Spring has been glorious at home, sunny, warm and ideal for training. I’m waiting to get my visa for the US. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas, wanting to open that present they know is sitting under the tree, but being held back by their parents. I know an announcement is coming but I just can’t wait. There is still the off chance that my stocking will be filled with coal and I’ll be rejected by the US immigration, but I’m hoping it will be fine. The up side of me bouncing up and down, waiting for my visa like a kid that’s eaten too many candy canes, is that I’ve plenty of time to enjoy the Aussie spring!
So as fast as the winter kicked off it has ended. I was hoping to write a lot more about the season in sections through out all the racing, but I was too busy and never got the chance. So instead Im going to do an overview with some photos to help spice it up! It was a pretty good winter for me and I’m really happy overall with how the season turned out!
The serious racing started in Perisher with the first round of National champs. A classic sprint on Saturday and then a 10km skate on the Sunday.
Both days were solid for me, I was third Australian and 4th overall. I took a lot of confidence out of the races and really started to look forward to the next round of races back in Falls Creek.
So winter has certainly continued with heavy snowfalls! With a base of around a metre and a half we are set for the season! All I’m after now is sun!
So after the Australian team camp, the training kicked on and with most of the coaches still staying up at Falls, the camp basically seemed to continue on an extra week which was awesome! It was great to spend a session a day with coaches either working on technique or just being pushed during intervals.
So winter started wet, warm and slow. Pretty much describing me and my efforts with my pile of laundry from this weeks national team training camp. No one wants to be around that or likes it…
May and early June weren’t looking too good at all for winter and snow. It seemed like I was going to be doing a whole lot more wet “dry land” training, running in the rain. Then around three weeks ago the Snow Gods decided it was time to do their own washing and get this wet, steamy winter into white fluffy awesomeness! So like a bag of training gear exploding, it’s been pretty much non-stop snowing since! It’s been amazing how quickly it has spun into winter. As we approach the 2 metre mark with snow falls, it’s been amazing training and living up top.
However like the last few winters, the sun has been a fairly rare commodity with mainly snow or grey days. Still it’s been great to get back onto the skis and start living up on “the rock” again.
So far I’ve had two races, a quick dash for cash at Lake Mountain, which is always a laugh. They make a small but crazy loop that’s super twisty and turny and a lot of fun. I had an ok race there and came in 3rd. I was leading at the start but lost it on the first corner, spinning out.
The first real race came a week ago, the Birkie Classic. A ten-kilometer, mass start classic race at Falls Creek. Traditionally it’s always been a fairly brutal race for me and a bit of a disaster with equipment breaking or wax going wrong. However this year it seemed to go fairly well. Around 70 people started which was great to see, considering the weather wasn’t the best, with rain and snow showers blowing through.
Seeing as the Birkebeiner Classic is run by my awesome ski club, I thought I’d give a quick race report (thanks for running such a great event BNSC!).
The gun went and as always the masses surged forward, getting funneled into the tracks. I found myself at the front of the pack and set a comfortable pace for myself along the flats and into the first climb. Fellow teammate Phil Bellingham slotted in behind me and as we crested the top of the first hill we made a break from the rest of the main field and soloed off the front. For the rest of the lap I lead and for the entire second lap Phil lead, keeping the pace solid, but nothing crazy. We slowly opened up a comfortable time gap to the rest of the chasing racers. On the third lap Phil started to throw down some power and started to put on the speed, by the half way point in the third lap,I had slipped off the back of Phil and he slowly wedged the gap open during the fourth and final lap. It wasn’t an amazing race for me, but solid and something to really build and improve off! I’m really looking forward to testing myself a bit more in the up coming races and seeing if I can really get going.
I have also just finished up at the Australian team training camp, where it was great to work with coaches and train with some of the interstate athletes. This weekend we have another 10km race and the Interclub relays, which should be good! And for the record, it’s still snowing up top.
Train hard, rest easy, live for the moment.
So as promised the second blog for my Australian winter series! It almost feels like winter at home. All the leaves have turned and then fallen. The days are short and the weather has been grey with some serious storms thrown in. It’s just come into June. Everything is indicating winter, apart from the temperature! Every day it’s 15 degrees and just so warm. A week ago as I did intervals on Mt Buffalo there was a thunderstorm, with torrential rain. I was just in a long sleeve shirt and shorts. It was too hot for anything else. It felt like training in the tropics! It hasn’t fallen below zero on any of the mountains now for a few weeks, which isn’t ideal!
Enough with the weather worries for the time being. Two weeks ago I participated in the Mt Beauty half marathon weekend and an Australian training camp. I was really looking forward to the run on Saturday morning and I’d opted to do the 10km because it’s all on road and I haven’t been off single track for running yet.
