Tuesday, May 12, 2015

15 Favorites of this Spring

These last four weeks have gone speedier than ever… a break that didn't hardly feel like a break. It is sort of a Cross Country Skiers tendency to take advantage of a "break" by packing the time with as much as possible. Because we spend 11 months of the year focusing and committing solely to our sport and our training… we think of our break more as a "life break" than a physical break. What this means is that all the "real life" activities that we have to say no to all year, we say yes to every single option in our one month break. Sleep less…. play harder. Not your normal version of a break, but for me, this is perfect. It is the perfect amount of being a "real person" that allows my mind to set free, and then be focused when I need to be. After about four weeks of living this "real person" way though, I start missing the structure and commitment of sport, and that is when I know it is time to start training again. Because I managed to pack so much in this spring, I will do a more brief synopsis by sharing my 15 favorite moments for the past month. 

1. Sleeping in my bed- although there was not so much actual "sleeping", because I was doing a bit too much playing… one can never underestimate the pleasure of tucking yourself into your own bed. I probably spend 50 nights of the 365 nights of the year in my own house, in my own bed… so this becomes a true treat when I get to snuggle in to my own bed!

2. Tough Slusher- Getting out in the mud and slush and leading a 3k/5k running race for the young kids. So great to see so many families and kids out there having fun! This is the way I got into sport as a kid, so it is neat to see this young generation grow into loving sport as well.

Handing out medals at the finish line. Love this little girl with the huge smile!
3. Tour de Saltchuk- Saltchuk has been an incredible sponsor this past year. Their corporate values are similar to those of mine. It has been great to work with a company that prides itself on their safety, reliability and commitment to the communities they operate in. Their support has been vital for my ski racing this past year. I got to go down to Seattle and Tacoma to take a tour and help launch the company wide food drive for the Saltchuk companies. It was great to meet so many friendly and wonderful people. Not only that, I got to learn so much more about this incredible family owned company that has been supporting me this past year. By the end of my busy three day tour, I couldn't be more proud and thankful to represent and partner with this company!

Private tour of the Foss Shipyard. So many pieces behind the building of a boat!
Getting to know some of the Delta Western employees.
Visiting the Tote Maritime Terminal down in Tacoma.
Signing posters for some of the employees and their kids at Tote.
Telling Olympic stories to some of the Interstate employees down in Tacoma.
4. Bridal Shower- I made it down to Seattle just in time for my sisters bridal shower. I haven't been around weddings at all, so I got to learn what a Bridal Shower even is. It was so fun to spend time with Kaley, our family, and all her hilarious and amazing friends. It was an entertaining afternoon of games and fun girl time!

Kaley and her bridesmaids (minus Penny and Julie)
Kaley and her wrapping paper bouquet. 
Wedding dress fitting with Kaley.
5. Bachelorette Party- 8 ladies set free in Hermosa Beach, L.A. We were a wild bunch, but we had so much fun! Boogie boarding, biking, playing games on the beach, soaking in the sun, running along the bike paths, dancing, and enjoying life. I have officially fallen in love with my sisters friends. It was so great to share this fun weekend with these 8 ladies and celebrate Kaley getting married. Now I can't even wait for the wedding in June!

Morning runs along the beach.

The Team
Confused... but cute!
6. Valdez Tour- I took two separate tours to Valdez to visit Jo and Company. Every spring he spends 2-3 weeks camping at Thompson Pass, and backcountry skiing. Since I have often gone all winter without seeing him.. I have to go search for him to get some time with him. This means packing up my backcountry gear and heading for Thompson Pass. The first trip we had really bad weather, so I only got to do one short line. So, Jo talked me into going back and trying again. This time we were a little more lucky. One day we left camp at 10AM and didn't make it back until 1AM… covering the whole glacier tour of Valdez. We are using snowmobiles for access and then boot packing, so it allowed us to cover a huge area! I am blown away by the amount of terrain and beauty in that area! Jo did a fine job of challenging me, scaring me to death, and teaching me some new levels of confidence. It feels good to conquer fear, even if it doesn't always feel like it when you are standing on the top. I think I might stick to the nordic skiing though :)

One of the Foggy afternoons we built this massive Igloo that the boys slept in for the next two weeks.
Here is a link to a video that one of Jo's friends from France put together. Gives you an idea of how amazing it is. These guys are incredible skiers and obviously skiing much harder stuff than I can, but if you go to 2:17 you can see Charline ski down just beside my tracks for one of my scarier runs.

