Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mont Sainte Anne photo dump





There are more photos, from the work camera, but I don't have the wire to connect it.

The good news is that I was able to get my camera fixed at a local place. So now I can use my new camera again!
Wednesday was the pursuit time trial that CSU always runs each year at MSA. The course follows trail 11, first classic, then transition to skate. We have a rule that you can't use anything fancier than LF wax, and still my skis were running really fast. It was wonderful. We self-seeded across the stadium, but then we had to squash into three-across rows, and I let myself get pushed way back, behind skiers that I should be way in front of. I didn't feel like fighting for a spot, so just stood there and let myself get pushed further and further back. Not sure why, it really took me out of the running, but I just couldn't be bothered. Whoops.

Off we went, and we hit the first hill in a bunch. I was able to kick up the whole thing, although not in any sort of spectacular manner, and near the top I finally broke through a pack of CSUers and onto the Zoe-Olivia train. After a couple strides there, I knew I was feeling waaaay too comfortable to be racing, so I went around them, but at this point there was a fairly big gap to the Hannah-Cate-Max group. We were near the top of the first hill, so I tried to work the transition-y rollers at the top, but as I already had realized, my double pole is pretty pathetic right now. Not to mention, my elbow was doing its sharp pain thing with every pole. Pain tends to limit how much you want to push on the hurty bits.

Anyway, there were some nice restful downhills, and then a gradual uphill bit that rolled back up to the stadium, and I was closing in on Hannah, who had dropped off the back of that pack. I could see the pack, but the gap was closing really slowly, and I realized then how much I'd handicapped myself in the start.

I came into the stadium and had a good transition to my skate skis, but then found myself caught in between everyone else's skate skis - I couldn't get out of the transition zone! It took some pretty-footing through other people's skis and poles to eventually get back to the trail, I'm not sure if I could have backed out of my spot, but in retrospect, that would have been much smarter than attempting to turn around. We didn't really have a nice transition area set up, just piles of skis and poles on the side of the trail.

Luckily my transition time was fast enough to still close down on the gap to the pack, but I quickly discovered that my cold feet and the skittery snow were causing my left shin to cramp up pretty badly. I tried to focus on relaxing, but skiing uphill isn't exactly conducive to relaxing. The shin wasn't so bad that I couldn't flex at the ankle, yet, so I kept hammering and caught Hannah as we crested the steep climbs. I couldn't force my shin to relax, definitely felt like it was exploding, and it meant I was doing a shit job of balancing on that leg, but that didn't stop me from working the upper rollers to catch Max, just before the downhill.

I caught Jordan on the lower set of rollers, and I was definitely starting to hurt, now. Racing is hard! I still couldn't really balance or use my left leg, but I'd figured out a way around it, more or less, and I finished the race feeling like I'd put in a good effort. I don't know why cold weather makes my shins cramp up, it seems to have something to do with my feet freezing up and then doing stuff that I'm unaware of, that makes my shins hurt. Or its compartment syndrome, coming back, but its so infrequent that I hope its not.

Anyway, today my lower back is so sore I can barely move. I was doing speeds with the kids, and Corey kept wanting to race, and I thought my back was just going to break. Nothing like the first classic race of the season to remind you that racing is hard!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Training camp in Quebec

The visit to Rochester was too short before I was on the road again, this time to Mont Saint Anne, in Quebec. That is really far away from Rochester. But CSU does their post-christmas camp there every year, and I figured it was about time to see what it was all about.

I got a new camera for Christmas. I took some really high quality photos.




Then I drove to Quebec.

Mont Saint Anne!

And then I dropped my camera, lens-down, in the snow trying to take photos, and now its broken. So is my heart. I'm going to try and fix it in Quebec City tomorrow afternoon, see if they can un-stick the lens from its position. This is why I can't have nice things.

