Monday, May 28, 2012

Testing and First Camp of the Year!!

For the past two weeks I have been down in Utah and Oregon soaking in some Vitamin D while getting back into the training routine. My trip started out with a six hour layover in Seattle where I got to visit my sister, her boyfriend, and my Grandma. With such a busy life and traveling here and there, I don't get as much time to see family as I would like to, so it was so nice to spend the time together!
My sister, Kaley, and I soaking in some Seattle sunshine
Then I hopped back on the plane with my skis and duffle and made a two day trip to the Center of Excellence in Park City. For 48 hours I fit in about 10 different tests, 5 of which were on the treadmill. Blood test, strength tests, mobility tests, VO2 Max tests, altitude response tests, body composition tests, CO2 tests, you name it- we did it. This is also our opportunity to get to visit with some of the PT's, check in with our health, test our fitness, and meet the new employees of the US Ski Team. These testing periods are always pretty frantic, busy, and almost stressful as we try to stay on the schedule jumping from test to test. One of the neatest tests this year was an Altitude Response test where they set up the Oxygen levels in the mask to resemble sea level, Val di Fiemme (World Championship venue next winter), Sochi (Olympics in 2014) and then finally Park City. It was neat to feel the difference between the work load at those different levels of oxygen and how it affected my body. There is a team of extremely educated, smart people working with us with all the tests, so it is fun to see what they can learn about each and every one of us.
Meeting Alberto Salazar and his running team. What an interesting experience. Erik Flora loves this guy and his training beliefs, so it was fun to meet him and his athletes in person. Also fun to learn how talented people truly are in their sport. Those guys were training my sprinting speed for two hours... yikes!

Some Treadmill testing photos... never too glamorous- but you can see the pain :) Makes you appreciate "free breath" without a tube in your mouth next time you go train hard :)
Two days later we jumped on a plane and flew the next jump over to Bend, Oregon. As we arrived, the sun was shining and we were in full summer mode. Skiing in the soft snow in the morning on Mt. Bachelor, and then doing our dryland in tank tops and shorts in the afternoon.

One of the new things we participated in this year was the Pole, Peddle Paddle. The PPP is a relay race that begins with alpine, followed by nordic, road bike, run, kayak and then sprint. This year the Rebound Clinic sponsored two US Ski team woman's teams as well as a mens team. Kikkan, Jessie and I against Ida, Holly and Liz. It was incredibly fun. I did the nordic skiing leg as well as the 800 meter sprint at the end. From the start we were head to head and we finished within two minutes of each other- so it was super fun to get back into some race mode in a more relaxed atmosphere. (though many of us were saying how we felt more nervous the morning of PPP than we generally feel in our largest races of the year. It's funny how you get used to the nerves in what you specialize in.) Regardless, by the end of the day we were all exhausted- but all for a fun cause!!
Thats true pain face there.... racing in May... ouch!! 
The teams in the morning with our fun outfits. I wore a bright pink hair inserts that everyone actually thought was my hair... success!!
Check out the pink hair... the chair lift, the certain lack of "white snow" and the heat radiating off the dirty snow!
The woman's team... wrecked and asleep at the end of the race. Yes, Jessie does actually sleep like that. Stretching and sleeping at the same time... great multi-tasker.
For the remainder of the ten days we did lots of hard training with lots of kilometers, and a fair amount of snow flakes. As the weather got a bit more "winter like", we got the full spectrum! Days of powder, days of sun burns, and days of drenched to the bone. I always love Bend and its ability to get your motivation back and rolling. As the team sits down and sets goals for the future; Olympic goals and World Championship goals, the fire starts again. A new year, and 6 more months of hard training to do even bigger and better things than last year!
Getting in some K's (Matt Whitcomb photo)
The US 2012-2013 US Ski Team (notice Erik and my in-ability to open our eyes in the sunshine... darn blue eyes) Matt Whitcomb Photo
The Woman's Squad (Matt Whitcomb Photo)
This year was unique in that all the top skiers from APU, as well as my coach Erik Flora, got to come down to Bend and join in with the camp as well. It's fun when I get to combine the best of both worlds with my local team as well as the National Team. Not only that- we all get to push each other and begin to work together.
Intervals with US ladies and APU ladies
While we were in Bend, we also managed to fit in one of our Fast and Female Events. This is one of the best events I have been part of, as we changed some of the activities we generally do with the girls. With an older range of girls- we focused more of goal setting, positive thinking, and teamwork. It was fun to see some of the goals girls set for themselves- and then to see them follow us around on the ski trails the remainder of the week. There its quite a group of motivated young girls in that region- which is especially exciting for me to see, as it is part of the PNSA region I grew up in.
Jessie and I ran the "Endura-dance" station where you combine endurance strength with dancing.
These two girls rocked!! I came away from this day inspired by them!
Jessie and I teaching the girls the foot clap
For now, I am back in Anchorage doing the usual catch up as well as starting summer school classes. Things kick up again in two weeks for the North American Woman's Training Alliance  Camp the last two weeks of June..... wowww time flies!

