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A Runner’s Diary: Cross Training in the Mountains

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I went to Crystal Mountain with my family for the weekend. Crystal Mountain is located in the Cascade Mountains, south-east of Seattle. When we got there, it was snowing and didn’t stop until we left. The visibility on the mountain was poor but the conditions were amazing. I have never seen so much snow!

I was always an avid skier. I’ve skied at many of the larger resorts around the U.S.A. – Park City, UT; Aspen, CO; Squaw Valley, CA; Mammoth Mountain, CA; and Killington, VT, to name a few.

On my honeymoon, I skied with my husband in Switzerland. Zermatt was great. The skiing was perfect and we had an amazing time. But St. Moritz’s conditions weren’t as good. There was a lot of ice. As we were skiing down a steep vertical slope, I tripped and slid down the mountain. I was hurt so bad that a helicopter had to medivac me off the mountain and take me to a local hospital.

After a skiing accident at Keystone, Co., which tore my meniscus, I was out for a year. After that, my husband broke his knee, so it has been more than two years since I was last on skis.

On this weekend in the Cascade Mountains, we skied in thick white powder with the Douglas Firs all around us. The trees were beautiful. I have never seen such large trees except when I went to the Redwood Forrest (Muir Woods).

For skiing, the weather was great. There was the steady fall of large fluffy snowflakes. There was little wind and it wasn’t too cold but it wasn’t at all warm. I was dressed right and being cold was not my issue. My biggest complaint was the back of my legs and my shins. They were burning as I skied some of the harder stuff on the mountain. The resort is located at the foot of Mt. Rainier and the one disappointment was not being able to see its dramatic peak because it was so overcast.

Skiing uses your core, your calves, your shins, your hamstrings, and hips. I never really thought of it before but I realized that it is a good cross train on those days that I need to do something other than run.

Skiing and running are very similar. They both take place outside and are best in beautiful settings. They both are journeys within you. And they are both hard on your legs. What I realized I do when I ski and when I run is I listen to my music, and as I listen to my music the pain in my legs dissipate. I try to focus on the music and tune everything else around me out. I get such an amazing feeling when I do that!

Crystal Mountain, in the Cascades, is only a regional area and not a world-class destination, but on this weekend it is just as good if not better than many of the more popular ski mountains.

I realized that although there is pain, just as I love the feeling of running, I love the feeling of skiing!

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About Hilary Topper