The skiing is spectacular, if cold. With hills! Everyone is in high spirits. Tomorrow is the time trial, it'll be interesting to see how that goes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Swedish Ski-O Tour WRE Middle



We had yet another middle distance race on Sunday morning. I think they didn't have enough map for us to do a Long race. This time, it was only 8km straight-line, with an expected winning time of 42min, and wave start. I was starting in the second wave, with Ali in the first wave, and because it was STILL snowing, I found I was breaking trail for a lot of the race. Luckily, this snow is still soft and fluffy, and it isn't that hard to yank your ski tips out of snow banks. I really hit my stride in this race in terms of navigation, things were going really smoothly except for one leg, where I turned down the wrong trail for a couple seconds and had to turn around, just after taking the smaller trail when I should have taken the larger trail - similar distances. Whoops. My body felt pretty whupped, physically, though. Apparently four races in three days on top of jetlag and long travel days makes you tired. My arms were quite unhappy at all the double poling on narrow trails, and by the time I got to the hotel, it was all I could do to limp into the sauna. I have some double poling to work on before March...

Anyway, I felt pretty good about this race, but I just wasn't skiing fast enough. Good skis, bad legs - or arms, as the case may be. It was still a big improvement over the 2009 World Champs in terms of percent behind the winner, but I feel that I can improve a lot on this placing if I am smart about my training over the next three months. Results and splits.


An AWESOME pair of Karhus.

Snowy trees.

People in Gävle are serious about their bikes.

More snowy trees.

THIS is smelly.

Ali has come down with a cold, so probably at some point in the next couple days I'll be whining about being sick, too. I can't wait.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Swedish training


We had two days of training after the races, with the Norwegian team and some random Swiss ski orienteers. Monday I felt pretty trashed, so I took it pretty easy on the intensity. Since it was STILL SNOWING, things were really slow. They re-groomed, but it basically made no difference. Thank god this isn't heavy Sierra cement or something. Anyway, we did a corridor training exercise in the morning (where you can only see a small strip of map, instead of the whole thing), and that didn't actually feel all that useful, since it just felt like a line-o. Just follow the bit of trail that you can see. At least it led me to some parts of the map that I hadn't seen before, and some awesome narrow downhills.

At one hill, I came whizzing down, and had to make a left turn, but there was a sapling in the way. I mostly made the corner, but I knew Greg wasn't far behind, so I waited around, hoping he would crash spectacularly. He stayed upright, much to my disappointment, but I decided to redo the hill a couple times, because it was fun, and unbeknownst to me, he was videoing my faceplants into the fluffy snow. Eventually I made it. This is my favorite clip, because I just totally disappeared into the snow. That stupid sapling was in the way of the perfect arc, making the turn much more technical than you'd think... I swear.
video

The afternoon was a line-o, where you follow a pre-printed line around the course. This was cruel, because it sent us up many hills on narrow trails, which require either double poling, or an awkward herringbone-type-thing where you're pulling your ski tips out of the snow with each step. Apparently, the weaker ski orienteers, like J2 girls, train a lot on classic skis, so they can actually go up hills. Yes, I have the upper body strength of a J2 girl right now.

Give me dried banana slices, and I'll stick them in my eyeballs. I am a very serious person.

This was skiing on the freshly-groomed pow. Definitely a better day for downhill than up. Champagne powder, and I'm stuck on skate skis in a flat area of Sweden...

My arrrrrrrrrms!

Important work happens at night. The bras hanging on the portrait really make the photo. Greg's quote: "is there anything in this room that doesn't have underwear hanging off it?"

Team Apple/Team Giggly is conferring what to giggle about next. Its been a good trip.

WRE Sprint


After some quality sauna time, it was time for the world ranking event. After having some slow skis this morning (who would have thought that it would cool down overnight??), Ali and I had time to re-wax for the proper temperature, and the skis were running much better. They started people in the reverse order that we'd finished the Middle race from the morning, so I was 30s behind Ali. Again, there was much technical skiing and not much wide-trail skiing, but it was pretty fun to switch from a map with a 1:10000 scale to a 1:5000 - hard to switch my brain over like that!

Things were going very well at first - I was slowly catching up to Ali, and there were enough doglegs on the course that I could see her, and the other four girls, frequently. Around control 5, the girl who had started 30s back caught up to me, and I ratcheted up the pace even more to stay with her. We caught up to Ali by control 6, and I was all set with my route to 7, reading my map, when I skied straight into an oncoming junior skier, and went down hard on my ass. Dammit. I lost another 30 seconds to Ali on that leg, just being a bit discombobulated. Gah. Anyway, I finished 12th, which is good, but I would love to have those 45 seconds back. That's racing...

Results, and splits.

Team apple.

