Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Monday, December 9, 2013
The reason I've been short on time for training is that I've been helping out with the Roseville Area High School Nordic Team a couple days a week and skiing with my daughter on the weekends. She's on the team and it's been fun to be able to ski with her and the other kids. She hadn't shown much interest in nordic skiing until she joined the cross country running team last year and absolutely loved it. Her new running friends convinced her to join the nordic team too. Unfortunately she broke her arm at Thanksgiving last year and missed most of the season. No such bad luck this year and she's doing great despite not having skied all that much. Even though running is her main sport, she seems to be enjoying the skiing as well, even when she lets me drag her out on the weekends. Yesterday we went to French Park to try out her 'new' classic skis. I really wanted her to try them because they're the first real classic skies she's used. They're my old classic skis from high school and they're still in decent shape. (I've never been very hard on my equipment.) I took them to FinnSisu to see if they would fit her and they would work if she kicked them properly. I was afraid that she'd have trouble with them since she's done so little classic skiing on waxable skis so I made her come out with me. She actually did great and had no trouble with them. Her kicking is quite naturally and looked good. Her double pole needs work, however. She can feel that it's not very effective and was getting frustrated. I kept trying to help her but she's so impatient that she kept spazzing out and waving her poles around because it just wasn't working for her. We both ended up laughing so hard we could hardly ski or breath. So I didn't get in a workout, yet again, but had a great time skiing with my daughter.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Yellowstone was amazing! I was able to ski with a lots of friends and family. There were so many Minnesotans out there that it was almost "Old Home Week" I was able to check it off my bucket list, but I think I need to go back again. The weather was perfect, sunny skies with single digit temps in the morning, perfect for classic skiing. The afternoon temps rose up into the mid 30's which made it nice and fast for skating. The new Fast Wax Race Pro glide wax worked great for skating. It was fast and durable. I was very impressed with it! One of the highlights of the week was watching Caitlin Gregg win the sprint race! Go Caitlin!!!
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Monday, November 11, 2013
Minnesota State Gravel Championships bike event in Northfield. Contrary to the official sounding name the races were low key and most of the riders were just out to have a good time. There are some great gravel roads around Northfield, and it was great to take part in an event that showcased about 140 miles of those roads. There were three events over the course of the weekend, a 10.5 mile time trial prologue on Saturday morning, a 55 mile stage Saturday afternoon, and a 85 mile stage Sunday morning. I raced the time trial and the Sunday morning stage.
Saturday morning was warmer than I expected, and riding out to the race directly into a 20 mph headwind warmed me up pretty quickly even before the racing began.
I rode the time trial on my fixed gear, just for an extra bit of challenge. I shared a start time with Nate Porath, who was trying out his newly rebuilt single speed, and had a couple of coworkers in the time slots ahead and behind me, so I had plenty of people to gauge myself against over the course of the race. I got a jump on Nate right off the line and was flying down the first hill, my legs spinning furiously to keep up with the bike, when all of a sudden I heard a crunching noise from my rear wheel and felt my chain go slack. My chain was not tensioned tight enough and had jumped off the cog from the bumpy gravel descent. Luckily it did not wrap up on the cog or in the wheel, so when my speed ran out on the uphill I stopped and quickly spun the chain back on. I had to run the rest of the uphill because it was steep enough that I couldn't get back on the bike and get traction from a standstill. I was on my own for the next several miles of the race until I caught sight of my co-worker Mike "the moose" Kosloski ahead of me. I fought hard to pull him back in over the last 3 miles or so of the race, but when he turned and saw how close behind I was he put on the afterburners and held me off. I still ended up beating him time-wise for the stage, but didn't catch up to him.
By Sunday morning the wind had died down and the sun even poked out through the clouds as the final stage got underway. My plan was to ride conservatively for the first half of the race then crank it up if I was feeling good, a strategy that had worked out very well for me at the Inspiration gravel race this summer. Jeff Lanners and my friend Jake came up to race this stage as well, so the three of us and a few other Northfield folks formed up a good pack a few miles into the race. I was feeling pretty good, so I took pretty long pulls and tried to keep the pace steady and manageable so everyone would have time to take in the amazing views some of these back roads offered. The roads were in great shape, except a few miles of freshly graded gravel that were a bit soft. I amped the pace up to try for a Strava segment on Shady Lane, a long, steep gravel climb in Sogn Valley. It is a minimum maintenance road, so the conditions can vary quite a bit, but it was great this weekend.
