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Archive for the 'Sports' Category

This week, I’ve raced the Tour of Anchorage, started Phase II of P90X, and am starting to train for the summer triathlon series.

This is Exhibit A of having zero social life.

Posted in P90X, Sports, Thought of the Day, Triathlons on March 8, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

Recollections of a misspent youth, or, what I did this weekend.

Posted in Sports on March 6, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

“Hey Mike, what did you do this weekend?”

“Not much, went to Anchorage, competed in the second-largest cross-country ski race in the United States, drove home.”

“And I see you’re still alive.”

“I am indeed. Thank you for noticing.”

–          Imagined dialogue if someone asked me, “Hey Mike, what did you do this weekend?” and also noticed that I was still alive.

So, my List of Important Things held mostly to form. I managed not to die, I tried to be competitive, paced myself fairly well, and still managed not to die. I went up Saturday morning, which helped me to take my mind off of the event. I still needed to figure out what kick wax to use for my skis. Kick wax goes on the underside of the ski right under the foot area, and provides grip, whereas the tips of the skis have wax to make the ski glide – cleverly called glide wax. I stopped by a local ski store and they had recommendations for which wax to use. Saturday featured more snow, and I had been on the wrong side of bad kick wax – snow collects and sticks to the bottom of the skis and makes any kind of headway impossible. I was worried, but confident in the “pro” advice. Saturday night I focused on carb loading. Fortunately, I found out that this means eating lots of carbohydrates, as opposed to carburetors like I had been anticipating. Was not looking forward to that. So, stuffed with whole grains, I tried my best to sleep.

Moderately successful, I did have some pretty good pre-race jitters on Sunday morning. I forced myself to eat early and often, and hydrate accordingly. I arrived at the event early to check the snow conditions. It was a balmy 10 degrees at the start, and overcast. I was worried about more snow, which inevitably slows everything down. In my race, the 25k Classic, I was in the very first wave with 49 very competitive others. So, a little bonus pressure. I wasn’t shy – I went straight to the front of the line. I got a good clean start and was the first to the trails, then on the uphill got passed by a group of college team skiers and a few other, obviously experienced veterans with good techniques. I vowed never to wear spandex, despite the alleged speed advantage, then held my own for the miles that followed. The sun came out and it was gorgeous. I skipped all the rest stops and just double poled, like I had anticipated. I felt like I nailed my diet, which was nice. Wasn’t hungry, wasn’t thirsty the whole race. My race started at Alaska Pacific University and went to the Coastal Trail, finishing with a long uphill slog into Kincaid Park.

I finished with a time of 1:49 something, so was pretty far off my estimated time of 90 minutes, but the fresh snow made it slightly slower, and it was squishy for double-poling. My back (I knew it would) started to stiffen up like crazy near the end – just in time for the 2k climb into the finish. I started the hill about a minute and a half behind the guy in front of me, but couldn’t catch him at the finish – he beat me by 5 seconds. He was in my age group, too. Ugh. The hardest part was that I had no idea of where I was in the course. I could only go by time elapsed, and there I thought I would do better. So, I was a little slow, but finished not absurdly far away from my goal.

I finished 21st of 144 skiers in the Men’s 25K Classic race. I was secretly hoping to be in the Top 10 before the race, and any chance of that was dispelled in the first five minutes. I recalibrated my goal (during the race) to be in the top 20, and I was only 5 seconds out. There were a lot of very good skiers in the race, and I found out later that a guy next to me in another lane at the starting line was an Olympian. Turns out he was faster than I was…

So, next time I want to train more long skis over the weekends, and pay particular attention to diagonal skiing. It was a gorgeous Sunday, and nice to be outside. I have to remember that I’ve only been skiing for less than four months, so just doing a ski race is pretty neat.

I think I ate for two hours straight when I got home, and overall, I was rather pleased to manage not to die.


Los Anchorage: A tourist’s view of the Tour.

Posted in Sports on March 1, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

So, the weekend of the Tour of Anchorage Ski Race is looming. Why it’s weaving cloth using antiquated technology is beyond me, but that’s beside the point.

I have to admit that I am a touch nervous about the ordeal. Being heaped in with over 2000 other skiers, of all ability levels, I wonder just how well I’ll do. I’d like to do well, but I think my focus should be a bit more pedestrian.

To wit, my goals for the Tour of Anchorage, in order of importance:

1. Try not to die. This seems the most important to me, and I will do my best to see it happen.

2. Try to be competitive. I am competitive by nature, but am unsure of how this will translate to something so unpredictable and rather foreign to me. I don’t think I’ll go all 300 on people (“THIS. IS. SOLDOTNA!”) but I’ll try to pace myself accordingly to do the best I can.

