Friday, December 31, 2010

The "List"...2010 Winds Down.

Here it is, New Year's Eve 2010.

Many things have happened this year: exciting, fun, and sad. I like to follow a tradition around this time of the year where I write out major things that have taken place in my life. I know a lot of people do this too, but it's a good way for me to look back on my year, and look forward to a new one.

So, chronologically speaking, some highlights from the year (with pictures!)

February 1, 2010: I turn 22 and celebrate by going to dinner with my Big Sis from Pi Beta Phi, with my sister in meeting, and then drinks with Brian!

February 26, 2010: Interviewed for and got a job offer for a position at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Southern Germany. Eventually turned down the job, but got to spend the entire weekend with Becky in San Francisco, my first visit to the area in over a decade!

With Becky and Kelsey at Mumm Napa in Napa, CA

April 19, 2010: Went Alumnae from Pi Beta Phi in a very lovely ceremony. Later that week, we had our Blue Party to say a last farewell to our sisters.

April 24, 2010: Last meet of my NAU Track and Field career, though in a different event than the previous two years.

Throwing javelin at ASU during my last meet for NAU

May 8, 2010: Graduated with a BS in Parks and Recreation Management (emphasis in Outdoor Leadership) and a minor in Criminal Justice from Northern Arizona University. The ceremony was attended by my mom and dad, sister, and my first Little Sis in Pi Phi, Kristina.

I's a college grad!

July 17-30: Ventured north of Virginia for the first time in my life as I co-lead a group of thirteen 14-17 year-olds through the beautiful New England outdoors! During this short time, we white-water rafted in New York, rock climbed in New Hampshire, climbed Mt Washington, stayed at Lakes of the Clouds hut in the White Mountains, and sea kayaked in Maine. I also indulged in a bowl of REAL New England Clam Chowder. Let's just say, I didn't want to leave!

The kids and Steve on the beach of Jewel Island off the coast of Maine (I'm taking the picture)

Summer 2010: I can't remember the exact day, but sometime during June or July, our family dog, Lady Chardonnay, had to be put down. She lived to be 16 and a couple months, and survived many events (rattlesnake bite, coyote attack, random 7-inch gash in her side, inner ear syndrome, etc). She was loyal, faithful to the end, and was a terrific of my best friends. I won't ever forget listening for her bell after we called for her.

Lady the Wonder Dog, during a winter in Idyllwild

July 2010: Also during my trip to New England, my grandpa Ray passed away. My mom's father was not in good health for all I can remember, but he was a great conversationalist, and had a lot of great stories from his travels around the world. I loved hearing him tell stories! He also contributed to the US Olympic Committee so we got a lot of Olympic-ish gifts from him. I still have at least two of the Land's End jackets he got me!

September 1-5: US Bobsled and Skeleton Federation Combine (Take 1). I add the parenthesis because, as some of you know, I pulled a hamstring during this combine, which means I couldn't finish the test. I did, however, stay for the duration of the camp, lived and ate at the Olympic Training Center, and basically was gaga over the Olympic history surrounding me. I was also invited to sliding camp!

The entrance to the OTC in Lake Placid, NY

November 8-15(ish), 2010: USBSF Beginner Sliding School. My first sliding camp (on ice!) was a blast. Five days of sliding from the lower portions of the track, gradually moving up to start 3. It was intense, exhilarating and addicting! I also got to practice my push start for the first time (at the push track) and, oh yeah...passed my combine with 686 points!

Sliding from Start 3

November 30-December 10, 2010: USBSF Advanced Sliding School was pretty much like Beginner sliding school, except the first two days we were there, the track was closed due to inclimate weather, and we finally went from the top of the track. It was crazy fast, something to get used to, and made me realize just how tough this road was going to be. But it was during this camp that I fully committed myself to the sport. I quit my recently acquired winter job with REI and made plans to move to Lake Placid during the three months of winter.

Sliding around Curve 20 at the bottom of the track

December 25, 2010: As a family, we spread Lady's ashes at the "Emma Tree" on the Scenic Trail in Idyllwild, where she loved to "herd" her family as we hiked. It was a touching moment, and a bit of closure for me (I cried...a lot).

