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Archive for March, 2011

Psychology Today

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

So just the other day I had an appointment in Calgary, the purpose of the appointment was to get my lower legs tested for Compartment Syndrome.  To my delight it was determined I am not at the point of needing surgery,  I was tested at the end of last year and it was low to borderline and this year it is even better.  So with some luck and pro active therapy I will be able to get through my career without surgery.

Anyways that was not the point of this post, after the appointment I went to the mall for lunch.  While waiting I was looking at a magazine rack.  There were tons of magazine dedicated to fitness with subtitles such as “5 tips to getting leaner” “10 new core exercises to make you ripped” “Tips to 10km PB”  I didn’t pick up a magazine and just keep cruising the stand with my eyes, the next stand over was the magazine “Psychology Today” and it occurred to me that if I was to go to all the skiers homes in Canmore I would probably come across Runner’s World, Velo News, Men’s Health, Ski Trax .  I think you get the idea.  good reads but if you talk to many top athletes most agree it is mental strength or skills that will make the difference.  The difference between being the athlete who performs in training but never at the races, or the athlete who performs well all the time but never at selection trials.  Or the difference between getting sick before the biggest races of the year or forgetting that intricate detail that will turn a 4th into a Gold because you are focused on your butterflies.

I can’t claim to be a guru of mental strength and I don’t think it can be summed up with such a broad stroke, just like any skill there is micro skills within.  I might be able to push my body to its limits in training but struggle to find sleep the night before the race.  Or I might be able to stay fully focused on my training throughout the year but struggle to relax and find a balance that allows for recovery.  So even though I can’t claim to be a guru of mental strength I can claim that I am working on it and have improved it greatly through work with Winning Mind Training.

Now that the ski season is winding down it might be time to think about your mental strengths and weakness’s and find some good reads or support, it can only make you stronger and like any training is a learning process.

Note: This is not a plug for Psychology Today there maybe be other comparable or more suitable publications, it was just the magazine on the rack that got me thinking.

Ciaozi,

alesse online

Nearing the end.

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

My 2010/11 Biathlon season is nearly at a close.  Luckily I was able to strike Gold on the first day of Canadian Champs, which in my opinion was probably the least likely day.  I had just arrived from Oslo and only skied on the course the day of the race.  I expected my skiing to get better throughout the week and for me to feel stronger as I felt pretty strong in Oslo and felt after shaking out my legs for a couple days after travelling I would be back at it.  However that was not the case, never once in this week could I ski with snap.  I could ski fast at times but it was always accompanied by excessive fatigue and lactic acid.

The Sprint was disappointing and I hoped to recover in the Pursuit and step back on the podium.  The Pursuit has 5 second starts and I was starting in 4th.  I wanted to get even with the guys ahead of me before the first shooting.  I made a huge push and caught up but I was really suffering for it, something I think I could have easily recovered from if I were in better form.  We entered the range and I took one penalty in the gusty conditions, this kept me in roughly the same position.  The next I took two penalties and was starting to feel the skiing.  I was back on course and just trying to settle in an do my own thing I entered the range knowing my competitors had some misses and there was a opportunity again I took two penalties but so did many others and I was now in 3rd entering the final shoot.  I stepped on the mat oblivious as to what was about to happen, the wind picked up and I felt my best chance was to just take my time, however Marco arriving on the mat just seconds after me began shooting through the wind and he was hitting his targets I knew it was time to get on it.  I guess I wasn’t ready and took 4 miss, ouch.  This dropped me to a 6th position but luckily I was able to pull myself back into 5th.

