Sunday, June 4, 2017

Race Bibs, Swab and Awards: What to do with Race Paraphernalia
Now a month into training for the 2017-2018 ski season, it’s important to remember what we’re training for...all that stuff we get at races! If you’re suffering from lack of motivation to train (I know I am after the meager snow last winter) here’s some great ways to show off your racing keepsakes and practical things to do with it that will get you out the door on your rollerskis so you can get more of it next winter!

I dedicate this post to my bro, Leif, who always likes lots of pictures and few words:)

First up, what Erik has so affectionately dubbed my shit shelf (he started calling it this when he built it for me). Now, I prefer to call this my self-actualization shelf for a number of reasons. In addition to all those medals, bibs, trophies, and bells, it also includes three other things. OK, the first two don’t really have much to do with racing and include my panda collection (my impetus to canoe 400 miles to the National Zoo) and probably my best piece of artwork ever made (on the top shelf, my mom says it’s supposed to be a cat but it does look a bit like an owl; note, my artwork reached a peak in kindergarten and has not improved since then). Finally, it includes that rain-drop shaped trophy. Now, I pretty much think this thing is the best because how often does anyone do a ski race when it’s 45 degrees and rainy, win, and get a rain-drop as a trophy??? 

Now I’m sure I got this trophy shelf idea from somewhere and so was pretty stoked to see that Nate’s dad, Jim, has a similar shelf at his cabin. Note, I did not copy this shelf, just one of those tokens of wisdom that we aren’t as unique as we think and everyone has similar ideas.

Photo: Nate

Poor Andy Brown, he should commission Erik to build him a shit shelf as he is currently displaying his stash on the floor. He says there would be more swag but he’s using his Seeley Hills Classic plates as his main dining set.  

Photo: Andy

Nate and Nichole have some race paraphernalia arranged in their new workout room in their new house which is a pretty good way to stay inspired.

Photo: Nate

 Ever wonder what happens to those wreaths the winners get at the Mora Vasaloppet? Well, wonder no more because here’s Mary Beth to the rescue:

Photo: Mary Beth
I hope Dave and Josie have built themselves a very strong house to support all this bling! Peter Northug is sooo jealous. 

Photo: Josie
But it turns out if you have 5 athletically gifted kids, I-beams are probably in order.

The boy’s room:

Photo: Bonnie
            The other boy’s room:
Photo: Bonnie

But Emma whoops them all. And this girl is only 16. I didn't know this was possible.

Photo: Bonnie

As a girl obsessed with ROY G BIV (my dinnerware is Fiesta after all) I’m pretty envious of Emma’s ribbon display on purple walls. I don’t think my husband would go for this in our bedroom but maybe I could paint one of our walls in the basement purple and arrange our paltry-in-comparison ribbon stash according to ROY G BIV.

Also note the mountain bike awards, the cassette medal in the foreground and the hammer on the other side of the mirror! Photo: Bonnie

There’s lots and lots of ways to showcase bibs.

    After five years of citizen racing in the Midwest, I created this presentation of my bibs above our bed in our house in New York. I was amazed at how symmetrical they could be. I’ve been too lazy to exhibit my bibs anywhere in my new house other than a couple on my shelf above.

Angie shows multiple genres of bibs in this curtain rod:

Photo: Angie

Dave and Josie could open a store with the bibs in their wax room.

Photo: Josie
Bonnie has so many they don’t fit in her overflowing box anymore (Erik and I are admittedly in the same boat). Photo: Bonnie

I put a few of my pins on my backpack...makes me feel cool but TSA doesn’t like it so much when I fly.

Photo: Erik

Then there is my bro who is perhaps the most photogenic citizen cross country skier ever.

Here he is in a family photo wearing a shirt from the Lotvola Cup that he is actually on (the red skier on the far right). Note I’m also wearing a race shirt in this picture.

At Watkins Glen State Park in New York (a cool place to go if you are ever in the Finger Lakes Region). Photo: Erik

Then he made the cover of Silent Sports and so amidst all our racing relics surrounding our dining room fireplace, down on the bottom is Leif on the cover of Silent Sports.

