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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fresh Snow, No Snow

Fresh snow falling at Hatcher Pass this morning. I couldn't make out any of the contours of the landscape, just the tracks a couple feet in front of me. At least the new snow made it slow enough that I had time to figure out where I was supposed to be skiing on the downhills so I didn't crash and only skied off the trail a couple times.

It's been raining today down in Anchorage so all the snow melted away to a soggy mess of mud. I want so badly to get to ski at Kincaid before we leave for West Yellowstone (Nov 14th) but it's not looking good so far.

Don't forget to celebrate Dia de los Muertos Nov 1 & 2 even if it's just loking at skulls online and not making your own skeletal shrine or picking marigolds.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Base Miles

Base miles. Bah.

Ever noticed how much cyclists are into base miles? If I'm going to mock I might as well refrain from discriminating-- runners sometimes get overly fired up about base miles too, but I'll focus on cyclists. Road bikers think that every season requires a month or longer of menial drudgery at no greater than 75% exertion. This, they claim, is the foundation of every successful cycling season and without it, oh horrors, there's sure to be physical ailments in the knees, emotional ailments of lack of status amongst other cyclists, and those curious and otherwise inexplicable ailments also referred to as being slow. If the mantra "high hips" is the Holy Grail of Nordic skiing then the idiocy of "base miles" is the Holy Grail of cycling. Come on guys- there are better things to do with your life than to languish on your trainer in your small attic bedroom for months at a time, letting your unnaturally geometric tan lines fade to your natural but sickly white.

This guy's probably feeling virtuous, getting ready for another race season and plotting out his next tattoo to commemorate what he hopes to be his third season as the best rider at the local Sunday morning group rides.

Cyclists are a fastidious bunch. They hunt down training dogma like High School girls hunt down The Twilight Saga vampire trilogy. And like trashy teen romance novels involving vampires, surreal beauty, and rainy towns in Washington, the base mile credo is equally mythical and prevalent. Instead of fastidiously riding below a heart rate of 140 for oodles of time in a misdirected attempt to be fast and machinating the purchase of a dura-ace grouppo in a

$1,477.77 pursuit of speed, they should actually TRAIN.

I mean, if this guy spent half as much effort training as he does preparing to train, half as much time being concerned over the firing of his muscles as the falling drops of sweat on his fine hardwood floor or the sweat that he fears will drip onto his handlebars, he'd probably have some potential.

Not that he's planning on sweating on this ride. Who wears glasses on a trainer when they plan on having sweat dripping down into their faces? No, this fellow must be about to check off some of those crucial base miles. Looks like he's ready to go for hours with his water bottles lined up within easy reach along with a healthy snack to replenish his glycogen stores while he's riding. Ah, the perfect set up for success. All it's missing is consistent and challenging training sessions.

No, base miles are great when you're just starting out in a sport-- ease the muscles into the movement and build up the supporting ligaments and muscles. What kills me is that cyclists never seem to move on from base miles. They start over from zero every year. Will they ever realize that last year's race miles are this year's base miles?

...uh, I quit running and lately I've been riding my trainer a couple times a week. You can tell it's making me crazy.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


When I turned in my log on Sunday I noticed that I had completed my 26th week on my training log. 26 weeks down means half a year has gone by since I started training for this season. With almost four weeks to go until our first race in West Yellowstone there's SEVEN months of focused, ski-specific training before any ski races happen. I'm not as fast as I am because I'm talented. The US census estimates that on Oct 30 there will be 303,243,030 people living in the US. I'm going to estimate that there's about 100,000 women who have more athletic talent than I. Which would be troublesome except that not many of them have been training for skiing for the past 6 months. Not to mention the prior years, which all accumulate.

Now that I have six solid months it's time to back off the training regimen a little bit and start training more by feel. Time to be less concerned about getting in X hours per week or Y interval sessions and more concerned with how well I'm skiing and how my body's feeling. It's time to really start being FAST and fine-tuning for the race season. And I say it's about time.

Skiing up to Powerline Pass

For our OD on Sunday, Katie and I skied from Glen Alps up to Powerline Pass. We didn't ski up all of it, we had to walk the last part because one section lacked snow and then the very last pitch was really too steep. It was a little steep to be walking up carrying your skis in one hand and poles in the other, but we made it fine. (My mother would definitely not have approved. Oh well, I appear to have given up on doing things others would approve of.)

