Monday, November 27, 2017

Falling off the Blog Train

I do believe it's been quite a while since I last updated. Somehow an entire season has passed without a (leaf) peep from me. Sorry about that! 
This fall was a busy time of hopping about to different locations for short periods of time, and I never quite had time to settle in anywhere. That, combined with the increase in intensity and anticipation I always feel when the weather turns colder, made the past few months seemingly go by in a flash.

Here it is in a nutshell: after New Zealand I spent two weeks in Craftsbury recovering and putting in some speed work, then two and half weeks at home in Park City for the USST camp. Then I had two weeks back in Craftsbury, where I came down with a sinus infection then recovered from it, two weeks traveling back and forth to Foret Mont-Morency for on-snow camps, then a week and a half training and prepping in Craftsbury, and then to West Yellowstone! Yes, I know, a whirlwhind, but don't worry, I do have photos from it all. Aside from the short sickness, fall training was mostly consistent and encouraging, and now the race season is officially underway, so my favorite time of year is here.

A moody fall day for a hike on Mt. Belvidere with Caitlin
back in September

We finished off the bike season with a few school group sessions.
Fearless Asa took on the wave (with friends on the side to spot)

Out in Park City, I was happy to be in fall colors
and running with my favorite pooch Marty

Pretty flowers for the Mama, thanks to
the lovely Liz Stephen!

A nice recovery hike in Emigration Canyon with friends

Fast and Female in Park City- running the SkiErg station with Rosie
and encouraging the girls to go for max watts. So fun to see them
challenge themselves

Back to Craftsbury and backyard sunsets over Mt. Mansfield.
A literal "bright spot" in my week of being sick

Halloween ski costumes have to be creative if you want to ski in
them. L to R: me dressed as Ben, Kait as a Craftsbury junior circa
2008, Hallie in an awesome onesie, Caitlin as an oil slick/psychedelic
zebra

With Ben, the inspiration for my costume! Happy to be back on
snow in the Foret

Pain face at the NENSA rollerski invitational.
Thanks NENSA for putting on an awesome
race.

And back to Foret! You know you have an awesome coach when
she dances on the side of the course before intervals (Photo Caitlin 

Patterson)

Putting in the k's with Kait (Photo Caitlin Patterson)

Hamster wheeling on the 2k loop, but we were so happy to be
on snow! (Photo Caitlin Patterson)

The whole Foret crew! Thanks Craft, Skida, and Julbo for
outfitting the team

Enjoying one of my last evenings in Craftsbury.
Puppies and wood stoves and warm drinks=
perfection. 

And now I'm in West Yellowstone
with another favorite puppy and my
family!

Race morning sunrise in West

It makes my heart so happy to be reunited with former teamie
Heather, who's skiing in Bozeman now. 

The team hopped in a 5k freestyle race this past Saturday. In contrast with my usual memories of perfect snow and cold temperatures in West, we've had challenging conditions since we arrived a week ago. First some rain, then freezing, and then more rain, then warm temps have taken out most of the base on the Rendezvous trails. Needless to say, it was an icy 5k out there, but it's impressive they were able to hold a race at all. I placed 15th, but very much consider it a warm-up race after just four days at altitude. I'll be chasing good race feelings and continuing to adjust to the altitude, and can't wait for the SuperTours this coming weekend! Plus, it's snowing in West right now on our off day, so we're hoping the trails will be in much better condition come Saturday.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

To Middle Earth and Back Again- NZ Trip!

I’m writing this on the Megabus between Boston and Montpelier, VT, the very last leg of my journey back from the Southern Hemisphere to my home in Craftsbury. It seems a little unreal to me that just a few days ago I was skiing on real snow, in full-on winter, and now I’m watching the leaves change on the side of Highway 89! Not only is my internal clock completely messed up from the 16 hour time change and the travel, but my sense of temperature is thrown off as well- yesterday I was in a full body sweat walking around Boston on a nice fall day. Welcome back to humidity, thanks a lot, East Coast.