At the Emma Tree with Lady

December 29, 2010: I get my first piece of media coverage as my hometown paper, the Idyllwild Town Crier, wrote a front-page article about my sliding thus far. A special thanks to JP, who took his time out to do this for me! I hope the town follows my career, as it was a great place to live for me.

December 31, 2010: Here I am again, looking forward to 2011 and all that it will bring. I'll begin the year in Virginia, watching the Rose Parade online, but soon I will be moving to Lake Placid for three months. After sliding, learning and working out, I will be coming back to Virginia to work again for Adventure Links. It's going to be a hectic, exciting year, maybe with a couple of official races through skeleton, and will likely be opening me to whole other areas I haven't yet been.

I am constantly seeking funding to continue my dreams for the Olympics, and need your help! I do have a link on the right side of the page in my blog which will take you directly to my PayPal account to make a donation. If you'd like to make a tax-detectable donation, please visit, where you can donate online, and find an address to donate through the mail. PLEASE be sure to put my name on the donation! Any contribution is appreciated to no end!

What were your favorite moments of 2010? Let me know in a comment, and share your experiences!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Is it raining? Is it snowing? Is it sunny?

These are always the questions that come with "winter" in Southern California.

After a lot of last minute planning and some last second decisions, my parents were kind enough to get me a plane ticket to California, so I could come and visit for a couple weeks over the holidays.

After arriving home from New York, I only had three full days in Virginia before I left again. Some might know that I absolutely hate flying. I'm slightly terrified of airplanes, particularly the landing. This trip was no different.

But I arrived safely in Ontario, CA (after a three-hour layover at Dallas/Ft. Worth...uuug) and was shocked to walk out of the airport into 60 degrees. Talk about warm!

Mom took me out to dinner at Eureka! burger in Redlands, where I had my first hamburger in probably a year (it was excellent). It was nice to visit my mom and people watch with her.

But the time difference was killing me. I was exhausted that night, and was tired all day yesterday. I was also very sore from my Monday's lifting session. After struggling slightly with my lift yesterday, I had to sit in a hot bath for a half-hour in order to relax my muscles.

Today, I have a sprint workout, which will be interesting without a track or gym, because it's raining. Actually, right now, it's not raining. It's beautifully sunny with blue skies. But an hour ago, it was raining and two hours ago it was snowing. I guess I should come to expect this with the Idyllwild weather I had when I lived here.

I am missing my teammates from Lake Placid and my coworkers from Virginia, but it's only two more weeks before I'm back on the East Coast, and less than a month before I'm sliding again!

In an attempt to stay focused on sliding, I've been watching video of the Lake Placid track (shown below), trying to learn the turns better and trying to practice what I've learned. Because I don't have a sled here, it's difficult to practice the actual movements, but I re-create them with my shoulders.

Lake Placid helmet camera

My parents also just got a DVR, which not only opened up a bunch more channels on TV, but the ability to record shows as well! Since we now have UniversalSports, an NBC-affiliated channel that focuses on winter sports, I'm able to record and watch the World Cup skeleton races.

It helps even watching on TV, because I get to focus on elite sliders' form (something I need work on) and their technique. I even get to know a new track slightly after watching run after run!

I haven't gotten my mom to watch with me yet, but it's only a matter of time!

Until then, I'll be trying to stay on top of my training, and getting in as much relaxing as I can before diving headfirst into full-on training in Lake Placid.

Happy holidays, everyone! Keep on sliding forward!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Aftermath

Well, after another 10-hour drive, I'm back in Virginia. It wasn't too bad of a trip, as I finished listening to "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," which certainly helped my understanding of the plot better than when I read it.

It also wasn't raining the entire time I was driving, and only snowed as I drove south through New York. Clear weather makes me happy in a car!

I made it back to Clifton, Virginia around 7:00 (immediately noticing that the quality of my fellow drivers greatly diminished around DC) , so stopped by the gym to get a quick, light lift in. It wasn't much of a workout, as it's my down week and it wasn't heavy, but at least it was something.

