Lake Placid and Calgary.. the good and the bad..

Well, I suppose I reverted back to my old ways of blog posting, I don’t think I’ll ever be like my sister Kaitlin who posts something every day. Lets be honest, it’s hard enough for me to post updates on Facebook and Twitter often. The Internet isn’t great over here in Altenberg, Germany so I can’t upload any pictures with this post. My plan is to make an end of the season photo post taking everyone through my trip so you can see the places that we go to, and the crazy weather that we always have!

There have been two World Cup races since my last post, Christmas and New Years as well. So much to catch everyone up on, I’ll start with the two races that got the World Cup season going; Lake Placid,  and Calgary.

Lake Placid was an interesting week; I had an awesome week of training and felt great leading into the race. The first day of training I had a personal best down time (faster than my official track record there). I made a small change to my sled which I shouldn’t have, but this was not the cause of my problems in the race. For anyone who hasn’t watched a race before we wear a bib, this goes over our race suit, and is normally orange on the top and white on the bottom with your race number on it and the World Cup sponsor. I was off 11th, just after the 2 minute commercial break. I was standing outside waiting to be told 1 minute until the track was cleared for me.  I took off my booties covering my shoes, got my pants off, waited a few moments and started to unzip my jacket as I did that I looked down and only saw black. It hit me, my heart was already pounding when I realized I didn’t have my bib on I raced inside the start house running into the door and some person grabbed my bib and ran back outside. Of course it was inside out, Tuffy is holding my sled and my helmet, I’m shaking while my other coach Brian is trying to help me put my bib on, all while I’m screaming I can’t I just can’t (because I couldn’t get it turned right side out or get my arm in the sleeve).  Tuffy put my sled down, I got my helmet on bent down and you could visibly see my legs shaking I started pushing my sled (slower than I ever have in a race). I wanted to make up for what I had just done so I tried to be perfect down the track and that was a bad idea. I crossed the finish line and made my way up the outrun, saw the clock and just put my head in my hands.  I didn’t want to do anything but cry, I was so angry at myself, I’m not a rookie how could I possibly do this! We instantly turned it into a joke, which was helpful and I made sure to show the coaches before run two that I was fully dressed with my bib on and everything.

When something goes wrong you believe you can fix it on the next run, I knew exactly what I had to do and if I had an awesome run I could move up a few spots. Instead I tried to be too perfect again!  I made even more mistakes and basically went slow again! I didn’t move up any and finished the first race of the season in 9th.

After that I said I would move on and do better in Calgary the next week. Calgary was an interesting week of training, nothing really ever went right, I never went fast and never got relaxed on my sled. Race day came and I don’t think I believed in myself at all. I was so far behind from the first run I had put myself in such a hole it seemed like there was no coming back from it. After the first run, I put my headphones in and turned on JLo’s newest album A.K.A. (I love JLo and could listen to her all day!!!) I had it on repeat and other than getting feedback from the coaches I talked to no one, acknowledged nothing and hopped the fence that I wasn’t supposed to for my warm up. I was able to have a faster second run, but since my first was so slow I only moved up one spot. However I did let my sled “run” (or do what it wants to) a little more which was a positive to take from the day. I finished the race in a disappointing 12th place.

Racing is stressful, and something that takes a long while to perfect. My last full World Cup season in 2011-2012 I had really figured out what helps me race best. These last two seasons a lot had changed and that no longer worked for me, or I basically felt like I forgot how to race. It is easy to expect to do well and want or wish to do well but not take the steps to make you better. The first part of the season was a reality check, or better yet a slap in the face.  The Christmas break was just what I needed to get my head back on straight and the drive to be the best to push me for this next part of the season.

My positives to take from both of these races: my start is coming back, I feel fast and healthy and know that I’ll be right  back to where I need to be before the season is over. This is a great start to the quad, its a long four years, and I have a lot to learn about myself still as an athlete and a slider.

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A New Season.. A New Attitude

The 2014-2015 season officially starts next week with the Lake Placid World Cup. After a stressful, intense and challenging team trials I was named to the World Cup Circuit this season. We had four total races before the team was named, I had a very hard time relaxing during the races and put a little too much pressure on myself. Although I didn’t have the results I wanted in each race, I accomplished what I needed in order to make the team.

