Canada, Eh?

Here is an anecdote from Rossland, British Columbia:

SVSEF  arrived in Rossland last night (Tuesday night) around 4:30pm. After unpacking the van, myself, Mikey Sinnott and Farm Team member Chelsea Holmes decided to go for an easy jog in the dark to loosen up. We made our way to the race venue (about 1.6km from out condo) and had a look around. Unfortunately it has rained here the past few days. There is still plenty of snow, but it is really hard and icy (this makes for GREAT klister skiing however, which is not unfortunate). Anyway, after looking around the stadium and realizing the skate track was so hard and icy we could run on it we decided to run the 5km race loop, in the dark (there are lighted trails but this loop was not lit). The running was surprisingly good, with only the occasional annoyingness of a foot breaking through the hard crust. I wish I could say we were accosted by a Grizzly bear, but sadly that didn’t happen…

Anyway,  on the farthest part of the loop we saw two people skiing a bit behind us. We quickly ran and hid in the trees next to the course. When the two skiers came  cruising by us in the dark we jumped out and heckled them. We scared them pretty good. Some of you may be wondering if we knew who these people were. The answer is no. We had no idea who we were scaring but it was funny anyway.

This morning (Wednesday) when we arrived at the venue to ski, Jessie Diggins and Jason Cork (athlete and coach from CXC) made a comment about, “some clowns” who jumped out and scared the hell out of them last night when they were skiing. They  suspected Mikey and I were guilty… We subtly confirmed their suspicions.

Surprisingly (or maybe not surprising if you know Mikey Sinnott and I) this is just ONE instance of mischief from the last day and a half…

Races coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Mini Tour. High stakes, should be fun.


Royal Gorge 10km and Cross Country Snowboarding

First, thanks to Auburn Ski  Club for a great race at Royal Gorge. The snow was a little bit colder and faster than I expected. (Well, the downhill nature of the course helped too.) I was really happy about my 4th place finish and my crash-less race. I can never take the latter bit for granted.

In other news, Tahoe XC had a potluck dinner Saturday night. It was packed wall to wall. As a prologue to a slideshow, we were treated to a video hyping the next breakout sport. For nordies with fitness and tenacity, I think this is a can’t-miss opportunity for us to get in on the ground level. Who knows? It could be an Olympic sport soon.

Hear it from the skootchers themselves:

A new gig

Last week, I started my new coaching job at North Tahoe High School. It went great.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and admittedly slightly nervous on the first day, stepping into a role that has long been occupied by the same all-stars, Elyah Gordon and Randolph Green. What would the kids think of me? Would they welcome me as their new head coach, or be opposed to the change? What would be the first thing I said?

But, luckily for me, both Randolph and Elyah are still around and helping out a TON, which has really helped to ease my transition in as head coach, and also helped make it easier on the team as well. Randolph even showed up the first day — greeted by enthusiastic hugs and hellos from all the kids — to provide an introduction and be a crutch for me to lean on that first day of practice. I was glad he was there.

Since that first day, which ended up being just fine — I committed no major coaching faux pas that I know of! — things have only gotten better. I am already getting to know the athletes pretty well on an individual basis, and learning about their skiing abilities and goals. They are a unique group, each with their own range of experience and very different personalities. It has been a lot of fun getting to know them!

There have been some adjustments, certainly, both for me and for them. I don’t know that they are particularly in favor of my hard-nosed attitude about drills, drills, drills… BUT, they will thank me later. This I know for sure. I mean, you have to learn how to ski before you can actually go ski, right?! I really think they’ve learned a lot already, and it’s showing. I like that! On the other hand, they’ve taught me lots too: the value of “adventure days” and what an adventure day entails; the fact that there is HOT CHOCOLATE in the huts at Tahoe XC (did you know this?! If not, you better get on it!!); the importance of a good apres-practice group sing and dance sess;  just how hysterical teenagers really are this days!! … and the list will only continue to grow.

I think things are off to a great start, and personally, I am just feeling really good about it. I am anxious to see where the rest of the season takes us, and I hope I can continue to be a good guide along the way.

When Life Gets in the Way

Ahhhhh! This is how I feel about myself right now.  With my stuffy nose and sore throat I feel like the little elf in the Puff’s tissue commercial.  Being sick is the most irritating occurrence…well it seems so at the moment.  The past few days I have been stuck inside bored OUT OF MY MIND.  With all this time to think I end up sitting around cursing myself with a strong desire to throw a child-like tantrum.  Luckily enough this frustration has come full circle and I’ve realized I should be grateful for how good life really is.  Like Matt I had to decide against racing this weekend in BC, I was not thrilled.  But when it comes to racing (and life) things never seem to go exactly the way you plan.  There is always something, whether a sore joint, an odd pain, a procrastinated term paper and so on.  Deal with it you big baby (me to myself).  If my complaint is that I’ve got a cold this week, I suppose things aren’t bad at all…

So here I am hoping that I can simply make lemon aid from these lemons, or maybe somehow eggnog since it is the holidays and it’s delicious.  Or maybe I’ll learn Italian this week, since I secretly (and very much) wish I lived there  (though I’ve never been anywhere in Europe).

