Thursday, October 29, 2015

Parking It In the City

These past 2.5 weeks I have been living and training out of Park City, home of the US Ski Team. This is always an exciting time of the year to:

Get together with all my US teammates.
THE TEAM (USSA Nordic Photo)
Do a little bit of blood, strength, and fitness testing in the Center of Excellence.

Squat Testing
Get our new uniforms for the year.

Pretty sweet little markings on all our gear! Proud to represent the United States of America and this little eagle!!
L.L. Bean Custom Pants.... finally I own a pair of pants that are long enough for me!! (USSA Nordic Photo)
Early Christmas!! (USSA Nordic Photo)
Thanks for the wonderful presentation by Craft and L.L. Bean on all the perks and special features of our gear! Pretty fun to be representing an American brand with our American uniforms! (USSA Nordic Photo)
Link to all our products if you want to join us this winter:
US Ski Team Uniform

Set goals and aspirations as a team
One goal is to surpass this "momma's" muscles next time we take a photo together! (Craft photo)
It also happens to be the time of year that I am training the very hardest, so living and sleeping at 9000 feet, and training with less oxygen than normal has proven to be a challenge all five years of being on the National Team. Every year I come in running, and leave trotting. Fortunately, that is just part of the game! You can't be sprinting all the time!

Sprinting it out at SoHo- USSA Nordic Photo

Erik taking advantage of the COE current pool for some "laps".
Despite a few tired days, Park City delivered some pretty spectacular times. We were lucky enough to have amazing weather the entire time! After spending many rainy months this fall in Alaska… sun for 2.5 weeks straight just doesn't seem fair. Likewise, getting snow in September in AK meant that I have been training in tights and jackets for two months… so shifting back to shorts was also a little bit of a backwards adjustment.
A little different attire than these APU ladies are used to these past few months!
Best coach and best bro in the world!
Sadly, Mr. Finger is still a working progress.!
This camp happens to be the first time this summer that our entire National Team has been together. With 10 girls, it is sometimes hard to round all of us up in such a large geographic area! I had extra fun these past few weeks getting to know our two youngest D-Team members (Katherine Ogden and Julia Kern). As I spent multiple evenings and training sessions sharing stories with them, their excitement and motivation was contagious! Despite some summer injuries, these girls are charging hard just below us. Suddenly this culture of cross country skiers is truly taking off in the US!

The Team! (USSA Nordic Photo)
Head Women's Coach- Matt Whitcomb, and USSA President- Tiger Shaw leading the force during a 3 hr. ski up the canyon .(L.L. Bean photo)
Which brings me to a yearly event that takes place in the United States. During the month of October is the annual Drive for 25 Fundraiser for the National Nordic Foundation. The recent success of this nation has only been possible through the support of this organization. We were all juniors at one time making our first trip overseas. We were all U23's attempting to make it possible to race NCAA's and U23 World Championships at the same time. And at one time or another, we were all given an opportunity because of the National Nordic Foundation! Every dollar goes towards our nation of nordic athletes. In my mind, this organization makes sure that where there is a will, there is a way! I have a fundraising page that many people have already contributed towards, but these funds will all be directed toward our nation of developing young athletes, so I encourage you to participate in this culture that is being created!

Two more weeks of preparation in Alaska, where we will hopefully be visiting some snow, and then off we go to Europe for the winter! It's the final countdown, da da dah da dahhhhh...!

Fun to see a familiar face welcoming me home to AK last night!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Standing On My Two Feet

This fall has been an adjustment in a few regards. 

First, we suddenly went from the most fantastically sunny summer ever in Alaska, into a cold, chilly, and wet fall. We shifted straight from training in shorts and tank tops to full length tights and jackets… jumping over that middle ground. 
Erik preparing for a swim.. nice way to break up the rain training.
Second, as fall hits, life becomes busier than ever. With sponsor events, team functions, Fast and Female planning, and school starting up again… the day becomes full on "game mode" from 7AM until 8PM. iCalendar becomes my best friend as I try to keep track of all ten separate places I must be throughout the day. 
Saltchuk Family Day- potato sack races and all! 
Third, training becomes even more intense than normal. We shift from lots of base training throughout the summer, to lots of base training combined with lots of intervals! Sleeping and resting becomes evermore important.
Taking advantage of recovery training with buddies.
And finally, after my most successful year of "injury-free" training, I took a little turn. Mid July I had a big fall when I was rollerskiing and banged up my hand pretty bad. X-rays didn't show any major breaks, but there was a fair amount of ligament damage. I was put in a hard-brace for an eight week recovery, but the future was still plenty bright. I was forced to do some one pole skiing, avoid biking, and be extra cautious for my usual and frequent little tumbles I seem take. Six weeks into my recovery, I was flying down one of the hills on the rollerski path into a blind corner,  and as I came around it I came face to face with a mom and baby moose. My immediate reaction was "stop as quick as you can." Having seen an angry momma moose stomp one of my teammates a few years back… I wasn't interested in partaking in that sort of activity. So… I sat down on the side of the trail as quick as I could… hitting my tailbone at full force and unfortunately bending my fingers backwards around my hard cast that was protecting my hand injury. I stood up as quickly as I could, racing the opposite direction, back up the hill, and immediately felt I had done something very wrong to my bum that was screaming in pain, and my fingers that were quickly puffing up into balloons. 
Double brace syndrome
Going to the doctors office for x-rays becomes a lot less scary when this guy is guarding the room! Thanks AFOC and Greg Schumacher for taking good care of me!
And that is how I went on to break my ring finger and do some quality ligament damage in the opposite direction just as I had six weeks before! It turns out pavement is more dangerous than expected… especially with no brakes! Standing on my two feet has just not been working out so well for me this fall.