With that behind me, it is now time to focus on the International races. I had a very late start to training this off season, after letting my ankle heal from injuring it in the first race of the previous season (I had bruised my talus bone in my ankle and never took time off to heal). This late start has worked out great, World Cup racing is starting later than I can ever remember and it has given me the extra time I needed to be through my training cycles and preparing for competition.

I spent a good amount of the summer at home on Long Island, with tons of beach days family and friends. I got some really great training in, and was able to see the best Chiropractor around. I haven’t felt as good as I currently do in over two years (before my knee surgery in August 2012).

This year my goal is to find the positives instead of the negatives. Use every bit of information I can to race at my full potential, and to have the best season I have had yet. There is a great team atmosphere and it is exciting to get started in North America.

It’s a brutally cold winter wonderland currently in Lake Placid, but you never know what the weather will bring next week.

Park City Team Trials at the start.
Park City Team Trials at the start.

Winter is Coming…

“Winter is Coming”… is by far not my favorite statement to make, but at the same time it is exciting because it means the season will be starting before we know it. Not before I take a short but very needed mini vacation to FL with my mom. Just a 4 day getaway, a little beach, some sand and some sun. Nothing is better before we hit the ice and the season hits head on! (no pun intended!) Especially because it has been getting down into the 30 degree tempuratures at night in Lake Placid

Summer training has gone very well. August 13th was exactly one year post knee surgery and I decided to take the yearly combine test on that day. In a way I wanted to prove to myself and the coaches that I was back to 100%.

The combine consists of

45m sprint with a timed 15m, 30m, 45m, and 30mfly.

Standing Broad Jump

Underhand shotput toss (granny Style)

1 rep Clean max

3 rep Back Squat max

In a way I wanted to prove to myself and the coaches that I was back to 100%. My Dr. said it takes about a year to really feel like your old self again, I fully agree with that statement. Some days my knee bothers me while other I feel awesome. I had a great combine, a personal best in my 15m sprint. No other bests but I will take 1 after last year.

I am getting ready for push championships this Saturday the 21st. I have not been able to compete in them since September of 2011. I am excited to have a competition before team trials. I think it helps get you in the mindset that it is time to start racing soon! We have a new push track that was built at the end of last summer, it is not like the old one at all. It is very long and flat which is normally how I love to push, but this sled is very heavy and it makes pushing more awkward than it should be.

“The pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered there is an opportunity for growth.” -Unkown

This too shall pass…

Seeing as the first half of the season is over tomorrow, I felt that I could finally accept what my summer has brought me and spend the time really filling everyone in. It has been a rough 6 months to say the least.

So, why not start somewhat from the beginning. I spent the beginning of my offseason with nagging left knee pain. It was the strangest pain that not only baffled me but also the athletic training staff at the Olympic Training Center. I would describe my pain exactly the same every time I complained about it; I would tell them that my bones hurt and this made no sense to anyone. We changed my workouts took this out tried this instead and nothing ever felt better. Nothing worked. I finally saw our team Doctor; orthopedic surgeon Dr. Byrne we decided to get an MRI, which of course came back with nothing conclusive. Just that my medial meniscus looked worn, but nothing too horrible. So I sucked it up and against my normal fear of pain and better judgement I got a cortisone shot. Spent a few days resting and tried to workout again. Well it didn’t work at all.

Before I lost my mind, I did what any homesick girl missing her mom would do; spent a week at home on the beach with my family. It was just what I needed no work, no workouts, no stress, and no knee pain? Yes to all but the last one.

I got back to Lake Placid after a refreshing week off on Monday August 6th. I told myself alright if you can get through your entire workout then your knee is fine and you will be great this season. That didn’t happen, I got through one sprint and was in excruciating pain I just sat down and cried. The next day I told myself alright if you can push on the treadmill skeleton style then thats all I need this year and I will be fine. I thought it was going well, got through the pushes I set as my goal and didn’t have any pain. Until I got 30 feet from the treadmill and my knee got “stuck”. So I lost it again, and saw Dr. Byrne that afternoon. I think my exact words to him were “I can’t take this anymore you have to go in and see what is wrong.”

