What do a squirrel finding a hidden acorn, a skier finding the missing sock to a smartwool pair, or a me finally locating my favorite shirt crumpled at the bottom of my ski bag have in common?  The exhilarating sense of relief, excitement and awe that the missing object has been found is exactly how I feel about the season finally starting.  The racing season has been missing since sometime in March, and I almost can’t believe it’s about to be back in full force on Friday.  Even writing this blog I’m feeling one little butterfly flit around my stomach, matched by my muscles involuntarily flexing anticipating a sprint start.  Actually I think my heart rate just increased a little bit (as if it wasn’t already high enough being at altitude).  My team and I have been in West Yellowstone for the last week getting ready for the opening SuperTour races (the US domestic race series).  It’s been a flurry of testing skis, trying to keep easy skiing in level 1, and generally having a giant party on the Rendezvous trails with the rest of the cross country ski community.

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Yesterday was a sad day for SMS T2.  Our World Cup contingent hopped the big pond, and are right now settling into their 5 month suitcase life beginning in Munio, Finland.  Goodbyes are never fun, but the moment is always bittersweet.  The bitter side is obvious:  I don’t get any Sophie, Simi, Jessie, or Andy time for who knows how long.  On the sweet end of the spectrum, saying goodbye means I have incredibly talented friends who are about to start another year of adventuring in Europe, kicking bootay in races, and sending really awesomely weird snapchats.

That said, there are many different ways to say goodbye, all with their different benefits and downsides.

First we have the classic hug.  Sophie and I have been masters at “the hug” since our days racing together at Dartmouth.  The plusses of the hug include physical contact, sharing warmth, and the occasional claw mark indicating ferocity in love while also leaving a lasting impression.  The largest downside of the hug is probably the risk of shirt sleeves being used as tear/snot rags.
Love me a Doph hug

Next we have the “Cyber Hug.”  When time is short and you don’t have time for a long drawn out real hug, this is the next best option.  The obvious plus is you skip any sappy, Notebook-esque moments while still leaving a lasting message for everyone to hang on to.  The downside is no actual physical contact.  But in a pinch, I’d say the cyber hug is almost as good as the real thing (…maybe).

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Bye Sophimi or Simophie, whichever you prefer.  And Simi is lying, he loves hugs more than he loves surfing.

 

Then we have the photo.  Like the text/cyber hug, having a picture is a good way to capture the moment and keep a permanent memory somewhere in the “Cloud.”  So the upside of a picture is clear- not only are there words to go with the goodbye, but an actual picture encapsulating the raw emotion felt by both parties.  The downside is the obsessiveness with which one might look at a picture of their loved one, and also looking like a crying mess forever on camera.  But Erikandy is a beautiful looking couple, so even when they’re sad they look spectacular.

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Not only is this an amazing picture of Erika and Andy, but I snuck in there. Now Andy AND Erika have a photo memory with each other, but I’ll always be there.

The final way to say goodbye is to bake your feelings.  I think this is how (aside from a hug) I said goodbye to Jessie.  Our token baker for the past 5 months, I’ll really miss her cheery smile as she is kneading away at some amazing bread.  She went off in the van, and I immediately went into baking mode (also it was Annie P.’s birthday, so it really worked out perfectly).  The plus: baked goods.  The minus: everyone is gone so there is no one there to eat all of the baked goods (this could actually also be a positive…so there might not be a downside to this).

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Western themed cupcakes for Annie’s birthday. Note the cowboy hats, I think Jessie would be proud.

 

Some other things we are saying goodbye to this week…

1. Hopefully the snow/rain/freezing rain/ice mix that is currently falling from the sky.

2. Roller Skiing

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The weather outside right now is frightful. This will not be that hard to leave.

 

3. Bounding (although, my attitude towards bounding has really taken a turn for the positive as of late.  We had some hard bounding intervals, and after accepting that bounding always hurts, I felt like I was really able to push the boundaries of my bounding abilities!)

