Welcome to my blog! This is a site where you can keep up to date on my life as a full-time athlete in the sport of cross country skiing. You can expect regular updates throughout the year as I report on training, racing, life in general and maybe even some school. Sponsors, family, friends and fans: Enjoy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Olympic Trials and open optimism.

Re-cap on last weekend's race:

Exactly 10 days ago my leg seemed to have made a 100% recovery from injury and so I returned to normal training and skiing twice per day most days.  After a few days on the leg I deemed myself fit to put it through the race motions.  And thus I committed to the NorAm skate sprint event at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre up on Silver Star mountain, BC, last Sunday.

The event was a short 1.1km.  (I love the short ones - these days sprints are more of a distance affair at up to 1.8km long)  The field was stacked with all of the top North Americans.  Expectations on the day weren't huge; I figured that if I qualified for the heats it would be a good day.  Qualifier ended up being great - left it all on the course.  Had nothing in terms of a fast top-end gear but was able to maintain momentum on every key section and so miraculously qualified 23rd.  I was elated to have qualified in the top-30 for heats after such a turbulent time in preparation for the race season.  I was 12th Canadian but the race points were totally sabotaged by the Americans who were absolutely flying.  Over 2:25 I was 5 seconds off the best Canadian.  Nothing a little actual ski training can't remedy, haha.

My heat was a little disappointing.  Off the line I easily moved to the front and eased off to settle in for 2nd.  Everyone was super-antsy and there was a lot of contact on the course.  One of the more questionable body contacts out there was when a certain G. Kuzzy grabbed my shoulder and pulled past me.  That spelled the end of the heat for me as my speed was killed and I proceeded to get thrown around pretty good on the main climb on the course.  I skied in for a 5th in my heat and a 25th overall on the day (14th Canadian).  Results.

This is the only shot I have of the weekend of racing (thx Emil Svensson).  Bringing it in for 5th in my heat.


Tomorrow kicks off the weekend of Olympic Sprint Trials.  2 Classic sprint races on back to back days on a big bad sprint course here in Canmore, AB.  Our preparations this week have been optimal and the environment relaxing - things couldn't be better.  I have some decent boards and have rediscovered how to stride so it should be some strong races for me.  I would be ecstatic if I perform well enough to qualify as one of the ten National Group athletes to represent Canada at the Feb. 6th pre-Olympics World Cup.

Among other things, what it boils down to is this: if I can find my breathing rhythm and my grip pocket out on the course tomorrow and the next day, I will be happy.  Results will come on their own if I can achieve those goals.

After the trials, its back home to YK on the 21st for some R&R and some focused training for the skate sprint event at the U-23 World Championships Trials out in Quebec.

Time to give'r berries.

Friday, December 11, 2009

OH WHAAAT!!! 100th post... That's big.

My last title should be this post’s title.  Except 100th post IS quite the landmark.

Last update I didn’t quite get all that content in that I wanted, so I’ll add that in at the beginning of this one. 

Expectalysis is the reassessment of my expectations in light of my untimely injury of shin splints and tendonitis in my lower right leg that has plagued me the past 2 months.  Through intensive physio visits, and some serious time off, the leg is finally coming around and I have been able to ski on it the past few days(!!!!).  Perfect timing since the first big race is this weekend. 

Today I did the first fast, full body skiing in over 2 months.  It felt great.  Although I had a great spring and summer of training under my belt, the fall was less than optimal.  Sometimes in life it is necessary to readjust expectations.  To tell you the truth, I’m not entirely sure what to expect this weekend.  Likely not challenging the top guys, but perhaps still expressing decent fitness due to the work I have done on a few pre-existing weaknesses like breathing, core fitness and flexibility.  It should take several weeks to be back on track for where I want to be.

For now I am just extremely pumped to be out skiing normally again. 

After an interesting weekend in Canmore due to an alteration in the sprint course and my plans to double pole it, I have been in Silver Star with CVTC (aka Lee and Camille (and actually a new addition – Emil Svensson from Sweden.  He is crazy speedy)).  Things have been working very smoothly and we are all in race mode. 

Emil and Cheese doing their race prep.  I am trying so hard not to laugh right now.

This weekend will be a good opportunity to see where I am at before the big Olympic sprint qualifiers of the following week in Canmore. 

I am reservedly optimistic. 

One step at a time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Expectalysis: The Ahh-nold arms edition

Some last minute arrangements have me saddling up the Fit for an epic road trip.  Tomorrow I am leaving Whistler to embark on a very important month of racing that will not see me back in the Weaseltown until January 7th or so (potentially - depending on injury status).

Tomorrow I am heading to Canmore, AB to tag along with the Yellowknife team for Alberta Cup #1, a crazy-competitive classic sprint with all of the top Canadian sprint contenders.  It is the same course that I had success on last year at the Western Canadians where I placed 2nd.  Because of the certainty of double poling the entire course, this is conceivably the only race this month that I will race relatively pain-free with my leg injury.  Everything is up in the air in terms of training, racing and travel schedule for this period.

