Sunday, August 23, 2015

Norwegian Summer Adventure

The crew heading out for a run with the Fonna Op (uphill running race) course in the background!

My last minute travel to Norway for the USST Camp and the Toppidrettsveka Rollerski Race Series was a fantastic decision. Throughout the summer I have only been able to train with the other ladies on the US Ski Team or the US Ski Coaches at "Official Training Camps." With only one camp on U.S. soil so fat this year in May (with a lot of testing thrown in) I was down to less than a week of technique and opportunities to be with the team. Brian and I made a big effort to live part time in Park City this summer (I was there for over 9 weeks!) but without official camps I found myself training mostly with the Local Wasatch Junior program and the Nordic Combined Team (both of which were awesome!!!).  I have an entire season on the World Cup this year and lots of technique to work on so the only option was to travel across the pond to Norway. Originally I was very nervous about the costs (especially since Brian and I had invested so much to be in Park City for so long and because I am on the B-Team) but thanks to the National Nordic Foundation and Brian's awesome ability to find flights, I was able to make it work out perfectly.

Psyched for the opportunity to do some intervals with someone! Liz and I did an L-4 skiathlon workout on the trails in Knyken!
The races here in Norway were also an important opportunity for me to participate in. With only 7.5K of skating in the 4 day series I knew I would have my work cut out for me racing against so many top athletes in classic skiing. I soon realized that my fitness is great right now (it can always be better but there is still time before the season starts!) but my classic technique needs quite a bit of work. My double especially was a huge limiting factor for me on the last day of the event. I found myself with plenty of energy and power but no way to transfer it to the endless flat double poling on the course. I hammered the steep uphill on every lap only to lose contact on the gradual ups/ downs and flat sections. When I looked at my watch after the race my average heart rate was only 156bpm, considering I did get it up to a max of 185bpm in the race it was obvious I was loosing a ton of time when I couldn't use my legs to propel me. Luckily we had a great PT named Laurie who was with us the entire time and she pointed out some major posture issues I need to correct in my double pole so that I can transfer my power much better and ski much faster. I have a lot to work on between now and the season but I am excited to get going. 

I am a master at taking my own lactates now!

We started out Classic Skiing and then switched to skating.

Feeling strong on the skate portion of the workout.
The other days of racing were a bit of a mixed bag for everyone on the team. It seemed as though everyone had a least one good race or event! My highlight came in the second half of the Skiathlon when I was able to hammer on the skate leg and have the fourth fastest time of the day behind Weng, Johaug and my teammate Liz! I was able to move up to 11th in the race but my poor first lap of classic required me to pass almost 20 people throughout the race. In my own defense (and the rest of the US Team) we were told to start conservatively on the first downhill and not leave our starting position until the bottom of the course. I was already put on warning for turning a bit too aggressively (Skating too many steps) in the Classic Sprint so I was really trying to follow the rules. Apparently no one else listened though and I soon realized what a mistake I had made when I was in last place at the bottom of the course. Lesson learned!!!

The first day of competition was a 5K uphill run followed by a classic sprint in the afternoon. It was a long day but I think I nailed my energy and recovery perfectly! The uphill run started off a bit slow for me but by the steep middle of the course I was feeling great and was able to pass about 10 girls. I was reeling in the next group of 4 women as we neared the top but was unable to close the gap before the finish. I ended up 9th (quite a ways out from first) but not too far from top 5!

The afternoon Classic Sprint was a race I was not too excited about because I have never been a strong classic sprinter but it was a good practice event and a bit of a mid-season reality check. I felt good but realize that I need to start focusing on shorter and harder classic double pole intervals. I feel like my strength is good but my stamina in double pole is really lacking and combined with the above posture problems I have no chance against the top women in the world on a fast flat course right now. I did make it into the rounds which is a first for me over here in Europe and quite a bit different than in the US. It seems as though the rounds in the US are usually really slow until the final 100 meters. Here and on the World Cup the women take it out hard from the gun and keep pushing up until the end. I much prefer going hard from the gun but I need to be able to get going at the speed first.

