Friday, July 5, 2013

Finding our Finnish Flow. And Flies, Lots of Flies.

The majority of the NZ team has been based near Vuokatti for almost a week now, training and acclimatizing prior to the World Champs, which begins this Sunday.

Two of the big disadvantages of being based outside of Europe is the long-haul travel required to get to major events, and the lack of opportunities to train in relevant areas prior to racing. As a result, the week or two prior to WOC (and similarly JWOC, World Cups etc), is a fine balance of recovering from jetlag, getting accustomed to new terrain, and resting the body and mind pre-competition. It's easy to get frustrated at these additional challenges, you often feel like you're five steps behind your competitors before you even get to the start line. But having to deal with it year after year, I atleast feel like I've learnt how to better cope with these hurdles, so maybe it's just 2 steps behind these days!

In any case, the last week has been a fine balance. Luckily most of us seemed to get decent (or as decent as possible!) sleep on one or both of the long haul flights to the Northern Hemisphere, which makes a big difference. So jet lag hasn't been too bad - and I'm even getting used to it not getting dark, but merely dim, overnight. (last night's weather forecast - rain til around 10pm, then sunny from 11pm).

Terrain wise, most of us kiwis are feeling fairly comfortable after a few sessions. I've found that I can relate the terrain to areas I've been on before, which helps with determining what techniques will be best for navigation and speed. The long distance terrain, or what we've been allowed to see of it, is honestly some of the cleanest, nicest forest I've been lucky enough to run in. For those back home - it a hybrid of open Manawatu sand-dunes, Naseby like patches of detail, with a sprinkling of Tekapo! And there's even some Aussie style termite mounds to boot!

Lara tearing up some long training terrain
Long training. Straight is Great.

The middle is a lot tougher, as expected, and will require some close concentration and tight navigation. Much rockier, with small marshes, interpreting the mapping is vital. The best description I can think of is a bit France like - but missing 2/3 of the rocks! Maps can be found on the Wellington DOMA.
Tane spikes another middle training leg.

The last few days have seen our final terrain sessions, mixed with watching the kiwi juniors racing at JWOC. We finished with some sprint sharpening up in Kajaani yesterday. Today has been spent picking up our official accreditation, relaxing, and for me, a haircut. I now feel a couple of kgs lighter and down to race weight! With 2 days until the Long Distance Qualification on Sunday, it's time to put our feet up and rest, easy enough given our sweet as accommodation out on the farm! Bring on Sunday and "the atmosphere of electric and tingly excitement in the competition centres"!

Loving summer and the post training swims! Not so much the flies and mozzies...

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