Inspiring Athletes: Ofer Leshed

Challenge: Bike around all the Finger Lakes

When Scott and I moved to Trumansburg, he mentioned casually that we should bike around all the Finger Lakes. We didn’t bike at the time. He had his mountain bike that he purchased after grad school and I had my 10 speed from high school. I think we may have ridden them once the first two years we’d been married. “Sure,” I said. “That sounds like fun!”

We did bike around Cayuga Lake as one of our first annual challenges. I plan to write about that at some point on this blog! Since then we’ve done two others: Skaneateles and Keuka. We started Canandaigua but we got lost very shortly into the ride. The verdict? We didn’t actually like riding around the lakes. You can rarely see the lake and it isn’t a social ride most of the time because of the heavy traffic on the roads. Will we do more? Probably. We have good bikes now and actually enjoy riding them so we may kick this “back of our mind” challenge one of these years yet!

Ski Racing

When my kids were 6 and 9 they decided to try ski racing. We really didn’t sign them up because of the racing. We started because it was cheaper to sign up for the race program ($400 for the season for 9-3 for 8 Saturdays with the same coach each week). They would also get a full week of camp that ran from 9-3 over winter break. Even with an hour for lunch that worked out to $10 an hour for both kids for ski training with a coach all winter. They would enjoy hot chocolate breaks, ski with kids their age, and conquer all the terrain on the mountain. As a bonus there were 2 fun races with the ski club and 1 race that wasn’t at our mountain. Lastly, Scott and I would ski BY OURSELVES every Saturday! Heaven.

As with many things, this program quickly layered on itself. The kids LOVED racing and each year there is more and more training, more races to enter and more time for parents to be at the mountain while kids are training. The cost grows too, but we won’t talk about that in this post!!

So what to do with all that time at the mountain?

“Hey what are you doing?” I asked fellow ski dad and friend Ofer one evening as he set up his bike INSIDE in our little race building. The wood stove was running and it was BOILING hot in the room. He donned his cycling shoes and stripped down to his bike shorts and jersey and then hopped on his bike trainer. “Training.” Weird, I thought as I headed outside in the less than optimal ski conditions of the evening.

Our kids were now training Thursday evenings and all day Saturday and Sunday for racing. Elizabeth was an age group above her brother so she also came on Tuesday evenings. Suddenly we had A LOT of time to ski. Many nights the weather wasn’t the best for skiing and I would often waste the evening chatting, taking in just a couple of runs or none at all.

In the weeks that followed I noticed that on some Saturdays Ofer went cross country skiing nearby. Other mornings he would head out for a longer run. Scott and I were training at this point but it never crossed my mind to do anything but ski or wait while the kids were training.

A Change of Pace

After 4 years at Greek Peak, we were ready for something different. We took our kids over to Bristol Mountain one Wednesday night (a night we knew their race team trained) and hopped on the high speed quad. “Look, they have a race team too,” we casually mentioned to the kids. “This is their race hill,” we said, pointing to the hill directly beneath the high speed quad. Our hope was that the kids would be intrigued by the mountain and be interested in switching. They only train from 9-1 on weekends and follow a similar weeknight training plan. We’d gain 2 hours every weekend day and get access to a bigger mountain with two high speed quads.

It took awhile, but they decided they were willing to try something new. And we got to try something new too! Read more about their adventures with ski racing.

Back to Ofer

That one evening moment when I first saw Ofer setting up his bike was a life changing event for me. When we moved mountains I vowed two things. Anyone who has kids that race knows there are A LOT of parent volunteer requirements. That, coupled with the time on snow that the kids need means parents are always doing something at the mountain.  So my goals for the new mountain were to volunteer less and to waste less time. Scott and I have a habit of saying YES to anything anyone needs. We would say NO to all jobs that were not easy. It is a weird way to enter a place to be totally incongruent with who you have always been, but it would be necessary for our happiness. The 2nd was to either ski with a full heart or to exercise. I would not get caught up chatting for the entire 2 hours that the kids trained on the weeknights. I would do what Ofer did; use that time for my training!

And so it was that I found myself skiing for part of the day and running for part of the day. I did yoga in the race building that we affectionately call “the bubble” and donned a headlamp and lots of reflective gear for night runs. Almost every time that I kick myself out the door for an evening run on a bitter cold or snowy night, I think about Ofer on his bike trainer in the hot, hot race building. That one encounter led me to be a better athlete and a more focused person.

I stay up with Ofer’s comings and goings on Strava. He’s an amazing, inspiring athlete!! He posts great pictures of his adventures and seeing his workouts scroll by in my feed is one of the things that keeps me motivated to stay true to my goals!

I saw you in your “little miner’s light”

And now it is my turn. Last week it was a dark, windy and snowy 17 degree night. I really didn’t want to run, but I also didn’t want to ski because they were making snow right over the lift. I told myself I’d be warmer running than skiing and besides I need the miles. So I headed out and had an AMAZING run! I started out negative and lethargic and came back full of energy feeling like anything was possible. Another parent said to me, “Wow it is cold out there. You sure are intense.” Then someone else said, “I saw you out there in your little miner’s light. Wow.” Maybe I am inspiring others now, or maybe they just think I’m weird.

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