Tuesday, February 26, 2008

ESG ski-o map and route

start-#1: I figured my options here were to approach it from the north, which was flatter but longer, or go over the top of the hill and approach it directly from the west. I opted for the latter, figuring that I wouldn't get too tired from the extra climb.

1-2: I could have continued around on the one-way trail, but decided to backtrack instead, saving some elevation and possibly some distance. I was lucky in that the "ungroomed" trail to the top was actually groomed, so this was pretty quick. When I reached the top of the hill I took my skis off and ran in to the control.

2-3: I was cursing one-way trails at this point. The way I saw it, I could either stay high, probably gaining some elevation and lots of distance, I could go low and follow that loop all the way around, or I could go low and then cut through the woods. I cut through the woods, again with skis off, where the trail came up next to the hill, since all I had to go on were contours. Came out right below the bend in the trail and spiked 3.

3-4: This was my only navigation error-- I glanced quickly at my map, noted the two bridges further north than the two tunnels, and planned my route to 4 from those bridges, as I skied to the tunnels. Stupid displacement error, I relocated off the tunnels thinking they were the bridges three times as stuff just wasn't making sense, eventually I stopped and really looked at my map and went DOH! Since the biathlon range was off limits, there wasn't much route choice to #4.

4-5: Skied through the control and then just took the trail that just kind of went there. I had been planning on skiing through the control but I was running so it didn't matter.

5-6: Came out of the snoeshow trail into the Cascade trail system, which was marked as ungroomed but was groomed with one classic track down the middle, dodging puddles. marathon skate was pretty viable, so I took the straightest line to 6, catching up to one of the masters on my course.

6-7: followed the trail that took me straight to 7. This was starting to feel like a straight-up ski race. And really, what is the point of putting 7 on top of that hill there? It adds nothing to the complexity of the race, the only thing it tests is your running speed while carrying skis. Last I checked, that isn't supposed to be part of ski-o...

7-8: Again, took the trail that basically went straight past 8's snowshoe trail, with one jog halfway.

8-9: Skied through 8 to the big trail, then took my skis off and post-holed my way through some thick trees to the trail 9 was on. Made up about 1.5 minutes on the master I was skiing with by not going around.

9-finish: not much thinking necessary, just went back to the finish the way I'd come.

The first third of the course (1-3) was interesting, with some good route choices, but the rest was pretty boring, to be honest. Double the number of controls would have been a good start.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Empire State Games Ski-Orienteering

The Empire State Games is supposed to be the showcase event of the best winter athletes in NYS. Alas, the NY highschools always hold states on the Monday following ESGs, so the cross country races consist of a few crazies who do both and everyone who didn't make states. Not the most competitive field you'll ever race. Ski-orienteering, on the other hand, used to have its most competitive event at ESGs, especially since it is open to non-NY athletes if they follow the rules to get in. NY was the place to be if you wanted to be a good ski orienteer in the U.S. Unfortunately, this no longer appears to be the case. It is possible that I am just spoiled from having done the majority of my ski-o racing in Europe, but I had pretty high expectations from ESGs, and they were not met. If you aren't in the mood to hear my whining just stop reading now. Scroll to the bottom for pictures.

I was not at ALL pleased with this event. I don't know who set the course, but whoever it was, I will not attend another ski-o that he sets. First off, the course was a foot-o course to be done on skis. Don't get me wrong, I love summer orienteering where it is all in the woods and there aren't even trails on the map, but this is ski-o, and the idea is that the navigation is the difficult part, not the mode of transportation. There was more bushwhacking required than anything I've ever skied, even in this country. Maybe I have it wrong, maybe US ski-o does NOT want to be at the same level as its euro counterparts; if that is the case they're doing a damn good job ensuring that they never come close to that level. Putting controls on snowshoe trails in the middle of fucking nowhere with pretty much zero navigation to get there and zero thought except "should I try and ski this crap or just take my skis off and run again?" is not a ski-o course. I think there were maybe two good route choice decisions, the rest was pretty much 'just ski there' routes. Or should I say just run there.

