Sunday, 9 December 2012

Ski-O. Attempt 4!

It finally feels that all this ski-o and skiing practice is paying off. Not only am I managing to not fall over on the steep descents and flat, but I'm no longer finishing last (although I do seem to only be able to 17 year olds!)

I was lent some skis by Barbro Kvåle which I used for the race as they glided better on the fresh snow that fell last night. I also had the added challenge of beating HJ's father who was skiing the same course today, but I was really most keen on not being last two days in a row.

The course was one of two halves. The first half with a track network skirting the edges of smaller marshes and tree lines on the hill, while the second half was more technical with some steeper climbs and descents and a denser path network.

I started steadily and quickly realised that I would have a challenge counting off all the paths as those that didn't have controls or on route choices, were hard to see as the fresh snow had covered the tracks. With no skiers using them, finding the right track became much harder. I paused at the junction before the first control as despite it was the first track junction I had seen, I had to pass 3 on my map. With a control half way up I figured it was mine and was rewarded with my control! The route to 2 was difficult, I opted to head straight out to the ski track and then 500m later turn back up the hill on scooter tracks. I was reluctant to take this route as there was 35m of climb (hills not being a strong point) but the other route which contoured more with shortcut options looked too technical and with invisible paths I felt it was asking for a mistake.

The next controls passed uneventfully, but I was starting to tire. I'm ok at skating on wide tracks and I can co-ordinate the movement, but as soon as I hit narrower ski-o tracks my skiing becomes increasing unstable and uncoordinated. Which is frustratingly hard work! Not to mention inefficient!

6 to 7 was a frightfully scary leg, with a short sharp climb out of the control, and then 2 steep drops with corners at the bottom. But I made it with no snowplough and no fall, but just a little unsteady! At 7 I proceeded to get stuck in a tree as my skis went under the foliage and into the dip in the snow. Getting out was a pain and look a good 30-40 seconds. The slight slope and marsh plants poking through the snow meant everytime I got the skis clear, I slid back in at another angle! It must be comical to watch me ski sometimes ...

I loved the descent to 8, I knew there was nothing scary in the way of drops so I picked up a bit of speed and cruised all the way with a smile on my face. After that I fatigued quickly and couldn't find any power, so the final km's back to the finish, uphill, were something of a struggle.

I was 25th today, with a 40 second gap to 23rd. Damn that tree! I was 22 mins behind the clear leader, Tove Alexandersson who won by a massive 4.5mins. I was 150% behind second place and the rest of the ski-o mortals! It's pleasing that I can continue to get closer to the winners. Just a little more coordination needed!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Ski-O. Attempt 3

Today's ski-o race took us to Sjusjøen near Lillehammer in Norway. We arrived yesterday afternoon and headed straight out for our second session of the day. I was building on my first sessions of ski drills and had an emphasis on poling with each skate stroke. My natural tendency is to be one sided as my balance isn't yet good enough to get a long glide on the ski's. I was doing pretty well and nailing some climbs, when I got a little cocky on a descent. As I came to the junction I made the right hand turn without a snow plough but caught my ski in the classic tracks, and as I was still heading to the left, hit the snow twisting my finger (of all things!). A bit of TLC needed, but no shortage of ice for the swelling!

The first race of the weekend was the sprint, 4km around the semi open fell. A look at the start list showed I had a middle start of the girls (must be last start of the unranked skiers!). HJ didn't want to hang around in the cold too long, so we arrived at the event 30 mins before my start (do I need to emphasize the stress??). I ran off and missed the route to the start and was wandering around a campsite for 5 mins hoping to find some ski-orienteers.

Heart rate and GPS route of course. Max HR zone from just after start to finish (and a few small sections where it dropped to 185).

Naturally by the time I got to the start and had started the course, my head was far from the right place. I skiied off and messed up the first, by not sticking to my plan and getting distracted. On the way to 4 I was caught by some faster girls who had already overtaken me, but I followed them at a turning and then realised I was wrong. Relocating quickly I then found the control while they skiied around some more. They finally caught me again by 6. 6-8 was a straight line and I was lucky to realise when I hit the main track that I needed to get 7. Fortunately I was only 50m away, so a quick shortcut dealt with that control. After that I got in to the flow a bit and despite not having good glide on the hills, managed to pick up some speed.

