Amateur Hour

I made a quick swing through Vermont on my way back from Pennsylvania to jump into a race at National Guard Biathlon Championships in Jericho this morning.  Although physically I didn’t feel that bad two plane rides and a weekend full of emotionally ridiculous family time later… mentally I was off my game.  Vacant?  perhaps.   Tired? oh yes.  more like plum tuckered the heck out!

But what is one to do when there is racing to be had?

So I put my big girl pants on and donned a race bib. Lucky number 10.  Since I missed the sprint on Sunday morning I got to start at the back of the women’s pursuit.  More fun for me. Lots of skiers to chase!  The field was big (especially the men’s field) but since a lot of the military men and women don’t actually get to experience much biathlon or probably see snow that often (yes you, national guard Missouri) the field was one of quantity and maybe not so much quality.  (but what they lacked in ski ability they made up for in enthusiasm)

I went through the normal race day mode.

Morning jog. Breakfast. Dry fire. Test skis. Pick up bib. Equipment control rifle check.  Zero. Load race clips. Warm up. Equipment control ski check.  Change into dry hat and gloves. Race.

I went through the motions almost robotically.  I got my headband on right side up (again)! Everything seemed fine.  Until I came into shoot my first prone stage… and for some reason I remembered… I had only loaded 3 clips!  Three clips!?!?  Really!?!?  I remembered loading them and thinking, “two clips and a spare just in case…”  I had totally been on race weekend autopilot.  Sprint race mode.

More embarassing? … One of the men waiting in the start pen with me had casually asked a team mate, “You remembered 4 clips today?”  I remember thinking to myself, “Four clips!? don’t you think that’s a bit excessive?”  Boy was I wrong.

I managed to yell to Patrick as I left the range that I was short a clip.  …I suppose there is a first time for everything?  Oops!

As I left the range after my second prone stage a range official handed me a loaded clip and I managed to huck my empty one off to the side of the trail as I skied back onto course.  Felt pretty foolish.  But it was good practice for me and the range crew…

Here’s to hoping I never do that ever again!

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Skiable

This winter has definitely changed my perception of what is and is not skiable.  Basically… anything goes.  As long as it is not entirely grass you’re probably okay.  (Well… unless there is a super heavy frost, then go for it! ski on that grass. Do it!  because you are ridiculously desperate and it will be a blast)

The last couple days have felt decisively spring-esque.  I did a combo workout at VanHo on patchy un-groomed, crusty trails.  I had to dodge patches of leaves, grass, dirt, and rocks. It was Sunny and beautiful and it made it feel like April skiing.  When you love snow too much to let it go.  And then I remembered it is February. February!?

It’s not pretty.  To be honest, it’s not even verging on fair… but it’s all we’ve got.

Another 1/4 inch of snow fell last night instead of rain (thank goodness?) …now instead of seeing the rocks you have no idea they’re coming.  Nothing like a lovely little game of chance during your morning workout.  That’s why you have rock-skis in the first place… right?

 

I’m heading to Pennsylvania to be with my family for the weekend… Where my Dad was “really looking forward to going for a run in shorts”… wait what?

 

Remember when I said racing hurt?

(Photo by: Noel Charchuk)

Well after my body realized how much fun suffering is last Saturday and Sunday I got to hang around Canmore for 5 days to train and cheer on my team mates in the last two races Wednesday and Thursday.  After another interval workout in the sunshine I found myself a little bummed I wouldn’t get to race.  I finally felt like I was skiing again!  (As opposed to my limbs wiping about seemingly without any control)

I decided to make the most of not racing.  I woke up early running up to the venue in the dark in time to get on my skis before the boys started their race warm up.  On thursday I even donned a “Team Service” bib so I could skate on course as the boys got ready.  It was fun to rip around their race course, the mystery in the oversized bib.  “Did you see that?  That is the smallest wax tech I have ever seen?”  um… “They told me to ski the 5’s until they felt fast???”  Yeah right.

A muffin and a change of dry clothing later I was back on course.  Coach Corrine, reporting for duty.