3. Pace myself accordingly. I found a couple of weekends ago that I can pace myself quicker earlier, so I’ll try and do that. My plan is to find a better skier (That shouldn’t be too hard) and keep pace with him or her.

4. Try not to die. Yes, again. I think it’s that important.

So, we’ll find out Sunday. I’m in the 25k classic-only race. Since I’m extra classy. Also: I’m terrible at skate-skiing.

I’ll let you know how it goes. In the interim, I plan on pacing myself and, of course, trying not to die.


A weekend spent staring at my feet.

Posted in Sports on February 21, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

Yes. I did exactly that. Well, not for the entire weekend, mind you, but I did spend significant time Saturday staring at my feet.

Why on earth would I be doing that on a perfectly good Saturday?

Good question.

As the time for the Tour of Anchorage draws nigh, I sought to do some Tour-specific exercise to gauge my fitness and ability level. To bring you up to speed, I am entering the Tour of Anchorage, which is the second-largest cross country ski race in the nation. I am doing the only classic skiing-only race – and it happens to be 25 kilometers. It happens March 4 – a Sunday. So, with a couple of short weeks, I talked to Coach Kjell and he said that a significant distance of the 25 k is on flat land, so the fastest stride in this case is double poling as opposed to diagonal skiing. Fortunately, double-poling might be the only aspect of cross country skiing that I’m even remotely good at.

So, on Saturday, I went to the Wildlife Refuge, and planted myself on Headquarters Lake. I was there to double pole exclusively, in order to run myself through a litmus test of where my strengths and weaknesses were. Turns out the list of strengths is breathtakingly short compared to my weaknesses.

Seven times around the lake I poled. At about 2 miles (maybe a little more?) per lap, this works out to just about 25k – the length of the Tour. The wild thing about double-poling is that legs aren’t really involved much. My feet actually started to fall asleep after the first hour. Meanwhile, my upper body was furiously at work. It was a beautiful day, but I hardly got to look up at all, as proper double-poling means exhaling and crunching your body down so your torso is parallel with the ground. Instead, I stared at my sleeping feet.

My goal was 90 minutes. I finished in 96, so I wasn’t too far off the mark. I learned I can push myself harder earlier without gassing out, and proper nutrition is very important. I was getting wildly hungry nearing the 5 lap mark. Luckily there were no fast food joints nearby.

Per Coach Kjell’s instructions (he acutally came in second place for the Tour in 2009 – a mere 4 seconds back from the winner, so he knows what he is talking about) I will work on speed drills and not endurance until the Tour.

I’m very excited. A 25 k ski tour through the city Anchorage will be quite an event. Unfortunately, I’ll spend all of it staring at my feet.


On Planetary Alignment

Posted in Blogs, P90X, Sports, Website, Wombats on February 6, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

Once again, it appears the planets have aligned sufficiently for me to continue my blog. Life, as it has a way of doing, has become more intricate and involved, both at work and not. For my days spent at work, things have been going swimmingly. A few inservice days with no kids in school meant that school administrators and secretaries have been upping their efforts on getting their schools’ websites up to scratch. This means a great deal more students enrolled in Awesome High School, and a proud new lot of diploma-having Awesome Wombats, ready to use their skills to make their sites the best they can be.

With a Five-Year Plan looming, KPBSD employees and the Kenai Peninsula community are being asked to give feedback to the Five-Year Plan. Everyone is encouraged to participate – the more meaningful and constructive feedback we can give, the better our District has the potential of becoming. See the front page of the KPBSD website for details. And as a heads up, we’ll be seeing more surveys in the coming weeks. Take them seriously. They will help everyone.

In the wide world of sports, the cross-country ski season is rolling, nay, SHUSSHING along. Sunday’s She Can Ski race was the largest ever, with proceeds benefitting the Leeshore Center and the Tsalteshi Trails Association. Mark it on your calendars for next year – it’s on Superbowl Sunday. Rest assured you’ll be home in time for the game. Speaking of the Superbowl, another close one! Of course I’m talking about the halftime show. Thankfully Madonna or Cee Lo Green had no wardrobe malfunctions, but Cee Lo did come onto the stage dressed as an Idi Amin stunt double. Not sure of the take-home message there.

Lastly, I have decided to curtail my skate skiing in favor of classic skiing, as I want to focus on that for the Tour of Anchorage. I have also decided to do the only classic-only (fentoozling) race available – the 25k. I think this will give me a better estimation of how I compare to “real” skiers. I’m nervous but also very excited. Another reason I decided on the shorter race is that I have to start Phase Two of P90X the following day at 6:00 am, and I think it would be best for everyone if I were, you know, alive and stuff.

