August 29, 2011

Time for Time Trials

Hello from Germany!

Things have finally cooled off a bit here in Germany, and though I'm not going to complain about sunny days after the winter we had here, the cool down was MUCH appreciated! Last week was a pretty big one for us, with two time trials. The first was a normal biathlon time trial with the Italian team, Slovenians, Estonians and us (as well as Andrea Henkel). It was a hot day, but things went well for me. Given that the Italians were all on fast rollerskis and I was still 4th, I was happy. Shooting felt solid and the skiing was much better than Jericho a couple weeks ago. It was nice to do a time trial with the pressure of an international field, too: we were able to see where things might stack up this winter. Our coaches were pleased and I think we're all looking forward to fine tuning things in the next couple months before the snow flies!

Annelies shows off our ice bath post-time trial.

On Saturday, we did the epic Rossfeld uphill skate time trial. It was just our team, but that did not diminish the feat. Rossfeld is a fairly steep but skiable uphill (it averages an 8.5% grade) that takes about an hour to complete. The women's start point makes the course 10km, while the men start a bit lower for a 12km total. It's definitely an exercise in mental toughness - having to stay focused for that long, plus pacing correctly so you don't bonk before the end. Despite being a foggy, rainy day, it was a solid time trial. No one was complaining about the weather, because if it had stayed hot we would have all been more than miserable. I was very happy with my effort, and extremely glad to have the workout behind me!

Me, at the start of the Rossfeld TT. (photo: Jonne Kahkonnen)

Our women's group is now complete, with yesterday's arrival of Laura Spector (thanks, Irene, for letting her out!). Today we head off to Oberhof where we'll be able to ski in the ski tunnel the next few days. On the way, we'll stop in Salzburg for some shooting tests. Only one more week left in the camp, and only a couple more day left in August. The summer is ending and things are feeling on-track for a good winter. Here's to a great fall of training!

Beautiful Salzburg! (photo: Zachary Hall)

August 21, 2011


See "Rainpolding" for contrast...

Greetings from SUNNY Bavaria! The first week of the Europe camp has flown by, and though the weather is always a worry, Ruhpolding has been cooperating fully by giving us bright, sunny days and thundering only at night. It’s been a great start!

So far, the team has been spending a lot of time on the roller loop at the Chiemgau Arena (where this season’s World Championships will be held) and running, biking and rollerskiing all around the Ruhpolding area. Thursday, we went on a 5 hour long bike/kayak excursion that took us into Austria and then over to the famed Chiemsee Lake before we circled back for delicious lunch.

Annelies getting ready for the kayak section of our adventure.

Biking in Bavaria...

Enjoying a well-earned Bavarian lunch post-bike!

Yesterday, after some technique combo work, we ran from the venue through a beautiful valley, ending at a ski resort hut where we had a quick snack while taking in the view before driving back to our hotel. This is an amazing place to train, not only because the people seem to think biathlon practice is a spectator event (it’s amazing how many people are in the stands just to watch us do L1 combos…and of course by “us” I mean Andrea Henkel and Magdalena Neuner), but also because of the sheer number of trails and roads just out the door for running and biking. It’s no wonder Germans excel at many sports – the atmosphere is just so conducive!

Andrea Henkel signing autographs while out at dinner.

This coming week will be our last in Ruhpolding. It will be a big week, including a time trial with the Italian, Slovenian, German B team, and Russian teams, and a much smaller hill climb time trial at the end of the week. It will be interesting to see how things shake out! Then off to Oberhof for some skiing in the ski tunnel there. It should be a great couple weeks!

August 14, 2011

Jericho, Take 2 and Other Adventures

Alaska Adventures soon to come... Photo Credit: Zachary Hall

It's hard to believe that August is already here and the "travel" season is beginning for me. I'm heading out to Europe for a three week A-team camp in Ruhpolding and Oberhof, Germany. It should be a great camp and a fun start to the fall training season (I know, August seems a bit early to be saying "fall," but trust me, it will be here and gone before you know it). But first, a short re-cap of the North American Rollerski Biathlon Championships last weekend in Jericho, VT.

