August 31st, 2014
This is the 7th year that I’ve come to the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center for a fall training camp. Crazy! It still feels like it’s maybe my third year here. Some things haven’t changed at all…the same chicken, pasta and marinara sauce are always options at every single meal (but there are, of course, other food options too!). I still give the bobsledders plenty of space in the gym because I’m scared of getting a 10,000 lb weight dropped anywhere near me, and the hallways still reek of smelly boots whenever it rains.
But some things are different. I still feel like death at the end of our L4 interval sets, but we are all going faster and doing more than we were in the past. I have more time to kill because I’m not frantically trying to do make-up homework for all the school I’m missing. With that extra time, I’ve gotten better in tune with what my body needs for recovery that day; maybe foam rolling, yoga, a cold tub or contrast baths. You could say I’ve perhaps gotten older and wiser, but I know better. I’ve just gotten older and formed better habits. At some point it’s kind of the same thing; good habits make you look like you know what you’re doing! And who do I look to when forming those habits? Well, you could start with my teammates and coaches.
This camp is always a really high quality training camp, and a sort of crossroads where big volume training weeks clash with high intensity and higher amounts of L4 intervals. So, needless to say, we haven’t been an especially lively group in-between training sessions since it takes a lot for our bodies to recover from 7 x 4 minute L4 intervals in time for running and strength later that afternoon!
While it’s certainly not all fun and games, there are some fun things going on at camp! My 23rd birthday was on the first day of camp here, and I’d like to thank everyone for all the wonderful birthday wishes! I had a fantastic day, despite the incredible intensity session we had (uphill skating L4 intervals) that morning. I had so many funny and thoughtful cards and fun surprises from my teammates…I was overwhelmed with all the love! The SMS girls planned a fun surprise for me, by secretly ordering in white cotton tanks with the words “Sparkle Chipmunk doesn’t sweat…she glitters” on them. (A sparkly chipmunk is my official spirit animal, and it must be true because Chandra Crawford approved it!) They were white because the girls brought along a tie-dye kit, and we spent the afternoon doing arts and crafts on our shirts! I was totally thrilled.
Tomorrow is our day off to rest after a big week of training. We finished it off today with a 3:45 hour run up Mt. Marcy, and unfortunately the weather wasn’t entirely cooperating so we were not rewarded with the amazing views you usually get in the fall here. However, I didn’t care because for once I emerged from the Adirondack trail system without any blood on my knees. Yes, you read that right – NO INJURIES! BOOM!
August 23rd, 2014
I recently wrote a short article as part of the new USSA’s coaches manual. I was addressing ways of taking a competition day and making it a learning experience instead of a nervous stress-fest. You know…set small goals, focus only on what you can control, like your warm-up…but in the process of writing it I realized that the biggest part of making racing fun again was to embrace cross-country skiing as a team sport, not an individual one. Aside from relay days, it’s very easy to assume that xc skiing is a selfish endeavor and one can do it without a team, but this could not be farther from the truth. I need my teammates to push me to be the best that I can be, and in turn I challenge them to exceed their expectations. We support each other’s good races, and help each other through challenging ones. When I am having a bad day, there is always someone on the team having a good one that can pull me into their positive mindset, and I do the same for my teammates. And when I am racing, if I need more motivation I remember that the depth of a team is important and it’s up to each of us to work together and score points for our country. This was as true for me when I was racing in high school trying to help our team qualify for state as it is now when I race World Cups, trying to score points for the Nations Cup. A big part of taking the pressure off of race day while finding motivation and fire for racing is to see it as an opportunity to help my team, to be part of something larger than just myself.
So, in honor of Anne Hart’s latest Birthday (22 years old! Yay!) Here are 22 reasons why you, me, and everyone in the world needs a team.
1. Who else is going to plan a stylish birthday celebration for you, no matter where you are in the world?
2. Someone to challenge you in intervals. Because everyone on the team is the best at one type of workout, and there will always be someone else to follow when you’re working on your weaknesses. Everyone has something to learn from someone else on the team!
3. Because cooking for one sucks.
4. When you are having a bad day, there will always be someone who is having a good day who can pull you into their good mood!
5. Because then you have other people to blame when the van smells like dirty boots…it’s not just you!
6. You have a reason bigger than yourself to push hard and race fast for.
7. You have other people’s successes to celebrate alongside your own, because you helped them train and they helped you achieve your goals.
8. The hard days aren’t so hard when you have friends by your side. The intervals in the pouring rain, the long runs when it’s hot out, the epic sprint simulations are all less painful and more satisfying with a team around you.
