Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All I want for Christmas is.......bronchitis?

While in for a routine check up I mentioned to my doctor about the cold I have "sort of" had for almost a week now. So he decided to check me out, asked about the I have Bronchitis. Started a 5 day dose of antibiotics which will be done by Sunday and will give me 6 days to get ready to go for the skate sprint on Jan. 2. Despite the health news I had another solid ski today with Kikkan.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I am....a skate sprinter!

Back in Anchorage for the holidays. I flew in with Kikkan last night who missed her connection in Seattle and joined me on my flight back to AK. We were greeted by a winter wonderland as the city has been blanketed in one and a half feet of fresh snow. Truly when Anchorage looks at its best. Here are a few shots of our house and the neighbourhood.

With the conclusion of the Olympic trials I now declare I am just a skate sprinter. Any racing I do from now on that isn't a skate sprint is just to get some racing in. Looking forward I have 3 skate sprints left this season. The first one is US Nationals Jan. 2, and then a sprint in Leinz, Germany Jan 22., and finally Canadian Nationals in mid March in Whitehorse. Skate sprinting in my opinion is the most pure and raw of the sprint techniques and hands down what I most enjoy.

I had a great easy one hour ski tonight on the Hillside trails here in Anchorage. In terms of night skiing few places can compare to that trail network perched up on the side of the Chugach Range foothills. From the high points on many for the trails' hills you can look out over the lit up sprawl of almost 300,000 Alaskans that make Anchorage home.

It's great to be back at sea level. Despite coming off a brief sickness I saw my lowest heart rate average for a workout by 15 beats in the last 3 weeks tonight. Looking forward to getting back into the proper training routine this week...after I make time for the important putting up a Christmas tree.

Happy Holidays.

Santa's little helper.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I have made the decision this morning to pull the plug on Day 2 of racing. While yesterday I knew I was sick my energy levels still felt good. Today is a different story. I am dragging, the congestion has arrived, and my ears are plugged. After placing 18th (Cdn) yesterday I would need at the least a top 10 today to have a shot at a World Cup start. I don't believe that is possible, especially if I wasn't able to achieve it yesterday. It's time to look forward to what is next on my race schedule and that is the skate sprint at US Nationals in 13 days. I am looking for a win there which will take my best effort. With a hard effort today I am worried I will knock the cold into my lungs which can take weeks to clear.

On a side note I am now on board with the Aussie Olympic squad as a wax tech for the Olympics. Off to Anchorage tomorrow.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day One in the books

After just squeaking into the heats today I was optimistic I could move up the results sheet. Confident that I had great skis and just needed to stay at the back and conserve energy and attack towards the end of the course I felt I could improve upon my 30th place qualifier. My quarterfinal heat went to plan and up the big climb I found a gear I wasn't sure was there and moved my way from 6th up to 4th. I chose to ease up a bit going into the big downhill into the finish and draft off Dan Roycroft who had moved back into 4th. However, once we got into the track and down the finishing hill I watched helplessly as Dan moved away from me. In the draft I should have been able to easily overtake him. I had to settle for 5th in my heat, not much you can do if the skis just aren't running fast. I chatted with my wax tech after the race and found out we had gone with 4 layers of wax on a pair of skis I can kick with just 2 or 3 layers. Such is life as I had great grip and was able to run back into good placing on the big climb but it cost me in the end with poor glide.

My cold has not progressed at all so I am optimistic I will be healthy enough to start tomorrow and get another chance to get it right with the skis. My body still feels great. I have great snap, and I am quick and strong (thanks Steve). My Olympic dream is definitely gone now but I think I will still have a great season and I am looking now to US Nationals as a chance to win my first ever National Championship.

Olympic Trials Update

Went to bed with a raw sore throat last night. Woke up with the same this morning and decided to go out and race as I now have nothing to lose. My skis were great. I went out strong but faded a slight bit towards the end but it was enough to qualify in 30th position and advance into the afternoon's heats. Many of the Americans have decided to only do the qualifier which will leave many heats with not all 6 competitors. The Olympic dream is no longer but my goal now today is to race for a Cdn World Cup spot for Canmore in early February. I am not sure I will be able to start tomorrows race if today's effort worsens my cold so I will put it all out there this afternoon and see what happens. My body feels great but my "red line" ceiling is a bit lower. But it is a long course so hopefully I can stay under and be strong at the finish. I will update once back later this aft.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Canmore - Beauty of the Rockies

The count down is really on now. Just two days until the classic sprint Olympic trials. For the first time this season I have enjoyed a couple days of warm weather skiing. Daytime highs for the Canmore have hovered around 0c and will continue to be almost as warm through the weekend. The 1.8km sprint course is lightly covered with new snow on top of a solid base of man-made snow - this should make for very fast firm conditions come race day. I will be competing on this course in two separate sprint event Saturday and Sunday. The estimated time to complete the course is in the 4 min plus range. By far the longest "sprint" I have participated in. However, I am excited to race it, as there is a lot of classic stride sections which works in my favour. Anytime I can keep my legs involved the better! Below are a couple of pics from the neighbourhood I am staying in. Canmore is nothing if not scenic.

