Monday, May 4, 2015

What a weekend!!!

It takes a lot to get 14 kids to the start line but it's all worth it :)
Wow, last weekend was a blast. Brian and I are always trying to increase the level of our fitness but we are also trying to increase the impact of our community service work and leave an even bigger impression on the kids at the Boys and Girls Club. Our Run Club has grown to over 80 kids now and the total mileage is over 500 for the just the month of April!!! Our goal with the program is to introduce the kids to a way of life. We want them to enjoy the process of setting goals, achieving them and then make even bigger goals. Saturday was the Go Spring! Trail run hosted by Endurance United at Battle Creek Park in St. Paul. Endurance United generously let all of the kids (and Brian and I) join the event for free!

Only kids who have been a regular part of Run Club were allowed to sign up for the event and there were a lot of kids who were had to be turned away because we had reached capacity. We use the Boys and Girls Club van and a parent volunteer's car so we were limited in seats. In the end 14 kids came out to event and everyone FINISHED :)

One of the best ways to ensure everyone is ready to go at 7AM with food in their bellies and dressed for running is to have the kids spend the night at the Boys and Girls Club the night before! THAT was something else!!! Brian, our awesome parent volunteer Kim and I took on the task of a night at the Club! We all slept on the floor and perhaps the word "slept" is a bit of an exaggeration. The kids were soooo excited to have a sleep over that it was hard to get them to actually sleep :)

Starting off the weekend!
 We worked hard to make sure that all the kids were fed well before during and after the event! A hungry kid is a grumpy kid and thankfully we nailed the food! Noodles and Company graciously donated a pre-race pasta feed for everyone and the kids began their weekend of healthy eating and team building.

Thank You to Noodles and Company!
We wanted to emphasize the idea of Team so everyone sat down together and enjoyed a pre-race meal. 
Brian serving the pasta!
Angel, hungry and happy!
Jacqui loving her meatball!
The girls sharing the moment.
 After dinner we cleaned up and headed to the TV room to watch Cool Running (the story about the Jamaican Bobsled team) and make T-Shirts for the event. I have a degree in Fine Arts and this is one of my favorite projects to do with the kids before an event. Everyone gets a shirt and has their name and some fun designs to show their excitement for the upcoming race.

Jacqui's Shirt!
The "scene" during the T-shirt making!
Elycia's shirt captured her essence she said :)
Lavon proudly displaying how many miles he had completed before the race. It says 28! He is 5 and has the most miles of anyone in Run Club. He is not the fastest but he comes everyday and works very hard.

The morning of the race we woke up at 6:30 and gathered all of our stuff and headed over to St. Paul. We stopped at Bruegger's Bagels because the donated two dozen bagels for breakfast!!! The kids were starving after a long night and the bagels were the perfect pre-race fuel.

After breakfast watching the other racers arrive from up on the hill!
Brian handing out race numbers!
Warm-up time!
Pre-race stretching.
 Brian and I focus a lot on creating a sense of pride for our North Minneapolis community. We want to show that you can achieve great things and love where you live in North Minneapolis. We created a cheer to spread the message and get the kids fired up for their race!

We had a number of volunteers come out and pair up with a kid for the event! Thank you to the St. Kate's school of Public Health, the Endurance United Juniors and of course to Kim, our parent volunteer, for coming out and running the 5K with the kids.

Brian and I got to race the 10K and we loved being able to see the kids out on course during their event and cheer them on. We also think it is important for them to see Brian and I in action. Brian and I were both able to win the 10K events and the kids were impressed to know us. It's hard for the kids to totally understand what we do when we are traveling around the world racing (and even winning medals) but they are inspired when the get to WATCH us race in person!

Lapping through for my second 5K
Everyone finished the 5K and although some thought it was the hardest thing they had ever done they still lined back up for the kids 1K event :)

Ready to go and Focused!
Still psyched to run more!
Cheering our teammates into the finish!
The Boys and Girls Club kids have seen my medal already but it was fun for some of the other kids at the event to see it for the first time. Boobo also made an appearance and was a big hit!
Relaxing and waiting for the awards.
Checking out the podium.
Brian still smiling :)
After the race we all had plenty of fruit from Fruitshare our amazing Run Club snack sponsor but we were also ready for another meal. By the end of the event most of the kids had ran over 5 miles and they were starving again! Thankfully Davanni's Pizza donated a Pizza party for the kids!

Pizza Time!
Refueling and enjoying the cool indoors.
Lavon takes his Pizza seriously!
Kamaria, not so much!
More fun!
Still smilling!
Rocking the Bliz glasses!
Thank you to Davanni's! That was an epic feast!
Riding back to the Boys and Girls Club!
One minute later!
By the end of the event we had spent the last 21 hours together and mostly on the go! The kids were  great and I am sure their parents were thankful when they got home and fell right asleep happy, full and tired! Brian and I got home cleaned up and then fell asleep for a couple of hours ourselves.

I am sad that we are entering the last week of Run Club before we head to my first camp of the year in Park City, Utah. Amazingly we have been working hard to make sure that Run Club will continue while Brian and I are away!!! More to come...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Welcome Home Celebrations and catching up with sponsors and friends.

 I know I have said it a million times but it feels great to be home! The energy in the Twin Cities Nordic Community is at the highest I have ever seen! The excitement about two World Championships Medals has been contagious and overwhelming in the best of ways. Brian and I have been honored by the outpouring of congrats and we hope we get a chance to thank everyone (hopefully in person) while we are home.