The leg is actually feeling excellent right now and the past few days have been the best days in over a month.  I have been doing nothing to aggravate it, meaning constantly being in the pool slaying pull buoy, heroic core sessions, the odd upper body strength exercises, respiratory training and the occasional double pole ski workout at the stunning winter wonderland paradise that is the Callaghan Valley.  Giving it some solid time to heal.  And because of this I am riding on some decent upper body fitness.  I am also 4 lbs below my normal weight range; I think my legs are wasting away.

That hut is where I live.  NAAATTTTT - I wish.

It's go time.

(this one's for you, Dougie...)

Sometimes its about intimidation:

Thanks for reading, and you can find Saturday's results on zone4.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How about that ski we did the other day...

We were treated to amazing tracks while in Silver Star from Nov. 11-15.

After a few days of on snow skiing in Silver Star, BC and a very successful hard effort in the RMR & Co. classic sprint TT, it was back to Whistler.

Cheese lovin' life (as always), striding it out at Silver Star

Our first whole day back in town we were greeted by a deluge like no other.  Luckily, said deluge came in the form of a blinding, choking snowstorm at slightly higher elevations (freezing level eventually plunged to engulf the town of Whistler at the bottom of the valley).

Needless to say, winter has come to Whistler.  There is as much snow as there was in January of last year when the World Cups were in town.

A 165cm pole propped against the snowbank.

Now, how about that ski we did the other day...  The first real legit ski in W.  And it was done skating since classic kills the tendonitis in my shin...

What made it great is how the ski brought back fond memories of skiing in Yellowknife.  Such things as:

- I was all alone on the ski and didn't see another soul the whole hour and a half.
- The trail had a few inches of fresh snow (YK is rarely groomed).
- The skis I was using were dogs, imitating the VERY slow conditions of a borderline skate ski day in Yellowknife at a temperature of -25.
- I also froze my butt off, which is a given when training in YK in the winter.  The ski started at 800m, at a temperature around freezing, and ended at 1200m and temp about -5 in a huge blizzard.  I was nearly buried alive.  And slowly became a block of ice on the 30 minute downhill back to Big Brown (team van).

And this was us today on another early season ski in the constant snow storm that is the Callaghan Valley.  Camille took a crazy bail on the bomb back down Main Line, nearly snapping his brand new hole skis.

Look who I bumped into at Creekside Physio today!  My long-time buddy and business partner from YK, Andrew Matthews, who is a full-time snowboarder who bases his training out of Whistler as well.  We are both dealing with injuries at the moment and are both under the watchful eye of legendary Physio, Andree Savoie.  Good times.

Check back soon for updates as we get ready to rock and roll.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Race Schedule

WOW.  Whaaaat a boring title.

So here's the low down...

The season is VERY front heavy, with all of the main focus races (3 of 'em) being completed within 16 days of each other, completed by January 3rd.  Again, I will be focusing on the sprints even though I feel, proportionately, I have improved my distance a lot more this season.  For sprinting I am already close to the top and can challenge the top guys in the country on a good day while my distance remains my lifelong weakness and takes a back seat for the time being.

Here is my first month of racing:

- December 13th: NorAm Skate Sprint; Vernon, BC
- December 19th: Olympic Trials Classic Sprint; Canmore, AB
- December 20th: Olympic Trials Classic Sprint; Canmore, AB (yes, they are having the same race two days in a row)
- January 3rd: World U-23 Championships Trials Skate Sprint; Val Cartier, QC

And that's how the cookie crumbles.

Currently I am nursing some persistent tendonitis that I have been battling for the past month.  This is actually the 2nd bout of it - different spot, same pain.  I am juggling training activities to keep the stress away from it.  Today I treaded water for 15 minutes.  I remember I had to quit swimming back in the day cause I couldn't tread water for 5 minutes and thus couldn't pass AquaQuest 10 or whatever it was...

Snow is happening this week.  I think Whistler is getting like 4 feet this weekend.

Pic du jour:

Striding up Stonebridge road with Lee.  Initial day of tendonitis #2.

Taker easy.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Straight Outta P'ton

Recently I have had a nasty case of tendinitis in my right foot.  For the past 2 weeks I have been reduced to a select few training activities: double poling, upper body strength, core exercises, swimming and Spirotiger.  All of which actually fit nicely into the 3 top focuses I discussed in my last post.  Needless to say, I am now a tank at all things upper body.

Today I completed my 4th ~2hr double pole session in a week down in the farmland of Pemberton (just down the hill from Whistler on the opposite side from Squamish).