Secondly, why, why WHY put your e-punch puncher things dangling on the string? That essentially takes away the point of e-punching (maybe I'm wrong again. Maybe the purpose of e-punching is NOT to make things easier and faster). Everywhere else I've been, and I hear in California too, the e-punch box is nailed to something solid. Not dangling on a string so that you have to use two hands and move it up off the knot and maneuver your finger punch to fit just so between the string and the hole. When I asked about this, I got a "well, I just don't feel comfortable nailing it to trees here" and a change of subject. WTF.

Third, a note on lake placid grooming--buy a new piston bully. You have one of the best trail systems in the northeast, hands down the best in NY, why are you persisting in grooming with a snowmobile? Even the "race course" on the biathlon side wasn't tilled. This is the biggest event that placid will see this winter, and they can't break out their piston bully. Grrr. Some of the hills were snowplowed down to ice from the tourists, enough so that it was impossible to skate up the hill because there was no edge to be had. I had to doublepole up more than one hill because it was impossible to skate. This is avoidable with decent grooming.

If I wanted a straight ski race, I would definitely not have driven all the way to Lake Placid for it. I'm not saying that everything has to be a maze, but nine controls over 9km, compared to 44 controls over 11km in Switzerland, is just pathetic. There was little to no thought put into this course after control #2, by either the course setter or anyone skiing the red course. Ski-o is supposed to use your navigation skills, not your bushwhacking-while-carrying-skis skills. No way am I attending ESGs next year, the girl who was 45 minutes behind me can win instead.

Nonetheless, Lake Placid was beautiful with the new snowfall:

Cheri Walsh Memorial JOQ/EC

Sunday was the last EC of the year, at the Holderness school. I love these trails, especially for classic, but here goes the bitching again, you can't hold a mass start 7km race on those trails. The course started with a pretty big uphill after a stadium loop, and I had decided that I would take it easy up that hill and then let the hounds loose. Unfortunately I've discovered this year that my hounds are actually three-legged blind pekinese, but that still seemed like a better plan than destroying myself up that hill and then limping in to the finish.

Well, that was dumb. I got caught in traffic, knocked down once on the stadium loop, almost taken out while trying to herringbone twice, and spent the whole race skiing defensively and being frustrated. I never got into my stride, never got to actually SKI. That would have been a shitty ending to a shitty weekend. Luckily, Jess and I went out skiing on the awesome tracks afterwards and I was in a good mood by the time I got home.

perfect tracks.

Jess and Alex celebrating the end of an awesome ski season filled with fun adventures.

A long weekend

I took off Friday to drive up to Lake Placid for Empire State Games, because that is a five-hour drive and I had to be there by 5:30 to register and get my ESG hat. I also wanted to ski at the Van Hoevenberg trails before it got dark, so I left Boston around 10am all suited up for a long weekend. It was shaping up to be a good one, ESGs on Saturday then heading over to VT to meet up with Jess to spend the night with my Aunt and Uncle, then on to Holderness on Sunday for the last Eastern Cup.

A snow storm was predicted to hit the eastern region at some point, and I was driving through flurries all along the masspike, but nothing bad. As I turned north on I-87, the snow was starting to accumulate on the road a little; although the right lane of the highway was perfectly clear, the left was pretty slushy. Traffic was moving, but moving pretty slowly, so at one point, as the left lane looked a little clearer, I decided to pass a semi truck. Once in the left lane, it was a little loose but not too bad, and then it got a little slushier and I got ready to carefully move back to the right lane. This was where shit went down. The second my right front wheel hit clear pavement I went into a 60mph spin into the side of the road, then a roll down the embankment until a small grove of trees stopped my car from moving any further. It was weird, when I stopped, I knew I wasn't right-side up anymore, but I had to figure out which side the seat belt was pulling to figure out which side was right-side up. I turned off the car, turned off the ipod, and climbed out the passenger side window. Apparently the semi I had been passing almost jack-knifed, I'm really lucky I didn't get hit by him, because then I probably wouldn't be sitting here typing this.

