From now on I am going to have much more sympathy for people with divorced parents. APU and the USST were in houses in the same neighborhood here in West and since my bed at the APU house was a mattress on the floor in a closet I opted to spend some of the pre-race nights at the USST house since they had an extra bed. I was very glad to have the option to hang out at the USST house and it was good to get to spend some more time with my other teammates. I did realize that trying to live in two different houses at the same time could complicate life.
On another divorce note... out of the 13 APU-ers here (including staff) there's only one whose parents are divorced. Which is a 7.7% divorce rate which I believe is substantially below the current national average. My conclusion: cross country skiing is good for family values.
The SuperTour races in Bozeman and Soldier Hollow so we (both APU & USST) are heading up to Silver Star on Monday in anticipation for the races there next weekend. It's a bummer not to get any more SuperTour races this fall but the competition in Canada should be good. I think we get a skate sprint and classic distance race, but I haven't checked yet.
9km point-to-point skate tomorrow. I start at 13:24:30 MST.
It felt so good to have another real race day. I've had running & rollerskiing races this summer, but somehow it's not the same as a legit ski race. Getting back into the race mode this morning made me super happy. It was nice to get back into the flow of warming up and ski testing and putting on the race top and bib. It was good to be racing. Simple. Ski as hard as possible.
I found the best store in West Yellowstone... The Bookworm on Canyon St. It is chock full of books, floor to ceiling, all walls. I had just spent a solid 2+ hours studying and was feeling like life was fabulous so I bought myself a book. One of Nabokov's that I hadn't even heard about before-- the Real Life of Sebastian Knight. It's a little bit absurd how happy that made me. I can't wait to get to reading. & I'm sure Ronsse will be happy that I will have my own book for awhile and will stop trying to steal hers.
"today, I am happy to announce that I have selected two-time Olympian Luke Bodensteiner as the vice president, athletics. Luke grew up competing in the USSA pipeline, had great success as an athlete and has a track record of accomplishment in his 12 years with our organization.
As vice president, athletics, Luke will oversee the integration of the USSA's six sports under a unified strategic plan. The plan will emphasize high performance services to those sport programs in sport education, sport science and sports medicine, as part of a consolidated effort to achieve our vision of being the best in the world.
After starting with the USSA developing what is now known as the cross country SuperTour in 1996, Luke was named cross country manager in 1997, nordic director in 2001 and associate athletic director for high performance in March of this year. Under his leadership, the USSA has seen some of its strongest nordic performances ever with nordic combined World Championship gold and silver from Johnny Spillane and Billy Demong. Under his long-term direction, the U.S. Ski Team has enjoyed some of its greatest cross country success with the USA now challenging for wins.
Luke has shown his skills as a talented and innovative leader. Coupled with the strong leadership already in place in each of our sport programs, Luke will be responsible for ensuring that those programs have maximum impact toward achieving our goal of being best in the world.
We had the traditional post sunset ski in West Yellowstone after arriving earlier today. I thought that I wasn't really excited to ski because I'd gone skiing on Friday but as soon as I put on my skis and headed down the road on the High Plateau I was giddy enough to put some serious spring in my kick. Although everyone said it was good enough for race skis I opted for my rock skis since one pair of race skis is enough to ruin before December. I'm sure race skis would have come through fine but there were definitely a few parts of the trail that weren't snow colored. Not that I could see very well since there wasn't much of a moon and my very nice headlamp serves as a receptacle for dead batteries. 40min out I was a little worried since it was getting quite dark and we had a short stint of L3 to do on the way back. A light came bobbing down the trail and it looked to be about small girl height up from the snow. Maybe Taz, who earlier in the ski had informed us that she was 5' 3 1/2". Five minutes into the conversation she asserted that she was actually 5' 3 and three quarters of an inch. Or, to clarify, "I'm 5'3 1/2" but closer to 5'4" than 5'3", I guess you could call me a tall 5'3 1/2"." Which I thought was cute enough to belong in an A.A. Milne book. Anyway, this light looked liked it belonged to someone about a little taller than 5'3 1/2" and it was Taz. Taz & Duser, actually, although Duser was without headlamp also so I didn't notice her at first. I spun around and we did our L3 together. Duser and I fluttered around the glow from the Taz lantern like nervous moths.
