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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Heading to Lake Placid, NY

I made it to Lake Placid finally. Well, actually I haven't made it quite yet-- I'm in the Chicago O'hare airport, but by the time I post this when I get to Lake Placid, I'll have made it. There is one open wireless network but... I'm a little skeptical about public WiFi in Chicago so I'm staying off it. It's that small town distrust of big cities coming out in me (and no one better point out that I live in Anchorage). I would like to tell you how beautiful the fall is in upstate New York but my imagination probably isn't any better than yours so I'll instead direct you HERE to see some unbelievable autumnal leaf photos.

On Sunday, when I was in SLC, I went on a run with Barb Jones and Wendy Wagner. I'm not telling you this because I want you to know how cool I am, hanging out with Barb & Wags (although hopefully you'll make the inference), I'm telling you because these women both retired from skiing and now are twice as amazing. So my newest idea for a research project is interviewing and writing about retired skiers. Skiers have an abundance of talent outside of skiing and it's fascinating to hear about what past skiers are doing now that they're not focusing 100% on training and racing. Hmm.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


I know my schedule says I'm in Park City right now. It's lying. I'm in Anchorage. Just warming up for the chaos and uncertainty of race season! The rollerski treadmill in Park City is out of commission so we decided that I should stay in Anchorage for the week. Now, though, I'm outta here: one of those awful overnight flights to SLC tonight, Sunday in SLC (probably sleeping) and Monday morning to Lake Placid for a taste of the New England fall!

Getting in some rollerskiing on Hillside Drive on Friday and watching the snow line creep down the mountainsides.

photo by Miss Ronsse.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

The Other Side of the Table

Last night (Thursday) I was helping with registration out with a K-6 Cross Country Jamboree in Chugiak. It was quite a difference from my usual role at races. This time I was the one sitting behind the table with all the answers. It's a completely different perspective. Usually I'm concerned about getting my warm-up in, getting my bib, knowing my start time, testing my wax... as you can see it's a lot of me, me, me. At this race though it was all about helping the kids (and worried parents) get ready to go. It gave me a much greater empathy (and appreciation) for race volunteers, officials, and organizers. I mean, can't people fill out forms with legible handwriting? I even got the are-you-stupid? look from one mom when I didn't have an immediate answer to her unique question. I was caught off guard by that but it did shock me into forming the thought, "don't think less of someone just because he or she can't answer one question (ask at least five)."

Races aren't too bad from the other side of the table, especially when the weather is nice. It was pretty sweet to see all of the Elementary school kids out getting excited for their race and wearing their medals afterwards.

The race was organized by Healthy Futures.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


There's snow in the mountains and it is so unbelievably beautiful. I am starting to get fired up to get back on the race circuit!


I'm guessing most of you know about these services but in case you're not on their mailing lists and would like to be:

Toko provides a newsletter with updates about Toko products and Toko athletes. To sign up go to www.TokoUS.com and on the bottom of the main entry page, they will have the option to sign up to receive the Toko eBlasts. There is the option to receive Alpine, Cross Country, and Snowboard information.

Ski Post is an informative e-newsletter with articles and upcoming events produced by the Subaru Factory Team and the Salomon Athlete & Event Force. To sign up email: Nordic-subscribe@mailman.montana.com

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rest Weeks

There's something about rest weeks... I always think I'm going to be able to catch up on everything I've been putting off, but I always seem to have just as little time when I'm training ten hours as when I'm training twenty. And I thought my time-management skills were pretty good, what gives?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Spazter- Just to confirm that we're talking about the same burberry patter... when you get a suit out of this stuff be sure and come find me on the trail.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Dear Lav,

Wassup! I could use a little advice and I like your candor, if I may say so, so here goes.

I'm sort of a middle aged dude skier, kind of just got into it, takes me away from the workaday you know, and I want to get into racing a little bit this year. Get the proverbial toe in the water. I like to skate I like the rush of wind in my hair and the sweat and the full body workout. Like a lot of people probably. Test myself.

