Sunday, November 16, 2014

In Limbo

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Anything helps!

           There is a lot to be said about early and late fall, the whole season just brings up a lot of bittersweet memories. It has been a little different this year with a few minor tweaks in the itinerary. Still, the old days, good and bad, find a way into the week. Since I can't do this topic justice with just words I thought I would attempt to do so with some pictures. To say that work has been "In Limbo" has a lot to do with the war on weather conditions. An all to limiting factor in this line of work.

What a great year for fruits and vegetables. Craving apples meant going outside and picking them. No purchase necessary. 
         Some success was had on the hunting front. I might have more luck if I had the disposable amount of free time that I wish I had. So far only a few birds, and no deer. I'll be here for a few more days so the deer count is still technically pending. The roomers of a more than one buck in the area is enough to warrant some early morning outside sitting.
The sun having a hard time prevailing through the overcast month.
         Training has had it's ups and downs. This was going to be the last solid push for volume before racing season. After the last round of trials it was important to bring the confidence in shooting back up to previous levels. This was difficult with some persistently tricky winds in Fort Kent. That range is different from most. I've shot there more than any other range and why I can't figure it out is beyond me. The wind that you feel skiing into the stadium, the wind you feel setting up on the mat, and the wind indicated by the range flags are three different messages to comprehend. Do you see why this frustrating? It was nice to have one day last week when the wind was a non factor. In a solo time trial I managed to shoot 90%. With that and a lot of hours working on basic dryfire skills behind me the confidence is back and ready to go.

         Fitness wise? Who knows. Some of the biathlon world is already racing out in Canmore, AB. Some are racing in Sjusjion, Norway. The US team will be there next week. I was looking forward to the roller ski race in on North Haven Island last week. As far as roller ski racing goes this is as about as grand as it gets. As luck would have it a cold and sore throat crept in just in time. Given the events that were planned for the weekend on top of the 15km race and the five hour drive in van with everyone else it was out of the question if I should come or not. On the plus side it was a relaxing couple of days.
In other news: After hours of frustration and lack of professional tools I successfully changed a firing pin.

        Once the cold was gone and energy levels back to 100% I was ready to nail down a few quality training sessions. This time of year it's all about the key sessions that are going to make the differnce. If you can get some on snow time that's nice. If you can get some high intensity sessions on the shooting range that's also nice. If you can find groomed trails leading to an A licensed range that's great! I was never able to time that one just right. The grooming here in Stockholm was hard to complain about. I certainly wasn't the only one using that "hidden field" track but I claimed about 100+ km on it.
         The downside to this training option is that lack of 30 point ranges kicking around. To combat this I always head north for a couple of days and really focus on quality shooting  sessions. This has worked out fine most of the fall. The roller loop at the 10mt Lodge in FK is nothing to sneeze at. Unfortunately the stadium pavement soaks up the sun very well. Making it difficult to ski on snow. The other shady parts of the loop are practically an ice factory. Thus removing the roller ski option. Since it's too cold to go mt. biking this leaves us with lots of running. It's not this best, nor most exciting way to train. Worst of all, if you're like me, running has a finite amount that you can handle before injury becomes an issue. I survived 45 minutes of intensity on Thursday. The goal was log another 30 on Friday. After about 20 there was no chance of that happening.
Just Stockholm things.

            Any experienced coach or athlete could tell you that that's how it works this time of year. The conditions are unpredictable. A degree lower can make all the difference. I do recall one work out involving the cold rain a few weeks back. My least favorite training condition, by the way. Soon my daily living quarters will be in Europe where there is confirmed snow and 30 point ranges. In the meantime I'll have to hang out in limbo. Somewhere between driving, packing, hunting, skiing, roller skiing, running, and... more packing.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Trials Round Two

