Sunday, April 17, 2016

Run Club

Run Club is up and "running" this year at the Jerry Gamble Boys and Girls Club in North Minneapolis. I absolutely love getting to share my passion for health, wellness and of course sport with these kids. For those who don't know, Run Club is a program that Brian and I started 4 years ago as part of our community service project for In-the-Arena. 

Outside on a cold but sunny day.
We wanted to have a project that could measure the progress of our visits during the Spring, Summer and Fall. We decided a running program was the perfect blend of an accessible activity that was easy to track and gave us the most time with the kids each day. 

When it rains we improvise.
Sometimes that means yoga.

Our Run Club is held right across the street at the Glen Gale Park and we have a set 1/3 of a mile course that the kids run/ walk laps around. With each lap completed they receive a Popsicle stick and at the end of practice we count the number of Popsicle sticks each person collected and post the numbers on the Run Club Board inside the Club.
Running along the course.

I love seeing the kids start to form running groups each day and complete the workout together. Running is so fantastic because it is a lifelong activity that can be enjoyed alone or with others. Perhaps some of these running partners will continue running together for many years.
Running Buddies Rajenae, Christopher and Rahania.
 Once again our Run Club program is supported/ sponsored by Fruitshare Organics. We are so lucky to receive as many boxes of fresh organic fruit as we need! The fruit is delicious and has become symbolic with the Run Club as a token of achievement for completing the workout for the day.

Boxes of Organic Fruit! This week it's clementines, oranges and apples.
Hopefully enough incentive to skip the ice cream truck!
Turning in sticks for me to record.
Once back inside we spend the remainder of our time updating the board with the miles earned that day and award stickers on the board and perhaps awards for reaching a milestone. This year at the completion of 10 total miles each person will receive an LLBean water bottle that we write their name on and have them bring to practice!
Imputing the mileage onto the board.
Our top runner this year is Lebron. He already earned his LLBean water bottle.
 Overall Run Club has been a huge success and we can't wait to bring 10 of the Top performers each month to a local running race. Last year we made it to 3 races so we are looking forward to increasing that number. Thanks to all of our sponsors for making this program possible!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Best part of my Job!

Moving from Manhattan to the Warren Elementary School was pretty awesome for a kid who loved snow!
This past week Brian and I finished our season's in Craftsbury, Vermont. I have been looking forward to getting back to Vermont since the World Championships ended last year and I knew this was a great opportunity to visit as many schools, teams and Bill Koch Leagues as I could fit in. I don't have family in Vermont anymore so getting back is always a little more logistical. This year Brian and I flew straight from Calgary so that we could spend a solid 4 days in the Mad River Valley.

Brian leading one of our numerous BKL practices!
 I was lucky enough to move to the Mad River Valley from Manhattan when I was around 10 years old. I remember telling all of my friends in New York City that moving to Vermont would mean that I could actually reach my goals of competing in the Olympics someday. I was already very focused on my dreams.
 I was very fortunate to have an absolutely amazing community behind me and most of the businesses in the Mad River Valley either employed me or sponsored me so that I could compete at the Junior Olympics. Since those days the Mad River Valley Bill Koch League has been founded and the Green Mountain Valley School has a growing team as well. Of course I couldn't go back without spending sometime at Harwood Union High School and visiting with my old coach John Kerrigan. I know a lot of coaches who can make only one or two athletes great but John has made hundreds of incredible athletes and helped more kids than anyone I know fall in love with endurance sports, improve their grades and behavior in the classroom and earn athletic scholarships to college. I never heard him discourage a student from joining the team no matter how slow they were. To John it was always about the desire to work hard!
Three of Kerrigan's athletes (and their kids) still spending time and working out together! 
Visiting my friend Jesse's Health Class at Spaulding High School in Barre, Vermont.
My friend Jesse who convinced me "try" Cross Country Running and Skiing! Thank you!

Erin Harwood's new Record Holder!!!
Brian and I spent a lot of time hanging out with our CXC Teammate Garrott Kuzzy at his new job as head Nordic Director at G.M.V.S. Katrina Howe is the head coach for the program and we had a great time learning about the opportunities the school can provide (an amazing new training and waxing facility) as well as trying to help them grow the team for upcoming seasons! We were excited to get to spend a number of days training with the team and sharing our stories with the entire school.

The GMVS Ski Team rolling out in the new training facility stretching room!
Garrott and Katrina helped us arrange to join the Mad River Valley Bill Koch League for their final practice and it was a blast! 

Brian teaching everyone how to crab walk in the GMVS training center gym.
 We also spent time at the local Waitsfield and Warren Elementary Schools! I got to visit both schools when I returned to the Valley after the 2010 Olympics! I had a blast returning and sharing my medal winning race from the World Championships too. One special perk growing up in a state filled with ski areas is that if you live close enough many schools have half days on Friday and the entire school goes skiing!!! I know this was the coolest thing I had ever experienced when I moved from the city!

Sharing our stories with the Waitsfield Elementary School.
Sharing stories and answering questions at the Warren Elementary School.
I loved the energy of the kids once they realized I went to school their too!
Jane, my babysitter when I first moved to Vermont, now has a daughter (Libby) who Cross Country Skis! Libby was one of the lucky girls who I worked with 3 times! It's crazy how life works out!
The Craftsbury Green Team hosted a Fast and Female and I was excited to once again help out! This was my third Fast and Female Event this year and I am always impressed with the enthusiasm of the participants to try new things! As a coincidence my group (the purple team) happened to be all ladies from the Mad River Valley! For some of them it was the 3rd time they got to hang out with me and learn about skiing, health and goal setting! I know these ladies were psyched!
The Mad River Valley Gals!
The Warren Gals!!!
I was also invited to join the Montpelier Bill Koch League practice where one of my dear friends who convinced me to make the jump from High School Racing to Junior National Qualifiers (and also gave me a ride and helped me waxed my skis!) now has a daughter who is in the program. I was honored to bring the friendship full circle and have her come watch me in Quebec and then for me to join her at her Bill Koch League event!

Working on coordination and range of motion drills!
Alligator walks
Sharing stories about Dreaming Big, Working Hard and Having Fun!
Signing a bib for Mirriam from the Quebec race she came and watched!
 All in all I got to work with over 650 kids while I was in Vermont. I had an absolute blast re-connecting with so many important people from my life and making new connections with the next generation of skiers! This is by far the best part of my job as an athlete!

I am now back home in Minneapolis, MN. Brian is up in Alaska for Skiku and I am putting the final touches on our Run Club training plan for the Jerry Gamble Boys and Girls Club kids. Our first meeting will be tomorrow and I can't wait! Practice for LNR also starts up soon and I am really looking forward to another solid year of training with everyone.