Monday, January 28, 2013

White Mt. Classic 30k

Saturday was the one-day NENSA club championships, at the Jackson 30k, so a whole slew of CSU masters headed north to fight for the title. I drove up with Terry McNatt, and we spent the night with Greg Werner's family, in a condo barely five minutes away from the race start, which was great. It was chilly at the start, 6F, but sunny and no wind, and it warmed to 15 or so by the end, with rock solid tracks so deep you could lose sight of your feet down there, and no ice, just firm cold snow. My favorite! Only thing better in terms of rollerski kick would have been a covered klister race, and it's a helluva lot easier to cork on some blue wax than to properly cover klister, so I was happy. I started well, budging in front of 3/4 of the field so that I could line up with the other ladies who were up near the front. I marked the other girls visually, to make sure I didn't lose them when the gun went off, and I recognized quite a few of them. We started out, and Robyn Anderson took off at a fast clip, passing guys right and left. I decided that the only real option here was to go with her, so did some between-tracks skiing to close the gap, and we soon left the other women behind us, as the field spread out and we headed into the first climb, up to Eagle Mt. House. The course would then take three laps of the wave, and then descend back to the lower golf course and the touring center.

Heading up the Yodel trail the first time, I quickly discovered that I sure wasn't racing on fresh legs, despite the two easy days preceding Saturday. My quads were unhappy with supporting my weight, and my arms felt heavy. Ugh. Robyn took the lead again, and I hung on, hoping things would turn around after my hands and feet warmed up. Into the upper golf course, and she kept hammering, catching up to another group of guys on the double pole. I noticed that as we were double poling, she had a much higher tempo, for not much effect, so I figured maybe I could make a break on the flats a few laps down the road. I was feeling better now that I wasn't striding, but double poling isn't my strength this season, thanks to the nagging elbow tendonitis, and there's only so long that good technique and power application will get me by.

We headed into the woods and started climbing, and the pace still felt fast - more like 10k or 15k pace than 30k pace. Luckily, Robyn was working hard, too, and I had the feeling one of us would crack. I hoped it wouldn't be me. We made contact with Rob Bradlee's group as we headed uphill, and it was nice to have a friendly pack of masters to race with. Down the wave, what a great trail! It took some guts to stay in the tracks, but you had the trust them, they were deep and solid and would sling your skis around the corners with maximum speed. I avoided getting air over the bump, and fully enjoyed the ride down that hill. wheeee!

Back into the flats, and I put in a bit of a surge to stay with Rob's pack, who were all pulling away. I wasn't a huge fan of this part of the course, since the corners were all tracked, but too tight for your skis to want to stay in the tracks. Not so much fun. In my efforts to keep up with Rob, Robyn dropped back a bit, and I headed into the second lap with a bit of a gap. I figured it was worth the effort to maintain this gap, so put forth a good effort up the climb, and looking back near the top of the hill in the fields, I didn't see her anymore. Go time! I figured if I kept pace with the masters ahead of me, I wouldn't drop back too much, and hopefully no ladies would catch up to me. I was starting to feel better, and truly enjoying the perfect snow conditions, just thinking about how much fun it was to classic ski in conditions like this on a gorgeous day. Love it!

Third lap I started to tire a bit - on the first uphill into the woods, I began herringboning, and immediately planted my pole between my legs, nearly snapping it as I felt down. D'oh! Rob's group got a gap then, and it took a bit of mental oomph to get going back to race effort after the fall. I was very glad to be done with the climbing when I reached the top of those damn hills, and now that we were lapping people, there was a fair bit of dodge-the-tourer going on. I think I can safely say that I didn't cause anyone to fall, and I gave everyone I passed an encouraging cheer. Onto the flats, and a Bethel guy, Ian, caught up to me. Despite some exhausted arms (what do you mean your arms get tired in double poling marathons if you don't train double pole?), I did my best to hang with him, mostly out of fear that someone else of the female persuasion would catch up if I dropped back. We came screaming down the Yodel, and double poled along those final flats, but I couldn't close the gap, and he beat me. It was good enough, though, and I won the women's race! Sweet!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