On the topic of P90X, we’re cruising through Phase One, and have picked up a few new students. Luckily for you, THERE’S STILL ROOM AVAILABLE! It’s never too late to start exercising and getting into the best shape of your life. Next workout is Wednesday morning, and it’s the ever delightful Legs and Back, with a bonus Ab Ripper X thrown in for fun. You don’t have to do anything fancy, JUST SHOW UP  at 6:00 am Wednesday ready to work hard. We’ll be done and out of there well before work. I promise.

Well, it seems that these planets just keep on moving, so it’s time for me to wrap this up – I’m getting ready for next year, where I plan on being a body double for Cee Lo Green or Idi Amin – whoever needs it most.


Mike by the Numbers

Posted in Sports on January 13, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

Time Skiing: 2 months

Distance Skied Saturday: 12155 meters

Distance Skied Yesterday: 6340 meters

Number of Skis in my Car: 8 pair

Number of Skis I Own: 0 pair

Number of Ski Boots in my Car: 4 pair

Number of Ski Boots I Own: 1 pair

Obviously, I have an absurd discrepancy in owned vs. borrowed equipment. Some day, certainly, I will commit to actually buying equipment. I’m starting my search with classic race boots, with European sizing a whimsical and prime number 43. It just dawned on me, that despite only skiing for two months, I’ve been skiing for two years. Figure that one out.

Bearing in mind the numbers above, I’m throwing my hat into the ring for the Tour of Anchorage cross-country ski race coming up in March. It’s the tasseled one. (The hat, not the ring or the race.) I’ve included a poll to determine which race I should enter. Please take the poll (it’s over there on the right) and help me choose. Thanks and don’t kill me please!


X-mess and Gnu’s Ears.

Posted in Holidaze, P90X, Sports, Website on January 4, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

Wow, I haven’t written a post SINCE LAST YEAR. Apologies.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable time over the Holidaze. Following in my tradition of going someplace warm for the break, I did exactly the opposite and went to visit family up in Fairbanks. With temperatures soaring into the -20s, I enjoyed some cross country skiing on Fairbanks’ lovely ski trails, and even had the opportunity to experience minor frostbite on my ear lobes. All told, it was delightful.

After Fairbanks, I spent some time in Girdwood, where I brought the balmy Fairbanks weather with me, as one morning saw -14 on the slopes. Girdwood, too, has put significant resources into building great cross country ski trails, so it was quite nice to see some new scenery. As luck would have it, being in Fairbanks completely recalibrated my idea of cold, so I was more than happy to ski in Girdwood and back here at Tsalteshi despite the below zero temperatures.

Speaking of exercise, I’m scheduled to teach some fitness classes at the Nordic Training Center in Soldotna starting Monday of next week. These will be P90X workouts, and you can find a calendar in the upper right hand corner of this very blog. I’ll have more information soon. P90X is a very intense program that uses the concept of Muscle Confusion to maximize results. After the entire program, you will be in the best shape of your life. College athletes, MMA fighters, and pro athletes use P90X to become better all-around athletes. Try it. You’ll love it, but it’s not easy.

In website news, we’ve launched a new front page feature for 2012. The Essential Images: KPBSD Photo of the Day is a daily opportunity to reflect on the reason this District exists – the students. Take a look at the lower right corner of the KPBSD website, that’s why we’re here.

So, in all respects, good things are happening for 2012.

Stay tuned for a new post from me.

I’m sure it will happen first thing next year.


Justice, Pink Blades of

Posted in Sports on December 15, 2011 by Webmaster Mike

Evildoers, beware. Your nemesis is afoot. Or, afeet, perhaps more accurately. For on the eve of Tuesday I did stride ardently, festooned with what shall forever be


And evildoers did flee, rest assured, as I saw nary a reprobate, scofflaw, or politician.

As described previously, I have been limited in my skate skiing excursions by foot pain. Feet pain, more accurately, as it occurs in both of my arches. I attribute this to woefully poor technique on my part. So unsteady on the slippery bits, I grip the soles of my boots, talon-like, causing quick and drastic fatigue to my archery regions.

On Tuesday, I sought to correct this.

  • Phase 1: Tighten the bejeezus out of my boots

Thinking that if my feet had no choice but to remain immobile, they would be less inclined to attempt to clench unnecessarily. So, like a doting mother and foot binding enthusiast, I cinched up my boots. Seriously, I think they might have been air tight. Ends up that this didn’t help at all, zero blood circulation notwithstanding. While the rest of the group zoomed around in a figure eight pattern (more complicated than it sounds) I attempted to, and then threw myself to my knees in a frantic attempt to jettison myself from my boots. I thought at one point I had no choice but to call in the Jaws of Life for emergency extraction.

