Friday, October 24, 2014

Park City Camp


Last winter, I made a goal for myself, when I was loading onto the airplane for the 5 month World Cup Season in November. As I was taking off, I had this feeling of sadness. I wasn't ready to leave home and spend my life as a traveling suitcase. As I tried to find some solutions to this problem, I decided the following summer (the one that we have just completed) I was going to spend as much time as possible at home, at Alaska Pacific University. This way, I would be excited to leave, and it wouldn't just mean packing up and living the suitcase life again.

A train of teammates and buddies to train with.. makes this so much fun!
So… I accomplished this goal and spent maybe even enough time in Alaska this summer/fall to receive my PFD next year. From the time that I returned from World Cup last year, I have made my very best effort to spend as many days as possible tucking into my own bed, driving my own car, and regularly checking my mail. Alaska had the most amazing summer, so my goal of "being ready to leave" wasn't accomplished during any periods of the summer. By early October though…. after one straight month of 30-45 degree rain every single day… I was pretty darn well close. As I packed up my bags for Park City Camp for the final 3 week National Team Camp before the season, I was "excited to leave". I was even thrilled as I packed my bags, the "trial run" before the real 5 month packing job in mid November. 


One snowy, cold day in PC!
Starting off in one of our time trials. (Noah Hoffman photo)
As I arrived in Park City, I was taken from Alaskan weather that left me wearing multiple layers under rain jackets, to sunny Utah, where there were multiple days of shorts and sports bras! From winter back to summer- yehooo!

Sun, Smiles and Friends! (Matt Whitcomb photo)
Back to the shorts. (Matt Whitcomb photo)
Thanks to the incredible Zuzana Rodgers and Advanced Physical Therapy for taking care of us so well!
Zuzana taking care of Liz after a hard Time Trial!
The beginning of the camp consisted of lots of testing, measuring, and analyzing. I always struggle with this part, as every year I come into Park City with a different load of training, and a different feeling of rested. This year, I came into testing more tired, and more trained than I ever have been. Fighting off a virus a few weeks before getting to PC, I still wasn't feeling up to "strong par" when it came time to jump onto the rollerski treadmill. As I fought mentally to not give up, and keep pushing through some serious exhaustion, I eventually couldn't anymore, and allowed myself to go flying off the back, caught by the safety harness. 
Pre-Treadmill
Mid-Treamill
Focus, Focus!!
The end!
Strength testing.
Nothing about that rollerskiing  treadmill test is ever pretty! In fact, I found myself choking up as I watched and cheered on my teammate, Liz Stephen complete it, pushing and digging as deep as physically possible.. Watching a race is very different then watching a treadmill test. A race requires a perfectly perfected performance of energy exertion, never to the maximum, because lying on the top of the hill having given maximum effort wouldn't be too effective. Instead, an athlete is executing different levels of effort depending on the course, the type of race, and the length. You often can see the pain in their bodies as they cross the finish line, having given every last bit of effort, just enough to get across the line. But here, for this treadmill test, you are hooked up to a breathing tube, you are balancing on your skis on a treadmill whizzing by underneath you, and you are digging as absolutely deep as possible. You are in a fight with this treadmill, trying to win against a machine! You are mentally screaming inside your head "I can do 10 more seconds. NO, I can do 15 more seconds ". It is an endless battle of how mentally tough you can be. As I watched Liz fight this treadmill, and fight this effort, I suddenly found tears coming to my eyes. It is pretty emotional to watch someone put so much effort down, they are eventually flung off the back gasping for oxygen and strength. We like to ask each other afterwards "Who won? The treadmill or you?" And to no surprise… somehow the treadmill always wins!

Liz striding and gliding!
After getting all the testing and measuring done- the fun stuff began; the training part! There were a few unfortunate events that took place at the beginning of the camp that threw a few people for a loop including Sophie tripping and falling on pavement, resulting in another broken elbow. She has been incredible, seeing it as yet another hurdle, and finding a way to keep training! That girl is going to move mountains this winter- you can see it in her eyes (and her fitness). 

