Monday, October 21, 2013

High Altitude Training

The final camp of the fall started as an altitude training camp in Park City, Utah!  Living at just over 1000' in Craftsbury it is always a big adjustment for me to go to Park City, Utah which is located at about 7000' and the condos where we live on top of Empire Pass are at over 8000'.  I used to really struggle at altitude but with more experience, I'm learning a lot about how my body acclimates and how to best train and race in the thin air.  I still prefer sea level of course but training camps like this have built my confidence in my ability to race at higher altitudes and last year many of my best races happened at altitude.  It is still a totally different experience though and I was quickly reminded of that when tasting blood at the end of a sprint time trial at Soldier Hollow, seeing my heart rate soar as we climbed higher into the mountains on trail runs, or feeling like I needed a little extra recovery after a couple long rollerski workouts.  It was an awesome camp though and great to have the entire team back together training hard and feeling fast even without too much oxygen.
I'm happily addicted to VT Coffee Company's Dark Roast and so I brought a big supply of beans with me to Utah.  The VT Coffee Company motto is "Coffee Roasted for Friends" and I have enjoyed sharing it with friends!  Every morning the first person awake in the condo starts the brew and we begin our days getting fired up for training over a cup of coffee.  
TEAM! So fun to be back together with my winter family!
It was not just the US Team though at this camp and we were joined by almost all the top skiers from across the United States.  Training hard with that many athletes training hard is inspiring and this shows the momentum our sport is gaining in the United States.  To join this community and continue this push, please support XC development through the National Nordic Foundation's Drive for 25 here:

Here is a group of ladies skiing intervals around the rollerski track at Soldier Hollow.  In this picture I'm skiing fourth in the line, following my USST teammates Holly, Liz, and Kikkan, and being followed by skiers from Minnesota, Alaska, and Idaho.  
I've said this before but one of my favorite parts of traveling to camps and races is exploring new trails and roads while doing what I love outside.  My favorite workout of this Park City camp was a combo rollerski and running workout where we rollerskied from Salt Lake City up Emigration Canyon and then East Canyon and then switched our rollerskis for running shoes and ran over the mountains to Parley's Summit.  The whole adventure took almost four hours and every step covered new ground for me.    
Just as important as it is to keep the mind fresh with new trails, it's important to keep the mind challenged with new drills and training techniques.  We're never too old to learn new tricks and improve in different ways!  One afternoon the coaches set up a difficult agility course for us on rollerskis which involved skiing backwards through a slalom course, skiing figure 8's, 180s, double jumps, skiing very tight circles around a cone, and "Crazy Legs" which is pictured above and involved crossing one leg over in front of the other while skiing forward. 

Since the US Ski and Snowboard Association is based in Park City there are lots of USST athletes training in town from all the skiing disciplines.  It's fun to get to know skiers of different kinds and share stories as we all train toward the winter months.  Here I am in the ice bath with Emily Cook, an Olympic aerialist.  

Allen is the new chef and dietitian for the USST and we were very lucky to have him cook us some awesome dinners and lunches during the camp.  I was super psyched to see him using VT maple syrup in his recipes including some delicious maple sweet potato fries and maple roasted brussel sprouts with bacon.  

It was also fun to hang out together as a team when we are not in training clothes.  Holly, Liz, and Jessie made this delicious dinner bursting of fall flavors with apple chicken sausage, pear salad, and tahini roasted squash.  Evenings like this excite me for the start of our winter adventures together as a team.  I think we're ready to hit the road full speed!