It’s November?!

November:
The eleventh month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars and one of four months with the length of 30 days. Also a time when:

  • Silly America changes clocks by one hour and suddenly it’s DARK at 4pm.

  • Intervals get shorter and faster and the race feeling starts revving

  • Race skis start getting waxed and prepped for the season

  • New gear starts arriving—skis, boots, uniforms, you name it, it’s a skier’s Christmastime

  • Winter starts to show—snowflakes start falling, rock skis come out and so do smiles

  • And a million photos start popping up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the first snow/skiing of the year from around the country in an anxious battle to show the world “we’ve got it best right now”.

  • ….until Mother Nature sends a typhoon across the Pacific and suddenly our early start to winter vanishes in the blink of an eye. Saturday we’re skiing 3 hours covering every trail in the park, Monday we’re running on bare ground.

  • It’s also been 10.5 months since I last posted. Sorry about that. Life happens.

 11013_10152753768713346_8168687607829958012_nExcited to be on snow in Girdwood in late October. Thanks to the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club for grooming the trails! It was great skiing while the snow lasted!

In Alaska we like to brag about how we get the best early skiing and the most time on snow, yadda yadda, Alaska is best. But sometimes, we stick our feet in our mouths. We had almost 3 weeks of skiing—albeit rock skiing—and then it was just gone. In less than 48 hours we were back to virtually bare dry ground and running. And then even rollerskiing. In November. An Alaskan’s worst nightmare. But even when there is snow, it’s a big adjustment getting used to the quickly decreasing amount of daylight, and more often than not, November is freakin’ cold.

10313391_10152502511347689_9094737859198776025_nBack to dryland training after the snow melted…it helps when you have crazy fun teammates to enjoy it with.

There are some good things to look forward to in November though, as a skier. Training volumes decrease, energy levels start peaking, and the excitement (and anxiety) of racing soon starts to mount. It’s RACE SEASON.

As I write this, I am bound for Montana for two weeks for the first Super Tour races in West Yellowstone and Bozeman. I’m excited. I’m ready to race. For the first time in quite a few years, I truly feel ready and excited to race. My body has been energetic and “jumpy”, training feels easy and sometimes I have to really ease back because I just want to go harder. It’s a feeling I haven’t had in a long time going into the season. The past few years, I’ve looked forward to the race season, but almost more as a break from my roller coaster ride of a life in Alaska. I’m usually looking forward to being on the road because I get to sleep more, recover and relax more, I have more down time and I don’t have to rush around to training, work, errands, etc and just get to focus on training and racing. But that often means I’ve been stressed and tired beforehand and I haven’t raced well. Since this spring, my life has been much more stable and I’ve really focused on doing quality training over quantity. I had some really great weeks and months of training and I think (and hope) it has paid off finally. The next two weeks will tell.

The importance of TEAM

One of the most important things I believe has also contributed to my happiness and increased feeling of fitness is my amazing Alaska Pacific University teammates. We gained a few new girls this summer, and we have had an incredible summer and fall of training, adventures, and fun. I can’t imagine a more enjoyable and supportive group of girls to be with. Every single person has something to offer to the team, whether its in training, racing or everyday life, and it’s a heartwarming feeling to know that they are behind me through every trial, tribulation, celebration and success. I would not be able to get up every day and go to practice if it wasn’t for them. I know our team is going to have a great season because we have pushed each other through every interval set, every rainy rollerski and every bonk-worthy over-distance workout. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we know how to motivate one another when someone is lacking or struggling. I can’t wait to see what the season brings for us.

10700134_10204001448371281_106238567680957892_oMy amazing team (L-R): Rosie Brennan, myself, Sadie Bjornsen, Kinsey Loan, Jade Hajdukavich, Chelsea Holmes, Jess Yeaton, Kikkan Randall, Holly Brooks, (missing Becca Rorabaugh and Rosie Frankowski).

2014 Recap

My last blog was January 1, 2014. Today is November 21, 2014. Whoops. I’ve gotten many questions about when I was going to update and start posting again, and I just got too busy this summer and it got harder to motivate when so much time had passed. Nonetheless, I am back at it and will do my best to post more regularly. It’s too much work to try and recall everything I’ve done since January, so I will just post some photos (as per my usual method of having a photo-heavy blog) showing what I got up to.