VT Ski O weekend

After the success of the first-ever World Cup in ski orienteering held by the US last year, the International Orienteering Federation was anxious for the US to hold more World Ranking Event (WRE) races.  Mostly, this is self serving in the interest of US ski orienteers, as it maintains our WRE points and keeps the field more competitive for all athletes, but it also helps the IOF claim that it has another country hosting top level ski-o, and apparently that's something they're interested in claiming.  So, after taking an IOF Event Advisor clinic during the World Cups last year, Ed and I both became IOF Event Advisors.  Personally, I would rather race than advise an event, but Ed likes hosting events, so became the IOF guy for a WRE race at Kingdom Valley Nordic, Ken's house in Chester VT.  Since Ken's trails are densely packed and not too big, the event would be a sprint race, and then we had a less-official sprint relay in the afternoon.  To entice more people to come, we added two more races to the weekend - in Grafton on Sunday, and in Craftsbury on Monday (MLK day).

I was certainly most concerned with the WRE race, needing good points to help with seeding in the World Champs coming up.  I did a good warmup, and settled my mind for the race.  Choose good routes.  Ski deliberately.  Go fast where you can, but slow where you have to.  Know what happens next.  Be confident in your speed and your brains.  The mantras are familiar, well worn and well practiced.  It's hard not to get frantic in a sprint, the seconds go by so fast, and all those seconds add up to minutes.  But three seconds taken to double check a route are well spent, compared with 20 seconds lost taking the wrong route.

At 15 seconds before the start, I get my map.  Flip it over and put it into the map holder calmly, snap the snaps as I find the start triangle and #1 and glance over the rest of the course.  It's short, 2.3km, but with big hills and many narrow trails.  The beeper beeps its final beep, and I have a plan for #1, so blast out of the start, accelerating fast and double checking the route to 2.  Left on the big trail, then down the hill on the little trail, always bearing left, simplifying the map so that I know I only need to take the outside trail.  The control is where I expect it, and I punch feeling full of confidence.  Spiking the first control sets the scene for the entire race.  Now it's go time! (see map below)

On the way to 2, out in the field, I see Anna V, who started 2min ahead of me.  She's made a mistake on #1, but moving pretty quickly.  I struggle a bit on the off-camber trail through the field, and Ken's neighbor is out there watching the skiers going by, with a bemused expression on his face.  What a goofy sport.  I read ahead through #5 as I spike 2 and 3, closing the gap to Anna.  She pauses at the intersection with the dotted trail (snowshoe or otherwise very rough trail), and I flow through, confident and excited.  My first hesitation occurs here, as I didn't read quite carefully enough to notice that the control was on the left branch of a junction, but luckily my head is up, and I spot the control as I come in, and readjust the map in my head.  Unfortunately I haven't read ahead quite enough, and take a right turn when I hit the big trail, rather than continuing straight.  Realizing what I just did, I carry on with speed, better to keep moving quickly than to change your mind, but I lose some seconds on that leg.

Now we're in to the climb.  6 was fine, but I carried too much speed down the hill to 7, and overshoot the control, needing to turn around sharply.  Up the hill to 8, and then a longer uphill to 9, where I'm starting to really feel the lungburn.  Punching 9, the trail keeps climbing, and I try to read ahead as much as I can remember, while carrying as much speed as I can.  Finally I crest the hill, and take the narrow sketchy trail downhill to 10.  I've decided to flow through 10, and thus saved some elevation, but at 11 it's time to go uphill again, and I'm really working now.  It's easy to make mistakes when you're pushing too hard, so I make sure I've memorized the downhill leg to 13 and the exit from that control before flying down the hill, passing some other skiers from other courses and nearly catching air a few times on the bumpy descent!  At 14 I'm out in the fields, and I scrutinize the map as I head to 15, just to triple check that there isn't an extra control somewhere that I'm missing.  Nothing would be worse than a mispunch now!  No hidden controls, so I blast toward the finish at full tilt, knowing that every second means several WRE points. 

Kingdom Valley trails: WRE sprint (click for larger image/ability to turn on/off routes).

In the end, my effort was good enough to win the race, 24 seconds ahead of Ali, and then ~4min clear of Anna.  I was really psyched that how I felt about the race was reflected in the results, as that's such a rare occurrence.  Even better is that I felt there were a few places I can improve.  In the men's race, Greg won, followed by Adrian and then Scott, also US Team members.

Women's results, with splits.
Overall results, from the IOF website.

Podium from the morning's WRE - all team members (this is probably a good thing).