9. Teammates will always come up with funny ideas and things to keep you guessing.
10. They make being away from home and on the road for months at a time an epic, fun adventure.
11. They spot you when you need money for impulse-buy chili dogs.
12. It’s more fun organizing community events when there’s a lot of people to help you run them!
13. What’s the point in having a sweet, totally sick suit if you’re the only one wearing it?
14. They pick you up when you need it. Sometimes, they literally hold you up.
15. Let’s be honest…nobody ice-tubs by themselves
16. They support you when you feel the need to do some dorky stuff
17. They get you places
18. They always keep you laughing
19. They are your family
20. Nobody can do this by themselves
21. Because cheering at ski races is a fun, stylish and exciting venture and it’s way more fun when you are personally invested in the people racing.
22. Because without these guys to keep us in line we’d probably go crazy!
August 18th, 2014
Math isn’t my strong suit. It never has, never will be, and that’s ok. But even my mathematically-challenged mindset can’t deny that all the little things that happen over the course of training, living, interacting, coaching and general tomfoolery add up. It’s so hard to find out what the real workload is that you’re putting on your body, because life is a lot more than just training and racing!
It’s the little details that build me up and make me happy. It’s also little details that slowly wear me down over time and tire me out. Sometimes there’s a lot of overlap…the things I need to do to be happy also wear me out if I don’t take a break. In the end, I figure you are your own best coach because only you know what it’s like to be inside your head and your body, and it’s up to you to decide if you need to be training smarter, harder, resting more, or doing some non-skiing activities.
This week, I found out that I needed to take a break from all my extra-curriculars and just spend more time resting in-between skiing. A month’s worth of really fun adventures and things that I would not take back eventually caught up to me, and it was time for a little more rest. So, I seized the opportunity! It’s funny how I didn’t realize how badly I needed to take a little time off until I took it. The rearview mirror is always 20/20, right? So, 12 episodes of Gossip Girl later…I feel a whole lot more rested.
This past week I was on a slightly different training plan than most of the team, but still joined the key sessions. We had an epic 24 hours of pouring rain, and then some really nice training days as well. Best of all, the Stratton Mountain School was hosting their BKL camp and Junior camps this week! We did Q&A with the kids, helped lead some technique and agility sessions, and watched their skits at the end of the week.
One pretty cool workout we did on a closed road, and the Junior skiers came to watch and then do their own version of the workout. We were doing L4 intervals, sprint-style, and worked on skiing in a tight pack and staying controlled while poles and skis were flying everywhere. It was really fun to have the Junior campers there cheering us on!
One little detail that has really been adding up to some great results this summer is all the video Pat has been doing with us. Coach O’Brien has some mad skills when it comes to biking next to a pace line of skiers while simultaneously cheering and shooting video. It’s great instant feedback, and good to look over later and see things I need to work on with my technique. For example, check out this still frame from our L4 intervals. When I get tired or am trying to sprint really fast, I forget to utilize my core and I get this sway-back going on. It’s not that efficient, and it’s something I’m working on changing. The video helps me see what I really look like, not just what I think I look like in my head (hint…in my head I look like a TOTAL ROCKSTAR).
The other cool part about the video is that Jason Cork, our USST coach who writes my plans, can see it and talk with me about what I’m working on. Matt Whitcomb, our USST women’s coach, can also stay up to speed with how my technique is progressing. And the three of us can talk with Pat on what technique cues I’m going to be focusing on for the week, and Pat can help remind me during workouts and make sure I execute them well. It’s a pretty awesome system!
August 11th, 2014
The last two weeks have absolutely blown by! I really did mean to update earlier, but I was in full-on Fast and Female planning mode, during a 22-hour training week full of intervals, strength, speeds and long slow distance training. But now things are slowing down again (as much as they ever do!) and I’ve been able to collect a ton of photos from the last two weeks. So, let’s work backwards from yesterday!
Here’s a video that Annie Pokorny edited from the event! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0WlbiJ1qZ4
The Fast and Female event in Stratton was awesome! We had 40 girls attend, with 9 ambassadors, 5 junior-ambassadors, and 5 volunteers running the event.
After check-in and some name-games within the smaller age groups, we introduced all the ambassadors to the girls and shared our favorite ski memories.
Then it was time to do yoga! Tracy Black from Wild Wings Yoga volunteered to lead the girls in a fun session that involved partner yoga, lots of giggling and stretching, and learning to relax and breathe at the same time.
