Monday, September 22, 2014

Inline Marathon, Rollerski 9.5k TT and a Running Half Marathon

It is tempting as a racer to only compete in events that you are good at.  I am a big proponent of  getting out and trying something new.  This spring while meeting with K2 they mentioned that they would be in Minnesota in the Fall for the North Shore Inline Race.  K2 is the parent company for Madshus our Ski, Boot, and Pole sponsor.  My focus is still cross country skiing and qualifying for the upcoming World Championships in February but I figured that inline skating would be fairly similar and the cross training would be good. 

Post race with Rollerski and Inline Skate friends
Several local groups" Team Hoigaards, Team Twin Cam and my friend Paul, let me join in on a few of their inline skate workouts.   I quickly learned that my expectations for the race may have been a bit bold.  My second timeout on skates I found myself skating with a heart rate of 180 and being dropped from the pack.  I watched a few more YouTube videos on inline skate technique and did my best to mimic the other skaters around me. K2 also sent me a faster set of skates with some harder wheels.  Both skates feel so fast relative to my roller skis but I would say that skating in the newer skates was similar to switching to your race skis with flouro waxes on them.  Although I originally had been entered in the pro open category I decided it would be best to move back in to the Advanced 1 wave.

Inline racing is fast and we averaged just under 20 mph for the marathon.  This meant that drafting was key.  Similar to racing in Europe, I spent the first part of the race earning a spot in the group.  No one would let me in to the pace line at first, so I would have to skate hard to the very front of the group.  It is amazing at such a speed how big an advantage the draft is.  Myself and several others made attacks along the course to try and break away but the big group was too fast with a slight headwind. We finished in an exciting sprint and thankfully no one was injured.  I had a blast and learned a lot about race tactics, positioning and competing in a group of strangers.

Caitlin and I made it a double race weekend, joining the St. Scholastica Saints Nordic Team for their annal Strand Time Trial.  We both felt great and set course records for the Men and Women.

Boys and Girls Club kids teaching me how to stretch.  Keep stretching when you are young or you will end up like me.
Caitlin and the Run Club crew practicing for Warrior Dash with a 400 m run and a lap of the playground without touching the ground.
The first half of the week we were joined by Lincoln a videographer with LL Bean.  LL Bean is a sponsor of In The Arena and will be opening a new store at the Mall of America this November.  

Fitting Madshus skis at the Hoigaards Tent Sale
This weekend also marked the Hoigaards Tent Sale.  Hoigaards is a big sponsor and supporter of Team Gregg and for the last 46 years has had a huge Fall sale on Winter gear.  The deals are hot and it is a festive event.  We have a blast helping fit skiers from first timers to experienced racers as everyone is getting excited for the snow to fly.

A fresh supply of FruitShare Organic fruit to fuel Run Club and Team Gregg this week.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Run Club: Heart of the City 5km

Running laps at Run Club practice at The Club
Minneapolis schools are back in session and the Club opened up on Tuesday for our Fall hours.  Providing a positive and supervised after school option for over 100 kids on any given day.  On Mondays and select Wednesdays and Fridays the Run Club meets and we run laps around the park in front of the Club.  We are in the heart of Minneapolis so our safe running options as a large group of kids are limited.  We have a 1/3 mile course and each lap earns runners a Popsicle stick.  The Popsicle sticks are turned in to earn squares on our mileage board in the Club.  We have been running all summer in anticipation of the Heart of the City 5km Race in Burnsville, MN.  The race is also a fundraiser for Kids Feeding Kids the program that helps provide snack and dinner for the kids at the Club every day as part of their annual $5 Club Membership.

Adrian, our top finisher from the Boys and Girls Club in the final kilometer of Saturdays 5km Race
The horn for the race start went off at 7:35am which is an early start.  In order to makes sure that we were all able to make the early start we decided to have a lock in at the Boys and Girls Club the night before.  I am starting to wonder it that was the best move athletically for us all, but I can tell you every one was trying to prove that they were having the most fun.  We had a blast, and I know that I wasn't the only one who fell asleep before the light was even out on Saturday night (post race)

Dyterious and his running buddy Erik.  Dyterious' favorite activity at the Boys and Girls Club is Run Club

Each kid is paired with a buddy to run the race.  This is the second year that the Run Club has been a part of this event and it is great to see almost all of the volunteer buddies back to help again this year.  Thank you.   The kids really enjoy the one on one time, plus it allows me to race as well which is fun. 