Here's my inquiry. Regarding getting a race suit. Geez Louise to bite that off or not, you know? I'll be honest with you here, some of them look a little fruity tooti. Not that that isn't okay for some people but this is what I'm seeing out there:

This one's pretty bad but I don't ever go to Minnesota:

This one looks like some kind of outfit you slip into before the ship goes down. Help the Coast Guard find you:

Then you got this, which is a little more subtle with the Evel Knievel thing going on:

Jury's out on that.

How about this?:

I'm thinking luge team here, I'm looking for the big helmet! Whoa!

I'm kind of digging the Shark, though:

What do you think of the Shark? Those are like gills or something, that's a nice touch.

I'll be honest with you. I like the ladies and the ladies like me. I don't want to blow my cred out here and look like a Fred or something if you know what I mean.

Can you help a guy out? Stay cool!

Stosh in Tahoe


My Style-Sensitive Amigo,

The sad truth of the matter is that all race suits are garish. Instead of agonizing over which race suit to get you need to recognize that the crucial point here is WHEN to wear a race suit. That being said, it's far worse to not have a race suit on when in a race-suit situation than to be wearing a race suit for a casual training day. If you show up to the start of the California Gold Rush with your training pants on and a polar fleece you won't be walking away from that race with any phone numbers. (Or at least not mine!)

Then again, the coolness factor of spandex is inversely proportional to your distance from the ski trails so the usefulness of a race suit compared to the price (I think these babies run $100+) is depressingly small. I mean, sure you could probably get some coffee (hot chocolate for me) at the little cafe at the trail head, but stopping at the grocery store in your matching racing spandex is not gonna fly no matter how fast you can ski.

Speaking of skiing fast, don't think you have to be able to ski fast to wear a race suit. As long as you're racing as hard as you can treat yourself like a pro: wear the sweet suit, match your hat, jump up and down and swing your arms around before the start, bury your ski bases in flouro powders regardless of the actual snow conditions. Do not, however, wear a white racing suit unless you're real fast, like on-the-swedish-national-team fast.

Of the suits you chose to bash I do think the Sportful and the Craft Shark suit are the least offensive.


p.s. Ask LAV posts only exist when LAV gets questions. LAV would be particularly pleased to field math questions lately... need help on your linear algebra homework?


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kincaid Stampede

The start of the women's race at Kincaid Park.

This afternoon was nice and clear for the Kincaid stampede mass start classical rollerski race. There was a 6km race and a 12km race. For some reason they always want the women to do the shorter races. Not something I understand, but that's how "they" do it.

Taz Mannix was my obliging photographer today so all of these photos are thanks to her. Taz only recently has returned to Anchorage from being home recovering from appendicitis so she wasn't racing and got to hone her photography skills instead of her double-pole today. We missed her terribly while she was gone and are very glad to have her back at practice. I'm sure that Mishka was glad to have her home in Talkeetna for awhile though. Mishka is Taz's pet polar bear and hasn't gotten ridden much since Taz moved to Anchorage to train and attend APU.

Kate "I'm tougher than you and you know it" Arduser

Brent "At some point in my career I want to be a male model" Knight

Kalysta "I'm going to beat you and look hot doing it" Schmidt

Mikey "Chuck Norris" Matteson

Katie "You only think I'm cute until I pass you" Ronsse

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

I'm so amazed by how beautiful it is here. Everyday to get to look down at the ocean and up at the mountains turning red and golden.

Rollerskiing on Old Rabbit Creek Rd.

Looking down from Potter Valley Rd.

Looking down from Potter Valley Rd.

Potter Marsh


For warm-up before strength we do some plyometrics/spenst (as does almost every ski team). When I wanted a video of the skate jumps, my team was very cute and all jumped together with the same timing.

In case you want to know who's jumping:

Boy's Line: Brent Knight, Bart dengel, Jeff Ellis, Dylan Watts, Peter Kling, Mikey Matteson, Kalysta Schmidt (uh, not a boy).

