Sunday, July 27, 2014

A week on the edge...of Eagle Glacier, AK

Even Eagle Glacier can be beautiful on a rainy day!
The past two weeks have been some of the best of the summer so far. The second week of the USST/ APU camp in Alaska brought us all up to the Eagle Glacier where we had the opportunity to put in 27 hours of on snow training. Opportunities like this come at a premium but are worth every penny and every bit of effort! The Eagle Glacier is home to the Thomas Training Center where APU has been putting in the time with on snow camps for the past 14 years! (this was Kikkan Randall's 14th year up on the glacier!). This was my second trip to the Glacier and my first time being there with all girls!

Girl's Camp simply the best
What a great opportunity to gather a large group of focused, motivated and driven women all striving for the same goal; to be the best at what they do (XC-Skiing) in the World. With such a big group of women all sharing the same goal you would think the atmosphere would be competitive and tense after so many days skiing in circles and living in tight quarters on top of a mountain in Alaska. However, I was shocked at how the energy was completely the opposite! 

Training for the day brought to you by Rocky and Bullwinkle!
Each girl brought a different element to the dynamics of the group and everyone seemed to embrace each others talents by bonding over the moment. This camp was by far the most fun I have ever had at a training camp. 

Becca gets her art on!

Erik gets best smile award for all of her photos!

NMU Alumi - Rosie Frankoski '14 and myself '04

Sophie's master-piece

Holly Brooks, myself and Brian's mini gator!
I am usually pretty intense when it comes to my training, recovery and rest during training camps but up on the Eagle Glacier it seemed as though everyone was on such a similar page that every person enabled the entire group to train better, eat better and recover better! Wow! A "team" atmosphere in an individual sport is the best recipe for success!

Great group ready to get even faster!

A lot of the credit for this environment is obviously due to the coaches at the helm. They have worked hard to foster a cohesive group of US Athletes who seem to make history every weekend throughout the winter. A lot of credit also goes to the older athletes who have paved the way and brought up the next generation of athletes to their own level of success. Kikkan Randall has lead the way for the US since she entered the international racing circuit but she has also been instrumental in getting the next group of women, and those who will follow excited about the sport.

USOC Coach of the Year Erik Flora. After this camp I know why!

Coach Matt Whitcomb and Holly Brooks

Kikkan leading the way

While in Anchorage and on the Eagle Glacier I had the opportunity to ski with (behind) Kikkan and follow her effortless power and try to mimic her movements. Kikkan along with Liz Stephen, Jessie Diggins, Holly Brooks, Sadie Bjornsen, Sophie Caldwell and Ida Sargent have all been top ten in a World Cup! Even at 33 I am star-struck to be training and staying with them.

Celine Brun-Lie (our guest from Norway), Jessie Diggins, Sadie Bjornsen and Sophie Caldwel

The camp featured a lot of good moments to get to know each other through cooking, story telling, endless ski clean-up and of course hours spent skiing together. Attending this camp was not only a great opportunity for my skiing but also to get to know the ladies I will be traveling with on the World Cup this fall. 

I brought Basel the basil plant up to the glacier for some gourmet appetizers

One of our fabulous Dinner spreads

Diggins always had the highest energy!

Now back in Minnesota I am riding the excitement from my trip and passing on the energy and enthusiasm to the local Loppet Nordic Racing ladies I train with. We have a tough week planned and I am looking forward to it!

The LNR ladies chilling after a hard workout and a pancake feast!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Alaska Camp with the Ladies

Last Sunday I left Minneapolis for the first time in over a month! It's crazy to think about how much time on the road Brian and I spend, how much we want to just stay in one place for a while after the season is over and than how excited we are to get back on the road and do it all over again!

Camp Time!
Back into the clouds!
This time my travels brought me to Anchorage, AK to attend the USST/ APU and invited guests Training Camp. This camp has been held for the past 4 years but this is the first time I have been able to make all of the details work out so I could join. Last year Brian and I went up to the glacier in August with the Sun Valley crew and I had a blast. I knew this was opportunity I couldn't let pass me by.

So far we have completed the first week of dry-land training here in Anchorage. The sessions were extremely high quality and everywhere you look there were girls who have been in the top-ten on the World Cup, the World Championships and even the Olympics!!! As awe-struck as I am to be skiing along side them, or mostly behind, everyone of the super-stars here are extremely humble and down to earth.

