Top 5ive Favorite Personal Sports: Ellen


5. Geocaching: What better way to use multi-billion dollar satellites than to find Tupperware containers in the woods with treasure inside? What? Not a sport? I beg to differ. You try wrangling young children to put on snowshoes and head into a snowstorm to find said Tupperwares, or ammo boxes as the case may be…


4. Running: I grew up hating running. “Go run a lap” was the preferred punishment of my elementary school P.E. teachers. I learned the lesson well: running = punishment, and adhered to it wholeheartedly. Fast forward a few decades when my husband and I made friends with a man possessed with the zeal of a convert. He spoke of the book Born to Run with such fervor that I finally read the darn thing. And I thought, maybe … just maybe I could give running a shot and actually embrace this dreaded activity. And I did. Last year I managed to transform myself from a couch potato into a runner and completed several 5K events. Then health issues knocked me back onto the couch. I don’t absolutely *love* running, but I want to reclaim my “I am runner” status. If I could only put down the books and lace up my shoes more often…

Flume Trail at Lake Tahoe

3. Bicycling: Wow. I can’t believe bicycling has descended to number 3 in my life. During my university days, it was definitely No. 1. But I hadn’t discovered my current numbers 2 and 1 yet.

While I enjoyed bicycling as a child, the love of zooming down hills laid dormant during my middle and high school years. And then came the advent of mountain biking and I bought one. Only to have a jerko guy take me on my first dirt ride that was *way* beyond my ability. The bike collected dust, but I brought it with me to UC Santa Cruz anyway when I moved there to study Literature. (books!!!) There may have been a really awesome guy who encouraged me to dust off the mountain bike to explore and enjoy all the awesome terrain around campus and the larger area. Freed from the tyranny of the bus system and speeds far beyond mere feet thrilled me into using my bike for almost all of my transportation needs. The joy of learning to maneuver over and through the obstacles found on dirt roads and single tracks kept me in the saddle and spinning the peddles. And there was that awesome guy to spend time with. After one quarter of riding to classes, I went from “Oh, I’d hit someone on the walking paths” to weaving through the other students as a moving Super-G Slalom course. And I never did hit any of them.


2. Downhill Skiing: While I grew up body surfing (which almost made the list, but got bumped) at the beaches of Southern California, my husband grew up shredding down frozen water with two sticks on his feet in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I attempted the sport a few times while dating and early in our marriage, but happily left it behind while we pursued eight years of No. 1. Parenthood forced us out of our immersion in that lifestyle and our thoughts turned back to the mountains. We now live a twenty-minute drive from the world-famous Sun Valley Ski Resort — home of the very first chair lift. Being married to a skier and giving birth to skiers meant that I wanted to be a skier, too. I took up the sport seriously eight years ago. After enough lessons and time on the snow, I finally heard the golden words from my expert-skier husband (who never gives false compliments), “You’re skiing really well.” I think the heavens opened and the angels sang. Or maybe I just needed lunch.

The time and effort required to finally understand the dynamics of skiing and gain the confidence to hurl my body down mountains at high speeds has been worth it. Skiing is a terrific family sport. Mix in enough hot chocolate breaks, and it’s something you can do all day with young children. Run enough salt baths for sore muscles and mom can keep getting out there with older children who say things like, “Oh. You’re getting fast enough to keep up with me.”

Arrival in Marquesas Islands after 23 days at sea.

1. Sailing: Remember that handsome guy with the bicycle? After mastering mountain biking and earning degrees, he and I moved onto a sailboat and eventually married. Yeah, yeah, wrong order. Mandolin, a Cal 34 sloop, was our home for eight years. It came complete with bed, galley, comfy seating, and not nearly enough storage for all the books I had gathered as an English Literature major. I must really love that man.

Sailing is a sport that has so many facets. I have both raced and cruised; day-sailed and navigated across oceans; berthed in high-priced marinas and anchored far away from any evidence of civilization. There is an old adage, “If you would teach a man to pray, send him to sea.” We came across it soon after arriving in New Zealand having sailed from Mexico and through the South Pacific islands.

On the open ocean out of sight of land, I always enter a sense of timelessness. The wind and waves are doing what they have always done since creation. The dynamics of wind and sail, hull and ocean are the same since mankind first discovered they could be utilized for travel and transportation of goods. Utilized, not harnessed. No mortal harnesses the power and majesty of the ocean nor the winds that blow across its surface. No, one must respectfully submit in humble cooperation to the physical laws governing a sailing vessel upon the waters if one would attain the desired destination.

“If you would teach a man to pray, send him to sea.”
The adage certainly proved true for my husband and me.

(Honorable Mention) On the Couch with Coffee and a Book: This is by far my favorite activity. It’s a wonder that I ever get out the door to do any of the others.



Add yours →

  1. You sure know how to have fun with family while doing all five sports, Ellen. Great pics too!


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