That was Tuesday, August 7th and I had surgery Monday August 13th. Needless to say I told almost no one that I was having surgery or what I had done for a good amount of time. I didn’t know what he was going to find in my knee but we talked before I went in and said fix whatever you see. Come to find out when I woke up that I had a brace on my leg and got a stitch in my lateral meniscus because I had a tear at the deepest layer possible.

I didn’t really comprehend how long my recovery would be and how hard it would be to come back to sliding and working out. I tried to race team trials, and it was so hard to get back on my sled. I was uncomfortable, in pain and tentative all at the same time. Being a stubborn athlete I did it anyway and even came to Park City. It was too much too fast and my knee got really swollen and I couldn’t finish. I got put onto the Intercontinental Cup Circuit for this season.

I’m amazed everyday how difficult it is when I go to warm up and push my sled. Even being on my sled isn’t easy or comfortable. I still don’t feel like myself sliding and its really disappointing. I know it will get better but its hard to deal with and as positive as you can try to be it doesn’t always work out.

I’m ready for a break and to work on getting stronger and faster again. There is one final race tomorrow before the first half of the season officially is over. I’m going to focus on relaxing and feeling more comfortable and hopefully end on a good note.

As Kaitlin said… “Holding it together”

That’s right Kate, I’m stealing your blog title from yesterday. Mainly because that is how I feel at the moment just holding it all together while the summer goes by way too fast, I work too much for my training to be as good as it needs to be, and for my knee to continue giving me problems.

This is what I need, back to our family Disney trip in 2007. Dad is taking the picture.

On a positive side, the weather in Lake Placid really has been great despite one humid hot day I thought I was going to have an asthma attack (which I will sit here and tell you I don’t even have asthma, but who knows). It has been a while since I have posted yet again, my days with free time I think are mainly spent napping or in a stare at the t.v. or Justin’s computer screen (not even my own)!

I’m pretty sure I know the remedy for my feeling of being tired of working and hurting from training; this picture is just what I need. Kaitlin’s post with the picture from Point Lookout inspired me (our favorite beach right at Grandma’s house, what a perfect place)! I need a family vacation, Disney would be ideal but even the beach or just home is calling my name!

Training is going well, been doing a lot of modifying to accommodate my knee pain, mainly changing up my running for the time being. Still feeling super strong so thats all that matters. I can’t believe it is already the end of July, the summer goes by way too fast.

Just sent in my Devry University application to start a masters program in the fall so I have something other than just sliding to occupy my time.

Its not even late but I am getting so tired I can’t even think about the many things I should write about. So for now I am thinking of calling it a night; ice my knee and head to bed. Come back tomorrow for a better try on updating training and everything like that.

“Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss.”

Woahhh got busy

Well, I guess training got a little overwhelming along with work and pure exhaustion really! So a huge catch up here:

My weekend of nannying was exhausting it took me until the last day to realize that I needed to tell the girls to play by themselves so I could sit or eat. I’m not sure if I ate all that often. But they are both so cute and fun, made me miss my cousins and being with them all in Texas though.

As of last week I am on a 3 week training block, back to 3×10’s, the main reason why I was so exhausted last week and with work I barely had time for anything. Last Monday’s squat workout was so tough I had tunnel vision developing for my last 3 exercises and by the time I finished it was full on. I had no peripheral vision, was so confused and just had a headache. So glad I didn’t have to go into work because I had to take a 2 hr nap to feel normal! The rest of the week was difficult but not that bad. I have been having a hard time with my allergies and being able to breathe while training. It is the most humid it has been up here in so long I almost feel like I have asthma during some of the workouts.

I had a great Saturday morning at the track by myself to do strides and abs. It was a great day, put on my new Brooks running

Relaxing during sets of strides. A little kinesio tape on my knee because its been nagging a bunch!

shoes and felt super springy! Such a great feeling I just wanted to fly over the high jump bar. Made me miss a teammate Sam Culiver, we spent a lot of time at the track together last summer, but this year she is training at home in Arizona with my other teammate Rachelle.

Work was busy of course and it makes the weekend go by too fast most times. I already feel like the summer is going to fast and I just seem to always be busy. With what else? I’m not really that sure !

