A week in Hayward

FasterSkierMarch 1, 2011

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned over the past couple weeks it would be this: “Be flexible and adaptable to unexpected changes.”

This lesson has popped up several times over the past two weeks. It all began when we were in Aspen, Colorado. After a week of beautiful sunshine, it began to dump snow the afternoon we were planning to leave for Madison, Wisconsin for our next competition. Later that evening, we were informed that the sprints that were scheduled around the Madison capitol were called off. For obvious reasons, law enforcers pulled the permit to allow cross-country ski racing to occur in the midst of 70,000 protesters! We immediately switched our plans and flew to Minneapolis instead, so we could head to Hayward, Wisconsin to begin our preparations for the Birkie the following weekend.

We enjoyed some great skiing on the pristine groomed trails of the Birkie from Cable to Hayward. Thanks to Dennis Kruse, we had nice and comfortable living conditions! The highlight of the week was visiting a bear den! And YES, there was a bear in it! I was a little hesitant to stick my head in the cave but it was exciting to see the bear in there.

George taking a peek at the bear

After a week of skiing on the birkie trail, eating a lot, and feeling good, I was ready to put the 50k course to the test. The forecast called for chilly weather, and sure enough it was!!! At the start of the race, thermometers read -10 F degrees! eeeekkk!!!! Everyone was bundled from head to toe. Unfortunately, that did not keep people from getting frostbite! The race was going well until my right contact froze and fell out at the 10k mark. While I was a little blind, at least I could see out of one eye:) As the race progressed, the temperatures did not warm up much. And then at the 40k mark, I lost my other contact! Oh great, now i really can’t see! Despite the lack of eyesight, I managed to stay in the lead pack. Once the pace really picked up in the last 3k it was difficult for me to see the trail. Unfortunately, i lost a few seconds in those last few kilometers and just barely missed the podium. I was happy with my 4th place effort. Now, I am recovering from a frostbit eye!

Birkie sprints

After a long couple days of travel, I made it back home! And the lesson I learned of “being flexible and adaptable to unexpected changes” resurfaced again this morning as I was informed that my Grandma passed away. She died a peaceful death at the age of 97! She was an amazing woman and every time I think of her she puts a smile on my face:)

Grandma De Yong and I

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