After a rest week at home and a mid-winter training week in Stratton, I’m currently in Lake Placid, NY for a weekend of Super Tour racing. I’m staying at the Olympic Training Center (one of the perks of reaching third on the overall SuperTour ranking list!), and it feels a little funny to be back in Placid during the winter months.  For as long as I can remember Lake Placid has been all about the September training camp alongside the US Ski Team.  But packing up the car yesterday we traded the roller skis for the snow skis, and swapped helmets for hats.

Despite the funny feelings, I’m really excited for the races this weekend.  One of the reasons I’m really excited is that two of my teammates- Jessie Diggins and Sophie Caldwell- have been absolutely crushing World Cup competition.  Jessie most recently got third in a 10K skate, and then anchored the relay team that Sophie led off to a second place finish.  Before that, both Sophie and Jessie won their first World Cups, proving that the US isn’t just a one trick pony.

Jessie recently wrote a blog where she recounted a conversation she had with Astrid Jacobsen (a Norwegian skiing star): “She (Astrid) was commenting on the feeling of doing well in a World Cup when you know you’re up against the best in the world, and she said ‘it’s really cool when you can see the top. When you know exactly how close you are to winning and you know what you have to do to get there.’”

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Double Pole intervals with Jessie (blue sports bra) and Sophie (purple sports bra) this fall in Lake Placid (where I am right now!).  Reese Brown photo.

 

While I don’t think I’m ready to battle for the top spot on a World Cup podium (yet!), I know I’m ready to make the jump, and having trained with Jessie and Sophie I know what I have to do.  Some of it is tangible- continue the work I’ve put in to building strength, fitness, and technique.  A lot of it, however, is intangible.  I watch them attack courses with an unshakable confidence in themselves, an understanding that not every day will be perfect, and all the while maintaining an unflappable belief in the process (and looking amazing doing it).

I’m hugely inspired.  Nationals was a tremendous step in the right direction, but I’m not ready to accept that as the highlight of my season.  This weekend we have a skate sprint and a 10K classic on tap, then next weekend a 5K skate and another 10K classic.  Check back in later for a recap of the next two weekends of racing!

 

I love tennis.  I love watching tennis, reading about tennis, talking about tennis…pretty much everything except playing tennis.  I have minimal hand eye coordination, and every time I’ve played tennis in the past I have left with a face reminiscent of a waffle iron.  I am however pretty positive that there exists some past or future me who was, or is going to be, a tennis star.

And with the conclusion of the U.S. Open, I’ve been wondering what about tennis it is I just love so much.  I am in constant awe of the mental focus it must require to play a constantly evolving game, set, and match for 3.5 hours.  The strength to serve a ball 122 miles per hour, and the precision to simultaneously hit it in between the lines.  But after careful reflection, I think I love it because of the drama.  Players grunt with each hit, scream in both defeat and victory, and thanks to modern day television I get to be right up in Serena’s face when she’s agonizing and when she’s celebrating.

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Sweet Victory

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Agonizing Defeat

 

Further, I think I’m in love with the tennis player attitude.  From what I’ve read (and in the past couple weeks, I’ve read A LOT), tennis players work hard, they know they work hard, and are very good at celebrating their strengths while recognizing their weaknesses.  And somehow, instead of seeming cocky, the top tennis players emanate a respectful confidence in themselves.  They don’t take victories for granted, but (usually) aren’t surprised when they win.

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Djokovic after winning the 2015 U.S. Open

 

The week before winning the Men’s U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic told the New York Time’s Style Section (another thing about tennis players both men and women…they know style), “I think you either progress or regress, so it’s either going up or down.  Everybody is moving, the people, our planet, so you either keep up with it or you just stay where you are.  But staying where you are…you actually regress.”

How about that for some motivation.

I don’t think that quote needs a whole lot more added to it, but I will tell you how I’m going to apply it to my current life as a professional ski racer.  We just arrived in Lake Placid, New York for the first fall U.S. Ski Team training camp of the year.  For the next week we will be hammering out a lot of high quality intensity sessions from our home base at the Olympic Training Center, resting hard in between sessions, focusing on technique and fitness, AND having a ton of fun.  These camps are a phenomenal opportunity to keep moving up and progressing, so I’m going to do my damnedest to live by Djokovic’s philosophy of success.

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We kicked off camp with two intensity sessions…no pictures but here is a screen shot of Jessie, Sophie, and I hammering on each other during high intensity double poling.