In the afternoon, Peter helped Ken and Ed set up a very informal sprint relay, where people raced on teams of 2, and each person raced three times around a ~1km loop, with different controls each time 'round.  This was much fun, and added to the general feeling of goodwill and community.  All proceeds went to the Ski-o Team, which was great, and earned us a good chunk of money to put toward Kazakhstan.

Team members heading to Kazakhstan this March: Scott Pleban, Adrian Owens, Greg Walker, Anna Voegele, Ali Crocker, Alex Jospe.

I missed Sunday's race, as I had to go back south and coach at the MA state qualifier race, but I was back in VT by Sunday night and Monday morning we headed up to Craftsbury, for the long distance races.  Adrian hosted this race, and did a great job, utilizing the extensive snowshoe trail network as well as the ski trail network, for some added Euro-style ski-o practice.  I really enjoyed barreling down those narrow trails not quite in control, pushing my limits of ski handling and map reading.  The snow was absolutely stunning, and I ended up skiing a great overdistance workout, doing not just the blue course, but also the green course and another 15km or so of straight skiing, for a solid 45km day.  Yay birkie training!  Thanks to my speedy Madshus skis, I ended up winning the blue course, barely 45s ahead of Scott, so that was sweet too.  A good day!

Results, with splits.  Also, unofficial green course results, unofficial because we'd already picked up controls, and because I decided to tack on another 3k around Sam's run between control 11-12...

Not a bad weekend when you win every race you enter =)

Craftsbury long distance, map 1 (click for larger image/ability to turn on/off routes).

Craftsbury long distance, map 2 (click for larger image/ability to turn on/off routes).

Next up is the Jackson 30k classic.  I'm feeling a bit flat from some volume lately, but hoping a rest day or two will solve that, and I'll be sharp and ready to go to help CSU win that club championships!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mt. Top Eastern Cup

Last weekend was the second round of Eastern Cups, held at Mt. Top Inn and Resort, in Chittenden VT. The last time I'd been here was last spring for Eastern Highschools, and there was barely any snow, just a manmade loop going around a field and over a hill.  Unfortunately, we his the January thaw just in time for the race, and by Sunday, we were down to that manmade loop again.  Ski racing in New England is a dying sport; thank god for snow guns, which only perpetuate the problem, but hey, at least they let us partake in this fuel-intensive selfish sport. 

I had to be in Boston on Friday night, so drove up at the crack o' dawn on Saturday.  Not having planned ahead too well, breakfast was from a gas station, so poptarts and coffee got me started for the day, breakfast of champions.  The whole day was crap from the fueling standpoint, and by the time 4pm rolled around I was massively dehydrated and quite depleted, but at least I got through day 1.  I did a course tour with Kathy and the J1 and J2 girls, and all too soon it was time to race the qualifier.  At least I got in one hot lap, but I think I would have liked to have been more warmed up.  Oh well, good enough to qualify 2nd, behind Cate, one of my J1s, by 0.2s.  Oooh, that was close!  

Then on to the heats! I had Rebecca, another of my J1s, 29th qualifier, in my quarterfinal, and the plan was to play the lucky loser game (heats aren't timed, so lucky loser is based on bib #), and try to get Rebecca in to the semis by possibly taking 3rd, if she wasn't in the top 2. Unfortunately, she got boxed out in the start, and couldn't move up through the pack, so that plan didn't quite work. I'd started fast, and it is nice to be able to just accelerate past people if you feel like it. Into the downhill I discovered that my new Madshus skis were AWESOME - you'd think that if you lead into the downhill, someone would slingshot past (the plan was for Rebecca to slingshot past me, and then we'd block on the way back up the hill to the finish, going her speed), but instead I opened a gap by tucking. Skiers caught up on the uphill since I was dogging it, looking around trying to find Rebecca, but once I found she wasn't in the top 4, I started skiing hard again, to make sure I advanced.
Photo credit Jamie Doucett.  There's a pack of girls behind me... you just can't see them.

Semifinals was me and a bunch of UNH/Dartmouth girls. I took it out fast again, and Elizabeth Izzo of UNH decided to pass on the high point. I'm cool with drafting, so tucked in behind her, and our skis were good enough to gap the rest of the pack by the bottom of the downhill, where I slingshotted around her, and then led the uphill at a comfortable pace, listening to the battles raging behind me.

Photo credit Jamie Doucett.  Start of the semifinal.