I finished in a long 43 mins, and skiied straight back to the cabin along the ridge with a glorious sunset which made the mountains look to be on fire.

I beat 8 people in the womens race and 2 men (who skiied the same course), so I'm pleased despite making at least 3 mins of mistakes.

Time to rest, recover and eat before a middle distance tomorrow (and keep my fingers crossed for WRE points!).

Friday, 7 December 2012

A few pics!

Someone built a GIANT snowman looking in the window!

-27°C and nice and warm!

Ski-O. Season begins!

Having finally reached a grand total of 6 weeks skiing in two years, with 3 ski-o events, I was a little anxious about the first races of the season in Saariselka, Finland. Flying up to Ivalo airport in Lapland, we were met by the cold. I was immediately grateful for my warm snug Craft kit, and armed with thermal trousers, thermals, hats, down jacket, ski trousers and mittens, I braved the cold.

I felt as if I had steadily been improving my skiing and my balance was considerably better than at the beginning of the Val Senales trip. But downhills are still scary. And corners still require a snow plough so I was concerned at how I would manage on the narrow ski-o tracks, where penguin steps are difficult!

My goal for the season is to not finish last in one race. In early 2011, I was more than 200% of the winners time. Earlier this year, I was 180%, so I knew with more practice I could only improve.

Sadly I didn't realise that controls might be placed close together on the same path, and I mispunched. BUT, I would have beaten an Italian by 3 minutes! The middle distance was ok, not as hard as I imagined. I made it up the hills, despite being shouted at by everyone passing me. I've no idea what they were saying, but I'm guessing it wasn't a polite conversation they were continuing as they skied on up the hills. I know I'm not a fast skier, or particularly good one. I move out of the way as fast as I can, and let's not forget that while I'm not winning, I'm still trying not to be last. I had to contend on several occasions by the other skiers pushing me out of the way, because I wasn't in control of my ski's enough to move a quickly as they wanted. 

Middle distance map:

The next day, we moved onto the long distance. An 18km epic. From the start I was last, but it didn't stay that way. As I came up the hill to control 2 I met a couple of lost girls. They caught me up at 5/6 and then I made a mistake and lost them good. But the signs are there that things are improving. My cornering practice in Italy, has improved my cornering skills no end, and I'm now confident enough to skate around corners. Steep downhills still require a snow plough though!

I finished in 1:49 and the winners in 1:09 so much less than 200% of the winner :-) I was exhausted at the finish, mainly due to picking up the map and thinking it was long enough and there would be no map change. So from 6 onwards I was sprinting my feeble arms off (the narrow tracks mean it's difficult to skate and thus the arms are used!) to catch up the Italians, but I was mystified when I wasn't allowed to finish. I was then handed a new map and realised I had to go back up the big hill and do the other gaffles! So the last half of the course was seriously tough, and my arms burned! My core gave up and with it went my remaining speed! Lesson learned, don't sprint from 25% of the course.

Long distance map (my gaffling was: A, C, B, D)

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Back in the UK - temporarily

September, October and early November were hectic to say the least. Each week a different hotel room and rarely in Falun with the comfort of my own clothes and bikes!

After Val Senales, we returned to Norway for a night before I jetted back to the UK. We went skiing on Lygna to test out the effects of high altitude. I was surprised to find skiing relatively easy for once and enjoyed the I-don't-think-I'm-going-to-pass-out feeling! The snow had been there for a few days so it was icy and didn't give under the ski's. We hedged our bets and headed off up the hill hoping the trails on the top were ok. Sadly it was not to be and just after reaching the top of the hill, the solid pisted track stopped. So back down the icy hill all the way with a big snowplough. :-)

We hoped the trails on the other side of Lygna might be better so disappeared over there. The best we found were some 'ski-o' type tracks and a nice skate across a marsh with beautifully soft snow. Back to the ice and I mostly managed to stay upright!

But the next morning I had to fly back to the UK early, so it was bye-bye snow and hello rain! My road bike had been fixed and was ready to ride once the rain stopped.

