Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Birkie Bound

Departure is set for 6:00 a.m. tomorrow. Google maps is calling it a little over ten hours in the truck, but at least we'll have all day on Friday to relax before the race. There is an elite sprint race on the main street in downtown Hayward that I'd like to check out in the afternoon, and I'd like to get in a quick ski sometime in the morning. Other than that, Friday will most likely be spent lounging and waxing the skis. Word on the street is that cell phone reception up that way is sporadic at best, and so access to the internet may be hampered as well. I suppose I can live without it for a few days if I must. Anywho, that's all I have to report at the moment. Over and out.

Monday, February 22, 2010


2010 Cycling Mileage: 15 miles

I'm going to attempt to keep track of my bike miles this year. It used to be so easy. One bike, one odometer. I now currently own six bikes, and all of them see at least a little action throughout the year. Consequently, I've had a hard time keeping track of the number of miles I ride each year. It doesn't really matter in the long run since I personally measure training volume in hours and not miles, but still I thought it might be a fun experiment this year. So yesterday I rode 15 miles in an hour up and down 119 on the 29er with gears. Then I went for some b/c skiing at the Tower with JT and Matt for two hours. Fun times indeed. Hope you had a good weekend.

P.S. A record number of skiers are registered for the race this weekend: 8,000.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Still Skiing

It took me a little while to come around from the Noque a couple of weeks ago, but this weekend I felt like my body was finally somewhat back to normal. I got out for an hour skate with Hugh on Saturday and felt pretty good. Yesterday, I went out for an hour and a half classic ski. Conditions were most excellent, and once again I felt pretty good. My arms were a little sore at first, but they came around after fifteen minutes or so. In non-ski related news:

Hugh is just about ready to start welding some steel together. After he's done with his frame, I've commissioned him to build me a new commuter frame. I want a pump peg. I want clearance for beefier tires and fenders. I want my buddy Ed to help me paint it. Hugh's jig (that he designed and built from scratch) is a thing of beauty all by itself. I can't wait to see the finished products.

I'm starting to get a hankering for a bike ride. This is all that's left in the way. Less than two weeks to go.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Loppet

The Outfitter here in Harbor Springs hosts a ski loppet (social, non-timed ski event of longish duration) every year on Super Bowl Sunday. It's been a few years since I've done it, and Matt wanted to give it a try. I signed us up on Thursday, and I think we were two of the last to sign up out of the 110 skiers. The course starts out on the corner of Hughston and Lacount Rds. just north of town. From there it works it's way mostly north and ends at the Crow's Nest about 15 miles later. Our lack of fresh snow in the area lead to occasionally dicey situations on the trail; but given what the groomers had to work with, the trail really was in good shape. Since the trail passes through a fair amount of private land, this is the only day of the year that it's groomed. At the finish you get a pizza/pasta buffet and tickets for three beers. Some of our older friends couldn't finish their tickets, so Matt and I had to help out. Good job Matt for doing his longest ski ever. I see a half-marathon in your future. Next year at the Noque maybe? Hope everyone had a good weekend. Over and out.

*crappy iphone photo of Matt at the finish followed closely by the Steve and Kathy Biggs.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A** Whipping

Just in case you didn't realize the full extent of the a** whipping that I took last weekend, I took the liberty of comparing some numbers. Last year's Lumberjack had 175 male racers. This years Noque had 180 male racers in the classic race. In the LBJ I finished 48th. Not too shabby. In the Noque I finished 149th. That is way too close to DFL. It's quite clear that I need to spend some more time on the snow (and doing pushups). Have a good weekend.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Noquemanon 51km Report Part 2

9:01 a.m. Some dude tripped in front of me and went down. Fortunately, I was able to jump over to the next track and not get too jammed up. The first couple of kilometers loop around the start area before ducking off into the woods. Soon after entering the woods, we came to an icy, steep descent. Most people (myself included) checked their speed with a little snowplow. A couple of yahoos apparently thought they were going to win the race right then and there however, and they went bombing down the hill only to crash at the bottom and cause a large pileup. Once again I was able to sneak through the carnage. Things began to string out a little at this point, and I was able to settle into a good pace.

10:00 a.m. An hour into the race I was still feeling pretty good. The terrain and trail were really pretty amazing. Conditions were nice and fast, and my kick was holding up really well. The first half of the race consisted mostly of steep uphills, a little rest along the top of a ridge, and then a really steep downhill. Just to change things up a little, there were a couple of lake crossings that required a little extra effort due to the wind and thin/non-existent track. I really felt pretty good heading into the halfway point. I was looking forward to the second half since on paper it appeared to be quite a bit easier. It appeared to have less climbing and a net loss of elevation (about 900 ft.).

11:21 a.m. Coming into the halfway point, my body began telling me that something not so good was happening. I was hungry, I got a little chilled. My arms were really starting to protest. I knew pretty shortly after crossing the 25 km mark that things were about to get ugly. And boy did they ever.