In March, PK and I flew out to Aniak and Sleetmute, rural villages along the Kuskokwim River in Western Alaska to ski with village kids for a week as part of NANANordic/Skiku.
Thanks to PenAir for flying us out there!
Getting the 4-seater bush plane ready for our trip from Aniak to Sleetmute.
Flying over Sleetmute, pop. 75
Skiing on the Kuskokwim River!
IMG_1531 2
Showing the pre-K kiddies how to put on/take off their skis
Teamwork
...sometimes you just gotta get them to where you're going
The middle/high schoolers in Sleetmute
Sleetmute Elementary kids/teachers
Bush traveling Alaska-style
In April, I returned to the village of Selawik for another NANANordic trip. I visited Selawik last year and it was really cool to return and recognize a lot of the kids. Selawik is just above the Arctic Circle, about 500 miles northwest of Anchorage, pop. 830, and is quite a different lifestyle than Anchorage.
NANANordic coaches heading back to the school after walking around town
We had an awesome group of coaches this year in Selawik: Alice Knapp, Greta Anderson, Zach Hall, myself and Dana Tower.
Alice, Dana and I all went to MIddlebury, so we brought a banner because what a sweet setting for a mini-Midd reunion. It was a great day to be a panther!
Setting up the equipment room to get ready for the onslaught of kids!
Trying to keep them orderly as we head out.
Greta and I with an elementary group. We had hundreds of kids come out to ski with us over the week!
Having fun sliding on the hill.
We also went on some crust cruises outside the village to see the landscape, and we chased down the caribou herd passing through the area; just like traditional hunters on skis long ago!
Arctic landscape.
We watched a family butcher a caribou.
And often skied past locals ice-fishing for sheefish, the fish after which the village is named. Selawik comes from "siilvik" which means "place of sheefish" in Inupiaq.
Salmon drying.
More spring adventures in the Anchorage area: hiking with PK
IMG_3157
Crust skiing at Portage Lake and Glacier
We also did some backcountry skiing near Portage. Overlooking an ice field in Prince William Sound
Backcountry turns.
More Nordic crust cruising at Hatcher Pass
Into Summer: "Hurry up and wait" is the standard motto for glacier camp travel.
Eagle Glacier time!
June Camp brought a week of blinding blizzard conditions. This is our window at the beginning of camp.
Our window about 4 days later...at least it blocked the summer midnight sun!
Snowy snowy June.
The PB was constantly grooming laps trying to keep the snow drifts in check. Some of the best glacier conditions I've ever skied in though! It was like mid-winter skiing.
Snow drifts outside the wax conex
Poles inside the conex got iced up
Preparing to go outside.
Conditions outside didn't stop us from icing our weary feet.
Alpine Air Alaska is amazing at getting us and our gear in and out of the glacier safely.
Some great views flying out.
In July, the first heli load got dropped literally in the middle of the glacier. We had to wait for an hour for the coaches to get the PB down from the facility on the ridge to pick us up. It was an experience.
APU/USST Women's Camp + Norwegian National Team skier Celine Brun-Lie. Great fun group!
Women's train
Another Mt. Marathon on July 4th. Came 7th this year, not my best, but it was a hot hot day and there were some fantastic women on the mountain.
Back to some fun hiking adventures
Rosie and I overlooking Williwaw Lakes.
Summer fun at the beach in Anchorage.
GCI took Holly and I to Valdez (via private jet!) for a community outreach day.
Hanging out in Seward with my roomie, Heather.
August again found me making the trek down to Australia to visit PK.
Overlooking the Rocky Valley at Falls Creek.
Lots of sun this year in Oz.
Evening ski in beautiful light.
Second in the Aus Nationals skate sprint.
PK came 3rd in the Kangaroo Hoppet! I finished 4th, off the podium, behind 3 Olympians.
Kangaritos: fusion cuisine.
Post racing: BEACH TRIP! PK and I went to northern Queensland.
View from Port Douglas.
We spent a day snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. Pretty amazing.
Snorkel selfie.
Great Barrier Reef!
Building sand castles, staying young!
Back to Melbourne before I flew home.
Mike, a good friend of PK's, took us to the Melbourne Cricket Ground Member's Reserve section for a game of Aussie Rules Football (aka footy).
Finally got to see Koalas at a local sanctuary. Very cute!
Back to Alaska for fall.
More mountain adventures.
Ran into some baby bears!
Momma bear and 3 cubs at Kincaid.
Last mountain adventure with Heather. Ptarmigan Peak behind us.
APU women's team had some dinners to prepare. We can ski fast and cook delicously.
One of the dishes we prepared.
One of the hosts had a plethera of animals in his house, including this brown bear!
Had some pretty fall training with the ladies.
This is how we roll.
Autumn light is spectacular for photos.
I headed down to Park City for a two week training camp plus a day of Fast and Female!
learning about speed skating.
Playing in the foam pit at the USSA Center of Excellence.
My girls got strength and skillz.
Franki and I enjoying Utah.
Fall colors at Guardsman Pass.
Post-wicked hard bounding intervals: smiles!
THANK YOU to Zuzana and Advanced Physical Therapy Alaska for keeping us in working order so we can train our best.
Sadie and I enjoying the sun during our last day in Utah.
Came home to SNOW in Anchorage and skiing.
Halloween intervals in costume.
Mom's new puppy, Summit!
The snow unfortunately didn't stick around town too long and it was back to dryland, but at least we got some nice running and good weather.