Second week of May and we’re getting back into the swing of things! Last month I treated myself to a vacation. Although I travel the world and don’t work a ‘typical job,’ I rarely get to see the places I travel to and often am sitting in a hotel room, recovering for my next race or training session. In April, I sat on the beach, indulged in many sweets, and traveled as a true tourist. I didn’t think about skiing and I only exercised when I felt like it. I allowed myself to take a big break from the sport and completely reset. I also gave myself the time to reflect on the past whirlwind of a season it had been, continue to process the fact that I missed an Olympic goal, and think about what my next goals could look like.
After Spring Series in Whistler, CAN I traveled to Negril, Jamaica with my mom and aunt for a girls trip over an extended weekend. I had never been to the Caribbean so I was in awe by the blue water and tropical climate. I went from 30 degrees and rain to 80 degrees and full sunshine pretty quick which meant a lot of sunscreen.
We walked along the beach every morning, chatted with the locals, ate fresh papaya and tried various types of jerked meat. We also spent a lot of time sitting on the beach, reading our books. After four days of this I started to get quite restless as I am not one to sit still for too long, but it also was such a great break from the usual business of the ski life. Alas, by the time we departed the island I was ready to get back to a bustling schedule.
I spent about 48 hours at home before departing for another trip, this time to Europe. Despite making the travels across the pond many times, I had never been a tourist in Europe until this spring. I met my boyfriend, Thomas, in Geneva where we traveled into the Swiss Alps to meet friends for some mountain adventures. We went backcountry skiing, Nordic skiing, hiking and biking. The town of Bagnes, SUI sits in a valley right below Verbier Resort. With access to great skiing up high and summer conditions down low, we had the best of both worlds. We even attempted the sport of water foiling, which is a mix between surfing, skateboarding and pogo sticking. Our mornings and evenings were spent doing activities while the afternoon was usually dedicated to work. I couldn’t take 4 weeks off from work so continued to work for my part-time job remotely throughout the trip. Luckily, there was always something to look forward to at the end of the day!
On Easter, we continued our travels down to the coast of Italy to a town called Portofino. We stayed at an agritourismo - a little farm up on the hillside that harvested olives and honey from their beehives. Thomas decided in March that he was ready to run a 50k in May, so we also incorporated some running during this part of the trip, exploring the little peninsula during an 18 mile run.
Exhausted from the run, we were ready to get back to tourist life and hopped on the train toward Florence. On the way, we made a pit-stop in Pisa to get some tasty sandwiches and capture one of more basic photos I’ve ever taken in my life. Such a cool town though!
We made it to Florence and immediately I was taken away by the cathedral, art and food of the city. I don’t think I can pick a favorite place during this trip, but Florence is definitely one I want to return to. Two days was not nearly enough time to see everything, although we did get around the city quite a bit.
We explored the Florence cathedral, baptistry, basilica de Santa Croce, basilica de San Lorenzo, saw the David, and strolled around the gardens. Also, Florence seemed to have a gelato shop every third shop on the street so we had our fair share of gelato too.
I was feeling overwhelmed by the art and history in the city. It had been a while since I had taken a European history class and although Thomas knew a fair amount Da Vinci and Michaelangelo, we decided to do some learning too. We found a podcast on Spotify by Dr. Rocky Ruggiero, an American professor who has lived in Florence for the past 15 years running study abroad programs. Ruggiero has over 200 podcasts about the buildings, cities, frescos, and other renaissance-related cultural items. His podcasts walked us through the mosaic in the Florence baptistry and the story behind the famous families buried in the Basilica de Santa Croce. His podcasts were both informative and humorous and I highly recommend them for anyone exploring central Italy in the future.
From Florence, we hopped on yet another train toward Venice where we met Thomas’s mom and her friends who were showing their art at the Venice art show. They say never visit Venice when it’s raining. The first day we were on the island it rained the entire day, but we made the most of it! We were told to get lost in the city and we definitely did that. We ate fresh seafood and listened to more of Rocky’s podcasts. Finally, we went to the art show at a palace on the Grand Canal, which exhibited artists from all over the world.
A quick trip to Venice was all I needed as I felt myself bonking from all the frescos and mosaics. They were absolutely gorgeous, but over a week of museums was enough for me. From there we traveled to Tuscany where we visited the cities of San Gimingano, Sienna and Pienza. San Gimingano is considered the Manhattan of the Middle Ages with numerous towers built throughout the city. Siena seemed to have been lost in my history textbooks so I was fascinated to hear how much of a thriving metropolis it had been as a rival of Florence back during the Renaissance. Meanwhile, Pienza brought us some of the best cheese and wine I have ever had.
While in Pienza, we were surrounded by three other smaller towns that were known for their Pecorino cheese and Nobile wine. Still prepping for a 50k coming up, we explored these towns during a 16 mile run through the countryside of Tuscany.
We capped off our travels having eaten more cheese, pasta, pizza and gelato than I had in a while. Although, I think my favorite food by far was the fresh focaccia. Cripsy, oily and salty, just what I was craving after our big adventures!
This vacation was everything that I needed at the end of a busy season - it gave my mind and body the time to rest and relax, which it was craving in March. During our last little stint in Tuscany we had a rainy day. I suddenly found myself feeling restless and anxious to get out the door. I was craving exercise and didn’t care that it was cold and rainy. I took this as a really good sign that I had spent April doing exactly what I needed to do. I was recovered and antsy to get back to training. I started craving endorphins and the structure around a training plan. Although I was sad to be saying goodbye to a European vacation, I was also very excited to be getting back to the US to start the new training season.
I spent one week at home in Minnesota visiting with friends and family and slowly starting to get back into a ‘normal’ routine. A few days ago, I traveled out to Bend, OR to meet up with my SMS teammates for our first training camp of the year. We will spend two weeks training on snow at Mount Bachelor in the mornings and biking and running on the trails in Bend in the afternoon. The training in Bend is so much fun and typically brings us spectacular spring days, which leads to the perfect way to kick off the training year.
Despite not making the Olympic team this past year, I’ve continued to have more fun with this sport than I had in a really long time. I’m loving my teammates, excited to continue working with Coach Pat O’Brien as well as our new head SMS coach, Perry Thomas (whom I trained under during my senior year at UVM). I am looking forward to the upcoming goals I have set for myself, despite them being scary and full of challenge. Play time is over, time to get back to work!
Professional skier, traveling the world, exploring the culture, racing my heart out.