Monday, January 28, 2013

A Clean Pair of Heals

Charging hard up the infamous Hermod's Hill with a national 30km title on the line. My club coach Dragan Danevski  cheers along trailside, telling me to keep putting the pressure on my pursuers.

Since the last time writing here it's been a bit of a whirlwind of racing. Four races in seven days on the trails of Soldier Hollow, Utah (venue of the 2002 Winter Olympics) included more national titles ( two, in the 30km and the classic sprint) than broken skis (one, in the skate race). I think for a successful week of racing one must always be in the over category of this distinction. 

Another shot from the race action. Digging.

After nationals, I had a brief five day respite back to Washington. This meant two days back in the classroom with Mr. Peck's 5th graders. As this was the last time I would see them until probably until April, it was a good time to reconnect with the class. Until then, postcards, letters and photos from the road will have to do. 

Next time in class, instead of shoveling snow pits or measuring  the acidity of  rain water, I imagine we will be out hunting wildflowers like this trillium with the 5th graders. 2012 file photo.

This week, I cracked open an old favorite. The book's corners are soft, white and fraying a bit from the years. But the story and the words inside are still so spot-on, Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr. still holds undisputed spot as best sports-themed book ever. At least according to me. 

Consider this conversation between the book's two main protagonists, the elder Bruce Denton conversing with the young rube Quenton Cassidy:

“That quarter mile oval may be one of the few places in the world where the bastards can’t screw you over, Quenton. That’s because there’s no place to hide out there. No way to fake it or charm your way through, no deals to be made. You know all that stuff. You’ve talked about it. It’s why you became a miler. The question is whether you are prepared to live by it or whether it was just a bunch of words.”

After five days of racing the Minne-Tour in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, I was able to hold my hand up high as the overall champion. There was a lot of great competition with close finishes. Fortunately, I found myself on the podium steps everyday, crossing the line first on two occasions, second twice, and third once. I think this consistency shows I'm on the right track.

Having been born in the Twin Cities, I still have plenty of family and friends in the Midwest. Here is part of the contingent that made it out to the races Sunday. It was really cool too see so many uncles and aunts and cousins while out racing through the serpentine trails of Theodore Wirth Park.

Viel spass!