Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Finlandia and February Frolicking
How's this for February Fun? Check out my new wedding ring! Never thought I'd have one like this when I was all grown up.
    Finlandia! This year, for the 3rd time in a row, I did the 25 kilometer classic race. There is also a 25 kilometer skate and pursuit, and a 50 kilometer skate. Due to the warm weather, the courses were all shortened to either 2 or 3 loops of 11 kilometers on the west side trails (for either 22 kilometers or 33 kilometers). 

I took a peek at the start list the night before the race and learned Ingrid Leask was doing the pursuit. This was really exciting because it meant I would have someone to ski with for the first lap (the classic and pursuit start together) but we weren’t actually racing each other because we were in different races!  

Similar to last year, race temps were very warm. Unlike last year, the race organizers moved up the start time by an hour (9 am start, still relaxed) so we didn’t have to ski so much in the slush. This enabled me to ski faster than last year!

At the start of the race, I looked around to see who all showed up. I lined up behind Ingrid in the second row. Allie Rykken made the drive and was doing the classic as well. Allie is a solid skier with excellent technique and even if she proclaims to be out of shape, she is always a threat! There was another woman with her husband (they were wearing some matching Nike hoodies and headphones) who appeared to be quite slow. “We got a full podium,” I declared when I saw that woman. It’s always good to round out the podium. I didn’t see too many other fast women in the start but enjoyed the matching headphone couple saying “these people all look fast. They are wearing these funny spandex suits. How far is this race anyway?”
I made the Bemidji Pioneer Newspaper again. This is the start of the classic and pursuit races. Craigger was so fast he was out of the picture. I'm in this photo with both Erik (Vakava suit on the right) and my brother (too small to see).
The gun went off and we had a gradual downhill glazed start and before too long Ingrid had broke away. The first part of the course has some uphills and steep downhills, including the “s” curve. I caught back up to Ingrid in this section and we were skiing with a group of guys from NDSU. I had some fast skis compared to those guys!

By the end of the hilly section, Ingrid and I had dropped all those guys except one (I remember this happening last year, too). For the remainder of the lap, Ingrid and I skied together. Again, as I mentioned above, this is a real treat to ski race with someone who is not in my race. I talked with Craig [Cardinal] about this afterwards and turns out this happens a bit more in the men's race where there is more competition. 
Skiing with Ingrid on lap one. Photo: senior Arenz brothers
I skied by myself on the second lap. No one was around me but I tried to keep up some kind of pace because I knew Allie was behind me. Conditions were definitely slower on the second lap but not quite slush yet. My kick was also a bit better on the slushy snow as I had Rex Brown on. Still the kick wasn’t great and I did a lot of herring-boning (hip flexors were a bit sore the next day). The fast skaters all caught me on that second lap (they started 10 minutes behind me). I kept pushing to the end but without any competition it didn’t feel much like a race. It was fun to have my mom and my youngest brother cheering for me!
All by myself on lap two. Photo: senior Arenz brothers
After the race I wanted to keep skiing because I haven’t skied much on natural snow this year. A group of us did a cool down. I stayed plenty warm in just my spandex suit as temps were near 50 by this time!
Women's 22 kilometer classic podium. I love that the woman in the Nike jacket got 3rd place even though she was over an hour behind me. It's fun that the common folk can podium sometimes. Check out Allie's really awesome jacket from the Bemidji Woolen Mills! Photo: Leif Ronnander

Thanks to the Finlandia for yet again having a great race with excellent snow conditions. 
I love skiing my home town race. Not only does everyone know my name, hence I get a lot of cheers, but the local newspaper photographer knows my name as well so I got two photos on one page of the Bemidji Pioneer!

With the recent warm February temperatures, I’ve taken to some frolicking.
Frolic #1: (this really may be more of a confession and better for Twitter or Instagram, but I’m not on social media) yes, I did it. In February. And don’t hate me. It was sunny and 40s and warm. And I had fun.*

Frolic #2: I thought about biking to work on my birthday (the 20th) and when I saw the AM temp was forecasted to be 50 degrees, I really couldn’t pass this up. I don’t think it’s ever been 50 degrees in the morning at 6 am on my birthday!

Frolic #3: when I realized it was going to be 50 plus degrees on my birthday, I decided to forget about skiing and go canoeing instead! Just kidding. Since it was raining, we played Here Comes the Rain Again and worked on a 3-D Eiffel Tower Puzzle!

Frolic #4: I ran home from work in a t-shirt running bra and shorts in FEBRUARY in MINNESOTA!
Quite scantily clad for February, but still plenty warm at about 60 degrees. It was a beautiful sunset on February 21st and thanks to longer daylight, I didn't need those lights on my running belt (although I could use some help with my selfie technique:)

Frolic #5: I finally made it out canoeing (with Erik) on February 22nd! First canoe ever in February. 
Evening paddle on the Mississippi River. Lots of people were out on the banks making fires and we saw 4 boats from the U of M crew team. Not bad for 50 degrees...and likely better than skiing at Hyland. Winter is forecasted to return in 24 hours so maybe there will still be time for February Frolicking of the snowy kind. Photo: Erik

*I think this is pretty taboo so I’m trying to hide it. The answer is rollerskiing.

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