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!


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Spring Fever

Once again, I'm looking back at my blog and noticing that it's been over two months since I last posted! This always seems to happen this time of year, and honestly I'm ok with letting my blog lapse in the springtime. In general it means I'm spending a lot of time doing other activities, and not very much time thinking about skiing. April is the best time of year for me to recover mentally and physically from the long season, catch up with family and friends that I've been missing all year, and pack in all my favorite activities that aren't necessarily the best for "training" during the rest of the year. It's also a good time of year to figure out what worked last season, and what changes I can make for the upcoming year to make things even better. I made a few changes on that front, which I'll get to in a bit. But first, a quick skim of what happened this spring!

Since I last wrote, I raced at Spring Series in Fairbanks. There isn't much to say about those races- I got sick on the travel day there and ended up with a stubborn sinus infection, so I sat out both the skiathlon and the relay. I had a lackluster skate sprint, and then convinced myself to race the 30k skate, which wasn't a great idea. It's wasn't that I had a bad race, but my energy was not in a good place for a race that long at the end of the season, and my sinuses flared up again a few days later. So, anyways, it wasn't awesome and I was pretty excited to be done with racing after that week.

I flew straight from Fairbanks to Ambler, AK to do NANA Nordic for a week. I wrote a blog about that experience for the Craftsbury website, so if you're curious, click on the link below. Here's a few photos from the trip that didn't make that blog:


Gorgeous snowy landscapes in Ambler, waiting for the kids
to find me in a scavenger hunt

After school skiers- two cuties skiing on the lake

What's more exhausting- racing a 30k, or pulling kids around
for 10 hours a day? I'm still not sure

Hung my Martenitsa bracelet (it's a Bulgarian tradition) on a 
tree outside of Anchorage, so hopefully I'll have good luck all
year long.
From Anchorage, I flew down to Utah to spend the rest of my break at my parent's house in Park City. I love Park City this time of year because the alpine skiing is still awesome, but most of the lower trails dry out enough to mountain bike. You can also easily escape to Southern Utah, and the weather is generally perfect down there. When I got home from NANA, I was maybe the most tired I've ever been in my life. It felt a lot like coming home after finals in college, and I spent some quality time on the couch, enough that I think my parents started to worry about me. However, with enough fun activities to do, my energy started bouncing back.

View from Gooseberry Mesa, outside of Hurricane Utah

Sunsets on the mesa with an awesome crew after a day of
mountain biking (and right before the best fire roasted
sweet potato burritos ever made)

I got to play doggy aunt for a bit with my brother's border collie
mix Marty. He's super energetic and bouncy, and loved frolicking
around in this late season snow
My mom and I also had a four day trip to Florida planned to get in some sun and beach time. The first few days were rainy, but on the last day we had absolutely perfect weather to do some kayaking, snorkeling, and power shopping.

Kayaking from St. Andrew's State Park


Seaside, FL, a little gem of a resort town on the Florida panhandle

Back to Utah, and Heather came through PC on her way to
Truckee, so we of course had to bust out the skinny skis and get up
high

Mountain biking with two of my favs :)
I've been back in Craftsbury for the past few weeks, since we kicked off the official start of training on May 1st. Last season I was really happy with how things went skiing wise, and I had good, solid training year-round for maybe the first time ever. However, I knew I wanted to make a change in my living situation, because after spending four years in the ski house at Craftsbury (usually with 10+ other athletes), I was craving my own space. My teammate Susan, who is a rock-star biathlete, just bought her own place in Craftsbury last summer and was looking to rent out the spare bedroom. She was nice enough to let me be her roommate, and I moved in just a few days after getting to Vermont. She has an awesome lawn and garden with gorgeous views, and I'm absolutely loving the new place.

Other than that, we had a testing week to kick off summer training, which reaffirmed that there is ample work to do this summer. I've been keeping busy between training and work projects, as well as getting in some fun stuff too. The weather theme of the spring so far has been cold and rainy, and I'm eagerly awaiting the start of real summer, so I can pack away my down comforter and get back to running in tank tops. I don't have any training photos, but hopefully I'll get some into my next blog, and in the meantime here's a smattering of life shots from the past few weeks.

The kitchen in my new place, successfully used
so far to bake ample bread and granola. Next up-
I'll be trying my hand at brewing my own
kombucha

Our view from the backyard- Mt. Mansfield looming in the
background

Our window "greenhouse" as of two weeks ago.
So far- tomatoes, cukes, winter squash, onions, basil, and marigolds.
 I'll have to post an updated photo in my next blog as things are
sprouting like crazy

Terrible photo quality, but an awesome time at the barn dance/
library fundraiser in Craftsbury

My trusty Subaru officially became a Vermonter this year,
which may have been a bit overdue, but better late than never!