So, there I was sitting in a cop car with no idea how to get myself and my massive amounts of crap up to Lake Placid, whether or not I should even go, and what to do with my car. It turns out there is a bus from Saratoga Springs to Lake Placid, so the cop called the bus station, who said that there was one bus a day, and it was coming in fifteen minutes. Hold that bus! So I loaded two ski bags, two waxboxes, a wax bench, a clothes bag and myself onto a bus after my car was towed away. My insurance policy does not cover a rental car.

Three hours later, the bus dropped me off across the street from the Olympic Center. Twenty minutes too late to check in for ESGs. Such is life. I'm standing there on the sidewalk surrounded by my crap, wondering what the hell to do, when I remember that Chad Day (we skied together in high-school and he skied with Ed at Clarkson) was skiing at ESGs. I called him up, and he said they were just heading out to dinner and they'd come get me. Turns out "they" meant his friend Jason and Jason's parents, all crammed into a pickup truck. Even better, they were staying in some of the private rooms at the Jackrabbit hostel, so I got a ride there too.

Of course, when I got to the hostel, the promised envelope with my name on it and a key in it was not there. There were many other envelopes with keys in them, so after calling all four "after hours" numbers listed, I gave up and just let myself into a room, found an empty bed and went to sleep. I'll admit, the little sleep I did get was filled with images of car crashes and other restful thoughts like that. When I woke up and looked in the mirror I wondered when I'd turned fifty thanks to the bags under my eyes. Not knowing what else to do with myself, I got a ride to Van Hoevenberg with Chad and Jason and all my crap, set up shop at the biathlon building, and tried to figure out what the hell I was going to do next. There was a bus back to Saratoga Springs at 11am Sunday, but I was hoping to get myself to Middlebury, where Kris Dobie was shooting for EISA, and ride with him to Holderness.

I got lucky, and found some people heading to Rutland after the ski-o. Jess came to rescue me in Rutland, and we had some awesome Thai food before heading to my Aunt and Uncle's house. Life was starting to feel normal again. Sunday morning we went to Holderness and skied in the last Eastern Cup, and then I got a ride back to Boston with Dobie. Now I just need to figure out what to do with my car, whether or not its totaled, and what to do if it is...

Race reports are coming.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Eastern Ski-o Regional Champs

This past weekend was the Eastern Regional Ski-Orienteering Championships. This was a great weekend, with four events over three days. Although there wasn't a huge turnout, they were well-run events that went off without a hitch.

Friday night started the show, with a three-map motola (whatever that means, but they used that word a lot) at the ice rink also known as the Weston Ski track. It had gotten pretty warm during the day, and it was just starting to harden up as we started skiing, resulting in skiing off-trail being much more enjoyable than skiing on trail. We all started at once, with the instructions that we had to get as many controls as we could in sixty minutes. We were given one map (some people got map one, some people got map two, some people got map three, so you couldn't follow), and once we'd gotten all the controls, we turned in that map for the next one. Once you'd turned in your map, that was it, you couldn't look at it again.

I didn't have any problems navigating, but I did have problems seeing where I was going--Ed nabbed the headlamp with the new batteries, and so my light was barely strong enough for me to see my map, forget about seeing what I was skiing over. I was taken by surprise at one point when I suddenly started sliding across a frozen puddle; it took a surprising amount of strength to keep my legs together and my skis pointed in the direction I was moving. Anyway, I finished with all the controls in 39 minutes, with Ed just ahead of me in 34 min. To put things in perspective, he had raced hard, and I had been in survival mode skittering around on the ice. I guess the skiing was better by the treeline. Just behind Ed finished Jim Arsenault, a very good ski-orienteer from NH.