Above I have posted a video from my Max Vo2 Test. This is at the end of 8 minutes of increasing vertical, so it doesn't look too glorious or great- but still fun to watch the end of. Notice Matt Whitcomb in the backcountry cheering us on. He did that for all 12 athletes, for all 5 treadmill tests. Do the math for that... and you can easily imagine he didn't have much of a voice by the end of testing period. Thanks Matt- you rock!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring Time

Spring time is that one month of the year that I get to do just absolutely whatever I want. If I am burnt on ski racing... I can take up video games. If I have a need for speed.. I can pull out my alpine skis. If I am fairly motivated... I can go on adventure mode.
Having fun regardless!!
I think the mixture between my motivation at the end of the year mixed with Alaska's sweet weather this spring... combined with some well motivated friends put me in "full sadie bjornsen adventure mode". I began to plan my day's around A)getting my homework done and finishing off strong with school, B) catching up on life as far as all my taxes, thanking the people who helped me, following up on missed emails, etc C) getting in some community service work and D)adventuring.

Catching up with Sponsors- Harry and Peggy of Carlile
Failing to take advantage of my three months of sleeping in (april)... I often set my alarm for six in the morning- at which time I would jump up, grab my skis, check the weather for "crust conditions", meet up with my buddies, and head for the mountains.
Pete Kling and I with Spencer Glacier in the background
Inside of an ice tunnel up on the Glacier... one scary moment- all for the picture!!

Last year I left the season with little motivation and spent most of the month of april resting and resting my head.... which meant that I haven't gotten to see some of Alaska's greatest adventures. So... this year I had some catching up to do. Glaciers, lakes, climbs into hidden passes, animals, crevasses, you name it.... I was going to find it. Due to the pure fact that many of my buddies that were up for adventuring where male members... I was on the chase constantly.
Top of Skoocum Glacier... chasing with the boys
Some good mountains and some great sunshine
Chilly little glacier lake right there.
I had tons of fun though and even managed to fit some of the "downhill style" in as well. My boyfriend, who is a frenchi, is way into the backcountry skiing- so I took a short trip down to Valdez. I have to say- if there is one place in the world to go in your lifetime- that is Valdez!! That place is unreal, its like the "magic mountains" you see in the ski movies; the ones that you always look at and wonder where the heck those are, and if they are even real.. or photoshopped. So, after some much needed backcountry, I got to enjoy some nice turns.
Road tripping... got all the necessities for a good time! Nordic, alpine, sleeping bags and fuel!!
Driving into Valdez
Getting in some turns
"The Books" in the background... Jo's home!
The Wrangles... maybe next years adventure zone.
In the meantime, I was working hard on three separate things that were consuming most my time. First, school. After falling behind a hair bit this spring during racing- I had to work extra hard to keep my solid 4.0 status :) Somehow I managed. Only two more years and I am finally going to have my accounting degree.. yehoooo!!
Annual Beer Relays- Pete and I were Power Rangers this year.
Second, I have been working with ARISE, a non-profit organization that was incorporating an athletic lifestyle into the recesses at one of the underprivileged schools in town, Tyson Elementary. Every tuesday and thursday for four weeks, I would head to Tyson and run 20 minutes with each of the grades, K-5. It was incredible how many students would participate and enjoy the athletic lifestyle. The coolest thing about this project though was the outcome within school. Not only did the students run about 1,300 cumulative miles between the whole project, but their behavior in school increased as well. There was a 70% decrease in office referrals. It was so fun to see this effect and watch how excited these kids would get while learning to be healthy and enjoy the outdoors at the same time.
Running with one of the young boys
I look forward to participating in some more of these programs in the future. Now that I have seen the effect, and gotten to experience how neat it is to involve yourself as a leader- I look forward to more to come.
Doing an interview with one of the young girls on the team, Katja about Olympic Ski racing and what it takes to get there.
The third thing that was consuming my time was the APU Fundraiser. Each year, the Elite Team puts on an silent and live auction to raise money for our travel budget in the previous year. As always, this is a lot of work- but there are an incredible amount of generous people who participate by either donating items, and coming to the event and buying items. We had a very successful event though, so thanks to everyone for helping out and participating.
APU Fundraiser Crew
After my three week break, we hit it hard back into training last week with the APU annual start up camp. This is one week of 3 intensity sessions, 2 track workouts, lots of skiing... and about 20 hours of great fun. Depending on what you did for the past three weeks... this is either a rude awakening, or just a painful experience.
Our newest workout... ski to the top of the ridge, throw on your shoes and then run across the south faces to a new valley... fun stuff!
Erik and I mentally getting ready for the icy decent on nordic skis with no medal edges... eek!
APU ladies stoked to be back at the training again.

Following that I traveled down to Park City two days ago, where I am now doing treadmill testing along with all the other fun tests we run every spring and fall on the US Ski Team athletes. More on that to come soon!