September 16th, 2014
Mist and fog swirl around you as you rapidly climb the mountain. Your ragged breathing catches in your throat and you think you might throw up. You hear noises behind you – someone yelling at you – you’re being chased! Your lungs are burning, your legs feel like lead and it’s quite possible that they will combust any second. Suddenly, you cannot take another step and you drop to your knees, trying to get your lungs to cooperate. No, this isn’t the set for a horror movie…it’s bounding intervals, and what makes it even better is that you’re doing this to yourself. Ugh!
When you’re training hard, the highs are intense and the lows are really low. Every time I have a set of hard bounding intervals, I’m reminded of how incredibly humbling this sport is. It takes years of countless hard intervals where you’re left hanging onto your poles, ready to keel over, before you start racing well. And yet…without a doubt, it’s worth it. I wouldn’t have it any other way. At the end of the day, when you’ve pushed yourself hard enough, the feeling of accomplishment (and, let’s be real, the endorphin rush) are pretty amazing. That’s why although the worst moments you feel in this sport during training are some of the toughest, the “training highs” in this XC skiing are also some of the best you’ll ever find.
Last weekend we had one of the best days I think I’ve had all summer. We had a long easy roller ski, and because the pavement was fast and we were fired up, we rolled 55km. Pretty good practice for what’s coming up this weekend, eh? (hint, hint: 100km skifest). We ended the ski at Sophie’s Grandparent’s pond and after a cold swim Pat drove us up the road to his parent’s house. Will and Deb generously hosted us for an evening of fantastic ribs and corn on the cob, and crane rides! Thanks guys!
Will O’Brien runs a tree service, and he let us hook onto the crane and ride up all 110ft to the top! The views were stunning and it was such a cool experience.
It was a great team day of hanging out, having fun, and although we may have considered stranding Ben at the top of the 110-ft crane, we left with the whole crew intact.
September 13th, 2014
“If it feels good, you’re probably not doing it right.”
How many times have you heard that from a coach when you’re trying to make a technique change? When you’re doing hard intervals? When you’re racing? For the record, it’s true when you’re talking about most things related to extremely challenging endurance sports. If you feel pretty awesome, then chances are, you’re not putting yourself out there and pushing your limits. I know this is true because the farther up the hill I bounded this morning during L4 intervals, the longer I spent at the top hanging over my poles.
However, there are times when you DO want to feel good. When you’re tapering before a big race, for example. When you’re cruising easy during training. Or near the end of a rest week after a hard camp. And that brings us to where I am now…starting to feel so good at the end of an easy week that I’m bouncing off the walls.
So what have I done with my excess energy when training load is low? I accomplished my goal of baking a beautiful, fluffy whole wheat sandwich loaf of bread. Of course, that consisted of various experiments beforehand that involved a lot of flour flying around and a great big mess, but luckily I had on my trusty pink apron that Liz made me so I emerged from the fracas clean as a whistle.
I worked on my balance, which is something I’m sure you’ve indirectly noticed because I haven’t shown you any more photos of me in the ER getting stitches. I also did a lot of yoga on the deck in the sunshine, and perhaps even took “shavasana” to the next level when I proceeded to fall asleep in the middle of it. Talk about being relaxed!
Most importantly, I’ve been having fun doing a lot of dancing. Uh, I mean, working on my spatial awareness. Annie P. commissioned me to choreograph her a dance, so that’s been exceedingly fun. The deal was if she made her fundraising goal, she has to film this dance on every travel day for the rest of the year (cue embarrassing airport dance scene) so of course I wanted in on the project. So every day we’ve had our 10 minutes or more of dance class, and it’s going really well. I’m basically getting to do my future dream job of being a dance instructor and Annie is going to look awesome in every airport she graces with her presence. It’s a win-win!
But wait! How did the end of Lake Placid camp go? Oh gosh, it was pretty good, thanks for asking! It was also very hard with all the interval sets, strength, speeds and over distance workouts catching up to me, but overall it was a high quality camp and I felt that I made progress towards a lot of my technique goals while building fitness. Of course, the infamous Climb to the Castle roller ski race was an event in itself. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s an uphill 5 mile race on the road up Whiteface mountain, and yep, there IS a castle at the top (yes!). The average grade of the road is 8.5%, so it’s a great chance to practice for the final climb in the Tour de Ski, which gets up to 28%. The time trial is always painful, and you never get a chance to clear the lactic acid slowly building up in your legs. Add that to the fact that everyone in the field has different wheel speeds on their skis, and there’s usually a strong headwind on every corner, and it’s a great chance to practice suffering for 40-55 minutes!
