Calling on a classic Rickyism to sum up my month of September, Survival of the Fitness. Getting physically fit is the name of the job but there are a thousand ways to do it and even more ways to define it. September was a really exciting bag of events - including Nordic Weekend in Andermatt as well as a 'Motor Block' in Mols.
Again, all new experiences for me as I had never done an 'official' rollerski race before nor had I realized just how painful not knowing where the finish line is in an uphill race is until now. The Nordic Weekend event took place September 11-13 in Andermatt (stomping grounds of Family Renner) and was an awesome event to be apart of. Both biathlon and cross country athletes came together from across Switzerland (maybe not as big as Canada, but still a remarkable feat) to take part in a mini tour style event. Beginning with a 3,3k skate prologue, 4,1k classic uphill and finishing off with an uphill pursuit start 4,5k run - Berglauf.
The pursuit was the strongest event for me, finishing in 4th position overall and the uphill races leave much to be improved upon! Results here http://protiming.ch/results.aspx?y=2015
Leading into the weekend, I was considerably nervous as there were so many 'unknowns'. However, as soon as the bib was on - you remember why you train. Super fun! Albeit incredibly painful and at times embarrassing to drag my butt up Realp just hoping for a glimpse of the finish line, it's all in a good 'Type II' kind of fun. A course preview would've done me a couple favours before I embarked on these uphill races, but I never truly know a course until I race it. The Swiss alps aren't world renowned for nothing - the steep valleys and winding switch backs leave lots of time for lactate to accumulate in the legs and your heart to beg you to stop. The exact definition of Type II fun - in the moment it's anything but, then five minutes after the fact you're already wondering when the next race is.
The field of racers was incredibly diverse and for a tiny country, considerably deep. Over 600 athletes participating over the weekend, including numerous Olympians, World and Olympic medalists in both biathlon and cross county, the event also included an equipment trade show and a kids event to get the little ones too small to race and yet still pumped to be there involved.
The scenery was incredible albeit under a thick rain layer for the majority of the weekend. On an informational note - had Hitler invaded Switzerland in WWII, the Andermatt area would have served as a safe house for Swiss citizens as the tunnel infrastructure in the area allows the valley to be blocked off (or blocked in). We were staying in army barracks, and the military vibe was real. The infrastructure in the area was also prevalent. Steam trains, wind turbines, hydro lines and tunnels. The world renowned Gotthard tunnel (two different tunnels, 57k long train tunnel is the longest in the world, the auto tunnel runs 16k) passes directly under Andermatt. That still blows my mind. The Swiss know how to tunnel like nothing I've ever seen before. Note: at the risk of passing out, do not try to hold your breath for the duration of the tunnel.
Directly after the Nordic Weekend, we headed to Mols am Wallensee for the extended version. 'Motor Block' is included in regular training vocabulary in der Schweiz, but a new philosophy for me. I'm pumped to say that I felt stronger as the intensities progressed yet so grateful that the following week allowed me to head south to the Italian Gelati and (some) sun to absorb the training block by Lago di Lugano.
Next stop will be testing in the hamster lab. Kidding, on the rollerski treadmill in Magglignen. Time to see what the summer training looks like on the science charts. It's no peach and cake being a hamster on the treadmill, it takes some serious rocket appliances to figure out the survival of the fitness. Thats 'nuff of that, Ricky.