Presidential Traverse

Yesterday I had the pleasure of running the Presidential Traverse, a famous ridge-line in the White Mountains here in New Hampshire. It has been on my adventure to-do list for a long time, and I was psyched to finally do it. I was joined for the trek by my teammate and good friend Kris Freeman, Kris’s brother (also an Olympian) Justin Freeman and backcountry skier/SkiMo racer/mountain runner/adventurer Andrew Drummond. Kris’s wife Amber Dodge Freeman, along with their Vizsla dog She-Ra, dropped us at the trailhead. We owe Amber big time because it was very nice not to have to do the car shuttle.

We began at the Randolph East Trailhead and ran Randolph Path/Howker Ridge Trail to the top of Mount Madison.

We were all psyched to be out.

We planned this adventure weeks ago and simply hoped for good weather, and did we ever get lucky. It was absolutely perfect running weather.

Apparently it was a good thing that we had a nice day.

The ascent to Madison took about an hour and forty five minutes.

There are trails going in every direction in the White Mountains, but the signage is really good.

One thing that is new to me is the fully furnished Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) hut system. In Colorado we have the 10th Mountain Division Hut System, which is amazing, but the AMC huts in the White Mountains are very different. To start with, they are much bigger, sleeping up to 96 people. Also, they are full service with permanent staffs throughout the summer. Even if you’re not staying overnight, they have hiking gear, food and beverages for sale. Our route yesterday took us past 2 of the 8 huts, as well as the full-service summit of Mount Washington, so I basically didn’t carry any calories with me. I simply carried a few bucks and got all the calories I needed.

Here’s a view from Mount Adams of Mount Jefferson (right) and Mount Washington.

Here are Andrew (left) and Justin:

Kris asked me to take this picture to highlight his continuous glucose monitor for his sponsor Dexcom.

The running was rugged. The route was only 19+ miles, but they were slow miles.

We crossed the cog railway tracks on the way to the summit of Mount Washington.

The summit was crowded with all types of tourists.

There was a line, which we decided to skip, to take a picture at the summit post.

We were still in good spirits as we continued onward.

Here is the pond outside the second AMC hut that we passed, the Lakes of the Clouds hut.

I would love to come stay in one of the huts at some point and relax in the alpine environment.

I was surprised to find that we did not dip back below tree line between each peak. We were up in the alpine zone consecutively for over 4 hours.

The views were continually incredible.

We could see where we were going for a long way.

I had not met Andrew Drummond before yesterday.

He is awesome, and I was psyched to get to know him. We were connected by a mutual friend, Eric Schenker from Craft Sportswear. Andrew and I definitely plan to do some more adventures together later this summer.

I would also love to get back onto the Presidential Ridge sometime soon.

It’s also been fun for me to get to know Justin better this summer. He lives in the Netherlands with his family. He and his wife are both teachers, and they are only back in New Hampshire during the summers.

Here are some of the maze of trails all over the Whites.

In total we did 7 peaks: Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Clay (doesn’t count because it’s not high enough above the ridge), Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce.

Here’s the view from Pierce looking back at Eisenhower, Monroe and Washington.

We finished by running down Crawford Path to Crawford Depot, where we had left a car. In total we were out for six hours and fifteen minutes car to car. I can’t wait for another adventure soon!

Recovery Weekend

I’ve had a very chill and relaxing 3 days after finishing a big training block on Thursday. Saturday was an annual event here in Hanover called The Prouty, a fundraiser for cancer research and patient supportive services at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Participants in The Prouty raise money then walk, golf, row or cycle in the event. I’ve heard about the Prouty for years. Many of my friends and east coast “family” participate in the century bike ride each year. I was hoping to ride with them this time, but it didn’t fit in my training plan. I was in dire need of this recovery weekend. It will remain on my list of events to do in the future.

Even though I wasn’t riding, I was honored to still be invited to the pre-Prouty dinner at Tim and Margaret Caldwell’s beautiful lakeside cabin.

They call it pond rather than a lake, but as a westerner, I cannot wrap my head around calling a body of water a pond when it’s bigger than any lake within 40 miles of where I grew up.

