Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Snow at Salmon Hills!

Originally, Jess and I planned on being up in Canada for Thanksgiving, because they were having Noram races in Quebec and Foret Montmorency normally has really good snow. However, the snow situation was looking pretty thin, there, and they cancelled the Norams, so, we cancelled our plans and converged on Salmon Hills. Salmon Hills is on the Tug Hill plateau, and gets whoppered by lake effect snow as the warm air from the Great Lakes comes galloping eastward and drops its load as it hits the cold interior air. So they already have a lot of snow up there, but they're getting another foot tonight. It isn't often that I get to use my race skis on my first ski of the year!

Long slow drive to get up there from Rochester, but it was worth it. It was snowing, big heavy flakes making a wet snowpack, 34 degrees and snowing, time to classic ski! Lets just say I missed the wax first time around.


The skiing is here. The skiing is good. Rollerskiing in Boston is going to suck mightily after this.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chasing snow

Heading to Rochester today. Partially to see the parental units and Tira, partially to go skiing at Tug Hill. Salmon Hills has good skiing, I hear, and so does Osceola. Hopefully Bristol will be open, because it would be nice to NOT have to drive four hours round trip to get to Salmon Hills and back on Thursday...

A little bummed I'm not in West Yellowstone, but it'll be nice to actually be home on Thanksgiving, this hasn't happened since... highschool? And I can't wait to put in 20 hours on snow over five days... wheeeee!

(Mendon Ponds in the snow, missing the little guy)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blue Hills Traverse

Yesterday, the New England Orienteering Club (NEOC) hosted the 36th annual Blue Hills Traverse, a race that basically traverses the Blue Hills, south of Boston. It was a fun race, billed as a follow-able long run, at 13.5km straight-line distance. I ended up running around 15km, so clearly I didn't take the most direct routes, but I thought they worked pretty well. I've posted the naked maps below, and maps with my route are further down the page. The Blue Hills are large enough that the map was two-sided, broken into east and west sections of map. The start is at the triangle, and the finish is the double circle.

I had every intention of treating this run as a nice easy OD, and I started off nice and slow to keep it in zone 1. Packs were starting to break up by control 3, and then I lost the pack I was running with as I went a different way to 4. At this point I noticed that I was ahead of a pack I'd been chasing, and wanted to get to 5 before they did, and when I got to 5 there was nobody in sight, my competitive fires had been stoked. Goodbye easy OD...

I started running for real when I was on trails, and took the "safe" approach of hitting trails as much as possible, for faster running and easier navigation. From 6 to 9, I was loosely in contact with an "old but accurate" group of guys who also were moving pretty swiftly, a little too fast for me through the woods, so I let them go. I headed north towards the road to get to 10, and got to 10 just behind the old but accurate group, and tried to catch up to 11. I didn't see them again until I was leaving 14, at which point I was starting to feel pretty good. I ran along the road to 15 and I was racing at this point, all systems were go.

I hiked the hill to 15 to make it easier to drink more gatorade, I think carrying sugar-water and gels was a key part of my ultimate strategy of beating the old but accurate group, because they were just drinking water at the water controls and I was actually fueling. Go me. By 17 I could see the slower half of the old but accurates, and I used superior navigation (instead of faster running, my usual strategy) to get to 18 first. Leaving 19, I saw two young 'uns, and I knew I was having a good one. I caught the front of the old but accurates (there were only about 6 in that group, and they were pretty spread out) running along the trail to 20, and then JJ, a very good old but accurate orienteer, headed up the hill into the woods sooner than I would have gone. I decided that since following was allowed, I'd follow him.

This ended up being my only mistake. JJ had gone into the woods too early, I'd blindly followed, and now I was having a helluva time relocating in the light green with low visibility. Eventually I got to the control, at the same time as JJ and another young'un who had followed him, but the old but accurates were gone. I made up some time on the trail to 21, and decided on the northerly, flatter, slightly longer but easier to navigate through route to 22, where I passed two more of the old but accurates. The other young'un followed JJ, and finished about a minute ahead of both of us. I ran into JJ again at 22, beat him to the punch but he was well ahead of me to 23, and then to the finish.