So, it was time to head home… back to my roots… maybe learn how to stand on my two feet again. Last week I got to spend an awesome week in the Methow enjoying my last bits of warm weather, my last bits of family time with my sister and granny before the winter approaches, and my last bits of parental spoiling that I really miss! I haven't been home during the month of September since I was living there, so I forgot how awesome fall is. Temperatures were a little warmer than normal, but I got to see some changing leaves, smell some familiar fall smells, and have some flash back memories from the start of school.

A little warmer than AK..!!
Surprise birthday parties with Granny!
Not too bad!!
A little change in scenery.

I also got to spend a day with the local cross country running team and ski club. We talked goals, talked dreams, talked training, and talked about the path I took. It was super fun to see some serious talent coming together back home. There are certainly champions in the making back there!

Rollerski Speeds
Ella Hall
Agility training
Nordic Team Crew
My final day I got to do a four hour run in the mountains with my mom and dad. The North Cascades are a seriously amazing place… I always forget how amazing those mountains are. They are different than anything I see in AK, so I am like a kid in a candy shop when I go back! As we were heading down the final 30 minutes with both my mom and dad… I realized how lucky I am. No wonder I learned to love this sport, and learned to love this goal of mine. I learned how to stand on my two feet chasing my parents around in the mountains with my brother and sister. To this day, I still get to do that (not often enough)! I couldn't be more thankful to my parents for teaching me this passion, and reminding me why I am doing this! It is nice to have little reminders periodically, it keeps me excited about what I am doing every day.

Still getting my butt kicked by mom.
Cutthroat Pass.
Beauty Places!
So now I am back in AK for the next three weeks, back on the pavement, and crossing my fingers that I stay on those two feet of mine!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

10 Signs You Have Fallen In Love With Your Job.

1. It brings you to amazing places.

Lex watching a great sunset up on Eagle
Rosie and I all bundled in our llbean rain gear- prepared for a wet descent.

2. It makes you work harder than you could ever imagine for it, but the rewards are high.

Saved by a coke after a long week, and a long final workout!
3. You are happy to make sacrifices for it on a year-around basis. 

4. When it challenges you, you are willing to take on adversity and be resourceful.

Blurry hike on the treadmill after a rollerski crash left my knee and hand pretty banged up.
Best part about wearing your bones on the outside of your gloves... you can check up on any broken ones easily!
5. It brings together with an amazing group of people to collaborate with and improve from each other.
The Women's Team after a sunny and incredibly intense team sprint workout. (Eric Packer photo)
Thanks to these amazing men for keeping the Glacier going! Erik Flora, Don Haering and Andre  Lovett. (Eric Packer Photo)
APU Team celebrating the end of a sweet summer! (Eric Packer photo)
Thanks to our amazing coach, Erik Flora, for managing 100 tasks, always staying positive, and believing 110%!
6. It takes you outdoors in all varieties of conditions, but never lets you focus too much on the weather.
Sunny, or.... (Eric Packer photo)
Not so pleasant....
7. It leaves you feeling fit, happy, and challenged.

Enjoying every second! (Eric Packer photo)
Tyler vs. Rosie. How to get two sets of skis up the long 1km climb from the stadium?
A perfect day on Eagle (Zuzana Rodgers photo)
8. It teaches you about a variety of things, including the changes in climate and glaciers and how to observe your surroundings.

A glacier melting down to blue ice in new places.
Many varieties of snow crystals throughout the day on Eagle. (Zuzana Rodgers photo).
9. You love every second of it, including the brutally long and challenging training hours, races, intervals, and more.

The boys pushing hard, working on uphill DP (Zuzana Rodgers photo).
Team Sprinting with Thomas-Finding the race mindset. (Zuzana Rodgers photo)
Giving it all (Zuzana Rodgers photo).
10. It constantly reminds you to be thankful for the opportunity you are given. 

Racing around the world representing your country!
Skiing on a Glacier in the middle of summer...!! (Zuzana Rodgers photo).
Last week was APU's third and final week of training on Eagle Glacier for the summer. It was a successful camp despite some little hurdles thrown my way just before. (I took a big crash on roller skis that left me with a fairly banged up knee and a hand with some sort of ligament/bone damage).  But, sunshine cures all frustrations, and that last kilometer skied for the summer on Eagle was my happiest. Over the course of the summer, I had some great time to work on technique goals, I got to ski hundreds of kilometers, and I got to focus my heart on ski racing 100%. 

I have been to fourteen camps now on Eagle Glacier, and it still hasn't gotten old. I am just as excited, motivated, and incredibly thankful as I was my first camp on Eagle. It is so hard to believe that I train in town, jump on a helicopter, and am engulfed in winter for a full week… only to return back to town for three weeks of training, and repeat three times throughout the summer! That is a true dream world!