Monday, February 20, 2017

The Second to Last: Middlebury Carnival

The end is close..this weekend was the second to last carnival of our season. What a weekend it was. This weekend was our Mid-semester break, however the weekend was no different for us! Breaks are for the weak. We left campus around 10am on Thursday and arrived at Rikert around 2:30. It was snowing and the trails had about 2-3inches of fluffy snow that we had to plow through on our course preview. After, we headed back to our hotel, ate dinner at the Middlebury dining hall (Proctor), had a team meeting and hit the snooze.

Both days were sunny with blue skies. The weekend was beautiful and full of positive vibes. It was a different format with the distance race on the first day, being a 15k/20k skate and a 3 lap classic sprint relay race with a partner the second day. The distance race went really well for our team and yet there was a noticeable lingering tiredness among the field.  This also made the second day a bit challenging for everyone because it was the longer distance race first, people were more tired for Saturday. Women went first both days starting at 10am.

Here is a short word summary I had fun making about this weekend:

            Many spectators
          dInners at Midd dining hall
15/20k Distance race on Friday
            Determined racers
   sparkLe game strong, guys too!
      RikErt nordic center
            Brendan's Birthday
          sUnny and 50 degrees
            Relay races on Saturday
            Yummy food table

Lucy had a great 15k race finishing in 20th with a time of :42:37.5 and Calvin had a fantastic race finishing in 21st with a time of :49:12.8!  Jackie did well placing 35th with a stellar time of :44:45.6! Dustin wasn't too far behind Calvin in 27th with a time of :49:41.4! Brendan also had a great birthday 20k race while turning 20years old; he placed 43rd with a time of :51:37.5. It was an improvement from where he has been racing, which is fun to see. They all looked like they were in it and racing hard.

Calvin getting his arms tall for another lap PC: Dana

Dustin making moves PC: Dana

Brendan with high arms, looking strong PC: Dana

Brendan making gains on his 20th birthday PC: Dana

Matt skating through the lap PC: Dana

Blaine powering down PC: Dana

Blaine eyeing the finish on his way through another lap PC: Dana

Ryan hammering down PC: Dana

Calvin working with the pack PC: Dana

My favorite picture of the weekend PC: Dana

Waters, don't give me that face! PC: Dana

Woah Dustinnn! PC: Dana

Dustin flying to the finish PC: Dana 

Brendan finishing 20k on his 20th PC: Dana

Cupcakes were to follow the races, thanks to Emily's Aunt who bought the famous Georgetown Cupcakes from Boston! They were sooo good and it was especially nice to be able to celebrate Brendan's Birthday. Again, that night was the same..back to midd dining hall by popular demand and team meetings followed by some much needed sleep! The dining hall was nice because we could eat as much as we needed, fast, for cheap, and it was close by.  We were staying at the Middlebury Inn. It's a very nice, old house feeling place; I would recommend it. Funny/weird side note: I've been placed in the same room every single year: room 117.  Also, after the races on Friday, the girls team hit up Hannahfords and TJmaxx. We bought our Gnome "Lawrence" some SLU colored clothing, so keep an eye out for Lawrence's first real appearance soon..
Lawrence! PC: Lucy
Saturday, the weather heated up was a balmy 50 degrees. The snow was changing so quickly, especially during the women's race that everyone was struggling to kick up the hills.  It was a stand-up, use those arms kind of day. A lot of the guys opted for double poling..bold move, if I say so myself.  The course was nottt flat.  It started in the normal finish area and went directly down hill into the 3rd loop of the normal 5k race course. There was climb up for a short while, and then it took a sharp left, a cutoff right before the typical top of the hill and came winding back down, where we had to power up the last short steep hill where we tagged our partner. It was short, but that's what made it super hard and fun.  I had a really fun time; I pushed myself and I felt much better than the first day. It was exciting; waiting, looking for your partner to come up that final hill, all the while slowing down your heart rate and getting it back up, ready to go again!

