For me today is a training day and prep for tomorrow's VI/Standing long-distance classic race. I'm about to head out for a ski.
The last couple of days have been very busy and exciting. Two days ago we attended the Opening Ceremonies, which were nothing short of amazing. From the full stands at Fisht Stadium to the amazing performances and the giant icebreaker sailing through the stadium, it was quite a spectacle. Granted, the march in fell far short of the excitement of Vanouver for us, (considering we're no longer the home crowd), but the rest of the ceremonies was unbelievable. I'm really glad I went even though I had a race the next day.
Yesterday was my very first race of the Sochi 2014 Paralympics. It was a 6 km biathlon sprint. It went as first races usually do - with a few hiccups along the way. We had a bit of a lane mix-up in the range on my first shooting round with the marshal being unclear which lane I was supposed to use. That threw my focus a bit and got me flustered so I missed two shots and had to do two penalty loops. On the second round I shot clean, but since I wasn't aware I had qualified for biathlon at all for these Games untill just a couple of weeks ago, I was pretty slow at shooting. On the last lap, for some reason, my legs started to feel really heavy - as if they were full of lead. I felt like I could barely move. It might have been because I had stood around quite a bit the night before at the Ceremonies or because of jet lag/altitude. There's no way to really know, but the fact was that I was dying a slow and painful death around that last lap. Because my legs were so heavy I got bogged down in the deep sugary snow on the last downhill and went down. I got up really quickly only to realize that my Leki pole had unclipped itself and flown off somewhere. I got a little confused and looked around for it for a second or two. Then Andrea called over to me and gave me her pole. Our head coach Robin popped out of nowhere suddenly and gave Andrea a spare pole. I wasn't able to put Andrea's pole grip on as it was a complicated kind, so there we were finishing the race with two different poles each and mine not even around my wrist. But we made it without broken equipment or injuries, though it was disappointing to come in last again. I may have been able to challenge for 6th place if I hadn't fallen. Someone later found my pole and brought it to me.
But tomorrow is a new day, and we race a 15 km classic race. We are going 5 times around a 3 km loop. We are the last category out again so the conditions will be pretty tricky once again. I really hope I can keep my legs fresh enough to get down that hill without falling 5 times tomorrow. The key will definitely be pacing and keep good technique throughout.
Andrea and I practised the course today a few times and my classic technique felt awesome. I feel pretty confident about tomorrow's race. But I have to go to bed now if I want to feel fresh tomorrow.
So good night from Sochi once again.