The view from the neighbourhood on the way to the Nordic Centre.

Walking down the lane way from visitor parking towards the condo.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Things are turning around.

Despite being aware that my racing form is not where I hoped it to be at this point I proved to myself today that I can still the skate technique. I qualified in 18th place today. It was a mixed field again of Canadians and Americans. The US guys are really flying right now so despite being 18th I was only 3.2 seconds off of the top Cdn qualifier Sean Crooks. So for not feeling great right now that result is encouraging. I made it through the rounds today on (what I was told later and found out for myself) a slow pair of skis. My starts were great. I took the lead easily in my quarter final, fell back to third at one point and then sprinted easily into second to advance. In the semi's I got into a tougher field and eased up so as to not take the lead. I was definitely working at times on the gliding sections to keep things tight and sprinted my way into third to advance to the A final. In the A final I again had a strong start but early on realized I didn't have the legs I was going to need and fell back to finish in 6th place. I was the third Canadian behind Phil Widmer and Sean Crooks of the National team and 2006 Olympians. If only the Vancouver Olympic sprints were in the skate technique!

I am frustrating by how I feel right now and by my skis but today's result is a big positive because despite it all I am still able to take a top spot in Canada. I am optimistic that more racing is what I need and that I will come around and have a strong season. I look forward to getting down from altitude a bit with a trip to Canmore tomorrow. It's only about 1000-1200 (250-300m) difference but I have been up high for long enough.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Race Day # 1

Tough start to the official racing season today. I have not seen a results sheet but heard that I was 41st. There are lot's of Americans in the race but not so many that my 41st place finish would have me in the top 11 Canadians - which I needed for a World Cup start in February. I took a risk this year going out on my own and I think I wasn't able to push myself hard enough at times. It took me 11km today (of 15km) to begin to race. For over the first half of the race I was in a world of hurt but very aware that I was not skiing fast. Fortunately in the final 3km I seemed to spark a bit and was at least able to challenge the race course.

I am again very disappointed with my result, but I have reminded myself that I didn't train for distance events this year. I feel quite good right now and I hoping this effort was what I needed to get my system going and I will have a great sprint day tomorrow. My skis ran very well today so unfortunately I can't look to them for answers! I am doing what I can now to recover and get ready for tomorrow's sprints.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two days and counting

It is just two days away from the start of the NorAm racing season. I woke up this morning to a fresh 10 cm of fluffy snow and it has continued to snow lightly since. With that the temp has risen a bit to a very comfortable -12c. Gone is the beautiful clear skies and frigid temps.

My energy levels have returned and I am looking forward to getting the racing season started. First up will be the 15km skate on Saturday which counts as an Olympic qualifier and Canadian World Cup qualifier. Can't wait.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Short Term Memory

I have always said that athletes need to have short term memories to get over poor results and get re-focused on the next race. For me it takes anywhere from 6 to 48 hrs for that to occur. This time around about 36 hrs. After taking yesterday off completely and catching up on some NFL football, and CBC's coverage of alpine racing and long track speed skating, I woke up today to clear blue skies and temps around -18c and a desire to get out for a ski. My lesson learned I took it very easy today and will build back up as the week progresses.

This Saturday/Sunday marks the beginning of the 2009/10 NorAm season. Saturday will be a 15 km skate event and will be a qualifier for the Canadian World Cups in early February. Sunday will be my favourite - a 1.3 km skate sprint. That is my race and I am excited to test out my new fitness and recovered speed.

Some people just don't know how timely their words can be. I received an email today from Dan Lindsey - the family I stayed with in Whitehorse - without knowing how my result went last weekend. He offered up a quote from Winston Churchill that hit the mark for me today.

Dan to me: Hope you are doing well and are feeling optimistic and positive - you will get there!! A quick reminder from Churchill, I think this one was said when he visited Canada during the war…“success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that makes it all worth while…"

Things are good. My optimism is returning but I will have to prove to myself this weekend that my invincibility is back! I look forward to it.

