Thursday, November 23, 2017

From Right to Left Canada Style

Quick update here!

* The on snow micro camp in Foret Montmorency was a success. That early season snow touch break in was taken care of

* The flight to the north left went by adequately smoothly. I packet as many skis as I my ski bag could fit.

* So far Canmore has been unseasonable warm. It rained all day today and training got shut down for tomorrow.

* This was for preserving purposes for the NorAms this weekend

* Energy is solid. Can't wait to see where the race shape is this weekend.

* Shooting is still doing well

* More info and quick updates to come :)

Alright so these are from last years Canmore, Camp. But they will have to do for now. 

Groomed and ready to be conquered in Foret! 

So long Maine forest. I'll be home for Christmas. 

If you know what town this was taken in then you're probably awesome.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Head Lamp Season

        November can be a gray area in more ways than one. This is the touch and go time of year for winter sports. Athletes and coaches are chomping on the bit to get on snow. Making the call on travel plans and training ideas can be difficult. On a more literal side, the sky is seemingly always gray this time of year. The plans for me this year are admittedly not what I was hoping for, but the confidence is still in a good place.

        The last training block was a success. The cold and sore throat in the middle of it didn't help, but a few months without succumbing to a stuffy nose would actually make me nervous. This was the last big push for training before things get more specific and refined. The energy level last Wednesday reminded me of what it's like finishing out a training block in July. That was the indicator that let me know I was doing it right. It was also nice to know that last Wednesday might very well have been the last roller ski session of the year. Which is a good thing. 

       Next week will have me in Foret Montmorency, Quebec. This is only a three and a half day stretch. That's just enough time to push enough on snow training to remember what it's like to ski on actual skis rather than roller skis. There are a lot of different muscles used when you're on snow. Enough to warrant making a trip like this happen. Even if it is only for a few days. The latest trail news suggest that the snow is part wood chips. For now, this is fine, because you can't say "the snow is part wood chips" without saying "the snow."

       Later on in November has me back in Canada. This time it will be on the western side in Alberta. Good old Canmore. Canmore has the chance to make you feel cold like no other place. It comes down to three reasons: It's November and you're not used to anything below freezing, much less winter like, Canmore in November can be brutally cold the way January can be in northern Maine can be, and they really like there snow guns. Blowing man made snow when it's -20 forces the air to be humid when it shouldn't be humid. The end result is me spinning my hands around in circles trying to force warm blood to my frozen finger tips. These days, you never know what the weather will do. I'm banking on getting lucky and having functional temps and great snow conditions.

       The USBA group that I'll be working with will be based out of Canmore for a few weeks. Travel is never fun so this should give us enough time to settle in. There are a couple of NorAm cups in Canmore to test out the racing skills. The real racing starts later on in December, but for now this is how I plan on tackling the overcast of November. Part of these trips are covered and the rest is not so I can't thank the recent support that's come in enough. I wouldn't be making these training and racing trips happen if I didn't still think I had a chance at the Korea team and I wouldn't be able to make the trips happen without the support. So again, many thanks! 

I charged the battery in my camera this time so it's up to Foret's ski trails to look pretty enough for a picture next week.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Away, but not Out.

       The goals for the 2018 season are still very much possible. While the past few weeks have not been without some missed opportunities, the overall performance is looking hopeful.  It's good to have that confident feeling back in the arsenal. It's not always easy to keep the confidence up. It certainly wasn't easy once I realized my December racing goals was out of the question before we're even into November. So why am I not complaining about having the rugged pulled out from under me and why am I feeling better about all things 2017/18 racing?

       The racing circa mid October in Jericho, VT wasn't all that bad. It was, however not good enough. The overall performance from my side was better than it has been in past years. I did all of my homework and was able to prove most of it. I took it easy the week leading up to the races, but for reasons unknown the legs were not as fresh as I would have liked them to be. There are a lot on variables in this sport and nailing all of them at the same time is tough. Still, the years of base training were enough to keep the ski speed in decent shape. It's a sort of an insurance for the days when you're not up to full energy.

       On the shooting side, results were better, but much like skiing just below good enough. These sort of races for athletes in my position are more difficult than racing world cups. A bad day on the world cup means learning what you can and working towards the next one. A bad day at the Jericho team trials can mean that should start looking into plane tickets and spectator free racing. With that in mind every shot feels like a fight. You might wonder why I'm not used to this by now, but remember that there is a reason why no athlete has ever averaged 100% for an entire season. I was close to getting out of standing with a clean stage and a 90% in all in the first race. Then the last shot got to me and I bummed myself down to 80%. The second race was a tricky one. The wind was a limiting factor and the field as a whole was proving this with some less than typical shooting results. For me it was 60% day. Not bad, but not great and not good enough.