My focus is on the kids for this event, and this year that meant my warm up was a short pre-breakfast, pre-kid jog and blasting the heat in the van on the drive down.  I worked in to the race and thankfully finished injury free and with the win.  I ran 16:47 which is about a minute off of my 5 km pr from July but only 23 seconds slower than my time on the same course last year.   

Lebron and his buddy Joe

Danielle running with Tony and Tonishea

Me and Tonishea post race

Kamari and her older Sister Khallya
Khallya ran the 5 km race last year and couldn't wait to come back.  Her younger sister, Kamari, just 6 years old really wanted to come to.  5 km is a long way for a 6 year old and we were very proud of her for finishing her first 5 km.

Post race celebration at Grand Slam
A big thank you to the owners of Grand Slam who for the second year in a row hosted all of us for a post race celebration.  The kids were tired after what seemed like pretty much an all nighter at the Boys and Girls Club and then running a 5 km race.  Something about bumper cars, laser tag, mini golf, batting cages and games to make you forget about your sore and tired legs.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back in the Game

In Denver I had two plane tickets: one to Reno, NV and one to Minneapolis, MN.  Thankfully Southwest lets you change or cancel up to ten minutes before departure.  My energy has been a little low after Alaska and the increased volume training so far this summer.  We decided to split Team Gregg up so that I could focus on some interval work and recovery and low elevation and Caitlin could put in a bit more volume and load at high elevation.

Another great benefit to being at home is the chance to easily work with the kids.  This week I did a visit with the YMCA in New Hope, MN.  My visit was organized through Team for Tomorrow a campaign by the US Olympic Committee.  I really enjoy sharing the Olympic values of respect, friendship, and excellence.  I know what it is like to be one of those kids hearing the stories and magic of the Olympics and it is fun to share my story.  I really like sharing how much my friends and families made this dream of mine possible and how much fun it is to be able to really thank my friends and supporters for my successes.  They kids really like the photo of my twin brother in the Closing Ceremonies uniform and the family decked out with Olympic swag.  We talked about the importance of sharing your goals with others, plus encouraging and supporting each other.

We had about 120 kids so we broke in to groups of 25 for some playground time.  We set up a monster obstacle course and practiced on each challenge before timing the group as a team to compare with the other groups.

Hula Hoop Rock/Lava Jumps to the Spider Web
I cut my volume down a lot this week from 28-30 hours to about 15 hours.  It feels great to have such short training sessions and I have been able to go quite a bit harder and faster.  I had several pretty slow interval days before Colorado and I was concerned that I was becoming a bit over trained/under rested.  It is great to be back in the game.  I have found that it takes me almost a week to fully recover from these 3 week volume blocks and it is good to see that I actually can.

I have missed Caitlin's cooking.  
Mine doesn't taste nearly as good but I am proud of these pineapple beef tacos.

My new K2 skates came for the North Shore Inline Marathon
It is always important to try new things in training and racing.  Not only mentally but also so that you can continue to challenge your body.  I am excited to be competing in the Inline Marathon National Championships as part of the North Shore Inline Marathon on September 13th.

A great Twin Cities crew for a 15 mile trail run in Wirth Park.  KJ, Karl, Chambo, and Liebsch

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fagerquist/Mannix Wedding

A great time with friends new and old this weekend in Crested Butte, CO for Taz and Casey's wedding.  Thanks guys for getting married, and thanks for selecting Crested Butte for the celebration.  I haven't been back in the Gunnison Valley since college and this was my first summer trip.

Some people make you a better person when you are around them.  Casey is one of those people to me.  I have know him for over ten years and we skied and studied business together at the University of Alaska Anchorage.  I spent most of my early college years studying, training, and working.  Casey was  responsible for getting me out to play and we have had countless adventures together including climbing Denali.  

