Sunday, August 25, 2013

Training Camp in the 84098

Just got home from TWO killer weeks of altitude training camp in Park City; home of the US Ski Team!  Only this time, I went with my club, APU. I'm going to use my blog to focus on a couple of pictures from the two weeks. If you want to read more about what we did check out my teammate, Sadie Bjornsen's blog. She did a nice job recapping here: 

Without further ado... 

APU Spinning out some dead legs after a crazy hard time trial effort.  There was talk about tasting blood...... (in your throat - happens when you go really, really hard..... ) 

Here is a snapshot of the skate sprint tt: 
I was pretty happy with my effort. I felt good for August and have a clear idea of concrete things I want to work on in the next training period. (Can you say, INTERVALS!!!!) 

Team training camp & Carpooling.... helmets, skis & poles overflowing out of the car 

I hardly brought a coat to the training camp.... it wasn't cold but it certainly wasn't bluebird and clear everyday..... 

 The APU men's team trained hard. Here they are during our OD run on the Wasatch Crest Trail Saturday. 

 Whitcomb was able to come to some sessions. This is a box with three donuts - yes, just three. They are the biggest things I've ever seen. They are $3 each and available at the Kamas Chevron. Incredible. Coaches need sustenance too. 

 Mid classic roll OD up Big Cottonwood Canyon with Fitz and Becca 

Pumped up on endorphins post ski. 

 Reese bounding at 8,000..... 

 Margo had us over for dinner and girl's night. We finally saw the famous nail polish collection 

 A benefit of training at the Canyons.... bounding uphill and "saving" your legs by riding the gondola down.... 

 Training camp carnage - Becca 

 A highlight of camp was hanging with my friend Langely McNeal who is chasing after Sochi for Women's Skier Cross. Lange and I went to college together at Whitman (Walla Walla) back in the day. She was on the alpine team, me = xc. It's pretty fun that here we are, years later, successful and still at it! 

You can check out her facebook athlete page here: 
Post 1 hour hard threshold effort in Jeremy Ranch with Liz 

Near Main Street, PC 

Last but not least? I got home just in time to read this is Sunday's print edition of the paper

What's next? Three weeks at home, doing a bunch of intervals and normal stuff such as mowing the lawn and watching over my neighbor's chickens. It feels good! 

Rob with our bounty! 

Cheers & thanks for reading :) 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Life is so darn fragile....

I never met Bonni Curran personally but I did write her some post cards over the winter, from the road.

Bonni, along with her husband Peter are supporters of NNF, the National Nordic Foundation.  Last year as a member of the US Ski Team B team I was completely unfunded for the entire winter.  NNF stepped in to help me foot the hefty bill of traveling and racing 5 continuous months in Europe.  NNF was able to do this because of the generosity of people like Bonni and Peter. So, while I never met Bonni face to face I feel connected to her because she believed in what I am doing - and helped make it possible. 

On August 6th Bonni's life was tragically cut short when she was struck and killed on her bike.  Details of the accident are still somewhat unclear but it seems to have involved a construction site, a wobbly bike, and a dump truck.

Bonni's accident makes me think of all the training session that I, my teammates, and everyone in the sport of Cross Country Skiing complete on the roads. (Not to mention all the bikers and other non-motorized forms of transportation.)  Roller skiing is a necessary part of training for cross country skiing and unfortunately, bike paths don't cut it - and we don't have enough paved "roller ski loops" at our ski venues to suffice. 

If and when it comes down to a human body and carbon fiber against an F350 or even a Toyota Camry, who is going to win? It's not going to be the skier or the biker, that's for sure.  Accidents such as Bonni's bring a slice of humble pie - and reality - to my training regime.  It makes me think that you can never be too careful.  Also, it paints a picture of just how quickly life can be taken away. One minute Bonni is with us, and the next she is gone. On August 6th it was Bonni but who will be next? Because more accidents are bound to happen as painful as that fact may be.

In honor of Bonni I've compiled a list of safety tips.  While most of these are common sense I still feel as if it's worth sharing and/or revisiting. Here is a quick list of safety protocols that I try to follow: 

1) ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET. This is a given but for some reason people don't always do this. My husband is an Anchorage Fire Fighter and has responded to many a biker head injuries. He says it's amazing how fast a bump the size of a grapefruit can come out of your head...... "Brain Buckets" are real things so wear one. They have awesome neon ones these days too.  Go spend money and buy one you actually like and want to wear. It's well worth the money.

2) EMBRACE THE 80s! Wear NEON, not BLACK. Please don't blend in with the pavement!!! Wear something that stands out against the backdrop you're training in. Visibility is hugely important!

3) NEVER, under any circumstance USE HEADPHONES to listen to music while on the road.  You need each of your senses, ears, eyes, even your nose to detect danger and know your surroundings.

4) ASSUME every car on the road is out to hit you. Don't assume that they will see you. Ski, bike, walk, run defensively. Just because you are highly visible and following the rules of the road doesn't mean they know you're there.  Texting and driving is becoming a HUGE issue and is really, really scary for someone like me who spends a lot of time training on the roads. I actually just watched a very telling documentary put together by Werner Hertzog about the dangers of texting and driving.  If you have time, it's definitely worth a watch. It can be found here:

5) COMMUNICATE as a TEAM. Assuming you're training or recreating with others become familiar with common terminology like "car back" or  "car up" ...... "slowing down", etc. Four eyes on the road are better than two and ten are better yet. Be observant and let others know what you see and hear so that the entire group can react appropriately.  For example, when a car is coming from behind and you're skating someone should yell, "car back" and everyone should start double poling therefore giving the car as much room as possible. 

