Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another start line I didn't make

You can file the Birkie under "things I will not be doing anytime soon." The race was held this weekend in the beautiful, vacation destination to the world's rich and famous -- Hayward, WI. Luckily, the Oscars are this weekend so the town was free to be overrun with crazy, spandex-laden Nordic endurance freaks instead of celebs.

I, however, was not there. I had great intentions of toe-ing the start line....but like other years, things got in the way, and another race opportunity was missed. Though perhaps that was for the best. You see, I learned a little bit about this Nordic skiing business in Utah this year....and, well....lets just say I have more work to do than I thought.

So seeing how the famous Utah snow decided to go on its own vacation during mine, (leaving consecutive 40-degree sunshine days and a crusty, glacier-like snow pack in its wake) I opted for an alternative workout at Snowbasin -- nordic skiing.

Seemed like a fun way to burn off a few calories -- and at a significantly discounted rate when compared to the lift ticket I would have bought. So I decide to take it to the next level and rent the skate skis. No graceful, classic gliding for me. No, no. I’m theoretically training for the Birkie after all. This was going to be an all-out full-body cardio fest.

Thing is, I’ve never actually tried skate-skis. And I’ve really only been on classic skis a handful of times. So why I had it in my head that I was some sort of expert on the skinny skis, I can’t explain. But I really figured this would be easy as pie.

So where did it all go so wrong?

One – if there is a crusty, glacial-like hardpack on the mountain, one should not assume that there will be soft, friendly snow on the Nordic trail. Nope. Glacial hard-pack all around.

Two – one who is somewhat familiar with the sport of skiing should know that skis are skis. Nordic, alpine, skinny, fat, whathaveu…..they are all designed to glide across snow, and are therefore quite slippery on the bottom.

Three – one should not assume that the terrain will be flat just because one is not technically "on the mountain."

All of these unfounded assumptions led to quite a rude awakening for me out there on that friendly little Nordic track. Starting with the initial decent. That’s right – decent. As in, the trail started off by dropping down a big ol’ hill.

No big deal if you’re on your K2s. But these skinny little buggers are a little squirrel-ly. And slippery, did I mention slippery? Needless to say the ice crusted mound that I was supposed to so gracefully descend to send me off on my speedy little way, knocked me flat on my backside. Hard and fast. Took my tailbone days to recover. And the afternoon did not get better from there.

I don’t know how they make it look so easy. Perhaps I am woefully uncoordinated, but I might as well have been on a treadmill for as much forward progress as I seemed to be making. Old ladies were passing me. Seriously. I got lapped. By old ladies. And it was not for lack of trying. I was working my tail off , yet going absolutely nowhere.

I'm blaming the hard snow for my inability to get any sort of traction. Though, a lack of coordination may have also played a small part. At any rate, there were moments where I would be trying to move straight ahead, but find myself slipping sideways with the slight slope of the trail. My ankles were buckling and I was using muscles that I didn't even know ankles had.

Incredibly frustrating, and humbling. I really wanted to cry. I found myself thinking things like, "I would rather run a marathon than do this all afternoon!"

Clearly all my energies were being directed away from my brain because marathons are hard. Crazy-hard. And I hate running.
I have never been so happy to take off a pair of skiis and run across the parking lot to the car. Freedom!

So ya, no Birkie for me this year. Maybe next year....with a little (or a lot) of practice. And maybe some bike shorts under the spandex on those first couple training workouts.....

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