Sunday, October 19, 2014

Warrior Dash World Championships!!!

This past weekend Brian and I pack up our bags to start our winter racing season...first we made a quick stop in Sacramento, CA though. Earlier this summer I won a free entry into the Warrior Dash World Championships by winning the Southern California event. My sister and I raced it while I was visiting her and my other siblings after last year's Super Tour Finals in Anchorage, AK.

Brian was going to come and join me for support but then decided he would Dash for the Cash too! First place was $30,000! We figured that it would be an awesome experience and we had no idea how we would do but we would never know unless we tried! One part of my racing career I have always embraced is the opportunity to support myself and my ski racing to the fullest before ever asking for help with funding. I am very proud of how hard Brian and I work to make this the reality and how grateful we are when we come up short for a major event and our great supporters are there to help us go all the way!

The Warrior Dash event this past weekend was nothing new for me, I have been competing in multiple sports to support myself for many years! In College I competed in Cross Country Running in addition to Nordic Skiing so that I could maximize my scholarship and put myself through school. In 2007/ 2008 I enjoyed the opportunity to compete in Biathlon and learned a ton about Nordic Skiing by working with the incredible US Biathlon coaches and traveling on the World Cup circuit with them. So it comes to no surprise to those who know me that I would enter an event to try and make some money to support my upcoming World Cup season!

Making More Mud!!!
Once word got out that Brian and I were headed to CA there were a lot of family members, most of whom lived in CA, that wanted to come and watch the action. Brian's parents, brother and sister-in-law also came to find out what the race was all about.

To describe the course I would have people think about the most difficult Cross Country Running race EVER! Than throw in 12 obstacles, including mud, tires, walls, more mud, balance beams, water and finally more mud! It was unbelievably fun but also exhausting. It's one thing to complete the obstacles when you are fresh or even running at an easy pace but after sprinting hard for 2 miles it makes some of the smallest rope ladders seem to last forever!
Brian after his race.
The event was mass start and the competition was by invitation or qualification only. Brian was lucky to get in without having to compete in a previous event based on his running times and previous racing resume! The Olympic starts certainly helped! The caliber of athletes who showed up were amazing and it was fun to meet many of them on the walk through of the course the day before. Brian raced first and I was able to see him finish and get a quick course report from him! He finished 12 overall and told me he couldn't believe how hard the course was.

Fire, balance beams, water!
Swim, crawl, get stuck! It was all possible in this obstacle!
Just a little mud out there! My shoes weighed about 10 pounds each!
 My race went okay. I have been feeling a little tired lately and I think all the events, clinics and appearances as well as some of my hardest training ever, finally caught up to me. I was a bit slow off the line but picked gals off as we ran almost a mile straight up hill. I reached the bottom of "goat wall" a super steep section just after the mile in 9th place and moved up to 4th just over the top. I was pretty stoked! Although the top two girls had taken off I could see the next ladies just ahead of me at the first obstacle. I rolled as fast as I could and sacrificed knees and elbows on the hard ground! By the next obstacle I could hear a girl climbing quickly on the rope beside me and as I through my leg over the top of the wall to climb down I witnessed her just jumping off the whole thing! Yikes! These girls weren't messing around. I managed to catch her again but as we entered the mud pits I hesitated. I watched as some of the girls who were just ahead were leaping as hard as they could to span the gap over the mud only to then see, and hear them, miss the other side and come crashing down into the mud. I jumped, missed, and found myself waist deep in some seriously thick mud struggling to just get out of the first pit! I watched as two girls jumped over me and left me fumbling around in the muddy hole. I finally made it out and proceeded to jump the next two only to fall into and climb out of the next three. 

The rest of the race went well from there on out. I spent most of the next few obstacles side by side with Clou Godbout, a Canadian Biathlete and recent winner of the Spartan World Championships! I managed to gap her on the net tunnels thanks to my practice on the nets with Brian, Matt Liebsch, Sven Krouese, Andy Brown and Josh Doubert at French Park last week!!!

I could never make back up the time I lost in the first muddy obstacle and finished 7th overall which was still pretty fun. I will definitely be back next year for more of these events! Unfortunately the money only went down to 5th place so both Brian and I left without any cash for our ski season but a pretty fun adventure to talk about for a long time!

Before and After the showers!
Chad and Liet
Team Gregg Cheering Crew!

We boarded a plane at 6 AM this morning and have now settled in to our place here in Canmore, Canada. Tomorrow we will be skiing!!! I love that I get to spend these trips with my husband and that so many of our adventures are together! We are both pumped to get on snow even if it is only a few kilometers. We look forward to getting out and training with the local ski club here as well. The weather is great and I know there are some sweet mountains to climb around here. Right now I am enjoying my day off from training and stretching A LOT of sore muscles I never knew I had!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Why we LOVE Minnesota (the whole Mid-West actually!)