Looking back on the trip, I can say without a doubt that it was one of my favorite ski trips ever. I think I’m a little in love with New Zealand as a country. I expected the Lord of the Rings-esque scenery, and the pastures of sheep. After all, there are 6 sheep for every 1 person in the country! What I didn’t expect was the friendliness and openness of the people and their laid-back yet adventurous attitude. Overall, New Zealanders were some of the nicest people I’d ever met. I’d seen pictures of the Snow Farm before, but little did I know that it was surrounded by stunning, panoramic mountain scenery, and that every morning and night, the sky would put on a sunrise or sunset show for us. With 30 kilometers of groomed trails out the door, skiing twice a day was a treat. On top of that, we had great food, I drank way too many flat whites (the New Zealand version of a latte, but better), and I was in absolute skier heaven.

Good morning Snow Farm trails! Jet lag meant waking up 
early, but it also meant I got to say hello to the sun in the 
morning from the breakfast room.

One of our first days on snow, remembering
how to stride and glide with Caitlin

 A moody day to venture out to some of the farther 
trails (Photo Caitlin Patterson)

I love the snake-like profile of the trails here. A disclaimer- Kait 
was sick the first week and I skied a ton with Caitlin. She takes 
lovely photographs, but that's why so many of these are 
solo shots of me (Photo Caitlin Patterson)

Nearby Wanaka, a town 40 minutes away, has one of the most
photographed trees in the world, and it's for good reason!


The terraced Merino Glen, where the most sheltered trails are.
This is useful on a high wind day (Photo Caitlin Patterson)

Part of the reason we traveled down to New Zealand was to compete in the New Zealand Winter Games, a three race series held at the Snow Farm. Racing on snow at the end of the summer was a new experience for me, and while the races went fairly well, I can’t say they were spectacular. It was more about reacquainting myself with the feelings of racing, and at the same time recognizing that race sharpness is still a few months away. I was actually most satisfied with my distance skate race. After a slow start, I was caught by my teammate Caitlin, and I had the opportunity to ski with her for the rest of the race. I always learn the most by following others, and I was happy to hang with her, because I consider her an awesome distance skater. I’ve been working so hard on my skate technique this summer and a few things are finally starting to click, which has been rewarding overall. We also raced a classic sprint, and I was happy to make the semifinal and finish 5th overall, and a 10k classic, where I experienced the “tireds” in a real way, but still pushed through in 7th place.

Thanks to Brian Gregg for the snap from my 5k skate race!

Hanging onto Caitlin while coach Pepa shouts encouragement

My semifinal with Caitlin and Ida. I learned from this race and 
the 10k the next day that herringbone is one of my weaknesses,
 and I’ve added it to the list of things I need to work on!

It was really great to have a huge group of Americans at the Snow Farm, including skiers from Stratton T2, Sun Valley, the US Ski Team, and Team Gregg. While training in a big group is fun, by the last week everyone packed up, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It was a good time to put our heads down, ramp up the volume, and truly focus on technique. We got to head down to town on our off day, and then again two days later to explore a really cool river valley on a run. In terms of the skiing, it was a total mixed bag. One day, it was 40 mph winds, driving rain/sleet/hail, and ungroomed trails. The next day, it was perfectly sunny, everything was groomed, and the crust skiing was unbelievably good. Luckily that was our final day of skiing, so the team left on a high note. Then we headed down the Queenstown, where we got to explore the town, hike Queenstown Hill, and eat some of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted. It was the perfect way to cap off a pretty spectacular camp.

Gorgeous Lake Wanaka on our off day in town. Not pictured- the
thigh-width freshwater eels swimming just a few feet below me

Sunrise was great, but sunset over the Southern New Zealand Alps was
truly spectacular. 
 

Exploring the Fern Burn trail on a “tramping” excursion
(that’s what they call it in New Zealand, no joke). 
 

Sheeeeepies!! Why are ewe running away? Come baaaaaack! 

