Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Canmore and Silverstar

Whoa!  Fall always goes by so much faster than I expect it to.  Between school, training and work, I didn’t even end up having time to write a review of the October Lake Placid camp that I said I would do.  As it turns out though, I did write a blog post when I was out in Canmore doing some early season training/racing, but, I didn’t end up posting it because the internet connection at my lodgings was pretty bad.
So, it may be a bit late, but here’s a look into my mind on the evening of November 30th (in all it’s highlighted blue glory!).

Winter is here!  Well, at least, winter is here for parts of the country.  Luckily, I made the decision early in the year to head out to Canmore Alberta (where there is usually early snowfall) on the 23rd of November.  So, now it seems we’re almost into December, and I’ve been skiing on snow in Canmore for just over a week now.
This last week or so has been super exciting, and not just because I’m skiing for-real now, but also because it has been a week of preparation for my first race weekend of the year--which starts tomorrow!

For me, and for a lot of skiers I think, the first races are a bit of a milestone.  They signal the switch from the training season to the race season (o b v i o u s l y), and they also trigger a mental switch too.  The last month or so is always a bit of a stressful time for me.  It’s that time of year when you know you’ve trained hard all summer (at least, I know I have!), race season is looming ahead, and inevitably, you wonder: “have I done enough?”  From past experience, this question can almost always be answered with a resounding “YES!!”  But that doesn’t quash the anxiety.
So, finally, that time of year is about to end!  With the first races comes the answer to this question, and I’m confident that this year, yet again, it’ll be that common three letter word.

Dream big, people!!

Well!!!  As it turns out, I managed to throw down, not only in Canmore, but in Silverstar (Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre) the weekend after.  So, the trip was definitely a success, as I had three solid races out of a total of four (the distance race in Canmore ended up feeling a bit more like a Viking Death March than a race, for me), and I managed to eliminate my pre-season anxiety--yay!
As an added bonus, I met up with ski-friends that I haven’t seen in awhile, and I had a spectacular time in Silverstar, which, by the way, happens to be Paradise on earth (see pictures).

A HUGE thanks goes out to my ex-coach and homie Mike Vieira, for letting me chill with him in Canmore for a week and a half, NDC Thunder Bay and CVTC, for getting me and my gear respectively, over to Silverstar from Canmore, CNEPH, for waxing my skis in Canmore, and of course, Kieran, Kevin, and the rest of the Nakkertok support crew for doing such an amazing job of getting me, and my skis, race ready in Silverstar.  Last but totally not least, thanks to Salomon for top-notch support and awesome gear--let’s make this season a good one!

Dream big, people!!! (and check out my trip in pictures below!)


Goodbye Ottawa

Hello Calgary

At the Nordic Centre

Naps were a reoccurring theme in Canmore.

Yeah, I made some Banana Muffins

Race anticipation

My Sister was in Canmore on an exchange for a few days when I was there, so, obviously we had to get a picture of us with the mountains.

Welcome to Paradise!  Check out the swedish ski team members in the background, and Riel gettin' the wax right.

Chris Weller--as interpreted by Chris Weller.

uh oh--a selfsie.

Snow Angel by yours truly.

Okay, I know how stupid food shots are, and I'm embarrassed that two of them made it in here, but, I was really proud of myself for making those banana muffins, and this pizza.  All done from scratch.

Photo cred's to Em for this one.

The one!  The only!!  Dominique M-G!!!  Ridin' the chair lift.

I'm dead serious when I say that The 'Star is paradise.

Just like at Tremblant (see previous blog post), Silverstar has a radio tower at the top.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Hey inter-web!!
Since the start of school I've been super busy with stuff like training, working, managing time very poorly and--well--school.  Ultimately, (and to my utter dismay) this has left me with less time to blog.  So, I don't have too much time to write today, but I'll give a quick update on what I've been up to in the last month or so...

