The High School Grind

It's always great to finish up a great week of training and have a recovery day to just relax and recuperate. This past week was one of the best weeks of training I've had all year in many respects. A good part of that comes from feeling stronger and stronger everyday after bouncing back from being sick for most of September and October.

This weeks training focus was shooting at intensity with some longer endurance workouts. I had three hard intensity workouts combined with shooting culminating with a hard time trial on Sunday morning. Early in the week, the weather was unseasonably warm and was great for training. As enjoyable as the 60 degree weather at the beginning of the week was I am hoping the temperatures start to drop so that snow making operations can begin. At the end of the day I am a skier and having snow helps.

At the start of the week, shooting at race pace intensity was a little shaky at times. My first intensity session consisted of skiing all out for 2 minutes followed by shooting. The first couple shootings were a shock to the system and I had to remember to relax and think about my procedure, not hitting the targets. By the end of the workout I was hitting targets and feeling more relaxed even at high levels of exertions.

The next couple workouts brought rain and windy conditions which made for tricky shooting conditions on top of the intensity. However, the sport of biathlon is not a always-sunny-blue-skies kind of sport. The same as cross country skiing every year has races in rain, snow, fog, sun, warm, cold, windy and everything in between. Weather conditions are variable and being prepared to perform in all those conditions is a must. Tom Meyer, a local master skier from Hayward, was telling me on a ski one weekend about his friend who would do 'worst case scenario training'. Basically, he would create for himself worst case scenario situations for training to be prepared for whatever may happen during a race. I guess this week you could say I got a little bit of worst case scenario training in to prepare for the coming season and whatever it throws at me.

My time trial on Sunday morning went really well, which was a great way to end the week. I did my time trial on HWY OO in Seeley, WI, a local and regionally renowned road for roller skiing. Andy's brother Matt did the time trial along with me and Andy coached us, timing and watching our shots. The time trial consisted of about 12 km of skiing and 4 shootings, and it was hard. The hills of OO didn't disappoint and was feeling the burn in my legs on the relentless hills. However I still felt pretty strong skiing and finished out the day shooting 85%. It was a great workout that offered great stimulus and race like experience. By the end I was just about bonked and ready for a rest day.

Another part training that I feel has really been benefiting me has been dry fire drills. Dry fire is doing drills with your biathlon rifle without using ammunition. I've been doing dry fire drills every evening for a couple weeks now and can feel the difference in position. It's becoming more natural and solid as I spend more and more time in position. Sometimes it is viewed as the more boring part of training, but necessary none the less. Standing in position for 10 minutes may not be the most fun, but missing 4 shots isn't much fun either.

So all in all I am comfortable with where I am at right now, especially considering how rough the previous 2 months have been. As always a huge thanks to all those who are supporting me and for the continual encouragement. Your thoughts and prayers are very much appreciated. I feel very humbled to have so many people not only believe in me but to help fund my journey along the way. Thanks for helping me fulfill my calling and helping me learn and grow as a person.

So in closing this time I'd like to take a moment and talk about High School. High School is a memorable time of life for most people. To some, those memories are of great times with friends and to others high school reminds them of rough times. Whatever those memories are, stepping back into a high school can trigger those memories to resurface. This past week I had a lifting workout and went to the Hayward High School weight room to get in my workout. Walking into the weight room full of kids with music blasting through the speakers on the wall brought me right back to high school. What really brought me back was when one kid walked past and I was overtaken by a cloud of Abercrombie & Fitch cologne.

All kidding aside, even though some high schoolers may drench themselves in copious amounts of cologne to attract the opposite sex, or impress the same sex I don't know, high schoolers possess an incredible desire to excel in the arena of sports. Sometimes the memories that surface with high school are the trip to state, or the disappointment of a season ending injury. But what I always love to witness is the high schooler with that burning fire to excel. This past week I saw that lived out as the Kimberly Boys Cross Country team won the Division 1 state title and my brother Peter and the Kimberly Boy's Soccer team landed a trip to the state tournament.

As an athlete I realize what it takes to not only get to state but to compete for the state title. Sometimes we think it's the hard work that really makes the difference and for the most part I would agree. I always loved the quote up in the weight room reading, "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard." That's what always motivated me in high school, thinking I had to out work my opponents in order to succeed because I didn't believe I possessed the talent to excel. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to win and it was the desire that fueled me. The Hayward weight room walls are lined with quotes and sayings motivating the student athletes, hoping to spark or add fuel to the fire. Sports is life to a high school athlete, and excelling is the difference between being a somebody and a nobody. A trip to state can take you from just an athlete to legend, from a no one to a some one. For some athletes, this is their desire, to become something great in the eyes of their peers.

The thing I have come to realize is you're really only becoming a somebody to yourself. If we are honest, if you win state and walk back into your high school 10 years later, how many people there really know you won state? None of the kids will, and maybe a few of the teachers will remember you, but for the most part everyone forgets who won state 5 years ago. The legacy leaves with you when you graduate. The hard work is refining you as a person and what you make of the experience is what you take from it.

So as I finished my workout in the Hayward High School weight room I found myself thinking back to my days of working out with my high school training partner and great friend Micheal "Que" Quesnell. We would spend hours working out simply because we thought the harder and longer we worked out the better we would be, earn peoples respect, and become a greater person than if we were at home watching TV. As I stood catching my breath in the HHS weight room, I looked myself in the mirror. I remembered myself as a high schooler, Paul Schommer, a want-to-be-skier from Kimberly High School. The kid who his sophomore year of high school wondered if he would ever compete again in a high school sport. Someone who was not a star athlete but just a kid with the desire to become a somebody, and here I was in a weight room still where no one knew who I was. And even though no one knew who I was, I was a somebody. Not a somebody because of what I've accomplished or my accolades as an athlete, but a somebody by the experiences I've gone through and the goals I continue to strive towards. And I realized I was not the only one in that weight room, but was surrounded by others who had a name, a journey and something they were striving towards. Every other person in that room had meaning and I prayed that someday they all find it.

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© 2017 by Paul Schommer