Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas time in the Methow

For the past couple of years I have been having Christmas in the Methow with the Gregg family. This year, I am now having Christmas in the Methow as family!

I finished up my first series of races last weekend in Silver Star, British Columbia. I am happy with how the first 9 races of the season went but I still have almost 30 more to go! I am happy to say that I learned a lot about technique, tactics and especially my fleet of skis. After the ski season is over I am always so grateful that running requires so little in terms of equipment. I am now in the final preparation of the year before US Nationals and the biggest races on the calendar. Once I finished my race in Silver Star on Sunday I drove with the entire Gregg family back to the Methow Valley of Washington. The drive was about 5 hours and I was thrilled to be packed in the mini-van so we could all share stories and catch up again.

This past week in the Methow has been priceless. Last year Brian and I stayed in Canada for another weekend of racing in Rossland, B.C. and came down to the Methow a week later. The extra week in the Valley has allowed me to recover from the past 9 races, spend time with family and friends and start my taper program before Nationals.

My taper plan involves recovery, volume, intensity, drop in volume and intensity and then racing. I have used this plan with a lot of success over the past 4 years for various events like US Nationals, the Olympics and the Birkie. I know it well, and even more importantly, respond well to it. Once I had taken a few days off I started building up my volume. Thankfully as much of the country, including Minneapolis and Maine, have been without the snow, the Methow has plenty and the skiing is fantastic! I have been able to ski over 4 hours a day on beautifully groomed trails, perfect conditions and most importantly with my family! Skiing is a family and community affair here in the Methow and if you are going to socialize you may as well be skiing at the same time. I spend a lot of my ski greeting familiar faces and catching everyone up on our (Brian and I) house and time together since the wedding.

High up on the Rendezvous

Alieta (my sister-in-law and me skiing together!

Alieta and me at the top of the pass (high point)
Skiing around the country and the world would not be possible without the great memories and opportunities I have shared here in the Methow Valley with the Greggs.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Racing Again!

Santi and me before our first ski of the year!

Awaiting the awards ceremony

The St. Bernard at the Christmas Stroll in downtown Bozeman, MT

After 7 races I have been able top stay among the top 6

Brian and I ready to head to the next adventure!   
The season has started and I am feeling great. My fitness is right where I want it and I am looking forward to the next month before US Nationals. So far we have raced 7 races here in Montana and tomorrow we depart for Silver Star, B.C. After another weekend of racing Brian and I will head to the Methow Valley (where we were married!) for the Holidays and to prepare for Nationals. I am already excited to spend some time at the Gregg home. The racing has been going great so far and I am excited about the improvements I have made this summer and fall. It feels good to be racing and traveling again. Brian and I are very blessed to have the opportunity to share this adventurous life together! Onward...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Washburn Highschool Captains Pracitce

This past week has been one of the busiest weeks I can remember before the ski season starts! With my biggest week behind me (almost 26 hours!) and one recovery week till I left, I thought I would be cruising till the long van ride out west. Boy was I wrong. The week started with my 31st Birthday on Monday, I spent the morning alone skiing and running for 4 hours and fifteen minutes!!! It was a beautiful day and I loved every minute of it. As soon as I got home I rushed off to my first clinic of the week!

As Tuesday rolled around I had an off day from training but the whole day was filled with errands for the rest of the fall and early winter travel. Brian and I attend a Minneapolis Park Board meeting that discussed the future of Theodore Wirth Park (the park we live by) and what would become of silent sports within the park boarders. We brought Jerry, Quinn, Adanis, Javarii, Neshaa, and Antarea to speak on behalf of the local youth. The kids are excited about the possibility of a mountain biking facility that would allow them to meet up and use bikes whenever they want.

Wednesday was another training day, speeds with Audrey! Followed by a clinic with the Washburn High School Ski Team. Brian and I both went and lead the group on a 2 mile run followed by agility and plyos in the gym. We made the kids work and they were all sore the next day.

Thursday was a great day of training with the boys.

Friday was training and working at the super fit event.

