I feel like a young kid, excited for the first day of school - or maybe more like the excitement of the first snow-day of the year! I hope this email finds you well and enjoying the best parts of the autumn season. It has been a cold, wet fall here in
the Rockies, and I am enjoying the first few flakes of snow in the air, the last of the golden larches, and all things hearty and savoury.
Just thought I'd send a quick update on the past weeks of training, because tomorrow we get to start skiing on a 2km loop of stockpiled snow saved from last winter that the Canmore Nordic Centre is spreading out; Frozen Thunder! Every year the top nordic athletes in Canada are lucky enough to get a jump-start on snow in late October, and train on this loop for a few weeks until it is cold enough to make more snow and more REAL snow starts falling. I believe only Finland has a similar system of stockpiling snow over the summer, while a handful of other countries have underground snow tunnels or access to glaciers at this time of year. In other words, it's quite an advantage to get off the roller skis and onto the skinny boards as soon as possible before the race season gets underway.
I had a fantastic training camp in Park City, Utah at the end of September and early October. Probably the best training of my life; as usual I was the perky one who couldn't stop smiling and quoting song lyrics when the hours felt long! Attached are a few pictures - lots of beautiful long roller skis, starting at altitudes just under 2000m and ending at altitudes over 3000m at the top of mountain passes; lots of trail running through dry desert-like brush and fall colours; and lots of shooting at the Soldier Hollow race venue (site of the 2002 Olympics). We utilize locations like this because they are even higher altitudes than Canmore, perfect for getting in lots of 4.5hr epic workouts (and better paved mountain passes than here). Plus, doing volume training at altitude can help you gain fitness faster if you recover right and do the proper types of interval training when you return to a lower elevation. I took advantage of every single workout with the other national team girls, as I don't train with them for every workout like this very often, learning as much as I could by shooting head-to-head, chasing or leading or working in the pack during intervals, and asking lots of questions! I also was careful with my recovery, and along with two of the men, was one of the only ones there to "survive" the entire tough training camp and complete every workout as prescribed - proof I can definitely handle hard work and being tired; who would have guessed it
Unfortunately the camp ended with one of the worst wipeouts I've ever had on roller skis, so I've been nursing some bone bruises on my knees and road rash since returning...hampering my prone shooting once again! This has been the summer of standing shooting! On the bright side, my shoulder stayed in its socket - and pavement is harder to crash into than snow. A testament to all the hard work my strength coach and myself have put in...the muscles around that unstable joint are working well. I still get some pain some days, but it's manageable and for that I am extremely grateful. Prolotherapy in the joint, where they inject a saline/glucose solution to re-irritate it, is painful in the moment but helping the stability return to the joint as well!
Since returning to Canmore I was lucky enough to have my parents visit for a few days over Thanksgiving and my Dad's birthday. I've missed so many holidays and celebrations since choosing this lifestyle that any time I get with family is extra special. I'm already looking forward to seeing everyone at Christmas.
I've been working and training as usual the past couple of weeks; however, the focus is now on interval/intensity workouts to keep refining the aerobic and anaerobic fitness. We want the highest quality of training possible right now, both on the range and track, as we fine-tune technique at race pace and shooting under high pressure. Up next on the docket for me are a couple of cross-country skiing time trials and then the Biathlon Canada time trials Nov. 9-10. These races, likely all done looping around Frozen Thunder, will decide which athletes will go to the IBU Cup and which will go to the World Cup before Christmas. As I know I've explained before, both circuits are extremely competitive, and I will race hard and take advantage of any and all race opportunities I am offered. Because I'm not one of the five women currently training full-time with the national team (I train with Rocky Mountain Racers) I don't have the luxury of the eyes of the system on me all summer, and have only these two races to show my best self. The top 4 women will go to World Cup and the next 4 to IBU Cup, with the possibility of bouncing between circuits depending on performance after the first trimester of racing. With Biathlon Canada, you just never know what could happen and where you could be racing....so I'm just psyched to get out there and race fiercely...leaving it all on the trail!
I am super happy to say that every single one of my sponsors from last season - plus a few more! - are supporting me yet again this year. I am blessed to have so many hard-working people and companies helping me chase my dream as I race for Canada this winter.
Enough rambling on for now! I'll be in touch late November, to let everyone know my race plans leading into Christmas, and again after the first trimester of international racing.
For now, I hope you have a lovely end to October, and always remember to do the snow dance as the nights get cooler
Harder, faster, stronger - and fiercer, and sparklier...
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!