When we came down we traversed instead of dropping straight down the way we had come up. I've been practicing my tele turns, right, and I've learned a lot so far this winter (and it is winter already in my mind). My most valuable lesson that I needed for today was that I suck. Knowing that I'm still pretty awful at tele turns I opted to traverse down the valley instead of dropping down the slope. Katie, on the other hand, found a nice snow field and took some turns.

Katie Ronsse heading up to Powerline Pass.

katie's feet.

Looking down the other side of Powerline Pass. Yep, the sun is still only thinking about coming up.

Ronsse & Valaas on the top of Powerline Pass.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Doing what's Right

I realized this morning that I'm going to have to revise my algorithm for deciding whether I'm doing the "right" thing. One of my checks to see if what I'm doing is a good idea has been to ask myself if I'd make the same decision regardless of who was around me. It's the "if your mother knew about this, what would she say" kind of analysis. Most of the time I'm pretty self-satisfied and tell myself that of course I wouldn't change my behavior no matter who was around-- LAV does what LAV wants what LAV thinks is right.

Skiing up at Hatcher Pass has been great for one of my new goals-- learning how to make tele turns. One of my shortcomings as a skier is that I've never learned how to tele ski, so now I'm trying to remedy that. I hear it's easier to do when you actually have tele gear. Part of the trails are on a gradual uphill road, nice and wide and perfect for practicing tele turns! So I've been working on my turns every time I go down the road. On the short section when we're skiing loops at the top of the trail and on the long section when it's time to ski down to the parking lot. I've even been faithfully practicing during our L3 and L4 intervals. I mean, it only makes the downhill take a little longer, right?

When I started my L4 intervals this morning Erik cheerfully said, "I'll do this first one with you, Laura!" The interval started on the outhouse loop before dropping down to the first turnoff and back up to the highest loop. When we reached the downhill I faced a conundrum: tele turn or not? On one hand I'm very focused on my goals and I'd tele turned during every other interval we'd done up there, but on the other hand I didn't want Erik to think I wasn't taking the intervals seriously. My uneasiness froze me into inaction and before I had resolved my moral dilemma the downhill was over and it was time to ski hard again.

I went back to making tele turns on my remaining three intervals... there are some instances where it's fine (and probably better) if your coach doesn't know exactly what you're doing.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Race Season

I am so excited for race season. It's like waiting for Christmas. I'm even tempted to make an advent calendar for myself.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In case there's no snow falling where you are, you can just put this on loop and let it snow on your computer.

I don't know why one of my pole baskets decided to freeze into an iceball this morning. It made it wicked hard to get a decent pole plant until I stopped and shattered it by smashing it repeatedly against a sign post. Silly pole baskets. And why only one? And how did the snow start sticking in the first place? And how was there enough of a melting/freezing cycle for it to freeze into an ice blob?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Asking to Give Up

So often the difference between success and failure depends not on the individual but on the people mentoring the individual. Here, mentor is defined broadly to include anyone who influences the individual's choices. An individual will meet the standard expected of him or her. This is my "Asking to Give Up" theory that I'm developing as I write. And I'll finish explaining it in the second person so I can turn all those annoyingly long "an individual" phrases into "you".

When in pursuit of a goal, you ask to give up until someone, or a critical mass of someones, lets you. Anyone with whom you have direct contact and whose opinion you respect is someone who can allow you to give up: parents, teachers, coaches, bosses and friends, for example. These are the same people, however, who have the influence to hold you to a higher standard and prevent you from giving up. (Please note that this is not a theory on parenting; I am utterly unqualified and unwilling to venture to express an opinion on parenting.)

You read this and say smugly to yourself, "I don't ask to give up-- what a pathetic thing to do!" But I ask you to pause and be a little more self critical. Start by assuming you DO ask to give up and then build an argument for yourself otherwise; you will reach a more honest conclusion. Anytime you ask someone "is this good enough" or "have I done enough" you are asking to give up. Maybe you have given up before even starting a pursuit with an "I'm not going" or a "this is too complicated". I certainly have.

How amazing is it that someone can say to you: "finish that interval set" or "rewrite that essay" and you will do it and do it better than if that person had not been there pushing you to succeed? Today, that has been impressing me: the power of others to influence you. The power of coaches to say, "you're faster than this!" and for them saying it to make it true. The power of teachers to say, "you're smarter than your test score shows" and for them saying it to make it true. The power of a friend to say, "I think you're compassionate" and for them saying it to make it true. The power of words. The power of expectations. Today, I believe.