Fern Burn hut down below. One day, I’m planning to come back to New
Zealand and hike hut to hut. This place is amazing in its scope and scenery
 

Danger! Interval day! 

Thanks Nick for lying on your belly in the snow to take cool
photos of us interval-ling

Following speedster Ben for a few seconds before settling back
into L3 pace

Happily crust-cruising above the Kurtle Burn hut up to Mt. Pisa

Glad that the Caitlin/Kaitlynn crew is always up for an adventure

Even when they’re freezing their butts off on top of
a windy ridgeline! 

GRP women's squad! It was a pleasure training with these
two during our last week 

Snapped by Ben, a sneaky corner shot of an absolutely perfect day

Look Mom! We caught a hobbit!

A Pepa specialty- the whole team selfie

A low quality photo of a high quality activity- watching the All Blacks
(New Zealand’s national team) play rugby against South Africa. Every
time the All Blacks are on, the Snow Farm pulls out the projector screen
and everyone in the lodge gathers to watch. Anyone who knows me knows
that I have hardly any interest in American football, but rugby is seriously
bad ass. The All Blacks are also one of the winningest sports teams around,
so they’re really fun to see in action. Before every game they do the Haka, a
traditional Maori dance, while the other team watches and it’s freaking
intimidating. Count me among their fans.

One last sunset over the Snow Farm

Queenstown Hill hike in the fog and mist 

Magnolias blooming down in Queenstown

A perfect encapsulation of the NZ attitude

After spending a few days in Boston recouping from the travel and catching up with one of my best college friends, I’m headed to Craftsbury for a short while. I’ll be recovering then finding my speed (hopefully!) before heading out West to join the US Ski Team for a camp in Park City. I love fall in Vermont, and I hear the apples are amazing this year, so I have ten days to soak up all the autumn vibes, and then I’m out West, where I can’t wait to see my family and train in the mountains.

Big thanks to our coaches/techs Pepa and Nick for coming with us to New Zealand to support us, wax our skis, and make sure that everything went as smoothly as possible. Also huge thanks to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center for funding the trip to New Zealand. Getting on snow in the summer is a huge advantage for our training, and this camp was the most productive summer camp I’ve ever attended. Finally, thanks to my sponsors Fischer, Swix, Salomon, and Toko, for keeping me in ski gear while I train and race, and to team sponsors Craft, Julbo, Skida, and Polar for outfitting the team!

I’ll update next from Utah, thanks for reading!!

*if you survived that onslaught of photos and want more, I also posted a recap from the first two weeks of our trip on the Green Racing Project blog, and you can find that HERE.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Vermonting

Most of the year, I'm a bit of a nomad, so summer is really the only time I have when I can put down roots and actually spend a good chunk of time in one place. Well, sort of. We didn't have any team camps or trips planned between early May and the end of August this summer. This meant that I could put my full focus into training at Craftsbury, and any time spent away would be for fun!

We got totally spoiled in Craftsbury last summer with dry, breezy, sunny days. Actually, according to Vermonters, it was a bit of a drought, not that I noticed being a Western girl from the desert. This summer has been the opposite. I just read in the paper that in June of 2016, northern VT reported 1.89 inches of rain. In June of 2017, they reported 7.32 inches!! That's a lot of moisture people. So while the wet weather has occasionally made it a little tougher to motivate to get out the door for training, when the sun does come out it's blindingly green on the hillsides. It also hasn't been very hot, which is great for training as well. I'm not complaining.

It's been since May that I last updated my blog, so I'll just give the quick run through in photos, rather than trying to sum it all up in words! Overall, training has been going well, life has been busy with work, gardening, traveling to see friends and go to weddings, and of course, time for summer activities like swimming, paddleboarding, and picking blueberries.

