REG Olympic Day

Yesterday evening I played pickup soccer again for the third time with a group in Lebanon. It’s getting more fun as I get more comfortable with the guys (and women when there are any that show up).

After soccer I did a short session at the Dartmouth Bouldering Cave. I had the place to myself.

This morning I went to the biathlon range and roller ski track in Jericho, Vermont to join the U.S. Ski Team’s Regional Elite Group camp of the best 16-19 year old skiers from the New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA).

They were doing skate technique stations. One of their stations was to distance ski with me. In that way, I was able to ski with all of the groups and also do my own continuous distance session. It worked very well.

At the end of the session we took a group photo.

Last Friday was Olympic day, so we honored it today.

This afternoon I finished my five hour day with a two and a half hour mountain bike ride.

For the first time I rode the Trescott trails.

At first I could only find double track, which disappointed me.

But I did find this little guy.

Eventually I did find the excellent single track that I’d heard so much about.

Near the end of my ride the sun came out.

Here’s the view looking towards Hanover.

I was treated to a spectacular rainbow when I got home.

Farm Dinner

Yesterday I had the day off of training, and I took it really chill. I hung out by myself nearly all day, reading my book and catching up on emails. It was wonderful. I hadn’t had such a chill day in a long time. I didn’t leave the house until my friends Brayton Osgood and Rory Gawler picked me up for dinner at 6:15. We headed to Sweetland Farm in Norwich, an incredible CSA farm run by Norah Lake and Chris Polaahenski, who are friends of Brayton and Rory and new friends to me. We were invited over by Norah and Chris’s tenants, Meg Petroski and her boyfriend Bill, as well as friend Sarah Kleinschmidt.

The evening was absolutely wonderful, and for me it highlighted the generosity and inclusiveness of my new community here in the upper valley of Vermont and New Hampshire. I was with such an amazing group of people having an incredible meal in a stunning location, and six weeks ago I only knew one of the people I was with (Brayton). I am very grateful to everybody from last night, as well as so many others, for taking me into their lives and making me feel at home, without hesitation.

Here are, from left to right, Meg, Brayton, Bill and Sarah:

Brayton was in charge of making desert. He crushed it with some of the best strawberry rhubarb pie that I’ve ever had.

We paused in the middle of making dinner to walk around the farm.

It was a perfect evening.

We got to try fresh cherries from the cherry trees.

And we checked out Chris’s impressive workshop.

We then came back, and I got to help Meg and Sarah make deep dish pizzas.

They came out perfectly.

And as I said, the pie was remarkable.

This morning I went for a two hour skate roller ski on some roads that were new to me (Turnpike Rd. and New Boston Rd.) in Norwich. After the chill off day, I was psyched to go training, and my energy was great. I had a really nice ski.

Hard Classic Skiing

Yesterday afternoon I went for an easy and fun mountain bike ride on the Boston Lot trails with Brayton Osgood (pictured below right), Leif Johnson (left) and a group of new friends.

The riding, views and company were good but the mosquitos were horrible.

After riding and a quick bite I joined more new friends, Claire and Alex, for an evening climbing session at the Dartmouth bouldering cave.

This morning I drove down to Putney, Vermont early to do a three hour session with my friend and teammate Tad Elliott and to work with my coach Zach Caldwell. Tad and I double poled for an hour and forty five minutes before Zach caught up to us in the car. We then did 15 minutes of focused classic technique work, beginning with no-pole kick-double pole, then adding poles, then adding striding and double poling and gear changing, and finally adding energy. Eventually we worked our way up to a race effort. Tad and I both nearly maxed our heart rates. I hit 170 beats per minute, high for me, and Tad hit 196 beats per minute, high for him. My energy felt so much better today than it did on Monday, and Zach was very happy with the way I was skiing. We both concluded the session feeling like I’m on track now. The trick is for me to stay on track for the rest of the summer and fall.

You can see video of me and Tad going race pace this morning on my Facebook page.

Letting my Energy Float

I was exhausted on Monday and my coaches and I decided to back my training down for the rest of the week to let my energy float up. Today is my 4th day in a row of three hours or less of training per day, and I have way more energy and feel much better than I did on Monday. I’m very happy with how quickly I have turned the corner, but I will keep the load low for the rest of the week to make sure I’m ready to start training hard when I get back into it.

The weather has been gorgeous in New England this week, perfect for training.

I’m always torn about stopping during a workout to take a picture, but sometimes it’s so pretty that I don’t feel like I have a choice, I need to share the view.

Yesterday, for the solstice, was particularly perfect.

I went for an hour road bike ride in the evening and was singing with happiness because it was so nice out.

I rode Jericho Street for the first time, which was one of the nicest roads I’ve ever ridden.

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.