Saturday was at Gunstock, with a traditional race (individual start, long) in the morning and a sprint in the afternoon. I was on the red course, and navigated cleanly and skied relatively fast to finish in 42 minutes. The rolling hills at Gunstock were fun to ski on, and they had done a good job tilling up the ice to make it skiable. There also weren't any scary downhills, which was good, given the snow conditions.

That afternoon was the sprint, and with the men and women doing the same course I had high hopes. However, I took a slightly stupid route choice from 2-3 and from 3-4 (the two longest legs), and had one other hesitation, so ended up third, behind an adventure racer guy from Craftsbury and Colin by a minute and a half. Which is a lot in a ski race, but not very much at all in a ski-o race!

My route from Saturday's long course.

Sunday was another score-o, at Windblown in NH. The snow here was not quite as nice as Gunstock, it was similar to Weston's sugar-slush, probably because of the number of people skiing on it and possibly due to lack of a big enough groomer. Anyway, we had 90 minutes, and the winner was expected to take 60 min on the first map and 13 on the second. I knew that there was a giant mountain somewhere on the windblown map, and was worried I'd have to go up it on both maps to get all the controls (in a score-o, you don't have to get all the controls, you just have to get as many as you can in that time frame), but luckily we just went up it once. That was a long, slow, slog in the sugar. But coming down was a blast! Anyway, I didn't make too many stupid mistakes, except for one mispunch when I didn't read the control code and was thinking ahead too much. I am definitely stronger in a regular o-course than in score-o, though, I guess I just can't think on my feet all that well.

The score-o map from Windblown. Get as many of these points as you can in 90 minutes. The green lines that look like railroad tracks are classic or double pole only.

Controls I went to (in the order I went to them): 2, 9, 4, 7, 19, 20, 15, 14, 18, 17, 21, 12, 11, 10, 8, 6, 5, 13, 22, 23(except I got one from map two instead on the same trail earlier), 16, 3, 1, 24. Places I could have changed what I did: the triangle with 11-12-10, I should have hit 11 first, then gone down to 12, then gone across the lake to 10, instead of going in and out to 12 then to 11 and 10. In the 17-18-21 triangle, I could have gone from 18 to 17 then down around to 21, instead of going down the ski slope the way I had, which gave me some uphill to go back to 21.

My route from Sunday at Windblown.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's a beautiful world

Skiing some classic intervals in NH (because those just can't happen in eastern MA), I was mostly concerned with not smacking into ice-laden tree branches drooping over the trail. I've come to realize that when you're skiing hard, you sometimes just don't notice the obvious things, like big heavy sticks of wood coated in ice that could knock you out when you run into them at high speed. At first I had tried to knock the ice off the branches, thinking I would use the same section of track (somehow the groomer had gotten through, why couldn't one little skier make it through?), but then I realized that I was basically just knocking the branches off the trees, and that just wouldn't do for a tree-hugger like myself.

It was as I was skiing my cooldown, though, that I realized how beautiful the woods had become, transformed by 2cm of ice into a dazzling crystal palace, where every shining branch sent off a flurry of rainbows as they twinkled in the breeze. Everything was glittering, and given that I am unnaturally attracted to bright shiny objects, I felt like I was some ice princess skiing through her magical world. It was a backward slide in time, to when I had fewer cares and worries, and my imagination and I had a wonderful time playing in that enchanted forest. If only all workouts could end this way...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More master blasting

Rob made a really good point the other day. I lead the lifestyle of a master skier, even though I'm on the salary of a senior. So the fact that I'll boycott a 5k race because I have to pay $37 makes a lot more sense in that light, I suppose. Anyway, Tuesday was another 7k at Weston, and I decided that I would only race if I could successfully get my HR really high in some intervals beforehand. That was surprisingly easy, so either fully warmed up or slightly tired, I lined up with Anna behind the serious guys and hopefully ahead of the wannabe serious guys.

