Sunday, December 15, 2013

NorAm Win, Midnight Flights, Super Tour points and Waxing

After West Yellowstone, Matt Liebsch and I loaded up my brother's car and we drove to British Columbia.  We had decided early in the year that our fall schedule would differ from many of the Americans as we wanted to race the Canadians in a 15km Freestyle at Soverign Lake Nordic Center.  Both Matt and I circled this race as an important one in the fall race series.  Unfortunatly the NorAm fell on the same weekend at the US Super Tour in Bozeman.  Unable to do both we decided to stick with our goal of the freestyle race in Canada.  

Matt, Myself, and our wax tech Sven on the Podium.  Matt and I went 1-2 in the race.

We made a pact that if we pulled off the 1-2 that we would bite the bullet and spend the $$ to go big and fly to Bozeman that evening to compete in the Super Tour on Sunday. had a nice write up about our adventure:
Our midnight flight to Bozeman was smooth and we both had good races.  Matt had one of his top 5 FIS results and finished 4th.  I finished right on Matt's heels in 5th which earned me enough points to take the Super Tour lead which means that I get start rights and FIS funding for the period 2 World Cup.  Even cooler, Caitlin is leading the women's Super Tour so we get to make the trip together.

Caitlin and I have a lot of fun on the road.  We both recognize the powerful benefits of being happy while on the road.

Caitlin cheering on the start of the B-Final in preparation for the A-Final.
After the races in Bozeman we traveled to Rossland, BC for another norAm weekend.  It was kind of tough to make the long 9 hour drive when juxtaposed to the 3 hour flight.  All of the travel, racing, and training caught up with me and I felt my body feeling pretty weary after intervals and specific strength here in Rossland.  I took two days off though and am feeling pretty good again.  This also allowed me to serve as Caitlin's wax tech here in Rossland.  Being a wax tech is hard work and I spent a lot of time on my feet.  Thankfully some of our Canadians gave me a lot of advice and did most all of the testing.

Caitlin and the Ninjas
Caitlin finished 4th in both races, although was relegated to the back of the A-final after a lane change in the finish where she accidentally obstructed another racer.  This was a solid weekend for her.  I raced on Sunday but wasn't able to put it together and finished 17th, my worst result of the year.  Thankfully I am feeling healthy again and we are excited to have a few weeks to train as we prepare for US National Championships in January in Utah.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


It has been a few days since we feasted on Turkey and celebrated the many things we are thankful for.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays as it signifies the start to the cross country ski racing season. Cross country skiing may be seen as an individual sport but it really isn't possible without a strong team.  This year Caitlin and I are training and racing under the name Team Gregg.

The new Team Gregg logo designed by my sister, Tara Gregg
At first glance one might think that Team Gregg is simply myself and Caitlin but it is way bigger.   I am continually amazed at the awesome Team that we have behind the Team.  This weekend's opening Super Tour races were a testament to that.  For starters The University of New Mexico graciously offered to wax our skis.  Ski waxing has become a big factor in ski races and a necessity to compete at the top level in the US.  Without a team logo just two weeks before the first race my sister designed our logo and we sent it to the printers with our Helly Hansen gear.  Our sponsor patches arrived from China just in time and my Mom brought her sewing machine out to West Yellowstone and stayed up late into the night with my sister-in-law Alieta to sew all the patches on.  My brother loaded up the split timer for the races and we had Gregg's all over the course to provide splits, spare poles, photos and cheers.  It isn't just the Gregg family out there, it feels like everyone is supporting us and it makes me want it even that much more.

Enjoying sharing information on the new Madshus REDline skis and Super Nano boots.
The racing started off great with Caitlin winning the sprint qualifier, and every heat through the A final in the freestyle sprint.  It is hard to tell how you will stack up while you train all summer.  This year we decided to go big in our summer preparation and to see all the hard work lead to success is very fun.  
Caitlin after winning the A final.  Her first Super Tour Sprint Victory
Some of the Gregg's of Team Gregg: Jim, Jan, Brian, Caitlin, Chad and Alieta
On my way to 2nd Place in the 15km Freestyle
One of the things that my summer coach Scott Johnston and I have worked a lot on is pacing.  I did countless 1 km loops this summer focusing on negative splitting.  In Saturday's race I started conservatively and sped up to move from 6th to 2nd.  This was a strong result for me.  I am particularly proud because this is one of my best individual start results and I skied the entire race by myself.  In the past many of my best races have been when the winner has caught me and I have simply hung on.  I am thankful for all the supporters, fans and friends that make this dream possible and fun.  Thank you.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Race Season Begins

Caitlin and I with our new skis.  I am really happy with my new classic skis.
My ski racing season started early this year with two races in Canmore on the frozen thunder loop, a Classic Sprint and a Classic 10 km.  I love racing and it is fun to kick of the season with early season races on snow, plus this marked the first opportunity to try my Madshus skis. It was also fun to do a classic race since my first six races of the regular season will be skate. 