Saturday was a 5K race followed by more work

Sunday...Well today I am exhausted. I could only train a little bit this morning and my legs are beat. Hopefully I bounce back before next week!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Two Weeks

We only have two weeks left until we depart for the start of the 2011/2012 race season. This year's season has me starting out in the usual spot West Yellowstone, MT. Every year there is an influx of Nordic enthusiasts who flock to the small tourist  town outside of Yellowstone National Park. This year, like past years, I will be heading out early with the CXC Team Van to acclimate to the 7,000 ft elevation. There currently isn't any snow on the ground but hopefully this week will bring a few storms.

Getting Ready for the first ski of the year (Last Year)
The pilgrimage to West Yellowstone always starts with an epic drive from the Mid-West across the plains and mountain ranges to the center of the North American ski world just outside of Bozeman, MT. This year there will only be one coach and six athletes heading out to the first races. The size of the group has to do with the coat f the trip. We will be spending over a month out west and the expenses can get pretty high.

I am excited to be skiing through powder again soon.

I am excited to see snow, to ski tons of kilometers and of course start racing. Brian and I have two time trials to gauge our fitness coming up. I will update one more time before we leave with some photos and results from these races.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Training with the Boys

I have been living and training in Park City, Utah these past two weeks with  the CXC Team. This is our first altitude camp this year and I was psyched to get the opportunity to go UPHILL for more then 4 minutes at a time! There were lots of athletes here from many of the other teams including the US Ski Team. Sun Valley, Maine Winter Sports Center and Team F.A.S.T.

The two weeks were filled with lots of training and lots of intervals. Brian and I came straight here from a 3 day clinic in Chicago so we were ready for some training. I was very pleased with how well my body adapted to the altitude and handled the intensity. I spent most days training with some of the top women in the US (many of whom are headed over to the World Cup in a few weeks) and felt like I was able to benefit from having other women who could challenge me day to day. The camp also included two Time Trials, a 10K Classic and a Skate Sprint. I felt great for both of them and finished 4th in the 10K (3rd American) and 2nd in the Skate Sprint. These results are very promising and I am excited about returning home to Minneapolis to complete my final preparations before the ski season starts!!!

The highlight of my camp however, was training with the boys (my husband too!). I headed out on a 15 mile run in the mountains with some of the top guys in the country and only saw one keep up! Otherwise I would be one lost "city-slicker" running around as cougar bait. I felt great and think the added intensity was a good confidence booster. Today we headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon out of Salt Lake City and climbed 4,500 feet. Again I was able to stay with the boys for most of the workout and feel like my race fitness is well within reach.

One of the many switchbacks!

Trying to follow in stride with the "Big Boys"
Running for my life high up in the Uinta Mountains!

I return home to Minneapolis tomorrow and hit the ground with another clinic a few hours after I land. It's a tough schedule but it allows me to keep skiing and racing as fast as I can! I also think the work makes me appreciate the time I am in camp and helps me make the most of it!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Healthy Eating

As athletes we know the value of a healthy lifestyle with nutritious meals. Everyday we focus on getting the vital nutrients that help us reach the height of our potential and prevent us from getting sick. Our diets are filled with a variety of color and a variety of flavors. Thankfully Brian and I live less then a mile from the Minneapolis Farmer's market. We visited the market on our OFF morning gathering lots of fruits and vegetables that would feed us for the following two weeks at home in Minneapolis.

This is what the Farmer's market looks like on a Monday morning. Saturday is the main day for the market and it is packed! Brian and I enjoyed the slower pace of the morning crowd and took our time sampling the delicious offerings.