The look of racing suffer. 
     The racing in October was a step up from the races back in August. My goal of having a shooting mechanic that worked under pressure was a success compared to past years of shooting range meltdowns. The changes to the stock, made for a lighter and better fit. The changes in my position give me a better probability of a hit. I'm not at the Canmore, AB team camp, simply because the overall level of competition on the US team is higher than ever. I can recall having a 45% shooting day at a trials race as a junior and still taking the win. Those days are over. USBA's goal of bringing up the depth of the team has been a success and I took the blunt end of it.

     So what happens now? The first trimester of the season may be out of grasp but the races in February are not. I have to be the fourth or fifth US man out during the IBU cups in January. To make it to those races I have to be in the top two at the trial races at Mt. Itasca in Colerane, MN. For the sake of proper preparation I will be in Canmore for three weeks prior to those races. If we're lucky there will be snow at the FKOC even before that. For now, I'm in Lake Placid with the development team. As of today, I fighting my way through a sore throat and cold. That's the point B back to point A itinerary.

      Not that it matters, but this rout has lead to my best and worst seasons ever. This is a non factor to me because I'm done with superstition. None of it is real. Doing each workout better than the rest is how I plan to have better results over the coming months. As much as I despise requesting help, any donation will go towards the flight and trip expenses for Canmore and Minnesota. The help from this summer was essential because most of it went towards paying off the racing fees from February. For now it's a matter of getting over this obnoxious cold and sore throat.  Not unlike four years ago, as long as there is even a slight chance, then I have to take the risk.
Happy October! 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Still Alive

         All things are still a go. Was hoping to have a full run down of racing last week and what it means for the next couple of months, but that update will have to wait a few more days. For now I'm packing up for another trip back to Lake Placid. Long story short: No go on the December world cups despite an improvement in overall performance. However! The January and on racing season is still a very achievable possibility. And that includes all things February. So... if ever there is a chance then it is a chance worth taking. Might have to muster up some funding once again, but more details on the upcoming course of action later. For now it's a whole lot of driving

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Always Forward

       Greetings from Craftsbury, Vt. Last week it would have been from Lake Placid, and later on this week it will be greetings from Johnson and or Jericho. Vt. In any case, the goal remains the same. Everything revolves around reaching the top name on the result list. Oddly enough, it's a good thing I don't have any crazy adventures or short stories to elaborate on this time. With important races coming up this weekend no one is trying to make crazy adventures happen and anything unplanned would probably hinder the goal. So that's why I don't have much to update about this time. Everything is going both smooth and boringly.

      The Lake Placid fall camp was a productive one. Maybe not as packed with afternoon slowfire drills or five hour distance sessions, but plenty of quality to the point sessions. Like any late September and October camps I packed what I thought would the right attire. Little did I know that summer wasn't done with Lake Placid. The heat and humidity felt out of place with the changing leave colors. At a time when we're typically looking forward to a warm shower after training, some of us were opting for the ice bath in sports med.

       Thankfully, the weather, typical or not, didn't get in the way of some solid training. The total hours were high, but the energy was never in debt. Were I prequalified for the races this weekend, I might have pushed the training load a little higher. We had about three high intensity sessions a week. One of them was the so called "Korea protocol." This is USBA's answer to the large climb right out of the stadium of the Pyeong Chang Olympic course. The session consist of skiing up a sustained climb for seven minutes three times over with however long it takes to drive down in between for recovery. Not unlike a sprint format race in biathlon.

      Training camps don't feel quite right without a time trial at the end. The one where everyone is hanging on for dear life energy wise. The one where you know it's going to a solid effort, but your legs are so heavy you're not sure how or why. It's similar to the rule of always having room for desert. In this case, we absolutely had a hefty time trial on Saturday but none of us were in massive training debt. So there was less of an excuse to not have decent showing. I was pleased with my shooting. Range times were better than they were a couple of months ago and I hit 80% of my targets. Not prefect, but decent enough.

       The shooting score has been holding up well lately. The process that I'm clinging to now is designed to hole up under pressure. As always, nothing is immune to colossal failure so no bold promises. The refined version of my rifle has yet to be officially weighed, but in giving the hand to hand comparison to the rifles of other athletes it feels safely under four kilos. All that, and I'm not even using lighter sprint action, much less barrel.

      The rest of the fall is undetermined at for now. The potential routs from here are actually better than all or nothing like they have been in the past. Nevertheless, I'm going for the best route possible. Enjoy the fall. This is my favorite time of year.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Less Stock more Blueberries


Oatmeal doesn't more unprocessed then this. 

       Whatever gets you to the office in the morning is good enough. You can't say that sentence without saying "gets you to the office."By that logic your source of motivation is good enough. Every since the poor shooting at the first round of trials I've been training out of bitterness and frustration. The way I see it, complaining about poor results has little too no benefit. Every quality training session I do brings me one step further from more poor performances. At this point, most of the training is actually just maintenance of the past ten or so years of physical conditioning.  With that said, besides training my face off, what else have I done to up the level lately?