Photo: Craig

But if that’s not enough (he’s also made the cover of a book but that’s another story), he’s got a huge photo of himself in the Bemidji Applebees!

Photo: Erik

And so why not take a photo of a photo and decorate our living room (with other racing stuff like the newspaper clipping from my first Minnesota Finlandia win).

The cutest award ever goes to the Wieskopf-Albrecht family from a bike race!

Photo: Bonnie

Now onto the horses. They are everywhere. We saw them on Andy Brown’s floor above and on Mary Beth’s mantle.

    Oh the horses are everywhere. Angie has some, too!

Lots of awards and racing mementos on this shelf. Is that Angie on Minnesota Sports? Retro! Photo: Angie
    And if Nate or Nichole win any more they will need a bigger shelf!

Photo: Nate
    They even dominate my french-themed living room (silly horses, they are swedish, not french)


          And the stairs!

OK, this is really just a joke, turns out we have enough horses in our house to place one on each stair

    We left Dave and Josie and Karl’s horses’ out because they are currently being used for the design of their new barn. 

But alas, is there actually anything useful to do with this stuff???

Enter the earring holder...

And the t-shirt quilt (could also make a quilt from bibs, or a ski bag from bibs; I think I’ve seen that)...

Gotta love a few of the relics including the shirt from the now defunct Adventure Duluth Race Erik did in 2006.

And the tote bag...

Photo: Angie

And the lunch bag (or simple tote bag for those who aren’t as skilled at sewing)...

Photo: Alex
And the Halloween costumes...

One year we went as Michael Phelps and a cow- both inspired by racing paraphernalia. That's a Noquemenon cow bell. Photo: Priscilla

    I’ve previously blogged about my Marit Bjorgen costume and it’s pretty easy to be a lumberjack if you’ve gotten first and second place in the Minnesota Finlandia!

And the under-bed-drawer pull...

And the keychain...

Photo: Angie

And as previously mentioned, some people actually use the dishes, glasses, beater jars, etc they get from races.

Setting up for dinner! Photo: Erik

And all the prizes from the Minnesota Finlandia are incredibly useful. Just in case anyone reading this blog has not yet seen (or starred in) my Promo video (shame on you) check it out.

And for gosh darn sake, put those "horsees" to work!

Yes, this is Molly, an American Girl® doll on American Girl® skis.
The outfit is an original by Susan Ronnander:) Photo: Erik

Thanks to everyone who contributed photos! If you have additional ones you’d like me to post, send them my way and I can create an encore.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Running Fast

It’s been 3 years since I’ve committed myself to getting fast at running. 

Back in high school track, I set a goal of going sub 6 minutes in the mile. As often happens with girls, I peaked my sophomore year and it was all downhill from there. My PR was 6:11, and that felt really hard. By senior year I could only manage 6:30. I still wanted to break a 6 minute mile, but set aside that goal for “later,” like in my late 20s when people tend to naturally enjoy their greatest fitness. Then I quit running fast with the exception of frisbee pick-up games. I started running intervals again at age 25. It turns out, when you don’t run fast, you get slow. I did some intervals in the 7-8 minute per mile pace but not much faster. 

One day, at age 28, I woke up and realized my 20s were slipping by and if I wanted to try for that sub 6 minute mile I needed to get after it. So after ski season, I made myself a training plan with a bunch of fast workouts and got after it. The problem was quickly apparent- I was beyond slow. I couldn’t even maintain my desired pace for 200 meters! 

There’s only one way to get faster, and that’s to run faster. I was pretty discouraged so didn’t do most of those workouts I had planned. But I did do some.. And that was a start.

Last year I decided to race a 5 K for about the first time ever (we did 4 Ks in high school cross country). I took this very seriously and chose the Get In Gear. Unlike much of the field in the 5 K, I wasn’t just going to finish, I was going for a fast PR. I trained hard, but fell a bit short of my own expectations.

This year, I didn’t want to do the Get In Gear again for a few reasons, mostly because it is early in the season and because I have other things to do (canoeing, orienteering, and the Midwest Mountaineering Expo). Last year, in what is typically the “rest” month for skiers, I was hammering out the L4 intervals on the track. This essentially created a 22 month training-racing cycle that was just a bit too much. So this year I’ve still been working on getting fast but haven’t nailed down the race schedule yet. I’m also thinking of maybe just trying my own 1 and 2 mile track time trials. 

