Lets talk about legs.

Okay ok ok. Legs. My legs.

When Maine Winter Sport Centers Will Sweetser saw me no pole skiing in Utah in October and made some remark along the lines of, “Well that will put some legs on you!”   I sort of just chuckled and shook my head, “Oh that crazy Will Sweetser!”

Man was he right….  When it came time to put the race suit back on in December I wanted to yell “Holy TOLEDO! Who put the 10 pound sausage in the 5 pound bag!”   Oh right… that’d be me. And my legs.

So although I didn’t race where and when I wanted to this year I did accomplish (I guess?) one thing. I built me some legs!  Ode to injuries and their ability to imbalance us even more than we were before.  Post knee-surgery season I had arms, and itty bitty stick legs… (ok so I did go crazy and work my upper body like a uncontrollable ball of energy freak who wasn’t allowed to ski anymore) and this fall when I was told not to use my arms I sort of shrugged and no poled, and ran, and no poled, and biked, and no poled some more.  And guess what happened? Yes you’ve got it now.  I grew some legs.  and muscles along and through my hips that I didn’t esthetically know were possible.

I now present you with the photographic evidence.

BAM! Legs… and stuff.

World Juniors 2011…

BAM! Mammoth Lakes 2012…

(Less aggressive noise) U26 World Champs 2011…

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So much fun so little time… so little air!

The people of Mammoth Lakes, California really know how to plum tucker you right out.  From the moment I stepped onto the tarmac until I collapsed back into that airplane seat 5 days later we were on the move.  Go go go!  Every night sinking into bed only to be jolted from sleep 8 hours later.  Had it really been 8 hours? 8 hours!? …felt more like 10 minutes.

The first day on the mountain was cold and foggy.  The range was nestled at 9300feet.  And was merely a ski up two different alpine runs.  Nothing says good morning lung burn quite like skiing up that.  It was only 2km from the base lodge to the range but you could easily be wiped, legs shaking, breathing hard by the time you ever reached the venue.

The venue is a whole other story.  They put up a temporary range digging out both a 25meter and 50meter firing line.  20 targets ready to go.  This is one self-sustained professional group!  Or rather… one really gung-ho community!  Passionate about the outdoors (I can see why, they live in some incredible landscape) and enthusiastic about biathlon for no other reason than it is such a cool sport!

After training the first day we helped run 8 hours of biathlon clinics in the gym at the local fitness club.  8 hours of laser rifles.  Can I log that?  Awesome.  Awesomely exhausting.  But every time we got tired you would look over at Mike Karch (the man behind all this madnesss) and be motivated by his enthusiasm for this wild event.  The next day we took on the roles as “race officials” providing direction (and smiles) to racers of all ages…. something like 200+ novice racers took to the ski trail on saturday.  That IS something to get fired up about!  The youngest racer was a tiny 8 year old who nearly fell over she was V2ing so hard out of the range.   6 hours in the sun. a failed attempt at the local hot springs (sooo much nakedness). settling for a hot tub with a view and a home cooked meal another day was in the books.

Sunday morning we raced in a cloud. The snow was coming down, rumors were spreading that the mountain was expected 18 inches.  We got to do a mass start, men and women together, and as you can imagine chasing the boys was alot of fun!  One good wipe out  (yep go figure, Corrine fell down…again) and too many missed targets later I was across the finish line.  1st Women. 3rd Overall.

Once my lungs remembered how to get oxygen to the rest of my body I got all my warm clothes back on… including two extra jackets from Mike (thanks for keeping me warm). We spent the rest of the afternoon helping with the adult racers and doing interviews for the Pursuit Channel and ESPN Latin America (no joke!).

It was an incredible couple of days.  Exploring a new mountain, welcomed in by a whole new community.  This is an event I hope continues to grow in the future.  They are talking about getting a permanent range put in!  Can you say altitude training? I can not thank everyone enough for putting us up in your homes, for keeping us fed, and for letting us be a part of your family.  Hope to see you all again real soon!

Thanks to Jim Stimson and Jimmy Barnes for the photos below!

Going over the range with all the volunteers

Giving the kids some last minute rifle advice!

Mike Karch all smiles about to start another wave of young racers

More pre-race smiles

Mia looking determined!

Mia (Mike’s daughter) won her age group for girls and was the top shooter her age male or female!

Getting a few pointers on the range

Girls With Guns showing off!

