Category Archives: team

What do we love?

On my morning run today, knowing I might need some external motivation, I listened to last year’s interview with Sally McRae by Julia Hanlon on Julia’s Running on Om podcast. My tired legs may have yielded somewhat slower miles on that run, but Sally’s thoughtful reflections on her Western States 100 training led me onward through my 12 miles, and brought my thinking inward to reflect on this question: what do we love?

Some answers come easily.

    

Some do not.

The more I run, the more I seem to have conversations about things like passion and purpose, goals and direction.

Most recently, I told a friend that I wasn’t yet done becoming who I wanted to be. On reflection, what I think I really meant was, ‘I haven’t yet done all I can to be the best person I can be, and I want to take my time and enjoy the ride.’

We all follow very different paths, for sure, but for me it has often been a literal path — frequently uphill, nearly always layered with soil and lichen-covered stones, under a sky that is more often than not threatening rain.

What we all share, however, is that there is a path. And even when look ahead to see what’s next (I mean, of course we do!), it is the act of being on the path — and learning to acknowledge and love every step along the way — that is essential to keep us both rooted and moving forward. To quote a dog from a book that helped me through a particularly challenging moment in my life, “that which you manifest is before you.

When I ran in the 7.6-mile race up the Mount Washington Auto Road with some of our student-athletes, staff, and friends last weekend, I could not have been more proud to see my students come up the last 22% grade to the finish line — I could see them becoming more confident, becoming more self-assured, and becoming stronger with every. tired. step.

As I start the last hard training block for my Arctic Trail run, I have to keep my eyes steadfastly on today — on this run, this mile, this training session — while also planning for the 500-mile adventure I have ahead of me. Balancing those two — the moment and the thing-that-comes-next — is, for me, one of the hardest parts of training.

But it helps answer my question:

I believe we have to love the process of becoming — whatever path we choose to follow.

The Sterling Skyrunner extended family atop Mount Washington

The Intensity of Experience

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Running the last stretch to Cadillac Mountain’s summit

We’ve all been there — a few extra moments to linger on a mountaintop, taking the long way home, waiting for the sunset, or staying one more night before heading home from an adventure.

It can be hard to admit when our cherished, blissful, and sometimes profound and life changing moments end and it’s time to let go and move on to the next thing. But they never really leave us, of course; our memories of places, people, the colors of the sky, the taste of salt in the ocean, the feel of wind against your skin, the sounds of songbirds — the places not only all persist within us, but they grow like the first green shoots of trout lily and trillium spear through the matted layers of last year’s leaves — blossoming radiantly precisely when they’re ready and needed.

This past weekend, a contingent of Sterling’s Skyrunners and I made the 6-hour trek to visit our friends at the College of the Atlantic on Mount Desert Island. We all made new friends and spent hours together running up and down granite outcroppings, ledges, and summit with names like Conner’s Nubble, South Bubble, Huguenot Head, Champlain, and Cadillac.

And of course, we ran across Sand Beach together 🙂

Sometimes it seems as if leaving something so profound only to return to our quotidian routine is to somehow slough off the very things we sought in the first place. We are nothing if not made up of these moments, but they grow stronger still if we share them — share the stories of our summits, scrambles over rocky ledges, and (really, really quick) swims in a cold northern sea.

If adventure is a way to meet the world head-on and see how we become permeable to the vast complexity of the nonhuman — then giving voice to those adventures, however small or grand they may be, is a way to build communities of compassionate, reflective, and engaged individuals who understand that there is only this one world we share, and every day we share the adventure of living here, together.

 

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The COA Black Fly Runners and Sterling Skyrunners on Sand Beach, Acadia NP

 

Skida Hats! A new way to support Climate Run

I’m super excited to have partnered with Skida to bring you lightweight Climate Run hats in so many amazing spring colors. Each hat is made right here in Vermont by the fantastic folks at Skida, and each one has a sewn Climate Run label so you can show your support.

