Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Unlucky 13?

          It's time for training season twenty fourteen. The past couple of weeks have been a little interesting. A mix of bitterness and old time nostalgia with the occasional ray of hope in there. There is no A-team for me this year. That isn't to say all contact with USBA is lost, but there are a few gems I won't have at my disposal this year. In there absence we now have the old methods I used to work my way up the ladder. Regardless of training camp invites or living quarters the goal remains the same. I'm still somewhat young. With at least one more Olympic cycle in me. Most days revolve around piecing together this biathlon puzzle.This is a rundown of what my training season is going to look like and how I feel about it.

         I'll be listed in the national B-team until I prove otherwise. In all fairness I deserve the downgrade. I didn't do much for the result list last season. I didn't even score a WC point for the second year in a row. There is no one to blame but myself. The USBA staff has mentioned on more than one occasion that they are still invested in me. After all, you can't say "national B-team" without saying "national team" Still there is no denying the sense of abandonment. Finances will take a hit, no OTC living, grocery bill will take an increase, Bend, OR and Sweden camps are out, and you'll never know how nice a covered shooting range is til you're shivering in the cold rain during slowfire. For a while I thought I would never say this, but I'm actually going to miss training with the other guys in Lake Placid. In retro spec some of the best summer memories I've had have come from LP shenanigans
           Enough of the negative side of life. There must be a few things going for me right? Well for starters while I'll still be receiving a training plan from the national team coaches, I get to rearrange and mold that schedule to my liking. I'm on my own now, so to speak, so why shouldn't I?  This is essential when you're bouncing around Aroostook county all the time. The goal is to train primarily out of Fort Kent. I've almost set up shop here and hopefully by the end of the current training block I'll be fully situated. Lately Sundays and Mondays have been back home in Stockholm. This is nice because it's just enough time to appreciate home life, but not enough to go stir crazy. Mondays have been great for exploring the old woods roads and local fields. Those distance sessions never get old. The lack of group training could also be considered a boon. This allocates a lot of alone time to work out the flaws in my shooting mechanic. This was a little harder to come by in LP. Training on my own has never been a disadvantage. If anything that's one of the best parts of being here.
           To summarize what I gaining and loosing from this year verses last year it would have to the lack of streamline conveniences of OTC life verses the not stop driving and shenanigans of trying to make life smooth in the County. On the other hand, I can now work by self a lot more and get back to the old days I remember fondly. It should also be mentioned that I've been missing some of the old local festivities. This year, when everyone else was training in Bend, OR I was leisurely floating down the Madawaska River. A debatably prestigious event for Stockholm residents. I guess it's the little things that add up.
             From a more tangible result oriented perspective we have a few new training ideas and as always a heavy focus on shooting. Skis speed really came together last year when it needed to. Stale for December, faster in January and fastest in February. March held it's own to. We're not going to push the volume this year like we did the last post Olympic year. If anything this year plan has the least amount of hours in long time. Similar to last year I would like to expand on the upper end gears. In my semi old age there is less and less benefit to high volume training. If I can be more accustomed to the effort of racing and sprinting I can better use the base I've built over the years. In other words there should be a few more max efforts and speed work in the training plan.
              Oh yeah and then there is shooting. When you do the math is scary what a difference shooting can make. An 85% average for the season would have changed everything. I can't remember the exact numbers but I was down the low 70s range. If you want an easy way to shave off some time then I suggest missing one or two less targets. And how does one do this? Good question. I'm certainly putting in the effort to find it. Seth and I have been working closely to nail down some better fitting for my rifle stock. The stock is much better polished and one step closer to looking professional for a change. I'm trying to invest in a more relaxed shooting position. In a way, the rifle it's self should hold me instead of me holding the rifle. This has been difficult in prone so far, but there is reason to keep giving it the time of day. Standing is feeling better. There is some precision shooting on the plan later on this week. It will be interesting to see how these new shooting concepts pan out on paper. All in all the shooting side of the sport will be much more structured than past years. We all have a "shooting year plan" to go with the "training year plan" document on our hard drive this year.
            There was a few days of OTC life lasts week. We did a 6X4min double pole uphill session. A Franklin Falls interval session is always good for an effective hard effort. I broke two poles at once rollerskiing for the first time this year. After which I procured my spare set of poles for the year. Conveniently one of the new USBA coaches was in the area. I had a good shooting session with our new Jonnas. Jonnas, Seth and I exchanged some thoughts on shooting and what to work on in the coming months. And yes there was bonfire in the mix. That was another nice perk to living in Lake Placid. There was always bonfire party waiting for us at the end of a training week. As I packed up my stuff I said good by to room 239 and was back in the county before ten that Sunday night.
             Lately the lack of free time has been shock factor compared to last month. Basically I punch in at eight most mornings and clock out around nine in the evening. Meals take longer because I have to cook or buy them now. If I'm lucky I can cram in a 40 minute nap in there. The rest of the day is spent training, shooting, preparing for training, working on the rifle, driving, mini projects, plus what ever the shenanigan of the day is. Today it was seeing my keys lay innocently on the center console of my locked car. Also did I mention I'm taking a class. Turns out a college education is a real investment. By "investment" I mean time sponge, or stress factory. We're talking one online course and it's still all I can handle right now. In case you were wondering why this update was so long over due there you have it.
              I could go on and on with the ups and down of this year's outlook but what does it matter? I'm in it for results. Results don't care about where you train or how you feel about it. The race pace intervals in the cold rain yesterday were pretty low on the fun scale. Still it got the job done. You can make any situation play to your hand if you stay on top of things. I've seen the top ten before and I would so very much like to be back up there more often. In the mean time I'm going to keep getting lost in the Irving roads and doing slowfire in the never ending rain.