On a very funny and positive note I have attached a link to a video created by Paul Dwyer. It should put a smile on everyone's face.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Rough Start

I am now back in Silver Star after a 5 hour drive back from Canmore. Fortunately for me I had a travel partner this time otherwise it would have been a long trip thinking about what went wrong yesterday. The short course was not my favourite, but my result I was not prepared for.

I am going to shave my beard off today. I associate it with not being focused and ready to race fast. Tomorrow is the start of the race week and it’s time to play all the psychological games I can to turn around my mental state. Yesterday has rattled my confidence. I know I am fit and I have big race results in me but the invincibility I have felt for about 6 weeks is gone. I felt it Friday pre-skiing the race course. I didn’t even do any "pre-race" intensity. In the weight room that night I had no spring – much like last season. I think I went too hard in the intervals mid week – I needed them but underestimated the recovery period at altitude. I also did 20 min of L3 (aerobic thresold) the day before, and I am pretty sure I let my heart rate get too high on my easy days. With all that in mind this will be a very easy and light intensity week. I am taking today off and possibly tomorrow. I don't actually know how I placed. I did qualify in 26th and I assume I finished in that range. I will update again in a few days as I get back to training.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Racing season begins.

My 2009/10 racing season officially began today in Canmore, Alberta. So far I have only completed the qualifying rounds in a short Alberta Cup sprint. It's a great way to start the year without any pressure, despite having essentially the full elite men's field here. I didn't feel great qualifying. It was a rough start as the starter tried to call me back after I tripped the start wand and then said I was okay after I had pulled up. Nothing major but it did throw my focus off a bit. I feel I strided well up the only hill on the course and pushed strong over the top. On the finishing stretch my double pole let me down. I am not sure what isn't clicking but I will have to fix it. The elimination heats don't begin until 4 pm MT, which should make things quite chilly as a cold front moves in. I will leave direct from the race site to drive back to Silver Star and will update the race results once back at my place.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pre Race Day - Canmore

The snow has been gently falling since I first went out the door this morning at 8am. Accumulation I would guess is in the 10 cm range.

I have never been in Canmore for snow and have become quite accustomed to the "bullet proof" man-made conditions that are the norm. This will make tomorrow's 1000m - mostly double pole - sprint course interesting. If the snow continues overnight as forecast the pole track may be quite soft taking some of the power away from those who will double pole the whole course on skate skis. I will make my decision race morning but I am leaning towards classic skis for the qualifiers.

A quick shot of the home of Chandra Crawford where I am staying for the races. Great to see snow on the trees!

Felt good skiing around today. A bit sore still from intervals on Wednesday. Off to the weight room tonight for a prerace plyometric session to get the body fired up for tomorrows sprint effort. Later I will get my skis prepped with glide wax and make race day decisions on the grip.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Anchorage to Whitehorse to SilverStar to Canmore to SilverStar

I swore I would never create my own here it is the blog spot that was never to exist. It's been quite a trip the last couple of weeks and I can't keep up with the pictures and the news. I started driving on Nov. 23 from Anchorage and in just over 12.5 hours I arrived at the home of the Lindsey family. Great people who put me up for 3days/4 nights just south of Whitehorse, YK. After three days of skiing on the local ski trails (site of the 2010 Cdn Champs), I started my journey south to Silver Star, BC - my final destination. After 14 hours of driving I arrived in Fort St. John, BC and grabbed a room in a roadside motel called "The Blue Belle". Sounded safe enough and they had camera surveillance on their parking lot so I felt safe leaving all my gear in the truck. The next day I finished the long haul with a 12 hour drive to Vernon, BC - and up to Silver Star from there. After 39 total hours of driving, 3700 km (2300miles - about 50 Buffalo, 9 moose, 3 herds of Elk, 1 herd of Caribou, 4 bald eagles, 3 foxes, a lynx, and two homemade platforms - I unloaded the truck. For two weeks Silver Star will be home as I prepare for the Olympic Trials in Canmore, AB on Dec. 18-19. I am however in Canmore right now for a few days to get a warm up race in. I was hoping to do the Olympic trials sprint course at a low key event but we will be sprinting on a modified course. I will be back in Silver Star Saturday night for a week of prep for the opening NorAms at Sovereign Lakes Dec. 12-13 (15 km skate, 1.3 km skate sprint). I have attached about 30 pics. Lots from inside the truck looking down the road. Tonnes of different landscapes and and skylines. Also there are some sunset shots from my hot tub in Silver Star and one shows the foot path down to the ski trails....groomed every morning. Truly an XC skiers paradise. More updates to come. I just realized I posted all the pictures in reverse order. They start with today's drive to Canmore and go backwards to my departure from Anchorage.