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)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New Zealand Week #2

Somehow we only have two days left of skiing in New Zealand. It seems like yesterday that we got here and took comfort in the fact that we had over two weeks of skiing ahead of us. Then just like that, it's over! I suppose that means we've been enjoying ourselves. It's always a good sign to be sad you only have three days left rather than be counting down the days until you get to go home. I've said it already, but the Snow Farm really is the ideal place for a training camp. Aside from a couple days of rain or snow (that we happened to time nicely with our off days), we've had ridiculously good weather and training.

One of the many gorgeous mornings at the Snow Farm

A lot of training leads to a tired Sophie, which leads to a few more falls than usual
Getting ready to go for a ski with Ides (Noah photo)

Anouk and Liz sporting their Friends of Liz Skida hats!

The past week we've been able to do a little more exploring off of the rock. Our new outerwear sponsor, L.L. Bean, came to New Zealand for a couple days of shooting photos. They took pictures of a few training sessions and then we went down to Wanaka for a photo shoot in their casual wear. It happened to be a beautiful evening and we were able to watch the sun set over the lake. Big thanks to L.L. Bean for making the long trip over!
Simi, me and Jess on our way to the L.L. Bean photo shoot. Loving our new down jackets!

Evening on the lake in Wanaka

Functional and comfortable :) (Noah photo)

And a jumping photo in Wanaka (Noah photo)

Soaking in some sunshine at our L.L. Bean photoshoot (Jessie photo)

Our other day of adventuring was on our off day. On Monday morning, we chained up the vans for the trek to Queenstown. When we left the Snow Farm, we were in the middle of a snow storm. Some slow traffic, one broken chain, and two and a half hours later, we finally made it to Queenstown where the sun had started to come out and the ground was dry. We enjoyed exploring a new town, eating some tasty food by the water, and taking the gondola up the mountain to go go karting. The drive back was dry, beautiful, and took half the time, so it ended up being a successful adventure.
Paddy and I enjoyed an off day beer for our Grandpa John

Ben found a kiwi to ride

The chairlift ride up to go go karting (Anouk photo)

Some SMS T2ers in Queenstown (Jessie photo)

Dorked out and ready to do some go karting! (Jessie photo)
So here we are, tired and happy after two amazing weeks of skiing. We've put in a lot of hours and had a few really tough workouts. I'm exhausted, but the thought of leaving New Zealand already makes me sad. I'm going to miss the perfect skiing, delicious food, our french buddy Anouk, and having all my teammates just down the hall, but I guess that means we'll just have to come back soon! See you in a a few days, USA!!
The perfect ski with Jessie this morning

Jess catching some air

Me attempting to do the same

See you back at Stratton!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Life at the Snow Farm

After about 40 hours of travel last week, we touched down in New Zealand. Forty hours of travel sounds pretty miserable, but I actually found the travel here easier than it ever was traveling to Europe. There is a long 12 or 13 hour flight from California to Auckland, but it's night time when we fly, so it's easy to fall asleep and when I woke up, I watched a movie, was served breakfast, and then landed in Auckland. The part that I still can't wrap my head around is that the day of July 8th did not exist in my life. I took off from L.A. at 10:30 p.m on the 7th and landed in Auckland at 6 a.m. on the 9th. Figuring out the time change is a little tricky. The east coast is 16 hours behind New Zealand, but I find it easier to calculate 8 hours ahead, yesterday. So if it's noon on Tuesday in New Zealand, it's 8 p.m. on Monday in Vermont. Got it?  The time change makes it very easy to fall asleep at night and very easy to wake up in the morning. It's perfect for the big hours of training we're putting in at the Snow Farm.
Hoods up and we're ready to go! (Ben, Paddy, Liz, and Ida)
The Snow Farm is just over an hour northeast of Queenstown, New Zealand. We are here training for about two weeks and I think it's the best place I've ever been to train. There are around 35kms of trails groomed right now and the skiing is literally right outside of our doors. The building at the snow farm is very big with a couple dining areas, a cafe, ski rooms, a small gym, and a some hotel rooms. There is plenty of space, so we never feel trapped up here and we head down to the town of Wanaka to do strength or walk around if we have an off day. For those who get car sick, the drive to and from the Snow Farm can be a little rough, but we pile the sickies into the front seat and they survive.
Jessie, Andy, and Liz on one of our runs down in Wanaka. If you're lucky, you can see the eels swimming around in Lake Wanaka. (Anouk photo)

Jessie, me and Liz heading out for a run in our Johaug gloves

Enjoying some off day sweater tea and muffin in Wanaka
Okay, now for the good stuff. The skiing. The weather has been unbelievable since we arrived. We eat our breakfast in the mornings and watch a beautiful sunrise, then we get ready to go skiing. It's not warm, so we bundle up with a lot of layers, but the slowly rising temperatures and the constant sunshine warm us up pretty quickly. Anouk Faivre Picon of the French National Team is joining us for the camp and it has been so much fun to have her. Ida is very good at french and I can speak a little, so we get to practice our French while Anouk works on her english. She claims she isn't very good, but I beg to differ. So far we have been doing a lot of easy distance skiing with some technique, speed, and strength thrown in. Starting this week we will begin to add a little intensity into the plan, but the main focus of this camp is to get on snow and get in a lot of easy volume training. The Snow Farm is at an elevation of about 5,000 ft or just over, so we have been careful about keeping the training easy and hydrating a lot. I haven't felt a huge altitude effect and it's been pretty easy to go easy, which leaves you feeling pretty darn good! That said, I was ready for our first off day of the camp today because my legs definitely didn't pass the stair test this morning.

Anouk and Ida out on one of our favorite loops, "The Loop"

Dynamic warm up for a speed session

Liz and Bernie!

The gals (Anouk, Liz, Jessie, Ida, and me)

And again. The ladies at sunset. Bon nuit!
The snow farm has also been an ideal place to recover from some big hours. Each time we come in from training, there is a delicious home cooked meal waiting for us upstairs. When we get hungry in between workouts, the coaches' room is always well stocked with wine gummies, tim tams, cereal, and PB&J makings. The rooms are very comfortable with plenty of space for afternoon reading, movie watching, blog writing, and video review. By the time dinner is over, we usually try to keep ourselves up for another hour or so before giving into the heavy eyelids and excitement of going to bed only to wake up and do it all over again tomorrow. Make sure you're following us for updates on the next couple weeks at the snow farm. We haven't been shy about rubbing this winter wonderland in your faces. That's all for now!
Sunrise this morning at the farm

All smiles skiing with Jessie (Anouk photo)

Paddy and I got in a long ski for the Prouty ride my family does each year in memory of my Aunt Jennifer

Loving being back with my buddy Liz


Plenty to smile about

Sunrise at the farm

Even the clouds are beautiful here