We then headed out to the field for some team building games and activities. One station was a game of kickball with a slip n’ slide from 3rd to home base. Getting soaked on the water slide ended up being many of the girls favorite part of the day!
The other team station was a series of games that needed some teamwork and strategizing to complete. The girls needed to get everyone from one side of a giant spiderweb to the other, but each opening could only be used once, so girls were being passed through higher openings and army crawling through lower ones at the same time.
We also made a group pyramid, and played the human knot game where everyone puts their hands in the middle, grabs random hands and then the knotted-up group has to find a way to de-tangle and end up in a big circle.
Once the games were finished, we went inside for snacks generously donated by JJ Hapgood’s General Store (Peru, VT).
While the girls munched on some healthy treats, the ambassadors shared stories of how teamwork has changed the way they ski and made sports more fun for them.
Then the girls had the opportunity to ask questions, get their photos taken with the ambassadors and have their event posters signed! It was a fun morning and a cool way to give back to the community.
I was so proud of our junior ambassador girls! They did a great job setting up and then running the stations, and for some of them, getting their first experience public speaking for an event. Booya! They will be running events as regular ambassadors themselves really soon.
I also learned that unless I want to get stress-induced stomach ulcers, I should probably never get a job as an event planner. That said, it was totally worth organizing the event once I saw the girls out there having fun, meeting new friends, interacting with the ambassadors and finding new role models! It was a wonderful day.
The week before I got to Stratton, I spent a beautiful 6 days up in Thunder Bay, Ontario at my family’s camp. It was so great to see my Grandma, Aunt and Uncle and cousins, and spend some time on the edge of Lake Superior. Ok, ok, I spent a lot of time IN Lake Superior as well, but it was freezing cold!
One day we went to the Sibley Penninsula and did an epic hike (or in my case, run) around the “Sleeping Giant” rock formation. It took 3 hours but it was a beautiful fun single track with good rock scrambling and cool views since the trail hugged the shore all the way around.
Every evening was beautiful, with the sun staying up till 10:00pm! We had a lot of dinners on the beach, and every other night we had the steam bath running so we could sprint between the sauna and the lake.
And finally, a couple photos from the ski clinic I did in Winona, MN while I was home! It was great to meet these junior skiers and I was impressed with their roller ski skills!
July 29th, 2014
Oh my goodness…where to even begin? I feel like I hit the ground running once we got off the glacier and have just now slowed down enough to write about it!
The week of training up on the glacier was amazing. AMAZING, I TELL YOU!
It was foggy most days with surprising amounts of sunlight coming through to make it warm enough for me to ski in shorts and a t-shirt most sessions! Of course, that doesn’t mean it was actually warm enough for everyone to want to be in shorts, but I’ve always had a problem with being 10 degrees too warm.
Because the glacier is a moving thing, some cool and huge cracks started opening up along the hill we ski down from the building to the main trails. So, to be safe, we wore harnesses and clipped onto a rope while skiing down. The chances of us actually falling into a crevasse were extremely low, but with my luck? I think it’s good I clipped in.
The grooming was fantastic, as well. A huge thanks goes out to Erik Flora and our glacier guys Don Haering and Andre Lovett for such hard work all week to make camp such a success!
And of course Zuzana Rogers was so awesome, coming up to the glacier to do PT every day for every girl at camp! She also helped me when I came running up to her room going “Zuzaaaaanaaaaa…..I’ve got a problem!” with blood running down my knee again because I slipped and fell on my stitches. (side note: my knee is healed now, and the stitches are finally out! All better).
Our usual routine was to wake up around 7, drink copious amounts of coffee and have breakfast prepared by the breakfast crew (there are 4 jobs up there: breakfast, lunch cleanup, dinner and dinner cleanup, and we rotate). Then we’d go hit up the ski trails for a couple hours! We usually skated in the mornings since that’s when the snow was the hardest, and after coming in for lunch, a nap and some downtime, we’d head out to classic around 4 in the afternoon.
One thing I’ve been working really hard on this year and last is my classic striding technique. Specifically, klister skiing. The glacier with it’s soft wet snow is ideal for that! Getting quality on-snow striding time with video feedback and coaching is so helpful in getting me to my goal of being a more confident classic skier. Of course, there are a lot of things I’m working on with my skating too, and it was good to have varied terrain to work with!
After coming back in, dinner crew would chef up a big meal. Since we skied anywhere from 4-5 hours a day, we ate a LOT of food! Besides the tasty dinners, at least one delicious thing was created every day, whether it was fresh baked bread (Celine and Cork), cookies (Erika and Rosie), or spice muffins and pumpkin bread (me)! After dinner we would hang out, sometimes play a game or read books.
