Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Different Kind of Fall

Hello from Vermont! Most of the SMS T2 team is in the process of returning to Vermont after Park City camp, but I've pretty much been here since New Zealand. Skipping Park City camp was a hard decision to make, but after a quick turn around between New Zealand and PC camp, getting very tired at altitude last fall, and doing some tests this spring that confirmed training at high altitudes can make it very hard for me to recover, I decided to stay in Vermont this fall and try to put myself in a place where I feel well rested and confident going into the season rather than risk digging myself into a hole of tireds. I love Park City camp, seeing my U.S. Ski Team teammates, and taking an annual mini trip to the desert each fall, but this year is an important one, and I figure if there is one year to be smart about it, this is probably it. And honestly, it's been really nice! It actually only ended up being about two weeks of training without teammates, and I wouldn't want to do anymore than that, but training on my own schedule, at my own pace, with my own thoughts was pretty darn nice for a couple weeks. It didn't hurt that the weather has been pretty perfect back east and with the exception of a couple rainy days, I've still been enjoying t-shirts and sunshine.
Cat time

Running on the AT

Hiking in Stowe with Mae

Apple picking

Running through the leaves

Boston Ski Ball with Ida and some young fans

Summit selfie on Monadnock on the way home from Boston

Foliage left and right
I did sneak in a quick trip out to Colorado to visit Simi and his family and go to one of our friend's weddings. It was the perfect fix of mountain adventuring and spending time with CO friends to last me until spring. Paddy and his girlfriend Anne came and visited for a day and we hiked Paddy's first 14er (my second) and got to romp around in some early season snow.
Lost Man Loop with Sim

Hiking up Castle with Paddy, Anne, Linden, and Sim

Golden Aspens covered in snow

Heading up!
We leave for Europe in just under a month and I'm looking forward to having most of my teammates back in Stratton. We have a couple more weeks of solid training in Vermont and then we are going to head up to Quebec to get on snow for a few days in the beginning of November. After that, we have ten days to prepare for another winter in Europe and before we know it, we'll be racing!
My favorite season in Vermont

Lunch in downtown Peru with Mae

Monday, September 4, 2017

Life Down Under

We've been in New Zealand for two weeks now and I'm currently enjoying our final day off before putting in one more solid week of training. As the hours add up, each day our eyes get a little glassier, legs a little heavier, and it becomes a little harder to get out of bed in the morning. Eh, I take that back. It's not very hard to get out of bed in the morning when you're waking up to this.
It's weird knowing that summer is pretty much over. It sounds like temperatures are dropping back home and when I get back to Vermont, it will hopefully be my favorite season - the transition from summer to fall! I was able to celebrate the end of summer in style at my cousin Lucy's wedding before flying down under. It was the first time all the Caldwell cousins had been together in years, and we had a great time tearing up the dance floor and went our separate ways with happy hearts after a weekend full of hiking, swimming, and family celebrations.
All ten Caldwell cousins!

Family hike

My favorite wedding date
When we arrived in New Zealand, we were greeted with mid-winter conditions. After a few days of colder snow, we had our fair share of warm, slow snow, and we're currently settled somewhere in between the two where it's warm enough to wear spandex, and cold enough for the snow to stay fast. Pretty perfect if you ask me!
Easy classic ski with a mix of sun and clouds (Jessie photo)

Skate speeds (Matt Whitcomb photo)

After a week or so up at the Snow Farm, we went down to the town of Wanaka for a few days to do some running, live in a house, and recover at sea level. I love life up at the Snow Farm, but it was nice to live in town for a couple days and switch up the routine. We went on two beautiful runs while we were down below.  The first run was along the edge of Lake Wanaka and the second followed the Matukituki river up through the different New Zealand landscapes of mountains, fields, and forests.
Running the Matukituki

Day off in Wanaka

Running along Lake Wanaka (Jess photo)