6) DON'T ACT LIKE YOU OWN THE ROAD because you don't. Follow traffic rules as best as possible and be respectful to the vehicles on the road. Don't cut in front of a car just because you know you'll make it - you're making enemies for endurance athletes everywhere. Be polite and follow my mantra, "Smile and Wave"... you can't go wrong with reminding people behind the wheel that those of us using ski poles in the summer are people too.... not just annoying targets slowing down their rush hour commutes.  Make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them to ensure that they see YOU rather than just a blank stare THROUGH you. 

7) PLAN your ROUTES strategically. Don't wait for rush hour to do your workout if you can help it. Avoid downhills with stop signs considering roller skis don't have breaks. Ski routes that you know are safe or get specific directions and recommendations from friends who know what they're talking about.  Don't let your ego get in the way of taking your skis off and WALKING down sketchy hills. Just two days ago Matt Whitcomb was supporting our roller ski via bike.  For the steep hills he would shuttle us down meaning we'd put our hand on his back and use his bike's brakes!  

Last but not least I bought a Road ID bracelet today (purple!)  I have my name and three emergency contacts in case something should happen to me while out training. Not a bad idea if you're someone who spends a lot of time out on the roads, particularly alone.

Please, please, please be safe out there.  My deepest sympathys to the Curran Family and everyone who is grieving from the loss of Bonni's life..... just a small reminder that every day is a gift and should not be taken for granted. 

Now: go get after it! 


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wildfires, Kick A** Glacier Camp, AK Salmon & Thin Air...

Sorry for the temporary "black out" over the past couple of weeks.... needless to say, it's been busy. And if you're a regular reader, you know that I'm seemingly incapable of posting anything shorter than a novel on my BLOG. Just an example of my perfectionism taking a toll.....

What's up these days? Lots.  I'm currently in Park City, Utah with my APU teammates for a 2-week altitude stint.  One of the goals for this training year was to spend more time in the thin air in preparation for Sochi - which stands at 4500 feet.  Nothing like Western Collegiate racing altitude (who ever had the idea to race at 9500 is crazy) but 1500 meters or 4500 feet just about tops out FIS altitude racing standards. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of altitude training check out the wiki site HERE. Basically, time at altitude raises your body's level of red blood cells and increases hemoglobin; the same effect as doping but in a legal, natural way :) We're sleeping up in Deer Valley (8,000 feet) and training mostly in Park City around 6500 feet.

Utah camp is also a way to prolong summer as the last workout I did in Alaska before departure (5 hour ride/run hike in the rain) began showing hints of red tundra meaning that fall is right around the corner!

Our crew looking down over Eagle and Symphony Lakes 

Rewind a bit more and the last part of July was our 3rd Annual North American Women's Camp - only this time minus the Canadians and add two special International guests, Astrid Jacobsen of Norway and Bettina Gruber of Switzerland. 

Bettina loves Salmon so late July was a perfect time for her visit!!!! 

We had some great dryland training sessions....

And we returned to the Glacier for yet another on-snow camp.  We had near perfect weather and the snow thankfully froze at night - different than June camp where it felt as if we were skiing around in a petri dish of Elmer's Glue. (If you're a runner, think about running 5 hours a day in the sand rather than a hard trail or pavement... that's what slow snow feels like.) 

It was great having Astrid on the glacier as she is part of the best women's team in the World. I wrote a small article about her contributions for NNF's site that can be read HERE if interested. 

 Sadie, me, Ida, Astrid, Kikkan, Jessie & Liz

Loving life on the glacier 

We train hard and have fun.... not so impressive but we try :) 

Being interviewed by Alaska Public Radio's Annie Feidt - the story went NATIONWIDE! In case you missed it.... Listen to the

Also, if you want to get a better feel for what it's like to ski on Eagle Glacier here is a youtube video of one of our more "fun" workouts, the team sprint:

Changing gears.... every July we speed lots and lots of time catching & processing fish for the upcoming year. Rob was successful in his dip netting excursion to the Kenai yet again. (Dip netting is a subsistence-based fishery available to Alaska residents only. It's just like it sounds - you use a huge net, often 3-4 feet in diameter to literally "dip" fish out of the river.) 

Here is our homemade backyard smoker! 

We can never get enough... for my recovery week Rob and I kayaked to dip net in China Poot Bay. 

Here is the fish from the photo above on my plate in Utah :) 
(Dinner last night!) 

Mom came to AK for a visit! 

With Mom on the Danny J heading back from Halibut Cove. (Thanks Don, Molly & Bret for having us!) 

Tomorrow we're hitting up some hard L4 bounding intervals at the Canyons. I'm excited for some of the hard work to begin. Summer is all about building volume and late summer and fall calls for more intensity. As many of you have probably heard, there are some bad fires IN Park City.  In fact, one of the US Ski Team strength coaches didn't know for two days if her house was still standing or not.  As it turns out her next door neighbor's house burned to the ground but hers was OK. Luckily the smoke doesn't seem to be affecting air quality so we're (thankfully) not stuck inside for camp. 

Last but not least - Buggz says hi.... keeping it real! 
More soon & thanks for reading, 
Holly ;)