My most adrenaline filled part of the morning actually came 15 minutes before the race even started. The race starts about 2 miles up the Whiteface road, and there’s a side road where we usually warm up. I hadn’t been on that road in over a year, and I forgot that there’s a little hill right before you need to make a sharp right hand turn to get back onto the course so you don’t start flying down the mountain into town. So of course, by the time I realized that I was going to need to make the turn or else start rolling down the access road I was going too fast and couldn’t make it. A volunteer grabbed at me and slowed me down just enough that I decided to bail instead of taking my chances with the stop sign 2 miles down. I flew into a patch of sand, got the wind totally knocked out of me, but there was no blood, I was fine, and I didn’t even break my poles. Of course, at that point I might have also been in mild shock and when the gun went off I absolutely didn’t care about racing at all. It took about 20 minutes for me to get into the “I care about this” mindset, which is awful, I know, but I finally got there. However, I got a good chance to practice going hard uphill for an extended period of time, and got to practice racing when things didn’t go perfectly in the warm-up, which is good for me!
I’m very excited to show you what’s coming up next week…our 3rd annual 100km ski! For about 6 hours, the SMST2 team will be tearing up the New York pavement in our team’s annual ski-a-thon fundraiser. It’s a loooooong time skiing, but it’s fun, and what’s wrong with a little 6 hour team bonding session? Wish us luck!
September 4th, 2014
I learn best when I’m watching and actually, physically moving and trying out a new task. If you’re teaching me a new song on the guitar, you should let me play it along with you. If you’re teaching me to knit you should put the needles in my hands and have me watch and do it with you. If you’re teaching me to bake a cake you should have me involved in the process. So it makes sense that when my coaches want me to try out a new idea or cement a movement pattern while skiing, they tell me to hop in behind someone who is doing it well.
This is where the Art of Erasing Yourself (and your ego) becomes pretty important. I try and clear my mind, forget about all the other things running through it and simply become someone else for a short period of time. Piece by piece, I erase parts of my body and pretend they are someone else’s. If I’m following someone who’s double pole I really admire, I’ll start down with the ankles, and try and make my joints bend at the exact same time and the same way. Then I’ll move up to the knees, and bend them like I was a carbon copy of whomever I’m following. I’ll match my arm swing, the timing of the core compression, and the follow-through.
This can sometimes be hard as I tend to march to the beat of my own drummer, and I usually have a pretty high tempo. But it can also be a wonderful way to try out something new, to force myself to slow my tempo down and get the movements right. More importantly, it doesn’t always mean that I have to permanently stick with someone else’s style of skiing, only try it out and see if it works for me. If it does, great! If a coach tells me to try skiing behind someone else, it doesn’t mean that I’m doing it wrong, or that the other athletes I’m not following are doing it wrong either. It’s just a way to try out something new!
So, during today’s 4 x 15 min L3 intervals, I skied as much as possible behind Ms. Liz Stephen. She is without a doubt one of the best hill climbers in the world, and in my opinion, one of the best possible people to follow when skating. I really admire her technique and so when it was time to get down to business, I busied myself with the task of becoming Liz’s shadow. I learned so much!
What’s also really great about this style of learning is that when we are doing something that I’m good at, I can take a turn at the front and hopefully give someone else a chance to try a new technique style or tempo. With a team full of skiers who are all specialized in different areas, we have so much to learn from each other! And not just from the other girls…I pick up so much from just watching some of the guys. It’s a pretty fun way to get better with other people.
Speaking of being with other people, camp has been going really well! It’s that point in the camp (1.5 weeks in) where everyone is getting pretty tired and keeping focus is harder than it was on day 1. But this is also where so many gains can be made, as long as we are smart and don’t dig ourselves into a hole too deep to climb back out of! Andy, Erika and I had some fun on our day off, and hit up the Flume to do a little cliff jumping!
We also had a fantastic evening at Annelies Cook’s house last night, and it was a great chance to get out of the center and hang out with friends!
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!