Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I've never been so long in an atmosphere as multi-lingual as we have here. Our hotel is the athlete village so it's entirely overrun with skiers. Each nation takes over approximately half of a floor. Some of the other nations are staying at the sister hotel closer to downtown Sapporo. But what I'm trying to say is that other than us, the Canadians, and the one English dude, no one's first language here is English. True, most people speak at least some English and many people speak fluent English, but I am surrounded by people whom I know think in and prefer some other foreign language.
It makes me feel timid to talk to people. I hate initiating a conversation in English with someone when I know it's not their first language. I don't want to give the impression that I assume everyone is going to speak my language and I shouldn't need to lean their's. I feel unsophisticated here not being able to speak multiple languages (there's two Spanish athletes here and they're not even staying at our hotel so español hardly counts on the ski circuit). So I'm feeling a little guilty about my linguistic paucity right now and have determined that I must start expanding my languages.
If I'm going to be traveling as much as I am I think it's worth the effort to learn some more languages so I can interact with more people and don't feel like a lame American for only speaking English. German makes the most sense as the next-most-useful-language-to-know-on-the-ski-circuit, but I don't actually really like German. hmmm.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
On Tuesday Compton competed in her first World Championship race, the 10km interval start skate race. Two laps of the brutal 5km course. Brutal. She claims her legs have never been so full of lactate and at the tops of the hills she could barely stand. And she was euphoric when she told me this. Euphoric.
The men race their 15km skate this afternoon.
Now we are looking forward to the 4x5km relay on Thursday where we will have...
1st classic- Kikkan Randall
2nd classic- Laura Valaas
3rd skate- Caitlin Compton
4th skate- Sarah Konrad
I am pretty excited. We each do two 2.5km laps (different laps for skate and classic) and it's going to be fun. Hard, but fun!
Origami Link (for Dasha)
and I had an origami party last night at dinner. We need some more paper because between the two of us we had a couple sheets of origami paper and some newspaper cut into squares. I pulled up some diagrams online for us to attempt and Dasha requested that I post a link...PaperFolding.com
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Noboribetsu Onsen.Kirsten at the Noboribetsu Onsen. Onsen means hot spring in Japanese. The tourists love to come up to Hokkaido because of the onsens. In fact, last time we were in Japan we had Onsen eggs at a fancy dinner which are eggs that are poached in a hot spring.My dad, Peter, on a short hike near Noboribetsu.My mom, Susan, in Shiraoi. I'm sure there was something interesting behind me.mmm, salmon. These were at the Ainu cultural museum in Shiraoi, but along the coast normal people still hang up fish like this to dry.The Ainu liked bears. Bears and owls. Although, the bears appeared to be Japanese sized and not as scary as North American bears. There was one oblique reference to where the bear and owl cages were located next to the house in one of the Ainu displays, which leads me to believe that they caged bears and owls.Hanging out in front of Mt. Hiyori, an active volcano. I'm not sure it deserves the title Mt. yet since it's summit is only about 400m. We went down to the lake at its base which was cool because it was BOILING.I'm sad that my parents (flying home today) didn't leave my little sister here to stay with me.Token Tori gate, one of the emblems of Japan. The Tori gate purifies the soul when you walk through it and marks the boundary between the temple space and the earthly world. (or something along those lines.) This is for a Shinto temple. Shinto is the original religion of Japan and is an unorganized, organic religion that arose around 500 BCE. Most Japanese are Shinto and Buddhist.
I escaped the ski life Saturday and met up with my family (minus my older brother who's working too hard in law school to go cavorting in the far East) to check out the sights of Hokkaido.
Let's start with the basics. We're in Japan, a country. Got that. Sapporo is the capitol of the prefecture of Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, which is connected to Japan by the underwater Seikan Tunnel. Sapporo is a big city with a population of about 1.9 mil. Incidentally, it's also the home of the Sapporo Brewery and the Ishiya Chocolate Factory. Hokkaido's economy is based in agriculture and tourism and it leads Japan in producing rice, fish, and vegetables.