At the start of September, the team (Nakkertok Train-to-Compete group) had a sweet intensity training camp.  Unlike most training camps, it was held locally, which gave us the opportunity to shred some sweet Gatineau park workouts.  For instance, we got to run the ever-painfully-fun Luskville Falls uphill time trial, which runs--you guessed it--up the Luskville Falls hiking trail.  It gains some pretty crazy elevation over the course of 2.some kilometers.  Unfortunately, I didn't post a PB, but I wasn't exactly expecting to since we threw down some crazy sprint simulations the day before.

Next up, after the camp, it was back to school for Zeke!!  Zeke doesn't always speak in third person, but when he does, he usually talks about school.  
This fall, school for Zeke is made up of two courses.  "What?!?  Only two courses!?!?" you say.  "Zeke must be absolutely horrible at time management!!"  While Zeke is somewhat insulted by this negative stance, he agrees that he is not very amazing at time management, but at the same time, he would like to point out that although he only took three courses last semester, he ace'd all three of them.  Zeke intends to add two more ace'd courses to the list this year.
Anyway, this year Zeke is taking Intermediate French, and a pure math course on Linear Algebra.   Both of them are full year courses, so that should be interesting.  Surprisingly, Zeke finds the French course harder.

...back to first person.  So, between these two courses, working at FAE like usual, doing some killer training like usual, and coaching the Chelsea Masters once a week, I've been pretty busy.  I did manage to throw in an informative session on goal setting for one of the younger groups at Nakkertok, one Sunday in September, which was cool.  Anyway, coming up to the end of last month, I was feeling kinda overwhelmed.  I needed something to get me back on track, and help me re-realize that my big goals for this season are all skiing related.  Luckily, that "something" showed up--and in the form of another training camp too!

On the last day of September, the Nakkertok team peace'd out en-masse for our third, and final, dry land training camp of the season, to be held in a sweet location.  Just to get things straight, by en-masse, I mean only six of us, and by sweet location, I mean Lake Placid.  This training camp turned out to be very productive with respect to both physical training, and technique training.  It also has seemed to help me refocus with respect to both training and school, so, a huge thanks goes out to my awesome coach for everything he did to make the camp possible (thanks K-dogg!!).
Anyway, I would really like to devote an entire blog post to Lake Placid, with pictures and videos and such, so suffice it to say, for now, that this awesome training camp involved sweat, blood, and tears, in varying quantities, and rain ridiculous quantities.

Look for a Lake Placid camp post coming soon; dream big, people!

*(sorry, no song this time)

