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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Rain Run

Apologies, I hate alliteration, and I just used it in my title, I think it's one of the most overused literary devices and try to avoid it but sometimes a little alliteration slips out.

I woke up at 5:30 am to heavy rain and thunder and lightening. I made Brian promise to make me oatmeal so I knew that I had to get up and go down into Cable by 5:45, otherwise I would get made fun of for skipping practice. It was dark and when I switched on the light, nothing happened, the storm had taken out the power again. I managed to find a complete outfit among my stuff as well as a change of dry clothes since I knew I was going to get soaked. I groped my way into the bathroom but couldn't get my contacts in without light so I put them in when I got in my car. Once in Cable, life looked more cheery. The boys' house had power and WOJB on the radio, the local radio station from the nearby Indian reservation, to go along with oatmeal and bread fresh from the breadmaker.

We left straight from the house and headed into the nearby trails. Both the boys (Garrott and Brian) had left their shoes outside to dry overnight (ha!). but at least I started out with dry shoes. That didn't last; soon we were making the biggest splashes possible as we ran through the puddles. It was nice to be running in the rain with sporadic thunder and lightening instead of in the heat with bugs and sweat. We managed to make a big loop and only stopped once to eat berries. Despite a fun workout today, I'm looking forward to Monday being off tomorrow.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The World Lumberjack Championships

The World Lumberjack Championships are held in Hayward, WI, a mere 20 min South of Cable. Garrott, Brian & I went to watch Friday afternoon. I remained entertained & impressed the entire time we were there. I decided that I should probably learn how to be a lumberjack if I wanted to be proud of myself. They had speed pole climbing competitions where the competitors climbed to the top of a 90' pole and returned to the ground in just over 20 seconds. There were also log rolling competitions and boom running races, and I learned that a lumberjack cheer is "yo-ho!" Of course, there was lots of sawing and chopping too; crosscut sawing races and chopping. I liked the springboard competition where they had to chop a place for the springboard, insert the board, climb up and stand on it, repeat, and then chop the top of the tree off. We also watched a slight (not all these lumberjack types are big) girl from Spokane, WA named Erin Lavoie set a world record in the underhand chop. They call it the World Champs but only New Zealand, U.S., and Canada are represented. Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 24, 2006

Superweek Accounting

Tuesday: -32 (reg.) +20 (prime) +20 (12th place)
Wednesday: -32 (reg.) +25 (making deals) +60 (3rd place)
Thursday: off
Friday: -32 (reg.) +20 (making deals)
Saturday: -32 (reg.) +60 (3rd place)
Sunday: -32 (reg.) +25 (prime) +75 (2nd place)
net total: $145

In conclusion, if you want to make money you should get a job and not rely on bike races. On the other hand, if you're not concerned with making money then crit racing is a fun way to spend a week. Although there is more money in cycling then in skiing- Floyd Landis gets over $500,000 for winning the tour, although he will share that with his teammates. At the Saturday night men's pro-1-2 crit there was big money to be had in one of the primes. The winner of the race took $475 but someone taped a white "finish" line across the course about a quarter of a lap after the official start/finish line and collected money from the crowd for an unofficial prime. They had a white board that they wrote the total on so the racers knew how much money was up for grabs and towards the end of the race they (I'm not sure who is the 'they' that organized this is) held up lap signs from ten down so they racers knew when to sprint for the prime. The official primes were around $100... the unofficial prime: $1875. Not even kidding.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

On the podium- second place. After the week of racing and one day off I was 8th in the overall standings. Posted by Picasa

Kendi and I on stage talking to the announcer (the interview is on Gabcast #3). Posted by Picasa

Kendi Thomas and I on our killer breakaway today. She beat me in the sprint, but it was fun to ride with her AND she's going to Whitman next year! Kendi was also part of our 7 women breakaway yeterday so she will be a good, strong crit rider & time trialist for Whitman next year. Posted by Picasa

Getting ready for my last Superweek Criterium in Whitefish Bay, WI. Barb came down to watch all the races today and she took photos for me. Posted by Picasa

Laura Valaas #3

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A good cure

I woke up this morning stuffed up and coughing and not feeling very well in general. I decided to go ahead and do the bike race since it was only 15min away and I had already paid. Before I started warming up I ate a brownie that Barb had put in my post-race snack cooler (along with watermelon, toasted almonds and some of the peanut butter trail mix bar). I think chocolate is the secret to a good race, I really do. Because I felt a little happier after eating the brownie and had a good warmup, bouncing around on the rollers and singing along with Jason Mraz. By the end of the race I felt good enough to race again. It's all in the brownie.