For most of the first lap, Blazar was stepping all over my poles. He claims that you have to race dirty to get up there. I disagree. Next time I'm pushing him over. I was drafting the lead pack for the first loop and then a lap and a half, until on the 180 after mt. Weston the jerk in the black and yellow suit cut me off on the inside of the corner, then couldn't make the turn and took me out. Thanks. I saved my equipment from getting broken and got up relatively quickly, just as Anna went by. We swapped leads for a while, and I think the high point of the race was definitely when Anna yelled to the guy skiing behind us "Don't get between us!" and he just said "ok". I love hearing that. I love racing with people who are using their common sense. It just makes it that much more pleasant an experience.

I was skiing the uphills faster than Anna, so my plan was to attack on the second to last hill and hold it to the finish, since the icy-but-at-the-same-time-sugar-slush snow would make sprinting a real pain, and I didn't feel like sprinting. My shin, however, vetoed that plan as it cramped up right before my planned attack, and all I could do was tuck down the sugar-slush hill, watching Anna V2-alt away from me. I caught back up on the uphill, but I knew it was over, it would either come down to a sprint or she would drop me. She dropped me on the gradual downhill before the last little climb, and the hill was too short to make up any time. Oh, well, at least it was a good competitive race until the end. Time to stretch out my calf so that my shin stops cramping up...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Prospect EC

10k mass start skate at Prospect. The starts here are always narrow (in this case, five people wide), so I was lucky to have a good seed and start in the third row. After the race, I heard these people saying that the start was chaos, and I remember thinking to myself, what are they talking about? It was so relaxed! Anyway, they blew some sort of alarm thing and we all went, and I quickly put myself near the front and ready to draft. My poles were stepped on a couple times, but no chaos that I noticed. Settled happily into fifth, I tried to draft, and found myself pretty much unable to do that--I was working harder than I wanted to down the hills, and this was when I realized how much the snow had changed between the time when I tested skis and my race. Oh, well, the skis weren't too slow, and I thought maybe I'd have the energy to keep them moving.

The first three km were pedestrian, and although I could tell the pack was bunching behind us thanks to the slow pace, nobody was challenging me for my spot behind Adele Espy of Maine Coastal Nordic. That girl is having a breakout season. The course starts to climb around 3km, and I felt like my V1 wasn't moving fast enough to keep up with other people's V1s, but my V2 was not nearly powerful enough to keep me moving up the hills. This resulted in a much higher tempo than the girls ahead of me, and I could tell the toll that was taking. Near the top of the course, still sitting in fourth, it was like my legs suddenly checked out. No heavy breathing, no massive accumulation of lactic acid, just suddenly losing my ability to ski fast. We had a slight gap on the field, so I moved sideways because I knew Jess and Hilary were behind me and I wanted them to get around, and after they did I skied in the middle of the trail again.

Lost a lot of time going down the squiggly hill and then the fast one, I really hate losing time on downhills, since I normally excel there. The course then shoots up a fairly steep hill in the stadium, that is slanted severely to the right, and I've always find it very awkward to ski. At this point I was barely hanging on to the back of the second pack, and when the course tipped downhill again I lost them. The race got hard at this point, I knew I wanted to catch back up to that pack, but I just couldn't do it. As we headed back into the woods, girls started passing me, and I really wanted to ski with them, but I just couldn't go any faster. I was able to kind of work the steep awkward hill in the stadium coming through the second time, but it was too little too late, I finished 19th, well below where I would have liked to be. Checking my garmin after the race (I hide this thing in my spandex above my boot while I race), my heart rate was never out of level 3... I know I have the fitness, I just seem to be unable to tap it. Well, one last chance at an eastern cup and then its done.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Why Weston will never be able to hold another EC/JOQ

This might sound like complaining. It is.