Having no energy to cook for myself, I was on the way to Panera Bread when my coworkers invited me to hang out at our staff director's house, so that was a nice detour. I had a welcome glass of white wine with them and tried to stay as alert and awake as I could for my drive home, but it was pretty futile. It probably wasn't the safest thing in the world for me to drive home (sorry, Chelsea!) but we made it back.

Originally, my plan after getting to Hemlock was to just go to sleep without unpacking. It sounded so welcome! But I realized that I have a wierd thing about full luggage laying around in my room after a trip, so that plan failed.

As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out. My bed here at Hemlock, while not the most comfortable, is much more squishy and wonderful than the OTC beds, and having my own thick bead-spread and down pillow didn't hurt the cause either.

At the OTC during the last several days, I was waking up around 4am with the need to use the bathroom, or my body just woke up for no reason. It's been aggravating, so I was expecting it to happen last night. No such thing happened, and I slept straight until 10:30am.

This is the latest I've slept in a couple years, and I realized as I tried to get out of bed, that I could have slept another two or so hours. I had no idea my body and mind were this tired!

I've definitely been dragging all day thus far. I went to the Clifton Coffee Shop for a morning pick-me-up and sat there while I read a beginner guide to skeleton, which Leisl gave me before I left. It helped my understanding of basic equipment for sure, but I was so tired that I couldn't bring myself to fully concentrate on it.

Even driving to Panera for lunch (I have little gorceries at Hemlock, since I was gone for so long, and I am only here for four days) was difficult. I tried to read My Life in France by Julia Child, but I couldn't focus. I was planning on going out to the hardware store to pick up some tools for skeleton, but I decided to postpone until tomorrow.

So I'm back at camp, dressed in an overlarge fleece and sweats, ready to cuddle up in bed and wait for a phone call from a woman for whom I'm supposed to babysit tonight. Since I've called and left two messages and haven't heard back from her yet, I'm assuming she found someone else.

But, seeing as I finally have video of my push starts, I am posting them for your enjoyment! Just to warn you, my form for the push start sucks, but I'm working on it!

December 8, 2010: Push Start 1

December 8, 2 010: Push Start 2 (Don is yelling to tell me how far to run, and when to jump on the sled)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bruised, exhausted, but happy!

Well, another sliding camp has come and gone.

Tonight was our last day of sliding in 2010, which is bittersweet. I love sliding, and it's definitely an experience in itself to slide from the top, but I think my body is ready for a short break.

We slid in temperatures that dipped to 2 degrees today, and on ice that is being prepped for the World Cup next week, which basically sums up that the track was FAST tonight. My first run, I was too far forward on my sled, so the spine of my runners (which are towards my feet) were not digging into the ice. As a result, I had no control whatsoever.

My second run was better, as I made sure to get on the sled farther back. I felt the difference, though I still didn't have much control. I didn't push quite as fast today (5.85 and 5.99, as opposed to yesterday's 5.74) but I did get to use my new brush spikes!

I wanted to get pictures of some fantastic bruises and cuts that my teammates got this week, but as my camera is at the bottom of a memorial pool in DC, that was impossible.

My prize from the week is a series of bruises across the bottom of my chin and throat, which was the result of my helmet chin strap cutting into me during the run. My problem was that my helmet (a school helmet, so...old) was too big for me, so it would get pushed up every time my chin hit the ice. It's pretty painful, seeing as I like to sit and rest my chin on my palm a lot.

I also have a bruise the size of Texas on my left hip, and one the size of Rhode Island on my left. Other than a few bruises here and there on my legs, and one good one on my left ankle, I've walked away fairly unscathed.

It's hard to leave Lake Placid, especially after sliding from the top at last. I feel like every time I'm about to hit my stride, I have to leave again. Luckily, the next time I come up, I'll be living here for three months! So no back and forth driving to Virginia!

But, my bags are packed, my clothes are laid out for tomorrow and I've said goodbye to as many people as I can find. My drive tomorrow may be long, but I'm prepared! I'm crossing my fingers for clear weather and clear roads! It'd be GREAT if I could make it home in less than 12 hours!

Push start videos will be up hopefully this weekend as will more pictures!

For now, keep sliding!

The gang at the OTC

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holy Cow!

This is the only way to describe the last couple of days.

