Catching Covid-19

November 9th I lost my sense of smell. I knew I had Covid as soon as I acknowledged that I couldn’t smell. I had a stuffy nose for two days. Not even the type of sniffles I considered a cold, but rather just the light type of sniffles that made me decide to push intervals off until the following day. I did this two days in a row until on the third day I lost smell. I went and got a test, which took five days to get results back. I knew I had Covid so I started taking things easy.

After a little concern with the echo, but a good chest-ray I was cleared to go on walks.

After a little concern with the echo, but a good chest-ray I was cleared to go on walks.

It has been super hard to take over two weeks off recovering from Covid-19. Prior to Covid I had been doing my first big on snow training block and feeling great. I did hour of threshold intervals the day before the ‘sniffles’ set in and it was nearly effortless. I did the set on a known route in Fairbanks that I have done since I was 14 so it has become a solid gage of fitness for me.

None the less I am doing much better now. I had a few tough days, but in general from what I know via echo, ecg, chest x-ray and blood labs I believe I am recovering well. Thanks to the cardiologist and my coach, Erik Flora, I have a structured plan to return to full training in a conservative and progressive approach. After two weeks completely off I started back with some walks. After that I did a week of 1 hour skis each day. Last week I did 2×1 hour ski per day and this week I am doing roughly the same, but allowing the daily volume to reach 2.5 hours if energy is good. I understand training two hours a day is great general health, but I am used to doing two sessions per day that are each two hours in duration in addition to high intensity training sessions. Right now I am doing all my exercise at a crawling pace. Polar watches actually sent me a brand new watch so that I can ensure I keep my pulse within the specified range.

With my progression I hope to be near 100% around Christmas.

After quarantine I was really excited to get outside and see family that I only see a few weeks a year.

First good walk. Went with my brothers kids looking for grouse and ptarmigan.

First good walk. Went with my brothers kids looking for grouse and ptarmigan.

Setting lines and retrieving burbot was pretty taxing early on.

Setting lines and retrieving burbot was pretty taxing early on.

I put Dad on cooking duty. Beer battered halibut from this summer.

I put Dad on cooking duty. Beer battered halibut from this summer.

I brought blueberries to Fairbanks so Mom and I canned some jam and made syrup.

I brought blueberries to Fairbanks so Mom and I canned some jam and made syrup.

Could I get any more Covid basic?

Could I get any more Covid basic?

Started to carve a travel spoon.

Started to carve a travel spoon.

On snow in Fairbanks

Uncle Norris

I’ve been in Fairbanks over a week and have just another week here before heading to Europe. When I decided to come to here Anchorage didn’t have the greatest skiing and Birch Hill was setting shallow tracks that sometimes drug through decaying leaves. Birch Hill is consistently the best place for early season, low-snow training. The trail maintenance/grooming crew can make near perfect trails with just a few inches of snow. I might have my Fairbanks bias, but it is also truth.

Training has been great. I had a few days of high volume and then a super good threshold set with Logan. We did our standard threshold course from high school except that we went way farther in ten minutes than we used to. Skate 5×10 on rolling terrain to get used to sliding fast on snow. It was an awesome workout under the lights.

Birch Hill

It has snowed so much since I arrived that even with constant grooming there is always at least a dusting.

Coming home has also meant extra sleep, amazing dinners, snagging sourdough starter from a friend, and seeing my nieces and nephews.

Ava in my old Team FAST vest!

Ava in my old Team FAST vest!

I’m so basic :)

I’m so basic 🙂

NM continues to impress!

This past week has been stellar! I’m finding my groove here in ABQ- early morning roller ski, hide from the sun while geeking out on accounting work, afternoon run or ride, cook Jessica dinner while she studies like a maniac, and then basically repeat 🙂

Lesson learned:

Prepare a snack-pack for any workout over 2.5 hours.

Training at 10,000 feet wipes me out for the rest of the day. Doesn’t effect Jessica.

New Mexican ‘mild’ salsa is HOT

David Norris Sandia Moutain

Jess and I have ran the La Luz trail at least once a week, which is 10-12 miles the way we do it and over 4k feet climbing with the high points over 10k. We’ve been taking the tram back down to the bottom to save our legs, which is pretty nice this time of year.