Team Gregg loves living, training and giving back to the community that helped us reach our Olympic Goals. We realize that we were not born in Minnesota but we definitely "Made" here. It is no coincidence that we both made Olympic Teams with Minnesota driver's licenses in our wallets :) It is this reason that we owe so much to the ski community who helped foster our passion for Cross Country Skiing and has helped us realize that the Olympics were only the tip of the ice burg to follow! We certainly believe that we would not have reached our potential without the awesome support of the entire Mid-West community and the sponsors, both old and new, who have helped us through the good (fast) and bad (not so fast) times! Thank You for all your commitment to Team Gregg!
Team Gregg at Super Tour Finals last year with our current sponsors! One more to be added to the list and announced soon!
The Best part of the Twin Cities ski community has to be all of the programs and events that take place throughout the year and are connected in some way to Nordic Skiing. I have been coached by Piotr Bednarski since I first came to Minneapolis 10 years ago and I still love getting out and pushing my limits at his daily practices! This year has been awesome because the Loppet Nordic Racing Comp Team has let both Brian and I join them as much as we want :)

LNR Comp Team at the Afton Fall Fair after a tough 8K Time Trial

Some of the fasted ladies in the country!
Leading a Minnesota Youth Ski League (MYSL) practice with Brian.
Getting ready for some skate drills!

Working on our hops...
and our tucks!
Brian and I have always loved the mission of The City of Lakes Loppet Foundation and we are so glad to be a part of the family even more this year! The Loppet has so many fantastic events throughout the year and we love how they try to reach out to North Minneapolis (where we live) because it boarders Theodore Wirth Park! The impact of The Loppet Foundation is undeniable and we hope to spread it even further!

Awesome Loppet Member Event at Cedar Lake
We all paddled the chain of lakes on the most beautiful evening of the year!
Awesome to leave the hustle and bustle of the city while being in the middle of the city.

We are not very good at paddling together but we have fun :)
There are very few days when I cannot find someone who is excited to get out and train with me. This past Wednesday morning was no exception. Despite temps in the 40's and pouring rain these tough ladies joined me for a strength and stretch session! I am sure there were a few sore abs afterwards. 

Smiles all around.
 I am also grateful for the numerous events around the Twin Cities outside of the Ski Community, although I always seem to run into skiers there too ;) The Autumn Trail Series was an awesome chance to get out and make myself run hard with a large group of people through the woods. It was my 20th intensity session in the past 3 weeks and I was feeling a bit sluggish! Thankfully the group got me going and I was able to nail my workout!
Stair Climbing friends!
Chloe from LNR at the race too!
Of course there are days when I head out the door with my favorite training buddy Lahti! He has been pretty excited about the cooler weather and he can tell snow is on the way!

Not too interested in my socks! Just wants to run!
 On Thursday I joined the LNR Comp team while they ran intervals and cheered them along! It was an awesome obstacle course loop that was set up for the Fast Kids Race later that afternoon. It was fun to run laps on it and make sure it was extra muddy and slippery for the little guys!

Crushing it!
Keeping the Fast Kids moving and warm in the pouring rain before their start!

Awesome Hurdles!

Great group of kids for a rainy rainy day!
This past weekend LNR did an epic 4 hour workout in Afton. The rollerskiing and trail running is my favorite in the entire country! We classic skied for two hours and then switched to running shoes and ran for two more! No one even hinted at being tired or wanting to slow down! We totally aced the day!

Gearing up!
Finally cold enough for tights.
Half way through we posed with some sports drink.
Today Brian and I lead another MYSL clinic at the Hiawatha Park in South Minneapolis. The turnout was a little smaller with the colder temperatures but everyone had a great time and learned a lot!

Brian giving a goal setting talk to both parents and kids.
Brian teaching everyone how to use the speed ladder.
They all learned fast. 
Brian showing his moves...
Teaching his moves to others... 
and then having them rock them on their own!

Everyone worked on agility, technique and speed today.
Brian and I decided to wear our Olympic Outfits together. Here I am wearing my racing suit and podium jacket.

Brian is also wearing his race suit and training jacket. It was fun to share them with the kids!
Only a few more weeks until we leave for Canmore, AB and Frozen Thunder (snow rolled out from last year)! We both decided to stay home in the Mid-West instead of heading out for the USST Park City Camp that is starting this week. Here we get to sleep in our own bed, play with our dog and train more with the LNR crew and other groups! Let us know if you want to come out and join us!!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Two weeks in the Life of Team Gregg!

It's been a busy two weeks filled with all kinds of travel and events but I wouldn't want it any other way! Here is a "short" recap of what life as Team Gregg is like!

