Saturday, December 31, 2011

Home for the Holidays

There are so many great things about being home for the holidays.  I especially enjoy skiing with the local junior kids and my past coaches, and past Olympians, Leslie Hall and Laura McCabe.  It's so much fun to see kids skiing and having fun just like when I was a junior.

Skiing with the Methow Valley Jr. Team
Another fun tradition is watching the fireworks our neighbors light off every year.  The show lasts about 10 minutes and we have a great view from the front yard.
The Gregg house back lit by fireworks
It wouldn't be Christmas without a few Christmas cookies.  Every year we have a ton of fun spending an evening decorating cookies with our friend Ardis.

Decorating Christmas Cookies
And of course the skiing in the Methow is always incredible with over 200km of trails and daily grooming it's  hard not to have fun.

Fast skiing and blue sky in the Methow

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Back From The Bed

It is wonderful to be home for the holidays.  The skiing is great, the weather is beautiful and my friends are around to go skiing.  Unfortunately I spent the first half of the week sitting in bed allowing my body to rest and beat the cold I picked up traveling home from the races in Canada.  It is tough to sit indoors and watch your friends play and have fun, but resting is the best way to be able to get back out there soon.

Eating plenty of fruit and drinking a lot of fluids.  

Thankfully there is no other place that I would rather be sick than at home with my family.  Caitlin takes care of me pretty well, but it hard to beat having your wife, Mom, Dad, Brother and Sister around.  I think the cold was a way for my body to say that I need to rest up a bit more before continuing to trade hard.

Now I am feeling great and ready to go.  I adjusted my training to accommodate for the few sick days and have entered a volume block of training.  Caitlin is helping me out with a peaking plan from her year with US Biathalon and with a few tweaks my Coach Jason and I have a good plan leading up to US Nationals the first week of January.

There is not much snow throughout the world right now, but the skiing in the Methow is fantastic.

Since I have been healthy I have been training 4+ hours each day.  It feels great to get outside after taking 4 days off from training.  Four days doesn't seem like much, but looking out at the beautiful weather it seemed like forever to me.

Caitlin has been training some serious volume and did an hour of threshold intervals today. One of the tools we use to improve our ski technique is to video each other and I got some footage of her.  It is fun to see how fast she can go.  The US Women are skiing very strong right now and are right in there as some of the best in the World.  We get pretty excited about training when we see the US skiers throwing down on the World Cup circuit.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

On The Road

60 days on the road may seem like a long time but the time is flying by.  This is my favorite time of year when all the hardwork of summer finally has a chance to show itself in the races.  

This year's new Salomon skis arrived stone ground and ready to go thanks to Nordic Ultratune.  My coach Jason and the guys at Salomon picked some really good skis for me this year.  In my first skate race on the new Salomon Soft Ground ski I had one of my best sprint qualifiers ever finishing just 3 seconds out of the lead.

Life on the road is even sweeter this year because I have my wife along.  We were engaged just 1 year ago after the first races of the season.  Do you celebrate your engagement anniversary? As my friend Ardis says, "Celebrate early and often"

 The man to beat this year is my ITA teamate Sylvan Ellefson (On top of the podium in the 10k Skate and today's 15k Classic).  I still have some time to make up but I was very happy to climb on to the podium for the first time this year in the 10k Skate, 15 seconds off of the win.

Tomorrow we leave Montana for the long drive up to Canada and Silver Star Mountain Resort.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

One Final Running Race

Tomorrow we hit the road out West to ski on snow and start the race season. Yesterday Caitlin and I went out to support St Paul Central High School and their nordic team fundraiser the Arctic Comando 5k. Last year the race was held in several inches of snow, this year the high for the day reached 63F.

2 mile and 5k racers on the line

The race course follows the new FIS (International Ski Federation) Homologation standards and is a hard course. People have called the midwest flat, but would disagree after a go at this 5km loop. I am feeling great, yet my winning time on the course was just under 19 minutes.

Fit and ready to go. The first race of the season is on snow and 10 days away.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who wants a PPP?

Everyone enjoys a Pizza Party, especially when you can have your own Personal Pan Pizza (PPP). Caitlin and I hosted a party for the neighborhood kids last Thursday night. The original plan was to host the party at the Harrison Community Center but things fell through so we held the party at our house.

