“YOU’RE BETTER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE – YOU CAN DO MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU CAN.” – Ken Chlouber (Founder of the Leadville Trail 100)
Yea!! I finished the 2015 Birkie as a classical skier!! It took me about 7 hours to get it done but I finished. The Classical course was 55 kilometers or about 34 miles with somewhere between 3000 to 4000 feet of vertical. In the above picture I am standing at the highest point on the trail, which is about 1700 feet at this point. Not the mountainous hills of Colorado, but don’t let that fool ya – there is a lot of climbing. You could not have asked for better weather. It was a cold day but not unbearably so. The starting temperature was about 10 degrees and it climbed up to about 15 during the course of the race. Throughout the day there were clouds, sun and even a little extra snow at times, but the wind was nonexistent!! That was truly the best part – no wind. I was a little worried earlier in the week when temperatures on Thursday morning were down in the minus 20 degree range and below. When it gets to that point I have to ask myself – “Why am I doing this!?”
There were skiers from around the world at the race and of every ability level, from the Olympic Athlete to the recreational skier like myself. My favorites were the men and women that were 70 years old and older doing the race. These racers were my inspiration to keep going when things got a little tough. Pretty amazing to see these guys moving along the trail. I hope that I am still able to do something of this magnitude when I am that age.
In order to get the full spirit of the Birkie I believe a little history is important. The race is named after the Norwegian Birkebeinerrennet, a cross country ski event in Norway which commemorates an important historical incident in Norwegian history. In 1206 a group of Birkebeiner party soldiers, who fought for Sverre Sigurdsson and his descendants in the Norwegian civil war, smuggled the illegitimate son of Norway’s King Hakon Sverresson from Lillehammer to safety in Trondheim. This event took place in 1206. For Norwegians, the survival of the child Hakon (he was named after his father) led eventually to the end of civil war in Norway. Hakon succeeded to the Norwegian throne in 1218. His reign lasted for a successful 40 plus years and is considered to have been Norway’s golden age. The painting below honors this historical event and is called “Skiing Birchlegs Crossing the Mountain with the Royal Child.” It was painted in 1868 by Norwegian painter – Knud Bergslien.
The commemorative Birkebeinerrennet ski event in Norway has been held since 1932. In the Norwegian event, skiers still carry packs symbolizing the weight of an 18 month old child.
The American Birkie was started by Wisconsin promoter Tony Wise in February of 1973. The race is held every February and now attracts about 10,000 skiers each year.
Well that is about it for me this week. Time to get some Alpine Skiing in before the snow melts and to continue training for the Quad Rock 50 in May. But before I go I would like to give a huge THANK YOU to all the volunteers that helped to insure the success of the 2015 American Birkebeiner. They are without a doubt the unsung heroes in an event of this magnitude.
I am writing from Ashland, Wisconsin this evening. Trying to get my mind in gear to do the 42 Annual American Birkebeiner this coming Saturday! I am hoping for a little warmer temperatures and no wind. Today’s high in Hayward was about 6 degrees fahrenheit, but there was no wind and it was not too bad. So if race day conditions are about the same, things should be good. Right? But what if it is windy or snowing? What then? Do I still race? Or go home?
Of course we all have the tendency to want to control things. Especially things that are not in our control – like the weather. This perceived lack of control takes us out of our comfort zone. Then what happens? We start to put restrictions, limits, provisos on what we can and cannot do. I think about how many times I have used the weather as a reason for not going or doing something because it took me out of my comfort zone.
I was remind of this today from a Zen Quote of the Week called:
NO EDGES, NO BOUNDARIES
We are free, every one of us. We are born free, and the bondage, restrictions, and limits that we find in our life are self-created. The edges we perceive have been placed there by the way we use our minds. There are fundamentally no edges, no boundaries. But this practice has nothing to do with believing. We don’t have Zen believers. It also has nothing to do with understanding. Understanding implies a separation between the knower and the thing that the knower knows.
It has to do with direct and intimate experience itself. Your experience. Not Shakyamuni Buddha’s, not mine – yours. Only you can make yourself free. No one can do it for you. The only one with the power to do it is you yourself. “Only a Buddha can realize a Buddha” – and it is nowhere to be found other than on top of the seat that you’re sitting on. This was excerpted from “Mountain Record of Zen Talks” by John Daido Loori – page 78.
I believe that this quote is right on target. We put the boundaries on ourselves – we create our own restrictions – how many times have we suffered horrible catastrophes – almost all of which have not come true. If you build that wall in your mind – it is just as real as the wall built in the physical world.
