Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Captain obvious

Since I'm still on the broken list because of my knee, I've been interspersing some intensity on the bike with the usual running/skiing stuff. Its a strange concept, and I'm sure I'm doing it all wrong in terms of cycling training, but it does work to use a bike for ski training, to some extent. Anyway, I've since come to the conclusion that intervals on the road suck. So today, for the first time, I tried doing intervals on my mountain bike, and that was soooo much more enjoyable. Why hadn't I ever thought of this before? Since I normally ride in L3 just to keep up with whoever I'm riding with, it just felt like riding! I almost forgot I was doing an interval. Epiphany! While doing these intervals, I came to some conclusions which are probably quite obvious to the average person, but I'd never really thought about before...

1. If you ride a loop, each time you do the loop you go faster over the tricky bits.
2. The longer you ride hard, the sloppier you get on said tricky bits.
3. Humidity sucks.
4. The difference between my speed at threshold while running and my speed at threshold while riding is disturbingly small.
5. Using my big ring makes me go faster.

I figure I can use these discoveries to help in my next race. I will pre-ride the course, I will run any bits that I think I would ride sloppily, and I will use my big ring. Unfortunately, I don't think I can do anything about the humidity... and I don't really feel like running during a mtb race if I could be riding... and the big ring makes my legs hurt... and I never get there in time to pre-ride. Damn.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back to normal

We got back from our vacation yesterday night, after lots of traveling around. I must have blown many weeks' worth of travel diet with that trip! After a quick two days in London, we caught a wicked early flight back to Geneva, and then a bus to Chamonix. At which point I tried to buy a nectarine with Swiss Francs and was totally surprised at finding myself in my third country for the day. After a trip up the cable car to l'Aguille de Midi, I think Ed is in love with those high peaks enough that we'll be heading back at some point for more than a quick overnight. Definitely the sporting center of the Alps, I would love to spend a week or two there, just hiking, trail running, mountain biking, paragliding... Alas, we didn't have nearly as much time as I would have liked, and the next morning we were back in Geneva, wandering around the old city passing time before the flight west across the Atlantic puddle. Definitely a nice trip, a nice mental break from the usual stuff, and it was great to see my brother before he goes back to Egypt. And the rest of the Jospe clan, of course.

Anyway, since I don't have any photos from last week, I'll leave you with photos from the last days of the CSU camp and hiking the Wapack trail. Those mountains weren't quite as impressive as the Mont Blanc...

The boys thought the water was cold, so stood around flexing their beach muscles for the girls instead.


Cate feeling tired, a couple hours into our run.


The boys' group - we started two groups at either end of the trail, and left the keys with the cars so that we could all meet up at the ice cream shop afterwards. For the record, Cate, Hannah and I finished the long part of the trail half an hour before the boys did. Just sayin'.

Near the end, at Windblown.

The hiking group, happy to be done after four hours and change.

The beach. It was crowded, but it sure was nice.

Oh, and this was the view out the window of the dorms.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

London, again

Thursday afternoon we left Switzerland and came north to London, to see the Jospe clan, and do some touristing. Its funny, because when I come to this city its definitely not for tourist reasons, I want to see my family, eat delicious pastries from the little shop around the corner, and see more family. We had to see the sights, though, since Ed had never been to this city. The museums weren't too bad, and I did get time to go run in Hyde Park, which is all I really care about... such an uncultured American slob, me.

Anyway, tomorrow morning (Sunday) we're going back to Switzerland, since it was cheapest to just buy a round trip ticket to Geneva and separate tickets to London, and since we have 36 hours, we'll probably head towards Chamonix and do some walking around. No camera... pictures may be coming from Ed's iPhone at some point. Maybe.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cabane de Tracuit

Being in Switzerland, we had to do at least one overnight hike while here. By overnight hike, I do not mean schlepping tents, sleeping bags, etc all over creation - things are civilized in this country. You pack a picnic and maybe a rain jacket, and then you climb up to a hut perched on some glacier, and they feed you and sleep you, and then you either go to the next hut the next day, or climb a mountain, or go back down, your choice. We decided that our second day above sea level was not a good one to go climbing the Bishorn, so we just went up to the hut and back. I'll shut up now and just show the pictures. We're here with my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend Michaela. Sorry some of the pictures are sideways, my mom's computer seems to be auto-rotating them and won't let me change them so blogger thinks they're upright...

