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Archive for July, 2014

Science Class with the Garden Gurus

31.Jul.2014 by Jamie Chapman

Last week I asked Pam what she needed help with in the garden, she said that they were going to spread fish on the plants. I pictured tossing actual dead fish at the crops’ roots, naïve about what this would do besides attract bears. Bears aside, I wasn’t far off.   So I asked the Pam and Amy, our Garden Gurus, and got a science lesson to rival Bill Nye. Supplemented with some expert Wikipedia research, here’s what I learned. Fish hydrolysate is basically pureed fish, sourced from fishing boats’ bycatch and then ground-up to be sold as agricultural supplements. I won’t overstep my primitive science knowledge, but Pam explained it as giving the earth a dose of the sea, rich in nutrients and minerals that elude terrestrial beings. There’s some magic in the fishies! Try this at home: into a full watering can, mix one full tablespoon fish and one scant tablespoon molasses, then give the plants a generous drink. Molasses for the sugar content—a fish and molasses smoothie!

One watering can, plus one T of fish (middle container) and one T of molasses (dark container) does the trick

Fish and molasses: one watering can, plus one T of fish (middle container) and one T of molasses (dark container) does the trick

We source lots of produce for the kitchen from our gardens, and it’s cool to see something that I’ve planted, nurtured under the watchful eye of the Gurus, and then harvested end up in the hot meal line or in the salad bar.   It has flourished under the construction of a new fence to keep the bunnies and deer away from our delicacies.

From left: kale, more kale, onions, garlic

From left: kale, more kale, onions, garlic

From the front: rows of parsley, basil (on the left, more parsley on the right), chard just after being harvested for the kitchen, baby beets, peppers, tomatillos, and peas in the back.

From the front: rows of parsley, basil (on the left, more parsley on the right), chard just after being harvested for the kitchen, baby beets, peppers, tomatillos, and peas in the back.

Peas for days

Peas for days

Lots of purple snow peas!  We also have yellow snow peas and sugar snap peas, now growing fast enough to pick a few small bags every couple days.  I have a high eat:pick ratio, especially with the sugar snaps.  Benefits of growing organic!

Lots of purple snow peas! We also have yellow snow peas and sugar snap peas, now growing fast enough to pick a few small bags every couple days. I have a high eat:pick ratio, especially with the sugar snaps. Benefits of growing organic!

But there’s only so much produce to harvest, and sometimes we want to make the place look nice, too.  Amy and Pam gave a few of us girls a lesson in creating flower arrangements, a task that has skyrocketed to the top of my favorite jobs at the Center.  Tricks of the trade: more is more, purple and yellow don’t match, and embrace unorthodox materials–kale and stripped limbs of wild berries add a little spice.

Tricky stuff: Caitlin and I with the raw materials, on a really hot and humid day in the garden.

Tricky stuff: Caitlin and I with the raw materials, on a really hot and humid day in the garden.

Voila!

Voila!

Beautiful from all angles

Beautiful from all angles

Wild Blueberries and World Championships Preparation

31.Jul.2014 by Susan Dunklee

Four years ago, we welcomed a Finn onto the National Team staff when US Biathlon hired Jonne Kähkönen to be our head women’s coach. This summer, he finally got the opportunity to share a full dose of Finnish culture with us when we traveled to Scandinavia for a training camp.

The women’s team spent a week and a half training at next winter’s World Championship venue in Kontiolahti, Finland. Kaisa Mäkäräinen, reigning World Cup overall champion, joined us for most of our training sessions and showed us around while we were in town.

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Training on the Kontiolahti range. Sometimes we had three nationalities represented at practice: Hannah, Katja Yurlova from Russia, Kaisa, myself and Annelies.

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One day we drove to Koli National Park to do some uphill rollerski intervals: 3 times up southern Finland’s biggest “mountain.”

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Mt. Koli wasn’t very high, but it had a gorgeous view. Hannah observed that it felt a lot like Elmore State Park back home.