Most years I’ve had at least some sketchy phone service up there, but this year…nothing! Which was actually really great. It felt pretty nice not looking at a screen for a week and not worrying about what was going on outside of our perfect little ski bubble, but instead just talking to the people up there and really enjoying their company! As a result, I threw my phone in my bag and forgot to take photos, so that’s why every nice looking shot is from Zuzana or Matt! I feel like I always learn so much more about my teammates and friends up on the glacier because nobody is on their phones all the time and we just end up talking to one another so much more.
After getting down from the glacier, thanks to Alpine Air, we went to Kikkan’s house for a night of live music and relaxing. The next morning, Holly, Liz, Celine, Sophie, Erika, Rosie and I all drove over to Hope to spend the day at Holly and Rob’s cabin! We went there last year after camp, and it was so much fun that when they kindly invited us back we hopped on board. We went swimming the the chilly river, saw their new cabin/house which has been getting more and more amazing as they continue building it, sat around the bonfire and had a good sleep up in the loft.
After all those Alaskan adventures, it was time for me to go home to Minnesota for a week! I had a nice easy week of training and I took it really slow so that my body would be able to soak up all those hours of training on snow. I also was crazy busy – in a good way!
I drove south to Winona for a day to do a photoshoot with my sponsor Fastenal and a roller ski clinic with the Winona Nordic Club. I was so impressed by those skiers! I had them doing some fun yet crazy drills and skiing backwards, and they were game to try anything I came up with!
I also got to visit Podiumwear, and see all the new designs they are working on and the new cut of the Women’s Gold Line suit. Since my name is part of the line, it’s important to me that it’s the best fitting and nicest suit possible, and I can honestly say it’s the most comfortable thing I’ve ever trained in!
I also spent two evenings with my family out on the river in Prescott, Wisconsin – right where the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers converge. We went waterskiing, tubing, and ate a picnic dinner on the beach, and it was really great having some time with my family since I don’t get to see them all that often anymore!
I also got to see some friends from high school, some ski friends and my Grandparents, which was pretty lucky since I’m not always in the right place at the right time! We went to the blessing wedding of Chase and Ysanne Olson, which I felt lucky to see, since the Olsons have always been good family friends.
On Saturday we packed up the car, laid down a blanket for Cass in the back who promptly began slobbering in my ear, and headed up north. We stopped for the night at my Meme and Grandpa Clif’s house in Duluth, and it was lovely to see them!
We left early the next morning and boosted up along the north shore to my Nana’s cabin up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I’m so excited to spend a week relaxing up here with my family, see some of my cousins and family that I haven’t seen in years, and be in the water every day!
July 13th, 2014
So, basically, my only job this week is to try to not be my usual reckless, clumsy self and NOT FALL DOWN. I ended up getting stitches in my right knee after tripping and using a rock as a brake on wednesday, but we’ll get to that later. First, let me tell you all about the crazy awesome time I had with friends up in Alaska before camp started!
I flew up to camp on the 3rd of July, to spend a little extra time having some fun and seeing what all the Mt. Marathon fuss was about. It’s such a crazy scene down there! I got a ride to Seward with Peter Kling where I joined a bunch of APU skiers camping right next to the ocean. It was so beautiful! We celebrated Eric Packer’s birthday, had a campfire and went swimming in the ocean…twice. It never really got dark, so it was so hard to keep track of what time it was. I also really enjoy camping so sleeping in a tent borrowed from the Packer family on a gravel bar was just about perfect.
Making S’mores! Celine Brun-lie is joining us for the camp from Norway. She is an incredibly fast skier and an even more incredible person! It has been really fun getting to know her and everyone has been very eager to show her all sorts of “American” things. Like, you know, s’mores and costco and “hint of lime tortilla chips”. Obviously we have our priorities straight.
The next morning we hiked up the Mt. Marathon course to cheer on Holly and Lauren. We had feeds for them and water to dump on their heads since it was uncharacteristically hot out! After cheering them on from the halfway point, we wanted to check out the top so we kept going up. There were two glacial lakes up and over the top so we made a pit stop to cool down, and it was so cold I got an insta-brain-freeze. Since hindsight is 20/20 I have since learned not to dive into water that was previously glacial ice. Wading in is much better.
