humans on skis

January 7, 2011

Today I skied 5 kilometers as fast as I could. It’s a strange feeling, going as fast as you can (for an extended period of time) – after crossing the finish line I couldn’t stand up straight, my eyes rolled to the back of my head, I gasped for air like a fish flopping on a beach. Dramatic, I know, but very true.

But then, after a few moments of knowing that I’ll never, ever be able to move again, I start to feel a bit better. And with a little more time, I feel absolutely fine. Weird. But cool. The human body is designed for endurance. It’s absolutely amazing what we can do.

The fastest nordic skiers in the US have come to western Maine to race in the US Nationals this week. Luckily for the Gould team, the races are being held in Rumford, ME, (only a 1/2 hr drive away) so we’re competing too! We’ve raced 3 times this week, and we’ll finish on Saturday with a skate sprint.

I’ve long been a fan of being human (we’ve got a lot going for us, opposable thumbs for example), and this week the idea has been confirmed for me. After I race my absolute hardest, I turn around and watch olympians hammer out the same race I just did, but minutes faster. That’s what I’m getting at – humans can train to be super strong and wicked fast. And what other organisms use tools to the extent that we do, strapping skis to our feet and poles to our hands so we can glide on the snow? So next time I’m feeling down for not being able to fly like an eagle or glow in the dark like a phosphorescent jellyfish, I’ll remember US ski team members eating up giant hills and sprinting, as if for their lives, to the finish line.

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