Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bend Camp +

This was me the first day of Bend camp and no - I wasn't posing for the picture. I left AK during a winter storm warning, complete with fresh snow & temperatures around 20F. 

Here I am with my teammate, Ida.... this picture pretty much sums up most of the weather we've experienced for the camp past day ONE: 

I have to say it's funny that Bend actually manufactures plastic bags to ski in that say, "Mt. Bachelor Fun to the Last Drop"  All of us Alaskans are constantly getting a hard time about the weather in Alaska yet everyday when we drive up to Mt. Bachelor it's a blowing sideways and vacillating between snow and rain. I've never used my Salomon Zeros more. Ironically during our time in Bend Anchorage is experiencing perhaps the best weather window of the past decade.  Apparently every day is beautiful and temps are upwards of 80F! I do find it ironic that I'll go home and probably look pale in comparison to all the other Alaskans. When's the last time that happened? 

While it's a bummer to ski around in tough conditions (one day was like skiing circles in a giant puddle of Elmer's Glue) it's good practice. Yes, there is a silver lining.  The coach's go-to saying during these tough days are, "Great Championships Conditions!"  While this could be seen as blind optimism it is, in fact, brutally realistic. The Vancouver Olympic snow was skiing in slush sometimes over my boots, the fog of 2011 World Champs Oslo had visibility of about 10 feet and this year @ Val di Fiemme we faced some difficult waxing conditions.  So, if the championships aren't going to be straight extra blue, perhaps skiing in glue & rain is good for us? 

First big interval set of the year - 5x6 minutes uphill skating intervals with the girls. (Photo thanks to MBSEF) 

The windshield wiper standard on the way to am training

Remember that game pick up sticks as a child? We play it everyday on the ground of the parking lot trying to find our own equipment! 

Opening training camp means we're hungry athletes!  Healthy meals and group meals are a fun part of living together. A recent house favorite is frozen bananas. Try it before you knock it. 

Even coaches get hungry at training camp. You might not be able to see it but here's Matt eating an entire plate full of Tillamook ice cream in front of the fire place :) 

Mixing it up with a little team mountain bike session! 

In addition to all the training & meetings we hosted a Fast and Female event at the Bend Athletic Club. We had approximately 45 local girls as well as girls that traveled from Portland, Leavenworth, WA and other places to take part.  I was lucky enough to lead the older group (ages 15-19) and we had an awesome goal setting session. Individually we each made goals that fell into four separate categories: Short term, long term, quantitative & qualitative. Afterwards the girls had the opportunity to share goals (if they wished) with the group - thought being that if you actually vocalize your goals, one is able to draw support, encouragement and ideas from friends and peers. It was a really cool session! 

Here are some anonymous comments from girls that attended our event via Facebook: 

 "Those days you'll never stop smiling. 
Best day of my life."

"Today. I am completely speechless. I have always had a passion for skiing and I couldn't love something more. Today changed that. It is one thing to look up to someone but to meet them and talk with them is more then I could ever hope for in my whole life. I can't thank the U.S. Ski Team enough. This is why I do what I do. Because of you."

"Yesterday I got to spend the day with the greatest friends anyone could ask for and with all the women I idolize. The women that I have posters of, the ones my team looks up to, truly are inspirational. I couldn't thank anyone enough. The ski community is incredible."

It was AWESOME getting the chance to meet the girls from the Leavenworth Ski Club: Becca, Julia, Lydia & Keiren... these girls have a great thing going on with their club - keep up the great spirit ladies! 

Complete switch of topics but here are some of us in our One piece leisure suits in between training sessions in front of the fire :) 

And - because I don't think I've done it publicly yet - I wanted to officially congratulate my coach, Erik Flora on being named USSA Cross Country International Coach of the Year AND USSA overall (out of all disciplines) Coach of the Year! Congratulations Erik! 

With Erik training here in Bend

Erik officially receiving his award from Dexter Paine - USSA Board of Directors. 

Tomorrow is our last day in Bend and then Friday it's off to Park City - home of the USST for tests and a short altitude block before heading home. 

..... 252 days until Sochi :) 
Have an awesome day, 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Recovery Day @ Rainshadow Organics!

