Friday, October 17, 2008

Bears, Bobsleds and the 2010 Olympics

I'm here in rainy Whistler for a couple of reasons. First, in my role as Canadian sport/faith chaplain, we've got several Christian athletes here for a 3 week training camp. I'm here to meet with them, be a part of their world and encourage them. It's been a fun, but rainy week. Next, I poked around the 2010 xc venue and did some roller skiing (for my role as a coach). Technically it's closed during the week, but as the good book says, "you have not because you ask not". So I got a good ski in yesterday. The elevation is 850 meters....not too high. As I've been training around here in coming down from 1400m in Canmore you can start to feel super-fit. It'll be back to reality tomorrow!

The bears seem to rule around here. There have been about 6 of them hanging around the bobsled track. Apparently they like munching on the wildflower and clover mix they planted all around the venue. Yesterday I wanted to ski hike to the top of Whistler mtn. departing from my Creekside base. I hadn't gone too far when I encountered a large bear (grizzly) on the trail up. So I circled around back to the base. Trying a new route I covered a lot more vert before I ran into my 2nd bear. This time I was a lot higher up and b/c of the fog didn't see him until I got pretty close. I was making a lot of noise though and he heard me and casually lumbered over to the woods. I could see him intently looking at me though and the trail narrowed and veered pretty close to the bruin, so I decided I'd had enough ursa close encounters. I was carrying bear spray, but this only works in hand to claw combat. Wanting none of that was what motivated me to retreat.

When it comes to training for ski mountaineering....vertical is king. At home (Canmore), I've been doing a lot of mountain hikes in the peaks close to my home. I recently read where one of the top Euros kept track of all his training by vertical meters. He was up to several hundred thousand that year. Really, there's probably no better training for Randonee racing. Each week I try to do one hike in zone 1-2 heart rate (~70-80% of max) and one in zone 3-4 (~85% of max.). The latter, my hammer hikes, last about 45min to an hour for the uphill hammer portion.

This trip has taken a major hit on my training hours, but it's been fun to be in Whistler and motivating too. Our Nat'l randonee championships are here and it brings back some good memories from last year's race. I finished just off the podium, but this year...who knows?

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