Overall, it was a fun race, and I was happy to let my competitive side take over. Splits from most of the competitors can be found on attackpoint. It looks like I lost about 3-4 minutes in my blundering to 20, which is frustrating, but my own fault... should have trusted my own navigation! Fifth girl overall, I think.

Here are my routes, more or less.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Incidents on the rain bike

The rain bike is a pretty special piece of metal. Ed's dad found it in a pile of trash, and soaked the chain in some magical mystery oil for a while and now it works. Except for the shifting, the cable is slipping somewhere and I've been too lazy to fix that, so you can't use your low gears. Or maybe I should say low gear. Supposedly there are ten speeds, but being unable to put it into the big ring means there are only five speeds. And its special shifting means there are more like 2-3 gears. But it does the trick when its raining and I don't want to deal with cleaning a bike. Except the brakes. Those work, but not in a panic-stop sort of way. More of a gentle slowing motion, except not that gentle because something is definitely shimmying when you squeeze the front brake. Probably the wheel isn't on tight enough. There was this one time, when my rear wheel fell off in the middle of a busy intersection in downtown Boston during rush hour in a rainstorm... that was fun. I've learned to carry tools with me when I ride that bike. And duct tape.

Anyway. I was riding home, and it was early, around 3:30pm, because I had to go to a doctor's appointment, and so the sun was directly in my eyes. I could see lights, but not much else, so I wasn't going very fast, because with a bike like the rain bike, you don't go very fast, especially if you can't see too well. Although once that thing gets going, its got MOMENTUM. I was crossing an intersection on Comm ave, and I saw the silhouette of a woman starting to cross the crosswalk. I figured, no big deal, she's way over there, I'm over here, I'll just keep going and I'll be ten feet past the crosswalk by the time she gets to where I am. And then this little kid on a scooter zooms past her along the sidewalk, straight into me. I go down, he goes down, and the screaming starts. He has some blood on his cheek, luckily the mom is pretty cool and not screaming at me once she realizes he's ok. He was wearing a helmet. So was I. I'm hyperventilating pretty bad, my hand hurts like none other and my leg doesn't want to move. Some dude who saw it happen gets my bike out of the middle of the road and I kind of roll myself to a parked car, hoping other cars won't hit me. Soon I catch my breath enough to get out of the road and ask the mom if her kid is ok. He's maybe 4, 5 years old. I feel horrible, I should have stopped when I saw her enter the crosswalk, but how was I to know she had a kid zooming around on a scooter? It was a green light in my direction, but still, I just ran my bike into a five year-old kid. What sort of monster AM I?

So once we agree that nobody is hurt, and I've thought through the adrenaline to realize that my hand probably isn't broken and I can move my left leg, we part ways. A woman offers to drive me to a hospital but I figure I'm going to one anyway and they'll have ice packs there. But boy was that a guilt trip for the rest of that ride. Plus being unable to use my front brake made for a slow, painful, crawl to the hospital, close to tears any time I have to move my thumb. Its better now, I can hit the space bar. Hopefully I won't go crashing into little kids again any time soon...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

US Ski-o Jackets

So, I could use a little stylistic help. The US ski-o team jackets are coming in soon, and I need to get them embroidered. Team name, sponsors, logos, all that good stuff. I've been given free reign for artistic design, and I'm trying to decide what to put where on the jacket. We don't have an official US Ski-o team logo, so I made one up. I don't even know if its necessary, but I thought it would be nice on the front shoulder opposite the sponsors with "USA Ski Orienteering" written below it. As for the back of the jacket, I am torn between the writing "USA SKI ORIENTEERING" and the logo of a control flag with "USA SKI-O" written on it. I also can't decide which colors I like best for writing. The jackets are red with white highlights.

Here are the logo choices:

Here is what I'm thinking of doing with the jackets:
Jacket front:

Jacket back:

Got opinions? Advice? Criticism? I'd love to hear it...

Monday, November 17, 2008

New boots!

