Tuesday, April 30, 2013

USST Nomination and Trip to Asheville

A couple weeks ago I found out I've been nominated to the US Ski Team! I'm really excited to be joining such a strong group and have been beginning to plan out my training year. I guess the training season officially started yesterday - time flies! I just returned from a trip to Asheville, North Carolina to visit my cousin Alexa. She works at Asheville School and it was fun to see her in her element and experience a bit of the South. Asheville is pretty unique in the sense that it doesn't really have the stereotypical southern feel. From what I experienced, it's a little liberal pocket that is a mix of Colorado and Vermont with a southern twist. I liked it! We went on some beautiful hikes and runs and had some tastes of what Asheville is known for - food and beer. It was a blast, but following my cousin Alexa around feels like a full time job so I was pretty tired when I got home. I also made the not-so-smart mistake of going for a long paved road run with my sister and Annie, who are training for a marathon, the other week when I hadn't run much so I've been nursing a little foot injury. I plan on avoiding running for the next week or so and hopping on my road bike instead. The T2 group is going to start coming back in the next couple weeks and we will gradually resume training.
hiking in Asheville

with cousin Alexa

we took a tour of the Biltmore on our rainy day

It was alumni weekend so we got all dressed up for a dinner and dance

I learned some Southern dances and decided swing dancing is much more fun than "grinding", or whatever they teach kids in New England
It was fun to meet Alexa's Asheville friends

I went to SMS practice yesterday where they were doing agility practice

We also did relay races that involved carrying huge logs and dragging tires. My team lost each time (sorry guys!) and I'm very sore today

The boys had to pull a very heavy tire
I've also been volunteering with Girls on the Run at my elementary school, Flood Brook Union School. Yesterday we had a bigger Girls on the Run practice with many of the surrounding towns. I got to meet a ton of girls and everyone completed a two mile run/walk at the end of practice. My little buddy wasn't quite ready to run two miles so we power walked most of it instead. I was okay with that because I'm not supposed to be running anyway and speed walking is kind of my specialty. One of the little girls, Laura, was so proud to tell me that last year she couldn't run a mile, but now she can run two without a problem! I give my neighbor, Mehanna, rides back from practice and yesterday she told me that at the Bill Koch festival this year, all the West River girls wore patterned knee socks like the USST girls and braided their hair just like Jessie Diggins. "Oh, for cute!!" as Jessie would say (click HERE for meaning).

Girls on the Run cheer!

Girls on the Run stretching circle

Saturday, April 20, 2013

End of the Season

I'm currently back home after my final races in Truckee, California and a quick trip to Haiti to visit my boyfriend. It was an exciting week of racing and I think it's safe to say most people are ready for a break! By the end of the season, some people are still feeling great while others are totally burnt out so there can be some interesting results. It's really the only time of the year where the domestic field is able to race the US team people who spend the winter in Europe, so it's usually an eye-opening experience and exciting to be able to race against some of the best people in the world! Overall, my last week of races went well for me but there were definitely some highs and some slow lows. I didn't feel great about my prologue because I wanted to ski the whole thing smoothly but blew up on the big hill about halfway through the course, but my result wasn't bad. The 10k classic mass start wasn't bad but I skied a lot of it by myself so hopefully I can bridge the gap to the pack in front of me next year. I felt great in the sprint qualifier and had fast skis but the rest of the day was a bit of a struggle as I tired and we had trouble nailing the wax. The hill climb was pretty disastrous. This has always been my least favorite event and I don't understand why I'm so bad at it but I can't quite figure it out. Luckily, I only have to do one each year and most race courses start and finish in the same place meaning there is just as much downhill as uphill! The final race of the series was a 30k classic. 30 kilometers is the longest distance I've ever raced and I've only done a handful in my life so it was definitely an adventure. I finished 5th and was excited to end the season on a high note and have the best result of my week! A great video of the 30k, put together by Skyler Mullings, can be found HERE. Here are some photos from the week of racing at Spring Series.

Erika, Rosie, and I tried to make a "D" and "C" for Dartmouth College...

Mollie and Jessie before the men's 50k race

SMS Girls!

We were in charge of giving the boys feeds during the 50k

end of the season toast!
We made fun of our boys because they gave us such specific instructions for their feeds

made it!