Pemberton Meadows Road is a fantastic training location.  A 25km road, mostly smooth as a baby's bottom, with the biggest climb being about 1 meter of elevation gain (approaching a bridge).  One day I was there the traffic rate was 6 vehicles per hour.

I have never had a bad day in Pemby.  The scenery is absolutely stunning, with the narrow valley of quaint agriculture chokeholded by abrupt mountain-sides standing guard over this fertile, spud-growing gem of a town.  The views are never boring and you discover some new, comical, relic of an edifice every time on that road.  Today I saw a dilapidated hobbit-sized house, about 6-feet wide, laying in the middle of a field wedged between the bottom ends of two giant, end-to-end redwood logs that had been built into, hollowed out to provide an additional couple feet of habitable space on either side of the structure and with another window pieced into each log.

There's also this shaggy-ass llama that I have a staring match with every time I pass by.

I think there's a lot to be said about long, flat training roads.  The even training stimulus keeps the entire ski challenging, allowing you to be completely immersed in the finer technical aspects of skiing without having to worry about a terrain change or excessive traffic.  I have logged about 150km of focused double-pole cadence, forward lean/reach and core crunch work on this road in the past week.  I have also tried some nostril-only breathing to add in a challenge to the respiratory system (VERY hard) from time to time.

The only downside to rollerskiing in Pemberton is that it's a 30 minute drive from where I live.  Not good.  It's the nearest flat road though, and when my foot was largely immobile it was my only option.

On the opposite side of Pemberton from P. Meadows Road, there is the Duffy Lake Road.  By which I mean the LEGENDARY Duffy Lake Road.  Hailed as the best rollerskiing climb in Canada by some.  12km of brand-spankin' new pavement rising into the heavens.  Some pitches at 15%+.

With these two roads, Pemberton is a legitimate contender for perhaps a top-10 finish for top rollerskiing towns in Canada.

Pemby, baby.  Pemby.


PS. The foot is nearly recovered and the Pemberton sessions will now become more infrequent as I return to taking advantage of the endless training opportunities found outside my front door in Whistler Spring Creek.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


When the apprentice becomes the mentor

Returning to Whistler after my Baffin Expedition was a bit nostalgic after such an unforgettable experience.  It took a few days to get back into my groove, both fitness-wise and mind-set-wise.  Once equilibrium had returned to tough daily training, everything was still on track.  Sensations were great, standardized tests had still seen improvement even after a bit of a break.  I was still improving and was in the best shape of my life.

One day I spoke on the phone with my good buddy Alex, previously from YK but now residing in Edmonton and training under the guidance of the great Les Parsons.  Being 5 years younger than I and still with a lot of work to do to become the best in the country (not for lack of motivation or dedication), I had been teaching him everything I knew about skiing: The daily execution of training, recovery strategies, ski technique, interpretation of fitness, awareness of the big picture, etc.  As his mentor for the past few years, I was in for a surprise on that phone convo.

The interesting thing about talking skiing with somebody who's learned everything about skiing from you is that you elaborate on the same topics and are equally innovative about how you go about pursuing skiing fitness.  You can talk forever.  Our talk had to be in my top-3 longest phone conversations of all-time, clocking in at something like 1.5 hours.  The other interesting thing about the conversation is that it was like the going-ons of my mind were transcribed into a dialogue.  It was like talking to myself, haha.  And Alex told me something I'll never forget.  Something I have known for a while but had not quite totally committed to, or believed in.

After hearing a random comment that Les had made about me, Alex got thinking.  First off, I don't know Les at all so it was interesting that he was talking to Alex about me.  He said something about me having talent but being lonely out here in Whistler with only one teammate.  Alex looked way beyond what Les said and gave me the best advice I have heard in a long time.  He said, "Thomsen, you have the potential to be great.  As long as you remain focused and don't get caught up in all of the different philosophies going around, you will be great.  You need to do things 'Thomsen's Way', so that when people talk about a certain kind of training, they say, 'Oh, that's how Thomsen D'Hont trains.'  You need to find out how you get fast and just do it and get fast.  Don't worry about anything else, just about getting fast."

It feels like I always knew that but having it said to me is what hit home.  THAT was a revelation.  Thanks, Alex.  You'll go far, kid.

Like a comfortable Toronto Raptors t-shirt you have owned and worn since you were 5 years old...

I was recently in Yellowknife for a week of hospitality/cultural training for the NWT's Olympic Youth Ambassador program that I am potentially taking part in during the first 10 days of the Olympics.  Over that time I learned cool stuff like blanket toss, dene hand games, jigging, fiddling, dene drumming, and the list goes on.  It was huge fun (when I wasn't cross-eyed with boredom from some of the workshops).

