Putney

Sunday evening I had a nice dinner at Ben and Sarah True’s house. I got to know Ben 10 years ago when we were both living and training in Sun Valley, Idaho. That year was one of his last as a competitive skier. Since then he has focused on running and is one of the best 5000 meter runners in the world. I met Ben’s wife Sarah last month when I moved to Hanover. She is wonderful and is one of the best Olympic-distance triathletes in the world. Ben and Sarah live across the street from me in Hanover. It has been wonderful to reconnect with Ben and get to know Sarah.

Also at dinner on Sunday were Brayton Osgood and Mikey Sinnott. Mikey was in town from Sun Valley for Dartmouth reunion weekend. Ben and I never lived together in Sun Valley, but we both lived in Mikey’s brother’s room with Mikey and his mom and sister on subsequent years. I moved in after Ben moved out. It was like old times to be together with Ben and Mikey again.

Yesterday after a three hour morning run I drove down to Putney, Vermont to touch base with my coach Zach Caldwell. The plan was to do a training/technique session yesterday afternoon, but I was exhausted. When I walked into Zach’s house he asked me how it was going. My response was that I wanted to cry for no particular reason. I also mentioned that I hadn’t felt motivated at all during the morning run (something that’s very unusual for me) and that I was worried that I did permanent damage when I overtrained last fall. With those three pieces of information, Zach decided we weren’t going out for a session yesterday afternoon. I hate skipping planned sessions, but it was definitely the right call.

Instead of training, Zach and I looked at my heart rate data from the last month, both training data and nighttime recovery data. We then worked with my other coach John Callahan to put together a plan designed to let my energy float up during the next week.

Also here at Zach’s house is my good friend and teammate Tad Elliott. It’s fun to see Tad, but I was really looking forward to seeing his El Camino, which he bought last summer and I’ve heard so much about.

It really didn’t disappoint.

Putney got some amazing rain yesterday, and the creek through Zach’s property was overflowing its banks.

This morning Tad and I headed out for a two hour skate session. Zach and his son Gunnar drove along with us to support the session. With getting sick then racing the Mount Washington Hill Climb and living out of my van for several nights, I have not been keeping up with my mobility and posture work. This lapse was apparent to Zach in my skiing. I was not skiing as well as I was three weeks ago.

So, in addition to bringing the training load down so energy comes up, I’m also going to refocus on my home exercises and I will have more frequent contact in the next several weeks with Zach.

Road Ride through the Whites

After yesterday’s race, I hung around the base of the mountain for the awards and after-party. I then killed time putting up yesterday’s blog on the excruciatingly slow internet at The Great Glen Lodge. I then started my afternoon training session from Great Glen, double poling down to Gorham, New Hampshire and back.

After the session I headed just down the road to Jackson, New Hampshire to meet up with friends who are running 53 miles in the White Mountains today, a route called the ‘Hut Traverse’. I spent the night with them in Jackson before they took off for their epic at 3:15 a.m. The Hut Traverse is known as a challenge: reach each of the 8 Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) huts in under 24 hours. I have confidence that they will “easily” succeed.

This morning, much later than 3:15, I reversed the car shuttle for them. They took my van to the start at Nineteen Mile Brook Trailhead. I drove their car to the finish at Lafayette Place Campground then rode my bike back to my car.

My route started by heading south on a very nice bike path along I-93 through Franconia Notch State Park.

I rarely ride on bike paths when I’m out on a road ride, but it was very pleasant.

It was a steamy, muggy day. The air was so thick that I felt like I was swimming.

After reaching the town of Lincoln I headed east on the beautiful Kancamagus Highway.

It was one of those roads that I’ve heard about for a while but had never been on until today.

It lived up to the hype. After going over the Kancamagus Pass I went up and over Bear Notch Road then back onto Route 16 past the Mount Washington Auto Road.

The whole ride took me three and a half hours.

I ended up with quite a head of helmet hair.

I’m now headed back to Hanover after a very fun 4 days.

Mount Washington Hill Climb

We got incredibly lucky with a great day for a race up Mount Washington.

The race itself was brutal. The course is 7.6 miles with 4,650 feet of elevation gain and there are few places where the road flattens to offer any real recovery. I went out with the leaders for the first half mile to see how their pace felt, but it was too much for me. I settled into my sustainable pace which put me all alone in 5th place on the road. I was moving WAY slower than the fastest guys and lost a huge amount of time, 8 minutes and 20 seconds, by the finish. Francis Wangari from Kenya faded in the second half of the race. In the last 3 miles he came back into my line of sight, but I was never able to catch him. He finished 4th, 15 seconds ahead of me. My time was 1 hour, 7 minutes and 14 seconds, which doesn’t mean much to me since this is the first time I’ve run this race.

