Sunday, July 7, 2013

Italy so far

So far Italy has been absolutely amazing!

The first week here, We spent a week training in Frassinoro, 2 hours from Pisa, to get over the jetlag and plan for the coming weeks. During the first week I did a few 20km uphill rollerskis, causing large blisters on my feet from such warm weather and my feet heating to thousands of degrees. We enjoyed some beautiful runs on the local mountain bike trails, and succeeded in breaking a mountain bike in another training. We went to the gym to pump some iron, and it was great to get into a good program, monitored by the same coach every session so progress and digressions can be noted and weaknesses can be built upon.

After a week in Frassinoro, and the welcoming of 4 new puppies into the Fontana family, my coach and I packed up the trusty automobile and headed for the Dolomites. Everything went smoothly, and upon arrival we were given the keys to a beautiful apartment in the centre of Sappada. Sappada is situated right in the Dolomites, and is about a 10 minute drive to the biathlon centre in Forni Avoltri. It was gorgeous.

The first day I rollerskied on the rollerski track of death (as it was raining hard and the track was slick), and then drove to Anterselva, where we have a World Cup in the winter. We met with Rudi Bachmann of Banchmann stocks and spent an hour fitting me with a new carbon fibre stock. 3 days and 6 workout s later, we were back picking up my new first born child (not really, but at this moment in my life- it sure feels like it!). What a beauty- I opted for black as it is one of New Zealands colours, and if I decide to join the mafia, I'll look badass with my black carbon fibre .22 slung on my back. (The latter is the main reason).

My first loooong workout of the training camp was a hike/run which we did at Tre Cime in the Dolomites. It is a World Heritage UNESCO area, meaning it is beautifullly preserved, but also meaning they charge you 22 euros to drive your car 6 km. We opted to park at the gates and run up to the bottom of the Tre Cime, and then do the circuit around the 3 glorious peaks. It was beautiful. We got rained on, were thigh deep in snow, we even heard people calling us 'sky runners' behind our backs. I felt very fit, until my foot cracked through the snow and I spread eagled down the rest of the track. Glorious as ever Murphy style. Arriving back at the car was a happy moment, and the reward of a radler at the end was great. I was ready for a day off but no...
Tre Cime

The next we went for a 5 hour road bike on a part of the Giro D'italia. The mountain portion, of course. We started with a great 45 minute downhill- I was thinking "Man I feel good". And then we started the uphill...and 2 1/2 hours later we made it to the top. What an uphill- It was beautiful and flat, but it was
also 30 km. We ran into some fellow road cyclists, and there is something in the athletes brain that goes "you have to beat them up this hill". Why? Why does this happen? Anyways, let's just say not all parts of the day were in zone 1. 5 hours later and 100km later we made it home to Sappada. It was a gorgeous day, and although I enjoyed it immensely, I was happy to have that uphill behind me.

Alex, the gym owner. What a beast! 

Monday was combo. Tuesday was combo in the am, and strength in the pm. Strength was great. The man who owns the gym is ginormous. I am not even exagerating. You could fit 12 of my arms in one of his pinky fingers. Ridiculous! The great thing about it was Pietro Piller Cottrer came to the gym with us to see the program and give some tips. If you don't know Pietro, he is the nicest man who recently retired from racing after winning a few Olympic golds and silvers, as well as being the youngest athlete to win the Holmenkollen 50km. It was amazing to have him there for support. (p.s. I was very sore after that session) I was bench pressing 37kg, and the gym owner was benching 110kg. Patience, Sarah, one day....(I don't think so!).

On Wednesday, I did rollerski strength up the damn hill we had biked on Sunday. I KNOW! I thought I was done with it as well. Nope, double pole and legs only session to the top. Thanks Coach ;) Side note: I will say Italian men are hilarious!!!! I think they see a lady, and their lips automatically pucker to whistle. I could be wearing my XL onesie rollerskiing, and men would still be whistling.

Anyways, the next day after doing the hill rollerskiing, we had a run. In my mind, an hour recovery like run. 3 1/2 hours and 27km later we arrived back at the car! No water, no food, +27- Let's just say the hanger monster was nearly released onto coach Federico. Thankfully, we completed the Val Visdende circuit through 8 mountain gullies, and lived to tell the tail. in hindsight- It was beautiful...but at the time I was focused on keeping the monster within and focus on the training.

Thursday night we had a great dinner with Pietro and his beautiful family. They were so kind and I feel very lucky to have been able to spend a week with such a great family, and such a successful athlete. Thanks guys!!!

Saturday afternoon, after a 7.5km sprint time trial, we drove to Alleghe, where a good family friend lives, and then Sunday onwards to Frassinoro. First stop once back: The puppies. 4 beautiful little tigers named Figoa, Alex (after the gym owner because he is the biggest), thunder, and bullet. Cutie patooties.

This week is a very special week as it is the week of the Beer and biathlon festival. Wahoo!!! Italy, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Estonia, Switzerland, Great Britain, New Zealand (thats me!) and...hmm...some more but I forget, are all coming to race here on Saturday in a fun team sprint race. Follow the group on Facebook to see how it goes (Frassinoro Beer and biathlon festival).

I hope this finds everyone happy and healthy and enjoying the wet weather in Canmore, earthquakes in Italy, Floods in Germany, and snow dumps in New Zealand!

xx Much love, Sarah

NORMA ammunition