As it has turned out, the rain has only stopped briefly so with the lurgi going round my family, in a bid not to catch it, I've been avoiding too much outside training. Most of my training has been gym based (I miss it as I haven;t had any chance since May to do weight training), and geared towards the beginning of the ski-o season - triceps and lat work alongside shoulder and arm work. Balance exercises and avoiding running on my ankle. The goal this winter is to not finish last in a ski-o race. Depending on how that goal works out, mp's and dsq's may start counting the further winter progresses. I also have to choose races that have no contours since downhills are scary and I fall over too much on them. Plus, uphills are hard given my lack of upper body strength, and little penguin steps up are apparently uncool.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

High altitude skiing

Living with a Norwegian and leading the life of a well travelled 'gypsy'! It's hard work, we're rarely in the same place for more than a week, but for the last three weeks we have made our 'home' in Val Senales, Italy.

The Norwegian Ski-O team were here for their annual high altitude training camp, consisting of one daily 2.5 hour XC ski session on the glacier at 3000m, and a second rollerski/run/strength session in the afternoon. With training twice a day for 4+ hours, they eat a lot. So I was invited along as a cook, cooking food twice a day.

Last year it was a challenge with 4 'hobs' and an oven trying to cook enough for 6 people. This year it was even harder with 4 'hobs' between two apartments and no ovens or microwaves, and a miniscule amount of space. I totalled many training hours cooking two meals over two apartments and legging it between the two to make sure the sausages/pasta/rice wasn't burning. Sadly the rice always burnt but after three weeks it's at least cooking thoroughly :-) practice makes perfect!

I've been training once a day at altitude which as a MTB'er with 3 weeks of XC experience is a challenge. Trying to work on technique, corners and balance without falling is hard enough for me at sea level, let alone at 3000m. But after much practice and about 90 mins per day, I'm finally getting somewhere. Corners are a little easier (although still snowploughing the scary ones) and I can balance for longer on one ski.

I did a few runs, but mostly it aggravated my ankle injury for several days. The worst was my run down from the top, 3212m via a semi-complete klettersteig and glacier run! I was expecting to make it down in 75 mins, but the climb along a ridge had been pulled up (map incorrect!) so I had to back track and then improvise on a rocky, slightly loose, descent back to the path. From there I ran around the glacier and down to the hut at 2800m. Then the hard work started with an 800m descent in about 2 km with traversed and descended the side of the mountain. Part of the path was small 'deer' path while the remainer over the steep sections was stone steps and scree.

Needless to say that run was a painful one both for my poor ankle which protested considerably from the word go, and for my poor legs which wanted to give way and curl up by the end. The next day was one of pain thanks to the delights of DOMS which lasted 5 days.

We've had a number of snowstorms one of which put us in the hotel for a day and the second saw us struggle to drive back up the valley after pizza. We arrived in late summer and will leave in the morning in the middle of winter.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

World Cup Long race

The World Cup Long race was the final race of the season and my 5th competition this year (out of 9).

I woke up this morning feeling incredibly lethargic and tired. The ride to the start didn't help the feeling, but it was a nice morning for 8km. However, it was cold. I decided to race in my arm warmers and thermal as I hate getting cold, and as I hit the first deep stream crossing, I was glad for my choice.

I started conservatively, and got the first control well. The next 5 controls were something of a mess. My head wasn't with the navigation at all, and I lacked motivation to push hard. Clearly the last 4 weeks after WOC, and little training have taken their toll on my legs and brain. I kept stopping to check where I was and to make sure I was on the path I wanted. I didn't make any mistakes but the hesitations were costing time. To the 5th, I made a right hash of my route choice, going left, then cutting back across the straight line to the right. I ended up riding close to an extra 2.5km, which on a 1:20thou map doesn't look too bad. Until you start counting the km's! 

Shortly after I saw Karolina LTU who started 3 mins behind. She was a little lost and my route out of the control led her in to it. It gave me the kick up the backside I needed and finally I found some motivation. It took her from control 7 to 16, a good 1/3 of the course to actually catch me, but the doglegs in and out of controls told me she was slowly gaining. We came together at the end of the butterfly, and then alternated navigating and riding. For some controls Karolina led, and for others I did. Riding together gave me some aggression for the final 30% of the course, and finally I found some flow to my orienteering. A small mistake towards the end lost me 15 seconds which I didn't pull back in the the last 500m. 