Matt taking care of Soph, and getting her shoes tied before training.
Soph running up Hermodes during the time trial cheering me on!

Training in these past 2.5 weeks has been awesome. We have hammered out some great speed and interval training down in Soldier Hollow, home of the 2002 Olympics. We have had some beautiful skis up canyons with amazing fall leaves. We did some sweet recovery runs straight from the front door up in Deer Valley at 8000 feet (where the air is thin). It has been an awesome few weeks of training, and I am now leaving, feeling good and ready for a fun season ahead!

Sophie and I are doing a Training Rap for SkiTrax, where we will be alternating two weeks at a time of updating on our daily training regimes. Bookmark this site if you are interested to get a scope into our yearly training routines on and off the racing circuit. Click on the link below to check it out. My goal for this is to show all the young athletes that training doesn't have to be beautiful. Everyone trains different, everyone trains different amounts, and everyone is unique!



Some speed training. (SMS photo)
Intervals up some beauty canyons. (Matt Whitcomb photo)
(SMS photo). 
One of our first days in Park City we had a Fast and Female event, one that includes all the different US Ski Team, Freeskiing and Snowboard sports, and a few more. I had an extra amount of fun because my young cousin from Jackson Hole came and joined in. She is 14 now and just getting into competitive alpine skiing. It was so neat to see her confidence and strength, something that I found was best learned through sport! I can't even wait to have another Bjornsen join into the top level of skiing! I can see, she is going to be a little star!

Cork, and our strength coaches baby... Kikk a little jealous that Cork gets to hold the baby!
Working hard on the 2002 Olympic Courses.
Joining Soph for her first run since breaking her elbow- SODIE SMILES!
Hiking Bald Mountains with some buddies.
I am currently on the airplane from Salt Lake to Chicago for a brief trip to the city for a US Ski Team Fundraiser Ski Ball. Being a member of the A Team requires that we attend one of the fall fundraisers where we get to meet some of our team sponsors and donors. This entails getting dressed up all fancy and visiting Chicago, a city I have never been to! I am looking forward to being a tourist for a few days and walking around getting to know a new area of the US. I only wish it was a little closer so I could visit some of my midwestern family!!

From Chicago I will be heading back to Alaska for three more weeks of training and preparation before jumping on the plane for my 5 month trip back onto the World Cup Circuit. I have been seeing lots of pictures of skiing in Anchorage, so I am hoping the snow sticks around for a bit so I get to join in on the fun in a few days!

LAST, but NOT least!!

It is Drive for 25 season. What that means is that the National Nordic Foundation, a huge supporter of the Nordic Community is hosting its annual fundraiser. These funds go towards supporting young juniors on their first trips to Europe, supporting camps, supporting project for the US Ski Team that we don't have funding for, and making sure everyone is charging forward and provided with opportunities. The National Nordic Foundation has been a huge support in my career as I was growing up and attending my first National and International competitions. They recognize the importance in development, and they are there to help! The goal of Drive for 25 is to have as many people as possible to donate $25, resulting in huge involvement, and large support. Below is a link to my fundraising page.


I encourage everyone to get involved and join in on this incredible excitement and movement the US is having! Thanks to everyone in advance!



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fall for fun- fun for Fall!


This fall has been following the general theme of this year, a whole heck of a lot of fun! It started on a more negative note…. 1 month straight of rain and 40 degrees. 3 weeks into it, I picked up a little virus that my household managed to catch, and I spent two weeks battling the buggy, trying to find my groove again. Unfortunately, every time I went out to train, it equaled to a cold, wet, draining experience. I took four straight days of lying in bed, and relaxing and recharging which eventually brought me back to life. After a huge summer of training, I have a feeling that virus may have just saved me; because that two weeks of rest has left me feeling rejuvenated and ready to go.


Aside from having a little crummy weather- Alaska has made up for it with two weeks of cool, clear, amazing, fun, fall days! Some of the fun adventures have included:

Clear, beautiful view from up high in the hills.

