Thursday, October 11, 2007

Summer Biathlon Race

It was touch and go there five days before the race at Pratt's falls - upset stomach had me in the.... nah, you don't want to know. But Saturday came and I seemed to be back to normal - almost. Beautiful day dawn and it promosed to be warm.

Got there and everything changed! They changed the course I had been running for the past month! they change the start time, which was a bummer. I had figured out where half way was, what my splits were supposed to be, etc. so that was all off now. Normally I drink this concoction 1.5hr's before the race. I drank the stuff and found I had 20 minutes, so that sat in my already tender stomach. Buy, hey - what ya gonna do?

First lap felt good and I took it too fast. Came in to shoot and got 4 out of 5 which was my goal. Second lap was good, but slower. Came in for standing and got 1 out of 5 - very disappointing. Last lap was slow, but was able to push it on the last half. Did 5th in my age group and 11th out of 25 overall - not bad, I'll take it.

Next came the rock-rabbit: two people - one runs the loop the other shoots. No way I was running again, but did find a guy who did. He'd run a short loop, tag me and I'd shoot. Went clean in the prone, but got only 1 in the standing. What's with the standing?!? I'd been doing a lot of practice in the standing so today's results were disappointing. Not sure how we did, but it was fun.

Overall I can see the improvement with this summers training schedule. I see it as setting a better endurance base for next year. This is really the first year I've run a lot and that's been important. Shooting still needs some help, but it's clear what I need to do there.

Pictures here:

Friday, June 22, 2007

Good Luck Eddie/Namrita!

Good luck to Eddie and Namrita as they compete in the Cowbell Challenge 12 hr endurance race!! Namrita kicked butt in the recent Burn 24 (on a single speed no less)!

Sweet Mountain Biking

Last week David and I took our bikes to Highland Forest. I've been going there since I was a teenager in Boy Scouts: I've camped there, learned to XC ski there, done orienteering there, hiked there, now I take church youth groups there and Boy Scouts there. Awesome place! So this was the first time I've MTN biked there - it was awesome! Pretty warm day and was worried about the black flies that come out this time of year. Turns out they weren't the problem. Tent catepillers were everywhere. How are they a problem? Let's just say it's best to ride with my mouth closed. The trails had everything: mud, roots, gravel, logs, dirt. It was wide enough to offer some manuvering, but still be a trail.

We went two days later to do the 5 mile loop. This loop was even more challenging - one section had tons of roots - boy those things are hard to navigate! Also learning to ride the trails with clips is challenging! Also saw some wild life, (when I wasn't staring hard at the trail). We came around one bend and there was a sign that said area closed because of Gaushawk nesting. So where do we go??!? We found another trail in the woods and tried that. Came across one of the park workers - he said if you travel alone the hawk will attack. If in pairs, not a problem. We rode on - thought we were outside the area, then realized we probably were right in the middle of it. Riding down one trail a very large bird flew over us - the hawk. I didn't realize something that big could be manuver through the woods! What a great ride.

Vander Camp was something else. Our church as a church retreat at Vander Camp once a year and last year I had done a very little riding. This year we decided to go long. I had heard from the mtb community that this was a great place. The start of the ride was good, until we hit the logging. Turns out the camp had sold 1/2 there property and the new owners were logging. What a mess. We must have walked the bikes a couple miles. When we did find the trails, there were too hard to ride. Maybe the advanced guys can do this stuff: sudden super steep trails, lots of rocks, very narrow passages. We did get to a place where it opened up and we could ride more consistently. Someone had put a mtn bike size see-saw (or is that sea-saw?) - ride the bike up and it tips down. David did it - got to the up side and stalled - fell into a pine tree! Joshua and David tried several times and did get it to work - very amusing!

Friday, April 13, 2007


Ever notice that when you start something new, it just doesn't feel right? Not sure which way to go. Not sure if it's right. Waste of time? Someone's already done this, right? Confussion.


What's interesting is that the mess of exploration looks/feels a lot like the mess of failure and maybe that's why we give up on new ideas. We get the two confussed. And that failure word, got to be careful with that one too.

Once watched a manager almost end the career of an employee because they were trying to do something new, take a new approach to a problem. Interesting how both people saw failure differently. One saw the need for punishment and the other walked away with lessons. Who succeeded here?

So the next time you feel 'mess', remember, it's not the path to bad stuff. Any way it works out, it'll be good!...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

First Ride

I think it's time to prepare the skis for storage: the geese are flying, maple sap is running, heard a robin today, and it got up to 55 degrees. And it rained. Hard. This is death to snow and it was going fast.

