Thursday, December 19, 2013

Results Round 2

      Well here we are again. Another update to summarize some racing. Unlike the last update these races mattered. I even went as far to refer to them as “life deciders” in an email. Thankfully unlike the rollerski races back in October this is much more positive update. This is what happened at the infamous Mt Itasca biathlon range in Colerain, MN. And yeah I'm not going to hide or beat around the bush about how this revolves around the looming winter carnival in Russia. I could rightfully complain about the cold weather, but after some reflection decided there is enough content on that cold front to just spend it on another update. Long story short though, it was cold!
       The original plan called for two sprints back to back, an off day, mass start, and then finishing up with another sprint. When you think it over this actually fair. Sprints races are crucial in this sport, and are always a good indicator of talent. Mass start races force the head to head atmosphere and are therefor good for exposing the head cases. The final points were based off of each athlete's best three of four races. Best man makes it the IBU cups in Italy next month plus one extra via the discretion card. Due to cold weather the second race and off day were switched. Also the snow conditions were VERY SLOW and Mt Itasca has one of the hardest courses on the circuit. What I'm trying to get at is: four races in five days was even harder than it sounds. Even with the low training volume and usual battery of post race of recovery strategies nothing can save you from the gauntlet that was the IBU cup trials.

          First race was far from professional. Windy or not 40% is not something to email home about. With two misses in prone I was optimistic. Last year I missed two in the prone at World Champs and was still able to clean standing and secure a spot in the pursuit. When I came in for standing this time around I wasn't settled and just didn't have it together, for lack of a better description. No excuses, it just wasn't a good shooting stage. I put up a good fight skiing off the four penalty loops and managed to finishing in third only twelve seconds out. Though not great, the majority of the field had one too many misses. In the end the points were virtually zeroed.
           After a nice off day classic ski at one of the local trails is was on to yet another sprint race. I wasn't nervous or bitter as much as I was anxious to just prove otherwise on my ability. While I ended up skiing better, and technically shooting better it was still not the world class level that I craved. Casey on the other hand had a world class day in the range with clean shooting. Unlike the first race someone now had the upper hand on points. I was in safer position for the discretion card. Nerves were starting to calm down.

          The mass start is always so much easier on the eyes than it is on the lungs. In other words, it may be the best spectator event, but one of the most nerve racking events for the athletes. In these conditions as describer earlier it was exceptional hard on the system over all. As it rightfully should, the first lap felt like a citizen pace. Though not the only one with a miss or two the three misses that I had in the first prone was more than the rest of the field and I had to drop the ski speed dominance card earlier than planed. I made it into the second prone close to the lead. After taking some corrections I mustered up a clean stage. Oh how I love clean stages. Wish there were more of them under the belt. By the time the first standing stage was coming up I safely had about one penalty loop worth of lead on. Good thing to because I had two misses. It was just Casey and I on the fourth loops before setting up for the last shooting stage. We were both clearly fried going up the long climb. Neither of us were going to make a move. Now I really wish I could have claimed another clean stage. It would have made life so much easier. Well, I can't say that, I missed another two when Casey pulled it together again with only one miss. It wasn't easy, but after skiing off the extra loop Casey and I were back where we started with a solid lead over the rest of the field. It took the full max V02 and hurt like hell, but it did the job and I finally claimed a win. That was the mass start race. It wasn't the last race of the series however.

         The last race was another sprint. Same course and same cold air. What was nice was the hard packed conditions. They weren’t fast, they were just normal. Compared to the first three races this was an improvement. Still bent on some better shooting there wasn't a lot of room to relax. Historically I'm good for one really hard effort and a few decent efforts on the energy side of things. The mass start was the hard effort of the four races. That being said, while ski speed was strong and helpful it wasn't as fast as the previous races. Thankfully after camping out on the shooting mat I made it out of both stages with only one miss. 80% with good ski speed will get you into pursuit. I garnered another win. After everything was done and over I knew I was on the IBU cup team and could finally relax for a bit. I was impressed with Casey. His shooting has always been solid and this past week was no different. With some better ski speed he was able to get the half of percentage point lead over me.