Girl's Line: Kikkan Randall, Kate Arduser, Cassi Rice, Sarah Radonich, Katie Ronsse, Becca Rorabaugh, Ky Eiben, Holly Brooks, Erika Klaar, Kate Fitzgerald.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Termination Dust II

In case you've been loosing sleep over the origin of the term termination dust:

(hey, some of us get worked up about etymology, don't make fun.)

Back in AK in the 40's & 50's there was a lot of construction projects. The equipment wasn't very fancy, though, so as soon as the snow hit the construction would stop. So when the snow first appeared in the mountains it meant that people were going to get terminated pretty soon.

source: Jim Burkholder, which I consider a trustworthy source.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


...it looks like Landis finally got his Tour de France title officially revoked.

VeloNews Article
Ky Eiben

One of the few things that can keep me from blogging is a good arts & craft project. Ronsee & I made an "It's My Birthday" shirt for Ky to wear at practice today since Miss Eiben is 19 today. You can't see the best part of the shirt: jingle bells on the sleeves so she jingles when she skis!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The saddest part of my week...

is that there's no APU practice on Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19). What good is being part of a ski team if you don't even get together to pretend to be pirates on Talk Like A Pirate Day?

Monday, September 17, 2007


Seven. Seven moose. And for all but two we had to turn and take a different route. (The trio involved tonight was Jeff Ellis, Kikkan & I out for an evening run in Kincaid. This was not a good trio for me since I was the slowest sprinter there.) One bull moose came trotting at us as we approached him along the fenceline trail. It was the first time I'd really been challenged by a moose and I didn't have to think twice before running in the opposite direction. I think they're starting to get a little angsty-- you know, getting ready to do their moose thing like they do in the fall. The days are getting shorter; we lose 6minutes of daylight tomorrow. Fine, only about 5:45min. All right, it's only a loss of 5:39, don't be such a stickler for specificity.

Our last moose was on the way home just when we really did't want to be taking a detour. It's only one moose and the trail's pretty wide, thanks to Burky who's been out on a big tractor-mower mowing the Kincaid trails for the past couple days, and we start to edge around her. After a couple of false starts where we balk and stop and look at the moose and go forward and stop and the moose looks at us we make it to the crux where we're almost around her and we think we'll make it when she spins and charges at us. Okay, she false charged, but when you're not used to having big moose with their ears all flattened back against skulls and their bulgy eyes bulging out at you it feels like a jousting tournament. So we three break like a school of minnows darted at by an orca. Jeff springs (and, he does spring, actually, quite like a deer) in the direction we're headed and Kikkan and I spin back on our heels and run back where we came from. Another foray by Kikkan and me, another charge by the moose, another retreat. Then the moose turns her back on us and we make it past. Such is life by Kincaid park.

On another note, someone pointed out to me that I have to count the money that APU and USST spend on me in my income column. So I guess that puts me far away from being poor. Although it's very odd to have other people decided how your "income" gets spent.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Some of my readers who Notice Things may already have noticed that a new thing has appeared on my website-- a donate button on the right hand sidebar.

Now you have to opportunity to support my training and be a part of my journey.

Most of my training and racing expenses are covered by either APU or the USST with APU contributing about 15k and USST contributing about 35k. This does not include coaches' salaries. The value of the coaches' expertise and insight are undervalued if you consider salaries anyway. This does cover waxing, lodging on trips, some travel, equipment, car rentals, race entry/trail use fees. A considerable amount of the 15k from APU goes to funding our glacier camps. The rest of my life (food, rent, car expenses, some domestic travel) gets funded by me. The money from both APU and the USST comes from their respective endowments, membership dues, and team sponsors, with some additional money coming to APUNSC from Alaska Pacific University so if you already contribute money via one venue or another to APU or the USST, thanks!

