I am on a plane back from Sweden and I finally am taking a bit of time to write down some of my reflexions on this year’s Scando Summer Adventure. There is a lot to tell, but this is a blog and I don’t want to fill it with too many words, so I will try and let this installment of pictures tell most of it, but before I bust out my photography skills on you all, I want to say a few words first.
This trip came together very last minute. I was feeling off balance at the thought of not connecting with the scandinavian side of my heart for the 6 months of the summer training season. I believe in a past life I must have been born in Sweden, because every time I am gone too long my hear begins to feel unsettled and every time my feet hit the solid ground of Scandinavia my whole body gets this wave of incredible happiness. My world is complete when I am there. All of the little crazies that flutter around at points in my life disappear and I feel fully me. It is wonderful.
But these trips do not just fall open at my lap and I want to make sure everyone who reads this knows that the people in my life who support me, both financially, mentally and physically, make this kind of adventure and these life changing experiences a possibility. There are a number of ways I needed to be supported and pushed a bit to buy this year’s plane ticket to my Scando Summer Adventure. I had never trained with the Norwegian National Team before and as you may be able to relate to in an area of your life, meeting new people can be intimidating and scary, especially when you don’t speak their language and you are about to go try and join the best cross country ski nation in the World at their camp in their home country. I was, to put it lightly, a bit nervous! So, I needed some support and encouragement from my coach, Matt, and from my teammates and family to help get me on that plane.
Next, there is that “purchase” button that needs to be pressed, and I couldn’t have clicked it without the incredibly generous support of a few key people and organizations in my life. I am not sure whether these individuals and organizations want to remain anonymous to the public, so I will not name them here, but I will say that you know who you are and you allowed me to click those “purchase” buttons. I want everyone who has supported me through this incredible journey that I am living each and every day, to know that you made this trip possible. This trip has energized my summer of training, infused excitement in my bones all over again to train my heart out this off season. I have learned so much, not only in terms of new ski ideas and thoughts, but also how to venture into something unknown, step out of the comfort box, and face some nerves head on, and it seems that these are the ways that you learn the most about yourself and how to grow. I have made some lifelong friends, felt happiness on these trips that is above a normal level of joy. You all made this possible and for that I have so much gratitude. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Now, time for some stories.
Yesterday was a busy day, packed with a 2 hour drive each direction to and from Solleftea, where they have about a 6 k rollerski track on the ski trails! It had just been resurfaced last year and it was in perfect condition. Anna and I, along with one of Sweden's top junior skiers, Sophia (above middle) did a 30k time trial. As Anna and I often feel, there is not enough practice for the long races during the season. In fact, it is always the case that the first 30/50k races we face are at the major championship each year and never one before. So, Anna has made it a goal of her's to do a few of these long time trials to mentally and physically prepare for Sochi. I think it is an awesome idea and was really happy to do my first one with such a fun and inspiring duo of ladies. The tracks in Solleftea couldn't be better for this kind of workout.
AHHH....the treats that greet you when you cross the border into Sweden. Bulle. The best taste known to man, or at least me.
Emil, sporting his new Fast and Female Supporter hat!
Get your own at: www.fastandfemale.com
What must be the next best thing to Bulle that the Swede's have come up with. This was my
mid-afternoon "Fika" (a snack or treat that is eaten after lunch but before dinner or training as is the case with us). It has creamy cheese or butter, lettuce, egg, anchovies, cucumber, tomatoe, lemon slices and dill and was it ever tasty. YUMM!
Anna and Emil recently bought land in Ostersund, about a 7 minute drive from where they live now. Ostersund has an island just off the shore which is connected to the mainland by a couple bridges. This is the view from their property. It was absolutely gorgeous. Anna made pizza one night and we ate it on the land looking at the view above as the sun got lower in the sky. It was a perfect evening.
Complete with a swim.
And an apple tree planting!
Anna and Emil's first apple tree on their land. Today they were cutting down lots of big trees, but last week they added this special one to hopefully bear them some fruit or at least a good memory of this day.
Anna and I on a run. As you may be able to tell, we hate our jobs.
This was a fun day. Emil and Anna like to take me on adventures where they surprise me by not filling me in with any details. They tell me we are heading into the forest and to pack things I might need, which really could include everything. This year's adventure included 3 salt blocks, a bathing suit and some food.
Our mission was to find some salt lick points that needed a new salt stone put out. We found 1 of 3, and boy were we psyched!
And we also needed our bathing suits for the awesome sauna we fired up at the cabin Emil took us to!
If it is possible to really look at Anna's face in this picture you will laugh so hard a tear might fall out of your eyes too!
Going from being super hot to super cold makes you feel so alive!
It was also fun to be in Solleftea because I found some fellow American skiers, some even Burkies! Kate Barton and 4 american skiers were at the Solleftea Summer Ski camp for the week, which is the same camp I joined my first 2 summers as a nordic skier, 9 and 10 years ago! It was really fun to be back at the camp, the roles reversed, now it was me on stage getting asked the questions from the campers and telling my stories, where 10 years ago I remember sitting in awe of the World Cup Swedish Athletes who were coaching the camp for the week. I hope we were all able to make as much of an impression on these skiers as the stars of 10 years ago made on me.
And the best surprise of all waited for me when we arrived back at Anna and Emil's that evening. Anna's Dad, Oke, and brother, Bjorn, were there for dinner!!! More members of my Swedish family! How did I get so lucky?
My hotel for the night! That's right, that's an airplane that was turned into a hostel, and it is cheap! Recommended for anyone who has a fairly short layover night in Stockholm. It was clean, comfortable, and the right price. And kind of fun too.
A view of the plane hostel's hallway. If only a plane that still flew you places could be this cozy!