Welcome to my blog! I try to keep this updated with training and racing news as I pursue my Olympic dream.

I would like to thank the Alberta World Cup Society for funding the Academy program. Also, a big thanks to my awesome sponsors and of course my family who have supported me every step of the way!

I'm always looking for new sponsors so if you are interested or know of anyone who might be then contact me at alyssonmarshall(at)gmail.com for my sponsorship package.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring

I have settled into my April month-off routine of working, resting, doing yoga, having fun with my buddies and catching up on my to-do list. 

My season ended at the National Champs in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. It was logistically a tough place to hold an event but it was fun to see a different part of Canada and the volunteers did a great job putting on the event.

I had a slow start to the event which is my typical post-cold feeling but I was happy with bronze in the sprint and 5th in the 30km.

Sprint podium
There is always lots going on at Nationals and this year I had 3 different athlete meetings to review the year plus a Fast and Female event. As always it was fun to see lots of excited girls!


Chris and I stayed in Newfoundland for a few extra days and did some exploring. We drove to Bottle Cove one morning which was my favorite spot of the trip:



The next day we explored Gros Morne National Park. It was a beautiful drive with a fun little expedition to Western Brook Pond.




I have been in Canmore since Nationals, actually working a normal work week for Buff. The change has been good for me and it is always nice to get a proper paycheque! The Buff crew has been great and I've had fun jobs like organizing a photo shoot for our next catalogue complete with this adorable puppy!

Rebecca and Sadie (Photo: Peter Collins)

The new Buff helmet liners are great! Here's Chris modeling the helmet liner (and looking handsome). Perfect for chilly bike rides to work!

Photo: Peter Collins
On the adventure side we got a crew together and skied into the Elizabeth Parker Hut at Lake O'Hara. Not the best weather but good company with yummy food and epic snow battles!


Chris and I also had a cheesy sunset picnic on top of Ha Ling last night. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful spot!


As it is the end of another season I would like to send out a thank you to all my amazing sponsors: Buff Canada, Fischer skis, Swix poles, Salomon boots and bindings, Bliz Eyewear, Foods Alive and Espressotec. Also National Team sponsors Oneway clothing, USANA vitamins, Auclair gloves and Smartwool socks. In addition the Alberta World Cup Academy, coaches, teammates, CCC, CCBC and of course my family, boyfriend and friends!

Happy spring!

Friday, March 7, 2014

World Cups, Windsor and a few thank you's

I finished my Europe stint at the World Cup in Lahti, Finland. I had an okay sprint, less than 3sec off qualifying for the heats but I just didn't have the magic I needed in the strong field. Sunday was a 10km individual skate, definitely not my favorite race but I pushed hard up the monster hills of Lahti. Overall I had a solid block of Euro racing, a big thank you to the coaches and support crew for all their hard work!

I flew home on Monday with a 5-hour layover at London-Heathrow. We managed to get ourselves organized and we escaped the airport to spend a few hours at Windsor Castle. I have never been to London so I was very excited and it did not disappoint! We didn't have the time to make the expensive castle tour worthwhile but we checked out the outside and the surrounding town and had fish and chips at a pub.



The crooked house of Windsor:



Faces on the outside of the castle:


Requisite tourist shot:




So fun to get an unexpected dose of culture!

We finally made it home Monday night and I immediately got sick (again!) after being one of the few to avoid it during Europe. At least I'm in the comfort of my own house instead of being quarantined in a hotel room! 

Being back home as made me appreciate some of the help I have had this year. Afke from Foods Alive, maker of raw snacks such as my favourite chocolate ginger Krumbleez, set Chris and I up with healthy delicious snacks and good quality ingredients to fuel our racing season. We have sadly eaten all of our crackers but we still have a healthy well stocked pantry thanks to Afke! If you are interested in trying her goodies she sells them in health food stores in BC and Alberta, including Nutters in Canmore.



One of things I truly missed while in Europe was my beautiful Rancilio Silvia espresso machine. Espressotec in Richmond gave us great deal on our dream machine and were very helpful with our numerous questions! Check them out for all your coffee needs! I'm still working to master latte art (I am great at abstract latte art and blobs...) but it is such a treat to have delicious coffee every morning instead of weak Finnish buffet coffee.

Here's an early attempt from Chris, he claims it's a pig...


And since I'm in the thank you mood I have to mention Buff, I came home to -20 weather in Canmore and my favorite merino wool Buff kept me warm while skiing in the cold!



Next up: National Championships in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. I travel next Wednesday so I should be healthy by then and ready for the final event of the season!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Baltic Tour

I am currently in Otepaa, Estonia doing a Scandinavian Cup B Tour. At the end of January I had a couple wins at the Eastern Canadian Champs which qualified me for this Tour. This is an action-packed week trip with 6 races in 9 days then 2 World Cup starts in Lahti on Feb.28/Mar.1.

We started in Priekuli/Cesis, Latvia after a ferry ride from Helsinki and a long drive across Estonia and Latvia. Cesis was a pleasant surprise, it is a medieval city and our hotel was right in the old part of the city. That meant there was lots of exploring to be done, the perfect way to keep my jet-lagged brain awake in the afternoons!

The hotel was a block away from the ruins of a medieval castle. Little bit of history: the castle was first built in 1209 which is about when Cesis became an official town. The castle was partially destroyed in the 1500s when the residents blew themselves up (in one of the biggest mass suicides) to prevent Ivan the Terrible from taking over the castle. It was later rebuilt and we had fun exploring what remains!