I finished in 17th place, a small improvement on yesterday and a very mixed race - 40% bad, 20% better and 40% good. 

But, despite disappointing results, I now know what Estonia looks like! Knowing how to ride in the terrain and the mapping styles, the rideability and contours is an advantage for next year's WOC over those who didn't come to these races. There's still a lot of work to do in preparation for next year, but the ski-O season will provide a welcome break from biking. 


Friday, 21 September 2012

World Cup Sprint

The final round of the 2012 World Cup is as far east in Estonia as one can get before hitting Russia. In fact, the border is less than a 1km away from our accomodation in a small village, Varska.

The sprint race was held early this afternoon around a small picturesque town named Rapina, about 22km north of Varska. A typical eastern european town with houses spread out, numerous parklands and even a small castle.

The map the organisers provided showed a fairly basic looking area, but I had a sneaky feeling the town would be more complicated and the map would be detailed between the buildings.

I prepared fairly well for the event but as usual, it always comes down to the race on the day. With urban sprints races not being my strength, I was anxious to have a good race. The first control was as expected, but I then lost 10 seconds to the 2nd by going into a farm yard rather than turning right infront of the buildings. A quick turn around and I was back on my way. The next few controls went without a glitch, but the early 10 sec mistake dropped me from 6th to 18th. I pulled back a few places through the easier forest section, but then was unsure of the best route choice to the 6th control. I didn't want to go back the way I entered and then go the long way round on the road, so instead I took the path that followed the straight line between controls. At this point had I turned right at the main track instead of left I would have met the road 50m away and gained a few seconds. But in turning left I then cut across some more fields and ditches losing 30 seconds despite the route being shorter. Speed is everything in a sprint race, and I was still a little in 'Hungary mode' where going straight was fast.

I dropped back into 18th here and was then met with the long blast-it-fast sections on the road. The controls looked more complicated on the map than they were, so the fast riders had a real advantage here. I didn't lose anymore time until a brief directional problem to the 10th where I couldn't find the track I wanted and did 2 sides of a triangle, again losing 20 seconds.

The 13th (always the 13th!) was my biggest problem. I was going straight, weaving a little through the out of bounds flowerbeds, but keeping the direction good. As a result of cutting through I had a few tree branches to deal with. One tree was particularly overhanging and I (with all my wisdom) thought brushing between the two larger branches would be a piece of cake. Sadly the tree had other ideas and wasn't going to move. I went through the tree branches while the bike stayed on the other side! As I grabbed it and jumped on I realised there was a problem with the cassette/derailleur/chain. The back wheel wasn't turning. I couldn't work it out until I saw the back skewer was undone and the wheel pulled out. I put it back in and carried on.

I finished 18th, but, as in Hungary, the results were pretty tight. Last year I was 9th in a sprint race 2 minutes + behind the winner. Today 18th and 2 minutes behind. The level of competition really has got better in the womens class and every small mistake counts. Despite making some mistakes, I'm pleased to have been riding fairly well and always refocussing after a problem. Normally one mistake leads straight into the next, so to refocus in such a high intensity stressful environment is a plus.


Sunday, 9 September 2012

MTBO Falun

When I started 2012 I hadn't planned to do many MTBO events. WOC was on the cards, but really just go there and race rather than try to do anything special.

My MTBO races this year are as follows:
Cannock MTBO (UK)
Swedish Champs Sprint/Middle/Long
WOC Sprint/Middle/Long/Relay
and now the MTBO in Falun yesterday.

The Falun event was for me a training race. There were no medals to be won. No national anthem to be heard. A field of 5 women on the elite course. And a chance to ride my new 'local' forest. Get to grips more with the roots and rocks.

Ironically I spent a portion of the race wishing I had: a) a back tyre with grip that wasn't bald, and b) a full suss bike. Bumpy bumpy bumpy!

