Sunday, May 17, 2009

Brew-Ski: training season kick-off

My sister and I started home brewing beer a little over a year ago. After we'd brewed several kinds we had a beer tasting party at my house last summer and the beer was a big hit. Several people familiar with homebrew have commented on how good it is and that some homebrew can be pretty bad. We've never really had a bad batch and I can only assume it's because we're women and know how to follow instructions! It's really not that complicated. I started bringing the latest batch to various ski gatherings and have begun to be known for my beer in our small circle of skiers. We brewed a bunch at the end of the racing season and had several kinds ready so it was time for another party. I decided that a beer tasting would be a great way to kick off the new training season. Many people came, including some of the new team members. It was nice to have some social time to get to know everyone better besides standing around sweaty after practice. It was nice to see everyone in something other than sweaty work out clothes. We all clean up pretty good! I hope to have more parties this summer since many people were out of town or at the Cable Offroad Classic. It's hard to find a weekend when half the skiers you know aren't at some race, so I guess I'll just have to have them often so that everyone can come to at least one. There isn't as much emphasis on performance as a master skier as there was when I was trying to make the US team since we have more going on in our lives now. But I don't miss that too much since there is more of an emphasis on friends and the social aspects of the ski community. I think that's a fine trade at this stage in my ski career and something that I know I'll never feel burn-out from like I did with high-level racing. I'm so glad to be a part of this community again.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Good Day for Vakava in Fargo!

So a few members of the Vakava race team were up in Fargo this weekend participating in the festivities in conjunction with the Fargo Marathon. Nichole has been focused on this marathon for a few months now (check out her blog for a full recap), and I figured it would be a lot more fun to spectate from in the race than on the sidelines, so I was in the half marathon. I have actually been putting in a lot of running lately (for me at least), so I am in pretty good running shape (once again, for me). While I tend to be a reasonably patient ski racer, I am horribly impatient in running races. At the Earth Day half marathon a few weeks back I had gone out like gang-busters and had still been able to hold on for a pretty good PR just due to fitness, but today I was going to try a different strategy: I was going to pace Nichole (and her training partner Jenny) through the 10 or 11 mile mark at 6:50 pace, and then I was going to kick it in to the finish. This was a lot of fun, but it sure was tough to keep from bolting ahead. I spent the first 10 miles making sure they took the tangents around the corners, got their feeds, and pushing through groups of slower runners (which makes to pass the time really well!). At the 10 mile mark I told Nichole that I was going to go, and she gave me her long sleeve and I was off. It was amazing to actually have a kick at the end, and I finished the last 3 miles in 6:22, 6:20, and 6:19 (all with a hot pick long-sleeve tied around my waist) for a new PR by 35 seconds of 1:28:13!

Mary Beth was also in the area helping her sister clean up after all the flooding in the Fargo area, and decided to jump into the 5k to run with her niece. So just for good measure she won the race (19:40). Her 13 yr old niece was 4th! :)

First long roller ski of the season

I wanted to do a long roller ski this weekend and didn't want to go alone. It seems like it's been so long since I've trained with a group and was missing it. So I put out some feelers to see if anyone would join me. I got some bites from Mel and Dave and we cajoled Brent and Michele to join us when we saw them at practice on Thursday. Then Kevin decided to bag his mountain bike race and joined us too so we had a nice crew. We had agreed to go on the Gateway Trail for an easy ski, but little did we know that there was an MS sponsored bike ride on the trail that day and about 2500 riders were out. We weren't sure how it would go with all those riders, but we were there and so we braved the crowd. It wasn't too bad going out since most of the riders were fast and experienced and had no trouble going around us. Plus they could see us coming for a ways so they had time to get in line. It was a little shakier coming back. The riders at the back of the crowd were less experienced, had difficulty maneuvering quickly, and were more likely to be riding side-by-side. The fact that we were going in opposite directions now didn't help either since we came upon them with less warning. I was leading and could see the fear in many faces as they struggled to maneuver back to their side of the trail. There was only one mishap when a large group passed and some slowed to quickly for others. No one hit the ground, but it was close. Over all it turned out to be a fine ski on a fine morning. I'm looking forward to many more to come.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Is it sad that I'm sore?

Yesterday was our first practice of the year for the Vakava Race Team. It was kind of an unofficial practice, and really more of a chance to let potential members check out the group. But that dosen't mean that my abs aren't sore after the workout that we did! It mostly consisted of drills that focused on specific parts of classic and skate technique, but I think it is a great way to start the season by re-focusing on the basics. It was also a good way to show the new skiers how Dave and Mark work with the group (and I think that they did a great job, for the record).

The turnout was very promissing, and better than I was expecting (I think even Dave was pleasantly suprised). There were 4 potential new guys, and 4 potential new ladies (one of them being my wife Nichole). If they all stick with the team for the long haul it would be fantastic for the group. I personally couldn't stop smiling on the way home from the practice at the thought of the the new guys joining Derek, Andy, etc. and I on the Burlington Road hill for some epic intervals later this summer. I am excited where the Vakava team is headed, and not just because most of the new skiers were under the age of 30 and fast (there was one new master skier too - and I think that having the wide age range that we do is a very important and fun aspect of the group). What the turnout last night says to me is that Dave and Mark are on to something, and what we are doing in Vakava is something that other skiers want to be a part of.

The 2009-2010 looks to be a ton of fun!