David Norris Jessica Yeaton
Insulated back pack snack pack

Insulated back pack snack pack

Them $1 tacos I talk about constantly. When I’m cooking its more like Salmon or Sheep with potatoes and salad :)

Them $1 tacos I talk about constantly. When I’m cooking its more like Salmon or Sheep with potatoes and salad 🙂

Fall in Albuquerque

After a rainy August and September in Alaska the blue bird days with a weather range of 50-80 degree isn’t treating me poorly 🙂 Thanks to Jessica for choosing to do her Physical Therapy education in ABQ I’ve (we’ve) discovered how truly incredible New Mexico is. This week is roughly my 13th week in ABQ since July 2019. Every week that I’m here is filled with new discoveries- rad trails, insanely good $1 tacos, friends, rattle snakes and locals improving my pronunciations of streets, towns, and Mexican dishes.

Lost Lake Trail

Lost Lake Trail

Running towards Lobos Peak

Running towards Lobos Peak

Highest point in New Mexico- Wheeler Peak 13,159’.

Highest point in New Mexico- Wheeler Peak 13,159’.

David Norris Jessica Yeaton

Almost certain this photo happened during a Sour Patch Kids Watermelon candy break

David Norris Glorieta

300 yards back I walked a cliff that Jessica rode/fell off…. She is fine, but her scabs are sticking to the bed sheets 🙁

Past Half Way

I am currently updating from Seefeld, Austria. With the weekend off from racing I’m able to have a bit of a recover/training camp here. The camp is going great so far. I’m looking forward to racing World Cup in Scandinavia for the next several weeks before flying back to the States March 9th. I have 11 more World Cup starts left before US Spring Nationals and the end of the season.

Photo Credit: US Ski Team

Photo Credit: US Ski Team

28th place finish in Obersdorf, Germany 30km Skiathlon. I felt really strong and I know I can improve on this result. Lot’s of encouragement came from this race as did much frustration, but I’m walking away finding more positive vibes than negative. Site of the 2021 FIS World Ski Championships!

David Norris USA

Living from a suitcase begins

David Norris

I left Anchorage on November 15th with Beitostølen, Norway as my first destination. I will be here for a little over a week training and competing in two distance races over the weekend before traveling to Finland for the first World Cup weekend. I stopped in Seattle for a night, which broke up the travel to Europe nicely. I got to run a fun loop up Tiger Mountain outside of Seattle with a friend before going to the airport.

Landing in Oslo I met up with the rest of the US Ski Team. This week the training has gone really well. It has snowed nearly every day making the trails a winter wonder land. I’ve been able to whip out some intervals and spend some valuable time testing new skis with my wax technician.

Thanks to the jet lag I have been awake each day by 6am. One perk to this wake up time is that I’ve had plenty of time to crush work and check off some lingering to-do list items.

Report so far: Two THUMBS-UP for sure!

Cheeks too cold to smile. Its a real thing: frozen face

Cheeks too cold to smile. Its a real thing: frozen face

Rossignol David NorrisJack Novak David Norris

This is my hired hand, friend, & wax Technician

Jack Novak!!!

Hoping to deliver this season like USPS

Hoping to deliver this season like USPS

Cogne, Italy- my favorite stop so far!

Norris Italy Tree

From Davos, we drove to Cogne, Italy. Cogne was definitely my favorite World Cup stop of the season so far. Cogne is a small mountain village with serious old school Alps culture. The entire village was lined with cobbles and the food was seriously delicious. 

Thursday before the races I got to reconnect with Jessica after going different ways from her when I left Vermont. It was great to see her, and luckily her accommodation with Australia was only about a 10-minute walk from my hotel.  From here on out Jessica and I will be on the same itenary: Cogne-Seefeld-Holmenkollen-Falun-Quebec-Presque Isle-Anchorage.

Only 5 weeks left to the season. BOOM.

In addition to being a fun race weekend, Cogne is where I learned of the traditional Alps region drink: Genepi. Jessica got a bit of a cold and the owner of her hotel told her to drink a shot a day to stay healthy. Apparently, Genepi has 50+ herbs in the alcohol and is made from local mountain flowers, giving it countless medicinal properties. Who knows if these claims are accurate, but sipping the stuff sure is tasty. So cheers to good health.

Jessica and I also scored some genuine Italian Birkenstock-like slippers for 20 Euro/pair. They have upped our hotel apparel game significantly. We also bought matching knives, which we will use while slaying fish this summer.

