Sunday, December 30, 2012

Another year older, another year... wiser?


Yesterday was my 27th birthday. Yup, I'm officially getting old. I celebrated the day, amidst the falling snow of the most recent storm, with mile repeats on the indoor track and a trip to the town dump.  And, instead of the traditional indulgence of lavish cakes or delectable sweets, I had baked oatmeal- replete with candles of course. So yes, I’m officially getting old. But never fear, I am still young at heart and recipient of one particularly amazing gift from my sister, which should surely awake my inner child- in all it's shrieking cries and pant wetting aspects.  The gift?  She somehow convinced (I have no idea how) someone that it would be a good idea to allow me, yes me, access to a NASCAR race car and unleash me full throttle at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.  My only fear is that after throwing myself at high speeds around the Magic Mile, I might just find the speeds of running to be inadequate and make a full-fledged attempt to start up my own car racing team at the Canaan Speedway (trust me, this isn't as far off as it might sound- plans to do so have been in the works for years).  Although, until such time, I have other things to focus on.  Most timely, a little race in Houston, TX which I will be running in a few weeks.  I will be competing in the Houston Half Marathon, a daunting task seeing as though it will be my first race over ten miles in length, but it should be a good test for the year to come; to see just where this old guy's fitness is going into 2013.  Now before everyone gets excited, I have no intention of moving up in distance, and no desire for the marathon for years to come.  I still believe that I have a lot to accomplish on the track in the 5k and 10k, and I am merely using this race as a stepping stone into the new year.  For this year I am ready to reach new heights, speeding my way around the track at dizzying speeds, lap after lap, on both spikes and Goodyears.  So hold on tight, as it is sure to be a very good year.

Until next time,

Ben

Sunday, December 16, 2012

American Skiers


After brushing off the snow and warming up from the day’s long run, I remembered a time when I longed for such snowy conditions.  Seems silly now.  For the past two hours I had been cursing the snow and cold.  But I remember, not long ago, when I lived for such conditions.  As a Nordic skier, I loved the snow, worshiped the snow, sought out the snow.  No longer.  Now I hide from it, avoid it, run from it (at least for the time being).  Every time I see the flakes fall from the sky, I still think of skiing.  And never has there been a better time!  For today marked the conclusion of the Canmore World Cup, one of the few times the Cross-Country World Cups comes to North American.  And have the Americans shown brightly.  Years ago, America was the joke of the Cross-Country world.  Finishing in the top 40 was seen as a success, and world cup points (finishing in the top 30 of a race) were rare.  This has all changed.  The Americans, led by Kikkan Randall, just off from last season’s breakout year winning the overall sprint crown, has taken the skiing world by storm.  Now, top 20s are beginning to seem mundane, medals are won, and the bar in American skiing has been raised beyond belief.  It has been incredible to see the meteoric rise.  Just this past week in the Canadian races, Americans have notched thirteen top fifteens, ten top tens, five top fives, and three medals- two of which were gold.  It has been amazing to watch as the athletes have gained confidence, realized that they can compete with the best, and began beating the once “unbeatable” Scandinavians.  It has been a tremendous transformation and I wish all the skiers the best.  They have finally arrived on the international stage.  It just goes to show you- that even though you might get beaten time and time again, if you have the confidence and the determination to be great and keep plugging away, improving year after year without giving up, you can rise to any level and take on the world.  It has been an inspiring sight and I can not wait to see what the future brings them.

Until next time,

Ben

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ahh... Wintertime in the UV


The carols are streaming on Pandora, snow is covering the ground and the Christmas lights are twinkling in our windows.  This can only mean two things: it’s wintertime in the UV and time to shed the extra layers and escape to the southwest for the warmth and the safety of iceless roads.  While my departure to sun will only be a momentary reprieve from the chill this time around, a longer escape will occur after the holidays.  My time bundling up for runs will hopefully be numbered and the careless injury of last year’s ice and the devilish indoor track eluded.  That is not to say I will be completely impervious from my clumsy self (e.g. my broken toe in the fall of 2010) or avoidable misfortunes.  The latest, and one which I am currently suffering from, stems from misguided (but well-intended) medical care.  It happened a few days ago, when stretching in the evening after finishing my secondary run, that I felt that I needed my back adjusted.  There is nothing like that satisfied feeling of needing your back cracked, and hearing those snaps, crackles and pops as it snaps back into alignment.  Well, unfortunately this time my back did not want to cooperate.  With reluctant (yet slightly... aggressive) aid from Sarah, things did not improve.  The following day my back began to tighten.  Nothing major, just typical tight muscles at the end of a long day.  I scheduled a massage to get it worked on and thought none the wiser.  Then, doomsday arrived.  I awoke the next morning groggy from the poor night’s sleep.  The back yelled the entire night at my every toss and turn.  The day’s workout was a long tempo run.  After a slow warm up, the back began to loosen and I was ready to run.  Things felt fine, the back compliant, and the legs began to move- right up until a minute in, I could feel my entire back spasm and lock up, knocking the wind out of me and jolting me to a halt.  I tried to walk.  Nope.  I waited, unsure of what just happened.  After a few minutes I was able to walk (although restricted).  Later still I was able to slowly jog (although with much pain).  I hobbled around, gritting my teeth, hoping the back would loosen up.  Nope.  I made it back to the car and drove home.  Changing out of my workout clothes was excruciating.  I immediately drove to my chiropractor, who luckily was able to see me on such short notice (thanks Hank!).  An adjustment and massage later, constant icing, and NSAIDs, the back is now livable.  I can even run again- although a process of heating, compression and balms are involved to loosen/numb the back enough to get me out the door.  But (hopefully) the incident has been resolved and further complications avoided.  So off to the warmth tomorrow, where I can stay away from ice and snow and only have to protect myself from... myself.


Until next time,

Ben