Course official: “So you’re a coach?”

Me:  “Um… yes?”

I poached a spot on the big sunny hill.  Sunburn?  Hello ridiculous tanlines, it’s been so long.  I spent the morning and afternoon chasing men and women up and down the hill.  Yelling splits.  Gesturing wildly.  I know that often times athletes are so zonked that they have no idea what words are suppose to be forming from you and reaching their ears.  But they know it’s noise, it’s loud, it’s excited.  GO GO GO! It was a hard hill.  And I was darned if they were going to slog up it in front of me. No way. no how.  They would move fast up this sucker even if it was only because that was the only way they could get away from me.  Hey… motivation comes in many forms.

It was really cool to watch these athletes put it all out there.  In a way it was my own mini technique tutorial.  Some skiers better than others…  The mental notes hit max capacity fast!

What else did I learn?

Coaching is really tiring! When I finally got back to our condo after the races on wednesday I was plum tuckered out!  I hadn’t even raced!?  Man respect those guys and gals.

I also learned how to optimize the ‘art of doing nothing’.  But more on that later…

Today was another baby step forward from yesterday.  Yes one itty bitty baby of a step.  But I nailed it!

There are moments when you want to hop, skip, leap…. or run at an all out mad dash ahead.  But it doesn’t work that way. There are times when you get so frustrated and angry you could throw a sandwich… But that’s no fun.  So here I am.  Totally stoked on my baby step.  Completely ok with this patience thing I’m trying out… atleast for now.

Back to today.

So many things went right!  I…
-Stayed relaxed
-Effortlessly picked a pair of race skis (ok actually I handed two pairs to the techs and said see you in the start pen!)
-Got in a good warm up and a relatively painless zero
-Put my head band on RIGHT SIDE UP (though I did have a team mate double check for me)
-Hit a few more targets
-Felt slightly more lively on my skis
-Smiled (albeit being covered in snot and slobber) the entire time

AND my team mates crushed it. Lanny tied for 4th, Laura was 10th, and Tracey finished 12th!

(photo from Hannah D)

I survived.  That was a big goal of mine coming off of being so sick for so long.  I needed to not give up, and I did just that.  I kept it together the entire race!  I didn’t have to fight the urge to scream, “Take me out coach!”  I was focused, heck I think there were even moments when I skied a little less like a dainty fairy child and more like my (totally imaginary) super hero alter ego (wonder girl).

We know I’m a long ways from being 100%… but for the time being I’m ok with coming back one step at a time.

Corrine

 

Don’t Forget to Play

Do you feel cheated?  No?  …Well you totally should!

The pictures I posted earlier were actually… from last November!  Oh the deception!  I didn’t have my photos uploaded yet.  But the guilt is gnashing at my poor little heart strings… So I’m hoping this little collection of [current] photos can act as a proper apology.

Someone is excited to be wearing an athlete bib!

And now a few pictures from my little adventure this afternoon… after numbing my mind and warming my limbs with a gianormous mug of coffee (chocolate soup) I ventured out onto the absolutely expansive trail system in Canmore for a little play time jog.  But first a few from the venue (clearly skiing sucks here… not)!

-Corrine

Oh, gosh darn ouch!

Today I didn’t crush it.  I did not destroy.  Slay. Or triumph victoriously.

Today I managed.  I clung.  I fought it out, and it wasn’t all that pretty.  (and I’m not talking about the slobber and snot that manifested all over my face)

Despite the fact that I openly acknowledged that I was here for the sake of experience and fun. I was undeniably nervous this morning.  I’ve raced a whopping FIVE times this season (a long ways away from the 20+ starts I should be racking up)… I haven’t raced in four weeks and finished up a mean round of antibiotics on monday.  I was feeling rusty.  And I thought I was totally prepared for that… my bad.

Anxious panic gnawed at my gut.  My eyes glazed over.  I desperately needed someone to make me laugh. To crack into the horrible no good very bad mood that was settling in.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to puke, cry, or laugh… but I was well on my way to some serious multitasking of uncontrollable emotion.  “Quick someone give that poor girl a hug!”

