A Thanksgiving spent alone in quarantine? That’s 2020.
A few weeks ago, my teammates Bill, Ben and I traveled to northern Vermont in search of snow and more training partners. Most of the SMS team started Period 1 on the World Cup, so they flew to Europe and their races have already begun! Meanwhile, our domestic races were cancelled back in September leaving us with limited options. The New England Nordic Ski Association worked quickly to put together regional races for the winter that would have allowed New England skiers to safely day-travel to races and compete at a distance from everyone. However, as Covid cases started popping up more frequently in Vermont, these races soon looked doubtful.
The boys and I decided to make the most of it and came to an agreement with the Craftsbury Racing Team (in northern Vermont) that we would try to plan for time trials in December, in the hopes of getting a glimpse at cross country ski racing. Because of the strict Vermont guidelines Bill, Ben and I stocked up on groceries and moved into a host family’s house near Craftsbury, while they were not in town. We tried as hard as we could to create our own bubble and limit outside interactions. We spent mornings training hard and afternoons recovering. I sat for hours right next to the wifi rotor trying to continue with my remote work. In the evenings, we would make a fire and play games to pass the time away. Settlers of Catan, Lord of the Rings Risk, multi-person solitaire… we were up for anything!
Originally, we traveled to Craftsbury anticipating snow to fall and the ski season to begin. Although there have been a few flurries here and there, unfortunately it has accumulated to be just barely NOT ENOUGH snow to ski, but too much snow/ice to roller ski. Alas, we have worked our running legs, explored new hikes in the area and skied on a thin layer of dust on top of pavement.
Although the boys and I were not interacting with outsiders, we were not yet included in the “Craftsbury bubble,” which meant we could not train with them. We waved to them from across the road as we ran by and spread out from each other by 30 minutes for a roller ski time trial, seeing the Craftsbury team out there working inspired us to get working too. Bill and Ben would frequently let me tag along with them on runs or for a few minutes of skiing, but in the end I was left without a training buddy most days.
I don’t have a problem working out by myself and would qualify myself as a pretty good solo-trainer. But friends are nice too! Without any racing or traveling prospects in the near future, I realized we better get into a routine around here. So, when the Craftsbury team extended an invitation for me to join their “pact,” I did not hesitate. Joining the pact entails a 3-4 day quarantine (if you're already a Vermont resident), a Covid test, and waiting for that result to come back negative. Once cleared, I am allowed to move into the Craftsbury team house (home to many of my closest ski friends), train with the other athletes, use their gym and eat in their dining hall. However, I am not allowed to go into a grocery store, a friend’s house, or put myself in any scenario where there could be risk of exposure. So, here I am, six days into a quarantine just waiting to get my test results back…
I'm sure everyone's Thanksgiving holiday looked far from normal this year and I truly hope you were all able to make the most of it. At first, I found it strange spending the day by myself in a cabin, but then I realized it's pretty similar to every other day in the life of a skier. So after training in the morning I worked on a puzzle, finished a book (The Mermaid Chair), started a new book (Lost Girls), binge watched The Queen's Gambit and still got stuffing and cranberries to-go from the Craftsbury Dining Hall!
Something I've been able to reflect on throughout my recent quarantine as well as the year of 2020, is how much consistency can effect your goals. For example, since April I have been doing 30-45 minutes of yoga 1-2 times a week, without missing a single week. I've always told myself I'll do more stretching, but it took a global pandemic for me to actually create the habit. For the first time in my life I can finally touch my toes! I've also been working on cutting back my coffee consumption. This is bittersweet to me because I absolutely adore the smell, taste and energy rush that comes with coffee, but I found myself frequently laying awake at night, unable to fall asleep. I'm down to half a cup a day now!
Covid has forced me to come up with new routines, spend more time on the little things while also looking at the big picture. Let me relate this directly to skiing. I still don't know if I will compete in a single race this winter. However, I am staying diligent with my training, forcing the good habits and focusing on the variables that I can control. This type of consistency will help me in the long run (oh I hope) and push me closer to those big scary goals that are weeks, months, years down the road. Maybe I'm training for a time trial next weekend, maybe I'm training to further my athletic ability in the hopes of one day qualifying for an Olympic Team. Maybe I'm simply learning how to deal with the uncertainty and remembering why I do this sport. Whatever it is, 2020 is challenging me, and everyone, to step up to the occasion, focus on the details and stay persistent with our goals.
I admit, I spent a few hours dwelling on my solo Thanksgiving day, but I quickly realized how lucky I still was. I had a beautiful cabin in the woods all to myself, the most delicious fresh food served in a box for every meal and training right outside my door! I was able to virtually connect with friends and family all over the world and appreciate all of the little things I had to be thankful for. Thank you friends and family for your continuous love and support, I hope you had a very happy Thanksgiving. I can't wait to hug you all once we're through this!
Professional skier, traveling the world, exploring the culture, racing my heart out.