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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.


With the new snow, this morning’s P90X class was nearly rebranded as “P-Shovel-for-90-Minutes-So-Mike-Can-Leave-The-Driveway-X.”

Posted in P90X, Thought of the Day on February 27, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

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.


Considering how many people in my exercise class work in Data Processing, I’m thinking it should be called “DP90X.”

Posted in Thought of the Day on February 13, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

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.


After today’s leg workout, if I tried to go downstairs, my steps would quickly devolve into what would best be described as “Out of control Slinky.”

I should really wear a helmet.

Posted in P90X, Thought of the Day on January 25, 2012 by Webmaster Mike


Posted in P90X on January 23, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

After a great yoga session today, we’re over halfway done with our first round (of 13) of P90X. Next up, on Wednesday, is Legs & Back and Ab Ripper X. I hope you can make it. You’ll be sore, but it will be so worth it.

We’ve had a lot of good things going on at the Peninsula Nordic Training Center; we have waived the Beachbody weekly fee so your total cost per month is just $59.99 plus tax. We’ve only just begun, so a late start won’t hurt too bad. Get in touch with me or just show up! Classes are MWF, 6-7:30 am at the Peninsula Nordic Training Center, 362 Tyee St. Soldotna, AK 99669.

Remember to have a look at the P90X Calendaria in the upper right of this blog.

We have recently acquired a great selection of new, heavier dumbbells, and a vast array of resistance bands to help you get the most from P90X. We have hot showers, towels, lockers, yoga mats and blocks, and all sorts of other things to get you in shape and to work on time.

Now’s your chance to get Supersonic X-Style Fit before summer.

See you there.


I like to play games with myself to keep things interesting. Today, I played “Let’s See If I Can Put on Shoes That Are -24 Degrees Because I Cleverly Left Them in the Car.”

Posted in Thought of the Day on January 17, 2012 by Webmaster Mike

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!