Monday, September 12, 2016

What Success Means to Me.

When I graduated from high school I wanted nothing more in life than to be on the US Ski Team and race for the USA at the Winter Olympics. A lot of close friends gave me great advice and encouraged me to go to college. They told me that cross country skiers peak later in life and that I could take advantage of the awesome support that racing in the NCAA as a student athlete could provide both academically and educationally. I loved racing for Northern Michigan University and my coaches Sten and Jenny in Cross Country Skiing and Cross Country Running. I had amazing teammates from all over the country who chose NMU for the same reasons I did and I also had great classmates and roommates who didn't participate in sports but also chose Northern Michigan University. Balancing school and sports wasn't always easy for me but I would never want to have done it any other way. I met so many incredible people, learned so much about myself and was inspired by all of my experiences, both good and sometimes tough, during my time as an NMU Wildcat.

Coach Sten taking a break from his bench press to take a selfie.
Coach Jennie (Now the head CC Running and Track and Field Coach) out on the trails after leading the team in a workout.
Coach Shane fits right in and pushes the team hard.
Northern Michigan University's Athletic Director Forrest Karr and my signed World Championship poster in the Athletic Department.
I used the lessons I learned from being a student-athlete at NMU to help guide me as a professional athlete. It worked! I reached one of my goals by representing the USA at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, BC.  I have qualified for 4 World Championship Teams (including one in Biathlon), won 7 National titles, 4 American Birkebeiners and a World Championship Medal.   Without a doubt these successes would not have been possible without my experience as an NCAA athlete. I do not believe I would have succeeded being a full-time student or a full-time skier independently. Thanks to NMU and NCAA skiing I could do both and be successful!

Coming back to Northern has given me the opportunity to connect with the student-athletes and share my own story. I've learned from many mistakes and good decisions during my career and I see myself in this next group of skiers.  It is my hope that I can offer these athletes words of support, advice or guidance in their pursuit of excellence.  I also hope that they can adopt the long term mindset for success as they see me still enjoying the daily pursuit of ski racing.

Sharing my story as a Northern Michigan University Student-Athlete.
Talking about the Run Club Brian and I started through our In-the-Arena project to help underprivileged and at-risk youth in North Minneapolis.
Sharing my success as an athlete at the highest level since graduating from NMU.
Wildcat Willie was proud too... plus you have to always have a bit of fun

The Boys Getting Stronger Together

The Girls Getting Faster Together

It's been a a great experience so far in Marquette and I love getting to know each of the athletes on the current NMU Team and  CXC Team better and better. We are two Time Trials in and have one more next week before we head back to Minneapolis for a rest week and some work. So far the Time Trials have been going great and I have been feeling really strong. A new concept for me has been to do the time trials and immediately follow them with hard intensity sessions afterwards. It's some of the best mental training I have ever experienced and I have learned to push myself harder than I thought possible after an all out effort. Having the support of the team has made all of my training session these past few weeks better than I could have imagined and I love working with such a professional and driven group of athletes. 

As always the "Cafe" or "MP" now is always filled with great company and lots of fun times.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Back to School in Da UP!

Well almost...although I am back in Marquette and it is the end of August I am actually not going back to school ;) I already finished that. I am in Marquette this fall for Brian and I to get together with the awesome group of athletes up here who are on the NMU and CXC Teams. Both the men's and women's teams are very strong right now and the opportunity to get together with one of the best training groups in the country is hard to pass up! So after finishing up our work with our In-the-Arena project this year and attending our last LNR Camp Brian and I packed up our Subaru and headed North to the Upper Peninsula.

Essential travel day snacks! Also since we will be gone for so long we also had to finish up everything in the fridge. I can get pretty creative when it comes to using up the last of our ingredients in the final days and managed to make awesome curried rice with steak and a fresh salsa made with tomatillos to go with my chips :)
We packed up our house, filled up our car and loaded Lahti into the back seat. 

 As much as we love bringing Lahti on trips and to training camps whenever we can, he wouldn't be allowed to stay with us in the OTC (Olympic Training Center) aka "the dorms," so we dropped him off with his second parents Jim and Vicki who have watched Lahti during the winter for us on many occasions.

Brian and I drove the 7 hours up to Marquette on our off day which meant we could take our time and stop in Hayward to visit with Scott Wilson at Cresthill. We arrived in Marquette just in time to get dinner and settle into our new room for the next couple of weeks. We are staying in Meyland Hall on the 3rd floor and it is incredible nice and quiet! Brian and I are looking forward to not only getting in solid training but also getting in plenty of recovery. We are eating in the dining hall and have been psyched with the incredible healthy options available at every meal. As much as I love cooking I am happy to not have to wash any dishes for the next couple of weeks!

Brian is pleased with his meal!
Tons of fresh fruit and yogurt at every meal.
We are jumping right into training with the NMU and CXC Teams here in Marquette so we join them for every workout. We want to maximize our time training with others and it has been a blast to have a large group of "teammates" everyday. I will say that the training plan is quite familiar to me since I leanred lots from Sten about his training theories and workout philosophies. He has developed an incredible number of athletes throughout his career and his knowledge about ski training is enormous. I have to say a huge Thank You to Sten Fjeldheim, Shane MacDowell and Andy Keller for letting Team Gregg join their teams this fall.

A few things have changed since I left Marquette including the new South Mountain Bike Trails. They are not only some of the best mountain bike trails in the region but also some of the best trails for running I have ever been on.
So Psyched to be training with a large group of ladies.
This spring as I started laying out my training and racing plans for the season I thought a lot about what makes me ski the fastest. One aspect of my training that I was missing last year was having a consistent group of ladies to train with. I met up with the National Team at 3 camps but that meant that the rest of the year I was training mostly alone. This year has been the complete opposite and my training has been much more productive and made me a much happier person. This summer I trained extensively with my LNR teammates and our PG athlete Abby Drach  and now I have another great group of ladies with the NMU/ CXC Teams. The energy and excitement of these groups is contagious and I hope to be able to bring some of my experience and knowledge to practice and the dining hall :) I am also very grateful all of the NMU and CXC Teams have been so welcoming and open to letting us join them. A few photos from various workouts below!

Brian doing Moosehoofs up Marquette, MT. 
Ian, Adam and Brian Bounding.
Brian warming up for strength
Sarah crushing the dead lifts.

weighted dips.
In addition to the awesome trail running, bounding and weight lifting facilities Marquette also has an extensive network of bike paths that have grown extensively since I was a student here. This afternoon was absolutely gorgeous and the ladies and I had a wonderful double pole through town.

Such a nice day.

I am very sore, tired and happy! I am really looking forward to this entire fall training block working towards that Lahti 30K Skate!