This was supposed to be the day I pack up for a flight westward tomorrow. The itinerary had me landing in Minneapolis where I would meet up with some friends and drive to Hayward, WI. This time of year any sentence with the words "Hayward Wisconsin" in it most likely has "Birkie" somewhere else in it. This was supposed to be the update of how well my marathon prep training has been going. The clutch is, it simply hasn't been going the well. Add in a race or two to confirm that and maybe some old friends showing up for the Presque Isle world cup and you have the new and improved salvage operation of 2015/16.
I'm unsure where training went downhill, but I have my suspension. I started attempting a rather challenging session. I've always been confident in my ability to soak up training so there was no reason to fear it. I was actually excited about. This was the session that was going to allow me to crush it at the Birkie. Low and behold I suspect this was the session that crushed me. My last full effort at this marathon training left me at full depletion. I tried to do some more intensity a few days after and was unable to complete the whole workout. Naturally, I took it easy and made my way down to Craftsbury,VT for and eastern cup 10km skate race. No, the course did not favor me, but this time I had a reasonable start seed, and overall it was completely fair. The real limiting factor was the lack of spring in the legs. That sixth gear, the one that separates summer training from winter racing. Without that snap on the last loop I had no choice but to deal with a lackluster result.
Convinced that I simply need a bit more rest to rebound I proceeded to stay indoors and stick to easy classic distance on the trails down the road in Stockholm. They needed a handful of biathletes for a the TV beta test prior to the first WC event in Presque Isle. This was a good chance to race in a more relaxed setting. A good race that day would mean that everything was actually on good pace, that the Birkie was going to be the glorified comeback to my setback of a season.
The test race did make for a good indicator of how the shape was going. The results, however were simply not good. By not good, I mean I contemplated dropping out of a 7.5km. Stand this against less than two weeks before a 51km competition. Now do you see some reasoning behind dropping the Birkie option?
There is another side to this as well. There is more than one reason for the change of plans. Aside from being able to catch up with the other athletes at the WC it also gave me a chance to touch base with some of the USBA coaches. Seeing the other athletes help show some contrast from the world of nordic racing and the world of biathlon. It was clear which one was my comfort zone, and which one required an ivy league education to be accepted into. Meeting with the coaches made it clear what my best course of action should be if I want to get back into the USBA system.
This new race itinerary puts me in Jericho, VT this coming weekend. There is a NorAm on Saturday and Sunday. The MWSC team departs tomorrow. If all goes well (it may or easily may not) then it's off to Europe for some late season racing. This will grant me a start spot for a German cup race and the last IBU cup race in Martell, Italy. Should I be able to put together a performance half as good as I know I can do it shouldn't be too hard to see myself in Europe this season afterall. On the other hand if things really head south the way they did in December then it's back to skiing on the Snowy Mt Trails.
At this point neither would disappoint me. I'm not suggesting that I'm neutral towards my goals right now, but the motivation these past few weeks have has been changing from one side to the other. If you average it all together you could call it neutral.
In the meantime, energy feels decent, but it's still unclear. I wasn't able to do the intended intensity yesterday. For the first time in more than a year I woke up with all to familiar feeling. That undeniable scratch in the back of your throat. That congealed stuffy feeling in your sinuses. So it's back to the gauntlet of tricks to expedited a cold. I'm confident that by the time Saturday morning rolls around I be good to go. The bib count won't be in the thousands, but those that do show will be old acquaintances that I like enjoy racing with.