From the start I didn't quite feel 'in the zone' mentally. I was hesitant to the first control, and lacking aggression there after when biking through the rough stuff. I got my direction wrong on the way to the second and ended up slightly in the OOB area. I had crossed a road but couldn't see it on the map, and looking up I could see the buildings that I thought I wanted. It was only when I saw the pond, I realised the road wasn't on the map. It turned out that the road was on the map it didn't have a border to it which meant it was impossible to see the difference between paved and open. My biggest mistake was on the way to control 8, where I missed the left turn and ended up on the edge of the out of bounds area. I relocated and found my way the 30m back to where I wanted to be. I followed the track, crossed a stream and then ended up at a junction I shouldn't be at. Relocated again, decided not to bike down the river/track/mud-fest and went around instead.

The race was wrong route choice after wrong route. I was seeing the fastest ones and knowing they were fastest, but then always taking the slower routes. Mentally it's a game to not get distracted by my bad decisions. By the 13th control, things started to pick up. I was biking more efficiently and building a bit of speed. I was climbing more aggressively and taking the faster route choices.

In reality it was only the middle section that was lacking from 8 to 13. It's something to work on over the winter. Often in my 'less motivated' races I learn more about my orienteering than in those I do well.

The course also involved two downhill sections which were timed as 'King of DH'. I was 3rd on the first in 3.33, the winner took 3.20, while I won the second in 1.32 with 2nd place in 1.34.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Moving ...

After WOC, I flew straight back to Scandinavia to move into an apartment with my boyfriend and three other Norwegians.

After 2 days of packing his stuff (of which some is returning to Norway, some got thrown and most got kept), we were just about ready to move stuff to the new apartment. A brief trip back to Norway for a wedding, and we were back in Falun moving boxes and bags and skis and bikes and ski repair stuff and bike repair stuff and desks and furniture and curtains and pictures and 500 DVD's.

It was an epic move. My stuff consists of two medium sized bags containing clothes, bike stuff and tools. The rest of the 12 car journeys was Hans Jørgen's! We found close to 50 ski hats, so if anyone needs any for the winter then you know where to find free ones ... ;-)

I'm now living here in Falun for the next 10 months and then we'll see what happens. I say 'living' here, but in reality I'm starting to live something of a gypsy lifestyle travelling around from Norway to Sweden and back again!

WOC Long distance

It's about a week and bit late, but I've been pretty busy!

After my mechanical in the middle distance race, I dropped from 4th to 25th, so I knew I was riding fairly well despite not having done a huge amount of training. Originally I had planned to focus on the relay first leg and have a good race before cruising the long distance at the end of the week. The plan changed after the middle, so I focussed on the long race and cruised the relay instead.

The day of the long race was marginally cooler than the rest of the week. With a 5km ride to the start and quarantine starting at 1130, I knew I would have 30mins or so to chill at the start. I had managed to focus myself for all the races bar the relay and I could feel the mental fatigue creeping in during the morning of the race. I wasn't as nervous as on previous days, and I had no idea how my assault on the long distance would go.

By the time I reached the start line I was in the right state of mind again. I changed my route choice to the first control and opted for a longer but 'faster'  route. In Hungary, with such dry weather there was little difference between medium, slow and difficult biking tracks/paths, so in fact, going on the 'faster' tracks was slower if you had to bike further. A small mistake to the second control when I turned left too soon, but judging by the GPS I realised before many of the others who made the same mistake.

At 2 I met my 3 min woman, and then had caught her by 3. We rode together for a few controls but with different butterfly forkings I saw a chance to get a gap. The winner Susanna Laurila caught me on my second loop as she was on her first, and I was impressed with her graceful speed as she got a small gap on one of the small hills. Once back at the central butterfly for the 3rd time I was back on my own and so it remained for the rest of the course, which from there on was just a matter of fast riding rather than involving any navigation. The main navigation consisted of right or left route choices.

The map change was 80% of the way around, as we entered Veszprem from the north. I was fatiguing quickly at this point and struggling to get any speed on the fast, flat, marked sections which totalled 1.5km. I lost a few places here and a minute or so. By the final control I was down by a second to one of the swiss girls, but a couple of track standing punches and Team GB cheering gained me a couple of seconds to finish a second up on her, in 9th place.

9th is my personal best result in the long distance, and I'm pleased considering my 2 months of training for WOC revolved around sprint and middle training. I certainly felt tired towards the end, but thats the nature of lack of long distance training.

