Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring Fever

Yesterday marked the first day of spring and for most everyone that means April showers, May flowers... the whole sunshine shebang! However, for most orienteers, spring more importantly  means the snow melting from the forests, the end of hours and hours of Catching Features fixes, and the beginning of the competition season. For me, yesterday marked the end of our winter training period. This, however, was a winter that was made up of so many wonderful memories of over two hundred hours of training with some of the most spectacular of people. I realize that I did a really dismal job of relaying all my adventures onto this blog so I’ll do my best now to transmit all of these fabulous memories through photos and snippets of different trainings.

As promised in my last blog post, there are volcanoes and elephants; just maybe not the ones that you were expecting! For those who haven’t been to Clermont Ferrand, the terrain gets its technical aspect from the lava formations made when the surrounding volcanoes erupted a gagillion years ago. To quote one of my fave French orienteers, “if orienteering is rock n roll, then Clermont is heavy metal”!!

A view of the volcanoes on a crisp fall afternoon.
A couple weeks after Clermont we were up north near Paris in the forest of Fontainebleau riding elephants and surfing in between the giant boulders!

Can you see the elephant?

One of Philippe Adamski’s superb creations is his Be Offensive training. The map is pre-simplified to show only the critical features needed to navigate to the control. The goal is to orienteer with as much confidence as if you had the whole map. It’s intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a piece of cake!

Philippe's Be Offensive training with the real map underlain to show the level of simplification.
 I was able to spend Christmas “à la Bresse” enjoying the skiing conditions, the tobogganing slopes, and of course the incredible French food and company. 

My ski legs are a bit wobbly after moving away from Canada where we usually ski all winter long.
My tobaggining outfit sized... 10-12 years old?!!
The famous home made Christmas Log!
To start off 2013 I travelled to Portugal where we brought in the New Year in real style… an orienteering course at midnight complete with champagne and a swim in the ocean! 

Happy New Year!!!!
These ten days were jam-packed with over forty hours of quality orienteering along the coast as well as in the mountains. And holy macaroni!!.. was it ever an adventure! With three trainings a day we had time to run countless corridors (some being better than others)...

One of the tougher corridors that I ran...
  ... plenty of night trainings... 

... morning runs along the beach...


...crazy technical sessions in the mountains...

...and of course I never got tired of spending time with these jokesters!

With le Pôle France we spent our annual winter training camp in the south of France scampering across the plains of le Larzac.

The view of the Viaduct in Millau!
A rock features only training...
...followed by a window-o!

In February I was back in Portugal but this time for the Portugal O-meeting to put all this winter training to the test! The terrain was breath-taking, the competition fierce, and I was rearing to go! The competitions went swimmingly and they were a great way to figure out which parts of my technique still needed more work.

The butterfly loop for Day 4 POM

A big rock... or a little Canadian?
Practising running in a straight line.

And last but not least, after almost three years of living in France, I was finally able to take a weekend off and visit the beautiful city of Paris! The highlight, of course, being the Eiffel Tower at every angle and lighting imaginable!

Et voila! I learned so much this winter about managing the humongous training volume, dealing with fatigue and recovery, training analysis, and of course all of that with a beaming smile on my face!