Back in the day (pre 1800) the Northern islands were inhabited by the Ainu. The Ainu were the indigenous (at least as far as we know now, but they probably took the island over from some other poor group of previous inhabitants) people and were very similar to the Laplanders of Finland and the Inuit of Alaska. They had a sustenance based on fishing, hunting and some basic agriculture. They began trading with the Matsumae clan in the 1750's.
Because those dang Russians were sailing and trading around the very northernmost islands, the Japanese and Russians entered border negotiations to determine who would get the "unclaimed" islands North of Japan. A border was set in 1855 but was altered in 1875, 1905, and 1950. Anyway, so by the time of the Convention of Kanagawa (1854), the Japanese were starting to take control of Hokkaido and suppress the Ainu. It appears as though the Japanese "settled" Hokkaido, setting up villages and government similar to the Westward movement in America. Just, you know, Northward.
From what I've picked up, it looks like the Ainu were pretty repressed. Cultural practices were banned including the practice of piercings in the men and tattoos on the women. The Japanese basically told the Ainu that the Japanese had a superior culture and the Ainu culture was worthless and should be squelched. So squelched it was and only recently (20 years ago the Ainu Cultural Society/Museum was established) has there been a mainstream resurgence in interest in Ainu culture. I thought that it was interesting that the Ainu women were tattooed because tattoos are really looked down upon in Japan and they have signs outside the baths and public pools prohibiting people with tattoos from entering.
So that's a little background on where I am.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Sapporo2007, Team Sprint Relay
I'm of to meet my parents for some tourist activities but a short recap...
I didn't get a chance to ski the course before the sprint relay because we were in the second heat of the women's semi final and the men went first so the course was closed before I wanted to ski. Randy did wax and choose an awesome pair of skate skis for me though, a new pair from Salomon because none of mine were soft enough for the conditions (thanks Salomon!).
On the first lap I was greeted with piles of slush to ski through and mentally sighed because soft, slushy snow is NOT my favorite thing to ski through. Oh well, keep the steps light and don't get bogged down. I was starting for us and got off to a poor start and then I picked the wrong girl to ski behind and everyone passed us on the first uphill. So I was in last place (sorry Kikkan). The second hill was a little firmer and I liked that better, but then on the downhill one of the girls crashed in front of me and I had to do some manuevering but made it around. Came in to hand off to Kikkan off the back of the pack though.
Kikkan caught us back up to the group on her first lap and I managed to hang with them on my second lap, barely holding onto sixth place. Kikkan's second lap kept us in sixth place. Then my third lap I tried to catch the fifth place girl because top five teams go on to the final. I closed on her (Italy) but couldn't quite make contact. So we ended up in sixth, about three seconds out of qualifying. Sad. It was tough to race in the deep snow, but good experience. And we need to work on our hand-offs before we have another team sprint.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Sapporo2007, Classic Sprints
The pre-race was as smooth as could be. I had Randy Gibbs waxing my skis, he waxed up three pairs, two to test for my race pair and one pair of easy-kickers to warm up on. I took them out and quickly determined that my new Salomons were going to be the best (next year's model that is mostly black). Randy came out to get the skis from me to touch up and I finished my warm up. I was a little nervous so I took my race skis back out for one more loop so I would feel super confident about my wax when I started. did one loop on them and didn't have a single slip so I gave them back to Randy with a smile.
I had put my leg sticker numbers on before warming up and now they weren't sticking to my sweaty suit, hmmm, I felt like an amateur, I should have waited to put them on until just before heading down to the start, oh well. I made sure I had skis, poles, number, hat, glasses and headed down to the start to get my transponders and shed my warm-ups into the plastic bag with my number on it. Once in the starting area I spotted someone with a jury bib on (pretty sure it was John Aalberg, but I wasn't really paying attention) and asked if I could just take off my number stickers since they obviously were not sticking anymore. He didn't disapprove of the idea so I peeled them off and wadded them into a small ball.
Almost time to start through the gates. I started to pick the snow out of my boots with my pole tip and a Salomon rep ran over to do it for me. He was gorgeous, I was thinking, "I... could definitely get used to this." In fact, I was very very happy that I used Salomon boots/bindings/skis at that moment. But enough about the hot Salomon rep, it was time to race and I didn't have any trouble focusing.