 We see our neighborhood kids almost everyday, either at the park, or at our front door. While we have been encouraging them to become active we have noticed that they soak up everything we tell them like sponges. So we decided that feeding them Popsicles and gummy bears might not get the entire message across. Of course popsicles and gummy bears are delicious but they weren't very nutritious. So I decided it was time to offer them healthier options with their activities. Brian and I had two huge boxes of apples and oranges that were donated to us after the North Shore In-line and Rollerski Marathon. The kids were psyched to see all the fruit and stopped by just to get a piece of fruit some days!!!
I managed to get a few pounds of ground elk from a supplier that was going out of business and decided to make chili with some of it. Gerry, Javaree and Quinn were thrilled to sit down to a nice chili dinner with Brian and I until I accidentally put too much cayenne pepper in the pot. Despite the cayenne pepper and the tons of beans and veggies with the Elk meat, the boys ate their dinner and laughed and smiled at the dinner table. We were all sweating by the time we finished.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Drummond, WI

I have spent almost two weeks every month in Cable, WI this summer. I have to say that staying at Telemark Lodge is a bit like living in a hotel (well I guess it is a hotel) but with my husband and husky there with me it felt more like a second home. With so much time at the Lodge I got to know the staff and crew he keep the place running and clean pretty well. That's why when I met JD I thought he looked a little out of place.

JD is 12 years old. I often saw him riding his bike on the access road to the lodge. He wore a baggy sweatshirt over his head and didn't really seem like talking. So when I began talking to him last week he looked at me as though he was confused. I introduced myself and asked what he was doing hanging out at Telemark? He had a disappointing look as though he had lost something. "Not much," he said. It was like pulling teeth to get him to talk. I asked if his parents worked there and he said "no". I then changed the subject and asked him if he wanted to pet my husky (named Lahti)? JD's eyes lit up and he suddenly noticed Lahti and asked what kind of dog he was. Lahti was happy to get the attention and began wagging his tail. Suddenly JD started talking!

He told me that he lived down the street and that he biked to the lodge to swim when he was bored. He said he was in the seventh grade at Drummond High School. I asked if he had ever been XC skiing and he said "only a few times, I snowboard." He noticed my shirt and asked if I was in the Olympics. I said yes and I have never seen someone react like JD did. "Really?" "Really Really?" "Wow!" He then asked for my autograph and began asking all kinds of questions about XC Skiing and the Olympics. He then asked me a question that changed his whole life. "Would you come to my school and be my show and tell?" "Sure," I said!
JD was speechless and we called his PE teacher right then. Mrs. Fry was psyched and I had a visit the next day!

On Thursday morning I trained for a few hours and then drove over to the Drummond, WI Highschool to meet JD and Mrs. Fry. Here are some photos from the visit...

Question and Answer Time!
Let's Get Moving!!!
Everyone loved the stretches
Especially Me!
Mrs. Fry, JD, Me and Jacob (These guys had their serious guy smiles on!)
I signed autographs and the kids signed a Drummond T-Shirt for me!

I had such a blast at the Drummond High School and I cannot wait to get back there again this winter. I am also going to be keeping in touch with JD throughout the year and hopefully get him out skiing!!! Thanks Mrs. Fry and your entire Seventh Grade PE Class for letting me come and teach you about being an Olympic Athlete and Goal Setting!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rollerskiing with Friends

Sundays are the usual day of the week that our CXC Team does an Over Distance workout. These workouts are typically anywhere from 2 - 4+ hours long and are usually down at a very slow pace. Today was a three hour skate OD and I rollerskied with some of my closest friends.

 The  roller ski started today in downtown Afton, which has a population of about 50, at 7:30 AM. I met up with 5 women who I have been training with for the last 7 years here in Minneapolis. Jojo, Katherine, Claire, Katie and Carolyn. There were a few of the other usual girls missing but this was a big part of the "core" group.

Today was beautiful but the roller ski was sad because it would be the last group ski we would all get to do with our friend Katherine. Katherine accepted a job in Washington D.C. and will be moving out there at the end of the week. So today a roller ski full of memories and goodbyes. We met up with another group called the Vakava training group and together we formed a mass of roller skiers totaling around 30!

I cannot emphasize how important to my athletic career and my successes this huge group has been!