After 10 days of skiing around a 1.8km loop I decided to go on a rollerski adventure with Matt and Josh.
We had fun skiing to Banff and exploring.  Our timing was great, because the next day it snowed several inches and the weather dropped about 30 degrees.

The month of October has been fantastic.  It has pretty much been an entire month of camp.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to simply train, rest, eat and sleep.   On October 30th I traveled to Washington for a little relaxation and recovery time before starting up a block of intensity as sea level.
Toko Wax clinic with Mark Wachter at Nordic Ultratune.
It is great to be back in the Methow Valley.  My good friend and long time supporter hosted a Toko wax clinic the evening I returned home.  It certainly had everyone excited because the next morning snow arrived to the Valley.

Closing in on the finish of the Driveway Butte Hill Climb Race.
Another reason to return to the Methow were two big events on Saturday.  The Driveway Butte Hill Climb is a race put on by my teammate Sam Naney and his wife.  I ran the race last year and it is nice to have markers to compare yourself with.  My goal is always to run faster, but sadly I was 18 seconds slower on the course.  Conditions were a bit different though with fresh snow on at the top of the course.

My Brother Chad, his wife Alieta and I at the finish.
The other big event is the Methow Valley Nordic Team Ski Ball.  This is the local junior teams big fundraising event which does a fantastic job keeping the program affordable.  The MV Nordic Team played a big role in developing me as a person (not just a skier).  Each year Caitlin and I donate a 'Ski Dream Lesson Package' and it was fun to be able to support the event in person this year too.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Frozen Thunder

After two great weeks of training in Park City most of the training group from Utah made the trip north to Canmore, AB, Canada for a bit more time at altitude and some on snow time.  For the last three years the Canadians have undertaken a project they call Frozen Thunder.  In the spring the plow up the snow from the trails in to a natural hole and cover it with about a foot of sawdust.  In mid-October they uncover the white stuff and truck it around the ski trails for guaranteed skiing.  Uncovering the snow and laying out the track involves 1 excavator, 2 piston bullys, 3 dump trucks and approximately $13,000.  It is really cool and I am not sure how it all pans out because a trail pass is just $10/day or $75/month.

The ribbon of snow is quite the contrast on a 65 degree day.  At least it cools off at night.
Caitlin and I enjoying the first day of skiing
I raced my first World Cup in Canmore and this place has always been special.  I personally haven't had my best races here but my good friend and training partner Garrott Kuzzy finished 9th in both of our first Sprint races.  Additionally during the pre-Olympic World Cups, Caitlin finished 14th.  It is great to share in the success of your friends and training partners especially because you can appreciate how hard they have worked.

Sam, Me, and Caitlin.  Today was the first day all of us MOD Teammates have been together since June.
Intervals today with Sam Tarling (Maine Winter Sports Center)
The entire month of October Caitlin and I have been ski racing full time.  We have had limited additional obligations to training and that has been wonderful and unique.  We have been training very hard and making sure we are eating well and recovering well at this important time of the year. I am very grateful to our sponsors and supporters for this opportunity.

Monday, October 7, 2013

October 4th Snow Skiing

Caitlin and I have hit the road for the season.  Packing our bags at home in Minneapolis was kind of wild as the thermometer registered over 80F.  We have become pretty efficient in packing our bags and to be honest I end up packing pretty much the same things for a two week camp as a three month trip.  I find it easiest to keep things simple and pack as light as possible.
Enjoying the view on top of Lapham Peak outside of Milwaukee with Birketoberfest Participants.
We traveled to Milwaukee to give a clinic and a presentation at Birketoberfest a fundraiser for the American Birkebeiner.  The Birkie is raising funds to purchase land to secure the start of the "Greatest show on Snow."  The race has had a major impact on our lives and it was fun to share how the race has brought us together, made our skiing dreams possible, led to our first home purchase and encouraged our families and friends to lead a year round healthy lifestyle.

We then flew to Park City, UT to kick off our second altitude camp of the year and to join with the US Ski Team and other Clubs.
Surprise, Surprise.  4 inches of snow greeted us our second morning in Park City, UT.  
The golf course looked too good to pass up.  We set our own tracks and it wasn't great but it was still fun to kick and glide on the real thing.  On October 17th we will go to Canmore, AB, Canada to ski at Frozen Thunder.  Frozen Thunder is the name of a Canadian project where they store snow at the end of last winter under sawdust and bring it out in mid October for guaranteed skiing.  Depending on the summer it will be about 2.5-5 km long. This is the third or fourth year that the Canadians have done this and the first time we will experience it.
Enjoying a nice 3.5 hour run/hike with our friend Casey Fagerquist.  We are taking the first few days at altitude pretty easy but with plenty of volume as we adjust to the lack of oxygen.

