Fun things and painful things that are happening out East. Right now.

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.

One of the perks of training camp is that you're never training alone...(USSA photo)

One of the perks of training camp is that you’re never training alone…(USSA photo)

We've been doing a lot of swimming in the lake lately!

We’ve been doing a lot of swimming in the lake lately!

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.

Annie got clever with taking post-workout food to-go!

Annie got clever with taking post-workout food to-go!

Starting a classic sprint time trial at the jumping complex. So much pain, so much technical and tactical gain! (USSA photo)

Starting a classic sprint time trial at the jumping complex. So much pain, so much technical and tactical gain! (USSA photo)

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!

Matt running alongside our uphill skating intensity session, helping with technique and cheering us on! (Pat O'Brien photo)

Matt running alongside our uphill skating intensity session, helping with technique and cheering us on! (Pat O’Brien photo)

Girls rounding the corner during our sprint simulation. Skiing in packs is something I always need to work on! (USSA photo)

Girls rounding the corner during our sprint simulation. Skiing in packs is something I always need to work on! (USSA photo)

Ida and I working on our reaction time and spatial awareness. Ok, ok, we were just having a grand time on the playground.

Ida and I working on our reaction time and spatial awareness. Ok, ok, we were just having a grand time on the playground.

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.

Apparently, this is what post-interval snack-time looks like when it's your birthday! (photo by Erika)

Apparently, this is what post-interval snack-time looks like when it’s your birthday! (photo by Erika)

Erika, Katherine, Liz and Anne all cramming in the car so we could go into town!

Erika, Katherine, Liz and Anne all cramming in the car so we could go into town!

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!

Annie P., Anne H., Me, Paige and Katherine on top of Mt. Marcy. Beauty views, eh? (photo by Anne H)

Annie P., Anne H., Me, Paige and Katherine on top of Mt. Marcy in 40mph wind. Beauty views, eh? (photo by Anne H)

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22 reasons you need a team

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?

Annie turned 22 last week!

Annie turned 22 last week!

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!

Doing sprint starts with the SMST2 team (photo from Pat)

Doing sprint starts with the SMST2 team (photo from Pat)

Learning agility from Andy (photo from Matt Whitcomb)

Learning agility from Andy (photo from Matt Whitcomb) 

3. Because cooking for one sucks.

Packer carving the turkey at one of our team Thanksgiving parties

Packer carving the turkey at one of our team Thanksgiving parties

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!

Andy serenading Sylvan when he got sick

Andy serenading Sylvan when he got sick

5. Because then you have other people to blame when the van smells like dirty boots…it’s not just you!

On our way to surf in Maine...first year of SMST2 team

On our way to surf in Maine…first year of SMST2 team

Soooo....who's turn was it to clean the room again? (Ida and I in the famous OTC in Lake Placid)

Soooo….who’s turn was it to clean the room again? (Ida and I in the famous OTC in Lake Placid)

6. You have a reason bigger than yourself to push hard and race fast for.

Our first relay team podium, in Gallivare (photo by USSA)

Our first relay team podium, in Gallivare (photo by USSA)

7. You have other people’s successes to celebrate alongside your own, because you helped them train and they helped you achieve your goals.

Jumping for joy (and Sophie's Birthday) at Spring Series

Jumping for joy (and Sophie’s Birthday) at Spring Series (photo by Fasterskier)

Kik and I after the 2013 WC Team Sprint (photo by USSA)

Kik and I after the 2013 WC Team Sprint (photo by USSA)

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.

Liz and I at the top of Alpe Cermis after the 2014 Tour de Ski

Liz and I at the top of Alpe Cermis after the 2014 Tour de Ski

Ida, Sadie and Sophie celebrate a loooooong uphill ski with a treat!

Ida, Sadie and Sophie celebrate a loooooong uphill ski with a treat!