So I did the only sensible thing I could do: go for a ride! Got the bike out, pumped up the tires and did 4+ miles. Nothing big, just one of those take a spin before dinner. It felt amazingly warm in fact I think I over dressed. The rain had stopped but I still got soaked with all the water on the roads.

Yup, season's are a chang'n

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Driving Lessons

Joshua, my number 2 kid, has just got his permit and today was the first time for me to take him for a drive. We get into the car and start to pull out of the driveway. Karyn (kid #5) is calling to me. Joshua rolls down his window and asks, "What do you want?!" in that way in which only a big brother can. "Where are you going?" she asks. Thinking he's going to give her a smart answer, he says, "to heaven!" I think it's time to get out of the car!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

3/10/07 Osceola Race

Wax. I was worried about the waxing. Waxing can be as easy or complicated as you want to make it, but it's basically read the thermometer and pick the wax. It's all about matching the snow type and temp with the right wax. But Saturday was going to be hard: Friday night 19 degrees, Saturday morning change from sunny at 30 degrees to cloudy with rain at 42 degrees. Frozen granular? Wet? Cold? Warm? What was it going to be? How the heck to you wax for that?!? I picked a Swix LF8 for around 32 degrees and hoped that would do it. Turns out this was going to be my biggest problem.

Kathy and I were able to distribute the kids around to various places and escape at around 7:15am to head for that town of Osceola - that if you blinked you'd miss it. We got on the the thruway and I had to do that terrible fearful thing: turn on the windshield wipers. It was raining. Rain and skiing just plain sucks. But after a while we seemed to have moved ahead of the weather front and got there under partially cloudy skies. Would the skis be sticking to the snow? Would I have to change the wax there? Would they be fast? That's all I could think about. Kathy went off the 'warming hut' (I never seem to get warm in this hut) to sign me in and promptly found out that Nick wasn't going to race because he was going to have to be chief timer. My gracious wife said that she'd do the timing and told him to go have fun.

I had packed pretty efficiently so it was a lot easier to get to the range to zero my rifle. The moment had come. I set my skis down on the snow and stepped into the bindings. They were very fast! My skis practically took off by themselves as I skied off to the range. We'll that was a relief! Took my zero shots and I didn't even have to adjust the sights. New ammo so I wasn't sure how that would work, but things seemed to be good.

With the temperature rising and the sky darkening I wanted to get this show on the road. Since I was to start second, I got my wish. Since this was a 10km sprint, we went off in 60 second intervals. Kathy sent people off with her clip board and stop watch. I took off skied up the little hill by the range, across the field and down into the woods. The racer ahead of me was coming out of the woods, the opposite direction! 'What's this about', I wondered. He asked which way was the right way! I told him to turn around and follow the orange flags.

I felt something was wrong - I kept sliding a lot, kind of like biking up hill in mud with lots of leaves - was getting no purchase. In skate skiing you roll the edges sideways and push off of the flat part. No doing here. The odd thing was that it didn't feel icy, but I was sliding all over the place. And my poles - I'd plant my poles and they slip out from under me! This was not going well. For the next 2.5km I felt like I'd never been skiing before with poles and skis sliding in all the wrong directions.

Finally reached the top of a hill and tucked down for a quick run. Now I've been working the hill thing. Got this fear of going too fast, but also realize this is a great way to take the pressure off my leg muscles for a few seconds, and a way to grab some time. I had been working on going faster at Lake Placid and it worked really well. I'd been down this hill before and knew what it was like at the bottom. Built up speed. Oh man this is fast. This is really really fast. Started to struggle to get things under control. The course started get some up and down motion. My left leg started to part with the rest of us and in slow motion I spread eagled off the trail into woods - WHAM! Face plant. Arms and legs buried under the softer snow. I spend what in race time seemed forever to get out - snow everywhere. Brush off, get the rifle back into position and head back out on the trail. So on top of feeling like a clutz on a slippery surface, I'm now shaken by the fall. I struggle over the next .5km to steady myself. Ahead I see one of the racers on the shorter loop come out of the woods and fall on flat ground! So it's bad for everyone.

Get to the range, whip off my rifle - today's goal is to shoot faster - and... the rifle is covered with snow. Can't see through the sights! Blow and blow and blow snow off. Finally, it's all off and I only knock down 2 out of 5. Not good.