And, don’t forget that I will be headed home on Monday for a week of quality Midwest time leading up to my fundraiser at the Power House at Highland on September 27th at 2 p.m.  Keep your eyes peeled for a little teaser video of some summer training later this week, and I can’t wait to get strong with you!

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And sometimes when faced with a big week of intensity, you need something a little more than Djokovic telling you to make progress.  Thank you, Channing Tatum.

 

It was Sunday night.  After finishing up our second week of volume training with a three hour road bike in the morning, a busy afternoon of organizing details for my fundraiser happening on September 27th at 2 p.m. at the Power House (more details soon!), and an evening of baby-sitting two wonderful four year olds, I drove into the drive way wanting nothing more than a 10 o’clock snack and bed.  Instead, I got a bear.  Turns out I wasn’t the only one with a 10 o’clock snack in mind- Mr. Bear was enjoying his own snack of wrappers and recycling.  Yummy.

Not entirely sure what to do, I honked my horn a couple times, flashed my brights, and sprinted into the house.  Then, I went into the kitchen still in pursuit of a 10 o’clock snack, and two little mice gave me quite the scare.  After building myself a bridge of kitchen chairs to the fridge (so I could avoid mice scrambling over my feet), I got my snack, went downstairs, and decided I’d deal with everything in the morning.

We lovingly call the T2 house the Disney house, but I am not Snow White.  I wasn’t whistling while I picked up the bear’s dishes.  I was fuming.  I didn’t want mice as friends (although I could use some more friends, as the rest of my house is currently in New Zealand!).  So instead I went on the offensive.  I spent most of my morning googling ways to keep bears away and capture mice in such a way that I wouldn’t have to see them dead.  I built a bear booby trap with pots and pans, sprinkled ammonia all around the shed, and piled peanut butter into traps for when the mice got hungry.  Although I haven’t caught any mice (maybe they prefer crunchy peanut butter to smooth), I think my tactics with the bear have been effective.  I do have a Plan B (unlike the New York prisoners who tried to escape) for the bear, and it involves balloons.  I almost hope Plan A doesn’t work so I can see if Plan B does.

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Not pleased.

 

And figuring out how to co-exist with animals isn’t the only thing I have been (along with the rest of the SMS T2 team) taking the offensive on.  The past two weeks have been a perfect case study of taking the offensive during training in anticipation of the rest of the season (big hours now followed by a big rest should mean big improvements come winter).  I’ve been diligently hydrating, eating, stretching, and resting to take the offensive against illness and injury.

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Taking the offensive against longer races…nearing the top of a large climb during our 3 hour over distance bike ride Sunday morning.

 

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Loving the local vegetables coming out of farmstands during peak season! Part of my lunch the other day was simply too beautiful not to photograph.

Most exciting of all, on Saturday Erika, Annie and I took the offensive against breast cancer by participating in the 10K race for the cure in Manchester, VT.

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Pink army at the start- along with Erika and Annie some of the SMS juniors also took part in the race!

 

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About .1 miles from the finish line, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. We haven’t done a whole lot of flat running (much less pavement pounding), but I didn’t hold anything back.

 

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In fact, I ran my best 10K time ever at 39:38! It was an SMS sweep- I took home the women’s victory, with Katharine Ogden, Annie, and Erika in second, third and fourth! Turns out fitness transcends activities!

In my mind, taking the offensive minimizes uncertainty.  While knowing how to react and adapt to surprises remains paramount in all things life and ski related (you just never really know when your competitor will take off), the easiest way to tackle big challenges is anticipating them.  That way, you can prepare yourself for anything.

Watch out Mr. Bear, I’m coming for ya.

 

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But first, I’m going to dress up and have a nice summer evening with the ladies :)

 

 

Mornings (and Mondays) are a good time for reflection.  Especially today.  What, with the rain drops running down the windows, the Van Morrison playlist providing a playlist for my off-day to-do list, and my third cup of coffee sitting next to my computer, how could I not stop and consider the big questions.  What will I make for dinner?  How many emails can I send today?  How long can I make a to-do list? When did “the jumping picture” become a thing?