Today was the start of week 2 of this 3 week block, the weights and intensity were heavier than last week but I’m not as tired today. Might have helped that I switched my allergy medicine from Zyrtec to Claritin and I think that helped! That is all I have time for at the moment, running downstairs to get a massage and then dinner time. Hopefully there is something good in the cafeteria I am starving tonight!

Sunshine..

It has been a great week of training in Lake Placid, with some wonderful weather. It was almost 80 degrees again today, super sunny and almost hot for doing tempo.

As for this week of training sprinting on Wednesday was awesome because we weren’t on the gravel hill in the woods we were on a street right around the corner. Although, I wonder if we will be able to keep running there. An elderly man who lives on the block came out today and was annoyed that we were creating a “circus” as he put it I suppose. I’m not sure why people are so possessive of their street, mainly because they don’t own it, it’s not a private street! Just let us train!

Non training; my biggest accomplishment might be that I set up a twitter account finally, but since I waited so long my name has been taken. So, I decided to just be backwards and make it @OSheaAnnie why not, I wanted my entire name and nothing else! I’m not so great at it yet, but follow me I’m sure I will catch on soon!

I spent my time after workouts doing my recovery; stretching and icing in “the tub” as I call it and get Morgan to laugh every time! The cold tub is about 50 degrees and is the easiest way to ice everything that is sore after a tough workout. Wednesday after the tub, Morgan and I got a coffee and sat on main street in the Adirondack chairs just relaxing in the beautiful sunshine!

Justin tried really hard to teach me a proper golf swing today. You might think all athletes should be good at everything but this is not the case. Golf is tough! He sure was patient though, I think it helped that he laughed at me a whole lot! I practiced my swing at the track while he was doing his running workout, and we hit golf balls in the field outside after dinner. I think he was afraid I was going to hit a car and break a window. I am slowly catching on, but I have a hard time not breaking at the wrist and remembering to bend my knees. Practice, practice for me because it felt so great the one effortless nice shot I had!

For the holiday weekend I will be watching the girls I babysit for often. Friday through Sunday, wish me luck I might be so exhausted after that I can’t get up Monday morning. Or I am expecting to be so hopped up on coffee to get through! We will see. I have some things planned but I know it is never that simple! As long as the weather stays nice it will be better, it is much easier to entertain outdoors!

Normally, holiday weekends don’t exist for athletes, training continues on its normal schedule. Which means the majority of the employees have to follow that as well. It’s a lot of hard work for everyone not just the athletes at the training centers sometimes!

That is pretty much it until the weekend ends! Good luck to Vinny  (Kate’s husband for those who don’t know) and his Vermont Marathon! Wish I could have made it watch! For the next one of course, I’ll be there!

Morgan retweeted this from @addicted2success and I liked it so much I retweeted it as well and I wanted to share:

“I am too positive to be doubtful. Too optimistic to be fearful. And too determined to be defeated.”

New week, new program

Our beautiful weather has disappeared for a little while, normal for Lake Placid after having a beautiful weekend. It was absolutely perfect 80 degrees and sunny! I got to visit with Kaitlin, we met about halfway at the NY to VT bridge that she helped oversee the building of. We had a wonderful day with her boss and his family at the bridge grand opening festival. Kate told her boss that my accent is stronger than hers, but I failed her because I didn’t channel my inner mommy (her accent is the worst) so my Long Island self didn’t show up on Sunday. Sorry Kate… next time I will be actual Annie as you put it!

Me and Kate on “her bridge” as I call it!

We played frisbee, Erin would have been so jealous! I never ran to fast to catch it though but it was a lot of fun to play, could be a nice game to play next time we are all home. I’m pretty sure Sarah enjoys frisbee as well. Hopefully we will all find time to get together this summer.

Workouts so far have been good, my adductor/hip is sore and slightly weak but not really hurting. I have a different program for the next three weeks 4×5’s and 3×5’s instead of 4×10’s and 3×10’s to work up to 10’s again. Tempo was extra tiring today because we did it inside in the gym and it is just so much hotter, being outside is just better (but not in the rain)!

I am excited for tomorrow’s sprinting workout because Brad (strength coach) took my suggestions and has found us an incline to run on that is not in the woods! I cannot wait to not slip on gravel or get eaten alive by mosquitos while sprinting!

