ski: les contamines

Today was lesson three of five for the Cern Ski Club. Sunshine and fresh snow were the perfect ingredients for this ski day after a gray week in the valley. The week passed quickly with some fun, muddy runs and a several meals with friends, but in January, my posts and pictures are only ski-ski-ski.  Although there hasn't been a ton of snow, conditions have been surprisingly good and fresh for the Saturday club trips. The slopes have been extra quiet so far this season since the weather has been mild, but the resorts are generally more crowded in February with the schools taking two week ski breaks. We've been happy to have the run of the mountains this month.

I've been really excited to spend more time off piste in lessons this season and getting an introduction to avalanche safety and rescue. As usual with the club, our instructors are fantastic and our groups are lots of fun. I haven't dropped my phone off a lift yet, so that's also a plus.


ski: saint gervais

A few inches of fresh snow fell in the Alps for our ski outing at Saint Gervais. Since it is a quick trip to this lift station, we were on our way up the gondola by 09h for a full day of skiing. My group spent much of the day in un-groomed powder and between the pistes to take advantage of ideal snow. We had a lot of fun and great views despite the clouds. (Falling snow gif will hopefully distract you from my low-qual phone photos.)


ski: les gets

Today was the first outing of the season with the CERN Ski Club. It's tough to believe this is our fifth season with the club. Starting in level 1.0 back in the winter of 2010, Derek and I thought it would be a great way to spend our Saturdays together...fast forward, we still ski in different groups every year. I haven't caught up to him, but have climbed the ranks to level 3.5...I didn't even know there was a 4.0 until Derek got there this year. Lessons have been good for us both, and we look forward to the five weekend lessons and familiar faces every winter. 

Today we skied Les Gets with spring-like temperatures until some afternoon fog rolled over the peaks. Despite the low snow base, and lots of exposed ground, we found some good runs, and sufficiently tired ourselves out. Maybe our friends and families can send some of the cold and snow from Chicago...you've got plenty to spare and we want it over here.  


laugavegur ultra marathon: registration

I am beyond excited, jumping up and down, for an upcoming, big adventure: the Laugavegur Ultra Marathon. In July, Derek and I are headed to Iceland to race 55 kilometers over sand, gravel, grass, snow, ice, and rivers. The challenging course connects the nature reserves Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork in the southern highlands. Hikers typically cover this route in four days, we'll have limited hours to complete the run.

I'll be posting about our training and preparation over the next six months, so bear with me...already getting obsessed. Today, we registered! 


ski: chamonix

The holiday break has come to an end, but not without one ski outing. (My cold took a break to let me survive the NYE marathon, but picked up where it left off once we returned home. Back to the couch for a few more days of recovery.)  Today we made our first ski trip of the season to prepare for the Cern ski club outings that begin next weekend. There hasn't been much snowfall and even warmer temperatures predicted for the coming week. Ski season is off to a slow start, at least for us, but fingers crossed for more snow in the coming weeks. The snow was wet and heavy, but not terribly slushy on the higher slopes. Some of the un-groomed pistes were really quite good even though the visibility was flat. By the end of the day, we were pretty tired and stopped to enjoy the view with vin chaud before the final descent to the village. 



Two weeks ago I had the crazy idea that running a marathon would be an exciting way to start the new year, and so I signed us up for the Zurich Neujahrsmarathon. With a 00h00 start time, it's the first official marathon of 2014. The course makes four loops along an unlit river trail. Sounds fun, right? About 250 runners gathered for the start of the marathon, along with a similar number of half, and 10k runners each starting a little bit after. We began the countdown to 2014 and the race start, and as the new year began, we ran through sparklers and fireworks all around us. For the first twenty minutes of the run, we could hear the city firework displays booming, but couldn't see anything because of thick fog that had settled along the river. The first section of the loop was crushed gravel, but after the bridge crossing, the opposite bank was rougher trail, rocky and rooted (not a complaint, I <3 trails). We finished lap 1 in under an hour, slow and steady. We wanted to take a gentle pace that would be easy to maintain throughout the full distance. So far so good, until an all-too-familiar rumbling in my stomach. 

I thought just staying awake late enough to get to the starting line would be the biggest challenge for me, but my body wasn't all that happy with my plans for ringing in the New Year. The gingerbread man (aka runner's trots) chased me all of laps 2 and 3, causing four (yup-four) emergency pit-stops. Sorry, TMI, but I've got no other way to account for the near-hour of extra running (trudging). I've never been so thankful for the cover of fog and darkness to hide my detours off into the woods. The next few hours I was in pretty rough shape, dehydrated and demoralized, but still going. Sparing the painful details, I'll leave it at that. When we started the final lap, I was feeling pretty well beaten, but since this was my idea of a fun night, I tried to keep smiling and moving. At least I had my fantastic partner, together for every step, even as those steps got slower. The fog lifted, but add some freezing rain, just for fun, for the final leg of the race, slowing our pace even more as we shuffled to the finish line trying not to slip on the ice. So we did cross the finish line, holding hands. It wasn't the race I'd imagined, but we didn't quit, and we were together. 

I got a nice forehead bruise from my headlamp, and pretty much every part of my body stopped functioning normally, but we already ran a marathon in 2014, before sunrise. Now the tough part, a little bit of complaining...a mile walk to the nearest train station, uphill in the freezing rain to head back to the hotel. After making our way through the up-all-night party-ers, we collapsed into the cozy warm beds around 6:30 am. Felt. So. Good.     

A few short hours later, we checked out and headed back into the city center for a vegetarian (mostly vegan) all-you-can-eat-&-drink brunch buffet at the fabulous Hiltl restaurant. I don't think there could be anything better after a marathon, besides being able to eat way more than I actually did (insert sad face) since my body wasn't up for feasting. The food was fantastic, the small amounts that I could manage, but I'm going to need another chance to taste everything Hiltl has to offer. We, slowly, toured the quiet streets until our evening train home.  

Happy 2014!