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Scenic views along the climb. Photo: Jonne Kähkönen

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For a couple afternoon workouts, we did some orienteering. Orienteering is wildly popular in Finland with new courses set up a couple times a week and we decided it would be a good cultural experience. Plus hunting down the controls made a two hour training run go by incredibly quickly.

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Team BBQ night in Joensuu. Clockwise: Hannah, Jani (physio), Kaisa, Erika (Jonne’s wife and our cook this week), Jonne, and Annelies.

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No BBQ is complete without a game of cornhole.

Two factors made it a real challenge to get enough recovery between workout sessions. The first was a blazing Scandinavian heatwave. Our solution to that problem was to swim post workout and any other time the heat started getting to us.

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Annelies enjoying a lakeside swing.

The second challenge was the endless hours of daylight. I had never been in such a far northern place during the summer. The sky stayed light well past my normal bedtime which made me feel wide awake at 11:00. I still haven’t figured out how to adequately deal with that…

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A local newspaper reporter asked me what the best part of summer training camp in Finland was. Wild blueberries of course! Photo: Hannah Dreissigacker

A Need to See Mountains

25.Jul.2014 by Susan Dunklee

One of my favorite things about being a biathlete is traveling to all sorts of interesting places. One of the more frustrating things is not getting to really see them. We get to know our competition venues, our hotel rooms and maybe the neighborhood grocery stores extremely well, but we often don’t see much else due to our competition and training schedules.

This summer, I wanted to truly see one of the cool places we go. We had a National Team training camp in Scandinavia scheduled for July so I flew to Oslo early and spent my recovery week beforehand exploring on my own. I love backpacking and had always dreamed of seeing Norway’s mountains so I spent a few days hiking across Jotunheimen National Park.

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Logistics were simple to plan. The Norwegian hut system provided dinners, breakfasts and sleeping dormitories. I just needed to carry the basics, like clothes, a sleeping bag liner, a map, lunch food and water. Hiking mid-week, I didn’t really need to make reservations ahead of time. The trickiest planning? Figuring out good trailheads to start and end at that would work well with public transportation schedules.

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Hut #1: Songefjellshytta. It was pure coincidence that the most convenient trailhead to begin my hike sat next to one of the country’s main spring xc skiing centers, although one I had never heard of. Biathlon and XC national teams from Norway and elsewhere often visit in June for well groomed snow and precisely salted trails. The owner of the hut told me that he closed the trails for the season only three days before I arrived. I could still see the remains of the ski course on the back side of the lake.

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Jotunheimen, “the home of giants,” is almost entirely above tree line and several of the mountains have glaciers like these ones above Sognefjellshytta.

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It is also the home of lemmings, lots of them. These little critters were everywhere in the rocky tundra. (Photo: www.kolumbus.fi)

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Perhaps my favorite thing to spot was a rare patch of color that jumped out at me during my drizzly first day of hiking.

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Hut # 2: Skogadalsbøen, an oasis of lush, verdant plant life. Unfortunately my camera battery died at this point, so I didn’t get any fun pictures of the people I met. I arrived at the hut in the early afternoon and befriend a group of four Norwegian soldiers. Although everyone I met spoke incredible English, my Norwegian-English pocket dictionary came in quite handy playing a Pictionary-like board game with them. I was able to look up the words on my cards so I knew what picture I was supposed to draw. The guys also taught me a bunch of fun facts about their homeland. For example, Norway’s proud claims to fame include inventing the paperclip and the cheese slicer.

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All trails were blazed with the bright red “T” of the Norwegian Trekking Association. My next day of hiking was marked as 11 hiking hours. Distances on trail maps are marked with hiking hours rather than distance. Back home in the States, experience has taught me that I can usually halve a guide book’s estimated hiking time. Not so in Norway. 11 hours means 11 hours of a fit person moving at a brisk pace and taking very few breaks. I was able to shave off a bit of time, but still put in a long day on the trail.

