Sunday, January 24, 2016

Seeley Hills Classic and Training Block

Great to be able to have some fun with Caitlin again
It is great to have the Team back together again!  Caitlin has been in Europe racing the World Cup for 2 months and is back in Minneapolis to recharge.  Face Time is a great way to stay in touch when we are on different continents but you can't beat being together in person.  

Last year we had a great week or training and recharging in Hayward, WI on the American Birkebeiner trail so we decided to do the same thing this year.  This included racing in the Seeley Hills Classic a fantastic classic marathon on the Birkie trail.  Race organizer Dennis Kruse has been a good friend from the first day I arrived in Wisconsin 10 years ago.  With 500 racers the Seeley is one of the premier classic races in the Midwest.  I had a fun race with my friend Matt Liebsch.  We skied the entire race together attacking each other from time to time but neither of us breaking away.  I ended up with the win this year, although a good portion of that was a result of Matt tripping on a climb 1 km from the finish and myself getting the only open finishing lane.

Women's Champion Natalia, Race Organizer Dennis and Me

Signing posters after a Goal Setting session and Q and A with Hayward Nordic Kids
After a great time up in the north woods of Wisconsin I flew out to Colorado for a 10 day altitude block.  Caitlin and I trained in Frisco for 3 weeks last year in preparation for the World Championships and that went well.  Frisco, CO is at 9,000 feet and the trails and skiing at the Frisco Nordic Center are some of my favorite.  The World Cups in Canmore are at a moderately high altitude and I wanted to put some time back high as it has been nearly a month since I have been high.  I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to bounce between high altitude and sea level throughout the year and I feel my body responds well to the fluctuation.  

Training with my old college teammate Brent Knight
My good friend Brent Knight is now living in Boulder, CO and working for Salomon.  We trained and raced together for UAA and on the professional race circuit for 8 years.  Brent is now working full time but can still push me and help make me better.  It is super nice of him to come up and train with me as I put in a volume block.  I have found that I need to have a few weeks throughout the race season where I push the volume so that I can stay strong for the entire season. 
Colorado Classic Skiing on Toko Red

US Nationals and Recovery

So, I just went to update my blog and realized that this post from two weeks ago was saved as a draft, anyways better late than never....

The 2016 US National Championships proved to be my best cumulative showing at US Nationals so far.  Although I still have yet to meet my goal of winning a National Championship I had a strong week. 
2nd Place in the 30 km Freestyle Mass Start
My focus race going in to Nationals was the 30 km Freestyle.  I really enjoy the tactics of mass start racing, plus distance skate races are my favorite and strongest event.  I had a strong race and finished second, not quite as fast as my friend Tad Elliot who won.  Tad has been on the top of the podium multiple times, but has struggled with illness the last few years.  I am happy to see him back to his normal self and finding success again.

A huge thank you to Caldwell Sport for the fantastic ski service all week at US Nationals.  My skis were fantastic in every race and it was great to have such a strong support team.   Thanks you Amy, Austin and Erik.  My training has been really strong this year thanks to my sponsors, training partners and coaches and it is nice to have things come together at a championship race.   My races results qualified me for the Canadian World Cup Tour in March which is a major focus of my season.   It is nice to be racing and feeling strong, especially after struggling at US Nationals last year.  Last years struggles and disappointing results helped me enjoy the successes this year that much more.  

My other results from the National Championships included a 5th (4th American) in the 15 km Classic, 7th (4th American) in the Freestyle Sprint and a finish in the high 30s for the classic sprint. I have struggled making the heats in the classic races and will need to put some more focus on classic skiing relaxed at high speed.

After a fun and hard week at US Nationals my body was ready for some recovery time.  My body confirmed this with a head cold for a few days.  

Meeting up with the Loppet Foundation's Fast Kids group for an evening Practice
Caitlin decided to come back home to recharge after the Tour de Ski and it is great to be together again.  One of the fun ways we helped recharge ourselves was joining up with Fast Kids which is the team of 8-13 year old kids of our Club, Loppet Nordic Racing.

single digits and darkness did phase these kids
It is really fun to see the joy in the smiles of kids skiing.  I sometimes find that I can get caught up in results and my own training and it is refreshing to just share in the joy of skiing.  Plus it is really cool to hear the kids talking themselves about going to the Olympics someday.

Wes came to our house after his practice to do an interview for his school projects on the Olympics
Wes counted 81 pairs of skis in our basement
After 2 days of rest I am now healthy and ready to get back to training.  I have almost 3 weeks now until the next Super Tour.