Just got home late last night from my first training camp with the Thunder Bay NDC crew. I’m going to keep this short because I have a mountain of schoolwork I need to plough through, ISUs to finish up and exams to start reviewing for. Yikes! I think I said it before but I’ll say it again: I can’t believe it’s almost over. Less than 2 full weeks of class before exams then I’m outta here! During my week up in Thunder Bay it was almost too easy to set aside the books in favour of an afternoon nap or a hangout with some friends. Normally I’m pretty good about keeping up on my schoolwork, but like most of the graduating class, I think I’ve taken my foot completely off the gas and I’m just coasting in neutral.
The camp started off with some incremental testing on the treadmill at PUSH fitness centre. Having just hobbled off the plane it took a little while to run off the jelly-leg feeling. One thing I’m definitely missing is the leg speed I normally pick up training for track in the spring. During the test it just came to a point where I was just running along and I wasn’t gasping for air and my legs weren’t burning but I had to end the test because my legs literally would not move any faster. Saving myself the embarrassment of being shot off the back of the treadmill I called it a day and went to nurturing my wounded finger from all those pricks for lactates. Even though it’s kind of frustrating to have to stop earlier than I felt I was capable of, I think it’s better to understand that my ability to run fast was the limiting factor – not my overall fitness. That said, I might get out on the track before the next time we do this test and bang out some repeats (:
One of the big changes on the radar for this year (aside from the glaringly obvious) is the amount of SKI WALKING that’s going to be going on. I think I’ve already done more ski walking in the past week and a half than I did all last year (no jokes, I might’ve gone 4 times last year – max). Not a bad change, just different I guess. In the past ski walking has always been more of a jog through the woods with poles that you kind of thrash around when you get to a hill. Not anymore though, ski walking on this team is serious business. And it’s tough too, if you do it right you should be walking the hills, the gradual inclines and the flats (Timo even walks the downhills #saywhat). So lookout world – we’re walkin’ your way.
The second test of the week was a 3km uphill running test. It’s one of the prestigious Lappe events (they take this stuff very seriously), we even had an official starter come out to help with the test. The course was on gravel for the first couple km’s and paved for the last jaunt up to the finish. The test went fairly well for me, it’s hard to tell how I should be feeling because I haven’t done many high intensity workouts/running races lately. Apparently my time was about 50s off the female record for the course so there’s still a lot of room for improvement if I ever want to go down in Lappe history. One of the best things about this day (aside from hitting the stop-sign on my 4th try) was learning about the pancake race. Word is there’s a 15km run where if you can complete the race under a certain time (different for male/female) there is a year’s worth of FREE PANCAKES up for grabs! oh man, when I heard this I knew what I was putting down as my goal race for the year.
Next up was strength testing – I almost forgot to mention this test because I didn’t associate it with the usual suffer-fest nature of testing. We didn’t do the classic CCC strength test (pull-ups, crunches, pushups, box jumps, dips), instead we got to go toss around some medicine balls, show off our vertical jumps, lateral jumps, do some pull-ups, and a bit of planking. Not a whole lot to comment on for this one… The gym we did our testing at this time was pretty cool, they even had monkey bar type contraptions on the ceiling though.
The last (official) tests of the week were on the rolly-skis. With a back-to-back race set up, skating first, double poling second it was shaping up to be quite the pain train. The course was 2km, first half uphill then it kind of levels off a bit for the last kilometre up to the finish. I broke a pole on a roller ski earlier in the week (planted inside my ski, no crash thankfully) so I was borrowing a pair of Victor’s which were pretty rad (nice highlighter orange – just like my bike (: The first trip up skating was suuuper tough, 2km goes by pretty quick on the rolly-skis but it’s still that awkward in between distance that hurts like no tomorrow. During the ~15 minutes turnaround we had between the two tests I was feeling that “axe to the chest” pain you normally get after those first races of the year out at Sovereign up at altitude. … only this time it’s early June, I’m at sea level and it’s a rolly-ski TT. awesome. It sounded like some of the other guys had the same grisly sensation too, it’s nice having people to suffer alongside with!
The sting went away as I got going on the double pole test. For me, double poling is really hit and miss. I kid you not, one day I might be ripping along like it’s nobody’s business and the next I’ll be reduced to the speed and technique level of a tourist fresh off the bus from Timbuktu (or wherever they come from)… okay maybe that’s a little unfair for the tourists, so lets just leave it at saying double poling it hit and miss for me. I’m not entirely sure why it’s this way or what makes me tip one way or the other, hopefully I’ll be able to figure it out this year. **gets back on topic** My double poling was pretty bang on for this test, especially once I got past the steeper uphill section. For better or for worse, my final kilometre double poling was 11s faster than I did it skating… yea, faster using just my upper body… I was kind of baffled by that too, it was a bit of a “what have I done” moment.
That was Tuesday morning, the real test came in the afternoon; paintball. This was my first time suiting up for a head-to-head gun show (of the non-muscle kind). I learned a lot and had a tonne of fun. First and foremost I learned that I am terrible at taking cover and shooting from behind barriers and am equally as bad at actually hitting what I’m aiming at (though I did get a lot better towards the end, or maybe just luckier). So I ended up doing a lot of running around and getting shot more than actually shooting people. I probably mercied more people than I actually hit thanks to my mad stealth skills (not really). Anyway, loads of fun, would definitely go again – recommend trying if you haven’t before, but will probably pack extra pants next time to save myself the nice welts on my legs (seriously, could you people have aimed anywhere else?). Probably won’t be wearing shorts for a little while until they fade off… but hey, I got the full experience, right?
Yes, so that’s the gist of what I was up to last week. I apologise for the complete lack of pictures (was too busy training h-core to take any), but a few were posted on the NDC twitter account if you want to check them out. Overall a pretty great week, I was a bit nervous going up because new coaches, new city, new(ish) teammates, no mom to cook me food (Nick & Hilary took care of me and helped me out though, so thanks a bunch to them!), and a new, more independent lifestyle. The nervousness went away really quickly though. Everyone up in Thunder Bay (minus the sketchy ones who come out at night) was super nice and the support from the community is top notch. I’m really looking forward to moving up at the end of the month and gearing up for the season.
Just as I was about to call it quits on this post my personal mail carrier (thanks Dad) dropped off an envelope with a card and cheque from the Southern Ontario Ski Division. Thank you very much to the SOD board and committee, receiving this bursary means a lot to me (and my family) and it will be going directly towards helping me pursue my studies and skiing this coming year.
I’ve been hmm-ing and haww-ing and have decided that I will be adding another tab to the webpage soon with my personal and equipment sponsors shortly. Having the support of these people/groups makes a world of a difference and I appreciate their contributions so much that I don’t think typed words really do justice or the level of recognition they deserve… Okay so I’m going to stop now before I get too emotionally invested in this blog post…
Thanks for reading,