It was my first time at the Caldwell’s cabin, and I can’t wait to go back.

Plus, the crew was really fun

I love sweet breakfasts and I like to make them on my off days. Yesterday I had french toast.

I have been struggling to find balance in the last week between my social life and my training. I am capable of operating for days at a time on +/- 6 hours of sleep. I’ll stay up late each night doing something social then wake up early each morning to complete all of my training for the day before my next social evening. Needless to say, that lifestyle is not healthy. It also does not produce quality training.

When I get tired and don’t have much energy, my self control completely evaporates. I stop stretching, I eat more junk food and I mess around on my phone for hours late at night when I should turn it off and go to sleep.

I’m looking for balance between training load and energy management as well as balance between training focus and happiness/social life. It’s been a challenge as always, but I’m lucky to have an amazing team of coaches, friends and family to support me. In particular, I’m working to find balance in both of those equations with the help of my coach Zach Caldwell.

Finishing Training Block

First, Chris and Mary Osgood’s 4th of July party, which I talked about on Tuesday, exceeded all of my expectations. Mary is an incredible host.

She’s known for her baking skill.

She made a lot of bread for the party.

Mary’s daughter Emily also knows how to bake.

She was in charge of the cakes for the party.

Every year Emily comes up with a different theme for the cake decorations. (These are both this year’s cakes.)

We had a perfect evening for the party.

And most importantly, everybody had a great time.

I don’t have any pictures of training from the last several days, but today I finished up a big 11 day training block that included 48.5 hours of training, a trail running race and 2 other intensity sessions. It has left me pretty tired, and I’m looking forward to some recovery and a lighter block beginning next week.

Yesterday morning I did a skate roller ski intensity session with my coach Zach Caldwell in Putney. Because I was feeling tired before I even started the session, Zach and I were concerned that I wouldn’t be able to ski with quality. In an attempt to simplify the task for me, Zach sent me out on my warm-up without poles. When he caught up with me in the car 20 minutes later, he liked the way I was skiing. We decided that I would start the intensity without poles in order to preserve the quality of my skiing. We tried adding the poles back in for the third interval, but Zach felt it screwed things up so he soon stopped me and took the poles away again. With this strict oversight, we were able to have a productive session even when I didn’t have great energy. You can see a short video of me during the intervals without poles on my Facebook page.

The hardest part of the training block for me was driving back to Putney after intensity yesterday between sessions and still having 8 hours of training to do in the remaining 2 sessions. Yesterday evening I went for a 3 hour run on the Appalachian Trail and today I went for a road bike ride on a great 102 mile loop that Brayton Osgood designed for me. I’m happy to be done with the block.

Happy 4th!

This is my favorite holiday. To me, it’s all about hanging outside, in a backyard or park, with friends, playing cornhole or bocce or frisbee and watching a rugby or beach volleyball tournament. When I think of the 4th I think of picnics and perfect summer evenings, classical music concerts (thanks to the annual Aspen Music Festival 4th of July concert), parades and fireworks. I think of national pride and hometown pride.

For years I’ve heard about the Osgoods’ (one of my east coast families’) annual 4th of July party. It is much adored and talked about, and I am very excited to finally be able to attend. I came down to Putney yesterday morning, went for a bike ride with Brayton Osgood then relaxed at the Osgoods’ and helped get ready for the party. Brayton, Chris Osgood, Zach and Gunnar Caldwell and I loaded tables and chairs from the Grammar School.

When we got back to the Osgoods’, Chris and Zach got distracted by Chris’s new backhoe.

They decided to try to remove a stump.

Honestly, that kind of yard work has no interest to me. It’s not how I want to spend my time, and for that reason and others, I never plan to nor want to own land.

But I’m glad it made them happy.

Mary Osgood made us a delicious dinner.

This morning we did a little more party prep before I headed out for a two and a half hour classic roller ski. We are expecting more than 80 people this evening.

It looks like we’re going to have perfect weather. I can’t wait!

Update

Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been overwhelmed with trying to stay on top of a large training load as well as driving all over New England, and I haven’t had time to get enough sleep, let alone post a blog.

