Sunday, February 26, 2012

The American Birkebeiner

This past weekend over 10,000 skiers made the pilgrimage to Telemark Lodge to start the 39th American Birkebeiner.  The race had the most participants ever in its history and although this was my third Birkie  it never ceases to amaze me how excited everyone is about the big race.  The enthusiasm is contagious and it is hard not to smile.

I had quite the scare the week before the race when I woke up feeling a little off.  I decided to take the day off from training but a cold had already found it's way into my system and into my lungs.  I drank fluids, slept as much as possible, took ZiCam, and hoped that I would be healthy for the big race.  Last year I won the race and it had a major impact on my life.  The American Birkebeiner is a really big deal, it is the largest marathon in North America.  In the Midwest it is focal point for many skiers season.  Additionally the race has the largest cash purse in North America.  Last year I used the winnings to pay off my debts from the Olympics and make the down payment on our first house. 

This year was the fantastic! On race day I woke up feeling great and excited to race.  With 20km to go I went to the front and picked up the pace.  After a few kilometers Holly Brooks told me that we had a gap on the rest of the field.  We worked together to increase the gap on our way to Hayward.  We rounded the last bend on to main street and gave everything we had for the final sprint to the line.  Although it is always good to win, there is no one else I would have rather finished second to than Holly.  A good friend Holly stood by me as my bridesmaid, was roommate at the Olympics.

 Women's Skate Podium: Caitlin Gregg (CXC), Holly Brooks (APU), Jennie Bender (CXC)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The City of Lakes Loppet

 Last weekend was the City of Lakes Loppet, which is our local Minneapolis ski marathon. The race is supposed to meander through the woods of Theodore Wirth and across the Lakes towards Uptown. However, this year we are experiencing our lowest snowfall EVER! in Minneapolis and the race had to be held on a 3.3K Snow-making loop!

On a positive note...having the race start and finish at Wirth meant that I could ride my bike to the start and back home. Brian and I live a short 6 blocks from the start line :)

Learning to ride with ski poles!

The City of Lakes Loppet brings lots of events to the area. The weekend is jam packed with winter outdoor activities such as snowshoeing, Broom-ball, ice biking, skijoring and of course cross country skiing. This year featured a sit ski race for both disabled and abled bodied skiers. There was a Paralympic World Cup held at Theodore Wirth Park the previous week and many of the athletes stayed to participate in the Loppet events too. Brian competed  in the sit ski race and quickly learned that these Paralympic athletes are incredibly strong and talented.
Simya, Tajee, Brian and I after the race. Brian was last!

Simya, Heather and Tajee came over to Theo Wirth from Harrison to participate in the events. 

Brian and I after the race! Happy and Tired!

It was great to have the girls from Harrsion come to the Loppet. Lahti got a chance to race too and so they helped me work with him and the skier he was skijoring with. The girls had a blast and I can't wait to be in town a few more weeks to hang out with the new girls Youthline program at Harrison. It has been a while since we have had the girls group together and I can hardly wait!