This morning I had breakfast at 7:45. It included a banana, oatmeal and raisin bran. Then I got my classic stuff and headed out to the van at 8:25.
I jumped in and waited for everybody else to get in. Chris Cook and Kris Freeman were the last to get in. The first thing you think when you see Cook is that he must be a weightlifter or bodybuilder, not so much a skier. He is tall and strong as an ox. This would be a wrong thought however, as the man is a double-poling machine. Not only have race results proven this, but the way he practices proves it as well. When Kris Freeman gets in, my head immediately shoots back to race videos. In particular, the 2003 World Championship Men's 4x10km Relay where Kris won the lead off leg. He skied an excellent race, displaying patience, but boy when he kicked it the Scandos were eating his snow dust.
Trond was driving and we were headed to Whiteface Mountain. When we got there we did a half hour warmup. I skied with Zack Simons, Chris Cook and Andy Newell. Skiing behind Zack I thought of the Capital City Sprints where he gained the name, “StreetFighter”. He won the kilometer or so classic sprint in tactical style. Then there is Andy. He is a skier that puts the X in XC. He is a always looking for a sweet jump or a killer surf. As a skier he is a sprinting animal. He posted a 12th in the World Championship and was the Supertour Sprint Champion the year before.
After the warmup we began L4 intervals uphill. Everybody was doing them a little differently based on their sprinting and distance callings. When I see Torin [Koos] sprinting up the hill I think of a human triangle. He is a manimal. Plain and simple, bred for his skills in speed. He won the Senior National Championship sprint race.
I started my interval and headed up to the next van. AJ [Andrew Johnson] and Kris came a little bit after me. Then there was rest and we did another. This time we started in a bit of a pack. Kris and AJ pulled away. AJ is a distance man. He was hauling up the hill. His resemblance to Prefontaine during Senior Nationals was amazing. This reminds me of the national championship pursuit race where he came from behind for the win, conserving his energy and then putting it all out there at the end.
All this made me realize how lucky I am to be here. I get to work with some of the world's greatest coaches and athletes in cross country skiing for two weeks. To me there is not a value one can put on this. I get to experience and learn what these guys do 24/7. That is definitely cool! Everybody is a little different and therefore they train differently. In general though everyone is striving to get better and I believe therefore everybody will get better because they have chosen to take control of what they can improve and not worry about those things that they cannot change. Other groups the world over lack this kind of demeanor and discipline, creating a counteractive atmosphere for goal achievement.
Wednesday afternoon Nikolai, Kyle, Yuriy and myself did a warmup run and then hit the gym for more strength. After that Nikolai duked it out with the other guys in a big game of basketball, which ended in his team losing. Then we played some basketball and had dinner.
Thursday morning I got up and had breakfast. I had eggs and potatoes. Then we got ready and hit the vans to head to the Mt. Marcy trailhead for a run. Lars [Flora], Torin, Zach Violett, Kyle, Nikolai and I ran/climbed all the way to the top of Mt. Phelps, a nearby mountain on the same trail system. We got soaked with sweat. It was muggy on the top. We could see some nearby Adirondacks, but they were shrouded with fog. We talked a lot about the American running scene. You know, the talk of Gaylen Rupp, Alan Webb and how everyone is looking for a new Pre. When we got back down Trond was waiting by the van. We showered, ate lunch and then it was nap time for me. It was one of those great naps! The ones where you don't remember falling asleep and you wakeup with the sun on your face shining through the window. Bliss, bliss, bliss, bliss, bliss!