Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday Night Series: 5th time is a charm

Fall 2011 has been my worst start to a ski season, ever. And I'm a slow starter (learner too!). Been a regular master of disaster, what with skiing off course last month at the 2nd Wednesday night race; classic skiing personal worsts at Turkey Day Relays and the GundeLoppet races. Now the sprint race was decent, I stayed on my feet, but a distant, and I mean distant, third is nothing to write home about.

Last night was supposed to be classic, but yesterday morning race director Ken informed us by email that it would be a skate race. This was both good and bad. Good because I'm much more confident with skating these days (see several recent entries for that story), but sort of bad because on Monday I had just dropped off my trusty skate skis for a stone grinding, thinking I wouldn't be skate racing until next month. Enough time to for multiple wax layers. I like to get in between 5 and 10 layers of warm wax (CH7/LF7), plus a fair amount of skiing them in, before actually prepping the skis for a race. This process usually takes weeks.

I had all of 2.5 hours to get it done! Base layer was on and they were hotboxed (which totally helped), so I put on a quick layer of purple then blue over lunch and after work it was blue--temperatures were dropping faster than the European economy--so two layers of LF4. By then it was 6:15, only time for a quick preview of the course (no wrong turns planned!!!!), with some pickups and a hit of albutorol to stave off an asthma attack.

By race time it was about 4F. Most of the usual Wednesday night suspects were there, sans Kramer and Arvey.

The course was a rolling 5K, with the trickiest part over the first 2K, with a short blast out of the stadium and 180 degree turn after about 200 meters followed by flat for 300 meters and the entire 1.5K, fairly narrow, hilly and twisty, Warm Up loop. I tucked in nicely into 5th or so through the first half K, with Max, Jim, Jim, and Dave taking the lead (first names used to protect the innocent). Surprisingly, on Warm Up's first downhill national class skier Tyson skied around and tucked in to our group.

What the heck?

I just cruised and drafted through 2K, and the into the Stadium Tyson busted out and was not to be seen again (by me at least), while Max and Jim pulled away. Dave set a strong pace too, so I tried to hang on. Played a little masters cat and mouse with Jim, through Relay Loop while Dave did the work. Up East Ramp, Dave started to pull away by 30 m or so, and Jim slowed so I went after Dave, who obviously had younger-fresher legs.

I was close on White Bear Access, but he put no a powerful hop step up the hill leading into the switch backs and his gap grew from about 2 seconds to maybe 5. So it was pretty much over. Just before heading into the stadium I was tying up, barely hanging, and expecting Jim to go blasting by. So I committed a cardinal error and looked back. Shouldn't do that but he was a good 50 meters behind and looking as pekid as I was feeling, and I knew I'd be able to hang on for the sprint. So I regrouped and set my sights on Dave. Gained on the stadium backstretch, but he was definitely faster on the sprint to the finish line, and I was 5th about 7 seconds behind Dave.

1st "masters: (Max and Jim are over 40, but for this series masters starts at 45), and shook that bad monkey of my back.

It was a good night to race, and as my cool down partner aptly said, "how racing should be. You show up, line up, the RD says a few words, and you go!" Simple, laid back, straigtforward.

Unofficial Quick Results:

13:40 Tyson
14:16 Max? (I didn't find out who won that duel)
14:17 Jim?
14:36 Dave
14:43 Me
14:59 Jim
~15:20 Gary
~15:40s Davya (1st woman)


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