Photo credit Michael Sibilia.

Into the A final, and Cate and I were the only CSU gals in it. We decided that we had been enjoying the win-from-the-front strategies we'd both been employing, mostly thanks to rocket skis (Toko jetstream yellow and a rill, not sure which one, on my Madshus soft track skis). I was a split second slow off the line, but managed to put myself into 3rd easily enough once the tracks ended. Maddy Pfeifer (GMVS) took the lead, and both Cate and I were happy to tuck in. Coming down the hill, I slingshotted around Cate, and got most of the way around Maddy, carrying momentum nicely into the uphill. But then I did something, and I'm still not sure what, and basically put my ski somewhere into Maddy's person and that caused me to trip and spin 180 degrees, on my elbows and knees. Cate and Maddy got by fine, and thankfully Elizabeth slowed to look at the carnage, so by the time I picked myself up, I could hop in behind her. Brooke and Natalie had gotten gapped on the downhill, and were only just catching up, so I was still in 4th. Bummer. I sorta resigned myself to that, but then realized I could go faster, so passed Elizabeth, and was closing on Cate, but Brooke was closing on me, and woulda got me if the course were longer. Damn those uphill finishes, I ski better on the downhills. Anyway, ended up 3rd, so still on the podium, though not the top step.  Not bad for a day's work!  

Sunday dawned way too early, and I was Tired.  Damn.  (I may have been up too late watching Miss America.  They were doing a talent show, tap dancing and baton twirling and stuff, and I was like, hey, I have a talent!  I can gallop when I crawl! I should be on Miss America!  Kathy didn't agree).  It was going to be a slog of a day, and I sort of hoped that this sluggishness that I was feeling while doing the course tour with J2s and ladies would go away, but it just got worse.  Saturday ran me out of oomph, and I wasn't recovered yet.  I had an early start, and after testing my skis out, off I went.  The mistake I made today was not testing my harries (classic skis that take no wax, instead they're really soft, and the base in the kick zone is super roughed-up with sand paper).  The snow was really draggy and slow, and the people using harries or zeroes reported much better glide, and equivalent kick.  Oops.  Anyway, I had some issues kicking on the uphills, and I had some issues gliding on the flats and downhills, but really, the trouble was the skier, not the skis.  The skier was tired, unmotivated, and had the wrong attitude.  The result reflected my attitude, and I've learned my lesson - stay fueled on sprint days.  

But overall, Saturday was a good day, and CSU had some really great performances, across the board, so I was pretty pumped.  Can't wait for the next Eastern Cup!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tuesday night worlds

The first Tuesday night race at the Weston ski track went down two nights ago.  I haven't done many of these in the past few years, mostly because they tend to set off my shin/calf problems, but also because grad school.  Anyway, they're a ton of fun, so I figured I'd head out and see what happened if I tried some master blasting.  (boom! boom! crap, I'm almost a master...).  Warming up, I noticed that there was a very speedy-looking girl in Canmore tights, so I was a bit worried I'd have a race on my hands. I'd seen her the day before training in a Team Canada suit, and watching her ski you could tell she knew which side was supposed to be on the snow.  So much for an easy win! 

I was lined up in about row 7, near some folks who I tend to race around, like Mark, Bob, Terry, Greg, and Marv.  We had some silliness called a parade lap first, like they do in Nascar racing, supposedly to spread out the pack, but it seemed to me that things were going too slowly up front, so the pack just bunched up.  I double poled my way through the parade lap, nervous about getting stepped on, and I definitely broke the rule about no passing during the parade lap - by the time we came through the finish/lap area, I was right at the end of the lead pack.  Oops.  As we came down that hill, I heard a female-sounding yelp, and looked over to see Canmore girl (Viktoria) on her butt.  That's definitely NOT the slidy part that you want to keep on the snow, so I immediately attacked, to put as many master blasters as I could between the two of us. 

Around toward Mt. Weston for the first time and I was chasing Terry, with Mark right behind me.  First lap you were allowed to bypass Mt. Weston, unless you were under 30 and particularly stupid, so I went over the hill, which didn't actually make much of a difference in placing, since you then get the downhill speed, and I tucked back in behind Terry and Mark.  Bob had caught up as I went over Mt. Weston, and we were a nice little pack coming back down the hill and into the infield.  I was happy to cruise with this group around the rest of the lap, but as we approached Mt. Weston for the second time I put myself into second, behind Terry, anticipating the accordion effect, and knowing that the left line up Mt. Weston was considerably faster than any other way up. 

