Thursday, June 13, 2013

Park City

From Bend almost the entire team flew to Park City for a testing and training camp.  Everyone chose how long they wanted to stay in Park City with some opting for a long altitude camp and others choosing a shorter block.  I have always done the majority of my summer training at sea level and decided to stick to a similar plan this year and only spent a week in Park City.  That time flew by and I easily could have stayed much longer.

When we arrived in Park City we had an easy weekend training to recover from the training in Bend.  After the rainy weather in Bend, the sunshine felt amazing and everyone loved the big boost of Vitamin D.  There were some interesting "tan" lines when we showed up at the USSA Center of Excellence for testing on Monday morning.
Jessie, Sadie, Holly, and I sporting some bright Rudy Project colors on a rollerski (Holly Brooks photo)
We test twice a year in Park City and it involves two very busy days.  I was pretty overwhelmed the first time that I did it but luckily it has begun to feel more normal.  The tests include blood tests, physicals, functional movement screening to monitor mobility and strength, body compostion, hemoglobin mass, and a classic VO2max and a double pole max test on the rollerski treadmill.

For the VO2Max tests, the treadmill stays at a constant speed but each minute the grade is increased.  The test starts out super easy but then quickly becomes steeper and harder until you're barely hanging on.  For me there is always a yo-yo effect as I slide back on the treadmill and then claw my way back toward the front and then slide back once again.  Eventually the treadmill always wins and spits you off the back.  Luckily you're wearing a harness and get a nice little swing before landing in a crumpled ball on the stopped treadmill.  The whole fun experience takes about 11 minutes.

Double pole max test (Matt Whitcomb/USSA photo)
Here's a clip of the end of my treadmill session from Kikkan

I also had the chance to work closely with Michael Naprelasky, a USST strength coach.  He taught Sophie and I how to power clean and I'm looking forward to adding some Olympic lifting into my strength plan.  It was really nice to have a buddy to learn with and share laughs and terror as we tried to learn the technique with the heavy weights.  

A smile or a pain grimace? (Sadie B photo)
Every time I'm in Park City I'm very impressed with the number of resources available to USST athletes.  Everything you need for hard training and fast recovery is at your disposal.  My Achilles tendon flared up when I arrived in Park City and I was able to immediately start working with one of the USST physical therapists and catch the problem before it became a big deal.  A huge thanks to Adam Perreault for all his work which included some very painful and even bruising calf and tendon massages necessary to break up the inflammation and muscle tightness.  The COE is actually a great place to be injured and I took advantage of some new modes of training while I was there including running on the Alter-G, a reduced gravity treadmill designed to lower the impact on your muscles and joints.  You wear neoprene shorts which zip into a bubble enclosing the treadmill.  The bubble inflates and lifts you up by your shorts so you have a semi wedgie the entire time which isn't the most comfortable.  But once you get used to that, it's kind of a fun experience because it is easy to run fast!  Since I was running at 50% bodyweight, I could casually maintain a 6 minute per mile pace and played around with turning up the speed to really get my legs spinning.  

With the Achilles issue, I had to take some time off from running and rollerskiing and create more variety in my training.  It was the perfect opportunity to get out on a mountain bike and explore more of Park City's extensive trail system.  Tom Collier, a friend from college, was an awesome guide and even took off time from work to ride with me.  Or maybe I should say he changed his office location because sometimes he would ride ahead of me on the descents and check email on his phone while I caught up.

Riding the Flying Dog trail (Tom Collier photo)
Park City actually looks pretty green! (Tom Collier photo)
And while it may seem like we were only training, we also had plenty of time to hang out and the weather was perfect for relaxing outside by the pool or on the deck.  We went to a Salt Lake City Bee's game, the triple A baseball team in SLC and gave everything we had cheering for the home team.  They gave up 12 runs in the 7th inning though so I can't say we were too successful.  Throughout the week we cooked delicious dinners a team including a birthday dinner for Matt's 35th birthday where Sophie and Jessie made sausage risotto and chocolate cupcakes inside a chocolate chip cookie shell.  We also had a delicious pizza dinner at the home of Toni Adams and her family where Noah lives.