Yesterday, Weston got some rain, and then about two inches of snow on top of that. It was mostly done snowing by noon. When I got there at 5pm, the groomer was zipping around in his piston bully. There were maybe 30-40 people skiing around on the 1.75km of trails that were currently being groomed. Not surprisingly, the snow was crap. It quickly turned into soft sugar slush, littered with ice chunks (death cookies) that you couldn't see because they were hiding in the sugar. There was one "lane" in the middle of one of the hills that nobody skied on, by 7:30 that night, it was firm, fun, fast skiing. To make matters worse, the groomer managed to leave a ridge of snow between every lane he'd groomed. HAS HE NEVER MOWED A LAWN? I'm not saying I would do much better, but for sure I would try to learn more about my job and get to the point where I could do it well.

So here are some suggestions for the guy who grooms Weston, should he ever see this.
1. SLOW DOWN. To a quarter of your current speed. Seriously.

2. Use your tiller. You have a piston bully, use that thing to till deep enough that we don't get death cookies littering the trail. With like four feet of manmade snow base, you aren't going to mix any rocks or dirt into the trail.

3. Groom at 9pm when the lights go off, or before you open in the morning. STOP grooming in the middle of the afternoon when the trail is covered with people. You need to give the snow a chance to set up, or it will forever be sugar slush.

4. Even out the ridges and humps. You have a plow on that piston bully. Don't be afraid to use it to make the trail level and flat. Pay attention so that you don't leave ridges between the lanes of the groomer. This may take more passes than you're used to... that's ok. Multiple passes are good. You only have 1.75km to groom.

5. Pick up the cones alone the course so that you don't have to make such tight turns. You don't have to do U-turns in a groomer, you can just groom the whole postage stamp of snow. Really, it's ok if you don't do the U-turns. In fact, its a lot better.

Just because they have a monopoly on snow in this area does not mean that Weston can abuse their priviledge and overcharge us to ski on something groomed worse than a typical snowmobile trail in Maine.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Another Tuesday Race

Racing last night may not have been the smartest thing in the world, but I had to cement my first place in the standings over the huge women's field of Tuesday night racers. I definitely did not have the pep in my legs that I'd had last week, and after getting dropped from the lead pack (it was clear they'd waxed their skis, those cheaters), I did not relish the idea of skiing alone for the remaining four laps, so I looked for Anna, and we worked together at the front of the second pack for the rest of the race. I think we were stringing it out pretty good, because there were no challengers for position or people trying to get between us.

The snow was in fairly good condition, considering that it had been raining all day. It was the sugar-slush for which Weston is famous, and it got pretty deep in some places. I was not skiing very smoothly, wasting a lot of energy in some places trying to stay light and quick on top of the slush, and I think Anna was skiing a lot better through it. We traded leads for a while, but I could tell I wasn't moving very fast when I was in front, because she would come back around me relatively soon. Coming down the hill to the finish, Anna was in front, so I drafted her for all I was worth and tried to slingshot around, which might have worked had I had the power to actually V2 fast. It came down to a slush-flail-fest to the finish, and we more or less tied, neither of us knew who had won it, so I figured that since she'd pulled more, she won. Wooo competitiveness, it's quite the throwdown between us cut-throat girls. HA. I was impressed how many people were racing who had also done Craftsbury--I know I'm still feeling the effects of that slog.

This weekend is at least one of the VT Eastern Cups. Mass Start 10k skate, it could be fun as it could be chaos. Not that chaos isn't fun... Here's to hoping my post-race hack goes away before then.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Photos from Women's Day

Thanks to Dobie, I have some pictures of women's day.

Leading some V2 work

The pole drills. Apparently the girls in the other group were like "what are they doing??"

My mom, coming down the finishing stretch of the race =)

(this one I took) the venue

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.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Craftsbury Marathon. 50k. Classic. Freezing rain followed by sleet followed by snow at 33 degrees F.


It's on.