Eventually, when enough people have expected more of you than you have been willing to attempt, you stop asking to give up and start asking how far you can go.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


My day was almost ruined on Friday when I returned from skiing at Hatcher Pass and sat down to read my email from the day. (Almost-- luckily I'm pretty resiliently in a good mood.) It wasn't because there was any depressing news, rather it was because of the depressing grammar. Misplaced apostrophes and misused homophones abounded. Those were only some of the more flagrant errors that accosted me. There was one atrocious newsletter that I received. I'm sure it had good content but I haven't a clue what that content was because the grammatical errors distracted me from actually reading the newsletter. The only thing I really remember, and I remember it like a scene of carnage that you didn't want to see in the first place but still can't get out of your mind, is this: "make sure your kids ski's are in good condition." It's enough to make me cry.

I'm not speaking from a holier-than-thou perspective: my written grammar isn't perfect. My spoken grammar is worse. When I speak I end sentences with prepositions and when I write I tend to often split infinitives. (you're not laughing at my joke?) If I were to start my own club it would probably be "Jocks Against Grammatical Abuse". JAGA for short, and I'd pronounce it with a soft "j".

Friday, October 19, 2007

Erik Flora working on technique this morning at Hatcher Pass with Kikkan Randall and Taz Mannix.

Hatcher Pass would be a fun place to go even if I didn't ski simply because it's absolutely gorgeous.

The APU Elite/College Team re-waxing and plotting the day's workout. Yes, there are a ton of people in our group. It works though since almost every one of them does at least something better than I so there's some good traits & techniques I can pick up from my teammates.

The first sweet ditch dive of the season-- Dylan Watts.

In case you're in Anchorage and want the details on Hatcher: The coverage was good, no scratches in my skis. There is one big rock pushing through the classic tracks at the top of the course but it's easily stepped over. I was certain that the one corner would get cut out down to the pavement by the end of the day tomorrow if people were sliding it instead of skiing through it but it looks like it'll snow tonight so that might not end up being a problem. Come ski!

Thursday, October 18, 2007


A two hour classic rollerski seems so anticlimactic after skiing the past three days. But that's what it was today-- easy double pole on the coastal trail with several moose detours like normal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Algonquin Peak in the Adirondacks, NY.

Fortuitously, while we were out on our OD run Sunday morning (10/7/07) during the Lake Placid camp, Haley Johnson (MWSC, biathlon) was on a scenic flight over the Adirondacks. After conferring we decided that there was a pretty good chance that the little people standing on the top of Algonquin Peak were the CXC/SVSEF/USST group that I was running with!

Wright Peak in the Adirondacks, I didn't make the climb to the top, but some of the boys did.

Lake Placid, NY and Whiteface Mountain.

Thanks to Haley J for sharing taking and sharing these photos. There's more info about Haley and the Maine Winter Sports Center HERE.

HRM Denouement

Maybe this isn't enough of a saga to warrant the term "denouement" but I finally fixed my HRM. The strap battery was dead. I must say that I'm not very impressed with Polar for selling me a dead HRM strap. So after determining that it was something wrong with the HRM and not my heart by having some other guinea pigs try and fail to make it work I went down to Skinny Raven and bought a new strap. And now I know my heart rate, but frankly, I'm not all that convinced that it was worth the aggravation.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Alpina Roller Ski boots

There's nothing like finishing a 2hr rollerski and taking your boots off to find that your feet have been pickled in a brine-y pool of your own sweat. The folks at Alpina, bless their souls, have come up with a solution to the summer time trials of suffocating ski boots: rollerski boots. I'm sure this isn't the first time this has been done, but hey, I'm young and inexperienced so it's new to me.

These boots (both skate & classic) are a ventilated version of the Alpina racing boots. They have a low cut in the classic boot to expose the ankle to the wind and a mesh upper on the foot box so even the little pinky toes can breath. Dorcas WonSavage described some of the construction of the Rollerski boots, "Alpina has utilized new materials and construction techniques that are now available, in making the RRS and the RRC. First, because of the effect of taking away so much material from the winter boot meant some of the structural components needed to be changed. Second, as a way to test the new materials and techniques in Alpina's on-going evolution towards the perfect nordic skate and classic boot." (Dorcas is awesome and fast, but not just awesome because she's fast, and also is the Alpina rep.)

