Go With The Flow

I have to say: I really don’t like the expression “go with the flow”. The top definition on Urban Dictionary is to “not push against prevailing behaviour/norms/attitudes”–an ideal that was definitely not prevailing when anyone accomplished anything on any level of importance! I prefer to think more along the lines of non-conformity, because the path of least resistance is seldom the right one.
The only time that I see “going with the flow” as having any idealogical value is when it comes to avoiding stress over events that you have no control over. As a ski racer, and as a fairly high-strung personality, I find that stress is a bad thing. It tires you out, it makes you forgot things that should not be forgotten (like the ring of power), it makes you think you have a concussion when you actually don’t (haha), and, it makes you perform below your potential in ski races.
One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that if your pole tip comes of in a race, if it dumps 2ft of snow when you’re supposed to go for a bike ride, or even if you’re plane is about to leave and you are stuck in security–don’t stress! When you can’t change the situation it’s better to just “go with the flow” and come to terms with the circumstances rather than work yourself into a tizzy stressing over things.

Coincidentally, this past week has, pretty much in its entirety, been a lesson in coming to terms with and adapting to adverse circumstances!

Last Monday I departed for my first training camp with the World Cup Academy–a road bike focused camp in Nelson BC! Nelson is a pretty cool place, and not exactly what I expected it to be; the first thing I noticed when we arrived was how humid and rain foresty-like the terrain was.

This person on our wall in Nelson is not prepared for adversity–demonstrating a lack of outdoors knowledge by snowshoeing with no pants

After checking into the motel, getting groceries and a solid nights sleep, day 2 went perfectly according to plan and I went to bed looking forward to our solid 150km road bike ride that we had planned for day 3! But when we woke up on day 3 we were greeted with pouring rain, so in favour of not being cold and wet for 5hrs in the saddle, we found other ways to get in our approx. 5hrs of training that day (rollerskiing, running, weights). 

View of the North Shore of Nelson from a sweet lookout Seb and I found after our weight workout on Tuesday

Seb: admiring the view from the lookout and striking a majestic pose

“No worries”, we decided, “we will bike part of the route we’ll be taking for the drive home on tomorrow and get in our long bike ride that way.” But the pouring rain theme continued on day 4. When we heard in the morning that Canmore was in a state of emergence due to flooding we decided to book it back home ASAP before the roads got closed down. 

Stupid rain
“I Got Swagg” on our ride home. We found some snow in the pass we were supposed to ride over

Through the Rockes we drove, arriving in Radium Hot Springs right after the road that we needed to take towards Banff got closed. At this point it was 3pm in the afternoon and we were all feeling a bit groggy from the driving, but instead of giving up and crying in the cars, we took hold of the situation! It was no longer raining so we hoped on our bikes and rode for 105km north to Golden BC (we actually rode the distance in 2hrs 55min–a time that somewhat impressed me) where we spent the night, ate some fairly cheap food (pizza and ice cream) and were happily surprised when the roads opened; just in time for us to drive back to Banff the next morning. But the adventure was not over yet!!

Arriving in Banff we found that the Trans-Canada highway was closed between there and Canmore–our only route home–due to the highway being pwned by crazy water. With only the approx. 20km ride between Banff and Canmore left, we hoped on our bikes and rode down the closed highway back to Canmore! After the previous day’s 100+ km ride this 20k one would’ve been a cake walk–but I decided that to make it a challenge (and because I didn’t want to leave my stuff in Banff) I would ride with my 50ish lb duffle bag on my back. And it dumped rain the entire time. 
It was uncomfortable.

This intersection near my place in Canmore is usually not a lake

And so we all made it back home to Canmore safe and sound but were greeted with flooded basements and lakes where there were none before, upon arrival. Three days later the ground water levels are finally going down and stuff is getting back to normal. What a crazy week!!!

Dream Big, People!!

Get to the Choppa!!!

Yesterday was my first by-myself-workout in Canmore that was longer than 1hr15min. I think that in general people prefer doing workouts together, so it might seem strange when I tell you that, honestly, some of my funnest (yes, I said funnest) workouts have been by myself! When you train by yourself you have no distractions–you can focus on going at exactly the right pace, you can focus on technique and you can have some time with your own thoughts. I like these traits. I like them very much.

Yesterday’s skiwalk/run ranks right up there in my list of awesome by-myself workouts…

With only 2hrs of training time yesterday, I was faced with the conundrum of wanting to do a fairly epic run but not having enough time to do it in. That’s when I remembered that there is a heli pad, and a sweet ruined building, partway up Lady Mac–which is one of the picturesque mountains around Canmore (they’re all picturesque). With the goal of reaching the helipad etched into my consciousness, my skiwalking poles in hand and Smooth Criminal stuck in my head for some unknown reason, I departed the trailhead in a flurry of zone1 paced footfalls.
As I climbed past the 45min mark, a battle was being fought in my mind between the voice of reason and the voice of hammertime:

Voice of Reason: “yikes, you’re nearing the halfway mark and the helipad isn’t in sight. You got one clif bar to go on and only 2hrs of easy training to do today. Better ditch the helipad idea soon and turn around, in favour of training smart.”
Voice of Hammertime: “pffff!! Bad idea! How lame would it be if you turned around at some unrecognizable spot?! Hell, why even stop at the helipad? Climb the whole mountain! Zone4 baby!!”

