2022 edition involved skiing both the 29 km Kortelopet and the 55 km Birkie on back to back days with correct form, terrain-appropriate technique, situation-appropriate strategy, ease and peace (and not necessarily racing) as a tangible metric of improved fitness derived from a healthy lifestyle. The primary goal for the 2023 edition was to implement what I learned from additional lessons – skiing with better form, terrain-appropriate technique, situation-appropriate strategy, ease and peace – and race the 53 km Classic to earn my wave placement for 2024 edition.
2023: Pre-Birkie and North End Classic
Last weekend’s racing opportunity shed light on things I hadn’t done well: paying careful attention to the wax recommendation (I had missed a glide wax layer) and nutrition before/during the race (I had forgotten the race day breakfast and had not carried my own gels). While they didn’t alter my result or experience in that shorter distance event, they had the potential to create a painful experience for longer distance events. I got a pair of opportunities to rehearse the pre-race and race day routine before those longer races come calling, and as my good fortune would have it, the two events (Pre-Birkie and North End Classic) were a stone’s throw from each other – making it the travel once and race twice weekend.
2023: Wolf Tracks Rendezvous
Wolf Tracks Rendezvous (WTR) – and I have had a love at first ski kinda relationship since 2020, and over the past few winters, I have grown my love for it for a plethora of reasons: well run by a caring community of organizers and volunteers, well groomed trails at the Minocqua Winter Park that transports skiers to an entirely different world and the drive to (and from) Minocqua lends itself for a day trip with friends. The 2023 edition provided another opportunity to live through those reasons while doubling up as the second racing experience on classic skis (and first one on waxables) of this ongoing winter season.
2022: Marquette Marathon (DNF)
The past 40-ish weeks (especially, the past 16) have been my most consistent training attempt yet. The journey included the usual bounty of help from the family of my friends and the healthcare system, and the hitherto unusual doing many little complementary things well. In turn, the improvements in health and fitness felt very organic. Although the end result was another DNF, the training brought plenty of positives and lessons I can implement moving forward.
Continue reading … “2022: Marquette Marathon (DNF)”
2022: American Birkebeiner
2021 edition involved skiing both the 29 km Kortelopet and the 55 km Birkie on back to back days – as a tangible metric of improved fitness derived from a healthy lifestyle. I got to check that off but owing to the pandemic as well as communal commitments, I had completed the Kortelopet virtually at Swedetown on Thursday and then traveled to complete my maiden Birkie along the official – albeit modified to be an out and back – course in the ABSF trail system on Friday. The primary goal for the 2022 edition remained almost the same as 2021: ski the Korte and the Birkie on back to back days with correct form, terrain-appropriate technique, situation-appropriate strategy, ease and peace. The result would be a tangible metric of regained fitness derived from a healthy-ish lifestyle after a rolled ankle injury in 2021 June significantly impacted how I trained and raced rest of the 2021 Summer and 2021 Fall. It’d also be an opportunity to put the lessons learned over 2021 Fall and 2021-22 Winter thus far into practice on what is unequivocally the grandest stage for cross country skiing in our country.
2022: Pre-Birkie and Vasaloppet USA
Vasaloppet in 2022. For the past 2-3 years, several experienced members of my nordic skiing family had been encouraging me to do Seeley Hills Classic (SHC) and/or Pre-Birkie (PB) to better handle the Birkie Fever. After checking the schedule of events, SHC was a no go this year (we were hosting the 2022 CCSA Invitational and Great Lakes Division CXC Cup at Michigan Tech Trails on that day). But PB was scheduled for the day before the Vasaloppet. Google Maps again showed that doing both events would amount to approximately the same driving time/distance as doing just the Vasaloppet. So, I made some changes and opted to go for one more of get two for the price of one deals!
2022: Wolf Tracks Rendezvous and North End Classic
Wolf Tracks Rendezvous (WTR) had gone virtual and the North End Classic (NEC) had indeed taken place in a real format in 2021. I had been a 3-time participant of the NEC by 2021 while 2020 was the first time I had even heard about WTR. Both are well-organized events that I have grown to love – because of the caring community of organizers and volunteers, compassionate fellow participants and well-groomed trails in picturesque settings. As my good fortune (or lining up of Nordic Stars) would have it, these two lovely events took place on back to back days in 2022. A bit of Google mapping helped me realize that I could do both events for about the same amount of driving time it’d have taken to do just NEC. And who doesn’t love a get two for the price of one deals?
Continue reading … “2022: Wolf Tracks Rendezvous and North End Classic”
2022: SISU Ski Fest
#1 and #2), I signed up for this year’s edition as soon as the organizers opened up registration. Each winter, this event serves as the first of many mini reunions of my nordic skiing family and provides the first real race atmosphere to put to test newly acquired skills. While this year was no different in those aspects, it had a significantly higher value in light of the pandemic-forced separation and limited opportunities to see my family and hang out with them – on and/or off the race course.
2021: Indianapolis Half Marathon
I’d be lying if I said an injury resulting from one missed step in the 2021 Blue Mound Trail Run would have taken twenty extra weeks than the two I thought it needed to heal. I’d also be lying if I said the longer path to recovery didn’t bring unexpected but much needed lessons along the way. Most of them were variants of letting go – being my own medical doctor, being a knucklehead and bluntly pushing through obvious physical pain in races, and so on. Some others helped fine tune the Assistant To The (Chief Timer, Race Director, Volunteer Coordinator, and so on) and the guy behind the camera skills at events I had signed up to race. Yet others – myriad of emotions on the faces of people of varying ages and abilities along the course and in the vicinity of finish line – helped reset some forgotten perspectives. Best of them all was … drumroll please … the affirmation that I have a lovely family of supportive friends: none of them made any kind of funny (or negative) remark or gave me a hard time for DNFing (not once but twice – Marquette Marathon and Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon) instead of pushing through the pain!!
2021: Marquette Marathon (DNF)
When I completed the 2020 Sunday Lake Marathon in October, little did I know that I’d have to wait nearly a full year before getting another opportunity at the marathon distance. The 2021 Milwaukee Marathon I had been training towards from early 2020 December (scheduled for early 2021 April) was postponed to sometime in 2021 October. The ever evolving COVID-19 situation kept me from looking for alternate events to replace the Milwaukee Marathon. Though I had signed up and been training towards the 2021 Whitefish Point Marathon (scheduled for mid June), the marathon deities had other plans and decided that tuning up my Assistant To The Chief Timer and Other Duties As Assigned skills was the priority. Continue reading … “2021: Marquette Marathon (DNF)”