Going on a cold windy run together in Oberhof, Germany last winter

Going on a cold windy run together in Oberhof, Germany last winter

9. Teammates will always come up with funny ideas and things to keep you guessing.

Packer and Liz making 3D models of their feet (photo by Packer)

Packer and Liz making 3D models of their feet (photo by Packer)

Skyler and Eric doing "that girly jumpy photo thing" in Quebec

Skyler and Eric doing “that girly jumpy photo thing” in Quebec

10. They make being away from home and on the road for months at a time an epic, fun adventure.

"Christmas orphans" gift party in Davos last year

“Christmas orphans” gift party in Davos last year

Road trip to daily training in Oslo!

Road trip to daily training in Oslo!

11. They spot you when you need money for impulse-buy chili dogs.

Ben visiting the famous roadside stand near Windham, VT

Ben visiting the famous roadside stand near Windham, VT

12. It’s more fun organizing community events when there’s a lot of people to help you run them!

Fast and Female team for the August event in Stratton (photo from Lilly Caldwell)

Fast and Female team for the August event in Stratton (photo from Lilly Caldwell)

13. What’s the point in having a sweet, totally sick suit if you’re the only one wearing it?

Team cheer before the 2014 Spring Series (photo by Rob Whitney)

Team cheer before the 2014 Spring Series (photo by Rob Whitney)

14. They pick you up when you need it. Sometimes, they literally hold you up.

Finishing the team relay at 2014 Spring Nationals (photo from Annie P.)

Finishing the team relay at 2014 Spring Nationals (photo from Annie P.)

15. Let’s be honest…nobody ice-tubs by themselves

Kikkan and Liz rock-paper-scissors over who has to get in the cold tub first

Kikkan and Liz rock-paper-scissors over who has to get in the cold tub first

16. They support you when you feel the need to do some dorky stuff

Ben's fabulous 4th of July getup

Ben’s fabulous 4th of July getup

Valentines Day ski outfit (photo from Kikkan)

Valentines Day ski outfit (photo from Kikkan)

17. They get you places

Ok, so usually it's our awesome coaches and wax techs driving the vans...(photo from Sophie)

Ok, so usually it’s our awesome coaches and wax techs driving the vans…(photo from Sophie)

Fish and Randy getting ready to drive our big cargo van full of skis and bags!

Fish and Randy getting ready to drive our big cargo van full of skis and bags!

18. They always keep you laughing

Best van ride ever...Tour de Ski 2013 (photo from Holly)

Best van ride ever…Tour de Ski 2013 (photo from Holly)

Grover (photo from Chris Grover)

Grover (photo from Chris Grover)

19. They are your family

My first Christmas away from home...before my first Tour de Ski with the team!

My first Christmas away from home…before my first Tour de Ski with the team!

True families photo-bomb each other

True families photo-bomb each other

20. Nobody can do this by themselves

Cork and Zach waxing at 2013 World Champs (USSA photo)

Cork and Zach waxing at 2013 World Champs (USSA photo)

Matt risking the health of his lungs for us at the Olympics (Caldwell photo)

Matt risking the health of his lungs for us at the Olympics (Caldwell photo)

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.

Holly out cheering at World Champs in Italy (Caldwell photo)

Holly out cheering at World Champs in Italy (Caldwell photo)

22. Because without these guys to keep us in line we’d probably go crazy!

Matt and Cork (although Grover and Fish and Pat are included in this general theme)

Matt and Cork (although Grover and Fish and Pat are included in this general theme) (selfie from Matt)

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All the small things

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.

Beautiful sunny skiing!

Beautiful sunny skiing! (photo from Pat O’Brien)

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.

And then there are the days we get rained on during long runs!

And then there are the days we get rained on during long runs!

We make the most of it though...puddle jumping when it's soggy outside!

We make the most of it though…puddle jumping when it’s soggy outside! (photo by Annie)

And of course there's always time to warm up by the fire afterwards

And of course there’s always time to warm up by the fire afterwards

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.

Q&A time with the Stratton Junior camp!

Q&A time with the Stratton Junior camp! (photo by Pat)

Simi leads a smaller guys group in some more Q&A

Simi leads a smaller guys group in some more Q&A (photo by Lilly)

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!

