Sunday, March 20, 2011

2011 Canmore Nationals

Yesterday marked the final day of my 6th Canadian National Championships of my career. This year Nationals were here in Canmore, which was a very nice change of pace, not having to travel anywhere and getting to race on the great trails at the Nordic Centre. Another big highlight to this past week was that my parents were able to make it out for the whole week, so it was great to have them here and see my new home, as well as a week of racing. Jacquelyn's parents were also able to make it out for a few days, so I had a great time showing them around and having them see just what cross country ski racing is really like.

Going into this past week of racing, my confidence really wasn't too high. After a long season of travel and sickness, I have been unable to sneak in any solid weeks of training since Christmas, resulting in my fitness not being where it usually is at this time of year. So after deciding to sit out the team sprints last Saturday in order to try to conserve some energy, my first race was last Sunday, a 10km skate individual start. My goal for my races at Nationals was to get that feeling of desperation and ability to really push myself past my limits back, because that has been something I have been really struggling with for the last 6 weeks or so. So on a positive note, I was able to do that in every race this week, so I am relatively happy about that. Unfortunately, my lack of fitness means that even pushing myself past my limits isn't enough to achieve the results that I know I am capable of. So I ended up finishing the 10km last weekend in 18th in my category, which is considerably further down the results than I would have liked/expected.

My next race was the 15km classic individual start. This race was a similar story, though I was feeling a bit better than the previous race. I managed to ski my way to 7th place, which, given my current state, I was not overly upset about. The following day was the classic sprint, and a very difficult day for the wax techs. The conditions made it nearly impossible to have both fast skis AND good grip. So with the conditions coupled with my fatigue, I fought my way into the B final, and finished 11th on the day.

After the sprints I had two days off to recover and prepare for the final race, the 30km skate mass start, which took place yesterday. Having never done a 30km skate race before, I was a little bit nervous about how it could go. It was a very tough race on a challenging course, and I skied my way to a disappointing 20th place. While the result was really not what I was hoping for, I felt that I raced it as well as my body could have done. With about 2km to go, the muscles in my legs started spasming a bit, and on the last downhill I very nearly blacked out. So I clearly could not have pushed my body any harder than I did, so that was the positive aspect that I was able to take from the race.

Last night was the Nationals Banquet, which was held at the Banff Springs Hotel, and I can easily say that this was by far the best Nationals Banquet I have ever attended. The awards went smoothly and in a timely manner, the food was fantastic and plentiful, and it was very well organized. Great job organizing committee!!!

I am now taking a day off to recover from this past week, and am actually awaiting a phone call that will decide what my plans are for the next couple weeks. There is a chance that I may be heading over to Sun Valley, Idaho next weekend for the Supertour Finals, which would be 4 more races to finish off the season, before returning to Canmore a few days into April. If I do not go to those races, I'll likely stay here in Canmore for another week or so and take advantage of the great skiing we have here before heading back to Ontario for a few weeks.

That's all for now. Once I figure out what my plans are for the next couple weeks, I'll be sure to throw an update on here to let you know.

Until then, cheers.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Canada Winter Games and beyond

It's been a while since my last post, so I'll just pick up where I left off. My visit home in between Easterns and Canada Winter Games was a little bit bittersweet. It was great to see and spend time with everyone again, though the week ended with me developing some cold symptoms just before getting on the plane for Halifax. Getting sick during race season is a terrible feeling, but doing so on my way to Canada Winter Games just made it that much worse.

I played the week day by day, seeing how I was feeling and then deciding what the best course of action would be. So I ended up sitting out the first two races, in the hopes of getting better for the 3rd and final individual race. I woke up that morning still definitely with a cold, but due to the fact that this was my last chance to ever race at a Canada Winter Games, I convinced myself that I was ready to race. Unfortunately, no matter how convinced my mind was, my body just did not cooperate. Right off the start of the 15km classic race, my body just felt so heavy, with no energy flowing anywhere. After a grueling, and frustrating, 6km, I pulled off to the side of the course, removed my bib, and dropped out of the race.

So while the racing aspect of the week was tremendously disappointing, I still managed to have a great time just being there. The city of Halifax did an amazing job organizing the entire event, with over 6,000 volunteers! While I spent a good chunk of my time in bed trying to get healthy, I still managed to get out and see a little bit of Halifax, and got to know the way from my hotel to the Athlete's area (lounge and food place) very well. I also had some fun taking part in the pin trading that took place throughout the week (sounds lame I know haha, but actually became a priority for nearly everyone at the Games). As soon as everyone arrived in Halifax, every athlete was given a bunch of pins from their home province. So I made it my goal to get one pin from every province and territory. It was close (the market was immediately flooded with Ontario pins, making it very difficult), but I managed. I put all of my new pins on my athlete accreditation lanyard, and it made a good Canada Winter Games souvenir.

Feb. 27th, the Games wrapped up with the Closing Ceremonies, and I was finally going home to Canmore. I spent last week doing some easy training, just making sure my cold was completely gone, before starting back into some harder training this week in preparation for Nationals. Nationals this year are here in Canmore, running March 12-19, and I can't wait!

Race days are Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. I'll try to get some updates up periodically throughout the week. Until then, cheers.