Well that is enough for this week – if you are interested in more Zen quotes check out: Zen Quotes @ Shambhala publications.
“WE CAN BECOME GREATER THAN WHAT WE EVER
EXPECTED OF OURSELVES WHEN WE OVER COME
THOSE FAILURES BOTH HANDED TO US AND THOSE
FAILURES ACCOMPLISHED BY OUR OWN HAND”
By Steve Timko
After running an Ultramarathon back in 2013 – the Run Rabbit Run at Steamboat Springs, I realized that I needed some time off from serious running during the months of December, January and February. But I did not want to lose all of my hard earned aerobic capacity. XC skiing seemed to be the ticket. A winter cross training sport that would rest the knees and improve upper body strength. I find that Nordic skiing is a good diversion from doing Ultra Marathons in the warmer months. It can inspire the soul as well as improve your aerobic capacity.
This year I am training for the 42nd annual American Birkebeiner. I heard about this XC ski marathon years ago but never had the time to train for it until now. I did attempt it last year on skate skies but only finished about half of the distance of 51k or about 15 miles. This year I am going to use classical technique which I am much more familiar with and so far I feel pretty confident that I can do the whole distance.
It is an amazing XC ski marathon that draws about 10,000 skiers from across the country and around the world. The distances are 51k for skaters and 55k for classic skiers. The route is a one way distance between Cable Wisconsin to Hayward Wisconsin. A huge celebration of everything Nordic! Checkout the web site for more information: http://www.birkie.com
Most of my training this year has taken place at the Eldora Nordic Center. With a touch of new snow each week to freshen up the trails followed by mild days, XC skiing has been good the last couple of weeks. ENC is a great cross country area about 21 miles west of Boulder. I feel that it is one of the more challenging XC areas in Colorado which makes it a great training ground for the Birkie. It also has a nice downhill area nestled right next to it if you want to partake in a little Alpine Skiing.
Ultramarathon season is coming up for me and it will soon be time to put in more running miles. The first Ultramarathon scheduled this year for me is the Quad Rock on May 9th 2015. This is the fourth running of the QR. Last year I did the 25 miler and this year I plan to do the 50. I feel that it is a challenging run because of the elevation gain – 5,500 for the 25 miler and 11,000 for the 50 miler. It all takes place behind Fort Collins in Lory and Horsetooth Mountain Park. A great early season run that gives fantastic views of the Front Range to the East and the Rocky Mountains to the West. The race/run is hosted by the “Gnar Runners” out of Fort Collins. They did an excellent job at hosting the QR last year. To learn more check out their web site: http://www.gnarrunners.com
Well that is all for this post – see you next week!!
I felt sorry for the commuter traffic this morning. I am sure that it was a mess getting around the tri – city area of Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland. I have had those days. Stuck in stop and go traffic – snow pouring down, stressed because I am going to be late to work and worried because I am afraid of being hit by the crazy person speeding on ice covered roads. There is always someone going too fast. Not sure what that is about? I want to shout “slow down” you are only going to be early for your own funeral!! (And maybe mine as well) My words if they could be heard would probably be wasted on deaf ears. Oh well – today was not one of those days.
It was not my turn to be at the day job. Got to stay home and savor the snow coming down. Did not have to worry about it. A good day to read, to write, to meditate and exercise. But I believe that the cat had the best idea for the day. The cat’s business for most of the day, every day, is just doing nothing – three hundred and sixty five days of the year. And true to her style that is what she did. There is something to be said for just laying around a hot wood stove savoring the heat and doing nothing. So I followed her example. Well if truth be told, for just part of the day. It was a nice snow day in Fort Collins.
After a little reading and writing the next order of business was “Exercise.” And on today’s menu: Running and walking the bike trail. The route that I took today included parts of the Power line, Spring Creek and the Poudre Trail for a total of about 8 miles. Very nice temperature of about 30 degrees, setting sun with broken clouds and no wind. It is days like today that remind me of how lucky I am to live in Fort Collins. In my opinion the trail and open space program in Fort Collins and Larimer County is second only to Boulders. I grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas. A city that for all of my youth did not have any bike or running trails except around the high school track. I have a great appreciation for what we have after coming from a place that had nothing. Just a note: Wichita Falls does have a limited bike and running trail now but plan to add more in the future.
Well this is my first Blog Post – I really do not have a plan at the moment to where this will lead – if anywhere? My feeling at the moment is that we all have a need to be acknowledged by the wider world in general. So this is my shout from the darkness so to speak. I hope that you the reader find the content interesting and feedback is welcome. This has been something that I wanted to do for a while – to tell a story about my life, where I live and the events that take place around me.