Hmm, let’s see…this week, I think, may have been one of the most mentally challenging weeks of training I’ve had all summer! I would say sorry about not writing earlier, but I really hate when people make lame excuses. And it’s probably good that I waited, because I was way too tired to make much sense anyways. Which implies that usually, I DO make a lot of sense. (See what I did there?) 🙂
After a 10 day stint in Canmore, Alberta for the Frozen Thunder camp, Liz, Noah and I returned to Park City while the rest of the team went home. Don’t worry, I’ll get my family time in soon, but first I had one more stretch of training at altitude that I needed to finish up. And….drumroll, please…the dreaded treadmill tests that I still needed to do. I believe that in Latin they call it “Painfulus Maximus”. Anyways, the end of Canmore camp was really great. We had some great times hanging out with friends, and wandering around Banff one afternoon.
I was also pretty psyched to be able to finally shake my cold and do a time trial – a 10km classic. It felt so great to be going hard again. It’s funny how much I miss that.
Since I got sick in Canmore and had a little forced rest, I was ready to go and hit the last week of training really hard. Although I wasn’t fully recovered from the past 3 weeks of hard training at camp, I was rested enough to have 3 sets of intervals and a day of testing. The hard part was staying mentally in it and dealing with some really quite spectacular weather moments that Mother Nature threw at us!
The day after we got back, Liz and I went for a skate ski around town. I don’t know exactly how fast the wind was blowing, but it felt like we were skiing through the set from “The Wizard of Oz” movie when the tornado was going off. The power lines were truly frightening because they were whipping up and down and looked like they’d come loose any moment, and every 10 minutes or so I’d get nailed by a tumbleweed going a million miles an hour. But we ducked our heads, V2’d down the hills and V1’d the flats, and made it just fine.
The next day was testing. On the one hand, I really hate the treadmill tests simply because they actually ARE a loosing battle. You’re never going to be able to out-ski the treadmill, and if you really truly go to max effort, you’ll be thrown off the back and swing from the harness. If you’re lucky, you’ll have sweet rope burn and treadmill burns to show for your effort. Everyone loves a little proof of a job well done, right? On the other hand, I like the treadmill tests because it’s a chance to get deep into the pain cave and see what you find. It’s a chance to test your limits of willpower and grit, to ski until you don’t think you can take another step, and then take one more. It’s a chance to dig deep and figure out how far you’re willing to go when every breath sears your lungs and every muscle feels like it’s on fire. I guess, in the final few seconds of the test, I don’t even care about rope burn or feel the instinct to protect myself from being thrown off the treadmill, because at that point anything…ANYTHING, would feel better.
Liz took the above picture a little while after my max test ended, and I didn’t even know she was standing there. I was in my own little world. On the plus side, I did beat my time from this spring by a ways, and in my double pole max test I beat it by a long shot, which helps me believe that we’re on the right track with my training this summer and fall!
On that note…training. The fun didn’t stop after that! The next day I had classic intervals on roller skis, and right as my interval started, the snow came pouring down. It started sticking to the roads and at points I was skiing through slush that came up to my boots! Dave Knoop took the picture below as he ran out of his house to cheer us on (I ended up passing his house right in the middle of my interval!) The picture ended up circling around, but what I hope people notice about it isn’t just the snow, but the fact that Cork was on the bike next to me. A lot of people would have just stayed in a warm car or pushed their athlete out the door, but not our coaches. Not this dude. His hands probably froze to the handlebars because biking sure is colder than roller skiing, but he managed to get video for technique review and keep up a string of encouragement the whole time. This is one of the reasons our team is so successful – we have athletes willing to go push themselves when it gets tough but we also have coaches willing to go do it right alongside us. Matt, Grover, Fish, Cork and all our wax techs have all stood outside filming and helping us through workouts when it really sucks to be outside, and that’s no small thing. Thanks guys.
So, after a day of good recovery, I had another interval set at Soldier’s Hollow. This is so typical me, but I forgot to put in my contacts (don’t ask) and ended up crashing twice. The second time knocked the wind out of me and I definitely needed a good hug before finishing up the set, but it got done! That afternoon I had strength, and it was the last time for a couple months that I’ll get to lift with our strength coach, Michael Naperalsky. That’s a huge bummer. He writes our plans but then does them with us when we’re in town, which is so great because not only does he help us with lifting technique so we stay injury-free, but he pushes us and challenges us to get stronger, to lift a little more than we think we can. So a huge thanks to him as well, and hopefully we’ll get to see him on the road this winter! It feels a little like the team is playing a game of “Red Rover” with the USST: “red rover, red rover, send the strength coach over!” We always want to see more staff come over to Europe with us, but the budget is one big balancing act and let’s be honest, it’s not easy to just jet over to Europe because a ragtag band of ski bums wants you. But we’ll keep our fingers crossed!
The final challenge of the week came when I was out doing long classic speeds and yes, once again, it was snowing and cold and windy. You kidding me, mother nature?? But once again, Cork was out there filming and the whole thing was totally worth it because we stopped by the Farra’s household after for coffee and snacks.
We also went to the Salomon headquarters in Ogden, Utah this week! It was great to see all the offices and meet the people behind Salomon USA. We also got a tour of the warehouse and helped pick out skis for Nick Hendrickson.
This Friday, I’ll head home to see my family for 6 days before flying to Europe on November 15th. I’m so excited to sleep in my own bed and see my friends before leaving!