Fun to have fans over here in Norway!

Sophie after crushing her Classic Final!

Classic Sprinting in Aure

The start!

Just a few of the fans in Aure

Outside of the races I had a lot of great training opportunities with my teammates along some of the most beautiful roads I have ever skied on! The Vistas were filled with fjords, lakes, mountains, cute Norwegian houses and lots of farms with sheep and cows. Occasionally we found ourselves skiing alongside the cows and hoping they didn't do anything crazy at the last minute!

Sophie unimpressed by the cows

The cows checking Jessie out post workout

The final day of the races were held in Trondheim (downtown) and the crowds were amazing! over 50,000 people watched the races!!! That just blows my mind! Skiing is HUGE here!!! It was awesome to be recognized and asked for autographs and photos while I was walking down the streets and cheering for the U.S. boys!

We spent an extra day in Trondheim to ensure we are recovered before we head back over to the US! Luckily Connor Boldger from Wisconsin is working at the Olympic Sports Lab and Complex here in Trondheim so he gave a running tour through some trails and bogs and let us into the training facility to use the weight room!
The running crew overlooking Trondheim

Norwegian bogs and fjords on our run!

Walking into the Norwegian equivalent of the COE (this one is open to the public which is really cool!)

The GIANT treadmill at the training center

The camp is now over and I have one more day of exploring on my own before I head back to the US (tickets were way cheaper on Tuesday for me.) I am really excited to get home and see Brian and my Husky and sleep in my own bed. I am also excited to get to work on the second half of the preparation period before the first World Cups start in Kussamo in late November!!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Truckee Training Camp 2015

Sporting our new Madshus hats with pride!

 Team Gregg's 2015 Truckee Training Camp is in the books! Truckee and the surrounding areas has become one of my favorite places to train in the summer. Between the numerous training groups, Sugar Bowl Academy, Unleashed Coaching, Auburn Ski Club and more, there are endless training partners and workout opportunities. Add in some awesome terrain, amazing weather and the fantastic hospitality of my aunt and uncle who live there and the you got an ideal training and recovering scenario!

After two BIG weeks of training in Utah, a quick stop back in Minneapolis for some intensity training and the Fast and Female event, I had one more big week of training left in my monthly progression. I was able to make this past month my largest to date and I was very happy with the quality and capacity I was able to maintain throughout. My first week in Truckee was a big one with over 28 hours of training on the tail of two 25+ weeks already! Honestly the drop of 2,000 ft in altitude was very noticeable compared to our living and training base in Deer Valley for a good part of the summer. I have been focusing a lot on double pole this summer and I am really happy with my new strength and technique adjustments. I was able to "hang" with the boys on a few big workouts and tried to keep them in my sights on the interval days.

It was great to join up with Welly Ramsey for each workout!

Brian and I post Squaw Mountain Run with the Olympic Rings from the 1960 Olympics!

We ended the big week filled with 20 mile runs and long rollerskis with the annual Squaw Mountain run! I would not say our tapering for the race was very adequate but I was happy that both Brian and I were able to set PR's and Brian came away with a big win! My legs felt pretty heavy from a week of chasing the boys but my fitness feels good and I am humbled by Kristin who smoked the women's field again!

Drifter Time Trial. Not my best but still a very solid effort! I look a little too comfortable!

Brian crushing the uphill altitude running!

I saw a lactate of 17! after the Squaw Mountain Run! Not sure how accurate that one was but after 5 minutes it was still 7.7 mmol! Ouch!

After a lot of thought I realized that I haven't had a ton of time to train and travel with the US National Team this season. This is my first time on the US Ski Team and as a B-Team member I am invited to all the camps but responsible for my own expenses. Originally I had planned on attending all the camps and even a trip to Sweden to join the Summit Nordic Team for their camp but as I added up the costs and looked at the travel I was humbled by what the total would be. I realized that I had some major improvements to make in my fitness after a busy spring of working and volunteering and I needed to save some room in my budget for what is guaranteed to be my most expensive season (now that I am on the World Cup all year) ever!