Olivia and I scouted the perimeter on the only sunny day:


We toured the castle on our last afternoon, this is the view from the castle grounds:


Climbing down into the dungeon:


We were able to climb to the top of the tower on the left:


Dahria climbing the narrow spiral staircase to the top of the tower, we were given candle lanterns for light:


There were lots of other interesting things spread around town, this is a sculpture near our hotel:


The first 2 races were near Cesis at the Latvian Championships. I used them as warm-up races to get my legs back after the travel as the race fields were quite small. I got the cobwebs out of my system on Saturday in the 5km classic, coming 3rd, then won the 5km skate on Sunday with a Canadian sweep of the podium: (Anne-Marie was 3rd but missed the awards).


Next stop was Madona, Latvia for some mid-week Scando Cup races. The competition here was much fiercer with full Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish contingents and multiple top-10 World Cup skiers!

We stayed in cabins right above the race course which made for optimal race viewing:

Photo: Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt
My fitness and race speed finally feels like it's coming around and had 2 solid races, finishing 11th in the sprint and 18th in the 10km skate. I had a blast skiing with the fast Euros - each heat in the sprint was tight with crashes and aggressive moves and it was fun to be right in the mix! 

After racing yesterday we drove to Otepaa, Estonia. This is our house for the next few days:


Today was a day off then we have a classic sprint tomorrow and classic 10km on Sunday. I'm planning to do both races as long as I can continue to avoid the cold that has been working its way through the team! I will then travel to Lahti, Finland for the World Cup next weekend.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Olympic Tears

Disappointment, sadness, frustration, tears, questions... the last week has been a whirlwind of different emotions. Our Olympic Trials were held from the 8-12th and four of my teammates' dreams have been realized and the rest of us are coming to terms with having failed to reach our lifelong dream. 

The reality is that I did not race well last week. My body just wasn't there and my races were well behind where I needed to be to qualify. I ended up with three 4th place finishes. I have been feeling fragile for a while and not recovering well from hard efforts so it shouldn't be a shock but there was always the hope that my body would come around in time for trials. I think it is so hard for me because I truly believed that I could make the team. Now it is a matter of coming to terms and adjusting my perspective.

Despite my personal sadness I was so proud of my teammates. The four remaining Olympic spots went to my Academy teammates: Heidi, Emily, Jess and Graeme. They all raced incredibly well and truly deserve their spots on the team. We also had 2 top-5 sweeps in the men's field, sent Patrick, Heidi and Seb to World U23s and Dahria to World Jrs!

There are still things to look forward to this season for me. Hopefully I will get over to Europe for some FIS races and maybe a World Cup start or two in February.

As I come to grips with not qualifying I try to remember that it is the process not the outcome that truly matters and I know I have gained so much in this sport despite not realizing my dream. I know that I am just one of many athletes from different sports that are missing out on these Olympics. It is easy to get pulled into the Olympic hype but there is so much more to sport than one event that occurs every 4 years.

Racing in the 10km classic photo Bev Hamilton

Pursuit Podium Photo: Bev Hamilton
Part of my cheering squad, it was so nice to have my family out supporting me! Photo: Bev Hamilton
Heidi showed me a passage from the book "The Tao of Pooh" by Benjamin Hoff (about Winnie-the-Pooh) where it talks about the Pooh Way. It helps to keep everything in perspective:

"Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least they do when you let them, when you work with circumstances instead of saying, 'this isn't supposed to be happening this way,' and trying hard to make it happen some other way. If you're in tune with The Way Things Work, then they work the way they need to, no matter what you may think about it at the time. Later on you can look back and say, 'Oh, now I understand. That had to happen in so that those could happen, and those had to happen in order for this to happen...' Then you realize that even if you'd tried to make it all turn out perfectly, you couldn't have done better, and if you'd really tried, you would have made a mess of the whole thing."

I'll finish with a huge thank you to everyone that supported and encouraged me through this. I really appreciate all the hugs, messages and especially the hand-made good luck cards from the Larch Hills racing team!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Witch's Brew

I was sidelined last week with a stubborn head cold, a fairly normal occurrence for skiers in the fall. This meant pulling out all my cold remedies and strategies to ensure that I got it out of my system as quickly as possible! Here are some of my favourite remedies, maybe they will give you some new ideas to try:
  • Sleep! Sick Alysson needs at least 10hrs a night
  • Positive chill time: I am way happier when I'm doing productive things (and happy head = happier body) so I try to either work on non-taxing projects like baking, catching up on emails and organizing, or keep myself entertained by doing something good for me such as attempting to play guitar or reading a book. This keeps me in a better head space than going into sloth mode on the couch with my computer.  
  • Cold-FX! My bottle emptied very quickly this week
  • My witch's brew: I kept a pot of cold-busting tea bubbling on the stove. Freshly chopped ginger, whole cloves, allspice berries and a cinnamon stick simmered away. When sufficiently brewed I poured it into my favorite mug, added freshly-squeezed lemon juice and zest, and stirred in a bit of honey to finish it off. Tasty and hopefully effective! If nothing else at least it kept me hydrated :)
  • Don't look at my training plan! This is something I realized too late. I hate missing planned training so going on my Training Peaks was guaranteed to make me grouchy. Especially when I compared the 45min ski I completed to the 16x30sec lactate tolerance workout that had been planned. 
  • And finally, don't go hard too early! Colds are taxing and just because the symptoms are gone that doesn't mean it's time to do intensity. This is one of the toughest ones for me (what, I can't do hard intensity until Saturday!?) but my coaches have been smart about keeping my training easy. This is definitely the right decision as even 2 hour skis are still surprisingly draining.

The silver lining of getting sick was that I got most of my final house organizing done after moving to a new basement suite 3 weeks ago. It really feels like home now so our hard work has paid off!

Now that I am back out training I have been able to enjoy snowy Canmore. The rec trails at the Nordic Centre can be explored with rock skis so we are no longer trapped on the hamster wheel of Frozen Thunder. My rock skis are very beat up now but the trails were worth it!




Stay healthy!