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Somewhere Between Obscurity and Oblivion
  August 8

Soldier Hollow on a less crowded day back in early July.

Today I did a skate rollerski at Soldier Hollow. For the past few months, I have heard rumors about all the international teams that are supposedly coming to Utah to train at the venue this summer and fall. In my previous visits, there have always been a number of people training there but they have all been American: the national Biathlon team, the National Guard Biathlon program, the US Ski Team development group, etc. But today the place was crawling with people all over and many of them did not look American. FYI: In my opinion, the way to tell the difference between American athletes and Europeans is the length and tightness of their shorts. European athletes, men and women alike, have a fondness for short, tight training shorts made of spandex. Americans, on the other hand, go for the baggier, nylon short look. Just thought you'd like to know. Anyway, I heard the other day that the Ukrainian team was here and either they had about 20 athletes or there were other teams there as well. Combine those people with all the American teams and the place was packed. As I rollerskied around the 3K loop, I began counting athletes. There were about 15 people on the rollerski loop at any given time. Another 20 or so were either running or ski walking with poles on the rest of the trails, and another 15 biathletes were in the range shooting. It was almost crowded, but in a motivating sort of way.

The stadium and race center. The day lodge and wax trailers in the background.
Now, as an individual athlete, you can't just walk up and join their workouts, but just being on the same course as so many top skiers is inspiring and educational. You get to see the kind of workouts they are doing and can watch and learn. I skied 2-3 loops about 50 meters behind a Ukrainian man. Close enough that I could watch his technique and imitate his workout, but far enough away that I didn't upset or annoy him. I also found that I ended up training longer, just because I felt guilty stopping when others are still out there, even if they started after I did.

A few words about the venue for summer training. There are about 4K of rollerski trails, which is essentially a 3K loop with a short loop through the biathlon stadium and couple very short connector trails. No this is not much, but the trails connect with the access roads and you can make a loop that will take 25-30 minutes. Besides, the loop on the trails is pretty difficult and you wouldn't want to do something that hard on a 2 hour distance ski anyway. It works well for intervals, races, specific strength, or no poles skiing, as I did today. But bring your helmet. You must wear a helmet at all times while rollerskiing and sign a waiver stating that its your own fault if you fall. The other trails are a mixture of dirt and grass and are mowed fairly regularly which makes for great running. If they weren't mowed, I don't think I could run there, for fear of rattlesnakes in the grass (two of my friends have seen them, but I, thankfully, have not had the pleasure yet). There are about 20K of good running trails.

The venue is only going to get busier as fall approaches. The Norwegians will be coming to uses their altitude house in Midway. The US and Canadian teams will be having a camp in mid-September. The Finns, what's left of their team anyway. have been here already. Many other teams are also on their way to check out the most important courses for this winter. So if your training is lacking spark, come on out to Utah and train with the world's best on some of the world's best courses.

August 11
In my Bike Ride of Death notes, I mentioned that my knees hurt tremendously. At the time, the fear of doing permanent damage was in my mind the whole time, but I refused to stop and admit defeat. Now I am paying for it. For the past month, whenever I run up steep hills for an extended period or do a lot of skating without poles my knees begin to hurt - basically any time I put a lot of stress on a bended knee. They hurt just above the kneecap on the outside of the knee. They had gradually been getting better. So today I decided I would try biking for the first time since the Bike Ride Of Death. To my dismay, my knees did still hurt, though not nearly with the same severity as the BROD. Sometimes its an ache, sometimes a sharp pain. It scares me to think that I may have damaged this crucial joint, but at the same time I am afraid to consult a doctor for fear that he will say to rest my legs for a few weeks. That may be what they need, but I don't think I can afford to lose that training time. It is a decision I agonize over everyday. Do I rest now and preserve my legs for what I hope will be many years of running, hiking, biking and skiing while compromising my goals that I have worked towards for the past 10 years? Or do I continue to train, back off only when it hurts and hope for the best? I have been going with the second option and the knees seem to be getting better, but very gradually. I just hope I don't regret it later.

August 13 - Monday
This week will probably be one of the biggest of the summer in terms of training volume. Doing a week like this requires a lot of organization and focus. I thought I would take you through my week, blow by blow, to see what its like. One note: I usually train quite a bit with the National Development team, but they are out of town this week (on Eagle Glacier in Alaska) so most of my training will be alone.

7:20 AM - Get up. Eat breakfast while watching Spongebob Squarepants.
7:50 am - Head out the door to train. This morning I went for a run for 1:30 then went to the weight room for an hour. Near the end, I had to cut the weight workout short because I pulled a muscle in my neck doing triceps presses. I tired to continue, but I could hardly lift my head, never mind lift weights. Not a great way to start the week.
10:45 am - 11:45 - go home, shower, grab something to eat, drive 30 minutes to work.
11:45 am - 6:00 pm - Work. Sit at a computer typing code. Try to loosen up my neck which is tightening up.
6:00 pm - 6:30 pm - Drive from Salt Lake to Park City, listening to my Poison CD to get ready for the concert next week.
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm - Skate rollerski intervals with Erik Stange while Torbjorn looks on from the car. I still couldn't lift my head, so Erik had to lead and I just followed his feet.
8:30-10:00 - cook and eat dinner, do some laundry, watch 10 minutes of the Simpsons.
10:00-10:30 - get ready for bed and go to sleep in order to get my full nine hours.