I was glad I knew my start time because no one gave me any commands. I broke the gate and started with some kick kicks before breaking into a sprinting double pole. A couple more quick kicks over the short hill and then double poled into the base of the first hill. Grover had told me that the third lane had the best kick on this hill so I switched into the second lane while double poling and then moved into the third lane where the hill started and there was a left hand corner. I didn't handle that lane change very smoothly and got a little out of kilter but but came right back to focusing on springing up the hill. It was a perfect hill for striding and I was almost sad to see the top where I pushed over and into a tuck. I took the left hand corner at the bottom tightly and was looking forward to the second hill. I skied up it hard, knowing it might be my last chance to stride that day. Hit the downhill hard and shot into the stadium. Now it was time to double pole. To my surprise, I noticed that number 49 was not too far ahead of me. I wondered if I could catch her. And then I decided that I would pass her. So I did, just before the finish. The last thing I had expected to do in my first World Champs sprint was to pass someone. Oh well. Lunged across the line because I knew every tenth of a second could be super important and I didn't want to end up with regrets in 31st or 32nd place.
The announcer seemed shocked when he announced that I had qualified in 23rd place, I guess he hadn't expected anyone seeded in the fifty's to qualify. I was just happy I would get to race again that night.
Got my warm-ups and then wound through the media gauntlet. Wow, it was like winding through a labyrinth to get out of there. Back to the wax cabin where we had stationary bikes to cool down on. Cool down, change, then down to the athlete hang out room inside the dome where Aaron Saari, our PT, had a massage table set up. I had him give me a light rub over and then I read my book until it was time to get going again.
Back out to test skis. I was in the fifth and last quarterfinal so I only had a short window to ski. Decided my skis were a hair too slick at the top of the first hill. I gave my skis back to Randy to fix and he said they'd be ready for me to pick up on my way to the start. I wasn't concerned about not skiing on my race wax until the race. You've got to be able to trust your wax techs to know how to wax and you've got to be able to trust yourself to know exactly how you want your skis and to be able to communicate that.
Ready to go again. This time I waited to put on my sticker numbers. On my way down through the tunnel into the stadium, I realized (with a mild panic) that I hadn't re-applied my lip gloss since I had left the hotel at 2pm. Oh no, Compton will be disappointed in me. And then on the start line I realized that they were doing a zoom in on every athlete as they introduced them on the line. Whatever, ignore the cameras. (Although Doug did take a pic of me up on the big screen and it's in the article below.)
Then it was start time and the gates sprung open in front of us (after one false start be the girl next to me) and we were off! I was surprised by how manageable the pace was and, in fact, had to slow up at the base of the hill because I was running up on the heels of the girl in front of me. Up the second hill I came over in third and down into the stadium. I got passed in the stadium and came in fifth but only a second or so behind the winner. So that was it for me, but I was still pretty happy.
I realized that these girls weren't actually scary fast and that I can compete with them. Maybe people have tried to tell me that before, but I finally really believe it myself. I raced reactively, I was watching the other girls, expecting to just try and keep up. Next time around I'll be racing proactively and won't be afraid to throw down where I want to on the course.
And the best part was getting to see my parents and little sister after the race!US Ski Team Article
, Doug Haney
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Is when I get to start my first World Champ race. Bib number 50 of 71 racers. Fast racers too, I tried not to look too closely at the start list because I didn't want to get too freaked out. So I'll be racing at 23:42:30 PST (01:42:30 CST) wednesday night, so I don't really expect anyone to stay up sending me good vibes. My parents and little sis are out here so they will be in the stadium sending out lots of well-wishing, don't worry. I'll try to put up a post when I get home tonight so you can check in first thing in the morning, but if it's too late or I'm too tired, there's a semi-permanent link up to the Sapporo website under my photo on the right sidebar now.
Kikkan and I are the only women racing the sprint for the U.S. and we have Flora, Cook, Koos, & Newell racing for the men. Each country gets four start spots for each individual race and one entry for each relay (Kikkan & I are the relay team for the skate sprint relay Saturday, I'm not sure who's racing it for the men.)