Post Drifter Time Trial! I was psyched to get out with Annika again (we trained last year together in Truckee) and meet new training buddies (even if it was only for the suffer days). Thanks ladies for pushing me and keep shattering those PR's!!!
Post 19 mile run feed! I could have eaten the entire watermelon at this point but I was too tired!

With training going well and the incredible support of the National Nordic Foundation as well as some good advice from family and coaches I decided to make the trek to Norway this summer for the Toppidrettsveka races. I have to admit that the thought of traveling to Norway to participate in numerous classic rollerski events was (and still is) a bit daunting! My skate skiing is far stronger but I need to face the reality of my weaknesses and see where my progress and training has brought me so far this year. 

Brian helped me find a great flight from Sacramento to Trondheim and I joined up with National Team last night in Aure, Norway. This is my first time to Norway in the summer and I am excited (albeit a bit nervous) to train and race with the other US Athletes and Coaches by my side. I just finished up a solid recovery week (which was seriously needed) and I am excited to get in some good training sessions before the events kick off next week!

Best send off ever! Thanks Kelly and Fran!

Here is the breakdown of the race program that we will be following:

August 20th:
10:00 AM - Uphill Running 5K race - Fonna Opp Aure, Norway

2:30 PM - Classic Sprint Prologue - Aure, Norway
4:30 PM - Classic Sprint Finals - Aure, Norway

August 21st:
3:15 PM - 13.5K Skiathlon Race - Knyken, Norway

August 22nd:
4:00 PM - 15K Classic Pursuit Race - Trondheim, Norway

I want to send a HUGE THANK YOU to Fran and Kelly for hosting Brian and I and a HUGE THANK YOU to the training groups and athletes we joined in Truckee over the past two weeks! It's become a tradition to visit and I hope to keep coming back every year!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fast and Female at LL Bean Mall of America

Fast and Female came to Minneapolis for the first time ever with two power hours at the LL Bean store at the Mall of America. Since I have been training at altitude in Utah I made a special trip home for the event.  Fast and Female is a non profit started by 2006 Olympic Gold Medalist Chandra Crawford.  The goal of Fast and Female is to support, motivate, inspire and empower girls age 9 to 19 to stick to sports and the healthy lifestyle.   These goals align well with In The Arena and LL Bean.  LL Bean stepped up today as the presenting sponsor and even made the event today free.

Pretty cool to have all of the women who have won medals at the World Championships to lead the event

Gearing up for a big day and what do you know I am wearing 100% LL Bean

My day started early with my 3 hours distance run in the morning.  Plus I had to round up my Run Club girls who have really been looking forward to the event.  The Boys and Girls club is closed on the weekends which means a few can meet at the Club and others need to be picked up at home.  One family called me that their car had been towed the night before and the kids weren't going to make it, but a special trip up to New Brighton to pick them up and the van was full.  I am also really happy that my neighbor girls were able to come with to the event.
Video highlights from of the event

I came back a day early to get things in order.  I met up with the LNR girls for a group interval session up one of our favorite climbs in Afton.  Sarah just had her wisdom teeth pulled and couldn't train but came out and drove us down the hill.  Pretty cool to see how strong this group of girls has become.
Ladies pushing each other and having fun

Dialing in the training and is intensity especially on days when you are traveling and busy

Monday, July 13, 2015

None of us truly wins, until we all win!!