PS An absolute must-read:  Bill Bryson’s Notes From A Big Country.  Brilliantly hilarious.   Of particular note is the article Your Tax Form Explained.  Not exactly related to Nordic skiing, but isn’t it that laughter is the best medicine?

Happy racing!

ski and school

It might happen during a busy week of school or work that you can’t do what you like most. To ski obviously! =). All those assignments and papers and meetings etc. seem to come in your way, and you might decide against going up to the mountains, for learning on that biology or statistics test. Well, think again. Going out there for a couple hours and get your head free will help you to concentrate after you return to your book or paper.

So grab your skis and get out there. I know your books can wait, but your body can’t!

Awesome day at Tahoe XC with rain in the forecast :(

Today was a superb day of training with the Incline Highlanders at Tahoe XC. The trails are thinner than last week due to some high temperatures but everything is still skiable. We are skating this week. Today we did some no-pole skiing, an almost daily exercise, and some double pole initiation exercises emphasizing explosive power at the start of a poling cycle.

If you picture a skier about to plant poles there is a lot of core and shoulder aligned to apply force. As the handles move down and the skiers moves forward, there is much less leverage available to the skier. Follow-through is still good, if there is time, but there is not all that much force applied in the follow through. It’s not an energy-intensive exercise either. Think of it as a way to train the mind rather than the body. Even when skiing slow and easy I think it’s important to emphasize efficient technique. Good habits applied to every training day make for good habits in speed/interval workouts and in races too.

On a bummer note, there is rain forecasted for the next three days. Our base is thin in some places already. With a snow level around 7000 feet, Donner Summit trails at Royal Gorge and Auburn Ski Club, there should still be skiable snow. Lower elevations are going to get melted badly. As a resident on the north shore I am fairly bummed out. Let’s hope this storm misses!

In Sickness and in Health…

Ski racing (unlike marriage) is supposed to be done in health only, NOT in sickness….

Here’s a story from this week:

I awoke last Tuesday morning to feel a slight head cold. I took the day off, my second in a row, and thought nothing of it. On Wednesday I could still feel the head cold lingering a little bit, but it was almost non existent; I was on the mend so I decided on a short afternoon jog.  the following two days (Thursday and Friday) I did some easy skiing. Both days my head cold was ALMOST non-existent and was marginally improving. Saturday morning I woke up feeling terrible. My first thought was to call my buddy and tell him I felt terrible and was going to rest instead of train. Against my better judgment, I convinced myself to get up, get out the door and go train. It’s race season, I need to stay on schedule and train. I felt ok skiing.Within an hour after I finished my training session I felt pretty terrible. As the hours wore on, my condition got worse and worse. By Saturday evening I was exhausted with a raging head cold and an achy body.

Today, Tuesday Dec. 7, I am still recovering. I had to cancel my trip to race in Canada this weekend (however I will be able to make it to the races next weekend in Canada) and am still unable to train.

The moral of this story, actually there are a couple, are very simple: Listen to your body, make sure you are healthy, and during race season it is better to err on the side of caution/rest.

First, listen to your body. I am very good with this, however I end up breaking this rule every few years and relearning it. If I had listened to my body (instead of my head), which told me I was borderline sick and needed to rest on Saturday morning, I might not be sick right now. Note this is not an excuse to slack, any good athlete knows when their body is not well.

Second, make sure you are healthy before you begin training or racing again. I am guilty of this in the beginning of the week. I was still a little sick and pushed  back into training too early, before I had fully recovered. This can easily prolong the sickness for weeks as you train at 85% health and continue to have lingering symptoms. It is VERY important to take the time you need to get completely healthy before you jump back into training.

Third, during race season, err on the side of rest. Volume and bulk training is already accomplished, you need to be rested to race well. You cannot race to your full potential if you are sick. Take the time you need to be completely healthy. Don’t force yourself into race situations at less than 100% as this will negatively impact your racing and  prolong your sickness.

Don’t make the mistake I made. If you’re sick, get better, then train and race. Not listening to your body and trying to push it is only going to make you worse off in the long run and frustrate the hell out of you because you will look back and know exactly where you screwed up. I have seen people ruin a half season or more by not obeying these simple rules and having lingering sickness.

Follow these guidelines and your body and, for richer or poorer, you will be well off in your training and racing.