A super fit group of ladies ready for bounding intervals.
World Champion, World Cup Winner and 3 X Overall Sprint World Cup Winner Kikkan Randall sporting her LLBean tote with me on the way to strength! 
Besides the great training partners I have also been exposed to a true "Alaskan Experience" this camp! My first encounter with any wildlife on this trip was actually a Grizzly Bear, this also happened to be the first time I have ever seen a Grizzly Bear in the wild. We were on a group distance run Thursday afternoon, not very far from town, when Matt Whitcomb yelled out "Bear". We all stopped and looked up the hillside to see a huge Brown Bear looking back at us. He moved slow and stuck his nose in the air but seemed like he would rather be on his way than bother with any of us. Thank Goodness! If that bear wanted to, he certainly could be down next to us in a heartbeat!

I was a bit intimidated about running I stayed Very close to the group!
The past couple of days have been filled with various other animal sightings including a mama Black Bear and her cubs and a mama Moose and her calves...all right from our dorm windows on the APU campus!!! Our 4 hour O.D. hike yesterday also allowed us to see some Dahl Sheep off in the distance scurrying along some steep rock outcroppings!

Mama Moose and baby

Mama Moose had a huge nose!
Today is our first off day and the day we fly into Eagle Glacier! This will be my second time in helicopter and I am a little nervous but also really excited. Today I am spending some time with the Moon Family. Stacey and Cheryl have been extremely generous and opened up their home to Brian and I for this trip and I am watching the Soccer World Cup from their comfy living room waiting for the call to head down to Girdwood! Lots of skiing to be done next week and I am looking forward to relaxing back here at the Moon's house when I get back into town :)

Off Day Waffle Party with the Girls!
Our Norwegian guest Celine Brun-Lie brought brown cheese from Norway to share!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summertime fun at Adventure Camp

The past two weeks have continued to be a whirlwind for Brian and I! We started off the first week by bringing the Boys and Girls Club Kids to the City of Lakes Loppet Foundation's Adventure Camp.
The Camp is an awesome opportunity for the kids to be outside all day long while introducing them to all kinds of activities that help keep them healthy. The week was a blast and all the kids were tired in the best of ways come Friday. We hope to bring another crew from the Boys and Girls Club to adventure camp next month as well. A huge Thank You goes out to the Loppet Foundation for providing scholarships for these kids to attend camp. There were lots of donors who made this opportunity possible.

Picking the Kids up at the Boys and Girls Club

The Fruitshare Organic apples ready for camp

The apples are always an instant success!

A good way to start a day at camp.

Brian teaching the kids a few juggling skills.

Orienteering. The first group of the day gets to "hide" the markers for the rest of the campers.

Rollerskiing friends

Ultimate Frisbee.

Our Boys and Girls Club crew was the Green Group for the week of camp.

More rollerskiing practice.

Everyone got their own water bottle to stay hydrated through a long day of camp.

Having fun with the kids on the way to and from Theodore Wirth Park.

Getting the plan for the day.

Making lunches for 11 hungry kids! I have never made so many sandwiches.

Ready to spend the day outside.

Mountain Biking is always a huge hit at Adventure Camp.

Even rainy days turn into fun times.

Learning from the local Olympian!

Lots and lots of biking at camp.

Last day celebration snack brought in the LLBean ITA tote bag :)
Brian and I competed in an off-road triathlon this weekend, also hosted by the City of Lakes Loppet. The triathlon was paddling, running and then mountain biking. I felt great and finished higher and was faster than last year (always a good sign that training is on track!). Brian wasn't so lucky in the paddle and ended up tipping his canoe in the middle of the lake (the wind was very high and the waves huge!) so he had to swin back to shore and start all over! He still managed to catch me with a mile before the finish!

After a few rain showers rolled through the Twin Cities that afternoon (and after a long nap!) Brian and I got to work on our afternoon session of training. We finished the day with a beautiful jog around Wirth Lake with our husky Lahti.

My favorite running partner!

Amazing Minnesota sunset.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Power Squad! The "Physical Support Team" behind Team Gregg

For the past three years I have dealt with a nagging pain in my left upper hamstring. I was in a bad accident in a rollerskiing sprint race that caused very quick snap of my left leg forward before I hit the ground. It hurt when I ran, it hurt when I classic skied and it hurt when I sat for long periods of time. I would often go into a massage therapist and ask them to work on nothing but that of the 3 muscles in the hamstring group was so tight it kept me up at night.

This spring presented a new opportunity in the form of a USOC health insurance plan. Thanks to Brian making the 2014 Olympic Team he was given the choice of whether or not he wanted the coverage (that I as his wife would also receive) that is offered to all athletes who participated in the 2014 Games. For Brian and I it was an obvious decision and we applied immediately. With the new insurance plan activated I made my first Dr.'s appointment while I was still racing in AK so I could get home and see someone as soon as possible.

