Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hype without the pressure... Mount Marathon 2015

Eventhough I'm not racing this year somehow I have a ton of Mount Marathon obligations... I don't mean this in a bad way but I suppose it just goes to show how much this race permeates Alaskan culture and illustrates how hard it is to get away!

The past couple of weeks I've been telling people that I won't be at the race because "it's hard to watch a race you really want to be a part of" but over the last couple of days I've changed my mind - I can't stay away.  This year's running is going to be too exciting to miss, even if I have to stand on the side of the mountain as a spectator/cheerleader extraordinaire.

The "out of town guests" team Salomon left to right Emelie Forsberg, Kilian Jornet, me & Ricky Gates

What's all this hype you might ask? Well, first there was the premiere of the 3022 movie, the documentary that followed last year's race. The premiere was two back to back shows at the Beartooth, complete with athlete panel and embarrassing ice breaker games & schwag.  The movie (compliments to Max Romey and Natalie Fedak) was given 4 stars by the local paper and consequently, three more sold out shows were added. And.... then three more, towards the end of the month.... ! (Wow!)  If you want to check out the website do so HERE but I'll warn you, it's not available online due to future film festival plans :)

With Jeebs at the Premiere

3022 got more stars than Avengers: Age of Ultron or Cinderella?!?!?! 

While I cringed at the close ups of my bad bangs (sorry but bad hair is relevant and embarressing) Max and Natalie did a fantastic job explaining the lore of the mountain and told the story of the racers. Also, for a race that is extremely hard to spectate, the cinematography was awesome and you really get a feel for all 3022 feet of the course.

Monday night's Q&A compliments of Salomon and Skinny Raven

3022 on Alaska Public Radio: 

Max in the studio.... 

The latest KTVA story on Eric Strabel and Denali Foldager - not Strabel (!) "Love Story" 

The wedding cake - complete with a piece of Mt. Marathon on top - whatever happened to the bride and groom? 

Today's ADN article about the lottery process to get into Mt. Marathon: 

ADN preview of the women's race: 

Watch for our segment on KTVA's show, Frontier showing Sunday morning and replaying Sunday evening.... 
Me and Clint (and let it be known that I'm a proud graduation of the "McCool School!")

By now you probably get the point. One could literally waste hours upon hours reading all this stuff, making predictions about the race, etc, etc.  There are certainly worse ways to spend time :) There is a reason Mt. Marathon is the "Olympics or Super Bowl of Alaska."  I just love the fact that a mountain running race, of all things in the biggest sporting event in AK aside from the Iditarod!  

True to my theme of "branching out" Rob and I are taking off on a 2-day packraft trip early tomorrow morning.  The river, Clear Creek, has been on our to-do list for at least five years and tomorrow we're doing it! It's literally been years since I've been in my boat so I hope I remember how to do it!  Rob got me a new skirt for my birthday this past April so I'm excited to put that to use. (Spray skirt that is!)

On Saturday I hope to be all over that mountain cheering at the top of my lungs, finding another use for Olympic clothing (hello patriotic red, white and blue) and handing out water. It's going to be a different year but I look forward to watching others put it all on the line. 

In other brief non-Mount Marathon news we celebrated our official "cabin warming" in Hope on Solstice. This project has been "Rob's Olympics" the past five years and he did an amazing job!  We still live in an 800 square foot shack in Anchorage but Hope sure turned out nice!  

Solstice crowns & bunny ears! 

The backside of the "Hope Hamptons" compliments of Matt Waliszek's camera.... 

Cheers to an exciting, SAFE race for everyone who has the honor of taking the 3022 challenge. And to the rest of you, Happy Fourth of July, however you may choose to celebrate it. 


Monday, June 8, 2015

11 Marathons is enough for me...

Eleven Marathons is enough for me…. 