One of our first stops back in the Twin Cities was at the new L.L. Bean Store at the Mall of America. L.L. Bean has been a great supporter of In-the-Arena and we couldn't be happier to represent them. We are particularly found of their home goods and rain gear! It was fun to see the new store after visiting the site last fall with Lincoln while shooting for a video showcasing Team Gregg's ITA work at the Boys and Girls Club and with LNR.
Made it to the Mall of America!
Speaking of LNR (Our home Club Loppet Nordic Racing), We had a wonderful evening sharing the success of our season and the historic medal with the Loppet Foundation last Monday. The event was not about Team Gregg and our results it was about the importance of the Loppet Foundation and all they do for the Twin Cities Community. If you haven't been to a Loppet Event (they have a ton throughout the year!) or have never been to their website you should! The Loppet Foundation is about much more than Elite Athletes winning medals, its about the entire community and promoting a healthy lifestyle to everyone within the community, especially those who live near Theodore Wirth Park in North Minneapolis. This event was held to help raise funds for an Activities Center that will be built in the heart of the Theodore Wirth Ski, Bike and Running Trails. The facility is badly needed to create a gathering area for the many events and to encourage new participants and users of the park. Brian and I are huge fans of the Loppet Foundation and all they do and we were honored to share our passion for their work with the community.

My long time Coach (and Friend) Piotr Bednarski talking about what Brian and I do with the local kids who are a part of LNR, Fast Kids, the Loppet Adventure Camp and the Boys and Girls Club.
At the end of the speech I was totally surprised by a gift from the Mayor of Minneapolis Betsy Hodges. It was a proclamation stating that April 13 was Caitlin Compton Gregg Day in the City of Minneapolis. I am extremely honored by the gift.
 John Munger (The Loppet Foundation's Executive Director) presenting the plaque.

 If you look closely and read what the Proclamation says there is VERY LITTLE about my actual ski results, instead it focuses on all of the work Brian and I do to help the community in which we live. This is the best part of who we are as athletes, we strive to give back in every way we can. We are both very passionate about the work we do beyond our ski racing and we know that all of the time we spend helping others makes us better athletes on the race course.
The Loppet Foundation also hosted a wonderful community celebration for me with footage from the World Championship 10K, Posters and cards to sign, lots of cake and of course many member of the ski community who wanted to come out and celebrate such and incredible milestone for our club! It was great to see so many friends and share my medal with the kids and adults who attended. There was a great question and answer time where Brian and I got to engage the audience with stories of our calculated approach to training and racing at the International Level on a fraction of the budget of our competitors. We call it the "Money Ball" approach.

Awesome reception at the Wirth Chalet.
Although many people came to Loppet Hosted Events we were thrilled to join our Local Sponsors for some more meet and greets of their own! Team Gregg has been working with Hoigaard's for the past two years and their support has been a key part of our ability to train and travel so well. We were again more than happy to share stories and answer questions about our training, racing and ITA work with those who came out.
Hanging with some of the Edina Ski Team who came out to see the medal!
Although Hoigaard's is our sponsored ski shop currently we could not be where we are without the ongoing support of the other local ski shops in the Twin Cities. Both Finn Sisu and Gear West have been behind Brian and I from the start and we are forever grateful for their continued support for us and all things Nordic in our Twin Cities Community.
Kevin Johnson from Finn Sisu!
Jan Guenther from Gear West!
Ahvo from Finn Sisu!
Being home as also meant that we can connect with other local sponsors. Fits Socks has been an awesome company to work with. David Olsen has been so generous and one of his friends even made a sock monkey out of Fits Socks (my favorite style and design) for me!
David, his wife, the monkey and me :)
Sock monkey (complete with FIS Medal) chilling with a Pineapple!
Returning home after 6 months on the road also means taking care of appointments that we can't while we are on the road. It was great to get into Dr. Bick's office for a teeth cleaning and check up! Dr. Bick donates his time to help Team Gregg and the MN Timberwolves! He was pretty excited about the Medal and our successful year (and the fact that Brian and I didn't have any cavities!).
The whole crew celebrating!
Of course Run Club continues to operate in full swing. We now have 58 kids on the board, which means they have to run a minimum of 3 miles to join! All together the Run Club crew has run over 300 Miles and it is still April!!! We are on record pace this year and the kids are having a blast!
The run club wall!
Only half the tally!
Every year we try to teach more and more about healthy eating!
Sharing our favorite meals of the day!
We had a special guest join us for run club last week. Lahti came and was a big hit! Everyone got a chance to "runjor" with him. He came home good and tired.

Run Club and Lahti!
Lahti leading the charge!
Our first one mile Time Trial of the year!
Handing out Popsicle sticks as they run through for their second lap of three!
Run Club at the MN Timberwolve's Game. The kids who came to the Crunch Run two weeks ago got to come with us to the game! It was a fun night but the home team lost :(
It's also been great to get back together with our friends and run on the trails of Theodore Wirth right out our back door! Training has started up again and the weather has been perfect!

Brian, Brent and Doug on a long trail run!

Xavier is an LNR Teammate and one of the toughest kids I knonw! I ran into him on the bike path as he was headed out for a 60 mile bike ride in 30mph winds! He also biked to strength last week in 40F and pouring rain (he lives 15 miles away!). He will be really good someday so keep and eye out for his name!
Cruising the Wirth trails with Lahti!
Since it is spring Brian and I try to get out and try new types of training. Matt Liebsch brought Team Gregg over to the Fix Studio for a Bike Interval Class indoors. Larry and Sophie (the owners) have been great supporters and they let us join their class for the day!

Brian, Sophie, myself and Larry in the Studio!
I had so much fun at the Fix interval class I decided to join them for their annual Urban Bike Camp. I had an absolute blast joining almost 30 other riders for daily workouts and skill portions! I learned a ton, got in some amazingly hard workouts and got to ride with super star Corey Coogan (Cycle Cross is her sport) for the weekend! More on this in a few days on Fasterskier.com

Fun to hang with former skier now biker Corey!