I am looking forward to racing!
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Here's where you can get start lists and results as they become published:Sapporo2007
(look under the Event Information header)
Really, let's get professional here
Tomorrow (Thursday) is race day. It's my first really big race and I'm pretty excited. I've raced at U-23 World's twice, but that was only U23 people... this is the big time. Since it is big time, I'm trying to act the part and be professional, so here are some things that I'm done doing:
Snowplowing. The first time down some of the hills on the distance courses I must admit I snowplowed. Just a little, but a definite wedge before going around the corner. Sunday, on my long distance ski, I skied all of the downhills and worked up my comfort level so I could go as fast as I please and not have to snowplow. I wouldn't want to have someone fast skiing right behind me and have them see me snowplow. Speaking of fast people...
Giggling whenever I ride in the elevator with Marit Bjoergen, or when I am behind Claudia Kuenzel at the buffet during lunch. I mean, there just normal people who happen to be really really ridiculously fast, so I'm not going to be so twitterpated when I run into them.
Forgetting things. I haven't actually forgotten anything yet, but a goal is to continue not forgetting things. I don't want to be the girl that shows up to a World Championship race with only one boot.
Looking at all of the cameras. There was a little white round robot camera on tracks along the finishing stretch in the dome that was following me when I skied by last night (I was skiing at 6pm and was the only skier out there). It was cute so I'd turn my head to look at it. It was like a little dog following me across the finish line. But from now on, no matter how cool the cameras are, I'm going to ignore them & pretend that I'm used to being videoed from multiple angles while I'm skiing.
Not taking pictures. I'll take more pictures from here on out. Promise. Maybe not Thur & Fri, but by Saturday.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
I decided to check out the pool this morning, do a little lap swimming and stretching. I got down to the ground floor where the pool is and saw that it wasn`t open until 10, even worse, it wasn`t open to the World Champ athletes until 13. Dang it, I`d put on my swimsuit and everything... I even have pink speedo goggles to match the US speedo apparel/race suit sponsorship (the race suits are not pink).
On an impulse I decided to try the door. It opened. I took off my shoes (of course) and wound my way through the locker room, vanity stations, showers, sauna, to the pool. None of the lights were on, and I couldn`t find/figure out the switches so everything was dark except in the actual pool area since a wall and a half was all windows looking out onto the golf course. I didn`t see any reason why I shouldn`t go for a swim, even if it was officially closed, there probably wouldn`t be anyone around to get upset about it.
I love swimming by myself in perfectly smooth, quiet water. They titled the pool ``Heated Pool`` so I thought it would be sickly hot and chlorine-y. But I could hardly sense the chlorine and it was just the right temperature for a languid swim. After swimming I stayed and stretched in the water and then managed to find a towel behind the door marked Private and figure out the shower in the dark. One staff person did come in while I was stretching but I tried to look like I was supposed to be there and he didn`t say anything.
I was riding the bus back from skiing today, talking to Freeman. And I was like, "so am I expected to do anything with my skis?" and Freeman said, "no, I mean, they might ask you to remove your kick wax occasionally, but you don't have to do that if you don't want to." I was a little concerned because I had left klister on my skis from Saturday and then today they were clean & I didn't want to wax techs to be pissed that I had left klister-y skis for them. But no, it apparently is fine and I apparently am not supposed to do anything with them other than ski on them. I am perfectly happy with this.
Then I get home and have lunch, decide to stop by Aaron's room to schedule a massage on the way down to do laundry for free in the hotel, run into Grover who's like, "Don't forget to go get your phone from Luke." My phone?? So apparently we each get a little mobile phone for the trip. (Since this is only a short term number, I'm putting it up here in case you want to call me while I'm in Japan (until mar5), 080-1971-1633, country code 81. I can receive calls for free but can't call out to the U.S.) Sweet, having a phone is all right by me.
This afternoon I got an hour massage from the team Physical Therapist, Aaron, which was awesome. He said come back as much as I like. He even has a real massage table set up in his room. I do not mind having a daily massage.
