Tuesday, October 20, 2009

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

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