Puddles

I love puddles.

Mud puddles, little puddles, big puddles, deep puddles, surprisingly deep puddles… I love them.  I go out of my way to go through them.  If I had a list of my favorite things they would be at the top.  No matter how I’m feeling, give me a few puddles and I’m a child again.

A while ago my team mate and I went on an amazing mountain bike ride!  We left the lodge on a perfect clear fall morning.  Cold. Clear. Crisp.  We took off down one of the ski trails, and down down down we bounced and yelped until we hit the four-wheeler trail system at the bottom.  Like every other activity from the lodge you have to get to the bottom of the hill somehow.  From there we took off on a 3 hour adventure in the sunshine.

The heritage trail runs along much of fort kent and is used mostly by, what else, fourwheelers and snowmobiles.  We cruised along soaking in the sun shine and laughing, this would be the driest, warmest I would be for the next three hours.  Finally Kat veered off to the right and followed enthusiastically.  Much of the trails from there on out would be mostly one giant puddle.  I zig zagged my way back and forth across the trail, not to “pick the best line”, but rather to hit as many puddles as physically possible!  I squealed with delight with each new puddle.  I was soaked.  Covered in mud from head to toe and loving every moment of it.

I had been sick much of the week leading into this ride but my body felt fine…felt fine until about 2 hours into the ride.  And there, nestled two thirds into our loop and seemingly a million miles away from the lodge the wheels fell off.  I was creeping into the land of being toasted.  My legs were wobbly, pedaling was much harder than it should be…but I put my head down, focused on the sunshine and pedaled.  My feet were turning into little toe-iscles.  I was so dirty that my bike decided that mechanical failure would make the rest of the ride that much more enjoyable.

I love going up hill, climbing, there is nothing I would rather do.  Truth be told I would rather go up hill twice than down hill ever!  However each uphill would have me cranking away so hard that my chain would skip and get pinned between my gears and the frame.  Each time a few choice words would coming slammering (yes that is a combination of hammering and slamming) out of my mouth as I frantically tried to unclip before I toppled over.  At one point I got so frustrated that my team mate had to bike away so she wouldn’t laugh in my face!  But it was good.  As I pedaled after her into a sunny field it gave me a moment to regain my composure and remind myself what an incredible day it was.

We made it back to the lodge in one piece, covered in mud, but smiling.  Walking up the stairs my feet were useless clubs.  As i peeled off my layers I couldn’t help but laugh at how ridiculous I looked.  I had mud every where, in my nose, my ears, my arms, legs, front, back, side, even my elbow pits!  …I had made sure I was throughly soaked and covered out there that morning.

Although I almost hucked my bike into the forest at one point I was content.  Blissfully content in my own muddy euphoria.  Another good day in the office.

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Sick Day.

Ew.

Ew. Ew. Ew ew ew ew ew.

I don’t get sick….right?  Atleast thats what I like to tell myself.  I’ve watched team mates in the past make themselves sick by worrying.  I avoid disease, I wash my hands, I don’t lick table tops.  I do my best to try to avoid packs and mobs of sniffling, hacking, woozy looking people.  I survived my entire freshmen year at school in a 13 story dorm building jam packed full of every sort of walking epidemic imaginable.  …but occasionally my body breaks down, it gives up, and I fall apart.

One thing just ran right into another. On our rollerski I felt a little lethargic.  My muscles were tired from the beating we had given them the day before, but this was more than just being sore.  I slowed down and crawled forward at my own pace.  By that afternoon my head felt like a brick and by that evening I knew I was done.  I’ve never been sick quite like this until now. My forehead throbs un-relentlessly…and when I cough it feels like my temples are going to explode.  I’m wheezy and my lungs feel heavy.

We just went through the biggest seasonal change we’ve had yet as the days went from sunny and 75 to rainy and 50.  I suppose I was just one of the many victims of the weather change this time around.  My body might have not known how to respond to the abrupt change and everything just kind of ran array?

We are going on day number two now of feeling a disease-ridden shell of myself.  I’m staying warm, sleeping alot (10hours last night), drinking tea and water until I could burst, and filling myself up to the brim with cold eezzzzz.  I would like to think my body is well on its way to mending itself but I guess all I can do is wait.

Mind Bullets

Yes sir, thats right, mind bullets.

Now I know what you’re thinking… Mind bullets what kind of super hero has becoming a biathlete made corrine!?!?  Wrong.  Unfortunately its not quite as cool as it sounds. …not even a little bit. but its part of my life now.  Most biathletes refer to it as “dry-firing” but for my sake I find making it sound as cool as possible helps me get by.

