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Friday, September 29, 2006

The 1-day Trial Membership

I would just like to thank all the gyms out there who offer 1-day trial memberships. Specifically all of the gyms where I have used those one day passes...
Laura: "Hi, I recently moved to the area and was looking for a gym to join; can I come in and try out your gym?"
Gym Employee: "Of course, come in, try it out & we'll sit down and talk about rates, your goals and your level of committment."
(I get my workout in and make a speedy exit.)

Hopefully this is an instance where small lies can be forgiven. My other option would be to actually tell the truth and say something like, "Hi, I'm a professional skier and I'm going to be in town for a couple days and would like to get into a gym to lift once. I was hoping you could help me out and let me come in and use your facilities." Which might work. BUT, I object more to asking for favors just because I'm an athlete. It's a moral dilema between lying and acting like I deserve special treatment.

I also disagree with the fast=cool correlation that a lot of people express. Fast people might be cool, but being fast doesn't make you cool or better than slower people. Unfortunately, we live in a results oriented society and it's easy to use results list to determine someone's personal value. Which is crazy.

Maybe I'll turn that thought into a longer rant in the future when my thoughts are more coherent.

Because Christmas is coming

I mean, I've spent all summer preparing for the winter, I can't get caught up in the races and forget about Christmas! (But mostly because my dad requested a Christmas list) here it is, subject to change: Laura's List.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Seattle Training

I found out why we do our isometric strength routine early in the morning-- it is to avoid spectators. We have a set of bungee exercises that we do before the isometric strength and I attached my bungee to a tree outside Alan's house this morning to strengthen my poling muscles (grrrr). It's 7:30 am and there was no other movement besides me in the coul-de-sac. Then, halfway through my 4 minutes of double pole, two hispanic guys in a beat-up truck pull up and park about 6 feet from where I’m standing on the curb. I plan on saying good morning when they get out of their truck, but they stay in the cab. They sit there, drinking their coffee. And I spend four minutes kick double poling in place, feeling awkward but not wanting to be cowed into leaving. The longest four minutes of my morning finally came to an end and then, to top it off, I whacked myself in the head with the bungee when I pulled it out of the tree. I left quickly.

Unfortunately, I had done such a good job learning to apply power to my poling that I snapped my skate pole while doing speeds around Green Lake. I came down with a super powerful core crunch on top of my pole, and that was the end of it. Sigh, so much for my sweet racing poles. I guess I've had those poles since high school so they were probably due to break. Skiing around Green Lake was discombobulating; I was on my third lap before I even realized I had been doing laps. I had a hard time figuring out where I was because there were so many people to look at that the scenery changed each lap. I almost missed my car when I wanted to stop, which would have been bad because it's one way skiing/cycling/rollerblading only so I would have had to ski a fifth lap, which is too many laps of any distance unless you are voluntarily a track runner.

On another note, I am thrilled to have HILLS everywhere. The roads here go up or down, seldom flat. And there are legitimate MOUNTAINS in the distance.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Going Home!

Tonight I'll be in Seattle again which means that soon I'll be back in Wenatchee. It's been a good stay at the OTC, but I'm excited to get back to the West Coast.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Reluctantly pausing for a photo in the chill of the Marler Zone just below the summit of Mt. Marcy. Because Matt Leibsch wanted to know, at 5344 ft Mt. Marcy is the highest peak in New York. The wind was strong enough at the summit to force us to walk crouched so we didn't get blown over and cold enough that we didn't hang around at the top. It did blow the fog away momentarily to give us glimpses of the surrounding ridges and valleys.  Posted by Picasa

On Marcy Damn during Sunday's over distance run/hike. From L to R: Bryan Fish, Laura Valaas, Caitlin Compton, Andre Watt, Nicole DeYoung, Colin Rogers, Brian Gregg, Garrott Kuzzy, Matt Liebsch.  Posted by Picasa

Friday's easy distance run through the Adirondack Mountains.
 Posted by Picasa

My hair is getting long enough to have some curl in it again! But that's not what I was thinking about during this interval. Posted by Picasa

