Update – October 2008

I’m nearing the end of another excellent training camp.  This one was in an old favorite location:  Vuokatti, Finland.  The camp will last for two weeks with a focus on early on-snow skiing and intensity.  Everything is going extremely well.  The first week consisted of a large volume of hours, to make the most out of the opportunity to ski on-snow in the tunnel.  The snow conditions inside the tunnel are amazing this year compared last year.  This spring they cleaned out the tunnel and put in new fresh snow, making the skiing unbelievable.  But to do a three hour workout in a giant culvert that is only a kilometer long, you go a little crazy.  But no worries – as a Nordic skier you have to be a little crazy!  As far as the intervals we are doing here, they are brutal and sweaty.   It is great to be able to just go all out and see how far I have progressed in the last year.  I am feeling very fit right now.  I feel much stronger in both specific muscles and overall strength and in turn my technique has improved.  To see the videos from when I started to now, it is truly mind-boggling.  I use to look like a fish out of water… now I might pass for a baby shark.   Being here right now is also a great opportunity to learn how the body reacts to the time change, climate and food.  All of which are extremely important to know with the World Championships in January in this exact same spot.  That will be my first shot at a major competition.  With it being World Championships, everyone will be training hard to achieve the best results possible.  There is a little more at stake too, since it will be a qualifier to the 2010 Paralympic Games.  Training is now very focused because before we know it, it will be the 2010 Paralympic Games (only 514 days left).  Speaking of food, let me describe what the food is like here.  Lunch and Supper consist of potatoes, some form of vegetable (not always certain what kind it is), and a type of fish or meat.  I must note that there is hardly any chicken.  Oh… and for dessert usually a whipped cream with berries blended into it.  One important thing I’ve learned is if you want to enjoy your time somewhere, you must accept the local culture and be open to new things.  An example of this from Finland is the wide variety of fish or the different desserts.  One was a delicious pineapple crumble…mmmm.  But trying new things can backfire (and when it does, it does not taste good at all).  But a for-sure favorite is reindeer, especially the meatballs.  A little team joke is when someone asks what the meat is, we answer with “Santa’s rejects.”  Being so close to the Arctic Circle, there is a good chance it could be.  Well that is what’s going on here at the frozen culvert.  I now leave you to go and do more of my favorite thing – getting sweaty!
Mark


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