I don’t know the answer to the first three questions. The fourth, however, is definitively during the Fall of 2012.  In a foreshadowing of my current life, I spent my off term from Dartmouth (Fall 2012) training alongside the newly created SMS T2 team.  Scrolling through my old facebook photos (some times I manage to embarrass even myself…yikes), I came across the first recorded jumping photo.  On September 27th, 2012, Sophie and I leaped off a wall at the summit of Equinox, a nearby mountain in Manchester, VT.  From there, the jumping photos just don’t seem to stop.  Nearly all epic adventures, mountain tops, hard workouts, and every day occurrences seemed to be photographically captured via the jumping shot.

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And so it began.

This led me to another question- what about the jumping shot is so intriguing as to have become a necessity in the lives of full time skiers?  As with most topics, I have a couple of thoughts.

1. Prove that if we really wanted to, we could have been beach volley ball players

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…well everyone except for Annie. Celebrating a great day in Ramsau, Austria during the Pre- World Juniors trip in Winter 2013.

2. Prove that we can all count to three, all at the same time

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When you consider how many muscles had to fire at exactly the same time, this coordinated jump shot from my senior year trip with Dartmouth to Silver Star is actually VERY impressive.

3. Demonstrate that even after a hard workout, we can still leap into the air (fitness)

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Just a couple days ago we did threshold ski walking intervals up Stratton, and despite the hard effort managed to get ourselves air borne at the summit.

4. Because it’s part of our strength plan

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This week for strength Max threw some hurdle jumping into the mix! Channeling my inner-bunny.

5. Our best attempt at trying to capture just how happy, excited, and truly lucky we are to be doing the things we do.

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Whooo! Jumping for joy in Almaty, Kazakhstan with my SMS T2 teammates Ben and Annie at the 2015 U23 World Championships.

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Celebrating the absolutely stunning landscape with my Dartmouth bestie Natalie in Silver Star, Canada.

Sometimes it’s hard to capture how awesome skiing is.  And sometimes a “normal” picture just doesn’t seem to do it justice.  I think the jumping photo is the closest thing we have to showing just how happy we are to be doing what we do.  Even if it’s cliched and silly, I love the jumping shot.  So let’s keep on jumpin’!

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Other ways to show you’re happy (and also tired): goofy roller ski shots at the end of a Sunday roller ski over distance session.

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Sophie showing how much fun she’s having being pulled around during a recent roller ski drill session. Yee-Haw- Till next week!


 

 

 

NPR recently released a very long, very confusing, very educational-albeit slightly boring- article on how the Billboard Hot 100 songs are determined, and how streaming services (think Youtube, Vevo, Pandora, Spotify) affect the songs that land the coveted top spot.  The list has had to stay in tune with (pun only half intended) the constantly evolving world of music (listening, purchasing, downloading, and sharing).  As with any “top” list, industry politics play a large role in determining what gets put into the equation that spits out the top song, and many people get their feelings hurt, and have a lot to say on the matter.  The issue is especially hot right now, as Billboard just released their first “Song of the Summer” ranking, and as the NPR article discusses, some people are mad.

Here’s a quick way for the Billboard Hot 100 to avoid any scandal: Put SMS T2 in charge of the chart.

Here at SMS T2, we take our training soundtrack almost as seriously as the actual training itself. For every aspect of our lives as full time skiers, we have a song. From coffee inspired wake up jams to pre-snoozing ballads, we make sure our soundtrack stays current and awesome. Due to the wide variety of moods, times, and people we must have a song for, I think it’s safe to say we have the ultimate Billboard Hot List. There’s a song of the summer on here for everyone, so take a look!

The Happily-Sipping-Your-Coffee-Song

Shine (Kygo Remix), Benjamin Francis Leftwich

Even if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, Kygo’s epic remix of Shine will be sure to flip that frown upside down (make you smile).

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And if that song doesn’t put you in a good mood…Jessie certainly will! Jessie arrived on Wednesday, and it has been such a treat spending time and catching up with her! We found a new coffee shop near Stratton, the Coffee Bar, and it is AMAZING. Jessie poses with her mini Macchiato (don’t be fooled, that lil guy punches a two shot espresso punch).

The Interval Song

I Want You To Know (feat. Selena Gomez), Zedd

I don’t always have as much fun doing intervals as Selena has dancing her face off in this music video.  But with this Zedd dance-pop anthem blasting out the van window, I can’t help but have a little more fun.

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           I was however having a lot of fun on Wednesday doing interval and taking full advantage of a bluebird Vermont day by doing some double pole threshold intervals. This week has been pretty relaxed volume wise, but the quality of sessions has been high. We have a full five months of hard training ahead of us, and thought it would be smart to ease into the swing of summer training.