Time for adventure number 2! Celine and I got picked up at the Seward airport by Austin Johnson, a friend who is a ridiculously good pilot and really fun to fly with. When someone flies for RedBull, you know you’re in for a sweet ride! We swooped down low over the Harding ice field which was so crazy to see from up above…ice and snow spreading out in every direction through the mountains! The best part was probably the landing on the beach, where Don Hearing picked us up in a boat and took us over to his family’s cabin. I was lucky enough to spend some time there last year, so when the opportunity came I didn’t hesitate at all. I got to see more friends at Don’s cabin and meet new ones, and it was such a great weekend!
Some of the highlights were kayaking, swimming and having a bonfire on the beach every night.
Another cool adventure was hiking up to a the base of a glacier that was melting into a lake. Huge chunks of ice were floating around, and last year we hiked to the same place. I regretted not jumping in the water last year, so this time around I jumped right in! I climbed onto a ice chunk nearby and had my own personal floating iceberg. Pretty neat.
Then, sadly, it was time to get back to real life. Austin and his sister Grace flew Celine and I back, and it was so unbelievably beautiful going over the mountains.
We landed in Girdwood, where Celine and I had a couple hours to check out the annual Forest Fair before getting a ride to Anchorage from Holly, who was returning from her cabin after winning the Mt. Marathon race! The Forest Fair is like an artsy-craftsy version of a farmer’s market, on these trails in the woods. The live music was awesome and the food carts sure were tasty.
And then….boom! Camp started! We had a week of dry land training based out of Anchorage and then tomorrow we fly up to Eagle Glacier for a week of on-snow time. This is my 4th year at this camp and I really love it. Some of the roller ski routes are even becoming familiar, which is great since I tend to get lost on my own a lot.
However, I did have one minor mishap this week. After roller skiing in the hot sun up Hatcher Pass, I decided a little dip in the creek would be just perfect. I started walking down a steep bank, tripped and fell forward right onto a rock. I wish I had a better story, like saving a baby from a charging moose, but I hate liars and the sad truth is that I tripped while walking and sliced open my knee. My first (irrational) thought was that I should just go ahead and jump in the creek anyways. Then I looked down and saw my shoe filling with blood and yelled for the coaches. I had this quarter-sized hole in my knee with a flap of skin over it, and I was way too squeamish to even look under the flap.
Warning: if you are like me and don’t like blood, don’t look really carefully at the next few photos.
Luckily for me, Liz is going to be an outstanding nurse someday, so when we went to the ER she came right into the room with me and held my hand. I couldn’t look at anything going on and luckily I got a phone call just then so I had a great distraction while the doctor stuck his hand in my knee while cleaning it out and then sewed it back up. Liz has the great details from the event, so you’ll have to ask her since I didn’t watch.
The only part I felt was when the doctor initially numbed it, but after that I only felt weird tugging and skin being moved around. Thank goodness for that.
The funny part about this is that I have been working so hard on improving my balance this year! As in, 1.5 hours of balance work each week. Guess it’s not paying off very quickly. I get a lot of crap for being so clumsy, but if I wasn’t born with great balance at least I was born with the guts to go roller skiing with fresh stitches. The awesome thing about being a XC racer is that your pain tolerance goes up and your idea of what’s ok to whine about shifts. If there’s a way to work around an injury and safely train, we do it!
So, the next morning I was back to training, and while my leg was a little stiff and I walked like Frankenstein for a few days trying not to bend my knee, it’s getting more mobility every day!
So now lets jump to a less awful subject. We have been invited to dinner at Sadie’s house, Zuzana Rogers’ house (our awesome PT for the camp!) and the Schumacher’s house, so a huge thanks to them for hosting us! We also did a bunch of team dinner nights, which is always fun and cozy when you get 8 people in a galley kitchen!
Way off topic, but…Liz and Eric Packer also made molds of their feet. They are sending them to Europe to get custom boots fitted, so we had a lot of fun playing with those. I think some really great practical jokes are going to happen this week.
Finally…the bears! I was pretty disappointed to have not seen a single moose or bear in my 10 days in Alaska, but then we got a lovely surprise last night around 10:30. Notice that I need to tell you what time it was, because you can’t tell from all the daylight in the photo. There is a Momma bear and her two cubs that has been wandering around the APU campus, and they found some rotten fish in a nearby garbage bin. We got to watch as they feasted and then finally walked off!
Tomorrow we take the insanely fun helicopter ride up to Eagle glacier! Thanks in advance to Deb and Keith from Alaska Air for always getting us safely up to camp!