As some of you know this past winter I traveled the world competing in ski marathons. Over the course of 5 months I competed in 11 ski marathons sprinkled throughout 10 countries. My final race took me all the way to Siberia and the season went three weeks longer than usual. Needless to say, I was tired - I am tired and consequently there will be no Mount Marathon 2015 in my future. 

Here I am post finish line last year.... not my best look... 

Believe me, I am disappointed. It's bound to be a flag-ship, exciting year with Internationally ranked "celebrity" competition (Emelie Forsberg & Killian Jornet) plus the move of Allie Ostrander to the senior race. Course records seem to be falling right and left this year and I wouldn't be surprised to see some blazing times in Seward with the depth of competition in both the men's and women's races. 

Over the years I've harnessed a very personal, palpable relationship with Mount Marathon. I credit the race and my 2009 trip to the ER with my move towards becoming a professional athlete.  For the past seven summers it's been the poignant date in the summer months.  Somehow there is "pre-Mount Marathon" and "post-Mount Marathon" each year.  In the past few years the race has resulted in the disappearance of Michael LeMaitre, traumatic brain injuries, cuts, scraps and bruises.  And - for some reason, people still fight for the opportunity to hurl themselves 3022 feet up & down the mountain. For these reasons, I suppose it makes sense Mount Marathon holds the nick-name, "the Olympics of Alaska."  

2009 where it took nearly an hour to start in IV... 
I don't feel like I need to make excuses for my absence but I realize that it's easier to offer a full explanation behind my decision. I know the effort that is required for me to be safe and competitive in this race..... One needs to be seething with motivation, and your/my killer instinct needs to be sharp and ready to go. I've been in that zone in the past and I just don't have the energy (physical, emotional, mental) for it this year.

Post race ice cream bars, 2011

So, good luck to everyone that plans and hopes to race this year!!! I'll miss it dearly but I know it's the right call for me. In the meantime, if you have the Mount Marathon fever or are alternatively curious to learn more about the race and/or get an inside peak into the minds of race competitors don't miss the premiere of 3022ft Everyone's got mountains to climb - a full length documentary made about last year's race at the Beartooth!  There will be two showings June 24th complete with schwag and an athlete panel. 


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Spring powder, peaks, family & friends....

Well, the hiatus, procrastination and silence is over!  Perhaps you've noticed a trend in my blog...... when things go well, I generally post more often. When things don't go well there is often a period of silence. I've tried to break this habit as there is always something to say, even if it's a simple lesson learned but easier said that done. 

My last FIS Marathon Cup race in Russia was over a month and a half ago and needless to say, it did not go well. In fact, I don't think I've ever been that tired in a race and/or skied so poorly.  The two weeks leading up to the race I wasn't physically sick but could barely get out of bed. Maybe it was a low-level virus that took its toll or maybe it was just the 5-month accumulation of international travel, living out of a duffel bag, and racing too many 50ks! All said and done I raced 18 races, 11 of which were marathons in 10 different countries. In hindsight the racing, combined with the travel was too much but live and learn, right? 

 3rd place in the FIS Marathon Cup 

So far my spring (and early summer now) have been dedicated to recovery and spending some time doing things that I've put on the back burner for a while now. The past five years have been a big push towards my competition goals and they have required a lot of dedication, commitment and sacrifice. Don't worry - they haven't been without fun too! But, I've done some fun trips this spring, just returned from an extended trip down to Washington to see my family, and am now enjoying setting up my routine here at home. 

Here are a few pictures for a quick update: 

Birthday presents: roses and personalized license plate decals 

In lieu of Hawaii or a tropical beach I opted to stay in Alaska for my spring vacation. 

Luckily the weather was on our side and so where the conditions 

 We had an awesome group which included Katie & Justin Libby & Zoe Roy

The accoms weren't too shabby either! 

My Salomon Q115 where the perfect ski for the killer conditions! 

Rob soaking up the last rays of sunshine and powder before being picked up by Talkeetna Air Taxi! 

