Monday, October 20, 2008

Soldier Hollow Charter School - Mrs. Marcy's 6th grade class

I introduce to you the 6th grade class that I met with this morning at the Soldier Hollow venue. I told them about Lake Placid, your class, your poster and shared with them the Lake Placid pin that I gave to all of you before I left.

I also talked to them about biathlon, what I do for training at the Soldier Hollow venue and that my teammates and I will get to compete around the world this winter. And that we are psyched to have all of you follow us along the way.

The Soldier Hollow class seems excited about learning more about Lake Placid and the Adirondacks. Utah is a pretty cool place too, so enjoy learning more about it. Each class now has each other's mailing addresses, and you both have this blog to be able to converse back and forth on. Have fun!

Looking up to the 6th grade class.

Racing in Utah

All together, I had three races at Soldier Hollow, and with each race I performed better and better. The photos below are from the Mass Start race on Sunday. All 15 women started together in this 12.5km race. There are 5 loops and 4 shooting stages - 2 prone and 2 standing. For every missed shot you ski one penalty loop. The race took almost 40 minutes, and at this high altitude and at the end of the race series, I was quite happy to cross the finish line and sit down. I did not shoot as well I would have liked: I hit all five in my first prone stage, but missed 2 in each of the following 3 stages. But, I was skiing better today, more adjusted to the altitude and better recovered after a cold, so I was able to finish in 3rd. The men had the same race and here you can see them just after the start climbing the first big hill out of the stadium:

The men's race was after our race, and during our cool down jog (to flush out lactic acid from our legs and to help our bodies recover) we were able to watch and cheer for them. Here are a few of my teammates trailside: Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID/Lake Placid), Laura Spector (Lenox, MA/Lake Placid), Annelies Cook (Matt Cook's sister, Saranac Lake/Univ. of Utah), Denise Teela (Heber City, UT) and BethAnn Chamberlain (Caribou, ME). Sara is my roommate at the OTC, Annelies also skied for NYSEF while growing up and I have being doing biathlon with BethAnn for 10 years now! Having a solid group of teammates is awesome and definitely very important. Even though we compete individually, we train, travel, eat, live, succeed and fail together. Also, we are looking forward to creating a strong women's relay team leading into the Vancoouver Olympics.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Utah Training Camp

Hello! I am now in Midway, Utah and only a few minutes away from Soldier Hollow, the 2002 Olympic Venue, and our main training site for these three weeks. Gosh, was the western landscape a bit shocking after leaving Lake Placid and its glorious foliage! The mountains are mainly shrub oak (small oak bushes) and grasses, with intermittent aspen and pine groves. The cool dry air of a higher altitude (around 6,000 ft - which is just above the height of Mt. Marcy) is refreshing. These of course are some the first things I notice when I travel from the north eastern US to the west, especially since most of my day is spent outside in it. This photo is from our front door. In the background you can see the snow covered Timpanoga mountain range. And yes its snowed! We trained on Saturday while big white flakes fell.

Training has been normal since I've been here - shooting, rollerskiing, running and biking. But, this week I have three races. This doesn't really change my schedule, but it has made me set a routine and goals on a daily basis so that I can be prepared to perform well. This next photo is looking down on the biathlon venue, rollerski trails and the building in the middle is the Soldier Hollow Charter school - the one I will visit on Monday the 20th. This is called the Heber Valley and on the eastern side of the Wasatch Mountains, which is home to famous ski mountains like Park City and Deer Valley. I am here almost every day (and it looks like this almost every day too!) for combo training, which is rollerskiing and shooting combined so that I can practice shooting with a heart rate.

And when we are not at the venue we rollerski on local side roads or twisting roads up into the mountain canyons (like the road from Keene to Lake Placid).

And one thing that I find different about Lake Placid neighborhoods and Midway neighboorhoods are all of the animals. These were only two of many horses throughout town that people kept in their backyards and small farms. Horses, cattle, even a herd of llamas, are all over the west. Most places you go you are driving along someone's field, pasture, or barn.