Laura Valaas #2

Friday, July 21, 2006

Lack of Motivation

Well, I didn't get to ride off the front like Landis, but I tried and I spent a good while off the front or attacking. While we were neutralized for a crash (what is with that?) I made a deal with Lila from Colorado State U to give her a leadout and split the cash, so the last 6 laps were fun because I was riding with more of a purpose and had a temporary teammate (the leadout didn't really work out, but it was fun to try something). Which brings me to my lack of motivation topic. I realized that, while nice, racing for cash doesn't really motivate me. Probably because I am still too recently from Peru to feel impoverished enough to really need the money and a check isn't really that exciting in and of itself. The other motivator could be glory but, let's face it, there's not a lot of glory to be had in the cat 3/4 field. Plus, I know that there's races this winter where I will be racing in all seriousness so it's nice to just have some fun and not focus on results. I did decide that I should probably race in the cat 1/2/3 field if I want to race seriously since I have no trouble keeping up here and that's after my max strength workout this morning and intervals yesterday and I get to run 400m intervals after tomorrow's race... bet none of the other cat 3/4 women will be doing that!

So what does motivate me? Just seeing how fast and hard I can go for how long. I am not a fan of playing games in the pack and saving energy. I want a workout more than I want to win. (Don't worry, come January that mantra will change.)

Only two days ago I mocked cyclists for not cooling down adequately but today I only cooled down for a measly 20 minutes. It started raining during our race and by the time I got back to my car it was raining pretty hard. So I got on the rollers, wondering if they were more difficult to ride in the rain. At 20min I almost fell off and that's when I had the epiphany that you shouldn't ride rollers in a rainstorm. So I stopped and put dry clothes and ate some high gylycemic index foods. Okay, Barb made lasagna for dinner tonight; real, homemade lasagna. I'm pretty excited. I've also discovered Silk chocolate soy milk as an after workout recovery drink; a hundred times better than any brand of sports recovery drink.

So I'm kinda inspired to ride off the front today, Landis-style...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

No crit for me today.

I decided not to race today; I thought I would get tired of it by the end of the week if I tried to race straight through. I did my isometric strength while watching the Tour de France. This is the first year I've gotten to watch the Tour regularly and it's been so exciting. Floyd Landis basically time trialed the entire stage today and anyone who tried to draft him just got dropped. I was impressed; I can't wait to see the individual time trial on Saturday.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

More Fun

Today's race made me much happier than yesterday's. Mostly because I got in a break with two other women who also wanted to work hard. A lap and a half after we established a gap, the race was nuetralized for ten minutes so an ambulance could come onto the course to pick up a crashed rider (it sounded like she would be fine). When we restarted with four laps to go, the three of us decided to work together to make the break stick. We started with the pack breathing down our necks, but we were motivated and the teams in the pack couldn't get organized to chase us down. There was also a strong wind so I think people were unwilling to be on the front. We widened our gap and worked together until the last four hundred meters when we all sprinted. My sprint is shabby right now, so I came in third. I was happy to get the chance to work hard and have it be useful, I didn't care too much what place I was. And I am making more money than registration cost; here's the breakdown so far:
7/18: -32 (registration) +20 (prime) +20 (12th place)
7/19: -32 (registration) +17 ($50 prime split three ways) +60 (3rd place)
net total: +53