4. Stratton

Stratton gave us a great send off (another way to say goodbye…throw a party!) on Saturday.  We had over 100 people gather in the new art building at SMS to celebrate the team and the community that supports us.  We can’t thank everyone enough, but we’re going to try by racing as hard as we can and hopefully coming back in March with some hardware.  Thanks for a great summer and fall, and the next update will be from snowy West Yellowstone!

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SMS T2: The Best Team Ever.  Also if JCrew needs a bunch of models…let us know.

 

Holiday Gift Guide

Last week I wrote about the dark times of November.  It’s still dark and dreary, but I can see the light at the end of the rainy tunnel.  My home in Minnesota is getting pummeled with 16 inches of snow, Starbucks is starting to use their holiday cups, and candy canes have replaced candy corn on my candy list (say that three times fast).  The light at the end of the tunnel is wrapped around a pine tree, dotted with little ornaments and a big old angel on the top.  It’s almost the holidays.

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My little sister Val jumping for joy Christmas morning!

Despite the cheer of the holidays, everyone knows it can be stressful.  While I’m excited to go home and spend some quality time with my family and our four-legged furry friend, I would be lying if I said there was no stress.  I love getting people gifts, but I hate getting people the wrong gifts.  The look of fake happiness when someone opens a “dud” goes right up there with watching a kid drop his ice cream cone.  It’s sad, and makes me want to drown my sorrows in a bath of hot chocolate and marshmallows.

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The dreaded “dud” face

While that bath sounds pretty good, you wouldn’t want to be drowning your sorrows in it.  So I’ve compiled a list of the best gifts to give a cross country skier.

1. No baggage fees (overweight or otherwise)

2. A weather machine

3. An automatic Klister cleaner (I’ve learned Coach Pat is not one of these)

4. A personal dresser that knows exactly how warm you like to be skiing, and picks out coordinating ski outfits for you, every day.

5. Hair extensions for race day braids

6. Perfect technique

7. Unbreakable poles

8. A personal road paver (bumpy roller ski ODs be gone!)

9. A World Cup in the US

10. A donation to the SMS T2 team

While some of these may be in my stocking come Christmas morning (wouldn’t that be cool if there was a World Cup in my stocking?!), everybody can make sure number 10 happens.

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We will be just as excited as this kid is with his Lego Death Star if you donate to the team!

THIS SATURDAY we are hosting our first fundraising dinner at the Stratton Mountain School.  A very generous donor has matched all of our donations up to $25,000 until November 15th.  And there have been at least 38 other donors in the holiday spirit.  Let’s try and make it 50. Every little bit helps, especially when one dollar is two.  Happy (early) Christmahannukwanzadan (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and Ramadan all in one word).  Together let’s make this the best holidays yet, and donate to the SMS T2 team!

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Donate to keep the SMS T2 team fast, funded, and a little bit weird.

 

…call for desperate measures.  Earlier this week I wrote about the dark days of November, ending the post with an uplifting and true (albeit cheesy) message that sometimes all you have to do is look on the bright side.  I was confident I was going to get over my itchy throat, pop on my roller skis this morning, feel like a million bucks and then sit in front of the fire with a satisfied grin on my healthy face.

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Another reason I love ginger…it just looks so cool!

Sometimes dreams and reality don’t collide.  I didn’t feel good this morning doing intervals.  Even though all the symptoms of my cold are gone, my body is still feeling the effects.  So instead of doing all the intervals I did two shorter ones and then worked on some technique (and 180s).  When I got back home, I decided to try a different path to health.  Instead of just sleeping, crushing emergen-cee, and hoping for the best, I did some homeopathic research.

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The final product…and Erika sneaking into the background. She also had a glass, and proclaimed that if we had two of these a day we would be unstoppable (or something like that).

