Like the title says, the last couple of weeks has been a whirlwind of training, weight lifting, sliding, forerunning, working, eating and of course sleeping.
Once again, I apologize for these blog posts coming so few and far between! Unlike last year, when I seemed to have a bunch of time and energy on my hands, this season has proved to be very different. I am doing the same things, but the weight lifting and training program are a little bit harder and a little more involved, the sliding is getting more technical and focused, and the down time has been filled with video sessions and coaches meetings. It doesn’t seem like much has changed, but I can tell that I’m becoming a better athlete for it.
Though not much has been going on worth mentioning, I’m teaching my brain to recognize and think about the positive things that come about instead of just belittling them with, “Well, this was ok, BUT I can always do better.”
We did have an inter-squad “race” two weeks ago, in which I placed third. I wasn’t quite sliding as well as I wanted to be, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself to win, so I actually think I did better. I had good consistency, and it was because of that, that I was able to edge out a teammate to get third.
I was also given the opportunity to stay at the Training Center over Thanksgiving as well as to forerun for the FIBT America’s Cup races that were held here in Lake Placid. Being able to have a free roof over my head is very important for me (I moved away from Virginia for good so my summer clothes and outdoor gear and anything I don’t use in the winter is stashed in my little Honda) and to be able to stay over the holiday was great.
There was a great group of International sliders training so we were able to get to know even more athletes from other nations. We were so lucky to have these athletes join us for a good ‘ol American Thanksgiving dinner as well! Luckily the Training Center served dinner between 11am-2pm so I was able to get my turkey fix before heading off to work Thanksgiving Dinner at the Crowne Plaza.
Forerunning for America’s Cup was another highlight of the last couple of weeks. I have been a forerunner once before, last season for the Intercontinental Cup race. What a forerunner does is provide a way to check ice conditions, timing eyes and starting grooves before the official races begin. So the five of us who alternated runs all week got to slide first on some pretty great race ice, which is always a highlight. I was so happy to have the opportunity to forerun, because it also provided me with a way to check on how I was sliding now in comparison to my teammates who had been on the America’s Cup circuit. I used the opportunity to check my progress from where I was sliding at Team Trials and I was very happy with my results.
I had switched back to a standard pair of racing runner with only a day before AC week, but it proved to be my salvation! I had been sliding much better than team trials on the runners that came with my sled, but since I was still having trouble skidding, I decided to get back on the basic standard, which, with its sharp spine, has the highest amount of control. Though a sharp spine causes the sled to bite into the ice more and consequently slow one down, I found that because the standards eliminated my skidding, I was actually making up time and catching up to my teammates. I also helped that the nights were getting colder, so the ice was harder, causing the runners not to bite as much. I know some of this jargon is completely unfamiliar territory for some of you, but you’ll understand the basics!
With my Standard runners on my sled, off we went into AC training, where I found my down times getting faster and faster as I improved curve after curve. Some of you might be aware I was having a lot of trouble with Curve 12, which is a little more than halfway down the track and where a lot of people have their peak speed. I was actually goofing up the entrance and exit of Curve 9, which made me go into 10 wrong, which made me come out of 10 wrong and consequently into 11 wrong. It’s a domino effect if an athlete doesn’t fix their mistakes right away, and I wasn’t fixing them. I knew WHAT I was doing wrong and HOW to fix it, but by the time my mind told my body what to do on the track, it was too late. I was entering 12 WAY late, so looping up at the end. For those who haven’t seen this video, allow me to show you what happens when you get into 12 late and don’t fix it. This run (caught in slow motion) was actually during my own America’s Cup race in March, where I took 6th place. This was my second run and it is actually pretty identical to what I was doing for a good week and a half before December 1.
Well, needless to say, it’s a bit scary. But it wasn’t until I foreran the AC race on December 1 that I hit 10, 11 and 12 perfectly (well, not perfect, but better than I had!) and I have to tell you, Curve 12 is the EASIEST thing in the world when you do it right. I was pretty stoked with that part of my run, no matter what my down time was. Turns out, my downtime was pretty darn good. I surprised myself and made my coaches very happy. Overall, to make a long story short and so I don’t focus too much on it and get hung up on it, my downtimes for most of my “official” forerunning runs were good, and (though like I said, there are always things to work on) it was a huge confidence boost to be sliding how I was.
And so we begin another week of open training. This is one of two weeks left before the Christmas holidays. I will remain in Lake Placid at a teammate’s vacant apartment (since the OTC closes) between December 22-January 3, working my tail off and working out (no sliding since the track will be closed. Come January, I will be traveling to Park City, Utah for two and a half weeks and sliding there to gain experience on another track. Since Team Trials will take place in Park City next year, I want to get at least a little time out there so I am aware of how the track runs. I’m very excited to go (I’ve never been to that part of Utah before!!) and I have to thank you all for your sponsorship and donations! My trip will be paid for completely on your donations, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the support! That trip to Park City is because of all of you!
Thanks as always for reading what I have to say, and thank you again for your support! Keep an eye out in the next week or so for an additional posting!
Keep moving forward!