For those who don't follow me on Facebook, you will be pleased to know that I have now slid from the top of the Mt. Vanhovenburg Bobsled and Skeleton track. Five times.

Five runs in two days might not sound that impressive, but let me tell you the physics of it.

Last night, we held a consistency race, which is just to see how consistently we can slide the track. There was also an added challenge to push at 100%, because the two women who threw down the fastest pushes would be selected to pilot a World Cup sled.

What THAT is, is this. Before the World Cup races begin, the track sends two or three sliders down so that athletes competing can see the grooves on the start, the correct lines to take, and the speed of the track. Being a pilot is a huge honor, particularly for a beginning slider and is quite prestigious.

So, not only were some of us sliding from the top for only the fourth and fifth time ever, we were also sprinting the first 50m as fast as we could, fighting to earn a spot to pilot.

Back to the physics: starting as fast as you can on an ice track sounds difficult, and it is, even with spikes. The faster you go on your start means the faster you enter Curve 1. With world-class athletes, a good or bad push will make or break a race, or medal.

Around Curve 4, the G-Forces hit your body hard. Your head is pushed into the ice, and you're fighting to breathe. As soon as the pressure lifts, your head, if not controlled, will rocket up. By Curve 10, known as Shady II (170 degree turn) the pressure is so hard that you can't pick up your head if you tried.

At any point around the track, if you make a wrong steer, you'll hit a wall, then pinball off another wall, causing your sled to hit a line wrong. If done correctly, you'll ride high on the curves and straight through the straightaways.

To sum up, sliders throw their bodies as fast as they can down an ice chute, where around curves they'll hit up to 4-Gs of force, which is four times your body weight. With all the jostling and pressure, headaches form readily. After most sliding days, everyone has headaches, neck-aches or some kind of pain in their bodies. Even the most elite sliders take only two runs in a training session.

My consistancy wasn't that great, mostly because I improved by almost a second and a half on my second slide, but as long as I got better, I was happy.

Me sliding after my first "push" from the top

So after "the talk" with Don this morning, I've found out that I'm not piloting a sled for World Cup. It's a little disappointing, but totally makes sense for a slider who has only gone from the top a handful of times to not slide before one of the biggest international races in the world besides the Olympics.

On the good side, Don's outlook for my future is very good. I have good progression and he sees some great things in my future. The first of which is a sled that he will be fitting to me over the Christmas break. It is one of Rebecca Sorensen's World Cup sled, which is pretty cool. I will also be in Lake Placid from 16 January-3 April, which is the entire sliding season and am on track to possibly slide in an America's Cup race at the end of the season.

The outlook is good, I'm excited and pleased to be doing this, even though it is a little scary sometimes. I'm still looking for donations and will be doing fund raising over the winter, but I have a bright future in this sport, and I'm looking forward to pursuing it.

Slide on, my friends!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Attack of the Snow Muffins!

First point: the title was my roommate, Lindsey's, idea. She likes coming up with odd names and such.

Sliding was incredible today! After taking it easy this morning (I had an off day from sprinting and lifting) we headed to the track at a quarter to 1, much earlier than the last time we slid (4:00). After a quick photo shoot in the winter wonderland that is Lake Placid, my teammates headed to the sled shed.

The reason for the early start was to sand our runners. When you slide repeatedly on ice, you tend to get scratches, cracks and occasionally gouges dug in the runners. Sanding smooths the steel down and makes the sled faster. One of my teammates showed me what to do, and explained what type of sandpaper to use (smaller number means lower amount of sand, so the rougher it gets).

Me sanding my runners in the sled shed

At 2, we headed to Start 3. Because we were sliding with the entire camp today (Friday, we split up into two groups) we had a while to wait. We had two bobsleds sliding first and, as our announcer, Cam, said in a sort-of resigned tone: "And the next 29 athletes are for skeleton." That's a LOT of athletes to get through! At Start 3, we waited about 40 minutes for our turn, since those at Start 1 slide first.

In the meantime, we told stories, listened to music, or, as in the case of two of my teammates, performed minor gymnastics tricks!

One of my teammates, Sam, is a great storyteller. We think she should create her own stand-up comedy show. With great detail and humor, she told us a hilarious story of a time in high school when she fell over off her desk in the middle of a math test. She had us all in stitches by the end!

