Thanks to two gurus — a training session with Laurie's masters' group, and waxing guidance from Gary — I had a good race. In fact, it turns out that, all along, I was meant to be a classic specialist, just like Kris Freeman. I was really looking forward to concentrating only on heart rate, not time; I blew up in the first race by stupidly getting my heart rate into the 160s on the first lap and never dialing it back. So the plan this time around was to do the first half in the 150s and only then throw down the hammer. Only problem is ... a few days before the race, after 6 years, I finally lost my cherished Garmin 405, my most trusted and wonderful companion after J. Rest in peace mint green 405. So I had no choice but to go out and just ski reasonably hard and let the chips fall. I didn't manage to ski as fast as Gary, but for the first time ever, I beat Dru and Paul, which I take as a significant accomplishment. (I mean, Paul's son in a junior national Nordic Combined skier, so those are some serious genes.) During the race I couldn't tell where I was in my age group, and I thought I had a shot at a medal when I learned at the finish line that the pack I chased unsuccessfully the last 4k was full of 30-somethings ... but in the end it was 4th place for me. But it felt great to be back on the age-group podium bubble -- without any back pain.
Obviously a 4th place age group finish called for some beers, and as luck would have it, the night after the race (and after our Kuchenpause) was guys' cabin night. What could me more manly that drinking 11 percent beer in front of taxidermy (and a great barley wine in Cockeyed Cooper at that)?
Except maybe sharing salads beforehand with a bunch of Utah 3.2 beers?
Apologies, Cedar, for an old joke, but that's some sweet radicchio.
By the time we rolled into the nearby town the next morning for our espressos we were seasoned badasses.
Hide the women and children.
Soon thereafter it was time to head back — as in back to Kansas. It's good to be back in the land of 60 degrees at 3 pm + 40 mile per hour winds come through = 7 degrees the next morning (which is what's happening as I type). Of course, Manhattan always takes some getting used to after breaks. It's not many places where college students sit in coffee shops and, seriously (Jane, I feel like using CAPS), stream Fox News while simultaneously reading Reagan, In his Own Hand. I mean, who could make that up? I almost had visual evidence, but he started reading his Reagan book just before I snapped the photo. I had no chance to ask him about the consumption function.
And you thought I was partisan. Anyone out there make a point of watching Rachel Maddow while reading
Speaking of the need to mitigate hyper and over-the-top partisanship, thank you to everyone who has Facebook liked my friend and office-mate Jim Sherow's congressional exploratory page. If you haven't liked his page, I promise he won't spam you with lots of content, so click here. If you can afford to donate, go here. And if you want to read more about Jim, please read my previous entry.
The above isn't going to win any entry of the year awards, so I think I'll leave you with a guaranteed crowd pleaser: one of the best-ever photos of Gigi. I dare you not to be in a better mood now.