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Archive for March, 2011

How (And Why) To Grow A Beard

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

“How do I grow a beard??”

Believe it or not, as a coach I get this question frequently. Okay, so I’ve got it at least twice. And maybe from the same athlete. But regardless, some people think growing beards is sweet. I tend to agree.

So without any further rambling, I present the Kieran Jones guide to beard growing.

1.       Shave your face. This may seem a little silly, seeing as you’re trying to grow a beard, not take one off, but it’s a mental thing. If you start clean-shaven, then everything else seems like an accomplishment, even if it’s not.

2.       Set some goals. What do you want? A moustache? A neck beard? Some chops? Handlebars? Google>Images that sh*t, and save the best one as your desk top background.

3.       Talk to all your friends about how sweet your beard is going to be. This is so you can’t back down after a couple of days of greasy fuzz and itchiness. If you tell people, they’ll mock your lack of nuts if you fail. And if you fail to grow a beard, your man (or woman, equality and all that) cred goes down the drain fast.

4.       Think really hard about hair coming out of your face. This is probably the most important step. You have to convince your face that growing hair is a good idea. It may seem slightly ridiculous, but trust me, all the best beard growers do it.

5.       Wait.

6.       Check mirror, run hand over face. Recommend you do this after 2 weeks to 1 month to see best results.

7.       Wear proudly to as many functions, events, weddings, semi-formal dances as you possibly can. There is literally no point in having a beard unless you’re prepared to show it off.

There you have it. Beard growing in seven easy steps. Do it and you’ll be a hero.

“But wait!” you cry. “Kieran, why would I even WANT a beard?”

Terrible question. But easy to answer. There are a few good reasons to grow a beard, such as:

–          Disguise. I recently picked my sister up from the airport. I had a two month beard. She didn’t recognize me.

–          General bad-assery. Think about all the big dudes in history. Then think about their facial hair. Abraham Lincoln: beard. Chuck Norris: beard. Josef Stalin: crazy moustache. Andy Newell: bearded on occasion. You think it’s a coincidence all these guys are legends and have facial hair? No. Think my four examples are weak sauce? Head over to The National Beard Registry for a few more. (Disclaimer: having a beard will not automatically make you awesome, but it will improve your chances.)

–          Protection. In the middle of winter, the beard performs the same function as a neck warmer. It reduces the amount of face exposed to windburn, frostbite, and people flailing their poles in the mass start at the Birkie. In the summer, it may be hot, but it protects against sunburns, and provides an extra layer of cushion for your face when you do the inevitable face-plant on your bike/rollerskis/running shoes/Razor scooter. (Again, disclaimer: FasterSkier is in no way responsible for your windburn/frostbite/stab wound/sun burn/facial lacerations while you are in possession of a beard. If any of the aforementioned happened, you clearly need a better beard. I am not a medical professional.)

So, there you have it – how to grow a beard and why to grow a beard. Do it up.

Canadian Nationals: I May Have Actually Learned Something

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Canadian Nationals. It’s over.

As you can tell, my initial goal of posting something every day failed massively. It was a pretty busy couple of weeks, that involved waxing a lot of skis, drinking a lot of coffee, and in general keeping things under control.

This was my first time at Nationals as a coach rather than an athlete, and I learned a whole lot about ‘the other side of the fence’ as it is called. And it’s pretty cool.

Just some of the things I noticed:

–          Feeding as a coach is just as important as feeding as an athlete. I forgot to make a lunch one day, and after 6 hours with nothing more than a granola bar and an apple, I was scraping about one ski every 20 minutes.

Best lunch of the week - burg and fries from the cafe at the Nordic Center. Made the afternoon survivable.

–          I appreciate the organizers decision to split the sprint day into Senior and Junior Men/Women, and then Junior/Juvenile Boys girls, because it meant that each individual day was shorter, but putting the three classic days in a row sucks for coaches.

–          Getting a sunburn at a ski race is possible. Getting sunburned every single day is impressive.

–          When I worked on a pipeline, you had to be clean shaven so if you had to put your oxygen mask on in a hurry, the seal would be tight. I’m pretty sure wax rooms should have the same rules, because my beard definitely made my mask no longer air-tight. You know when you can still smell wax remover through a mask, it’s not doing the right job.

–          Napping is crucial to success. Finding time to nap is nearly impossible.

–          Just about everybody has a different way to powder a ski. And they all think their way is THE way.

–          If you think it’s messy to klister one pair of skis, imagine klistering 23 pairs. With multiple layers. Three consecutive days

–          I don’t know who was doing the shopping for our trip, but I haven’t eaten as many Oreos and Nutella in my life as I have the past week.

–          The Alpine Club of Canada knows how to pack people in. And advertise for vehicles.

Probably the best advertising I have ever seen. They sure convinced me...

–          Honey Nut Cheerios are excellent for breakfast, but oatmeal takes you a lot further in your morning.

–          I would say well over 50% of the pictures I have from Nationals are of me eating, because that’s the only time when you could take out the camera for a leisurely picture.

–          Personal space was roughly non-existent. It now feels weird to do just about anything alone.