Girls group warming up with Pat taking video on the bike (photo by Lilly)

Girls group warming up with Pat taking video on the bike (photo by Lilly)

Our SMST2 guys and the Canadian guys mixing it up in a sprint (photo by Lilly)

Our SMST2 guys and the Canadian guys mixing it up in a sprint (photo by Lilly)

SMS Juniors lining the side of the road at BMD. Best interval cheerleaders ever!

SMS Juniors lining the side of the road at BMD. Best interval cheerleaders ever! (photo by Lilly)

Signing the camp t-shirts on the last day! (photo by Pat)

Signing the camp t-shirts on the last day! (photo by Pat)

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).

Still-frame from our video feedback from intervals last week.

Still-frame from our video feedback from intervals last week.

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!

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The last 2 weeks in photos (ok, some words too)

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!

Field games! So much fun on a hot day.

Field games! So much fun on a hot day. (photos from Erika)

Here’s a video that Annie Pokorny edited from the event! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0WlbiJ1qZ4

Teamwork was the theme of the day

Teamwork was the theme of the day (photos from Erika and Annie)

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.

 

The whole crew! (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

The whole crew! (photo by Lilly Caldwell)

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.

Partner stretching during yoga (photo by Lilly)

Partner stretching during yoga (photo by Lilly)

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.

Upward dog! (photo by Liz Arky)

Upward dog! (photo by Liz Arky)

Thanks to Tracy Black, our yoga instructor for the day! (photo by Lilly)

Thanks to Tracy Black, our yoga instructor for the day! (photo by Lilly)

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!

Kickball with a slip n slide? Game on! (photo by Lilly)

Kickball with a slip n slide? Game on! (photo by Lilly)

Home run! (photo by Lilly)

Home run! (photo by Lilly)

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.

Teamwork and strategy to complete the spiderweb challenge. (photo by Lilly)

Teamwork and strategy to complete the spiderweb challenge. (photo by Lilly)

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.

One of the pyramids (photo by Lilly)

One of the pyramids (photo by Lilly)

The human knot! De-tangling is hard....(photo by Lilly)

The human knot! De-tangling is hard….(photo by Lilly)

Soaked after the waterside, but happy! (photo by Erika)

Soaked after the waterside, but happy! (photo by Erika)

Once the games were finished, we went inside for snacks generously donated by JJ Hapgood’s General Store (Peru, VT).

Thanks Hapgood's for the great snacks! (photo by Lilly)

Thanks Hapgood’s for the great snacks! (photo by Lilly)

 

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.

Inspirational stories from our ambassadors (photo by Lilly)

Inspirational stories from our ambassadors (photo by Lilly)

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.

Checking out their autographed posters...(photo by Lilly)

Checking out their autographed posters…(photo by Lilly)

Age 22...going on 12! I found my twin! (photo by Lilly)

Age 22…going on 12! I found my twin! (photo by Lilly)

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.

Unfortunately, we're missing Alex Cobb in this photo! From left: Tegan, Pippin, Ana and Mackenzie (photo by Lilly)

Unfortunately, we’re missing Alex Cobb in this photo! From left: Tegan, Pippin, Ana and Mackenzie (photo by Lilly)

The older ambassador girls: Ida, Liz, Cambria, Erika, Caitlin, Jessie, Sophie, Anne and Annie (photo by Lilly)

The older ambassador girls: Ida, Liz, Cambria, Erika, Caitlin, Jessie, Sophie, Anne and Annie (photo by Lilly)

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.

High-fives all around! (photo by Lilly)

High-fives all around! (photo by Lilly)

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!

To me, this is one of the most beautiful views and relaxing places on earth.

To me, this is one of the most beautiful and relaxing places on earth.

You can't go wrong with a little lakeside yoga!

You can’t go wrong with a little lakeside yoga!

We also did a lot of camp chores, like helping to rebuild the deck, painting and clearing the roof!

