Winter 2012. A late start.

So I thought I’d write a blog now that I’ve finally raced in Australia and have a little to talk about. Why haven’t I been racing you ask? Well to answer that I’ll need to rewind the clock back three months and begin with a question.

What happens when a lanky man goes to the gym?

Well originally I thought the answer was simple, they walked out looking like Arnie Schwarzenegger. However my body didn’t seem to agree with the mental image I’d concocted of myself and instead, I walked out of the gym rather sheepishly and sore. The kind of sore you get after Arnie Schwarzenegger drives a bus over you. The next few weeks I went to a bunch of physio’s in Ballarat and got a vague diagnosis that I’d hurt my back…Not super helpful.

Luckily with a little help from my good friend Voltaren, I forgot about my back issue and the mysterious conclusions of the Ballarat physios. I began to train again full on and just avoided using my back as much as possible, mainly just running.

I saw the team doc’s and Physio’s but stupidly told them I was fine and that I just needed to train and get fit again. Luckily on the advice of the AUS medical staff I did however get an MRI just to check, and what did you know, I had a budged disc protruding onto the nerves in my spine. Not ideal.

Clearly as Callum Watson puts it, there’s a lot of “stupid Hungarian” in me because in the time between Arnie and his Bus and the MRI, I’d run two 10km cross country races and a half marathon and won both the 10km’s an second in the half.

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Finishing one of the 10km races

However still I ignored all advice and evidence and figured everything was sweet, after all I was still feeling good. So I charged into the first on-snow AUS team camp with new Coach August Teague and this is where my body finally threw in the towel… The skiing movement caused massive pain and spasm in my back and legs so eventually I just had to stop. I was pretty frustrated seeing as I had an awesome chance to get some quality training and coaching time under my belt early on in the season.

Luckily during the camp I could see the AUS team physio students from Charles Sturt University on a daily basis and they nursed me along for the week. After that I limped into Aus team Phyio, Tim Retchford’s office and an epic Physio/recovery process was commenced! It’s been over two months since starting with Tim and with the help of the rest of the teams coaching staff I have moved from not being able to ski at all, and everyone talking about injections into my spine, to being able to race a full 15km race. Pretty amazing and a massive credit to the talent and skills of the team medical staff! Thanks a million!!!!

Originally it was thought I wouldn’t race the Australian season at all and just play catch up when I went overseas and chase a few points races to make sure I could race in U23 World Champs and the Senior Worlds champs. But as the recovery begun I seemed to heal really fast and was back doing lots of easy hours training with the team. Within 6 weeks I tried a little intensity and the body held together so the load slowly increased till I was throwing down with team properly at intensity sessions. In these sessions I could see I’d lost a bit at the top end but when it came to leg strength and endurance I was still there if not higher so this was sweet to see!

The Watson brothers but especially Callum have been living with me a lot this winter which has been awesome and great to help me keep motivated and focused during the recovery and to stay the course.

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Cooking up a storm with Callum
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Enjoying the sun during an amazing distance ski with Callum

The Saturday sprint came around and it was already planned that I’d pull out of the heats if I did qualify for them. The time trial is what you receive FIS points from and with part of the Russian team being here it was pretty obvious I wouldn’t even come top five and so I’d save myself for the distance. I raced well considering how little Classic skiing I’ve done qualified 12th for the heats. As instructed I pulled out and was content just to race the TT. I know just form the TT I have a lot to work on.

Sunday came around and with Callum telling me over and over this would be my day to get some sweet point and I’d have a great race I went into it feeling good but also more nervous than usual. It was three laps of a 5 km loop and I was third out due to entering on the morning of the race. I went out hard and perhaps a little too hard for the condition I was in and so on the second lap I tried to settle more. This moment of calm was quickly shattered as Ewan Watson hauled past me on his first lap and as he passed me I caught the words “hold on!” so that’s what I did. For the next 7km he drove the pace with Mark Pollock whom had also caught us starting just 30 seconds behind Ewan driving as well. With 3 km to go on my last lap and the other boys second lap, I jumped the bunch and went for it on the last two climbs.

I finished the 15km in 42 minutes, which isn’t great but still not bad considering the circumstances. However more excitingly with the caliber of racers at the event the FIS points were awesome! I managed to qualify for a full start at all the races at the U23 World Championships in Liberec, Czech. So it definitely looks like I’m packing my bags again for another European adventure.

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Managed to sneak into third for the U23 mens category in the distance

The Hoppet and the Hoppet night sprints are in the next few days so I’m crossing my fingers a little more luck will fall my way.

Until next time.

Train hard. Rest Easy. Live for the moment.

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