         So what does this mean from here? At the moment not much. It's home to the north of Maine for Christmas. I'm really looking forward to relaxing with some mellow training and holiday shenanigans. Casey and I will not be in the US for new years. It's off to Ridnaun, Italy for us. We'll meet up with some coaches, Jeremy Teela, and Sean Doherty. After some IBU cup races the top athlete will make the Olympic team, and one additional athlete will be selected via discretion to represent us in Sochi. That's the basis of the game. I could go into more detail, but it wouldn't help me sleep at night. I'll think about that department when I'm training or dryfiring. For now it's all about keeping my ski bag under 70 pounds. 50 is just a pipe dream now.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Canmore or less

      It looks like I'll have enough time to whip out a muchly needed update on my season thus far. In case you're not on Facebook the biathlon portion of MWSC has been based out of Canmore, Alberta the past couple of weeks.  While the temps are supposed to drop for our last week here they have been surprisingly warm for my expectations. And speaking of expectations I'm four races into the season and the out look? Good? Not so good? 
Some strange new oneways? 
      That answer depends on the perspective. I guess there's always the brutal truth. I'm not skiing very fast right now, and shooting is still in the hole. Long story short, this is frustrating for two reasons. One being that I didn't put biathlon as priority number one in my life for a dozen or so years for these kind of results. The other reason being that it's an Olympic year and some things you just want so badly that any lack of control leads to stress. That's the negative end of life in a paragraph.
      In terms of racing the base line goal was to rack up some experience before racing trials in MN. That much was achieved. The race day nerves are always at there peak for the first few races. NorAms or worlds cups I was plenty nervous on race day. The conditions were perfect and I had no excuse for bad technique. For the most part technique was good. This year I've really been trying to stand taller and ski more narrow in V2 and V1. USBA has high standards for technique. I don't know why other teams don't invest in this.
        Shooting always felt like it was close to something good. Aside from a couple good stages it never did ramp up. Range times have been a little slower but I suspect the altitude isn't helping. Grouping has been great during zero. Keeping that in mind helped with the confidence during the race. Yesterday's prone stage and the prone stage in the sprint the week before were reflective of this. Standing has always felt like the safe fall back for me, but so far it hasn't proven it's self useful yet. The individual on Saturday was embarrassing. With out an overwhelming ski speed dominance my shooting is going to have to be less embarrassing and more professional.
        It's not all gloom and doom as previously described. There is still plenty of reason for hope. These races were for experience. The races in Mt Itasca are for qualifying. I came into the NorAms with some volume and didn't feel too fresh. The official taper starts this week. If I play my cards right I should get a per km time boost just in time for MN. Skis haven't been great but there are a couple of new skis on the way from Europe for me to race on.
       You can't argue with results. That's a policy I'm fond of. By that logic recent shooting percentages are reason for concern. On the other hand it's not as bad as it may look. The wind was tricky for all four races. Prone is starting to come together and standing just needs some more confidence. This is all much easier said then done, but I have some time on my hands to figure it out.
       I wasn't doing so well after the race yesterday. A solid race would have been ideal and instead my confidence plummeted while my frustration sky rocketed. I hung out with some old friends and may consumed one too many ghost peppers. Those nights are always good for a mental reset. A mental reset is important right now because the season is only starting and there's not enough reason to give up. I've been around for a while now and I know how this sport works. On the occasion results will do a 180. It wouldn't be the first time that's happened to me. Tim Burke was 60th in the Ostersund individual and third in the sprint. I think that qualifies as a good example.

As you can see the local deer population would not thrive very well in Northern Maine.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Absolute November