Sunday, 26 August 2012

La Malbaie

Every August, the Quebec Team comes together for its second summer training camp--a joint training camp held with CNEPH.  This event yields a great opportunity to get in some good high volume zone1 rollerski training, talk with CNEPH’s awesome support staff, and experience what it’s like to, essentially, be part of a training centre for one week.  At last year’s training camp in Jericho, Vermont, I had serious trouble recovering between workouts, so going into this year’s camp my goal was to improve upon this.  I was not super happy with the location of the camp last year either, so when I heard that it was to be held in La Malbaie, I was happy for the change of scenery.
A change of scenery: the Fleuve
Monday dawned bright and early (with respect to my usual summer schedule at least), as I jumped out of bed at 5:15 am to meet up with the prodigy ski-twins Em and Kat Stewart-Jones.  With the first training session of the camp at 2pm and a 7hr drive from Chelsea to Malbaie to tackle, time was of the essence!
It was my first time going farther up the St. Lawrence river than Mont Saint Anne, and the big thing I noticed as we neared our destination were the hills.  They definitely didn’t qualify as mountains, but they dwarf any hills around Gatineau, and they are a fair bit steeper too.  As it would turn out, these hills would prove to be a reoccurring theme for the camp.
Shortly after discovering that the St. Lawrence gets tides in Malbaie (super cool!), we met up with the rest of the Team, and headed out for the first workout of the camp: rollersking hill reps on one of Malbaie’s crazy hills.
Unfortunately, a sharp pain started in my shoulder partway through the workout, so, after picking up groceries and heading back to the auberge, I went to bed feeling injury-stressed about this Burden In My Hand--or shoulder, rather.
Day two of the Malbaie camp continued the disaster theme that was started by my hurt shoulder.  To make a long story short, the three of us in the Stewart-Jones-mobile got completely lost on the way to the morning workout and ended up returning to our lodgings to go for a late morning bike ride.  To top off the disastrous day, I realized that my shoulder was going to be a problem for the rest of the camp and I cut my finger chopping vegetables for supper.
On Wednesday the situation reached the breaking point.  Either I was going to give up and be sad about my shoulder pain or I was going to find alternative ways of completing workouts.  Since giving up is for losers, I really only had one option.
From Wednesday to Friday, I set myself some specific goals to take advantage of the legs-only skiing situation:  1)good ankle/knee bend; 2)hips forward; 3)activate glutes.  In the past I’ve never been as good as I should be at using my gluteal muscles when skiing, and the 6:20hr of legs only I completed on Wednesday through Friday of the camp were a great opportunity to change this!
After I centered my focus on Wednesday, the rest of the camp went by in a flash.  High points in order of occurrence were: an awesome hike through the cloudy, surreal, boreal forest in Les Haute Gorge de La Riviere Malbaie provincial park, Soccer and Ultimate with the Team on Friday afternoon, and, finally, a sweet running interval workout, to finish off the camp, with Alexis Turgeon from CNEPH on Saturday.  Unfortunately, Alexis injured his hand during the week, so both of us were unable to race the time trial on the last day.  Luckily, running intervals were the next best thing.
Inspecting the beautiful scenery on our hike/run in the provincial park
To sum things up, I completed my goal of recovering more effectively at this year’s late summer camp than last year’s, and I learned something too:
When life gives you lemons, what do you do??  YOU GIVE THOSE LEMONS RIGHT BACK AND ASK FOR A FULL REFUND!!!!!!
But actually, whenever an injury decides to rear its ugly head, there should ALWAYS be something positive that you can salvage.  Sometimes it’s harder to find than others, but look for it, because it’s
 guarantied to be hiding back there somewhere behind the hurt and the pain.  Besides, I like lemons.
Yours Truly, looking extremely un-photogenic, and obscuring another amazing vista

Dream Big, people!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Mountain Biking

Hello vastness-that-is-the-internet!!  It’s a rainy Friday today in Ottawa, and rainy weather is depressing.  Know what’s not depressing?  Blog post number five!!

The awesome thing about being a cross country skier is that, unlike in many other sports, there is a huge variety of activities that you can participate in for cross-training.  On any given Summer day, I could be swimming (actually I don’t really like swimming, so x that), rockclimbing, running, rollerskiing, mountain or road biking--and still be becoming a faster skier for it.  
Out of all these summer sports though, there is one that I enjoy doing more than the others, and that is... mountain biking!  If one were to ask a friend of mine about my association with mountain biking, the friend would probably say that I’m obsessed, in fact, obsessed to the point that my manic excitement over mountain biking events can be somewhat annoying.  So, in honor of my offseason obsession (and the fact that the olympic xc mountain bike race is coming up very soon!), I have decided to post a countdown of (a few of) my favourite mountain bike videos from around the web!!

Is there anything better than a sweet mtb ride with friends?

This is a cool twist on trials riding that I found a couple years ago.  Older video--still fresh.

Dh rider vs Moto rider?  Recipe for awesomness.

I had to include one of Danny Macaskill’s videos for the uninitiated.

This is a Point of View video of a warm up run done by the current world champ Dh rider.
The video isn’t sped up.

I just really like this video of Rilor Wilderness.

As far as editing+song+riding goes, this edit of a rainy Winter day in BC is Epic.

So there they are!  Hopefully this has made your rainy Friday less sad.

Until next time,

Dream big, people!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Sport Vs. School

Hello my loyal blog followers!  So my blog posts are getting a tiny bit more frequent!  At this point, it looks like I am posting about once every two weeks, but I will try to continue to shorten the time lapses between blogs until I hit the once-a-week milestone.
Anyway, on to the blog proper...