7. Family Week- My family came up for a week leading into my graduation. It was one of my best weeks in AK. I got to share my life, my training grounds, my friends, and some adventures with them. We were lucky enough to get to go flying with Harry McDonald over all the nearby glaciers, including the one we train on all summer. It was neat to share just how vast Alaska is with my family! We fit in an endless amount of adventures and fun. I don't think we sat more than 10 seconds the whole week.
Jo's Family also traveled from France for two weeks. It was fun for our families to meet!
Hiking in the mountains with my parents
Turnagain Arm with my Aunti
Harry and my parents.
8. Graduating- I didn't really expect it to feel like such an achievement, but as I walked across stage to get my diploma, and went on to give a little speech about what APU has meant to me… I was flushed with a feeling of achievement. I have always looked at skiing as my highest achievements, but my college degree is now up there. Graduating with Summa Cum Laude, a double major, and also reaching many of my skiing goals at the same time is something I will also take with me. While it was some of my more stressful and challenging years, I am really proud to have accomplished it. Next up, I am going for MBA starting this fall, so the fun will all begin again! It's a pretty good life I get to live! Thanks Alaska Pacific University for making it possible.

My parents and I.
Double Diplomas

Hugs for the School President, Don Bantz.
9. APU Fundraiser- Our Annual APU Fundraiser happens every spring, and is entirely athlete organized. What this means is that mixed in with our busy springs, we also have to fit in some discipline in order to organize our fundraiser that brings in the majority of the financial support for our team. It is always a big task, and an incredibly packed and stressful week leading into the event; but again, it is so rewarding after it is finished. This year was really fun and unique to see so much energy and excitement at the event. Thanks to everyone that showed up and supported us. We truly appreciate it.

10. Hiking Time- This spring I have gotten to do a few Alaskan hikes I have never done, including making it to the top of Bird Ridge. It is always fun to reach new peaks and ridges!

Top of Bird Ridge
11. Lap Swimming- I love incorporating some lap swimming into my spring training. I grew up swim racing, so it always brings back the best memories and feelings to jump into the pool once or twice a week and bang out some miles!

12. Catching up with Friends- After being gone for months on end, I love the spring time to catch up with friends that I have been so bad about staying in touch with!

13. National Bike to School Day- This year I helped lead some of the young kids in the Ocean View Community on their bike to school. National Bike to School Day is a holiday that encourages young kids to use biking to school to get outdoors, and be active. There are so many bike paths and side walks available to kids in Anchorage, so it is great to see so much participation. We are lucky to have this available to us. I used to bike to school some as a kid, except I had to plan an hour because it was about a 12-15 mile ride to the school. It sure did help me feel a bit better when I was sitting in class for long hours all day long!

Bike to School.
14. Crust Cruising- There haven't been too many opportunities this year with a low snow pack year.. but any time I get to get out there, it is the best type of spring time adventuring!

Crust Cruising with Jo
15. Rosie B makes the US Team- my favorite training buddy and the amazing Rosie Brennan got named to the US Ski Team which is really exciting. She overcame some really challenging life tests last year, and it was incredible to see her charge through and come out running. Congrats Rosie! One more APU member to join the roster!

Monday, March 30, 2015

End of Season

What a great end to the 2014/2015 season these past two weeks in Sun Valley, Idaho! Spring Series/Spring Nationals has always been a love-hate relationship for me. Coming back from World Cup, I often feel blown out and just ready to be done! Racing four more times can sound so terrible. On the other hand…. spring series is a time to almost "celebrate" the season during racing. We often refer to it as "letting our hair down". We try to focus a little less, smile a little more, and keep things a little bit lighter.

