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Wild Rumpus Sports
 

Listen to your brother

Yesterday my brother took time out of his busy schedule to take some video of my skating. My coach’s life has been a little crazy recently so the best way to get technical feedback is through video right now. After Justing had finished filming he sent me down a one way road to finish my workout. The road climbed for several miles and then continued a few miles after the crest of the hill. Justin warned me to stop at the top of the climb because the pavement ended abruptly on the backside descent. The “top” of the hill was ambiguous because the terrain rolled as it descended. I like to explore new roads so I did not heed my brother’s warning. Three times I tiptoed and braked around blind corners looking for the for-mentioned pavement end. On the fourth corner I threw caution away and made the curve at full speed only to see a dirt road looming at the base of the steep hill I just started to go down.
Its amazing how many options flow through my head when I know I am going to crash roller-skiing. I could have bailed where I was and yardsaled at about 20 mph in a bed of poison-ivy on the side of the road. There is always the undesirable option of laying it out on the pavement and suffering road rash. I chose emergency S-turns and an attempted glide out on the gravel road I was careening towards. The turns did little to slow my descent and my wheels hit the dirt going over 20 mph. I leaned back as I hit the gravel and it instantly slowed me. I was able to glide on the loose surface for about 60 feet before I knew I was going down. Then I jumped to the side of the street and yardsaled chest first on a well-manacured lawn that was located in a very advantageous location. I was unscathed accept for grass stains on my shirt, shorts, and cork grips. There were also a few stray blades of grass sticking out of my Oakley frames. I lay in the grass for a few moments to let the adrenaline in my chest subside and then filled in my divots. As I skied back up the hill my brother warned me about I had two thoughts, always listen to your brother and where is the video camera when you really need one?

back to it

I have been meaning to write a blog for about a month now.  It has been difficult to motivate myself to write because the rehab training I have done has been repetetive and boring.  It just didnt seem interesting enough to write about.

After thinking about it though there have been exciting moments.  About two weeks after returning from Vail (six weeks post compartment surgery)  I went for my first kayak.  As soon as I got taken by the first current a jolt of adrenaline surged through me and I was reminded of how much I missed the this type of interaction while training.

There have been many firsts since my surgery on March 3rd.  Every activity has been added gradually.  I had my first swim with my feet on a float, a first swim, a bike on a trainer, a  bike outside, a double  pole on the Ski Erg machine, a double- pole outside, and most recently a few very short no-pole skate sessions.  (Just a quick note, the ski erg machine is a very good tool and helped a lot in my progression back into training.   I am able to use good technique on it.  Pay no attention to the guy on the advertisement that has apparently never double poled before.)

Two weeks ago my legs had progressed to the point that I could do double pole intervals.  I have now done two 3×10 minute L3 double pole intensity sessions and I felt strong and fluid.  My legs are also ready for whatever I throw at them on the bike.  I went mountain biking with my brother and he had to ask me to slow down and I went for my first century ride of the year on my road bike last week.  Hurting my brother on the bike made me realize how much I miss competition right now.  I am looking forward to some racing and timetrials with the ski team soom.

My caution and patience had worked out well so far.   I have had no setbacks with swelling or pain.  I will continue a gradual progression of training and activity building towards the New Zealand on snow camp taking place in late July.  I plan to be ready to train 25 hour weeks with one third of the training coming from skating.

Woozy

I had compartment release surgery on both legs yesterday. I am on a lot of pain medication. There was little doubt that the surgery was absolutely necessary once the operation started. My surgeon described the fascia covering my anterior compartment as scarred and as thick as an orange peel. The operation took longer than planned because I also had scar tissue binding down a nerve. Scraping the tissue away from the nerve was delicate work. Using three incisions per leg, all five of my compartments were released on each leg. The doctors were surprised by how much repair was needed but they were very happy with the results. I can’t wait to get out skating on healthy legs.

Craftsbury Pick Me UP

The past three weeks has been very difficult for me.  I went from having a very positive National Championships to a devastating poor and painful performance at the Whistler world cups.  The races in Whistler were so painful that I suspected that I once again had compartment syndrome in my shins.  Three surgical consultations later that diagnosis was confirmed.  The pressures in my anterior shin compartments are roughly double what they should be.  My focus has had to change from racing to surgery.  I have scheduled surgery for March 3rd, four days after the end of World Championships.  In short I have been depressed and frustrated.

Yesterday the perfect skiing at the Craftsbruy marathon cheered me up and served as a reminder why I love this sport and why a second surgery will be worth every painful moment.  The dual tracks on the 25k loop snaked through the serene New England woods with a perfect flow and rhythm.  The wax was extra blue and the sun came out after a brief snow squall.  Skiing doesn’t get any better.

I led the race from about 3k to the finish.  Up until 12k the lead pack had six skiers in it.  At that point I hit a climb pretty hard and my brother was the only skier in the group that could match the pace.  I worked for Justin to keep him clear of the pack for the next 25k and I built a five minute lead over 3rd place.  Then I hit the last 10ks hard and dropped Justin who held second postion easily.   I haven’t raced near my home in many years and it was refreshing after what has been a very difficult time for me.  Thanks Craftsbury!

A BIG BUST

I came into the Whistler pursuit believing that I was fit enough to win.  I was too hyped up and excited.  I felt nothing for the first 15 kilometers.  Then I put my skate skis on and my legs buckled.  I had nothing.  

I can sit here and make excuses for myself or I can just say that I went out too hard and blew up.

