Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is it loud in here?

Rollerski Season is Here

At the end of last season I met with my coaches to review the year and make adjustments and suggestions for the coming season.

One of the things we discussed was getting rid of my ipod. If you spend more than 10 minutes around me its easy to see I am addicted to my tunes. I generally do everything from buying groceries to studying for exams plugged in and training was no exception.

The debate about training with music is valid on both sides. One on hand my tunes provide me with some motivation when I'm tired and company when I'm training alone. However, on the other side, its easy to not worry about what's in your head or what's supposed to be in your head if you've got some sweet beats keeping you company.

So for the last month I have been trying without success to ween myself off my headphones. A couple weeks ago my poor little abused ipod died. Suddenly their was silence, and a lot of it. Then there came this explosion of thoughts. Everything from did my pole always sound like that to I wonder if I could find a way to make my coffee taste like peanut butter.... productivity at its finest.

The point of this isn't that the world is really really loud. A couple weeks ago I met Lisa Rogerson a great sports psychologist who is going to help me deal with some of the race anxiety I experience. We had a long conversation about what I think about when I race and train. It was a little tough to describe what I was focusing on when all my memories come with a sound track.

So that has been the goal for the last few weeks. Shifting out all the random pointless noise and finding the functional thoughts. Or at least enough of them to be able to explain to Lisa what is going on in my skull. I have a funny feeling some blank stares may occur.

The process has been alleviated by some welcome distractions from work. This weekend I helped coach a shooting camp to some of the older Foothills athletes in Canmore. These kids rock my socks and I had a blast trying to keep up with them all weekend. This is only added to by our awesome Jr development group who are extremely keen and have been kicking my butt mountain biking through the mud pits in Canmore.

Foothills Shooting Camp

New stock is almost done. Dave Bradley has been piecing together an amazing bamboo stock for me and to be finished this weekend. Pictures soon!

By the way, should you ever loose your ipod access check out http://www.hypem.com/ a wicked site combining blogged music from a bunch of different genres.

Betsy Out!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Getting Started

Much overdue post but after missing half the semester of school I was basically locked into my books when I wasn’t racing.

Last season was a season of firsts. My first international tour, first North American cup win, first cross country ski nationals, first western's podium and first time I was able to start and finish every race. I feel like I raised the bar this year and set new personal bests and standards for myself to match this coming season. Turkey was amazing and the international experience has made me hungry for more tours in the future.

Despite being an amazing season it was a long year that saw more than 32 races and 50 weeks of training on top of a full time course load. By March I was mentally and physically ready for a break. Alberta saw a record snow year and we returned home from nationals to lots of skiable snow. I however, was having none of it and opted for some much needed rest and homework time.April was as busy as the race season, finishing up school and presentations, moving out of "the biathlon house" to Calgary and being a superstar in finals. April also held our annual athletic awards at Augustana. My partner in crime Kathryn Stone cleaned up as Athlete of the year, award of merit and honored as a biathlete, cross country skier and cross country runner.

As April turned to May it was time to get training again.

I wanted to start the training year out slow, and what better way to do it then to head back to the Northwest Territories for the first week of May. I love Fort Smith in the spring and with some Mom's home cooking and brand new paved roads for rollerskiing it was a great start to the year.

After some quality time at home it was back to Calgary to set up shop for the summer. I'm back working with my foothills crew and along with my returning crew have an amazing new group of kids that I'm excited to work with.

Summer training has started out strong, living with a triathlete who is a great runner has been a definite plus and with the usual loss of all my team mates for the summer he and our puppy have been great motivators. I am finishing up my first block and am excited for period 2 which usually holds some long runs/rides and skis. As well, a new rifle stock is in the process of being made.
I owe a massive summary from the season, since pictures are worth a thousand words here are a few!

Time to get rollerskiing again

Me and Kat Stone styling our training bibs in Turkey

Opening Ceremonies

Rocking some prone during the Sprint in Turkey

Starting the sprint at World University Games

Wooooo Turkey

Cross Country Ski Nationals Team Sprint, getting tagged by the amazing Kalli Green. Congrats to Kat Stone and Lauren Brookes who took 2nd!