From my extensive research I decided to make a power smoothie.  I contemplated a variety of combinations but settled on a beet-orange-ginger-honey smoothie.  It sounds weird and a little bit crazy.  Both beets and oranges are really high in Vitamin C, and beets are especially good for endurance athletes due to their high nitrate content.  Ginger helps in the absorption of essential nutrients and acts as an anti-inflammatory (reducing swelling in nasal passages).  Honey has antibacterial powers, and can draw water out of inflamed throat tissues providing relief.  All in all, the smoothie is a “cure every ailment” drink.  And it was delicious.

Magic Health Smoothie

1 orange, peeled and cut into slices

1/2 cup beet juice

1 1/2 tablespoon roughly chopped ginger

2 tablespoons honey

Ice to taste (I like a lot of ice to make mine more of a smoothie, but if you want more of a juice then add less ice!)

Put everything in a blender, drink, and be healthy!

Welcome to November.  When I first got to SMS this summer, Annie P. and I had one of our many hart to hearts talking about our most fragile and irritable times of year.  Without a moment’s pause I immediately landed on the first two weeks of November.  In a moment of rare dramatics (…) I declared early November to be my “Dark Time.”  And I’m not the only one.  The official time keepers of the world set all of our clocks back an hour bringing darkness at 4:30 in the afternoon.  How fitting.

After just completing 60 (!) hours of training in 3 weeks in Park City and Canmore, I was primed for something dark.  In fact anything would seem a little dark compared to my October.  Erika’s Aunt and Uncle graciously allowed us to stay in their amazing home in always (well almost always) sunny Park City, and then we hopped the border and got to ski on real, live snow for 9 days.  After that I went to Hanover and got to see my old college team and my boyfriend Thomas for three days, eat Halloween candy, and sleep.

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Squirrel Boy and Acorn Girl. You can’t tell from this photo, but I was stuffed with pillow stuffing (and maybe some hidden candy in there too)

Beautiful sunrises in Canmore were a plus!

Beautiful sunrises in Canmore were a plus!

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Wouldn’t be a ski trip without a happy #Annies selfie…also look at the blowing snow! Frozen Thunder did an AMAZING job maintaing snow quality for our trip.

And then, like clockwork, November 1st brought a rain/snow mix.

And then I got a tickle in my throat, and not the fun Pillsbury dough boy type.  It’s nothing major, but just enough to keep me from doing full training.  And looking ahead at the forecast, the next week holds some 34 degree and rainy days.  Oo bleck.

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If only all of Vermont looked like this. Annie, Ben and I did an adventure hike to the top of equinox. It was raining at the bottom but snowing up top! Signs that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel

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No more shorts and sports bra training. It’s time for spandex, jackets, gloves, vests, and hats under helmets. Erika shows off the proper November training attire.  Don’t let her happy demeanor fool you.

 

Further, training takes on a new level of intensity this time of year.  With the real racing starting up late November, every bad day or bad workout seems just a little worse.  The common refrain if you have a bad workout in July is, “It’s only July…you’ve got plenty of time!”  But now that comes out “It’s only November 4th…you’ve got 16 days.”  Which is plenty of time, but still seems atrociously, devastatingly, yet tantallizingly close.  Intervals get harder and shorter, days get darker and shorter, and sometimes attitudes get grumpier, and, well, grumpier.

But then you take a step back, and think about it from this perspective.  These 2 weeks are 3.8% of the year.  And we’ve done 5 months of great training, and 2 weeks can’t detract from that (unless you’re a dumb-dumb and get super sick, train through it anyways, and then stay sick until December).  This is a time for fine tuning, “feel good” workouts, and nights in front of the fire with hot cocoa.  It was almost cruel to get a taste of snow in Canmore, because now we know what we are missing when our poles are slipping on cold pavement (sorry roller skis).  But at the same time, now we know what we have to look forward too.  So I’m going to get some emergen-cee, suck on some zinc, put my head down, and get through the Dark Times.

Dumbledore, so wise.

