Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer vacation 2010

Thanks to this whole graduate school thing being pushed back, to an unspecified date in August, I've been enjoying my second summer vacation in a row. I could get used to this! While some might spend free time on a beach or otherwise relaxing, I am incapable of doing something as normal as that, and it seems that I'm even busier than when I also had a job. Its all fun, though, and I've come to realize that I get all jazzed up about projects when I have the time, but I have to be realistic and cut back before I start work again, or I'll just disappoint myself by not getting stuff done.

First off, Ed "re-hired" me as his sales manager. He'd been trying to do it all himself, but I have the coaching contacts, so we're collaborating again. He pays me in sushi (but on commission), so its definitely a win-win situation! Running your own business is no joke, but Ed runs a tight ship, I'm impressed with his operations. His rollerski ferules came in last week, so we're trying to get those out to the right people and all that good stuff.

I also managed to put together the contours and aerial photos for basemaps for a couple maps that I've been wanting to make for orienteering. The first is the Boston College Law School/Edmands Park, which happens to be a five-minute walk from our door, hence the desire. Its not a huge area, but it would be sweet for a sprint or two and to train on a map. OCAD (orienteering mapping software) has its issues, but I'm starting to figure it out. Next up is Boston Common, for which we have a map, but it isn't in OCAD. So, its a matter of digitizing/transferring the data over to an actual computer file, with accurate contours and all that good stuff. This is really Ed's project, but I'm helping out. And the next map is the UMass Amherst campus - the place is huge! It would be perfect for a campus sprint, and if all goes according to plan (this is what I mean by biting off more than I can chew), I'd like to set up a campus-O series at some point this year at Amherst.

And along those lines, I nominated myself as meet director for the big east-coast ski orienteering weekend this winter. We don't have a snazzy name yet, so help me out and suggest me something. So far what I've got is "NH Ski-O Weekend"... doesn't quite cut it. We're thinking of using two whole new maps, so it involves lots of permission-getting and speculation about maps in places where you can't go field-check, and pushing and shoving and herding these cats to get all the information together soon enough to put it on the NENSA calendar before it goes out. Which happens soon.

So as though that weren't quite enough to keep me busy, I've been coaching my usual mid-week specific strength workouts, my friday core-from-hell workouts, a couple extra rollerski technique sessions for people who ask nicely, and trying to keep on top of the kids who still need to send in training logs and answer the questions of the ones who are always on time but can never hear enough about skiing (hey, I understand that position - I was there), and this weekend I'm thinking of setting up a scavenger hunt somewhere on an orienteering map. Wheeeeeeeeee momentum!

So in all my spare time, I'm reading up on some freshwater ecology stuff so that I'm not caught out cold when I start doing work, if that ever does happen, although I hope there is at least a little review at the beginning of the classes... the grad student handbook was fairly intimidating, but I think I have everything ironed out, I at least got the classes picked.

What can I say, life is more interesting when its packed full of things you love to do. And its nice to be in Boston with no dayjob, at least until about noon each day, when the heat gets unbearable. Although today, I was out setting streamers for an orienteering training session later in the week at noon. That was fairly unbearable too, although the nail in the coffin was the track workout later that night... I think its time for bed...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thompson Island Orienteering

NEOC held an event on Thompson Island last weekend, the home of the Outward Bound program here in Boston. I didn't realize that the Boston Harbor islands were anything more than glorified trash heaps, but I guess I thought wrong. Thompson Island is actually fairly large, with enough terrain for a 4km orienteering race. It was billed as a sprint, but any course that takes me 30 minutes is not exactly a sprint, in my mind. My scanner is broken, and I've lost my camera, otherwise I would share the map - it was hardly a technical course, due to a lack of forest, but it was certainly interesting enough, with a mix of open fields, park/buildings, and salt marsh. Since we were running around low tide, it was possible to cut straight through some of the salt marshes, although the mud was squishy and slimy enough that running through it was slow and mucky. And now my shoes smell like some sea creature died in there.