Getting in lots of puppy time this spring too! Here's Ellie,
Ethan's new pointer/lab mix, hanging out on the porch at the
Outdoor Center

Susan's parents just got a new golden
retriever puppy, Paddington. He decided
he liked using my shirt as a chew toy,
so I'm holding him where he can't bite me!

And of course, I've been back getting my hands dirty
in the Center's gardens, planting kale, swiss chard,
cabbage, and tomatoes so far, more to come soon!


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Quebec City World Cup Finals!

It was an unexpected, but nice surprise when I found out three weeks ago that I had clinched the last Nation’s Group spot for the US for World Cup finals, and would be able to race the three day mini-tour in Quebec to close out the WC season. Enter a flurry of rearranging travel plans, since I would no longer be traveling to OPA Cup Finals in Europe, adjusting my mindset, and of course, last-minute race sharpening, and I was feeling (mostly) ready to go. From what I’ve experienced on the World Cup so far, you’re never really ready. The pace is always furious, the races can be blurs of surges and counter-attacks, tactics, and blow-ups, and of course, there’s the nerve factor of competing on the World’s biggest stage. However, if I waited around for years until I was truly “ready”, I would never make it, so there’s something to be said for getting my feet wet, and I was psyched to have another opportunity to dive in.

Even though I’ve lived in the East for nearly eight years now, before last week I had never been to Quebec City, and only been to the province of Quebec for training camps in Foret and to fly out of the Montreal airport. Being in the city and racing on the Plains of Abraham right next to the Quebec Parliament building was an awesome experience. All of the World Cup teams stayed in the Hilton, a five minute walk from the venue, and also five minutes from the Old Town, the historic center of Quebec City. From a little research I did, I discovered that the Plains of Abraham were the site of a battle during the French and Indian war, but the battle itself lasted less than 30 minutes. This seemed fairly appropriate considering we were slated to race a sprint and two 10k’s, the longest of which would take a little less than half an hour! Let the battle begin.

For these races, the GRP qualified five athletes, a new record for the team! We were very lucky to also have Pepa to coach and Nick to make fast skis for us. Being on the World Cup on your own can be overwhelming, and having familiar faces around really helps (Photo John Lazenby).

Bon apetit! Matcha almond milk lattes in the old city= weird but surprisingly delicious. Thanks to my friend Meghan for letting me photograph your plate, and for being an awesome fan and coffee date last weekend.

Ida modeling proper Skida attire for an afternoon jog- if you don’t have at least 
three flower patterns on, you’re doing it wrong.

You can take the girls out of Craftsbury… #muckbootsinthecity?

Alright, back to the races! In three days we raced a freestyle sprint, a 10k classic mass start, and a 10 freestyle pursuit, with the start order determined by the total time back from the two previous days. The freestyle sprint was a bit of a struggle for me as I remembered how to wake up and race hard. However, I felt really good the next day and was happy to finish 45th in the 10k classic, which is probably my best result in a full (ish) World Cup field. Starting in bib 50 for the pursuit, I battled it out with a group of Americans, Canadians, and some of the World Cup sprinters who started ahead of me, and finished the overall tour in 53rd. My overall feelings from the races were happiness mixed with extreme fatigue, but it’s funny how sometimes you can still find an extra gear, or get into a rhythm even when your body is riding the edge of tiredness.
I think the best part of the whole weekend was competing as part of a huge US group (27 skiers, well 27 who qualified, 25 raced) on North American soil, with so many North American fans! It’s not often that the World Cup comes to the US and people cheer for you by name all around the course, even during your warm-up. I also loved catching up with friends from the circuit and skiing together with Nation’s group skiers from other clubs in the races.

Freestyle sprint qualifier. You can't see the Parliament building, but you can definitely tell that the venue is right in the city! (Photo Gretchen Powers)

Mayhem in the 10k mass start classic. Right about when this photo was taken, there was a massive pile-up in the back of the pack, and I found my ski tips smashing into the boots of the skier in front of me! Luckily I stayed on my feet, and was able to move up, but I never really even saw the front group break away (Photo Gretchen Powers)

Working together with Annika Taylor, who skis for Great Britain. We were college teammates at UNH and it’s so awesome to race with her now on the World Cup (Photo Deb Miller)


Two exciting things about this photo- 1. We were all really happy to have survived a fast and furious 10k classic. 2. Photo-bombed by Marit Bjorgen!! (Photo Gretchen Powers)

Leading a train in the 10k pursuit (Photo Gretchen Powers)

Most of the US women after the tour. Happy to have finished 3 hard days of racing!
With no rest for the weary, I’m now in Fairbanks, Alaska, for SuperTour finals, which start up next week. After that, and a quick trip to NANA nordic, I’m really truly done with the season, and I can’t wait!