Impressively a mere 10 minutes separated the top 32 women. A close time gap I have not known before, and even more impressive when you think that the majority of competitors wouldn't have been caught or catching others as in other years. The MTBO field has certainly got stronger in recent years, but the nature of the flat Veszprem terrain allowed tight competition and close results.

I'm pleased to be 5 minutes down this year, compared to 30 mins last year and near front of a tightly packed group.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

WOC Middle

After yesterday's result, I wondered if I could do it again.

Go for it, I thought.

And thats what I did. Until it all went wrong!

Picking up the map at the start I realised my expectations of a course full of route choice was incorrect, and that the course wouldn't contain as much climb as advertised. It was also a bikers course full of fast riding and easy decisions.

For the first 8 controls everything was going really well and I was neck and neck with a group of riders in 3rd-5th place. Surprising considering I'm not a fast rider.

To the 9th control there were many small paths leading into the forest and all were vague crossings. I came to one that seemed to be in the right place and a little bigger than the others, so I took it. Only to find it stopped 100m in. I ended up pushing/biking/hacking and charging my way through the scrubby forest only to keep finding tracks running perpendicular to my direction of travel and kept thinking one of them would be the track I was looking for. Eventually after 2-3 mins I dropped out on my track and made my way to the control. No real biggie I thought, just keep pushing and you can still get a result.

Sadly I didn't respect the terrain. Sticks and stones were flying everywhere as I was biking aggressively. Any one of them could have flicked up and caused some damage. What did the damage was a poor gear change moment in the same place as Pippa and Marika Hara. As the chain sucked it pulled my front mech round and resulted in being unable to ride in my big ring (this was the first time I had needed my small ring in the course). The damage was done, the bike was irrepairable on the course and I kept pushing but with the bike making some horrific noises. With the only accessible front gear and half my back gears not working I could either twiddle my legs or beast my legs, neither an appropriate choice.

Eventually I made it to the finish but having lost 3-4 mins on biking time and a 2-3 minute mistake. Bugger. Still at least it gets me worked up for the relay.

WOC Sprint

I wish I could give away my secrets. But I won't! Something has clicked these last few months. Ski-Orienteers might call it the 'Love Factor', others might call it luck. I prefer to call it preparation.

On the morning of the sprint race I was feeling nervous, but with focus. Usually a good combination and it's rare I can feel like this two days in a row. I knew what to expect from the course. Technical orienteering, lots of cutting across the fast open land, with some challenging controls requiring planning and care. I knew that maintaining focus would be crucial to success, but also that everyone would make mistakes. The winners would be those who held it together the longest.

In the start looking at the map I realised that flat biking and avoiding the hills (which I remembered to be brutal from 2009) would be the key to my race.

I was surprised to catch my 2 minute woman from Sweden at the 3rd control. We alternated the navigation for some controls before I pulled a small gap. Riding with someone certainly helped us both to increase our speed and maintain control of the orienteering.

The course was as expected. Plenty of short cutting and route choice being the key of several legs. Having coached for 2 weeks in Scotland, I found I was on top of my foot o skills which helped no end. Several other training sessions from Scotland helped too!!! But I can't give those away either :-)

I made my first error going to the 8th control where as I cut across I drifted to the left, but I realised quickly and knew I had to turn right to find the control. Then again on the 13th, I lost concentration and didn't have a full plan. As I rode, I became confused with the paths, and opted to ride around the only path I could see on the ground and which I knew where it was on the map. The junctions before it were too confusing and I risked making a bigger mistake. Instead I played it safe and deliberately carried on biking into the mistake, taking the path further north from the control and then turning back south once I could see my control. I perhaps only lost 20 seconds here, but it was better than losing a minute.

In the final controls I was hurting. I slowed my pace a fraction which allowed me to think more clearly and avoid further mistakes, but it did mean the lead slipped away to 20 seconds or so. But again, better to not make a mistake, than mess up the final controls.

I finished with a 2 minute lead over my nearest competitor and couldn't stop shaking with adrenaline after having had one of the best races of my life. I didn't think it would be enough to win, but I thought a top 6 was within reach. Little did I expect silver, and my first WOC medal. It's been 4 years since I last won a medal, so it's taking a while to sink in!

WOC Long Qualifier

Another hot day. 