Olivia time- one of the young talented juniors from my home town, the Methow Valley, finally caved to my peer pressure of coming to check out APU. It is no longer a secret how much fun the APU team is with a great group of athletes, the best coach in the world, perfect training, glacier skiing, opportunities to go to school and ski at the highest level, Kikkan Randall… oh man, it is all so good. So Olivia finally caved to the pressure and came up for a few days. It was fun to be a tour guide for a week trying to show her just how much fun we have. 


APU women's team taking in Olivia
Training in the Rain- Sometimes you just have to embrace the crumminess of the weather. There is something that somehow makes you feel all the much more hardcore when you come home soaked to the core, covered in mud, and totally stoked!
Rosie Frankowski working hard indoors
New strength routines on the rings.
Mountain Adventuring- With some functioning feet this year, I have gotten to adventure to so many places right here in Anchorage. The foothills just here in town are incredible! There are even blueberries left to snack on at the top :)

Made it to one HUGE white rock!
Jo found himself a rainbow!
Exploring a new sport..!
Running with the moms- There are a lot of many wonderful mom's I have gotten to know since moving to Anchorage. I always have such a busy schedule, I never get to spend time with these amazing people. Many of my afternoon training sessions are on my own, so I have gotten to spend some time with these incredible ladies in the afternoons. The secret that I learned… these moms, they have mad mom power! They make me work to keep up, holy cow!! Makes sense now, why MY mom can still kick my butt- it is a secret mom power!

Hunting- Growing up vegetarian means that I didn't really have the appreciation for hunting that many others have. Guns scare me, meet grosses me out when it's not cooked… but the idea of hiking around searching for animals is more interesting. My boyfriend Jo is the king of hunting, so I finally joined him this year for "the experience". A few birds later, a campfire, and awesome sunset… and it made a heck of a dinner! I may just be hooked.

Jo, with his handmade moose caller!
Camping with some amazing sky's!
Dinner!
Fast and Female- This year I joined the organizing crew for the Anchorage Fast and Female. With my Senior Project for my degree relating to Feasibility Studies for this awesome organization; it has been especially neat to get more involved now that I understand the background a bit more. I was in charge of organizing the stations and ambassadors, which was super fun to get to know some of the ambassadors of the various sports here in Anchorage. We managed to get 10 different sports involved this year. Swimming, Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined, Biathlon, Alpine, Nordic, Basketball, Hockey, Soccer, Tennis, Golf.. Cool! With 250 girls, we had one heck of a great time!

F and F organizing committee, Holly, myself, Joey Caterinichio, Bonnie York and Kikkan


Our largest Fast and Female Event, 250 awesome girls!
Virtual Fast and Female Chat with the new Sandpoint Ski Team!
Cooking Dinner - One of our common Fundraising methods is to sell "Dinner cooked by the APU Women". With so many girls on different schedules, we fell behind last year, so we had a series of 4 dinners to catch up on this fall. By the end, we had our meal and timing dialed. I always love these events because we get to know some really wonderful and supportive people! We have some truly generous people in the Anchorage Community believing in our APU Team and helping us move forward! This last event we did before leaving was at the new Special Olympics Gym that was built in town. It is the only Special Olympics Facility in the world! It is amazing, and we are hoping to get together with some of the Special Olympic Athletes and spend some time training with them in their incredible new facility!

Cooking crew and Women's APU Team
Special Olympics Fundraiser
Best Chef on Skinny Skis- One of our annual team fundraisers is the "Best Cheff on Skinny Skis"- a reality TV show that we are formed. See the video here for a little peak into what it is about. Lots of fun!


Fun Sponsor Activity- The fall is always a great time to get involved with our incredible sponsors. Photo shoots and organization events. It is always rewarding to spread our love for active and healthy lifestyles with the company; trying to give back to the incredible support we receive! I have just recently started working with Saltchuk which is a holding company for many transportation companies of Alaska. Aside from working with the amazing Carlile company that has been supporting me for the past three years, I have also gotten to get to know and work with some of the other companies of Saltchuk such as Northern Air Cargo, Tote, Foss and Cook Inlet Tug and Barge. 

