It’s October now and “happy hour” is looking a lot different than it did a few weeks ago for me. September went by in a blur and consisted of many hours driving along I-90 singing to Lizzo, creating flower arrangements, baking cakes, setting up twinkle lights outside, trying on shoes, car shopping, celebrating happy hour more evenings than not, hanging out with relatives AND MY SISTER’S WEDDING! Oh, and some ski training too.
Over a month ago, my friend Kristen Bourne and I caravanned from Stratton, VT to the Twin Cities. Because of Covid, we didn’t want to stop for a hotel and we both needed our cars in the Midwest so we woke up at 3:40 in the morning and were on the road by 4:00 for a 21 hour drive. I’ve done long drives before but never a solo one over 13 hours, so this was a real test. I was so grateful to have Kristen by my side on the interstate to crack jokes with me during bathroom breaks, share homemade snacks, and explore some new flavors of Red Bull (never thought I’d be a fan, but their new peach flavor is like juice)! While driving, I listened to “White Fragility,” which I highly recommend, called a few friends, and thought about how much popcorn a human could consume. Do you think a person could eat his or her weight in popcorn in one sitting? Kristen and I had a few rough moments (mostly me getting impatient, tired and cranky after 18 hours) but we made it safely back to Minneapolis!
Right away, I jumped into wedding mode. My sister, Marit, and her now husband, Nick, have been together for 7.5 years and got engaged last fall. Our friends and family had been waiting patiently to celebrate this marriage that we always knew would happen and although we had obvious Covid concerns for the event, Marit and Nick decided to go through with their plans. So, 36 hours after driving halfway across the country I put together a bachelorette party for Marit. That being said, it was not a typical bachelorette party. In fact, Marit refused to call it that so we referred to it as “Not a Bachelorette Party.” We started the day with six ladies and a 10-mile run (yeah…) followed by a boat ride out on Lake Minnetonka (I always crave Lake Life after being in VT for a while). Later that evening a few more ladies, moms and aunts joined us in the backyard for an outdoor dinner celebration. Only one game was allowed the entire day and one “outfit” which was a flower crown I created for Marit the day before – also, the most creative thing I think I have ever made, I was quite proud of myself. Don’t ask how long I worked on it.
Soon after “Not a Bachelorette Party,” my mom, sister and I drove up to our cabin in Hayward, WI to get ready for a small ceremony weekend with just close friends and family. The Spider Lake Lodge, located half a mile from our cabin, was the perfect place to hold the weekend celebrations. We spent most of the weekend outside running, boating, kayaking, swimming…
It was such a beautiful ceremony that kept tears slowly streaming down my cheeks the entire time. So many smiles, laughs and references to “marriage is like a marathon…” I’ve always looked up to Marit and it feels like Nick has been my older brother for years already. In a way, the wedding seemed so natural to me, but hearing their vows to each other just reinforced how truly happy I am for the two of them and can’t wait to see what their future holds.
Although it was a precious, small ceremony at our cabin, Marit and Nick still wanted to celebrate with more friends and family back in the Twin Cities. So, we had one week to clean up, recover from dancing, prep a new venue (Nick’s mother’s backyard) and refuel. During this week, I took a few days to connect with the Midwest ski community.
I spent an afternoon working with the team at Gear West to make sure we were all feeling prepped and ready to go for whatever this ski season might bring us. I also hosted a live and virtual strength workout for anyone needing some new at-home exercise ideas. It was fun to see a few familiar faces and work with some new folks, as well as support a giveaway to some Midwest Juniors sporting some of my favorite sponsors!
The following evening, I joined The Loppet Trail Kids practice and hopped into their adventure run. It’s so fun working with these kids and seeing their excitement about getting outside and staying active! After running and completing an orienteering hunt, I chatted with them all a bit about goal setting and chasing dreams. I explained to them that I was standing in their exact same shoes 15 years ago and never would have thought I’d be training as a professional athlete.
Although working with kids is by far my favorite way to give back to the ski community, I also had a great time joining The Loppet Ladies ski session the following morning to work on technique, balance and strength. Strength is such a huge component to cross country skiing, but can often be intimidating to females, so it was nice to see so many of these women working hard to get stronger and fitter with coach Kim Rudd! (Also, huge thanks to Kim for setting up these sessions for me. She’s such an awesome female leader in the Midwest ski world and so great to work with!)
After running around for a few days, I took one deep breath and jumped back into wedding week. It was so special to spend time with cousins I hadn’t seen in a few years (yikes, love you guys), celebrate my aunt’s birthday and my grandparents 55th wedding anniversary! We then had a backyard party full of good food, delicious cocktails, gorgeous flowers and so much more dancing. My brother, Anders, and I gave a toast to the lucky bride and groom, which entailed Anders wearing Marit’s veil. That was fun!
All in all, it was a great month being home in the Midwest. Of course there were concerns by everyone about Covid regulations and social distancing, but I think all of our friends and family did a great job being smart and cautious when necessary, while also celebrating Marit and Nick! Spending time with family always makes me a happy girl, which in turn I believe makes me a faster girl when it comes to ski training. That life balance is so important to me and allows me to better focus when it's time to buckle down for training. Although I'm bummed to be leaving behind semi-ritual happy hours with my family, it feels good to be back in Stratton, VT (after quarantining, driving back east and getting a negative test). Recently, there have been discussions about the season that seem more promising than they had a month ago. In all honesty, the domestic ski season was looking pretty grim and I was facing a serious lack of motivation for a few weeks, but nothing gets me more fired up than resetting goals, being back with teammates and getting back to work! Time to switch those evening happy hours into strength power hours!
Professional skier, traveling the world, exploring the culture, racing my heart out.