Back out on the loop and continue to slid around. Come back to the hill. This time I've got a full blown snow plow going down. Half way down I decide to tuck in and pick up speed. WHAM-O! I go down again! This is not my day. The range goes better this time, hit 4 of 5 in the standing, so only 1 penalty loop. This was very good.

Would you believe that I fell AGAIN on that hill? This time I noticed all the body marks on the trail and knew I wasn't alone. This time when I fell I noticed someone's clip laying in the trail. These clips aren't cheap so I pick it up and slide it down my shirt.

Down the long flat stretch towards the finish, this kid passes me. I jumped into the double track lane for classic skiing and start double poling and I actually start to catch up to the kid! We hit a slight hill and I've got to go back to skating. Slip and slide across the field and into the finish. *Whew* glad THAT's over!

And that's the last race of the season! Would have been nice to get some more races in, but that's the way the snow falls. Overall I was pleased: did my longest race at 15km and survived, felt like I got a better handle on the mental aspect of the race, made some huge improvements in nutrition, skating technique is getting better. Areas to focus on are leg strength, need to run more this summer - like training for 10k runs.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

ESG 2/23/2007

From 2007-02-23 Em...
We'll we made it. A crapy winter, few races, but we made it to the Empire State Games. Bit of a scare: I left Thursday in rain - major yuck. As I got towards Lake Placid it turned to snow and all was well.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Race: NorAm

So to get to the Empire State Games (ESG), I need a certain number of races. With all the races cancelled, it's grab any and all ESG qualifier races. The only next race between now and then is, *gulp*, the North American Cup/National Masters Champs! Let's be clear: I am not nationals material. I'm a guy having a mid-life crisis, trying to get in shape, fulfilling a childhood dream, yada, yada, yada. With this being the only option I figured I'd better go.

My brother said there's a line in the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, 'Where the Guide is wrong, it strives to be definitively wrong'. So he said, 'if you're going to do this, be decisive about it'. Does that mean if I'm bad, I should be bad on a really grand scale?? Whatever the implication, being decisive is good advice.

Getting there was the trick. Normally I head north along Rt. 81, then take Rt 3 east from Watertown. The problem is that those towns between Syracuse to Watertown has received anywhere from 8 to 10 feet of snow. Yes, that’s feet. These poor folks don’t even have a place to shovel the stuff. So I’m not going that way. This time I’ll head East along the Thruway and head North along Rt 87 and come into Lake Placid the back way. This turned out to be a very good move. When I left Friday morning, it was really snowing hard in Syracuse. 30 minutes East and all was well. In fact, near Albany, the road were very dry. We’ll be taking this route in the future – can set the cruse control to 75 and not get the kids car sick weaving through the roads up north.

I stayed at the Northway motel right in Lake Placid - clean rooms, easy access to town, etc - good thing. Had to leave the wife home - bad thing. It sucks being alone in a strange land without someone to support and cheer.

The race was held at the 1980's Olympics course. This course has any positive attributes: very wide trails, steep hills with very good run offs (no sharp turns, narrow bridges, etc), very well groomed, great waxing rooms to prepare skis in. It does, however, have some tough hills. Three in fact. Three loops x Three hills = lactic acid. Lots of it.

This race was a 10Km sprint – three loops each at 3.3km, two shoots: prone and standing. The word 'sprint' is a little misleading. 'Sprinting' over 6 miles seems like a contradiction in terms. The race was very hard for me. First loop went well – kept a good pace and even the hills felt okay. Knocked down my first two targets in prone, but missed the next three – I think I was low. It was during the second hill on the second loop that my thighs didn’t think this was a good idea. It takes a lot of muscle power/strength to keep the rolling/springing gate of the V1 ski stride up hill. At the standing shoot I hit two and missed three. Out on the last loop I was ready to jump in the stream that flowed through the valley. “How’d he die?” they’d ask. Somehow that would work better than, say putting a ski pole through my gut to end the pain. It was the second hill that was the worst. This baby goes straight up, gives you hope by leveling off, then goes straight up again. Why DID those ski patrol guys look at me like that??

My time for 10K was 1:06, that’s one hour, six minutes. The winner was 30min! How do they do that? And get this, they do two warm down loops! The pain in my body said not to do that.

We’ll the good news: I’ve done what I need to do and am going to the Empire State Games. The bad news: same course and it’s a 15Km race! That will be five loops at 3km each. Hopefully they’ll take out one of the hills.