My first run down was pretty good. As soon as I got on my sled, I felt the track was fast. A good thing of this run was that I knew where I was almost the entire time. As some might know, I've been struggling with that. The bad part was, I had my head up the entire time, whcih is not a bad thing. And by head up, I mean like a seal.

Head up=bad form on Curve 14

My second run was absolutely fantastic! Seriously, it was probably the best run I've had of my short skeleton career. As soon as I sat up on the sled at the finish, I let out a big "WOOHOO!"

My head was down, feet were together, I was relaxed, and I knew where I was on the track. It was at the point where I felt the track slowing down (really, I was still going 62mph, but it felt a lot slower). It was also the fastest of my times, as I finished 5th out of the 10 of us at Start 3. Time doesn't matter right now, says our coach, but sometimes it helps to see your name higher up on the list!

Sliding around Curve 20

My third run was also a good one, though I hit out of Curve 12. It wasn't as fast as my second run, but to end on a fairly clean run was encouraging. I will say, my head hurt a lot after this run, and that is probably because of the G-forces from the three combined runs.

Sliding today was so invigorating. I felt ecstatic, pumped, and elated. I know all of those words pretty much mean the same thing, but those are the words! It is so encouraging to get in some good runs, and to finally know where I am, because I'm not nervous at all to go from the top tomorrow!

There was a friend of a slider on the track today taking pictures with a super fantastic camera, so the images are good ones today! He said he'd be back tomorrow and will probably take pictures from the Start 1. Hopefully, one of my teammates will take video and pictures from some of the turns tomorrow, so I'll finally have video!

If you or anyone you know would like to make a tax-deductible donation or sponsor me to help my skeleton pursuit, please visit It's easy and every little bit helps!

Thanks for reading, and keep sliding!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sliding again!

In a winter sport that takes place on a man-made ice track, there are some problems that occasionally crop up that make it impossible to slide.

Weather is sometimes our biggest foe here in Lake Placid, and sometimes it helps us. For the first part of this camp, it's the former. Wednesday and Thursday, the weather was in the 40s, raining, with winds up to 50mph. The wind was powerful enough to rip some of the guard curtains off of the track, exposing it to the weather. As such, the track was closed and we couldn't slide.

For our enjoyment/workout pleasure, our coach arranged for a couple of instructors from Kuk Sool Won to come and teach us focus techniques and some basic punches and kicks. It was the first time I've ever done martial arts, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it!

It was an interesting change of pace and a pretty good workout. I enjoyed it so much, I'd like to take more classes, but unfortunately, locations are inconvenient. However, Don (my coach) mentioned they might come up once a month to do more lessons in the winter!

We did a pretty awesome workout where we had to get into the "horse" stance with a pole (kinda like a quarter-staff) balanced on our thighs, kind of like a squat, and we had to sit like that for a minute. If we dropped the pole (if we stood up or gave up), we had to do pushups for the remainder of the time. I kept mine on the whole time, and felt like I could have gone at least 30 seconds more.

Yesterday, we had our first sliding session of the camp. I was in the second group, so slid from 4-6pm. In the morning, I did a weight lifting session, which was pretty challenging, considering I had been doing two of the four lifts slightly wrong.

While in the weight room, I also got to watch Katie Uhlaender do some treadmill pushes. Pretty cool to watch an Olympian, and even better because I got to see good form in a push.

Sliding was, of course, awesome. We started at Start 3, where I ended last time I was here. I was a little disappointed we weren't going from the top, but Don explained that if he had his way, everyone would start from 3 until they knew the track perfectly. I completely agree, though it's taking a little longer for me to memorize the track than I want.

My first run, I was distracted by my helmet, which fit weird and was brushing against my mouth guard oddly. I felt completely disoriented and tense, but Don told me my form was good, and I took the right lines almost completely. Who'da thought? I was proud that I got through the Chicane clean!

