Fall in Vermont! It’s a beautiful time of year to be out hitting the pavement and going for long runs through the woods. It reminds me so much of home, when the leaves turn and our driveway turns into a brilliant multicolored tunnel. As a human furnace that is chronically too warm, I’m also pretty happy once the air gets cooler and I can continue training in my shorts and tank top without fear of imminent heatstroke.
This is also the time of year when we start to really ramp up the training. You may have heard before that all the work is done in the summer and fall, and by the time the snow falls it’s really too late for major changes to be made…the hay’s already in the barn, as it were. This is absolutely true for the World Cup skiers. By the time we get to Finland for the opening World Cup weekend, all the hardest work is complete and we can just focus on letting our bodies do what we’ve trained them to do; race! In very general terms, during the spring we worked to build up volume and adjust our technique, in the summer we did long L3 intervals and some time trials to get a big fitness base, and in the fall we start doing a lot of hard, fast L4 intervals. I tend to think of the month of October as a time when our bodies are like spring-loaded traps being compressed. There’s a big training load that we have to absorb, and with the race season right around the corner there’s also a higher psychological pressure. But as we’re wound tighter and tighter we’re also that much closer to being able to let go and get that race bib on!
The end of our Lake Placid Olympic Training Center camp was fantastic. We had a rocking classic sprint time trial, round-robin style so that everyone skied the qualifier, quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds. Afterwards I was looking for a little more fast-twitch practice so I did a bonus round, then another! We took my time for every round, and the deal was that as long as I stayed within a second of the qualifier round at the start of the time trial, I could keep going. I was a happy but tired and worn out little person at the end of it all.
Our over-distance workout to end the camp was a spectacular 3:45 hour run through the Adirondack Mountains. We did a loop around Avalanche lake, which happens to be one of my favorite runs because of the narrow boardwalk that hugs the rock face on the edge of the water. Every year I keep waiting for one of the boards to snap because some of the ladders are so old, but they always hold up! I’m also waiting to see Harrison Ford in full Indiana Jones gear swing out on a vine over the water and scale the cliff, but we don’t always get what we expect, do we?
Then it was time to drive back to Stratton! It’s important to train well, train smart and train hard, and we did just that during our week long camp. But it’s equally important to give our bodies time to recover afterwards! This is such a simple, yet important concept that took me a minute to grasp…and years to actually execute. I still struggle with it. I’m your typical “try hard girl”; someone who, left to their my devices, would train myself into the ground because no matter how many scientific studies and ski related articles I read, my instinct is to push it and train harder anyways. One of my biggest goals for the year was to actually do LESS, believe it or not. So, with that in mind, I came back to Stratton ready for some smart recovery workouts but mostly to let all the hard work sink in!
During this week we all got to experience one of Erika’s favorite things…apple picking! We also gave ourselves some massive stomach aches from testing out every apple tree in the place.
If you know me at all, you’re probably aware that one of my biggest regrets in life, is
wearing overalls to school every day of second grade ending dance lessons too early. I miss it. So when Annie P. approached me asking for help choreographing her now-annual fundraising dance, I jumped for joy. Literally. I did my happy dance.
What’s this fundraising dance, you ask? Well! Let me tell you. Last year, during fall fundraising (all skiers I know have fundraising events in the fall…it’s part of what brings the snow) Annie promised that she would do something to embarrass herself if she reached her goals. There was an online poll, and a dance video won. So in every country she traveled to, Annie recorded a dance that I had made up for her, and she spliced it all together in a video that went viral at Middlebury. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvqhBYIbQq4
So after scouring the internet for inspiration (watch out – once you go down the youtube rabbit hole of dance videos you may never get out) I pieced together a hip-hop dance video. And we began the dance lessons. If she reaches her goal, we will give a live performance at spring series. I might have just made that up, but now it’s on the internet so it’s forever, and we’ll have to uphold it.
This week, we had our annual super-ski! Unlike past years, we didn’t set a goal for 100 kilometers because unfortunately, with the timing of various camps, we didn’t want to dig ourselves into a hole. But we DID ski around 60km, through rain, fog, and some weirdly hazy sunshine!
One important part of being a full-time athlete is finding the balance between having a life and some personal time to do whatever makes you feel happy and content, and managing your training load and recovery time. Starting May 1st, I don’t really get “days off”. I mean, we have a day off every week where we don’t train, but you never get to clock out. Everything I do has an effect on my training and eventually my racing, so there’s some sacrifices to be made when it comes to doing what I know is best for my career. I’ve missed multiple family vacations for training camps. I never got to experience going through University with my buddies from high school. And if I had, I would have been a drag anyways because I go to bed by 9:30pm most nights! Things most 24 year olds take for granted, like going to parties and drinking beer whenever they’d like, are once-in-a-while treats for me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way – I am in love with my job and every choice I’ve made I would do over again in a heartbeat. Every once in a while, though, I just need to do what makes me happy, because I love skiing way to much to ever let it burn me out!
With that in mind, I went to Boston for a fun two day trip this past week. The USSA New England Snow Ball was happening Thursday night, and it’s a huge fundraiser for the US Ski Team. There are a number of Snow Balls across the country every year – one in Boston, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. It was a wonderful event, and I’d like to say a special thank you to all the fans and friends of the ski team who came out to show their support that night! We met our fundraising goal, which will go a long ways towards training and travel expenses for this upcoming season. What I think is so cool about seeing people support the team every year is that we’re one of the only countries in the World that receives exactly zero government funding for sports. So it’s Americans (and fans of the US team from other countries) supporting us out there. When I race on the biggest stage in the world with the US flag all over my suit, it’s because of people back home that I can be there representing our country. That gets me fired up!
Annie P. and I drove to Boston a day early, and while she visited friends in the area, I got a tour of the city from my Snow Ball date, Wade. We went on a running tour (just because I’m on a two day vacation doesn’t mean I’m not training!) and spent the afternoon seeing some of the famous sights. It was a really fun trip and went a long way in balancing the skiing-all-day-every-day side of me and my and general happiness.
That’s my fall update! Which brings me to now. More specifically, the Atlanta Airport. I’m in transit to our next US Team camp in Park City, and I’m excited to be out West again and to soak up some Vitamin D before the winter begins. I’m sad to be leaving Vermont for the year, though. It’s been a great summer training season and I really like our summer training sessions with the SMS juniors, as well as living in the house on the mountain with my SMST2 teammates. I’ll leave you with my last impressions of Vermont…beautiful and on fire with the changing leaves!