Traveling last year following a three day mini tour from Ottawa, Canada back to Minneapolis before heading over to Europe for OPA racing, I had my best flight interaction to date. Due to a Food and Wine article about what really happens to airplane food (hint: it contains things that help it last up to five years in a freezer), combined with an aversion to paying 12 dollars for a small yogurt, I always pack food for the plane. Coming back from Ottawa I had one tupper ware of roasted sweet potatoes, a hydroflask full of rice pilaf and chicken, 3/4 a box of my favorite granola/cereal, and 2/3 a bag of protein powder. These items tend to set of alarms in the security line, mainly because they are so out of place (and protein powder looks like a more illicit substance).
So when the TSA (or whatever the Canadian equivalent is) took my bag off the conveyer for additional inspection, I was just expecting another quick examination of my travel snacks. I was the only one in line, and consequently struck up a conversation with the very friendly security personnel. As individual one went through my bag, he asked what I had in my food vessels. I told him exactly what it was, and he proceeded to declare, “So you have some bird food, more bird food, homemade bird food…” And this turned into a conversation about what I did that encouraged me to eat so much “bird food.” In explaining skiing, the two individuals asked the longest distance I’d ever raced. I told them 30 Kilometers, to which individual two stopped going through my bag and asked incredulously, “without stopping??” I said yes, and she said very emphatically, “THAT CRAZY.” To which I responded, “I agree.” Individual one said he understood why I ate the bird food, but wanted to make sure I had something sweet in there. I assured him I had a bar of chocolate, and after repacking my now deceased bowling ball backpack went on my merry way.
The pursuit of excellence in nordic skiing makes everyone involved do some pretty crazy things (neurotically packing homemade bird food is admittedly one of the least crazy things we do). We roll over hot pavement on remarkably unregulated roller skis sans breaks, voluntarily do physical acts to failure (looking at you treadmill tests), and watch ourselves ski walk up mountains on video (there is nothing harder, but also nothing more pathetic looking than a skier bounding up a mountain). Even crazier is the amount of travel in which we partake. I’m writing this on my 21st hour of travel, after skipping a day completely (flying over the date line), en route to New Zealand. I, and many other US nordic skiers, have just completed an unbelievable amount of travel chasing snow.
And, we do all of this with a smile (mostly- I wasn’t exactly smiling after getting off a 13 hour plane ride only to find out that Taylor Swift’s new song is incredibly dark. UPDATE: since writing this blog, I’ve actually grown to like it). I think it is one of my favorite things about nordic skiers- their willingness to go to such extreme lengths in search of happiness, excellence, and snow. It is an extreme devotion to task and self that I think is rare, and exceedingly inspiring.
I’m so incredibly excited to have the chance to hit up snow in August, and to do so in New Zealand. I’ll be here for two and half weeks, undoubtedly doing some “THAT CRAZY” worthy workouts, but mostly just soaking in all the on snow time I can. Check back for updates, and lots of pictures (thanks to my recent birthday, I have a phone with storage to spare).
p.s. I had lots of homemade bird food for my travel to New Zealand. It even included a homemade dark chocolate sunflower butter cup that Val made for me (gotta have something to get me through four hours of friends to ride out the last bit of a 13 hour flight).