Getting on the line with the boys

Attempting to hit some targets…

In my own little pain cave.

This is what plum tuckered out looks like.

Tired… but at the top of the podium!

A Bozeman Break

The calm of the post season has started to settle in, I’m doing my best to leisurely do nothing… sort of.

So far Bozeman has given me a little spring break that is just how I remembered.  Sunny and 60, shorts, sandals… only to wake up to 6 inches of snow in town and word coming in that it was dropping an inch every 20 minutes up on the Bridgers.  Today we are moving back towards 60.  But that’s Bozeman… winter will sneak up on you again.  When you least expect it… when you least want it back.

I’m giving my body whatever it is it needs.  Meaning… I’ve been sustaining myself almost solely on coffee, salt and vinegar sweet potato chips, and sunshine.  Ok and the occasional baked good… and maybe a little curry.  But I couldn’t be happier.

Making decisions.  You know.  Mountain bike shopping, deciding to move out of the training center, and re-enrolling as a student at Montana State University.  (currently only a handful of online summer session courses)  Just normal every day life choices.  Feeling a little too productive?  yes.  Hello a little office work. A little food for my soul.  A little trekking through the snow.  All fine by me.

Up next? Mammoth CA.  Followed by a raging appearance at Spring Series.  (packing my sunscreen for both!!!)

 

That’s a Wrap… I guess?

I believe when your team mate skis up to you. Pulls a beer out of her vest. And hands it to you.  You can call the season done.  Pat yourself on the back…. because pieces of you survived that emotional roller coaster they call winter.

Although I’m not sure my season really ever got off the ground.  I can firmly say with the conclusion of Nationals Sunday my season has come to an end.

Here’s a quick little wrap up of Nationals:

After my super fun trip to the emergency room thursday afternoon I pulled myself back together, pain meds and all, and got myself back on the start line saturday morning.  Minimal abdominal pain aside, the pursuit was chaotic at best.  Despite the race organizers best efforts, trying to have 85 or so athletes shoot on 20 points… is well… it’s just a bad idea.

Oh did I mention it rained and rained and rained? Yup. Staying dry? yeah right.  Minimizing dampness was about as good as you got!  Although I skied fast I missed… oh lets say 8 too many targets. Question: At the end of the day though was I more jealous of the 7 more targets Annelies hit or her rain jacket?  ….yes, I’m going to have to go with rain jacket.

The mass start was fun for one lap… Annelies, Laura and I skied altogether.  It was painless and fun.  It felt just like another day training.  Then I missed more targets than them and got to play my favorite game… let’s go ski by ourselves!  Sunday was our last race and our only day of sunshine… and it was really hard.  The course conditions broke down rapidly…   Imagine skiing in sand.  really heavy nasty sand… your poles sinking at random another 6 inches through the slop.  Your skis a mixture of suction cups and sandpaper… Doesn’t that sound like a blast?  Ok Ok… in a sick twisted kind of way it was.  Although it was a suffer fest for everyone involved the rush of relief once you crossed the line, combined with the satisfaction of knowing it was over was nice.

The results from the pursuit are a little confusing.  Because of the problems on the range they had to give out time credits to athletes who got held up on the range.  Unfortunately when you are out on course this is something you don’t really think about.  Although I crossed the line in second ahead of Laura, she received a larger time credit than me (and rightly so)… just large enough to beat me by 0.3 seconds.

You can find the results here:  WYSEF

A special thanks to Marc Sheppard, Kimberly Del Frate, and (BIG) Sam Dougherty for the pictures below!

I’ve made myself a nice cozy corner in Bozeman for a few days before I hit the road for one last biathlon event. I’ll be flying to Mammoth Lakes for their annual biathlon race.  They do their best to bring in an elite field to put on a competition and clinic over the course of a few days.  I’ve been promised snow and sunshine, and will hold them to it!  Here’s to the last few winter adventures of the year!


Nationals: Day One…. and a super fun trip to the ER

Oh West Yellowstone…  I can see how they have so much snow!  While on a jog this morning one of the athletes I’m staying with reminded me, “We haven’t seen the sky in days!?”  Fact.  We have not.  Unfortunately for us spring-like temperatures have reached the West and we have fallen victim to a constant trickle of rain (and if we are really lucky sleet).  Tomorrow’s forecast you ask?  Rain, snow, and thunder oh my!

