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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Watch Biathlon Live!!

You can watch my race on Thursday - Live - online! I will race at 5:15pm in Sweden, which is 11:15am Eastern Time - your time.

Here is out you do it:
Go to: www.usbiathlon.org
Click on "Watch Us Live"
And follow the directions that will take you to Eurovision.

The beginning of the race will primarily show the most people in the start gate and the first few seconds of the race. Intermixed, will be shots of the leaders skiing and shooting, as well as shots of Ostersund. Periodically, there will be a result/status bar on the bottom of the screen that shows how the biathlete's lap and overall times compare. It will be under the lights and really exciting to watch!

It is an individual race which is 15km with 4 shooting bouts - prone, standing, prone, standing. For each missed hit, a one-minute penality is added. I will recieve my bib number the night before the race and will try to e-mail to let you know.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Swedish Snowflake

11.29.08
I noticed that most of you had knitting projects on your desks when I last visited. I too enjoy knitting, and always have a project when I am traveling. I just started working on a hat. The pattern is called “Norwegian Star” – fitting for being in Scandinavia. I thought I would pass along the main design pattern for you, and since it is coming from here in Sweden and I hope that the Adirondacks get some snow soon – I renamed it the “Swedish Snowflake:


● = contrasting color

You will need two colors – one main color and one contrasting color. This is a simple snowflake design and it shows up well is you use white as your contrasting color against a dark main color. I am working on a hat, so am knitting “in the round,” which means literally knitting around the hat. If I remember right you were working on scarves, so you are knitting back and forth. On the front side the snowflake will show, but on the backside, you will see all the connecting strings from one row to the next as you switch between the two different colored strings (its going to look a bit messy, but that’s okay.) If this is your first time knitting in a pattern with another color, remember to keep the same tension and relaxed style as you do when you are knitting the rest of the scarf. Often, when you are frequently switching between colors, it is easy to loose your flow and the same tension on the yarn, resulting in stitches that are too tight or too loose.

Enjoy - I’ll send you a photo as the snowflakes on my hat starts to progress.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving!



11.27.08 Östersund, SWE

Our caterer mentioned he will try to give us a Swedish version of our Thanksgiving meal with chicken (kyckling) instead of turkey (kalkon), mashed potatoes (potatis-mösse) because I don’t think you can get sweet potatoes or yams here, and lingon berry jam (lingon sylt) because you can’t seem to get cranberries (tränbär) easily in Scandinavia either. He definitely didn’t mention pumpkin pie.

But, as you know, it is not about the food we will eat tonight. This is my third year celebrating Thanksgiving with Americans in a foreign country. Because we are not surrounded by festive decorations, holiday sales on TV, and the quintessential ingredients for the big meal, The “thanks” and “giving” can shine through. I am very thankful to be here, to have this opportunity, and to be supported by so many of my loved ones, friends and community.
*
It feels pretty good to be back here in Sweden. It is a familiar place, and except for the lack of light, it has been easy to transition this past week to the time, food, and language. The snow conditions are excellent. The tracks are mainly built with man-made snow, from snowmakers that have been running around the clock, but this morning I awoke to an inch or two of new snow. We are staying right at the venue, only a few feet from the trail. We watch people ski all day long from 7 in the morning till 9 or 10 at night. In addition to the local skiers, kids and ski-joring (skiing with a dog), more teams are arriving in preparation for the first World Cup. Out there right now, our team is joined by the Russians, Swedes, Canadians and Ukrainians. This is only the beginning, but really the World is at my finger tips on this circuit.




A view of Östersund’s biathlon stadium from our apartments at noon.


A defining image of Sweden that is important to convey about this time of year, is the light, or shall I say the lack of it. Recall how far north Sweden is on your globe, and how far, at this time of year away from the equator and the sun’s winter rays. The sun rises on my way to training, around 8:30-8:45am. It begins to set, and the light dims around 2:30pm, slowing setting til 3:30 or 4 when bright lights flood the trail, because by 5 its just dark. 8pm then feels like 10pm.



Building the new grand stands above the stadium.


The venue is also preparing for the races, setting up new stands, tents, and walkways for spectators, and working tirelessly on the tracks so that everything will be world-class by Wednesday – the opening race. I will follow up on this photo so that you can see the difference when the venue is packed and the races are on.



The US Team’s wax room: lots and lots of skis, and two of our wax technicians – Andi from Germany and Gara from the Czech Republic - who take care of them, test them, and make them very fast for competitions.


As the races near, I will begin to test my fleet of skate skis. I have different pairs for different snow conditions, temperatures and course, and for these upcoming races I will need to figure out which ones feel the best here in Östersund based on their ability perform in a variety of snow conditions, their ability to glide and carry speed, and depending of how soft or hard the ski surface is, how smooth they feel when I ski fast. The preparation of equipment is so very important, and this is only the beginning. By the end of the season I will know my set of skis inside and out. Your equipment becomes and extension of yourself.



My teammate, Lanny Barnes, and I in our kitchen during a rest day.