After these thoughts had been playing for a few minutes I ran into a climber coming back down and asked him “how far to the helipad?” “Hour and a half” he said–a figure which astonished me at the time and still does now.
With the disappointing thought that I might end up turning around before I reached my goal closing in on me, some cold weather decided to close in too–and it started snowing. Most people would probably see this as the sign to turn around, but I like snow so I saw it as a sign to through caution to the wind and keep marching.
At this point things started happening fast. First I saw a mountain sheep, then I took out my phone to take pictures and got it all wet from the snow, then I heard thunder rolling in from the distance but decided I wasn’t gonna turn around just yet, then the snow stopped, then I kept climbing. About 2min after all of this crazyness I ran into two hikers coming down. Upon asking “how long to the helipad” they replied it was right over the next rise!! Hurray! I sprinted the last few hundred meters up through scree and snow from last Winter. 

down comes the snow! Can you spot the sheep?

Up up up I sprinted, enemy fire raining down around me, heavier than the snow from earlier on, and Arnold paying the them back in kind with the 50 cal. mounted on the blackhawk–all the while yelling “GET TO THE CHOPPA!!!” Clearing the last few strides I just managed to grab onto the rope later as it took off!!

Okay, that last paragraph is a bit of an exaggeration. Replace that scene with a vision of me climbing the steps to the helipad as the snow/rain/thunder clouds cleared in a most divine fashion–yielding a spectacular view of Canmore and the bow river valley spread out hundreds of meters below my vantage point!
After I enjoyed my clif bar, explored the ruined building by the helipad and took way to many pictures of the view, I jogged back down the mountain, at a slightly excessive pace for a zone1 workout, back to the trailhead, and then the rest of the way home, through town.

cool pine trees on the way back down

All this in just two hours 🙂

Here are the numbers for the workout:

Climb time from the trailhead: 1:09
Descent back to the trailhead: 33min (wow! less than half the climb time!!)
Total workout time: 2hrs exactly
HR min: 94bpm
HR average: 141bpm
HR max: 171bpm (this was actually on the way back down)

*I’ve included most of this hike’s photos below, for your viewing pleasure!

Dream Big, People!!

yikes… pretty steep slope
close up of sheepy
let it snow!
looking down the trail from the sheep viewing point
goin’ up!

nice view!

the trail came up this ridge

bow valley

top of the ruined building

the helipad
into the depths…

inside the building looking out

looking towards Mt. Grotto

“no fires”  “no entry”  Good thing I exited from this doorway

follow the snow to find the trail back down

the tree line

ominous view from the helipad

apparently para-gliders jump off here

I want to keep going up…


First Monday blog-day!! Yay!
Stop. Hammer time. Yannick and I made it almost to Banff on our Sunday rollerski. The waterfall was pretty
As most of you who follow my blog know, I am now living in Canmore Alberta and training with the World Cup Academy (one of Canada’s top, if not the top, xc ski training centers). But let’s back track a bit: why did I decide to make this move?

To simplify my motivation for this big change in scenery down to one sentence (something I’m not sure I feel comfortable doing, but will do anyway): ‘It’s because I have big goals.’ This year I want to qualify for World U23 Championships (they are in Italy!); a couple years down the line I want to be making the podium on the World Cup and in 2018 I want to qualify for the Olympics!

“Yikes! sounds ambitious”, you say. “How are you gonna achieve all that?” As with most destinations, figurative or not, the end of “the road to the olympics” or, more accurately for my case, “the road to international success in skiing” can be reached in more than one way, and, to make things even more complicated, some routes may be better for certain individuals than others–so I can’t just be like: “looks like Lenny did 500hrs of training here, a camp in Maui here, this amount of intensity here and he’s really fast now!” And then just try to copy exactly what Lenny did these last couple years, ‘cause what made him fast might not be the best thing for me.
So coming off the end of the race season this year I was putting a lot of thought into how I could get to where I want to be in my sport in the most efficient fashion. With this in mind, I came up with a list of what I thought I needed to do to be faster next season (improve efficiency, improve strength, improve classic sprinting, have faster peers to train with, etc…). Upon reflexion, I realized that I could achieve most of my training goals at home or in Canmore–which is cool, but which didn’t help my decision making process at all!!!

Finally after lots of pointless worrying and lots of thought on the topic, my decision came down to this: I have trained at Nakkertok for 8 years. I have developed an awesome support system in the Ottawa region, I have great facilities to train at, and I know I can get faster working at Nakkertok with Kieran as my coach. But, in Canmore I have new training partners (who also happen to be some of the best skiers in Canada!), better facilities (ice baths, mountains, a rollerski treadmill, a glacier…), and a better coach to athlete ratio. On top of this, I will get a new perspective on high-level ski training, a more focused environment, not having to drive EVERYWHERE (a 2min jog to training rather than a 20min drive is a sweet change) and some cool new trails to explore.

When I realized that things were going to work financially, I decided that Canmore would be the way to go. Even if it’s not a perfect fit for my training style, I know that it will be an awesome learning experience. And as far as being ‘a perfect it for my training style’ goes, things are looking pretty good so far! Since my arrival I’ve:

  1. -Finished 13hrs of training
  2. -Went for 1 AWESOME mountain bike ride 
  3. -Completed 1 30min rep of awesome hill climb running
  4. -Finished more than 50km of rollerskiing
  5. -Almost finished 1 tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!

And I didn’t even have to drive the 3600km Cantley-to-Canmore door-to-door distance.

Dream Big, People!!!

A funny tree

View of the town mid-trail on our awesome mtb ride

View of my clothing at the end of our awesome mtb ride. My white mtb shoes are no longer white!!

Cleanin’ the bikes