Jessie at the beginning of our Matukituki run

Matt trying out a moss wig

After our stint in town, we returned to the Snow Farm for another week and a half of skiing. We are mostly focusing on logging some volume on snow, but we've done a few interval sessions, speed workouts, and several of us jumped in various versions of the Merino Muster race over the weekend. The Merino Muster offers a 42km skate marathon, a 21km skate race, and a 7km skate. Jessie and Simi took the wins in the 42km races, and I was happy to cross the line in first in the 21km race. I got to ski the whole race with Caitlin Gregg (mostly following her) and had some of the most fun I've ever had in a long skate race!
Classic speeds with Brian Gregg (Matt photo)

Merino Muster 21k podium! (Julia photo)
We had a long ski on our schedule Sunday morning and we woke up to perfect crust conditions and couldn't help but send it into the mountains. With the help of our local guide, Nils Koons, we had a very memorable crust cruise and ventured further than I've ever gone off the trails here. After today's rest day, we have a few more easy skis and a few races before heading back home. It's been an incredible trip and I can't believe how quickly it's flown by. Thanks for following!
Chris Mallory on our crust cruise

There they go! (Matt Whitcomb photo)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer Favorites

As our final week of summer comes to an end, here's a quick look back on some summer favorites:

New bests - As we get older and do the same time trials and tests year after year, our times tend to improve, but it gets harder and harder to set personal bests as our times get faster. Our team has some people who are double poling machines, others who can crush the uphill run test, and some who can cruise to new records in a 10k skate time trial. It's healthy to get competitive sometimes, but we've found a good way to celebrate individual victories, whether we were the fastest time of the day or not, it's always worth celebrating a new personal best.

Getting ready (and serious) for the two mile uphill run test with Annie

Eating from the garden. One of my favorite parts about summer is planting myself (no pun intended) in my parents' garden for an afternoon snack or an hour of harvesting berries and fresh vegetables. Farmer's markets are overflowing with produce and it's a nice time of year to be able to cook our own meals.
Summer colors

Blueberries from my parents' garden

Water. Honestly, I don't really like water. Well, I don't really like cold water, BUT when it's a triple H Vermont summer (hot, hazy, and humid), jumping in a swimming hole after training is hard to beat.
Mid workout plunge at Little Rocky Pond

Zzzzzs. Big training hours lead to big sleeping hours and nothing feels better than a good night of sleep after a hard day of training.
Sleep when you can..

...where you can

Elevation. My favorite workouts in the summer are long runs in the mountains. Whether I'm in the green mountains, white mountains, or rocky mountains, I love our running adventures that leave us feeling like we accomplished something #baggingpeaks
Climbing mountains in Montana with Jessie

Back in VT
And the White in NH!

Achy muscles. The actual pain of being sore isn't that pleasant, but knowing that you're getting stronger is a good feeling. Whether it's a new strength plan that makes it hard to lift my arms, sore quads and calves from running up and down Franconia Ridge, or a tired core from double pole intervals, it all means we're getting stronger at something and getting stronger is always good.

Lazy days. I love training hard and I also love lazy days. That's probably because they each make you appreciate the other even more. We generally take one day a week off and then one week every month is a recovery week where the training load is reduced dramatically. I couldn't even tell you what I do during a lazy day, but I guess that's the magic of doesn't matter! My lazy days aren't usually very structured and it's nice to take a day that doesn't revolve around training, but just revolves around what you feel like doing each hour.
Two breakfasts at once? Sure!

Ahah feelings. This year is a big year with the olympics coming up and everyone wants to perform well. When I sat down with my coaches at the beginning of the summer, we decided that we weren't going to try to reinvent the wheel, we were going to do what we know works and focus on feeling good. I was going to drop my hours a little, rest if I was tired, and not push it if I was feeling good. It doesn't seem like rocket science because it's not, but that plan has left me feeling pretty good this summer! I don't feel like I'm overreaching and I've experienced a fair amount of that, "Ahah" feeling where you remember what it feels like to feel good.
Running the Jim Bridger run in Bozeman

Classic ski with Erika

When sister time counts as training time, life is good.