We also did a lot of camp chores, like helping to rebuild the deck, painting and clearing the roof!

My sister and I went kayaking and did a little rock climbing

My sister and I went kayaking and did a little rock climbing along the quarry

A view of the camp from the lake

A view of the camp from the lake

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.

My favorite kind of trail to run on

My favorite kind of trail to run on

My Mom, Dad, sister and dog out on a hike!

My Mom, Dad, sister and dog out on a hike!

The famous "Sea Lion" rock formation out on the Sibley Penninsula

The famous “Sea Lion” rock formation out on the Sibley Penninsula

Our little friend the bear let us watch him eat berries from only 20 feet away!

Our little friend the bear let us watch him eat berries from only 20 feet away!

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.

A lovely dinner on the beach! (photo by Blair Murdoch)

A lovely dinner on the beach! (photo by Blair Murdoch)

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!

The Winona Nordic Ski Club (photo by Heidi Wisniewski)

The Winona Nordic Ski Club (photo by Heidi Wisniewski)

Doing pushups at the start of our sprints..."silly starts" are the best (and funniest)! (photo by Heidi Wisniewski)

Doing pushups at the start of our sprints…”silly starts” are the best (and funniest)! (photo by Heidi Wisniewski)

We also did a lot of obstacle courses and slalom around cones! (photo by Heidi Wisniewski)

We also did a lot of obstacle courses and slalom around cones! (photo by Heidi Wisniewski)

 

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Post Glacier training

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!

Celine, me, Sadie and Sophie. We were so lucky to have Celine join us this year! (photo by Matt Whitcomb)

Celine, me, Sadie and Sophie. We were so lucky to have Celine join us this year! (photo by Matt Whitcomb)

The morning we left for the glacier, we found a Momma moose and two babies in our backyard!

The morning we left for the glacier, we found a Momma moose and two babies in our backyard!

Me, trying to prove that I could definitely defend us from bears with an ice ax. (photo by Zuzana)

Me, trying to prove that I could definitely defend us from bears with an ice ax. (photo by Zuzana)

The week of training up on the glacier was amazing. AMAZING, I TELL YOU!

Loading up the helicopter for the trip up to Eagle. Thanks Alaska Air for flying us!

Loading up the helicopter for the trip up to Eagle. Thanks Alaska Air for flying us!

The girls camp crew! (photo by Matt Whitcomb)

The girls camp crew! (photo from Matt Whitcomb)

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.

Liz, Zuzana and me (photo from Zuzana)

Liz, Zuzana and me (photo from Zuzana)

 

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. :)

Skiing out from the stadium (photo by Zuzana)

Skiing out from the stadium (photo by Zuzana)

 

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!

Our last morning's ski in the rain! (photo by Matt Whitcomb)

Our last morning’s ski in the rain! (photo by Matt Whitcomb)

 

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).

Doing a little afternoon strength at the training center (photo by Zuzana)

Doing a little afternoon strength at the training center (photo by Zuzana)

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.

Training in the fog (photo by Zuzana)

Training in the fog (photo by Zuzana)

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!

The SMST2 girls loving the glacier! Soph, Erika and me (photo from Sophie)

The SMST2 girls loving the glacier! Soph, Erika and me (photo from Sophie)

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.

Holly posing with our pile of goodies! Everyone brought up a secret ingredient or spice to "spice up" camp!

Holly posing with our pile of goodies! Everyone brought up a secret ingredient or spice to “spice up” camp!

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.

The "wall of fame" in the training center on the glacier!  Each camp signs their names

The “wall of fame” in the training center on the glacier! Each camp signs their names

Riding the piston bully partway down the glacier to meet the helicopter

Riding the piston bully partway down the glacier to meet the helicopter

Found this bike leaning against the airplane hanger...

Found this bike leaning against the helicopter hanger…

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.

Me, Erika and Sophie on a hike with the rest of the girls after coming down from the glacier! (photo from Erika)

Me, Erika and Sophie on a hike with the rest of the girls after coming down from the glacier! (photo from Erika)

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!