One of the great things about being an Alpina-sponsored athlete is that Dorcas sends me new boots each year. I try to tell her that my old ones are still fine, but then she says I didn't rollerski enough. Not that I'm complaining... This year's boots just came, and after a short test drive, I'll freely admit I like them a lot. I do miss the heel-tightener-thing that was on last year's model, but it appears that they're going for lightness this year. Possibly at the expense of warmth, we'll see how that works out. I guess thats what overboots are for. My feet are probably the ultimate test of whether a boot is warm enough.

The coolest thing (other than the logos) is that the boots are waterproof. They breathe, too, which is a lucky thing. I'll admit I was worried that they wouldn't breathe when I found out they were waterproof, but there was no need to fear. How waterproof, you ask? Well, lets just pretend that I was peeing behind a tree and I may have peed on my foot a little and it just beaded up and rolled off. And then when I dipped my foot in a stream (to wash off the possible pee particles) my foot didn't get wet. I'm psyched to see how awesome this feature is in those sloppy late-season slushfests. Or just at Weston in January.

The other cool thing about these boots is just how light they actually are. I don't have a number for you (but I bet you could look that up somewhere, like at Alpina sports), but they're really light. Supposedly, the cuff is made out of titanium and carbon fiber. Those are words to make road cyclists ooh and ahh. The sole is pretty thin, too, which is a good thing, because it puts your foot in even closer contact to the ski. Or rather, binding. Whatever. Classic skiing in these things is like you aren't even wearing a ski boot, you feel that connected. I can't wait to try them on real kickwax instead of rollerski ratchets!

admire my sexy cankles in their shiny new boots. Complete with all sorts of gold bling. You know you're fast when your boots have bling!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Beaver Brook Orienteering

I had to do a long OD saturday, a ski-run combo workout, and I figured I'd do the running part at an orienteering meet, to keep things interesting (and possibly walk more of the uphills, since nobody can see me in the woods... wait did I say that?). UNO was having a meet in Hollis, NH, so I planned out a rollerski loop near there and headed north in the rain.

The rain abated slightly for the ski, but unfortunately one of the roads on my loop didn't exist, and happened to be the only way over that ridge without adding an extra 5-6 miles, so I had to turn my loop ski into an out-and-back. Aside from that, it was a beautiful day to be skiing. By the time I got to orienteering, though, the rain had started up again with a vengeance. Thank god for map cases... I decided to run the blue course, since I needed another two hours of L1, and blue is the longest course offered. It was a bit much for my brain, though, and I started having concentration issues near the end. Here is the map (straight-line distance 9.2 km).

The first six controls were pretty straightforward, and although I sure wasn't moving too quickly, things were ticking along. The way I approached control 7, there weren't any catching features or real attackpoints to work from, and it could have been ugly if my compass bearing had been off, since the area was covered in small white pines, which allowed for running through the woods but really limited visibility. To, say, three feet or so. So you had to be really on top of your direction on the longer legs. To get to 8, I headed downhill and followed the trail along the river, until the trail made a sharp bend and the hill came right down to the trail. 9 was a water stop, which was greatly appreciated, despite the fact that I was licking the rain off my upper lip every three seconds or so...

The next tricky set of controls were 11-14, which all required some amount of concentration and connection to the map, since there were no obvious trails or other handrails leading to the controls, but my mad skillz prevailed and I had no issues, although I went really slow from 13-14. There was fresh logging near 15, so I went around on the trail to get to it, although I should have gone on the trail to the right of it rather than the left. 16 was clean, but 17 was my first real mistake, I ended up on the cliff to the right of the trail thinking I was on the cliff to the left, and spent some time scratching my head wondering where I was. Dummy.

