Sunday, May 1, 2016

Run Club and Big Beef Dinner

Do you think we have enough beef?
The BBD or Big Beef Dinner has become an annual tradition for skiers here in the Twin Cities.  Our friends Matt and Kuan started the simple event around 10 years ago and it has continued to grow.  It is fantastic to connect with so many of the local skiers and supporters and enjoy the transition from one ski season to the next.  

Grilling up the beef, Korean BBQ style.  Thinly sliced, beaten, marinated and wrapped in lettuce with Kimchi
The kids have been busy at Run Club accumulating their miles and adding stickers next to their name on the Run Club board.  Collectively the kids have run 708 miles which is 2124 laps around the park.  It is pretty cool to see the progress of not being able to run one 1/3 mile lap continuously to being able to run 1 mile continuously and 2, 3, or 4 miles each day depending on the goal of the day.

Shaniyah and Kennuyanah earning their LL Bean water bottles by hitting the 10 mile mark.

Ramiah, our first runner this season to reach 26.2 miles.  She has earned a pair of FITS socks.
We have fantastic sponsors that support our athletic goals and dreams and it is wonderful that they also support our civic goals and dreams.  FITS socks has donated socks that the kids earn when they run 26.2 miles.  Thank you to LL Bean, Fruitshare and FITS

Nakitta running her way to 3rd place in overall mileage!
We have our first 5km fun run coming up next week, at Endurance United's: Go Spring Run!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring Break: Alaska and Run Club

I have been enjoying a little break from my athletic training and enjoying some fun in the civic arena.

Check out this video recap of our trip to teach skiing in Noorvik, Alaska

This year Caitlin stayed in Minneapolis while I taught skiing in Alaska so that we could have the consistency at Run Club practice.  Rain and cold had kept Run Club practice inside, so the kids have been super excited about the warm and dry weather this week so that we can run outside.

Lining up for Run Club
A few years ago we skied in the Twin Cities metro on April 15th, this year Spring arrived early
We again have some fantastic sponsors to help motivate us to reach our daily, weekly and season goals at Run Club.  LL Bean has provided a shopping spree for the top 3 boys and top 3 girls mileage runner.  Caitlin and I are excited for the field trip to LL Bean at their Mall of America store at the end of the school year.  FruitShare has provided delicious healthy snacks of organic oranges, apples, clementines and tangelos.  Kids earn their choice of fruit for completing the daily Run Club mileage goal.   LL Bean has also provided water bottles which the kids earn after accumulating 10 miles at practice.  Thanks LL Bean and Fruitshare for the support.
Lebron is proud to be the first kid to earn his LL Bean water bottle for accumulating 10 miles of running this Spring.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Spring Break in Alaska

The ski race season is complete.  Overall the season went well, although my last three races were  poor performances.  Some recovery time has certainly been in order.  My ideal recovery this year has been the chance to come home to Minneapolis and have some relaxed time at home.  It has been super nice to spring clean, relax and organize.  Plus, we have had a few home projects on our to do lists for a while.  Thankfully after serval days of easy jogs with Lahti and Caitlin I have been feeling more energetic and antsy.  I flew up to Alaska on Friday evening for a week of teaching skiing in Noorvik, Alaska with NanaNordic.  We departed for the village on Sunday which left Saturday to play.  We hoped in to the Alaska Skimeister race, a local downhill ski, cross country ski, fat bike race.  I had a blast.  Although my body has been tired, I still absolutely love to any kind of race.

Slushy conditions at the start of the bike leg meant that pushing the bike up the big hill was faster than riding.

Twin brother back in Alaska

All smiles as we land in Kotzebue.  Pretty fun to get back to winter 30 miles north of the artic circle

My first trip to teach skiing with NanaNordic was to Kotzebue 3 years ago.  We had a 7 hour layover in town.  Of course we skied all around town.
On snow with the 2nd Graders in Noorvik, Alaska
On my first trip to the artic we finished with a ski from Kotzebue to Noorvik.  About 42 miles and a strong headwind made for a long day.  It is nice to arrive in Noorvik much fresher and to get a chance to spend some time in town and with the kids.

Conditions are perftect for skiing with fresh snow and temperatures just above freezing.

Enjoying the sunny days and blue sky

Skiing through the streets of town.  Who wants to ski to their house?

