Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Alaska Kids Built Tough

The video of Trevor Dunbar running a 9:01 2 mile time trial in a snow storm late last year became an instant internet legend. We don't have anyone running that spectacularly here, in fact these are just beginner runners in middle school. But who knows what kind of talent lies buried beneath all this snow?

Here a couple of pictures from Monday's workout just to show the training conditions, and how the kids are pretty tough--wearing shorts and t-shirts and it's only in the 30s.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Phase I transition

Three weeks after the Oosik Classic 43K and three weeks to go before the Chena River Run 5K, the transition to running seems to be going okay. I break this down to two phases--phase I was recovery and just getting out the door on a limited basis, while building my mileage up.

I did 4:47, 5:32, and 7:02 of training in the past three weeks, with weekly running mileage increasing from 22.5 and 27.5 to 34. Prior to that I was only running about 10 miles a week for the previous 6 or 8 weeks. Meanwhile, the snow is still nice (getting slushy after the weekend) and I've been out 2-3X week. This is a great time of year to be out on the trails, just skiing and enjoying the warmer weather an long days.

Happiness is a new pair of shoes. I bought a pair of New Balance 757s last week and they feel great.

Snowmelt this year is proceeding slowly but evenly. No big and rapid melt down. Most roads are clear now and the bike paths are getting there. But we still have 2-3 feet of snow most places.

Phase II starts now. More mileage, into the 40s and some tempos and some pace work are ahead.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Post Season Summary for an April Fool

April fool’s day, a good time to summarize the ski season.

I just feel fortunate to live in a place with so much activity related to cross country skiing. If you’d asked me 20 or 25 years ago, what kind of place and what kind of situation would you like to have…this would be about it: we have a lengthy ski season with reliable snow; I have a good job with some flexibility to allow for training and racing; we have a community where racing is encouraged; and of course I’m grateful to have a family with which I can share the fun. I’m fortunate.

I’m also grateful that I didn’t get sick this year, not even a cold. It was a bad year for colds and a lot of people got whacked, including my family.

Finally, I’d like to acknowledge those in the ski community who helped make this happen: NSCF for all that it does; John Estle for letting me ski with the JERCs this year, and not giving me too hard of a time for being a dweeb; Fred at Raven Sports for the good conversations, wax advice, and equipment deals. Dave, Bob, and Ken provided some great age group competition this year and laughs along the way. And of course the kids, coaches, and parents involved with the Jr. Nordics Comp Group.

The Season in a Nutshell
Hmmm, not bad. Maybe even pretty good. But I think I dropped off a bit compared to 2006 – 2008. I haven’t looked at percent back and such from those years for comparison, but throughout this entire season I never quite felt like I nailed it. The day I felt the best didn’t even count: A February time trial with the youngsters from Team FAST. That was at the end of my biggest volume week of the year (12.5 hr). Go figure.

Nevertheless, I reached my primary goal of winning the 50-54 age group at Tour of Anchorage/US Masters 50K and the Sonot Kkazoot 43K, on back to back weekends no less. Everything before March was just prep work. The Oosik was more or less on a lark, an end of the season bonus and a great party.

In a perfect world I might find big races elsewhere in January and February. World Masters or the Gatineau, Birkie, or some European World Loppet would be fun to do some year.

Where Mistakes Were Made
I don’t get it, but classic continues to be vexing and inconsistent. Down in the lower 48, and my first year here, I was generally stronger in classic. Now, it’s clearly skating.

I really worked at classic this year, and did most interval sessions with classic. Last year I tried the stiff skis, with a flex about 10 lbs heavier than me, and the results ranged from mixed to disaster. The first two races this year were also way off, so I ground the old 2nd hand Atomics (Beta) and things did get somewhat better. But it’s more than skis. Technique matters. Maybe more long uphill reps would help.

Speaking of grinding, however—Wow! What a difference that made. Early in the season I was getting dusted on the downhills, e.g., losing 10-15 seconds on the Tower/White Bear descent. Fixed that with a grinding (Duner from Goldstream Sports). Note to self: keep those bases smooth.

Training-wise, I got in the necessary hours (400 for 2008), but I lack strength (core and upper body). In the past I’ve been able to get by with a good aerobic base from running and decent technique. Need to upgrade the strength work if I want to keep up with the likes of Dave Edic who has upped the ante and walked all over us all year. I think he went undefeated this year except at World Masters. Not to mention guys like Trond Jensen of Anchorage will be turning 50 in a couple years.

Looking Ahead
I just hope to stay in good health and to keep having fun with this. Meanwhile it’s been a long cold winter and I’m really looking forward to spring and summer!