The results were up quickly, and I ended up 5th for the day, first woman. Most importantly, ahead of Ed! It was definitely a runner's sort of course, although still possible to make mistakes, and with the hot sun and lack of wind, I was just not running fast enough to pick off Bill or Giovanni - I can't come close to John or Ross. The far side of the island was the sheltered side, and there was a long, straight, sunny stretch of running between control 6 and 7 where I really thought I was going to melt. Or have my head explode. And to think that it was actually cooler out there than on the mainland... I'm ready for this heat wave to break.

In completely unrelated news, I attempted to start work on the masters stuff at Amherst this week, and it looks like we're pushing stuff back even further, until we can get a meeting of the right people to talk about my thesis, before I start work on it. This gives me another week or two or three of vacation, so I'd best use my time wisely and go back outside to play!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bald Mountain

Ok, one more photo dump - from Bald mountain, a 3k footer in Willoughby state forest. We took up the little beagle, and she seemed to thoroughly enjoy the rock hopping, although mostly when going downhill. She likes to run downhill, reminds me of someone else I know...

We found him a place to live for next year! Nice little abode, good views, a little drafty at times...
Willoughby from the top of the fire tower on Bald Mt.

And some last photos from Kingdom Trails...
Pretty red barns. So Vermont.
Too. much. climbing.

Our nighttime activities are pretty good, too.

I'm winning. Ed has one word.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Last days in paradise

I could get used to this house on Lake Willoughby, aside from the whole dark-as-hell kitchen and lack of light switches. I know it was built a long time ago, but you'd think that by now, they would have gotten around to light switches... anyway, Ed joined us on Wednesday, and we did much more biking and hiking and running and playing in the water.

"How does this thing work?" "I dunno, you tell me!"

It turns out that my family just isn't good at doing water stuff. My mom and Christophe and I headed out to find an alleged rope swing on the far side of the lake under the cliffs one night, after an abortive attempt to find said swing that morning, when the waves were just too large for comfort in our little rowboat with the engine. We found the rope swing, and had to figure out how to make the boat not float away. We could have tied the boat's rope (that normally ties it to the dock) to a tree, but then the boat might run into the shore because of the waves, so we decided to lower the anchor. My mom picked up the anchor and said something to the effect of "Sweetie, this is really heavy. Are you sure?" and Chris and I both agreed that we should just toss it overboard. Splash.

After a good time playing on the rope swing, it was time to go home, as the sun was starting to set. I attempted to pull up the anchor, reasoning that if Mama could have thrown it in, I should be able to pull it out. It wouldn't budge, so I called over Christophe, who attempted to pull it out, still nothing. We both hauled on the chain for a bit, but no luck. After trying various stupid attempts to do something with an oar and a cable, Christophe decided that he had no choice but to dive down and see if it was stuck. I held the chain taut and watched him get smaller and smaller as he went down; I'm terrified of going underwater and fairly claustrophobic, so I was getting pretty nervous watching him shrink underwater. Eventually he came back up, turns out the anchor is stuck under a rock. Well, how big is the rock? So, he went back down. The rock is huge! And his ears really hurt, the anchor must have been 25 feet underwater, and he was making that descent and ascent quickly. After some debate, a little panicking and a lot of tugging on the chain, we determined that the only thing to do was to detach the anchor and just buy Sam a new one. Of course, then we hit the second problem, that the chain seemed to be rusted on to its attachment thingy. Luckily, Christophe got us free, otherwise, we'd probably still be floating there, cursing water and swimming and boat stuff and all things related to water.

Shooting into the sun. I still haven't located my camera, but was able to steal photos off my mom's camera all week.


Eventually, Ed and my dad decided to come rescue us in the canoe.

And then they wanted a tow home. The nerve!

Then, the sun went down. Home just in time.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More photos from the Kingdom

Its not all biking, but its mostly biking...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Northeast Kingdom of VT

I'm currently up in the Northeast Kingdom of VT, attempting to ride myself senseless on the Kingdom Trails. My parents decided that we needed to have a family vacation, and chose northern VT as a meeting place, in a house on Lake Willoughby. Unknowingly, they'd picked a place within 15min of East Burke, home to Kingdom Trails, so I'm pretty happy. I brought Christophe with me the first day; he is pretty out of bike shape, but suffered along with me halfway up Burke Mt so come down Dead Moose Alley, and then was pretty trashed for the rest of the riding we did that day. My dad was the next victim, and we stuck to some of the lower trails, but he was pretty impressed that we'd ridden for three hours without repeating a single trail, and there was still more!

