Well seeing as I could not make it to Lake Placid for the annual Climb to the Castle event this year and nothing real exciting has happened in my life in the last week or so I going to share a story about this years race up Whiteface Mountain. Ussually we all look to the stories of the race to see how the top guys played their cards and learn the perspective of how the win transpired to the winner. Sometimes it is nice to hear a tale of what how the experience plays out for others in the race. As such I am posting the tale of the Big Dog, a man of many talents, a myth among some circles and a knack for engaging in challenges with people he could not possibly win (as per his own admission) but saavy enough to dominate the Hoff in ping-pong. That being said he’s a heck of a guy and an engaging tale weaver.
US Ski Team Coach Zach Caldwell probably best summarized my skiing when he saw me recently saying, “Well Big Dog, you look less terrible.” This is probably also the best way to describe the day: “less terrible.” Now, having said that, I felt a lot worse than last year, but I did a lot better. A lot.
The day was not without its trials and tribulations however. In stark contrast to last year’s very carefully modulated start and controlled energy output, since I’ve done a half dozen workouts w/ really good skiers, I decided that through the property of osmosis, I must therefore also now be a good skier. This was quickly proven to be incorrect on the 75% grade up Whiteface. So while I was “in the hunt” (again, a VERY relative term) for the first mile, thinking “look out world, here comes the new and improved Big Dog.” In reality, I should have been thinking, “this is a 5 mile race, moron, pace your heavy ass or you will pay for it severely.” I’m sure you can see where this is going.
So while I was part of the “conversation” briefly, like many conversations I seem to have these days, the other participants quickly decided they preferred to have it without me. And they did. Right about mile 1, the bear came out of the woods and got me and I watch the race slowly roll up the road while I quickly pondered faking my own death, throwing myself over the side of the wall and a variety of other tactics all of which I finally decided would only make matters worse. With seemingly few remaining options, I elected to sack up, soldier on and hope for some type of lightening strike, direct meteor hit or spontaneous combustion. No such luck though, as I was forced to ski the whole damn thing.
Contrary to popular belief, however, I do possess a modicum of fitness and enough race experience to know not only when I’m in trouble but also a little bit about how to get out of it. So I did my best to stop the bleeding, stay ahead of the real bozo group and focus on how much I hate all of you. That seemed to help too, as slowly but surely I began to feel a bit better, probably about mile 3. So for those of you keeping score at home, that equates to two VERY miserable, slow, plodding, floppy, sloppy, disgraceful miles filled w/ anger, self-loathing and lots of introspection into how my life has gone so horribly wrong.
In stark contrast to last year, where it was absurdly easy to keep track of the dreaded DFL (I had solid visual contact on this spot for a disturbingly long time last year), this year I was skiing in a slightly less pathetic pack which made it a little bit more difficult to assess my relative position and status. Once I started to get in trouble, I was concerned that I may have been taking tickets, though I wasn’t sure. I didn’t think I was, but again, I was focused on holding onto wheels, not on what was happening behind me, so once I lost the last week of the last member of the Bad News Bears sequel, Spring Training, it was anyone’s guess how many, if any, playas were behind me. I had a notion that things were going better once I A.) started to ski better (turns out that is important in ski racing) and B.) Started to feel better (turns out this is also quite important), and I actually started passing some of the girls (that didn’t happen last year at all).
In the end, I was 14 mins faster than last year. I’m no ski coach and I’m barely a ski racer, but I think that’s good. Since last year I managed to only narrowly avert disaster and squeak out a win over one cardiac-impaired participant, this year’s goal was to beat two people – I did that and more: A lot more, beating somewhere like 5 dudes and lots of women. I think I technically beat a few of them last year, but they start ten minutes ahead and I have too much dignity to comb the results vainly searching for victories over 15 year old girls. This year I was mowing them down on course, even with their Tompkins-irritating 10 min lead. Plus, as the Captain likes to say, “A kill is a kill.” I suppose the BD version is, “A pass is a pass.”
I will say though that I feel much, much worse. I suppose that is a necessary by-product of going faster but still……WTF? How can I possible still feel this bad? Holy crap. Have I mentioned recently that this is an absolutely miserable event? I must clearly have a deep-seeded psychological problem to repeatedly subject myself to this. I should really see someone about this.
Recovering/Complaining/Gravity Hating/Buying a Motorcycle Dog