As always the Long Qualifier for the women is just a matter of finishing. Although this year, with 73 women over 2 heats, some would miss out on a place in the final. But for the majority of athletes, finishing was the only goal.

I cruised around, losing 3 mins or so through a mistake and a poor route choice. Still, I finished 7th which is reasonable and only about 3 mins down on the heat leader. It puts me in a decent start position for the final.

Once back home, everything came down to focussing on the sprint. Having been focussed in the qualifier for the long, I knew it would be a tough job to do it all over again. The last couple of years I have struggled to focus for races which has resulted in poor results as I’m more easily distracted.

WOC - The Build Up!

It’s been a while since I’ve written a race report. Having decided to take a year away from MTBO to refresh mentally, I’ve not done many races. Throughout the Winter and Spring I was ticking over with training, doing what I wanted rather than having any focus. It was fine for a couple of months to have no pressure or stress but then I started to feel aimless.

In May, a day before the selection deadline, I announced to the selectors I wished to ride at WOC. I’ve always enjoyed MTBO in Hungary, and the World Championships were being held in and around Veszprem where I competed on one area in 2009.

I started training with a goal. A top ten finish in Sprint and/or Middle. In June I moved to Norway for a couple of months to travel around with my boyfriend, train hard and make a map. My first MTBO races came about 3 weeks after I started training properly in the form of the Swedish MTBO Champs in Stockholm. A few bike/leg/brain problems and I knew I was performing poorly in all 3 races. But in the middle there was a glimmer of race focus.

For two months I trained hard. A camp in Finland with some mind blowing maps. Some training in Mora. I was doing more training than ever before - but I’m not going to give the secret away!

Finally things felt like they were clicking into place.

I went home and then coached at Lagganlia/Kincraig for 2 weeks. It was tough finding the balance of training, enough biking and intervals to keep ticking over, usually early in the morning, and not so much shadowing that I did too much training. Fortunately an ankle injury saw me take a few days out which helped keep down the running hours. I managed to stick to the plan. I don’t know what the other coaches thought, but possibly “crazy” and “obsessed” came into it!

Straight after tour I flew out to Budapest for an organised camp with some other teams. The organiser had done a brilliant job of planning one session per day, but with the possibility of more training which was self planned. Again I didn’t give in to temptation and stuck to my training plan, and stayed out of the sun.

Finally we drove to Veszprem and sorted out everything for the arrival of the rest of the team later that evening. With another day of training it was simply a matter of staying calm (being team leader means life is never calm) and out of the sun.

Scandinavian Summer

Sometimes it’s great to do something without giving it much thought.

Two weeks later I was on the plane to Oslo to spend two months in Scandinavian with HJK, mapping, running, MTBO’ing, Jukola, SM MTBO Champs, O-Fest etc. Everything you can cram into 2 months ... I’ll be doing it!

Spending some time in Scandinavia gives me greater opportunities to train for WOC. Having been selected for MTBO WOC in mid May, I’ve increased my training and set some goals. Which is what I need. Having some structure is considerably better than dossing around with training: ‘I’m too tired’, ‘It’s raining’, ‘Too much work’. Most excuses under the sun have been given over the last few months.

But here. The MTBO training opportunities are many. The chance to learn Norwegian. To things I’ve not done before. In previous years I’ve not done as much MTBO training as I needed to perform well. So this is a chance to get some MTBO practice in high quality, mind boggling terrain. 

Of course, to get to the stage of training properly, I had to make some mistakes. The Swedish MTBO champs ... many mistakes. Stupid rookie mistakes. Wandering around a forest and a marsh for 7 minutes. Not something I should do. But yet, I am clearly out of practice and lose my logical MTBO head when the terrain gets a little more technical. 

Then there was Jukola and staying awake all night to be bitten by mosquitoes, and getting wet in the rain. I wasn’t running but was attempting to organise a team of 7 guys! But they usually want to stay in bed at 3am...! The day before Jukola I had been out training around some Finnish roads, which ended in a pretty awesome fast interval session for 2 hours. Just what I needed to clear my head.

New Blog

Given that my website won't work at the moment, I doubt it has for a while but I've been a bit slack with the upkeep, from now on I will use this blog. At least until I can get it working!

I'll transfer across the last few postings.