By this point I was out of food and into my fourth hour of an OD, and my brain was starting to fail me. I made it to 18 without a problem, but overshot 19 a bit, again it was in those dense white pines and visibility was super limited. Then I made another mistake, coming out of the woods at the trail junction to the NE of 19, thinking I was at the junction to the NW, and not checking my compass before I bolted down the trail. By the time I'd realized my mistake it was another 8 minutes lost. Luckily, the last three controls gave me no problems, and I limped on back thoroughly exhausted and absolutely starving. Blue courses are long. But a fun way to waste a couple of hours!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Urban orienteering

I joined some CSU orienteers for a workout last night that was really fun, and different than anything I'd done before. Urban orienteering! I bet there is a "real" name for this somewhere, but that pretty much describes it. The map is of Harvard university, which is pretty good for orienteering because it is so complex. Lori set up a 5km course, (thats straight-line distance), and I headed off into the darkness to see how quickly I could run it. The pinkish-brown is pavement, the dark gray objects are buildings, the hashed-pink area is construction, yellow is grass, green is people's yards (off limits), and white is open forest, generally that means grass with some trees. I had fun trying to pick the best line to get from point to point, it was certainly more like ski-o than foot-o, because you couldn't just take a compass bearing and run through the woods, you had to actually choose which paths and roads to follow because there were large brick buildings in the way of going straight.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The working athlete

This summer, I was priviledged enough to go to two training camps up at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center. Priviledged not just in the sense of being invited there, but also because I work at a job where I can take off for a week to pursue my passion, because I had the funds available to pay for the camp and the travel to the camp, and because of the quality of coaching, training, and recovery available while I was there. Being at a ski camp makes you feel like a pro, because everything you do is planned out specifically to make you a faster skier. Its a relief to have a change from the usual grind, but camps are not quite like vacation, because there is no beer and your tan lines don't look too good in a bikini afterwards. There is also this sense of FOCUS, even when you're just sitting around with your feet up.

Despite loving ski camps, I don't think I could live that life, day-in, day-out, eat-train-eat-sleep-eat-train-eat-sleep repeat. I live a busy life down here, but I like it that way, it keeps my minimal attention span amused. This is not an ideal lifestyle for being the fastest skier I can be, though, and camps serve to remind me of that. Training as a working athlete is something that master athletes do everywhere, and while I didn't think it would be that difficult as I was graduating college, I've come to realize its no joke - there is a reason why we don't see many senior skiers living a master skier lifestyle, we aren't tough enough! They're right when they say "job, family, ski training, choose two". As Ilke mentioned after one of the Jericho rollerski races, she and Jess were the only people there with real jobs. Most pro skiers don't have time for a real job, because they are just that - pro skiers.

When I'm at a camp, pretending to be a pro, my schedule looks somewhat like this:
6:55 wake up
7:00-7:30 easy jog or spin on the stationary bike to loosen up, stretching or yoga
7:30-8 breakfast
8-9 pack food for training, get ready etc
9-12 training session 1
12-1 lunch
1-1:30 nap
1:30-2:30 ice bath or physical therapy for various overuse injuries
3-6 training session 2
6-7 dinner
7-9 shower, chill out with my feet up, browse the web, watch tv, be a waste of space.
9pm bed

rinse, lather, and repeat...

When I'm home in Boston, a day in the life looks something like this:
5:25 wake up
5:30-8:00 training session 1
8-8:15 rushed breakfast, pack lunch, change clothes, run out the door
8:15-8:45 ride to work (nice weather), or
8:15-9 bus to work (feeling wimpy)
8:45-9 shower
9-4:30 work
4:30-5:15 bike home (it takes longer in the afternoon, theres always wind)
5:30-7:30 training session 2
7:30-8 make dinner
8-9 finally sit down/eat dinner
9-11 make lunch for tomorrow/other random chores that always need doing (sharpen rollerski tips, fix bikes, achilles pt, maybe read a book to unwind... )
11 bed

yeah, double workouts suck. Anyway, the lack of a nap is clearly my limiting factor. If I could nap everyday, I would totally be an olympian...

This is what happens to wannabe pros when they meet the real pros:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Oh vacation.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Race report

No, not Putney. Nor Plymouth. I didn't race 'cross this weekend. This year, I'm loving 'cross in an absent way. Because I love the sport, I really do, but we need some time apart, me and 'cross. Definitely a case of its not you, its me. A part of me really wanted to go to Putney, with that kick-ass run-up, but the reasonable part of me informed the less-reasonable part of me that I probably wasn't going to have fun while riding, and I would come home and whine to my friends about how I can't ride my bike because I never ride my bike and if I'm going to race, I need to ride a bike. So instead, I ran a 3000m on the track! Because that is an exciting prospect! It was more of a time trial than a race, since only three of us showed up, myself and Rion and Frank, and Rion and Frank wanted to break 11 minutes, while I wanted to break 12, so it didn't look like I'd be running with anyone.