August 14- Tuesday
7:20 am - get up, eat, watch Spongebob. Its not quite as good as watching the Tour De France during breakfast, but its a lot funnier.
8:00 am - Drop my truck off to have the oil changed. Tell them I will pick it up in 2 and a half hours when I am done my workout.
8:05 am - Grab my rollerski stuff from the truck and head out to ski. Lots of times I have to combine my workouts with errands like this in order to fit it all in. For the first hour I skate without poles. My neck feels better but still a little tight. I then pick up my poles that I had stashed in the woods and skate for another hour. At the two hour mark, I stumble on uneven pavement, ski right through my pole and break it. I curse a bit, then ski back to the truck, another 30 minutes without poles.
10:45 am - Pick up my truck, head to work.
11:15 am - Get to work, shower, eat, and start typing.
12:34 pm - Receive email saying that the Poison, Warrant, Quiet Riot concert is canceled! #$%!@!!!! I am depressed for the rest of the day.
6:20 pm - leave work, head back to Park City to do a specific strength rollerski workout.
7:00 pm - Start skiing. I double pole for 30 minutes, then start doing one minute repeats up a steep hill. After twenty minutes of exercises, I pull a muscle in my back. What is going on? I hardly ever pull muscles, what is going on this week? I can no longer double pole, so I stride 30 minutes back to the car and make sure to stretch out good afterwards
8:45 pm - 10:20 pm - Make and eat dinner. Talk to my girlfriend on the phone for 30 minutes.
10:30 pm - Go to bed.

August 15 - Wednesday
7:20 am - The Usual - Get up, breakfast, Spongebob.
8:00 am - Drive to Soldier Hollow with Erik.
8:30 am - Start a 2.5 hour run/ski walk with poles workout on the Soldier Hollow trails. Most of it is level I, but I am still tired by the end. No pulled muscles today!
11:00 am - Drive home, shower, drive to work.
12:00 pm -6:30 pm - Work
7:00 pm - Head out for a run, then hit the weight room. Total time: 1:30
8:40 pm - Too tired to make dinner, pick up a Chicken Taco Salad on the way home.
9:20 pm - Update my training log, do an hour of work on the XCSkiWorld website.
10:30 pm - Go to bed.

August 16 - Thursday
7:20 am - Get up, go through the routine, drive 25 minutes to Wanship to rollerski.
8:30 am - Double pole rollerski for 1:45, then break a pole while trying to deal with a bee that flew up my shorts. Unbelievable. It has been a rough week, both for my body and my equipment. Ski back the last 45 minutes without poles.
11:45 - Get to work, shower, and email Exel to get new poles.
8:30 pm - Leave work. No PM session today, so I use the extra time to catch up on stuff at work.
9:00 pm - Dinner and work on the XCSkiWorld website for an hour and a half.
10:30 pm - Bed. Think about how I've had about 45 minutes to relax all week, then fall asleep.

August 17 - Friday
7:00 am - Get up a little early in order to be in Salt Lake by 8:00. Miss Spongebob as a result. Throws off my whole day.
8:00 am - Agony Hill time trial. The most painful 15 minutes in sports. A steep, uphill time trial that gains about 1500 feet. I did this workout with Torbjorn, Erik, and a Nordic Combined development group. I was pushed the whole way, but I ended up winning in 15:55. This was quite a bit off my best time of 15:04, but everyone was slow today, probably due to the headwind and the thick pollution from wildfires to the west. It was the first time I had done this workout this year, but most of the others had done it in July, and they were all about 30 seconds to a minute slower than they had been a month earlier. So conditions this time were definitely slow. Plus my best was run in October and today was after a big week of training. So no need to panic about my time, but I hope to be faster in a month or so. Which I guess is the whole idea of this training thing.
10:15 am - get to work early. I spend the rest of the day sneezing from whatever crap I inhaled during the time trial. I won't be doing that again in hazy/smoggy weather.
6:30 pm - Easy run (1:30) to recover from this morning. Explored some trails right behind my house.
8:00 pm - Make dinner, relax in the hot tub and pool. Ahhh - a whole hour to myself!
10:30 pm - Bed.

August 18 - Saturday
7:40 am - slept in a whole 20 minutes because I wasn't leaving for the workout until 8:15.
9:00 am - Run/Hike up Mount Timpanogos, elevation: 11,700 feet (starting at 6800 feet - thank you Suunto Advizor!). Eric Maas joined me for this 20-25 mile loop. It is an incredible hike that I try to do at least once a summer. We had a pretty good pace going on the way up and down and at the 4:20 mark, Eric couldn't go any further. The heat and lack of water and food had gotten to him. Fortunately, by now we were near a road, so I continued on, got the car and drove back up to get him. Total Hike time: 5:10.
3:00 pm - Stop for lunch on the way home because we are both too hungry to make it all the way home.
4:30 pm - Spend the rest of the afternoon catching up on things I haven't done all week: Clean my room, more laundry, pay bills.
7:00 pm - Go out to dinner with friends. The big training week is over and I can relax. Nice work by me. I had a number of obstacles to overcome to get in the whole week of training (total time for week: 23:40), but I kept focused and did it. Now I have a day to enjoy it before starting the whole cycle over again.

August 19 - Sunday
Day off. Today is my day to sleep in, and generally recover so that I can be ready to go tomorrow. I work on my website, go to the pool, go on a light hike with friends, and of course, plan the next week of training. An XC ski racer's work is never done.

© 2003 Cory Smith. All Rights Reserved.