Oh Happy Day

Wowie, 2016 is here! While the new year is a time for resolutions, I think it’s also a good time for reflections. I thought it would be a fun activity to try and recall some of my favorite activities/adventures throughout my life so far, and capture my top 10 in an official list. It was hard to narrow it down to 10, but as of today this is what made the list (in no particular order):

1.) Soccer, soccer and more soccer
I was a soccer kid growing up, eventually playing year-round from about age 4 to 18.

Stylish soccer kids. I’m the kid rocking the Bucky sweatshirt.
Happy champions!
Soccer is where I got the nickname Train. Where I started my acting career. Where I made friends who were cool enough to huddle around me so I could fix my wardrobe malfunction when I realized my shorts were inside out. Where I suffered a major ankle sprain but was able to see my Grandpa who was a doctor one last time before his death (otherwise I wouldn’t have). Where we could compete with players from around the world at the Schwan’s USA Cup. And where we could rock the sexiest shin guard tan ever.
2.) Klettersteig
The Klettersteig in Switzerland is where I came face to face with my fear of heights. I was adventuring with my swiss sis (Daniela) and swiss dad (Fredy), so I was in good hands. All we needed was a helmet, a climbing belt with 2 carabiner hooks, and a glass of courage. Pictures best tell this story.

Remain calm and peaceful as we hike towards that “big hill”
The beast we had to climb
Hey-O
And up we go. Do not look down.
Are you properly secured? The sign asks. I sure hope so…
Amazing views
Bridge walk
Yeah, this is when I thought my life was legitimately in danger.

It was all so much fun that I ended up doing it a year later. And I know I’ll do it again someday.


3.) Tandem skiing
I’m surprised that I’m not dead yet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the light thanks to the tandem skis my friend Annie and I created. It’s good to live a little dangerously. The idea started when we had a cross country ski meet at Eagle Lake. Annie was sick during that meet, but insisted on coming to cheer. She happened to hop on the back of my skis, and then we got that aha moment. What if we could ski together? On the same pair of skis? We were inseparable at the time, so this seemed like a logical idea. We ended up finding a ridiculously long pair of cross country skis in our ski shed and took them to Pioneer Midwest. When we asked them to attach two pairs of bindings, I swear they looked at us like we were nuts. And we were. You may be asking, “what happens when you fall?” Well, the person in front (me) falls straight forward, and the person in back (Annie) falls straight back. In other words, we’ve become intimate with many trees. I would NOT recommend this to any married couples. Yes, there is a lot of arguing and communication becomes very important. You don’t talk= you don’t move.
We ended up actually racing in these babies. I recall two races. The first was at Maplelag, and I remember that there were too many hills and too many sharp turns. We actually had to take our skis off and walk down one of the hills because otherwise we would’ve ended up on the pond/lake (hitting a few small trees along the way). This was the race that my dad was charged with videotaping us. He did videotape us; however, he forgot to take the lens cover off :P. To this day, we have no video footage.
The second race I remember was the Pepsi Challenge 10K race up in Biwabik. The most vivid memory is us flying at supersonic speed down one of the hills yelling “TRACK” (because there was NO way we were going to step out). The young boy we passed looked back with terror in his eyes. This was the race we were actually awarded most enthusiastic female AND male skier. Yeah, never thought that would happen.
Currently, the tandem skis are out of commission– they’ve been broken two times already from all the strain. And each time, the bindings have to come a little closer, so it’s a little too uncomfortably close at this point to fix yet again. Plus, I don’t think my bones could handle a harsh fall or collision.

Matchy matchy on the tandem skis
4.) The infamous nordic ski state relay mishap
I’m pretty sure my house is going to get egged after I share this story (Annie, please don’t kill me). So I hear open water swim starts can get pretty crazy. You know what might be crazier? This. We were at Giant’s Ridge at our MN High School State relay, and Annie was kicking us off as leg #1. It was a mass start, and everyone was already a little too close for comfort. At the end of the starting stretch, all of a sudden half the skiers went down. It turns out Annie fell down and took out half the field. And everyone could easily pick her out of the crowd because she was the only one wearing the most tight-fitting Finding Nemo underwear on her head with crazy sunglasses. Meanwhile, our captain witnessed the entire ordeal and was laughing his head off. I would kill to find someone who caught this on camera.

OMG. That underwear is tight!
5.) Coaching high school cross country
I never thought I would ever get so much satisfaction out of coaching, but just like teaching it was one of the most rewarding, awesome experiences. If I didn’t have to work so much, or if Fredy dog could actually bring home a paycheck (herding sheep perhaps?), then I might consider another coaching position. A bonus to coaching was that I was in the greatest fitness shape I’ve ever been in thanks to running workouts with all those baby faced fast kids!
6.) Boundary waters winter camping adventure
As part of our high school class “Outdoor Adventures” we went winter camping in the Boundary Waters for a few days. It was quite the experience! I was a member of Team Thaw (three girls + 1 boy), and together we planned and prepared meals, sat by the fire and told stories, hiked portages, and made quinzee homes. My favorite part of the trip was the 8 hour snowshoe hike that we went on using our handmade wooden snowshoes! We somehow survived the adventure and had a great time.

Team thaw girls home (quinzee) just feet away from wolf tracks

 

7.) Adventuring on Vrenelisgäertli
This is another story best told with pictures. Especially, since this was already mentioned in a previous post…

We got off the bus and started hiking. The cottage is somewhere up there…  The building in the foreground is a restaurant.
We arrived at the cottage (during the daytime) and ate supper together and played games before going to bed. This is the only sad picture of the cottage I have…

And then it was bedtime. But let’s be honest. It was impossible to sleep in the bunks where we had to sleep shoulder to shoulder and there were snores all around. Note to self: bring earplugs next time.