It all started with ski testing.  I detest ski testing.  Honestly, I would be perfectly content if they just handed me skis on my way to the start pen.  Last year was my first season ever having more than one pair of race skis…  Sometimes the best option is not having any options.  (Yep, you are granted to hate me, here I am complaining about having too many pairs of skis, hah!) I just can’t tell the subtle differences yet between my skis.  They are either fast, slow, or the same.  Luckily I have a very patient waxing crew and coaching staff.  That can read the slight difference between my “meh” and “Mmmm” and shoulder shrug.

Next I botched my warm up.  Meaning all of a sudden I was heading to zero after handing my race skis off to Bjorn and Brandon only to find we were approaching 20minutes to start.  AHHHHHHHHH!  Panic ensued… despite my best efforts to stick my tongue out and just roll with it.

From there I rushed into the start pen to join the highly anticipated pre-race dance off.  Yep. I rock the intimidation factor hard.

I put my headband on upside down.  One minute before my start the IBU officials decided I needed an event sponsor sticker on both sides of my rifle (oh the convenience of being a lefty).  More frantic movements.  Suddenly I was at the starting wand reminding myself to settle the flippity frack down. Too late.

Shooting was more or less a disaster.  I missed about 5 too many targets…  Is it just me or was that penalty loop   really long?  Maybe that’s just what happens when you find yourself skiing your third… or fourth… or fifth one of the day?  My coaches assured me I was justing saving those targets for tomorrow, and boy I sure hope so!

Skiing was decent. Hovering around fair.  My lungs burned, and my legs ached in a way that seem entirely too foreign.  But apparently it looked alot better than it felt…  man I can’t wait for skiing to feel good again.  At one point when I was stubbornly V2ing up one of the many hills I found myself thinking, “Don’t fall off the treadmill… don’t fall off! don’t fall off!” (Taking self talk to a whole new level) I can’t wait until I feel like myself again.  When I can charge instead of settling for hanging on.  But I know that might be a while.  One race at a time.

At one point I even managed to choke on air. Yep… forgot how to breathe…

On the plus side there is always a next race, AND I did get to watch a French girl totally panic about a squirrel!

Oh and have I mentioned that Canmore might be my favorite nordic ski venue in North America?  Not a bad place to suffer, eh?

Ooooooh Canaduh!

So today was the first day of official unofficial training at the IBU Cup venue here in Canmore.

For those of you who have no idea where that is… It is a little over an hour West of Calgary.  Right smack in the middle of the Canadian Rockies.  Can you say dream village?  (that is if you can afford this place, goodbye nonexistent funds!) Ok, enough of this geography crap, you all know how to operate Google Maps.

Onto a couple realizations…

When I leave here my face is going to be several shades darker than the rest of me. Hello Sunshine.

I was only semi embarrassing this morning.  I didn’t run into anyone… Ok there were a few close calls, I narrowly avoided a full on collision with some Norwegian man.  I did however manage to stay on my feet the entire time!  Well sort of…

Once I almost took myself out by strategically placing my poles between my legs leaving the range.  Later I got my ski caught on a rifle rack which was nearly my demise, somehow I escaped without a total wipe out.

Twice I broke out into dance on the range.  On a side note I was loading clips at the time.   Seriously, stop playing such dance inducing music!  How is everyone else immune to that infectious beat???

Way too many serious faces while I be-bopped around the trails.  One giant star-spangled grin of a girl.  Seemingly having way too much fun.  Hello amateur hour.

Is there something about the German suits that make you guys look so put together!?  Don’t get me started on the French… I can only imagine this is what I looked like.  With slightly less slobber… I hope?

Serious athletes. Corrine. More serious athletes. Corrine.  Professionals.  Corrine?

Ok so despite my totally rambunctious chaotic style of getting the job done I do feel like I know what I’m doing.

What’s that Corrine?  You feel like a real biathlete?  Um yeah, I double dog dare you to take me seriously.