Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Last Trimester

         The last trimester of the season that I did and the one that the world cup circuit did were not one in the same. I was really hoping that it would be. That extra chance to pull out a good result helped keep the focus together after a long and busy Olympics. Unfortunately this is another less than positive update. It's hard to score WC points after you've been put out to pasture for the season. That isn't to say I don't have any other news besides that. Home two weeks earlier than planned yes, but completely done with racing: no.
          After the Olympics we had an easy week in Inzell, Germany. This was a strange place and time to be. On most days it felt warmer then in February than it did in August when we were there for a summer training camp. There was no snow and walking around in t-shirts out side was an option. Last year at this time we were going for easy classic distance from the doorstep. It hasn't been a great winter for this region. Strangely enough a forty minute drive from Inzell and maybe a couple hundred meters of climb brought us to some of the best skiing we had seen all year. So training was there when we wanted it and a late spring for the rest of time.

          I at least made it to the Pokljuka, Slovenia WC. This is the place that is always popular among the athletes and coaches. The crowds are not massive, so I'm not sure how much the IBU sponsors and TV crews like the place. In case you missed the earlier update the racing didn't go so well. It had good potential, but when you choose grab the wrong skis on a day that favored good skis it dons't go over very well with the result list. I was pretty bummed and down right embarrassed for pulling one of the dumbest moves I've ever done. Which happens to be a very competitive category.
            Sometimes I think I can feel the storm coming. Maybe it's just pessimism, maybe it was actually somewhat obvious, but I had a growing fear that I wouldn't be on the team for the last two WCs. I denied all negative thoughts and tried to keep it together. To my dismay the preemptive fear was spot on. I would be the only athlete on the team to be flying home and not to Finland the following week. Due to some ironic nation cup point needs I was the short straw out. It wasn't unfair from the mens team side. Only your team's top three score points and we had three good athletes on pace to keep us in a sage place. I was just disappointed for myself. This was my last chance to justify the training put in this year and year's prior. In one dreadful meeting all that hope went down the drain.

             Like most every athlete in the field at that point in the season I had been looking forward to going home for a while and yet as I packed for the transcontinental flight home there was no excitement to be had. Kontiolahti and Oslo are two great places for racing. There wasn't much for other racing available that interested me, and the thought of ending the season in early March just didn't feel right. It didn't really matter, all I knew was that I needed something to cling to. Something to think about during training. A reason to keep up with the vitamin

D and grab door nobs with my sleeve instead of hand. After some research (e-mailing) the best race itinerary was a 15km skate race in Vermont and a marathon in Sugarloaf.

           It was cold and snowy in Craftsbury, Vermont. It was nice just be able to drive down on day that wasn't storming. Long story short the race was fun, but not fast enough. I could list all sorts of little reasons, but I hate excuses and believe in results. So in all fairness let's just leave it at that. I will say that racing on what was most likely bronchitis did not help. What ever it is, it's still lingering now a week and half later. I was pretty frustrated with the day, but at that point I was close to my terminal frustration. In other words, what did I have to lose?
In all fairness that last flight into PQI has never looked better.
          I took two days off in a row. The legs felt fresh and ready to go again. I was still coughing up death out my my lungs every morning, but close enough for one last race right? I had never been to the Sugarloaf Outdoor Nordic Center. There are a lot of trails to explore. The bulk of them are all the same and lack variety, but there's not much wrong with gradual rolling terrain on a narrow trail through the Maine woods. I actually put in some effort into waxing my race skis for the marathon. I didn't know how the competition was, but that wasn't the point. The logic was that the faster the skis the shorter the race. Breaking a pole didn't help, but it didn't really destroy the race for either. It just forced about seven km of one pole skiing. Thankfully the UVM coach spotted me an extra pole which helped me get to my spare pole catch. By the second loop it was just the three MWSC athletes in front. Welly, Raleigh, and I had a solid 20 to 30 second lead. Eventually we split up, but the podium stayed in the MWSC.
          Ending the racing season in western Maine isn't what I envisioned but it was a nice means to an end. It has been a while since I actually won a race. Admittedly I put in a solid effort to keep my presence in the county under raps. With the two races in mind and lot of busy work to plow through I didn't have the time to catch up with the masses. The race season theme was still a go even after I landed in Presque Isle. Now that Saturday's race is over that subconscious contract is up. That was a run down of the post Sochi section of the 2013/2014 season. Next time I'll try to wrap up the November to March stretch. Aside from a White house visit there isn't a whole lot in place for April. That's a vacation with in it's self.

So as of now Maine's lone Olympian is both physically and officially back home in Stockholm.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Recovering In Fashion

       Here are some examples of camera usage. About half are from an actual compact semi DSLR and the rest are from the cellular devise.  Bavaria and Bled are typically easy spots for decent photography. I refuse to divulge into detail about the last few weeks. For certain reasons that includes my present coordinates. Give me one more week and my season will be officially over and I'll sum up the last segment of racing and non racing. After that (when I find the time) I'll give you my thoughts on the season. To give you a hint, it's going to be a very bittersweet review.

The Bavarian style blanket really helps compliment this afternoon nap. 

What a nice place to be. 

This is sort of the polar opposite of what we were dealing with. 
This one actually started out a picture from the balcony. 

An afternoon run.

The waiting game. 

And yes! I did attempt to storm the castle. My assault was thwarted when I didn't have two Euro on me to surpass the ticket booth guard.

Seriously. How you recover is up to you. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bad Decisions 2014

         Let's throw a proper introduction to wind and skip right to climatic punch line. I skied on structure skis. There were race skis prepped and ready to go for me. I grabbed the wrong pair, checked them through and proceed to race on them. To call them slow would be an understatement. It was as if they were in love with the snow and didn't want to stop hugging it with every stride. I did use my race skis. This was during my cool down and just for curiosity. The skis that I was supposed to use were fast and really seem to hate all contact with the snow. This cruel sport never fails to deliver.

        Yeah so anyways this was the highlight of the sprint race for me today in Pokljuka, Slovenia. The conditions were decent considering how warm it was. They unleashed the salt effect on the places that needed it and held off where it didn't. The wind was factor for some and not for others. It was fairly consistent with the occasional gust.
       The legs felt pretty good during warm up. They have been a little heavy this past week and I was pleased to be feeling good today. My shooting was actually okay. Range times were slow, but that was due in part to some wind fighting during standing. It was actually amazing that I made it out of standing with only one miss. So with 80% shooting and a fresh feeling in the legs shouldn't a top 40 be in striking distance? Not really. Not when your rocking what could have been classic skis. When you lose a minute plus per lap there isn't much you can do.
       I don't know what this means from here on out. I still did my cool down. I'll go for an afternoon run later on. When the coaches are less busy I'll try to cram in a meeting.  We're staying in Bled, Slovenia and this place is awesome. I suspect Slovenia might just be one of the coolest places no one knows about. Maybe just not back home. As much as this place thrives on tourism it still feels like an under appreciated gem. I'll have some old pictures up later when the motivation is back.

I guess there is a first time for everything.