World Class Support

It is no secret that the US XC Ski Team has a small budget compared to most of the nations on the world cup. In the past this has meant that US skiers have had to deal with lesser levels of support.  I remember on my first trip to race in europe that I stayed in a two star hotel while my coaching staff stayed in four star accomodations.  I waxed my own skis for training and I cleaned them afterwards.  I also did all the prep work on my skis on race day.  The budget has increased marginally since then but the level of support has skyrocketed.

The staff from my first trip is long gone and has been replaced by a group of guys determined to put us on equal footing with the rest of the world no matter what.  Some of them are ex-ski team racers that know what an athlete needs to succeed.  Last week at our training camp in Mounio I never waxed a single ski.  I got up, ate breakfast, and three to four pairs of skis were waiting for me to test on my workout.  When I finished skiing I dropped them off at the wax room and ate lunch in my room.  The meal plan that was offered at the hotel was too expensive for our budget so our coaches bought us food at the grocery while we trained.  After the second ski of the day, dinner was prepared in the coaches room for the athletes.  Skiers ate first and the staff ate what was left.  This is the way the US Ski Team opperates now.  

Wax techs double as chefs, coaches double as wax techs, athletes are athletes.  It takes a staff that really loves the sport to give up so much of themselves for their skier’s success.  Thanks to them I know that the US World Cup team is not at a disadvantage because of our meager funds.  It makes me feal real bad when I ski poorly because I am accutely aware of how much work has gone into my race start.  Four guys do the same job that twenty-five Norwegains are brought to each race to do.  All while giving the best beds and food away to the athletes.

When I get to the starting line I have always known that I am racing for more than myself.  I am racing for my country and the US skiing community.  Now more than ever I know that.

Whiteface

I have had a good camp In Lake Placid so far.  I arrived here on October 1st coming off of a few weeks of fairly high volume.  I jumped into some double pole intervals with the sprinters on Saturday to tune up for the skate hillclimb race up Whiteface on Monday.  I felt great in the intervals.

The morning of the Whiteface race I woke up at the painful hour of 6:45 Am and ate breakfast at 7:00. Normally I would eat my pre-race breakfast three hours before the 9:00 AM start but the cafeteria at the Olympic Training Center doesn’t open until 7:00 AM.  This ended up being a moot point becasue shortly after eating I was informed that the race start had been pushed back to 10:30 AM due to ice on the road.  The race was also moved 2 miles down the mountain.  It was still the same distance but did not finish at the top of the mountain. [Read more…]

Democratic National Convention

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at a luncheon at the the Democtratic National Convention.  I spoke on behalf of my headgear sponsor Eli Lilly.  I pasted the speech that I gave below.

Thank you Scott,

I am honored to be here today to share my story and a bit of Lilly’s story with you. I have been intertwined with Lilly since 2002 to show children with diabetes that there is no need for limits when it comes to there ambitions and dreams. As the summer Olympics came to a close it was apparent to me that the stories of athlete’s triumphs and failures are metaphors for all of our own ups and downs. I think the entire world was inspired by Michael Phelps and his incredible achievement. I aim to inspire a smaller but extremely significant group of people with my story and racing. [Read more…]

six hours

One of my staple workouts is the six hour over distance session.  After experimenting with different durations of time I have found that this is the longest workout that I benefit from.  I can hold good technique and snappy movements for the entire workout and recover in about 48 hours.

Many people ask me how I can ski that long.  Physically, I’m just lucky I guess.  Also, my father took me on weekend warrior skis when I was growing up.  We would drive one or two hours to a ski area and he would pay our trail fees.  Then he saw to it that we got our money’s worth.  A typical saturday ski would be a three hour session in the morning and a two hour in the afternoon.   Sometimes this was repeated on Sunday.  I didn’t have to ski that long, I could have sat in the lodge or in the car.  This is what it meant to go skiing for me from the time I was seven until I was twelve. [Read more…]

Top Notch

I won the  Top Notch Triathlon for the third time on Saturday, August 2nd.  The race has a very untraditional format.   It starts with a 6.5 mile uphill mountain bike which is followed by a half mile swim in the ice cold echo lake, and finishes with a 2 mile run up alpine trails to the summit of Cannon Mountain.

The starting line is in the town of Franconia NH.  Because I never know if the race will fit into my schedule I always register on the day its held.  My procrastination puts me in the second of two wave starts.  The waves go off two minutes apart.  Usually this is not a problem for me because the first two and a half miles of the bike are on pavement which gives me enough time to make up the two minutes on most riders in the first wave before we hit the single track trail.  Unfortunately, this year a rule change allowed cyclo-cross bikes into the race for the first time.  The narrower wheels on these bikes allowed more riders to reach the woods before me.  I race on a full-suspension Gary Fischer XC mt bike with slick tires.  I was the first rider from my wave to make it to the woods but I had about six cyclo-cross riders to get by on the muddy single track.  One of the riders fell right in front of me and took me out on a descent.  I bruised my IT band pretty severely and broke the strap of my swim goggles in the crash.  I made a quick recovery, cursed the cyclo-cross guy in m customary fashion, and got back on track.  [Read more…]

First Entry

I arrived in Whistler on July 17th to execute my first intensity block of the training year with my coach Zach overseeing my workouts.  The training load wasn’t too high.  I averaged three hours a day and I have done  four hard workouts.   On the 19th I rollerski skated  5×5 minute L3 intervals on the new rollerski loop on the Olympic Venue.  That was followed by a 12k natural interval bounding session on the Olypic 5k classic course on the 21st.   I won an uphill 4k running timetrial with the Canadian development team on the 24th and I did a 30k pursuit timetrial with Dan Roycroft the 25th.  I felt better and faster each day through the week.  That was the plan.  I traveled home yesterday and I will settle back into some less intense volume training.