Over the last couple weeks I have been trying to work out a schedule for my fall term at Carleton University.  This process has, among other things, opened up old wounds related to discontent with our glorious nation’s amazing co-operation between high level sport associations and post-secondary educational institutions.
Last Winter I had the unfortunate experience of registering for a course who’s Prof. told me I should be able to work Labs around my race schedule, only to be told three weeks into the course by the same prof, that his previous statement regarding Labs had been retracted.  I am not the only one who has had problems fitting together sport and school schedules either.  
All of my ski friends have had to, or will have to, make the big choice eventually: continue with skiing at a high level or complete your undergraduate degree in a timely fashion.  For example, my ski team lost a number of high performing athletes going from the 2011/12 season into this one, athletes who might not have chosen to quit competitive skiing if there had been some way to integrate it more smoothly with school.
One the other side of the spectrum, I have friends who have abandoned their post-secondary educations, for the time being, and headed off to National Training Centres.  The fact is, all but one of Canada’s Training Centres do not have any post-secondary institution within reasonable driving distance.
Now, I don’t want to sound completely delusional.  I am fully aware that one must make a choice to either focus on skiing or school--but I don’t think that it should be so black and white.  I hope that some day Canadian Universities will be able to work in collaboration with CCC’s National Training Centres--to allow athletes who want to continue skiing at a high level to do so--but still be able to keep working away at their degree without having to be in a continuous fight against the system.

Anyway, if you have any questions, disagreements, or comments regarding my nice little rant today, please feel free to leave them in the comment section.

Finally, in other news 1) BATMAN IS AWESOME, and 2) I’m sure you all know that the Olympics are starting today, so go watch the opening ceremony RIGHT NOW!
*Because I had two songs in the last blog I’ve neglected to add one in today’s post.

Dream big, people!!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Days Go By

Hi everyone!  Sorry for the horrible lack of blog posts for the past month.  I know I said I would post something every week, but Days Go By and it was harder to motivate myself to do this than one would think.  I have also been quite busy with respect to training...

Found Figgy sleeping in the car today

The part of the ski training year that is defined by big volume zone1 workouts starts up midway through the month of June for me.  To help keep these long zone1 workouts interesting, I have attended a couple training camps over the last number of weeks.
To kick things off, me and my two friends/teammates Do Moncion-Groulx and Kat Stewart-Jones represented the Nakkertok contingent at the first Quebec Team training camp of the year, held in Lake Placid NY.  
Lake Placid is definitely one of favourite places--if not my favourite place--to train in the East.  It has awesome mountains to hike/run on (Do commented midway on both of our two hikes that “we’re on top of the world!”), it has great scenery, it has roads that are amazingly paved for the amount of traffic they get--great for rollerskiing (and probably for the huge U.S. deficit too...)--and it has lots of water to jump into after workouts.  For those who have not experienced it, it is hard to describe how awesome it feels to jump into an ice cold stream-fed lake after climbing a mountain.  
Unfortunately, Do and I could not stick around for the whole training camp (apparently I didn’t even have time to take any pictures :p ); after two solid hike/runs and three good rollerski workouts, it was time to head home for a rest day... and then go back out the door for Training Camp II: RELOADED.  This time in Tremblant with the rest of the home team.
Last year I had a great time, and got in some really good quality training at the Nakkertok camp in Tremblant, so I was really looking forward to the camp this year.  Here’s how this year’s Tremblant training camp went down:
On Saturday June 30th Do and I returned from Lake Placid.
Canada day was spent watching the DH world cup in Windham NY on my computer, and going to bed early after watching Sherlock Holmes 2!!!  I am so patriotic.
Monday is travel day!  I pulled on my cut off Blue Jeans, and Nakkertok peace’d out en mass for Tremblant just after lunch time.  We manged to squeeze in a short hour forty-five minute hike/run up and down Tremblant upon arrival.
The Boys at the top of Tremblant (note that Ryan is floating and Do is really tiny looking)

