Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome! My name is Michael Somppi. I am a competitive cross-country skier and a member of Thunder Bay's National Development Centre. I developed this blog so sponsors, family, friends and fans can keep up to date with my life as a full-time athlete. You can expect regular blog posts about racing, training, and life in general. Check out other sections of my blog by clicking on the tabs above.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Team-mates are the bomb!

I had the privilege of working with the Kenora Junior Racing Team while I was visiting Britt recently.  It was fun to spend some time with such a great group of young skiers.  Lots of energy and excitement for the winter season ahead to be found here!

Kenora Junior Racing Team
A few days ago, NDC Thunder Bay did our formal team photo shoot for the season.  Big thanks to John Sims for lending his professional photography skills.  Team-mates are the bomb!  I'm fortunate to have wicked team-mates to share this sport with.

National Development Centre - Thunder Bay

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Volume Blocks Done!

Volume blocks are done!  Booyah!  I successfully completed my fourth volume block of the training season last week.  It was 3 weeks in length and completed entirely in training camp setting at altitude in Park City, Utah.  This was the second big alignment camp of the year with all of Canada’s training centers and national team in attendance.  The long training hours went by much quicker with good company!
Speaking of good company, we found a "ninja" obstacle course on top of a nearby mountain.  Of course, being competitive athletes we made a competition of it, timing ourselves to see who could cleanly traverse the course quickest. Bob, pictured above, used his lengthy reach to be crowned "Ninja Warrior Champion".  Andy, pictured below, and myself finished with nearly the same best time of day as runners up.

My favourite sessions were the 4+ hour distance workouts.  These distance days were really well set up for the athletes, as they are every year at this camp.  The area around Salt Lake City and Park City boast a wide selection of canyon roads and mountain top trails perfect for these long training sessions.  The general idea is we start at a lower altitude and climb.  Most days we finished around 3000m and our biggest ascent saw us hit a max elevation of 3570m!  The coaches provided commendable roadside support, which allowed us to easily change modalities between roller-skiing and running.  Over the span of the camp I completed 5 of these challenging 4+ hour sessions.

Some of the guys on our last 4+ hour training day of the camp
(From L to R: Devon, Graeme, Alex, Bob, Ivan)
My heart rate and altitude graph from our biggest ascent on a 4+ hour session.  We skate roller-skied up Mirror Lake Highway then threw on the running shoes and hiked up Bald Mountain.  My legs were feeling it hiking up the mountain at 3500m after a 3+ hour ski. 
Overall the camp went super well for me.  After having such a rough go in PC last year (crashed roller-skiing, nearly breaking my thumb and contracted a bad head cold), I was determined to make this year’s camp a resounding success.  Job done.

In the final week of the camp our group did a skate roller-ski prologue and distance TT at Soldier Hollow.  It was the first time I had a chance to compare my race speed with the national team guys in a while, so it was positive to see I was right in the mix.  I finished 2nd to Alex Harvey (by 1 tenth of a second…so close…#hand timing… haha) in the prologue and 5th place, 33 seconds behind the winner, again Alex, in the distance TT.  The other positive takeaway is I had some energy and speed at the tail end of a hard training camp, meaning my body handled the training load well.

Pushing up the big climb during our distance TT at Soldier Hollow with my team-mate, Andy, close behind.
Photo Credit: Alexis Dumas
I’m happily recovering in Kenora, enjoying a visit with Britt.  This is my last chance to recoup before the racing season begins so I’m drinking in the beauty of the fall colours surrounding Lake of the Woods and taking it easy.

Table's set!  Britt and I cooked up a turkey and enjoyed a thanksgiving dinner at her Kenora apartment with friends.
We got out for an evening paddle on Lake of the Woods with Britt's cousin, Julia (photo cred), and were treated to a beauty sunset on the water.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Mountains, Triathlons and Lake of the Woods

Another summer is in the books and the autumn season is upon us.  Football is here and the kids are back in school.  I’m already one loss into the fantasy football season… yup, rough start.  Since my last post I’ve been through 2 volume blocks and recently completed our team’s second testing cycle of the year.  Training has been steady and gains are being made.  I’ll rhyme off a few highlights:
  • Had a couple awesome mid-summer altitude runs in the mountains with my teammate, Bob.  We made the trip out west to attend the wedding of the amazing duo, Amanda and Chris Butler.
    Beautiful wedding ceremony in the Rockies with horses grazing in the backdrop.  Congrats Amanda and Chris!
    Bob and I were loving life on a 30km trail run in Sunshine meadows.