–          Standing around in the wax room does nothing to acclimatize you to altitude. I went out Friday and skied the 10 k that the Open men did 5 times for the 50, and about 2.5 k in I felt like puking my guts out.

–          Coaching is without a doubt harder than being an athlete over the course of the week, but when I saw my athletes suffering through the team sprint the first Saturday, it was tough to think of it that way.

–          When someone says “I bought laundry detergent, feel free to do some laundry” you can either interpret it as ‘you stink’ or a helpful suggestion. I assumed helpful suggestion.

–          The difference between looking badass in the wax room and looking like a moron is personal opinion.

–          When frustrated, throwing your sunglasses into a snowbank is a poor idea, but that’s a story for another day.

–          Using RaceSplitter makes giving splits easy, until you’re using it on a tiny iPod screen, you have 12 Junior boys around the same speed in an 85 skier field, doing 10 k in 3×3.3 k loops.

How you know I have no shame - I think I look good in this picture.

–          Showing up with 43 incredibly talented athletes means that you pretty much have a lock on the Club Aggregate. Which we did. But I can’ really brag – I scored zero points.

–          Semi-formal means jeans and a shirt, at least as far as I am concerned.

Canadian Nationals are awesome. Full stop. And now it’s time to gear up, set up, and figure out the next 11 months of cross country skiing.

12 Days, 7 Races, 43 Athletes – Can Nationals Is ON

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Obligatory scenery shot...

Canadian National Championships. Canmore, Alberta. Day 1 of 12.

I’ll do my best to post something every day, but that’s unlikely. There’s a bit of a schedule. We have quite a few people. I’m aiming to sleep. You get the idea.

First of all, I left Ottawa this morning at 7 AM. Or at least I was supposed to. But when 55 athletes, support staff, and coaches show up to get on one plane, each with a ski bag, a monster bag, and a ton of wax equipment things go wrong. But when your group constitutes half the flight, it doesn’t leave without you, even if that means it’s 40 minutes late.

But speaking of wax equipment, due to the sweet airline rule of only 52 lbs per bag, we actually spent the first half hour in the airport dividing our 65 pound wax boxes into ski bags, duffels, and carry ons. Do you know how many tubes of Vauhti carrot make 15 lbs? Or packs of CERAF? Or Nylon brushes? Yeah, me neither, but it’s a ton. Kieran Top Tip here – best bang for your buck on weight saving is the roto-drill assembly. Slip the drill into a duffel, and fit the handle, cork, and brush in your ski bag.

Our cargo van, packed to the roof with skis. There are not even any duffels in it at this point...

And Kieran Top Tip number two- this one is multi-step. A) Make sure your duffel is slightly underweight. Pack less underwear, or leave the espresso machine at home. B) Get the airline to weigh it, tag it, and set it aside. C) Put your monster wax box on the scale, act surprised when it weighs over the limit, get them to tag it, and say you’ll move stuff to your duffel. D) Move over-amount to duffel. E) Have 30 other skiers who are possibly late for their flight push forward to check their bags. F) Take both wax box and duffel to oversize baggage, without weighing them in again. (If you represent an airline and are reading this – it is purely hypothetical, and would never work.)

After a remarkably uneventful flight – the usual snacks, snoozing, and stuffed rabbits wearing sunglasses, we landed in Calgary, Alberta.

Surprisingly – and awesomely, I might add – all the gear we loaded on the plane in Ottawa made it. After our cargo van arrived (about five sizes smaller than we anticipated) we jammed our stuff in the back, and made for Canmore, and mountains!

Thirty minutes of navigational fun, and an hour of driving later, we ended up in the Rocky Mountains at our disgusting accommodations.

We’re staying in a pretty baller spot – the Alpine Club of Canada. Big wood building, smaller, cool wooden outer-buildings, decks, common rooms, woodsy-but-still modern feel – it’s got a good atmosphere.

But room size is interesting. It’s basically a hostel, so they really cram the beds in, meaning that four grown men – and all their stuff for 12 days – are sharing two bunk beds, and an 8×10. A couple of quick observations.

–          It very quickly became apparent organization would be key. I have several good personality traits – organization may not be one of them.

–          Snoring. 4 men. 1 room. 8 nostrils. Earplugs, or make sure you’re the first guy asleep. Nuff said.

–          Clothes. Specifically wet clothes. Not much room to dry your wet ski clothes, so I’ve made the decision that I can either A) not sweat when I ski for the 12 days, or B) we’re all dead. It’s currently a toss up. Ask again on day 10.

–          Bathroom time. Our floor houses almost the entire male Nakkertok contingent. That adds up to something like 25 people. Two bathrooms. You do the math. Only time I’ve ever been thankful most of my mornings will start at 5 AM, well before any of the athletes are awake and wanting bathroom time.

Time to crash – the wax room was set up today, but tomorrow we’ll be hitting the Nordic Center full on, and I’ll be skiing for the first time in 6 days. Nothing like hitting the hard flu right before Nationals. I call it a taper.

Let’s see how it works…

(Due to internet issues, pictures will be added at later….)