Wednesday, March 26, 2008

So how did I do? Ski season re-cap.

The training "year" isn't fully over yet, as it goes until the end of April. However, nobody cares about a rest/fun month, and the important part is over, so I'll recap the season in numbers and bullets. If you don't want to hear me talking about me, don't bother reading this.

-Sugarloaf marathon win
-World cup ski-o
-Nationals trip
-Waxing/coaching at EHS
-Getting to hang out with Jess, Dobie, Blazar and other cool folks most weekends

Low points:
-Totaling my car
-Craftsbury marathon
-Rangeley marathon
-Most of the Eastern Cups
-Missing a start

The goals:
Early Season:
West Yellowstone:
-Enter both supertours (Y)
-10% back in the distance race (N; 15%)
-Reach goal: make the heats in the sprint(N)
-Top 100 (Y; 66th in skate race and 65th in sprint)
-Reach goal: top 50 (N)
-Have a race with points <200 (Y; skate race 197.98)
-Top 50 (reach: 30) college girls (Y; 27th in skate race). OK, I know I'm not in college anymore, but I just like seeing how I compare, alright?
Mid- to late-season:
Do at least three marathons (Y)
-Top 3 at Craftsbury (N)
-Top 3 at Rangeley (N)
Eastern Cups:
-1 race 5% back from leaders (N; Presque Isle 5k 7.8%, Rumford 10k 7.75%, Prospect 10k 8.95%, Holderness 7.5k 6.6%)
-1 top 10 (reach: top 5) (Y; 7th in Presque Isle sprint)
Winter training:
-Stay healthy (Y)
-Focused intervals (N; basically I didn't do any intervals due to frustration with Weston and it showed, duh)
-Continue one OD per two weeks (Y)
-Continue general strength every week (N)
-Continue ski-o drills (Sort of; early season was good, late season I got lazy)
-Top 15 at world cup (N)
-One map-specific drill per week (N)
-Win any US event I enter (Y)

So overall, how did I do? Looking at my goals, I did pretty poorly. I had four races where I felt good, and the rest I either felt tired or very tired, and I was more or less unable to push myself to my limit. I had an indication of this during 'cross season, and I should have been intelligent then and rested more, to be able to come after intensity workouts with a hunger that I never really felt all season. Instead, well, instead you can read my blog. It's mostly whining about not doing as well as I would have liked in ski races. Partly this is because I am an athlete; I can't help but feel that I can do better than I am, but partly this comes from higher expectations than my fitness could support. Was I out of shape? Hardly. My lack of focused intensity, however, did not allow me to tap the fitness that I know was there, and this is entirely my own fault. Weston may not be ideal for training, but I let it get me down too much. If you're interested in training numbers, here is my training log at attackpoint with the totals.

What went right? I would say that this is the season where I learned to pace myself in a race. This was a big step forward, but I still need a lot of work. At the Rumford 10k, I paced myself so well that I had a 2 minute negative split on 15 minute laps. The Craftsbury Opener was my first good race. Nationals 5k skate was my second good race. The Rumford race I just mentioned sort of goes down as a third, although I think if I had perhaps paced myself less agressively it would have gone much better. The Holderness 7.5k mass start was my fourth decent race, in terms of how I felt, but placement-wise, it was aweful, and I was frustrated by other skiers the whole time. So really, only my early season was any good. To figure out why, we move to the next question.

What went wrong? In a word: August. This post was about when I realized how much I was tearing myself apart with all that travel. The travel manifested in me getting sick, then sicker, then injured thrice over before I finally got smarter and took two rest weeks. Even those rest weeks did not fully recover my wrecked body, though, and the result of continually pushing was a horrid cross season. West Yellowstone was where I managed to turn it around, but only a little, as I recognized that I could pull one good race off of a lot of rest, but any races soon thereafter were pure painfests with nothing to show. The taper to nothing that I did before nationals worked, but only for the first race, as expected. Things might have looked up after that, but traveling to Europe wore me out more than I thought it would, and a little mental burnout ensued. I continued racing, though, dragged myself through two impossibly hard marathons and then got lucky when everyone else was more burned out than I was to show up to the last races of the year, giving me the win at Sugarloaf and third at ski to the clouds.

So what needs changing? First and foremost, I am going on a "travel diet", from May through October: I am only allowed to leave a 50 mile radius from my house (a few exceptions, like Otis or Windblown) every other weekend. This will hopefully prevent back-to-back epic adventures, and save me money to boot. Next, I need more intensity, especially during the winter. Training at Weston is not my favorite thing to do, but as I discovered this year, fitness is useless without the speed to use it. But I knew that. The next thing to do is listen to what I already know and listen to what my body is telling me. If I ever get this recovery thing down, look out everyone!

So what's next? I've transitioned to an active recovery period, as much for my mental state as for my body. A couple orienteering meets are coming up, ideally I'll run really fast and not get lost, then things will be splendid. Hardcore training starts again in May, don't expect anything epic until after that. A couple mountain bike races this summer, probably the gap ride, possibly the presi traverse again, and maybe even a road race! That will take a lot of peer pressure though.

time to wax some skis...


Colin R said...

"At the Rumford 10k, I paced myself so well that I had a 2 minute negative split on 15 minute laps."

Isn't this a contradiction? Pacing yourself would be approximately equal splits, right? Negative splitting by two minutes is just as bad as positive splitting by two minutes.

Alex said...

I consider negative splits a good thing. I've always taken "pacing myself" to mean that I did something other than start fast and get slower. But go ahead and nitpick.

Colin R said...

Fair enough, I guess we have different definitions of pacing.

I found this article which breaks down world record track performances by km splits, and they all follow a consistent profile -- starting fast and degrading slightly, and then finishing with the fastest possible lap (when it's safe to go anaerobic since you can stop soon).

Anyway, I don't think negative splits should be a goal -- it seems like empirical evidence shows that slightly positive splits are the way to get the most out of your body.

If you've had historical problems positive splitting by a large amount, then overcompensating for that is a good, or at least necessary, thing.

Jamie said...

The other good news is that you actually set goals and have actually taken a look back to see how you did. Now, would help us teach that to our juniors? We need to do a better job at that.

Luke S said...

I set goals at the beginning of the season. I just don't really remember what they were to take a look back at them...