Dumbledore, so wise.  I’m turning on the light!

And one more thing…I have a new website design!  Thank you so much to Rene Ibarra for putting this great site together for me.  Some of my old content hasn’t fully transferred over yet, but everything should be there by the end of the week.  But take a look around and let me know what you think!

Actually one more thing I want to say.  My siblings are rockstars.  My brother is having a great freshman year so far playing hockey for Yale, and my sister had a great running season (she set a 40 second personal record for a 4K running race last week)  and is now on to ski season.  I’m so lucky to have them for siblings (and my parents for parents), and can’t wait to see them all soon.

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As a pre-state meet warm up (where my sister and her team placed 7th) they helped out at a St. Paul, Minnesota Girls on the Run. Val is on the far left, looking sassy, athletic, and awesome as usual.

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Henry has had good games so far, and I’ve loved watching the live video and stats online. It’s so fun to be able to stay in college athletics, and especially fun when it’s my little brother!

With the vast majority of our team either already in Alaska (Jessie, Sophie, and Erika), and the other half (Simi, Ben, Andy) preparing for Alaska, Annie Pokorny and myself (#Annies) have two weeks as the sole SMS T2 females.  It’s a big task holding down the female fort, but we are quickly finding that some things are better done in a duo.

1. Cooking for Two

With the number of bellies to fill drastically reduced, Annie and I have decided to explore some different nighttime meals.  While this is possible with a bigger group, cooking for two might be the easiest number.  Cooking for one there is often too much food, cooking for three you have to be good at math (Annie and I are philosophy and government majors…not math).  But cooking for two is perfect.  Most recipes are made for four (even the social science majors can halve numbers), or if the recipe is for four then we have the most perfect lunch leftovers.  Further, cooking for two means no one is left out of the process.  It’s easy to divide tasks and dishes. And, we don’t have to please eight sets of tastebuds.  Bon Apetit!

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The heat and humidity of summer have arrived in the East.

The heat and humidity of summer have arrived in the East. During one of our recent skis, Sophie asked whether it was rain or my sweat hitting her face. It was probably both.  Every workout we finish I can literally see salt coating my skin, and unless I can see the granules of salt on my food there isn’t enough.  Despite the horrendous humidity, we have had a busy busy week here at Stratton.

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Up until Saturday I had never taken a big fall roller skiing.  I had seen it happen to other people (the most horrifying being Erika’s fall in Lake Placid a couple years ago), but I myself had only had minor encounters with pavement.  A series of unfortunate events led to my first high-speed meeting with pavement but also along with it a couple of learned lessons!  I think that having a big fall is probably the gate way to life as a full-time skier, so I’m pleased that I got this rite of passage out of the way sooner rather than later :)

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The Big Three

Even though I’ve spent a couple “seasons” training with the SMS T2 team (last summer and two falls ago), beginning life as a full time skier begs so many questions. There is just so much to learn, so much to take in, and so much to do. For my first “real” entry on the blog, I’ve narrowed the big questions to three: (1) What is my deal with pull-ups? (2) What is the best way to run? and (3) What is the best way to live in a house with someone who shares my name? Luckily for me I have some pretty awesome teammates who have been helping me work towards the answers to all my questions, even if some of the questions themselves are inherently unanswerable.

Question 1: What is my deal with pull-ups?

One of the (many) perks of being on a team with a whole bunch of amazing athletes is being a rather present fly on the wall during strength sessions. Yesterday I hopped in with Jessie and together we worked through strength (after a great warm-up of agility with the younger SMS crowd—check out the SMS T2 blog for pictures!). Although most of the exercises were new and exciting (some surprisingly hard balance drills, fun new speed ladder exercises, and weighted planks to name a few), one exercise wasn’t new.

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Starting Week of June 9!

I graduate from Dartmouth on Sunday, June 8, and will begin my full-time training with SMS T2 that next week.

So then I will have some “official”

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