Every ski hill worth its salt seems to have one of these cell phone towers...
Tuesday I realized that I should’ve done a better job recovering between Tremblant and Lake Placid, when I elected not to finish a zone4 interval set.  We also happened to get kicked off a private road in the ritzy subdivision where we were planning on doing said zone4 intervals.  Annoying.  After lunch a napped away my sorrows and then proceeded to go for a 2hr bike ride.
Wednesday we threw down a really fun Classic sprint workout and managed to not get kicked out of any ritzy subdivisions (probably because we avoided them).  In the P.M. coach K-dogg and assistant(?) coach MC-Gui put together a fun strength workout for us.
My awesome supper on Wednesday--I am such a chef
Thursday was getting lost day  It consisted of....well... getting lost.  And hiking.  And getting lost.  Today the girls got lost on the way to the hike, and Bryana and I got lost on our afternoon bike ride to the beach.
Friday we did an awesome tempo zone3 workout at Domaine Saint Bernard.  In the afternoon I climbed up and down a hill near our chalet with Colin, as we tried to hit 80kph on our road bikes.  We reached 79.5.
Saturday we went for a 3:30 ski before we embarked on the short drive home.  More importantly, on the way home we stopped twice: once for slush puppies and once for poutine.  It was damn good poutine.
Sunday I returned home and finished playing Portal2, and was then depressed to be not at a training camp, and not playing Portal2.

So that sums up my life for the past two weeks.  Again, apologies for not posting in awhile... I have hidden TWO songs in this blog by ways of an apology.
In passing, I would suggest that everybody reading this do two things:  watch Sherlock Holmes 2 (Robert Downey Jr. is a boss), and play Portal2 (but only after playing Portal).

Dream big, people!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Motivation and Goal setting

Second blog post!  I can't believe I've come so far (lol).  Before I get started, I'd just like to say that I'm gonna try to post something every week from now on.  Thanks (in advance) for reading!

There are a lot of things that I love about my (and hopefully your) sport.  I love the places skiing takes me, all of my great ski friends, the tough training it takes to be competitive, and of course, skiing my ass off on the race course.
Unfortunately though, there are a couple things that I am not too fond of, and, ranking right up at the top of this is... (imaginary drum roll)... GETTING UP EARLY IN THE MORNING!!  Almost every morning when I get up there is only one place I want to be-- still in bed.  Heh, what a fool this guy Zeke is, you think.  Of all the things to complain about, why would he pick something so childish?!?  But seriously, as stupid as this sounds, I find it really hard to motivate myself to climb out of bed in the morning.  
In getting up in the morning, and in xc skiing in general, motivation is, obviously, key.  And, at this point in the year, motivation is a commodity that many skiers (myself included) can be lacking.  
Going to another level completely, I would make a blatant generalization and say that North Americans tend to be unmotivated as a society.
To combat this lack of motivation, in the spring months of skiing when the Winter seems so...far...away..., or, in any other aspect of life, one can use a very simple tool: goal setting!  Before all you other athletes out there disregard this blog on the count that every coach/parent/mentor has bugged you in the past about goals and you feel like you would rather curl up and die than be patronized about how important of a mental training tool they are, ask yourself this question:  are you, at this point in time, setting goals effectively??  If you are, then go ahead and disregard the rest of this blog (but know that I will be sad if you do).
If you answered No! to all the above, then, unless you are being facetious, you are not setting goals in an effective manner and on a regular bases.  I highly recommend that you change this truth right now.  The setting of goals can turn a mediocre athlete into a high level one, a directionless lost-soul into somebody like Tony Stark (IRONMAN!!!!), and a “lame” person into less of a “lame” person.
For those of you who want to be awesome like Ironman, here are FIVE tips and tricks (Trix are for kids, okay!?!?  ...silly rabbit...) that will help you, and have helped me, with goal setting.
Goal: walk all the way across slackline
1) Goal setting is a tier system (in my opinion) and is organized based on the time frame it takes to achieve the specific goal.  Thus, you should set multi-year goals (i.e., Get a doctorate in something; Qualify for the space Olympics), yearly and monthly goals (win World Juniors; get an A+ in the study of Awesomenessity this semester), and finally, tiny, weekly or daily goals (focus on technique instead of speed; finish studying without jumping around like Br’er Rabbit).

