Sunday, April 21, 2013

“The Project”, part 1 by Mike

Reflection on the 1st year back

Sorry about the length of the post I should have done some during the season, but I was too busy skiing and waxing skis.

Finn Sisu – Ahvo

It would only be fitting to start my return to XC Skiing by visiting Finn Sisu. From past experience I knew Ahvo would have the best advice and gear. It was instantly clear that a lot had changed in 15 years. A new store, larger staff, more gear. My 1st purchase was a pair of Marwe skate roller skis. I thought they felt just like snow but how would I know it had been 15 yrs since I’d been on snow…. What I did know is that they felt great.

The first thing Ahvo told me was; give yourself 4 years. Little did he know that was already in my plan. After a few more conversations he recommended that I join the Vakava team. Dave and I discussed the possibility further to make sure I would be a fit and was committed and serious. I believe I passed the verbal test.

1st Vakava workout

Now is when the comeback story really begins. After all I had been on roller skis for a couple weeks and been doing 45 minute to 1 hour basic endurance workouts for a month. I even thought my V2 was as good as before and maybe even better (given that 15 yrs ago V2 was almost never used in a marathon distance at least by citizen racers). How difficult could a workout be with the Vakava team.

When the workout began I was instantly dropped off the back and this was during the warm up. After chasing from the back during the initial intervals Dave finally told Mark to work with Mike on his V2 and weight transfer…. I guess my V2 wasn’t as good as I though. My next surprise was that we kept roller skiing well after dark. I remember thinking as I felt my way in the pitch black “4 years might not be enough”. I was also pretty sure I failed the ultimate test of performing in a workout.

Lucky for me Dave seemed willing to let me continue to join them. At about the same time Angie started referring to me as “A Project”. I guess the Vakers like challenges as much as I do.

Double Pole Time Trial

One of the next workouts was a Double Pole time trail. As I drove to the workout I thought “I got this dialed, how difficult can DP technique be”. After the time trail Dave gave instructions to the team on what to do next and told me to come with him and we’ll work on your DP technique. Bonnie drew the short straw and got to be my tutor for the rest of the night. Thanks Bonnie!

Checking the ego at the door before workouts

What I did know is that the Vakava Team was the best thing that could have happened to me. I just had to remind myself that I needed time to get back to the level I once was at and where I again want to be. I was getting great technique training and everyone was extremely supportive.

Birkie

I could write a whole blog post on this alone, but will keep it short with a few highlight bullets.

· I’ll start with Tom at Finn Sisu fixing my skis with a quick grind and a mini wax tutorial on Thursday.

· Mentally preparing myself for other skier traffic on the trail and to be patient. See next point.

· Wondering during the race if I somehow ended up on the classic trail given that we were walking herringboning every uphill.

· To thinking how much I enjoy marathon races as I crossed the lake.

· How much harder it is to find your wife at the finish when you start in wave 9 than when you start in the elite wave and finish in the top 100.

· And finally I can’t say enough about how fast and well my skis performed after Tom worked his magic! THANKS Tom.

In closing what could be better than starting this “Project” in the year of the never ending winter! Thanks again Vakers, Ahvo and everyone at Finn Sisu. I am psyched for the future!

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