Overall I believe my race today was a representative effort of relatively poor fitness. This isn’t surprising since I’ve only been training full time for 6 weeks. I’m looking forward to building on this fitness while maintaining good energy throughout the summer.

I was very impressed by the organization and the atmosphere of the race.

There were a surprising number of spectators.

Here are 4th place finisher Francis (left) and 2nd place finisher Sage Canaday.

Unrelated to the race, I think it’s cool that there are so many ways to get to the top: drive, take the cog railway or hike/run.

I’d love to come up on the trails sometime soon.

I enjoyed meeting a bunch of runners after the race.

Here is Francis with Simon Gutierrez from Colorado, who has been winning mountain running races for decades. He’s one of my heros and it was an honor to meet him.

The most impressive person in the race to me was George, a 97 year old who completed this year’s race in just over 4 hours.

Race results are here.

Mount Washington Preview

Yesterday afternoon I took the Dartmouth Coach down to Boston to pick up my car. The views from Boston Logan are amazing.

Yesterday evening I rock climbed indoors with a friend in Boston before driving just north of the city to sleep in my van. Two things about the van: first, I recently aquired my parents’ Toyota Sienna mini van and I love it! Second, I parked in a Walmart parking lot. Walmarts are always good options because they’re open 24 hours a day so nobody will bother you and there’s a bathroom and drinking fountain nearby if you need one.

I’m really psyched to have this vehicle and to be able to sleep anywhere.

This morning, very casually, I made my way north to the Presidential Mountains for tomorrow’s Mount Washington Hill Climb.

I went for a short pre-race run around the base that included 5 minutes of L3 (aerobic threshold) running and some accelerations. I then drove up the race course to preview it for tomorrow.

It is a remarkable road.

I’ve definitely never been on a road of this length that also has this consistently ​steep grade.

Most of it is paved, but there’s a short section of dirt in the upper half.

The weather was moody, but the views and clouds were cool when it wasn’t just foggy.

The road is very runable. It’s steep for an auto road but not steep for trail running.

I have no idea what kind of shape I’m in. I haven’t done any real tests since working back into training at the beginning of May. It is apparent that for this race I need to start at a sustainable pace. There won’t be any recovery, and it will take over an hour. There are some great runners here, including the world mountain running champion. I have no idea where I will fit in, but I’m looking forward to testing myself.

I owe a huge Thank You to Paul Kirsch, Sue and Howie Wemyss, all of the staff of Great Glen Trails and the Mount Washington Auto Road, the race organizing committee and the race volunteers for having me here and putting on a world class event.

I’m currently poaching internet from the Great Glen Lodge at the bottom of the mountain. I’ll sleep in my van again tonight. I like living simply out of the van, and I can’t wait for tomorrow.

Road Bike Loop

Yesterday evening I finished off a four and a half hour day with an hour and a half skate roller ski. I waited till 6:30 to start the session, and it had cooled down to the perfect temperature. I had a really nice ski.

This morning I headed out for a short road bike ride on a loop that was new to me. It was perfect out.

I rode south through West Lebanon onto Route 12A. I then turned east onto Trues Brook Road which becomes Willow Brook Road to Plainfield. That section was really nice riding.

I finished the loop by riding north on Route 120 to Lebanon, West Lebanon and Hanover.

The road biking around here is better than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. I like passing through or by covered bridges.

And I’m stuck by how many private schools there are in New England.

And I’m continually amazed by the amount of water around here. It’s a big change from Utah.

I’m currently on the Dartmouth Coach, a bus company that runs service between Hanover and Boston. It is a remarkably convenient service, it is a serious perk to living in Hanover, and I anticipate using it often. I’m headed to Boston to pick up my car, which my friend Barton Tofany left at the airport after taking it to his orientation session at Harvard. I happen to be on the bus with my good friend and U.S. Ski Team member Paddy Caldwell, who’s flying to the west this afternoon for a combination of vacation, training camp and wedding.

New Townie

Yesterday afternoon Barton Tofany and I went back to pickup soccer in Lebanon, the same group we played with on Sunday. This time I had the soccer scheduled as my afternoon session, and I wore a heart rate monitor to see my level of aerobic output during the game. I ended up averaging 127 bpm for the hour and 22 minutes that we played, and logged it as an hour of training (to account for breaks and stoppages). That heart rate is the upper end of where I’d want to be for a normal distance training session, and it’s exactly the load I hoped to get from soccer. I will definitely be including soccer in my training regularly.

