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

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.