I've been reluctant to ask for money because I have a theory about money. This theory is: If you think you need more money, you need more money. If you don't think you need more money, you have enough. So I didn't want to ask for money because then I would be poor and discontented-- and who wants to be poor and discontented? So if you want to make a contribution you can know that you will have an immediate and positive effect on my training. Because with more money I would buy more fresh fruits and vegetables... and I really SHOULD be eating more fruits and vegetables.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

New Schedule

Probably one of the most exciting activities of the fall is planning out the race schedule. So that's what I did this morning (after my 2.5hr classic rollerski, priorities are priorities). You may share my excitement by checking my schedule page. This isn't my ACTUAL schedule, it's merely what I'd LIKE my schedule to be. Of course, knowing what you'd like your schedule to look like is the first step to getting there!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Termination Dust

While we're on the topic of good words (didn't you think "interrobang" a good word?) I learned a new phrase from Katie Ronsse this morning: Termination Dust. The conversation went something like this:

KR: Did you see the termination dust this morning?
LAV: Did I what?
KR: Did you see the termination dust this morning?
LAV: The what?
KR: The termination dust.
LAV: I'm sorry, what did you say?

At this point I know what she said by it's like she's speaking a foreign language and I have no idea what she means. Termination dust!? I'm starting to think Katie's gone D&D on me (um... that's Dungeons & Dragons in case you're not part of the cool kids club). And I'm sure Katie probably thinks that I'm daft.

KR (gesturing at the Chugach mountains): The light dusting of snow in the mountains-- it's the end of summer.

And so I learned that termination dust is the first light snowfall in the mountains. I think this term must be unique to Alaska because I've never heard it before. But then again, I've only really lived in Washington, so maybe I've just been oblivious. Does anyone out there not from Alaska use this term?

Aside from exciting new phrases, there was a tiny bit of new snow in the mountains this morning and that's pretty exciting on its own!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


What is going on!? It's only the beginning of September and the leaves are starting to turn colors and making little slick patches on the road when I'm trying to rollerski.


bonus material:

"!?" or "?!" the interrobang from the combination of the interrogative point (?) and the exclamation mark (!), also known as the 'bang' back in the typesetting days of printing.

(Introduced to me by Miss Andrea Kunz)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Training Log

Last week's training log is HERE.

It doesn't have the the weekly hours on this page (there's another tab calculating weekly totals) so I will tell you so you don't have to do any addition: 20:49 for the sept 3-9. There's actually 19 different tabs in the Excel workbook that APU uses for a training log. I'm sure each and every one is useful but I can't help but think that someone just went a little excel crazy when he or she designed it.

20+ hrs is a significant amount of training for most people, but for me last week was just a rest week.


Ha! just kidding. Hope you didn't believe that, jeez, I'm not THAT amazing.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Training Log

I really wanted to post a snapshot of last week's training log so you could see what that looks like. Because training logs are an integral part of the ski racing life and I don't talk about mine ever... but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist! No log currently posted, but I know that you're absolutely dying to know the nitty-gritty details of my training so hopefully I will figure out a clever way to display one week of training tomorrow...

Sunday, September 09, 2007


I left for a ski this morning, grabbing my poles and skis from where they live in my car. I then classic skied for almost ten minutes before noticing that my right pole was a skating pole. And even then I didn't notice that my poles were different lengths, I had looked at my hands to see how far apart they were when I double poled and thought, "that's strange, I wonder if I always bring my right hand up higher than my left." Then I figured it out and skied back home to get my other classic pole. So later today I duct taped the tips of my skate poles so I wouldn't have to feel like an utter fool again.

They say a clever man learns from his mistakes but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. It's too late for me to be wise, but not too late for you (presumably).