Excited to see the hard work of the summer show itself on the snow.

A little sample of a day at Run Club.  Today was an easier day which meant that the first 15 kids to run three laps get an apple.  The kids receive a Popsicle stick on each lap to help keep track of how many laps everyone has done.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Surly Trail Loppett

Today marks the first official day of Fall and that means that race season is coming up.  I have been training a pretty high volume of hours this year and now is the time to drop the volume and increase the intensity. After several 20+ hour weeks of training this week was only 15 hours.  I kept the frequency of workouts the same but instead of 2.5 hour I might only run for 1 to 1.5 hours.  It felt great.  My decrease in hours timed well with the Surly Trail Loppett 1/2 marathon.  The loppett events are awesome, and become even better because I can walk to the start from my back door.  I actually ran and picked up our bibs during for my pre-breakfast 15 minute jog.

Participants in the Fast Kids 1km Fun Run
After starting slowly I worked my way up to the group racing for 3rd place.  At mile 10 my legs left me and I dropped off the 1 hour 22 min pace and the other two guys in our group.  I ran it in at 1:25:30 which is still a time I am happy with.  The race has grown in the last few years from under a hundred participants to selling out at 900 participants which is pretty cool.  There are some strong runners in the group to push the cross country skiers including race winner and former Team USA Minnesota athlete Chris Lundstrom.

Madshus Posters hot off the press for this weekends big Hoigaards Tent Sale
It was nice to have an easier week with a busy weekend.  On Friday and Saturday, Caitlin and I helped customers at the Hoigaards huge annual tent sale.  Hoigaards is one of our new sponsors and they had a great sale weekend.  It was a blast to see and meet so many skiers, plus they had some fantastic deals.

Setting Carter up on a pair of Madshus Nanosonics

Team Madshus: Caitlin, Ben (Madshus Sales Rep) and I 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Glacier ski testing, 90s, and the end of summer 5km

Madshus Photo Shoot on the Eagle Glacier
We made a big move this spring switching to Madshus skis, boots, poles and bindings.  I had the opportunity to test some demo Madshus skis in June, but in August I had the opportunity to test my own skis.  Skiing on snow in the summer time is pretty special and requires a little effort and some extra dollars.  There are two summer skiing facilities in North America.  One is on the Haig Glacier near Canmore, AB, Canada and the other is on the Eagle Glacier near Anchorage, AK.  I hadn't been on snow in July or August since 2010 and this spring we decided that we needed to make it happen.  In seven days on the glacier I had my best week of training of the year.  Not only did I get in over 28 hours of quality on snow time but I gained a ton of confidence in my new skis.  I used to dread racing in warm conditions, but now with my new skis I am excited for them.  I skied most days with a camel-back so I didn't have to stop.  We did take one day pretty easy and modeled in a photo shoot for Madshus.  They flew up my friend and photographer Charlie Renfro to take photos.
Signing in the attendance for Run Club
I had hoped that our summer travels would coincide with the annual heat wave in Minneapolis.  Unfortunately we were off by one week and we returned to 90+ degree temperatures at home in Minneapolis.  Thankfully the shorter days of late August meant that the mornings weren't too unbearable but it did cut down on our number of Run Club sessions outside.  Our big summer goal for Run Club has been the Heart of the City 5km.  The running race was yesterday down in Burnsville, MN

We met at the Club at 6:30am but that didn't slow Janaya and I down.

The Boys and Girls Club kids were each paired with a running buddy so that they could each run their own race.  Terrell is one of our youngest but also one of our strongest runners. 
Caitlin and I raced the 5km as well.  I gained a lot of respects for moms, dads, and coaches out there who run races with their kids.  We had a busy morning of getting everyone into their running clothes, pinning on numbers, tying shoes, getting fueled (thanks to Fruit Share for the grapes and apples) and all the necessary pre-race activities.  It makes me really appreciate all the support I receive from others, especially on race day.  It was really cool to see the kids run the 5km race.  I ran back to cheer them in and could only keep up for a few minutes.
The Boys and Girls Club crew after a fun morning of racing and supporting.  We celebrate our accomplishments with a party at Grand Slam.  I thought that everyone would be worn out but we rallied for mini-golf, bumper cars and laser tag.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Adventure Camp

We had Loppet Adventure Camp week last week.  A huge thank you to the City Of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation for providing scholarships for 12 kids from the Boys and Girls Club to enjoy Loppet Adventure Camp for the week.  The crew has been looking forward to Adventure Camp week all summer.  The camp is a week long all day camp near Wirth Lake where adventurers get to learn and perfect their skills at mountain biking, roller skiing, trail running, orienteering, canoeing, capture the flag and more.  Challenges are added each day as the kids skills improve and it is a blast to help the kids go from barely standing on roller skis to competing in a 1 km race.  Everyone had a great time last year and it was fun to have a full van of kids ready and waiting even before 'The Club' opened up so that they would be on time to Adventure Camp.  Also thank you to Anthony Taylor for helping to transport the kids when my training got in the way.  

