Marquette, MI and Madison, WI, but without a formal training plan. Back then and until recently, I was basically hopping from one event to the next using the performance in one as the baseline for the next. Such an approach worked pretty well in the first few years of getting into running because there was a LOT of room for improvement – so much so that anything and everything I tried, small or big, often led to newer personal best times.
My experiments with lightI formally got into photography in 2004. Learning with friends, holding each other accountable and being a Physics major with some exposure to optics and inner workings of a camera made me better both at capturing scenes and albeit minimal, digital post-processing. By 2006, photography had turned into a passion consuming any/all free time and in turn, became a gateway to appreciate nature, understand sports, travel more and interact with people.
One of my photographs, Mystic River, made it to National Geographic - what was to me then, and still is now, the Holy Grail of nature photography. It earned a spot amongst Daily Dozen on 6th June 2008, was voted the Audience Favorite for June 2008 and as the Editor's Choice, was published in the January 2009 issue of the National Geographic Magazine. It went on to earn the Photo of the Day honor for 23rd April 2009 and was subsequently selected as one of the best wallpapers of April 2009 and 2009. I have contributed thousands of images to Michigan Tech Athletics (many of which have been featured in NCAA publications) and I consider myself blessed to have over a dozen friends trust me with capturing their I Do festivities.
my utter unpreparedness and punish thousands more that had very diligently trained for nearly a year with unseasonably warmer temperatures (and even rain) in days/weeks leading up to the 2017 Birkie weekend. In hindsight, we (the collective phrase to represent all of us and not just the Royal plural) are quite fortunate that this lack of snow thing happened in 2017 and not in 1206 in Scandinavia. Should that have been the case, as one unknown racer put it in 2017, the Prince couldn’t have been saved, and we wouldn’t have the event in 2017 … or in any other year.
In all honesty and fairness, participating in this event was a very distant thought when the year started. Unlike 2017, I have been making a decent amount of progress towards the upcoming Kortelopet as part of the Birkie festivities. Progress, to be fair and honest, has so far been only about improving the technique – especially having to make a right turn while going down a slope. To be fair and honest, I did want to improve the distance (per session or attempt) as well but just hadn’t made enough time (or had made time for excuses, as my lovely Lombardian friends would say).
2015 and 2016 editions. And the quest (read: want) for the final piece ensured I at least signed up, and would find ways to complete it given my very limited training.
2017 American Birkebeiner (I wasn’t prepared for that either), Great Bear Chase became the final and only test of my skiing this season — cumulative (since January 2014) and newly acquired (with each passing season/session — as I said, there wasn’t much of it this season) alike. And the event is a a long-running and well established, managed and reputed one with usual perks — near-zero traveling, sleeping in my own
Running events for the most part are solo endeavors — runner against the clock, runner against an older version of her/himself, and occasionally, one runner against another — irrespective of whether another runner knows about it or not. Relay events of the running kind have a knack for blending the individualist aspect with the concept of a team. Though the very reason I took to running many moons ago was to move away from team sports, there’s a part of me that enjoys the team concept every once in a while, necessary to instill a sense of accountability: that I need to do my part, and have the confidence that others on the team will do theirs. Being the runt of the litter when it comes to running, there is never a doubt about my teammates and the onus is always on me.