Fast forward to today and I have found out through an MRI and countless reviews from incredible Doctors and PTs all over the country that I have a partial avulsion at the proximal insertion of my left hamstring. There is a small section still hanging on but the other portion has retracted about a centimeter. Unfortunately the only way to heal an injury like this is surgery and the recovery from surgery is upwards of a year or more for an elite athlete. With World Cup starts on the horizon this fall there was no way I could go through surgery and be ready to compete for a spot on the 2015 World Championship Team.

With the help of Brian and some amazing friends I have decided to GO FOR IT! and not let my injury limit my potential this season. In past years I stayed far away from classic intensity and even further away from classic racing.  This fall I need to come out of gates charging and racing well in both distance classic as well as classic sprinting if I want to make the World Champs Team. I developed a great plan with the help and support of the best TEAM I could ever imagine behind me here in the Twin Cities!

Matt Miller of Horse Power Strength and Conditioning is my strength coach! I started working with him last summer and I LOVE every minute of my time in his gym. The attitude and effort of everyone I meet at Horse Power is incredible and it is hard not to be motivated with this group, This year Brian is joining me and he agrees that Matt has his programs dialed and we are in the best place possible! Matt knows about my injury but pushes me through the training in a smart way!

One of the best coaches I have ever worked with!
Getting Strong for sprinting!
This spring and summer I have also been in the amazing hands of the PT's and PTA's at Ortho Rehab Specialist in downtown Minneapolis.  We have figured out what my limitations are and I am meeting them 3 days a week to push through my weaknesses and become as balanced as possible! So far I have worked with Jennifer, Mark, Brittany, Michelle and Billy and they are all extremely knowledgeable and resourceful! The best PT group around!

Jennifer Martin is a brilliant PT and also a tremendous ambassador for female athletes! She started a great organization behind her slogan "You just got Chicked." I was honored to represent the organization at my recent Ski to Sea race with my teammates and I wear my t-shirt EVERYWHERE now:
Mark is setting me up on the Cybex machine where we tested and measured my strength and weaknesses of my left hamstring and glute.
In the pain cave but getting stronger safely!
Adding Pilates into the routine as well!
Becoming stronger and more flexible!
With all my strength and PT work as well as my time spent outside logging hours of running, bounding and rollerskiing I was in need of a Massage Therapist who knew how to work with athletes! I found one at Podium Sports Therapy with Dana Rutt!!! She is amazing and every time I leave her office I preform better the next day! Brian has started seeing her too and he agrees that she knows how to work on athletes! Dana has been helping me with my tightness and flexibility around my injured leg. The idea is too keep everything else functioning well so that I do not get additional injuries from compensating for my weakness on the left side. Having completed in Ironman Triathlons helps Dana understand exactly where we are coming from in terms of fatigue and the need for rejuvination as well!

Team Gregg with Dana in her foam rolling room! The best recovery room EVER!

Thanks to the great support of the USOC Medical Network I was able to connect with Dr. Andy Klein a local Chiropractor who served as the head Chiropractor for Team USA at the 2000 Sydney Olympics! He is incredible and has great enthusiasm and energy for working with athletes! He has helped insure that through all my rehab my body is staying aligned and balanced! He has a fantastic approach to his work and I have had a blast working with him. I am not sure how but he seems to find the minor details that lead to big blocks in my efficiency of movement.

My fellow New Yorker (NYC) who moved to the Midwest
Of course I would not be where I am today without the unyielding support of Piotr Bednarski and the programming and opportunities from the Loppet Foundation. I have been having a blast working with the local junior and competition team members all fall and early summer and Love sharing my passion and excitement with all of them. I am so proud to call LNR (Loppet Nordic Racing) my home club and represent them around the country and world!

Piotr getting me out on the bike!
The LNR Comp Team joining Team Gregg for a rollerski from Wirth Park!
Last but not least is my awesome husband Brian Gregg who has been the best support out there! We are sharing a pretty unique experience by both being Elite Cross Country Skeirs and chasing our dreams outside of National Team support! We just finished up a 30 hour week and it's hard to describe how tired, hungry and satisfied we are at the end of it. Tomorrow we start off the week with Adventure Camp for the 15 kids from the Jerry Gamble Boys and Girls Club! It should be a great week for them and with a few rest days on our schedule we are looking forward to getting out and coaching them at the rollerski station!