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

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June: An entire month at home!

Who is ready for dinner on the patio?
June and September are my two favorite months in the Minnesota.  The temperature is perfect for training, working and playing outside.  The bike paths, parks and lakes are filled with runners, bikers, skiers, paddlers, sailors, slack liners and more.  It has been awhile since I have had a big chunk of time at home and it is great to have everything dialed in at home.  

One bag for the lunch, one bag for the training gear. #HowWeBean
The past two weeks have been pretty high volume for Caitlin and I.  The Club closes for a week between the school year and the summer programming so it is an ideal time to go big with volume with 55 hours in 13 days.  I am ready for a really easy recovery week now to allow everything to soak in.

Carmen and his new helmet
Carmen is one of our new neighbors and is out on his bike nearly everyday.  He didn't have a helmet, but thankfully we have a supply of brand new ones from a speaking event we did with the American Academy of Neurology.  One of favorite parts of living in Minneapolis is connecting with our neighbors on being active and staying safe.
Caitlin and I with Team Jelly Belly.  The pros are in town for the North Star Grand Prix stage race and we joined them for a casual ride last week.

The Boys and Girls Club reopened this week for summer programming.  Next up is Loppet Adventure Camp and the crew is excited to further their skills mountain biking, running, canoeing, rollerskiing, orienteering, and swimming.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ski 2 Sea and Home Again

I only had a few weeks at home in Minneapolis before heading to my original home in Washington.  I grew up in the Methow Valley in Washington state and this was my first trip back post Olympics to share in person my experience with the community that lit the fire inside of me so many years ago.
Rehabilitation of the Fawn Hut in it's new location
Another perk of being home is getting a chance to do some work on our Cabin, formerly known as the Fawn Hut.  The hut was actually 'free' with the only price being dismantling it and moving it.  We are quite proud of it but to be honest it was a free cabin and we weren't the first people to look at it.  We have made a number of enhancements including insulation and a real door and windows.  I really enjoy working on it but with ski training I haven't been able to do nearly as many projects as I have hoped.

Torin and I speaking to 200 students at the Elementary School.  Same gym as back in the day.

My Olympic and ITA Teammate put it well we he said that the best two things about the Olympics besides competeing:
1. Olympic Processing- you get a ton of really great Swag from the Olympic sponsors.  
2. Olympic School Visits- sharing your Olympic experience with others especially kids.

The Methow Valley School District with less than 500 kids had 3 Olympians represented at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.  This statistic speaks volumes of the support and opportunities of the teachers, school and community.  In addition to sharing our stories of Sochi we discussed the importance and fun of setting goals, sharing your goals with others, supporting others in their goals and working hard.

Afternoon practice with the Olympians
Torin came and spoke to me after the 2002 Games when I was a Senior in high school.  It certainly made an impact and I hope that together we have that same impact on the Olympic hopefuls of the next generation.

Start of the Mazama 10km Trail Race and Pancake Breakfast.
About 20 years ago my Dad started a running race that went from our driveway to Mazama for the annual Memorial Day Pancake Breakfast.  I was too young to run so far, so I did it as a bike ride.  A few years later I did it as a relay team with my twin brother.  The race has grown beyond the capacity of the bathroom at my parent's house and now runs a loop from Mazama.  My friends Sam and Alison organize and run the race now.  I haven't run a 10km in over 7 years, but it was fun to narrowly win this local race and set my 10km PR of 35:12.

Not must rest as I had a special person to meet across the mountains in Bellingham for a Pallaya feast.
A ski race in late May?  Yes, Please.
The Ski 2 Sea is a 8 person multi-sport relay race from Mt. Baker to Bellingham Bay.  The event kicks off with an 8 km cross country ski.  The course is very challenging and honestly quite similar to the 5km Freestle loop in Sochi.  I competed with the Boundary Bay Brewere competitive open race team.  I have been competing with the same group of guys for the past 5 years and it is always a fun event.

Our team won the big trophy for the fastest overall time

Why stop at a 10km Running Race and 8km Ski Race when you have a 3 day weekend.  Monday's training plan: 100km bike ride on San Juan Island.
We had the whole Team Gregg Family together for the weekend which is pretty special and unique.  This is the first time that Mom, Dad, all the kids, and all the spouses have been together since my sister's wedding.  My training and travel schedule usually dictate many of our family activities and everyone has been so supportive of this selfishness.  We had a blast riding the ferry and exploring the island together.  The day started off in pouring rain as we rode to the ferry but just a one hour boat ride led to blue skies and sunshine.
Caitlin and I touring the 'islands'

We flew back to Minneapolis on Tuesday and are looking forward to over a month at home of training.  I certainly have needed a bit more recovery time.  Lahti and I are doing are recovering in the same way here, but he looked prettier doing it.