At the moment, if you wanted to get yourself a pair of these shoe-boot hybrids, you would have to 1) know the right people, and 2) be willing to pay the same price as for an Alpina racing boot. There's not very many of these boots out there because, as you can imagine, the rollerskiing market is not very big. (That's why you would have to know the right people.) If you don't want to hunt a pair down now but see yourself wanting a pair in the future the best thing to do would be to go to your local Alpina dealer and ask them to stock the boots.

I haven't tried the boots. The classic boots look like they might not have enough ankle support for my liking but the Alpina athletes that use them seem to like them.

**yes, those ARE Kris Freeman's feet

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chrissy May & I enjoying our first tracks of the season up at Glenn Alps on Monday!

No groomed trails yet, but who needs that for the first time in snow?

And then we stopped because there were moose all over the hillside. At least another nice skier had been stopped by the moose too and could take a photo for us.

(if you click on the photo to enlarge it you can see one of the moose to the left of Chrissy's shoulder)

Rollerski Races

Rollerski races are interesting things. More ski specific than anything else so you'd think they'd give an accurate snapshot of how the racers compare to each other. Then you throw in the ski speed variable and the the results can change from the same group in a snow ski race. Differing rollerski speeds are annoying. The only time it's useful is when Mary and Jane want to train together but Jane's way faster than Mary-- then you can put Mary on faster skis or Jane on slower skis and everyone's happy. In a race different ski speeds are good if you are racing to get a result. You can go buy the fastest rollerskis and give yourself a better shot at beating more people. Different rollerski speeds are bad if you're racing to get an accurate assessment of how your ski fitness compares to the other racers.

I wish there was a chart that gave factors for each type of rollerski or wheel so that if you were on X ski and Y wheel you would multiply your race time by 1.05 and if you were on W ski and Z wheel you would multiply your race time by 1.12. Then you could have an actual finishing time and a modified finishing time that would make it easier to compare across rollerskis. This chart would probably have to consider body mass of racer, temperature of pavement, and terrain to compare skis.

Until that's created here's the secret to rollerski racing with people on faster skis: ski faster.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Men Overall
OCTOBER 13, 2007


C R O S S C O U N T R Y 4 . 9 6 mile F R E E S T Y L E


CHIEF OF COMP. M. MAHER HD - Height Difference 705 M
MC - Maximum Climb 705 M
TC - Total Climb 0 M