I set a goal with Under Armour’s whatsbeautiful.ua.com a competition to redefine female athletes; I will have a summer of sprint and weight training without injuries to get ready for the 2014 Olympics! There are challenges to accomplish your own goal and they decide a winner. I need to post some videos and pictures of training, once I understand everything I’ll explain it more.

That is all I can think of at the moment, its getting late and I didn’t sleep too well last night it was just too hot in my room, but I put on my summer blanket today so tonight should be better. Tomorrow is a busy day, time for a cup of tea and then bed.

Wait one last thing; I am finally going to make a twitter account but I am so behind that my name is already taken, anyone have any thoughts other than annieosheaUSA.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.”
Walter Elliott

Week 1 Done!

First week of training has officially ended, it had its ups and downs though. Maybe it was the lack of cardio I did this year in April, or the heavy weights I felt the need to use to just leave me sore beyond belief. No matter what it was I had to take yesterday and today off from training. My hip flexors (which are most important to aid in the movement of your legs especially for running) were so tight they weren’t letting my adductors work and I was just a disaster and couldn’t lift my leg anymore yesterday.

It’s alright though, no need to get discouraged it is only May, and I just get a new program with 2 weeks of conditioning because as my strength coach pointed out so nicely I am a “fragile” athlete. Said with the kindest meaning, I will be getting a new program to follow this summer.

Something to follow maybe…

“To uncover your true potential you must first find your own limits and then you have to have the courage to blow past them.”

Picabo Street

I started work yesterday as well, it was so slow it was the perfect first day back. I was home by 9:30 and only slightly exhausted! If only work were like that everyday it wouldn’t be so terrible! Work again this evening and I am sure it will be crazy because Saturdays always are.

It is a beautiful day in Lake Placid, I better get outside an enjoy it. I am currently sitting inside drinking my coffee. Boy I would just love to have my own deck and be able to sit outside in my own Adirondack chair and enjoy my weekend mornings. Last summer all I wanted was to buy the house right across the street from the training center, everyone would have loved it and had to visit it has a screened in porch and an amazing deck. But, of course I couldn’t buy it, it was way too expensive and I don’t have that kind of money! If only though, even renting it would have been amazing. Oh well.

Heading outside, going to meet up with Kaitlin tomorrow at the Champlain Bridge event to enjoy some more beautiful weather.

1st day of training complete!

Finally finished with my first day of training for the off season, it was a long and exhausting one, but I am sure glad to be back into the swing of things.

I am slowly figuring out my new routine, Morgan (a teammate) is going to be my workout partner this summer. There are a lot of bobsled and skeleton athletes here already and training early might be a huge hassle, so Morgan and I have decided to try to start our workouts around 10. No, its not as early as maybe you expected me to wake up, but I need to make sure I get enough sleep at night. Its nice to let your breakfast digest before warming up and doing sprints as well.

Monday, Wednesday and Fridays consist of a full warm up, 2 plyo drills (jumps or medicine ball tosses), sprints in Henry’s Woods up a dirt, gravel hill (last year running in the woods was my least favorite thing to do, I mentally prepared myself for it today but it was helpful that it wasn’t raining or too cold), followed by a seriously long and exhausting lift. Tuesday and Thursday we have what we call tempo it consists of about 3x5x100m strides with 30s-1min of ab exercises after each stride rep. Saturdays for this 4 week block I have an extra day of lifting, just to exhaust me enough and as Brad (strength coach) says make me a beast. Not going to lie I’m a little worried as to how exhausted I will be especially this Saturday, but it must be done.

I am already so sore that I am having a hard time walking down the stairs. I feel like my legs are going to give out and I am going to fall right down! I noticed it in the middle of my squats today; 3×10 with 2 warm up sets and 1 warm down set. Barbell walking lunges almost made me literally fall over, my glutes cramped and it was a tough exercise as well!

Got my recovery in, protein shake, stretched, Norma Tech compression pants, and the cold tub for 15 min which I am pretty sure was colder than 50 degrees today. Now the rest of the day is going to be spent in bed watching tv, reading and taking defensive driving online (yes just for the fun of it to lower my car insurance)!

Tomorrow is “an easy” day, maybe not so much because I will be incredibly sore. Easier than today and I don’t have to lift anything heavy until Wednesday! How wonderful!