Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Off to Gunnison

After a good hard skate workout today of 3X8 minutes, of free skate, V2, and then normal skate, I'm feeling pretty good. I was able to put myself in quite a bit of pain this afternoon, but seemed to be recovering quite fast. We leave for Gunnison tomorrow for the Wester State NCAA race. I'm not expecting to feel to sparky at this race, this workout was a little to close to the friday race for a awesome race, but I expect to feel way better than the last NCAA races have been. In the last two weeks since Snow Mountain, I've gotten in some good hard training and a couple good races that gave me a lot of confidence in my technique and fitness at this point. I think most of my lack-of-intensity based issues are behind me, I skied damn hard this afternoon, and my lungs finally felt like they were able to keep up with my legs, which is a damn good feeling I must say. So with that, I'm off to bed. 



Monday, January 28, 2008

Even Better

That was more like it. 
Saturday was ok, even after I made the somewhat reckless decision to ski the 30K (my first) instead to the 15K a the Gold Run Loppet. The first 10K of the 30 was rough, I just could not ski. My technique was lousy, my legs felt tired, and I just felt very out of rhythm. After the first lap, after losing a ton of time to the leaders, I started feeling much better, my technique started to come together, and I found my timing, and really started having fun. I was able to hold steady and make up a couple places, and didn't really start feeling tired until about 28K, and luckily there was no one in sight in front of or behind. Even thought I was really tired, I found the strength for a very strong finishing kilometer, it actually really surprised me how good I felt at the end. ow I just need to figure out how to not lose 5 minutes in the first 10K. Good. 

Sunday was a classic sprint at 11,000 feet and the Tennessee Pass nordic center. High. No air. Weee!! The course was long as well, at about 1.9 K, oh well. The prologue started with an 800m flat double pole section, and then some twisty down hills, which transitioned into a rolly twisty flat-ish section without tracks, and then about 150m of straight up nasty hill, finishing uphill  and higher than you started. Brutal. I went out first, with all my teammates chasing me at 30 second intervals. When I finished I thought Jacob and Justin looked like the had both made up time on me, but I guess the steepness of the hill kind of compressed things because I ended up about 10 seconds up on the field. In the final, the 6 top times mass started at the bottom of the finishing straight, up through the finishing, 180 degrees around a road cone, and 75m downhill to a 90 degree soft and choppy corner right which dropped you onto where we started the prologue. My original plan for the final was to sit behind Justin, because I new he liked to start fast, and then wait for the climb at the end and then try to pull away at the end, but, as they say, battle plans rarely survive contact with the enemy. Out of the start I was the first around the cone, and then first around the nasty corner at the bottom, and had the lead into the double pole section. I figured "what the hell, why not see if I can take them now," so I started pushing reasonably hard. I could hear them behind me most of the way, and then could still hear them along the twisty untracked section, and at the bottom of the hill. At that point I was thinking "oh crap, I've been pushing pretty hard, and I haven't lost them." So I pretty much went fro broke on the last climb, and accelerated smoothly and cranked as hard as I could up into the finish, complete with finishing lunge. I turned around, suddenly realized that my ears must have been playing some tricks on me, because I had about 100m on the field, and ended up coming in about 18 seconds ahead. Apparently I had actually broken away early, heard my own pole strokes echoing, and scared myself into skiing faster, haha. But either way, I was really happy with it, because Jacob and Justin are very strong and getting stronger every week. Jacob ended up breaking away form the rest of the field and ended up second, while Justin ended up fading at the end and getting passed by a hard charging Nicholai and Joe from Air Force (who happened to go to High School together, who managed to hold of Nic's late charge by only a foot or two. After which Nic smiles tiredly at Joe and yell's "I hate you, the finish line should have been up here!" while pointing about 5 feet farther up the hill. Good times. 
On the Women's side, Gwynn had the fastest time in the prologue, and managed to hold off the fast finishing Turner twins and Marie to take the win in the finals. I think the most impressive finish of the day on their side had to have been Liz in the prologue. She looked incredibly strong as she came up the long steep final hill. It probably helped her speed a little as Grigory, our russian post-doc ran alongside her yelling "ski faster, or we will send you to Russia!!!" I may have fallen over laughing at that point. 
In the non racing scene, the rest of the weekend was a blast, including more amazing food from the Bogg's kitchen than we could possibly eat (even though we did), and lots of laughs. Highlights included Justin's repeated belly flops off the diving board at the rec center, biscuits and gravy (miraculously none of which, I think, ended up on the trails in the sprint), and getting two of the three vehicles stuck in alley behind Dick and Ev's house. 