Then there's the food. Breakfast from 6:30-10, lunch from 11-2, dinner from 5-9, basically almost all day there's a full meal buffet available in the dining room of the hotel. Good food, lots of options, fresh kiwi, pineapple, grapefruit, oranges, and bananas at almost every meal. No sushi & not as much crazy mystery Japanese food here as at our previous hotel in Asahikawa, but it's still fun. And there's the race headquarter lounge at the main race venue that has little sandwiches and fruit and drinks available. It's awesome.
Not to mention that four different people today have asked me directly if I needed anything, or if they could do anything for me, or get me something from the grocery store. I start laughing... I couldn't even think of anything else to ask for.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Not going to lie, walked into our hotel in Sapporo today after taking the train from Asahikawa and got real intimidated. It is the race hotel so almost all the other teams are staying here too. Not all the other teams were here yet, and I still got really intimidated.
And then we went skiing, and now I am not so freaked out by the situation. The intervals went great, despite the pesky coaches. I mean, really, Compton & I were the only athletes skiing at the race venue this afternoon and we had Justin, Justin & Pete with us. Pete video taped some of our intervals and Justin (Sports Physiologist) and Justin (Wadsworth, coach) took lactate. Finally, I escaped the high maintenance ski life and went off on my own for a cool down.
Almost immediately a fox jumped out onto the trail in front of me. Foxes are so adorable, it made me happy. And then it was gorgeous dusk in a snowy white birch forest with only the bamboo to remind me I wasn`t back home somewhere. The sky was rosy and the birches were making pretty black and white patterns against the snow. Even the lights of Sapporo down below us where looking scenic.
The think I am most excited about right now is a long solo distance ski exploring the trails tomorrow.
Friday, February 16, 2007
How to brush your teeth
Compton and I have been enjoying the Japanese baths that our hotel has in it's spa on the bottom floor. Going to a Japanese bath is quite an experience & I think we have the routine and etiquette pretty much figured out so we can just enjoy it and not have to try and figure out what we're supposed to be doing anymore. At some point I'll give you a full report on the experience but it's almost nine, which is our bedtime over here (hey, we're still adjusting to the time difference, give us credit for staying up until nine).
Today when we were washing at the little wash stations, Compton was looking around at everything we had available to clean with and found a toothbrush which she opened and wanted to brush her teeth with but was perturbed because she couldn't find any toothpaste. Luckily, there was another woman next to us who found our plight amusing and wanted to enlighten us. So she told Compton just to start brushing with the toothbrush. Which Compton did and found that there was already toothpaste on the toothbrush. Those (us) Japanese are freakin' ingenious. The woman also showed us some of the other amenities like which soap was for your face and which for your body. I couldn't stop laughing, all that miming and confusion and to top it all off we're all naked and the situation's always funnier when the characters are naked.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Getting Buff, Japanese-style
Yesterday afternoon (Thursday, which might be today depending on where you are) Compton and I had a strength workout to complete. So we ventured out of the hotel and, following directions from Lars Flora, found a gym, "Joy Fit." Flora had warned us that this was a private club so we would have to convince the manager to let us pay a daily fee to use it once. At first we had a tough time trying to communicate with the staff because we didn't speak Japanese and they didn't speak English, but then there was this Canadian guy from Vancouver who had been living in Japan for four years teaching English, and he translated for us and got us shoes and everything. We had to borrow shoes because we had to take off the shoes we had run over in and put them in lockers upon entering the building. In Japan you basically do not wear shoes inside, ever.
So we paid our ¥1850, put on our borrowed shoes, and made it into the gym to lift. Our weights in Seeley are pounds so we had to think a little bit about how many kilos we should be lifting. We finished the leg portion of our workout and then Compton kept following the plan and I went and played on some of the other machines. There was a slider machine where you stood on a platform which was attached to the machine straight in front of you and then you held onto the bars and swung your feet from side to side. The machine had a display where, once I figured out how to get it started, there was a display with a digital image of someone doing the workout so you could mirror the person on the display. They would switch motions every 30seconds... it was pretty exciting for a five minute workout.