Noon I was trying to choke down a couple extra calories at the aid stations, but it was clear that the damage had been done. I was forced into survival mode. Survival mode really sucks. You're constantly getting passed by people. Every time you try to up the pace even a little, your body simply refuses to respond. And so went the last 15 km or so.

1:25 p.m. I exited the woods into downtown Marquette. At last the end is in sight. Only 2 km to go. Little did I realize at the time that those last 2 km would have the worst snow conditions of the day. The track was very thin where set at all, and every so often you'd come across a patch of dirt mixed in with the snow. If you're not paying close attention (I was barely coherent), those little patches of dirt can cause you to come to a screeching halt. Frustrating does not even come close to what I was feeling.

1:38 p.m. Finish line. I was cold, hungry, and not at all pleased. But I was done, and I didn't crash once. I made a beeline for the truck. I'd been dreaming about my turkey sandwich, sunchips, and coke for hours. I inhaled all of it before I even made a move to change my stanky a** clothes and boots.

It's easy to look back and see where I should have done things differently. I definitely should have eaten more. I could have easily gotten by with one bottle instead of the two I was carrying since the aid stations were so closely spaced out (every 7 km or so). Without a doubt, big note to self here, I should have conserved a little energy for the last half of the course. You'd think after figuring that out in the Ore to Shore (very similar elevation profile) I would have been able to transfer that knowledge to the snow. I didn't, and in the end I think that was my biggest mistake of the day. But it was good race, and I'll be back next winter for another go. In the meantime, the plan is the HTFU and get ready for the Birkie at the end of this month. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Noquemanon 51km Report Part 1


4:00 p.m. Sarah and I arrived at the most delightful cabin on Lake Superior and set about unpacking our gear and setting up a waxing area in the laundry room. Kerri called to say that they were about an hour out, and so I started getting my skis ready and waited for her to get there so we could carpool into Marquette to get our race packets. At this point the Swix waxing recommendation for the race was calling for klister as the kick wax of the day. Klister is this unbelievably sticky substance that is used for kick when conditions are particularly icy. It is really, really messy. I hate to use it unless it's absolutely necessary. So I prepped the kick zone and waxed the glide portion of my skis while I waited for Kerri to get there.

5:30 p.m. Kerri and I headed into Marquette. Packet p/u and waiver signing went super quick, and we were back in the truck within 15 minutes.

6:00 p.m. I checked the internet again to see if maybe they'd changed the klister recommendation. They hadn't, and so I ironed in a layer of base klister. They were calling for 4-5 layers of VR40 over the klister, but I figured that could wait until morning.

6:30 p.m. We all sat down for a tasty dinner of spaghetti and meatballs prepared by Sarah.

7:15 p.m. I helped Kerri get her skis ready and waxed.

8:30 p.m. I retired to one of the upstairs bedrooms with my laptop and some Netflix. Lights out shortly thereafter.


4:00 a.m. I woke up to check the alarm and make sure it was still set. For some reason this is fairly common for me the night before a race. I would continue to wake up every 30 minutes or so until the alarm finally went off around 5:45.

5:45 a.m. I got up, got the coffee going, and started thinking about breakfast.

6:25 a.m. Put a couple pieces of sprouted grain toast in the toaster and poured a big bowl of granola. I lathered the toast with some crunchy peanut butter and covered the granola with some skim milk. I tried to choke it all down, but in the end I probably only ended up eating about 2/3 of my breakfast (this would come into play later in the day).

7:00 a.m. I applied the 4-5 layers of VR40 over the klister, and it went on surprisingly well. I'd never mixed klister with traditional kick wax before, but that's what the wax wizard said so I did it.

7:30 a.m. We departed the cabin for the start in downtown Ishpeming. The temperature gauge in the truck registered -4 degrees. F**k that's cold was about all I was thinking on the way there.

8:10 a.m. We pulled into the parking lot adjacent to the start. It was still -4. Kerri and I set about slowly finishing our race prep. in the truck (with the heat on). I got my heart rate monitor fired up, got my boots on, packed my food for the race, mixed my bottles, and tried not to think about the cold.

8:45 a.m. I finally ventured out of the truck to do a quick "warm-up". I made it over to the start line and clipped into my skis. I had my fingers crossed that the whole klister/kick wax combo was going to work, and it did. I got in a good 10 min. ski before lining up near the back of the pack.

9:00 a.m. Go.

(to be continued)

Shut Down

I was planning on putting up a good race recap today, but unfortunately I'm still reeling from some really bummer news. Nobody died or anything. It's just that the Lumberjack 100 registration filled up in 12 hours online. My check, that will probably arrive in Grand Rapids today, will be destroyed along with my registration. Boohoo for Pedro. I haven't quite decided what to do about the hole in the schedule, but with a couple of months of winter left and ski racing still on the horizon I've got plenty of time to think about it. Over and out.