Gus taking some golf swings on Lake Tahoe


previewing the hill climb course on alpine skis! (Much more fun than the race itself)

the Utah girls had some great outfits

I took some beautiful walks by the lake with my mom

Sadie taking a nap under the prize table after the hill climb
After finishing up in Truckee, I flew back to Boston for one night before flying down to Haiti with Dan's parents to visit him for 4 days. He's been working for Partners in Health for the past 5 months in Haiti. I don't think we could have been doing more different things this winter so I'm really happy I got to go see what his life has been like while I've been in Europe skiing all winter. It was a huge culture shock and an eye-opening experience, but it was inspiring and impressive to see the work that's being done. Most of the people in Haiti haven't seen snow before and definitely haven't seen skis so when Dan explained to them what I do, they referred to me as the "girl who runs on snow" or "snow runner".  I like the name and think it's a pretty accurate depiction of what we do! We had a very busy schedule while we were there and I was able to see both the beauty and devastation in Haiti. There is still so much work to be done but people are genuinely hopeful.
Dan with St. Ker (2nd from right), one of the first patients in the developing world to receive AIDS treatment, and his family 

Wilkin (2nd from right) is Dan's good friend and one of the drivers for PIH. He invited us to his home for dinner one night with his family

at Club Indigo, the place where Bill and Hilary Clinton went for their honeymoon in 1975!
the beautiful new Mirebalais hospital that is in the process of opening
It was so hot I even went in the water!

our handsome tour guide and birthday boy
Zanmi Beni orphanage
Now I'm back home in VT and this is where I'll remain for the majority of my time until I head to Bend on May 19th. I'm going to visit my cousin, Alexa, who is working at The Asheville School in North Carolina next week and plan on making a few trips to visit my siblings and friends in Hanover, but otherwise I'll be enjoying some much needed time at home!
and that's a wrap!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spring Series

We have finally dried off from our first race at Spring Series. We were welcomed to California with two days of sunshine on Tuesday and Wednesday. The majority of the SMS crew flew in on the 31st and after staying the night in Reno, we drove up to Tahoe on Monday. Friends of Jordan Fields have very generously let us stay in their beautiful condo in King's Beach, about a 10 minute walk from Lake Tahoe! If you are ever in the area and need a place to stay, definitely check it out here http://www.lake-tahoe-cabins.com/Unit.mvc/Details/64437.

Afternoon jog to check out the lake

After our first morning of skiing, we had an afternoon filled with a Fast and Female event! It was a huge success and the weather gods cooperated, leaving us with plenty of sunshine so we were able to enjoy the outdoors. After an afternoon of dancing, games on skis, Q&A, and lots of autograph signing, we were pretty exhausted and were able to unwind at a nice BBQ with all the other athletes. Here are a bunch of photos from Fast and Female!
downhill practice

Getting into the dancing station

Jessie and Liz were the dance leaders

downhill practice!

the crew!

Crystal Globe filled with jellybeans (my favorite food)!

mini Sadie and Sofia (Sodie)

Hands in!
We had a more relaxing day yesterday and after doing some pre race prep and ski testing in the morning, we spent the afternoon waxing and soaking up the sun. It was only about 60 degrees but the bathing suits may or may not have made an appearance.
enjoying the California sunshine
Another water shot
The races are being held very early so the snow doesn't get too sloppy and slushy. The women went first today at 9 AM and it was REALLY raining. I've been struggling a little with the altitude the past couple days but I'm hoping each day will feel a little better. I thought my race today was solid - not great but not bad. My plan was to ski smooth and relaxed and to try not to blow up because once you cross that line at altitude, it's very hard to recover. I executed my plan very well on the first flats of the course and was so proud of myself that I think I rewarded myself a little too much and went to hard up the huge hill on the climb, resulting in a minor blow up. It wasn't disastrous but I definitely wasn't able to ski the final section like I had wanted to. I ended up 10th and Erika tied to the tenth so we were pretty excited about that! Luckily we still have 4 races to try to nail down the proper pacing and hopefully I'll finish those ones looking like a sun goddess (or sun burnt skier) rather than a wet rat!
loving out T2 sweatshirts!

Big Gus helps Andy warm up
beautiful day at Truckee

Also, big thanks to Lori and Marc Horn for having us over for dinner last night. It's always nice to go to have a home cooked meal on the road and it's fun to have Stratton connections all over the country.
Their dog, Chance, was one of the most relaxed pups I've seen 
Thanks Lori and Mark!

Tomorrow we have a 10k classic mass start, followed by a classic sprint on Saturday. We have a rest day on Sunday, the skate hill climb on Monday, another rest day on Tuesday and then a 30k classic on Wednesday. It will be a busy and exhausting week but it should be fun!