Does this look like the face of someone who doesn't
train hard enough?
       It's snowing outside and if I had to update about something that interest me it would how much I appreciate this time of year. I could go on, but this is a brief summary of how this years December team naming panned out for me. The combined four races  (best three of four, point wise) would be used to name the world cup team for December. The alternative racing option for December makes me cringe with cold repressed memories. With out any IBU cup racing opportunities this year it was an all or nothing situation. I so dearly wanted to be in Europe when the racing season kicked off this year. Well, this is what happened.
         Round numero uno was held back in August in Jericho. Round two, not unlike past years was in October. Since we had an early Utah training camp this year the races were held in Jericho again, instead of the normal Solider Hollow slip n'slide roller loop. Think super smooth sealed pavement with large cracks around every corner. Think perpetually dull pole tips. While the weather in Jericho can't hold a candle to an average day in Midway, UT the functional roller ski track at the National Guard base makes up for it.
The racing scene. 
         The post Utah training was up and down. After a couple of days off I was back at it. No mini vacation from roller skiing or the rifle. I was back into it with a three hour ski. The legs felt a little heavy. I assumed this was due to the travel and rest days. But as the week went on my the energy was still low. When I talked to the other guys later on they all had similar experiences. By the following Monday I felt a lot better. This carried through for a couple of mini time trials. Shooting was good and everything seemed to be on good pace.

The December WC team: Tim, Lowell, Leif and myself. 
At least my eyes are open in this one. 
       When I say "good pace" I mean it was normal. At least for this year is was normal. Since the start of the training season the goal was to break some thresholds on the shooting front. This has been the goal for several years now. But with the start of a n ew Olympic cycle it was good time to take more chances. This meant being more open to advise. In the end we made some minor changes in prone. It took a solid two months before any of the changes has a positive result. This, coupled with the normal search for better technique, training quality, and what not made a change for the better. Hit percentage was better when it mattered but what excited me the most was seeing the improved range times. A sub two minute cumulative total for a four stage time trial was the norm.

No ultra cold Canmore this year. 
             That last part was worth mentioning, because I suspect it played a key role in the final team selection. The races that weekend did not go very well. Ski speed was strong. That much worked out fine. Technique was better than it was in August and overall fitness came in very handy. The real clutch was the age old problem of spending too much time in the penalty loop. I'm not making any excuses. All the misses were operator error, but it was out of the normal tendency I had set in the months prior. After all the these years you never truly feel immune to the set backs. It's not unlike training or racing. The more fit you are the faster you go. The last loop still hurts as much now as it did when I was 14. I did my best to hold it together. Since the MWSC team was there as a group I didn't have to drive myself home. This was great, as I hate driving, but it also gave me a lot of time to sit around think about just how bad the weekend was.
             Monday was filled with the usual gauntlet of busy task. No training, just laundry, ebay stuff, emails, stoking the fire, so on and so forth. After some thought the best perspective I could conjure up was trying to see this as a chance to train a little more through December. As if my season were delayed. There was the usual Canmore and Minnesota trips, but to me it was a delay on the real racing front. The thought of the cozy little rooms in Ostersund from two years ago overlooking the race course vs the racing scene in Colerain, MN was too bi-polar to dwell on.

          So... I was out in the woods looking for a bird before it was too dark. My phone vibrated. When I saw the quick view it was an email titled "WC." "Oh great" I thought. "This is the famed end all email". With no hesitation I put my head down and waited for the ax to fall by opening up my email account. There in glorified times new roman text was the words "you will go to the dec WCs." I didn't mean to over dramatized this part, but I was so excited I thought it deserved some gravity. I never did get a bird that afternoon, but I did get named to the first trimester team of the 14/15 season.
          The details are still somewhat unknown. Still waiting for that plane ticket, for example. I'm in the county for a few more weeks before heading over to Norway for brief prep camp. Then it's off to Ostersund, Sweden for the opening races. Good news or not I can still carry out the quality training I need, but admittedly training last week was much easier to do after that email.
Finding bright colors in the darkest time of the year. 
           The next update will have some better pictures. Maybe some pertaining to this time of year. Realistically I didn't think I would make it in after having back to back 50% shooting days, but for one of the rare occasions optimism won over. Training is still somewhat heavy. Training and the stress of keeping everything organized will wind down once I head over. For now I have to go look for my snow baskets to swap out the roller ski tips with. It will be gone by Wednesday so might as well see what I can do with this few inches of fresh snow while I can.