The relay teams consisted of:
Lucy and Jackie (Lucy went first), Kate and Dana (Kate went first)
After this race, there was a 2nd race with all the 3rd relay teams, which was Erin and Emily (Erin scrambled)
Calvin and Blaine (Calvin went first), Dustin and Brendan (Dustin went first)
And same for the men, with Ryan and Matt (Ryan scrambled)

Women's 15k
Men's 20k

Women's Relay
Men's Relay

India's Videos: (Day 2 Videos in progress..check back later!)
Nordic Day 1
Alpine Day 1

Thanks again to the parents for their continual support and homemade goods! You all fuel us so well! We can't do it without you. Thanks to the coaches for fast skis all weekend and for putting up with our "we need more wax" or "I'm feelin' pretty tired" selves. Thanks to Rikert Nordic Ski center, Middlebury College, India Harvey, other photographers and those who I forgot who always deserve to be thanked.

Since this was the second to last, it was bittersweet. I can't imagine this season coming to an end, as we've worked so hard for so long and with our best friends. Although sometimes when we get back from the weekend, we do realize just how much we have pushed our bodies and perhaps a break would feel good. There's also another feeling of never wanting to stop, not wanting to break routine, or seeing the snow start to melt.  I sure have mixed feelings; change is hard and it's hard to face the truth that all good things must come to an end. However, not yet! One more weekend- the best for last; we're going back to my home state where the infamous Black Mountain waits for us. I'm looking forward to racing on one of my favorite courses, as I've had some of the greatest racing there.  We hope you come out and watch us take on the fiercest racing of the season where we will be giving every last bit of what we have in the tank.

See you out there,
Dana and SLUSKI

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dartmouth Carnival with Carni Crush

Well, it is always an adventure!  We just finished up week 4 of our 6 week season.  Far from winding down, it just keeps speeding up.  Our skiing is speeding up, the school weeks seem to be speeding up, my packing time is speeding up, my waxing is speeding up (at least I like to think so, though Liz and ETown might say differently). In all seriousness, I wake up every Monday enjoying the off day. Then, it is Tuesday, and the work starts to set in, but it is already time to go to practice again and think about waxing my race skis.  Before I know it, it’s Wednesday and I am doing a workout on my own, finishing waxing, packing, and rushing around tying up loose ends before Thursday.  Thursday is a crazy morning.  Most of us have two classes before we leave around lunch time.  Finally though, we hop in the van.
            Once we’re in the van we do the opposite of speed up.  This is because we get stuck behind every slow moving car imaginable! Usually, it is frustrating, but doesn’t affect the drive too much. This week though, we had quite a long trip to Craftsbury. I guess ETown is notoriously bad at judging times because we were around 45 minutes late.  I didn’t mind too much though! The van was warm and we always have a fun time chatting, doing homework (sometimes we pretend on that a bit), and finding a new song to listen to (when you spend as much time in the van as we do, it is a constant process).  In fact, I am glad we were late, because my ski was worth the wait.  
            Skiing Thursday afternoon at Craftsbury was bitterly cold.  Although we all know how to dress warm, we have particular trouble with our toes.  You might think that ski boots would be toasty warm, but no.  Our speedy looking, ultralight, super snazzy ski boots are anything but toasty.  Perseverance though!  As Liz would say, “It builds character!”  Besides, the cold was perfect for skiing.  Once I started doing some prerace speeds on the big Craftsbury hills I was all set!  Believe it or not, this was my first time skiing the real Craftsbury 5k course.  Despite racing here all the time, the last time we had a race on the full course was in 2015, and I was sick (I sat alone in my room watching the live stream for hours… so sad).  So, I was super excited to see these infamous hills!  Even better than seeing the hills though, was seeing the beautiful sunset.  That’s why I was happy we were late.  Cresting over the last hill into stadium, the sky was perfectly rosy.  It was cold enough that everything had that sharp look.  Moreover, it was a relief to have more wintry conditions.
            After the ski, we headed to ETown’s parents’ house for dinner.  It was absolutely amazing!  We would like to thank them so much for keeping us well fed and happy for two days.  I probably ate enough brownies and ice cream to hold me over until next year.  But, as we all know, I am sure to spend a lot of time at the food table this week too, regardless of whether it is before or after my race.  I mean I am telling you, prerace brownies are the way to go.
            Day one of the carnival was great.  Good fun all around, and the girls really went all out on the sparkles.  We had to look pretty for Carni Crush weekend!  Relay days are always fun for getting into the team spirit!  Knowing your teammates result, depends on your own, has a way of moving yourself faster.  There were some stellar performances (Dustin had a top 25 relay split!), some solid efforts from those battling sickness, and some who were left feeling a bit down.  Nothing another great Townsend dinner couldn’t fix!  We were left wanting more though, and had a great talk with the coaches about leaving it all out there and not letting ourselves down when it starts to hurt.  That is something we can all afford to remember.