If you zoom in you can see who might have had something to do with this one. Per capital Donworth st. Stockholm, USA isn't doing too badly. 
        It's 11 AM and I'm just now starting my warmup. The clouds make everything look like a black and white picture. It's damp and windy. Better weather wouldn't have made a difference at this point. After waking up a 4:45 earlier that morning to lay camouflaged in the middle of potato field left me cold to the core. We didn't see the massive swarm of geese that we were hoping to see, but put in a good effort none the less. I had to grit my teeth as I rolled down the hill on rollerskis. This is when you realize how much of a classic November day it is.
12X2min max bounding up to the fire tower. If you look closely you can add up the sticks used to keep track. 
        After the Utah camp I didn't know precisely what my plans were. Emails were sent in every direction. All in an effort to make a concrete decision on what the best course of action for was. From the sounds of it the non IBU or WC field of North America was heading towards Canmore, AB. The first image that comes to mind at the mention of Canmore is just me spinning my hands around in violent circles. It looks pretty strange if you've never seen it before but it's the only thing preventing frost bite. So yeah Canmore is cold and dark. On the other hand I certainly wouldn't be the only one there. The rest of the MWSC crew is already out there. There is snow and a couple of NorAm cups on the schedule.
Unlike max intervals, we have waffles, which happen to be one of the best things planet earth has to offer.
        I have to be in Mt. Itasca, MN in mid December no matter where I leave from if I want to progress my season. That part was nailed down. Since those races matter I really didn't want to take any risk going into them. The dependable snow and NorAm races in Canmore made it the best solution. The coaches and I made a training plan and flight itinerary that revolved that rout. From what I hear the weather is surprisingly mild. I'm banking on the get lucky card and have it be just below freezing the whole time. We'll see how that one pans out.
Try babysitting a hyena for a weekend.  
        The time before heading out west and after Utah was too short. It always is. I put in a solid attempt to get a deer, but never saw anything. I visited some old friends, and the family had makeshift Thanksgiving two weeks in advance. For training I concentrated most of it into a four day period. Starting out with a four and half hour distance and ending with a running TT. The other part to November involves scrambling up what ever training methods you can. These two weeks had me on the bike, rollerskis, snow skis, and a lot of running.
I had to add in the extra color because well, it's November. 

        So far travel hasn't been going as smooth as planned. It seldom does and when I do get lucky I just feel nervous about how badly I'm going to get it next time. I spent the weekend dog sitting and packing. Packing consisted of frustration due to the search for my passport. Once that crisis was adverted we made out way down to Bangore. The seven AM flight was canceled for the day and then delayed the next. These things happen. I'm rapping this one up as the flight to Calgary starts to board. There is a lot to had with the rest of the month. For now just thinking of everything else left in my day is enough to keep me occupied. Boredom is for the weak.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Training on the Moon

       The mutual feeling on the team is that Soldier Hollow and surrounding area is similar to what you might imagine the moon to be like. Anywhere that isn't a field or road is blanketed with sage brush. I managed to become pretty efficient at running through it. Here are some pictures from the past three weeks.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Where to go from here?

*More pictures to come later on this week.*

           This was supposed to be the part where I emphasis how little time I have back home before heading across the pond to Sweden. Much to my dismay that is not the case this time around. It's amazing how your season can take a kick to the teeth before it's even started. In the grand scheme of things life isn't so bad. December might not end up being the easiest month to deal with, but this year the world isn't really fixed on what happens in December. We're going into 2014 and all eyes are on the looming winter carnival of February.
            The national team is still in Utah. Almost everyone is gone. By the time the qualifier races were over everyone's bags were already packed and checked through. Our house on the other hand is still here. Today we did 2.5 hours of skate technique work with some shooting drills and combos. This afternoon will be about two hours of easy double pole distance. We'll all be at our respective homes by Sunday evening this week. If anyone wants to celebrate a post Halloween Halloween I would be game.
            After this came is a little up in the air at the moment. There are a lot of options at my disposal and plenty of pros and cons to consider. I could make the flight out to Canmore. It will be cold and take a lot of travel. Conversely I wouldn't be the only one there and the first NorAm cup would make for some good racing expedience. I could head over to LP. This would get me a room to myself and remove a lot of stressful shenanigans. Not to mention a 47 inch LED TV. It's the new best friend. We get along great. This might make for good training provided there is some snow around. Then there is the stay home option. This would also require an abundance of snow. With out much for coaching it would have some obvious down sides. Either way around mid December I need to be at Mt Itasca in Minnesota for more trial races. Since the races out here last week didn't go as intended I have to put my Euro racing on hold till January.
             Assuming the races in MN go as they should I'll be on the IBU cup team for January. There are two series of races both being held back to back in Ridnaun, Italy. This is a nice place if you've every heard me or anyone whose been there talk about it. The rest of January once again depends on how I do in those IBU cup races. If all of my training pays off like it should I'll be back on the world cup. That would take me to Ruhpolding or Antholze. Or Rainpolding and Suntholz as they could also be called.
So that's January. With out a prequalification under the belt pretty much every race from here on out is a trial race. All of them leading up the to Olympics. I really don't like reading the details of the qualification criteria. I'm not going to train any harder than I am now because like a professional athlete I already am training as hard as I can. All I can do now is keep the confidence up and try to bring out what I know I'm capable of. Provided I do this through December and January there's no reason for me not to be on the 2014 Olympic team.
            Once the stress of team naming is over the focus can shift towards peak performance. Unlike four years ago the pre Olympic camp won't be on Vancouver Island. I've never been to the OWGs but I'm guessing it will feel like any other world cup, only ten fold. Most days will be somewhere between cabin fever and non stop shenanigans. As for results, who knows? It's biathlon, any possible, but always extremely difficult to do; if that makes any sense to you.
Post Olympics will hopefully consist of the last WC trimester. This one will be different from past years. We're looking at a Slovenia to Finland to Norway trip. I have good reason to want to be at all of those places. Pokljuka, Slovenia is an awesome place to be in general. I've had great results with Kontiolahti, and the course is to my liking. Olso may in fact be the most expensive city in the world but for the most part you get what you pay for.