1 62 Honeoye .... Douglas, Robert MOP /41 .... 34:56.6
2 5 Andover .... Freeman, Kris MOP USST/26 .... 37:09.1
3 22 Ketchum .... Hoffman, Noah MOJ SVSEF/18 .... 38:38.9
4 1 Vermontv .... Demong, Bill MOP USST/27 .... 40:55.8
5 60 Minneapo .... Liebsch, Matt MOP CXC/24 .... 40:58.1
6 59 Hayward .... Gregg, Brian MOP CXC/23 .... 41:09.7
7 21 Sun Vall .... Sinnott, Michael MOJ SVSEF/22 .... 41:11.8
8 54 Ketchum .... Rodgers, Colin MOP SVSEF/26 .... 41:18.5
9 99 .... Flora, Lars MOP /78 .... 41:27.6
10 58 Hayward .... Kuzzy, Garrott MOP CXC/24 .... 41:42.9
11 104 .... Hettenbaugh, Jason MOP .... 41:58.1
12 29 Middlbur .... Struthers, Colin MOJ MIDD/20 .... 42:48.4
13 34 Middlebu .... Johnson, Patrick MOJ MIDD/18 .... 42:50.6
14 6 Rhinelan .... Cook, Chris MOP USST/27 .... 43:40.4
15 7 Steamboa .... Fletcher, Bryan MOJ USST/21 .... 43:44.0
16 57 Duluth .... Watt, Andre MOP CXC/27 .... 43:48.9
17 18 Burlingt .... Carter, Eric MOJ UVM/20 .... 43:51.9
18 61 Steamboa .... Glueck, Alex MOP /24 .... 44:06.8
19 35 Middlebu .... Hamilton, Simi MOJ MIDD/21 .... 44:14.8
20 30 Middlebu .... Stark, Tom MOJ MIDD/18 .... 44:25.7
21 31 Middlebu .... Reynolds, Tim MOJ MIDD/21 .... 44:31.3
22 16 Burlingt .... Kosiba, Jesse MOJ UVM/19 .... 44:40.5
23 14 Burlingt .... Uhl, Juergen MOJ UVM/22 .... 44:41.9
24 9 Steamboa .... Miller, Alex MOJ USST/21 .... 44:44.7
25 11 Burlingt .... Ziegler, Chris MOJ UVM/20 .... 45:13.1
26 41 Lake Pla .... Delaney, Matt MOJ CLU/21 .... 45:35.6
27 4 Bozeman .... Zimmerman, Leif MOP USST/24 .... 45:37.1
28 38 Hayward.... Pierce, Matt MOJ CXC/18 .... 45:38.1
29 23 Hailey.... Pletcher, Reid MOJ SVSEF/19 .... 45:44.7
30 55 Caribou .... Chamberlain, David MOP MWSC/31 .... 45:45.4
31 37 Putney .... O'Brien, Patrick MOJ DAR/19 .... 46:18.3
32 24 Ketchum .... Sundali, Taylor MOJ SVSEF/18 .... 46:24.5
33 100 .... Junique, Paul MMA .... 46:46.3
34 56 Etna .... Marshall, Sam MOP GNA/19 .... 46:48.5
35 20 North Ya .... True, Benjamin MOJ SVSEF/21 .... 46:55.0
36 33 Middlebu .... Mommsen, Mike MOJ MIDD/19 .... 47:37.8
37 28 Caribou .... Bailey, Fred MOJ MWSC/22 .... 48:15.6
38 101 .... Soulieres, Andre MMA .... 48:27.2
39 25 Hailey .... Krankkala, Scott MOJ SVSEF/18 .... 48:33.5
40 105 .... Howe, Alex MOJ .... 48:37.3
41 32 Middlebu .... Johnson, Matt MOJ MIDD/21 .... 48:40.4
42 36 Sherborn .... Burruss, Oliver MOJ HAR/21 .... 48:43.3
43 26 Canton .... Noyes, Isaac MOJ SLU/21 .... 48:58.9
44 15 Burlingt .... Kerrigan, Ryan MOJ UVM/22 .... 50:15.3
45 102 .... Johnsn, Mark MOJ .... 50:23.5
46 8 Salt Lak .... Keate, Skyler MOJ USST/19 .... 50:33.9
47 52 Huntingt .... Hegman, Peter MJ2 MMU/16 .... 50:36.6
48 19 Salt Lak .... Page, Ben MOJ SVSEF/18 .... 50:57.2
49 49 Burlingt .... Webster, Ray MMA /32 .... 51:07.5
50 53 .... Erenstone, Jeff MMA NYSEF/77 .... 51:28.9
51 44 Peru .... Kobak, Jim MMA PNM/38 .... 51:39.3
52 39 Pittsfor .... Day, Derrick MOJ CLU/20 .... 51:50.4
53 106 .... Day, Chad MOP .... 53:31.7
54 45 Lake Pla .... Delaney, Brian MMA HPC/52 .... 55:29.6
55 46 Honeoye .... Gardner, Bernie MMA HFL/51 .... 55:47.3
56 51 Lake Pla .... Delaney, Colin MJ2 NYSEF/16 .... 56:24.5
57 27 Lake Pla .... Madden, Alex MOJ NYSEF/18 .... 56:28.3
58 43 Peru .... Rose, Christopher MMA PNM/37 .... 59:01.9
59 47 Interval .... Lucy, Nathaniel MMA /50 .... 59:05.5
60 40 Fairport .... Tetlow, Justin MOJ CLU/21 .... 59:42.3
61 103 .... Coffey, Patrick MOP .... 1:02:53.5
62 109 .... Hendrickson, Tyler MOJ .... 1:03:38.8
63 50 Scotia .... Kulmatiski, Andrew MMA /58 .... 1:12:25.2
64 108 .... Hunter, David MMA .... 1:12:51.6