Mackenzie, me and my Dad out on the St. Croix river (Mom took the photo)

Mackenzie, me and my Dad out on the St. Croix river (Mom took the photo)

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!

Mackenzie practicing her waterskiing! She's getting really good!

Mackenzie practicing her waterskiing! She’s getting really good!

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!

Mackenzie and I playing dress up with our Meme's closet!

Mackenzie and I playing dress up with our Meme’s closet!

 

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!

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A whole lot of adventuring plus a quick trip to the ER

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!

Swimming in the salty ocean around 9 pm...and its still so light out!

Swimming in the salty ocean around 9 pm…and its still so light out!

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.

It's pretty fun to see how dramatic the tide changes are

It’s pretty fun to see how dramatic the tide changes are

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.

Roasting up some s'mores

Roasting up some s’mores

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!

Don and Jack soaking up the sun in Halibut Cove

Don and Jack soaking up the sun in Halibut Cove

Some of the highlights were kayaking, swimming and having a bonfire on the beach every night.

Pretty sure this ranks as one of the most peaceful and beautiful places I've ever been.

Pretty sure this ranks as one of the most peaceful and beautiful places I’ve ever been.

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.

Early morning sunshine on the beach "runway"!

Early morning sunshine on the beach “runway”!

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.

Austin, our awesome pilot, and Grace up in the front!

Austin, our awesome pilot, and Grace up in the front!

I love how green everything is!

I love how green everything is!

Someday I want to climb this and go for an epic ridge run

Someday I want to climb this and go for an epic ridge run

It was fun to see the mountains poking up through the clouds

It was fun to see the mountains poking up through the clouds

Looking down on Turnagain Arm at low tide

Looking down on Turnagain Arm at low tide

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.

Celine enjoying the first live band of the day at the Forest Fair!

Celine enjoying the first live band of the day at the Forest Fair!

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.

Pre-stitches bloody hole in my knee. Yum.

Pre-stitches bloody hole in my knee. Yum.

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.

This is the part that actually did hurt. Pushing the numbing solution into my knee.

This is the part that actually did hurt. Pushing the numbing solution into my knee.

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.

Ta-da! All stitched up. Thanks to Liz for all the knee photos!

Ta-da! All stitched up. Thanks to Liz for all the knee photos!

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!

Liz cooking up some delicious homemade corn tortillas!

Liz cooking up some delicious homemade corn tortillas!

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.

Erika trying on Eric's feet for size...

Erika trying on Eric’s feet for size…

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!

Momma bear digging some old fish out of the ski house trash. This was around 10:30 at night!

Momma bear digging some old fish out of the ski house trash. This was around 10:30 at night!

 

Momma bear leaving the campus scene with her fish and her cubs.

Momma bear leaving the campus scene with her fish and her cubs.

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!

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Popcorn cakes, friends and monday night beat-boxing

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!

Leroy being adorable.

Leroy being adorable.

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.

When you're about to turn 21, you should probably celebrate it with chili dogs post-workout!

When you’re about to turn 21, you should probably celebrate it with chili dogs post-workout!

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!

Getting one last big hug before Maddy finishes up school!

Getting one last big hug before Maddy finishes up school!

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!

Taking a plunge into Pikes Falls to cool down after a run! (photo by Annie P.)

Taking a plunge into Pikes Falls to cool down after a run! (photo by Annie P.)

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.

Speed day! (photo from Sverre Caldwell)

Speed day! (photo from Sverre Caldwell)

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!

Doing some bounding intervals on the ski trails next to the school (photo from Izzy Caldwell)

Doing some bounding intervals on the ski trails next to the school (photo from Izzy Caldwell)

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Riding the line

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!

Iz and Dave at the pond

Iz and Dave at the pond

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!

Warming up in front of the gym before strength with the SMS juniors (photo by Sverre Caldwell)

Warming up in front of the gym before strength with the SMS juniors (photo by Sverre Caldwell)

 

Our long distance session last week ended at Little Rock Pond, where there’s some great 30-ish ft cliffs to jump off of.

