After a three year hiatus from skiing the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski Marathon, I decided it was time to return. This year marks the 50th anniversary of America’s most prestigious cross-country skiing race, so I had to participate. I missed the last two races thanks to surgery on my ankle after a softball mishap; moreover, I am fully recovered.
The first stage of my Birkie training has already begun. After my ankle surgery, I kind of jumped off the wagon as far as running. I have been running consistently ever since I was captain of my high school cross-country team. Even though I fully recovered from surgery, I have yet to resume running workouts. My physical health has suffered as I have ballooned to over 230 pounds this summer.
With a new pair of adidas men’s sneakers, I began running in earnest in June. I have run 182 miles this year as of writing this post. I lost over 20 pounds, although I gained seven back on a recent trip to Croatia. Each time I run, I usually go four miles. My goal is to get up to six miles per run and lose 17 more pounds before the race in late February.
Since there is no snow in the Midwest right now, I will focus on running workouts in order to get in shape until later in the month. School lets out on December 22, and I have two weeks for winter break. There should be snow somewhere during the holidays, so I will travel to where the snow is during the break and for the weekends after the new year.
I already know the workouts have had a positive impact on my physical shape and health. As I already mentioned, I have lost 15 pounds. My improved conditioning also manifested itself on two fall hikes. One was in the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan and another was in central Illinois at the Forest Glen Preserve. I felt fantastic on these hikes and easily carried a full pack for over ten miles without feeling too tired.
Every fall, at our high school, we play a Turkey Bowl game the day before Thanksgiving Break. The teachers play the students in a hard fought game of two-hand touch. At age 52, I played for the teachers and held my own.
During fall break, I went hiking in Croatia. I spent three days at the amazing Plitvice Falls. I also did a lot walking in the capital, Zagreb, and also in the town of Split, on the Adriatic Coast. Thanks to my training in adidas shoes, I felt great for all these activities, so I am hopeful for a good race this February as I complete my 7th Birkie Marathon.
For those that do not know, the American Birkebeiner is America’s biggest and most prestigious cross-country ski race. There are several races with varying distance, but I always participate in the Classic 55 kilometer race. In 2020, my time was a dismal 6:34. Yes, that is six hours and 34 minutes. My goal is to go under six hours, which will be difficult, but I think is doable.