The guy in the blue in the middle of this shot is the real deal.  Rusty from Behchoko was a part of the legendary Rae indoor soccer team that was a huge inspiration to me growing up.  He now lives in Rae and helps kids achieve their dreams in sports, primarily by spiking volleyballs at their faces and laughing at their discomfort like a good Dene does (haha, joking.  But he was saying that that's what happens when the Tlicho play sports - they laugh at others' pain).  He is also badass at pretty much everything in the Tlicho culture.  Handgames included - so intense!  The game is as much intimidation as it is luck and Rusty is both highly skilled and moderately frightening once the caribou-hide drums are a-pounding and the paroxysm of the hand games is underway.  In Behchoko there is huge money in a hand games tourney, like $20,000 for 1st place.  I was complete garbage at hand games.  

The Old Man and I.  Out huntin', shootin' some chickens.

Going back to some of the training activities I would do come fall-time in Yellowknife was somewhat of a nightmare form of deja-vue.  Compared to Whistler, the training in YK is very limited at best.  When I was back, there was zero possibility of rollerskiing/skiing.  There was a fine dusting of snow but not enough to ski and all of the roads in town were covered by a thick layer of aggressive gravel.  This is a VERY common occurrence in Yellowknife.  It had me thinking of how I was able to do it when I was younger.  I was alone all of the time.  Concussion of pole plants.  Scream of semis hurtling past.  Rollerskis chunking over gravel.  Hundreds and hundreds of hours of rollerskiing a 5km section of highway that wasn't rough chip-seal.

I think some of my focus can be attributed to music.  I was always rocking out to my state of the art 1 GB mp3 player and would just keep on truckin'.  I was a pretty focused kid.  YK was all I knew and I made the best of it.

Something awesome about Yellowknife is that it doesn't stink (besides the ski trails that are across from the dump haha) when you're out training.  Whistler smells.  It reeks when you are running through the forest because of all the moisture and rotting vegetation.  The North smells clean and pure.

Training how Thomsen D'Hont trains.

I'm not going to spill the beans too much as this sort of thing is top secret (Riiiiiiight....).  But, I WILL tell you the top-3 focuses on my "Fall Game Plan".

1. As always, the long-term base focus in preparing a structurally-sound “me” in working towards 2014
2. Improving hard breathing through respiratory training
3. Core crunch to whip ("h" emphasis) the double pole.

In talking about my training, the governing theme is keeping it fun.  I am obsessive in nature, so anything repetitive with long-term gains and rewards is always fun no matter if the odd moment is monotonous as heck.  Days like the picture above are the reason why I do this sport.  A day in the life is running around on the top of a mountain for a few hours enjoying the most stunning scenery on Earth.  This day was fun, wasn't it Kajsa??? Haha, "I WANNA BREEEAAAKKK!!!!" - Kajsa Heyes (haha, actually, that was me... my bad!!)

Horstman glacier, Blackcomb.  

Slowly, over time you find out what works for you.  THE best way to make you fit is always a moving target. Understand what is happening, and go with the flow.  Take things as they come.  When things are tough, take them in stride knowing that nearly all setbacks are short-lived.  When things come naturally and easily, push the envelope.  You are a student of the sport, you owe it to yourself to be the most knowledgeable you can be, about yourself and about every aspect of your sport.

I now live in the closest subdivision to WOP.  So the drive there is only 15 minutes.  Consequently, this means I no longer have skiing right out my front door at Lost Lake like I did last year.  But my new location means I live right next to the athlete's village at Cheakamus Crossing and get to explore the area that will be the home of CVTC athletes starting in June 2010.  It's gonna be mint with a great network of trails and sports facilities and having the Cheakamus river right there.  There are also ski trails in the works for the area to connect Whistler/LostLake to WOP (so I've heard).

I am now back in the complete riot of a town that is Whistler.  Where random things happen like a day of off-roading in a sick rental 4x4 Jeep high up on Blackcomb with rich-kid girls from the most prestigious girls-only private school in Vancouver.  And tunes CRANKED.

I am back with a keen focus for the most consistent training possible as Olympic trials approach mid-December.  Any gains from here on in are gravy as I have accomplished a lot up to now.  Just a few final adjustments and I will be ready to rock.  I hope to surprise some people in Canmore.

Catch ya on the flipside.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

i2P Baffin Island Expedition: The Akshayuk Pass

I put a lot of thought into how I was going to write this.  Who am I kidding, no I didn't - I always knew exactly what I wanted to get across in this blog update.  I could go on and on with all of the amazing experiences and tales I have from this expedition, but picking and choosing a select few of these would still have this blog update up around the neighbourhood of 10,000 words.  Haha.  Sooo, here is the final blog I wrote for i2P to be posted on Sept. 21st (hopefully):

The most beautiful place on Earth.

"First of all, I can’t say enough about my experience with impossible2Possible on the Baffin Island expedition as a Youth Ambassador.  It was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life! 

