Thursday, August 27, 2015

Norway Summer Camp

It's unclear what the exact number of spectators was for our final roller ski race in Norway, but I've heard guesses that range from 30,000 to 50,000 people. Yesterday we got an email from the race organizer that said 50% of all TV viewers in Norway chose to watch that final race. This is cross country skiing we're talking about. Actually, it's not even cross country skiing, it's off season roller ski races and half of the nation's TV viewers chose to tune into it on their Saturday afternoon. I'll talk about the training and roller ski racing in a minute, but personally, the biggest take away for me was how much of an eye opening experience this camp was. So thank you to the Toppidrettsveka organizers for including us and making this trip possible.

Posing with our "We Love Aure" signs on our off day fishing excursion
The number of spectators was not the only eye opening thing about this camp. The respect we encountered while training was something I had never experienced before. I'm a big advocate for safety while roller skiing. It bothers me when people don't wear helmets and I try to wear bright clothing whenever possible. Cars are generally a lot bigger than we are, so I try my hardest not to get in their way, but on the roads in Norway, the traffic catered to our needs. They didn't expect us to pull over when they passed. If they honked, it was a honk of approval instead of frustration, and when they decided to slow down and follow us for awhile, it was because they were genuinely curious and excited about what we were doing.
Skate speeds with the girls (Matt Whitcomb photo)

Distance double pole ski (Matt Whticomb photo)

Cooling down from speeds with Jessie (Noah photo)

Practicing transitions before the races (Matt Whitcomb photo)
The final take away from this camp was the reminder that Norwegians are fast. Really fast. We did quite well as a team in the races. I think each person had some highs and some lows, but we came away with two podiums, several top 10s, and a lot of strong solid race efforts. The highlights for me were the classic sprint where I ended up 5th, and the final 15k classic pursuit, where I was able to ski with a big pack for the majority of the race. We did four races in three days that consisted of a 5k uphill running race, a classic sprint, a 15k skiathlon, and a 15k classic pursuit. This was probably the most racing I've ever done in such a condensed period of time. It's easy to fall into a more laid back routine of summer training, and I think it was really beneficial to put on a race bib and do some races against a World Cup caliber field. We came away from the camp knowing what our strengths are, and more importantly what our weaknesses are and we're left with just under three months to work on them before the World Cup season begins.
Jumping for joy after some bog running with Kik and Jess

Scouting for fishies with Jessie

Liz on the podium for the uphill run!

The USST gals on top of the mtn after the uphill run (Matt Whitcomb photo)

Thumbs up after my classic sprint (Caitlin photo)

Oh! One more highlight was racing to the line with Petter Northug in the uphill run. I didn't realize it was him at the time, but Matt captured this moment and it's probably one of my biggest achievements to date :)

Brown cheese!

Racing with Jessie in downtown Trondheim

A group run in Trondheim led by Conor Bolger after the races

Goodbye Norway! (Simi photo)
Now it's time for a week of recovery. I'll be spending this week in Colorado with Simi before heading back to VT for September. I'm looking forward to some mountain adventures and a lot of resting. That's all for now!
Taking Jenny and James' kitten for a little bike ride 
Running under some smoky, but still beautiful Colorado skies 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Quick Trip Home

Between our training camp in New Zealand and our training camp in Norway (where we are now!), I had just under two weeks of time at home, in Vermont. As far as jet lag goes, I had no idea what to expect when I returned home. I had heard a handful of jet lag horror stories about returning from New Zealand, so I arrived home expecting to be messsssed up. I won't say I was fine, but I don't have any horror stories. I think I basically walked around like a bit of a zombie for a week or so and my sleep schedule was the opposite of what I expected it to be, but somewhere in there, I think I recovered. With such a short period of time between training camps and a travel schedule that consisted of basically flying around the world within two weeks, I had one goal while I was home: to recover. I tried to be smart about training and in this case, that meant doing close to nothing. The first week I was home, my training consisted of playing with my sister. I hadn't seen her since early June, so we went for some walks, tried going for a couple runs (one that turned into a walk when I got to the bottom of the driveway), did some yoga, tried to stay awake during the day, and ate a lot of blueberries.

A walk home from yoga with some sunflowers for Lil Mama
Summit Sisters hike up Bromley

Great group of girls on top of Bromley

Rock Art on the AT

Little Rock pond on a beautiful day

Posing on top of the cliff jump with my cousin, Alexa

Riding down the alpine slide with Jessie and Annie (Jessie photo)

The second week I was home, I slowly started to get back into the groove with training. I was feeling pretty good, but I wanted to feel really good by the time I arrived in Norway, so this still meant cutting some workouts short, starting an interval session only to stop it early, and taking an extra off day here and there. Luckily, there were a lot of other activities going on while I was home that kept me occupied while I was resting. The annual SMS camps were happening last week, so the SMS T2 team jumped in a bunch of easier workouts with the kids, gave some talks, and enjoyed a few meals with the youngsters. I wasn't there at bedtime, but from what I could tell this was the best behaved and most motivated group I've ever seen at the SMS camps!
Some of the girls at the BKL camp showing off their growing muscles

Agility workout with the girls

Signing camp T shirts

Happy campers!