I have come to the conclusion that cyclists do not adequately warmup/cooldown. Most of my fellow racers were gone before I even started my cooldown. I've found a good warmup/cooldown routine that I like for crits: warmup: stretch, 20 min easy, 5 minutes of 30 seconds accelerating to as fast as possible while shifting up so the last ten seconds are in the biggest gear then deccelerating for 30 seconds, 10-20 min of easy-medium riding. Cooldown: 20 min easy, 5 min of 5 seconds all out then 55 seconds easy again, 5-15 min easy. The hard efforts in the warmup are to get your body ready to sprint and the hard efforts in the cooldown are to squeeze the lactate out of your muscles. After my race I also had a really good lunch that Barb made for me of pasta salad with whole grain pasta and lots of vegetables, watermelon, and Great Harvest bread, yum!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Some of my CXC teamates:

Tami Kochen Posted by Picasa

Brian (occasionally Brain) Gregg Posted by Picasa

Caitlin Compton Posted by Picasa

Garrott Kuzzy Posted by Picasa

Sprinting 101

A bunch of wily old women beat me in the sprint today. Sad. The first lesson of sprinting is: go fast. I did not go fast for the sprint and finished 12th in the criterium in Cedarburg, WI today. Tomorrow I get to try some more sprinting and maybe I will do better. I did win a $20 prime so right now my earnings are -32 for registration plus 20 prime equals -$12. I think this is my first time straight up taking cash for a race, so I was excited about that.

I was extremely frustrated in the race today, which probably contributed to my poor sprint (a pissed of Laura is Not a fast Laura). Two girls went off the front early in the 70min race and I didn't bridge, thinking the rest of the teams in the pack would easily bring them back. Unfortunately no one wanted to work except myself and a couple of other single riders so they stayed off and I just got really mad at the rest of the pack for being lazy !@$*s and wanted to give them a big impassioned lecture about how they were never going to become faster if they sat in the draft all the time. I even started composing it in my head. Everyone was racing for themself, even, it appeared, the women who were on teams, and so no one would help out anyone else. I miss collegiate racing and teamates.

On a more cheerful note, I found a place to stay in Milwaukee (okay, Trudi and a bunch of other people conspired to find me a place, I actually did very little work). I am staying with the lovely Barb Hamill just Northwest of Milwaukee. And, not only does she have a well stocked spice cupboard, there's also a tricked out bike shop in the basement, just in case I need to do any repairs. The cat 3/4 women's field struck me as very safe, so I don't think I'll need to do any repairs. I am accustomed to timid college riders who move aside for you but a couple of times today the other women didn't move and bounced their handlebars off of me, but they seemed pretty comfortable with it.

Tonight I get to do some isometric strength (don't you wish your workouts sounded that cool?) and then another crit tomorrow morning!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Flashback from Peru: The view from the ruins of Kuelap- for the geology nerds. Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 14, 2006


There is a huge problem with my living arrangements here. Huge. The Cable grocery store has no dark chocolate. What is wrong with this town? I'm not sure I can handle it. I can't live with the unavailability of dark chocolate. This is the biggest crisis since there was no cake in Peru. Did I mention that debacle? When we trekked to Kuelap we spent the nights in small towns and those towns did not have cake! Every day Cammie and I would tell our guide, Carlos, that we needed some torta (cake) and he failed to procure any cake, claiming the towns had none; we gave him a poor rating as a guide. I had no idea towns could exist without a steady source of dessert and now I have discovered that Cable exists without a local source for dark chocolate. Help!

I can't walk.

Almost. We did max strength the other morning and then 800m intervals on the track in the afternoon and now I can't really move my legs very well. I think that I'm going to recover from a workout and then, just before I actually do, we have another workout that makes me even more sore. It's a vicious cycle, but it's the life I've chosen so I guess I shouldn't complain.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Itty-Bitty Victories

I rode the rollers without hands this morning for over ten minutes (12 minutes, to be precise). That, to me, marks the point where I could ride indefinitely without hands; the time is limited by boredome rather than skill. Which I consider a small accomplished goal!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Lactate Testing

Training gets a lot more complicated for a full time skier versus a busy collegiate athlete. The new (or old?) fad in endurance sports is testing. And the current training tool is lactate testing. Here's the simple explanation.

