Gypsies, Doping Control, and Being Home For a While

Err, just wrote this blog but lost it. Gotta love technology sometimes. Here we go again.

So, I am home as of yesterday, leaving tomorrow for Gatineau where the AthletesCAN Forum is taking place, as well as training opportunities for me (I'll stay till November 5), and the Pentathlon Canada AGM.

The last coupled days of training in Rome were great. It was a shame we didn't have more than one evening to check out the city itself, but we were super time-restrained with training. Two riding lessons a day, and trying to fit in a swim before, weights or a run between, and then a run or fencing in the evening made it a tight day. Oh, and there were the three HUGE meals we had every day too. I've never consumed that many calories in a week, I'm sure.

On Friday evening, I went out for a run in the military fields that surrounded the complex. Abandoned barns and old residences were spattered across the landscape. It is a neat place, but a bit unsettling, especially as the sun sets. Running down the pathway, I approached a flock of sheep. They "bahhed" as I must have startled them. There "bahhing" must have startled the dog who then barked. Getting barked at while surrounded by trees and a setting sun is unnerving and it drew my attention toward the flock, where the faint outline of a caravan appeared. This wasn't a minivan driving soccer mom caravan, but a gypsy caravan. If you've ever seen the movie Snatch with Brad Pitt or know much about the Roma, you'll appreciate that my heart rate made a big jump and I turned 180 degrees toward home.

Saturday also brought some excitement, as Italy's doping control officers paid us an unannounced visit. The five of us were all subject to an out of competition test. I think this is great though, although it did hinder our already packed day. Doping control there is a little less stringent than in Canada. They advised us but the chaperone didn't stay with me, and so I went and lifted weights until I had to pee. They also didn't watch me go, which is usually part of the protocol.

That afternoon, our trainer took us to his barn for a big lunch, with some of his riding students. Stefano Scaccabarozzi guided us throughout the week and he is a really fun coach. Later that day, he gave me a lesson on his 5 year old mare. He said it was the first time he had watched her being ridden by someone else so it was a privilege for me.

Overall, this camp was a great experience. I learned a lot and was exposed to new and different challenges. Tomorrow I am off to Gatineau for AthletesCAN business. The first day I am speaking to students and then the Forum starts. A big focus of the Forum for me will be continued dialogue with Sport Canada about their funding (lack of). In the next week or so, I will share some documents from them and my response. Thank you for reading!