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Blustery Day

I wasn't sure today would be a Good Day for rollerskiing. It wasn't raining at my house but the sun hadn't ever come up either and the base of the mountains where we were meeting to ski appeared even more ominous from my perspective on the coast. Yesterday morning it was a Balmy 48° and I skied in shorts and a T-shirt. This morning was another matter entirely; at a Frigid 48° I plunged my hand straight into the spandex drawer to pull out tights and a long sleeve top. Then I threw on a jacket for good measure. My first action after opening my trunk was to take off running around the parking lot chasing down the stray race numbers and energy bar wrappers that the wind immediately whipped out of my car (next time I park in a windy lot I will remember you, Mr. Bernoulli!). Rainy. Windy. It was going to be a long ski. I teamed up with Kate Arduser (Pearson) since 2.5hr skis on Blustery Days are best done with a buddy. It was so windy there were times when you'd come around a corner and come to a standstill. It was so windy I was worried my contacts were going to get sucked from my eyeballs and blown across town into Turnagain Bay. It was so windy that if you handed me my time trail bike with a set of HED Lite Lenticular Discs on it and said that if I rode it instead of rollerskiing for the workout I could Keep The Discs... I wouldn't do it. There was one point where Kate turned to me and said, "I think the wind's dying down" I agreed without pointing out that the Rain was doing quite the opposite from dying down. Then I moved into the lead and within 5 minutes hit the worst headwind we'd had yet. There were at least 10 solid steps where I didn't go anywhere because when I picked up my foot to step forward it got blown backwards as fast as I could bring it forwards. This looks like the end of my sunny Alaskan experience.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Moose Factor

If you take the ratio of my actual to planned time spent training it's about 1.046. I call this the moose factor. I go out for a run in Kincaid and am heading home when I run into a moose on the trail. If the moose doesn't look like he's about to move, I find another way home. Or I'll be cycling along the coastal trail and come around a corner and... there's a moose. So I double back and forth until he wanders off the trail. I think that I may have discovered why Alaska has produced so many good skiers: they simply end up training more than their counterparts from non-moose country.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


I started feeling sick again yesterday. You know how it goes-- sore throat, tired, sore from the day before for no good reason. At first there's denial, the inward chanting of the mantra "I'm not sick, I'm healthy, I'm not sick, I'm healthy." Then, when I realized that I would be skipping workouts I got mad. What right does Sick have to mess with the Master Training Plan?

Then I decided to take a page from the book of Kikkan Randall/Brian Gregg. So I slept. For around 14hrs. Going to bed at 7:30 and sleeping until 9:30, just waking up briefly at 7 to call Erik before practice to see if he really wanted me there or if I could go back to sleep. Now feel much better about life and training.

(Kikkan Randall & Brian Gregg are very close to tied, in my small sphere of experience, for the Longest Time Spent Sleeping within 24hrs Record.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Big News from Labor Day Weekend:

87.7lb cabbage wins the Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off at the Alaska State Fair!

(just a reality check in case you were starting to think that Alaska was all that.)

News story here.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Winner Creek Pass

John Weddleton, Rich Suddock & Alan Schmitz climbing up to Winner Creek Pass

Laura Valaas

I forgot how sore Lost Lake made me and agreed to go on another trail run this weekend. Every hike I go on up here I say "this is gorgeous, I have to come back here again" but there's so many trails that I haven't been on yet that I want to go explore all the new trails too. It's a conundrum.


Sunday, September 02, 2007


Seattle's Music and Art Festival Bumbershoot is this weekend. The coolest part about Bumbershoot? The Bumbershoot video trailer. By far.

The video was made by my cousin, Sean Pecknold (with help from Chris Alderson, J. Baab, Matt Daniels and Tae Rhee), who is brilliant. If you watch the video (and you should even if you live in Whitehorse and don't particularly care about Seattle events) you'll probably want to know where the soundtrack comes from because that rocks too. The soundtrack is "White Winter Hymnal" by The Fleet Foxes. The fleet foxes are led by my other brilliant cousin Robin Pecknold. Actually I refer to all of my cousins as brilliant so it isn't a very good distinguisher.

View Sean's video about making the Bumbershoot trailer HERE on his www.bygrandchildren.com website.

Read an article about the Bumbershoot trailer HERE.

You can hear more of the Fleet Foxes at their myspace page HERE!

Also, if you want some sort of athletically-related piece of information in this blog Sean has a bicycle love story video up on his wearemilk.com website HERE. It's a high quality of video so it takes awhile to load.

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