Snow storm in Anchorage all day Saturday. It looks like the ice puddles on my car's floor mat from where snow melted off my shoes several weeks ago are going to remain there for the rest of the winter. I'm sending this from Anchorage but hopefully we'll make it out of this snowstorm and down to the arid West without too much trouble.
Kikkan's hair turned a vibrant pink. More than anything else this is a sign that it's time to get to RACING. Kikkan leaves for Finland Saturday morning and the rest of our APU group will be down in Bozeman late Saturday night and in to West Yellowstone on Sunday...
Don't forget that US Cross Country Nationals are going to be right here out my front door at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, AK. The registration fee goes up December 20th so if you're planning on racing be sure and get yourself registered online HERE.
Here's the schedule:
Saturday Jan 3: Classic Sprint Monday Jan 5: 10/15 Skate Wednesday Jan 7: 5/10 Classic Thursday Jan 8: Skate Team Sprint
I have suspected as much for some time now, but I think it's been confirmed. We were doing intervals this morning through a nice cold fog and between sweating and the frost forming on the outside of our clothes from us steaming, it was a damp and cold situation. Post-intervals, Duser pulls out a nice, dry hat from her water belt. I wished I had a nice, dry hat.
AND she explained to me how to tell the difference between fox tracks and small dog tracks.
The skiing at Hilltop has been fantastic this weekend. On Friday I passed a group of South High skiers with shovels and packing down the trails. On Saturday and Monday I saw Jan Buron out shoveling snow onto the trails. I didn't ski Sunday so I don't have any good deeds to report from that day. But, there were a ton of trees down across that trails from a storm earlier this fall that were miraculously cleared away before our first snowfall. I like being among the Anchorage ski community.
Life in Anchorage is getting wrapped up. There's only a few more days before we head down to West Yellowstone and kick off the 08-09 season. I am totally at peace with Anchorage life and ready to leave it behind. I've accomplished my goals for the summer and fall and now it is time to move on to winter.
On my way home from practice coming down Dimond (& that is how it's spelled for the non-anchorageans) someone spun a 180° turn across our lanes. There was a huge gravel truck to my right and I thought for sure this car was going to get smashed. But it was the calmest un-accident I've ever been a part of. The entire cohort of cars split to the sides of the road and stopped. No one even honked. No contact at all between any vehicles. There was 5 seconds of stillness and then the backwards facing car finished his circle and we all moved back into the traffic lanes and continued on. I was pretty impressed with my fellow Alaskans (and very grateful that my parents bought me new tires for Christmas). Impressed with everyone except for that one dude that probably tried to change direction abruptly through snow at pretty a fast speed and spun out of control.
I had the delightful experience of insistent knocking on my door this morning at 6:35. It was Arnold & Kathy of Houston representing USADA. Which was fine although it took up some time this morning. What was a bother was that I didn't even produce a valid sample because I was too hydrated and my specific gravity was too low. Drats. If USADA is going to make me pee into bottles and double check that said bottles haven't been tampered with and have the correct ID number on them and sign my name five times I at least want to be able to add a negative test result to the list.
I broke a pair of skis today. That's right, a pair of 'em, not just one ski. The irony is that I finally got around to pulling out something other than seriously rocked rock skis. This morning I grabbed a pair of skate skis that I like for firm track sprinting since I figured the snow at Hatcher Pass would be nice and packed down and rock-free and we were doing L5 intervals. Nothing like race skis on interval day! Then I had my skis leaning up against the back of the van, doors open, and the wind slammed the door shut. And that was that, my skis were knocked to the ground with a definite kink about 8" down from the tip. So much for busting out the race skis today. I think it's a divine sign that I need to not take my skiing so seriously. Or maybe I just need to remember not to lean my skis up in the path of any doors or other moving threats.
The L5 workout was fantastic though-- a tough workout at high speeds. The roof of my mouth started to get tingly and I tasted metal. Ah, the flavor of fun.