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These are perfect for cold morning & evening workouts and are a cool way of joining the Climate Run team and showing your support. Want one? Just head over to my Paypal donation page. Each hat is $30, and once you click submit, I’ll be in touch and get your color preference & shipping info.

If you want to add more to help cover postage, or are just feeling extra generous, please feel free 🙂

Note that there are two different sizes: Women’s, which are a bit smaller and men’s, which are larger. The snowflake Skida logo denotes the women’s styles and the mountain logo the men’s.

Thanks so much!

Goals vs. Expectations

I had planned a long run for yesterday, January 1, to start off the New Year — and the Climate Run 500-mile Challenge — on strong footing. Of the 14 or so miles I had planned, I finished just over 6, mostly because despite how stunningly beautiful the alpine scenery along New Hampshire’s Franconia Ridge, the 60 mph wind and 10°F temps added up to a bitter windchill through which I had no intention of running 3 miles of exposed ridgeline.

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Instead, I retreated down the trail to the relative security of the stunted spruce trees on the steep western slope of the ridge and reassessed.

I could keep with my plan and cross the ridge — not particularly wise or safe.

I could go the other direction through deep untracked snow — tried that. Neither fun nor really feasible given my running attire.

I could go back down and run along the snowmobile trail by the road — not really appealing.

Instead, I opted to run back down the Falling Waters Trail to the trailhead and I realized, doing the math as I ducked under branches and around the tight copses of spruce and birch along the trail’s steep upper pitches, that I’d already had a long run/nordic ski day of more than 17 miles only two days before. And the lack of a rest day (unless you count a November Project workout as ‘rest’). And the total week’s run/ski mileage of 53 miles was 20 miles more than the week before.

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I’d started the morning thinking, ‘Sunday…must be a Long Run,’ never really taking stock or reflecting on the depth or the rich variety of my entire week. It was a vacation week for the whole family, and that made the training schedule a lot more flexible — and full of skiing, running, mountains, gym time, and group workouts woven into the fabric of family and celebration.

It was no wonder I was feeling a little tired heading up my New Year’s Day mountain run!

Long term goals structure my year in broad strokes — to run the 500-mile Arctic Trail in August, to run 2017 miles in 2017, to PR a pair of ultramarathons this spring, to train with my Sterling team, and to work with the new Climate Run Team doing the 500-mile challenge.

Sometimes, though, reaching those goals can blind me to what I’m doing day to day. Of course, I keep track of all my workouts and share them on Strava, but occasionally I need (as I think we all need) some perspective.

Climbing a mountain is a great way to find some.

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pride

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The Sterling Skyrunners competed at the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon and 5k this past Sunday — with Sterling runners placing 2nd, 8th, 11th, and others finishing in the top 20 and placing in their age groups. I ran a solid but relatively conservative race myself — taking more pride in seeing so many of my students push themselves up to and even beyond what they thought were their limits that day.

I am honored and humbled to be in a place where I can not only direct the program and coach the team but also spend my time training alongside some very gifted student-athletes.

When people ask me why I take on projects like Climate Run: Iceland last year or running the Arctic Trail next summer — and how I keep going through all the training and all the miles — these students are my greatest inspiration. I hope that I’m able to give them a little in return.

 

 

 

local steps & global reach

I was honored to give talks about Climate Run: Iceland at both Sterling College and at the Whitney Center in Jackson, NH over the past month — with great conversations and new ideas at every turn!

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While continuing to talk about Iceland and my upcoming 2017 Arctic Trail Run in Scandinavia, I’ve been ramping up the running with Sterling’s Trail, Mountain, Ultra Running Team. This coming weekend, 14 of us are headed to the Wolf Hollow 5k and half marathon in southern New Hampshire, and in two weeks, we will travel to Massachusetts to compete in the TARC Winter Fells 32 mile ultra run.

It’s super exciting to work with so many talented and passionate young runners — to help them reach their training or racing goals, sharing new experiences, and often, just trying to keep up!  Sterling is a small enough college that I see many of our student-athletes on the trails as well as in class and elsewhere on campus, and I love how often a conversation about running will be relevant in an environmental philosophy class — and vice versa.