It may not be the beach... but it is sand! Finding some sunshine in the middle of the golf course.
Fun to meet up with some of the kids from back home that I grew up babysitting. Walker Hall was crushing it all week!
"letting your hair down" or "letting your sleeves down". (Reese Brown photo)
Feed.... yes please! (Reese Brown photo).
This year was a unique one. The US Ski Team as a group was more blown out than ever at the completion of the World Cup Season. I think we all raced far more this year than we have in the past. Also, we ended with a challenging 30k skate race at Holmenkollen that left us all exhausted! Traveling overseas the following morning delivered everyone back to the US simply BLOWN OUT! Sadly, this left a bunch of the US Team sick, tired, or injured for these final few days of racing.
Sprinting in the sun. (Fasterskier photo)
Some challenging relay racing in the snow... with my klister skis. I wasn't imaging winter conditions when I packed my ski bag in Europe... so bringing only klister skis home proved to be a mistake! (Fasterskier photo).
Sun Valley, living up the the "sunny" piece!
Doing some racing with one of my favorite training buddies! (Reese Brown photo)
Somehow, I got really lucky, and my immune system jumped into overdrive trying to help me recover from this challenging and long World Cup Season. The amazing Sun Valley Vitamin D sure seemed to help, Not only that, some family time cured me right up!

Pretty fun to be wearing some Craft with the APU team this week! (Noah Hoffman photo)
Having family around this past week was the highlight of the week. My Grandma and Mom, as well as my dear family friends from Seattle all came out and cheered on my brother and I. We even got a visit from my Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins for the 30k Skate! It was so nice to be able to have some family time after a long season where homesick seemed to visit me all to often throughout the past four months! I also especially enjoyed getting to join back up with my home team, Alaska Pacific University. I love this team, and have so much fun training and racing with these guys. It has been great to join back up with everyone, catch up on winter racing stories, and go to the line wearing my blue APU uniform!

As you can see... my mom has been in a bit of a different climate than me these past few months!
Hanging out with my Mom and Granny in SV.
Our wonderful Family Friends and Hosts, Peter and Kristiann.
That's a happy Granny!
Throughout the four races this past week in Sun Valley, I experienced every different emotional feeling. Exhaustion, excitement, nervousness, but finally, I finished with a great feeling of accomplishment! As I crossed the line the final day, the 30k Skate National Championship, I flopped across the finish line falling into the snow knowing I had given every last bit of energy towards this season! I finished happy, accomplished, and proud of what I have done this year. What a fun 2014/2015 racing season. Ending it with four podiums just put some fun icing on the cake.

Exhaustion (Reese Brown photo).
Excitement! (Fasterskier photo)
Nervous. Doing the Super Woman pose is proven to help you do better. It gives you a rush of testosterone and  confidence before the start.
Accomplishment. (Reese Brown photo)
Proud of APU for going 1 and 2 on the relay day! (Fasterskier photo)
After the final races, I stayed a few extra days in Sun valley for a US Ski Team event. This consisted of a day full of teaching ski clinics, meeting some wonderful people of Sun Valley, and finally wrapping up an amazing year with a cheers and celebration with my team! I am so lucky to have such great support from teammates, coaches, family, the people that believe in US Skiing and my largest sponsor, Saltchuk, making this financially possible! I want to thank everyone for making this an incredible and memorable year! I am lucky to be part of this team, and this time of cross country ski racing in the US!
The agility group. (Reese Brown photo)
Showing the younger generation some of our favorite drills. (Reese Brown photo)

Jessie Diggins telling the group of supporters about how lucky we are to have such an awesome team! (Reese Brown photo)
Thanks to Steve and Diana Strandberg for hosting us and hosting the Fundraiser! (Reese Brown photo).
Ready, BREAK! Rest time! (Reese Brown photo).
For now I am headed back to Anchorage to enjoy some much needed rest and recovery. I can't wait to have a few weeks of waking up with as little focus as possible. I sure will enjoy a mental and physical break before starting a new year of new and higher levels of focus and training!

Happy Spring from the USST!