So that marks the end of my Individual races of the year, tomorrow I suit up for the Provincial Relay where we get to battle in the name of our home province.

alesse online

Canadian Champs

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Today was the start of Canadian Championships in Charlo, NB.  It started with a 20km Individual race.  Normally I show up at a venue 2 or 3 days before the first race, sometimes though you only get the official training day, (the day before the race).  But not this time, because Brenny and I were returning from the final World Cup in Oslo, Nor. We knew that at best we would only get a one day maximum of training but we weren’t expecting to get stuck in Montreal in a snow storm.  After waiting in the airport for 2.30 confusing hrs we waited inline for a shuttle for over an hour at which point we gave up and caught a cab to our hotel. 4 hours later we were finally settling in.  We were flying out mind afternoon the next day, this meant as our competitors would be doing race prep training and familiarizing themselves with the course we would be flying our skis still in ties and rifles in the cases.  Brenny and I both ski on Madshus and decided against spending too much energy testing our fleet of skis, we would test 2 pair each and would take the top two.  The conditions were changing throughout the race, there was fresh snow falling on top with old crusting snow getting turned up on the downhills and corners.  I started my race out harder then I would normally choose,  Russel Currier was starting bib 1 and I was bib 2, I know that Russel can be pretty impressive on skis and I doubted today would be any different,  knowing that I didn’t want to come into the range significantly behind Russel disappointing those that only get to see me race once a season.  I pushed my first lap pace, I could tell right away I was paying for travelling for two days, my legs were just plain weak and I was worried for what may happen in the standing shooting if I could make it that far,  I ended up hitting my first 10 targets took two penalties in the second prone and one penalty in the final standing.  17/20 not bad considering the tricky wind and everything else. I doubted at this point I was fighting for 1st I figured maybe 3rd if I was lucky I knew my skiing was not at its usual level.  But Gold it was! I was pumped. Even though my loftiest goals lie on the international stage it is an honor to be named Canadian Champ, this was my 2nd Sr. title my first coming in the Sprint in 2009.

Today on my recovery run I was running down Main street Dalhousie and the town is full of vacant store fronts and houses and it occurred to me this could be a good place for a regional training center someday.  The facility is top notch and if you throw in 5 kms of rollerski track you have a great facility that has accommodation which is  affordable to live in which is a contrast to Canmore.

Tomorrow is the Sprint, I am banking on having some better legs tomorrow.

alesse online

World Cup wrap up.

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

So the World Cup in Oslo wrapped my World Cup season for the year, not exactly the ending I was expecting. After some solid but not spectacular racing in Russia at World Championships I was hoping I could put everything together for the last World Cup of the season. My time in Russia was pretty long and pretty saturated with intensity because when we weren’t racing we were time trialing or doing intensity workouts to tune up for the races. In the past it seems my racing gets better and better the more I race. However the night before the men’s relay I came down with a really sore throat, it was worrisome because there was still 24 hrs until the race and it felt like it could get bad real quick. The day of the relay I took pretty easy and did my best to keep my energy up, in reality my energy stayed pretty normal. I would never ever suggest racing sick or even on the edge there can just be to many risks, but we were in Russia it was WCH and I was needed by my boys, one of my greatest fears in racing is letting my teammates down in a relay. I did everything like a normal race, warm-up, dry fire ect. Except I also took some Advil and sucked on Strepsils during the race to keep the swelling down and the irritation under control. The race went pretty well, I used two spares in prone but was able to clean my standing as well as put together a decent ski. We ended up 11th which was nothing jump around about but considering Jp and I had health issues we did alright, as a team we used only 6 spares so it is safe to say we maximized our potential for this day and we had to be happy. To boot the following morning I woke up without a sore throat and “healthy” 🙂

I was happy with my shooting which I was able to stabilize at 85% for WCH. Even though it was a long WCH I skipped the athlete party to maintain my full health for the rest of the season. My roommate Nathan Smith however attended the party and says he had a great time and made a new friend, hopefully he will articulate more or I may have to blog some of the rumors going around and see what feedback I get.