I have always believed that you really get to know someone when you have just about broken them.  You find out what kind of person someone is when you are both exhausted, hungry and cold.  Casey is one of those guys who can keep you smiling and laughing even when things are bad.  I remember making the mistake during an 80 mile mountain bike from Hope to Seward, the last 30 miles of trail hadn't been maintained for over 10 years and was overgrown with devils club.  I have always looked up to Casey.  

Hanging out with Taz and Casey brings me a ton of energy and I am so happy for them.  

Wedding Party Selfie

Thanks LL Bean for not only making great technical wear but making Caitlin look even more beautiful in her new dress and boots.

Mt. Crested Butte Summit, a new elevation high for Caitlin

Working on the weaknesses of walking lunges and getting pretty good.

Coaching my FAST Kids pod through the streets near Wirth Park.  Same roads I use for my own training

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Alaska Man Camp

Two week of Man Camp in Alaska has come to an end.  A great opportunity to train with the US Ski Team and the APU 7.  I have been impressed the entire camp with the fitness and speed of my friends and training partners.  What a treat to get 50 hours of quality training in two weeks with 27 hours on snow. I always enjoy being back in Alaska as so much of my skiing career has been shaped through training and competing with my teammates at the University of Alaska Anchorage.  A special thanks to the Moon family for hosting Caitlin and I for our stay in Alaska.  They welcomed us into their family and couldn't have made us feel more at home.

Erik and Andy my teammates from the 2014 Olympics at the Glen Alps trail head
 after a 2.5 hour Freestyle Distance ski.

One of my favorite sessions: a distance ski up the Hatcher Pass Road

We had one week or dry land training in and around Anchorage.  We had 17 of the fastest guys in the country pushing each other each day.   Several of the workouts were run as progressive distance workouts where the pace would start slowly and finish quickly.   I started doing workouts like this two years ago with the Methow Olympic Development Program and found it to be a fun and beneficial way to train.

Caitlin and I enjoyed 24 hours together in Alaska when the Women's Camp came down from the Eagle Glacier
 and the Men's Camp flew up.
After a week of dry land training we had a rest day before heading up on the Eagle Glacier for the second week on snow.  Caitlin and I got to spend 24 hours together which was awesome.  Although we were both in Alaska we didn't get to see each other as our camps were separated.  It has really been three weeks since we have been together and I am super excited to fly home and be with Caitlin in Minneapolis

8 minutes in a helicopter and you go from shorts and flip flops to winter on the Eagle Glacier.
The training setup was incredible with freshly groomed tracks twice each day and a full service facility for cooking, eating, sleeping, waxing and training.  Adjusting to non camp life will be a challenge.
The opportunity to get on snow is has been huge for my classical technique.  To share the snow with such a strong group of American skiers was an even greater treat.  I have found that I learn best through imagery and watching World Cup video and skiing behind or around efficient skiers.  I actually trained slower than most of the athletes at camp up on the Glacier but it was great to take a kilometer or so to ski behind different people and then do a lap trying to make the technique my own.  I feel like I had a real break though with my arm swing and poling that has allowed me to ski much more relaxed.

Recovery run in to Rabbit Lakes for a quick swim with Brent, Mark, Paul and Ben.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

5km PR, finally sub 16

I wouldn't consider myself a really fast runner in college.  A good race for me would be if I could beat out Rebecca Dussault while I was at Western State College of Colorado, usually she beat me.  When I transferred up to the Univerity of Alaska I discovered that I was then battling her sister Najeeby with times in the low 17 minutes.  About four years ago the owner of Winthrop Mountain Sports, Rita a long time friend and supporter of my endeavors introduced me to Andrew Nelson of Altius Physical Therapy.  I met up with Andrew and he fit me with some full length foot beds.  More importantly we spent several hours going over running technique.  I used to think that there wasn't much technique in running.  I was way off.  Focusing on a few simple changes I found that not only was running easier on my body, but my running times started dropping drastically, about 10 percent.  