My second run, I focused on form, and trying to relax. I was relaxed until Curve 12, when I hit pretty badly on my right side. I came off of 11 wrong and smacked my right shoulder into the ice, then the force of the impact was so great that I was almost catupaulted off my sled. As I tried to get back on it, my right ankle and leg hit the wall as well. My thoughts in the split second that it happened: "Ouch! Shit...OUCH! Shit. Get back on line. Focus! Relax. Look at the corner."Another clean run through the Chicane!

I did realize around the third run that I knew better where I was, and was more aware of where I hit (another right shoulder hit on 12, and then pinballed in the Chicane). It was comforting to know that I could remember when a turn was coming, though I can be a LOT better.

My fourth run felt like my best. I held my form, and didn't brush my toes against the ice as much as I normally do. I went cleanly through the Chicane (though not as relaxed as I could have been) and only got a slight brush off of 19.

The fifth run was awful. The track was slow as heck, and I got really beat up, on the same curves that I was hit in the previous runs. It was a frustrating run to end the night on, but generally, after four runs, I get really, REALLY tired. Even four runs is pushing the limit.

It doesn't seem like skeleton would be that hard to do...I mean, the majority of the physical work is in the first 6 seconds, on the push. But for the other 50 seconds, your body is being pounded by G forces, and ricocheted off corners. It's rather brutal, and even elite athletes only take two or three runs in a session.

Today, I woke up with a sore back from lifting on Friday. I had a little headache but not too bad. It took a while longer than usual to get out of bed. After breakfast, I booked a plane ticket home for Christmas, then retreated to my room to begin my day off from sliding.

What do athletes do on an off day? Well, work out, and watch Harry Potter. All day long. After a short sprint workout in the gym, my rommmate, Lindsey, and I watched the Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family.

At two, several teammates and I went to the Lake Placid theatre and saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. For the movie, and a small bag of goodies, I spent 7.25, four dollars LESS than I would have spent on a movie ticket in Virginia. CRAZY!

Tonight, a few athletes are going to play volleyball in the OTC gym, but I'm passing it up because of my sore back. I'd like to be well rested before tomorrow's sliding session. So for now, Harry Potter continues.

Oh, there is a campaign going on with Pepsi, as the US Bobsled and Skeleton Federation is trying to win $250,000 to support its development program. One of the severely underfunded and under publicized sports in the country, skeleton is extremely expensive (an average sled costing around $5,000) so this grant from Pepsi would help development athletes like myself to succeed in our goal for Olympic Gold.

You can help! A simple vote is all it takes! Visit and click "Vote for This Idea". You can log in via Facebook or make a quick account. Best of all, you can vote once a day! The top two voted causes win!

Thanks for reading, and as always, keep sliding!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oh the weather outside is frightful!

After waiting two and a half weeks to slide again, I was disappointed to find out just before breakfast this morning that the track was closed due to inclimate weather. Yes, it was snowing/raining/50mph wind all day, but come on! I've trained in worse than that!

I guess the wind was ripping the guard curtains off the track, and the ice was iffy, so they had shut it down for the day.
So I spent much of the day sitting in my room. Around 2, I went to the weight room and got in a good lifting session (it's so nice to work out in a real weight room where you can drop lifts!). It was challenging, but it felt amazing to be working out.

I did go downtown to visit Eastern Mountain Sports, where I got a spandex top for sliding and shoe crampons for the track walks we take before sliding. I also visited a couple stores to get some cheap sweats, since I only have one pair with me.

I'm still kinda in disbelief that I'm here, living at the Olympic Training Center and training with all these fantastic athletes. It's definitely one of the most humbling and challenging things I've done in my life.

Leisl told us all about a figure skating show at the Olympic Ice Rinks, after which there would be a free skate, so most of the development athletes went. It was nice to get out of the OTC and it was a good show. Short and sweet, with the Saranac Lake Figure Skating Academy performing, ranging in ages from 15 to an ADORABLE 5-year-old making her figure skating debut. Seriously, so cute I would have eaten her!
Ice skating is always fun, though I learned I definitely prefer figure skates to hockey skates. I have bruises on my ankles from the hockey skates I only wore for five minutes. Once I put the figure skates on, I was much more comfortable on the ice!

A little skater of about 6 was trying to teach me how to skate backwards. She was so adorable, and I was trying to impress her, but I got the feeling she was a little frustrated in my lack of ability. But at least she was encouraging!