              As you can see. It's hard to go into very much detail this far out. The training season is a lot easier to nail down. Racing seasons tend to be a lot more chaotic. As I mentioned earlier it's all about the confidence. Any mention of December world cups makes me shutter in disbelief that I have to duck out again this year. Right now the course of action revolves around performance that will get me on the Olympic team. That course of action doesn't have much room for complaining about some poor shooting last week. So that being said, for now I'm going to finish this up and go clean my rifle. It actually rained in Utah yesterday so it could use a little solvent. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

An Off Week in the Life of Russell

      We don't have very many of these a year. An off week is never really off. It's more of an unstructured low training week. There isn't any amount of exercise lit that says seven days is the perfect amount of time for endurance athletes to fully recover, but for the sake of scheduling it's very convenient. This is a brief rundown of how my last so call off week panned out.
Last day of hiking in LP.

     Training camps are nice and Lake Placid is fine by me, but that doesn't leave much time to be spent back home. Training in the county is as good as anywhere else, but as of this year it seems most of the home time has been low time. At least in regards to the training volume. Driving time is at it's peak when I'm home. "Whoops. Guess I plum forgot my roller skis in Fort Kent. Oh well. I'll just make the 45 minute drive... to go get...(sigh) them" - me packing yesterday. The stress of a week like this is partially my own fault. There is always so much good intention crammed into too short of a time frame. A week is never enough to fully catch up with all of your childhood friends, hunt all of the animals you legally can, help out at every shenanigan taking place, and watch all of the movies you wanted to. You sure can try though.
Just set it to B&W to see what November is going to look like.
      I made it home on Sunday in time to catch dinner and the new season of Simpsons and Family Guy. A very important staple of Sunday nights growing up. Aside from stacking wood and a failed attempt at baking bread I accomplished nothing on Monday. This was in fact the intention. One day of uselessness every now and then is what keeps us human. Unlike a bread machine which I could have probably used.
Isn't fall nice!
      Day three brought a short hour run, some boring computer work,  and a mound of laundry. I drove down to Presque Isle in the evening to visit an old friend. It was a nice end to a productive day. I went to bed at midnight assuming that I would wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed five am for some geese hunting.
     ...When I woke up at seven with my 4:45 alarm mysteriously dismissed so I decided to make myself another glorified breakfast. Local eggs, homemade bread, Scando cheese, and fresh fruit made for an authentic start to a fall day. I took my time getting ready for a what will most likely be my last ride of the year. I told myself three hours would be fine, but ending up getting carried away trying to map out the unending maze of Aroostook county woods roads. The legs were tired after the ride, but the birds still alive so I finished off the day with stroll down back. No success
      Thursday's highlight was at the 10th Mt lodge in Fort Kent. The coaches left the week up to me training wise, but permeated me one time trial if I felt up to it. Which to me translate's into "DO A TIME TRIAL." Historically when I attempt these TTs on my own with no one to scope my shots or take times I usually don't have much success. Just driving up and setting up the range on my own turns me off. The last update that I mustered up mentioned some good trends in shooting. If it really was going in the right direction then it would show even on a solo day like Thursday. I did two mini sprints. Skiing was effective. I didn't have a blood lactate test waiting for me at the finish, but I assume it was pushing double digits or higher. Technique and transitions didn't feel sloppy or bogged down either. In general I think the ski speed was fine for the middle of a rest week in October. Shooting was also splendid. I cleaned the first sprint in a commanding fashion! I slipped getting into position for the second sprint. I don't think it messed up my zero, but it was an uncommon enough mistake to distracted me into a few misses. Nevertheless I was pleased with the self administered suffer fest. So much that I left my roller skis at the end of the stadium and went straight home. There was more bird hunting in he afternoon, but still no success.
     Friday was the cram session of 2013. This time I didn't mess around with sleeping. The dad and I were out the door with hot coffee before six am. When the unsuspecting geese settled down on the grass they didn't stand a chance against the blanket of lead (or steel technically) flying through the air. Mid morning was a second breakfast and stress packing. Or just regular packing, if you will. I did a short strength session before lunch. Nothing special just maintenance. I told the sister that we would hang out as soon as I was done packing and back from FK. This never came to fruition because with out question a nap was in the pending future. When I woke up and made more coffee the sun was starting to go down. We spent the evening with some neighbors down the road. It was a good end to successful day.
     Saturday meant departure day. So far this has been a very smooth trip to Utah. No obnoxious bag fees or missed flights. In fact my itinerary landed me in the SLC airport well ahead of the rest of the crew. My reward is getting to wait for four hours for them the show up! If you were wondering why this update is longer than normal that's why.
     This was one of the more successful off weeks. It's nice to veer off track for a few days sometimes. Especially after a hard three week block and before another structured three week camp. Sometimes supercompensation is as necessary mentally as much as it is physically.
         Next up is the Utah camp. There is some racing coming up in there to. The blood is stockpiled with extra iron so it should be just fine.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Blood, Lead and, Sriracha Sauce

