Saturday, October 22, 2016

First Snow of the Year

...And I don't mean first snow of the season. I mean first snow of 2016.

So we celebrated by spending a few hours doing the Grand Tour of Kincaid Park.

Along the frozen shores of Beercan Lake.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Ski Team Quiz

Q:  Can you guess which of these two UAA Ski Team dancers has a broken leg?


A: The one with the crutch, of course.

Sand and Snow

I missed the workout in the sand dunes of Kincaid last month because I was busy riding my motorcycle in the sand dunes of the Mojave Desert. But the team went back out for another round this morning and I was able to join the fun.

One of many uphill sprints in the sand.

After the team left and I was running back across Kincaid Park to my car, I found these tracks.
Sadie, Hailey, Bjørk.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Roller Derby

The weather continues to be great, allowing us to run and rollerski without messy, icy and dangerous roads and trails. Today it was time for some hard work on rollerskis at Kincaid Park.

The coach set the tone early in the workout....
...but Skippy was having none of it.
Skippy and Hannah
(As a side note: does anyone else think it's weird that the word "Craft" is written upside down on Tom's leg?  I mean, who's supposed to be reading it anyway: other people, or Tom himself?)
Wolfgang Von Goethe

Saturday, October 15, 2016

High Pressure

People around here are like people everywhere in the world (except Southern California). They like to think they have the craziest weather and it always changes from hour to hour and you'd better be ready for any crazy meteorological anomaly to strike without warning at any moment or you'll damn well regret it. 

But when Anchorage people say that stuff, they're wrong. Our weather is heavily influenced by the polar vortex and we often get pretty much the same kind of weather for days, weeks, or even months. Sometimes during winter, storm after storm winds up in the Aleutian Islands and rips into the Chugach Mountains, dropping meter upon meter of snow all winter.  And sometimes a big high pressure system sits over the Alaska for days or weeks. That's what's been happening lately. It's been good for us. During this time of year, sometimes it's tricky to plan workouts because of roads too snowy for rollerskiing but not enough snow on the trails to ski. We haven't been having that problem this year.

Overlooking Anchorage.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Mario's Back!

Today we did what we always do around this time of year: a 50km+ double-pole workout around the city. Calisa, Andrew, Sylvie and Svea had promised to have waffles waiting for the team at the end of the workout, and I can tell you that a few of us were smelling those waffles during the last hour of skiing!

Former Seawolf Mario Roncador flew in from New York City just for this workout, and it was great to have him with us.  He skied the first half with the men and then jumped ship on them and came over to the women's group for the second half. After graduating from UAA, Mario's found himself a job as a consultant with a firm based in New York City. He spends three weeks out of every month traveling around the land, fixing other people's problems (presumably). Mario says he's planning to be at the NCAA Championships in New Hampshire next March. That would be a good thing because from what I heard last March, he was a whirling Dervish as my replacement volunteer assistant. The coaches have told me I'm going to have to step up my game and/or bring some new skills if I hope to maintain my position with this team after they saw what was possible under Mario's brief tenure.

It was around 22 degrees when we started this thing at 8am.

Because he's a consultant now.
Stare at this picture for a while.
Larry paced our group through the last 40 kilometers of our 50 kilometer workout.  Thanks, Larry!
Downtown Anchorage and the Coatal Trail.
Westchester Lagoon downtown.
Feasting at the Kastning house. Thank you, Calisa, Andrew, Sylvie and Svea!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Mt Alyeska

There's a 200-kilometer speed skating race in the Netherlands called the Elfstedentocht. It's a big race, with 16,000 participants. Problem is, the canals in Holland don't always freeze during the winter. And when the canals don't freeze, it's super-difficult to skate on them so they cancel the race. The Elfstedentocht has only been held 15 times since 1909. The last time they were able to hold the race was in 1997. 

The UAA Ski Team's hike over Max's Mountain and Alyeska Peak is kind of like that.  If it's windy or raining, there's not much point in trying to survive a 3-plus hour death march over a rocky exposed knife-edge ridge. After all, the point of the workout is to become faster skiers, not to conquer a difficult mountain. Coming home bedraggled and miserable won't do us much good. So when the weather's not quite perfect (which it usually isn't in this temperate rainforest biome) we call an audible and go somewhere else instead. But every once in a while, the sun shines on our Max's / Alyeska hike day, and it's on. How many years will it be until we get the chance again?  Memories of today might need to last us a while.

We started at the bottom of the ski lift.

Charlie Renfro joined us about 10 minutes in.

Tom said this part reminded him of Estonia, if Estonia was tilted 90 degrees on its side.

Breaking out of the trees on Max's Mountain.

Girdwood below.


Zacke & Tom

The ocean

One of the things we like most about this workout is that we can descend the last 2,000 feet by cable car, thereby saving our legs for another day.