Until next time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Getting There

After a really good summer and fall of training, my winter was sidelined by a very persistent cold and sinus problems for about 5 weeks after Thanksgiving. This meant that, since I had been focusing almost entirely on base training all summer and fall, that I arrived at my first race weekend (Soldier Hollow of all places) with nearly no speed work under my belt at all. This was readily apparent in my ability to recover quite quickly on the downhills, and inability to go hod a strong pace all the way up the hills. I have also realized how much a complete lack of speed and strength has affected my core strength. This weekend at Snow Mountain Ranch I felt like the things getting the most tired weren't my legs and arms, but my breathing muscles and core. Weird. Solution? Lots of intervals. Right now I have enough time to do about 2 hard workouts a week between races, and I am taking a gamble and almost completely cutting distance skis from my schedule. I feel like my base training has that covered pretty well, now I just need to work on VO2 and lactate clearance. So after Soldier Hollow I skied hard classic intervals in the middle of the week, and then raced at Snow Mountain Ranch. It definately went better than SoHo, with my second best skate race ever in terms of percentage points, and best in USSA points because it was an interval start. The classic race was not as good, but it was the first time I've been able to finish a classic race hard in a couple years due to some technique related back injuries.
 After Snow Mountain, I rested a day, and then did some hard intervals Tuesday morning, it was about 2 degrees at Happy Jack. By the end of them, although I could tell my legs were still a little tired from the race weekend, I felt much better in terms of being able to hold a strong pace for more than just a couple minutes. It was a very good feeling, one which I haven't had in a while. After that, I went to the weight room in the afternoon and worked on my core strength, which I feel is improving as well. 
Hopefully, with this continued improvement, I will be able to have a couple good races by the end of the year. My current goal is to be under 10% back from the leaders of the NCAA races, this would give me both the best  finish by a UW skier since it became a club, as well as put into roughly the top 100 in the USSA points list. With luck, health, and good preparation, I think I can make that happen. 


Friday, January 18, 2008

Utah Day 2 - better late than never!

I'm a little surprised that no one posted about the races this weekend. It was kinda a brutal course for the first big race but it went actually as well or better than it has in the past!

Some highlights:
Classic Race:
  • John was 19% and 238 points last year, this year he was 15% and 167. This puts him below is classic average points from last year AND makes it his second best % back.
  • Brian was 33% and 294 pts last year, this year he was 30% & 295pts.
  • Gwynn 32% & 143pts last year, this year she was 28% & 369pts.
  • The women's team beat Western State College.
  • The Men's team was only 5 points from beating Western AND Whitman!
Skate Race:
  • Gwynn was 25% & 322 pts last year, this she was 20% & 311pts.
  • All three girls were under 30% & 400pts which is better than last year when we put only 2 women there.
  • The women's team beat Western State College.
We had some difficulties in the men's race and only managed to have two scoring men finish
On the whole it was a surprisingly good weekend for us and everyone is looking forward to racing this weekend on our "home" course at the YMCA.

Go Pokes!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Utah Invite Day 1...

It was an interesting day, as always on the Soldier Hollow trails. Nothing like having your first big race of the year be on the grueling hills of Soldier Hollow!

Things went extremely well. John had his best % points back and a great place, Joe skied easy and actually survived a 20km classic without cramping his back, Brian is starting the year 4% points in front of where he started last year, Grigory tried brand new skis for the very first time and they were a little slow but he got around anyway and the Nicholai and Jacob finished their first Elite team race and did very respectively.

The women skied really well for 2 laps and then had the refrigerator hit. They hung in there and managed to beat Western State as a team. Gwynn has started this season 3% faster than last year and Marie finished her first ever 15km and Mae managed to finish a grueling race where the conditions changed in the middle and she had little kick. It was daunting but they got through it and now they get to skate!