         There isn't much in the way of shattering news on my front. Nothing too far out the ordinary has happened as of late. This is, for the most part, a good thing. Life will get more chaotic in a few months. Good training and bird hunting will do just fine for now. The Fall colors are at there peak in Placid, our USBA team dinner was nice, the weather has been almost too good, and I may have won bet here and there.

          For reasons uncertain the shooting component is starting to look more professional. Range times are still in a secure place. Much faster then what I was working with last year. But there has a been a decent amount of struggle and frustrations with the hit percentages these past couple of months. Admittedly, there wasn't much of an end in sight even after the Euro camp. So you can imagine how pleased the coaches and I were when the stars started to align during this current training block. It's still not where I want it to be, but it's looking better. I'm usually in the 70% range. 85 or higher would be swell.  

           Physical training is also going well. Technique is ever so slightly refined. We can only assume that we're all in good shape right now. With it not even being October yet there isn't any reason to be in too great shape. We haven't done any consistent time trials or test to really put a number on fitness. We've had good luck with this training plan in years past and we're not doing anything drastic so I think we're in a good place right now.

          On a slightly different note. Almost a year ago when boredom was plentiful and sunlight scarce (Ostersund, pre WC camp) the other guys asked how much it would take me to finish an entire 12oz bottle of Sriracha sauce. I had some on my food. It's basically just fancy ketchup with a rooster on the label. I would call is mild at best. I told them $20. They told me they were just joking, but would reconsider if I was actually serious. I was. We had almost forgotten about it until they started serving it in the cafeteria at the OTC.   
Nothing like a minor hemorrhage to keep the blood lactate in check.  

         Lowell was having a fire at his place and sure enough Tim bought a fresh unopened bottle of the fancy ketchup. No one thought to take the official time, but video analysis suggest it was under four minutes. The trick is to not think these things through. There was no stomach ulcers and it stayed down. I can't however say that it didn't take revenge the next day. The point is, Tim said I couldn't do it and after that there was no other option but to do it.
They repaved most of Bearcub road. What a nice gem.

          That about sums it up for now. We have one more week left in this training block. It's a solid 23 hour week. After that it's homeward bound for me. Hopefully I'll get in some good bird hunting before the usual Utah tradition. Maybe by then I'll have the $20 the other guys owe me. Which was absolutely worth it for the record.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The One Who Flew Over the Oberhof Nest

Forgot to bring my other lens so not all of the pictures came out as well as they should have.
     Training in Ruhpolding was nice and all but Oberhof is the place with the ski tunnel. Oberhof may not be know for it's perfect weather, scenic views, or night life. What it does have is some excellent training for biathletes to utilize. With only one week to go we were all ready fighting off cabin fever. At the rate we were going I wasn't sure how pretty the time trial at the end of the week was going to look. In the end the training went well. For all of the complaining I did about how tired my corps was it held up surprisingly well. Unfortunately the primary goal of nailing down the prone shooting is still up for fixing.
Gosh, I wonder what that cloud is stock piling. 