Stopping in at home for a quick pickle snack. 
We are on skis for over 8 hours each day and even still we have to tell the kids they have to go home at the end of the day.  I love it.  It is great to see that winter, snow and the passion for skiing is still strong up North.  The kids in Noorvik have been skiing now for 4 years and are quite good.  The trails and terrain around town make it an ideal place to ski.  Looking forward to tomorrow, but not before a solid nights sleep.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Canadian Ski Tour - 4/8 Intermission

I like training, but I love racing!  I am halfway through the 8 stage Canada Ski Tour.  After racing 4 races in 5 days, I enjoyed a rest day and travel day as the tour went from Quebec City, Quebec to Canmore, Alberta.  I have had a good race, a bad race, and some so-so race.  With so many races in such a short period of time you can't spend much time analyzing or dwelling on your past race, instead you must learn your lessons and then focus on the next race.  This is one of my favorite parts of ski racing.  

Training the week before the World Cups in my backyard with the Minnesota Youth Ski League 'Ski with The Stars' Team Sprint Relay.
The Minnesota Youth Ski League is leading the charge with programming to help get kids, especially first timers out on skis.  Annually the alumni and local stars meet up with current athletes for a fun night team sprint.  I was pretty psyched that this year's event fit into my training and travel schedule.    Racing on a team with our future stars is sure a lot of fun!
Team Ginger!
After a week of rest and intervals at home in Minneapolis I loaded the plane for Ottawa and the Canadian Ski Tour.  This series of 8 World Cups has been the focus of my season.   

It is easy to get nervous heading in to a big event and the focus of a years worth of training.  Having fun is my favorite way to relax and prepare.  Pretty sweet to try out the Giant Skis for the first time.  Talk about a team exercise with  6 bindings per ski.
It is a dream come true to be racing together on the World Cup with Caitlin.

Enjoying a blissful post-race cool down with the guys in Quebec City
2 days before the Tour started my good friend and main training partner Matt was named as the final qualifier for Team USA at these events.  The three of us have training a lot together and it is fun to bring that familiar environment to the big show.
Matt cheering me in to the finish on a rough day in Montreal
The bond you develop with your teammates and training partners is something special.  Matt and I have been training and racing together in the Midwest for the last 10 years.  We have shared the same goals during that time and I know that many of my successes in life and ski racing are a result of Matt helping me to become better.  He has been my number one training partner and we are good friends.  We are also strong competitors and are constantly trying to beat each other, this is why we are good training partners too.  My second day of the Tour, the first distance race, I had a rough day and finished well off of my goals and expectations.  Rough enough, that as I came in near last place, the finish zone was empty, the other racers already in their warm jackets and heading out to cool down.  I had to smile thought as I crossed the line and looked up and Matt was there waiting for me.  He helped me take my skis off and offered the condolences of a guys who knows the work that has been done behind the scenes.  Those are the moments that help you move on from the bad races so that you can get on with the good ones.

Family cheering and supporting through the ups and the downs
One of the best things about a rough race is that it can make a good race feel that much better.  Two days after that Classic day in Montreal I had a really strong 15 km Freestyle in Quebec City.  The type of race where my legs felt great and I just continued to speed up throughout the race.  I love that feeling. 
Skiing to a strong freestyle finish in Stage 4 of the Canada Ski Tour

Friday, February 5, 2016

Stowe Nordic BKL Practice

One of my favorite recovery day activities is to get out and ski with the local junior program.  With a rest day on Tuesday I joined up with the Stowe Nordic crew for practice.  It is fun to be in Vermont and explore some ski trails I have never skied before.  Many strong skiers come out of Vermont and programs like the one here at Stowe Nordic are the responsible parties.  I loaded my car at the hotel with my skis but as I looked around at the green grass I certainly debated how practice would be.  The groomers scratched up some great skiing for us and we had a great time.  Variable conditions may not be the most fun to ski in, but they make you tough and they make you a stronger skiing as you learn how to adapt technically and mentally.

Excited to head out for ski practice

Dialing in some technique imagery 
After a fantastic winter last year, this years low snow conditions can get you down, these guys didn't mind and made the most of thin conditions with big smiles.

Stowe Nordic Bill Koch League group

Balance is key to nordic skiing and pulling off a successful 'Back Scratcher' on the downhill.

Jackson, practicing getting forward with a chariot pull

Find the edge, find the power, get forward!