And this afternoon was also fantastic-- L3 double pole at Hilltop. It felt like we were skiing much faster than we probably were because it was dark. The girls skied as a pack (Ronski, Kikkan, Duser, Valaas, Taz, Wrecka). There's something very satisfying in skiing as a pack with your teammates. Satisfying and motivating.
Every morning when I wake up the first thing I think about is what I'm doing for training that day. Okay, actually the first thing I think is, "do I really have to wake up right now or can I sleep for another ten minutes?" Which would make the second thing I think about my training. While skiing is my first priority I keep a smorgasbord of other activities on tap and find that they continually bring me new perspectives on skiing and enrich my life. (Working with my Elementary School students definitely falls under this category but that's not the topic for today.)
I had to do something new today, something that I knew I wasn't going to be able to do well, which is how I like to do things. So after 2hrs of skiing this morning I started thinking about this next task. The task, without getting too sidetracked, involved communicating in what I'll describe as coded English. I was nervous and probably as anxious as I ever get. I did all the prep work I could but I knew it would be obvious that I was a complete novice.
I was right, of course, I messed up just about all of my communications. Some things take experience and a comfort level that I frankly didn't have today, couldn't have possibly had. I came away with a list of things-to-do-differently-next-time that would have inked my entire forearm if I'd been taking notes.
I may have bungled all the details of the exercise but I managed to accomplish the main purpose. I didn't do it exactly right but I did it. Afterward I mentally took a step back and considered the experience. I realized (similarly to how you've already realized this was leading to an epiphany) that the important thing was to accomplish the main purpose of my task. I had been getting hung up on the details. Sometimes I get so flustered on the supporting details of what I'm doing that I forget what I'm actually... doing.
When I'm ski racing the main point is not to increase my tempo or pick good lines or get complete weight transfer, the point is to Ski As Fast As I Can. Truly, all the details are there to assist the Ski Fast goal but if I focus on the details sometimes I'm too consumed with skiing well that I forget that I'm supposed to be skiing fast. Plus, when my mind is full of details, a myriad of potential things to do wrong, it is prohibitively intimidating. There's no possible way I can get everything right every race. And if I tell myself that I'm not going to get everything perfect there's a very real possibility that I'll concede defeat before the race even begins. Must not be done. Really, what I need to focus on is the main purpose. I have spent endless hours training and working on my technique. I need to have faith in that training and let go of my technique concerns, my obsession with the details. When I'm ski racing I need to think about covering the most amount of ground in the least time.
I also took a deep breath today and acknowledged that being inept at something wasn't all that bad. I'm still learning. A lot. In all areas of my life. And it's okay to be wrong and mistaken and imperfect.
I committed one of the cardinal sins of training today. I swear I had no idea it was going to be this bad but somehow my delinquency got out of hand. The sin is this: skipping workouts and "making them up" later. I have in the past strongly condemned this practice. But this week I was pulling myself through hand over hand and somehow there were afternoons when a run simply wasn't in the game plan. I kept thinking, "I'll do it later..." This is actually extremely uncharacteristic of me. I had decided (just after sunset Wednesday) that I would make Wednesday a day off and do Wednesday's recovery on Sunday so I knew I was going to run on Sunday and I was looking forward to it but when I got ready this morning I added up my skipped runs from the week and realized that I had missed THREE HOURS of running. Um, three hours is not exactly insignificant. Wow. I am impressed with myself for getting into this situation. I know & I've preached that there is no pushing back workouts, there's training windows you either fill with workouts or you miss the opportunity. You can't clump all your training together on the weekend and rationalize that it averages out for the week. I wanted to run anyway so I ran but I realized that if it was anyone else I could spew a lecture on why not to do overdue workouts.
Even now I'm not sure if I would have done the week differently though based on what I was doing, how I felt, and how much I enjoyed my run this morning. (Except for the serious bruise on my shin from running into a chain-- it was fog colored like everything else this morning.) I don't know. It feels like a minor moral dilemma. Any thoughts? I know it is a much more prevalent issue for athletes with a more complicated priority list.