The accordion effect was enough to give Terry and I a bit of a gap, or maybe whoever was behind me had stumbled, either way, we were on our own, and I rode my tuck masterfully, if I dare say so myself, hitting my max speed halfway across the flats still in a tuck.  The conditions were really icy, with a bit of slush and sugar around the corners and up the hills, but I was on a soft pair of skis, and was really suffering for lack of an edge to push off from.  Coming up the inside hill, I passed Terry, ostensibly to take the lead and break the wind, but also because I was scared of the Canmore girl catching up to our little group.  It was fast enough to V2 most of the uphills, and then back to a skittery tuck for the downhills, and I could tell that we were opening more of a gap.  One more time around, and I didn't bother relinquishing the lead, enjoying being able to ski my own race and put the hammer down.  David Currie came flying by on the flats by the river, who knows where he had come from, maybe he just started way far back, but he was moving way faster than me, so I didn't even try to match his pace.

Up the final hills, and I was starting to really enjoy the finesse required to accelerate on this "snow".  So fast!  Coming down into the finish, I did my best Kikkan Randall freeskate impersonation to hold off Terry, and that was good enough.  We ended up finishing just behind Rob's group, in 15min or so for 5k.  12th overall, and I won for the women, woo!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Bogburn

After the Craftsbury ski-o, I headed west, to Rochester for Christmas.  A whirlwind visit, and then I was on the road again, north and east to Mont Sainte Anne in Quebec.  CSU does a training camp there between Christmas and New Year's every year, and though a large number of our team was out in Soldier Hollow for nationals this year, I wasn't going to miss Mont Sainte Anne.

The skiing in Quebec was fabulous, lots and lots of snow (so much so that they opened both trail 23 and trail 38, which according to the locals are NEVER open this early in the season!), and cold temperatures to keep the snow perfect.  I skied myself into oblivion, despite coming down with a cold on day 2.  In most situations, I would stay home with a morning heartrate as high as this one got, but the skiing was too good to miss, not to mention that when I was out skiing, I felt a whole lot better than when I was indoors, thanks to copious snot rockets.  Thankfully, the cold abated within a few days of ceasing the endless skiing, and by this last weekend, I felt ready to try a race. The Bogburn happened to be on, a scant hour's drive north of where we stay in VT when we have free time, so I figured I'd give it a whirl and see what happened.


The weather was utterly perfect for ski racing - bluebird skies, upper 20s to lower 30s air temp, and beautiful soft snow.  I had planned to race on extra blue, but things warmed up enough that VR50 ended up working nicely for me.  Thanks to John for lending me some panic wax - I would have been unhappy on my blue!

These old skis are still kicking and gliding for me, so I keep racing on them.  A good ski is a good ski, regardless of how old it gets.

So, with a nice late start of 12:30pm, I figured I'd do my waxing in the morning, at the lower cabin in Weston.  I discovered that there is an entire drawer of ski waxes in the basement!  I think I was probably smart to use my own wax and not risk using the decades-old swix klister, but I couldn't help but be excited looking at this treasure trove of defunct waxes.

When did swix klisters cost $1.75?  Now they're $16.99!  This one was unopened, but I did find one exploded tube contaminating an entire bag of goo... 

And how about this base wax - I guess a sort of binder?  Looks like a science experiment gone terribly, terribly, wrong.

Rex spray klister, doing spray klister way before Toko ever made their current stuff!  Maybe I'll try this one, someday...

Anyway, ski waxing aside, I made it to the race with enough time to test my wax, and take a tour of the course.  This is a good course to have done before, because it's pretty technical, lots of winding uphills and downhills, gotta work the transitions and stay on your feet in the soft snow.  I'd drawn bib 19, and had a gazillion ghosts ahead of me, so I knew I'd have a fairly lonely race on this one-lap course.  That's a good thing when the trail's only wide enough for a single track!  

 You know it's a ski race when every car in the parking lot has a waxbench behind the car!