I’m going to skip time a little, since some of the pictures are super bad. We woke up suppppper early and it was raining. We toughed it out and started our hike anyways. Eventually, we reached the glacier so we had to put on our ice spike shoes or whatever you call them. And four of us were tied together in case someone a.) slipped, or b.) fell in the gaping hole in the earth…

One wrong step and you fall down, way down.
Looking down the glacier at the distance we had already traveled.
Yeah, we had to go down near the top…
We made it to the top!
We tried to book it down the mountain since it had started raining
We stopped at the cottage, but everyone spoke in German (and my vocabulary is limited), so I hiked down alone.

The hike down was rough. It was rainy, it was slippery and it was cold. Pout, pout, pout. Remember that restaurant in the first picture? I was beyond happy to have made it there, and we all gathered there for some warm food post-hike.


8.) Dairyland Dare 100K Bike Ride– The First Time
I’ve always liked biking, but I never thought I would enjoy biking as much as I do now.

Cute pink bike phase of my life

I think it was the road bike that did me in, which I started riding after high school. It’s amazing how exhilarating it feels to cruise at high speed with minimal effort. I’ll always remember the first long race I did, which was a 100K bike ride that began in hilly Dodgeville, WI. And believe me, it was hilly. Here was the elevation profile:

Thankfully, they had excellent rest stops and we weren’t actually racing. Otherwise, I think I would’ve died because I wasn’t in super great shape. The challenge wasn’t enough to keep me away though. I’m planning on doing it again this summer, and look forward to every single one of those hills ;)!

 

9.) Night skiing
Night skiing is one of the most peaceful activities ever. It’s a chance where you can escape from all the lights, and experience the most deafening yet peaceful stillness. It can be dangerous too, especially when you’re a newbie skier. And when your coach takes you on some extreme trails. At the time, I had only been on my skate skis a few times. We went on the Silver course at Giant’s Ridge and started climbing Triple Threat. After Triple Threat it’s amazing that any of us newbies survived because post-Triple Threat there were lots of winding trails and some descents where you’d get that roller coaster stomach drop sensation. We all survived though and the sense of accomplishment after skiing that difficult course (in the dark) was remarkable.

Flying down the Northern Lights– imagine this at night.
10.) 1st Annual Donut Mile: My stomach hurts just recalling this event. Not my proudest moment, but definitely memorable. Yes, yes, memorable. If I were to describe it in one word, I would say “disgusting.” Some of you may previously recall, I described it as “glory.” Well, I actually meant disgusting. The challenge went something like this: eat a donut, run 1/4 mile, eat a donut, run 1/4 mile, eat a donut, run 1/4 mile, eat a donut, run 1/4 mile. All donuts had to be eaten within the transition area, but we were allowed to leave the transition area once the donut was out of our hands. So in other words, we could run with donut still in our mouths. It was our NYE special event at our running intervals class at the YWCA. I was originally signed up to do the 1/2 donut challenge; however, I felt peer pressured to do the full challenge. So what the hell, why not? First of all, we all showed up at the track and everything looked a little too official for what we thought was supposed to be a fun run. There was a camera set up at the finish line–whether this camera was actually working, I’m not sure… We had two official timers with stopwatches and clipboards. A few trash cans were set out along the outside of the track (none were used, thankfully), and the donuts were all placed on a table by the transition area. And these glazed donuts were HUGE. Some of the biggest glazed donuts I’ve seen around. Everyone seemed to be hyped up pre-race. I may or may not have said “you’re going down” to a few people, and in return I got “I’m going to punch you in the stomach,” and “I’m going to trip you” (cough, cough, cough, Tom). It was all part of the fun.
One bad thing about doing the full donut challenge is that we had to watch the half donut challenge before we could start. Blah. We were all sick before we even took our first bite. Then it was our turn… We stepped up to the transition area with our first donut in hand, and then all of a sudden we were starting. If I eat a donut, I like to savour it. Well, there was no time for this. Gobble, gobble, gobble, RUN (and gobble). Let me tell you, the killer was the fact that I was still eating my donut while running and sometimes after I had run 1/4 of a mile and was reaching for my next donut. Being a food scientist and dealing with the fact that I do quite a bit of flavor work in my everyday job, I caught myself analyzing the flavor profile of the donut, something not cool while physically exerting oneself –> Sweet, powdery sugar. Oily, so oily. Maybe slightly old, oxidized oil? Maybe they should throw that out. Flour. And is that a bit of lemon? Apparently, every time that we grabbed a new donut, we all had this look of terror on our faces like the donut was going to kill us. Well, it did, I mean they did in the end. I finished in 10:18 and was 3rd overall. Much too fast for a mile run, and consuming 4 donuts. Let’s just say that I got home, went straight upstairs and passed out for a few hours (in my jacket, hat and scarf). And I felt miserable the rest of the day. No more donuts for me in the foreseeable future…  This may be a great method for combating food addictions.
Pictured with 1st and 2nd place. No way I could even compete with them… They put me to shame.
As cheesy as it sounds, I look forward to what 2016 has in store. Some great memories to add to the list, I’m sure! Channel your inner kid and keep it fun (and happy)!

I’m an official balloon popper champion

 

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