Friday, February 02, 2007

1st Race

We'll we finally got enough snow to race on. Having been on my back for 3 weeks in the middle of race season sucks. So when it came to the Jan 27th race at Osceola, I wasn't sure if that would be too much. But if I didn't go, that would mean no Empire State Games points. I don't think I'm going to make it this year because of the strickter qualification standards, but hey, if you don't try....

So I pack up all my stuff - biathlon can be a real pain: food, clothing for different weather conditions, rifle, spotting scope, couple pairs of skis - it's a lot of stuff to hustle around! So I get there late which means even more hustle. Register. Grab rifle and head to range to zero. Can't zero with out skis on. Back to car and grab ski cloths and head to lodge. Lodge is locked because Huge is out grooming. Back to car and change in car. Back to range and zero. Zero doesn't go so great because I can't see the hits on the target through the spotting scope - something about the target paper and what their mounted on. Back to lodge to get some food.

Now this race is a little different because I'm trying to be more careful about food. Been reading this book called The Paleo Diet for Athletes. The big take away is that carb load the day of the race is more important than carb loading the days leading up to the race. Also special attention to glycemic index/load of foods so blood sugar doesn't spike too soon. Overall I think it helped, but I'm not getting enough calories - something all have to work on.

Was I complaining about how I had been sick? Well, I run into Jim - great guy and a great athlete. I first noticed Jim when he blew past me in a summer biathlon race. He's 20 years older than me. Come to find out Jim had fallen off his mountain bike in November and landed his chest square on a stump - major ouch! Turns out he's been in and out of the hospital - feel'n pretty sour on race day.

Back to the hustle: go to the pre race meeting and realize that I'm #3 to start (this is a sprint so each skier starts at 60 sec increments) - so less time to get ready. That'll teach me to register early! Back to the car and grab skis and rifle and load my clips and hustle back. Realize I still have wind pants off. Skier #2 on the start line. Hustle, hustle!!

On the line and I'm off. Today I'm focusing on technique and heart rate. I'm keeping the heart rate down to 180 to 188 for pacing. The course today is longer than usual, 11.2km. This is a good course long gradual up hills, a few short steep hills and no killer down hills (steep hills with sharp turns and the bottom). One good thing: the wax on my skis is just right - good glide. First loop goes really well. First loop is always strange because of being late I didn't get a chance to ski it, so I don't know exactly what's coming around the next bend, so I tend to ski more conservatively. Finish the first loop and ski into the range. And miss all 5 shots. And that means 5 penelty loops. Second loop and I'm feeling pretty good - pace is good and technique is adequate. Skate skiing is still new to me, even after 3 years - biggest issue is just getting out and doing it more (snow being kind of key here...). Jim goes blowing by me! If only I can perform like that at his age... Come into the range and miss first three targets, but get last two - *whew*. Last loop is shorter than first two and catches me off guard - suddenly realize I'm more than half way through loop and have a lot left in the tank!

Got this book called The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training- really interesting book. Breaks down the whole mental thing going on before and during races. Realize that I'm doing way too much negative talk to myself during races. Yeah I've got lots of stuff to work on and I'm in this for the long haul, but need to change the negative thing. During this race was able to control it a lot better.

So overall I felt really good about pace, technique is getting better. Shooting was really really bad - too slow, too many misses. Nutrionaly learned some stuff. So not bad for the first race of the season.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The good and the bad

The bad news: what a month of sickness. Wake up one day with a nasty fever and chills. Next day got this strange red spot on my ankle that starts to swell. Go to the Dr. and he gives me drugs, says it's Cellulitus - a deep skin infection. Next day it's worse and am told to go to the ER - get an IV and stronger drugs. Next day it's not going away and back to the ER. Get stronger drugs. Finally starts to heal. I spend the week resting and healing. Then comes the allergic reaction to one of the drugs: hives all over. Spend another couple days getting over that. When all is said and done three weeks have gone by. Right in the middle of race season!! It really stinks that all the races up to this point have been cancelled due to weather. So between being sick and no snow I don’t think I’m going to accumulate enough points to go to the Empire State Games.

The good news is - despite all the whining by some people down south ;-) - we got snow! Glorious snow! Went for a ski on Sunday - had to use the rock skis - twigs and stones showing here and there. First ski of the season is always tricky - trying to get the balance thing down. But it was skiing!! With three weeks of non-activity I'm struggling. Tuesday ran 1.5 mile and felt okay but not great. Yesterday did a 30min ski and that felt good. Got a race on Sat. at Osceola. I think this will be more of a training outing rather than a race.