So during the southern hemisphere winter I generally don’t keep a regular blog but I’m hoping to do a few (I think I say this every year!). It’s now my fifth week back in Australia and my last trip seems so long ago. I am already deep into mapping out and planning my next season and trip. I am really keen to get over to America again and start working!
That being said, I’m in Australia so I should talk about Australia! I am back into hard training, and with it my love of running! There is something about running, which I love. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been doing a bunch of runs with some ultra running athletes to keep me on my toes, which is awesome! They have really changed my perception of hard training and it seems a 2-hour mountain run is just a warm up for these mad cats! If it doesn’t require poles because the terrain is so rugged and steep, or a head torch because you decided to run before work which means we are all out there in short shorts at 5:30am, then it’s a fairly boring, standard run!
Well it’s been a little while since my last blog. The last few weeks have been great and I’ve had an excellent mental break from racing and the regimented training regime. Spring in Alaska I’ll admit is pretty amazing. For basically a month straight we had perfect sun and great temperatures hovering around 0 degrees C. My day would generally consist of getting up to a perfect blue bird day, having a lazy breakfast and then planning the days adventure with Lauren. Generally this would be a hike, crust ski, back country ski or run through the forest. Pretty much heaven for me. In the evenings I had an awesome opportunity to get into a wood working shop, so I had a great time being creative and literally whittling away the hours. There was a sign on one of the walls of the shop that said “The hours I enjoy wasting aren’t wasted hours” which seemed very appropriate for that period of time.
Before I let photos do the rest and give you a visual of what I’m talking about, I need to talk about skiing once more. But just once, I promise.
Without question for the last two years I’ve rapidly improved as a skier and have reached a whole new level of racing. A level where I am able to race on the World Cup circuit and World Championships and be a member of the Olympic shadow team. This is mainly due to my coach “The Boss” August Teague. He is by far the main reason I’m skiing where I am today and sadly this has been his last winter with us. I hope he might work with us from time to time in the Northern Hemisphere. He is moving on to his own business and other coaching opportunities. He’s set the bar high for my future expectations, as a coach, and the last two years have been great. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors!
So now I’ll let photos do the rest of the talking.
I’m actually writing this as I sit in front of the fire at home in Porepunkah, Australia. I finally flew home on the 14th of April. Alaska feels very much like home and seeing as the sun was coming out so much, I’m a little sad to be heading back to autumn and winter when the summer activities were getting so good! I’m already starting to plan my next trip, so I’ll be back again.
Train hard, rest easy, live for the moment.
I started writing about chasing the unicorn a few years ago. A simple metaphor of trying to ski the perfect race, catching the uncatchable beast. Mainly due to a terrible race in Australia where I managed to break the same pole twice and crashed in a separate incident. It led me to start writing the odd philosophical blog about life on the road and as an athlete. It’s been a while since I wrote in the chronicles but seeing as the season is drawing to a close and I have been reflecting on the season and trying to work out if it was a successes, a failure or somewhere in-between, I thought it might be a good chance to jot down a few notes into a blog. Not to mention hopefully straighten some of my own thoughts because whether a season was a success or a failure is not clear-cut and a simple “yes or no” answer is clearly not sufficient.
I find myself in a peculiar situation as I write this. I’m lying on a bare mattress in school music room in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness waiting for a snowstorm to blow over. How did I end up here? Well like most of my stories, it all started with a ski race. At the award ceremony of the American Birkebeiner a few weeks ago, one of Lauren’s teammate’s sister, who works for one of the Native corporations, asked us if we would consider volunteering and head into the Alaskan wilderness to teach children in remote schools how to Nordic ski through a program called NANANordic. After a quick check of dates we both jumped on the idea and after just a week spent in Anchorage we boarded a small 20-seat plane and headed to a town called Aniak.
Master Blaster: A term generally associated with the older age group of cross country skiers. I was asked recently to define this word and my initial response was “ anyone who trains with high fluros on!” High fluros cost around US$265 for 30 gm of powder, so at $8.83/gram, you’re better off sticking with your cocaine addiction because at least you’ll get a high off it; with fluros, half the time you pick the other pair of skis with that other $265 powder and just end up with $50 worth of wax sitting on your ski that you then brush off…. Cheap sport. But back to our “Master Blaster” definitions. Another person at the table chimed in with, “that old guy that has all the latest gear and equipment but no idea how to use it!” Perhaps the best was “that guy that’s 55 and still tries to fit into his race suit from when he was 18!” Possibly the only thing worse to a Master Blaster in Lycra is being at an Italian swimming pool during senior club training sessions, so many budgie smugglers…