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.