I don't see very many people everyday, much less have the chance to work business with them so I thought this would be my best shot. If your interested in a potential Old Town Canoe this would be great chance. Just let me know. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Meanwhile in Stockholm

      There are a lot of potential adventures to choose from in the month of April. Across the board April is loosely the time of year when winter sport athletes take a break from the otherwise full time job of racing and training. For some this means the British Virgin Islands, or telly skiing out west. The list could go on. I'm convinced that one of these years I'm going to actually travel somewhere and do something that falls into the accepted vacation realm. The clutch is that anything the slightest bit out of my comfort zone turns into some sort of subconscious threat. There in eliminating the chances of a successful vacation. The solution? Don't leave your comfort zone. Stay home. Stay in the mother land. It's not perfect and the other guys are baffled that I do this every spring, but it's pretty much exactly what I did again this year. 
        Most of March resembled February more than anything. It was cold and the snow never stopped piling up. By the end of the month there was several feet of snow on the ground. This is the kind of weather you would want or expect in December. This was the second winter. I didn't mind. The race season was fresh from being over and every day had a sense of relief to it. There was no official training, no extra bag fees, no awkward Euro stairs, and best of all, I had every breakfast all to myself. Everything thing I did with my days during second winter were made by me and on the spot. 
          To be fair the White House trip shouldn't be left out. This was more proof of the difference between a world championships and an Olympics. As much fun as I had the airport and logistics involved were enough to reinforce my "do nothing" structured policy. When I got home I was anxious to get back into some training. Yeah it's April, but what can I say; I like being in shape. There's not much better than walking outside and skiing directly from the yard. If I retired tomorrow I would still seek out crust skiing. It's the best way to ski. I seldom actually enjoy training. Occasionally running and a good ride when the bike actual works can be nice, but no training mode can compete with crust skiing. When it hangs out above freezing during the day and drops below over night the surface of the snow hardens up so much that it can withstand a skinny pole plant. In other words grooming and designated trails are irelevent for a brief time of year. You can literally go anywhere that's white! Admittedly part of the fun comes with the relaxed time of year, but crust skiing is something no ski race should miss out on at least once a year. 
            It took a while for the skiing to get really good. Namely because we had too much snow. It wasn't cold enough during the day and it kept snowing  once or more a week. This was the point where everyone had shrugged off the unseasonably weather of second winter and welcomed normal spring. Little did we all know this was the beginning of third winter here in northern Maine. Aside from the accumulating snow fall I recall a couple of days of -7 celsius in the morning. The trick is to check the forecast several times a day to make sure you know what mornings are going to be good skiing and which ones to sleep in on. "Sleep in" is a figurative expression to me. I never actually "sleep in" in the conventional sense. There was some downright grand mornings to had. I covered every field and clearing in the Stockholm area I could get to. The rule was that I wasn't allowed to drive to the skiing. It had to be out of  the dooryard*. I made sure to take some pictures to better illustrate the best form of exercise planet Earth has to offer. 
             I didn't spend all of third winter / spring break training. That's actually not recommended by most coaches. This is the time of the year for physical and mental rest. Afternoons were littered with bread baking, long naps, video games, and some soup can target practice. It was nice to see some old friends and take a page from the old days for a change. Despite the lack of travel there never a dull moment. Afterall it is 2014! There's no excuse to be not busy. 

             The coaches assured us not to think about biathlon anymore than we absolutely had to. Training was to not officially begin before May 1st. The training season is still in the process solidifying itself. There is enough on that topic to be pushed to another update. The goal now is to break the threshold into some better results. Compared to previous month that's some decent contrast. In the back of my mind the goal was to finally be bored with what was in front of me. Seems that's becoming more and more difficult to do these days. We're not looking at a tropical paradise story here, but I sure was content with my average day for my off season. 

* Is dooryard actually a word?