MarathonsRacingOne Eye on the Vasa

FasterSkier FasterSkierFebruary 23, 20102

I’m headed to Sweden to ski race! I have dreamed of doing a big Scandinavian race for years, with the Swedish Vasaloppet or the Norwegian Birkebeiner at the top of my wish list.

This year’s Masters World Cup (MWC) seems the perfect fit. The MWC is in Falun, Sweden, and wraps up just as the Vasa week begins. My wife, Stefani, and I will head to Falun, race three times at the MWC, and wrap up our trip with a 90K classic race through the Swedish countryside.

If I could just blink my right eye, I would be really excited.

Both Eyes Open

A week ago, I developed Bell’s Palsy, and currently am paralyzed on the right side of my face. Chewing and drinking are a struggle. My speech is slurred. When I need to blink I have to reach up and pinch my eye shut with my fingers. I tape my eye shut at night, as it would stay open all night otherwise. There is still plenty to laugh and smile about, but now when I do, my nose points hard to the left.

Keeping weight on, always an issue for me during long winter days of work outside, has been the big focus of the past week. How I miss my multiple daily pb&j sandwiches

Most people eventually regain muscle control, although it can take up to six months. I can expect little change in the next few weeks. I can still ski, but vision is challenging. My first race is a 30K classic next Saturday. Here’s guessing that I will need to blink once or twice in 30K. I doubt my face will yet be up to the task.

Both eyes shut. Really!

But I can’t wait to line up for that first Swedish race! The ski season is so short that every start is a gift. Life is full of reminders that things don’t always go the way we would choose. So I start the race with a droopy face, knowing that I will have to slow or stop repeatedly to close my eye. I couldn’t be more grateful. We all know someone who can no longer line up, and would trade places with me in a heartbeat.

I love being outside in the winter, on skis, immersed in the Nordic world. It is going to take more than Bell’s Palsy to keep me away from that.

I’m headed to Sweden to ski race!

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