Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Countdown Begins!

It all starts one month from NOW. From TOMORROW!  November 6th I will jump on a plane and be racing in Europe until Christmas.  This will be my first time racing World Cup period 1 and it's going to a be a whirlwind tour with up to 14 race starts in FIVE different countries including Norway, Finland, Germany, Switzerland & Slovenia.  I am pretty pumped for new race venues and an opportunity to test myself against Marit Bjorgen from day one.  Last year I learned that there is certainly a learning curve to being on the World Cup and I'm hoping that my experience last year has given me some confidence and knowledge for this trip knowing that I've done it before and the girls are totally human.... except for (maybe) these two:

Props to my teammate Sadie for finding this pic online somewhere....

With only a month or so to go until the official race season kicks off I'm sure that skiers everywhere, in the US and abroad, harbor some similar feelings and questions:

"Where is my fitness?"
"How will I perform this year?" 

At this point in the fall (at a certain level) you've either done the hard work or you haven't.  October is a great time to ask yourself: "Have I done every possible thing I could to be as fast as I can be this upcoming winter?"  Personally, I find that at this time of year my problem isn't finding the time or motivation to train. Instead the hard part is to know when to stop or when enough is enough.  If it were up to me and personal enjoyment I would probably train 40 hours/week!  It's easy to think, oh.... if my roller ski interval times aren't getting better right now I need to train more.... when really, the opposite might be true and what your body really needs is rest.  My coach Erik brought up an interesting point the other day at practice.  He said that he doesn't believe there has ever been an Olympic or World Champion that's been self coached.  I haven't fact-checked this but it makes sense when I consider the value of having someone see you at training - an objective eye to sense fatigue or a downward spiral.

But, enough about that!  Where am I right now and what am I doing for training? Right now I'm at a big dry land camp in Park City Utah!  I've never trained in Utah for dry land and this camp is the perfect opportunity to get my feet underneath me before the season.  Skiers from all over the country are here to train together.  Yesterday we did intervals at Soldier Hollow, the 2002 Winter Olympic venue.  The US Ski Team is also based out of Park City so we have lots of resources at our disposal.

I find that the fall is always a really great time to get out of Alaska and do something.  During the summer months I have a tendency to stay really close to home and come October, skiing the same roller ski loop for the 59th time becomes less appealing.  It's nice to get out and explore different places - this is a big part of what I love about Utah or skiing or anything else.  Last year I wasn't presented with the Utah training camp option so I created a training camp of my own in Hawaii, and specifically Kona.  Last summer in Alaska was one of the worst weather summers in the books and it rained for FORTY DAYS straight.  Because of that Hawaii wasn't a luxury but rather became a necessity.  When I planned the trip I had NO IDEA that our stay would overlap with one of the MOST AWESOME athletic events I have ever watched: Ironman World Championships! The race is actually this upcoming Saturday October 8th and a small part of me is sad to be missing the even this year. In fact, here I am roller skiing on the Queen K highway posing with a bike team from the Netherlands. Yes, the dude in the arrow helmet is kissing my check while my husband takes the picture!

 Ironman Time! 

After taking a red eye flight direct from AK my good friend Alison from Whitman College days picked me up in Salt Lake City and we ended up here:

 Gorgeous sunshine, trails & my personal favorite, yellow fall leaves! 

 This forest looks like a work of art in and of itself. I LOVE it! 

The trail system here is absolutely AMAZING.  I am so impressed and I have to say, a bit envious.  The mountain biking here looks phenomenal with over 200+ miles of single track in the great Park City area alone!  On our hike we randomly found this in the woods:

Speaking of mountain bike trails and single track, there is a great trail building effort in Anchorage building a new set of single tracks at Kincaid Park! For folks in Anchorage I encourage you to attend the work parties that happen every Monday and Wednesday nights from 6-8pm. (Meeting in the Jodphur parking lot) No experience is necessary and they have all the tools.  Here is a pic of a bunch of us post-work party a couple of weeks ago.  Anchorage will never be the mtn biking mecca that Park City is but these new trails are AWESOME. 

If you want to see the new trails in motion, check out my teammate Reese Hanneman's blog here for a YouTube video

To continue with Park City.... 

A cool sticker I saw on a car in the parking lot... 

Some one tell these coaches that the "boot" isn't in!  Three coaches from three different programs all with foot injuries! 

Cheering on the boys at Soldier Hollow yesterday in our threshold intervals

Me and Kikkan post workout

I think our boots got dirtier here in Utah than they do in Alaska! 

This picture shows the dedication of a starving skier... he is eating raw Top Ramen noodles for his post workout recovery food because (and I quote) "You can get 20 of these for five bucks!" Someone get this kid a bar sponsorship, quick! 

After posting some pretty gorgeous pictures of Utah I feel obligated to show a couple recent pictures of my home, Alaska and our beautiful fall colors: 

Rob and I went on a hike and found this thing on the top of a mountain. We think it's some kind of air traffic control repeater but we're not sure?

Over looking Hope, Alaska and Turnagain Arm

Last but not least, a fun picture of my great host, Morgan Smyth!  (Hopefully she won't kill me for putting this up on my blog!)  While at training camp down here I am staying at Morgan and Deb's house.  Morgan is even letting me borrow her car to get to workouts while she bikes to work.  Morgan and Deb's awesome hospitality is making it financially possible for me to be here at this camp.  Thanks so much you two!  If you're ever in Park City and looking for an awesome place to stay check out Deb's B&B called Old Town Guesthouse!
Oh! And one more thing!  Because there are so many of us in town we're hosting a Fast and Female event here in Park City!  It's this Saturday and will be held at the COE, AKA, Center of Excellence.  I'm sure I'll have an entire post of it but if you know of anyone in town, sign up because this event is going to be great!  Also, for Alaskans, save the date Sunday, October 30th for a Fast and Female event in Fairbanks, AK!
Fast and Female Park City, Utah
Fast and Female Fairbanks, Alaska

More to come and as always, thanks for reading! Make today AWESOME because as I like to say, "you have so much to be thankful for!"

Holly :)