Katherine...we will all miss you and your awesome jokes!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Street Skiing

By Caitlin Gregg
After a solid two weeks of training in Maquette, MI and Cabel, WI Brian and I returned home for what is going to be our longest time yet (3 weeks). As soon as we returned we began unpacking and getting the house up and running again. Within an hour the neighborhood kids saw Lahti and knew we were home. Ten kids  stopped over to say “hello” and “welcome back”. While visiting on our porch the kids saw all of our Marwe rollerskis and were really excited to try the “Street Skiing” they see Brian and I do everyday.
Brian and I began outfitting the neighborhood kids with our boots, roller skis (street skis) and poles. The kids were psyched. We could barely get them to stop playing as the sun was setting.
I find the learning curve for kids starting out on  rollerskis pretty incredible. By the end of the evening all of the kids where skating and striding without ever skiing before. There were a few crashes but the thrill of cruising around the block was worth it for them.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Back @ NMU

This past week was one of the best training camp weeks I have ever had. The CXC Elite Team spent a week in Marquette, Michigan a place where I spent 5 years of my life and missed. Marquette is where I went to college at Northern Michigan University and graduated over 7 years ago!!! I cannot believe it has been so long. Looking back on those years and visiting the places I went to class and the trails I trained on, I realized how lucky I was to be a  part of the Northern Michigan family.

On this trip I was able to meet up with my College Coach Sten Fjeldheim. He has changed a lot, as have I, but we still had a blast sharing stories and lessons learned during our time together as NCAA Coach and Student-Athlete.

A lot of people ask about what it was like to be an athlete of Sten's at NMU. There are stories of grueling intervals and the notorious weather scenarios we would do them in. There were big consequences for forgetting something at  practice, being late to a meeting and of course not keeping your grades up. Sten was a tough coach but also knew we were at NMU for and education and he made sure that was always first. Despite all the rumors of how tough it was to be an skier at NMU the truth is we, as athletes, made it as tough as we wanted it! And we all knew that the tougher it was the better we would become.

Since Sten has been coaching at NMU there have been countless All-Americans, National Champions and 5 NCAA Champions in Cross Country Skiing. The atmosphere in the ski room is one of pride in all the hard work we, as members of the team, have contributed to the success of the program.

All of the positive energy, and fantastic weather, made every training session in Marquette incredible and I felt awesome! Sten even came to a couple of workouts and was pleased with how my technique has progressed even since this last winter! I am feeling like my old self again and look to make even bigger gains in the next couple of months before the season kicks off! Just like at NMU I am putting in a lot of effort now and look forward to the outcome later this winter!

Although I did not reach my fullest potential as an athlete while I was at NMU, I did earn a degree. Even more importantly I have learned to balance multiple demands and remain well rounded. I wouldn't trade anything in the world for the experiences and lessons I learned while at NMU. I know I would not have the depth of knowledge and success I have had as an athlete or person if I had not gone to NMU. Looking back on the thousands of hours I spent studying and training in the UP I can hardly think think of anything as awesome as the back drop of Lake Superior.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Coaching Weekend

This past weekend I spent three consecutive days coaching ALL DAY! I began by volunteering for the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation's Kid's Adventure Camp. I got up extra early and headed out for my Threshold Ski workout so that I could make it over to the Theodore Wirth Pavilion in time for the first group. This week the camp consisted of approximately 45 campers. The kids were broken up into groups of 5-8 and they would switch from station to station throughout the day. The stations ranged from Mt. Biking to Canoeing, to Orienteering, to capture the flag, to Rollerskiing. each kid spends almost 45 minutes participating in the activity at each station. By the end of the day the kids have trained over 4.5 hours!!! I am sure their parents loved it :) i was in charge of the rollerskiing on Friday. I made a point to remember every kid's name throughout the day. This made the feedback more direct and individual and I think everyone loves when they are remembered and addressed.

On Friday night Brian and I packed up our car and headed down to Rochester, MN where we were to coach a Master's Clinic. We stayed with one of the local XC Skiers in the Rochester community and had a blast learning about their up and  coming club!