Then I tried the jiggler. I don't know what this was supposed to do or why you would want to use this machine. It was a platform that you stood on and then it would rock each leg up and down and you could increase the speed of rocking so it basically just made your whole body jiggle. Like I said, I don't really understand the point.
Despite getting distracted by the strange machines, I did actually get a pretty good workout in and now am enjoying a day off (Friday).
There were a ton of Japanese school kids out skiing today. A group of school kids is probable one of the most adorable sights in Japan. They wear matching uniforms and are all little with dark straight hair. They were skiing around in small groups today and I'd come up on a cluster and they would all look at me and smile and say hi, either "kon'nichi wa" or "hello." And if they said hello in English they'd all giggle for some reason. It was pretty cute, it made me wish I spoke Japanese. In fact every interaction here makes me wish I spoke Japanese. I'm starting to work on it but it's a slow and overwhelming process.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
We skied this morning in Japan! the trails were amazing, lot's of snow and hills, huge hills, steep hills, gradual hills. I love hills. We were skiing reeeaaalllyy slowly so they weren't as exciting as they could have been.
Last night Vordenberg picked up Compton, Justin Wadsworth and I from the Sapporo airport. We only got a little bit lost on the drive to Asahikawa and made it up to our rooms by midnight. Passed out immediately and woke up at 8 to have some morning testing done (lactate, HR, oxygen saturation, hemogloben, glucose) before breakfast. We're staying with part of the World Champ Team (some are off racing WC's in China) at a nice Western-style hotel, The Asahikawa Palace Hotel. The plan is to train and acclimate here before moving up to the World Champ venue in Sapporo on the 17th.
Now we're off to meander around Asahikawa!
Sunday, February 11, 2007
So the journey begins. I left Cresthill this afternoon & arrived in the twin cities where I am staying with Compton's mom & stepdad close to the airport. Tomorrow I depart at 7am for Japan where I will arrive in Sapporo at 8:30pm on TUESDAY. Yes, it will be a long flight. Hopefully there will be plenty of wireless internet in Japan and y'all can stay caught up on my going-ons.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
WI State Champs (& other races)
So Hayward pretty much kicked butt today at their state meet. Molly Burger won the women's 7km classic and Kyle Fredrickson won the men's 7km classic. The men easily won the event as a team with Matt Pierce in 3rd and John Grossi in 5th. The women tied for first with Lakeland but I think officially get second since lakeland's fourth girl was ahead of Hayward's fourth girl. The other Hayward girls scoring were Elizabeth Simak in 10th and Michelle Narveson in 11th.
The RMISA collegiate racers are over in Enchanted Forest Ski Area, NM. Paul Schauer from UAA won the skate race today... it's always nice to have Americans winning the collegiate races especially since it doesn't happen often enough. Devon Spika, a freshman girl from Whitman, is doing well this season and should qualify for NCAA's this year.
Kuzzy is in Germany with some on the USA Continental Cup Team racing the OPA Cup races in Oberstdorf this weekend. The ladies skied seriously well with Taz Mannix in 5th, Liz Stephen in 6th, and Morgan Arritola in 13th. Most exciting is Taz's FIS points for the race: 85. Which puts her under the FIS limit to be eligible to start World Cup distance races (90 points). I can't pretend I'm not jealous; the lowest points I've ever gotten is 116 (yep, that's right, FIS won't let me race a distance World Cup and will only barely let me start World Cup sprints).
Jay Hakkinen and Tim Burke finished 9th in the relay at Biathlon World Championships in Italy today. I don't know exactly whose racing in Aspen, but there was a 30k skate there today. Nikolai Anikin won the Pre-Birkie this morning at Telemark.
My Hayward team is off showing the rest of WI how to ski in Rhinelander, home of the Hodags. My Whitman team is enjoying the wide open skies and high altitude of Red River, NM. My teammate Kuzzy's off in Europe with a bunch of fast women. Basically everyone was off racing somewhere this weekend and all I was doing was watching results.