Here I am, being critiqued by two of the little girls who were skating around me. The one in the pink was my "coach" who was doing most of the teaching.

She taught me a couple ways to do it, but the "push" method was easiest for me. I got a little better, but definitely not as good as her! I think I can hold my own in the pose finish, though!

The ice is closed tomorrow was well (though I guess there's a slight chance it'll open again) so it'll be another day of sitting in the OTC, eating, working out and trying to amuse ourselves. Luckily I work in the outdoors, where flexibility is key!
On the plus side of all this downtime: I'm reading more books now that I don't have a bunch of kids in my charge. I joined the Fairfax County library system finally and started my collection with two biographies: My Life in France by Julia Child, and The Queen Mother, a biography about...well, the Queen Mother. I'm reading My Life in France right now, and Ms. Child is a great author! Funny and very descriptive. I recommend it.

Keep an eye out for more updates as the camp goes on! I'm extremely excited to get back on the ice!

For now, keep sliding!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Two Days and Counting!

So I went to bed at 9:30 tonight, thinking that the amount of data entry that I've been doing the last week has finally beaten me into submission. As you can see, the post time for this is later than that.

As I was tossing and turning trying to force myself to fall asleep, I found myself thinking way too much. While there were many different subjects in my head, such as data entry and all that goes with it, I realized I was focusing mostly on (what else?) skeleton.

I leave again for Lake Placid in two days, and I'll be staying for a 10-day stretch for the Advanced Sliding School. Needless to say, I'm anxious to get back on the ice.

The thoughts relating to the trip are listed below. You can tell I'm delierious with exhaustion, but my brain is doing too much for me to just fall asleep! They are random, ramble-y, and journal-entry-like, but bear with me! I need to get it all off my mind!

1. What time will I leave? Am I leaving Monday and staying the night somewhere in New York or am I leaving dawn patrol on Tuesday? If dawn patrol, how "dawn-ish"? 4am? 5am? Taking into account weather conditions, directions (or getting lost while trying to follow those directions), and the ability for me to drive my Honda Civic in the snow/ice, should I leave earlier?

2. I know I'm packing my own food for the drive up (can't afford even fast food...that's how broke I am!) but what am I taking? Pasta? Potatoes? Meat? All of the above? How about snacks? Carrots? Apple slices? My traditional Frosted Mini Wheats?

3. I put Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on my ipod for the trip, but just realized I don't yet have a way to plug said ipod into my audio system in my car.

4. Sleds...I know I have to rent one because I can't buy one until 2011. Do I rent a school sled or a Hass sled? Do I even have money to rent a sled? Well, I have to have because I need a sled!

5. Helmets...nope. Still haven't ordered a helmet. Shouldn't be a problem for this school, though. I'll have one before January.

6. Work. I have no way to do data entry at the OTC because I won't have this laptop up there. No work=no paycheck. No paycheck=no skeleton. I could use an OTC computer, but their internet is often fickle.

7. I've logged 30 hours this week of data entry alone...and it will be more tomorrow (aiming for 35 for the week, though I'll probably get more in). Oh the life of a semi-unemployed athlete! You have NO idea how much I hate these waivers now. The only thing getting me through them is watching/listening to Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix whist typing. Yes, I know Buffy is weird and people think it's dumb...but sometimes you need a little Buffy in your life.

That's about the majority of my thoughts right now. There are other ones regarding my shin pain, but those are thoughts I've learned to ignore. I did just get my foam roller in the mail today (thanks for the tip, Chris!) so I'll be using that from now on.

I did have a great Thanksgiving. Not being able to get back to California to spend the holiday with my family, I spent it instead with my other family. I was invited by an Adventure Links coworker to join her family for the meal.

It was certainly a delicious meal with all the traditional fixin's, including a turkey that was butchered just for us. Rachel's mom being a bartender and Rachel herself being something of a wine connoisseur, there was also good drink! I ate most of everything and even surprised my Grandpa later when I told him I had eaten my first bites of stuffing AND apple pie! He replied, "Well, of course! You're old enough now to try new things!" Good thing he's there to remind me!