       Rollerskis are expensive and very effective for summer training, but even the best can't hold a candle to some on snow time. The first few minutes on snow is always a shock factor. The different muscles and balance needed tend to expose some technical flaws. So naturally the coaches had a field day with the cameras out in the tunnel to help point this out to us. In general I'm still trying to increase the glide while decreasing the tempo. The other opportunity that comes with the ski tunnel is the chance to try out next years race skis. Our whole wax team, as well as the ski reps themselves made the trek over. I spent a little time with a few new pairs and some new grinds. One felt really well and one was good enough for a training ski, while the rest were somewhere in between.

Team van is now referred to as the
"The Dire Wolf!"
         The forced winter temperatures and tired legs are only the salt and pepper of a boring training salad that is skiing in the tunnel. The trick is to either give yourself task or zone out completely. Testing skis or doing video work are good examples and don't ever think of heading in there with out some head phones and a full battery. Anything to avoid glancing at the watch and realizing that you've only been training for 26 minutes when your best guess was at least 45. We were not the only team in there that week. You always had to be ready to bail while passing going around a corner. The place is reserved for national teams in the morning so thankfully everyone is professional enough to avoid any head on collisions.

Because I was board one afternoon.
         We were making what seemed like progress with my shooting earlier on in the week. We gave our barrels to Armin for some annual cold chamber testing. With a couple of days away from the rifle I was looking forward to the mass start time trial on the last Saturday. Alright so at that point in training it was more the end of the TT than anything, but this was my chance to turn the bad numbers around. As expected my barrel shot amazingly well. It always does. If there's one good thing to racing in the cold temperatures it's that's barrels reliability. The TT wasn't as successful. I was once again denied any sign of hope. Prone and standing were embarrassing. Never mind world class level, the shooting that day wasn't even national team caliber. It wasn't easy to deal with it on the cool down, but eventually I was able to put it behind me and look towards the next TT to prove otherwise. After all, it's been about a dozen or so years in this sport. I'm pretty sure the ability is there. Being able to use it is the one last missing factor.

      The trip home took about three days. A little longer than comfort? Yes. Still faster than taking a ship across the ocean? Also yes. I'm pretty certain my carry on weighed more than my luggage did. If I lost an inch and height and my shoulders separated it would still be worth it to not give United Airlines any more of my money! Those PowerBar canisters really add up after six or so of them.

This is what it looked like for us by the end of the week.

      Home is nice as always. I decided to decline the Climb to the Castle race in LP again this year. Hopefully one of these years I'll get around to it. It's off the LP on Sunday for two too three weeks. Then back to the county to rest up for the annual Utah round. And no, try as I may there were no four hour running exertions in Oberhof this year. That cunning GPS really makes it a challenge now.    

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Meanwhile in Bavaria

Day 1
        It's pouring rain, my legs are not liking the downhill bashing I'm putting them through so I give up on charted trail and tread the woods in what should be the direction home. If my GPS isn't lying to me it should only be 2kms from the Raushberg. Not long after, I find myself knee high in Bavaria's finest thorn bushes. There's no turning back and if I just keep pushing the pace I should be able to keep the total for the day under five and half hours. This, is yet another day at the office of the 2013 Euro training camp.
Some hiking
       I mentioned last time that just looking at the training plan made me tired. Those fears were not unjustified. After the third day I'm pretty certain we were all tired. Since it was only the third day of a three week camp we all playing the "tired and hide it" game. When the first Saturday rolled around all we could talk about was how useless our once energetic bodies once were. I suspect the last couple of days of the camp are going to make the coaches feel like there working with a team of zombies.
Sometimes I hike really fast! Sometimes I
just use the zoom blur feature.
      At this point it takes a large training load to make any difference in fitness. I guess that's the point of these three week blocks. The other method is to be more clever at biathlon. Working on technique can compliment this approach. For me it really comes down to shooting better. The drop in range times is the biggest improvement of the year. If I could bring the hit percentages up then a lot of my problems could dissolve over night. That's the real goal of this camp. If I train 20+ hours a week and get lost on afternoon runs then that's just a bonus. We've already made some changes to the rifle and my shooting mechanic. Tonight I'll head into Ruhpolding for some indoor shooting and tomorrow we have a full blown time trial. In other words, there is still plenty of time to figure it out before heading back to the States.
      We haven't done much in the way of fun excursions. The economy around these parts seems to be a mix of tourism and farming. There isn't any lack of culture in Bavaria. That much is certain. For those of you from the US reading this try to imagine the belt buckle hat pilgrim style set of attire being completely acceptable clothing for going out on the town. Full Lederhosen and a walking stick are nothing out of the normal here. All of the women in the town compete with each other via window flower boxes while all of the men try to stack there wood as neatly and tight as possible. For the record I'm not exaggerating to make this sound better. Some styles change over the course of 400 years and some apparently don't.
Early morning
      The landscape is story book quality. The food is fresh and authentic. The roller loop in Ruhpolding is one of the best in the world and we're never alone on it. There is some great roller skiing right from our hotel and obviously good hiking as well. We've only done one long bike ride so far. There was supposed to be more but then Rainpholding happened. On that one ride I was able to borrow a BMC road bike that was only a few components away from the model used in this year's Tour de France. So yeah!
      Today marks the half way point of survival camp. My legs might fall off  during any three hour  now so wish me luck. On Sunday we head over to Oberhof for some skiing in a giant above ground freezer. Won't that be fun? This may not be part of the 400 year old Bavarian culture, but it's tradition for the US team to compete with each other for internet bandwidth while in the region. So far we're all losing and Bavaria is winning. If this updates make it up, it'll be a good day.
See what I mean? The warmth will feel the same
come winter regardless of how you stack it. 