Friday, February 09, 2007
The Hayward High School Ski Team has the Wisconsin State Championships this weekend in Rhinelander, WI. It's been fun to get to ski with them a little this season and watch them excel at their races. And I hope they all have a fast & fun weekend of racing over in Rhinelander. Four of the Hayward HS skiers qualified for Junior Nationals this year: Molly Burger, Kyle Fredrickson, Matt Pierce, and John Grossi. To have four athletes from Hayward on the Midwest JO team is pretty impressive and it's really cool to see all the hard work these guys have put into training this summer and fall pay off in a chance to compete against all of the best juniors in the country! Now, though, they're focusing on the HS championships and helping Hayward make a name for itself in the skiing world.
Last night I was reading Jack Kerouac's novel "On The Road." Mostly because I know Fish really likes Kerouac and the rest of the beat generation writers and if someone I think highly of thinks highly of a book than there's a good chance that I'll eventually read it. And this is all possible because of the Kuzzy's since while I was staying with Jim & Beth last weekend I was completely enamored by their many bookshelves and Beth let me take a couple books home with me.
So anyway, I'm reading Kerouac and I come across this passage:
"...the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars...
This is one (of a long list) of my favorite quotes and I was delighted to stumble across it while reading. I suppose I should have known, but I hardly expected to find a famous quotation firmly embedded in text. There's something about meeting a quote in its proper home that suddenly makes that quote more understandable and meaningful. It allows you to take ownership of the quote because, hey, you found it on your own & didn't need anybody else to point it out to you.
This morning while I was still lying in bed I realized how the quote experience paralleled my life right now. All these names that I'm familiar with from FIS skiing -- Justyna Kowalczyk, Virpi Kuitunen, Katerina Neumannova, Marit Bjoergen -- are actually REAL PEOPLE, not just names, and I am going to be RACING them. Wow.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
A Beautiful Day for a Frolic
Today was simply beautiful, beautiful as only the Northwoods of Wisconsin are. It was a bitter, sparkling cold this morning with the brilliant sun making the snow covered ground and frozen lakes glow. Admiring all this as I sat inside enjoying my breakfast this morning I thought, "all I really want to do today is go frolic outside in the sunshine." So I grabbed my classic skis (after waiting an hour for it to warm up to zero; I'm not that tough) and tromped around on the birkie trail. The cold and the sun made the day feel pure, like everything was good in the world. As I was skiing I thought about how lucky I was to be able to wake up in the morning and say that the one thing I wanted to do most was to play in the sun and that's exactly what I was supposed to be doing. (Don't tell Fish, but I stayed out for 3hrs instead of the prescribed 2.) I am thrilled to be flying to Japan on Monday but, right now, I am pretty content right here.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Finally, A warm day
After a Very Cold weekend with temperatures never above zero, and that's not considering the wind chill, it finally warmed up today and I ventured out for a ski. Gregg & I waited until the warmest part of the day to ski & by then it was a balmy 6°F.
I'm continually impressed with the body's ability to adapt. As recently as five days ago I would have considered 6°F frigidly cold but today I found it perfectly manageable. Right now if you had me train in 100° heat, I would probably pass out, but by the time summer rolls around and that's the conditions, I'll be able to handle it fine. Not to mention the body's ability to adapt to training. The body learns quickly how to do what it's required to do. It's amazing. I'm amazed. It makes me wonder how trainable and adaptable my body is and how fast I can coax it to be.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Cold, pt. 3
I didn't race today. Only Liebsch & Watt raced for the CXC Team today. I am safely back in Hayward and can't wait until Tuesday when the temps are supposed to get back above 0°F.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Cold, pt. 2
They delayed the start to 11. Then 11 came and they delayed it to noon. Then they said that at noon they would decide whether to hold the races at 1 or cancel them. At 12:25 they canceled the SuperTour races. It was cold, I was not happy to have spent the entire morning sitting around the lodge waiting. I would much rather have had them hold the races right off the bat or cancel them instead of continually debating and delaying. Oh well, that also is another aspect of racing to be accepted.