School visits - this time Teeland Middle School in Wasilla 

 Perfect Spring Alaskan Days 

 Preschool graduation? Caps and gowns? What is the world coming too? 

 Talking about my marathon season on KTVA's Daybreak 

The boys! 

 Beach bike ride on Fat Tires - why not? 

Keynote at the Girl Scouts Young Women of Distinction Luncheon

A successful climb up Tikishla

High school graduation parties! 

 Alaska with friends

 More of Alaska with friends 

 Floral explosion in Seattle 

 A dedication of a new stone wall and structure at my Dad's garden in Seattle, Kubota Gardens 

 Family hiking trip in the North Cascades. Four days of rain but it was gorgeous and we made it to the top of Castle Peak which is my dad's 99th peak in his quest to climb the top 100 peak in Washington! (w/400 feet of prominence. He's already completed the top 100 "Bulgar List.")
Rob & his sister, Heather. Their first outdoor trip together in 13 years!?

Dad pointing at the top of Castle.... this is the only good look we had the whole time. Otherwise it was foggy with nearly zero viz... 

Then we went to Shaw Island to help my brother on his next "tiny house."  He's helped us in Hope and it was our turn to return the favor in the form of roofing, wiring, and insulating. 

Two fire fighters on Shaw Island: Scott shows Rob some of the Shaw Island volunteer fire fighter regalia. Scott keeps a pretty fun blog which you can check out HERE if at all interested. 

And more recently a new set of wheels compliments of Kendall Toyota of Anchorage. I upgraded to heated seats which I used today - June 2nd! :( 

That's it for now. Hopefully I'll get back to writing about something with substance rather than just posting pictures.... but no one ever complains about pictures. 

What's on tap for the summer you might ask? School!  I'm taking 2.5 graduate classes towards my Masters in Counseling Psychology. I have one course remaining this fall + internship (which is a substantial 600 hours!) then graduation. More on this later. 

 This past winter was a true test of endurance in many ways: physically, emotionally, mentally & logistically. I know I'm brushing over the synopsis here but perhaps I'll feel more inclined to write about it in detail later. Thanks so much for the cheers, support, and words of encouragement.

Until then, enjoy your June, wherever you may be. 

Holly :) 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Khanty in photos...

I made it to Khanty! 

... and there is an important race tomorrow but it might resemble Alyeska's slush cup a bit... 

It's called the "Ugra Ski Marathon"

 And it's not really freezing at night....... It could be a shin-deep slush 50k suffer fest out there tomorrow. Unfortunately there is no salt in sight. 

 On the way here you could buy Putin Paraphernalia in a vending machine if you wish.... 

After 18 hours of travel! Yikes! 

 That's for me! 

 Russian biathlete ladies, complete with gun iphone case.... 

 Kilometer 20 earlier in the week, before the rain started

 Building a stadium in the middle of..... ???

More building 

 Lots of high level Russians will be in attendance including men's Sochi 50k Alexander Legov... 

 The accoms.... 
 Borscht for lunch! 

 Boots with the fur 

 The first few days of the trip were pretty quiet. Luckily I made some new friends from the Mongolian Paralympic team! 

With Batmunkh (pronounced "com-bolt")  We trained together for the whole ski Thursday!

And then we had a gift exchange. I am bringing how the beautiful painting that I am holding and I traded some athlete cards and Alaska smoked salmon (not pictures but they DID receive it) 

 Two strong legs, one strong arm & a great spirit! 

 New Carbons! (Thanks Salomon!)

 It's quite barren and flat around these parts.... 

And here is what we found in the city..... 

 The Internets decent so I can't complain! 

 Apparently the race will be televised in Russia although I haven't been able to nail down any of the details. 

Phones with translation apps come in handy for on the go communication! 

When jogging, watch out for uncovered man-holes. Reminds me of somewhere else I've been (Sochi!)

Last ones a "fast" one? 50 k's to go and then three days of traveling home and I will be done! 
Check back for a race report to see what happened.....