Sunday, November 27, 2011

A lesson in training

This morning, Harris, my parents and I went back to Gatineau Park, our National Capital natural treasure. This time we were there to rollerski. The forecast was calling for rain but not until this afternoon. So we were very hopeful it would stay dry, which it did, for the most part. Luckily, it only really started pouring when we were on our way home.

When I got up this morning, I felt so tired from yesterday's long hike that I was sure today's session was not going to go well. To my surprise, however, as soon as I got on my skis, I felt my energy coming back. And as we continued skiing along and I got over the initial bit of pain in my ankles from the heavy rollerskis (they are metal and so weigh much more than skis do), I started feeling even better. Today may possibly have been the first skate rollerski session that my technique (especially one-skate) actually felt super right. I was getting nice long glide on each ski and planting my poles more softly just as Patti Kitler (my provincial coach) taught me. I wish you could've been there Patti, it was a real Eureka moment! Just goes to show that you don't have to feel great when you get up to have a great race or workout session!
Sorry about the picture quality. It was taken with Harris's Blackberry,whereas yesterday's photos were courtesy of my awesome iPhone :)

That's all I wanted to share today. I'll have to write an explanation about rollerskiing at some point. For now, I'd better go to bed as tomorrow's Monday again. Sigh. Good night from the capital once more.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Snow was here...for a second

We finally had our first snowfall this week! Sadly, after messing with traffic and flipping a bus, it all melted away in two days. But Harris, Lindsey and I got a good ski in on Wednesday night before it all disappeared. There were a good 5 cm on the ground at Mooney's Bay and a few people had already skied before us, so we were able to follow their tracks all around the park. We even ventured over to Vincent Massey Park for a spell. All in all, we got a good hour and 15 minutes of solid (well, not that solid actually, it being the first ski) skiing in.

But now the snow is all gone, so we're busting out the rollerskis and hiking poles again. Today, Kanata Nordic racers had a training session in the Gatineau Park. We all hiked from the Old Chelsea Picnic Ground, up Penguin hill and then my parents and I continued on Trail 1, while the racers did Skyline Trail, which is very rocky and ragged, so not so great for the vision impaired. It was an overcast and gloomy sort of day, but not much beats being in the forest, smelling the fall smells and breathing the fresh air while going up and down windy forest trails. It's one of my favourite types of training. There were lots of people out on the trails today, some walking with dogs, some nordic walking with big backpacks, lots running with ski hiking poles like ourselves. My parents and I did about 2.5 hours of ski hiking, consisting of ski striding with our poles up the hills (as I'm doing in the photo), jogging down the hills and jogging or ski walking on flats. 

After training, we stopped off at Fresh Air Experience to pick out some skis for me. I've decided that it's time for me to act like a real racer and acquire more than just two pairs of good racing skis. I brought my two pairs of skis (classic and skate) with me to the store, and Duncan tested them for me to figure out what kind of conditions they are best for, so that I can buy two more pairs that will be good for different conditions. It turns out my two pairs are best for powder or hard-packed conditions, which I apparently knew without realizing it, because when Duncan asked me what I found the skis were good for I told him that the skate skis were horrible in that crazy 15 km race in Vancouver with the wet soppy snow. Duncan said his testing confirmed that those skis would be better for powder or hard-packed snow. So my new pair of skate skis is going to be better for wet conditions. For my classic skis, I said that they are really good for everything, but then amended that maybe they were not so good for Klister skiing (Klister is a horribly sticky grip wax that is used for hard-packed icy conditions in classic skiing). I was pleased to find out that I was right - based on the testing Duncan did with Fresh Air's very cool ski testing machine, my classic skis had no Klister pocket, so they would be no good on Klister days. So I will be getting a new pair of Klister skis. Unfortunately, they didn't have these two types of skis for my height and weight, so I've been put on the list of racers waiting for new skis and they will keep an eye on their new arrivals for skis that will fit what I'm looking for. I was super impressed with the way I was treated at Fresh Air today. I've always been treated super nice by Chris and everyone else there, but I've never had such special racer treatment before. If ever, anyone is looking for cross country ski equipment or bicycles in the Ottawa area and beyond, I highly recommend Fresh Air Experience. They have the best prices, very knowledgeable staff, and you can shop online. And as you can see, they really get to know their customers. And that's my positive rant for the day.

We were supposed to have a development training camp for the Eastern half of the country next weekend, but as there is no snow in Mont Ste-Anne, QC, it probably won't happen. The coaches are making the call on Monday. Either option is fine by me, since going to this camp meant that I couldn't attend my friend's wedding. I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens. 

I'm going rollerskiing in the Gatineau Park tomorrow morning, and I really hope it doesn't rain as much as they're calling for! If anyone is readying this, please think of snow for me. I'd like to try out my new skis when I get them and to actually get off the pavement before races start!

And that's the end of this lengthy update. Good night from Ottawa! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Group training begins!

Today was Kanata Nordic's first official Para-Nordic practice of the season. Caroline, Harris and I met at Mooney's Bay Park to do some rollerskiing in the dark. I think everyone was just trying to give me an advantage. We were joined by my  potential new guide, Lindsey.

As I've mentioned before, finding and keeping a guide or guides is the biggest challenge for a vision impaired skier. This year, I'm trying a new approach: I'm posting an ad on as many ski- and sprots-related websites as I can. You can see it here. I am also looking for several racing guides or training partners this time in order to lessen the load that usually falls on one person. So far my ad has attracted one potential guide and I tried skiing with her today. It went really well. We did some intervals on the hill at Vincent Massey Park and also skied up and down the trail along Mooney's Bay. Although it was almost pitch black out, I felt really comfortable following Lindsey. I think this will work out well. I will also be rollerskiing with Lindsey in Gatineau Park on the weekend. We will try to use the radios that we usually use during races to communicate.

Well, it is very late and 6 o'clock is going to come very early tomorrow. So off to bed I go. Good night from Ottawa.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Attempt gazillion-and-one at blog resurrection

Sooooo....this is awkward. I've been so bad at keeping up with this blog, no amount of updating will make up for it. So I think I will just start fresh right now.

It is November already and the ski season is just around the corner. Most of the trees have lost their leaves and I'm sure snow won't keep us waiting long, though it has been rather warm as of late.

This 2011-12 race season promises to be an exciting one!  In addition to the usual local races, O-Cups and Nationals, I will be able to go to some International Paralympic Committee World Cups in the United States! There will also be some training camps and the Ontario ParaSport Winter Games. All of this will definitely keep me busy this winter. Can't wait for snow!

I went for an awesome warm and sunny rollerski with Harris Kirby this morning. We worked on lots of legs-only skiing and some tight turns on a downhill. We also threw in a few intervals just to keep things interesting. All in all, a great workout.

I can't write too much today as it's getting pretty late, but I just wanted to kick things off here a little and to say that I intend to maintain this blog much better this season. Though I know, I may have said this before...

Well, good night from Ottawa. And see you soon! Promise.