Jello

When bounding intervals come up, and they do come up, the term is synonymous in my mind with Jello.  Yes jello.  Mushy, slimy, wiggly, unstable jello.  Intensity, going hard, is part of my life and I don’t mind that.  We like to say if racing is the hardest thing I do then I’m not ready to race.  And so just like taking my vitamins I do intensity atleast once a week.  Yesterday was one of those days.

The scene was set perfectly for the sludge I compare bounding intervals to.  I woke up to a glum overcast sky and the continuous patter of rain hitting the lodge roof.  Perfect.  We headed out into what seemed to be our first cold misty fall morning of the season and began our warm up. Winding our way through the intersecting ski trails our shoes were wet within seconds.  Finally we made our way to the bottom of the ski hill to begin what would be an hour of throwing my body up the hill over and over again.

Nine times, nine times up the hill, nine mind numbing leg wobbling repeats.  At the end of each one I hang myself over my poles panting, trying desperately to force oxygen back into my body.  My whole torso shuddering at the attempt to fill my lungs to the top.  The sudden rush of oxygen would make my head feel disconnected from my body.  Then I would head back down the hill to the bottom so I could repeat it all over again. 1, 2, 3, 4…by number 4 I could no longer feel my legs.  Instead I relied on my bodies own ability to catch itself as I would bound away.  One foot after the other.  Up and up. 5….5 half way done. 6…by number 6 I start making myself promises to make it through the last few intervals.  I promised myself if I could make it through all 9 that I could sit down.  That was it, that was all I needed.

After the final time up the hill I collapsed over my poles.  Rolling over onto my back, my arms and legs limp all around me, I closed my eyes.  I can’t even imagine what I must of looked like if someone had been there to watch me.  This crumpled rag doll, a dejected mess on the side of the alpine slope.  It didn’t matter, the grass was cold and wet and finally my breathing slowed down to a normal rate.

I picked myself up and smiled.  That was hard, but I had done it, I made it through all my intervals.  I hadn’t faded, I didn’t quit…I had gotten stronger, I had gotten a little tougher.  As I headed home, one foot in front of the other.  Tired but content.

Bounding may have turned my body and mind into jello that morning but I kept moving.  I kept pushing, charging, pounding.  Every time we push ourselves we challenge our bodies and minds.  To dig a little deeper.  Its my way of asking myself, “What you got?” and hopefully my body and mind responds “More than you think.”  I know there will be days when I don’t have anything more to give, when I’m drained and tired and weak.  …but as much as I am training my body to go harder I’m also training my mind to give me that extra push when I think I’m done.  Sometimes its not our fitness that holds us back.

Time trials are a good “gut check”.  This is in Bozeman at the finish of our uphill time trial last fall…feeling like jello.

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A great day at the office.

On Friday morning I once again loaded myself, my bike, and a bag full of assorted not throughly thought through belongings into the Maine Winter Sports Center van… to start yet another trek south (always south, always down…down back into the lower 47).  Destination?  Deerfield, Mass.

Earlier this summer my coach got this idea into his head from his fellow cycling fanatic friends to do is rumored to be one of the hardest century rides in the east.  The D2R2 or rather the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee. I opted to do the half and even more foolishly opted to do it on my road bike.  I should have known better when the slogan for the event was “Celebrating 300 years of carriage roads!”  or even more obvious use of “dirt road” in the title of the event… but once I had arrived in Deerfield there was no turning back.

They had camping right at the start and finish area and when I arrived the girls already had our tents set up and waiting.  After sleeping undisturbed I woke up to the hustle and bustle of the 180km riders getting ready to depart around 6:30.   Wrinkled, damp, and clad in my sweatpants and fleece socks I finally stumbled out of our tent and over to the event tent to get some food and much needed coffee.  I soon had a plate full of hard boiled eggs and coffee cake in front of me.  With a hot cup of coffee in hand, I was a happy camper.  At 9 oclock, a handful of m&ms in hand, we made our way to the start area to sign out and begin our day on in the saddle.  Looking around we soon realized we would be the odd men out on road bikes, all around us bikers stood over cyclocross and even mountain bikes and I began to wonder what I had signed myself up for.

I spent the next several miles paranoid I would flat, that I would be one of the dozens of cyclists stranded on the side of a little dirt road fighting with a stubborn spare tube.  However, the miles went by and I surprised myself by keeping my bike upright.  Before the first water station I was adopted by a group of riders from the coast area who after teasing me for my bike choice took me under their wings.  They guided me through the rougher dirt sections and I would take turns at the front helping pull through the uphills.  There was one pretty scary descent where the dirt was washed out and riddled with rocks begging to buck me off and pinch my tires but when I got to the bottom and back onto more solid ground I found one of the guys of the group had actually stopped to wait for me to help me ride back to the group!

It was a day of perfect weather, amazing volunteers, and 600 very happy racers who were each treated to a pint of beer upon crossing the finish.  After finishing up the designated trek I decided I hadn’t had enough and after thanking my new friends for a wonderful day on my bike I headed back out on the rode to ride for another hour. At the end of the day I had meandered around 77 miles of mostly dirt rodes, climbed 8000 feet, and spent a solid (and incredibly happy) 6+ hours in the saddle.  Just another wonderful day at the office!

here are some pictures I have borrowed from one of the mean of the Minuteman Road Club,  I spent too much time gripping my handle bars and not enough time reaching for my camera in my jersey pocket.

SugarLoaf

I think pictures are sometimes even better than words, so this is my picture book, like a comic book but less funny?

We spent the last week with the MWSC cross country crew exploring and venturing allover the SugarLoaf/Farmington area.  Here are some pictures from two of the hikes we went on.

