Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Winter in New Zealand

Last summer was my first time to New Zealand and it quickly became one of my favorite places in the world. I was excited to find out that NZ camp was on the schedule again this year and the Snow Farm has lived up to expectations in every way! It's a long trip to travel over here. The time change is 16 hours ahead of the east coast, or 8 hours behind tomorrow, if that makes sense. So right now it's Thursday morning here and Wednesday evening in Vermont. Even though it takes a long time to get here, adjusting to the time change is relatively easy. I get tired early at night and wake up ready to go in the morning. The sleeping accommodations are dark, cool, and cozy, and I'm always shocked by how easily we adapt to life down under. In addition to the good sleeping, New Zealand has a ton of other things going for it. There is natural beauty everywhere and with only 4.5 million people in the entire country, it never seems over populated or crowded, especially where we are...sitting on top of a mountain above 15kms of switchbacking dirt road to get here. The food is also delicious. It's kind of a mix of asian fusion, lamb, and the occasional American or Mexican meal. What else is good about this place? The skiing! We're here a month and a half later than we were last year, so we're experiencing more early March conditions, but it's still not full blown spring skiing. We actually got a pretty big snow storm over the last couple days and are planning on doing some hard wax skiing this afternoon.
Back on snow with Matt and Liz our first afternoon in New Zealand

Morning view on our walk to breakfast...not bad!

Liz taking in the view on a drink break

Simi, Liz, and me at Bob Lee Hut
Chasing Liz down "The Loop"
We've done a couple intensity sessions, a couple speed sessions, and mostly easy distance training since being here. This weekend we are hopping in some FIS races that are being held at the Snow Farm, so that will be a good way to end the camp with a little intensity. The Snow Farm has basically everything we need up here. We can ski from the door, eat in the same building, and there's even a little gym we can use. Every once in awhile it's nice to drive off the mountain and go to the town of Wanaka, which is about 45 minutes away. Sometimes we go to a bigger gym in town to do strength and we will also go down and walk around town if we have an off day or afternoon. It's a beautiful little town sitting right on Lake Wanaka with a bunch of shops and good places to eat. There are also a ton of good running and mountain biking trails around town that I hope I can come back and explore one summer!
Interval day on a ribbon of snow (Matt Whitcomb photo)

Afternoon ski with Liz 

Bloody hand after getting my lactate taken on interval day

Liz and Jessie racing the Merino Muster

Sim and Hoff showing off their medals

Sunset cruise

Give an american a day off in town and...

Tea pot sweater!

Beach time in Wanaka

Intervals with the girls (Matt Whitcomb photo)

Jess and me at Bob Lee Hut (erika photo)

crust cruising! (Erika photo)
For the most part, we've had incredible skiing since we've been here. We've had the occasional day of wind, rain, or snow, but we have had a lot of sunny days. My favorite ski of the camp so far had to be yesterday morning. A big snow storm was predicted for the entire day, but just as we were getting ready to ski, the clouds parted and we had full blown sunshine and no wind. Plenty of snow had dumped the night before and everything was covered in powder. It had been a few hours since the groomer had been through, so we were making our own tracks for the morning. We explored a trail I had never been on before and had an awesome morning of waddling through the backcountry and making some powder turns. The snow was beginning to get a little thin here, so the storm was just what we needed and it looks like we got even more snow last night!
KO and Grove climbing up the hillside

Erika shredding the downs

Made it to the Kirtle Burn Hut!

Skiing out of the fog

We have five more days at the Snow Farm and I'm sure they will fly by. It has been an awesome camp and I'm hoping we will be able to return again next summer. Huge thanks to everyone at the Snow Farm who helps make this happen!
Happy girls post intervals (Matt Whitcomb photo)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Go With the Flow

If June in Vermont was beautiful and July in Alaska was sunny, August in Vermont has been sweaty. I had almost convinced myself that the sunny, dry weather was just going to follow me around the world this summer, but no, no, no. Regardless of whether it's been sunny, cloudy, or rainy, it has been HUMID in Vermont. But really what better way to feel like you're working hard than sweating out two gallons every morning? Sweating aside, it's been great to be back in Vermont with my SMS teammates and I'm looking forward to a couple more weeks here before heading to New Zealand for the first two weeks of September.