Posing with Francesca, who won one of my old jackets for winning the name game!
The most exciting event that took place while I was home was the wedding of one of my best friends, Mae Foster (now Hickory). Mae has been a friend of mine for as long as I can remember and everything came together for a beautiful wedding weekend in southern Vermont. We had a blast setting everything up for the wedding and then having so many of our best friends in one place to celebrate. Congrats Mae and Ben Hickory!
Wedding setup at the Ben and Mae barn with Anya, Mae, and Ellery

Collecting flowers the day before the wedding with Ellery

Bridesmaids selfie at the rehearsal dinner

Couple of my favorites on wedding night

Happy to see my cousin Anya

The wedding party and the beautiful bride and groom

Playing with the Foster cows (and Anya and Ellery)

My handsome wedding date
The day after the wedding, I did some last minute packing and then hopped on a plane to Norway. It was a fairly easy travel day and we jumped right back into camp mode when we arrived. We can rollerski out our doors and each day we ski by the beautiful fjords and lakes surrounding the area. I'm loving being back with some of my teammates who I haven't seen since June and I'm looking forward to a productive camp the next couple weeks. More from Norway coming soon!
Skiing with some cows on the roads of Norway (Kik photo)

Just hangin with Jess after a strength session (Kik photo)

Loving our Craft and L.L. Bean summer gear (Jess photo)

And of course the beautiful roads too! (Matt photo)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Can't Stop, Will Stop

While I love my job as a ski racer, I still have mornings when I don't want to get out of bed and workouts I dread or would rather just skip. I feel very lucky to be doing what I'm doing right now, and a camp like New Zealand confirms my love for skiing over and over and over again. It's inevitable to have those days when you wake up to pouring rain and have to drag yourself out of bed to go roller ski, but in New Zealand I was having the opposite problem. Well, I think calling it a problem is a stretch. I was so excited to get up and go skiing each morning that it was hard to stop. Finding the balance between these two extremes is important because it's easy to under do it when you don't want to get out of bed, and it's easy to overdo it when you can't wait to get outside to ski each day.
Let us go ski!

Between the time change, our fresh legs, and the excitement of being on snow again, the first week in New Zealand I was waking up early each day and couldn't wait to get on snow. I was following my training plan by going easy, but it was very difficult for me to stop each session after the designated one to two hours written on my training plan. I'm someone who prefers to train based on how I feel versus how many hours I have written in my plan, but this was a long camp, so even though I was feeling great, I tried to stop skiing when I was supposed to.

Skiing with Matt around "The Loop"

Morning ski with Sim up by the Bob Lee Hut

The gals sporting our Friends of Liz Skida hats (Simi photo)

A "family" ski one afternoon (Simi photo)

One of my favorite skis of the camp with Jessie
By the second week of camp, I was glad I had followed my plan because a case of the tireds was beginning to kick in. I don't think it's a bad thing to be tired at the end of a big training camp. In fact, it's probably just the opposite. The goal of a camp is to put your body under a heavy training load and then to let it recover and bounce back even stronger than before. The tricky part of this formula is not allowing yourself to get so tired that you dig yourself into a hole. I know I'm someone who can get tired pretty easily, so when the tiredness started to set in, I was just a little more careful. I didn't try to push through the tired and pretend it didn't exist. Instead, with the help of our coaches, I tried to monitor the tired and make sure it didn't get worse. The good thing was that I was still eager to get out of bed and go ski each day. It just meant that I needed an extra cup of coffee, needed to trade an interval session for an easy distance session, and that I needed to cut a couple workouts short even if I didn't want to. But it also meant that I came out of the camp really freaking tired, but not buried-in-the-bottom-of-a-deep-dark-cave-at-the-bottom-of-the-ocean-tired.
Skiing into the sunrise with Matt, Paddy, and Sim (Simi photo)

Sunset ski with Matt and Jessie (Ida photo)

A final moment on The Loop before hopping on the plane 
This camp reminded me of all the reasons I love skiing. It also reminded me that more isn't always better, but being smart about training is almost always better. The three weeks of excitedly lying in bed each morning until I was allowed to get up and go ski will carry me through any more rainy mornings or grueling strength sessions that I struggle to get motivated for this summer. Not wanting to stop is a better feeling than not wanting to start, but knowing when it's time to start training and knowing when it's time to stop training are equally as important. So with that, it's time to go home. 'Till next time, New Zealand!
Sunrise ski the morning before catching our flight (Simi photo)

Simi photo

One of the more beautiful evening skis we went on (Noah photo)

Good company makes for good skiing (Noah photo)
Cheers! (Anouk photo)