Ed, me, mama, papa, Michaela, Christophe

Cabane Tracuit

The blue evenings.

On our way out.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wapack trail

The day after our core strength (at which Jamie was taking some of the photos below), we had a "fun day". I thought it was a blast, but some of the kids in the slowest group were hurting a little bit by this point. We broke into three groups, and Bob and Anne Burnham came to help us shuttle cars, and hiked/ran the Wapack trail. I led the faster girls, Hannah and Cate, and we actually made better time than the guys by half an hour, so headed up Kidder mountain just to tack on another forty minutes. It was a beautiful day for a hike, starting out pretty cloudy and misty and clearing by mid morning to reveal the awesome views of NH.
These are all Jamie Doucett photos.

Core strength is really more like a jungle gym, to me...

Post-hike, we all reunited at Kimball's for an ice cream lunch (we had packed lunches, the ice cream was just that much more appealing). Everyone seemed in good spirits, and other than Scott, whose entire foot was a blister from earlier in the week, we were all healthy and couldn't wait to hit the beach - which was our next stop. We spent the entire afternoon at Lake Dunniston (I think thats what it was), and lying on the beach, Rob and I agreed that ski coaching is indeed a very taxing occupation. Jamie's photos below show proof of that... We swept by the Winchendon school again after the beach for some dinner, and then it was back out for ice cream #2 and mini golf. Definitely a fun day!
Coaching: its a rough job.

Sunday dawned another perfect day, and we headed back to Old Winchendon Center for some all-out skate intervals. The idea was that it simulated a sprint race day, without any of the head-to-head jostling, since we didn't want people to get nailed by an oncoming car, as highschool boys are wont to take over the entire road when they're not being screamed at. We did four intervals of 1.2km, mostly uphill, with ~6min of rest - there was a slightly stressful point when I realized I'd calculated the start list to put everyone 6 minutes apart, having completely forgotten to include the interval time in the start list, but it went off pretty smoothly nonetheless. These intervals were HARD, and a couple of the boys said they felt like puking by the end. Thats what sprint racing is all about! I was pleased that I could keep my times pretty consistent, gaining four seconds over the course of the intervals. I was also pleased that some of the more gravity-scared girls were actually skiing down the hill by the end!

What a great camp. I'm still on a ski-coaching high right now, that feeling of everything actually going the way you planned and having great kids to work with. Nothing beats it when you explain kick-double pole to one of your kids, and then she suddenly shouts out, "I GET IT!!!!" skiing along.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ski camp over, heading to Europe

I left my camera at camp, accidentaly, so now I can't show you all my awesome photos from our run on the Wapack trail, or the afternoon on the beach, or mini golf. Tragic. I happen to be at the airport with Ed, we're going to Switzerland for vacation with my family, let's just say I was cutting it a little close coming back from camp and getting to said airport. I'll try to update you with more adventures later in the week - hopefully with some photos! (taken with Ed's iPhone...).

The ski coaching thing is rough. I have a tan for the first time since college!

I'll probably write more of a wrapup later, when I've unwound a bit and I'm not typing on an iPhone. Because it was a great camp.

Friday, July 17, 2009

CSU Ski camp

As I said in my last post, I'm out in Winchendon right now. So far, the weather has been perfect - sunny, not too hot, not too humid. The greatest thing about the the school where we're staying is the pool - its the absolute remedy for tired legs to go splash around between workouts. The food is good and plentiful, too, so we're working on a pretty great camp. This morning we did some hill bounding and ski walking at Mt. Watatic, an old ski mountain, on the access road. The surface of the road was the right combination of loose and yet hard-packed - good for footing, but loose enough for dull pole tips to dig in. That little sucker was steep, too!

After teaching everyone how to ski walk, we hoofed it to the top, took another group shot, and then headed down to the shade to do some all-out bounds. People were really figuring it out by the end, its great to see the boys realize how powerful they can be and just let loose. Once we'd done some of that, we headed further down, to do some four-minute ski walk intervals. Not too much groaning, and the bugs were behaving nicely, so all in all it was a good workout. I led some stretching afterwards, and I think we all appreciated that, as yesterday was a tough day for most folks. We started the day with a 2.5-hour ski, Rob and I took the "red group" on a pretty long tour of Rindge, while Jamie took the "green group" and they learned how to classic and then did a nice little ski - definitely more than most of those kids have ever classic skied!

