Wednesday, August 20, 2014

This is Our Normal

      If there is one month of the year that can guarantee some summer weather and still find time to generate some pandemonium it would have to be August. August used to be that last chance to enjoy summer before school started back up. These days when someone mentions an August date all I can think of is the obnoxious humidity of racing in Jericho, VT. Officially, only once in the past ten years have I not been in Jericho for the annual summer races series. This year wasn't that one year. It was just like the other nine.
   
          Some of the training camp life had already started the week before the races. I opted out of this because it was rightfully a rest week. Since I had to be ready to go for the trial races on the weekend I needed to get in what ever rest week plans I had, done in about 36 hours. The only plan I followed through was sitting around and remaining motionless for a while. Once that was done it back to favorite regiment of packing and training. The time trials from the weekend before didn't have the best shooting and I was hoping to leave on a confident note. I did this with some 80% plus shooting in Fort Kent on the Wednesday before leave. It's hard to gauge ski speed very well when you're on your own, but it's still summer. How fast does it have to be?

           Ski speed has to be decent. These are the first round of trials for the December WC team. Saturday was your normal sprint format and Sunday was the glorified mass start style. I left the great north of Maine on Thursday of last week. The ride down was uneventful. The goal is to not have to look up the AAA phone number. I met up with the rest of the national team on Friday afternoon. Weather was looking surprisingly nice. The joke was that if there no overbearing heat and humidity then it's a cold rain. Otherwise, if the conditions are inviting, someone is going to have to be struck by lighting in order to balance out the universe.  

On a slightly different story the fruits and vegetables this year have been awesome! 
       On a more important note we have the actual races. Which went well. Saturday's sprint was decent. With two misses in prone it was up to standing to keep me in the race. Standing has been my go to this summer and sure enough it lived up the hype. Clean in 24 seconds was enough for a solid race. Loosely estimating it would safely put me in a WC pursuit.
         The mass start was the real boon for confidence this past weekend. I didn't sleep well the night before and it was the normal trek of waiting for the race to start. This is a lot for what is still a summer TT. Lest we forget big boy racing doesn't start til December. With the pressure of qualifying that logic seems to have a loop hole. So the only logical move is to focus on the process of a good race more than anything. It's sort of a way to manually override the fears of failure. Seems simple right? Well, it's not. In an effort to not digress any more lets get back to the race. It was raining. So the rule of a one time lightning strike was out? The first loop was all about staying close, but not leading, but also not overrunning the roller skies in front of you. It's delicate balance. The first shooting stage is fun to watch but difficult to do. Sure enough I dodged the penalty loop. Lowell and I skied the second loop together. This is where things really start to look up for me. Head to head shooting is something Lowell is one of the best in the world at. So I was excited to clean my second prone stage. For a whole lap I was in the lead of a mass start. “So this is what it feels like” I thought. Lowell proved himself as king by cleaning the next two standing stages. I missed two in my first and I very last shot in my second standing stage. 85% with solid ski speed was much better day for me. I can't remember the last time I made it out of two stages in row of clean prone shooting.  

        For a brief period it really did feel like racing season. This might explain the odd feeling that came with two hour ride the following day. Usually after racing and travel you have a morning of just moping around the hotel room. It wasn't actually two hours. I don't know the roads of Craftsbury very well and added 45 minutes. The B-team and development team are doing a short camp in Craftsbury, VT this week. It's been just fine thus far. The place is great and like any training zone has it's pros and cons. I refuse to go into detail. At the end of the week we head back to Jericho then it's up to LP. After that we actually have some time settle down in one place for more than 48 hours. So far the dorms at Craftsbury are officially the fifth place I've had to unpack for this month. Do you see how someone can grow to despise packing?
              Shooting is still in the lagging faze but has made progress since the start of the training year. That's something that hasn't been easy to do in past years. I presume ski speed is on the right track. Technique is little better rounded. The threshold zone is higher. We'll know for sure in a few months when it actually matters. For now it's the same old heavy leg feeling. I stopped bringing any heavy or baggy pants with me because it's too much to walk around in. And for the record that one year with out the Jericho time I was too busy tanning on the beach in Croatia or maybe we were doing an hour long TT uphill. Something in that mix. This is our normal.
Craftsburry shooting range. Not up the IBU A licensing yet, but better than nothing.  

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