For hiking and running, we then take the opportunity to get up into the mountains. This photos is from a few years ago of my teammates running in the mountains north of Park City - can you spot them running along the hillside in the foreground? The Wasatch mountain range is again the backdrop to this spectacular run.

It is Friday and I am nearing the end of my training week. I have two more races this weekend; a sprint and a mass start. The sprint race is 7.5km and I shoot two times, both prone and standin. The mass start is 10km and I will shoot prone two times and standing two times. The excitement of this race is that it will be a head-to-head competition of 15 women. I am nervous, but excited! I will let you know on Monday how the races go!
Monday is my day off, and typically the team will sleep in, someone will make pancakes and we'll take the day pretty easy. But this coming Monday, I will also head into the Soldier Hollow Charter school to meet Mrs. Marcy and the 6th grade class.
Hope all is well girls! More stories and photos will be up in a few days.

The Inner Athlete

Being an athlete is all about physical strength, coordination, skill, and training. Let's call that the outer athlete. Being an athlete also reveals an inner athlete within that harbors your determination, energy levels, ability to focus, and at its heart your love for what you do.
It is the eve of my second biathlon race here at Soldier Hollow. This morning I went for an easy run in the mountains above the nordic venue, followed by a yoga class in town. I have this afternoon off and will first take some time to dryfire: which involves standing in shooting position, repeating my breathing and shooting sequence, and visualizing my Sprint race tomorrow. And then, I will take some time to check in with my self. I raced yesterday, but was a bit disappointed with my shooting and my skiing performance. Tomorrow I believe I can do better - ski faster and shoot accurately. Training my "inner athlete" is just as important as training my body to ski and shoot. Tomorrow I want to be fired up and ready to go, but I also want to be relaxed, calm and focused. How can I prepare my self to do that?

On a daily basis, I take the time to train my inner athlete so that I can mentally and emotionally be ready to stretch my ability to its highest potential and to confidently focus on each target, so that each one is a hit when I race and train. One way I am trying to achieve these (we are always a work in progress!) is through meditation. I am new to this technique, which takes patience and an interest in improving the way your mind thinks. Kind of like a homemade recipe - I have been tinkering with what works for me. I add a bit more time or alter that right words, like ingredients, that work together to train my mind to relax and focus.
If you are wondering why I thought you might be interested in this, I have found a little excerise that might give you an idea of how you can affect your mind, body, heart and the environment around you.

"Masters of Energy" **

1.Begin at your seats. Together, discuss the energy - the feeling of your classroom. (Is it busy or exciting, tiring or energizing?) Have a recorder write this on the left side of the board in a column.

2.Close your eyes and now bring your attention away from the room and class, and to your self. What feelings do you find inside your self?

Discuss: If you all feel comfortable, share some of the feelings that you found. Have the recorder draw a big circle on the board and write these thoughts inside the circle.

3.Stand comfortably in front of your desks. Close your eyes. Imagine you are a big oak tree. In your mind reach up through your spine and head like branches to the sky, stretching, and then through your core, your legs and feet, feel your roots ground you to the floor and flow deep, deep into the earth. Feel how stable you are with these two different forces.

Discuss: Upon opening your eyes, discuss what you felt when you lengthened and rooted yourself. Have the recorder draw a tree with your thoughts (next to the circle). What did it feel like to grow and stretch like branches in your mind? What did it feel like to root your self to the earth?

4.Return to sitting at your desks. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Now, how does the room feel?

Discuss: Have the recorder write your thoughts in a column on the right side of the board. Then look at all of the different thoughts, feelings, sensations, emotions, and ideas you have written on the board. Did the feeling of the room and your self change throughout the excercise?

Aspens in Utah.

Through this excercise, I hope you were able to feel a bit of your own ability to pay attention to what your mind is think and what your body is feeling. Paying attention is one of the biggest keys to this excerise and for me an important part of training my inner athlete - I need to know and understand how I am feeling and why so that I can make my self feel great and ready to handle the challenges that come my way.

**I found this activity on under Past Activities. I tailored the directions to individualize this activity for the 6th grade class.