I started out conservatively, not sure how my body would react to the first intensity I've done since mid December.  The race starts with some climbing, and then you get the tricky downhill corner where I totally bit it, skis getting pulled into the wrong rut, and thankfully my face hit the snow before the full split had been accomplished.  That still wrenched my groin muscle pretty bad, but it was more embarrassing than anything else, since I tend to pride myself on being pretty good on the downhills.  D'oh.  Then some more twisting and turning, and because of the fall, I was feeling more cautious than usual.  Eventually I settled into a bit of a rhythm, trying to just ride my skis and not waste effort in flailing.  The snow was soft, and poles weren't much of a help, so I was glad that I'd gone for the last-minute panic wax. 

As I started climbing the first relentless hill, I began to notice how short of breath I was feeling.  I knew that Frank and John were warming up somewhere behind me, and I was worried that they'd see me if I walked the herringbone parts, so that kept me going, but I did not feel fit waddling my way up the hill.  Then things flattened out again for a bit, and I had some moments of pure bliss, just striding along in the sunshine through the Vermont forest and enjoying the feeling of classic skiing.  This is my favorite thing ever!  Then the hill kicked up a notch in steepness, and I had to pay a bit more attention to the task at hand, and haul my wheezing carcass over the crest. 

A nice long recovery bit comes next, and that was great, but then you start the final climbs into the finish.  Coming out into the open field with the view, the sunshine nearly blinded me, and I was getting tired, being unable to breathe like I wanted to.  At least there was no phlegm rattling in my throat, that was a big improvement.  As I came through the field, I passed Andy, who was doing his warmup, and he dogged me all the way into the finish, cheering me on the uphills, which is pretty much all that kept me running on the steep ones.  Hopefully my lung capacity comes back soon, I'm not a huge fan of sounding like a fat kid with asthma at a pace like I was going - for that much effort, I'd like more speed, please!  I finally got to the finish, and watched Kathy finish next from 3min back, knowing I just got beat in the coaches competition.  Luckily I sneaked in just ahead of Maddy, so took silver today!  Results.

After the race, Kathy and I had a great ski around the course again, and then later took some of our J2s around too, because those trails are fantastic.  What a perfect day for skiing!  Definitely worth the drive.

 Silly coaches taking a mug shot.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Craftsbury ski-o

Because I definitely needed to go to Craftsbury one more weekend in a row, and because Craftsbury could remotely be construed as "on the way" from Boston to Rochester, I headed north the weekend before Christmas for a weekend of ski orienteering.  Adrian Owens, the resident US Team member in C'bury, had a fun day of racing planned for us, and Ali also managed to make C'bury on her way home from Toledo to NY, so we had some fun little head-to-head battles. 

We started with a middle-distance ski-o, and thankfully the trails were just barely skiable.  Definitely more ice than snow, and there was at least one casualty taken away on a snowmobile, which certainly gave me pause as I skied past her and the first aid folks helping her out.  Eep!  This was scrappy skiing at its scrappiest, but made for some really good ski-o training and agility/balance work.  Adrian had set some really interesting courses, and I focused on looking at more than just the trails - use those contours to your advantage!  The race went fairly well, though on the tricky snow I certainly had trouble putting down the power, and skied pretty hesitantly.  Duck waddling is a totally acceptable way to climb hills in a race, right?

I did make a few mistakes - my route to #5 was pretty bad, but I didn't take splits, so I have no idea exactly *how* bad.  Other than that, most of the time losses were due to things like me thinking it would be quicker to take my skis off and run up narrow trails rather than skiing, and then being unable to get my skis back on.  Ali had an equally-bumbly race, but she ended up ~10 seconds in front of me, which isn't too bad for a 40min jaunt in the woods.  I think we both could improve from there!

The afternoon we did a mass start sprint relay, on the snowmaking loop.  This was incredibly fun, and the teams stayed really tight, leading to some great head-to-head battles between Ali, Adrian, and I.  I managed to sneak between the two of them to win the sprint to the line, but I'd forgotten the minor detail that I then had to tag Ken, my relay partner, so that took some quick thinking to avoid a collision!

After a full day of fun, Adrian and Allison and Kestrel housed me, Ali, and Ian, and then I headed back to the center for a quick tour on Sunday morning, before finishing my drive to Rochester.  I downloaded The Count of Monte Cristo for the drive, and that's 46 hours to kill right there, so the drive went by quickly.  But the ski-o race, the subsequent training, and the great company while on the trails made my diversion by C'bury a totally worthwhile expedition! 

Christmas dinner - I think you got more duck than me!  no I did not, keep your hands on your own plate!