Torin Koos followed by Garrott Kuzzy, working hard on Thursday on the slopes of Whiteface Mt. Posted by Picasa

One of the lactate testing stations at Thursday's ski walking intervals. Posted by Picasa

I love running through the woods! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 23, 2006

These girls seem to think Newell is hot... so do I. Posted by Picasa

Check out Caitlin's (bib #3) crazy leg compression. I need to work on that, but I was still keeping up at this point in the race. Posted by Picasa

The Spirit of Caitlin

I managed to convince my teammate, the lovely Caitlin Compton, to start a blog. She's kind of embarrassed about is and doesn't want anyone to know. So be sure not to go look at The Spirit of Caitlin!

5km Skate Time Trial

The first big race of the year was this morning. Okay, it wasn't actually that big of a deal, but we did have to wear numbers, which makes it feel official, and it was raining, which makes us feel hard-core. We raced 5km uphill. It was difficult. My legs got tired. I felt like I was race-focused for about 80% of the time, which is a good start for the season; I'll work up to 100%. I got a little discouraged because I kept hoping the finish line would come up and it never seemed to. So I would accelerate to the top of a hill hoping for the finish and wear myself out. Here are some PICTURES here. Since I was busy racing, I let the other people use the cameras. I am wearing a blue shirt, orange shorts and bib number 4.

Also see the complete RESULTS.

FYI, if you're from my hometown area: Rumor has it that Torin Koos was using 11mm pole tips on 8mm poles and had to stop frequently to realign them so the metal tips were pointing in the right direction.

Friday, September 22, 2006

My cousin rocks

Robin Pecknold is frickin' awesome and so are the Fleet Foxes; here is a story from the Seattle Times about the Fleet Foxes and here is his MySpace Webpage where you can here samples of his music. They were also featured in this week's Billboard magazine!

Laura on other sites

There's some good photos from LP training camp on TeamToday.org. Scroll down a little and I'm doing a ski walking interval.

Also I have another article up on FasterSkier.com!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

An Awkward Story (because I love awkwardness)

We got our new training shirts and everyone wore them to practice yesterday. Afterwards in the van the boys were whining (manfuly, of course) that the embroidery over the chest rubbed their nipple raw. Caitlin and I laughed at them and advised them to try wearing sports bras as a solution.

So Caitlin and I ran into Pete Vordenburg later that day in the stairwell and he was wearing one of our shirts...
Caitlin/Laura: "You better watch out wearing that shirt, some of our boys were complaining about the embroidery irritating their nipples."
Vordenburg: "I'll probably be okay; my nipples are small and insensitive so it would take a lot of rubbing."

followed by an awkward silence and then we dispersed.

Lake Placid Thursday

Today is one of those soul cleansing days, a day where you wring out anything bad from your body and mind through good living and hard training. This morning from 6:30-7:30 was a jog and isometric strength. Then breakfast. And I love breakfast, here is what I ate & I wish that I could eat this every day (hint, hint mom for when I come home): canteloupe slices, a kiwi fruit, a grapefruit, a plain yoghurt, strawberries, mango & walnuts in my oatmeal, hard boiled egg (but not the yolk). So much good fruit, I take a banana and orange for after our morning workout too.

At 8:30 we got in the van and drove to Whiteface Mtn to do ski walking intervals. 6x5min at 4mmol (=level3 =threshold =hard-but-not-too-hard) lactate. My lactate was high until the last two because it was such a gorgeous, cold, crisp, sunny day in the mountains that I just wanted to GO. And a lot of the other skiers were doing harder intervals so I wanted to go hard too. Anyway, it felt good, and I finally chilled out by the end to get my lactates down.

After the intervals I got my wish to go hard because then we got to do 4x60sec bounding intervals, all out, level as-hard-as-you-can-go. Caitlin and I did them together, I was timing. On our first one, we got to what I thought would be close to a minute and I glanced at my watch, and then I cursed (which doesn't happen very often) because my watch said 33, which meant that we had only gone 27 seconds and I was already exhausted. Bounding is hard. Or as Caitlin says, "This isn't very easy."

