Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fall favorites and exciting news!

While I may be a skier and obviously love winter, fall is my favorite season!  I love watching the leaves turn especially when the colors burst so vibrantly that you can almost see the change happen. I love the fall aromas of apple or pumpkin baked goods, deliciously paired with a cup of hot tea.  I love having to fire up the wood stove for the first time of the season while still needing to add that extra blanket on the chilly nights. I love waking up in the crisp and even frosty mornings and starting the first training session really cold and then warming up as the early fog lifts and the temperature rises, unveiling another beautiful day.  I love the sound of geese flying south overhead and the crinkle of fallen leaves underfoot, simultaneously audible when playing outside.  I love the excitement knowing that the ski season is just around the corner and remind myself of this whenever my rollerski pole tips slip on the cold pavement or I'm stuck behind a leaf peeper driving hopelessly slow.  As the foliage hits its peak and the weather cools, there is no place I'd rather be than in Vermont.  We're only a week past the autumnal equinox but the Fall already feels in full swing busy with training and other excitement.

Yellow, orange

and red!

So many awesome colors as the foliage hits peak in the NEK
I have very hard working parents who live closely to the land.  They grow or hunt almost everything they eat and heat the house solely with wood.  When my dad broke his hand a week ago he was still trying to ride his bike, harvest the gardens, and finish the woodpiles.  One armed wood splitting is pretty dangerous though so I was happy to come home and help.  It's a great strength workout and the satisfaction when the wood cracks and falls with one solid swing made all the other unsuccessful hacks worth it.  

Fall is apple season!

Applesauce, apple crisp, apple pie, apple cider

And an apple picking trip isn't complete without maple candy.  These sweet, melt in your mouth treats are the best taste of fall!  Anybody who hasn't tried them before is really missing out!!

Most importantly, I love VT maple syrup!  
I'm very excited to announce a new partnership with Butternut Mountain Farm, a Vermont based maple syrup farm and distributor.  Butternut Mountain Farm started as a family sugaring operation at the end of a dirt road in Johnson, VT.  In the 1980s a couple of poor seasons forced them to buy syrup from other sugar makers to fill all their orders.  They have continued this practice and today, as well as tapping their own trees, the family farm plays a key role in the VT maple syrup production.  Vermont leads the nation in maple syrup production and Butternut Mountain Farm distributes over half of that crop.  Maple syrup is a staple in my diet and I love it so much I drink it straight.  Maple syrup is great in anything and challenge you to find  food it will not improve.  It has a lower glycemic index than honey or other sugars, it's a great source of antioxidents with high levels of polyphenols, zinc, and manganese and it's delicious!

Check them out today at!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lake Placid Training

Fall is in the air!  The trees are transforming into lovely combinations of oranges, yellows, and reds.  We've had to cover vegetables with blankets and row cover in the gardens to protect against the first couple frosts of the year, the harvest moon will be in the sky tonight, and that added excitement which accompanies the nip in the air is running through every Nordic skier's veins.  Every year autumn is kicked off with the annual Lake Placid training camp.  As the weather cools and the leaves start to change, we up the intensity with a camp full of hard sessions in the Adirondack mountains.   It's the perfect setting with lots of mountain trails to run on, quiet roads for rollerskiing, a rollerski track at the Olympic complex for speeds and sprints, and of course Whiteface Mountain providing enough vertical to fill the muscles with lactic acid while bounding or rollerskiing up it.  This camp is one of my favorites because its close to home and there is always a great group of skiers working hard together and pushing the level with every training session.  This year wasn't any different and we had an awesome group of athletes from Craftsbury, Stratton, the USST, National Training Group juniors, and more.  For me its fun to have both of my teams training together in the same place!   In twelve days we trained close to 40 hours including two overdistance workouts, two speed sessions, four intervals workouts, and one uphill rollerski race.

Children at Play!  Absolutely!  Thanks to everyone for their hard work making the training a success.
Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury GRP) leading everyone at the start of a classic OD (Matt Whitcomb photo)

Jessie, Liz, and I during a distance double pole workout (Bryan Fish photo)
Max bounding intervals up the alpine trails on Whiteface Mountain was the first hard intensity session of the camp.  This workout is great to do with a big group with everyone pushing each other along and there were lots of lactate levels recorded in the low teens on this day proving that we had found the pain cave.  (Bryan Fish photo)

We did a lot of agility work on rollerskis which was fun and a great way to warm up for speed sessions.  Becoming more comfortable and agile on rollerskis allows you to have a better feel for the movement and make technique changes easier.  Here I am practicing doing a 180 degree jump and then some backwards skiing. (Matt Whitcomb photo)
There were plenty of mountains to run up and we did a 3.5 hour run over Big Slide and Yard Mountains which finished with a cold waterslide adventure.  (Andy Newell photo)
The Craftsbury team rented houses in town that had a great sun deck for soaking in the last of the summer rays.  I stayed with my US Ski Team teammates in the Olympic Training Center.  It's dorm style living and can be a bit boring at times but its perfect for recovery between sessions with a cafeteria open for 14 hours each day, ice baths and contrast baths available, foam rollers and a PT room, and very few distractions for easy napping and resting.  
We had a few opportunities at the camp to connect with the local community.  The Adirondacks are one of my favorite areas and the perfect place to be a Nordic skier so it was fun to share the experience with some young kids in the area.  One afternoon we participated in a Fast and Female Power Hour and discussed goal setting and then did yoga with 35+ young girls.  Here are all of the F&F ambassadors at the event.  Awesome ladies to train and hang with! (Abby Weissman photo)
We did a school visit at the Lake Placid Elementary School and had fun playing games at 3rd grade gym class (Matt Young photo)
And the Lake Placid camp wouldn't be complete without the Climb to the Castle rollerski race.  It's a 5 mile race up the toll road on Whiteface Mountain which has an average grade of 8%.  It's a hard grind that finishes with screaming legs and a steep pitch through a wind tunnel.  The finish line is usually obscured in fog/mist/rain/sleet and the head wind is so strong that it's hard not to worry about being blown backward with each tiny step forward.  Major toughess points are awarded for crossing the finish line.  The best part is sipping coffee and eating cookies in the castle after the finish, knowing there are 365 days until you have to do it again!  We made it though so onward to the next challenge! (Erika Flowers photo)