During the game the weather was moodier and cooler than Sunday, perfect for playing.

Yesterday was my roommate Alice Bradley’s 28th birthday. She hosted a little get-together at our place to celebrate.

For me it was a great opportunity to meet more fun people and new friends. Most importantly, I think Alice had a good day.

This morning Barton took off to Boston to attend the orientation session for a Masters in Mathematics Education program that he’s taking at Harvard beginning in the fall. He was with me in Hanover for a week after driving my car across the country, and I’m sad to see him go. He’s one of my best friends, is an amazing guest and is up for anything. I’m honored and very grateful that he drove my car across the country, and I’m psyched that I got to spend so much time with him once he got here. I’ll miss having him around.

After he left I went out for a three hour roller ski double pole. To give a comparison to the soccer, my average heart rate for the three hours this morning was 110 bpm. Double pole generally yeilds the lowest heart rates of any training method I use.

Lastly and for no particular reason (but potentially most importantly), I want to introduce you to my new townie that I acquired this spring. It’s amazing.

I haven’t done it yet, but it is begging to be named. I mostly ride it to the Hanover co-op and the Dartmouth Climbing Gym. It’s wonderful.

Blogging Again and Long Run

This morning’s​ session was a 4 hour run. I went south on the Appalachian Trail into Vermont.

Today is my friend Barton Tofany’s final day with me here in Hanover. He is a great runner, but didn’t think he could handle a full 4 hours with me. The first and last 40 minutes of my run was on pavement, so Barton decided to drive to and from the start of the single track. In that way he was able to join me for the middle two and a half hours.

It was warm again today, and my legs felt a little heavy, but I still had fun on the session and appreciated the company for the bulk of the time.

On a different note, I’m posting today’s blog in the middle of the day, between sessions. If I continue blogging, I intend on making this the normal time to post. For the last couple nights I’ve been posting right before bed, and it’s made my already too-late bed time even later. This is a better time for me to post.

I’m doing all of these posts on my phone using the WordPress App. All photos are taken on my phone and are uploaded completely unedited. When I blogged daily between 2012 and 2015, I took most of the pictures with my camera. I would then upload the images to the computer, spend time selecting and cropping them and reduce their size before uploading them. Needless to say the process I’m using now is much simpler, although I have less control over the pictures (namely optical zoom). For text input I use a Swype keyboard, which I find fast and intuitive. In total, I believe these posts are taking me significantly less than half the time that a post of a similar length used to take me.

Ida and Trivia

This morning my friend and U.S. Ski Team member Ida Sargent came through Hanover on her way from southern Vermont to northern Vermont. One of the great things about Hanover, and one of the reasons that I chose to live here, is that it is very centrally located in New England. I’m close enough to meet up for training with nearly all of the international level cross country skiers in the region, and many of them have reasons to be driving through on occasion, as Ida did this morning.

Ida and I took advantage of the opportunity to go on a 3 hour classic roller ski. Ida used slightly faster skis than me, allowing us to ski the same pace at the right intensity. It was a really high quality training session and an even opportunity to catch up with one of my best friends.

After the ski we went out to lunch with our friends Barton Tofany from Colorado and Brayton Osgood, the head men’s cross country ski coach at Dartmouth.

For training this afternoon I went on an hour long mountain bike ride. For that session I was kind of a mess. I did wash this afternoon and could only find one of my bike gloves in the clean clothes. On top of only riding with 1 glove, I realized 5 minutes into my ride that I’d forgotten to put on bug spray for a trail system (Boston Lot) that is ground zero for ticks. Lastly, I’d forgotten my map and my phone. I have yet to learn these particular trails and they are exceptionally confusing. Despite all that, once I managed to relax, I had a great ride and I even found my way home sans map.

This evening Barton and I joined a fun group of new friends for trivia at The Skinny Pancake, a local bar.

I am atrocious​ at trivia and didn’t help our group answer a single question. Despite my acting like an anchor, we did quite well, winning 2 out of 4 rounds.

Barton and I finished off the day with a climbing session at the gym. We both worked on our own projects and it was a nice way to finish a busy day.

Lastly, I’m planning to race the Mount Washington Hill Climb running race on Saturday. This is one of the premier mountain running races in the U.S. I’ve wanted to race it since I first heard about it a decade ago, and I am very excited to finally get my shot this weekend!

Pick-up Soccer

I felt much better today than I did yesterday. Barton and I went on an out-and-back two hour and fifteen minute run this morning on the Appalachian Trail. We kept the pace chill and I was happy to see that my heart rate was responding normally.