It was a good day and we're proud of our athletes. Looking forward to tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Good Luck

I just wanted to wish all of you good luck in Utah this weekend! Just ski the uphills, the downhills and the flats faster than anyone else, and it will be good :) But I'll be imagining myself at the top of Hermod's Hill cheering you all on so when you get there, know that someone annoying is waiting for you!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

mmhh... spending break with walking pneumonia. how fun.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Grooming at Chugiak

So Alaska has been getting snow, currently there is a soft layer of the stuff covering everything. It is wonderful! A few days ago, after we got some new snow, Liz and I went skiing at the Beach Lake Ski Trails in Chugiak by the high school. With the amount of snow we received I was expecting top notch trail conditions and grooming. We were a little bummed to still find sticks, icy spots, no set tracks and dirt dragged to the top. The trails are used immensely and Alaskans are used to tons of snow, and Chugiak got a new groomer within the last few years, but I realized how good the groomer in Laramie is. Don't get me wrong, I still appreciate the groomer at Chugiak, but I want to give a huge thanks to the groomer in Laramie, as he does a great job making wonderful conditions with little snow on rocky trails. Thanks for providing such high quality trails!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Ski trip take two!

I know it's a little late but we just wanted to finish the ski trip entry.

We spent the last three days of the ski trip finding the best deals we could. We alpine/telemark skied at Mt Rose for $19 ladies day on Thursday and then did alpine/telemark at the 35th anniversary of Northstar. That was the best day because we did alpine/telemark all morning, until 1pm and then went back to the car and got our nordic and classic skied for 1:30 in the afternoon on the same ticket. It was sweet!

Ashley decided to join us on Friday evening, flew in from Boise, so we decided, despite the $29 per person ticket to go to Royal Gorge that she really needed to see that! It was an awesome day of skiing, 4 hours. We skied out to see the actual gorge, stopped at a little hut, ate lunch and skied back. There weren't many people there considering it was the Saturday before Christmas so it was awesome fun!

Sunday we headed back towards Laramie, stopped in Green River to eat dinner with Trevor. That stop took too long and we ended up staying in Rock Springs and driving the rest of the way on Monday.

Monday afternoon started a whirlwind with stops in Laramie, Ft. Collins, Denver and Leadville all in 24 hours!

We spent the rest of the week skiing tons of hours on the Mineral Belt trail in Leadville. Talk about a change, free beautiful skiing instead of $29!

Saturday morning found us back in Laramie for the New Years ski camp.

What a great time!

You can see our pictures here

Now back at work and planning the first big race of the season!

Woo Hoo!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

George Cartwright & Scando Cup

I heard via George's parents that he qualified for the Scando Cup in Estonia this year! Congrats to him and his family! What an honor.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Great article!

While we were traveling in California and having a fantastic time the Laramie Boomerang ran a great story on the team.

Check it out!

Training a ski team without snow

8km @ 8pm in 8 degrees to celebrate 2008!

The climax of New Years camp is always the race New Years Eve and this year was no exception.

When we decided to move the camp from Winter Park to Laramie we were hoping to not only give our athletes an alternative activity for New Years but the Laramie ski community as well. To this end we opened the race to MBNA members, anyone could race for free and enjoy the goodies after the race. It turns out that this was a great plan! We had 24 racers braving the cold and dark to ski in the new year.

It was an absolutely beautiful evening for a race and the temperature even contributed with 8 degrees F at race start! We were a little disappointed that only 4 of our athletes choose to participate, we were hoping some of them would come down for the race even if they couldn't make the whole camp. Despite the poor UW turnout we had a fantastic citizen/high school turnout and it was a great time.

Watching the headlamps bobbing as the skiers went up the campground hill was an amazing and wonderful sight!

We took some pictures that can be found on our web album at:
I want to thank Nat and Randy for grooming that rivals Royal Gorge, Ca which costs $29/day to ski. Talk about a bargin with MBNA being $15 for the season!

The ski season is about to start for real with the Utah NCAA race January 11-12 and the Pole Mt. Shuffle on January 13.

Woo Hoo!