Monday, February 4, 2008

Craftsbury Marathon

The report was that the marathon trail was really abrasive. I decided that I was going to take off my hardwax binder and put on some Rode Chola for a klister binder instead. For some unknown reason, I never put the klister binder on my skis after taking the hardwax binder off. This is where in mountaineering stories the author alludes to some sort of disaster happening because of a small lapse in concentration, and the foreshadowing gets all the hair on your arms sticking straight up. I would attribute part of my lapse in concentration to realizing that the skis I was about to give my mom (who is not all that experienced yet at classic skiing, especially on ice) had the wrong kind of bindings on them, since I just switched over to NNN this year. Luckily, Jess has SNS and had some rock skis, so Blazar waxed them up and made sure that my mom at least had kick in the beginning of the race.

It was a pretty ugly race. I managed to not be warmed up nearly enough, so for the first half of the first hill (which is about 4k long) I wanted to die. You'll puke before you pass out and you'll pass out before you die and if you die they'll name a boat after you - Harvard Crew. By the time I hit the downhill, I felt more warmed up, and I could see Trina Hosmer leading Jess up away from the first feed station, so I decided to go catch them. This is when I discovered that my kick wax was all gone. I figured that everyone else would lose their wax at some point, too, so I decided to just keep racing and trying to make up some time, but I knew it was just going to be a long slog. I was yo-yo-ing with Kelsey Allen and Kristen Dewey, who both had decent kick, but I had better glide, hence the yo-yo part.

By the time the women's wave started skiing, the men had scraped the downhills pretty clean. In the first 25k, there were some patches of glare ice, but mostly it was just icy abrasive ickyness on the downhills, with no snow to be seen. I fell four times, each one a high-speed tumble, and although I managed to not break any equipment or bones, I have a pretty massive bruise on my right hip and both knees are swollen and bruised from smacking the ice.

At 23k, I stopped to re-wax. Four women passed me, including Kelsey and Kristen. Kelsey finished eight minutes up on me, so either she started going a lot faster, or I took a lot longer waxing than I thought. I caught back two of the women who had passed me, but I didn't have much zip to use my newfound kicking skills. You know your race is going from mediocre to bad when you stop thinking about the people ahead of you and start thinking about the people behind you.

At ~40k, both my triceps cramped up pretty badly, spasming every time I would double pole, probably thanks to some heavy arm use in the first 25k. I found that if I locked my elbows, I could still double pole like I meant it, so I did that for a while, and eventually my convulsing triceps were beaten into submission and went fairly numb. I finally got to the last hill, and I started jogging up it. Kick and glide was a thing of the past, even after switching my skis to the other feet, but I could get enough kick to jog if I stayed out of the tracks, and then I didn't really have to use my arms. About halfway up the hill, my right hip flexor cramped up pretty badly, and every time I would try to bring my right leg farther forward than my left one, pathetic little whimpering noises would come out of my mouth and I couldn't make them stop. Eventually I figured out how to do a sort of sideways shuffle-run that didn't hurt too much, and I could not have been gladder to see the finish line.

I currently feel like my body was run over by a dump truck, and I really like to think that with some kick for the last 45km, it wouldn't have been nearly as painful. There was not one instant of that race that I would classify as "fun", or even as "not hellish". It wasn't fun last year either. But I'll probably be back next year... what can I say, I like punishment.

Sunday was the Women's XC Ski Day, and Jess, Anna and I were instructors. A great day, all women teaching women how to ski and how to enjoy their time on skis even more. At the end of the day was a relay race, and my mom and I teamed up in the mother-daughter category. One person had to classic and one had to skate, so I classic skied (in skate boots and with skate poles, since I'd been teaching skating all day), and she skated. The only problem was when I took her out in the tag zone, because I didn't see her pole sticking out to the side and I skied into it. Oops. No worse for the wear, she proudly came down the stretch to win us first place in that category, for the second year in a row!

Some tired, lazy, instructors.


Colin R said...

That Garmin picture makes me so happy.

Do you always forget how to wax your skis or is it only at Craftsbury? For the right price I'll be your wax tech next year.

Alex said...

I think its just at Craftsbury. And its not like I forgot how to wax my skis. I just forgot one little step. It just so happened to be an important little step.

Cathy said...

OK. All of your cross race reports made me chuckle, and I understand that "fun". Keeping up with you over the winter - these races don't sound remotely fun. Explain to me WHY you do this????


Oh - and I SO get the non-kick thing. My skis are hand-me-downs from someone who weighs just a wee-bit more than me. Climibng for two hours with no kick on classical skis STINKS!

Alex said...

Thats funny. Cross sucked and was no fun at all; I felt like I was riding around pulling a 60-pound bag of stones behind me. I guess I cared a lot less so you heard less about how much it sucked...

For me, the motion of pedaling a bicycle is pure drudgery compared to the motion of classic skiing. With kick wax, that is =)

Luke S said...

I couldn't have said it better Alex- Skis rock. wheels....not so much.

JB said...

1) i like the harvard crew quote.
2) you're nuts :-)

Christopher Tassava said...

To recap - you had no kick, you stopped several times (slower racers, rewaxing, changing skis [!?!?], four falls, all the important skiing muscles basically died in the last 15km, and you still finished ninth? I'm amazed and impressed. Well done.

Alex said...

Christopher, you have to understand that the marathon circuit in the east just doesn't have much depth, compared to something in the midwest, particularly on the women's side of things. Compared to the City of Lakes Loppet this year, Craftsbury had 50 finishers instead of 170.

Luke, I don't not like riding. Lets not flame cyclists here. I just had a really crappy 'cross season, totally because of me. Training 20+ hours while traveling, working, and trying to race in something that you're not training for is not exactly a recipe for success.

Christopher Tassava said...

Lack of depth aside, a top-ten finish is still a top-ten finish! Hell, I'm the windpants-wearer who blogged about winning a "race" against, like, five other people. (I did race in my tights at the City of Lakes, though, and made a point to pass windbreakered/windpantsed racers.)