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Summer Training

       It's been a while since I've gone into much detail about the goals of work. The goal is to get better at this thing called biathlon. It's much easier said then done. To my credit though, I have become decent at trying. With last week's first round of trials in Jericho I thought it would be a good time to reflect on what ever progress or damage has been made thus far in the 2013 training season.
      The rest week in Placid wasn't what I had in mind. I spent most of it trying to recover from a twisted ankle and stomach virus combo pack. It took a whole week for my system to get back to normal. The best way to confirm this is always with your morning resting heart rate. I trust those numbers better than my own perception. If it's above 40 then there's reason for concern. If it doesn't drop under 50 then don't train. When it's back down to the mid too low 30s then I know I'm healthy and ready to get back to work. The ankle issue didn't deter training quality that much, but it took a lot longer to heal. As of this week I would say it's good for a three hour run.
There used to be a barn behind this tractor
      The rifle is up and running just fine. The idea was to polish it up a bit. I took some sand paper and wood filler to the less than presentable areas. Once that was as good as it could be I lathered on some stainer that helped match the shades of brown on the stock. In then end it was somewhere between a 5th grade science project and a professional biathlon stock. Lets not forget that aesthetics are never a limiting factor in hit percentages.
     Speaking of hit percentages, I should probable brush up on the more plaguing problem of my career. No, my shooting is not where it should be but yes, there is still plenty of reason for hope. Otherwise why bother? After cleaning a WC sprint race and seeing how much damage poor range times can do I was set on bringing down the on to off mat time. This goal has been met! Prone is on average about 28 too 32 seconds. Even during high intensity the time is faster than ever. Standing is a little better at about 24 too 28 seconds. This is great and I'm glad to be closer to the rest of the field. On the other hand the hits are still not there.
The sister's wedding went off very smoothly. 
      What I'm trying to do is find a consistent cue or thought process that I can focus on. One that's simple enough to concentrate on even when under pressure but effective enough to bring the odds of hitting into the 90s plus range. The best analogy for this I can think of involves starting a car. Look at it this way. If the the goal was to start a  car engine you would concentrate on putting the key into the ignition and  turning the key. It's simple and consistent. In the  off chance that the engine doesn't start it has nothing to do with your process. Similar to shooting in the fog. My current situation doesn't have a key or ignition. I'm still trying to start it by hot wiring the colored wires. Sometimes it works other times it doesn't. There is no reoccurring patter to rely on. Jostling the wires one way may work for one try but not the other. Focusing on good rhythm in prone seems to work for one day, but the next it doesn't and the percentages go back down. This isn't what I need right now. I need the equivalent to a key and ignition switch for my prone shooting. I hope that made sense to you.
Really enjoying the new bike right now!
       These odds didn't help the old confidence factor going into the Jericho trial races last weekend. The sore throat and cold that wiped out almost a whole wing of the barracks didn't do much either. I was getting a little worried and didn't know what to expect from the sprint race on Saturday. Since I needed to do these races it didn't much matter whether I was sick or not.
       In then end the sprint race was a success and the pursuit was not. I missed three in the sprint on a windy day when the rest of filed and similar to worse shooting. Most of the time 70% is  nothing special, but I was pleased at the end of the day. Surprisingly ski speed was also in a good place. While there was no doubt that I was sick my legs felt better than they had all week. Sometimes you get on the better end of the sick spectrum and can role with it. I guess this was one of those times.
       The pursuit was simply a bad race. There wasn't much in the way of professionalism. Ski speed was decent, but not as strong as the sprint. Shooting was reflective of how it's been feeling. It also doesn't help when you go the wrong way. There's not much I can do about it now, but I have plenty of time to prevent it from happening again before the Utah races.
Couldn't decide which one was better so I posted both for you.
      Tomorrow the team heads over for the 2013 Euro camp. Two weeks in Ruhpolding and one in Oberhof. After only glancing at the training plan I felt exhausted. This is going to be another three week stretch of survival. With Jericho races behind me the coaches and I have a rough idea of what to work on going into the fall training season. Lack of training time to work on this will not be an issue.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Equipment Failure and a Half

