Friday, October 30, 2009

Snow last week, rain this week.

Nichole and I have now completed our move to Red Wing, and the first benifit of said move was that while the twin cities got no accumulating snow last friday afternoon, Red Wing (40 miles to the south) got 4 inches of snow. This allowed me to get my first day of on snow skiing in on Saturday morning. I drove over to the middle school and skied around the soccer fields and dirt track. The snow was melting fast so I only got an hour in, but it was a fantastic ski (40 degrees and sunny at the start, and 50 degrees by the end), and harries were kicking great. I could tell that my arms are used to the nice easy gliding of rollerskis - they were sore after double poling through the mush for only that hour.

This week has been rainy. Last night's rollerski with Vakava was a classic workout on the big river trail with 30 minutes of "on" interval time. It was also our last week on rollerskis (it gets dark too early, especially with daylight savings ending this weekend). Fortunately we were able to avoid most of the heavy rain, but it was still very wet. Some how I managed to lose a rear fender off the back of my marwes during a ski last week, and I sure missed it yesterday. Without the fender on the wheels seemed to take the water on the road and just dump it down the back of the cuff of my classic boots. I was sloshing in standing water in my boot after just a few minutes. It did motivate me to double pole more and DP kick less - double poleing kept my feet in place and the water was able to warm up around them better.

Here's hoping for snow soon so that we will have fewer weeks of dryland at como park... :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Woman

We had our last roller ski time trial of the season today. I had not been looking forward to it. I'd been a bit worn out with all sorts of things since coming back from our camp in Hayward a couple weeks earlier. So I hadn't been training very hard or sleeping nearly enough and was not feeling at all chipper. But I hadn't done the previous time trial and wanted to get the last one in, so I decided to go and not worry about the outcome. I needed a good workout at any rate since I hadn't been doing much. So after a fairly stressful and busy day I fought the traffic down to Afton and got there a bit late. I ended up starting the skate time trial by myself and it felt about how I had expected, dreary, like the weather. But I was able to get myself into my classic gear in short order and caught up with the others for the warm up for the next round. We started the classic time trial as a pack and I wasn't sure I was up to being pushed that hard and demoralized and that perhaps a private pity party would be better, but I jumped in anyway. What the heck, I was there, may as well, whatever. I felt surprisingly good and skied in a nice pack with Kevin, Dave, and Kathleen. We skied the whole thing together and it was so much fun!!! I felt good and the pack dynamics were great. We all finished strong together and it was so invigorating! All my cares melted away. I felt like a new woman. Since starting up racing again after my long hiatus, I've been trying to figure out why I'm doing this. I don't have the high goals and purpose that I had before, so why am I working so hard and putting in the tremendous effort it takes to ski at this level with all of my other responsibilities? I know that the regular exercise and friendships are really important to me, but I can still have that and just ski recreationally, so why push myself so hard? Tonight really reminded me why I do it, because I love it so much. So thanks guys for the pick me up! I needed it.

Des Moines by rollerski

This past Sunday was the Des Moines Marathon. My wife Nichole was running, and I was looking for a good way to see as much of the course as I could (and my bike has a flat tire that I have not fixed in months), so I threw the rollerskis into the trunk and away we went to Iowa. The morning of the race I did all the helpful husband things to get her ready for the start. We jogged a warm up together and I took her warmups just before the gun went off. After watching the start I sprinted to the car parked a few blocks away and got my boots, skis and poles on. Then I sprinted to the mile and a half mark to spectate.

Watching a running race on rollerskis actually works quite well - assuming there are parallel streets to ski on. I would watch the race go by (taking Nichole's long sleeve, or handing her a gel as needed), then I would head over to the parallel street, hammer for a mile or two, and head back to the course to cheer again. She got the feeds that she needed, and I got to see her at many different points of the race while getting a decent workout in the process (I'd call it natural intervals).

The most entertaining part of rollerskiing along the race course was the looks I got from the spectators (and a number of calls of "hey, thats cheating"). I guess there are not a lot of rollerskiers in Des Moines. Even funnier were the looks I got from runners - especially the Kenyans in the elite pack. They looked at me like I was crazy. I definately don't think there are many rollerskiers in Kenya.

Near the end of the race I got back to the car, back into running shoes, and back out to watch the last half mile. Nichole was hurting pretty good at that point (i.e having a hard time running in a straight line), and it was nice to have the mobility to be able to jump the finish barrier to help her hobble to a cot in the medical tent (she was fine after some rest). Her race went well. She finished in 2:55:53, which was not quite as fast as she was hoping, but still a new personal best, and it puts her less than 10 minutes off the Olympic Trials standard.

Check out her blog for the first hand account

Monday, October 12, 2009

First Ski on Real Snow!

I got out for a ski today! I grabbed my oldest classic skis and a bag of kick wax out of the basement on my way out the door this morning. I don't think those skis have been waxed in at least 15 years, but no matter, I didn't expect it to be fast anyway. When I got to Gross Golf course, which is right by where I work, I discovered that the bag of wax didn't include a cork. No matter again, I just applied some purple powergrip and used nature's first cork, the heel of my palm. I apparently took too long messing with my skis because a guy came and told me I couldn't ski on the course yet. No matter! I just went to the cemetary across the street. I occassionally run and roller ski there in the summer. There is great asphalt, no traffic, and rolling terrain. Plus I've never been asked to leave. I also saw another woman running the road in there today so I wasn't alone, and the other occupants didn't seem to mind my presence. It was a bit strange to ski among the barely turned leaves and stones, but also very peaceful and beautiful. All in all it was a very nice ski. Hopefully it won't be long before I can get out again.