True to Jericho form, it was HOT and almost unbearably humid. Saturday's race was around 83F with about 85% humidity, making the race a tough one for sure. Many of the national team athletes have had issues with the heat in the past, and the sprint race was no exception. I was happy with my performance, though, and felt able to push through 2.5 of the 3 laps before completely bonking. At the time I was bummed with that, but it turned out to be further than most of the other women made it, and with only 1 penalty, it was enough to take home the title for that day! I've never been much of a performer in the summer months, and so having some success in Jericho was a boost for me, though I'm quick to say that performance in August does not necessarily correlate with performance in December...and December is the goal.

Heading out in the Sprint Race. Photo Credit: Judy Geer

The pursuit on Sunday saw no respite from the temperatures, and unfortunately for me, no repeat of the successes of Saturday. My skiing just wasn't there...I was not able to find my rhythm and my standing shooting was terribly off. But these things happen. I know you have to have bad days in order to learn and get to the great days. And as I said before, it's August, so not to worry.

After Jericho, most of the A-team headed back to Lake Placid for a week of solid, but relaxed training before leaving for Europe. After our three weeks in Germany, I'll be back to Lake Placid briefly before heading out to Alaska to train and see Zach. By the end of that trip, it will be October and Utah camp...and ski season is just around the corner from there! It's always amazing how quickly time goes when you're training. I'm looking forward to the traveling and adventures of the next couple months, but am being sure to stay focused and healthy as we creep up on December.

August 3, 2011

A Day in the Life

I'm often asked what exactly I DO as an elite athlete every day. The answer is never as simple as one might really depends on what kind of training week we're in (high volume, intensity focus, rest week, etc) and what time of year it is. In the spring things are much more free-form and less ski-specific than in the fall when we're gearing up for competition season. Nevertheless, here's a little peak at what a fairly typical August training day looks like (it happens to be my day yesterday, Tuesday August 2).

6:45am - wake up (remember to take morning heart rate!)

7:00 - Head down to the OTC cafeteria for breakfast (cereal, yogurt and fruit).

7:25 - Head back to room and get ready for training. This morning is a ski walking L3 workout at Whiteface Mtn, so I need to be sure to have extra clothes and water and food for post-workout. Don't forget bounding poles!

7:45 - depart with coaches and teammates for Whiteface.

8:15 - Arrive at Whiteface and begin warm-up (30min) followed by 5min L2 ski walking and then a 20min L3 block. After 20min, we meet up with our coaches and take lactates to be sure we're in the right zone. My lactate was 2.7 mmol/L, which is perfect for a L3 workout. However, I was feeling pretty tired so my coach and I decided that instead of 20 more continuous minutes of L3, I would do 4x5min. After the level 3, we did 3x1min of harder bounding (about L4) just to get the heart rate up a bit more. We then hiked/jogged back down the mountain to the van where we changed and stretched before heading back to the OTC.

11:00 - Arrive at the OTC. Shower and change before heading down to lunch.

11:30 - Lunch (grilled cheese sandwich, split pea soup and a salad).

12:15pm - Head back to the room to relax and nap before afternoon training. This time can be filled with any number of activities, including errands to town, writing blog posts, and calling family and friends. Yesterday, I updated USADA with my whereabouts for the coming weekend in Jericho and our upcoming training camp in Germany, then I took a nap.

3:30 - Meet teammate Annelies Cook for a run and strength workout. We did a short warm-up jog (30min) then 3x10min of circuit strength together. This is a great workout to do together; we were able to push and motivate each other and the workout was done before we knew it.

4:45 - Return to room. I'm having a small foot issue right now, so I was sure to ice it after my workout and stretch before showering. I then had a small snack since I wasn't going to head to dinner right away.

6:30 - Resident Athlete meeting. All OTC residents are required to attend these monthly meetings to discuss issues and events. They don't usually last too long and are usually pretty entertaining.

7:00 - Head to dinner (grilled chicken, wild rice, and LOTS of steamed veggies).

8:00 - Back to my room. Evening activities vary just like our off time during the day. Sometimes we have dry-fire work alone or with a coach, or updating your training log. Yesterday I worked on getting somewhat organized for Jericho and did some laundry while I watched a movie.

11:00pm - Bed! A good night's sleep is imperative for getting through tough training day after day!

Hopefully this gives you a better perspective of what life as a biathlete is like. More questions? Head to my facebook page and ask away!