But, this vacation isn't just about mountain biking. There is also hiking, road biking, canoeing, and trail running to do here, and of course lots of eating and reading and game playing. I got crushed so badly in Monopoly last night it stopped being fun. Now that's a whupping.

The following photos are from the hike I took with my mom and Tira up Eagle Cliffs (we were calling them beagle Cliffs), on the other side of the lake. Tira may be getting very old, but she can still scramble up rocks with the best of them. We were on some serious rocks, too.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wapack trail run

The Wapack trail run is becoming a staple at the CSU ski camp. We did it last year, and the fast girls' group was just Cate and Hannah. This year, it was Cate, Hannah, Katie, Olivia, Charlotte, and Zoe, and we were in high spirits for the whole run. We started at the north end, and the boys started at the south end. Olga and Sue LaChance led the slower girls' group, and didn't finish that much behind us, despite our flying down the hills working on quick feet.

The excitement of the day came when the girls went to get their dry clothes out of the van - the boys had taken all their clothes out of their bags, turned the bags inside out, and put the clothes back in. Outraged that the boys would rifle through their stuff, the girls plotted their revenge all the way to the bbq at Jim Rodrigues' house - he and his wife had invited us all over, since they live near Windblown, and they gave us a delicious lunch, complete with s'mores.

Cleaning up afterwards, apparently Julia is something that needs cleaning up, too.
Fire + boys = fascination. All six of them, watching cardboard burn on the grill.

A NENSA-sponsored cookout!

Max figures out how to trap smoke in a water bottle.

The real excitement of the day, of course, came in the form of the girls' prank on the boys. They soaked some tampons in cranberry juice, and trashed some of the boys' rooms, with the tampons, toilet paper, and shaving cream. They went a little overboard, but the reaction on those boys' faces was absolutely priceless.

"There are instructions on how to use a tampon stuck to my mirror! I have VIVID IMAGES imprinted on my brain!! AAAAH!!!" (from a first-year J2).

We had to cut it off at that point, because the boys were threatening flaming turds. We were about to have Northern Ireland on our hands. Rob managed to get everyone calmed down enough to watch blazing saddles, and now its off to bed before the skate time trial in the morning. If we fail to teach them anything about skiing, we'll at least send them home tired...

Friday, July 9, 2010

A long day at camp

The day started early, as days tend to do at ski camps, with a morning run and some yoga. People are slowly learning the value of being on time, as I've been leaving on the dot for the morning shuffles. Thank god breakfast follows immediately, although it doesn't help with the early part of that.

Today was a long one. We started with a morning workout of classic/double pole speeds. The Blue group and Gold group broke into boys and girls groups, and did different-lengthed warmups so that I could start videotaping one group and then the next, while the Red group did a much longer warmup, and the Green group went out on a skate ski. It took a fair bit of coordination on the logistics side of things, but I think it went pretty smoothly overall.

Luckily, I had as much energy as I always do.

After lunch and some video review, we got a brief break, during which most of the athletes took naps and got their feet up, and Isaac, Olga, Jimmy and I (Isaac, Olga, and Jimmy are our "intern" coaches) filled water balloons and planned the scavenger hunt we were doing this evening. I created a map using google's satellite view and a pen and paper, and then we came up with some darn interesting clues. Which state has the longest coastline? What is Rob's favorite movie? Solve Fermat's last theorem.

After lunch, it was time for some ultimate frisbee as a warmup, and then I led a pretty hellacious strength circuit. My circuits are always hard, but this one was just cruel. I think maybe too cruel, next year will be a little easier. We finished up with eight-minute abs and then some optional pushups, and a good crew of CSUers chose to do a pushup pyramid - what have we created?