We had the Swedish club team that Kevin Cutts coaches join us for ten days. It was fun to have some international flavor at the workouts! Here I am with the Swedish girls after hammering out some double pole intervals

Showing off the new SMS Elite Team podium wear shorts with Erika

Catching some air during strength (Julia Kern photo)

Helping out at the annual SMS camps

Downhills are FUN!
Running with my cousins Alexa and Anya
Following Jessie during threshold skate intervals (Julia Kern photo)

Taking a turn pulling during skate intervals (Lillyphoto)

There are two feelings I love during the training season. One feeling is getting into a routine back with my club team in Stratton and the other is going with the flow and taking advantage of the opportunity for some adventures. These adventures are often in the form of climbing mountains and they might not always be the perfect training on paper, but I think the mental benefits that I get from them are what make them worth it. Over the weekend, we were supposed to do a running time trial on Thursday and then we were going to head to the White Mountains for a long run the day before my friend, Steph Crocker, was getting married at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. After taking a peek at the weather and seeing that the day we were planning on doing the running time trial was supposed to be the only nice day of the weekend, we called up coach Matt and proposed the idea of putting off the running time trial to do the Presidential Traverse that day. Two miles of running uphill hard and 24 miles of running in the mountains easy are pretty much the same thing, right? I'm lucky to have a coach who believes in opportunities for adventure, a boyfriend who is addicted to opportunities for adventure, and a cousin who is one tough cookie, so it was settled. After a 3:30 am wake up, Simi, my cousin Alexa, and I drove up to the Whites for a 7 am start time on the Presidential Traverse. It was a hot and sticky day down low, so it turned out to be the perfect day to be running across ridges up high. Eight hours, 24 miles, a lot of PB&Js, and three pairs of tired legs later, we had completed the traverse and were still smiling!

Experiencing a range of emotions across the traverse

Mt. Washington. Psyched!

Drink break
Lunch Break eating up some VT Peanut Butter!
Cool features on the AT

Almost there!
According to my Polar watch, I went a little above and beyond my recommended daily activity
After the traverse, we spent a couple relaxing days at Simi's aunt and uncle's home on Silver Lake in NH. It was the perfect way to recover and they have some pretty sweet mountain bike trails and water sports we were able to indulge in. Thanks Tots and Lol! By the time the wedding came on Saturday, we weren't walking around like we were 90 years old anymore and were ready for some dancing! The following morning, Andy, Erika, Simi, and I decided to go for a run just north of Hanover on our way back down south. Erika and I had done this run a handful of times while skiing for Dartmouth, but we somehow still managed to get lost and the run ended with a hitch hike back to the trucks. Luckily, we were all in good spirits about it. Like I said before...sometimes you have to go with the flow!

Before the wrong turn, on top of Mt. Cube with Erika

Lake time

Dartmouth '12 Ski Team girls with the beautiful bride, Steph!

Nothing like a little dancing to help flush the legs out (Gretchen Powers photo)
I have a medium block of training coming up and then an easy week before heading to New Zealand. I've been checking the New Zealand webcam daily and cannot wait to get back on snow, but first, it's time to do some more sweating. Thanks for following!
Warming up for specific strength at BMD this morning (SMS Nordic photo)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Glacier Camp and Recovery Week