Making friends in Turkey

Now that things are back in season, stay tuned for weekly updates!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

North American Cup 3 Yo!

So this post was meant to go up Monday after our race, but after an impressive snow storm we got stuck in Canmore for an extra night until it was safe to hit the highway. Needless to say we were very disappointed to train an extra day in Canmore before heading back. Classes have started and there has been a substantial amount of laughter from my professors as we discuss the amount of school I am missing for racing. Never underestimate the value of a small school with amazing professors!

Here is a quick race update from North American Cup 3!

Thanks Joel for some great race pictures!

After a great Christmas at home it was back to work with North American Cup #3 in Canmore. Nor Am #2 was in Jericho, Vermont and I opted out, partially to make it home but mostly Turkey is my focus this year and so a trip out East wasn't in the books.

Nor Am #3 went decent and I was relatively happy with my 3rd place finish in the sprint and my move into 2nd in the pursuit for an overall 2nd place finish in the weekend. It was a cold weekend and my hands are still healing from some bad frostbite. I was also very tired going into this weekend as we just came off a large training week in effort to get our last bit of volume in before we taper off for World Unis.

Settling in for some solid standing shooting in the sprint

Saturday, I took a risk with some a newer pair of skis and ended up working overtime to match the glide of some of my competitors. While this may have cost me some speed, I know, racing is the only way to really know and trust your race skis. Regardless I had a strong skiing race and was only limited by some quality penalty loop time after some unfavourable shooting results. I am extremely happy with my skiing as I managed to match some powerful women in their ski speed which is a new asset in my skill set.

Battling with Cindy Clark, Congrats on the win!

Sunday, I was determined to take control of my race. I cleaned both sets of my prone and was leading for the first half of the race with my team mate Kathryn Stone. I stumbled in my standing and was beat out by Cindy Clark, a very talented biathlete who shot 19/20 and skied in control the entire race. While I was disappointed that my range performance cost me the chance to take on Cindy for the win, I ended up in a last lap Battle with 3rd and 4th and managed to keep the gap into the finish. The result of such a hard ski effort? I was a puddle and was a little fuzzy for a couple days.

I've been talking a lot with my coaches and training partners about what goes through my head when I race. After missing some crucial shots so close to my biggest event I have been reflecting on what went through my head during my races. So here are my most productive, distracting and illogical thoughts, also known as:

15 Thoughts During Nor Am #3

1. Holy man I'm cold, I'm 4km in how can I still be freezing?!

2. If they are going to beat you, make them earn it, don't give it to them

3. You've done this 1000 times, your just doing another interval with Alex, just push that hill like you do every time with Alex

4. @#$%@@$$* (in regards to messing up my standing in the pursuit)

5. Awww Joel don't take that picture of me I've got more drool and snot then any person ever should

6. Be the change you want to see

7. Why are you letting them set the pace?! It's the first lap, lets run our own race.

8. Okay second prone, the other girls are going to get a correction and shoot well so just do what you did the lap before and everything will be alright.

9. YES!!!!! (10/10 prone)

10. They're coming for you, get moving they're coming for you

11. Black and Yellow, Black and Yellow, Black and Yellow

12. Man I hate when I ski over fallen off leg numbers, wait those were my numbers... when did I loose those?

13. Don't think about missing, don't think about missing.... damn

14. Okay so you can hear skis behind you, but if I look back and its Kat or Karen I'm not sure I can handle that, but what if its not them will I be able to keep the motivation for this pace.... but what if it is and I need to dig deeper ... don't look back just don't let the skis pass you!

15. Just breath.

Its been a cold cold week in Camrose hanging out around the -30 mark. I've been testing out a newly recovered knee with some running work outs. Thankfully things have been holding strong and I am feeling better than ever heading into Turkey. It's only six days away.... wow.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Home Again, Home Again

For the last two weeks I've been hanging out in my hometown Fort Smith, NT. It is pretty rare that I get home and even more rare that our race season and school let me stay home for this long. My trip home has been filled with tonnes of sleep, great skiing and naturally way too much of my Mom's cooking.

