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.