As a fitting end; I found myself at the highest point I have reached all training season. Finishing the training season on top! I was at the second altitude camp of the fall and the final workout was a run/hike up to the peak of Humphreys, the highest natural point in the state of Arizona. Reaching the top, would set the record for the year as the highest I’ve been (excluding air travel) all year. The peak of Humphreys stands at a soaring 12’637ft (3852m). A symbolic way to end the camp and kick off the upcoming competitive season.
After a successful first altitude camp in Mammoth & Bishop, California, there was a little down time before a three-week intensity block. Getting the most out of the previous altitude exposure. A tough few weeks but it is the same every year and I felt solid throughout the time in Canmore. The first week, the rest week was actually tougher on me then the intensities. Coming after a great camp, it was mentally a little hard to settle down and recover. I love the fall but it was getting me a little down that first week. Then came the second week and the first intensities and I was right back into it. Kicking off the first introductive intensity with a clean sheet on the range. The following weeks were very simple with a balance of volume, prep, intensity and rest. Pushing the limits each time I started an intensity. I did sacrifice technique in one intensity for the sake of all out speed. I wasn’t overly impressed with that. Resetting the focus, the following day back on technique. As a way to really drive home that focus, I was splitting my workout between roller skiing and shooting. My attention and focus had to be sharp and deliberate between the two activities. As I was out on the roller ski loop the focus was on skiing technique. Making sure each movement was correct or correcting any that weren’t. Then when I crossed my marker I switched off the skiing focus and instantly was in a shooting state of mind. That helped a lot to retarget my focus.
The last five days in Canmore before heading south to Phoenix and Flagstaff was the team’s second Biathlon camp of the year. I was very pleased with my camp. Some very rhythmic and natural shooting. With very good performance on demand type of shooting. There was a session or two that was not up to the level that I aspect from my shooting. I’m satisfied that I was able to come back the next session and return to that upper level.
The first two days in Flagstaff were a bit cool and damp. We were fortunate enough to not really get rained on at all. Usually the rain would start the last few minutes of a workout or as we started to drive back to the hotel. We lucked out a few times in the first three days. The cooler temperatures resulted in snow higher up on Humphreys Peak. We trudged through some pretty deep snow on the third day and just missed making it to the saddle before we had to turn around. The snow did make it pretty quick descending back down. It was sticky snow and lent itself well to solid footing and fast running. When we returned a few days later it was a different story. Most of the snow had melted away but the trail itself had been packed down and in certain sections was now sheer ice. Ice rink smooth. The only way to get through these sections was to jump from rock to rock that was sticking out through the snow. Going up wasn’t too bad but coming down was interesting. In a weird way kind of fun as I hopped from rock to rock then balancing on a side slope before jumping across the trail to the next rock or tree root. I little more snow and ice and we would have had a gnarly bobsled run. Though at times I wish I had had studs in my shoes it didn’t stop me from making it to the summit and finish the camp off the right way.
That was it, another training season has come to an end. With Frozen Thunder rolled out, fresh snow falling throughout the Rockies and the temperatures continuing to fall the competitive season is only days away. I am very excited about how the training season went this year. There were some great gains throughout and weaknesses identified so that I can continue to work on them. At several points this year I felt stronger and fitter then I had the previous years. Really enjoyed cranking it up this year again, as I build towards the World Cup season and the next Games. I have a soft spot in my heart for altitude camps, I really enjoy them. It’s a good thing that my body does too! Then getting to do two of them this year, well, needless to say I had a fantastic fall. But Winter Is Coming. With it comes the fun of putting everything from this past year together- and racing!

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