Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tuesday night springtime racing

This last Tuesday was one of the first "bonus" races of the spring, though that all depends on how you count the costume race.  The costume race was great, because not only were most people wearing costumes, but then we got to eat delicious barbecue and the prizes were either chocolate or beer!  That's what I call a good prize, no more medals unless they're edible.  I was skiing in a sparkly miniskirt and a furry Russian ear-flap hat, which led to some extreme overheating on my head, but thankfully it was a short race, only three laps.  Despite having skied an hour beforehand with the juniors at practice, I hadn't done anything by way of hard skiing, and so the first lap kind of served as a warmup.  Terry and Mark pulled away, and I blocked admirably and fell in to the chase-chase pack.  The second lap, I caught my breath, and bridge the gap up to someone who had been dangling in no-man's land, and into the third lap I could see Terry and Mark playing cat and mouse, but they started skiing again for real before I could fully catch on.  It felt good to push that hard, not just drafting, but lesson learned - level 1 skiing while coaching is not a warmup!

So this week, we had four laps, and I actually did a bit of L2 skiing in the warmup.  Gotta start with baby steps.  It was slushy, but luckily it was little ice-balls of slush, and not too draggy, though even on my soft skis I was sinking in a lot more than I would have liked.  Tricky skiing, hard to stay on your feet and hard to apply any power.  First corner, John was already on the ground, and I managed to avoid the body but ran over his pole; thankfully it didn't break. That served as a warning to stay on my feet.

Terry wasn't there, and Mark didn't blast off the front, so I soon found myself in a group with Mark, Brandon, and Cooper, chasing Bob and Drew.  Cooper was experimenting with playing around at the front, and I was happy to let him waste himself up there, since he's a J3 he doesn't provide much draft but he also doesn't really get in the way.  Eventually Mark went back to the front and I jumped in behind him, drafting for nearly an entire lap.  Going into the third lap, we made contact with Drew, who had fallen off of Bob's pace, and then put in an attack that dropped both Cooper and Drew.  I took a pull, and discovered that my left calf really *was* blowing up, it wasn't just in my head, and Mark quickly took the lead back, as I was going too slowly.  That finished off the last lap, and Brandon played his cards well, jump skating past me up the Mt. Weston bypass, and blocking me out at the finish to take the sprint.  Not that I would have done anything differently, but you don't enter races to finish third of three in a sprint!

Hopefully we'll have some more weeks of racing, god knows there's enough snow.  It'll probably piss off the golfers pretty good that we're still skiing and they can't play...

Chasing spring

The last two weekends have been a bit of a blur.  The weekend after the Birkie, I headed down to Connecticut with Anna and Anne, to visit Becky and get into the forests with hopefully less snow and do some orienteering.  Not so fast - there was still plenty of snow! Of all the winters to try and be a runner, this one has been tough.  I love snow, but I wish I could put my feet on dry ground, and train some of those orienteering-specific stabilizer muscles.  Anyway, the training camp in Connecticut was a success, and we got in a lot of good intensity, including a middle distance race (only punching through the snow ever four steps or so), and two sprint starts on Sunday at Fairfield university.  The sprints were fun, but they reminded me that I really haven't been doing enough high-intensity running on hard ground, as my calves seized up pretty good by the second sprint.  Time to start wearing minimal race shoes while doing track workouts, I suppose.

Pretty good crust for the morning workout, but it was softening in the afternoon.

 Orienteering looks pretty good based on the line, but you gotta keep in mind how slow I was moving - everything is easy at that speed!

The following weekend was the J2 championship, at Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton VT.  It was fantastic to be able to use hardwax for J2s, and the conditions and grooming were just superb.  My skiers in general did pretty well, with some of the CSUers on top of the pile, and it was a pretty sweet weekend, all things considered.

Trying to get my final long run of the pre-team trials build in that weekend, I had Jamie drop me off at the Middlebury Inn, while he drove all the waxing stuff up the hill, and I ran up, with a bit of an extension.  The sun had been melting away snowbanks down in the valley, and getting to run on the muddy shoulder was the first soft ground I'd been on since December, I think.  Woo!  The flat parts were deathly boring (and windy!), but it was a beautiful day and I was letting my mind wander, collecting the loose ends and sort of defragging itself.  Finally I started the climb, and that was way more fun.  I tried to push the pace a bit, just to keep things moving, and near the top of the hill it was hard not to flag down all the Massachusetts cars that were streaming by me, and beg for a ride.  I suppose it's a good thing to feel pretty spent at the end of your long runs, especially if you're only managing to fit in one a month.  Take what you can.


Bluebird days, even though it was chillier than normal for this weekend.  

The U.S. Ski Orienteering champs are this weekend, up in Stowe, and I'm psyched to see what is left of my badly degraded ski-o skills.  I don't think I've looked at a map on a board since early January, but then again, my competition hasn't been training too much, either.  Whatever happens, it'll be an awesomely fun race, and a well run event.  Then I'm off to California for the summer orienteering team trials!  Let's just say I'm hoping for some sunshine.