Birkie Recap 2014

One word, BRUTAL!!!!

This time of year I write quite a bit about one of my favorite passions and that is the American Birkie, North America’s largest cross country ski race.  I try to inspire you to take action in your own life with great exercise, nutrition, and positive thoughts so you can live the life of your dreams.

I’ve trained with Duane Lee and Dave Leske the past 365 days for this one event.  While the American Birkbeiner doesn’t define me as a whole, it gives you a good test of your conditioning and skiing ability since it is the hardest x-ski marathon course in the world.

Dave, Duane, and myself meet every Tuesday for a run, roller ski, or ski in the winter.  We do specific workouts for strength, conditioning, and interval training to get us fast for the race.  Well, everything we had trained for in thought and in action went out the door the first kilometer of the race.

15 inches of snow the day before and I knew it was going to be a slow, difficult race conditions.  Well, in my 22 years of racing I knew right away that this was one that I had to be mentally as strong as I could be,  to make it to the finish line.

2014 Birkie finisher

At the 15 kilometer mark my left hamstring was already cramping.  If I do cramp it’s not usually until the last kilometer of the race.  I had 39 more to go!!

In Seeley at the half way point I felt like I had been out there a lifetime.  I fueled big time with anything I could get in my mouth.  Banana’s, goo, energy drink, water, you name it I drank or ate it. What kept me inspired was all the people cheering!!

The second half of the race the ski’s started working better.  I found that the skate lane was faster skiing on the uphills than the classic track which was deteriorating and very soft.  It seemed to warm up a bit and my energy was better.

I started passing people who passed me like I was standing still the first half of the race.  I ran into Dave Leske at the mosquito brooke water stop and he was having a great race.  There was 14 kilometers to go and 4 major hill climbs left.  Somehoe those skied relatively easy for me and I knew I could make it in.

When I crossed highway 77 for the last long climb of day I was thinking about my good friend Dave Landgraf, a Birkie founder who  tragically lost his life in a bike accident a couple years back.  The Birkie foundation has a nice memorial marker on top of that hill.  As you get to the top of that hill you can see Hayward and the incredible view.  A long downhill to the lake then just 3 miles across the lake to downtown Hayward.!

As I got on the lake you could feel the winds out of the west.  The skiers ahead of me looked like they were standing still. Every year there is a group of people who give jagermeister shots out to skiers.  I actually stopped and had her throw one down my throat.  It actually was the only thing that felt warm all day. The lake was miserable trying to cross.

Finally mainstreet Hayward.  The crowd was going crazy and one last hard push and this 2014 Birkie was over.  I have never wanted to be so done with a race as this one.  I got my ski’s off and changed as quickly as possible.  Off to Angler’s to start telling stories of carnage.

Congrats to all my patients who did the Birkie!!  Congrats to Caitlin Compton who won the Birkie for the women.  It’s her 3rd time winning.  She has stayed at our house and been adjusted and done ARP wave therapy at our clinic for her sports injuries.  Congrats to her husband brian Gregg making this years Olympics and competing in Soshi.  What an incredible accomplishment. Kind of fun training with 2 olympians right here in the St. Croix Valley.

So that’s it for this years wrap up.  The lesson I learned was to just hang in there when the going gets tough. I am proud of my efforts and placing 190th in hte Classical Birkie, not to bad when I was feeling so bad that first half.

The best part of doing the Birkie is seeing all the people who you may only see once a year.  It’s a pretty cool commmunity of people, and they are passionate about the Birkie.  Who want’s to give it a shot next year.  It changed my life 25 years ago when I started doing these.  It’s never to late to start something new.  What ever you decide to do, just take action!!

P.S.  A big thanks goes out to Audrey Yunker for letting us stay up at her cabin.  Sure miss not having Bruce around.

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