After dinner it was scavenger-hunt time, and although there were a couple incidents of water-balloons-to-the-eye, there were no tears, and nobody got lost. Nobody solved Fermat's last theorem, either. But Rob's favorite movie is Enter the Dragon, if you were wondering. Once we'd calmed down from the scavenger hunt, Rob gave them a talk on sports psychology while I went out to collect controls, and now we're attempting to rest up before a hike on the Wapack trail tomorrow. Hopefully with no thunderstorms.

That was enough activity for a full week, damn.

Oh, and last night, Kelsey walked in and announced that it was "wacky tacky" night. Wear anything, as long as its wacky or tacky or both. Rebecca went all out. Olga and I were a little more modest. Unfortunately, most people removed their costumes before we went mini golfing.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sizzlin' CSU Summer Camp

NYC set a new heat record on Tuesday, and so naturally the CSU summer camp got underway during this disgustingly hot and humid spell in the northeast. Winchendon doesn't feel much cooler than more southern bits of the east coast, but at least we have a pool here. The skiers braved the heat and humidity and did about two hours of skate technique on Wednesday afternoon, and only one girl almost fainted from heat stroke. After a quick shower we managed to get everyone in the pool, which, with 30 kids, is a feat.

Thursday morning was an early one, with a morning run and yoga session. The kids didn't seem too happy about this whole "early morning" thing, but for some reason my sympathy button is broken. The humidity was even worse this morning, visibility could have been measured in feet, not miles - it was like running through a cloud, only clouds are cold. Our first workout of the day was hillbounding/ski walking intervals at Mt. Watatic, and I was impressed with the calibre of our group - no whining! We did a fun, painful workout, and then I ran back up to the top just for kicks. That would make a good uphill running time trial. Brief stretch, lunch, and more pool time.

The afternoon workout was an overdistance skate workout for the older kids, the mid-range kids did a shorter skate ski, and the "green" group (we have a red group, blue group, gold group, and green group - I want a shiny group) did classic technique, which I coached. We saw a lot of improvement... hopefully they'll remember at least one thing from that lesson. Then it was dinner, celebration of Hannah's birthday, mini golf, and ice cream. For the first time in a long time, I got a hole-in-one, but I wasn't able to repeat it, and then totally cracked under the pressure, losing the game to Olga and Stoddard.

Tomorrow brings more fun, but the humidity seems to have cracked, so this 80+ degree weather is much more bearable.

I managed to get a deerfly bite in the armpit, of all places.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July 4

It was awesome, as always. I'm really hurting without my camera; the fireworks were pretty great, way more than last year and some giant big mortars and shake your whole body when they go off, I sat there and watched them without trying to take photos of them for the first time in I don't know how long. Ed acquired 84lbs of chicken for the Trout Club party on Saturday, and cooked it to just the blackened state that I love. Don't know about everyone else, but combined with his smoked maple syrup bbq sauce, I thought it was delicious. Some running, too much of that, really, and a completely failed attempt at a bike ride, which resulted in three dead tubes, a dead tire, four miles of riding, and two hours. The stars were not aligned correctly on July 5th.

I'm in Amherst now, all moved in to my new place, which comes with two super friendly labs and a dammed lake next door, which, when its 100F in the shade, is a nice touch. I've been exploring the trails and roads a bit, covered 42mi and 1000m of climb yesterday on my road bike, which is more than I've done all summer, I'm a hurtin' pup right now. Just haven't been interested in my bike, but in a new setting, it seems like a good idea to ride it, so maybe I'll actually be in shape come 'cross season.

Today I head to Winchendon for the CSU ski camp, and the heat looks like it isn't going to break for a while, so hopefully none of our little ski campers die of heat stroke. That would probably shut us down for good. The coaches, well, I think we'll be ok if we can lay off the coffee-and-beer diets we're all on, I hear water hydrates you better.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Saxtons River July 4th 5k

Last Saturday, I was running the Rootbeer Ridge loop with Ken, and he mentioned that he was racing a 5k tomorrow. The racerhead in me thought that sounded like a great idea, so I agreed to race too. Then we continued to run through thick, hilly, muddy, brambly, hilly trails for another hour or so, because if you want to race fast, you have to train for it. The day before. The loop wasn't actually that hilly, or long, but just taxing enough to take out a little oomph from my legs for Sunday.

