We all make them.  I’ve made plenty of them over the years.  About my school work or grades.  About my sports, training and racing…  I’ve made them about different relationships in my life, with family, friends… but I’m not really sure why.  Sometimes we use excuses to protect ourselves, but more than anything we are just selling ourselves short.  Holding ourselves back.  Why?  Why on earth would I ever want to do that?!?!

You have the training excuses…  I’m too tired, my arms hurt, my legs are sore, its too hot, its too cold, I don’t feel right, I ate too much food, my head hurts, I didn’t sleep well, my skis are slow, its raining, I’m breathing too hard, I don’t like sweat, my spandex is too tight?

You’re holding yourself back.  Intervals are supposed to be hard.  If racing is the hardest thing I do then I’m not trained well enough…

Even better are those pre-race excuses…those protect you right?  So if things don’t go so well you’ve got that excuse already in place.  I threw my arm out in that snowball fight.  The course is hard.  The conditions are slow.  I was sick two weeks ago.  My warm up didn’t feel good.  I’m not as good as these other athletes.

Why? Why? Why?  Do we want ourselves to fail?

Then when it’s all said and done we come with excuses to why you didn’t do as well as you wanted, you didn’t beat so-in-so, you didn’t live up to other’s expectations, your own expectations.  (so you can’t win them all they say…but you can sure as hell try)  They missed the wax, it was windy when I was on the range, I didn’t feel good, I went out too easy, I went out to fast, I don’t do well in long races, I’m not a sprinter, the course wasn’t built for me, its the altitude, this race didn’t matter…

Your self value, your self worth, does not correlate with where you finished on the results list….  So perhaps it’s time to stop looking for things to blame our results on and instead look for ways to make the results better.  You get to choose your outlook… so why do we love to settle on the negative?

This is what happens when I train by myself alot.  I get to thinking.  So I’m challenging myself to not make excuses.  To not settle for excuses.  Living and competing with intention and having ownership in that intention seems a whole lot more rewarding…

What one does with time

Often times on rest weeks they try to send us away.  Home, to see family… its a lot easier for others to go.  Home is closer for some.  Cheaper for others.  But a 24 hour car drive and hundreds of dollars I don’t have lie between me and Hayward…and so instead I stayed put in Lake Placid.

Now for the question of the hour…what does one do with all that time?  Its a little overwhelming sometimes when you go from training all day every day to well…close to nothing.  Its as if time just stops.

Lucky for me I was tired.  and so I slept.  I slept alot.  I’m a morning person.  Sleeping in past 7am is a struggle…but my body needed it.  So, I slept until I woke up.  Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday I got 10 hours of sleep a night.   And ever so slowly I could feel the life creeping back into me.  Wednesday morning came and I was excited at the idea of training again.  Running felt welcoming and good.  Slowly. Ever so slowly the life is coming back into me as I walk that line.

Now mind you, although I was sleeping 10 hours a night and taking naps during the day I did manage to get other things done!

As you might know.  I really enjoy cooking and baking.  Especially baking!  …needless to say I took full advantage of my waking hours.  I virtually became a hermit and lived in the little kitchen across the hall from my room.  Getting pleasure from filling the hallway with the smells of tasty things warm and ready to share and eat!  More apple sauce, more apple crisp, more apple pie.  There were loaves of banana bread given out and consumed rapidly.  Eggs with good orange yolks.  Kale…and thick strips of bacon.  I don’t eat a lot when I’m not training, but what I do eat I like to taste good.

What else did I do you might ask?  Home work.  Lots and lots of homework.  I cranked out essays with dietary recommendations any nutritionist would be proud of.  I can now raddle off a disgusting lists of vitamins, nutrients, and supplements to ease your aches and pains.  More than anything it felt good to fill my mind with something that wasn’t about shooting, or skiing, something entirely different but equally satisfying.

Finally I spent the rest of my free time between doctors, sports med, and at last… the long awaited trip to get an MRI of my shoulder!  Ready for some good news?  I won’t need surgery!  All the bits and pieces of my shoulder and its tendons and muscles are intact.  The scan showed lots of inflammation and fluid around the head of my bicep tendon and in and around my rotator cuff.  So although I won’t be 100% for a while I’m incredibly happy to have some answers.

As my team mates head home I can’t help but miss mine…

Under Repair

Looks like I might finally get some answers to my unrelenting shoulder pain!  I took that tumble nearly three weeks ago and I’ve been struggling to regain my range of motion in my right shoulder ever since.  After weeks of icing and playing nice I will see the sports doctor tomorrow!

I know I sound a little too excited about seeing a doctor, maybe even a little too excited to be injured…but I guess I’m just really excited to figure out what is actually going on.  There are a couple of options of what I did to my rotator cuff… Please keep your fingers crossed its nothing more than nagging inflammation!