Monday, May 19, 2014


The LL Bean Tote Bag: The bag where the good stuff goes
I am excited to announce a partnership between LL Bean and In The Arena.  LL Bean has been equipping adventurers heading outdoors to play since 1912.  A huge part of our goal with In The Arena is healthy active living and we are excited to have the support of LL Bean.

The Boys and Girls Club crew were pretty excited to see this week's Run Club apples arrive in a custom In The Arena - LL Bean Tote.  The tote bag has been an LL Bean signature as long as I can remember.  We have had one at home for a while that is awesome.  Big and strong it can holds loads small or large.

Speaking with 200 Elementary school students in Hawarden, Iowa
One of the best parts of being at Olympian has been coming back and sharing the story of setting that goal at Age 15 and the subsequent Road to Sochi.  A highlight of my day in Russia was reading my email filled with notes form friends, family and school kids who were following the Games.  I promised this group in my Dad's hometown of Hawarden, Iowa that I would come visit when I made it back to the States.

Some excited kids to get a chance to shake hands with two Olympians
Hot team before your workout in a mug that keeps in hot until you finish 2+ hours later
Training Season has begun for the 2015 World Championships

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Kotzebue, Ak and Home (first time since Oct 1)

At the end of the ski season, some ski racers are excited to go somewhere warm for vacation.  This year I have been looking forward to a different kind of trip.  Some fun in Alaska. 
I showed up at Paul's house and he had the gear all set up for our little adventure: pack raft, ice axe, crampons, beacons, snowshoes, hammer drill, bolts, rope, and ski poles.  We were pretty well prepared for anything in our little winter canyoneering adventure to scout out placing some safety equipment for a drop on the Willow river.  These guys paddle some pretty amazing things and it was fun to learn a bit about a different type of activity.  I was grateful to be invited and I think they were pretty psyched that I carried the drill.  Our goal was to explore the possibility of rigging some equipment to avoid a long portage around an unsafe drop in the river.  We ended up deciding not to set anything but it was pretty fun exploring and I enjoyed being out in the mountains with my friends. 
I had a little too much fun and had to stay up late to pack my bags for an early morning flight to Kotzebue, AK to teach skiing with NANA Nordic to the school kids in town.  My first trip to an Alaskan Village and above the artic circle. 
Kotzebue, AK: A beautiful place with a great community.  I will certainly be back, perhaps someday as a school teacher.  Caitlin did a fantastic write up on our trip on her blog at:
We had so much fun skiing with the kids for 9-5 each day.  To cap things off we skied to the neighboring village of Noorvik, AK on Saturday.  We caught our bush plane flight back to Kotzebue and then my body finally shut down.  I was ready to be home in Minneapolis.  We spend a lot of time carefully choosing our flight times during the season but now at the end we had a red eye flight back to Minneapolis through Chicago with a four hour layover.

We embraced the less than ideal travel day and met some really fun people.  Most notably Nastassja whose carry on luggage kind of stood out.
Nastassja and her huge trophy for winning the Under 10 section of the 11th Annual Kasporov Chess Federation All-Girls National Chess Championship at Age 9 none the less.
The Thomas Ave Kids welcoming us home and excited to go for a run with us. 
Our good friend Tim who has cared for our dog Lahti and watched our home throughout our travels made us a fantastic meal of Bulgogi.  It is so good to be home and eating again in our little dinning nook.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Team USA visits the White House

Visiting Washington, DC was a great experience to share with Team USA. An opportunity to connect with my Olympic teammates in a relaxed environment.  It was fun to connect with athletes from other sports.  Sharing a private car from the airport with Gold Medalist Maddie Bowman, eating breakfast with the silver medalist bobsled team, going to dinner with the Speedskaters.  The highlight of the trip easily being meeting President Obama and the first lady. First of all we toured the white house and the grounds.  Waiting excitedly as we had before the opening ceremonies as well.  We all shook hands with the president and hugged Michelle with some time for a few words.
I asked if he had ever cross country skid. He hadn't but said he was up for trying it. I said I would take him out if he was ever in Minneapolis. He liked that but reminded me that Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybek had a heart attack cross country skiing at Wirth Park this winter.  I said yeah but he is okay and in the same tweet announcing the heart attack also complimented the excellent ski conditions for the day.  I thanked Michelle for her efforts in encouraging a healthy lifestyle with today's youth and my passion for that as well.
After the white house visit the USA ran an Olympic Summit on the transition from ones athletic career to their professional career.  The white house visit had maybe 200 Olympian and paralympians. To my surprise the symposium had less than 50 participants.  I found the summit to be extremely educational and beneficial with very little fluff.  The small size made for a really personal experience.  Panel discussions included the former CEO of Charles Schwab, Olympic Medalists from many different years and first hand advice on the keys to their success and the mistakes they had made and corrected.  I plan to race another Quad for sure but at some point all athletes will retire from sport and it is important to be prepared for that transition.