I ended up staying the night at their house after popping a couple Benadryl for the cat. It was nice to be with friends, especially because this was my first Thanksgiving away from home.

And so another blog post comes to an end. I look forward to next week, where I'm sure I will be updating nightly, or at least every other night. I will hopefully have some video this time of me sliding, and of course there will be more pictures!

Thanks for reading!

If you, or anyone you know would be interested in donating funds or sponsoring me in my quest for the Olympics, please visit Thank you for all your support!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Waiting...just waiting...

I wish my camera's tomb wasn't the bottom of the Grant Memorial Pool in Washington DC. If I had it, I'd take a picture of myself to show you exactly what I'm doing. Since I have no photographic evidence, I'll try and explain as much as I can.

I'm currently sitting on the floor of the lodge at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, where I work as an Adventure Facilitator for a company called Adventure Links. I'm wearing jeans and my US Bobsled and Skeleton sweatshirt. One of my pant legs is rolled up to the knee and a big bag of ice is resting on my shin.

Every time I inhale, I'm smelling delicious things coming from the kitchen about 10 feet to my left, where most of the staff is gathered, putting the finishing touches to their contributions to our end-of-year feast.

It's a rather comical picture of someone who is training for the Olympics, I'll grant you. But, such is my life!

I've been in Virginia for six months now, ever since my graduation from college. While I was working for Adventure Links last summer, this is the first time I've stayed through the fall season. Now that our company is closing its doors for the winter, we are celebrating with a lavish feast of turkey (cooked in a bonfire-turned-embers pit outside), mashed potatoes, casseroles, salads and desserts, each made by a different staff member.

Knowing that I would be eating a LOT tonight, including a lot of the dessert that I made, I got a workout in. Today, it was a pretty low-key workout, though it was pretty challenging: 8x 100m strides. Sounds simple, but seeing as this is my first full week back after my sliding camp, it was mainly a test of my fitness.

I also have the added challenge of my old/nagging/chronic shin splints coming back to haunt me...darn it! How is it that every sport I enjoy involve constant pounding of the legs, mostly in a sprint? I guess it's time to stock up on tape and ibuprofen.

And with that point, I suppose I should inform you all: I have recently taken up the sport ofskeleton. Known as one of the fastest sports on ice, skeleton involves the athlete essentially hurling themselves down a mile-long ice chute head first, laying on something closely resembling a cookie sheet with runners, reaching speeds up to 90MPH and exerting up to 5Gs of force on their bodies. Sounds fun, eh?

It's one of the most exhilarating thing I've ever done in my life. It's like a drug: addictive, gives me a huge rush at the end, and keeps me on my toes, so to speak. In a sport where the smallest movement of muscle can cause a crash, it's not an activity for the faint-of-heart.

I got into skeleton through a teammate of mine from NAU Track and Field, who suggested I look into bobsled, noting that I was a fairly fast sprinter and powerful weight-lifter. My inquiry to the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation was answered by the developmental skeleton coach, Don Hass, who suggested skeleton, saying I was a little too small for bobsled, whose female athletes of my 5'6'' height weigh close to 160 pounds, 20 pounds more than me.

I attended a camp in Lake Placid in early September, showing off my fitness and strength in a combine, or a combination of nine different fitness events: a 15m, 30m, 30m fly, and 45m sprint, shot throw, broad jumps, squat in the weight room, and power cleans.
During the second sprint of the morning, only the first event of the day, I pulled my hamstring, which effectively ended my combine hopes for that week. Because my one sprint I got in was one of the fastest in the group, I was allowed to stay, and was even invited back to attend a sliding school in November.

This sliding school just took place last week. For more information and blog posts from that trip, please visit my other site, Living Fast, Living Strong.

My plans for the next couple weeks are as follows: I am attending the Advanced Sliding School in Lake Placid between November 30-December 10, then returning to Virgina until January 17. From that date until April 3, I will be in Lake Placid, living at the Olympic Training Center, and attending open training for my first season. I am extremely excited to go back and learn more, and to challenge myself both on the sled and off.

From time to time, I will be posting here, as well as my other location, so please keep reading, comment, and enjoy!

For now, keep sliding...