Rest Days

Rest Days…I’ve always hated rest days.  …and I mean that, I’ve struggled with taking time off both mentally and physically.  There has always been a part of me that is scared to take time off because there is this irrational part of my brain that tells me rest days will make me weak, that they are for pansies, that I’m not tired, that other people are training there for I should be too.   To top it all off…I’m just horrible at sitting still, I fidget, I fuss, I get antsy.  As you can imagine long lectures at school were not my strong suit.  I hated rest days so much that I used to avoid them at all cost.  I would mow the lawn for four hours, cut and stack wood,  wear ankle weights like they were the newest hottest summer accessory.  I would go on 30 minute jogs and do core in front of the TV.  Last season I became so good at avoiding rest days that I hardly took any at all.

Needless to say it was a long year.  At one point I went two months without a single day off.  Looking back on it I’ve learned some invaluable information about my body and training.  Its taken me a season of feeling flat to realize how important rest and recovery is.  One would think I would have realized something was wrong sooner but skiing has taught me to push through so much that I had forgotten to listen to my body.  Instead of listening to how lifeless my legs felt, I just numbed myself to all sensation and by the middle of winter I don’t think I could have told you what fresh felt like.

It wasn’t until after the last races of the season when I took a week completely off did I realize how tired my body was and the amount of stress it had endured for the past 11 months.  After a spring of much-needed rest I re-evaluated what I had put myself through and came away feeling more prepared than ever to tackle another year of training and racing.  Although there are still days where I’m tempted to make my three-hour rides four hours or more, and where I happen to “get lost” on a really good run I’m doing much better.  I’m training copious amounts but I’ve already almost taken as many days off in the first quarter of training that I took over the entire year last season.

Yesterday was monday (which happens to be my rest day) and boy was I glad when I woke up to overcast skies…something about bad weather makes it easier for me to not go off the deep end and lace up my running shoes.  I caught up on some house keeping (or lodge keeping), baked a batch of delicious cookies, played around with my pretty new rifle (my hand-me-down Nordgren special), and went wild blueberry hunting.  I may or may not have picked a few berries that were blue but however distant cousins of actual blueberries but since I’m still very much alive I’m not too worried yet?

Here’s to training smarter than ever.

Corrine

On the move.

I alot has happened since the last time I wrote here.  I would like to blame the infinite black whole that is the Ethan Allen Military base in Jericho Vermont…but its partially my fault as well.   Since the last time I wrote, I have survived another rest week.  This one wasn’t as painful as the others because I threw myself into some serious volunteer hours to take my mind off the days and hours not occupied with training….

The Fat tire festival occupied most of my weekend before I headed to our stint on the road.  It was an awesome event put on at the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle Maine.  The athletes on our cross country team live right down the road from the venue and let me crash in their living room for the weekend, eat their food, and take in the Northern Maine Fair.  I got more than my fair share of sun and a tshirt  out of the deal!  We put on a mountain bike biathlon race in the morning for a group of youngsters and some older athletes as well with air rifles and .22’s.  Its always fun to get to introduce new people to the sport of biathlon, not only is it a great opportunity to meet new people in my new community but I think its so cool to watch people try something new.

On Monday we headed off to Jericho Vermont for our annual biathlon camp.  The Jericho camp is a standard.  Its right at the beginning of august every  year, one of the women on our team realized on our drive down that this was here 12th summer at the jericho camp!  Its only my second but I can see the tradition building.  The camp is well attended by biathlon groups from all over the country including members of the national team and a group from Quebec.  There was a pretty strong US women’s field represented and although the men’s national team wasn’t there (they are still in Europe training for the rest of the month) there was a pretty large men’s field all the way down through the youth boys.

I like Jericho because its a good chance to remember why we train every day.  It open’s our eyes to our weaknesses and is a good little check it part way through our summer/fall training block.  It gives me a long list of things I need to work on, and reminds me that I can’t get to comfortable.  I just got a new stock this past week and I love it!  It made the week a little frustrating because I basically have to rebuild my shooting, alter my range procedure and make some pretty big adjustments to what I’ve been doing for the last two months.  Alot of people say that it takes about a month to get used to a new stock and I can see why!  Although I did not shoot well this week and was disappointed with that part of my races I’m ready to move forward and do the work I need to in order  to kick ass later on.

It was a long week, intensity weeks always seem much longer to me because they take so much out of me.  Although the hours aren’t super high during intensity weeks we do four or more intensity sessions, and in the humid heat of Jericho I found myself getting pretty warn down and actually giving into my naps…  But I took the much needed rest whenever I could lure myself into sleep in the middle of the day.  After a long classic interval session and a day of hot hot time trials we finished the races off with a sprint and pursuit biathlon race.  These are my second rollerski biathlon races, and lets just say nothing can make up for experience in this sport.  The first race went okay, my shooting was sub par but I still managed to ski a strong race finishing not to far behind my team mate Grace.  The second day however my skiing could not hide my horrendous shooting…I skied almost two extra km’s of penalty loops. not fun.  never again.  I finished the race feeling dejected, tired, and frustrated.  Although I got to know the guys working the penalty loop well over those two races I would prefer to spend less time skiing around that little loop and more time going back right onto the race course.   I had some good talks with the coaches after the race that made me feel better, and now I’m fired up to approach my training a little differently.  Using my opportunities to shoot and dry fire more readily so that next time I will not feel so horribly incompetent on the range.

Lessons learned, motivation rekindled, plenty of time to improve.  We are currently in SugarLoaf Maine for a camp run along side our MWSC cross country team.  It should be a fun week, its always good to get a change of scenery and mix things up.  I brought my camera along this time and should have some pictures for you towards the end of the week.  Here are some pictures from my coach Gary from the races this weekend.

Corrine