     This updates has been in the works for a week now. By "in the works" I mean I started it a week ago and didn't have the open time to do and put it off till now. It's actually a completely different topic now. This one addresses the non stop limitations of training that keep surfacing. On a long enough time line duct tape will only bring you so far. Sooner or later you have to be a professional... or just lay down the plastic.
Another exciting ride on Bear Cub road!
     I ordered an aluminum butt plate for the rifle back in May. When I got it, it just hung out on the desk for two weeks before I finally allotted an afternoon to put it to use. After several hours in the OTC workshop and trips to the hardware store it was on my rifle.  It's not done, and I would like to finish it up later on today, but no promises.
     The auto has some brake issues. The worst is using the brake on the downhills. The car stops just fine. You can't argue with results but I'm going to have to get that one checked into when I get back home.
      My cell phone has been replaced. It wasn't holding a charge very well and I wanted a better plan. The new one is working better and should do just fine. Unfortunately Verizon wouldn't let me keep my old number so if you've had trouble calling me now you know why.
      We had a four plus hour ride on the schedule and I though I would preemptively dodge the shenanigan by bringing my bike in the day before and having it checked out instead of the other way around. Turns out fate had other plans. The rear tire was trued and I assumed I would be fine for a day. With about 40km to go a spoke on my rear wheel decided to off it's self. I couldn't fathom calling a coach to come pick up. And no, I didn't know where I was anyway. There was no problems with the remainder of the trip. I was somewhat expecting the tire to just pancake on me and lead to a greater disaster. But it didn't and everything worked out. 
        That was the most recent bike related mishaps. I bought a cross bike earlier this summer. This was going to perfect gem for training in the county. It really was to, for about ten km. After which the problems started to surface. Don't ask me what happened because I couldn't do anything about it. I dropped it for repair and had it back just in time for one more ride before heading back to Placid. In loyal fashion the exact same problem came back after ten km of riding. Imagine that.
      The team was granted a new pair of Marwee rollerskies. I didn't know Marwee made a slower pair than the six version. Turns out there is an eight. It's good training for -20 when the snow feels like styrofoam. Mounting them wasn't easy, but they... Actually work. I guess that one worked out?
       I twisted my ankle. This happens all the time but those are just minor roles that fade before the run is over. This was a slightly more severe case. I like to think it was a stick but I'm pretty sure I heard it snap. I hobbled around and in circles for a minute or two then made my way back to the car. Unless my ankle literally snaps off my leg I'm not going into sports med! I don't have four hours day for a month straight of no training to risk going into the dreaded sports med.
Happy birthday Lowell!
     On Monday I snagged something bad from who knows what. It was evident by evening that there was a battle for dominance going on in my stomach. It's still unknown where it came from. I really don't care I just want it out of the way. Today was fine for easy training. Hopefully all will be well for the max treadmill test on Saturday.
     These things are not uncommon. Admittedly they have been more frequent than normal. Normally I just try to duct tape my way to safety, but you can't eat duct tape. Well, I guess you could but it wouldn't help a stomach bug much. If you can afford it you can always but your way out. In that case you have to have a lot of money and you won't learn anything. I'm somewhere in between. It really eludes me that I haven't broken any poles this month. There should be some solid dumb luck coming my way that will keep the equipment running glitch free. That's how it works right?