Rocking Some Training on Home Trails

I come from a family of four kids and two amazing parents that still back my sports and school as enthusiastically as they did when we were kids. As soon as I get off the plane, it's like I never left. My parents spoil me rotten and I spend way too much time goofing off with the siblings. My partner in crime/older sister Ella spent Christmas in Africa this year and it was tough to spend the holidays without her here to keep me on my toes. She called me at 6:30 Christmas morning just to make sure that she kept tradition and woke me up on Christmas.

My brother at his finest

My Mom and Dad are pretty cool and spoil me rotten when I am home. I think this is partially an effort to get me to come home more and also they always surprise me with the level of support they are ready to provide for biathlon. It's been a warmer Christmas than most but its still below -20 pretty much every day. My Dad is ready before I am to be behind the scope for me, groom trails in front of me when its snowing and always seems to pop up when it gets cold and dark, just to make sure I'm safe.

Poppa Bill Ready to Go Train

Me and Momma Phillys

I've got a weird diet that cuts out a lot of basic things such as wheat and milk. When I walk in the door my Mom has more gluten free food ready for me then I knew was possible. They ask me everyday how they can help now and long term. My parents are amazing.

Being home reminds me why I have such an infatuation with biathlon. It's cold, it's always dark and I spend way more time listening to my Ipod than ever before but this place is my home. It's where Don "the professor" True chased us around the trails and still comes out to give me a hand almost ten years later. It's where PK Hamilton taught me that you can work and love every minute of it (go Belarus!). But most importantly, when your trails look like this, its hard not to love my home, the north and my training.

Back south tomorrow and straight to Canmore for North American Cup # 3.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thank You FSC Architects & Engineers

This year I received an early Christmas present in the form of a sponsorship from FSC Architects & Engineers.

Their generous decision to support me through my athletic journey is an unmatchable gift. Sponsorship allows me to continue to focus on the important aspects of my training and performance with out the added stress of financial limitations. Thank you FSC for your role in helping make my goals possible I look forward to representing you in my race season!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

North American Cup, Finals and a Massive Thank You!

If you've been following me on Facebook or happened to hear Trails End yesterday, then you already know that I had an amazing season opening weekend.
Our season opener which is usually in Canmore is never a race to miss. A lot of team selections are done as part of that race and it's usually a packed house. This weekend was no exception with Alberta, NWT, BC, Saskatchewan and Ontario all using it to pick to their Canada Winter Games teams, the start of Alberta's selection for Provincial Team and the race to fill the final men's and women's Team Canada spot for World University Games. I was extremely thankful to be pre-selected to World University Games and had nothing to fear when I stepped to the start line.

The Mighty Vikings in Black

Saturday was the 7.5km sprint, (3x 2.5km loops with 1 prone and 1 standing shooting sets). After a great zero with my rifle (huge sigh of relief from both Hans and I as my shooting has been off for awhile) I was ready to rock. The sprint holds 30 second individual starts and I scored the last starting spot, my favourite. After a strong first lap skiing the wind had picked up, I risked a sight correction and was rewarded with clean shooting in prone and the lead position in the race. The wind now dead for the standing portion I was able to fire off a quick 4 hits and have a comfortable last lap. Karen Messenger, Kathryn Stone (my team mate) and the rest of the Senior Women category are amazingly fast skiers and talented shots, so despite a 9/10 shooting I pushed until the line not entirely sure who was in what place. I ended up with a North American Cup win and a new personal best by almost 3 minutes!

Game Face on For Lap 1 of the Sprint

Look at that follow through as Kat races to 2nd!

Sunday I was a marked person! The 10km pursuit works off the results from the sprint. The winner leads out, the rest of the category is delayed 5 seconds for every place back they are, first one across the line wins. This race was a fight! With the wind and snow constantly changing shooting required a lot of focus and with 4 opportunities to win a trip to the penalty loop, you had to be on your game! Karen had an amazing race and beat me in the range every round. Despite a new level of power that has helped me keep up in ski speed, I couldn't hold her as she had a strong race! Way to go Karen!