        While I've been training for some time now, the effort that goes into training even now, never lets up. The key is be constantly pushing your threshold. Not only that, you have to be pushing it in a better way than the rest of the field. We're competing against the best in the world, there isn't time for anything less. Certain key sessions have been at the center of this model. In July we were doing six times six minutes of roller skiing at a hard race effort. Since then I've increased the load to nine by six minutes. A full hour of quality effort is the goal. Every session is a part of much larger exercise phys  setting balanced with my own experience.

       Having everything work is a minimal standard. Much like training, equipment has to be world class. Rifle, skis, poles, boots should all feel like a healthy extension of the body. You can see in the pictures that the stock has been carved out. You wouldn't think a bit of wood here and there would do much, but there is no doubting that the rifle swings on the back a little bit easier now. The hook on at the end of stock is a masterpiece. Since it's wrapped in grip tape, you'll have to take my word for it.

      On a more lighter note, have you noticed the free food falling from some of the trees lately? Am I the only one who sees this? Most apples you purchase in the store have been in a warehouse for about a year before they're ready for sale. On the other hand the tress outback are brimming with free organic ultra fresh apples. Just, going to through that one out there. It's also blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, and dozens of other fruit and vegetables season. The garden yields much more spinach than my windowsill operation ever did. I had the always fun job of dog sitting what might be a hyena last week. The payment for this was free picking of an industrial strength blueberry bush. Zimmerman, is still alive and I'm in process of freezing the blueberries.

       That's about it for now. More training camps and racing to come.

A before shot of the upper hook. 
Another before picture from this spring.

The new and much improved version. 

Only needed that part of the bolt lever anyway. 
Yeah.. so... I found a nice deal on four pounds of comb honey. This stuff is the same color as gold for reason!

Thank you Finnsisu for the fast and friendly help this summer. 

Just another run to get lost on. 

Had a blueberry related mishaps. It happens to the best of us. 

This bread machine is making store bought bread obsolete. 

When the USOC tells you the Olympic registration head shot isn't good enough. 

Zimmerman approves of this update. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Summer Racing Review.

         Here we are again. Anther post August biathlon racing update. It was a learning experience when I was 16 and it wasn't  anything less last week at age 30. I sorely wish I could say that the changes I made this year paid off and that I might truly be on to something, but that's not the case. This blog has never been much to sugar coat it. You can know that any amount of positive news from here is genuine. With that in mind the weekend of racing was far from a complete loss. It was, after all another learning experience. My policy is still revolves around giving a 100% effort even if the odds are against me.

       In both races the feeling in the legs was all there. It was hot out, but a few degrees cooler than it was last year. There have been races when my face was starting to look white on the last loop. Others have succumb heat exhaustion. Thankfully, I was able to hold my own this year and ski as well or better than the field around me. Since it's August, I can't brag about this rightfully, but it certainly helps in a qualifying situation.

      The overall all set up in shooting was, if nothing else,  looking better than ever. The position for both prone and standing was more solid and the rifle looked more slick than it ever has. It would seem a few good shooting stages was in the future. Well... That didn't happen. How original of me, I know. Both the sprint and mass start was met with below expectations on the shooting percentages. There were a number of reasons for this. One being the nerves and pressure of performing on such a make or break level and the other being a direct process issue. In other words, I wanted the hits too bad to get them in standing and am pretty sure I over held on a couple of shots in prone for similar reasons.

     The final results were not season ending, they will just make things slightly more difficult. The trip home from races like these is never easy. Whether you're meandering through the states on East 2 or trying (and failing) to sleep on an plane, you sure do have a lot of time to mull it over. Fun fact: sometimes I try to arrive home evasively to avoid that initial interrogation of "what went wrong?"

        The conclusion that I came to after this particular drive north eastward was that everything is close to great. The difference between close to great and great is often much closer on the process level than it would appear on the result list level. A more tangible example: I need to be more aggressive in shooting. A little less fear and more forceful on the mat usually works well when I commit to it in training. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but I have ample time before the next races to make it a routine thing.

       You can't argue with results and I'm not about to. I didn't perform well last week and that's that. The best move from here is to use the races as reference point and trust that I'm on the right track. If that's true, then I shouldn't have any problem proving that at the next set of trials. I guess, it's just a little frustrating when you know you could have done better and have to patiently wait another seven or so weeks to prove so!

       The trick to going an entire year with out getting sick comes down to two main things. One: don't travel and two: get lucky. Since not traveling isn't an option for me, it's down to the luck side. I got unlucky at some point driving home and now have to work out a vicious sore throat and cold. The plan was take advantage of the energy in the legs by doing a short volume block. Instead I find, myself weeding the garden and blowing my nose.

      Once the cold has passed it's back to the grind. The next few weeks have me in Maine. There is another camp in Lake Placid towards the end of September into October. It's almost that strange time of year when the weather can't decide if it's summer or fall. Apple season is almost in full swing which means free food will be available for the procurement!