Lots of leftover pizza, bread, and cinnamon rolls! (Holly B photo)
BBQ chicken, salad, and sweet potato fries which Noah and I made while babysitting together one evening (Noah Hoffman photo)

I'm back in Craftsbury now where the weather has not been quite as sunny yet but after a week of sleeping at 8300' and training at around 7000', sea level oxygen sure feels like quite a treat!

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Rabbit Rabbit, it's June 1st!  While summer may not officially begin until the summer solstice later this month, it's sunny and warm, everything is lush and green (even in Park City), training has ramped back up to big levels, and I'm feeling the excitement which comes with the start of a new season.  But first here's a look back at my spring.

This was the first year which I wasn't in school for the spring so after a week in Hawaii, a settled into the routine at home in Craftsbury.  There were lots of projects going on so even as I was just building into training, I felt busier than ever and loved it.  We had a beautiful stretch of perfect weather and rushed to get the gardens planted during the burst of blooming.  Alex Howe taught Emily Dreissigacker and I how to drive the tractor so we could rototil the gardens at Elinor's.

Clare Egan and I planted carrots, beets, zukes, summer squash, kale, and chard under a torrent of black flies.  We covered some of the plants with row covers to protect against nibbling pests.
Rhubarb!  And rhubarb pie!
We planted garlic last fall and it was looking good this spring!

New this year at Craftsbury is a small farm.  We have 36 laying hens, a rooster, 10 pigs, and some turkeys.  Fresh eggs for breakfast!
Meanwhile as we were busy working in the gardens, there was still a pile of snow on the upper field at Craftsbury, leftover from the winter snowmaking.  On May 11th, it was rolled out for the first annual Slush Cup sprints, a 150meter out and back head to head sprint race.  A surprising number of people came out for the event in all kinds of costumes.
Clare Egan was the women's champion and also probably won the best dressed award!

Sprinting against Mamma Gina
The Channel 3 News team somehow heard about the Slush Cup and came out to do a piece on the event.  Here's the story that they put together from the day.

I also had the opportunity this spring to help out with Girls on the Run at Newport Elementary School.  In this program, girls in grades 3rd through 6th get together twice a week to run working towards a goal of running a 5km by the end of the program.  It inspires them to live healthy, active lifestyles and incorporates self-esteem building exercises into the curriculum.  The teamwork and excitement which the girls displayed was awesome and I had lots of fun running with them every week.  Unfortunately I missed their big 5km event but I was there for the practice "race" of a 10km relay.

The 10km took place at the Dandelion Run in Derby, VT which as you can see was named appropriately!
The girls were giving it their all and a couple actually ran the entire 10km rather than stopping at the exchange zones!

Since the girls were pushing themselves, I decided to challenge myself and ran the half marathon.  It was a hilly course around the dirt roads of VT's north country.  I set a course record by a big margin which was fun and my tired legs were rewarded with an ice bath in the lake and maple syrup for a prize.  I also made it bac to Craftsbury in time for the first firing of the spring of our pizza oven.  Yum!

The next day I flew to Bend Oregon for the first USST camp of the year. It’s a great time of the year to be in Bend.  We ski in the mornings at Mt. Bachelor and then dryland train in town in the afternoon.  The first and last days of our camps were perfect sunny weather but we had some tough conditions mixed in.  One of the mornings when we were up there, the local newspaper published that there were 140 mph winds on Mt. Bachelor!  Luckily we were a bit protected in the trees but it was still sideways snow and rain and strong winds!  

It is very fun to be back with the team and we hit the ground running.  The secret to our success?  We work hard every day and love what we do!  Positive team energy goes a long way!

Team sprint in the rain upped the toughness factor!

Practicing sprint starts

5x3min Double pole intervals 

Fast and Female- a fun afternoon of dancing, core, agility, relay races, and inspirational talks.  Thanks to all who came out!

The 2013-14 US Women's Ski Team!  
Thanks for reading!