3 Leavenwo Koos, Torin MOP USST/27 DNS
2 Shaftsbu Newell, Andy MOP USST/23 DNS
42 Fairport Losh, Alan MOJ /21 DNF
17 Burlingt Hickory, Ben MOJ UVM/21 DNF
13 Burlingt Horst, Fritz MOJ UVM/18 DNF
12 Burlingt Smith, Paul MOJ UVM/19 DNF
10 Burlingt Mann-Gow, Travis MOJ UVM/19 DNF
48 Oswego Curcio, Jerry MMA /52 DNS


Women Overall
OCTOBER 13, 2007


C R O S S C O U N T R Y 4 . 9 6 mile F R E E S T Y L E
START: 10:05


CHIEF OF COMP. M. MAHER HD - Height Difference 705 M
MC - Maximum Climb 705 M
TC - Total Climb 0 M



1 66 East Mon .... Stephen, Liz FOJ USST/20 .... 47:22.9
2 63 Ketchum .... Arritola, Morgan FOJ USST/21 .... 47:48.8
3 91 Hanover .... Wonsavage, Dorcas FMA FSC/42 .... 49:12.7
4 64 Sun Vall .... Turzian, Alexa FOJ USST/19 .... 50:31.4
5 65 Park Cit .... Brennan, Rosie FOJ USST/18 .... 51:43.5
6 97 Afton .... Diggins, Jessie FJ2 CXC/16 .... 52:05.3
7 67 Ketchum .... Whitcomb, Kate FOP SVSEF/26 .... 52:29.7
8 79 Ketchum .... Noyes, Mali FOJ SVSEF/18 .... 53:48.8
9 68 Ketchum .... Underwood, Kate FOP SVSEF/26 .... 53:58.9
10 74 Rocheste .... Snyder, Jessica FOP /23 .... 54:09.9
11 85 Middlebu .... Anderson, Robyn FOJ MIDD/20 .... 54:12.0
12 72 Hayward .... Owen, Kristina FOP CXC/23 .... 55:41.0
13 81 Middlebu .... Hamilton, Jenny FOJ MIDD/22 .... 55:49.3
14 69 Ketchum .... De Yong, Nicole FOP SVSEF/24 .... 56:26.1
15 83 Middlebu .... Luby, Claire FOJ MIDD/20 .... 58:55.3
16 77 Burlingt .... Stweart, Mary FOJ UVM/20 .... 59:00.3
17 94 Peru .... Killigrew, Megan FJ2 SMS/16 .... 59:55.8
18 73 Falcon H .... Winters, Johanna FOP CXC/23 .... 1:00:02.6
19 78 Burlingt .... Howe, Katrina FOJ UVM/21 .... 1:00:10.9
20 93 Peru .... Caldwell, Sophie FJ2 SMS/17 .... 1:02:03.5
21 88 Sobieski .... Hoffman, Melanie FOJ CXC/18 .... 1:02:47.7
22 98 Hayward .... Burger, Molly FJ2 /16 .... 1:02:58.1
23 75 Burlingt .... Bender, Jennie FOJ UVM/19 .... 1:03:12.7
24 86 Cambridg .... Schulz, Anna FOJ HAR/20 .... 1:03:53.7
25 82 Middlebu .... McClelland, Sophie FOJ MIDD/18 .... 1:04:07.2
26 92 Scotia .... Kulmatiski, Anna FMA /29 .... 1:07:23.3
27 90 Interval .... Lucy, Hanna FOJ /17 .... 1:08:45.9
28 76 Burlingt .... Walsh, Kelly FOJ UVM/18 .... 1:09:48.4
29 89 Hancock.... Mishica, Christina FOJ /18 .... 1:10:16.1
30 80 Landgrov .... Tyler, Parker FOJ SMS/17 .... 1:11:51.8

71 Lake Pla Devlin, Alyssa FOP HAR/19 DNS
70 Middlebu Erdman, Joy FOJ MIDD/22 DNS
87 Cambridg Mangan, Audrey FOJ HAR/19 DNF
84 Middlebu Edwards, Cassidy FOJ MIDD/20 DNF
96 Minneapo Ellis, Libby FJ2 CXC/16 DNF
95 Lake Pla Izzo, Elizabeth FJ2 NYSEF/15 DNS


After a short vacay with the family this weekend in Plain, WA (our family getaways rarely include internet access, hence my absence) I'm sitting in the Wenatchee airport (airport code EAT as in eat Wenatchee apples) waiting for the staff to finish checking people in before they walk down the short hallway to open up security for those of us on the 1:55 flight to Seattle. I highly recommend flying out of the Wenatchee airport if you ever have the option- very low key, no lines, free parking, free wireless, beautiful views of the Cascades on the way to Seattle (the only place you can fly from EAT).

