The next few posts are posted retroactively - I have been sending email updates to my friends, family, and sponsors for about 4 years now, and someone suggested I post them online to keep more followers in the loop. Well, I can't go back that far and post that many updates...but I'll start where my last blog left off last spring, and move forward to spring 2017!
Wow, did April, May, and most of June (2016) fly by. I know I say that every time, but as this update has been on my to-do list for a month now, it sure seems like the busy days are slipping away! hope this email finds you healthy, happy, and enjoying the first full day of summer.
I think I last left things during the month of April, saying I would touch base in the spring with training season plans. I had a great re-charging month in April, and started May off gung-ho for a tough but exciting training season ahead. May began with lots of volume (big training hours) and strength (ie. constantly sore), and as much skiing on the remaining snow up in Sunshine Meadows above Banff as possible. My coach and I had set a great plan for training camps and opportunities over the coming months, and I was more than ready to start going hard after a solid rebuilding year last year in which I managed to train a lot of hours and improve my hormonal health to boot. However, the universe had other plans for me when I crashed while crust-skiing on May 17th and dislocated my shoulder!
I go into more detail about the injury, rehab, and the different variables I'm facing right now in my blog post about it (see previous post).
So you can choose to read that summary if you like - I won't bore you with the details here, but let's just say it wasn't my finest hour, and considering I'm a squeamish person, I still can't really believe I got it back in the joint on my own! Because I'd sublaxated the joint back in December, the doctors were waffling over doing surgery and tightening things up there. However, they decided against surgical repair (though if I ever sublax/dislocate it again, third time's a charm, and I'll be in for surgery) and thus right now I'm in the midst of heavy rehab. My training in the exactly five weeks since then has been very much lower-body focused, but I'm proud to say I've hit every one of my training hours..even if they're not exactly the modes of training we'd been planning on! I've been doing intervals on the indoor spin bike and running up Mt Sulphur (because I can ride the gondola back down the mountain; the downhill running and jostling really irritated the joint, especially at the start); now worked my way up to riding outdoors for 1.5hrs at a time; been working hard on my core/lower body/upper back and rotator cuff strength exercises in the gym; but most of all I've been out in the mountains on foot, in a sling, trail running and hiking up mountains. I started some static standing shooting 2 weeks ago though I'm still not allowed to put the rifle on my back or shoot prone - but man it was nice to shoot again! By the six week mark next week, I hope to be roller skiing legs-only and with one pole, by seven weeks starting to use the right arm again in things such as easy swimming and paddling, and by eight weeks on July 13th, I am told I will be roller-skiing and skiing with two poles! This week I can even transition out of training in the sling to training in a custom compression shoulder brace when it arrives in the mail.
The past 5 weeks have been tough, for sure, as I have done my best to heal, still train hard, and figure out new ways of doing things. I have become more ambidextrous, and really learned to ask for help when I need it. My support crew including my physio Hugh, visceral therapist Karen Barker, sports med doc, and massage therapist Lada at Wildflower have helped keep my recovery on track and moving quickly. My family, coaches and teammates and coworkers have all jumped at any chance to support me, and literally lend a helping hand. This injury has tested my patience more than anything else I've every encountered in my athletic career- but I'm so lucky to have so much support around me, and two strong legs to still work with. I have to admit that even though training has been tough and a little lonesome at times, I have loved the chance to explore even more mountains and trails in the Canadian Rockies. This past week, for example, I was supposed to attend the yearly bike/rollerski camp in the Okanagan Valley with the national biathlon team girls. I stayed here in Canmore instead, and still got my massive training hours in, exploring some of the "smoother" trails and peaks in the area, sometimes alone and sometimes with other teammates. I certainly have gotten a lot of comments and strange looks when I hustle past someone on a trail, in a sling, but I was told I could do things "with a low risk of falling" so I don't try and catch myself with my right arm...so trail running on smoother trails was in, and roller skiing and road biking (initially) were out!
Looking ahead, I hope to be building back to almost normal training by July 13th, and thus heading to find snow on the glacier in late July and early August. I'll definitely have some catching up to do in terms of ski-specific training and shooting, but my coach and I are confident that my fitness on foot right now will transfer to the skinny skis..and the shooting will continue to come back as I build strength in the joint again and can shoot more and more. When I first picked up the rifle again after the injury, I was shocked and scared by how shaky my holding pattern felt - the joint and musculature in that vital right shoulder has literally been stretched and changed - but my mind remembers how to shoot, and the muscle memory is coming back quickly.
Overall, I feel so lucky that I didn't undergo a more serious injury; that I've been able to continue to train this spring; that I have so many amazing people in my life; and that I have incredible places to explore. Oh, and my hormonal health continues to slowly creep up and improve, not in the linear fashion I'd like of course, but that's the nature of the beast. You just never know what challenges life is going to throw at you, and all you can do is face them head on and embrace the opportunity to learn and grow. I've experienced all sorts of "silver linings" the past 5 weeks...and realized that this situation is just a tiny blip on the overall flight plan radar of my career in biathlon.
I've rambled on as usual, so will wrap up by describing the attachments to this email. First I attached the PDF version of my Request for Sponsorship document for this year, which most of you have seen over the past couple of months as I attempted to renew/add more sponsors and supporters to my team! However I figured I would attach it to this update in the hopes that some of you may know someone interested in supporting a young Canadian biathlete - feel free to share it! Next I have three pictures from my adventures of late. First off is a shot from the trail going around Lake Minnewanka - I've done numerous long sling runs there the past few weeks, including a 4 hours adventure up Aylmer Pass on my birthday with Rocky Mountain Racer teammate Maya! Next is a shot from crust skiing on Sunshine Meadows in May, right before the injury...looking out towards Mt Assiniboine (the highest peak in this part of the Rockies). The last shot is from the glorious ridge atop Pigeon Mountain, which I ran with my RMR teammate Andrea a few days ago - not much scree, so perfect for me right now!
Thank you all so much for your continued support. I know I say it every time, but I truly could not continue to train and race for Canada without your encouragement, love from near and far, and financial help. I'll close out with a quote from the "Manual of the Warrior of the Light" by one of my favourite authors, Paulo Coelho (my mom gave me a wonderful book of excerpts of his works):
"Often, during combat,
the warrior of light receives blows
that he was not expecting.
And he realizes that, during a war,
his enemy is bound to win some of the battles.
When this happens,
the warrior of light weeps bitter tears
and rests in order to recover his energies a little.
But he immediately resumes
the battle for his dreams."
As we all soldier on and face unexpected blows, I hope you take the time to feel the emotion and let yourself recover...and then make the decision to keep pushing on, and moving forward.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!