I was very inspired from the get-go.  The lineup of guides on the expedition and others involved with the organization were amazing; World class adventurers and everyone very passionate about motivating and inspiring today’s youth.  It was an invaluable experience spending time and learning from the other Youth Ambassadors from across the continent as we faced challenges and hardships both mental and physical together as a team as we crossed the 100km of rugged Arctic landscape.

I learned more over the 2 weeks with i2P than I have ever learned in any 2 weeks in my life; whether it was stories and advice from outstanding athletes and adventurers, practicing media exposure, surviving in a harsh and unforgiving yet stunningly beautiful environment for 9 days, or thought-provoking discussion amongst our youth team and the senior members of the expedition.  It was an incredible learning environment!

I have taken a new perspective on life from my involvement with i2P through meeting and learning from passionate individuals who only hope to inspire others and show that awesomely unimaginable achievements are possible in life.  Being part of this i2P expedition was simply life-changing and I am very fortunate to have been picked as a Youth Ambassador. " 

I am going to leave this update at that and any additional info you want, please visit the i2P site.  And when you see me next I'm glad to go into more detail about the experience!!  Feel free to email too if you want more deets!

The Baffin Expedition site:

The impossible2Possible site:

What an amazing organization!!

There was a total of 14 on the expedition.  Here are the 5 of us Youth Ambassadors from across North America.  (left to right) Amanda Cobbs-Russell (Murrieta, California), Sandi Nypaver (Parma Heights, Ohio), Kathleen Merritt (Rankin Inlet, Nunavut), Tamara Banks (Lombardy, Ontario) and I.

There was a lot of bog to trudge through.  Feared by most, fine by me.  Lots of the greatest cross country skiers from Scandinavia did long training sessions loping through bogs.

There was also a lot of sand.  I would say that almost half of the whole hike was on some kind of sandy terrain.  Here we are actually walking on a giant slab of ice insulated by a thick layer of sand.  The actual glacier has receded far up into the valley in the direction from which I took this pic, but there is still a humongous amount of ice left below.  The lake here used to be about 20 feet higher.  Recently a heatwave paired with unusual rainfall swelled the water level to burst through a bank of glacial moraine to devastate the remaining 30 km of valley with unimaginable ferocity.  Think Lord of the Rings when the elves summon that crazy wave that destroys the ring wraiths.  Something like that I would think, haha.  Water-horses and all.  Man that'd be sweet.

Here is some more of that same lake, Glacier Lake, with a smaller pond in the foreground.  It was actually this neon blue colour!

Over the course of the expedition we were constantly blogging and doing interviews via satellite phone.  The blogging was quite amazing, as we typed blogs on Ray's Macbook and the Iridium satellite phone would send the email as a text message (or something like that).

Big thanks to FSC Architects and Engineers who are helping me out big-time for the 2nd year.

Ray Zahab and Bob Cox, the founders of impossible2Possible and two amazing human beings.

This is the day when my blog was titled, "I'm on a Boat."  Haha.  L to R - Bob Cox, TD, Ray Zahab

And this has got to be my favourite photo from the entire expedition (one of the communal photos I got on my ext. HD).  Ray and Bob.  There's a bit of an inside joke to it, but still hilarious.  The expedition took endless hours of organizing.  Even though the whole expedition and everything surrounding it was so monumental, with so many following it and so much media attention, there was still time to have fun.  Actually, that's all we ever did on this trip, haha.  Good times fo sho.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Super Post

Buddy 'ol pal Inukshuk whom I erected a few years back is still hanging tight up high in the Rocky Mountains. He gets decimated by wind storms from time to time, but always seems to get back up. Thanks Haig skiers.

Chapter 1: I became a traveler.

Recently I have spent many solid days driving in the Fit. People wince and grimace when I speak of the distances I have travelled. Truth is, the ’09 Fit is a very comfortable vehicle that’s fun to drive and is very fuel efficient (I’ve been averaging like 5.3L/100km lately). So anyhoo, I’ve driven some long distances in the Fit. Driving “days on end” distances. And I’ve discovered the most ingenious way to both pass the time and to enrich the mind (two things that don’t often go together). Podcasts. podcasts specifically. “Stuff you missed in History Class” and “Stuff You Should Know”. And in one of these episodes of, “Stuff You Should Know,” I listened as staff writer Josh M. Clark and editor Chris Paulette entertained and pondered the question of, “Where is the best part on your body to get shot?” They talked of such gruesome phenomena as cavitation (where tissues expand like 100 times the size of the bullet around the site of the wound upon getting shot) and also of bullets ricocheting off bone. A soldier in the War on Terror (I believe) who was shot in the upper chest had the bullet bounce off bone in such a way that it travelled the length of his arm through flesh all the way to his finger where it exploded the periphery like a roasting cheese smoky splitting open in a deathly spray of seething-hot dairy. Another deadly phenomenon - that immediately eliminated the torso from being the best place to get shot - is when the bullet ricochets around the contours of the rib cage wreaking havoc on internal organs in its desperate attempt to escape its fleshy prison.