"It was a 5k Skate Relay with teams of 3 people- 3x5k at Craftsbury! Hanover didn't have enough snow to host it, but we were okay with that. The guys raced at 11:30 and the women at 12:15.  The temperature was a high of 4 degrees and the wind chill didn't help.  I warmed up in my puffy jacket and didn't even sweat." - Dana

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Brendan tagging off to Calvin

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Calvin skating his way to a 13:01 finish
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Matt skating to a 13:56 finish

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Blaine tagging off to Ryan

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Brendan skating to a solid 12:55 finish

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Dani scrambling for her leg in the mass start

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Luckily Dustin was done with his leg of the relay..
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Lucy skating to a 14:26 finish, finishing her relay team in 13th!
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Emily skating to a 17:07 finish, finishing her relay team in 22!
Dana skating to a 16:12 finish
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Waters back in the game finishing in 17:25 with her relay team of a UNH skier and a Williams skier

Carni Crush:
SLU Women had Harvard
St. Mikes had SLU Women
SLU Men had St. Mikes
Middlebury had SLU Men

Carni Crush Video!! 
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"We're eatin', skiin' and racin' everyday!" (Flannel game, trucker hat's, and boots strong)

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Girls about to sing our Carni Crush song to the Harvard Men

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Girls team after the races on Friday on the lake-  PC: India

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Girls team on the lake-  PC: India
Day 1 Results:
India's Video

Day two dawned with some fresh snow, another reminder that winter is still a season the East Coast experiences.  Yay!  Conditions were phenomenal out on course yet again, and it was relatively simple hard wax (Thanks Coaches).  There was so much snow and it was less cold!  Also, thanks to Dana for being a great driver all weekend.  We are all really getting to know those back roads to the Townsends’.  I think the races went well, and people took the message to leave it all out there to heart.  Classic is not our strong suit, but some big improvements are being made.  I think pretty much everyone felt that even if their race did not go quite the way they wanted to, they were more powerful and in control of their stride.  Nevertheless, this course was definitely a tough one! Lots of ups.  Even with only racing 10/15k in total this week, we felt beat crossing the finish line. Calvin and I (Lucy) both had a top 25 finish, which was awesome. Calvin crushed it, coming in 22nd!  He has been putting together those classic races the past couple weeks for sure.  It was great to have Erin Perryman ’16 there to cheer as well.
            By the end of the day, the vans were packed up and the trailer loaded, and we headed out.  A whirlwind weekend was finished up, and a whirlwind week was about to start.  Nothing makes me happier than our expeditions each weekend to various snowy little towns across New England.  It is surely hard to balance travel, pre-race anxiety, race face pain, post-race emotions, and schoolwork, but our team makes it more than worth it.  It all moves so fast it barely gives us time to think, but skiing in the dark last Thursday I got to remember just what makes it so beautiful.  Trying to pick off spots in the relay for the team last Friday, I got to remember how much I love the people who make it so wonderful.  Gasping for breath at the top of the hill at 4K last Saturday, I got to remember just how special it is to be able to push ourselves to the breaking point and make it to the finish line anyway.  We do an incredible sport, and so although things may be speeding up, and the end may be approaching, it is important to remember to give it everything we have in the meantime.  We owe ourselves nothing less.
            Thank you to the parents, friends, family, and fans that come out every week to support us both on the course and on the blog! We are indebted to you for your constant support.  Also, a special thanks to the Townsend's and their amazing neighbor for putting us up for the weekend, cheering us on, and feeding us (no easy task, that’s for sure).  We would never be able to do it without all of you! Make sure to check out India's videos!

Day 2 Results:
India's Video