Sunday, October 19, 2014

Healthy Teeth, Warrior Dash World Championships, and Fall Camp

I have had a hard time deciding which I like better, the monkey or the dragon.  Both have great smiles.

Soon to be Dentist Audrey and a few of her friends at the Boys and Girls Club.

We had a nice treat at the Boys and Girls Club last week with a visit from the University of Minnesota dentistry students.  Our good friend Audrey Weber is in her second year of dental school and organized a visit with seventeen of her classmates to come teach the kids more about their teeth and dental hygiene.  The kids had a lot of fun learning the proper way to floss and brush their teeth,  dressing up as a dentist, making tooth molds, and more.  A big thank you to Audrey for organizing the afternoon and helping make the smiles at the Club even better.

Kids earned entry to the Dental activities though some physical fitness games such as knuckle push ups.

Caitlin and the crew staying active while they wait their turn to meet the dental students.

Playground Training
Ski training took a bit of a back seat to some running and obstacle training these last two weeks.  Caitlin qualified for the Warrior Dash World Championships last April and a few weeks ago I was approved to compete in the race as well.  The race promised a unique and fun challenge as well as $100,000 in prize money.  Our Minneapolis training group came together for a little practice interval session at the playground at French Park.  We had to start real early so that we wouldn't scare the kids away.  Thankfully at 7:30 the temperatures were just above freezing and we were able to complete our workout before the younger kids came to play.

Fall, my favorite time of year in Minneapolis
One of the prettiest 5km Road Races I have ever done is the Historic Riverfront 5 km from Boom Island Park in Minneapolis.  One of several 5 km races in the metro the weekend after the Twin Cities Marathon.  The colors are at their peak in the Twin Cities and the course runs from Boom Island Park along the east bank of the Mississippi, crosses the stone arch bridge and returns up the west bank and back over the Plymouth bridge.  On the start line I noticed one of the other women looked extremely fit and vaguely familiar.  One of the other runners asked if she did many running races and she mentioned she did more triathlons.  It then hit me that it was World Champion Gwen Jorgensen, now Gwen Lemieux.  One of my ITA teammates Sara Groff is a triathlete and I have become a big fan of Triathalon and watching her and Gwen race.  We ran the first two miles of the race together and I just barely got her by the finish line.

Caitlin, Gwen (Jorgensen) Lemieux, Pat Lemieux and Me
It is pretty fun to meet one of your heroes in person.  It is also pretty cool that a little neighborhood 5km would have 3 of the Twin Cities Olympians.

Olympic Slideshow and Ice Cream Social with the Minnehaha Academy Ski Team.

Caitlin and I on the road for our Fall training camp
It has been great to be at home for over two months but I am excited to start my fall training camp.   I love everything I do in and with the community at home but am ready for some training and recovery time with minimal distractions.

Caitlin and I post Warrior Dash World Championships

Check out Caitlin's blog for a recap of our Warrior Dash World Championships.  We were dissapointed to leave with a goose egg of prize money to support our ski season but the smiles and memories were awesome.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Make Skiing a Family Affair

Family skiing has been a theme the last two weeks here in Minneapolis.  One of the great benefits of not traveling for any camps the last two months is the chance to be a greater part of the Twin Cities community.  

Hanging out before the North Minneapolis Middle School Ski Night 
The North Minneapolis middle school programs had a kickoff event to start of their season.  In addition to the standard logistics and planning for the season the event was targeted at connecting with the parents of the kids in the program.  One of the programs that The Loppett foundation is offering is the opportunity for parents of kids on the team to come and take ski lessons for free.  I think this is a great way to really grow the sport.  My start in skiing really came from getting out as a family and going skiing and to have everyone embracing winter is a great thing.

Hiawatha SkiKlubb MYSL Clinic
Sticking with the theme of family skiing we did a clinic with the Hiawatha SkiKlubb.  The clinic was for kids and adults.  We warmed up together and then split up into a kids and adult group.  Participants had to pay attention as when we came together the kids taught the adults how to improve their downhill tuck and the adults taught the kids to double pole.  
One of the goals of the club is to make it so skiing isn't a 'drop off event' but rather a chance for both kids and adults to get in a workout and have fun.  

Loppet Foundation Member Event: Canoe
Caitlin and I helped host the September Loppet Member Event.  The perfect Sunday evening became even better with a surprise catered meal for participants.  After dinner we enjoyed the sunset as we paddled the chain of lakes.  My twin brother and my sister-in-law were in town and her family joined for the event too.  Although it is always fun to eat with family, it is even better to be active.

On my way to a new course record for my 10 km Time Trial.
Training has been great as well as I finished off my last big volume week of the year complete with a test on my 10 km time trial.  I performed the time trial last year on the exact same day and this year I was able to better my course record by 5 seconds.  I am real happy with that as I was slower in my early August test.

Hiawatha SkiKlubb Clinic #2
Tonight's clinic with the Hiawatha SkiKlubb felt a bit more like Fall as we huddled close together to stay warm.  After a brief talk about goal setting and everyone writing down 5 of their personal goals down we got to the workout and no one had to worry about being cold.  We are all excited for winter.

A huge thanks to our community and sponsors who make this ski racing dream a reality.  Last year we had our best seasons to date thanks to a successful community donation campaign through Fundly.  If you would like to support our ski racing and community efforts please donatate or spread the word about our campaign

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.