While I run about 6 miles one day a week all winter, with an early spring, I started getting after this goal of running fast mid-March. Since April is supposed to be the month of rest, I decided to not do any intervals longer than 2 minutes. The focus here was to work on getting fast without taxing the cardio system too much. Here’s some of the speed workouts I’ve been doing:

The Wake Up: This one is meant to be easy and to get the legs used to a bit of speed. I first did 6 x 1 minute repeats at 7-8 minutes/per mile pace. I ran these around 7:15 pace which is about my 5 K pace from last year. I took a very generous 3 minutes of rest in between so obviously this was a very easy workout. One week later I repeated with 12 x 1 minute with only 2 minutes of rest and it was still easy. I was happy the 7:15 pace felt relaxed. In the 3 years I’ve been doing speed, I’ve noticed that every spring my paces get faster.

The Real Deal: After a few weeks, I started doing these at 6 min/mile pace. This is still fairly painless as it is only ⅔ the time of what a 400 meter takes me at the same speed. The last week of April I did 12 of these with only 2 minutes of recovery and it was hard. By the last one my heart rate hit 175 and after the workout I had that oh so subtle feeling in my chest that said, “I did a hard interval workout today.”

Build Up Repeats: This workout got me to program my Garmin using the computer for the first time. This was a complicated workout including 3 x 2 min (at 5 K pace), 3 x 1 min (at 6:30 pace), followed by 12 x 30 seconds of build up into sprinting. I did 2 minutes of rest between each of these. This was a really fun workout which I’m excited to repeat.

Pulse Sprints: This is a totally new one I thought up and after trying it decided I had to do it again. The idea is go for 10 seconds at 6 min/mile pace, then sprint x 10 seconds, then go back to 6 min/mile pace for 10 seconds, then sprint again x 10 seconds, then 6 min/mile pace x 10 seconds. The sprints are good to work on and think about that top end speed.

400s: I still hate these and usually avoid them. As soon as I decide to do these I try to let myself get out of them. But these are the best way to know if I’m hitting my paces. I did these once. It had rained a lot the day before so I was dodging a lot of earthworms on the track. I also did these out of Lane 8 so that mentally I didn’t have to run the whole way around the track. And you know what, they weren’t so bad! I kept telling myself that, they really aren't so bad! And they are a good judge of how fast I’m running.

Build-Ins: Run a 400 with the first 200 meters at 7 min/mile pace and the second 200 meters at 6 min/mile pace. I probably just invented these because they are WAY easier than running a 400 but what I like about these is that it gets me to feel different paces. The first time I did these I noticed how shallow my breathing became when I switched to the faster pace and I told myself to start breathing deeper. It’s hard to think about breathing when I’m focusing so much on trying to run fast. Maybe once this pace starts to feel more comfortable I can focus on the breathing.

200s: My first year of track I remember running 9 x 200s. These took me 35 seconds and I don’t recall doing them since. I haven’t gotten around to doing these yet but plan to make these my next track workout. It’ll be interesting to see if I can be as fast I was at half my current age.

The Mix Up: A conglomeration of a bunch of these other things. For example, one day I did 4 x 400 (hitting 92 seconds for these on average), then 2 x 400 Build-Ins (surprisingly not that much slower than the 400s at 97 and 98 seconds), followed by 6 sets of pulse sprints.

Last year at 31 I felt so kick ass strong. Way stronger than my high school self, but I never did any real running tests to determine if I was as fast as my high school self. So hopefully after doing all this speed training I’ll have the guts to do 1 and 2 mile time trials.
I don't have any pictures of my track workouts but here's one of the benefits to active rest: I got to do a point-to-point run to Easter Dinner with our families wearing my Easter Bunny ears. Last year we biked to Easter dinner and Erik taped these on my helmet but this year I had to run in them. I got a few comments like "hop to it," but my favorite was from a kid biking by who slowly realized, "OH...MY...GOD...IT'S THE EASTER BUNNY!" Photo: Erik