I hope this email finds you enjoying some restful family time away from the usual grind - maybe on the lake, in a tent somewhere, or along the beach.
Since I last touched base, the second half of June, July, and now most of August have slipped by in a blur of training, travel, summer skiing, and smoke!
I've been training hard here in the west, roller skiing, mountain running, doing strength, shooting lots, and being adaptable in terms of training format/location due to intermittent smoke blowing in from all the wildfires. We have been lucky to not have any fires here in the Bow Valley...but more than once I've had to make last-minute decisions in terms of possibly heading to Lake Placid/Vermont/Whistler to train safely instead!
I said to my sister that my life these days is a "gong show"....meaning, as much as it used to be strictly planned and scheduled, right now, I'm fully accepting my lack of control over pretty much anything in life and going with the flow! And I love it! I haven't slept in the same place for more than 6 days in months...and I'm thriving. A quick recap of the major events:
-Testing week with Biathlon Canada the first week of July; I bettered my personal bests on the uphill run (~1min improvement) and uphill skate rollerski (~1.5min), a sure sign of improved fitness.
-5-day solo trip with just my backpack and a bus ticket across Vancouver Island during an easy training week; I wanted to tour Royal Roads University (my plan for post-biathlon!) and then explored the west coast, hopping from hostel to hostel...a cheap and fun way to travel when you're on a tight budget and just want to be outside! Man I love that place now..it has it all....ocean, beach, forests, rivers, mountains...
-Road-tripped up to Slave Lake (I'd never been that far north in Alberta!) for one night to work with my previous biathlon coach, Kris, on my shooting position and adapting my new rifle stock to better fit me and my shoulder! It was so great to touch base again after 5 years apart and feel so confident in my shooting and mental approach to the range... 😉
-Now am currently in the midst of yo-yo altitude camps at the Haig Glacier in Kanananskis Country. I am "yo-yoing" between skiing high volume training and living up high (2800m) and doing intensity and shooting down here in town (1400m). I went up for 6 days at the end of July; came down for 2 weeks; went back up for 3 days; right now am down for 4 days; then tomorrow I return for 3 more days of skiing! This training format allows me to ski on real snow in the summertime and train lots of big hours at a high altitude to build up my red blood cells, yet I still get days to do the hard intervals and shooting sessions I need to do at a lower altitude...the best of both worlds. It is very tough on the body to bounce around so much so this month has been a test of energy management and recovery...but I love it! Not many athletes do well on so much high-altitude training but somehow, even being from the east, I have the resiliency for it.
Next, I am heading home to Ontario to round out this training block, attend the August 26th Shooting Fundraiser, then take an easy recovery week with my family. On Saturday August 26th, from 9am-3pm, the Listowel Rifle and Revolver Club is again hosting a Shoot in my name, with proceeds going towards my racing expenses. I can't thank the community there, along with support from the Pinecrest Pistol Club, Al Simmon's Gun Shop, and countless other local sponsors, enough. Please, stop by and try shooting some biathlon targets that day - I would love to catch up with, and personally thank, as many friends as possible!
I had planned to send this message a few days ago but tragedy struck - the biathlon family here in Canada, and in Canmore in particular, has been mourning an incredible loss and we are reeling in shock and sadness. The evening of Wednesday August 9th, Richard Boruta was out climbing on the Middle Sister mountain with his wife and two friends, and fell to his death. He was only 49 and leaves behind his wife Kamila, a dear friend, and his young sons....as well as dozens of elite athletes and an entire community here in town who loved him dearly.
Richard was my day-to-day coach for my first three years in Canmore. Now working with John, Richard was the coach on tour for me, and we still talked daily on the range and at training camps. He saw something in me as a gangly Youth biathlete and was the reason I moved here to train. Without his influence, I would not be the biathlete or person I am today. Myself and my teammates under his tutelage (nicknamed "Richard's Angels") will miss his gentle demeanour, dry humour, wisdom, and calm under any situation. His funeral is Friday August 18th at the Canmore Nordic Centre, and the obituary can be found here: http://www.bowriverfuneral.com/index.php?f=obit%2C554
Richard's sudden passing is a stark reminder to us all that life really is too precious to waste a moment - we need to spend as much time as we can with those we love, and doing the things we love, because you just never know. We can only hope to impact and shape as many lives as Richard did, and continue his legacy training here in the mountains. I will miss those post-race hugs.
Onwards and upwards - lots of love and light, even on the darkest nights -
"Love simply is." - Paulo Coehlo
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!