Dry-firing is the act of going through the motions of shooting with out any bullets.  It helps work on the procedure of getting the rifle on and off as efficiently and smoothly as possible.  This is an area I struggle in, I am slow, I am clumsy, and any coordination I might posses seems to go right out the window as soon as I try to go fast.  I throw and drop clips, I can never quite get my sling to hook into my cuff, and on a fairly frequent basis I manage to get tangled in my own harness.  So much for looking cool I guess.  Dry-firing allows us to work on our bolting, our trigger squeeze, our breathing cadence, but most importantly (especially for me) our ability to hold on the target.  What do you mean?  Don’t you just point the barrel at the target and BAM?  If only it was that simple.  The pros make it look easy.

So I practice.  I have to practice alot…well atleast I’m suppose to practice alot.  I struggle with dry firing.  I have to remind myself how important it is before I let myself slack off horribly.  Its a daily battle to make sure I “get the job done”.  Sometimes I’m given reminders.  On the days when I can’t seem to put actual bullets on the target, when no white paddles go up, when I’m pretty sure I must be shooting rabbits instead…  On those days I know I must work harder.  Try harder.  try harder to be more consistent.  I know I’m going to have bad days and good days.  Days where I feel like I’m on fire…and days when I might as well be shooting into the dirt.

I’ve learned to take a step back.  To see how much I’ve improved and take note on what I need to work harder on.  And although dry-firing might not be super fun or exciting or on the top of my list of things I like to do in my spare time I remind myself even the pros shoot mind bullets.

World Championships

This past week I took advantage of my recovery week packed up my honda with camping gear and mountain bikes and journeyed off to Mont-Sainte-Anne.  Canada was chosen to host this years Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships and they picked an absolutely incredible venue.  Mont-Sainte-Anne is located about an hour outside of Quebec City with the races taking place all over the mountain.  They had camping right at the race venue which was convenient and made it easy to cram spectating into every waking hour of my days there.

A few of my friends from MSU happen to be incredible mountain bikers as well as full time students and when they were named to the team this summer  I knew there was no way I could miss getting to watch them race.  The best part is that even though Fort Kent is inconveniently located from just about everything it happens to be practically in Canada and only 3 hours from the races!

Starting Wednesday morning I was ready to be a super fan and dragged Leif all over the mountain from sun up to dinner time cheering, yelling, hooting, and hollering for whoever was unfortunate enough to get within ear shot.  I applauded as the trials riders bunny hoped their bicycles over seemingly mountainous rocks and backwards down tiny wooden ramps.  I yelled “run run run run!” at the xc riders as they got jostled out of their saddles on descents that made even the downhill riders cringe.  I hollered “USA USA USA USA!” at any and all of the 4cross riders and gasped as they chose lines through the chaos that would put me on my butt without a bike under me.  I screamed until I was hoarse as guys and gals from all sorts of countries gutted it out.  There were pain faces a plenty all over the course.  Conditions were anywhere from dusty sand pits to tacky to muddy and wet.  Sunshine, fog, rain, mist, or the dark of night.

World champions were named, podium places filled, jerseys and medals awarded, battles fought, dreams realized and crushed.  After spending so much of my own time training and racing it was nice to be a spectator this time around.  I was treated to a truly incredible experience by the athletes throughout the week.  These athletes put it all out there and it was inspiring to watch them leave whatever they had out on the course.  As they crossed the line battered, banged up, and covered in sweat and dirt they reminded me how much I enjoy suffering from the gun to the bell lap to the finish line.  They gave me butterflies as I waited anxiously for them to come through the finishing shoot.  They reminded me that what we do is fun and amazing and the best job on earth!  I felt their enthusiasm as they made a pass by a fellow competitor, rode a good line, or pushed through the top of an uphill…and I felt their disappointment when they crashed or when their legs gave out.  They rekindled my enthusiasm for what lays ahead of me this season, and I can’t thank them enough for allowing me into their world for the week. Congratulations to all those riders who finished out seasons this past week, well deserved rest waits ahead!

We’ve moved into fall here in Fort Kent as we finished up period 5 of the year.  We’ve been greeted with cooler days and longer nights.  The leaves are changing and I’m excited to embark into the next phase of training.  Its a little strange to not be headed back into classes as school started up for the most part around the country this past week.  Its weird to not be out west running between class and practice and living partially out of a backpack and partially out of the ski room but its getting easier each day.  I know what I am doing is different than the average American college aged kid but I also knowing I am doing the right thing for me right now.  This will be the first fall in 6 years that I am not racing cross country running!  Its odd that my spikes lay lonely and abandoned in the bottom of my closet… but when I get to go romp around in the woods through the leaves everything is put back into balance once again.

Heres to continuing the plunge!

enjoy the photos from World Championships