In the afternoon yesterday (after a nice break for lunch and a swim), we did some core strength. It started with a run, then some mobility, or dynamic stretching, and some plyometric jumps. Then the kids played ultimate while the coaches set up the stations - A good mix of arms, legs, and core exercises. After two circuits, everyone thought they were done, but I led them through eight minute abs, or as some of the boys nicknamed it, eight minutes of torture. If anyone stopped between exercises or cheated in any way, we added a minute of plank at the end, but luckily we only had to end up adding one minute of planks, thanks to Scott wanting to lie down before getting into his side plank. I get way too much pleasure out of torturing people... it must come from being a gymnast back in the day.

This afternoon we're doing some double pole technique and a longer double pole ski for the red group. They'll sleep well tonight! Actually, I think the coaches might sleep well, too...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harry Potter Orienteering

So, I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan - I mean, I've read all the books, and seen most (well, at least one) of the movies, but they all sort of run together in my head. However, in honor of the sixth (I think) movie coming out, Lori put on a Harry Potter-themed sprint at Hogwarts (Harvard), and I just had to check it out. Essentially, it was just a score-o - you get a map, and there are controls on the map, and each control is worth a different number of points. You are given a time limit and told to go collect as many points as possible. The twist to what would otherwise just be a campus score-o was that at some of the controls, there was a piece of map taped to the object that was the control (we don't hang flags for urban sprints, they'd get taken), and the piece of map showed two "mystery memory" controls. You had to memorize the location of these new controls and then go get them, and they might have more clues to further controls. Lori was running around changing the locations of these maps as we were running, just to make things even more confusing. Somehow it all tied in to Harry Potter, but that mostly went over my head since I'm not exactly up to date on those books.

By the time I left, Lori and Ian were trying to devise a way to do orienteering quiddich. It sounded way too complicated to me.

Anyway, having these little quirks to a normal score-o made the run really interesting. I never thought I would be so interested in zigging and zagging all over the Harvard campus, but I had a great time. I hope we do more runs like this in the future! Much more fun than battling mosquitos and briars and mud...

I'm out in Winchendon, now, for the first annual CSU ski camp. Our first day was today, and we have a neat split between rollerskiing newbies and experienced JO-bound kids, so its been easy to get people into groups. They all looked super tired after our rollerski technique session, but they wouldn't stop playing frisbee, so maybe we just need to work them harder... I'll check back in after a full day of torture!

If you're a beast, like me, you can pound the pavement so hard that your carbide tip gets mashed into its plastic basket. Another case for using rollerski tips rather than snow tips...

A post-rollerski group picture, minus Jamie, who is taking the shot.

There is a beautifully paved bike path that runs about 5k towards Gardner, with a very slight uphill grade - perfect for traffic-free technique!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another training weekend

To make a long story short, I signed up ahead of time for Pat's Peak and then decided that was a bad idea at 11am Sunday morning. But you didn't come here for the short story.

Tuesday morning I woke up with a faintly sore throat, trained through it, and by Friday a small monster had crawled into my chest and was trying to claw its way out. I made the decision to go to the CSU orienteering training camp anyway, figuring if I just kept everything at or below level 1, I'd be ok. I was sort of assuming that I would be recovered enough to race Sunday afternoon at Pat's Peak, because really, what chest cold takes longer than 18 hours to go away?

The group huddles to figure out who is going to hang flags where.

We got to Pawtuckaway Saturday morning, and set out some streamers to act as controls. I have had some miserable past experiences at Pawtuckaway, but as always, time dulls the sharp edges of the worst memories, so I was excited to go run in the woods. Since injuring my knee, I haven't run much, and I wanted to see how far I could push it. Our first exercise was a control picking course that Brendan had designed, with lots of directional changes and lots of controls, relatively close together. The idea was to always know where you are and carry good flow through the course. I thought this worked well, and the bugs weren't quite as annoying as I remembered. It was only near the end that the fact that it was 1pm and I hadn't eaten since breakfast and was getting far too dehydrated caught up to me, and I started to make some bobbles. Getting back to the cars I bee-lined it to the beach, and life was a lot better after that (and some lunch).