  • Phase 2: Loosen said boot bejeezus

After a cooling off period where I took it upon myself to actually bathe my aching feet in snow, I gingerly reinserted my southerly appendages into the boots. I attemped to glide about the figure eight pattern. Gliding, for me, is not without a great gnashing of teeth and flailing appendages, but my feet did feel better. I did however feel quite tenuous in my position, and thought that any sudden movements would seek to separate me from my boots and therefore the crime-fighting PBoJs. And we can’t have that, can we?

So, after five laps on the Green (MOOOOOSE TRAIL (an O for every lap)) Course, resting my feet with frequent double poling, which helped my recovery, I got my heart rate up and even started to feel confident that I might have solved the foot puzzle. Oh, and a quick note about the PBoJs: They’re fast. Very fast. Nigh breathtakingly fast. Consider yourself warned.

I finished with my four laps on my favorite straight up and straight down sprint course (while enduring the puzzled “What is wrong with you, why on earth are you doing that?” looks from my fellow skiers) and called it a night.

Looking forward to a few nights of fentoozling to break up the hectic pace of skate skiing, but will remain forever vigilant in thwarting the evildoings of evildoers, particularly politicians.


Skantoozle Part Deuxzle.

Posted in Sports on December 7, 2011 by Webmaster Mike

They looked askance at their surroundings. A bleak, flat desolation stared silently back. They were alone with the horizon, glass-black and solid, immutable. Polished mercilessly by the wind, their collective fear multiplied.

So anyway, yeah, Skate Night. The ground was hard. Not ice hard, more like polished granite. And the wind had burnished every surface into a crusty, slick mess. So, perfect for skiing, right? Actually, the conditions were really fast, unless you went off the groomed trails, where the frozen sheets would yield not at all, and off into the hinterlands you would plunge. I found that out the hard way. I have been having trouble with my feet when I skate ski. Last night’s session was the worst it’s ever been. I believe it’s a technique related occurence, as the pain seems to be mitigated when I push off correctly, which is at least 0.00002% of the time. The rest of the time, however, is not much fun. It is rather demoralizing when I want to get exercise and I have to rest my feet after 4 continuous minutes of skiing. I would rather the limiting reagent of my exercise be my lungs or legs, and not something as pedestrian (heh) as my arches.

But I’m working through it. I believe Thursday will be another skate night unless conditions change dramatically, so we shall see.

In the interim, I will dream of pain free skating and glorious fentoozling.


Skate, Fentoozle – Skantoozle?

Posted in Sports on December 7, 2011 by Webmaster Mike

They didn’t know. They couldn’t possibly. Air movements in the upper atmosphere conspired, and had chosen their fate. The leader spoke, his eyes red from elemental exposure, eyes full of a lifetime of physical labor, beset by the sharp cold and biting wind.

“Today is the day. Let’s do Wolf.”

Their fate was sealed. The day could only end one way.


So, anyway, that’s how my recollection of Thursday went. It had warmed up a touch. A lot, actually. Classic skiing afoot, our group did drills in the increasingly-squishy snow, thanks to the warming trend. The drills, mostly balance and glide drills, bolstered my confidence, but I wasn’t quite ready for the Wolf. Turns out I didn’t have a choice. After the lesson, I got wrangled into going on the Wolf by Coach Kjell. The Wolf is also known as the “Blue Course,” and I have no idea what that means. Perhaps it’s a similar convention to downhill skiing, where blue is intermediate, green is beginner, and black is difficult. The Wolf trail is decidedly intermediate. A good distance with many hills and turns, it is lengthy and challenging. But hey, I’d been classic skiing for a whole week, so I’d be good to go, right? And I was, surprisingly. I did have the added disadvantage of terrible technique. Whereas Kjell glides up and down the hills, I struggle and grunt. I know my borrowed skis are partly to blame, because he let me try his for a bit. I was actually able to pass him downhill with his skis. Unbelievable. But, I suppose if you make Usain Bolt wear shoes made out of depleted uranium, I might stand a chance to outrun him. After we completed the entire Wolf, we did a loop around the soccer field (football pitch, for my readers overseas) and then went to look for the other people in the class, who had gone in different directions. So, we went up Wolf backward. Not like moonwalking up, but just doing the course in reverse. We also did Beaver trail (my time trial favorite) backward, and then I staggered out back to the wax shed. In a brief time, I had more than doubled my cumulative distance on skis, and all in one swell foop.

At that point I felt remarkably confident about my fentoozling ability.

The weekend passed with a skiing hiatus.

And then Tuesday Skate Class happened.

To be continued.