Thursday, September 24, 2015


It had been 44 days without looking at a map when I showed up to the Great Brook Farm local meet last weekend. That's almost long enough to forget what I'm doing, but luckily the conscious ability was still there, so if I stayed focused, I could find the controls in a reasonably efficient manner. That long a break is telling. I was pretty battered - mentally, physically, emotionally - after the World Champs. It took two or three weeks for the sickness to fade, and while I found it easy to pick up the habits of daily exercise, the motivation was gone. 

I made a conscious decision to stay in that state. I don't have any important races on the horizon, and clearly my mind and body need a break from the intensity. Sure, I have smaller races I'd signed up for in some fit of motivation, but nothing worth altering the rhythm of my daily life. It's a little like when you hit cruise control on the highway - you're still getting to your destination, but all the worry about speeding is negated, because hopefully you hit cruise control at a reasonable speed. Just don't hit any puddles. It's a nice change of pace.

So, the emphasis has been on fun. Waking up, and wondering, what do I want to do today? Reflecting, what made me happy yesterday? Those answers often involves using my two feet to climb up something where I can see the world.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to head to Lake Placid for some coaching development seminars, learning about different coaching strategies and new ideas that are filtering down and across and up. More importantly, the weekend started and ended with a quick jaunt up an accessible high peak - Cascade on the way there, and Hurricane on the way back. Can't complain about that life!

Our future as coaches... even in a sport like nordic skiing.

Extreme tubing - think twice when someone first hands you a beer, then hands you a waiver...

My spirit animal showing how it's done in ski racing.

Jogged up Hurricane Mt with Rob, on a day with good views.

This guy had a birthday, so naturally we drank good beer and ate good food. Ed has been traveling a bunch, for work mostly, and I've been adjusting to living alone by falling asleep around 9pm, or staying up way too late watching stupid romantic comedies. Neither are fantastic coping strategies, but better than some alternatives I can think of!

Tomorrow, I head out to Seattle for the weekend. I signed up for the Seattle Adventure Running Tournament (SART) in a fit of motivation some time last spring, and now it's time to pay the price, doing six sprint races over two days. Here's hoping a little experience and a lot of base will make up for my lack of sharp-end fitness and rusty navigation skills!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Kern Camp

Two of CSU's coaches, Doro and Gunther Kern, are actually beach bums in disguise. The past few years, they've run a ski camp down on Cape Cod, with a couple goals in mind - have fun, relax, learn how to make fitness happen anywhere, and build some much-needed agility into our endurance-based training program. I've never had the opportunity to go to that camp, but this year, we put it on labor day, which meant I could come! And after a weekend with a fabulous group of skiers and an even better group of coaches, I don't think I'll ever miss this camp again. It was pretty sweet, and a nice way to recover from the accident earlier in the week, at least if you think endless activity in the sun is a good way to recover!

Day 1 started with a run on some beautiful wooded trails through the sand dunes, down to the beach for some yoga. Amazing how the beach was completely empty at 8am, but totally crowded by 10. Immediately post-yoga, we all sprinted for the waves, just SO EXCITED to go play. That energy stayed high all weekend.

The Kerns cooked for thirty people every morning and every night like it was no big deal. I tried to help, but mostly I think I just got in the way. Food was good, but thank god for Costco, with that many hungry skiers!

Pretty much all day Saturday was spent at the beach. First Doro organized a relay, with four teams of five athletes each, involving all sorts of silly activities were were actually really hard. Sprinting up and down from the water to fill a bucket with a dixie cup, potato sack races, paddling on a surfboard, swimming, wheelbarrow races, and running while balancing a pinecone in a spoon (drop it and you owe 5 pushups) - the relays were pretty exhausting. As soon as the relays were done, the volleyball net went up, and there went the next few hours. 

Naturally, the coaches had a relay when the kids were done. I was Doro's partner, and we were doing great up til the swimming part. I suck at swimming, and turns out swallowing seawater doesn't help you go fast. There may have been some roughhousing, and I may have dropped the pinecone because I was trying to tackle Gunther at the same time.

Whoops. Lots of pushups on the beach.

I'll coach with this crew any day. You can tell who spends every weekend at the beach, and who works a desk job.

After the beach, we geared up for an evening rollerski, straight from the campground. It ended in a parking lot for a sweet agility course, which naturally turned into another relay race.

Sunday, we had an early roll on the schedule, up in the Province sand dunes. There was this awesome bike path that rolled and twisted just like a ski trail, and the kids had an awesome time up there. Thanks to a little snafu involving my keys locked in the car, I ended up on Sue's bike to ride with the kids. What a beautiful area up there, I totally get why it was worth shuttling all the athletes to ski those dunes.

Riding with some speedy boys.

The food was awesome. Though everything tastes good when you spend all day outside. 

Naturally after the roll, and a very brief siesta, it was back to the beach, where we got a good few hours of free time (and great surfing!), before we gathered for a little beach core and more relays. Strength on the beach sure beats flopping around in Jody's backyard getting eaten by mosquitoes.

We got a beach fire permit for Sunday night, so that activity took up most of the evening, with Doro making us "knuppelkuchen", which is essentially cake on a stick, that you roast in the embers and fill with applesauce. Good stuff. 

The final day we did an early roll from the campsite, and then back to the beach for a few more hours of volleyball, surfing, and boogeyboarding, before it was time to shuttle kids to the ferry and have others get picked up. I may have sent three kids onto a bus going in the wrong direction, but they were smart enough to figure it out, and everyone ended up getting home successfully.

Friday, September 4, 2015

It's not about the bike

I got into an accident the other day. Riding my bike, a car cut me off, and with no time to react I went into her windshield and rolled over the hood. Luckily for me I'm fine, a little bruised and a little pissed off, but things could have been so much worse. 

I filed a police report and the driver is 100% culpable and I'm working out the details of getting her insurance to buy me a new bicycle, but the thing that driving are nuts is people's reactions. The general sense of "you're brave to be riding in this city", because everyone just assumes that the roads belong to cars. That because I was on a bicycle, I was "asking for it". I'm a driver too. I drive a car far more miles than I'll ever ride a bicycle. It's not like this is some black and white issue, with all cyclists raving anti-car lunatics, and all drivers aggressive massholes out to kill the cyclists. Nobody wants to get in an accident. But sometimes, shit happens, and hopefully you'll end up on top, no matter what form of transportation you're using. It's my choice to ride a bike to work, because that's faster, easier, cheaper, and is good for the environment, my physical health, and my emotional state. I ride according to the law, I wear a helmet and appropriate reflective clothing and lights, I ride defensively and I actively look out for idiots. That wasn't enough. 

This accident - it had nothing to do with the fact that I was on a bicycle. Had I been in my car, my airbags would have gone off. I understand that those airbags would have made me less bruised than I am right now, but that's irrelevant. It should NOT be "brave" to ride in Boston. It's my right. 

So as soon as I have that new bicycle, I'll be back out there, actively looking for idiots, and hopefully avoiding them better. 

Sorry 'bout your windshield.

More sorry 'bout my bike.