It’s been hot and humid lately which means summer training is in full swing! There’s a saying that "cross country skiers are made in the summer." A lot of time, work, energy and resources go into summer training so that skiers can be strong and fit for a grueling winter season of racing. This year, I really put an emphasis on my spring training so that I’d be ready to hit it hard in the summertime. I gave myself enough recovery after last season to recharge, but then started working in quite a few miles of running and biking early on. The first few interval sessions were brutal, but I knew they’d get easier and I would become accustomed to the pain again. And that’s exactly what happened! About three weeks ago, things started to click! I was feeling better and better in hard sessions, the big volume felt more manageable, I even squeaked out a course record on our SMS uphill running time trial course!
Although, skiers love a good challenge and the world seemed to recognize that things were starting to click for me a little too early on. Last week, I headed out for an easy 2.5 hour skate ski with my teammates and things really took a turn for me. It was a gorgeous, Vermont summer day and we had just come off a recovery day so it seemed like there was lots to chat about from the previous 48 hours since we had seen each other. About 15 minutes into the ski, I was chatting and laughing with my teammate, Katharine Ogden, while we skied up a hill. All of a sudden, my wheel hit a little baby pothole that I didn’t notice and stopped moving. I was kind of able to catch myself as I fell to the ground and took a knee, only to lose my balance and somersault off the road and four feet down into the ditch…
However, I got up, surprised to see no broken poles, didn’t seem to have hit my head and didn’t have any road rash on my legs! So I crawled out of the ditch and onto the road only to have my teammates look at me and point saying, “Oh no!” I looked down and saw a white, golf ball-sized hole in my knee, that suddenly started gushing with blood. :) I insisted on finishing the ski, it didn’t even hurt! Luckily, my teammates are all smarter than I am and convinced me I needed to go get stitches.
I soon realized that stitches in my knee meant that I was going to be unable to bend my leg for a while, due to risk of the stitches breaking or the skin pulling. There was also a huge risk of infection with it being so hot and humid and my job requiring me to be outside in nature so much. This meant my only option was the ski erg, a stationary double pole machine that helps mimic the skiing motions without needing to get on skis or roller skis. Sounds pretty neat but let me tell you IT IS BORING!!!
Here are a few of the pains one goes through with a peg leg for a week:
Here are the GAINS you get with a peg leg:
All in all, I am very lucky with the injury I got. My crash could have been so much worse with a head injury involved or torn ligaments. I also have had relatively few injuries in my career (knock on wood). I have teammates who seem to constantly be battling with injuries and there are skiers who have had to sit our entire seasons or end their career due to injury. I’m feeling pretty thankful this was still a minor setback, but there’s not a great way to describe injuries other than that THEY SUCK! Of course, as soon as everything seems to be going well, there’s got to be a wrench thrown to keep you on your toes. But it’s good! It makes you question how much you really want to chase your goals. It’s easy to get outside and roller ski on a beautiful day, run through gorgeous mountains, and throw around some of the heaviest weights. But as soon as that’s all restricted and you can only move in certain directions, training becomes harder. It becomes monotonous. It requires grit. Cross country skiers love grit. I have found that the best way to deal with an injury is to rely on your support system. They are the ones who can encourage you to work through the sore muscles, but also persuade you it’s too soon to jump into intervals without risk of worsening the injury. Teammates can relate to you because we’ve all been through it, coaches can help modify workouts so you still get the work done, and your friends and family can send all the best messages to keep the fire fueled!
Fingers crossed I get these stitches out soon so I can stop walking with a peg leg, rejoin my teammates and get back to doing what I love most!
As we buckle in for what will most likely be a long summer and fall of ski training in Stratton, it’s important to develop a sustainable foundation and sense of home. With little prospect of traveling in the near future, I have created my home away from home as well as my family away from family. That is, I have a new mom and dad (also known as Jessie and Wade) whom I spend copious amounts of time third wheeling in our cute little home/condo on the mountain.
There are family chores to be done such as sweeping the kitchen floor, taking out the trash, cleaning dishes and washing clothes. Unfortunately, I have yet to convince my “parents” that I am spoiled enough to have them take care of these tasks for me so, for now, we divide and conquer. Our condo also includes an at-home gym that Mom and I use periodically through the workday while Dad is busy in his office.
Occasionally, it ends up being “Bring your Child Work Day” and I get to play 20 questions with Dad, grilling him about the stock market, bond trading, and office etiquette. I’ve learned a lot about the financial world in the last four weeks! When Dad has had enough of his daughter pestering and nagging him about work details, he sends me outside to see what Mom is up to. (I have a hard time believing any other parents out there use this method when they’re trying to get work done). Afternoons are spent as mother-daughter bonding time while we work in the garden, caring to our precious tomato plants, fragile pea shoots, and beautiful flowers. This special time continues indoors as Mom and I bake snacks in the afternoon and plan out healthy and delicious dinners for that evening.
Finally, Dad gets off work and we all contribute to cooking dinner. Mom and I take turns being Executive Chef vs Sous Chef, while Dad usually picks up the slack working on dishes. During our dinners, we get to reflect on our days, talk about current events, and remark on how great the food tastes usually every 90 seconds.
After dinner, we engage in a rapid group clean up, so we have time in the evenings to either watch movies or play games. We have been rotating through the tv shows New Girl and Home Town or the James Bond and Harry Potter movies. Dad has NEVER seen or read ANY of the HP movies (which Mom and I are appalled by) so this marathon has been very necessary. On evenings when the weather is nicer, we like to head outside and play croquet in the backyard or challenge ourselves to slackline tournaments. This is when I’m allowed to invite my neighborhood friends over to play and some of our SMS T2 teammates who have been following Covid quarantine guidelines come show off their skills. Sadly, I seem to be the bullied kid in this group and have yet to be able to complete a game of croquet without getting knocked out by the poison ball at the end. (If you don’t know what the poison ball is, I highly recommend touching up on your croquet tactics). Lucky for me, Mom catches me before the water works begin and grabs me a bedtime snack of either banana bread, popcorn, homemade ice cream or a piece of chocolate, and suddenly all of my worries are behind me.
I understand that it is important for Mom and Dad to have their alone time too. So, once a week I make a playdate at another friend’s house or go somewhere that is “Covid safe.” For example, I have had movie night and/or poker night with some of the boys. Also, I have been able to reach out to my long-lost aunt/grandma…. My ex-teammate from UVM, Mackenzie Rizio, grew up in the Stratton area and I have gotten to know her aunt and grandma over the years while living in Vermont. They truly have taken me under their wing like I am a part of their family and I always enjoy getting together with them for some good laughs. Last week, I went out to dinner for the first time in three months! I met Aunt Kimmy and Grandma Joan at the Arlington Inn in Arlington, VT. I have roller skied through this town before but never stopped to really appreciate how beautiful of a town it really is. Although dining outside with tables placed 20 meters away from each other was far from “normal,” the evening allowed me to stop and take in the beauty of the spring flowers, Vermont character, and family-like love.
The year 2020 has been quite the roller coaster so far. As my teammates, friends and family take a step back to realize the impact that our actions do or don’t mean to help the community grow, I think we have all found one thing we can really appreciate. It is so important to cherish the people around you and those that mean the most to you. While we all try to take this time to find the most productive ways to call to action, I have found extra warmth from my friends and family that keep me motivated, inspired, and happy to keep challenging myself and the people around me.
Professional skier, traveling the world, exploring the culture, racing my heart out.