I have lots of goals for the upcoming season but one of them is to be more pro-active about recovery. Now, to me, this means more than getting enough sleep, putting my feet up in the middle of the day and proper sports nutrition. Sure, it means all of those things.... but what about mental recovery? Or more specifically, making sure that I engage in some non-ski specific activities? In order to think about skiing a lot I find that I need to make some time where I don't think about it at all. Yesterday was the perfect example of that.  The US Ski Team is currently holding our annual kick off camp in Bend, Oregon. We ski every morning and run, bike & lift in the afternoons. (This afternoon we actually had a Fast and Female event which was great in and of itself!)  Anyways, I'm lucky because one of my best friends lives right outside of Bend near Smith Rocks and the town of Terrebonne on a farm called Rainshadow Organics.  It's a highly productive, full-scale farm which literally had chickens hatching out of eggs to slaughtering the chickens for meat. Yes, this step & every step in between happened the day I was there.  The other "farm chore" on the list was castrating piglets which probably wouldn't have been even more interesting but we didn't get that far...... Check out some of my pictures from recovery day..... !

 Loving the flowers in the central Oregon town of Sisters, nearby! 

 Chickens head down, bleeding out into the barrel below 

 Chickens are dropped in boiling water and then put in a centrifuge to de-pluck them (remove feathers) 

 5 gallon buckets full of chicken feet and other parts! 

Then chix are washed, bagged... 

Dipped in hot water to seal the bag... 

Labeled, weighted 

And frozen for all the great folks in Sarah and Tall's Meat CSA!  I have to say that I am very impressed by not only the process but the way all the animals on the farm are treated. Each and everyone is given the space and freedom to roam and play, feed well, and treated with the utmost respect until their last minute of life. As a meat eater myself it was fascinating to see the entire process. 

Of course the farm has tons of tons of veggies and other edibles including lots of beautiful leafy greens! Some grow in these hoop houses while starts are just getting outside for the first time.  As you might know, Memorial Day is a big "landmark" for farmers.... 

 Sarah is getting married in September!  Here she is after our morning walk moving the irrigation lines at the wedding site. She planted grass seed here and I can't wait to come back four months from now and see it again! 

 We had to fetch our own breakfast - straight from underneath the turkey..... I had never eaton turkey eggs before and they were quite good! 


 Sarah in front of the log house she built..... cool to think that we designed it on a napkin almost ten years ago while traveling in South America! 

 Sarah and Tall have other 30 pigs at the farm. 

 Momma and baby! 

 There is nothing cuter than a baby piglet! 

 Me and the Mule! 

 Tall, Sarah's Fiance with a grass leash around one of the native creatures! 

 The three of us driving to sisters to see the Sugar beets! 

As of today it was back to the hard work with an am ski on snow the speed of glue... then a quick lunch before heading off to lead Fast and Female. Then afternoon workout (run) followed by dinner and a team meeting. Our days are action packed which make our recovery days that much more important! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more updates!  Only 257 days until Sochi! 

Cheers & great wishes to you, 
Holly :) 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How do you Play?

Helping people begin, maintain and learn to love healthy lifestyles is one of my passions.  
For the past couple of years I've had the great pleasure in being involved in a State Run initiative called Healthy Futures.  I serve as a "Healthy Hero" or basically a spokesperson for the campaign.  Our latest initiative is really cool and it's called, Play Every Day!  Play Every Day challenges Alaska's Youth to "Get out and play everyday, for at least 60 minutes."  This could be anything from walking your dog, working in the garden, playing on the playground at recess, running, skiing or riding your bike.  There is no limitation!  The most important part is that you DO IT!  This isn't just important for young people.... I'd love to make the case that it's important for EVERYONE!  I don't know about you but I feel better if I can start my day with a little bit of fresh air and/or get my blood pumping! So, I'd like to ask you, "How do you Play!?!?!"  Get out and do it! 

If you want to check out our current ad running on TV play the vimeo link below! 

For more info on the program check out the website HERE. 

Here is some of my recent "Play!" 

Snow Biking across Eklutna Lake with Ana (Photo, Jim Jager)

 Bike to School Day!  Over 1.500 kids and 40 schools participated! Thanks Ben Harris for making this event a success! 
Handing out stickers at Bike to School Day.... Good job Trailside Elementary! 

Running with Tyson Elementary School Students as part of the ARISE program... (Active Recess Inspires Success and Excellence)  The kids have already skipped, ran, walked & jumped 1557 miles (the distance of traveling from Anchorage to the Arctic Ocean and back).... all during their Tuesday & Thursday recess times!  Congrats Tyson kids! 

 Handstands on top of Bird Ridge! 

Skiing with a group from Pacific Northern Academy! 

Now its your turn.... get out and Play Today!  I promise that you'll feel better :)