However, it is not all about skiing. We train for an hour to three hours a day, which leaves a lot of time remaining in the day. I have a variety of books with me, a knitting project, and spend time online writing e-mails and reading the news. We fill our time by watching movies, taking naps, eating our meals together, stretching after training, walking around town, and simply relaxing. It might sound like we can stay in our PJ’s all day, but at this point in the year we’ve completed the majority of our training and it is time to shift to racing. This means quality and low training hours, high quality rest and recovery, and most importantly, high quality racing.


video

Östersund - 360°



Its pretty simple here, this little video from my camera (its classic home video quality, hope it doesn’t make you nauseous) will give show you 1. our brown-sided, green-trimmed apartments, 2. the city’s heated water tower, 3. the biathlon range and stadium, 4. Frösön, the lake below, and 5. the trails and hardwood forest.

While I am here, here is a little Swedish vocab for you:
Hello Hej-Hej (pr. Hey-hey)
Good-bye Hejdå (hey-door)
skis – skidor (shi-door)

1 en
2 två (tvoe – like toe)
3 tre (trey)
4 fire (fearre)
5 fem

biathlon skidskytte
cross-country längdåkning
competition tävling



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thanks!


St. Agnes 6th Grade - November 2008
Thanks for the visit again today!

I will post another blog later next week once I am in Sweden. I think we figured out how to post comments today. Remember to choose the Anonymous identity when you log in and if you would like, sign your question or comment with your initials. And always, if you would like to write more you can always e-mail me: haleyhjohnson@gmail.com

Best of luck this winter and keep in touch!

Best,
haley

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Back from Utah - Training at Altitude

Hey! Great to see all of you at HoJo’s! Thanks for hosting a great dinner:)

I am now back in Lake Placid and relishing being back home after having been gone for a month. My training camp in Utah finished up well after the races. I got the chance to mountain bike a few times and spent some time up in the mountains above Heber Valley. The weather was exactly the same every day; blue skies, perfect 60-70 degree weather, and no foreboding fall weather in the forecasts; it made for ideal training conditions. Everything was quite pleasant really. Easy days were kept easy and were used to take a break from the shooting range, so that as we grew tired at the end of the camp, we could harness our focus for shooting and technique workouts.

Looking up at the Timpanoogas, Utah.


Training at a higher altitude is quite different from training at lower altitudes, and below is just a brief description of my experiences. The Soldier Hollow venue is just above 6000 ft (just a bit higher than Mt. Marcy). The mixture of gases (oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen) at this level is the same as what we breathe here in Lake Placid. However, there is lower atmospheric pressure at higher altitudes. This pressure difference alters your body’s ability to transfer the oxygen you breathe in from your blood to your tissues. Oxygen is a part of an important energy producing process in your body. At a cellular level, this is how your muscles are able to “fire,” to make you jump, run, and ski.

Your body adapts in order to account for less oxygen. During the first two weeks at a higher altitude, these are some of the changes that occur in the body:
- You will breathe more heavily, so that you can take in more oxygen.
- Your blood volume will increase so that you have more red blood cells to carry the extra O2.
- Your heart rate at first will increase to pump more oxygenated blood through your body, but then returns to normal.

In Utah, compared to Lake Placid, my body is working harder to perform each function – thus taking more energy to do the work. This triggers an increase in carbohydrate metabolism to ensure that my body is getting enough fuel for basic metabolic functions and for training. With this, my bowl of oatmeal, raisins, cinnamon, and milk in the morning over the course of the three weeks also increased to give me more carbohydrates and protein for workouts such as long bike rides or high intensity rollerski intervals. I paid a lot of attention to how I fuel my self, how often, with what, and how much. I needed to take in enough carbohydrates for my muscles to not only stay fueled, but to also replenish muscle fuel supplies after training. Basically, this means: I ate a good breakfast (as mentioned above) drank a lot during each training session, had a small PB&honey sandwich or granola bar and fruit after training, ate a great sandwich with lots of veggies, cheese and meat for lunch, had a snack before afternoon training (bowl of cereal usually), drank more during training, enjoyed a balanced dinner, and had some yogurt and cereal before I went to bed.

The air is also dryer in Utah. You can feel it in your lips, skin, and the overall general feeling when you are dehydrated. So, needless to say I was drinking quite a bit of water, sports drink and getting in a lot of raw fruits and veggies to help me stay hydrated.

So what is the benefit of training in Utah?
Well, first of all it is a great place for the Junior, Development and National Team to train. Soldier Hollow offers a high quality biathlon venue. It just so happens to be at a high altitude. So – our coaches and staff accommodate for this and we take advantage of the metabolic changes in our bodies when we return to sea level. A temporary increase in oxygen-carrying blood cells when you return back to sea level means your body has an increased ability to produce energy. This week, I have four high intensity training sessions planned. I won’t necessarily ski faster and be stronger, but under these conditions, I will help teach my body to work efficiently with a higher heart rate, higher lactic acid production and under greater physical stress. These workouts mimic racing, when I will need to depend on my ability to perform well despite these adverse effects. There remains a myriad of changes and benefits which take a more extensive scientific explanation, so I will leave it at that and see you in class on Wednesday!

Myself, Sara, Lanny, Tracy and I on a run in Utah.