Lactate is produced when your body is stressed from exertion. The higher the lactate levels, measured in millimols per Liter (Mols have something to do with Avogadro's number, actually I think everything has something to do with Avogadro's number. No matter.), the higher the stress on the muscles. Lactate is just another way to determine what effort to train at. Instead of training at levels 1/2/3/4/5 or by heartrate, you can train by mmols of lactate in the blood. Lactate levels are correlated to heartrates so that the athlete doesn't actually need to test their blood lactate after every interval, they just check their pulse.

At this point lactate testing appears to be just a fancy and more scientific way to determine training zones/levels; but there's more. The most important function of lactate testing is checking for recovery. If an athlete's lactate levels don't return to normal by the beginning of their next workout (we would say the athlete couldn't clear their lactate), then something is wrong and the athlete failed to recover. In that case another hard workout could make the athlete sick.

We tested today by skating up a one mile gradual hill and then having Bryan test our lactate levels. After our warm up, he took our resting level, which should be about 1 (mine was 1.1). Then we skied the mile sloooowly and he took it again, along with our average heartrate over the mile course. We repeated, raising our heartrate each time until we got as fast as our 10km race pace. Then we can graph the lactate levels against heartrate and now we know what heartrate corresponds to a 4 mmol or a 6 mmol interval.

Useful? Probably. Interesting? Definitely. Fun? Yes, except that my fingertips get treated like pincushions.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Learning Rollers

After breakfast this morning, I decided to tackle Dennis's rollers: a contraption of metal rolling pins on which to ride your bike in place. p.s.- Dennis made us pancakes for breakfast. It was the first time I had seen someone put eggs into the pancake batter (along with bananas and apples). Maybe that's why they were so good. Anyways, so I dug his rollers out of the closet and set them up on the deck between the garage and the hottub so I had something to hold onto if I needed to. I started with my hands securely on the bars and a mosquito almost immediately attacked me. Uh-oh, I was going to have to learn more quickly then I had planned. So I quickly learned to take one hand off the bars. Then I practiced changing my hand positions. Eventually I worked up the courage to take a drink out of my water bottle. By the end of an hour of spinning and staring at my front wheel spinning on the roller I had managed to ride without hands, stand up, and even raise my head to look up for half seconds at a time.

For those of you that are laughing at me for finding this so challenging I will claim that you've never attempted to ride on rollers. I think the challenge is more mental than physical. In all reality, it's not any harder than riding your road bike down a straight sidewalk one foot wide. Balancing your bike without actually moving in unnerving. Basically you have to convince yourself that you can actually sit on your bike, clipped into the pedals, and balance, unsupported (unlike in a trainer where the rear wheel is stablized), all without the sensation of moving forward. Try it.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Skate Rollerski Time Trial

I woke up to the sound of pouring rain. My first thought was about my boots which were in the back of Kristina's truck and how drenched they must be. Yep, wet boots today. I should have moved them inside. Oh well. Our time trial ran up the County OO Road. Wisconsin has this strange habit of naming roads based on the alphabet and then when the alphabet runs out they simply double it and start over. Being in Wisconsin is almost more of a culture shock then going to Peru because I wasn't expecting it here. It stopped raining for our time trial and my boots weren't too uncomfortable but started up again on our cool down. Today is the last day that all the juniors will be here and Kristina left also so it will be a little more calm I think for next week. But I'll miss having Stina to share a room with.

Oh yeah, about the actual time trial. I was satisfied with how I did. My technique needs a lot of work still but I skied it consistently and stayed focused. It was a short course, it took me 17:34, and not as much uphill as people made it sound like (calling it an "uphill time trial," bah). I'm looking forward to doing the same course again and dropping my time...dramatically.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Day off (from skiing)

I need a lot of cross-training to keep interested and enthusiastic. I took today off of my ski training camp and went for a two hour bike ride with Dennis. We wandered around the rolling terrain around Cable; short ups and downs through tree lined lanes. I felt much better after getting off of my feet (running/bounding/rollerskiing) for a day and onto my bike.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Kristina Owen, Laura Valaas, and Caitlin Compton: the girls staying at Dennis's house. Stina is on the Michigan Tech team and Caitlin is on the CXC Team with me. Also staying with here is Matt Liebsch.
 Posted by Picasa


Wednesday was a testing day for me. In the morning we did max strength testing and in the afternoon I had my VO2 max tested and did classic technique video. The strength testing was mostly just foolishness. We tested max pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, dips, and box jumps. I did very poorly, especially on the pull-ups and dips because I hadn't done any of those this year really. But I know that I will get better with those when I start training again.