We made it back to the OTC at noon, showered and then went down to the training room to take a ten minute ice bath. Woo-hoo, submerging the lower half of your body in 55 degree water feels good. During which I sketched Brian Gregg without looking at my sketchbook or lifting my pencil off the paper. I think it made him uncomfortable but at least when he complained about how big I drew his hand I knew that what I was drawing vaguely looked like a person. Then lunch time. Now I am typing this and Kate Whitcomb just drew me a line drawing of a beastly truck which I will try to recreate drawing it upside down so I focus on drawing the lines and not a truck.

Then I will sleep until 3 when I will go to the training room and get some hip releases done (good stuff, but a little painful), and have an afternoon bowl of cereal. Then practice again at 4, running and weightlifting, until 6. And then it will be dinner time and then it will be bed time. Usually we get together at 8 for an hour to go over video of us or others training. So if people wonder what I do all day, there's an example; it's a lot of training/eating/sleeping.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Not any big hills

There was a tour group in the lobby when we got back from our morning workout. Apparently the OTC is a bit of a tourist stop. They get to see the athlete's natural habitat. Or what they think is their natural habitat; really super good athletes are all over, not just in OTCs. They also have a lot of Olympic memorabilia and old equipment (actually, the entire town of Lake Placid seems to have a thing whith decorative bobsleds). The tour guide happened to be explaining cross country skiing to the group at one of the wall displays of ski equipment. Her spiel went something like this: "It's the type of skiing where you go up hill... you don't go up any big hills, just rolling ones." Kuzzy and I exchanged a look.

Monday, September 18, 2006

We finally got some CXC training clothes! Caitlin models the Pearl Izumi shirt and shorts. Posted by Picasa

Kuzzy and Gregg model (reluctantly) the guys shorts and jacket.  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Catilin Compton and Melanie Hoffman ski near the OTC with the Olympic Ski jumps in the background. Posted by Picasa

Melania and I ski up a nice hill, Caitlin is behind me. This was the ski when we first saw all of the salamanders! It is nice to have long hills to ski on.  Posted by Picasa

Garrott, Gregg, & Santiago demonstrate how to use teamwork on the downhills. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Our workout today was crazy fun. Intervals are usually fun, but today was extra special because of several reasons.
1) There were about 16 athletes and 6 coaches.
2) We had a big hill.
3) We got to go as fast as we could.
So we classic ski up this hill for about four minutes as hard as we can until we reach a little side road where the coaches are hanging out. Then we pull off and stop with our heart rates super high and breathing hard to get our lactate tested. Usually your own coach, but if they didn’t have an empty lactate probe, someone else would beckon you over, wipe off a section of your finger and prick you with a needle gun, then they would suck up the blood (wiping away the first blood) into a testing strip. Then you wait around until it comes up with your blood lactate level (about a minute) and ski back down the hill to do it again! I thought it was fun to end an interval in such a chaotic area; there were three lactate testing spots set up and athletes coming in every 20-40 seconds. Craziness. And it was the first really hard intervals I had done all year so I was excited to see how hard I could go and pretend I was racing. Vroooom!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Being That Slow Kid

This morning's workout was exciting because we were finally doing the exact same workout in the exact same spot as some of the other groups here. It was a grand opportunity to measure oneself against the future competition, or something like that. I started out in the back of the pack and after twenty minutes couldn't even see anyone else anymore. Yep, because they were all somewhere way ahead of me. sigh. I was the slow kid off the back. So I skied by myself, thinking about technique and enjoying the scenery. On my way back in I found a turtle on the side of the road. And then I was the slow kid, skiing all by herself, who stopped to play with the local fauna. At least it's been a few years since I stopped to eat snow during a ski race.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Nature Ski