To close off this metaphor, this berserker bullet bouncing about madly and randomly inside this body cavity represents all of this high energy and exciting material bouncing around in my mind trying to emerge somewhat organized in a controlled chaos of an update. So much AWESOME lately has left me attempting to pin the blog post tail on a non-existent donkey. The whirlwind has subsided and it appears that I am in the calm epicenter that is the eye of the tornado (another great podcast of “Stuff You Should Know”). So its time to write an update before I am swept off once again, haha. [/segway]

Camille is on the top of the World. Literally and mentally.

Don't leave that shirt off for too long!! SPF 4 held off the sunburn for this kid (barely!), but most of the BC athletes had some pretty hilarious burn lines during the camp.

So let’s start by talking a little bit about One Fit Man (who was me…ahem…who hopefully still is me). He went up to the glacier for a week with a young group of BC athletes at the start of July. It was his first time as senior athlete of the camp. Coincidentally, his first ever glacier camp, as a first year Juvie (some 7 years ago), was with the BC team as well. Back in the day when Jesse Heckrodt was constantly cleaning up at Nationals.

The epic-per-usual camp had me slamming 4-hours-ish daily. Skiing on the lunar landscape of the Haig Glacier under harsh solar radiation every morning and walking the earth as a zombie every afternoon, stumbling about drunkenly in a hypoglycemic stupor, scowling scorningly as the bubbly BC kids gushed in merriment over their card games and Cosmo magazines.

Technically sound skiing with no glaring issues. Heart rate VERY low skiing through a possible combination of suppression and a new fitness profile that meant something different being the cut-off for faster skiing AND surviving the week. Breathing would be pinned with my HR reaching 140, so with that in mind HR monitoring was virtually thrown out the window and breath counting was a new method for ensuring optimally short anabolic switch over time post-training day to day (aka: not over-doing it). Lactate spot-checks were in store as well, as is common with “high-end” endurance athletics these days despite ambiguity as a pace-setting monitor and at the very least its ambiguity in how different coaches interpret different readings. 1.8 mmol/L: GO FASTER!!! Haha. Maybe I should “slow down” when lazing around after eating my lunch when my La is 3.8mmol/L…hmmmm… Paralysis through analysis. But at the same time it’s cool to have a window into metabolism albeit only one single very small portal window covered with a mung-clogged bug screen. Don’t get me wrong though, it IS useful, haha. Moving on….

After 3 very successful weeks of training, nailing every session and hermit-ting in my down-time to ensure proper recovery, it was time for a break from the straight-and-narrow. And thus the Fit and I embarked on our journey to the Great White North.

Haha. Amy McDonald from Hay River, my favourite flag girl, posted near Kakisa. Saw her both on the way up and way down. Used to be a competitive biathlete in Canada. Note how bad the bugs are!

Chapter 2: Yellowknife Mosquito Infestation.

Getting back to Yellowknife is always a great feeling. Apples and oranges with Whistler. Not nearly as many fun things to do in terms of training venues or randomly intriguing activities in town, but the comfort of living at home in a town where I know a large portion of the population and am familiar with the ins and outs of the city makes for a feeling similar to putting on your most comfortable jeans after wearing lesser jeans for, well, a very long time? You know?

Training up to this point had been quite heavy. Yellowknife was intended as a rest from the keen focus I had down south (and the beat-down). I trained decently big days when I could, but for the most part took some time off doing things like working Mountain Bike Madness and getting other Yellowknife business out of my system. I let training come back to me naturally, not trying to force it after a hard block. Train big and hard when it comes easy, if not, be patient; set-backs are short-lived. I was tired a lot. Operating my mountain bike camp and dealing with miscellaneous errands during my last foreseeable stay in Yellowknife had me running around constantly.

In the end, I had my dose of YK and was itching to get back to Weaseltown.

Highlights of Yellowknife in Summer 2009:
- seeing everyone at Folk On The Rocks (and getting slaughtered in the Sam Roberts mosh)
- hanging at Mo-dawg’s house boat
- 24 km run to Berry Hill with Corey (YK’s highest point, at maybe 250 metres)
- chilling at the beach with Mountain Bike Madness
- East Arm camping (greatest place in the world)
- Getting an N-Dub license plate on the Fit
- NOT the heinously bad mosquitoes Yellowknife has this year

Ella Mawdsley and I during the pedal, paddle, pound race. I won the bike (then waited for Ella) and the run. Despite overheating really bad running and nearly dying in the cloud of blackflies.

Fishing out by Pauline Bay.

Near Burnt Island on Great Slave.

Corey and I atop Berry Hill. Man broke dog on this day. Misty was crippled all week.