July 1st, 2014
It’s come to this: I realized this week that I really need to practice the art of napping. During big training days where we have a couple of hours to recover from intervals before strength, even a really short amount of horizontal shut eye is helpful. But here’s the catch…my whole life I’ve been that kid who can’t just chill out and relax in the middle of the day. In preschool I tried doing gymnastics on my mat during nap-time. I mean, that’s what mats are for, right? Learning somersaults? When I was told it wasn’t ok to roll around, I tried whispering to anyone unfortunate enough to be trying to sleep near me. Then I was put in solitary confinement. Darn. I guess the polite way to phrase it was that I was a “high energy girl”. But my July resolution (New Years resolution is too much pressure. Let’s be real.) is to spend a small amount of time laying down during big training days. I’ve been trying to take notes from the Caldwell’s kitty, Leroy, although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to sleep in the same poses and places as he does!
Today is Ben Saxton’s 21st Birthday, and we celebrated it with him last night! We got Simi and Ian to distract him and take him to the pond while we snuck into the boys house and surprised him when he came back. At least, we pseudo-suprised him…he guessed that something was up but was nice enough to act surprised anyways! And because he loves popcorn so much, I decided a caramel corn topped cake would be weird but nice.
One of my good friends from high school, Maddy Wendt, was in the area before her final classes of grad school started, so she came to visit me! It was so nice to see her and catch up, and like a total champ she jumped right into training with us. I think we did 8 hours of training in the 2.5 days she was here, including some tough bounding intervals, strength and an over-distance skate ski. Whoo! She’s a tough cookie, and here’s another fun fact: Maddy is the one who first started braiding my hair before every ski race. Now I braid my hair before the start of every race I do because it calms me down. We also spent some quality time reminiscing about Minnesota, of course!
Since most of the time it’s just been me and Annie P. living in the Boswell’s condo, we’ve picked up some new hobbies. Like watching an episode…or two…of Orange is the New Black every night. And thanks to the miracle of the world wide web, anyone can look up beat boxing tutorials on youtube. So that’s been very, very entertaining!
I’ve been taking an online course from Westminster College in Utah over the summer, on philosophy. Annie majored in philosophy, so now after each chapter of my textbook we basically have book club chats on whether determinism or compatibilism is the way to go, and if people actually have free will or if we are just a bundle of nerves and chemicals pre-set to respond a certain way. Yep, we get pretty deep and thoughtful sometimes.
Last but not least, training has been all about technique focus, finding ways to beat the heat and get comfortable with higher speeds, longer intervals and heavier weights. Citius, Altius, Fortius!
June 25th, 2014
There’s been all sorts of balancing acts going on around here lately. Finding the sweet spot during L3 where you can keep that pace for an hour, but are working hard and skiing with good technique. Getting in some tough workouts and lots of volume, but finding the right amount of rest to go with it. Hanging out with friends and still finding some quiet time every day so I can recover. And our fearless leader Pat has been literally riding the yellow line as he bikes along getting footage on our roller skis so we can look at our technique!
Of course, training a lot and training hard is one of the important parts of this job. It’s something that I love to do, and it feels really good to finish up a big week of training. However, it’s so easy, especially when training with a big group of people, to overdo it and end up overtrained or injured. Anyone can put their nose to the grindstone, but eventually you’re going to get hurt if you don’t know when to pull back.
That’s why I have more respect for the person that recognizes that the pace isn’t right for them and drops back, than for the person who keeps chugging along at a near race pace even when it’s supposed to be an easy workout. And goodness knows it’s not easy to do! I freely admit that there have been many workouts where I should have been more committed to doing what my body needed, but I ignored it. There were interval sets where I was desperately tired and should have cut the last few out and kept it at a higher level of quality, but I stubbornly wanted to complete the set. Funny enough, it’s learning to do less in the right circumstances that has been the biggest challenge with the highest reward.
That’s why one of the biggest roles of the coaches I work with (Cork, Whitcomb, all the USST coaches actually, and now Pat) has always been to pull me back when I get too excited and start digging myself into a hole. The last 6 years my yearly training volume has gone up by about 20-30 hours a year, which amounts to right around an extra 5 minutes of training a day. And it doesn’t seem (or feel) like a lot. But it’s really amazing how those sessions where I feel good so I tack on an extra 15 minutes start to add up, and it’s not always a good thing. After looking back over my training logs from past years, the summers and falls when I regularly went over my weekly plan were the years when I performed the worst in distance races. So clearly, it’s important to find and then ride the fine line between training hard and just getting crazy with it! One of my goals for the summer training season is to be better at listening to my body and training smart, not just training hard.