Soon I'll be back in Alaska, I'm hoping it'll be winter when I get there.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Panther Circuit, Panther Racing

To be good at any sport you have to train, there's no secret to success, it just takes time. I've become used to that time being from 8-10 in the morning and 4-6 in the afternoon. It was a rude awakening this morning when I went to Panther Circuit. Panther Circuit is a morning workout Tuesdays and Thursdays at WHS that I spent three years of HS going too. Man, I was crazy, I can't believe I did that. So, knowing that it's an excellent, challenging workout, I decided to go to Panther Circuit this morning. PC is 6:15 to 7:15 in the gym. Thursday is a free weight circuit-- 60sec on and 15sec off and I needed to warmup so I ran there from my house. Which meant that I left my house at 5:55AM this morning, which meant that I woke up even EARLIER. Ugh. I have so much respect for people who can get up ridiculously early on a regular basis to train and then go to school/work and then train in the afternoon or evening. So tiring.

Then I got home and had second breakfast and my dad said, "we're going up to Mission Ridge for a short hike" so we do. And we hike up to Lake Clara where the colors are bold: green pines, gray rocks, yellow larches, blue sky, and then take one of my dad's Alternative Routes back to the car, which actually turns out to be quite painless for an Alternative Route.

And then my dad & Granny & I drive down to the Tri-Cities (like the twin cities, but 50% better) to watch my little sister run a cross country race. She does awesomely and absolutely flies by two girls who were pretty far ahead of her in the finishing sprint. Well, my little sister, looks like I'm not the only one in the Valaas family who has a little sprint in her legs.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Wenatchee, town of apples

I made it home to Wenatchee this morning and there right as I walked in my door was, in fact, a large box of freshly picked Wenatchee apples making the entryway smell like an apple orchard. Ah... apples that actually smell like apples!

I ran with my alma mater this afternoon-- the Wenatchee High School cross country running team (mostly to run with my little sis since there's not too many kids I know in HS anymore, but it was also great to see my old running coaches). They were doing a long run this afternoon. And by long they meant 45min which is not exactly what I would call "long." I'm sure I thought that was a long workout when I was running HS XC; it's funny how quickly your definitions of a long workout change. So I scoffed at the "long" run and set out with the team (after warm-up & drills) and quickly stopped scoffing because I realized that it had been a long time since I'd run on pavement. I hadn't appreciated the difference between running on pavement and dirt before but switching from all dirt to a 45min pavement run made me aware that it's HUGE. I'm sticking to dirt. That's probably why, in retrospect, I didn't manage to injure my feet or legs this summer.

(Some people buy new shoes, I'm opting not to run on pavement.)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Laura Valaas & Kristina Owen

I was psyched to have one of my old hometown friends here in Lake Placid to train with last week, Kristina Owen (CXC). Actually, it was pretty cool to have three representatives of the old Leavenworth junior team here: Koos, Owen & Valaas. Sunday we (Stina & I, Koos and the other sprinter boys slept in) went on a long run up Mt. Algonquin in the Adirondacks. This, apparently is a popular place to go on a fall Sunday because on the way back down we passed massive amounts of people, a surprising number of them speaking foreign languages. So I started trying out my hellos in different languages: spanish, russian, japanese, german, and french. French was the only one I ever guessed right but the few times I got a "bonjour" (or a chorus of bonjours) back from a group made up for all the other times when the people we passed probably thought I was crazy.

Climbing up waterfalls counts as part of our OD run, doesn't it?

Me crab-walking/slipping/falling back down the trail from Algonquin Peak.

Matt Whitcomb and Kristina Owen scrambling up the trail

I also want to point out that these photos were up Sunday afternoon on kristina's new website: www.kristinaowen.com which is brand new and has been up and running since Friday so check it out.


