For some it has already happened, but in general this coming week will mark the start of the 17/18 school year. There’s a lot of excitement and trepidation in the air, as you might expect. The school calendar is also a blunt reminder of the change from summer to fall, and of course invites reflection on the training done over the past few months.
In the car this morning I got to talk about that a bit with Kai and Aidan. We were en route to a long mountain bike ride in Pittsfield, Vermont at the awesome Green Mountain Trails…after Saturday’s session, we realized it would only be the three of us around for training the next day and so we made plans for a big, unique ride to cap off the summer.
Back to the conversation at hand and the summer reflection: the basic agreement, backed up by training plan and training log intel, was that we’d trained more than last year (total hours and number of sessions), trained harder than last year (more time at L4, staying in touch with racing), and also done a better job of coming into most sessions prepared and recovering well. The team is fit, and excited for fall races and challenges rather than dreading them.
On Saturday we had a pretty intimidating workout planned: a hard effort “duathlon” workout involving skate skiing up the Bolton access road, switching to shoes and running to the top via the route of our uphill running test. Although we had a relatively small group for this one, I was surprised many times in this one workout…surprised in a good way!
It was great to see the guys working together at the start, and keeping the pace manageable so as not to blow up late in the ski portion. At the sugarhouse Kai made a breakaway and skied incredibly well: the best I’d seen him in 2 years and, for the first time in those 2 years, uninhibited by injury and pain. As I drove up and down to check on the progress of various skiers, I kept thinking I’d see Kai around the next uphill corner. Often though, he would be out of sight, already several switchbacks or turns ahead of where I thought he would be.
Ali worked her way up the mountain behind the guys, also skiing great…in fact, Ali skied up and then ran to the top on Saturday, when last year she did not even complete the ski portion! Huge steps up this year from so many of the crew.
Coming up to the top of the run was my next big surprise. As Ali and I started the run together, I was worried the guys (Kai, Ben, Aidan, Dakota) might already be on their way down. Instead, they had all stayed at the top to cheer on Ali so that we could all be at the summit together. Props!
What’s more, I learned that Kai, Aidan, and Dakota had all done the entire workout (ski, transition, and run) in under an hour. At the start, I had said it might be incredibly difficult to do that. Guess that wasn’t the case. Aidan even did the run in 15:45, only 30 seconds off his PR that he had set when he wasn’t skiing up a mountain beforehand!
Back on the singletrack today in Pittsfield with Kai and Aidan, all of that excitement was hard to keep pent up. I had been thinking about it in my head during a long climb, and as we rounded an uphill switchback into another ascent I just blurted out “gonna be a big year for the Pugs!”
2 hours and 45 minutes of riding later, we popped out of the woods and into a farm field, and headed in the direction of home, fall, school, and even faster skiing.