Davos Distance 12.16.18-55.jpg

The races in Cogne were a skate sprint and a 15km classic. I was super stoked for my teammate and longtime Fairbanks bud Logan Hanneman, who qualified for his first World Cup heats. Also, shout out to Kyle Bratrud, who had an awesome performance in the 15k, cracking the top 30 in his first ever world cup. I placed 32nd and felt like I skied pretty well overall- although I definitely think I can improve upon this result in the upcoming races. I feel like I am still on the up and up after a hard camp in Davos and am excited to see how I’ll perform in Seefeld after I give all the training a chance to absorb.

 

Davos Camp

In preparation for World Championships, myself and several other US distance skiers went to Davos, Switzerland for a two-week training camp.  Davos is situated at the perfect altitude for a training boost, has reliable snow, and has a reputation for being blue-bird conditions pretty much all the time. Thus, the USST (and a lot of other teams/athletes) like to hang out there; it has become a favorite training camp location.

Putting in some hours with Scott Patterson

Putting in some hours with Scott Patterson

One hotel had groomed trails out the back door, veal for dinner, and a deck that caught the afternoon sun perfectly for tanning. So basically, all the things you need to make a great training camp. During the first week of the camp, I felt awesome and was able to train super hard. A few days into the second week of camp, however, things started to go south for me. Workouts weren’t going well and I started to sleep very poorly, so I decided to take about four days almost completely off. I traded big hours and high-intensity sessions for mellow walks and sun bathing on the deck. In the end, I managed to avoid catching a cold, rejuvenated my dead legs, and avoided having to fake-n-bake.

I might attribute my quick recovery to a super fun ski tour I did with my teammate Sadie’s fiancé, Jo Mobet. He came to the hotel for a few days to see Sadie and happened to bring extra ski touring gear I was able to borrow. Scott, Jo, and I made a fun loop around a mountain where we found some incredible powder. Perfect powder on a bluebird day… how could I not feel good?  Our descent from the mountains dumped us into a nearby town, where we just hopped on the train back to our hotel. It was a very unique Euro touring experience. Thanks Jo!

Got out for just one tour and it was fantastic. Scott and Joe scoping out the lines.

Got out for just one tour and it was fantastic. Scott and Joe scoping out the lines.

 

Sweden- I made it!

The travel was worth it to race in this stadium with so many fans-  Warner Nickerson  picture

The travel was worth it to race in this stadium with so many fans- Warner Nickerson picture

Loyal ski fans-  Warner Nickerson  picture

Loyal ski fans- Warner Nickerson picture

After Nationals I was selected to race in the World Cup in Ulricehamn, Sweden. “Awesome,” I said “I’ll be there.”

 Well, getting to Sweden from the East Coast sounds mellow for an Alaskan who is used to lots of travel. Compared to flying from Alaska this will be a breeze, I thought… just a short bump to Svenska… but unfortunately this was not to be the case!

 A clever winter storm ripped into the Northeast just as I was scheduled to depart Burlington. I saw the forecasts two days ahead of the storm and contacted American Airlines. They wouldn’t allow me to travel early before the storm arrived because my ticket had not yet been altered as a result of weather. So, I patiently waited for the storm to cancel my flight. The moment my Sunday flight was canceled I called AA, who informed me that the next available flight departed on Friday- getting me to Sweden at roughly the same time as my race start. Not ideal.

The Vermont skiing was incredible after Nationals

The Vermont skiing was incredible after Nationals

Jessica sniping me throwing Hazen in the snow

Jessica sniping me throwing Hazen in the snow

So, I decided to get a little crazy and bought a United Airlines ticket with miles last minute. I canceled my AA ticket with a full-refund because of the weather event. Now, I was scheduled to depart Tuesday. On Tuesday I was all good to go, but then trouble struck again when a drone started flying around LGA. Air-traffic control said no-go to flying while they dealt with the rogue drone situation, which caused my flight to Newark to be so delayed that I missed my connection to Europe. Thus, I enjoyed a night and full day in Newark. Luckily, I brought spare clothes in my carry on and was able to do a full gym-rat session at the hotel.