The kitchen is small to begin with so the 9 of us decided that we would have to be very clean and orderly. We washed our hands and set up stations to prep our ingredients. I stayed in charge of the oven but the kids did all the chopping, mixing, creating and cleaning.
What is that green stuff? ... Spinach

Gerry, Javaree, DJ and Adanis enjoying their Personal Pan Pizza

We learned proper and fastest way to chop onions, how to carve a fresh pinapple (on sale at Aldi's this week for $1.69), shred cheese, spice up canned tomato paste, slice mushrooms, cut apples, and cook sausage. With all of our ingredients ready to go we were ready to make some mean pizzas.

We sliced specialty breads in half to create the crust and everyone built their own creation. The bread came courtesy of the Salvation Army and Target. Target drops off bread that is older but still good and amazingly the whole grain and speacilty breads are the ones still sitting there at the end of the day. The breads looked pretty scary to the kids but once we convinced them that the carraway seeds were not bugs and the olives not giant raisins we decided that the bread was pretty good. It is good for you too.

Dinner time for Thomas Ave N

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Recovering with a 3.5 hour run in the Mountains

One of the worst things that can happen to an athlete during training camp is to catch a cold. Red leaves and the promise of snow in the future also bring around the common cold. Combined with tougher training in preparation for racing season and sickness can be tricky to avoid. Three days in to our second week of high altitude fall training camp I found myself with an itchy throat and a water faucet for a nose.

For many people the common cold is simply a nuisance but for an athlete it can be a big deal. During the racing season when I get a cold I generally take time off from training until I feel I have recovered, however since it is only October I decided to try and train through my head cold. The risk in training through your cold is that it can move from your head to your chest and then go from days to weeks before you recover.

I am very fortunate to have my teammate and wife, Caitlin
to help take care of me at home and on the road.

I backed off my weekly training load by decreasing the intensity in my workouts. I think the blood moving around in my body when I trained at a distance pace and heart rate actually helped flush some of the sickness out of me.

It is hard at training camp to ski easy and slow when your teammates and friends are working hard in intervals and time trials but the patience paid off. I woke up Saturday morning to a beautiful fall day and the ability to breath out of my nose.

Noah, Caitlin and Mikey and I set off for a nice long run in the mountains.

One of my favorite things to do in addition to ski racing is to run, hike and climb in the mountains. I grew up in the Cascades of Washington and my passion for the mountains has for the most part been put on hold as I pursue my ski racing goals and dreams. I am grateful for the opportunities I do get throughout the year to play in the mountains and train for skiing.

The mountains have always had a rejuvenating effect on me.
I finished our run on Saturday tired but feeling healthy and fresh.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chicago XC 2011 Clinic

Caitlin, Karl and I headed down to Chicago this weekend for the 3rd Annual Fall Rollerski Clinic. With over 30 participants the weekend was a huge success. Our host and clinic coordinator Tom Devoratchek picked us up from O'Hare on Friday afternoon and we headed downtown to check out the lakefront.

The windy city lived up to it's name with some wild weather. 22 foot waves were recorded in the middle of the lake and part of the boardwalk was closed down after a bicyclist was blown in to the lake. We waited for a break in the clouds to get out for a nice recovery run.

Who needs the fountains of the Belagio when you can watch the waves roll in to the break-wall.

We had beautiful weather with morning and afternoon sessions. We kept busy in the evenings watching the US Nordic Combined National Championships (contested on rollerskis) and giving a presentation at Benedictine University.

I am having a bit of tech troubles, but you should be able to click below for a great video of the clinic put together by Chris Wilson.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Anwatin Ski Team Practice

In 2008 Anwatin middle school started a cross country ski program through the support of the US Olympic Committee's Urban Development Program. Anwatin middle school rests on the edge of Theodore Wirth Park. With running, biking and skiing trails the school is an ideal location for a ski program. The goal of the program is to help introduce more inner-city youth to skiing.

John, the coach for the past two years, recently moved to a new job in Michigan leaving the program without a leader. With two weeks left to train for the City of Lakes Trail Loppett 5km, the program Caitlin and I helped run a few practices.

Ingrid, Muah, Mike, Issac, Anja ,Adia, Glory, and Caitlin

We found the world's largest dog on our pole hike

Seriously, have you ever seen a dog this big?
You never know what you might find out on the trails in the woods.

Agility and Plyometric training with jumpropes

Check out the City of Lakes Loppet website for a nice write-up on the training sessions:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Neighborhood Running

The 600 Block of Thomas Ave is getting a bit more fit this fall:

Align Left
Me, Lahti, Javari, Quinn, DJ, Anja, and Gerry

Gerry ready to go in his new jogging shoes

Our group of 5 grows as we run around the block. The neighborhood kids see us come down the street. They yell "Hey, what are you doing?" We respond, "We are jogging!" "I want to do that. I want to go jogging. We finished our lap with about 10 kids. It is awesome to have the group get bigger as you keep running.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Settling in to the Big City

After a solid 50 hours of training in two weeks of camp Caitlin and I are enjoying three weeks at home in Minneapolis. The three weeks here at home is the longest we have been in one place since April.