No pole skiing
Working on turns and space awareness

Celebrating a fun practice with smores!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Seeley Hills Classic and Training Block

Great to be able to have some fun with Caitlin again
It is great to have the Team back together again!  Caitlin has been in Europe racing the World Cup for 2 months and is back in Minneapolis to recharge.  Face Time is a great way to stay in touch when we are on different continents but you can't beat being together in person.  

Last year we had a great week or training and recharging in Hayward, WI on the American Birkebeiner trail so we decided to do the same thing this year.  This included racing in the Seeley Hills Classic a fantastic classic marathon on the Birkie trail.  Race organizer Dennis Kruse has been a good friend from the first day I arrived in Wisconsin 10 years ago.  With 500 racers the Seeley is one of the premier classic races in the Midwest.  I had a fun race with my friend Matt Liebsch.  We skied the entire race together attacking each other from time to time but neither of us breaking away.  I ended up with the win this year, although a good portion of that was a result of Matt tripping on a climb 1 km from the finish and myself getting the only open finishing lane.

Women's Champion Natalia, Race Organizer Dennis and Me

Signing posters after a Goal Setting session and Q and A with Hayward Nordic Kids
After a great time up in the north woods of Wisconsin I flew out to Colorado for a 10 day altitude block.  Caitlin and I trained in Frisco for 3 weeks last year in preparation for the World Championships and that went well.  Frisco, CO is at 9,000 feet and the trails and skiing at the Frisco Nordic Center are some of my favorite.  The World Cups in Canmore are at a moderately high altitude and I wanted to put some time back high as it has been nearly a month since I have been high.  I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to bounce between high altitude and sea level throughout the year and I feel my body responds well to the fluctuation.  

Training with my old college teammate Brent Knight
My good friend Brent Knight is now living in Boulder, CO and working for Salomon.  We trained and raced together for UAA and on the professional race circuit for 8 years.  Brent is now working full time but can still push me and help make me better.  It is super nice of him to come up and train with me as I put in a volume block.  I have found that I need to have a few weeks throughout the race season where I push the volume so that I can stay strong for the entire season. 
Colorado Classic Skiing on Toko Red

US Nationals and Recovery

So, I just went to update my blog and realized that this post from two weeks ago was saved as a draft, anyways better late than never....

The 2016 US National Championships proved to be my best cumulative showing at US Nationals so far.  Although I still have yet to meet my goal of winning a National Championship I had a strong week. 
2nd Place in the 30 km Freestyle Mass Start
My focus race going in to Nationals was the 30 km Freestyle.  I really enjoy the tactics of mass start racing, plus distance skate races are my favorite and strongest event.  I had a strong race and finished second, not quite as fast as my friend Tad Elliot who won.  Tad has been on the top of the podium multiple times, but has struggled with illness the last few years.  I am happy to see him back to his normal self and finding success again.

A huge thank you to Caldwell Sport for the fantastic ski service all week at US Nationals.  My skis were fantastic in every race and it was great to have such a strong support team.   Thanks you Amy, Austin and Erik.  My training has been really strong this year thanks to my sponsors, training partners and coaches and it is nice to have things come together at a championship race.   My races results qualified me for the Canadian World Cup Tour in March which is a major focus of my season.   It is nice to be racing and feeling strong, especially after struggling at US Nationals last year.  Last years struggles and disappointing results helped me enjoy the successes this year that much more.  

My other results from the National Championships included a 5th (4th American) in the 15 km Classic, 7th (4th American) in the Freestyle Sprint and a finish in the high 30s for the classic sprint. I have struggled making the heats in the classic races and will need to put some more focus on classic skiing relaxed at high speed.

After a fun and hard week at US Nationals my body was ready for some recovery time.  My body confirmed this with a head cold for a few days.  

Meeting up with the Loppet Foundation's Fast Kids group for an evening Practice
Caitlin decided to come back home to recharge after the Tour de Ski and it is great to be together again.  One of the fun ways we helped recharge ourselves was joining up with Fast Kids which is the team of 8-13 year old kids of our Club, Loppet Nordic Racing.

single digits and darkness did phase these kids
It is really fun to see the joy in the smiles of kids skiing.  I sometimes find that I can get caught up in results and my own training and it is refreshing to just share in the joy of skiing.  Plus it is really cool to hear the kids talking themselves about going to the Olympics someday.

Wes came to our house after his practice to do an interview for his school projects on the Olympics
Wes counted 81 pairs of skis in our basement
After 2 days of rest I am now healthy and ready to get back to training.  I have almost 3 weeks now until the next Super Tour.