I bought those roller-skis that you see people using on the park paths all around Minneapolis a few weeks ago. I'm still pretty uncoordinated, but the learning curve is quite steep. After only 7 or 8 training sessions, I didn't fall at all this week! The American Birkebeiner is the race I will attempt - it's Feb 24th, 2007. It's 51 kilometers (30-some-odd miles). I'll be 45 and this will be my first x/c ski event ever.
The legend (as I understand it) is this: the infant King of Norway was about to be killed by his uncle, who was trying to steal the throne. So a group of birkebeiners ("skiers"?) skied in with their swords and shields, rescued the infant, and he became the rightful King of Norway. I have no idea when or if this happened in real history, but 9,000 other believers and I will ski in this infant-king's honor in just 3 months...
To this day, there are Birkebeiner races in several countries all over the world. Several die-hards actually do the whole race on wooden skies, brandishing real swords and shields. They carry fake babies in back-packs most of the race, then switch them for real babies for the last mile or so. After the babies cross the finish line, a giant Norwegian Drunken-fest is launched for the 9,000-odd skiers. That was all I needed to hear. Drunken-anything is a good enough event for me and my pals. We signed up before we actually bought any of the equipment. Which, by the way, is kind of pricey!!!
We don't have any snow yet, but it's only November 11th in Minnesota.... I'd kind of like to see what it's like on skis rather than my roller-skate-skis... but I guess we all have to wait.
My coach, John, has been working with me weekly, and I am gaining both skill and confidence out on the park paths. Just so you know, John has his own struggles. In May he learned of his stage 3.5 of 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He reminds me of Lance Armstrong - he is standing strong and standing down cancer. It is so inspiring just to be around him; I doubt he realizes that. Sometimes I forget he's sick because he looks so "normal". On occasion, he's really tired, but shows up for me at practice anyway. I ran my 20th marathon last month as a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He needs a cure, bad. He has two little girls under 3, and a lovely, funny, fun-loving wife.
So those of you following my ski adventure, I ask you to please pray for John. Everytime you read my blog, please pause and mention John to Him.