This past month I’m pretty psyched because training has gone well and while we’ve had some good hard quality sessions, we’ve been able to rest well in between and have some fun as well!
Our long distance session last week ended at Little Rock Pond, where there’s some great 30-ish ft cliffs to jump off of.
We also checked out Wanderlust, a yoga festival that comes to Stratton Mountain every year. The people watching was fabulous.
There was a lot of yoga going on, and a lot of booths selling everything from extra filtered water to high end yoga clothes.
On our day off, we hung out at the snowmaking pond, which is one of my favorite places to be. Simi was doing all sorts of crazy rolls and tricks in his kayak, and he started teaching me to roll. I spent a lot of time upside down underwater, and except for that one time when I
panicked decided to pull the cord and get out, it was really awesome. I’m hoping I can roll a kayak by the end of the summer!
I’ve also been helping Anne with her weekly cooking blog, in which we take some fresh produce from Earth Sky Time Farm and make something delicious featuring the item. I am her official “sous chef and sous photographer”! This week we used fresh picked zucchini in a zucchini lemon-glazed cake, only…it didn’t quite come out of the pan like we wanted it to. It still tasted amazing, just didn’t look quite as professional. Whoopsy-daisy.
But, to redeem myself, look at the photo I took of the beautiful bars we made last week featuring fresh lemon balm from the herb garden! Much better, right? Right. If you want to follow along on this particular adventure, visit Anne’s page: http://annie-hart.com/thursdays-bakery.html
June 21st, 2014
In case you’ve been wondering, the humidity we had the last week has been unequivocally kicking my butt. I am finally starting to wrap my mind around the fact that every time I train I will likely need to jump into a river afterwards. Don’t worry, I’m definitely ok with that…especially since the training that we’ve been doing has been going really well! I’m psyched with the training group we have here and we have been doing a lot of quality speed work, agility practice, L3 intervals as a group and technique work with the video that Pat gives us on the daily.
At the moment I have a Cheshire cat grin on because I am writing this from my new computer! After my old PC crashed and I found myself dealing with over 2 weeks of not having a computer (which, it turns out, really isn’t that fun), I got my new Mac set up. I’m pretty psyched with it. In even bigger news, our SMST2 team grew by one for the next 2 months! Ian Torchia is PG-ing with us for the summer before he heads to NMU next year. It’s always great to have new faces and more training buddies around, and it’s going to be fun showing him Vermont while he’s here.
I was looking for the right words to explain to Ian why exactly he was going to be so psyched on spending a couple months out here, and I realized I couldn’t do it with only a couple sentences. I needed a top-10 list. So without further fluff, from the eyes of a self-proclaimed “East Coast Rookie”, here are some of the very best parts of being out east and living in Southern Vermont. If you are coming to visit, here’s a handy checklist you can take with you.
1. Go hike up one of the green mountains! If you happen to be a chick, do this hike with the Summit Sisters! This is a hiking group the SMST2 women started this summer, and we are leading hikes up different peaks in Vermont. It’s for all girls of all ages and abilities. We just had our first hike today, and it was really fun to meet more of the community and see new faces! I also got well acquainted with the girls from “Girls On The Run”, and by the end of the hike I had myself a new nickname…turkey-jurkey-Jessie. In case you couldn’t tell, we all got kinda hungry by the time we’d hiked Styles Peak and come back down!
2. Go get lunch from the Hapgood store in Peru, Vermont. It’s been around since 1827, which is pretty sweet. If you want to get hippie with it, sit out on the sunny deck while drinking their Kombucha on tap from a mason jar. Smile and enjoy.
3. While we’re on the hippie thread…check out Wanderlust. It’s happening at the town of Stratton right now and I’ve never seen so many crazy styles of yoga pants wandering around before.
4. Run a segment of the AT trail. It’s a really beautiful way to see more of the woods, and the time flies by as you’re scrambling around rocks, hopping streams and dodging roots.
5. After a run or hike, find a good cold body of water to jump in. I recommend the Stratton Snowmaking Pond, Little Rock pond if you’re into cliff jumping, or Pikes Falls if you want to stand under a chilly waterfall.
6. Go to the local fair (we like the Bondville fair) and watch the tractor and truck pulls. For bonus points, show up in overalls, a hat and boots!
7. Get on the “selfie” bandwagon and take one at the top of a mountain. There are so many and because they’re covered in trees they might not look as epic as the ones you typically see on postcards when you’re standing on the bottom, but the view from the top is well worth it. #fitness! #hiking #sweatingalot
8. Accept the fact that you will not pronounce things the way locals do. (This is especially true if you’re from the Midwest.) If you ask for a “pop” you probably won’t receive a fizzy drink. And then accept the fact that you will never have so many awesome varieties of maple syrup to chose from again.