It was hot even at 6:30 when I got up to go to this race. I did my best to hydrate, but my stomach was hurting from too much time in the sun on Saturday, so putting too much food or water (or coffee) into it would have been a bad idea. Luckily it was just a 5k race, those are short. I booked it over to Saxtons River and found them setting up for a big ol' party, with food vendors and trinket vendors and firemen and all the works, even a policeman. Golly gee! Ken and I jogged parts of the course to check it out, it started with about a mile loop in town, then the next mile was mostly uphill, gradually, and the last mile was downhill and flat along the [sunny] river.

101 people registered, and about 20 of them looked marginally serious (no ipods), so I lined up near the front. I was hoping that my tired legs would miraculously disappear, but for whatever reason, magic didn't happen when I expected it, and I started off feeling just as slow as I had in the warmup. The field spread out quickly; there were one or two short punchy hills in the first mile that spread things even more, and I soon found myself trailing behind a guy in untied sneakers (not a good sign) and an overweight middle-aged dude (OWMAD). By the time we'd finished our parade loop through the village and started climbing out of the valley, OWMAD and I had passed the untied-sneakers kid. At this point, a kid in those Vibram 5-finger shoes (basically socks) came by, looking determined, but OWMAD and I hung strong up the gradual climb on the dirt road. I could see the top two women ahead of me, one of whom happens to be an SMS skier, so I was hoping to catch her. The heat was starting to take its toll on me, however, and every time I looked at my heart rate monitor I got bad news.

I tried to stay nice and relaxed up the hill, and as we crested the top, I could see a downhill reaching in front of me that was steep enough to let gravity do its thing. I opened up and dropped OWMAD, passing the barefoot guy too, but the downhill was unfortunately way too short. We then turned onto VT121, and the torture commenced. My head felt like it was going to explode, with the sun bearing down and the heat reflecting right back into that mirage-like surface over the asphalt. I started concentrating on keeping my cadence up, trying to keep up with the barefoot kid who'd passed me back. OWMAD was still behind me, but I wasn't making up any ground on Gage Fichter and the other woman, either. As I crested the last little hill before the finish through town, I was starting to see stars, and all I could think about was stopping running. The finish line took forever and a half to appear, but finally I was across, in 22:15.

Pre-race, I'd said that I'd be satisfied with a time under 22min, happy with 21:30, and ecstatic about sub-21. So I wasn't super pumped to have finished in 22:15, but at the same time, given the heat and the hike yesterday, I'm not going to whine about it. I'll just have to do another 5k to get that sub-21:30 time. And I beat Ken, so at least I'm in the position to do a little trash talking. I wasn't able to stay for awards, but I was 3rd woman, and first in my age class, 12th overall. Not too bad, although of course I'd like to be faster.

The best part of the day was definitely the swimming hole after the race. I was itching to get back to Weston, but I just couldn't pull myself out of that cold water.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Wednesday was my last day of work at TNC, and it was a fairly stressful time leading up to that - when you know that your contract is ending, but you're mid-project, it makes a lot of sense to pass things on to your replacement in as organized and sensical fashion as possible. This takes work, but I got all that pesky documentation done. And my replacement is wicked smaht, so I don't fear for the project, but it sure is hard to give up the data you've been working on for a year (or four). Anyway, I think I built bridges rather than burnt them, so that always feels good to leave a place in good standings. My coworkers got together and gave me a huge basket of Trader Joe's goodies (mostly chocolate) as a thankyou/goodbye, they know me, like to make sure I'm fed =).

Now I'm packing up large parts of my life and fitting it into my car and going to grad school, starting some time after vacation in July. UMass Amherst, in the Natural Resource School. I have a lot of pesky little details to figure out there, but I have faith that all that administrative crap is going to iron itself out... I might have to bestir myself to move it along though.

Change is hard. But I'm excited.