Manhattan from Queens! It's amazing how big the "Big Apple" really is! Still think it's crazy I decided to become a winter athlete from here :) 

The first of many doctor's offices with my dad for his cancer treatments and appointments. 

Hanging with my dad in the waiting area.

The Freedom Tower built to remember the 911 disaster. I still remember walking through the area as a kid (one of my grandmother's lived in Battery Park) and seeing the Twin Towers. It's weird to not see them now.

Manhattan from Brooklyn. 
Testing new beans and roasting.
The next day Brian and I were at practice with the Loppet Nordic Racing Comp Team. It's been great to see how well these athletes are all doing this year! They are so dedicated and work super hard! I know they are going to have great results again this winter!
Back home to Minneapolis and straight to practice with LNR!

The girls I train with most!

They are FAST!!!
After a short few days at home, I packed up again and headed up to Duluth, MN for the North Shore Inline Marathon. At the last minute I decided to rollerski the event instead of inline skate it. Brian however, has been practicing and was excited for the challenge!
Never too old to share a tasty treat!

Working the Expo in Duluth!

Hanging out with Carmi our Madshus/ K2 marketing director from Seattle.

Hanging out with Herb from Toronto who is part of the Hoigaard's inline team.

Bus ride to the start!

My Birkie Buddy Henry Reich from Marine, MN

Brian, never afraid to try something new!
An awesome XC Skiing gang representing up in Duluth!
The course was awesome and the weather perfect! I can't believe more Rollerskiers do not participate in the event. I am definitely going back to do it next year if I am in town and I hope to bring even more skiers with me!
So much fun to run into so many familiar faces!
It was great to run into Racheal again at the North Shore Inline Marathon. She was a grad-student at St. Cloud State two years ago and helped Brian and I with our VO2Max and Sub-Max tests! She was fired up to see how well our season's went last winter too!

Awards ceremony
After the awards ceremony and a quick run Brian and I had Henry, Andre, Jana and Greta over for a delicious dinner on the grill. Andre Watt was part of the CXC Team with Brian and I the first couple of years and it is always fun to get together and reminisce about the memories we shared training and racing together.

Great dinner with friends!
On Sunday Brian, Henry and I joined up with the Saint Scholastica Ski Team for their annual 5K and 10K time trails. The course had a little construction on it (100 meter double pole through dirt) and a serious head wind, but Brian and I were able to set new course records for the college kids to chase down! Chad Salmela invited us over for a pancake breakfast after the Time Trial at Josh and Kate Tesch's house. We had a blast hanging out with the group and talking about Skijoring, training and snow predictions! Chad is the voice of Nordic Skiing for NBC at the Olympics so he knows quite a bit about all the World Cup competitors Brian and I will race again this season.

Lincoln Benedict from LLBean came to town on Monday to film and take photos of our community work at the Boys and Girls Club and our involvement with the Loppet Foundation. We had a blast showing him the neighborhood by bike and immersing him in Run Club. The kids were psyched to have another person to cheer them on.

Ready to train for Warrior Dash on the playground

Chilling in front of the Run Club board with photos from the previous week's race!
 This weekend we ran the City of Lakes Trail Loppet event. We usually both run the 1/2 Marathon but I am training for shorter races this year so Brian was the only Team Gregg member in the long race. I stuck to the short and fast 5K. Both of us ran well but felt like we were missing that last gear in our running legs. Needless to say the event is always a blast and to have a quick 5 minute run or 2 minute bike to the start is the Best!!!!
Tons of bike commuting to the Trail Loppet start! So awesome. 

The start of the 13.1K
 We also helped out at the Hoigaard's Annual Tent Sale this weekend. Hoigaard's has been a great sponsor of Team Gregg for the past two years and we love helping them get more people out the door ready to take on winter! It's always fun to set people up with equipment after such a good snow year the year before. Excitement for Nordic Skiing is high and I can't wait for the snow to fly.
Great friends from Washburn High School at the Hoigaard's Sale Tent!

Our favorite socks Fits Socks! (A very important part of our wardrobe!!!)

Sharing our love of skiing with happy customers.

Continuing the great tradition of skiers and representatives (Madshus) of the sport! 
 On Sunday Brian and I went out to Afton to join the Vakava Team for their weekly OD. I have been joining up with this group for the past 9 years!!! Although I have never been on the official team roster, they have also welcomed me with open arms and taken me in as one of their own! In 2009 the Vakava crew were behind my fundraiser that helped me get to the races I needed to qualify for the 2010 Olympics! They are all awesome and I regard them as family! I am so lucky to have such great friends in skiing!
Getting to spend a Sunday OD with one of my greatest friends and supporters Cheryl Dubois!!!