My VO2 max test was uncomfortable. I did not like it at all. Yuri put a big mask on my face and hooked me up to the machine. As soon as I got set up, I had to pee. And then breathing with the mask made me thirsty. And on top of all that he made me run on a treadmill. Unfortunately I can't run very fast, especially right now, and after a very short time I had to tell Yuri that I couldn't run that fast when he increased the speed and he stopped it before I fell off the treadmill. I didn't like the mask at all; the straps were tight and it was heavy and kept slipping down so it squeezed my nostrils shut. Not to mention that I was nervous starting the test, so that made everything worse. Next time I think will be more fun because I will be more relaxed and ready able to focus on running and not be as distracted by all the gadgets.

Then we did classic technique with Matt Whitcomb and Pete Vordenburg. Stina and I were late to practice because we took a trip to Wal-Mart to get cake mix for Matt Liebsch's birthday. Matt and Pete were very nice and positive. When we went over the video in the evening it was clear that I looked like I hadn't been on roller skis (or skis) for awhile & didn't really know what I was doing but they still had encouragement along with their suggestions, so I thought that was nice, especially since there was so much room to make fun of me.

Thursday morning we did a running/bounding time trial on the Birkie trails. So, in a sense, more testing. I am not running very fast. It was kind of sad. Eventually though, I'll get better. My heart rate was still high and consistent which was a main point of the time trial. Now I get a break until skate intervals this afternoon, and tomorrow is a day off!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The first day

I arrived at my destination at noon today- Dennis Kruse's house in Cable, WI where we are staying until our houses get set up. Dennis's home is amazing, he is in a constant state of remodel and he has lots of toys all over the place, power tools in the kitchen, every kind of boat, bikes and pretty cars. I like it, I might not want to move into my real house when the time comes.

I made it to Cresethill Resort where the actual camp is being run in time for the afternoon workout, a skate rollerski and technique session. I bowed out of the technique critique since it was my first time skating on rollerskis since, um... November (don't tell my coach). Then we swam in the lake, took a sauna, had a picnic dinner and a talk from Pete Vordenburg. So far it's a good life.

Happy Independence Day!

Soon, a new home.

Okay, I have to admit, I am a tiny bit nervous to show up at training camp this afternoon. My training lately has been, well, seriously lacking. Now I am starting to realize that getting on a good team brings some pressure with it. I feel pressured to be better than the non CXC Team members at camp otherwise I feel like they will question my place on the team. Especially since I am an outsider to Midwest skiing (hopefully that will change soon) so I haven't met many of these people & a lot of them probably have no idea who I am. Well, here I go on the last day of my journey. Cable, WI sounds small; hopefully I will be able to find internet to let you know how training camp goes these next two weeks!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Being smooth... or not.

When the temperature cooled down yesterday I stopped to go for a run. I found a delightful gravel road near the mile 419 Rest Area on I-90. So I changed and started running. Unbeknownst to me, the road I wanted wasn't accesible from the rest area so I had to duck a fence and scramble through some sagebrush to get to it, which I did. I enjoyed the run; there were interesting rocks, cows, cornfields, a river, and a canal to observe. On my way back I again ran the gamut from the road to the rest area: ditch, steep slope, sagebrush, rocks, fence. As I gracefully wove my body between two strands of barbed wire I thought, "basically, I could be Cathrine Zeta Jones in that one movie where she has to wear really tight clothes and make her way through a bunch of laser beams in order to steal something." And then I mis-judged my spacing and scratched my back on the barbed wire. So much for being smooth. After that all my smoothness ability disappeared. I left my sunglasses on top of my car after running and got two miles down the highway before remembering. Miraculously, I was able to retrieve them. Again, so much for being smooth.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Watch out!... Posted by Picasa

I'm on the road again. It's a three day drive from Wenatchee to Hayward, WI. I should be there by the fourth of July!  Posted by Picasa

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