Greg fitting in the clown car.



Full daylight, baby. I've decided there is more sunlight here than in Anchorage, though.

Greg on the start.

Ali skiing off to the start.

The EMIT transponders - different than the floppy EMIT brick. These things just velcro to your arm (not sure why there are two), and you have to be within a foot of the flag for them to register. Its awesome. No more stopping!

Balancing all my stuff on a pair of skis. In a snowstorm.


I'm particularly fond of this picture - I was trying to take a picture of me, and Greg walked up to attack my head or something, and so its a picture of his jacket, no head. We're team small, medium, large, here...


Map study, mid-training.

Swedish Ski-O Tour Middle distance

Saturday morning, it was still snowing. A lot. Luckily it was colder than Friday, so the snow was super light and fluffy, so the fact that there was a lot of it wasn't too slow for skiing. We had two races lined up today: a mass start middle distance (9km straight-line) in the morning, and a WRE (World Ranking Event) sprint in the afternoon. And no good place to hang out in between, other than the sauna. Works for me!

I was ranked 15th of 18 in the starting order, so my goal was to beat at least four people. These Swedish chicks are fast! I had a good start, and moved up well through the pack, into the top eight or so. The courses forked (we had three map exchanges - so you didn't know who was on what map, making it harder to follow) early on, and I was the second person down my fork. Its exhilarating, going that fast! The first map went by pretty quickly - I made one really bad route choice, going way around when I didn't have to, but otherwise it was pretty clean. Sweet!

Second map, and I saw a lot of Ali - I think we had the same map this time. We sort of traded leads on and off as we'd both make stupid decisions, but we were going close to the same speed. Near the end of the lap, someone tracked me, and as she went by, she threw an elbow, probably not intentionally, and it knocked me off balance, and I went into a ditch. Hard. Hard enough that I whacked my head pretty good on the trail, since that ditch was actually a spruce trap. And I couldn't get out. Great! Oh, did I mention its been snowing non-stop since we got here?

Anyway, I extricated myself from the ditch, and it took a while, but eventually I caught back up to Ali, who was just cruising, reading ahead on the map, on lap 3. We had the same last lap at this point, and so I decided to try and drop her. PROtip - if someone is just cruising, and you're breathing really heavily, going in front of them and trying to drop them is probably not a successful strategy. She was toodling around behind me as I staggered and wheezed my way along as fast as I could go for a while, but then luckily at one of the controls she managed to get her pole caught in the control itself, and that took a while to extricate herself. Ski-o is much more of an adventure than ski racing, wow. So, I ended up beating Ali, by about 20 seconds, but there was nobody else around us. I definitely should have paced that race a little better - I was pretty blown by the time I started the third lap.

If you're interested, here are some more details on the race, from my training log. Results, and splits. I ended up in 13th, so I beat 5 people, a new record in Scandinavian terrain for me. More importantly, I was only 18% behind the leader, a new PR for me in ski-o; and in some technical terrain, too!

I had a GPS transponder taped to my map holder, so you can see where I went. Except I think they gave me the wrong number, because my track doesn't actually line up with where I think I went. Regardless, its cool. The GPS link might not work a few weeks from now, but for now it works, unless you're using safari. Link.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Swedish Ski-O Tour



Last year, I found out about the Swedish Ski-O tour, which was going to be held on terrain very similar to that of the Ski Orienteering World Championships (Ski WOC) that will be held this March. Ali, Greg, and I signed up, excited to get on some of these famously technical Swedish ski-o maps. Unfortunately, Idre Fjall (location for ski-o Tour) didn't have enough snow, so they moved the races to Högbo Bruk, which is not at all like the Ski WOC terrain, but still technical and hard anyway. Our trio of Americans convened at the Arlanda airport, in Stockholm, and we headed to the Erik Brote's house - Erik was a CSU junior whose family moved to Sweden last summer, and they had generously agreed to host us on our way up north. Will took us for a ski at a local park, and then we were fed delicious dinner.
Mary Poppins!

Team Macintosh.

At a jetlagged version of "early", we drove up to Högbo Bruk, and attempted to obtain some ski-o maps. Failing that, we picked up Nick, a British orienteer who is trying out this ski-o thing and knows Ali, from the train station. Back to the ski area, and we went for a short ski, before waxing for the night race. A team sprint relay, in the dark! Ali and I were one team, and Greg and Nick were the other.
Also, we found ducks.