Chapter 3: Back To Weaseltown Again

- Depart YK: 2:00 pm Thursday, August 6th
- Arrive Peace River: midnight
- sleep in the Fit for 5 hours in Wal-Mart parking lot
- 30 minute run along the river, looked over by 12-foot Davis
- Depart Peace River: 6:30 am Friday
- 45-minute nap on the side of the road at 8:30 am
- Arrive Canmore: 3:00 pm
- 1 hour rollerski with P-Wood and Fraser
- Hang at the Ice Cream Bus with Pate and get free b-day ice cream
- Sleep on Jess’s couch (way comfier than the piano-laden Fit – it actually had a piano in it. Along with 2 bikes, 2 ginormous duffels, a longboard, rollerskis + poles and about 5 other smaller bags and about 10 sets of footwear)
- 1 hour rollerski and watched AWCA uphill skate TT
- waited 20 minutes in line for some dimwit and the Starbucks baristas trying to get a coffee order right
- hit the road for Van at 9:30 am Saturday
- After driving through the smoky bbq that was BC, arrive to my Auntie Lori’s cooking at 6:00 pm
- Drop off piano at Grandma’s
- drive up to Whistler the next morning for 9:00 am 3hr15min run up Singing Pass and down on Whistler Gondola with Lee and Camille (awesome).

2700km. Filling the Fit 4 times on the road.

Back to Weaseltown. And up Singing Pass. Turned out to be an awesome workout despite not really knowing the route we were taking.


(This news is pretty old actually; I’m just a pro at crastinating…)

After an impromptu application at the start of June to be part of a once in a lifetime opportunity to trek the Akshayuk Pass on Baffin Island with an entourage of world-renowned adventurers and ultra-endurance athletes, I was selected as one of twelve finalists in North America to get a phone call interview. After talking to B. Cox on the phone I was selected as one of five youth to take part in this unique opportunity with the non-profit organization, impossible2Possible.

You can read the press release here (and I suggest you do):

So after a hard block of training here in Whistler and then in Canmore for a week, I jet off to Ottawa for a few days prep before chilling in Pang (Pangnirtung (haha, pain in your tongue)) learning to set up tents. From there, 14 of us set off on the adventure of a life-time, getting chased by polar bears and fording glacial rivers for about 10 days. Should be a complete and utter riot! Oh yeah, PS. I’m the only dude Youth Ambassador. Sweet. The girls sound pretty giggly though based on our conference calls, haha…


Just to make this post even more BA…

This is the totally ballin’ music line-up I’m listening to these days…

Destination Unknown – Alex Gaudino (great music video too, haha)
She Wolf – Shakira
Hotel Room Service – Pitbull
Whatever – Brother Ali (the bass will LITERALLY blow your mind)
This is For You – Bliss n Eso
Stomp (Ratatat Remix) – Young Buck, T.I. & Ludacris
When Love Takes Over – David Guetta ft. Kelly Rowla
Cool – Lupe Fiasco
Run This Town – Jay-Z ft. Kanye & Rihanna
Notorious Thugs – Notorious B.I.G. ft. Bone Thugs N’Harmony
Someday We’ll Know – New Radicals
Shoot Me Down – Lil Wayne
Fight This – DL Incognito ft. Dallas Green (AMAZING)
Sunshine – Lupe Fiasco
Missing You – Notorious B.I.G.
Sideways – Dierks Bentley
Work It Out – Jurassic 5 & Dave Matthews Band

Things are going awesome here in Whistler as they usually are. The Academy has been here for the past week so its been great to hook up with them from time to time for some training. Had a great skate sprint simulation with them in which I had some very good signs. Will post more on that hopefully within the next 2 months. Haha.

Sublime sunset to wrap up an amazing evening out on the water at Moses' house boat in Yellowknife Bay. (having a house boat has now made it onto the list of "Living The Yellowknife Dream". Along with owning a float plane.)

Catch ya later,


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One Fit Man

The Kadenwood skate TT. Couldn't quite 1-skate to the top this time. Photo cred: Lee

I have never been this fit before. Definitely not at this time of the year, perhaps ever. And there are a few key points in my preparation and in my sensations to date that lead to such a bold statement. Being fit at this time of year is a double edged sword. I shouldn't be fit right now. I shouldn't be sharp and feeling anything awesome in key hard efforts.

It's important to assess and ask yourself questions why something like this comes about. In some instances there are underlying flaws in the programme. It's important to evaluate and justify the body's adaptations.

It's all about how I got to this point. I have done zero speed this year. I have done one interval session, 4 x 1 km repeats on the track with Corey earlier in the spring time. I get fast by identifying weaknesses and homing in on the body's systems that are the reasons for these hindrances, attempting to constantly raise the level. Not by hammering and "getting myself in shape" with "no pain, no gain" - a common approach.

The Kenyans say you haven't trained until you have sweat.

I will outline two instances of incredible high-end fitness sensations experienced to date this year. But first a little background information.