One of my teammates commented that it was a very unusual day & that I would have a lot to write about... I responded that I don't chronicle the day's events in my blog. Since I change my mind and contradict myself endlessly, here's the day in a nutshell (skip this paragraph): Reading Chevalier's "Girl with a Pearl Earing," back at Kuzzy's by 1pm, slightly depressed & mopey, Jim Kuzzy suggested a game of cribbage, I won, twice (although I can't credit it all to skill since I did have some unusually good hands), Beth Kuzzy took me to the bookstore to get a new journal (yes, I still handwrite a journal, no, I do not share everything on my blog), went to uptown, talked to Jayne Borman, attempted to shop, didn't find anything, met cousin Anne for tea, met the boys back @ kuzzy's, went with Watt, Liebsch, Gregg, Cook to dinner at Kuan & Heidi's home, plus their 3-year old Garrett, plus Ian Case, wow can Kuan cook, & chocolate mouse, & a very active toddler, wow Case is a devilishly good guitar player, back to kuzzy's, finish Girl with a pearl earing, bed. I told you not to read this paragraph.
Tomorrow is the 30km City of Lakes Loppet. I think it might be too cold for me to race. I don't want to damage my lungs & think the "smart" thing to do would be to sit it out. But it is So Hard to not race when there is a race to be raced. I want to race, I want to ski, I hate watching other people race when I could be but am not. I'm not dead/sick/injured/absent/unable-to-pay-the-entry-fee or any other legit reason for not racing. I haven't had to contemplate "too cold" as a legit reason not to race before. So I struggle with what to do.
Friday, February 02, 2007
I'm a little worried about the City Of Lakes Loppet races this weekend... it's supposed to have a high of -2°F all weekend. That's cold. Especially for someone from the sunny west coast. I'm not sure I've ever raced with it under zero. What I do not have that I think I should is one of those balaclava things. You know, those head/neck coverings. You might think that after skiing for so long I would have all of the gear a skier could possibly ever need, but I don't. I could also use some windproof long underwear since I hear it might be kind of windy this weekend too. And then there's always frostbite and windburn to worry about too. I should just rig up a heated mobile body tent to ski around in.
OR I could just not ski when it's so crazy cold out.
...oh wait--update, (I am so resourceful), Alli (from Gustavus & working at Gear West) is going to hook me up with a balaclava tomorrow morning. These problems are so much easier to solve when you're in a big city, with cell reception, and have a credit card!
Thursday, February 01, 2007
At the beginning of my life there was only white eggs. White, perfectly smooth, evenly sized eggs. Then, during some travels at a young age, I was served brown eggs. Brown eggs, soft-boiled and served in an egg cup with a knife to cut off the top portion and a small spoon to scoop out the egg. From then on I thought brown eggs were far superior to white eggs. Now I have a new favorite type of egg: green eggs.
On the way to the OO Trailhead is the Pedersons' Y-Me Ranch. Next to the ranch's big sign is a small sign proclaiming, "eggs." Ever since we moved into Cresthill this summer we've wanted to stop and get eggs. Something has always prevented us -- we already had eggs, we didn't have any money, we were late, whatever. Finally, on Tuesday, Gregg and I stopped to get eggs. We pulled up to the house and this old rancher came out to see what we wanted. When we said we wanted some eggs he replied, "well, just go get them, do you know where they are?" nope, we did not. "Well," he said, "you have to go out and take them out of the chickens' nests." I was really excited about this, I really wanted to go into the chicken coup and pluck eggs as if by magic from the nests. Apparently, he was just teasing us because he took us over to a fridge full of cartons of eggs & explained that we should just come right in whenever we wanted eggs, it was $1.25 per dozen and there was a green mug sitting on the counter to put the money in.
I proudly carried two cartons of eggs home on my lap. Like any present, I had to open them up and look at our new eggs. Beautiful eggs, all shades of brown, all sizes, some very pointy, some very blunt, some all one color, some with darker brown speckles. And in one carton there were two green eggs! Let me make them sound more appealing: two eggs with a faint pastel green hue embracing the shell. And yesterday I ate one & it was delicious.
So now I consider green eggs to be far superior to brown eggs or white eggs. Living in Hayward does have its benefits.