sprints tomorrow, gettin stoked.
Hello fellow nordies!
Yesterday I joined up with the UNR Winter Sports Club, including my FW Farm Team teammate Gus Johnson, for a run/hike up Mt. Tallac in South Lake Tahoe. The workout was tough for me today, after a really hard interval session last night, but it was a blast. Despite my not being able to run most of the steeper sections due to (extremely) tired legs, I pushed the pace on the hiking sections and was able to make it to the top in a little over an hour and a half. As usual, we were in for a real treat at the top. If you haven’t yet done this spectacular hike (as I hadn’t done until last summer, despite growing up in Tahoe!), I highly recommend you get out there and check it out. The views are absolutely incredible, spanning over Lake Tahoe and some of the surrounding lakes including Fallen Leaf, as well as the vast Desolation Wilderness. The terrain is quite steep and the elevation gain over the five-mile route to the summit is significant, making for a great distance workout, even at a slower pace.
All in all, it is a truly special experience, and was again today, on my fourth trip up the mountain. I was tired at the top, and didn’t quite have the guts to jump right near the summit’s edge for photos, as Gus, August and Nikki did, but still loved the views and the thrill of the accomplishment. The way down went quickly, as I was able to run consistently, taking care not to roll an ankle on any lose rocks. But despite losing elevation, my legs remained fatigued, as the steep downhills provide a great lower body strength workout. Needless to say, I was pleased to see the car when I arrived at the bottom!
After the workout, everyone humored my request to go see the salmon spawning at nearby Taylor Creek, and they were glad they did — or at least convinced me they were. I know I was. This is also a really special and unique experience, though a bit concerning when you really think about the fact that you’re examining the animals in their final moments of life; ‘last sacrifice,’ so to speak. BUT, that’s nature I guess. And it’s cool how it all comes full-circle for the fish. At any rate, I’d never seen this before, and was glad I did. The many bright red fish swimming together upstream is a sight unlike many other. I also recommend checking this out sometime. South Lake is a neat place in the fall!
It’s great to be back around the sierras racing and training. I spent much of the summer in NY as a camp counselor, and now that I’m back in school at UNR it’s good to be back at elevation. I’m also very excited to be skiing with the Far West Farm Team again this year. I think it is going to be a good year.
Mostly I just wanted to say hello again, but here are a few pictures from my training adventures over the past few weeks (including a ski on October 7th!)
Well, it seems like spring is just around the corner. One day I heard Saturday would be clear. Then it was Sunday. Now it’s Monday. Rest assured, the weather will clear and we will have the benefit of 700 inches of snow at higher elevations. Which leaves us a lot to work with.
Recently, the local race schedule has been a little bit empty. The Gold Rush postponement was a setback, not least for people who had traveled a long ways to be there. As a registration helper the day before, no one can say that Royal Gorge/Far West did not make an all out effort to hold the race. The racing is not nearly over yet. There is a race or two every weekend from now until April 16th. For anyone who has not yet moved on to their spring sport, now is the time to be on snow having fun and maybe doing some technique too.
I paraphrase Colby ski coach Tracey Cote: In November no one thinks twice about driving 10 hours roundtrip to Canada for 2 days on marginal snow. In March people pass up a foot of base even though it’s right outside their door. (Shameless plug: The Colby Ski Trails are actually right outside the door. Having two final exams in one day does not prevent ski training.)
In our case, March is nearly over and April looks like a full month of great skiing. For anyone inclined toward backcountry skiing, May and June are also fair game. Pack your swimsuit and the sunscreen. It’s time for spring skiing.
I am not referring to the skiing marathon that takes place in Mammoth every April. This marathon was the other kind filled with driving and waxing. Friday was the first day I had been to Mammoth’s Tamarack XC since I was 10 or 11 years old. It’s a distant memory from the time when I thought that all classic skis have fishscales and that skating is just for ice rinks. It was strange to come back ~15 years later as a coach.
But enough nostalgia. Incline Nordic had an awesome day on Friday! I am told the weather and the waxing conditions were vastly better than they have been for several years. Freshman Evan Vomund and Juniors Melanie Swick and Ashley Vomund posted some of their best results yet in high school league racing. Evan notched his season best result with 2nd in open division and a stellar 10th overall when varsity and open results are combined. Melanie placed 6th in the varsity division, a season best for her as well. Ashley was 10th in open division and 13th in combined results. With top finishers coming in around 20 minutes, the course was slightly longer than other distance races in the high school racing circuit. Our skiers loved the course. View complete results and photos of the race.
The ride back was long. It builds team bonding or character or something else that’s good for you I am sure. I think everyone gained a richer appreciation of how hard Mammoth High has to work just to show up every Friday for 2 months of competition. To steal a page from Gus, I am going to share something from our admittedly trashy playlist on the way home. Dragostea din tei is a song everyone can enjoy, but no one can understand. The video is new to me and it’s sort of entertaining.
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!
After an incredible week of training and racing in West Yellowstone, I am back to the “grind” on the North shore of Lake Tahoe. It’s not as bad as it sounds though. Now more than ever I appreciate why I moved here: the sun, the lake, and the awesome skiing community, which brings me to the next bit . . .
Today I trained with Incline High School’s nordic team at Tahoe XC. We did some exercises focusing on forward body position (without poles) and another balance exercise focusing on extending glide and transferring weight. We followed this with an easy 40 minute ski.
After about one week of on-snow training, they look pretty good! The athletes are fit from running in the fall, but the transition to skiing can be tricky. They are balanced and coordinated. I look forward to helping out head coach Kathy Vomund with training and racing in whatever way I can this winter.