Skieologians: Snail seminar

It’s not just about looking the part

Recently, I stopped mid-run to an observe an animal that apparently calls Vail ‘home.’ 

Not a moose, elk, mountain lion or goat — all of those flashy Alpine logos whose silhouettes embody Colorado better than a Patagonia-wearing Patrick Dempsey ever could — but a lowly snail.

First, I figured it was just one of those odd-shaped mushrooms I’m too stupid to forage for. I bent down and tapped it with my finger, at which point the gastropod slid back into its protective shell.

Well, I’ll be darned. 

Instead of calling Dillman — our photographer — to snap what would certainly be an avant-garde Vail Daily cover photo, I thought about the unconventional sighting and muttered a worn phrase in my house:

“There’s probably a column in there somewhere.”

At my high school basketball coaches’ behest, I would order two Big Macs and a large chocolate shake after every road contest. Despite lifting weights five-days a week and consuming calories ad naseam, soaking wet my 6’2 frame was barely 165 pounds, which, according to Coach, was all that separated me from greatness.

When I left the sport for cross-country and the 10,000-meters in college, I went from being the skinny guy on the court to the Incredible Hulk on the track — which is to say I was carrying around unnecessary upperbody muscle. 

At some point, someone pointed it out. 

“You’d probably be faster if you stopped lifting,” he said in the dining hall, an appropriate place for such a realization to be relayed to me.

If you’re curious what this has to do with snails, stay with me.

Starting-line strategizing gradually turned into sizing up slender runners against my stocky frame. All of the sudden, my nighttime musings echoed Jared Leto’s from the movie “Prefontaine,” where the legendary American record-holding harrier perplexingly inquires of his girlfriend one night: 

“Nancy, do I look like a runner to you?”

Over the course of the next 16 months, I gave up barbells and allowed high-mileage pounding to gradually slim my frame to 145 pounds. It was done healthily and my times dropped steadily. On the cusp of what was to be a breakout, college-defining senior season, however, I developed a nagging tendon injury that eventually sidelined me indefinitely.

During that depressing winter, I cross-trained religiously, hoping for a spring comeback, and, even though I wasn’t running, shed body fat I couldn’t afford to lose. Gradually, it became a focus — instead of the sport I pledged to be preparing for. 

I traded the only real foundation for my identity — Christ — for whatever number the scale read. I woke up to pee a lot. Veins popped from my abs, striations were visible in my triceps — which kind of freaked me out. Long gone were those innocent McDonalds’ meals with teammates — heck I probably went six months without having cheese on anything. Eventually, I reached a breaking point, and thankfully, it didn’t require intervention. In fact, it’s really just a brief side note few even need to know about. 

Today, however, as I ran across a snail colony, I didn’t receive an epiphany as much as a prompt to share it.

You see, given the choice of the entire animal kingdom, wanting to be a snail falls somewhere between ant and earthworm — who wants an existence of sliding across the mud and slinking into a shell? Usually, when kindergarten class polls are taken, eagle, wolf and T-rex are all safe bets to be drafted ahead of gastropods.

Yet, how many theoretical average Joes decline a local mountain bike race or trail run because they feel like a blob — a snail — racing up Berry Creek alongside coyotes, wolves and white-tailed deer?

If that is you, hear this. 

Covering and competing in sports all my life, I’ve seen athletes of all shapes and sizes do amazing things.

The litmus test for pitching in the majors isn’t whether your knuckles drag on the ground when you stand up. Just ask Chris Freud about Tim Lincecum. Playing quarterback doesn’t require a tall frame and huge hands — look at Doug Flutie — and tryouts for receiver aren’t open only to Randy Moss lookalikes — what about Jeff Campbell!? Being a runner doesn’t mean your calf veins have to be visible, though it’s probably an intimidation factor.

If you want to be a skier, you don’t have to drive up to the resort in a tricked-out Escalade. Just get there.

If you want to be a concert pianist, your parents don’t need perfect pitch and neither do you.  

Remember, King David didn’t look the part, and he did just fine.

If you love something — do it. Train ’til your hungry and eat ’til you’re full.

Don’t worry about where you live or what you look like. 

After all, even snails can live in Vail.

Published by rsederquist

My name is Ryan Sederquist.  I am a man of many passions and dreams, and this website is the outlet for many of them. I am currently teaching 5th grade remotely in the Adams12 school district in Colorado. I have been an elementary music teacher in Alamosa, Colorado, as well as a 7-12 band director at Lake County High School in Leadville, Colorado. I am also in the final, final stages of acquiring my M.S. in Exercise Science from Adams State University. In 2018-2019, we spent a year in Presque Isle, Maine as I coached the UMPI Nordic ski team. I currently live in Leadville, Colorado with my wife Christie, a special education teacher, and our border collie-German shepherd mix, Ajee. Even though it is not my full-time job, ever since I was a child, I had the desire to do one of three things professionally - pro sports, writing about pro sports, or being a radio talk show host. This website is where I pretend to do the latter two, and when I'm out pretending to do the former, I listen to podcasts, think about topics, and pursue my wild dream of someday, at some event, in either running, biking, or skiing, wearing a team USA uniform. This website contains articles, podcasts, pictures, and journal entries that have to do with my passion and involvement in endurance sports. Our flagship project is the Seder Skier Podcast, which talks mostly about nordic skiing and attempts to interview influential individuals in the ski world. I also rant about the Big 4 sports, with a lean towards Minnesota teams (Vikings, Twins, Twolves, and MN Distance Running). I sometimes try to write Sports Illustrated like 'feature' articles about athletes as well. In addition to a focus on sports, you will find the occasional article or show that discusses the intersection of theology and society ...which is ...obviously everywhere. We place these in our Skieologians podcast. The heading at the top of my homepage reads, "Search for Truth. Play with purpose. Strive for success." It is the underlying theme for my coaching philosophy, which can be downloaded from this site. Basically, I'm always looking to search for the truth in my pursuit of knowledge, whether that is knowledge regarding the best methods for waxing skis, training a quarter miler, or defending my Christian apologetic. Searching implies a dedicated pursuit for knowledge, and that is what I'm about and what this site is about, even if it is simply for providing viewers with an accurate description of a product. Play with purpose has to do with living out our passions because they are fun. I ski because its fun. I play music and teach young kids because there is joy in it. This blog is about celebrating the joy and fun that inherently exists in the pursuit of excellence and in the activities themselves. Finally, strive for success is built on the principle that true success is the realization that we gave 100% effort to become the best that we could possible be. It requires 100% in preparation, competition, reflection, mental effort, etc. If something is worth doing, I believe it is worth doing with that level of effort. Someday, I hope to race the Visma Classics - the entire season, wear a Team USA singlet, and have a job that involves writing or talking about sports or theology all day. If you know of any body I can reach out to to help me accomplish these goals, please email me at sederquistrd@grizzlies.adams.edu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: