Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Your Body on 100km

100 km, 62.14 miles, 6 hours and 15 min, 3,000+ calories...no matter which way you cut it the Annual SMS T2 Ski-A-Thon is a big day and challenges your body, mind, and at times, your relationship with your teammates and coach. A short look into 100 km of skiing as told by my muscles:
9:15 AM and 100km to go!
Mouth at kilometer 0: Everything is awesome! I am about to spend the next 6 hours chatting and bonding and roller-skiing with my teammates and best friends and nothing can wipe this grin off my face.
And we're off!
Butt around 20 km:  Peeing on a rosebush was maybe not the best bathroom choice but the wounds seem minimal
Sophie feeling hoppy!
These kilometers are FLYING by...nothing like taking up the rear and enjoying the draft for a while :)
Coach Sverre offering directions and encouragement
Arms around kilometer 30: Wow we have been double poling for a long time now. I think I can actually feel my arms getting bigger. My lats are going to be so strong after this.
Getting stronger and loving this ski...I could roller-ski all day!
Eyes around kilometer 35:  Look at this beautiful scenery!
Lovin' the views
Eyes around kilometer 45: Don't lose sight of those white boots in front of you. Keep moving forward. Watch out for the gravel and that dead skunk. Oh no, the boots are pulling away...they are getting a gap... pick it up quick, don't lose the draft! Where are we skiing again..Vermont? New York? Are the boys behind us now? I don't see the vans, where did they go?
Sophie taking a pull at the front and leading a training train to take down a few k's.
 Stomach at kilometer 52: Snack time! Over halfway done and finally on to the skate portion of the ski. Does peanut butter and jelly always taste this good?

Legs at 53 km: Woofta...skate skiing, so stiff, so sore, so tired, I still have 47km to go and my hamstrings are already tired and sore.
Can we go back to classic skiing?
Stomach at 60km: I need another snack..apple cake? Too sweet. Rice and bacon bar? Too salty. Caffeinated PowerBar CocaCola gummy chews? Just right!
Annie Pokorny getting a feed from her mom, Val. Thanks for coming out to cheer and support our ski!
Brain at 70 km: Feeling good! Wow I should drink more coffee in the morning, caffeine does wonders.
Takin' a turn at the front of the train
Eyes at 73 km: That looks like a sketchy downhill. Coach?
Sverre giving us an extra "brake" on a steep downhill into an intersection. Keeping us safe and smiling- thanks Sverre!

Brain around 75km: There have got to be less painful ways to raise money...think think think. I think my brain is getting tired.

Feet around 80km: Get me out of these boots! Why am I still in here? I'm getting hot and sweaty,  I have been in the same position for 5 hours and my pinkie toe is asleep.
Sophie: I hate this but I am gonna try my best to pretend I love it
Annie: If I close my eyes maybe the end will come sooner, you know, like going to sleep before Christmas morning 
 Mouth at 85 km: I have nothing nice to say so I'm not going to say anything at all.
No words...only a deafening silence briefly broken by Jessie's valiant but failed attempt to brighten the mood and strike up a conversation about ultra marathon races. Let's just say no one seemed that enthused by the idea. 

On the up and up with the help of Coach Pat and Annie P.'s dad Al on bikes
Butt at 90 km: Ouch...if I'm tired it means I'm doing something right though...right? Ouch

Legs at 92 km: So close and yet so far away. Imagine I am Jens Voigt and "Shut Up" legs!
If I smile enough I can trick my body into thinking I am still enjoying this.
Brain at 95 km: I think I can I think I can I think I can!

Full Body at 100 km: Everything is awesome! I love my team, I love skiing, I love endorphins, I love pain, I love all the Ski-A-Thon Supporters! We did it!

Actually though, while that was a bit of an overdramatic account of the day, I truly am grateful for everyone who supported the 3rd Annual Ski-A-Thon both on the day of the ski and throughout the year. Thank you to the coaches, Jason Cork, Patrick O'Brien and Sverre Caldwell who drove the vans and supported our ski both on foot and on bike for the entire 8+ hour excursion.
Patrick making sure we had an awesome route and no one got lost!
Thank you to Simi's mom, aunt and uncles and Annie P.'s mom, dad and boyfriend, Will, who cheered us on, gave us snacks, offered conversation and encouragement and documented the day with these sweet photos (I think Will has a future in photography). I can't imagine anything more boring than watching us roller-ski for 6+ hours but they did it with a smile and in style.
Thanks to the moms. You guys are the best.
Al logging some serious mileage on the bike
And the biggest thank you goes out to everyone who donated to the 3rd Annual SMS T2 Ski-A-Thon. Without you, the Ski-A-Thon wouldn't happen (so wait...why am I thanking you again? Just kidding!) and you are also the reason I get to spend every day pursuing something I love. Your donations fuel the dream. Your support allows me to attend training camps, travel to races, and get to the start line knowing I have done everything I can to race my best. This 100 km Ski-A-Thon is dedicated to you!
Thank You from SMS T2!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The New Lemonade Stand

Sometime around the age of 5, I set up my first lemonade stand on the corner of Plymouth Street, Missoula. I spent the afternoon handing out small cups of juice from behind a hand-painted puppet theatre and thought I hit it big time when a customer handed me a $20 tip!
With a little sister like that you can get people to buy almost anything :) Happy 23rd this week Natalie!
Unfortunately, the lemonade market was flooded with competition due to the high density of young children in my neighborhood. So I upgraded and took the business mobile. I would march from door to door with sister in tow, offering not only lemonade, but also sidewalk chalk art (25 cents/square), homemade clay beads, bookmarks, and popcorn packed in small ziploc bags. 

Something had to pay for those awesome foot-strap spandex
Unfortunately at age 24, I have been informed that lemonade stands are a money-making business reserved for children under 12. Evidently overalls and a cute smile no longer cut it when trying to make money and lemonade stands simply aren't as lucrative as they used to be. As it turns out, neither is nordic ski racing, especially at the development level. As such I had to invest in some alternative fundraising methods that rely on what I know how to do best, ski! 
Let's just say the roller-skiing looks a little different these days
Or at least it involves more neon
The latest endeavor is slightly more work than the corner juice stand, but "no pain, no gain" right? This Saturday, September 20th, I will roller-ski 100 km with my SMS T2 teammates in our 3rd annual Ski-A-Thon. The event gives us the opportunity to reach out to our communities and gather support for the upcoming season. Since we are talking finances here, a few numbers on the Ski-A-Thon:

62.14    miles of roller-skiing between me and the end of the Ski-A-Thon

6             approximate hours it will take to complete said number of miles

2             number of "bonks" I will probably suffer through during the Ski-A-Thon

10,000  dollars I need to raise to continue to race, train, travel and volunteer

3             scoops of ice-cream I will eat at the end of the Ski-A-Thon

25           people who supported me in last year's event and helped me to my best ever season

750         hours per year spent training to compete against the best in the world in cross-country skiing

8             teammates + coach who make 6+ hours of roller-skiing FUN

1           Ski-A-Thon to help me get to the start line!

For more information on the event, check out the 2014 Ski-A-Thon page on my blog and check out our website at www.smst2.com!

Working together during the inaugural Ski-A-Thon. This is how we make things happen!

To Donate:

Donate online here, remember to mark that your donation is for Erika Flowers in the checkout process. 


and send it to
Stratton Mountain School
c/o Patrick O'Brien
7 World Cup Circle
Stratton Mountain, VT 05155

In prep for the Ski-A-Thon, I headed home last weekend for a little R and R and to surprise my Dad for his retirement party. 
A little fishing with the family

Natalie and I caught a big one!

He's kind of a big deal :) Congrats Dad!

Fish themed party was perfect

My Dad just started using a heart rate monitor so he's sure to be kicking my butt soon!

I still had some training to do at home and was lucky to join a few friends for a new adventure run

Katie and Anya embracing the Mountain Babe lifestyle

The top of BigHorn Peak with Natalie

Anya showed us a new "trick"

Nothing like being in the mountains under the Big Sky to reenergize you after a few hard weeks of training!

A sweet place to end some hard ski-walking intervals

Stopped by my Mom's trail to say hi. I think she would be psyched to know I spend my days chasing my dream and doing something I truly love!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Falling Up

I tripped on my shoelace
And I fell up--
Up to the roof tops
Up over the towns
Up past the tree tops
Up over the mountains
Up where the colors
Blend into the sounds
But it got me so dizzy
When I looked around
I got sick to my stomach
And I threw down.

