Editor’s Note: More than 5,000 skiers will take the start line on Saturday for the 40th annual American Birkebeiner, the 50-kilometer ski race from Cable to Hayward. Ben Poston may be the only one of them who trained in Los Angeles.
It’s still on. The Birkie, that is.
I’m not in the best shape of my life, but I’m going to go ahead and ski the full Birkie anyway. I can’t be the first person to have woefully under trained, can I?
My training so far includes seven days of actual skiing.
I’ve been up to the trails around Mammoth Mountain in the Sierra Mountain Range twice. The ski trails there at Tamarack Lodge provide serene views of mountain lakes and the Sierras. The 8,000-foot elevation makes everything a bit more challenging, but I adjusted somewhat. The key is to stay hydrated – my triceps were worthless for two days after I skied there last.
I also skied once at Rim Nordic near Big Bear Lake (where authorities chased suspected cop killer Christopher Dorner). Rim Nordic is only two hours east of L.A., but it’s been a warm winter and they have gone weeks without good snow.
The rest of my training regimen includes climbing the mountains of Griffith Park in Los Angeles on my road bike, along with gym workouts. I’ve been riding to work every day on Sunset Boulevard, from Los Feliz to downtown. It’s a 10-mile round trip with rolling hills, and it has kept me honest. I’ve also done a few 30-mile bike rides and night with organized groups west to the Pacific coast or the Hollywood Hills. These groups ride at night because traffic is so congested during the day.
I went to the Birkie web site last week and had to laugh. I read the suggested training regimen for skiers in waves one to five. It involved lots of skiing, like several hours one day and 20 to 40 kilometers another day. Oh boy.
Here’s my game plan: I’m going to start at the very back of the wave and really try to pace myself the first half of the race. I can’t go out at my normal pace or I’ll bonk. I have experience in this respect from running half-marathons, and I like to think I know the limits of my 33-year-old body. My goal is to finish in a respectable time, also known as not embarrassing myself.
That said, if I hit Highway OO and am feeling strong, I’ll just turn it on and see what this engine is capable of. Either way, I can’t wait to ski down Main Street in Hayward. See you at the Birkie!
Ben Poston learned to Nordic Ski during his five-year stint as a reporter and editor with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Ohio native recently took his database skills and his skis to Los Angeles, where he is training for the 2013 American Birkebeiner.