Monday, Monday: Sweet Mad River Monday.

FasterSkierNovember 7, 2011

Today was a great day in the Valley — a nice heavy frost in the morning, and clear, dry air all day.
So nice to see morning light after changing the clocks! At breakfast, Evan and I talked about ideas for the new club we are forming to promote cross-country ski racing in the Valley.  We’re stoked to share the fun we are having training, racing, and exploring on skis.

Pigs getting BK at the Gaylord Farm.

After breakfast I took a trip down to the farm to drop off a weekend’s worth of kitchen scraps to the pigs.  The “scraps” are food preppings, and plate scrapings from the school kitchen.  As a result of our Pig Bucket program, we have diverted tons of waste over the past two years.   Not only are we reducing our waste stream, but we are linking our school with the greater community. 

A part of what makes Waitsfield and the Mad River Valley so great for living is the community that is built around around mountains and rivers.  The hills make for awesome recreation and they define a community that enjoys exploring and playing outside.  The river winds its way through the Valley and allows for agriculture, more recreation, places for reflection, and occasionally shows its awesome force (check out the link to some flooding pics).

We’ve been using Monday mornings for recovery sessions, which include a short adventure jog out the back door, looking for logs to scurry over, and stream beds with rocks to skip across.  Today we tried some ski imitation about four feet off the deck on a fallen hemlock in the sharp morning light.  We ran for 25 minutes and returned to a body-scan form of yoga.  For the past two Mondays we have spent a half an hour in silence following our breath through our bodies, noticing sensations of tightness or aching in our athletic bodies.  This week we moved into a new and more dynamic stage of body awareness.

We’ve been doing a lot of work on becoming aware of and firing the deep supportive muscles that link our frame or “skiing muscle” together.  As ski racers we can find ourselves in compromised positions where we develop momentum by forcing our bodies through the motions.  Think of the nagging aches and deep soreness we experience during ski races and hard training.  Stronger “core” muscles mean more efficient motion, faster ski speed, and less chance for use injuries.  C-spine, tucking hips, pulling the belly button towards the spine, or … “turning off the flow of urine,” are all common terms we use to try and activate strong positions.

Dev must have been really fired up today because lunch was pulled pork sandwiches.

The afternoon session called for specific strength on classic roller skis.  We headed to a great new stretch of pavement on a quiet road north of town with reflective shirts and ready bodies.  To increase mobility and balance we forced striding technique as a warm-up.  Even thought the terrain dictates KDP or DP we force the technique, thinking of reaching forward and popping down on the ski to produce a long and free gliding stride.

After that we put our legs together and single stick up a slightly steeper grade for 10 minutes.  The movement feels easy at first, but soon the hard work sets in.  When fatigued in single stick it is common to let the weight bob up and down, and gain momentum by dropping the weight on the poles — effective, but inefficient.  We hold strong and pull the hips up with our abs and glutes.

As we finish our single pole we start to get a view into the upper basin of North Fayston.  We can see the opening on Burnt Rock and dashes of snow that linger on the top of the ridge.  We kick double pole (KDP) to the top of the pavement, again focusing on strong body motions — pulling the hips up to the hands — and enjoy the late autumn scenery.  The dirt above the pavement is smooth, and its slick surface yields a more “snowlike” feel as we head up using mixed techniques at a brisk and light pace to flushing the lactate from our arms.  We get to a height of land and pull up next to a fellow who is splitting wood in his front yard.  He’s drawn to our arduous activity and knows exactly where we are from.  The community might be small here, but the community is big and strong like the mountains rising above us.

Oh, yeah and it’s snowing in West Yellowstone!  A few more running races and ski prep are on the calendar.  Waitsfield, Vermont — not a bad place to spend your days.

Stay tuned for more info on the club and look at these awesome pics of Elena Luethi, alum ’11, killing it down south at Williams Colege. More here.


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