With a first and second under my belt I won the overall weekend and am currently North American points leader! Congratulations to the NWT athletes who all had amazing races, especially Joseph Lirette and Gaylene who saw podiums! Also big congratulations to Jon Skinstad and Kathryn for podium finishes and Lauren Brookes and Kai Skinstad for receiving the final Team Canada spots!

Meet our new assitant coach Noel, way to rep the Viking gear

I arrived home to find a letter from Sport North informing me I had received a High Performance Grant. This annual MACA/Sport North support takes a massive weight off many NWT athlete's shoulders and allows us to focus on training and performance. Thank you so much Sport North and MACA!!

Its finals time in school land and naturally that also means the weather is warm and there is fresh snow to ski on that I must resist. Exams finish up the 22 and I am home the 23 for some family time and training on my home trails!

Wish me good grades!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gone Skiing, Will Return When Chilly!

So a long delay since my last update but to be fair the snow came and once that happens it’s hard to focus on much else.

From November 10-21 I was in Canmore for our annual early snow camp. Snow camp is possibly my favorite time of year, it’s basically my birthday, Christmas and a really good cup of coffee combined. It’s a massive volume camp that usually sees our first days on snow for the year and will be our final chance for big gains and changes before race season starts. It also means about two weeks off school in one of the most demanding few weeks for students. I am extremely thankful to my university and my professors who moved papers and exams to make sure when I was at camp, I got to be focused.

The snow was late in Alberta this year. We rolled out of Camrose with bare ground and in tshirts, I had rollerskis packed in my ski bag and was not hopeful that the overly warm temperatures were going to provide us much to ski on. The first day we headed into Sunshine ski resort, not yet open to the public we started the camp with a 10 km run up the mountain as our coaches took our skis up the gondola. The run is was definitely worth it. Sunshine was groomed by skidoo tracks (classic training only today) and relatively untouched patch of quality altitude work. I had to take a minute to appreciate that exactly a year before I was still barely cleared to train after a bad round of anemia. This year hitting the snow like I had never been behind, Dave, Hans & Joan, my coaching heroes, I owe you.


Vikings Rocking Out Sunshine

After a day at Sunshine we spent the rest of our adventure at the Canmore Nordic Centre. CNC has an amazing snowmaking set up which is why they are on snow early and later than most of us. However, these miracle snowmaking abilities do require consistent temperatures below -5, otherwise it’s just a mess. Our first few days at CNC were on an 800 meter loop and with the promise not to use my Ipod to train this week, 800 meters for 3-5+ hours a day requires a bit of mental toughness. Here’s the trick, look at the snow a meter in front of you and then you don’t notice it’s the same snow you’ve seen the last 30 loops, otherwise tag up with Alex, my trusty roommate/training partner and push each other. Nordic kids are snow chasers by nature and we were not the only ones taking advantage of the 800 meters. Along with our team, the usual army of people training at CNC we saw, Quebec, USA and the all of the Cross Country skiers in the Bow Valley Area. The facility opened a little more loop every day and it was needed, HOLY CROWDED!

Best thing I learned from camp came from out new Spanish assistant coach Noel who says, “When you ski and think your technique works, when you don’t think, it can’t. If you want to ski beautiful all the time then you must always think, until one day you don’t have to think.”
After a grueling and amazing ten days I was back to Camrose and the demand of school. I was a paper writing machine which was difficult because snow had finally come to Camrose and I wanted to play!

Coaches Door After Our Weeks Away

In an effort to shake my legs out I entered in a cross country Alberta cup in the skate sprints. Biathlon is by no means a marathon but it is a heck of a lot longer than a 1 km sprint! Skate sprints which work in preliminary then elimination knock out practices are nothing short of lung busting. Props to all the NWT racing suits I saw tearing it up all over the place! Great experience and really helped get the jitters out before this weekend. NORTH AMERICAN CUP TIME!!!

Season opens this weekend with North American Cup in Canmore, Ab. This race is going to be nuts as it is the start of Alberta’s selections for Canada Winter Games and the race to pick the final spot for World University Games. After 7 months of training, the itch to lay it all out couldn’t be bigger so… BRING IT ON!

Updates more frequently!