The afternoon's activity was a route planning course, designed by Ross. Basically, we sat down with a partner before running, and discussed the routes we were planning on taking, and then tried to follow them exactly. The bugs were starting to wake up as I plodded through the woods, or maybe I was just moving more slowly than I had been that morning, because I was spending a lot more time in deep conversations with the deerflies about how they could be having a better life if they were chasing something like a deer, because I was just going to swat them when they landed on my forearms. Anyway, I made it through the course with fairly good concentration and actually on the routes I'd planned, which is saying something at Pawtuckaway because the map is just so technical that its easy to get turned around or off course. It probably helped that I couldn't really move fast, since breathing hard aggravated the monster living in my chest, so I was going slow enough to really pick off the features.

At this point, we all headed to the beach, before finding our camping sites and then hitting up the grocery store for ingredients for some beer-cheddar-broccoli risotto. Yum. Of course, by the time we'd finished dinner, it was 10pm and starting to rain, so plans for the night-o were scrapped in favor of bed.

Ian trying to steer Lori... unsuccessfully.

Sunday morning the rain had stopped and it was sunny again, and I was thinking that the bike race was sounding like a great idea. Until I tried running, and discovered that if I raised my heart rate higher than 160, rattling noises came out of my chest, and I was still coughing up great green globs of goo. I thought about just showing up and riding, but then I remembered that Pat's Peak is at a ski resort, and even just riding around was going to cause those rattling noises to come out of my chest and make it hurt. So, I bailed on the race. Which leaves me feeling really guilty, like I dropped out of a race, even though I didn't even start the race, so how could I have dropped out?

I assuaged my guilt with another three hours in the woods, and the bugs were out for real now. The first nine controls or so went pretty well, I was focused and moving a lot more smoothly in the terrain than I had been yesterday. Then I sort of let my attention wander on the way to 10, and blew about 20 minutes (which is huge, when you're normally talking about mistakes in the 15-40 second duration) sort of trudging in circles, completely unable to relocate. I was definitely at the talking-to-myself point when I finally relocated enough that I could figure out how to get back, and bailed on the rest of the course to just finish it up as a long OD. Three hours was enough, thank you...

Ross found a great way to carry streamers. Sort of.

Anyway, now its project get healthy. I'm coaching the ski camp starting wednesday and that is going to feel a lot better if I can breathe. Although it is sort of nice being unable to fully appreciate the stink coming from those dirty clothes I've been wearing all weekend...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Training weekend

Jess and I got together last weekend to do some training, get serious and be all PRO. That mostly involved long naps and lots of good food. But we did some training too, a long humid rollerski, some strength, some ski walking intervals with the Stratton summer training group, another rollerski, and a "recovery" bike ride. Too bad there are hills everywhere in VT, that made the recovery somewhat more difficult. Nothing beats training with another skier to get your motivation back. This was a really necessary weekend, emotionally and mentally. I'm ready to go, now, after a period of gimpiness.

There was a little silliness...

Food coma after the landgrove potluck.

Ed was there too, but he was busy doing real-life things, like sheetrocking the bedroom, so we didn't see him much. He also had ice cream duty at the party, on top of the fireworks duty...

Cutest puppy EVER. I was completely gaga.

Training pictures? We were too busy being PRO to take pictures!

Actually, my camera batteries ran out.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ski coaching is hard work

Yesterday, I lost my job (but I knew I was done with June). Today, I rode around in a car scoping rollerski roads all day, ate ice cream, picked strawberries, and rollerskied. Its a tough life.

I am one of the coaches at the CSU summer ski camp coming up, and as part of that responsibility, Rob and I headed out to Winchendon to check out possible rollerskiing roads and see the school where we'd be staying. We first met with the headmaster of the school, who showed us around - the dorms, the library, the cafeteria, the gym - its a typical New England private school, in other words nicer than most colleges. It basically seems like the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center, only with less focus on athletes. I think we'll be ok...

Rob knows this area really well as he used to spend summers here, the only problem is that the roads he remembers as having good pavement now have crappy pavement, but we found some good loops, with hills, good pavement, nice scenery, everything you need as a rollerskier. We even found a paved rail-trail for doing technique with the beginners. Most importantly, we tested the ice cream shop (you can't be serving skiers shoddy ice cream, after all), found a swimming hole, and discovered where there was mini golf.

I'm pretty pumped for this ski camp. We've got our schedule all ironed out, places to ski, and a great place to stay. Now we just need the athletes to bring their good attitudes... and figure out how to use that video camera.

Rollerskiers' heaven.

Alex heaven.