The Over Distance Workout Song

Loving You Easy, Zac Brown Band

In my opinion, over distance time means country music time. Country music typically provides a good but relatively slow tempo to keep spirits high and feet moving when the workouts get long. Further, they often give many lyrics to interpret and emotions to consider. Loving You Easy fits this bill perfectly, as do a lot of country songs, because a lot of them sound the same.

The I LOVE TRAINING Song

Ohio (filous Remix), Damien Jurado

Really more of an I love life song, one listen (or twenty five if you’re me) keeps the positive vibes rolling.

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WE LOVE TRAINING. Sophie, Ben, and I successfully got above the fog line on an easy run one morning, and couldn’t have been more pleased.

The I DON’T LOVE TRAINING Song

Broken into Better Shape, Good Old War

Training isn’t always fun. Even though this week has been awesome, I know there is a workout in the future waiting to break me. Thankfully Good Old War mixes their signature vocals with a message perfectly suited to picking you up if you’re down.

Close Second: Kanye (feat. sirenxx), The Chainsmokers

Because occasionally being Kanye seems like a good alternative to doing all out intervals in the pouring rain.

The Strength Song

Stole the Show (feat. Parson James)*, Kygo

The perfect strength song makes you feel tough, motivated, strong, and a little bit angry. Usually on the darker side, the ideal strength song wouldn’t be caught dead on a Kidz Bop remix. Kygo has a lot of pure gold music, but Stole the Show stole my heart (and continues to give me muscles).

*Maybe the weirdest music video I’ve ever seen

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Working on some squatting in the gym. I’m working with the Power House at Highland (where I strength trained this spring) from afar, and it has been awesome. Bring on the protein powder!

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Pat has so much confidence in my leg muscles that he didn’t even have to watch- he just knew I’d make it back up :)

 

The Dinner Party Song

2 Heads, Coleman Hell

The key to a good cooking/dinner party song is for it to be simultaneously subtle and interesting. As is the nature of a party, some people will be deep in conversation not listening to the music and others will be by themselves listening intently. 2 Heads is perfect for the 2 ways a dinner song can be enjoyed.

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Jessie and I have been whipping up some stunning meals. We started our romantic cooking for two off with the previously featured Mexican-themed corn cakes Thursday. Friday we had a Vietnamese inspired Beef Pho soup (pictured here), and Saturday we made a Farro salad with Italian sausage and roasted brussel sprouts (check back on Thursday for more on that…). Eat well, train well!

The Always Appropriate Song

Bad Blood (feat. Kendrick Lamar), Taylor Swift

I’m only a little offended she didn’t ask me to take part as one of her sidekicks in the music video.

Happy Monday, and I’ll be back next week with another life update!

 

 

 

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.

 

Confessions of an Over-Packer (and some pictures!)

Last week was a full week of training.  We did two speed workouts, two interval sets, one over distance workout, and a huge clinic with the Ford Sayre Ski Club in Hanover, NH.  Looming over each workout last week was the knowledge that I had to begin packing.

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A pretty accurate image of me packing

One problem I’ve never had on trips was having too few clothes.  Some might argue, maybe, perhaps, there’s a chance, that I pack too much clothing.  As a result, sometimes the 50 pound bag rule becomes a problem.  Have I worn three sweatshirts, a winter coat, and my heaviest winter boots while flying?  Yes.  Am I ashamed?  A little.  Is it possible for me to change? Here’s to hoping.

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The 100 Kilometer Ski (we did it!)

I’ve spent a good deal of the morning trying to come up with the best way to relay my 100 Kilometer experience. At first I had a schedule format planned (at 7:00 AM this happened…at 8:00 AM this happened). Then I considered comparing my mental state at various points of the day to different animals (think an Ostrich with it’s head in the sand, or a very angry raccoon).

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I instead decided to narrate the day through a series of pictures (a HUGE thanks to Annie’s boyfriend Will for taking them all!).  A picture is worth a thousand words, and I think most of them speak for themselves.  But just to make sure, I’ve added some captions.  Check ‘em out!

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FedEx and Fundraising: A Brain Game

A quick game to start off this week’s blog post. What do the FedEx logo and the picture of me finishing a race (with Isabel Caldwell cheering hard) at the 2014 Middlebury Carnival have in common?

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donate isabel cheering annie at middlebury

Here’s a hint (and some background):

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