I said last year at about this time "Stubbornness and stupidity can move mountains." I'm also an advocate for the "less talking, more doing" policy. With that in mind it's about time to start tinkering around with my rifle.

     

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Team Effort

           


              With one year to go before the next winter Olympics it's clear that I won't be able to make it happen without the help of generous fans. I always despised asking for funding, but if there is one thing worse, it's not reaching my full potential because I didn't have the resources to make the last bit of difference. So with the season behind me and some new ideas on the way Operation: Olympics Round Two is going to need your help.
 
            The season was a pricey one. When I said there were some narrowly missed opportunities here and there, what those misses cost me could be measured in results and monetary Euros. For a brief time, with the help of some generous support, I thought I had more than what I needed, then it was close to, and finally when the totals came in I fell short by a substantial amount. For the record, it was worth it. I needed those races, pricey or not. February's personal training camp in Antholz was top quality compared to the alternative of a trip all the way back home. Everything contributed to having enough success to set up national team support for this coming training year.

          The coming training year has a hand full of ideas on the table. Nothing is set in stone yet. Part of the reason these ideas have not been laid out is because they are not cheap. The changes I want to make on my rifle would require a plane ticket. The opening for some training in Lake Placid might require a place other than the OTC to hold up at. And yes, gas can add up when you have to drive anywhere from 40 minutes to training or eight hours for a training camp. Food is pricey when only the top quality nutrition will do. Those, plus the unpredictable equipment breakdowns and that, of course, includes vehicle maintenance. This isn't an attempt to sell the situation as gloomy, more so just highlighting what's needed to make the most of this coming Olympic year.

         This is where the rallyme campaign comes into play. As mentioned earlier, I'm not a fan of having to do this. Hence, this is the first time I've taken this rout. It's a bit unclear how the donating system works, but rallyme is popular site and has had success for plenty of athletes in similar situations. The introduction on the site is similar to this update, but includes the outlet to donate.

           Lack of commitment has never been my weak point. I still maintain that it is a matter of playing the right cards at the right time more than it is gifted talent. With your support I can better make the right changes needed to secure another Olympic team naming. Needless to say any donation will very much appreciated. The dead line is May 20th. If you have any questions you can reach me at currier407@gmail.com.

As always, thanks again!