Bright and early before 6AM I was awake and heading out the door for my morning training session. When I finished I quickly showered and changed and was off to the first coaching part of the camp. I spent the next few hours on my feet and after a short lunch break I was back at it until 4:30 in the afternoon. The next day was the same!

Despite all of the time on my feet I felt that my energy levels were high and my legs were fresh. I am feeling like every week I am getting in better and better shape! I am excited to report in two weeks about returning to Marquette and spending time at NMU again!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Namekagon Art Festival and the CXC Summer Championships

This past weekend the CXC Team put on a one day event that include the three different types of racing that we encounter throughout the ski season. These races included a running distance event (in place of a distance ski event), a prologue classic ski, and a sprint skate ski with rounds.

The goal of the event was to get the community involved in our time trials and allow the kids who are up at Telemark with us the opportunity to go head to head with World Championship and Olympic Athletes! Pretty Sweet!

For me the event was my first attempt at racing since the end of the ski season in March. I have been pretty busy with life and while I have maintained my fitness I have been very careful about pushing myself too far, for fear of overdoing it. The plan seemed to have worked out well. While I was not the fastest in any of the three events, I have a great starting place to build from.

The results from the 5K trail run (aka Hill Climb). Here

The double pole (classic prologue) is my weakness. I have been focusing a lot on improving my double poling, as it relates a lot to my lower results in classic skiing, and feeling like I have been making the technical gains I need.

The last event was a skate sprint that was held in downtown Cable, WI. The town is very small but hosts some of the biggest endurance sporting events in the country for Cross Country Skiing and Mountain Biking. These events are the Chequamegon Fat Tire Mountain Bike race and the American Birkebeiner Cross Country Ski race.

We woke up the small town on Saturday night with skate sprint heats. The heats were based off of the classic prologue (not typical). Unfortunately I had a nasty crash in my first round. Jessie broke a pole and the pole fell right between my legs. I went down hard but bounced back up and moved onto the final. In the final I was able to ski aggressively and move from fourth up to second in the finishing straight. I held onto second and learned a lot about tactics and racing from the entire day's events.

Moving forward... I have some work to do... I look forward to the challenge and will report back about how my results progress!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Working with Andrew Nelson

A few weeks ago I had the chance to work with Andrew Nelson. Andrew Nelson is a Physical Therapist in the Methow Valley of Washington. Brian and I were visiting his parents and finalizing wedding preparations after our final races in Sun Valley. Brian has wanted me to work with Andrew for quite a while and this was the time when he was available.

When I went in to see Andrew I learned a lot about bio-mechanics and how your foot alignment can altar the rest of your alignment in your entire body. Andrew looked at my feet extensively and found a number of weaknesses. I have been able to use my muscles in my lower leg to compensate where my feet failed to support me. My feet seem to collapse as soon as I put pressure on them. This leaves me with a lack of balance and coordination that is crucial for Nordic Skiing.

Andrew developed a kind of Footbed/ Orthodic for my feet that puts me into a more stabilized position. I can now generate much more power off of each step, stride, etc... when my foot has a more rigid platform to push against.

The results have been awesome in my training as well. I have never used a Footbed or Orthodic before so I was a little nervous about how my body would feel and how my knees and other joints would respond. So far everything has been excellent. I have found my balance and stability increase and my glide and power on skis to be extremely positive.

I never wanted to think that I would have a deficit in my alignment or ligaments that would inhibit me but I guess this is all a part of being an athlete and growing older :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wedding Bells ringing in Washington

Just over a week ago fellow ITA and CXC member Brian Gregg and I were married high above his parent's house in Winthrop, WA. The entire day was incredible and having so many friends and family there was the best part of the entire event. I got to reconnect with people who I had not seen in years and share the most important day of my life with both Brian's family and my own. My sister was my flower girl and even though there is 16 years between us and we do not get to see each other more then once every 3-4 years, we bonded and became great friends.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Refinishing hardwood floors!!!