After the run we rode bikes into town, which takes all of 12 minutes, to say hello to the Osgood and Tim Caldwell families. They were in Hanover to watch U.S. Ski Team member Paddy Caldwell walk in graduation from Dartmouth College. Paddy still has one term to go, but he was able to walk with his class and will finish his undergrad next spring. I cannot tell you how impressed I am with Paddy. He is one of very few athletes, and even fewer when you look in particular at men’s distance skiers, who have managed to successfully pursue academics at one of the best schools in the country while also skiing at an international level. I’m honored to call him a friend.

After coming back home from the graduation scene and some afternoon chill time, Barton and I went to a pick-up soccer game in Lebanon.

The group that we joined gets together twice a week, and I’ve been meaning to play with them for a while. I played soccer through 8th grade and miss it immensely. On the field Barton and I were certainly outclassed, but the other players were exceptionally welcoming and tolerant of less-than-stellar play. We had a wonderful time.

My plan had been not to count soccer as training. I was going to take off on a mountain bike ride after the game for my afternoon session. However, the soccer was intense and aerobically taxing. My heart rate was definitely elevated the entire match, and it certainly felt like training. So, in the interest of not repeating the same mistakes as last year, I decided to count it as training and skip the afternoon ride.

Today was the first hot day since I arrived in New Hampshire, which made the soccer feel harder, but I honestly believe that it can count as training each time I join this particular group. They do a nice job of making it a workout by taking very short breaks and playing consistently. Next time I’ll wear a heart rate monitor to get an idea of what the aerobic load is like while I play.

To cool off after the game, Barton and I jumped in the Mascoma River.

It was exceptionally refreshing.

Lastly, I received the results of the lyme test that I mentioned in yesterday’s post. Not surprisingly but also with some relief, it came back negative.

Quick Update

Here’s a short update. I’m going to try to post consistently again but don’t hold me to it.

I’m loving living on the east coast. My living situation is everything I hoped for. I’m subletting a room from Alice Bradley, a Dartmouth post-doc engineer. I was put in contact with her by my friend Max McClorey, whom I am indebted to for making this connection. Alice is the perfect roommate; she’s organized, clean, low key and generous. Best of all, she and I share a lot of interests and we’re becoming friends. The location of our place is perfect; we have mountain bike and running trails out the back door and roller skiing and road biking out the front door, and we’re only a mile and a half from the center of Hanover.

Two of my best friends, Paddy Caldwell and Brayton Osgood, have been amazing at introducing me to the area and to many wonderful people. They have assimilated me into their lives and have been incredibly generous in making sure I have everything I need. I also owe a thank you to many other people who are not currently living in the Upper Valley (of the Connecticut River, as this greater area is known), but who have introduced me to their contacts here in New England. I was nervous about moving out of the mountain west for the first time in my life. Since I arrived here a month ago I have been taken aback by the incredible generosity of this community and my personal network of friends and supporters. Amazingly, Hanover already feels like home.

Speaking of owing debts of gratitude, my good friends Barton Tofany, Kelsey Tofany and Ryan Ayala drove my car and all of my stuff across the country for me. They arrived last week. How can I possibly say thank you enough? After they made it to New England I got to join them on a bike tour around Lake Champlain. I put together a little video edit of the ride on my Instagram page.

Barton is hanging out with me in Hanover until Wednesday. Unfortunately I started feeling a little sick on Thursday, and I got very concerned that it might be lyme disease. I’ve already had two tick bites since arriving here on the east coast. I got my blood drawn yesterday to test for lyme. Those results will come in next week, but at this point it seems unnecessary since I’m already feeling much better and my primary symptoms are a stuffy nose, sore throat and cough, none of which are generally associated with lyme. The symptoms started with a fever, which concerned me, so I’m feeling very relieved that it appears to be just a common cold.

Training has been improving rapidly. I feel like I’m turning the corner from the struggle to get back in shape after spring to the normal strong feelings of summer. I’m looking for a balance between training load and energy management, which I’ve already struggled to find at times as I’ve had a couple of very tired feeling days (and now some sick days). However, good energy doesn’t feel far away, and it seems much more clear on much shorter notice when I’m​ too tired than it did at any point last summer.

As I get healthy, Barton and I have had some pretty low-key days. We hung out at the wonderful Norwich Farmers Market this morning.

The local band that was playing is called Stuart Ross and the Temp Agency.

They are surprisingly good. I think I’ll seek them out again next time they’re playing in the area.

Lastly, one of the items that made me smile when I was reunited with my stuff for the first time in a month was my cowboy hat. So here’s a picture of me in it… just because…