Trying to keep pace with a team of 19 to 29-year-old runners totally inspires me to get stronger — and it’s great to feel myself moving forward in training while keeping both the near-term local goals as well as next summer’s 500-mile objective in sight.

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Dispatches for Iceland #6: Wesfjords Reflections & Recovery

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At long last–the finish at Laugarbakki with my brother Michal and brother-in-law Brion.

It has been one week since I completed my run across Iceland to bring attention to climate resilience, and I’ve spent much of that time recovering, replenishing calories with seafood, lamb, and skyr, and taking some tentative and recuperative steps on the trails, snowfields, and beaches around Isafjordur and Flateyri here in the Westfjords.

 

The Climate Run was easily the greatest endurance challenge that I’ve ever faced. I covered 240 km (about 150 miles) in just under 45 hours of running (and a few hours of sleep), climbed and descended a total of 6,000 meters (20,000 feet), ran solo stretches of up to 35 miles, and consumed a steady diet of Pocket Fuel and Nuun, both of which turned out to be essential pieces of the endurance nutrition puzzle for me — particularly on the long stretch of tundra north of the Icelandic highlands.

The project–from planning to preparation to completion–would not have been possible were it not for a dedicated support team here in Iceland: family and friends who provided logistical and emotional support, foot massages and wraps, delicious sandwiches and soup, and and-of-stage pacing without which I may well have curled up by the side of the trail many miles before the finish.

I am forever grateful and humbled by all the help I got both on the ground in Iceland and from the project’s many sponsors and supporters over the past year.

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Looking back towards Eiriksjökull across Arnavatnsheði

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Climate Run route changed from my original plan to run the Kjölur Route to a route a little farther west across the Kaldidalur pass. This route took me from the start on a beach of black volcanic sand near Thorlakshöfn, over the crater of the Hengill volcano, through the national park at Thingvellir, across the Kaldidalur pass, and over the Arnavatnsheði tundra and to Laugerbakki and Miðfjöður on the north coast.

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Cooling my heels in the cold water of the north

I am more than happy with the outcome. Although the route was a few miles shorter than originally planned, the terrain was more challenging and included more trail (and even off-trail) miles.

As I write this post in the café at Borea Adventures in Isafjorður, I finally have some time to start to put together some thoughts about what I learned about resilience, running, climate, family, and community–all of which I believe are essential pieces of the broader ecological system of which we are always a part.

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rainbow from the top of Kaldidalur

I have already presented on Climate Run twice–once here at the University Centre of the Westfjords in Isafjorður, and once at the Arctic Encounters conference in Roskilde Denmark–and I hope this run and the stories, pictures and video (thanks largely to the tireless work of Jill Fineis Photography) that come from it are just the very start of an ongoing and powerful story of climate resilience and of our relationship to place and to one another.

Supporter Spotlight: Newton Running!

I’m very happy to newton logohave the support of Newton Running as I train for the Kjölur Run. Their BOCO AT has quickly become a favorite go-to shoe for the trails. The shoe’s weather-resistant design is especially great for this time of year!

 

IMG_2350I’ve had a few snowy and muddy runs in them so far, and they’ve worked great–both with and without microspikes. I’ve also been out on the roads with the Newton Gravity III mileage trainer. It’s a responsive and speedy shoe (not to mention an awesome, head-turning yellow : ). I’m looking forward to putting some more miles on them.

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Newton has also been instrumental in supporting the Sterling College Trail, Mountain, Ultra Running Team, and the company has provided team members with BOCOs to use for this year.

Many thanks from all!

 

Newton Running is a great match for both Sterling and for the Iceland Climate Run; Newton is the only running shoe company that’s a certified B-Corp, which means they take into account social and environmental responsibility as part of their business plan. Simply put, B-Corps believe that “all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.”

You can read Newton Running’s Corporate Responsibility Report here.