The 3000m run is a benchmark that skiers tend to use to gauge fitness, although I think it favors runners... good thing we do things like strength tests and double pole tests as well. I tend to run two of these each year, which leads to many data points. yay data nerds! I decided to not try and run even splits like I do every year and listen to Frank's advice of running splits that start a little fast, get slower, and then speed up at the end. I went to the extent of writing those splits down for a 12, 12:15, and 12:30 time, expecting to be around 12:30. Since graduating highschool, my PR is 12:18, and I don't know how fast I was in highschool, but it was fast enough to get to sectionals. Or states. Or something like that. My memory of highschool track is somewhat fuzzy. Last June, my first 3k of the year was 12:38, and I was pegged. I suppose that's normal for a 3k on a track, but my first thought when I finished this one was that I didn't have to do another one until next year. Phew!

There isn't really much to say about a running race that is against your watch on a track. The weather was nice, a little breezy but not enough that you felt slow, I didn't get lapped by Frank or Rion, and I hit all my splits for running a twelve-minute 3000m, gaining two seconds on the 5th and 6th laps to finish in 11:58. woot, new PR. It is nice having some affirmation that you're on track with your training, so now I am more confident in my fitness than I had been feeling after the last 'cross race. After all, pure sweet cardiovascular hell is what I am training for...

That was a fascinating race report, no? I could talk about my four-hour rollerski on saturday instead... whats that? You don't want to hear about that either? boo. But, now is the time to train, racing can come later, and its time to focus on what matters... like halloween candy?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Missed starts

I wake up, too frequently, from nightmares at races. I'll be standing in the start pen only to realize I'm still wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, and then I realize I don't even have my skis. And they'll call my name, I'm starting in a minute, and I realize I'm not warmed up, I haven't waxed my skis, and I've lost my bib. Frantic running around ensues, complete with a moment where I am trying to get jeans off over snow clogs, do you ever get those stuck moments in dreams? The running feeling where you can't run fast enough, you're running through water, trying to find a tube of klister but then you realize its 20 degrees and snowing and you're even farther from being ready than you were at the beginning...

Hopefully this means I won't miss any starts this winter.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


They tend to wander around my neighborhood. Sometimes they'll charge you if you get too close. I counted eleven birds... do they know that I'm visualizing them stuffed and roasted when I see them?

...walking in like they own the place...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

#1 Reason I'd never make it as an office manager...

...self-restraint. err. LACK of self-restraint, rather.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

If you can't go fast, may as well look good...

(All cross shots from zoo, thanks!)

People liked the bee costume as I was running around cheering on the men. People REALLY liked the bee costume as I wore it racing... I got many jokes about not being allowed to wear aero equipment, using my wings on the uphills, buzzing, and sting comments. Although I wasn't wearing a stinger. Anyway, thanks for all the cheering folks, it made the race a lot more fun!

I should race in costume more often, it makes it absolutely impossible to take yourself too seriously, which, when you're way off the back, is a good thing. I actually got called up to the third row, I don't know how that happened, but there were people behind me! I felt special, and I felt really bad for the girls behind the bee. Off we go, its clustery through the hole shot and over the tracks and I realize that this whole "don't start so hard, dummy!" tack is working, and I'm relaxed and it feels good. End up sort of riding with Callie, yo-yo-ing more than anything else, for a lap or two or three. I think I might have made it three laps. I was still entertaining the notion of catching the girl in blue and the girl in green and maybe even the girl in red. And then I got slow. I don't really know what part was slow, I think I just overall slowed down, on every part of the course, and Kat Carr, who had been miles behind me, caught up to me, and Callie was way out of sight, and well, it was hurting a lot.