I’m in the middle of some big training. In the week ending yesterday I trained 32 hours including a classic intensity session with Tad Elliott on Tuesday and the Loon Mountain Hill Climb trail running race yesterday. Another notable session was a 5 hour, 54 mile skate roller ski I did alone on Wednesday.

Yesterday’s running race was much better for me than the Mount Washington Hill Climb. After a big training week, my energy felt a little suppressed and my legs felt a little tired, but I felt like I’d made large fitness gains from where I was two weeks earlier.

It took a little while to warm-up my tired legs. For the first 3+ miles, which are more rolling than uphill, I followed last year’s winner Brandon Newbould, who led from the gun. I stuck on his shoulder and tried to make it as easy as possible. The places where I struggled the most were transitions from downhills back to uphills. It took me a while to get tension out of my legs running uphill. Following Brandon didn’t feel easy, and I wasn’t at all sure that I could break away at any point.

Once we hit the first sustained uphill, I started to feel much better. I was transitioning often from running to walking, hunched over with my hands on my knees. I went around Brandon and started to gap him. It wasn’t a deliberate move, but I kept pushing when it was clear that he wasn’t coming with me.

The rest of the race was almost all climbing, and I felt strong. I was moving well without tension and I finished a minute and 40 seconds ahead of Brandon, who held on to second place.

The race effort felt reminiscent of two good mountain running races that I had last summer in Utah in the Cirque Series, also while I was under a large training load. The first thing my coaches did when I talked to them on the phone after the race was temper any sense of accomplishment that I was feeling by reminding me that I do not want to be in the same place I was in last year.

We are now putting together the plan for the next couple of weeks. We will not take the positive sign from yesterday’s race as an excuse to continue trying to push for more fitness gains, as we did last year.

I don’t have a ton of pictures from the last week. I have gotten out for a couple of great road bike rides with Brayton Osgood.

Our loops have included some dirt roads.

I’m getting the true New England experience.

I can’t get over how good the riding is out here. There are so many options for good roads!

And I love the views from the ride.

We flirted with some serious thunder storms, but Brayton is good at looking at the radar and planning our routes accordingly… and we’ve been lucky.

On a different note, I just got my first climbing rope ever. I’m very excited to put it to use when I have the opportunity this summer.

Here’s a picture from Loon just before the start yesterday.

After some torrential rain that washed out several roads and made my drive over to the I-93 corridor on Saturday night way longer than it needed to be, we got spectacular weather yesterday morning.

My plan is to continue to post regularly, unlike the last week.

Putney Intensity

Early this morning I drove down to Putney, Vermont, an hour south of Hanover, for morning training. First I went to physical therapist Todd Miller’s house to check in with him about the mobility exercises that I’ve been doing to lengthen my hip flexors, exercises that he prescribed for me a month ago. Todd was encouraged by the progress that I’ve made, and most importantly, he is still happy with the way I’m doing the exercises. I’m relieved that I’ve made progress because I haven’t been as consistent as I want to be about doing the exercises. Today’s check-in was encouraging and good motivation to do my work consistently.

After the PT session I went to my coach Zach Caldwell’s house for a classic intensity session with my teammate Tad Elliott, supported by Zach. This morning we were also joined by Isaac Freitas-Eagan, an up-and-coming junior athlete from the Putney/Brattleboro area.

The workout, after a solid warm-up, was three times on a set course on Patch Road. The course is point-to-point has a net gain in altitude. It took between eight and a half and nine minutes and has two distinct hills per interval. The first interval was very controlled, low threshold. The second and third were at race pace.

I had a bit of a discombobulated morning. I forgot my heart rate monitor chest strap, and Zach had to drive back to his house during our warm-up to get it. Despite the bumpy start, I pulled it together and had a great workout. Zach was pleased with the way I was skiing.

Here’s a little bit of video of the session. (I also posted this clip on my Instagram feed.)

There’s more video of me and Tad, including some in slow motion, on the Caldwell Sport Facebook Page.

After the workout I played a game of darts with Tad and with Zach’s son, Gunnar Caldwell.

Zach was busy building a sauna next to his pond.

I’m now back in Hanover.

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.