Ed. Note—off-seasons fascinate us because we get to see what elite athletes do in that out-of-competition period. Heather off-seasons like a pro, taking a substantial break after Kona, and then beginning the march towards Oceanside in mid-December. We check in with her and Wattie to see what their holidays have held.

Hi everyone!!! A quick check-in before the end of the year:) 

I hope everyone has been enjoying a wonderful December and holiday season. Wattie and I are still down in Tucson, AZ, since following our whirlwind travel schedule in November and early December (Tucson-San Diego-LA-Santa Barbara-Phoenix-Bend-Tucson-New Hampshire-New York City-LA-Tucson), we couldn't fathom packing everything up to sit in the car for two days straight enduring the drive back up to Bend. We also had a lot of different work stuff going on. Wattie has been so busy with Wattie Ink., (thank you to everyone for your continued support of our brand!!!) so he needed to be on his computer and not in a car for 2 days. And I have some exciting stuff going on here that we can't wait to announce in the New Year. Two weeks later and it was the Friday before Christmas and we were still here in AZ with flights up to Bend sitting at almost $1000 each! Yeah....no. Haha. So here we are in Tucson absolutely enjoying the 70 degree weather and getting to explore it without the rigid schedule I have in August and September. We are also finalizing whether I have to be at a certain early season event (TBD soon!), before possibly popping back up to Bend for a bit to try to get some skiing in if the snow would come anytime soon! 

This is one of my favorite times of year: I am training again so I don't feel like a total sloth like the first few weeks following Kona, haha, but doing different things than I will once the season gets going. Right now is about having fun doing the things that I won't be able to do much of in a few months and getting me strong for the season ahead. It's about exploring new roads to run and ride, as during the season I literally do the same loops over and over (purposely). It's about planning out my goals and how I want to go after them in 2018, usually while shoving my face with freshly baked cookies and a glass of wine. Things are relaxed, happy, and excited with the blank slate a New Year always brings. 

Despite my cookie and wine intake adding an outer layer to my muscle, I am entering my third week of a pretty legit strength and conditioning program that I'm doing 3 times a week. It takes me about an hour to get through 9-10 different exercises that I do 3 rounds of 10 reps for all of them (I'm including this info because I get so many people asking me). I'm putting this work in now to strengthen my entire body for the season ahead—to push bigger gears on the bike and for better toe-off while running. I'm also doing "strength" work within the sports as well: lots of big gear reps on the bike right now, running up and down hills and pulling in the pool. This strength will translate to speed later in the season, as well as help prevent injuries as my mileage increases with the progression of the season.

For "new and different" each day, I have been making a point to run a new route every run I do, just to get me off my obsession (for the time being) of covering the same course quicker than last time. It's so liberating to just turn down a new road on a run and not know where I am heading. A couple of times I've uncovered some awesome new connector roads that will now be incorporated into my training loops. Wattie and I have also done a few rides around here that have been on our bucket list but hadn't hit before now due to my compulsion to beat my times around Pistol Hill, haha. AND, what I'm super excited about, is what Wattie just gave me for Christmas: some new inline skates! When we are in Bend and the snow is good, I use skate skiing in place of some of my winter rides. It's an incredible way to build leg strength, as well as a hard cardiovascular workout. We are fortunate enough that Tucson has a crazy network of river path trails that I can literally do a 100-mile skate, if I can build my endurance up to that! I made it an hour yesterday and my legs and butt were burning so bad. I'm used to the short, quick sprints and stops and starts of hockey, not endurance skating.

Even though Wattie and I are still in Tucson for the moment and could ride outdoors, I've still been using my Wahoo KICKR for some of my sessions (how fun is Zwift???). It's way better for super controlled, specific work I'm doing right now, like 5x5minute big gear, low cadence efforts, and it's also just getting more and more fun with the addition of Zwift, not to mention safer! The Kickr is also just quicker and easier this time of year when there are family and friends in town and different parties or events to be at. We've also been getting off-road a bit and enjoying some mountain biking down here—definitely way different than Bend! At home when you lean into corners on single track you don't have to worry about leaning into a cactus :).

So that's what Wattie and I have been up to! I guess there's no wrap up to this piece beyond me saying that I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! Hopefully you are having fun, enjoying new things, spending time with friends and family, and are getting excited for the upcoming year and season. Set some goals for yourself in 2018. Challenge yourself. Take a big jump that you've never taken before. And don't feel guilty brainstorming and planning all of that out over a beverage and dessert of choice. Give yourself right now and you will be ready and wanting to be focused, diligent, and all-in next week when it's time to go after those goals. At least that's what I'm doing! Have a wonderful final few days of 2017!