So I rode with Kat for the last three laps, and she was doing the same thing I was - going really slow on flat straight parts. She had no problem closing gaps, though, any time I tried to open one. I had a real dilemma at the ride-up/run-up thing, because it was faster to ride it, even if I would be almost at a stop at the top, but then my legs were too tired to do anything other than shift gears and go at two mph until I turned the corner for the barriers. Running it was slower and the fans didn't like that, but my legs would feel much better when I got back on the bike. Last lap I decided to ride it, since I was hoping Kat would bobble, and maybe she did, but she closed the gap again. So we tootled along the pavement to the corner and turned the corner and started sprinting and yes, I was on her wheel, all set up to blast around her, when the race brain said, "hey, you should be in your big ring. You have a big ring, after all, you should use it". And the other half of the brain, the part that controls what my body does, agreed with that logic, and mid-sprint, I tried to put it in my big ring. F&*%ing rookie.

But that course is so much fun to ride that it was ok that I just lost a sprint out of sheer stupidity. Gloucester should take some notes. And, I wish I could remember all the bee-related things people were yelling at me during the race. My favorite moment was running through the sand, when somebody yelled "fly! fly bee!", so I started flapping my hands, much to the delight of the little six-year-old girl watching the race, and then I caught my derailleur in Callie's front wheel... luckily, we untangled that mess before setting down the bikes.

Ride it bee!

CSU Rollerski Race

Sunday I figured I'd had enough biking for a while, so I headed north to Andover for the 20th edition of the CSU rollerski race. It was a 15k classic, mostly flat, and mostly attended by CSU and Harvard ski team. Sounds like they have a real team this year, should be exciting. The course starts with an uphill, then rolls downhill for a while, then after you make the turn it rolls uphill, then you make the next turn and its a gradual hill on really bumpy pavement, then a downhill, then ~200m of flat into the finish.

We all started together, 20-30 rollerskiers, and going into the first hill I was already at the front of a second group, with a first group of some of the faster guys, juniors (who were only doing 7k), and Hillary Rich, who I assumed would be doing 7k since she was skiing fast. I figured I would probably get dropped by those guys if I tried to ski with them, and with this wind I'd rather have people to draft, so I stuck with group two up the hill. I also was not quite as warmed up as I meant to be, since I spent half of my warmup in the car with the heat on...

About halfway through the downhill rollers, I'm in a little group of John Rich and Chris Burnham, a master and a junior, and John is leading us with a mean double pole. Going up one of the hills my kick double pole is proving faster than his striding, so I figure I'll lead for a while, when I hear a *snap*, and my little metal extender doohickey on my left ski flops to the side. The extender doohickeys are on my skis because they're combi Marwes instead of classic Marwes, and the combi skis are shorter, so to properly kick you need the extender doohickey. I tried to keep my curses under my breath, because I didn't want Chris to hear his coach swearing, but I was worried I would have to double pole and kick double pole on my right foot only for the next 10km. Luckily, after kick-double-poling on my right foot only up a hill, I realized that I could still use the left ski, I mean, the ratchet wasn't broken, it was just too short with a metal piece with a wheel sticking out diagonally towards the right. So I could kick, I just had to be very careful about bringing my foot back through, so that I didn't catch the metal doohickey on my other ski.

Once I figured out that I could still ski, I caught back up to John and Chris, and we started to reel in Jimmy Burnham and Tommy Rummel. Came through the start/finish area, and Chris pulled off, having finished his 7km race. John and I started up the hill, and because I couldn't kick comfortably, I had to slow down my tempo, and John got a fairly big gap. Its a long hill. At the top I looked back and saw someone coming up the hill, but I couldn't tell if it was a guy or a girl. I tried to hammer the flats/rollers to catch up to John, but he had a good 30s gap on me. He caught up to Jimmy, and on the downhill before the gradual uphill on bumpy pavement I could hear my pursuer catching up on faster skis. I worked pretty hard up the gradual hill, but then it went downhill again before the finish and my pursuer caught me. It was Audrey Mangan from Harvard, on proskis, and I had to drop into the lowest tuck known to man in her draft to keep the gap from opening too much. By the bottom of the hill she had maybe 6-10 feet on me, and I barely caught back up to her by the finish, but she still beat me.

Annoying to have lost two sprints in one weekend, but, at least the rollerski race it wasn't because of my own stupidity.

(photo credit Chris City)