9. Get into, embrace and love the small towns spaced out one every 20 miles or so. They are awesome and have some great character.
10. Last but not least…jump in for a workout with the SMST2 team, of course! (you saw that one coming, right?)
June 14th, 2014
It’s my third year as part of the SMST2 Team, but instead of things settling down and getting ho-hum, I feel like this new and revised version of the team is making the summer training more exciting than ever! We’ve had some changes this year, including the roster, living situation, workout formats, and social media (wait, what? Yes, it’s almost too good to be true).
We have a new team website: http://smst2.wordpress.com/ Now we have a new way to connect with the community and post the latest news! Check the website often for new blog posts, community involvement, upcoming projects and dates (like our Women’s Hiking group led the by the SMST2 girls, or an upcoming Fast and Female event). We also have a new Facebook page, Twitter Account and Instagram, all under SMST2xc.
We have a team roster full of returning faces, and some new ones. The biggest changes from last year include Pat O’Brien signing on as our new head coach to replace Gus Kaeding, Ben Saxton joining the team (he was a PG last year) and Eric Packer leaving the team. For fun facts, photos and stats on the team, visit our website: http://smst2.wordpress.com/the-team/
One awesome situation happening here is where we are living for the summer and fall. We once again have been fortunate enough to have members of the community donate the use of their houses for the summer. It’s so awesome to be able to cook for ourselves and feel comfortable and at home, and the location right in Stratton is perfect for training. We have great roller skiing right out the door, and flatter routes for recovery days but also some monster hills that are perfect for challenging workouts. There’s also the AT trail right in our backyard, so long trail runs are never boring!
Perhaps the thing I love the most is that we all function so well as a family, and we train together, cook great food from our CSA together, and live together but we also recognize when it’s time to have personal space. If someone needs to go do a workout on their own to have time to think, that’s totally fine, no questions asked.
I think a key to a team running smoothly is that everyone on the team has an important role to play, whether they are the motivator, the tech-guru, the person who gets in your face and yells during strength, the planner, or the person who gets everyone out the door on time. I’m pretty certain that my role is the same one played by Olaf the Snowman from “Frozen”…boundless hugs and optimism right up to the point of being annoying.
This week, things have taken a turn for the
worse better soggy. It’s been misting and raining all week, which, aside from making us feel a little tougher when we come back from a workout dripping wet and making the mud room smell like wet dog, has resulted in a lot of blisters. It’s also made for some really beautiful skis as everything is springing to life and I can now appreciate the subtle differences between 50 shades of green.
We did some awesome double pole intervals today with the SMS Juniors, and it was one of the more efficient workouts ever despite the potential for things to go horribly wrong as about 4 poles baskets were snapped in the first 10 minutes. Pat had the van and pole kit on hand, and he got us back on track. We were doing anywhere from 3-6 by 8 minutes L3 double-pole only, and we had a variety of terrain to chose from.
Often times, people only go uphill during intervals and I think that’s a big mistake. I mean, think about it: if the start and finish line of a race are in the same stadium, then half your race is downhill. You need to learn to be efficient at high speeds as well as just grinding uphill! So some of our intervals were on the flats, some were on a slight downhill and some snaked up a hill that changed pitch every 100 meters so you had to be constantly adjusting your technique. We would begin each interval together, and the juniors could jump in for as long as they wanted, and although people would inevitably spread out by the end of each interval we would regroup and start all together again.
The way our workouts are scheduled is similar to a full-time training camp. All our “key” sessions; speeds, intensity, strength, over-distance are all lined up so we can do them together, with some room for flexibility because everyone’s training plan is a little different. We join the SMS Juniors at least 3 times a week, and they can jump in behind us for intervals or speeds to learn from older skiers. As a warmup before strength sessions, we split into groups and the SMST2 skiers lead the juniors through agility, mobility and balance exercises.
I absolutely love it when we get to work with the junior skiers, not only because I like them and I think they are fun to hang around but also because when I’m passing along tips and technique help it feels like I’m able to help someone else get one step closer to their goals. And that’s an awesome feeling. The Juniors don’t know it yet but they are also helping us older skiers get closer to our goals as well! In order to teach someone technique, it forces you to have a pretty good grasp of what you’re doing, and it helps you remember the important points. In other words, we are all going to push each other to get better all summer long!