2) When you set goals, you should come up with things that are not completely unreasonable and impossible to achieve (impossible is nothing--but you got to take baby steps to get there) but, at the same time, are not so easy that there is no challenge in completing them.  This is kind’a tricky; there is really no magic pill to find balance in goal setting--you’ll have to figure it out yourself.
3) WRITE THEM DOWN!!  What I’ve done is hang a big piece of paper on my wall, and write my monthly goals in chronological order, as I get to them, starting from the top, and working my way down to my goals for the year, which I have written at the bottom.  (It seems I am too unmotivated to write down my daily training goals).  I find that putting up my goals on my wall is important, because then I get to see them frequently, and they seem more physical and immediate--if that makes any sense.  Not only that, but when you achieve them, you get to light ‘em up with big happy check marks :)  ...I highly recommend writing down goals.
4) DREAM BIG!!  Dreams give birth to goals and smart people turn their dreams into their multi-year goals.  Ultimately, the line between dreams and goals should be blurry, because you dream about what you are passionate about and, if you are not passionate about your goals, you might as well stop right now.
5) Give yourself a reward, like, a cookie, when you complete a goal.  I like cookies :)
You will find that if you have “tiered” goals that are challenging, yet achievable, they will act like rungs in a metaphorical ladder that you can climb to achieve greatness in whatever it is you are passionate about.
Hope that my post about goals and motivation has helped you out!  If you yourself have any goal setting advice, I’d be stoked if you took them time to type it up in the comments.
Dream big, people

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

A new start

A Cat
So it seems that, nowadays, everybody and their cat has a blog.  Until recently, I would not label myself as an “everybody”, but now, a shocking development is about to change it all (and no, sadly, I have not turned into a cat)--I am starting a blog!!

As mentioned in my “A Legend” box, over there on the left-hand side of your screen, my blog will be mostly about skiing, and the road (or ski trail?) that I am following to achieve my goals in said sport.  The pursuit of competitive skiing is a path that I have been traveling for the last 7 years, and, a path that I intend to continue following for years to come.  I hope that you will join me in my journey in the form of a Follower (another left-hand-side-of-your-screen-box), and that you will be able to derive some entertainment from my blog posts along the way.  
Once you have read a few of my posts, I am sure that you will find that even though I am now blogging, I am still not an “everybody”!
Now where to begin. . .

Racing to 3rd place (skate sprint), at the Whistler Olympic Park, before the incident

This past Winter has been a pretty lousy one for me, with respect to my sport.  I had pretty high expectations going into the 2011-12 ski season, but about a month in, I somehow got it into my head that I had to try a new sport--snowboarding no less.  Unfortunately the experience put something else into my head: a headache that lasted a month.  At the end of the ordeal, I had missed most of my on-snow season, but was able to make it back on skis in time to show up at Nationals with a pretty much non-existent base of training.  No miracles occurred, and so, I didn’t throw down any crazy results at Mont Saint Anne Nationals--but I did co-produce a legit new music video with my teammate Steffan Lloyd!

Yours truly, given'r at MSA Nationals 2012

With all the above in mind, I am going into this new year (for skiers the new year is May 1st) with an INSATIABLE HUNGER FOR SUCCESS (heh, lol).  But seriously, I can see so many aspects of my training that I can, and will, improve this year; a fairly empowering awareness, and one that I’m sure you other competitive athletes out there can appreciate.  After all, no matter what sport you are in, if you live to compete, then you Live to Rise above all other personal best performances.

Feelin' stoked about the upcoming season. . .

. . .after 4X6min intervals on the bike
Looks like you’re at the end of my first blog!  Thanks a bunch for reading it.  In passing I would like to express my intentions of posting up here regularly.  And by regularly, I mean at least two times a month (it’s all relative, okay?).
Dream big people (and enjoy me and Steffan’s badass vid)!