Apple Season

It’s that time of year again.  For as long as I can remember this has always been one of my favorite seasons.  The transition from summer to fall.  You get those cool crisp mornings and sun warmed afternoons.  The leaves are well on their way to changing.  A time of year where tuesday and thursday afternoons should be reserved for running races.  A time of year where I desperately want to own a cyclocross bike and zoom around on tacky single track on my mountain bike.  When tights come out at morning training and somedays you can see your breath on your way to the range.

….but mostly… its apple season.

I remember as far back as kindergarden in Vermont.  Getting to go to an apple orchard and filling  our baskets with beautiful crisp apples straight from the trees.  Once we moved to Wisconsin we were lucky enough to have friends that farmed and they would always send us home with brown paper bags full of apples, corn, and an assortment of squash and pumpkins.  Some times we would even venture further north to the orchards around Bayfield and pick our fill of apples and drink cider until our hearts content.

Seasons each have their own sensations.  When the first snow falls here I’ll want to be curled up in a blanket in my fleece socks on a cozy chair (preferably located by a wood stove) hot chocolate in hand…and count the flakes.  On these crisp days I want nothing more than freshly made apple sauce.  Apple cider, apple pie, apple crisp…apple pancakes!!!

A week ago we drove to Peru Vermont to pick our own pecks of apples.  Filled the bags right to the brim and then some.  I’ve been baking away ever since.  I’m all out of apples for the moment and despite the rain I know  I will be out this afternoon on my bike filling my backpack with even more…

“People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck,
something that will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate.
But happiness is the result of personal effort.
You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it,
and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.
You have to participate relentlessly.”

–Elizabeth Gilbert

Rough and Tough…and very tired.

I’ve always taken pride in being a tough kid.  Heck I was groomed to be a tough kid.  It’s something I’ve come to rely on as an athlete to make up for my lack of experience, skill, and occasionally talent.  It’s been my strength. ….but recently I’ve been feeling weak.  Sure I’ve been tired, my legs hurt, my mind hurts.  I sleep…alot.  and I’m no napper.

Its been a battle.  I need to remember to thrive on the tough times.  I need to remember that I love when training is hard and demanding, to make the workouts others hate the ones I live for.

I woke up this morning to the sound of pouring rain.  It was cold and dark and I knew it was going to be a rough morning.  I forgot my boots outside last night…can you say soggy?  Before breakfast I already had a case of the grouchy-meanies.  Bad news.

I slipped into the puddle that waited for me in my ski boots.  Starting the workout drenched before I even made it outside. …Ugh!  It was cold.  So cold I couldn’t feel my hands shooting, I guess its never too late to prepare for winter…

On my way back to the training center I opted to run on the trails past the John Brown Farm splashing through puddles as I went along.  No longer thinking about “shin flexion” or “trigger squeeze” or even how cold I was…instead I thought about mud.  Lots of people hate mud.  Its squishy.  Its dirty.  Its messy.  but I think its awesome.  I love mud.  I love biking through it and having my tires spray it everywhere until I’m so caked in mud its like a second skin.  I love running through it and coming back to the training center looking a mess with my legs and back just covered in the stuff.  I’m clumsy and occasionally slip and fall in the stuff and I laugh and wipe the mud from my hands down the front of my legs or across my face.  Happy as a pig.

I’m passionate about the ugly.  I’m best friends with pain.  I want to dig deep…but I’m tired.  I’ve misplaced my toughness and the only thing that sounds good right now is sleep.


For the past week or so now there has been an ever growing presence of endurance athletes.  The US ski team  moved there National Team and NEG camp up this year (I guess in the past they normally come to Lake Placid in October when we are in Utah) …add NENSA to that mix and suddenly you have enough skier types to rival the overwhelming number of Bobsledders and Skeleton athletes roaming the halls of the OTC!

Can you say super training group?

I’ve gone the past four weeks relatively on my own so having people to go for an easy run with is awesome.  A little soccer.  Two intervals sessions, and the big one…Climb to Castle, an uphill rollerski race, this upcoming saturday!

Although the biathlon and cross country ski worlds are different our methods of training aren’t that foreign to each other.   We follow similar principles and our training philosophies aren’t worlds apart or anything.  So we carry rifles around on our backs on occasion…so what.  We ski uphill, we do intervals, heck we even classic ski!  I produce blood lactate just like your athletes, and I get the same thrill from skiing fast over snow just like your athletes.  I just also like to shoot shit.

That being said, it has been absolutely wonderful getting to train with the men and women of the US ski team.  Nothing says comradority like a line of skiers in the pain cave during uphill max skating intervals…and nothing will bond you quite like sweating and suffering shoulder to shoulder bounding up whiteface over and over again.

We might compete on different circuits, but we are both in the search of success.  You don’t have team mates so that you have someone to beat.  You have team mates to get you through workouts when you’re struggling.  You have team mates to motivate you when you can’t seem to find your spark.  They push you and encourage you.  …this past week our team’s expanded and I can’t wait to see the US ski team girls again when we are in Utah for our training camp!

Photo by Pete V.  of the US ski team.