Getting Active with Carlile Employees
Showing the Carlile Families a great view from nearby.
Photo Shoot with Tyler Kornfield and Northern Air Cargo
That about wraps up this amazingly fun fall. I am headed to Park City right now for the final National Team Training Camp before I hopefully return to three weeks of snow in AK, and then off to EUROPE for RACING TIME!!!!

Let the fun continue!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Work Hard, Play Hard

After four weeks of working really hard at finishing summer school, and training my butt off- I got to have the little "play hard" break at home with my family last week. I was in the Methow for only five days earlier this summer, so it was great to be able to sneak another one week break down to the valley. It never seems like enough, but it sure does keep me going!

Love seeing these guys!!
Home, sweet home!
Playing hard in the Methow is always a little different each time. This past week I spent a lot more time in the mountains than I have in a while- and quickly fell back in love with the valley. My parents and I headed up to the North Cascades one day to a familiar childhood mountain pass trail. I found it amazing how even just the smells in the mountains remind me of my childhood and so many good memories! I really am convinced the small valley that I grew up in offers some of the best training in the world for a Cross Country Skier!
Running with Dad
I'm on top of the world, hey!
Mom and Dad, looking over Glacier Peak
The thing I appreciate most about my dad- he always has a smile on his face!! He works harder than anyone I know, and at the end of the day, he will always be smiling!!
There are some awesome trails in these mountains!
Spending summers in Alaska for the past four years means that I have lost a great deal of heat tolerance. I used to make fun of the Alaskans who came down to the lower 48 for camps and were affected by heat exhaustion when it was only mid 80's…. had they never been in the heat before? Well…. to my surprise, I have developed this problem myself. As I headed out on the roads for roller skiing in this last week  - I found myself drowning in heat, always needing to finish my workout at some body of cold water. A few sun bumps later… I managed to survive, and hopefully worked on getting my tolerance back.
Diving into a snow melted lake after a long run.
Warm times on the road with the best training partner!! (MVSTA photo)
Looking out over the valley.

This summer has been a unique and devastating one for the Methow Valley. It all started with a small fire started by lighting, and developed into a massive fire, taking down 300 houses, putting the power out for nearly two weeks, and devastating many of the wonderful families of the Methow Valley. The "poor luck" continued as new fires started with new storms, ten more houses burned down, more storms, mud slides, more storms, more small fires, more storms, houses washing down the river…. one thing after another. Suddenly a town that thrives on the business that summer tourists bring is put in a state of need. Wonderful families are left with no homes, no belongings, and even houses covered in mud. It was heartbreaking to drive into the valley and see the miles and miles of burnt property, sometimes, just chimneys standing on the property. What I have concluded is that someone from above is testing this small valley. While it is a time of challenge, it was nice to see how the valley has come together and helped each other! As I told some of my family friends who lost their home; someone from above is throwing lemons down at you, testing how many you can stuff in your bra and keep running. Hopefully they will catch a break, and they will be able to recover from such a tough one!

One of my close friends from growing up, Hillary Ketchum, had the cutest little baby boy. Kaley and I dressed him up in pink undies just so he can hate us when he gets older and looks at the pics :)
Spending some time with Rita Kenny, the owner of Winthrop Mountain Sports, the local sports star. This woman has been wonderful to our family since the very first time I bought a pair of skis. It is safe to say she has taught me nearly everything I know about cross country skis! We love her!

I am headed back to Alaska now for one more training chunk before our final National Team camp in Park City before the season starts. As I start making Christmas plans, thinking about racing schedules; I can't believe the summer has already flown by. It has been an amazing one- but I can't say I am ready for the chilly mornings to start coming! I guess that is part of it though- time will always fly!
Playing dress up with my Grandma! Wish I could see all my family more, but any amount is amazing!! 
(Reese Hanneman photo)
On another note, I am really excited to announce I will be racing on Fischer Boots, so the Fischer Complete Package next year!!