So back to Oslo, we arrived to sunny beautiful Norway. Holmenkollen is always a highlight in the year, good food, fans and weather. I was not originally slated to come to WC 9 but we were looking to collect some more points. This is the fourth time I have raced in Norway and it was by far the best conditions I have experienced here. So I was pumped, I was tired and not sleeping so well despite the great hotel, the Park Hotel which is only a 5 minute walk from the stadium,

I started my race pretty hard and I my first lap was characteristically slow, then I came in a shot slow and took a penalty. This was not the start I had envisioned. Sounds like deja vu sometimes. I was not in a terrible position but I had some work to do, I hopped on to CJ Bergman who was skiing well and had shot clean in prone. This loop was better and I was pulling the race back into the decent category. Just as the race was getting decent I was in standing and had already missed two shots, I pulled my focus in and managed to hit the last three. Now I knew it would be tight to make the top 60 for the pursuit but I figured it was the last race of the year and I may as well give it my all. In the end I finished 6 seconds out of making the cut in 65th. This was my worst sprint for shooting since World Cup #2. This race was likely the deepest field of the 2010/11 season, because it is the last World Cup of the year and the IBU Cup is finished the top teams were able to start up to two more athletes, so two more Russians, Germans, Austrians and Norwegians certainly make a difference.

Despite a poor race Norway is always nice and I would recommend any avid skier visit Norway at some point in their lives. The ski culture and atmosphere is second to none. Oslo is a great place to experience the town is beautiful and exciting to tour, add that with a ski museum, viking museum and 1000’s of kilometres of trails it is hard to top for a winter destination.

alesse online

42.5

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

42.5 k is the distance that I have raced since landing in Russia. 42.5 doesn’t include any of the intensity kilometers we have put in to prepare for the races.  That isn’t an extreme number at first glance, but the process of racing is tough,  race prep, ski testing, drawing the necessary focus to perform.  All this can be as tiring as the race it’s self.  When the event is the years highlight, it can draw even more from the body.

As mentioned in my previous blog I had a good start to my WCH,  starting with a 34th in the Sprint.  I was happy to get away from the Sprint that had tough shooting conditions with only one penalty.  The next day was the pursuit,  I was hoping I would be able to hold my own, my last pursuit in Fort Kent where I started 30th went terrible from the start.  I had misses early on and I allowed it to snowball into a poor race rather then a poor start.  Well this Pursuit was starting much better, in the early stages I had one miss in each prone visit., not bad but its certainly not good.  I was now beginning to lose contact with the group I had started with, I had migrated 10 spots in the wrong direction.  The standing stages brought me some much better results taking one penalty in the first standing visit and going clean in the last, both with a much more acceptable shooting speed.  Finally I was back on course in position to battle for some WC  points. I left the range with a pack of men, a few Swiss, Hakkinen, Burke and a Swede.  I stayed with these guys for a while, it was exciting because you can feel the tension build as we are getting closer to the finish.  Everyone wants to go for it but no one knows how much the others have left in the tank, well we left it till the last hill to find out.  The final climb is also the biggest climb on the course,  I ended up taking up a couple positions finishing an eventual 31st.   Overall it was a good pursuit but I made some simple mistakes that cost me a miss or two.

We had a day off inbetween the Pursuit and Individual, which was used for some easy classic skiing and combo shooting,  I wanted to make sure my zero was in a good position as I was not happy with it in the Pursuit. I also found out I was on the long list of potential starters for the MS, something that is a dream for me.

Now the 20km.  I just hadn’t recovered way I expected to, and I found that out on my first lap, which I would describe as labored the entire lap.   Then to cap off the rough start I miss my first two shots. I can’t really tell you what was going through my mind other then a bunch of curse words as I was leaving the range.  I worked on focusing on my race and came into the range and took another penalty.  I now had 3 minutes in penalties racked up, I knew any chance of getting a top position had dissipated right in front of my eyes.  I was skiing my 3rd lap kind of moping around, then I decided I can mope around for the next 30 minutes or I can pull my head out of my ass and finish the race with a solid effort.  It was around then that everything started to turn around I hit my next ten targets and ended the day with 3 penalties and in 49th.  The result was still a disappointment and I felt as though the entire race was forced rather then natural, but I was happy with how I pulled everything back together something that can be much harder then having a excellent race out of the gate.