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Hut #3: Gjendbu. This hut is a popular stop for visitors hiking Norway’s arguably most picturesque hike over the Besseggen ridge. I stayed at the hut but avoided hiking Besseggen due to large holiday crowds. (Photo: www.gjendebu.com)

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Lake Gjende from above. Most of the lakes and streams contain glacial “rock flour” which lends them a turquoise tint. Also in this picture, notice one of the only forested sections of Jotunheimen National Park. (Photo: www.gjendebu.com)

Mountain time is great for the soul. I left Jotunheimen feeling refreshed and relaxed, having met many friendly and fascinating hikers at the huts and having spent quality hours alone on the trails. Norway is certainly a place I could see myself returning to again and again for more outdoorsy adventures, but for now I’m ready to return to the highly structured biathlon lifestyle.

Life on the Edge (of the Pavement)

24.Jul.2014 by Liz Guiney

Skiing? In the summer? Like with those rollie-thingies?

If I had a penny for every time that someone started this conversation with me.… well I wouldn’t be rich, but I could definitely afford to upgrade my whole rollerski fleet. But the truth is it’s a valid question. As a winter sports athlete who grew up with a love of snow and mountains, I often find myself questioning what exactly I’m doing in the middle of a hot, humid Vermont summer day out on my rollerskis trying not to get run over by a tractor AND somehow nailing perfect technique for the video camera hanging out of the van window (excuse my run-one sentence). Call it nordic confusion.

But the truth is that like most of the GRP skier’s summer workouts, training during the months of July and August is just putting hay in the barn. It might not be the most exciting time of year, and at times it feels like the work load is both challenging and never-ending, but it is useful. By the time fall and winter roll around, we’re going to want to draw on our reserves of endurance and strength. Every skier has heard it a hundred times: skiers are made in the summer.

So back to rollersking- we all know that it’s necessary for training, but it just doesn’t quite measure up to real snow skiing. I haven’t met too many nordic skiers who LOVE rollerskiing, but since we have to do it in order to be fast come winter time, we’re constantly looking for ways to keep it from getting stale. So how exactly do we escape insanity and burnout when those long days of over-distance happen to coincide with the hottest, most humid dog days of summer? Read on! (there are pictures too, I promise).

Ok, first, find your training buddy. Do you have your training buddy?
In case you somehow missed the Pixar craze of the early 2000’s and don’t know my reference, please watch this:

 


And then, just for good measure, go watch the rest of the movie because it’s a classic. Remember: rip it, roll it, punch it!

Okay, back to training partners! Not only do teammates get you out of the bed for morning training with their smoothie-making, bacon-frying, coffee-grinding dawn-patrol breakfast routine, but they make training a thousand times more fun. We have a good vibe on our team that seems to bounce between genuine encouragement, having fun pushing our limits, and giving each other a hard time.

Good teammates are there to push you out of your comfort zone when you need it. You can learn a lot by following someone and imitating their technique, and chances are they can learn something from following you too. Then again, teammates are also there for those days when you feel like you got run over by a tractor before the first 30 minutes of the workout are over. Everyone has those days! (Yes, everyone). The key is to get over it with good humor and a little motivation from a friend, and then to take the rest you need so you can get back at it.

Ladies crew during a skate/double pole pursuit OD back in June

Ladies crew during a skate/double pole pursuit OD back in June

A beautiful Vermont day for a rollerski!

A beautiful Vermont day for a rollerski!

The Sprinter + treats+ coca-cola = happy skiers

The Sprinter + treats+ coca-cola = happy skiers

200m sprints on the Morrisville track were really fun with this crew!

200m sprints on the Morrisville track were really fun with this crew!

Obligatory back of the van selfie (us-ie?) post Willoughby/Pisgah OD

Obligatory back of the van selfie (us-ie?) post Willoughby/Pisgah OD

Mix it up!

We’re really lucky in Craftsbury to have great access to training- miles upon miles of dirt roads and trails, nearby pavement, and several ponds for swimming, rowing, or kayaking. But after putting in some volume weeks, we slowly but surely burn through the possible training options, which means it’s time to switch it up and go seek out new roads! Last week we did a great point-to-point double pole from Eden to Smuggler’s Notch. Another fun OD from earlier this summer was rollerskiing out to Lake Willoughby by Barton, then hoofing it up Mt. Pisgah. We’re also lucky to be close enough to Stowe to make workouts there a possibility, and the mountain running in that area is great with scenic views of Mansfield.