An early summer grass speed session- it's just what it looks
like- skiing uphill on grass, with real skis. Believe it or not,
it's a total blast (Photo Caitlin Patterson)

Pretty pretty. Craftsbury sunsets never disappoint. This one
is from the top of West Hill

About the only time I get to see all my college friends now is
for weddings. My UNH teammate Dylan got married (last summer
actually), but they had a big party down in Putney in June to celebrate

Cheers to Meg and Dylan, to seeing best friends again, and to
perfect VT summer nights (Photo Gretchen Powers)

Running on dirt roads past green fields- life isn't so bad (Photo Pepa)

I spent a few weeks in June dog-sitting for these two. I know
that I can't have a dog right now with all the traveling I do, but
looking after someone else's dogs made me so excited for the
day when I can!

I also got to enjoy spectacular sunsets from their owners'
lawn on West Hill in Craftsbury

Summertime means organizing and timing our weekly trail series
in Craftsbury. It's really fun to see how many people come out.
Every once in a while, they get to start under a rainbow (Photo Pepa)

Summer also means gardening, or in this case, unrolling a giant
bale of hay to use as mulch. Overhead from this activity,
"I don't need no stinkin' Crossfit when I have gardening!"

The rows of squash, peppers, and cabbage all happy with
their new mulch

Summer days on the dock at Craftsbury. Not a bad way to
supervise BKL camp

BKL campers rocking their lip sync to Barbie Girl. The 13
year old boy on the right definitely won the attitude award
for the day.
I've spent the past four 4th of July's in Craftsbury, so I decided to switch it up a little this year. It was great because the fourth actually coincided with a few rest days and I was starting to get a little antsy for travel, so I hopped over to Lake Placid for a long weekend and got to see some friends.

Hiking Pitchoff Mountain with my former UNH teammate
Elizabeth Izzo and her sister Anna

Playing in the mountains with friends pretty much always
equals #anotherbestday

Delicious dinner prepared by Clare, the best
company, and lovely views of the lake

Floaties! The 4th with Clare and her boyfriend Erik on Mirror
Lake in LP
However, my vacation was over before I knew it, and it was back to training in Craftsbury!

Just hop on the train if you want a ride! A lovely day for a
roll/run combo to Lake Willoughby in Barton, VT

This summer, the team has been working hard on improving
the trail system at Sterling College in Craftsbury. Here we
have all the tools of the trade- chainsaws, hammers, nails, ear
and head protection, and willing BKL laborers (just kidding)

And finally, at the end of July I got to go home for a week! It seems like every summer, a few more of my friends get married, and this time a high school (well, really more like middle school) friend was having her wedding in Park City. I had an amazing week of catching up with old friends, playing in the mountains, and of course, dancing my butt off.

Feeling very lucky to be back in my favorite mountain town

Wigs and little black dresses for the bachelorette party- why not
All friends of the bride from running together- high school cross
country on the left and college on the right


Making new friends- Cosette the horse, and Jill,
one of the other bridesmaids!

All of the bridesmaids and attendants

Reunited with my favorite running buddies. We don't run together
anymore, but it's like nothing ever changed when we get together

Exploring in the Wasatch once the wedding shenanigans wound
down.

Top of Clayton peak with Hannah, one of my oldest friends
from Park City. This year she's running a 50k mountain race
and doing an Ironman, so I'm always happy to take her out
for a long run

Pioneer Day, when the Mormons entered the Salt Lake valley,
is a big holiday in Utah. In recent years the pagans among us
have renamed it Pie n' Beer day, and I was happy to celebrate
by making my first ever pie. It looked prettier before I put it
in the oven and the filling volcano-ed everywhere, so we'll
just pretend this is how it looked when we ate it.
Anyways, I'm back in Craftsbury now, and after a little time off I'm really excited to attack our next training block with full energy. We now have less than one month until the team leaves for New Zealand, so I intend to fully enjoy summer while I can. Our blueberries bushes in the backyard have recently exploded with ripe berries, so I'm picking as much as I can. We also have fresh snap peas and a few tomatoes, and the rest is not far behind. I'll probably update next from New Zealand, unless I had a sudden flash of blog inspiration. Thanks for reading!