After a big week of dry land training in Anchorage, we loaded up the helicopters and flew up to Eagle Glacier for a week of training on snow. This was the third time I've been to a training camp on Eagle Glacier and it was by far the best camp I've had up there. In the past, I've gotten overly excited about being on snow and have tried to ski as much as possible from the start, leaving myself so tired I can barely get out the door to ski by the end of the camp. This year I tried to pace myself a little more, and when I felt myself getting tired mid week, I took an afternoon off from skiing to bounce back. I left the camp feeling tired, but not buried in a hole, and I was able to ski more than I ever have before!
The excitement of riding in a helicopter will never get old

Huge thanks to Alpine Air for transporting us to and from Eagle Glacier safe and sound!
One of the reasons this camp was the best one yet was because of the weather we had on the glacier. Similar to our week in town, we didn't have a single day of rain and saw the sun every day. This made for some slow and slushy skiing, but it was good practice for some of the toughest conditions we see on the World Cup. Our main focus of the camp was to put in a lot of volume and take a step back from intensity. In order to put in a lot of hours, my pace had to be slow, but we had a beautifully groomed 7k loop and plenty of teammates to help make the hours pass quickly.
Jumping for joy 
Speed day (Andre Horton photo)

Sim skiing out of the fog early in the morning

Above the clouds

Kiks is BACK!
Final ski of the camp made possible (and enjoyable) by my teammate Ida :)

A week on a glacier can do crazy things...

Another one of my favorite parts of our Alaska camp was having our guest skier Virgina from Italy join us. She always showed up with a smile and is one of the most kind and positive people I've met. It was a pleasure having her at our camp and I hope she will join us again sometime. She even cooked us gnocchi one night, which is not an easy task when you're cooking for 20 hungry athletes. Putting in a lot of hours on snow also means putting in a lot of hours of sleeping and a lot of hours at the dining room table. The amount of food that is stored and eaten up on the glacier is hard to fathom.
Did I mention we ate a lot?? Huge thanks to our bakers Jessie and the Patterson siblings!

Virginia laboring over her Gnocchi

A lot!

We finished camp, so let's strike a pose. (Matt photo)

Smiling with Liz and Virginia after our final ski. Thankful to have these two at camp. (Matt photo)
We put in a lot of hard work as athletes, but the coaches and glacier staff work just as hard, if not harder, to make the camp run smoothly. We owe a huge thanks to Zuzana Rogers, who joined us as a PT for the camp, keeping us all healthy and injury free. U.S. Ski Team coaches, Matt, Chris, and Jason, APU coach Erik, and glacier worker Dylan worked their butts off to make this camp successful and we are incredibly grateful for their efforts.
Glacier time with Zuz

Matt doing some recovering of his own

Trails this perfect take a lot of grooming and planning

Our home for the week (Andre Horton photo)

Zuzana and Matt helping support our speed session (Andre Horton photo)
After two big weeks in Alaska, I was ready for some recovery time. My sister, Isabel, just moved to Flagstaff, Arizona for her new middle school science teaching job, so I took the opportunity to visit her and help move her in on my way back from Alaska. On my recover weeks, I enjoy not following a strict training plan, getting a lot of recovery, but also doing a lot of hiking adventures that get me to some beautiful places at a slow pace. Northern Arizona turned out to be the perfect place to do this with the best company I could ask for!
Found her!

She got her name on the door! So proud of this girl.

Hiking down into the Grand Canyon

Sunset hike in Sedona our last night. One of the most beautiful hikes I've ever been on minus the rattlesnake and tarantula we saw. 

Iz climbing up Bear Mtn with Sedona in the background

First time to the Grand Canyon!

Sister, sister

Since Izzy is a rock nerd, she talked me through all there is to know about rocks. Check out that geologic contact!

Highest peak in Arizona with our Vermont buddy Nora
Now I am back in Vermont for the month of August before heading to New Zealand for our next USST camp the first two weeks of September. I'm looking forward to being in one place for a month and getting in some solid training at home. HERE is a link from the U.S. Ski Team about my story growing up skiing and my thoughts about what makes a champion. Thanks for following!
(Andre Horton photo)