The roads have all but turned into ponds and streams of slushy cold nasty-ness.  Welcome to the end of the season I suppose.  I don’t mind spring but this weather makes it virtually impossible to stay dry… no matter how creative we get!  Wish I had photo documentation of our juniors heading out to the range this morning.  Not only were they wearing varying sizes of garbage bags but their feet (already in their boots) were also wrapped in grocery bags… This is what desperation and unrelenting hope looks like!

I opted for an exploration run into the park.  And although we definitely came back thoroughly soaked atleast we managed to stay warm.

But I’m getting off track.  Back to yesterday… Or as the title states.  Back to… Nationals: Day One!

I kicked off my first nationals as a Senior with our shortest race of the weekend.  A 7.5Km sprint race.  The course was slow but our skis were slick.  And aside from your poles occasionally sinking in a solid 6 inches every few pole plants, and some relentless stomach pain, it wasn’t all that bad.  I shot proficiently, missing a single shot in prone and two in standing.  At the end of the day I would come in third behind two of my team mates.  Annelies, fresh off a full world cup season and world championships, won the race with a single miss in standing.  Followed by Laura in Second.  These two gals are more or less veterans on the team so to duke it out with them is always a good time.  Slowly I’m holding my own more and more.

After the delight of a decent race had worn off the abdominal pain that had plagued me for much of the morning set back in.  This time so intensely I couldn’t bring myself to stand up straight.  At first I thought I was just dehydrated.  We are racing at altitude here and I figured it was just taking a toll on my body.  Boy was I wrong.  After another hour or so in fetal position I realized… it wasn’t going to get any better.

To the emergency room we went!  …all the way to Bozeman.  After living in Bozeman for two years I never made it to the ER, so I suppose it was about time.  Honestly if someone was going to get sent to the ER from our team… it would probably be me.

Pat and Annelies made the ride bearable, keeping the mode light and my wincing to a minimum and the hyperventilating to an all time low!  At the hospital I got poked, prodded, and looked over.  I got a great look when the nurse told me they needed a urine sample.  “Are you familiar with peeing in a cup?”  my response of “Yeah I get drug tested all the time!” was not what she expected.  From there I was given a healthy dose of pain meds (thank goodness) and waited for someone to tell me what was going on.  I got in a great nap which I felt sort of guilty about…. Pat and Weise had to hang out and wait for me… while I was taking a nice little snooze under not one but TWO heated blankets.

After a while a doctor came in and told me “Well its not a UTI, and you’re not pregnant… so at least you have that going for you!”  Oh thank goodness Doctor. If I hadn’t been on meds I might have been offended?  Two ultrasounds (I should get a punch card for those things, I’m about one away from a free one) and a misplaced ovary later I was done.  They finally had an answer for me. During this time I may or may not have said a few inappropriate things to the ultrasound tech.  Apparently things aren’t quite as funny when you are the only one on pain medication.  …Apparently the race had caused me to rupture a cyst in my ovary. Which in turn led to a bunch of free fluid floating around.  Which apparently is the equivalent of sand paper to your internal organs… who knew!?

A perscription later I was out the door and we were on our way back to West Yellowstone!  An eventful day.

We have a pursuit race tomorrow morning and with 5 second start intervals it should be a lot of fun!

And now for a picture that has nothing to do with racing or my internal organs!  Oh West Yellowstone…

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After a hectic, long travel day I (and all my belongings!) made it to Bozeman.

You know… super simple.  Because getting anywhere from Lake Placid is… painless?

Just a 2+ hour drive to Albany, a 30 minute prop plane flight to Boston… One heck of a time in Boston.  (you have to change terminals? by leaving security?  can you say poor planning???) 4 hour flight to Denver, which I slept through like a champ.  Followed by one last hour long flight into Bozeman. Phew.  Felt good to lug my belongings into Karina’s house and exhale.  Where only after writing a quick note to Karina’s room mate and leaving a pillow and blanket for Laura on the couch,  I crawled up the stairs and passed the heck out.

After a lovely  morning… the kind that makes me wonder why I ever left Bozeman… including a ski up at Bohart and coffee on the deck of the Co-op we filled our guts with gigantic burritos and made the final trek from Bozeman to West Yellowstone.

And guess what??? West Yellowstone has all the snow.  So much that the snow banks are taller than me.  So much that there is a dangerous amount of snow threatening to fall on our heads as we make  a dash for it out of our condo..  So much…. Ok enough jibber jabber.  Enjoy these poorly documented pictures.  More to come…with an actual camera!