Tuesday, October 28, 2003 - Perspective
X-C.com Update: Chips from a Training Log - No. 4

- By: Timo Puiras

Hi. The last time I wrote one of these it was spring. I was in Finland and had promised that I would write another article before long. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, (mostly because I am lazy) I didn’t get anything done. I’ll try and catch you up now. The rest of the spring Finland trip went well enough. Skied all over the back of Mika Myllyla’s pole baskets at the Finnish Championships among other things. I returned to Thunder Bay in early June and managed to find myself thoroughly back in the pleasant rut I had left behind. Training, working, eating and sleeping; doesn’t get any better than that for me. The work I was doing changed a bit from the previous two summers. As mentioned in previous articles, I had worked for Rigato Contracting building bridges for the logging roads around Thunder Bay. This summer, however, I was assigned to less strenuous computer activities. One fellow Lappe athlete then asked me how I compensated for the lack of strength training that I had previously attained from bridge building. This was done by doing a couple of different things: firstly, and most importantly, I tried to involve physical labour into my workouts as much as possible, such as sawing and chopping wood, carrying pails of water for the sauna and digging for worms that I can use for fishing. Secondly, there was a bit of a fad that started in the Lappe community a few years ago, which involved a significant number of us purchasing a “Body Gym”. Not quite what Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley advertise on Sunday morning TV, but close. The local Sears was rather pleased with the occurrence of this craze, I’m sure. In any case, this, along with polewalking and pesapallo, were the staples of my summer training.

The only other thing of any importance that transpired this summer was the Stallion’s (William Fitzgerald) inspired running performance in early September. At Lappe we have a 22.2km test run loop that has been a way to test fitness for the last 25 years. The loop is run on the gravel roads circling the southern concession. The first 4k are relatively flat followed by a kilometre of uphill. From 5k to 12k it is mostly downhill. The last 10k are uphill. The goal is to break 1 hour 20 minutes. Before this magical day, only two others had broken this all-important time barrier. (My old man had the third fastest time of 1 hour 20 minutes flat, although he will forever maintain that his time was 1.19.59). Personally I had run 1.22.34 in early August, which was about a minute and a half faster than my previous personal best. But, back to more important achievements; it was a rainy cool autumn day when Will ran. The mist and the fog in the air created an aura of supernatural mystique and I knew that something dreamlike would take place on that date. We knew that the last 10km would be slightly more difficult than normal because of the clay on the road that would most likely gum to the bottom of Will’s shoes, but he decided to run anyways. He bravely took off like a... well... like a stallion... and set a torrid pace. Kilometre after kilometre we roared encouragement and with one kilometre to go we knew he had it. The final time was 1.19.39. The first time 1.20.00 had been broken in over 20 years. Amazing!!

Last spring while I was racing and touring Finland someone put the idea into my head that I should come back in the fall to train and get ready for the 2003-04 racing season. Much like the Body Gym situation, I succumbed to the pressure and now I sit here typing this article from Kuhmo (60km east of Vuokatti ski tunnel) Finland.

The trip here went rather uneventfully except for a spot of fog that we experienced over London/Heathrow that delayed us enough that my ski bag had the opportunity to enjoy an extra night among the baggage handlers. The first real workout I did here, I decided that the smartest thing would be to do a 50k classic rollerski (double pole only). The route I took was to ski down the highway to a place called Elimaki, turn around and come back (I started in Anjala – for those of you still following along from last springs map). The majority of the trip was very pleasant aside from the smell that wafted to the road from the poultry manure factory. Normally, due to some allergies, my nose is fairly plugged and I can’t smell all that well, but this particular odour had no problem penetrating my olfactory nerves. In fact, I would have much preferred the sweet aroma that is spewed from the candy cane coloured smokestack of the pulp and paper industrial unit in Thunder Bay or the fragrance of a run-over skunk on Dog Lake Road. Somehow it seems strange that people would want to spread this stuff over their flowers, but then, I guess I don’t know too much about flowers...

Late during the first week of seven here in Finland, I jumped onto the train and headed north. My time has been spent sleeping, eating, training, and typing. I also had the opportunity to enjoy an evening of Georg Malmsten’s greatest hits from the years 1929 to 1975 presented by the Kuhmo Military Band. Although I am sure that I was the youngest audience member by at least twenty years, I found that I had no problem enjoying such classics as “Mickey Mouse in Danger at Sea” and “The Blue Jacket March”. Furthermore, the singer was toted as being the next Jari Sillanpaa. For those of you that aren’t fortunate enough to understand what that means, Jari Sillanpaa is the equivalent of a Finnish Englebert Humperdinck. We were all quite awestruck.

This is all for now. We will see if inspiration strikes me again to write another article before I come home in early November.




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