30K Freestyle: Brrrrringing it Home
Going in on Sunday I was disappointed to see the temperatures drop over the weekend, after several weeks of nice weather here. If it's a skate race this year, it must be cold. All but the Besh Cup 5 the other week (which was at a balmy 5 above) have been sub zero.
The groomers and grooming machine did a nice job, and at -7 before the start the trails felt reasonbly fast. Before we got the groomer last year it would have been sandpaper slow at those temps.
My training has been going pretty well, but this has been an odd/challenging year for racing (they all are in their own way), and I didn't know how I'd fare in the cold temps and longer distance. The lead pack, dominated by UAF skiers started out pretty slow and I had them in close sight (not more than 10-15 seconds) through the first 3-4K, hanging back in 8th or 9th place. They broke it up on White Bear after the Sonot Cutoff. By then I was in no-man's land and stayed there through Moilanen's Meadow, when a couple guys started to drop back into my view. I was borderline too cold, but not uncomfortable either; an extra layer of tights or UnderArmor could have helped and my feet were cold. Otherwise, layered up and duct tape on my face to fend of the cold temps and fine snow that was falling.
Just before the the lap I passed one of the UAF skiers (Peter, who is redshirting) and slowed in the stadium to fish out a gel from my water bottle holder. I should have had someone hand one me one because it the gel was so cold I had to chew it. Took a drink at the feed station but was cotton mouthed--and this would affect me later. Peter came back on me and we pulled through Tower pretty strong, reeling in Wyatt (another UAF redshirt) and Max.
Out on White Bear, just past the Biathlon Range, we formed into a group of four, the pace was quickening. Although boderline hypoxic I was feeling good, I was also very dry-mouthed (despite taking a drink every 20-25 minutes on the first lap), and had to get another. I was terribly slow getting that water bottle out and open and some liquid into my parched but chilled throat, that they had all gapped me by 15-20 seconds by the time I could get it back together on that flat stretch between the 4.5 and 6.5 K cutoffs.
Peter and Wyatt had pulled away at a strong pace, but I was able to catch Max before the long cold descent at the far end of the White Bear loop. I was a little ahead coming out of "the hole" but oy, my legs started to lock up. With 5-6 K to go, I had to back down a bit. So tucked in behind Max and regrouped. Up the long steep part of the hill Peter was out of sight but Wyatt was still there, so I put my head down and went after him. And that's pretty much how it ended. I think we were gaining on Kramer, but both of them were too far up to catch (as if I'd have anything left for a sprint). By the end I was getting dizzy and bleary, lost in my own personal ice fog.
The finish was and will be largely anonymous, but 6th place overall with some pretty good skiers in that top 5, I'm not disappointed. Also won a pair of Swix poles in the drawing (inadvertantly--haha probably NOT--left off the club's official write up). Woot!
Thanks to Raven Cross Country and Buetow Dental for sponsoring this event and for their support of the Distance Series. These are the races I enjoy the most.
Top 10 Overall
1. Logan Hanneman, 1:27:33.0
2. Ian Wilkinson, 1:30:23.2
3. Peter Brewer, 1:35:45.3
4. Mike Kramer, 1:36:47.2
5. Wyatt Mayo, 1:37:17.3
6. Roger Sayre, 1:37:52.5
7. Max Kaufman, 1:39:43.7
8. Dashiell Feierabend, 1:42:18.9
9. Gary Holton, 1:43:23.5
10. Melissa Lewis, 1:47:53.3