Sunday, May 31, 2015

Altitude Camp

Caitlin and I have had good luck with altitude training over the years.  Most recently with our altitude camp at 9,000 feet in Frisco, CO leading up to the 2015 World Championships.   We have received a lot of guidance and direction from personal experience, research, Randy Wilbur with the US Olympic Committee, and Olympic Champion Billy Demong.  Altitude training will be a key part of our training plan this year.  We are excited to be be living at 8,150 feet in Deer Valley, UT for a four week camp to kick off the ski season.  The last two weeks we have been training with the US Ski Team and it has been fantastic.  I have always been a fan of training with athletes who are faster than you and the entire US Ski Team A and B teams were in town for the camp.  
Noah Hoffman and I post 5*6 min L4
It is fantastic to train with the National Team crew and I found myself pushed in pretty much all of the workouts.  Last year I did not do a group training camp in May and it lead to a slow start to the training year.  It is great to get be back in full on training mode.  The first day of camp was actually my first day off of antibiotics and a nasty sore throat that kept me sidelined for the first two weeks of May.  A big focus for Caitlin and I is double pole this year.  This became a larger goal after getting destroyed in two different double pole interval sessions by the other guys.  I do look at this as a positive though, because it means I have a lot of room to improve in this area.
Enjoying a 4 year wedding anniversary ski on the roller ski track at Soldier Hollow
One of my favorite places to race is at Soldier Hollow, home of the 2002 Olympic Cross Country ski races.  There is a 5 km paved loop that follows the ski trails and flows just as if you were skiing on the trails with snow on them.

Nitrogen Bath
One of the big names in altitude training is Jim Stray Gunderson.  Many of the papers and studies on altitude training have been done by him and he lives here in Park City and works out of the USSA's Center of Excellence. I have really enjoyed talking with him about altitude training and look forward to dialing in our altitude plan with him.  He performed a hemoglobin mass base line test on us to help us see what kind of response our bodies have to the altitude during our weeks here.  He was helping a runner recover from a training session with what I can only describe as a nitrogen bath.  He asked if we wanted to give it a try.  You stand in this dunk tank and liquid nitrogen is pumped in making it super cold but only for a few minute burst.  I honestly had to google it when I returned home:  I felt great the next day for training, but I think an ice bath might be a bit easier.

Caitlin and Antje Harvey with their World Championship Bronze Medals
Over the last 9 years, Caitlin and I have been sponsored by Toko gloves, wax and tools.  Ian Harvey is the US Brand manager for Toko and he and his wife Antje live in Heber, UT near Soldier Hollow.  We joined the Olympic duo for lunch between training sessions.  It was pretty fun to see Caitlin and Antje with the bronze medals.  The medals are identical designs, even though they were earned 30 years apart.  Both of the girls are a little shy about showing off their medals, but I find it hugely inspiring.  One of my goals here in Park City is to get to see Billy Demong's gold medal.  Naively I didn't even realize that Antje had 4 Olympic medals from the '92 and '94 Olympics in biathlon.  Caitlin knew her history though and Antje pulled out the box with them so we could admire them.  They are beautiful.

I am so excited for this season.  I have had a good last two weeks of training but it is clear to me that I am not in very good shape right now and have a lot of work to do this summer in training and recovery.  The good thing is that I am hungrier than ever to put in the the work and enjoy the rewards.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


I have had a lot of wonderful people and programs that have impacted my life.  My personal experiences are what have motivated me to pursue having a similar impact on others.  Effect and influence is a difficult thing to measure.  A few things happened this week that make me feel pretty good about the impact of my In The Arena projects.  

Gregory won the prize for running the most miles in Run Club this Spring.  Over the last six weeks he ran 43 miles.
This week marked my final week in Minneapolis for the school year as Caitlin and I are headed out to Park City, UT for her first US Ski Team camp.  Typically this would also mean the final week of Run Club.  New this year though, volunteer Kim has offered to continue running practices for the kids on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.  Kim called us two weeks ago to see if she could join her child at run club and for the 5 km race.  She has been awesome and a huge motivation to us and the kids.  Our friend Will has also offered to help with Run Club and it makes me so happy to see the program continue while we are away at training camp.

