I have been living in France now for almost a month. In our first few days of arriving, it was quite an adjustment. Grace and I were both feeling a bit loopy. We arrived on a Tuesday, and it took up until race day on Saturday to feel half normal again and actually be able to sleep a full night. We kicked off the season at the French Championships.
First thing Grace and I both noticed was the air. We could BREATH here! Life at 10,000 feet has it’s pro’s and con’s. Oxygen is not one of them. Ha! But how nice it feels to go fast and not run out of air in the tank so quickly. The downside we’ve noticed is our muscles get tired quicker. All in all though I feel like my sleep and recovery is better.
I feel so much more settled in to our cozy chalet in the Alps. We are settling into what feels like more of a rhythm every day. Mind you, it’s quite simple…and that in itself feels like a luxury not to be taken for granted. Grace and I have spoken a lot about the aspect of living simply and what we want to learn from this time and bring back home with us. Back home it’s easy to get so over stimulated we lose sight of focus. Our routine and life here revolves around our goals, mainly training and racing. It keeps us focused and clear, but allows for some sweet and spontaneous surprises in between.
Here are a few of my highlights so far…
Sleeping in. So nice to not have to start workouts at 4:30am! We can uphill all day here and there are countless places to explore right out the backdoor.
Simplicity. Less is so much more. Contradictory to our American habits of filling our every minute with tasks, our days or should I say life is quite simple and consist of about 4 things…training, sleeping, eating, and gear maintenance. Now that we found a local coffee shop about 2 miles from our chalet, make that a total of 5 things.
Racing. I love the intensity of the racing over here. It’s so fast, and fun to be sharpened by this level of intensity and the athletes commitment to racing is inspiring.
Sisterhood- Every day I wake up grateful to share in this experience with these gals. The dynamic that the three of us share is pretty priceless. I appreciate the ways we are learning to live and work together.
Chasing Laetitia – Just being in the mountains with Laeti is pretty awesome. Chasing her on the downhills is on another level, like riding a thrilling roller coaster. Hang on for dear life because it’s “full gas”. I’ve never had more fun or been more scared trying to keep up with someone on skinny skis. You thought I was fast on downhills? Forget it.
Laughing – We laugh a lot, it’s the one language we understand when we don’t understand, or in the words of Grace “it’s unclear”. We use those words A-lot. ha!
Driving – Actually the driving has a bitter sweetness to it. As much as I dislike the roads and driving because I get car sick, I’m growing to really appreciate and value this time together. So much good conversation and forced time to get to know one another. It’s tight but sweet.
Vertical Race – racing neck and neck with Grace during the vertical was really cool and a great opportunity to really sharpen each of us as competitors.
Training- Training is always the best when shared with others, and I cherish every day with these girls.
French Championships – Seeing Grace take the top step at her first race in Europe this season. More podiums to come for this girl!
The Mountains – we can climb and climb and climb for miles here before having to turn around. The peaks here are big. Having fun on the off piste adventures with Laeti is a blast too. Sometimes I get a little nervous with the exposure but I am learning to be honest with myself and with her on what I am capable of out there.
And here’s another capture of my Insta Stories as a quick snapshot of my first month here:
LR Skimo, party of 3
I feel like I am at Camp. Girls camp. We are learning a lot about “team,” how to work together, be mindful of our personal needs and the needs of each other. We each are different, and I’ve already seen how those differences have helped sharpen us in different ways. Communication being one important key. We can always count on Grace for providing the humor to situations. She has a lot of sayings, a few of which I’ve dubbed her own. If Laetitia says something I don’t understand I immediately look at Grace, she either interprets it for me, or responds with “It’s unclear.” No matter what, we laugh.
We also have different strengths as athletes. Grace loves the vertical race and longer distance training. I am more keen for short fast “sprinterval” type workouts. I believe we have already made each other better competitors through working together, and that’s been super rewarding. Having Laetitia by our side training us in the skills and pushing us has already paid huge dividends and every day I wake up grateful to be here.
Christmas with the Rouxs
Following the first World Cup we went to Savine Le Lac and spent about a week there training and skiing in the mountains near Laetitia’s home. We were also able to link up with Marianna Jagercikova for some skills training which was awesome.
This was my first Christmas ever away from my family, and I missed them very much. Thankfully, we got to spend it with Laetitia’s family. Christmas with the Rouxs was a cultural experience to be sure. We celebrated on the 27th when the whole family could be together.
It was the longest meal I think I have ever been a part of. Her family doesn’t speak English, but aside from Laeti’s translations, we found ways to creatively communicate, and I made my effort using Google translate to share in the conversation and have some good laughs. Lunch nearly turned into dinner since we were sitting there for almost 4 hours! Traditional French way of doing it is one dish after another. Just when I thought we were done, her mom kept bringing more and more out. I think our eyes said it all.
New smells, sounds and routine
There is a river near our chalet, and I love hearing it when I go to sleep. It almost sounds like a rain shower outside. Yet is so quiet in this little village, and the smells are ever changing. There is a little stable near us, and when we walk outside sometimes the smell of cows are nearby and STRONG. Grace will say, “mmm smells pungent.” The mountains shoot up right outside my bedroom window making for a sweet morning view. We love easing into our day with reading and journaling before hitting the mountain with training typically around 9. Sure beats the 5am starts back home.
We’ve also recently discovered a cool coffee shop made out of an old garage called Lo Garajo. These people better get used to us because we are already making a habit of this place.