New experiences. As much as I love summer and getting into a routine, I also recognize the importance of new experiences. Whether it's climbing the highest mountain in Vermont for the first time with a couple of my best friends from childhood, rock climbing in Oregon for Sim's birthday, or discovering a new place to mountain bike with KO, these are all things that make me really happy and as simple as they are, they're new and different, and keep me feeling happy and balanced.
Climbing Mansfield with Mae and Maddie

Girls' camp in Washington

Developing together. You've heard it before, but we wouldn't be at the level we're at without our support system. Getting up to train every day is easy when I know my SMS teammates will be there with me, running workouts with the junior and devo kids puts smiles on our faces when we see them eager to learn and make progress, and watching each other get faster and grow as people is a pretty neat part of this job.

Happier together

Future generation

So there you have it! Those are a few of my favorite things about summer, and if you put them all together, they spell...NEW ZEALAND. On Sunday we'll be heading down under for three weeks of on snow training in one of my favorite places in the world. Thanks for following!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer Training

May and June were fun packed and busy months for me. We were doing a lot of hopping back and forth between the east and west for camps and weddings, but now I'm back in Vermont for the next six weeks! After Bend camp, I was back in Stratton for a few weeks. It was nice to move into our condo for the summer and get in some solid training at home. My sister was back for the month of June, so I had a personal training buddy to keep me company!
Sister Iz!

Quality time with Bernie

Dragging Parker out on a run on our old stomping grounds

Family time (Gretchen Powers photo)

5 year college reunion!

Classic speeds with the girls
Running up in Lincoln, VT on a foggy day with Sim

Celebrating Megan and Dylan with some best friends (Gretchen Powers photo)

After a few weeks in Vermont, I flew west for Andy and Erika's Montana wedding and the U.S. Ski Team women's camp in Washington that followed. It was a beautiful wedding and a lot of fun to celebrate with so many friends and family. I love spending time in Bozeman because it's pretty much a playground of new mountains to climb. Between wedding activities and adventuring, the week flew by and before I knew it I was headed to the Methow Valley for the next U.S. Ski Team camp.

Hiking out to Emerald Lake in Bozeman

Dartmouth Ski Team buddies at the wedding!

Isabel, Mae, Austin, and me

The beautiful bride :)

Running in the Jim Bridger trail run. Not too long after this I took a big tumble, maybe due to that untied shoelace!

Hiking Sacajawea with Mae and Anya

Rollerski up Hyalite with the SMS girls

SMS gals at Erika's bridal shower
The Monday after the wedding I flew to Seattle for our next camp. We drove a few hours to the Methow Valley and settled into our rustic cabins for the week. We were staying in the middle of the wilderness in a couple of beautiful cabins that were given to us for the camp. We had no internet or cell phone service, and it was really nice to be disconnected for awhile! The Methow Valley is a beautiful area, but it's hard to get to. That's probably one of the reasons it has remained so untouched and lovely! We had a hard camp schedule with intervals almost every other day and easy distance runs and skis in between. I felt great for the beginning of camp, but unfortunately came down with a cold about half way through and had to come home a couple days early. I was bummed not to be able to finish up the camp with my team, but I was happy to get in a few days of good training and be able to explore a new area of the country I had never been to.
Tim Baucom (wax tech, friend, and assistant coach for the week) manning the feed station on a long ski up Washington Pass

Group with some Methow juniors

Team behind the team. Thanks to everyone who helped make this camp possible!

Thanks Winthrop PT and Pete!

Cabin life (Matt Whitcomb photo)
Skate team sprint intervals

Team Sprint workout (Matt Whitcomb photo)

Long ski to the top of Washington Pass
Once I got home, I took a few days off to kick my cold and started to feel like myself again.  Everyone on the SMS Elite Team is back in Stratton and we're looking forward to putting in a solid six weeks of training before heading to New Zealand for our next USST camp at the end of August!
Fingers crossed for more VT days like this!