I am now done racing the individual races at WCH, unfortunately I slipped out of the list of MS starters.  But I believe Leif  is starting the mass start,  This year NA men will have had Green, Leguellec, Bailey and Nordgren all start Mass Start races so I am convinced that if I can keep up the day to day work, my time will come.

I now  have two days of recovery and prep for the relay, something I really need because everything is taking a bit of extra time to get firing without a massage therapist on tour.  Right now I would do just about  anything for a simple contrast bath.

Scott

alesse online

A good start

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

I have to make this quick as I am running out of day

I am happy with today’s result, I would have liked to have better skiing but at the end of the day skiing is what it is you give your best and see what happens. This is my first WC points at a WCH so that is pretty big and I get to play in the pursuit tomorrow 🙂

It was also great to come back to the hotel and chill watching the 30km in Oslo, that was some good hard racing out of the gate and the perfect finish.  The hottest girl on the XC circuit taking a very deserved gold. ( Jodi I said on the XC circuit)

I am told I got some TV time on the final lap, if you want check it out at www.biathlonworld.com

Ciao

alesse online

Khanty

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Right now I am in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia. Khanty is a oil boom town in Western Siberia,  the landscape is similar to that of the far north in Canada.  I am not sure what else Khanty is known for other then hosting a ton of World Class Chess tournaments which in recent history includes World Cups and the 2010 Chess Olympics.  We arrived a few days ago at 6 am, it is disappointing when the charter is planned for a poor arrival time, something a commercial carrier would never do. Anyways we arrived and I ate breakfast and went to bed for a few hours. Couple days of training later and we are at last night, and I am watching WCH in Oslo, Team Sprints are on.  Its the final and as everyone now knows it is getting pretty exciting for the 5 & 6 th legs, watching Canada round the last corner I figure there is good probability for a podium.  And then it gets real exciting, Insane. CANADA WINS!  I go from room to room, making sure all my teammates saw the same thing, I am not sure it if was to confirm or just to share but either way it was exciting as hell.  Ok straight to supper, as always at a Biathlon World cup if there is XC or some major sporting event being televised near a meal time the food line will be pretty busy following the coverage, but this time people are saying “Yeah Canada” “Wow” and “How old are those guys”.  It was kick ass and inspiring to watch, no doubt.

Ffw – today it was the mixed relay at the Biathlon World Championships but Canada doesn’t have a team entered, instead we traveled to Russia with 4 males and only 1 female, when we have the ability to bring 5 & 5 and start 4 & 4. I would like to see the day come when we Canadian Biathletes can travel with spare athletes.  Anyways we (Biathlon Canada) opted to send some of the womens team to European Championships (U26) as well as the final IBU Cup of the season. So that left us team less for the mixed which would require at least 2 men and 2 women. I think this would be a pretty interesting event in Cross Country in the future,  it would great great to see Bjorgen and Northug on the same team.  It might be a good thing that we didn’t have a race today, although I am sure any of us would have loved to get WCH started already we also don’t have a massage therapist at World Champs and recovery will get more difficult throughout the championships when we have 3 races in 4 days.  I am hoping all the massages I received from my gf who is a professional therapist are somehow banked throughout the year and I can somehow withdraw them now.  I can normally handle a situation like this easily enough but the poor mattresses have left me with a pretty sore back these nights.  My roommate Nathan Smith says he has been training for this all year but not getting massage.  Unfortunately we had problems obtaining Russian visas for everyone and we ended up short one wax tech and a therapist at the biggest competitions of the year, however we will prevail.

So here we are two more sleeps and one training session until the first race, the 10km Sprint:)

alesse online