I used my rest day today to fly from NY to Seattle (home to Wenatchee tomorrow). It's starting to get to that time of year when rest days end up being big travel days and not actually very restful. A lot of coaches say that travel days don't "count" as rest days but when there's so few days to train and travel days are lost to training it gets hard to fit in "real" rest days.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

HRM review

The heart rate monitor was an unmitigated failure. Sure, it looks hot, but the dang thing doesn't read my heart rate. Pissed me off this morning and I couldn't even forget about it because every time I looked at my watch I'd see the HR reading telling me that my heart rate was either 00 or around 46. My max heart rate for the (sprint) workout: 60. Lame. Then I got even more pissed off because I was pissed off about something as stupid and inconsequential as a heart rate monitor. Something is wrong when what should be a sweet workout is a bad ski. Argh.

Then a rainstorm started and somehow that put me in a good mood today. So if anyone knows a good way to fix this problem let me know. Otherwise there will be a very nice very new HRM on the market next week. (Obviously I have tried getting the strap wet-- water, spit, sweat, tears, nothing worked.)

I don't even want to try to take it on our 2-3hr OD run tomorrow. Possibly knowing my HR is not even worth probably being frustrated by my brand new watch not working.

Friday, October 05, 2007


I finally did it... I finally bought a heart rate monitor and it is in my possession. (There should be a grammar rule against using three two-letter words in a row, or maybe that falls in the style category (but it should be in the grammar category).) I have used a heart rate monitor before-- I think I had one briefly when I was 15 or 16 and I've borrowed one sporadically for workouts. But now I have my very own Polar F6 which I got mostly because I got fed up with being asked what my heart rate is and Not Having An Answer. I abhor Not Having An Answer.

During today's workout (skating: 3min sprint prelim, 15min recovery, 2x(3x90sec) easy sprint pace, 2hr total ski time) I'll be checking my heart rate after every interval and I earnestly hope that one of the coaches says something like, "hey Laura, what was your HR on that last interval?" so that for once I can have an immediate and accurate answer and not have to pause for 6sec to take my pulse or give my best guess.

I also wanted to point out that, despite what the marketers would have you believe, it's totally possible to train, race, and improve WITHOUT A HEART RATE MONITOR (or a power meter, for that matter).

I know, I totally shook the foundations of your most sacred theology.


Every time I'm out skiing I'm working on my technique. Scratch that, ALMOST every time I'm out skiing I'm working on my technique. Sometimes there's better conversations to be had with fellow skiers than ski technique.

Today we double poled for 2:15 out near Saranac Lake. Double pole: simple. You bring your poles up, plant them, and push yourself forward. So simple, I keep thinking that I should be able to figure it out much more quickly than I am. Today I was trying to get my hands to swing higher in front with the swinging motion initiating from the shoulder not the elbow. The elbow, as I understand it, starts at about 90° (this angle will change with speed and terrain), remains locked at about 90° through the poling motion, extends to straight at the very end if tempo allows for it, then takes the entire return of the hands to come back to 90°. Since the elbows aren't hinging, the movement has to come from the shoulder socket. From a side view the shoulder to torso angle should be open at least 90°. If this was dance the coaches would say, "imagine there's a bouquet of flowers coming out of your armpit." I know, I strange thing to say, but I've had at least four dance instructors say that very sentence. If you haven't tried this much forward arm swing before, it feels incredibly awkward unless you're sprinting.

There, I can write arm swing into one single paragraph... now why can't I DO it?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

USSA License renewal

Don't forget to renew your USSA license if you'll be racing this year. After October 15th there is a $25 dollar late fee.

pdf of USSA application:


(this announcement courtesy of Miss Holly Brooks, APU coach, and more on top of this kind of stuff than I am.)
There was a guy (maybe we will call him a cinematographer) taking video today while we were doing L3 double pole intervals. I don't know exactly what he was planning on using the footage for but I hope he got a good shot of my...


That's right a little bit of rhinestones on the fingernails, courtesy of Kristina Owen. (KO's nails are equally hot courtesy of me!)

Definitely the first (and most likely the last) time I've ever had such sweet nails.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


The best part of Lake Placid is the people, by far. It's great having a bunch of dedicated, focused people around.

Mostly though, I'm psyched to get a chance to hang out and train with the CXC team again. I love being in Alaska but I miss my old teammates!

Out here right now is the USST, Sun Valley Team, CXC, Maine Winter SC, and there should be some college skiers coming up for the weekends.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Entrance to the OTC at Lake Placid.

Okay, it's just the entrance (and lantern lined drive) to someone's house that I rollerskied by this morning. It's not quite paradise, but it is nice to be back at the OTC for a week!

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