With an easy recovery week of training I was able to visit the Jerry Gamble Northside Boys and Girls Club every day. Although I am certainly the only red head at the Club it has bee great to be with the kids consistently so that they know that I am not just some random skier guy.

Cooling off and enjoying the fountain at the Mississippi Regional Park

Alexandria and Paige warming themselves up after a big splashing war

The neighborhood kids stop over every day to practice street skiing. It seems like every time I open the door there are a few kids standing there waiting to see if they can practice street skiing. They are getting pretty good at going around the block and it is fun to start and end many workouts with a few cheers.

There is still plenty of work to do around the house here, but the kids have been happy to help out. Gerry and Quinn came over and we picked up all of the sticks and branches from our house and the neighbors house. One of our neighbors has three little girls but the yard was so full of sticks and trash that they were never able to play in it. Not it looks great.

Gerry earned a pair of Salomon running shoes for his neighborly service.

Obstacle Course Races

Practicing Back Flips

Foosball is a serious game at the Club

Afternoon field trip to the Roller Garden. We had 78 kids on roller skates

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Can 90 Kids Play Dodge-ball at Once?

Basketball is king at the North Minneapolis Boys and Girls Club. We have six hoops and ten balls and there is always a game being played.

Alison teaching me a few things about Basketball. Research has said that it takes 10,000 hours to master something and the kids at the club are working their way there shooting hoops.

I have some practice still to make with my shooting, but I have been able to teach the kids the importance of being fit and moving on the court. We have also been working on playing fair and honest.

We close the gym down after snack each day to play some sort of new or different game. This week we played the largest game of dodge-ball I have ever played. It was awesome. We had about 45 on 45, but there is a good chance there was more than that. Everyone had a blast.

It is Hot and Humid out so most of our activities have been outside. The LCO Club made their annual trip to the zoo and I met up with the crew to show them around and share with them my love of animals. The Minnesota Zoo has a new Penguin exhibit which was a big hit. It was the first time anyone in my group had seen a penguin. Of course we spent a lot of time in the fountain to keep cool.

Yes, that is a tiger. Only 400 Amur Tigers live in the wild according to a 2005 survey. It is important that we do our part to be good the environment and help protect animals.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

So, I fed a Polar Bear last weekend.

I had the coolest Birthday surprise a few weeks ago for my golden birthday...

"Congratilations to our Lake Superior Zoo's chapter of the AAZK for hosting it's first behind-the-scenes tour a a fundraiser.

The tour was a birthday surprise for Olympic cross country skier Caitlin Compton's husband Brian and his twin brother Chad. Several family members also attended the tour and are now big fans of Berlin. Caitlin and Brian want to revisit the zoo in winter and help AAZK plan a children's cross country skiing event to benefit Polar Bears International"

The behind the scenes tour with Berlin, the bear, begins before the zoo opens to the public. This alone is awesome because most all of the animals are most active in the early morning. The Polar Bear is my favorite animal and we were able to get up close and watch her get fed and work with her trainer Marcie. Additionally we were able to go inside her habitat and set up her daily enrichment. We decorated a big plastic ice berg as a birthday cake with peanut butter, sunflower seeds, mackerel, hamburger and your standard polar chow.

Thank you Caitlin for setting up this once in a lifetime experience. It has been a hot week here in the Midwest. Berlin is not the only one thinking of snow and colder days to come.

Staying Cool at the Boys and Girls Club.
The slip and slide was taken to a whole new level this year.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Having Fun and Getting Strong

Over the past few years we have added some new exercises to our strength training routines. Some of these exercises are pretty cool and pretty fun. I decided to share some of the exercises with the kids at the LCO Boys and Girls Club

The old LCO Boys and Girls Club has been converted in to a mix martial arts training center. Nothing fancy, but everything is there that you might need to work out hard. These giant ropes are great simulations to double pole.

Monster Tire Lift... same motion as a dead lift

Wheel-barrow racing. It is important to make exercise fun, especially at a younger age.

How many of you can do a handstand push up?

The kids thought it was even cooler to do a handstand push up without hands. Luckily Santi was there to help hold the kids up.