Finally! A chance to cool off after a long ski/run combo (photo by Ian Torchilla)

Finally! A chance to cool off after a long ski/run combo (photo by Ian Torchilla)

We also checked out Wanderlust, a yoga festival that comes to Stratton Mountain every year. The people watching was fabulous.

Well gosh, isn't that just creative!

Well gosh, isn’t that just creative!

The Lululemon tent had a crazy nice lounging area

The Lululemon tent had a crazy nice lounging area

There was a lot of yoga going on, and a lot of booths selling everything from extra filtered water to high end yoga clothes.

Diving into the pond (photo by Sophie Caldwell)

Diving into the pond (photo by Sophie Caldwell)

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!

Soph watches as Simi does a front flip

Soph watches as Simi does a front flip

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.

"Where did we go wrong?? why?" Anne bemoans the fate of the zucchini cake

“Where did we go wrong?? why?” Anne bemoans the fate of the zucchini cake

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

Lemon balm bars! I was actually quite proud of this shot.

Lemon balm bars! I was actually quite proud of this shot.

 

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The must-do’s of a Vermont summer

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!

The Summit Sisters hiking group at the top of Styles Peak

The Summit Sisters hiking group at the top of Styles Peak

Hiking is very serious business...sort of...

Hiking is very serious business…sort of…

 

These little newts are everywhere!

These little newts are everywhere!

 

The top of Styles!

The top of Styles!

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.

The trails are incredibly, impossibly green!

The trails are incredibly, impossibly green!

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.

The crew last summer at the snowmaking pond: Chase, Erik, Ben, Andy and Erika

The crew last summer at the snowmaking pond: Chase, Erik, Ben, Andy and Erika

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

Warning: you will get muddy when running on the east coast in the fall

Warning: you will get muddy when running on the east coast in the fall

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.

The Londonderry 4th of July Parade

The Londonderry 4th of July Parade

10. Last but not least…jump in for a workout with the SMST2 team, of course! (you saw that one coming, right?)

SMST2 training with the SMS juniors at the school (photo by Sverre Caldwell)

SMST2 training with the SMS juniors at the school (photo by Sverre Caldwell)

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SMST2 team 3.0

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/

Our lovely quote of the day message board

Our lovely quote of the day message board

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!

Annie, Simi and Sophie dishing up dinner. I love our family meal time!

Annie, Simi and Sophie dishing up dinner. I love our family meal time!

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.

Ben setting the chill vibes for the morning training session

Ben setting the chill vibes for the morning training session

Andy showing us some style while skating backwards

Andy showing us some style while skating backwards

Ben, Soph, Me and Simi picking up fresh good food from the Earth Sky Time CSA

Ben, Soph, Me and Simi picking up fresh good food from the Earth Sky Time CSA

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.

The start of our uphill running TT - a tough workout but more fun to run with others! (photo by Sverre Caldwell)

The start of our uphill running TT – a tough workout but more fun to run with others! (photo by Sverre Caldwell)

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.

Everyone getting the workout outline from the coaches: 3-6x8min L3 double poling, jump in behind the older kids whenever possible! (photo by Sverre Caldwell)

Everyone getting the workout outline from the coaches: 3-6x8min L3 double poling, jump in behind the older kids whenever possible! (photo by Sverre Caldwell)

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.

Starting up an interval: me, Annie P. Anne H, Erika, Katherine, and Sophie skating it out (broken elbow still healing!) Photo by Sverre Caldwell

Starting up an interval: me, Annie P. Anne H, Erika, Katherine, and Sophie skating it out (broken elbow still healing!) Photo by Sverre Caldwell

Simi, Ben and Koby rounding the corner to start the uphill part of their interval (photo by Sverre Caldwell)

Simi, Ben and Koby rounding the corner to start the uphill part of their interval (photo by Sverre Caldwell)

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!

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