  • 30+ hr training week during our NDC men’s training camp in Hayward, WI (plus 36 holes of golf… walking… BIG week!)
  •  Completed my first 100km rollerski in 5hr 22min through hard downpours of rain during our Hayward camp.  I was sure glad to have the company of good teammates and road support from our dedicated coaching staff that day!
  •  4th place overall finish in the Sleeping Giant Xterra Triathlon.  My swim training involves jumping off stuff into water and swimming back to shore, so the 1km swim was a daunting challenge.  As one of five people without a wetsuit I clamored out of the water in 37th place.  Good thing I’m a little better when it comes to a 24km mountain bike and a 17km trail run.  I hammered all the way up into 4th place and missed out on the podium by only 20 seconds!  Triathlons are a little out of my normal training regime, but I had a blast throwing a bib on and givin’r out there!
    That's me rocking the Rudy Project bib shorts haha.  Lining up with the people in wetsuits who know what they're doing.
  • Substantial gains in fitness were obvious during our recent testing week.  I came into our team’s May testing week a tad out of shape after a month break from training.  This time around my data actually resembled a high performance athlete in our treadmill running test, I was 57 seconds faster in our 3km Uphill Running TT, and I considerably bettered my times in our Uphill Rollerski TTs.  The shape is coming.
  • Too many post-workout swim days to count!  This may have been my best summer to date for post-workout swims!  A few of my swim locations include: Lake Superior, Current River, Lake Placid (Cresthill Resort, Hayward), Lake of the Woods, the Canmore Quarry, and Cedar Lake (Golden, BC… major rope swing booyah!).  My coldest summer swim had to be in Lake O’hara… if you could even call it a swim.  It was more like a jump in and hustle outta there kind of swim.
    Above: My coldest swim of the summer.  Lake O'hara dunk.
    Below: Excited for a post-workout swim in Lake of the Woods!
    Shortly after arriving in Kenora for Britt's 8 month med school placement we were being won over by the city's lakeside market.  Here's Britt enjoying a market cupcake with her new workplace, the Kenora hospital, in the backdrop.
    The Kenora Skyline (photo credit goes to Britt on this one)

Heading out fishing on Lake of the Woods with our local guide Carl and med student Keri.  I was lucky enough to accompany Britt and the rest of the med students for a fishing trip during orientation week.  Britt was our photographer for the day... and somehow she still caught at least as many fish as I did...
Thanks to Carl's expert lake knowledge we netted our fair share of walleye for a quality shore lunch that afternoon!

I have a busy travel schedule ahead for the autumn months.  Saturday this week I’ll be traveling to Park City, Utah for a 3 week training camp in conjunction with the National Team and other training centers.  I’m looking forward to putting in some quality training hours at elevation with all my skiing buddies from around Canada.  Afterwards, I’ll be visiting Britt in Kenora over the thanksgiving holidays and hopefully adding to my post-workout swim days in Lake of the Woods.

Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Canmore Super Camp

Quick update on ski life: I’m through 5 weeks of quality training and all is peachy.  I’m making gains each week and the body is responding well.  Right now I’m in Canmore in the middle of “Super Camp” with the vast majority of Canada’s top skiers.  The National Team, all three development centres and a few other top athletes have joined forces to align our training methods and improve our nation’s skiing success.  Here’s a few photos from our adventure workout of the training camp, a planned 3 hour high altitude run at Sunshine which turned into a 4.5 hour epic when we took a wrong turn, lost the trail and bushwhacked in the mountains for well over an hour.  Good times!

Above: Andy leading the group through the Sunshine meadows on a beauty day!
Below: Evan and crew running high in the alpine. 

Above: Ridge running is my fav!!!
Above: Kevin "Woodland" Sandau making the most of the bushwhacking experience.
Below: The crew lost and bushwhacking it up some random mountain.