Saturday, August 27, 2011

Alaska Dryland


The US Women’s team camp plan was changed this year and our summer snow camp was changed from New Zealand to the Eagle Glacier in Alaska.  The plan was to organize a huge women’s group with many of the top North American racers for a week of dryland training and a week of glacier skiing.  I had traveled to Alaska four different times before this trip for various ski races and I can’t say I really liked the place during any of those trips.  It takes a long time to get here (often a longer travel day than to Europe)  and then it was always either dark and below zero or dark with very little snow.  But I was ready to put those experiences aside and was looking forward to experiencing Alaska in the summertime.  And what a difference it has been!
I flew to Alaska a little over a week ago and was greeted by the sun despite it being close to midnight.  My last flight left Seattle at sunset and we had a continual sunset all the way to Anchorage.  If anything it was getting lighter as the time went on and we flew farther north.  Since then we have had perfect training weather with temperatures in the sixties and seventies, a fair amount of sunny days, and only one afternoon of rain!  The training group has been huge and lots of fun!  The US team, Canadian National Team, APU, and other top skiers from around the country are all training together so it has been awesome to train with people who I have previously only raced against during the winter!  For the past week we have been staying at Alaska Pacific University and training in Anchorage.  The APU team have been great hosts and have taken us all around Anchorage sharing their different training grounds.  We’ve put in lots of distance hours as well as a bunch of interval and speed workouts.
The stretch of beautiful weather is supposed to end today so we are heading up to the Eagle glacier a day early.  We are leaving tonight rather than tomorrow so we can fly in rather than having to hike in with all our gear once the gnarly weather hits.  It’s a 5-10 minute flight from Girdwood, Alaska and I’m really excited for my first ever helicopter flight.  Then I’m even more excited to be back on snow!  For the second half of the camp, we will be staying at APU’s training center on the glacier and will be skiing, eating, sleeping, and skiing some more!  I’m not sure what to expect but from what I’ve heard it’s the perfect place for putting in lots of quality hours on snow!  I’m sure there will be some great stories of what happens when 15 or so female Nordic skiers and a handful of male coaches live together in a secluded and rustic building on a glacier for 9 days.
Here are some pictures from the past week of camp.  Thanks a lot to Matt Whitcomb and Lauren Loberg for taking all the pictures during the workouts.  Visit www.nccsef.org or the USSA Nordic Facebook nordic page for more pictures!
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We did a 2 hour double pole along the bike path of Turnagain Arm.  A strong headwind on the way back made for a tough finish and a lot of pace lining.
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The second day of camp had 5×6min L4 double poling intervals.  Intervals with this big of a group are fun and tough.  It seemed like someone new was pushing the pace on each interval making for fast times and lots of hammering.  It’s also a good experience to ski behind different people and copy their tempo or technique.  Liz and I are working together on this interval in an unsuccessful attempt to catch Kikkan.
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Awesome scenery during one of the distance rollerski workouts!
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We did a 3:30 Tour of Anchorage OD which was a loop around the different bike paths of the city.  We skied alongside the ocean for a few long stretches and the clear weather gave mountain views including some of Denali.
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There were a few sections where the bike paths didn’t connect.  Jessie and I practiced our off-road rollerskiing skills because Sadie told us we were not allowed to take our skis off!
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Many of our afternoon workouts have been trail runs into the mountains surrounding the city.  On this run, we ran to Rabbit Lake which is where Kikkan’s husband Jeff proposed.
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Chandra and I went swimming as soon as we reached the lake.  The water was a lot colder than Big Hosmer so it was a chilly run home but totally worth it!
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Yesterday we did a short speed session.  We skied around a neighborhood where there was very little traffic and had great head-to-head sprints.  For me it was really fun to chase and be chased by Kikkan!
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All of our interval workouts have been in a big groups which has been great practice for mass start races.  This picture is from a workout where we did 6×10min at L3 with a faster sprint finish to each interval.
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My moose count got so high that I lost track.  They are literally everywhere including right in the middle of the city.  I think the gold medal day was when I saw six different moose within about six hours!  We even have a couple that live in our backyard and were eating the rhubarb outside of the coaches apartment.  We haven’t seen any bears yet but we have eaten quite a bit of freshly caught salmon and halibut adding to the Alaskan experience!

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