Melanie, Caitlin, Fish and I did our distance classic ski together this morning. I stopped to pee and while I was trying to catch up, I saw this little orange lizard thing on the pavement and thought, "that's crazy, I've never seen a lizard like that. It must be some kid's plastic toy that got lost out the car window." But when I caught the other girls, Caitlin confirmed that there were, in fact, bright orange salamanders out here crawling around. It was a cold, rainy morning so they were out on the pavement trying to warm up. All over, like west coast slugs. We also saw a frog and a deer. Then, as we started down a hill a black bear ran across the road in front of us. It was a cute little one that makes you say, "aww, cute" not one that makes you say, "eek!" And Caitlin and I talked about how we like that the water around here actually moves, like in brooks and rivers, as opposed to the Midwest where it sits in lakes and these extensive connecting bodies of water they call flowages.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


The cafeteria is open from 7am to 9pm. This is important because I got up at 6:45 this morning and went downstairs hoping for a pre-[pre-breakfast strength] workout snack and could not get any. Next time we have practice at 7am, I will steal a banana the night before. I am in the cafeteria about six times a day, eating meals, eating snackes, or getting tea. That is probably the best thing about OTCs; not having to cook or clean. Basically we don't have to do anything other than train. Which is why I am now studying Exercise Physiology. It is fascinating to read about exercise phys in a scientific textbook and not some magazine article. I finished the section on nutrition and now know some of the very tangible ways what I eat and when can affect my ability to train/perform. So that's my new try-to-keep-laura-mentally-stimulated tactic.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Bryan Fish does a better job being artistic at Niagra Falls than I do. Posted by Picasa

Lake Placid OTC

We took three days driving across to New York, and now I am at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center. It is not as big as the one in Colorado Springs or as spiffy looking, but there is still a good dining hall and our room each have their own bathroom. I am rooming with Melanie Hoffman but we have three beds and plenty of space. I haven't checked out the weight room yet... tomorrow.

I haven't figured out exactly who all is going to be here. It is a two week camp and some people are here for only one of the weeks. Melanie is only here for the first week so I will probably get a new roomate next week, who knows. Some of the CXC Team is here, a couple of juniors, and some of the U.S. Ski Team.

Token shot of me in front of Niagra Falls. The falls made me think of Pippi Longstocking going over them in a barrel, seems sketchy, not sure I would try it. Posted by Picasa

I try to be artistic in the rose garden.  Posted by Picasa

We checked out the botanical garden on the Canadian side of Niagra Falls. My favorite section was the alpine rock garden. And then I saw that they had Knapweed. Who PLANTS knapweed, I ask you. Posted by Picasa

So in Hayward there is a black squirrel that lives outside of our house and Gregg & I thought it was probably a mutant. You know, the opposite of an albino squirrel. But now I find the black squirrels are another species and, in fact, the Niagra Falls park only has black squirrels.  Posted by Picasa

On the deck of the Lake Express ferry before departure. Thanks to Lake Express for the sponsorship! Posted by Picasa

Gregg & I trying to hold on and smile for the camera while being buffetted by the spray. I am wearing my 50 cent sweater from the Sturgeon Bay thrift store... yeah thrift stores! Posted by Picasa

Fish, Gregg & I find wireless internet outside of the Door County Library. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lake Express Ferry

We took the Lake Express Ferry from Miwau, WI to Muskagon, MI yesterday morning to start off our road trip to New York. Lake Express is the title sponsor of CXC Ski Team so they gave us free Premier tickets for the ferry boat. The waves were a little big for such a small ferry trying to go so fast and we had plenty of sea-sick companions. I thought it was fun, but I also understood how it could make people sick. I had the most fun just trying to walk around the ferry because it was almost impossible to stand up with out holding onto something so trying to walk unaided was even tougher. So we carreened around drunkenly, slamming into walls when a big wave took us unawares. The other fun part was getting to go up into the captains deck and learn about the ship. Yeah, I got to sit in the captain's chair and watch us hit the waves (he didn't let me drive, but then again, the thing was on autopilot).

After the ferry we drove a lot and wound up staying in Flint, MI, which I have decided that I do not need to come back to.