-Shel Silverstein
The last hour of the last ski of the last day of the Lake Placid Camp. Caitlin G. leads Paige S. (of Sun Valley), Annie P and me during a long classic roller-ski
I finished the Lake Placid U.S. Ski Team camp much the same way I started it over two weeks ago, falling up. During the final distance ski of the camp, my somewhat tired arms missed the pavement and stuck my pole into the wheel of my roller ski at which point I proceeded to topple, almost in slow motion, to the road in an overly dramatic fashion. The fall was not all that different from the first day of camp when I poled straight between my legs during a set of 6X4 minute uphill skate intervals, not to mention the uphill tumble I took during our classic sprint time trial. After not falling DOWN all summer I somehow managed to fall while going UP-hill 3 times in the last two weeks, leaving me with knees that resemble badly bruised peaches. 
Tackling the ups on a steep double pole climb
Although falling is never a "good" thing, I figure falling up must be better than down. Skiing is kind of like that...some days you might be taking leaps and bounds forward, winning races and kicking butt in training. A week later you could be sitting on your butt, exhausted after a tough interval workout that maybe didn't go quite as planned. 

Anne post-Climb to the Castle...Sometimes you just need a muffin and a nap
Big training blocks, like the one we just finished in Lake Placid, seem to amplify the ups and downs and the added fatigue from hard training pushes athletes to the edge both physically and mentally.  Our camp schedule over the last 14 days included:

2 speed sessions

Anne H. and I go head to head practicing our sprint starts during a skate speed session

40+ hours of training 

Following Jessie during a long classic roller-ski

Lots of neon to keep us safe on the roads
Still smiles after summiting a windy and wet Mt. Marcy as part of a 3.5+ hour run

4 strength workouts

Getting jacked in the gym

A sprint time-trial

The boys getting after it during the classic sprint time-trial

Andy leads Ben and Paddy Caldwell into the downhill section

A race to a castle on top of a mountain

Start of the famous "Climb to the Castle", a 5 mile uphill roller-ski race to the top of Whiteface Mountain 

Leading a crew of ladies somewhere in the pain cave (FasterSkier photo)

The coaches, including Pat pictured here, offered lots of encouragement and cheering during the race (FasterSkier photo)

Coming through the fog near the top of the course. I hear the view at the top can be spectacular but in my three years doing the race I have never seen anything but fog at the summit. (FasterSkier photo)

Seriously hurting right about now. Although the course was tough as always I improved on last years' race by over a minute, finishing in 4th place overall for women! (FasterSkier photo)
From left: Jessie Diggins, Mary Rose, and me sporting our Senior Women Podium medals after the race. Big thanks to NYSEF for hosting the event!

2 VO2 max interval sets

Anne and I rocked some power buns to help us through a hot and hard L4 bounding session
L4 uphill skating intervals with Ida

120 minutes of threshold skiing

Ida leading some skate threshold intervals

One too many trips to Ben and Jerry's

Some Vermont style soft serve

Sprinkles really are a "must"

By the end of the camp, everyone had experienced their fair share of "on days" and "off days", falls and comebacks. The "falls" in training, races, and in life really are inevitable. But if those falls are generally UP, then the downs are just backboards to bounce you forward. The Lake Placid camp offered ample opportunities for falling and even more for getting up and improving. The best part was having a sweet group working together to make each other better! 
Fun training crew for the past few weeks!
The coaches also play an enormous role in the success of the camp! Here Pat bikes alongside group of us girls, offering technique tips and taking some quality video for review after the session
The coaches even and training of their own hammering out 100 push-ups a day every day of the camp. Here grover shows how its done!

A few other highlights from an awesome two weeks in Lake Placid:

Lake Placid Fast and Female ever: Check out this sweet video on the event that aired on a local news station! 
We helped host a Fast and Female event with the women of U.S. biathlon in Lake Placid! Some fun obstacle courses were part of the event.

Anne H showing girls how to be strong, fit and happy!  
Some time but the river on an easy day

Looking for fishes 
Office hours at the Olympic Training Center

Our new duck friend who accidentally started choking on a cranberry from a scone that I shared with him....He survived 

Annie taking selfies with ducks..pretty typical really

Lots of multi-talented skiers

Post-interval swimming hole
Swimming was a common theme after a hard day of training 
So much swimming

Train well eat well!

Annie rocking a new use for a water bottle carrier. She could start delivering take-out!

Finally a huge THANK YOU to the coaches, Bryan Fish, Jason Cork, Matt Whitcomb, Chris Grover, Colin Rogers and Pat O'Brien for many of the awesome PICTURES shown above!!!