Invicta Watches donated these classy timepieces for the winners of the Firecracker 5km.  They have since been transfered to Team Gregg's yurt sponsors Chad and Alieta.
It didn't take long for me to hone in on the goal of breaking 16 minutes in the 5km, but it took a lot longer to make it happen.  I ran 16: 03, 16:01, 16:02, 16:20, and 16:02.  I would run two to three 5km races throughout the summer.  My focus however is skiing fast during the winter and I don't taper or adjust my training really for summer races.  For example this year I have done two track workouts, one in May and one in June to work on my  leg speed.  I settled in on the Firecracker 5km in Excelsior, MN on July 4 for my 5km race this summer.  The winners are usually sub 16 and the event is paired with a 10km which usually attracts some real runners.  

Matt Liebsch offered to push the pace for the race to help me join him in the sub 16 Club.  He came around me at the half mile and just took off on a slight downhill.  His birthday is on the 4th of July and I was impressed to see him running away from me.  Matt is still training and racing, but he is also working full time now and is a father of 4.  I focused on realing Matt back in and we came together at the two mile.  The miles markers were a little bit off and I thought we were off pace so I picked it up for the final mile.  I ran the course again for my cool down with my gps and discovered that the mile signs were a little bit off and we were actually running pretty much right on 5:08 pace for the first two miles.

In my past 5km races I have fallen off the pace in the final half mile. A big focus this last year has been finishing strong and I couldn't help but smile as I crossed the line in 15:45.  I still have some time to shave off to catch up to Liebsch but setting a big PR was a great way to kick of the 4th of July.

Strength Coach Matt Miller and Caitlin going over our yearly training and racing schedule
 and planning our strength program
Caitlin and I have been working with Matt Miller of Horsepower Strength and Conditioning this summer.  Matt's is the real deal and knows his stuff.  I am 2 pounds heavier this summer but we have been building a lot of power which should help with so many races at sea level this year.

Enjoying the park out front of the Boys and Girls Club
Afternoons at the Boys and Girls Club have been just perfect this summer. We seem to get rain in the morning but pretty much every day this month it has been sunny and eighty for our time outside.  Classic hide-and-go-seek has become a summertime favorite this year.

These two always keep me smiling

Lahti and I on our way to camp.
Today I am on a plane to Alaska to join the US Ski Team and Alaska Pacific University Men's team for a 2 week camp.  Lahti is heading to dog sled camp while we are out of town.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Olympic Day

Jerry Gamble Boys and Girls Club Celebrating Olympic Day
June 23rd, 1894 is considered to be the birth or the modern Olympics.  Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin organized a resolution to reinstate the games that was approved unanimously at the Paris International Congress.  Olympic Day is a celebration for youth around the world to observe the Olympic values of Fair Play, Perseverance, Respect and Sportsmanship. It is also a day to celebrate the International Olympic Committee’s 3 pillars: Move, Learn and Discover.  

Joeseph, Chuck and the Bronze medal
Caitlin and I had fun hosting Olympic Day for all the kids.  We were fortunate to have 4 Olympians/Paralympians for the celebration.  1968 Olympian Len Lillyham, 2012 Bronze Medalist Chuck Aoki (Wheelchair Rugby), 2010 Olympian Caitlin Gregg and Me (2014).  Additionally we had the extra support of Olympic hopefuls with the Loppet Nordic Racing junior team: Sarah, Nicole, Julia, Hannah.  Plus Jennifer, the Physical Therapist who has been working with Caitlin this spring.  Over 100 kids and a beautiful day made for a lot of fun outside in Glendale Park.  Len donated two Olympic jackets to the event.  After we talked about the Olympic values of Fair Play, Perseverance, Respect and Sportsmanship we put the jackets up as prizes for the top male and female participant demonstrating such qualities.  This was a fun addition to the competitions because the prize wasn't just about winning, but competing well.  I am a firm believer that how you compete is more important than winning.

Working on our running starts and sprinting 100m and 400m for time at the running station.

Warming up for our sprints with some light jumps

Caitlin and the girls showing off their muscles and smiles
In addition to Monday's Olympic Day celebration I also got to share the slides and stories from Sochi with the Loppet Nordic Racing Junior Program.   I was about the same age as these kids when my Coach Laura McCabe made the 1998 Olympic Team and remember the impact that it had on me.  I suspect there may be a future Olympian catching the 5 ring fever.

Caitlin presenting our Road to Sochi slides after a 1.5 hour run with LNR

The LNR crew at the Wirth Challet.  Over 150 juniors are training with LNR this summer