I've heard that sweating is good for your skin. Cleans out the pores or something like that. Unfortunately, actually being sweaty is bad for the skin. My skin is objecting to so much training. I shower after every workout, but a 2 hour workout is still 2 hours of being sweaty that you just can't avoid. Maybe the ideal sport is swimming where you are continuously being cleaned as you sweat. Or practicing in the rain. We did rollerski workouts in the rain yesterday, which seemed to work because even Gregg's shirt smelled better after the workout than it did before. (My shirt not being applicable for a smell test since it started out clean.)

For the next couple of days we will be driving to Lake Placid... I will try and be good and take pictures, and then find internet to post them, but no promises.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

America's Dairyland

Next time I complain about how flat Walla Walla is, send me to Western Wisconsin. We are in the Green Bay area surrounded by cornfields, soy bean fields, cows, and picturesque red dairy farms among clusters of trees and grain silos. After a rollerski through the farmlands, Gregg & I met up with Fish at UW-GB and showered at their athletic center and are now using the UWGB wireless internet. I also used their bathrooms and was surprised to find a tampon dispenser for only 10¢! (The tampons, that is; the dispenser wasn't for sale.) Gregg and Fish were not as excited about this find as I was when I told them about it.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tea Time & Travel

Our last afternoon at Dennis's house we cleaned up and then had tea. And scones. Dennis has a scone cookbook and I found a really really good recipe, it was a cross between scones and coffee cake & was supposed to have blueberries in it but we lacked berries. We ended up sitting around taking our afternoon tea for about two hours and Bryan Fish came by and joined us for the second half.

Soon all three Br(i/y)ans will be here together so I am going to start referring to them by last names as follows:
Bryan Fish: Rhinelander, WI, our coach previously from UW-Green Bay.
Bryan Cook: Rhinelander, WI, athlete previously from Northern Mich. U.
Brian Gregg: Methow, WA, athlete previously from U of Alaska, Anchorage.

The following will be of little interest and is mainly to help me get my life straight in my head... where I will be and when:
9/5: Rhinelander, WI
9/6: Green Bay, WI
9/7-8: Door County, WI
9/9-11: En route to Lake Placid OTC
9/12-25: Lake Placid Olympic Training Center
9/26-10/15: Washington State area
10/16: back in WI for next training camp.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Laura & Brian's Longest Rollerski

We were planning on a nice, easy 3 hour over distance skate ski today and picked out a nice loop that Dennis had recommended. It ended up taking us 4:15 and we estimated it to be 37 miles. Oops. The roads (pavement & cars) were good for the most part except for the 3.5 miles between Cable and Dennis's house which practically vibrated my feet off of my ankles because the pavement is so rotten. That's the last time I try to rollerski directly from Dennis's house. So 4 hours and 15 minutes is the new longest time I've rollerskied with only one stop to refill our water bottles. Well, Brian got water; I stole lemonade. Immoral, maybe, but they're mostly just charging for the cup anyway (right?). Then I ate a cinnamon roll that I saved from breakfast, made Brian jealous that he didn't save himself a cinnamon roll, and took Fraser and Ella for a half hour walk. I was tired so we didn't run, usually I make them run with me because then Ella is tired and doesn't whine as much.

Henry H. Lightcap

I finished "Fool's Progress" and Henry H. Lightcap kind of grew on me by the end so maybe the book does have it's redeeming features. Now that I have finished I am NOT going to find another book; I am going to write an article or two and study for the LSAT.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Literary Distractions

Usually I can grab a few unclaimed minutes during the day to write out a blog but now I have been sucked into a novel even worse, it's in English so I don't get worn out from reading it and thus keep my reading time down. Worse again the protagonist is messed up so reading it makes me feel glum. Why can't I find myself a nice, happy uplifting book in complicated Spanish? But I found this on Dennis's shelves and want to finish it before we leave for Lake Placid, NY (Brian and I are house/dog sitting for Dennis while he is in Germany). The troublesome book is Edward Abbey's "The Fool's Progress." Good writing but depressing, I do not recommend it.

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