The path less traveled by. Classic New England scrambling over rocks, roots, and wet soil!

The path less traveled by. Classic New England scrambling over rocks, roots, and wet soil!

View from Mt. Pisgah overlook, definitely a hidden gem in the NEK

View from Mt. Pisgah overlook, definitely a hidden gem in the NEK

Susan, Caitlin, and I did a new (for me) loop around Willoughby during our big volume week

Susan, Caitlin, and I did a new (for me) bike loop around Willoughby during our big volume week

 

Do activities that aren’t training! (gasp)

Which interestingly enough, leads to my second point, which is: talk about something besides training! All the nordorks out there like to talk VO2 max and lactate thresholds and how their heart rate monitor calculates recovery time (guilty!), but I’m becoming more and more convinced that recovery time has as much of a mental component as physical. That’s why it’s important to give your mind a rest from training too. Talk technique, and then for goodness sake, talk about something else!

One of the reasons why I like the training environment at Craftsbury is that we get the opportunity to develop other interests through our work contributions to the Center. It gives us a chance to get outside ourselves as athletes, and focus on how we can help out with the Center in other ways. Whether it’s growing local produce, taking care of the farm animals, coaching juniors, building trails, or planning and promoting events at the Center, we’re always busy with something in between training sessions.

Baby tomatoes in the greenhouse, they must have grown at least 4x this size since I took this photo.

Baby tomatoes in the greenhouse, they must have grown at least 4x this size since I took this photo.

Gordo and Pete have put in a lot of work on mountain bike signage, and I've joined for a few stenciling/spray paint sessions.

Gordo and Pete have put in a lot of work on mountain bike signage, and I’ve joined for a few stenciling/spray paint sessions.

Coming to the Craftsbury single-track trail system soon!

This is an old picture, because the signs are now out and about on the mountain bike trails. Exciting stuff!

A new project this summer has been scuba diving with the milfoil management team in Big Hosmer Pond. In case you don’t live by a lake or know northeastern Vermont, the short story is that milfoil is an invasive aquatic weed that grows in the bottom of the pond (Big Hosmer) that Craftsbury uses for rowing training. If the milfoil gets too out of hand it will clog the waterway and rowing, boating, swimming, etc will become nearly impossible. The scuba diving team here hand-pulls the milfoil from the bottom of the lake and tries to alleviate the problem. It’s a tough battle of divers versus a very prodigious weed, but we’re trying our best. I didn’t really think that I would be using my SCUBA certification to go underwater weeding in Vermont, but hey, life will surprise you like that! It’s also nice to feel like I’m making a small difference for the environment in our little section of the world.

Coming to the surface with a full bag of milfoil in tow.

Coming to the surface with a full bag of milfoil in tow.

Mmmm milfoil...

Mmmm milfoil…

And last but not least, kick back!

Off days are great for relaxation and recovery, so I always try to make the most of them. When I think of Vermont summers I think of riding in the backs of trucks, launching off rope swings, and picking berries wherever they pop up! This summer we also celebrated 4th of July, have stepped up our Saturday afternoon lawn games, and watched enough World Cup soccer to get us through the next 4 years (maybe). The pictures pretty much sum it up:

Our favorite little swimming hole in Stowe

Our favorite little swimming hole in Stowe

If that isn't patriotism, I'm not sure what is!

If that isn’t patriotism ladies and gents, I’m not sure what is!

Lawn games Craftsbury style

Lawn games Craftsbury style

A Hosmer Pond sunset parting shot, our little slice of paradise!

Yeah, sunset shots are cliché, but this post-dinner view of Big Hosmer really never gets old..

Thanks for reading! Summer is a great time to be a skier, and the Greenies will be up in Craftsbury enjoying the Northeast Kingdom life and training hard all summer long.