I was the lead leg, and things were going ok at first, but I was having issues seeing branches before I'd run into them. And when I ran into a branch, it would either attempt to pull off my headlight, or knock me back on my ass. Woooo narrow trails.

My first leg was fairly disastrous - I started out a bit rushed, as I thought we had 10 minutes between the men's start and the women's, and still had all my warmups on, on the wrong side of the stadium, when everyone else was lined up. I got there (skiing through two mesh fences - I can't see ANYTHING in the dark!), just in time, and I even had my poles on when they handed me my map.

I was pretty quick to find the start and #1, so when we took off, I had a good idea of where I wanted to go. My skis were running fast, and when we got to the first fork, I was in second behind one other girl. Shortly thereafter, I noticed that my EMIT brick was feeling floppier than normal - the way to attach these things is to put them around your index finger, safety-pin the hell out of it to your glove, and let it flap in the wind, if you don't have some other system previously worked out (I had a mix of dental floss and duct tape in Japan in 2009). We only got the cards about 30 minutes before the start, so there was no time to work up an elaborate holder-on-ner technique. The Swedes have cool glove fixtures, we're trying to obtain some of those before WOC.

Anyway, I noticed the brick getting floppy and then all of a sudden my hand felt way lighter. Wheee, so much easier to ski! Oh, wait. I need that thing. About 3-4 minutes (it felt like an hour) lost digging in the snow and swearing a lot, and I saw a tip of red elastic sticking out of the bank. Phew! I stuck the thing in my mouth and slobbered over it for the rest of the race - ever notice how you produce a lot of slobber in one race? No? Well, you do, but normally you can swallow or spit or gag or something, instead of just drooling.

Things went pretty smoothly for the next few controls, one 45s bobble, I passed back two more girls, and then I took a "creative" route choice to #7 - probably should have changed course earlier when there were no other ski tracks, but I figured I'd started, so I may as well continue along this route. It would have been fine, maybe only losing 15-30s, but I missed a junction in my head, and got really confused after climbing a hill. I skied down the wrong narrow trail, and luckily it looped around and shot me back to the big trail, which it shouldn't have done, and alarm bells went off. Eventually I figured it out, but that was frustrating, especially in a relay, when there is someone else waiting on you!

I tagged off to Ali, duct taped the entire brick to my glove, and then she went way too fast and I still had my warmups on as she skied into the stadium. Managed to get untangled, but I left the stadium without poles. Sigh. Someday, I'll get my shit together. It would probably have helped if I'd asked somebody the Swedish for "41", our team number, since they were announcing who was coming by number, in Swedish. Once my poles were on, though, I had a much better race. A couple hesitations, but no overtly-stupid route choices, and no huge mistakes. Much more boring!


Skiing!


This is the room Ali and I are sharing. When Nick leaves tomorrow morning, we have to fit Greg and all his stuff in here, too. Yea ski trips!

Applying fluoros.


I have a ridiculous fuzzy warm purple thing. Its wonderful.
Portapotties, swedish style. Also, the bin for sanitary napkins is called sanititteepussi. Is that not hilarious?

3pm.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

London

As is often the way, I spent a couple days in London to visit family before heading on to Sweden. We've had a lovely couple of days, mostly I just do whatever Roger normally does each day - we went to the club (his gym, which is the fanciest gym I've ever been to), to his art class, spent a good bit of time reading (although in my case I was working on my statistics take-home exam), and seeing my uncle and cousins. A good way to recoup some energy and drink lots and lots and lots of tea. Do the English ever not want a cup of tea?


They have this cool rent-a-bike program in London - you can get the first 30 minutes free, and rent a bike, and leave it at any of the little rent-a-bike stands all over the city. Then its something like 4 pounds an hour, but, its an expensive city.

I can't NOT take pictures of myself like this. Laughing.


I like desserts. A well-known fact.

The desserts at my favorite shop - Ottolenghi's, the caterer around the corner from Pitt St.


From the art class. Re-remembering how to do it. Haven't drawn a live person in quite a while.

I was given a fun hat.

Double deckers!

Pitt st at night.

Myself and Olivia, cousin.