Having pursued a full year commitment to skiing for many years in a row now, I've now achieved a body awareness where I can pinpoint a single event that proves to be more of a setback than anticipated. A single misstep by training too hard when I should be resting, or racing when I am tired, has the potential to put me in a slump. Coming into this racing season while at the same time recovering from mono, I knew I would have to be cautious. My coach and mentor, Andrew (who is also a MD), has been particularly helpful in my return to health and has helped me in recognizing the mysterious effects of the mono virus on athletes.
I felt fantastic in some of the early racing this year, showing that I could return to fitness quickly after mono. Recovering from a race was a completely different story. I could digest one weekly hard effort, but racing twice in Rossland (1.6 km skate sprint and 15 km skate mass start) was a bit too much of a beating and would qualify as one of those aforementioned missteps. I was lethargic for 2 weeks. Luckily I had a month-long break before hitting the start line again with home course advantage at the Whistler Olympic Park NorAm.
Skate sprint at Westerns.
Training leading up to the NorAm proceeded swimmingly. I got to ski loops with Olympic and World Champion, Adam Van Koeverden (fit dude), and I felt strong. The adjective "swimmingly" is particularly accurate because from the time I returned to Whistler on December 28th until January 10th I didn't see the sun once. Whistler greened up beneath the constant deluge and WOP even had trail closures due to flooding.
A week before my skate sprint target race, I sprained my ankle in training and was sidelined for a few days R.I.C.E.-ing for all I was worth. I came to in time to tolerate lacing up my skate boots, but was apprehensive with the driving blizzard that befell WOP the morning of the sprint day. After a few days of brilliant sun and hard/fast conditions, the sprint course that was already of seemingly near-marathon proportions was turned into soggy porridge and thus extra challenging. The equivalent of a rubberized running track becoming muskeg. Being a more power-oriented skier, I tried the best I could to ski light and smooth overtop of the mush, but instead was bogged down. I couldn't deal with the increased load on the legs and finished the day dismally.
The following day was the 15 km classic individual start. With a cloudless sky and cool temps overnight, the deep powder was transformed into beautiful classic tracks. I was optimistic for the day, but in the end, it was another underperformance. Not that it wasn't hard fought... I felt smooth and well-paced the first lap, but the previous day's punishing course caught up with me after 5 km.
A few days of rest later, it was off to Canmore yet again for Western Canadian Championships. Having had an awesome mini-tour performance at Westerns last year (and being aggregate U-23 champion!), I was stoked for the multi-race format. Yet again, my body wasn't performing to the level that I urged it. I had a decent 10 km individual classic on a wicked hard course, and felt not bad on the sprint day, but after two weekends in a row of sluggish racing, I nixed the final 15 km skate pursuit (the race I was most looking forward to! grrr) with hopes of regrouping for a trip out east in February for Eastern Champs in Ottawa and a NorAm weekend at Mt. Orford, QC.
10 km classic action in Canmore.
Something has been off the last few weeks. I am now back in Whistler to fix it. I have a pretty good idea of what is wrong. My focus is now on racing at lower altitude in the East.