Up to now I have put a big focus on flexibility. Last year, with the help of a mentor, I identified that my ankle and hip flexibility were major limitations to my range of motion, significantly affecting nearly all motions that include legs, haha. 3 specific stretches performed at least once daily have notably improved this issue. Big gains have resulted, most noticeably running. I can now toe-off. As well as extend and have an efficient power phase in my stride. Running essentials.

To build up running technique and speed, I did no hard runninig whatsoever (besides the 1km repeats with Corey that one day that he dragged me out). I found a 1.41km loop near my house in Yellowknife that had 2 steep hills on it (that would allow me to gain altitude quickly without having to climb forever), both followed by long, meandering downhills that would allow me to open up stride length while maintaining high cadence and mid-foot foot-strike. Practicing on the downhills on this loop a few times a week is the core workout that has taught me how to run again and how to really enjoy it.

I am now running faster than ever. Today was the Spud Run down in Pemberton. Laid back, pretty chill (like everything Pemberton!), and a good time all around. The 8.5km race seemed like a perfect hard effort to gauge training effect (train easy pace almost always, isolate the fundamentals of the aspects of "fitness", and then test your work in a hard effort from time to time where you put all the fundamentals together to observe weaknesses).

The 8.5km race was pretty interesting. Classic, beautiful Pemberton views. At the 5.5 km mark I figured I could bang out a decent 3km so I made my move, pulling ahead of Lee who had paced me up to this point. I had it pinned for a while as I gapped the field, running at around 17.5kph till I got near 8.5km, unfortunately with no finish line in sight. Great. The scorching sun was searing me on the hot pavement. And I had used up much of the reserves I had left making that push. I struggled in to the line, speed dropping down below 15kph, overheating and pasty-mouthed. Ended up being a 10km run. Was also my fastest 10km ever, haha. 38 minutes on the dot. On a course that was about 3 km sand and soft, mushy gravel, another 3km on gravel paths, the other 4km being on the road. And bonking at the end. Very promising observation of fitness. With no fast running anywhere near that speed, just those runs on that loop with the long downhills.

Apres Spud Run chill sesh. Just layin' on a sandbar in the scorching heat post glacial stream dip...

Moment of remarkable fitness #2: Kadenwood 2km uphill double pole TT. Hard uphill with one rest at 1.5km before the final steep pitch. Pinned it off the start up the first hard section and was nearly sure I had blown the remainder of the TT. Somehow sustained it on "pinned" gear the whole way. This alone is nothing special. But being able to do it with a proper crunch, especially keeping the abs contracting efficiently and powerfully throughout the entirety of the TT, while at the same time coordinating this motion with diaphragm contraction. Somehow this is something I am only just learning. It would appear it is fairly fundamental to double pole and that I would have learned it before only just last year??

The focus of this abdominal crunch has had me in the gym many a time thus far. I've had some great sessions with Corey (haha, get it? CORE-y? ya?) back in YK, he's a great motivator and great at stressing a point. Francis' (Bodyworks) ab crunching machine was money (Corey disagrees, but I stand by it) along with the kneeling crunch down on the flies. The building of a Power Gut. But with the Power Gut, don't forget to keep a balance with back strength and the rest of your core. A great article linked from XCottawa drove home this point. Working abdominals exclusively is a recipe for disaster and back injury. A well-rounded core routine is essential. It's easy to pick out the gym rats with the ripped 8-pack and the scrawny-looking back. A few showed up at Lost Lake beach today.

I guess you could say the Power Gut was the foundation that hauled my butt up Kadenwood the other day. Something that is only just amassing its strength and should be a force to be reckoned with come winter. It will be interesting to see if I can beat my "invincible"-sensation-TT next time I challenge the looming Kadenwood climb.

Near the top of Comfortably Numb trail in Whistler. "Whistler's officially epic trail". It is epic. Was a 25km pt. to pt. in a frigid rain. A top training session of the year so far.

The past 2 weeks training in Whistler have been dialed. Completely dialed. Every session, day in, day out. 17-ish hour weeks, nailing every aspect of ski training. I'm taking this seriously, haha. And it's been a great environment. Whistler alone is "where the magic happens". Lee has been a great motivator and I have got some great work done with him so far. CVTC is running smoother than I have ever seen it and it looks like a great program is being rebuilt from the ground up.

I guess mr. Alex Hopkins from YK, now Edmonton, inspired me to write something that would hopefully help developing skiers like him. He's 16 years old and eager to learn and work hard. Hopefully he and others who are interested can get something useful out of my musings and experiences. But remember that, that it's just "my musings and experiences". Everyone is different and there is no one cookbook to guide everyone. It's your journey. Alex is supposed to send me some questions on nutrition that I will entertain on this blog. So that should be an interesting topic... everyone seems to have quite a unique take on it.

Thanks for reading (if you actually managed to fight through that epic).