After Shady Lane there was a mandatory check in point just before mile 40. I waited there and chatted with the volunteers and ate a cookie while I waited for Jake and Jeff. Once we were all back together we started out, but Jeff and Jake were starting to hurt, so I ventured on alone.
This was the worst section of the course to be by myself, 20 miles directly into the wind. The miles seemed to crawl by and every climb I could feel my energy draining. The rider who stopped to eat caught up to me just before the town of Nerstrand. We once again traded pulls for a bit before he got a gap on me, and then stopped again to eat. This happened at least a couple more times before the end of the race and it got frustrating. I was not strong enough to keep up with him or drop him, and yet when I passed him I felt like I had to try to hold him off, so I would push on. Finally we turned out of the wind and he had a 200 meter or so lead on me when we rolled through Cannon City. At this point I knew what waited ahead. My co-worker Jim drew up the route for this race and he loaded up the last 15 miles with hills, and the last four hills are all big on their own, much less after 75 miles of riding and hills. With about 8 miles to go the rider ahead of me pulled over and stopped again, so when I went by him I was determined to not let him catch up. I pushed hard on the hills and geared up for the downhills to hold him at bay.
I looked back a couple times and saw him behind me, but he didn't look like he was closing, so I kept the pace high and just hoped he was hurting as much as I was. I still had 100 meters or so on him when I made the last turn towards the finish. The finish was on top of "Radar Hill" a minimum maintenance road with a slope over 15% at some points. Right near the base of the hill there was someone cheering who said there was a rider behind me closing fast. As I pushed up the hill there were some great cheerers, including Nate and Nichole in full cow suit attire, but I was struggling just to keep the pedals turning. On a good day this climb takes about 3 minutes, so I just kept reminding myself how little was left after 5 1/2 hours of racing. I took one glance behind me when I was about halfway up and the rider had closed the gap to about 3 meters. What!? How can he still be riding that strong? My legs were on fire, I was in my lowest gear, and I just couldn't climb faster, so I kept cranking my way up and when the slope eased I shifted up and really stood on the pedals. My legs were not happy at all, but I could see the finish line ahead and I was not going to get out-sprinted after this many hours of racing. I managed to fend him off and just hold on to 10th place.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Since I do most of my running training with Nichole I tried to pick a marathon close in time to the one she was running so our training schedules lined up a closely as possible. The weekend after Chicago was the Mankato marathon. I have a number of relatives that live in Mankato, so I figured if I ran that one I would have no trouble getting a cheering squad together. Tapering for Mankato was actually hard. I have been doing more training this year than I ever have before, so to cut most of it out for two weeks left me pretty restless. The forecast for race day was cold and rainy, which for most people would be good running conditions, but I don't run well in the wet and cold (odd for a ski racer).
The last marathon I ran I went out way too hard and paid for it in the final miles of the race, so this time I resolved to start out in control. My goal pace was 6:15 miles, which would be a 2:44 marathon. Brian, another Northfield runner who trains with Nichole and I, buzzed by me looking pretty smooth before the 1 mile mark. I settled in and ran at my goal pace and it seemed almost easy for the first few miles, but started to feel more like work when we turned into a headwind at about mile 4. I caught Brian again at about mile 9, he still looked alright, but also looked like he was working pretty hard to hold the pace. This was his first marathon, and he still has a bit to learn about pacing. I reached the half-marathon point at 1:22, exactly where I wanted to be, but I knew the second half would be a lot more work. I saw my relatives out cheering in a couple places, and Jeff Lanners had come down to cheer for me as well and he was all over the place. Around mile 16 I saw Nate and Nichole in full cow suit apparel out cheering. I kept up a good pace until about mile 20, then the legs really started to tighten up. I pushed through for a while, but the legs were feeling clumsy and just really stiff. I lost a fair amount of time in the last 10k and finished in 2:51:40, which was good for 6th place.
My finish was a new PR for me, by about 12 seconds. Overall I was happy with the race, but I think my legs still have a faster time in them, so I think Grandma's marathon will have to go on the calendar for next summer. The snow Tuesday night reminded me that ski season is on the horizon though, so now it is time to refocus the training to get ready for winter.
Friday, September 27, 2013
We had time trials on Wednesday which consist of a 5k skate followed by a 5k classic on rolling terrain in Afton. I hadn’t done any of the earlier ones the team did this year for various reasons so I didn’t know what to expect this time around. It turned out ok. My times weren’t as fast as they were two years ago pre-cancer, but not too far back. So I have confirmation that I really am feeling better and am encouraged. I’ve been able to train hard, unlike last year, and it feels good. Now I just need to keep up the consistency in my training and I’ll be ready for snow.