Hi everyone, this is Felice Mueller! This morning as John and I hopped in the car to go to practice I said to him, “I feel like we were camping last night, even though we slept in a bed in a really nice house.” Craftsbury has found a way to simultaneously be luxurious, wild, and simple. As we drove in Tuesday night you could look out the window and only see darkness, just barely making out the dark ridge of the mountains and the blinking lights from the windmills. When we got out of the car I was met with the most spectacular display of stars I’ve seen in over a year (since camping in the bottom of the Grand Canyon), and it was only 9pm. But then we stay in this gorgeous farm house, and in the morning drive into the center, where this thriving community exists. We grabbed some coffee with fresh milk, some homemade sourdough toast and jam, and made our way to the brand new fully-equipped gym where we could warm up for our practice. There’s no cell phone service up here, but there’s a physiologist who is operating on the cutting edge of sports science. No gourmet restaurants, but a gourmet dining hall. Simple, but luxurious. Craftsbury is made up of honest, hard work, good food, a Zen-like focus, and a great appreciation for the natural world. I’ve been here a few times and each time I come back, I’m renewed with a sense of awe that this dreamland exists.
It was only my second-time rowing on Hosmer Pond (or is it a lake?) as I set out to launch this Wednesday morning, and I was warned that the conditions I was about to endure were “choppy” for Hosmer. It was windy, but by no means un-rowable. I was even able to work on some technical aspects of the stroke I’ve been thinking about. Despite the “rough” conditions, I was eager to get out on the water this morning, not because I wanted to practice but because I wanted to get warm! Spending the early part of the fall in Florida makes the transition to 40 and 50 degree weather a bit of a shock for the body. It took me 20’ of continuous rowing for my hands to regain control and feeling. I completed three laps of steady state, with a little bit of pressure mixed in, which totaled 17.5k. Maybe it’s because I’m on a new body of water, but the kilometers on Hosmer seem to fly by. I can appreciate the colors of the trees against the sky, the reflection of the water, and the occasional loon call to break up the monotony of a long, continuous row.
After the row John and I grabbed some chocolate milk from the dining hall before going to shower at the center. Once warm and dry, we went to relax in the new ski lodge while we waited for lunch to open. Laying on a bench, I felt grateful a place like this exists. It’s hard to train for the Olympics. It’s hard because it’s physically very hard, but it’s also hard to do financially, and it’s hard to defend the decision to put careers and other interests on the back burner as you go for this one incredible goal. It’s hard to find the support staff you need, and hard to find funding to go compete. Training to compete at the Olympics is a hard, weird thing for people to do for so many reasons, but Craftsbury (The GRP) is making it happen. And it’s not just meeting the basic needs of athletes, it’s providing athletes with the support, equipment and nutrition they need to be their best! It’s really quite extraordinary, and I’m so lucky to be able to experience it for a few days.