 I finally made it to Sweden with all my bags and arrived at the hotel Thursday evening. On Friday I tested skis and went for a mellow ski around the race course. My coach told me I had no pressure to race given my late arrival, but I actually felt surprisingly good, so I decided to race both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday went pretty well, but Sunday’s effort sent my legs into utter shock. I think the back-to-back races with swollen feet and ankles from travel might have been a little less than ideal. My feet cramped up Sunday, and by Monday I felt like I had done an intense mountain running race. Luckily, it wasn’t quite as bad as after Mt. Marathon this summer when Jessica had to give me a piggy back ride the next day, but I was still hurting pretty bad.

At least I went into all this travel well rest

At least I went into all this travel well rest

 Don’t get me wrong though, Sweden was incredible! 20,000 fans per day cheering and an awesome course made the travel misfortunes totally worth it (not to mention all the bags of mini-pretzels and cookies I picked up on the plane). The relay Sunday was super exciting despite my poor performance, and there are many more opportunities for great results ahead. Now I need to wash everything I raced in because it stinks of smoke from all the campfires and BBQs burning on the side of the race course from enthusiastic Swedish ski fans! Normally I’d let the BO slide, but the smoke really threw it over the edge.  

Jessica finished her butter knife

Jessica finished her butter knife

Christmas & Nationals in Vermont

Christmas and US Nationals in Vermont made for a genuinely awesome time. The four-week stay with good friends of ours was filled not only with training and racing, but also with a variety of other activities. Jessica perfected her Caesar salad dressing, carved a butter knife, and kept me well fueled with her highly competitive, single participant, multi-day bake-off competition. King Arthur carrot cake with maple syrup cream-cheese frosting was the clear winner. I carved a bowl from a burl to complement Jessica’s butter knife and took many carrot-cake induced naps with Hazen, the four-month old family lab.

Scored a good hug after the 30km!

Scored a good hug after the 30km!

Getting cozy

Getting cozy

At US Nationals Jessica kicked things off with an amazing second place in the 10km Classic. Despite high expectations, I ended up finishing 5th overall in the 15km Classic. While I felt strong, I wasn’t able to pull out a better performance, and was left wanting more. The next day, I raced the Classic sprint, which wasn’t a huge focus of mine; this raced served more as training for me than anything else, and an opportunity to pick up a salted chocolate milk from the Craftsbury Outdoor center for the drive home. Win-win. Then it was time to focus on the 20/30km skate mass start in two days.

 Jessica reached the podium again in the 20k after skiing a really fast last couple kilometers. Watching the APU women crush that morning gave me confidence that the wax techs had dialed the skis, which meant that the rest was up to me. About 6km into the race, I made a pretty hard push that was able to break the group. The lead pack went from about 20 athletes to just Scott Patterson, Kyle Bratrud, and I. From that point on, the three of us raced together until about the last kilometer. That’s when I knew I had to make a push to the finish; I would rather go hard 1km out and die than leave a long race to the chances of losing a group sprint at the line. I played my cards right this time and was able to string out the group, finishing just ahead of Kyle and Scott. Both of these guys are super strong and have multiple National Titles to their names, so I was psyched to reach the finish line in front of them.

IMG_3677.jpg

The 30km mass start skate is my first US National title.  I’ve been on the podium nearly every season since I was 18, but have never managed to pull off a win. It meant a lot to me to finally reach this goal of mine, and the cherry on top was that it also helped me earn a spot on the US team for the FIS World Championships in Seefeld, Austria in February. Jessica also qualified for World Championships, which meant that we finally get a chance to race in Europe together (and spend Valentine’s Day together too, aww).

 After Nationals I stayed in Vermont for another week and a half to train before heading back over to Europe. During this week I was able to relax and enjoy training. Jessica and I did a couple long skis and a fun tour from Greensboro over towards Craftsbury. With the races behind us and a little break until the next events it was incredibly pleasant just to ski once or twice a day, split a pot of coffee (or two), and boost my complexion with snail-jelly masks. I even got an extra two days of this, as my flight to Europe was cancelled due to Vermont style snowpocalypse. Although this wasn’t ideal for my racing schedule, it gave me a chance to throw Hazen into the powder and finish sanding my bowl.

Snail slime mask four days before race is key

Snail slime mask four days before race is key

My burl mostly hollowed out

My burl mostly hollowed out

The wood cutting crew

The wood cutting crew

Luckily, the cold day came after Nationals

Luckily, the cold day came after Nationals