Tuesday, 24 February 2015

World Champs

I raced the sprint race at the world champs in Falun last Thursday. During the race I thought I was going pretty well and towards the end of the race I thought I was going to qualify for the heats. I had the same feeling I get when I do really good sprint prologues and I felt like I was really pushing my self as hard as I can. I know that when I manage to do that I tend to qualify. Unfortunately, moments after I crossed the line Kåre gave me the thumbs down from the coaching zone to tell me I was outside. I couldn't quite understand why, and struggled to come up with a point on the course I made a big mistake. I ended up way down in 40th, just over 2 seconds from qualify. I'd pushed my self so hard in the prologue that I was feeling pretty bad. I felt sick and spent the following half hour with my head between my knees staring at the floor of the changing rooms. At the time I thought It was just from the effort of the prologue.
I had time to go through the race with coaches and look at some video of the race. I skied technically well and skied to my game plan. But I was just missing a bit of energy. That extra spark. The margins are pretty small in sprint races and I can't afford to off my game if I want to be top 30 and make the heats.

After the race we headed back to the hotel. After a recovery jog I got a massage from our Physio. It was during the massage I started to feel unwell. I realised pretty quickly that things weren't right, I spoke to the team coach and got a room away from Andrew, who I had been sharing with. I spent the rest of the night vomiting. It explains the not having the extra gear in the race. And it explains why I felt so bad after the race.
After I eventually stopped having symptoms, around Friday lunch time, I was confined to the room for over 48 hours so as not to infect anybody else in our team or staying at the hotel. In the end I first headed out for a jog on Sunday night after having spent 3 days straight in bed.

I'm not going to do any more races during these championships. By sunday I had, had a few recovery days but I still didn't have any energy. I couldn't even bring my self to think about skiing or training, let alone racing. I was just happy to be able to get out of bed for the first time on sunday night. On Monday I was forced to skiing although I really didn't want to. I managed to bring my self to go and I was pleasantly surprised. I thought I'd ski for 15 to 20min and feel like death, but I skied for 50min and felt surprisingly good. This gave me a hope that I could start the 15k skate race tomorrow. So today I did some harder efforts to see how my body was responding and if I'd have enough energy to race. I knew pretty quickly after I started the efforts that I wouldn't be able to race. I felt ok at steady state but every time the effort went up I felt sluggish and out of breath. I'm pretty tired this evening, after the session, so it was probably the best decision to pull out of the race.

It is annoying to come to world champs and do 1 race and not do particularly well. I think I was getting towards some decent form and that things where starting to come together technically. I now have a little over a week and half to the next world cup races, where hopefully I can make up for a ruined world champs. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Østersund

This weekend I race 2 world cup races in Østersund, Sweden, as my final preparations to the World Championships which start on Thursday.
The races didn't go amazingly well if I'm honest with my self. I finished down in 57th in the classic sprint and 67th in the 15k skate. I was looking for a top 30 in the sprint and I should be top 60 in a 15k. Quite why I din't skis fast I'm not so sure. I feel that I am actually in quite good form but I didn't manage to translate that into skiing fast this weekend. The classic sprint was really short at only 2 and half minutes and Iv'e noticed in the past that in really short sprints I have struggled if I'm not in amazing shape. I felt I wasn't up and going properly before the second half, and with such a short race I can't afford to give away so much time in the start. The world champs sprint is only 4 days away now. The course there is a bit longer and has some better terrain for me, so I'm still optimistic that I can ski fast there.
The 15k today was actually an ok race for me. I skied technically well and at a good even pace throughout the race. I was just a bit slower than I'd expected! I was a long way behind the winner, far more than I expected, but the actual position was ok and I was in around the people I expected to be on the results sheet. The atmosphere around the track made it fun to race today. There was a big crowd in the stadium and a good crowd out on the course with big screens a tv commentry being broadcast throughout the woods. The only misfortunate thing is that Scandinavians insist on cheering me on with "heia Musgrave" and "heia Englander". Not every British person is english and not every British skier is called Musgrave. I'm not sure if it is more insulting to me or more insulting to Andrew, but either way it wouldn't cause them much harm to actually look at a startlist and get my name right. Geography is obviously not taught at a very high standard in Sweden, but I don't have an easy solution for that.

After Kazakhstan I was expecting more from this weekend. I thought my form was on the way up and I was starting to feel better skiing. I was also finding it easier to push my self and really access my top gear. After what was quite a stressfull journey home for Almaty, I had an easy weeks training. I had to find a balance between having enough rest and recovering, and getting my body ready to race. I think I did a pretty good job, although this weekends results say otherwise, when I look back at what I did, I don't think I'd change anything.
The conditions back in Lillehammer are really good at the moment, there is lots of snow and all the tracks are complete and being prepared daily. It is also a bit warmer and the sun has returned! It is now daylight after 5pm!! It's much easier to train when the conditions are good. Here it Østersund they have not been so fortunate. It has been warm. All the tracks here are made up of old man made snow giving a combination of ice and sugar snow. Fortunately it didn't get too soft and the conditions stayed good for the weekend.
Tomorrow morning we are driving the 4 hours or so down to Falun. From what I have heard the conditions there are great and there is lots of snow. So I look forward to racing there. My first race isn't before Thursday. Tomorrow I'll just have a jog after travelling, on Tuesday I'll ski for 45min to an hour and on Wednesday I'll have some short intervals and test my skis on the race course. Hopefully this will get me in prime shape.