Getting strong and having fun at Adventure Camp
Powered by Fruit Share Organic Apples help us to keep going strong all day long.
Fueling right can keep you energized and having fun all day long..  I know I am not the only one with a sweet tooth and fresh fruit is nature's candy.  I think Janaya was the most excited about the fruit.  Throughout the week we enjoyed fresh apples, plums, nectarines and peaches.

Devon, psyched to have the front seat.
Brianna and Amori still smiling after a full day of physical activity in the warm weather
I training 26 hours the week of Adventure Camp and also worked every weekday.  It is pretty amazing how the smile on the kids faces can energize you.  On Wednesday, Caitlin and I flew out to California for her Uncle Kelly and Fran's wedding.  I will miss the crew at the Club but am looking forward to a bit more recovery between sessions.

Noah showing me around the Donner Ridge trails on a 3-hour 20 mile run.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summertime Routine

One of my goals this year is to limit my number of out-of-competition travel days.  I love going to training camps but I have found that if I am always moving around it is hard to really get in to a good groove.  I have really enjoyed the last four weeks of staying at home and training and working in Minneapolis.  I have been training a lot, logging just over 30 hours a week ago and that load is so much easier if you can do most of it right outside your door.  I even had one whole week where I didn't use the car once.  Although that was because Caitlin had the car for a camp up in Wisconsin.  Still, it is pretty fantastic to have great training and a great job right in your backyard.
'Everyone who wants to play line up at the Glengale Park Sign"
This summer has been busier than ever at the club and our attendance is at a record high.  The Jerry Gamble Boys and Girls Club is really understaffed so if you have a few spare hours drop on by and volunteer.  It is so much fun to be able to be with the kids consistently and fun to see our Run Program continue to grow.  We have a date set now of September 7th for us all to compete in the 5km Heart of the City Race.  We are super excited.

"Get outside and play an hour or more each day"

One of our favorite new games is to set up challenging obstacle courses and see if we can all complete them.  The playground offers some pretty hard challenges.
I try to get in two races each month and I was psyched to find a 5km running race just up the street in North Minneapolis yesterday.  I ran a PR on an offical USATF 5km course of 16:03.  I am still looking to break 16 minutes.  I thought I had it but couldn't hold the pace on the final mile.  I haven't done much foot speed though and was still happy with a PR.
I am pretty sure today marked my first prize money ever in a running race.  $50 for the win isn't much but it still helps.  I was lucky to have Caitlin and Lahti to cheer and provide splits out on the course.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summertime S'mores Party

Each spring we have a big neighborhood work day to clean up the yards and get them ready and safe to play in all summer long.  Spring came a bit late to Minnesota and our clean up party was right before we headed off to Washington.  The neighborhood kids all pitched in to help clean up their yards and we promised a little s'mores party for a job well done, although we needed to wait until we were back from our spring training camp in the pacific northwest.

 "What's a s'more?" they asked... well, we got that one figured out now"

Jimmy showing off his fresh cooked s'more.  First time ever doing something like this.
We made a little urban camping trip of the evening with a nice fire, roasting marshmallows
 and ghost stories on the blanket.
Me and Melena

Monitoring my daily training
It is great to be home in Minneapolis and back to a routine.  I will not be traveling as much this summer and especially enjoyed my first true rest day last Monday with no travel and no work.  Training is going great.  I have been doing many workouts by myself as I have put a large emphasis on pacing this year.  You can tell from my splits below that I still have some work to do to be able to feel relaxed and comfortable and consistently feel and reach my goal pace. It is fun to have many mini goals within each workout.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Final Days on Snow

Enjoying the final days of grooming at the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center.  The Mountain did a great job of prepping the trail each day and managing the snow through stockpiling and plowing to last as long as possible.
With temperatures in the 80's it is hard to believe that skiing is just 30 minutes away 

After a solid 10 days on snow I returned to the Methow to work on technique with Scott and enjoy a few recovery sessions.  After years of hearing about it I finally got out to enjoy the Loomis Loop, a 52 mile ride in northern Okanogan county.
I am looking forward to heading home to Minnesota but not without one last run in the mountains.  Chad and I ran and scrambled up the ridge near Mt Robinson.  We had hoped to go to the peak but there was still quite a bit of snow and I figured it we made the trip more than 5 hours it wouldn't really be a recovery session.  
The mountains have always held a special place for me and although it doesn't make sense physiologically I tend to feel rejuvinated after a full day in the mountains.  It is hard to beat the cascades on a bluebird day