sunspiration [sun-spuh–rey–shun n]: 1. the positive vibes one gets when the sun comes out after a long period of absence. Generally accompanied by extreme productivity and feelings of “crushing-it”.
2. The reason you couldn’t get a parking spot at Glen Alps (or any trailhead) every time the sun came out this summer.
3. What reptiles most likely experience after laying in the sun.
4. The story behind most of the photos in this post and the explanation for the lack of clothing (a frenzy to get tan).
Since its safe to say summer is officially over, I figure its about time for a recap of training- and all things between. As the leaves turn red and my skin turns white, I start to anticipate the racing season. Although it was a short- and not very sweet- summer, I don’t want to talk too much smack. The current cold, rainy trend that has occupied most of the summer could in fact make for an incredible winter. I even heard on the radio (so it must be true) that Anchorage is going to have a “mild winter with lots of snow”. With US Nationals here in January, we could definitely use a good winter. This is especially important because everybody is still traumatized from being severely frost bitten last time nationals were held here. This was followed shortly after by a flooded stadium for Junior Nationals two months later. So, I think it would be bad karma to emphasize the fact that this summer has been less than ideal.
Instead, I’ll thank the weather gods for the few blessings they did provide. Most importantly (and miraculously), was the high ratio of shorts skis to pants skis during our August glacier camp. This camp is notoriously the rainiest, windiest, coldest camp of the summer; however, this year we were blessed with blue skies and sunshine. Some of the more tanning- dedicated athletes on the team were spotted skiing in their underwear on multiple occasions. You could even smell them coming- thanks to accelerator gold tanning oil (this is actually a huge bonus because when its sunny out you can’t just stop to pee anywhere you like- normally you can hide in the fog). This camp embodied sunspiration at its finest; I think everyone trained twice as much just to be out skiing in the sun.
Speaking of the glacier, we had three amaaazing camps up there this summer. Not that this is a huge surprise, its always awesome up there- but something about this year was particularly magical. Maybe it was Scotty P’s incredible post-nap baked goods (seriously, he could charge $ up there and we’d all be broke), but I had some of the best afternoon classic sessions of my life. In my opinion, there is something truly special about classic skiing on the glacier; when your skis are good, the track is fast, and you just ate three fresh baked pretzels, its not uncommon to feel totally unstoppable. Its during these skis that I feel like I make the biggest gains in technique and transition skiing. In the winter I tend to be more concerned with going easy during distance sessions, and my skiing can become sluggish . When I hit the afternoon glacier groove, I have more energy than during the winter, and each motion over the entire course is more valuable .
I have more of a love-hate relationship with skating on the glacier; V1ing through sloppy, slow snow, isn’t exactly my idea of a party… but in the end, skating still has my heart. Lucky for me- because of a few set-backs in my running, I was forced to participate in “skate camp”, which has consisted of copious amounts of skate rollerski intervals. At first, this was quite possibly the worst thing I could imagine, since running/bounding is my favorite mode of summer training. But by the end of Skate Camp, I started to realize that it was actually one of the the best training blocks I have done in my life, and I am excited to see how it translates into skating on snow this winter.
When the temperature rose over 60 degrees F (15 C), I succumbed to heat stroke and had to take full body ice baths in the creek (aka the world’s best bathtub). On these days I would recall training in Bozeman- when Rosie and I would run out of water and stop to fill our bottles out of people’s sprinklers on their lawn. Although I might be a lot less bronze now, training in the heat is actually REALLY hard!
Running less also gave me the opportunity to mountain bike and swim more often- two of my other favorite activities. Also, mini triathlons at the gym are great when you’re injured (30 min swim, 30 min spin, 30 min on the uphill treadmill- plus time for two whole episodes of American Ninja Warrior for entertainment!). I rode Devil’s pass with David, Kate, and blaring speakers intended to ward off bears. The only downside to this was when a great song came on, we had to sing- or, when it was really good, we would stop and have a dance party. We might have expended too much energy on our vocal cords/ grooving- out instead of riding, and it ended up taking a little longer than expected. Thanks to Beyonce though, we didn’t run into bears!
My recovery weeks have been full of fishing, which has now become my 2nd favorite off-week activity (behind slinging lattes). David and I had a a very successful haul set-netting at the mouth of the Kasilof River. He also taught me how to fly fish, and I have transitioned my skill set from salmon to trout, even though I never thought I’d see the day I participate in catch and release fishing. Now, I am totally addicted to the thrill of getting locked, and it is not uncommon for me to out-fish David (in both size and number). Just your classic Obi-Wan/Vader scenario.
Other exciting summer news included the arrival of my new favorite running partner, Kip, who traveled all the way here with SQ and JY. Although he might be the only living organism that is more scared of bears and moose than me, he is the best little runner to have by my side.
The biggest highlight of my summer was the arrival (by bridge) of my cousin Emma, who made the journey all the way from Darwin- land of the crocodiles. Staying true to tradition, we experienced reversion, giving us an average combined age of approximately 12 years. Highlights from her visit included multiple bear encounters, a Ben Harper concert, a massive discount at Banana Republic, gourmet nachos, and too much pineapple cider. She must have brought the warm weather with her too; I even got participate in my all-time favorite activity during her visit- swimming in the ocean.
So now that all the summer fun is winding down, it feels like racing is just around the corner. Commence the season of lots of hard intervals, timetrials, and leaves covering all the cracks in the road so I fall on my face twice as much as usual while rollerskiing. The APU gang heads to Park City in about ten days for an altitude camp before the final push into November. Hopefully we will return to winter wonderland so I can get a couple weeks of on-snow training before heading off to Europe for the real deal!
Until next time!