Caitlin and Kim
The second thing that really made me smile were the comments left on my last blog post by the kids in Kaktovik.  Due to some technical issues I am not able to publish the comments in the traditional sense but here they are:

Lydia K:
I had fun skiing with you out by the snow fences. I fell a few times,
but I liked going up and down the hill. It was nice to ski with twins
because I am a twin, too. Ms. Deb and Mr. V took us skiing on
Wednesday. I'm glad we have skis at the school. Are you planning to
come back to Kaktovik next year?

Lenora K.
Thank you for coming to Kaktovik to ski with us. You, Chad and Andrew
are all really good skiers. I miss you. I liked when Chad held my hand
and I was the secret weapon out by the snow fences. We still have snow
by the fences, but the tundra snow has melted behind teacher housing
and the school. I liked it when Officer Ben came and watched us ski.
Will you be coming back to Kaktovik next year? I hope so.

Michael L.
I really like cross-country skiing because you taught us new things
like going down low and through the poles. My favorite thing was going
downhill from side to side. Are you going to come visit again. Ms. Deb
took us out a few days ago and I won the race around the snow fence.
Thanks for teaching me how to ski.

Thank you, Brian, Chad, and Andrew for taking us out skiing. It was
super fun and awesome. I hope you can come back again. I really liked
it when you took us almost all the way to the dump. I'm glad you left
skis here for us to use. Ms. Deb took us out the last week of school.

Still skiing in Kaktovik in mid May.
It is great to see the familiar faces of the kids and to see that they are using and enjoying the equipment that SkiKu left for them at the school.  The smiles tell the story and the impact for the kids.

Spring has arrived to Kaktovik
To the kids in Kaktovik: Here is how we "roller ski" so that we can go skiing when there is no snow.  It is fun, but real snow is better!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Polar Bear, Fast Kids, Sleepovers

The last two weeks of April have seen fantastic weather and incredible experiences. I finished up the second half of my SkiKu week teaching skiing in the Alaskan village of Kaktovik.  The community there is just amazing and it was hard to leave.  The kids all told us they hoped the weather would come in and we would be able to fly out.  I am amazed at how well the kids have progressed in our 5 days on snow with them and their second year with the SkiKu program

Final day of teaching skiing in Kaktovik, AK
We had some fun races to cap off a great week. The kids have 25 pairs of skis, boots and poles that will remain at the school for them to use.  We had several of the teachers out skiing this week too and they have promised to take the kids out this Spring.  Keep in mind that ice is out in the Ocean around July 4th.

Traditional MukTuk (Whale Skin and Blubber)
One of the teachers brought some Muk Tuk to the community dinner.  I can't say I am a huge fan, although it was very fascinating to try.  It is quite chewy.  The Boys and Girls Club kids liked Caitlin showing them photos of my Alaska trip.  I brought a small chuck of blubber back with me, but I accidentally left it in Paul's truck.  Sorry buddy, I did double bag it though.
Polar Bear Tracks.  A goal of mine for a long time has been to see a Polar Bear in the wild. Here are his tracks.  He was first spotted 5 houses down from ours, but we only ever saw him from a long distance away on the ice through binoculars. 
Our final morning in town we were awoken with a phone call that the Nanook was just a few houses down from ours.  I don't think I have ever dressed so quickly at 4:30 am in the morning. It was helpful that it was completely light out.  A pretty fun way to celebrate Earth Day.  I am happy to teach skiing anywhere in the world, especially on snow in April, but I had requested Kaktovik knowing there was a small chance of seeing a Polar Bear.  Many of the native villages still hunt and eat polar bear, but they do not kill the bears in Kaktovik.

An overnight back country ski tour with Chad and Paul
Back at the Club on Monday after the red eye flight.  Pretty wild the contrast between Alaska and Minnesota
Wednesday Run Club Practice
Wednesday LNR Junior Practice
Thursday Fast Kids Practice
Sharing the same training hills, trails, and exercises with a World Championship Medalist
Passing out numbers pre-race
Boys and Girls Club on the start line of the Endurance United: Go Spring 5/10k Race