There was a farmer who grew excellent quality corn. Every year he won the award for the best grown corn. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors. “How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.
“Why sir,” said the farmer, “Didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.”
So is with our lives... Those who want to live meaningfully and well must help enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all...
-Call it power of collectivity...
-Call it a principle of success...
-Call it a law of life.
The fact is, none of us truly wins, until we all win!!
This story comes from a post one of my sponsors, Ian Harvey of Toko, had on his Facebook wall. Brian shared the story with me after he picked me up from the airport and the message was exactly how I felt after leaving Minnesota after an amazing couple of weeks at home training on my favorite trails and rollerski routes! My training while home in Minneapolis was as productive as it has ever been. I trained more hours, set numerous PR's and enjoyed some of the best summer weather I have ever witnessed since I moved to Minnesota 11 years ago! I am now back in Utah living at 8,200 ft for another altitude block with Brian but I can't wait to get back home
While I was home I found myself immersed in incredible opportunities to train with other skiers young and old! I did time trials, 4 hour runs, strength sessions, and distance all with great company. I guess the part of the story that resonates the most with me is the idea that everyone can raise the bar together if we work together. Collaborating with different age groups, different clubs, different coaches gave me (and hopefully them) tons of new ideas and inspiration! I like that I can truly say that so many people have been a part of my success! Perhaps that is why it was so important for me to share my medal when I got home from the World Championships this year. I hope to bring to the groups as much as I have received over the years!
Double Pole Time Trial with the Endurance United Masters Group!
My long time coach Piotr Bednarski always energetic and always smiling!

Running and Bounding with the LNR/ NMU ladies!

LNR has grown so much! 

Getting ready for the local Tri-Loppet Race with Alice Flanders CXC/ MTU!
My favorite group to train with Vakava Race Team. These guys have been letting me join them ever since I moved to MN! They are the most inspiring group of individuals I know!

LNR Coaches Piotr Bednarski, Dave Chamberlin, myself and Lahti!
My LNR running crew!

Coaching the girls up the Big Climb!

Love coaching these guys!
Making sure coach Lahti has enough water!
Long L-3 Running Intervals with Tom and Jan from Gear West!

Hard L-4 Intervals with the Minneapolis Ski Club!

Fun to share some stories with other clubs in the area!

Fun to learn and connect with other Olympians as well! Kevin Brochman has many of us beat with 2 Olympic appearances!

Loppet Adventures "Adventure Center Day" The community has been rallying and the Loppet Foundation has been working hard to getting a building to base all of  it's programming and activities out of. I love being a part of such an incredible club with visions beyond just racing.

Training with Audrey! She is an animal! Full-Time U of M Dental Student who can still charge for 3+ hours on rollerskis! Impressive. 
Cheryl and Rob just ran the Superior Trail Race at just under 30 miles this past weekend. I helped them on a 4 hour training run! It was the last workout of a 32 hour week for me so I was psyched when I learned they were planning the same workout!

Of course nothing would complete my summer training without spending lots of quality time at the Jerry Gamble Boys and Girls Club. We now have over 135 kids who have run over 1,117 miles since this April when we got home from the season. The hardest part about leaving home is leaving these kids behind! They are so fun and I learn so much from them every time we meet. Thankfully we now have 3 awesome volunteers who help keep Run Club going while Team Gregg is away. We finally decided it was time to update the Run Club chart midway through the summer because so many kids were joining and many were off the chart!
I spent far too long counting, calculating and re-writing names but the new chart is beautiful and it highlights the Run Club All-Stars. The All-Stars have run the most miles so far this year! I also love doing projects like this so I enjoyed every minute (even if I was a little tired for my intervals the next day).
Making the Charts at home late at night!
The finished charts!
The 2015 Run Club charts and Kim Jones our amazing volunteer. She has now given up smoking and has run 20 miles so far this summer herself! Notice that there is still room to grow on the right side of the wall!

My buddy Jackie! She is one heck of a runner! We just have to make sure she stays our of trouble so she can keep coming to practice at the Club :)

Hanging out after practice with the fruit of the day! Once again a huge shout out to Everett Myers and Fruitshare for all the fruit they provide for the kids! 
We don't stop on rainy days! The big "Plank-Off"
Sharing stories and trading cards from my season.