After our new house closed on Wednesday Brian and I decided to start work immediately. The house has no shortage of projects to yet Brian and I do not have a ton of time. We quickly realized that we had a deadline of Monday morning looming over our heads as we prepared to conquer the hardwood floors in the living room and bedroom. While I was outside with Lahti, Brian yelled excitingly for me to meet him in the kitchen.  Brian was kneeling down over the linoleum peel and stick tiles with one of the tiles lifted up at the corner. Underneath the tiles was a  very dark brown linoleum floor. We looked at each other and began to ripped the tiles up one after another.

After we had taken most of the tiles out I couldn't help but be overcome by the noxious odor. The tiles were stuck down to the wooden floors with a sort of glue that smelled absolutely terrible and the left the floors incredibly sticky even after the tiles were removed. After scrubbing the glue with all kinds of solvents and using a ton of elbow grease we were able to "bust through" the layer of glue with a hand sander that we had rented!

It's now been over 30 hours that Brian and I have put into the floors at our house. We were able to rent the sanding equipment for free from the neighborhood association and we saved thousands of dollars and increased the value of the home. Here are the after pictures that show what the new place looks like.
Same kitchen but different angle. This is the floors before the oil-finish was added!

Beautiful! Phew, I am tired!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Back Home and Ready for the Next Season!

Last year let me with big decisions to make and a lot of options and opportunities but without the desire to hang up my skis and pole jut yet. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do and realized that my only option was to focus on working throughout the summer and start training more full-time during the fall. As the summer unfolded I found myself accepting that I was not going to be able to workout even as much as I had hoped. After an Olympic year there are a ton of requests from other to make appearance give talks and just be an ambassador to sport. I found myself with numerous engagements and meeting incredible people and children but also feeling as though I wasn't doing the work I know would be needed to make the World Championships in Oslo.

Fast forward to today and I am fresh and ready both physically and mentally for next season, which officially starts tomorrow!) I have been extremely busy the past couple of weeks with wedding planning and home buying. That's right!!! Brian and I are buying our first house! It fits us perfectly! The house was a foreclosure and Bank owned when we aw it listed for sale. Due to the poor housing market (great for buyers! Bad for sellers), we were able to get the house for $25,500. There isn't a 1 or a 2 missing from the front of the price. Last year despite my busy schedule I also volunteered with the Harrison Neighborhood association and learned a ton about the North Minneapolis Community (where I live and mentor my youth!), and the programs that are available to get first time home buyers into homes that they can afford. So Brian and I applied for two great programs that have allowed us to receive $15,000 in forgivable loans. We do need to live in the house for 7 years though! The house is small, only a one bedroom, and in an area of Minneapolis that gets a bad rap for it's violence and condemned or vacant properties. To us, however, it is a prime location. We are less then a few hundred meters to the running and bike trails in the spring, summer and fall and even  more exciting... less then a few hundred meters to the ski trails in the winter!!!

The Living Room/ Dining Room

Me in the Kitchen!

The Kitchen looking towards the Breakfast Nook.

Lahti Checking out the House after hanging in his new yard.

Lahti's Approving Look!

I have also been in to see the kids at the Harrison Park but have had a hard time seeing any familiar face from last year while I am there. That's not to say I haven't been hanging out with the neighborhood kids. Last week Brian and I saw my friend Molaki at the Boys and Girls Club in North Minneapolis and the next day we saw his brother Kolanghi hanging out in the Alley behind my apartment. I was psyched to give Kolanghi the pair of shoes I had been saving for him all winter from Salomon!
Kolanghi and I showing off our new digs!
I have also seen my park kids hanging out around the Library and in the fields near the park. I am not sure why the kids haven't been visiting the park lately. We have another new Director there, the third so far this year, and I was excited to hear that he felt strongly about working with the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation and the Adventure Camps they hold during the summer. I am hoping to recruit some kids from Harrison to be a part of the Awesome opportunities available with the COLLNSF!

Today was my first day back on the short skis (rollerskis) ad I loved every minute of it. I am so pumped for tomorrow and the rest of the year. I am feeling confident that I can greatly improve on my results from the 2010 Olympics and I can't wait to try!