I am sure a number of you imagine that the infrequent nature of these blog postings is due to the possibility that I laboriously write them out by hand, quill and ink well at the ready, demonstrating perfect penmanship, with completed parchment sent by barge to an IT sweat factory in India where a team of low-paid "technicians" import my words into the blogspot software. Well, that isn't the case at all. With neither romance nor mystery, I type them on a now old-fashioned desktop, which requires me to sit at a desk. None of this really matters, and is just a lead-in to the fact that a calendar hangs on our wall above and to the right of my computer monitor, and since I am sitting to type out a blog post I have the opportunity to stare at it. And guess what? Spring is coming in two days. I find this a surprising revelation, because looking out our windows, I don't see flower bulbs poking out from the ground. In fact, I don't see the ground at all. Instead, it looks something like this:
And here is a view from the walk home from work last Thursday:
Let's just say that I am having trouble believing that come next Tuesday, all that snow will be gone and we'll have spring-time butterflies and babbling brooks to contend with in its place.
It has been a near record-setting year for snow in Anchorage. Another 3-inches will do it, and by this time I think we're all hoping that we get that 3-inches. Who wants to get this close to the record and not surpass it? But while all of the snow has made for a great ski season (and will probably make for a long ski season -- we may well be still skiing in June at this rate), it has its consequences too. Like occasionally having to dig the car out:
And collapsing roofs (which are starting to go all over town):
And moose fleeing the deep snows of the wilderness for the easy walking of plowed neighborhood streets and sidewalks:
Walking to work has become an exercise in dodging moose, which are seemingly everywhere. While usually docile, they can get pretty worked up at times, and the last thing you want is two-tons of agitated moose turning its attention in your direction. Plus, they can have trouble finding food in these high snow years. Horrifically, some have taken to hunting people as food. You know what they say about a moose that has acquired a taste for human flesh. And they are crafty, plotting ambushes from high points such that they can drop unsuspectingly on passer-byers. A terrifying death from on-high, if you will. The local paper caught a picture of one in position, waiting to pounce:
(Source of above photo: http://www.adn.com/2012/03/02/2348006/best-of-march-2012.html#id=2371099)
In any case, snow meant a good year for the Tour of Anchorage (a ski race celebrating its 25th year this year). Long time blog-readers may remember that C and I skied it last year and both medaled in our age groups, C in the 40k (first place), me in the 25k (third place). For variety, we decided this year to switch distances and to not medal. So that is what we did. Turned out to be a blue-bird sunny day in the low 20s. As with any race, we had to get psyched up, and nothing nurtures psych like early eighties pop sensation the Go-Gos. Their infectious beat (which, as you may recall, they got) worked its way right under C's skin:
This was my third time skiing the tour. As mentioned above, I did the 25k last year as a post-chemo victory lap. In 2007, C and I both did the 40k. That was my first year cross country skiing, and I can still feel my quads seizing on the final climb to Kincaid from the coastal trail. This year, I was able to shave a half-hour off my time from 2007, perhaps due in equal parts to better technique and better (read, firmer) trail conditions. Here I am coming into the stadium at race end, head snapping up as I heard C call my name from the crowd of people watching the finish:
The Tour also has a 50k distance, which takes 10 kilometers of severe hills on to the 40k course. The additional 10k follows the Spencer Loop, an exercise in climbing (and descending -- what goes up most come down, after all). I have yet to ski the Spencer Loop and think, "Hey! Lets do another 40k!" and I may put off ever signing up for the 50k until I do.
Notwithstanding that the ski trails are still in great shape, the spring equinox does mean it is time to start thinking about running again too. And to start the season off right, we took part in the Shamrock Scramble this morning, a 5k trail run to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society ("LLS"). I ran this last year too. Apparently, the race has been taking place on this weekend for a number of years. Unfortunately, this year one of the Scramble's prior sponsors (Skinny Raven, a local running store) decided to partner with a local pizza-pub (Bear Tooth) and host a competing race, the Shamrock Shuffle. So the crowds were split, with some of the support and fund raising for LLS being siphoned off to benefit the local marketing of two popular retailers (to my knowledge the entry fee for the competing Shamrock Shuffle did not benefit anything). While unfortunate for LLS, it worked out to my benefit. All of the fast runners went to the Shuffle and I got to transition from solid middle-packer to race winner at the Scramble. This may well be the first and last race I ever win. Observe as I relish in the thrill of victory:
Note also the leprechaun back behind me to the right. No St. Patrick's day is complete without the appearance of a belligerent leprechaun to taunt you across the finish line.