On igloos and winning

First, the igloo. It’s a real igloo. I could walk inside. I could probably live inside. And it’s about a 3.7 minute walk from my front door.

You smirk, but come ON. When is the last time you saw an IGLOO?? Have you ever built an igloo? Have you ever stepped inside an igloo? Nope, didn’t think so.

Here’s a closeup of the igloo.


Now, as promised, On Winning: I’ve always believed that Anyone can win. You protest: But what about luck and opportunity and money and family and attitude and motivation? Well, those things do matter, and I never said that everyone will win. In fact, it doesn’t even matter if not everyone wins. Just the belief that Anyone–including yourself–can win brings out the best that you have to offer. That lesson is the entire point of education. That lesson is the point of sports.

And if you REALLY have your mind set on winning… Well, “It’s hard to beat a guy when he’s got his mind made up that he’s going to win.” See? Even Muhammad Ali agrees with me.

(thanks Full Issue)

Last Saturday, I went to the Chicago Academic Decathlon city meet for work. Not every team was going to walk away a winner. In fact, 41 of the 42 schools wouldn’t. But who cares? When my team went from being a Nobody in 2007 to winning Regionals, winning State, and almost winning Nationals in 2008, our fuel and our pride had little to do with actually winning… It was more about believing that we would win. With that belief, jeez, we were unstoppable.

That’s why I love my job and that’s why my job isn’t really work to me. DemiDec is a leveler. It’s a teacher. It gives all students the tools they need to win. It makes competition fun, it hooks students, and, at the end of the day, I hope our materials teach them the most important lesson of all: Anyone can win.


On a separate but slightly related note, my freak illness seems to be gone. (Anyone can win, except not races if you’re body’s so sick you can’t train properly.) A week or so ago, my appetite vanished and my legs couldn’t make it through any of the workouts my coach gave me. No mo’ riding. It sounds insignificant, but going from plowing through 3,000 calories a day to barely being able to finish a bowl of cereal sucks. It’s scary. Your body shuts down. Add in a mysterious fever and the fact it wasn’t a cold or the flu or a virus, and my doctors were clueless.

So we ran a CBC. CBC stands for “Creepy Belly Condition.”

A few days later, the results came back and my blood was perfect, healthy, and as happy as blood gets. My blood pressure was ridiculously fine–95/45. But I still couldn’t eat and I felt like crap.

Saturday and Chicago rolled around. By Saturday night, I wanted to ride like it was nobody’s business. By Sunday lunch, my belly was growling again and I could eat like a normal person. Riding endurance stopped hurting. I was BACK. Well, sort of. I thought I was BACK, and we’ll see this Wednesday just how BACK I am.

Why Wednesday? Wednesday’s my field test. The coach wants to see how much things have changed after 2 months of training. What happens in a field test? Well, the roads are supposed to be covered with a ice, AKA slip and fall and die, on Wednesday, so we’ll be running the test indoors on a trainer.

How to Run a Field Test Indoors When it is Bloody Frigid Outside

  1. Get on a trainer. Because I’ve been asked before, a trainer is a metal contraption that you hook onto your bike. It lets your back wheel spin against a resistant flywheel while the front wheel sits stationary. It’s like riding outside, except not, because you are going nowhere and you won’t shut up about the boredom.
  2. Go as hard as you can for 8 minutes until you taste blood.
  3. Recover.
  4. Go as hard as you can for 8 minutes until you see Jesus.
  5. Complain about how you totally could’ve gone a bit harder. Secret: The only reason cyclists keep doing what they do is that we never really remember how much it hurts. There’s a vague recollection of, “Hm, I sort of recall being in pain.” But the full agony of it always gets blocked out of memory…

I’m looking for a 20-watt gain over my last field test in November. It’s about an 11% improvement over the course of just 10 weeks. Maybe that’s a little ambitious.

Hah! Are you serious?! Did you really think that I was wavering?!? I will never say that a goal is “too ambitious.”

Why set goals if they’re going to be lame??


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