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Wild Rumpus Sports

Two slow Saturdays in the snow.

So I actually entered a ski race a week ago, and should probably blog about it. I have waited due to a few factors: jet lag, a desire not to compete with U.S. Nationals coverage, and not wanting to admit how slow I raced.
The race was a Zak Cup at Gunstock.
The last time I raced at Gunstock was an Eastern Cup several years ago where I requested to be seeded as a Master racer so that I could make my start time after working in the morning. The snow slowed after the faster seeds and then started to speed up again as I started. By the time I finished the tracks were blazing fast. I won that race, but it is hard to say whether I did so despite or because of the changing snow conditions.
Last Saturday I started in bib #1, a consideration given to me as I was flying back to Europe that afternoon. The course was fast and icy (but very well prepared). I skied hard out of the start, and came through the lap right between a Bowdoin skier and Fabian Stocek of Dartmouth. I caught the Bowdoin skier in a few hundred meters, and shortly after Fabian caught us both. I moved aside a couple times to let him by, but he declined, leading me to think that maybe I was skiing fairly well.
As I came through the lap the second time, Fabian went by me. Somehow I managed to trip myself as he did so. I must emphasize that neither he nor the other skier near me had anything whatsoever to do with my fall, it was due completely to my own incompetence. I am just glad I didn’t taken them down with me. Anyway, it can’t have cost me 10 seconds to crash and yet by the time I next got a look at Fabian he was 20 seconds ahead and continuing to grow his lead. Based on the results he put over a minute into me over that lap, and then didn’t slow down on his third lap.
I ended up eighth place, losing to several skiers I don’t think had ever beaten me before. My 2 minute deficit to Fabian is certainly my worst ever result relative to him. I did win the master’s division by 8 seconds over Sam Evans-Brown; the last time I remember being on the same results sheet as him was four years ago when I was 4 minutes ahead over 45 minutes.
So … it turns out that living in a country with no snow and practically no hills (and not bothering to rollerski) is not good for ski race performance. I could try to make other excuses, but there doesn’t seem much point.
Yesterday I got to train in snowy conditions again. There was heavy wind and precipitation that straddled the hail/graupel line, with occasional bursts of sleet. I planned to run 8 times about 1500 meters in the Dunes, starting at 5:15 and getting steadily faster. I am hoping that the weather (poor footing in corners, sogginess, wind) slowed me down a huge amount, because in four repeats I couldn’t get under 5:27. All in all it was probably the slowest interval session I have done since high school. Jet lag? Too much skiing in the last month, not enough running? Weather? Or just getting old and slow, regardless of the sport? Time will tell.

Racing in a Foreign Country

You might think that after a year in Holland – a country where almost everyone speaks good English – I would have the logistics of racing figured out. I thought so too. I was wrong. Buses don’t run early on Sunday morning, so in order to get to Amsterdam for the Dam tot Damloop 10 miler, I had to first bike the the Leiden train station. There were two detours along the way. The first had signs indicating the alternate route, but the second had nothing (I later learned the the best course of action was to ignore the barrier and ride through the “closed” path). I didn’t do that in the morning though, so I missed the train I was hoping to take and got to Amsterdam 15 minutes later than I hoped. I still had plenty of time before my race, and I got in a decent warm-up,…

Tips for Master Skiers

Last Thanksgiving, I received an email forwarded through FasterSkier asking if I would write advice for another older athlete with kids and a full time job. I have received a couple similar requests over the years, and I keep thinking that I will make a blog post about this soon, rather than trying to respond to individuals. I have started the post a couple of times – maybe this is the version I will actually finish. 1. Train every day. This is really the most important part of getting and staying in shape. And for many, it is the hardest. Now, a day off here and there is a good thing, so – like any advice you receive, particularly from me – take it with a grain of salt. But as a parent with a full time job, there is almost always a reason to take a day off: family…

A Not-So-Triumphant Return to the Track

On Friday night I competed in a track meet for the first time in more than 18 years. The last time I was at a track meet I set two PRs – one in the hammer (101’3″) and one in the 400 (57.5) – I was actually drafted at the last minute to rabbit the 800. How all that came to be is a story for another time. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on my return, but it actually felt quite familiar. Despite being in another country, and being alone, the feeling of being at a track meet is very much the same. There was the rush of adrenaline every time the gun went off to start another heat, the nervousness of checking out the competition, the frustration with the meet being a bit behind schedule. And about that schedule – the 5000 m was schedule to start…

January Track Workout

I doubt my blog silence has been noticed by many, what with Nationals going on, not to mention three U.S. women on podiums in different stages of the Tour de Ski, but it seems I do still have a blog! I was home in New Hampshire for three weeks, and got to see lots of family and friends. And despite the weather (Kris and I summitted Sandwich Dome on Christmas Day, and there was no white stuff to be seen) I managed to get in about 20 hours on snow. Now that I am back in Holland, this has given me the answer to a question I have had for some time: just how many days of all skiing does it take before the return to running is all sore muscles and excruciating pain? Turns out the answer is somewhere south of 10 days 🙁 Anyway, sore – and jetlagged…

Technique Drills

I know this blog is on a skiing website, and I know that this is the time of year when a lot of readers (if I have a lot of readers) might be looking for some technique drills to get ready for the upcoming ski season. I don’t think this is the post for them (but it might be. You’ve come this far, so why not keep reading?) This is a post about technique drills for running. It is not a post I ever thought I would write, as I have always been skeptical of any attempt to dictate running form. My experience over the past couple of months at my running club, however, has changed my mind. In particular, this week I considered not going to the weekly track workout, as I have been nursing a hip injury. But I went. I felt my hip a little during the…

Dam tot Damloop

Okay, WordPress has eaten this post twice. The most brilliant prose I have ever written, and it is gone (as far as you know). Here are the highlights: The Dam tot Damloop in Amsterdam has 48,000 participants. The winning time was 45:19. I was 30th, 28th man, 2nd over 35, in 52:05. The Dutch have outdoor, semi-enclosed urinals at there races which makes the line at the port-a-johns a lot shorter. Near the start of the race I ran for over a kilometer through a tunnel under the canal. That was kind of cool (not least because in created a small hill on which I made crazy amounts of time on the Dutch runners who really can’t handle the least hint of an incline).

Running in Holland

I still don’t have internet at my house here so this may be a short post. But I am getting running figured out – who needs internet or a cell phone or food that your youngest child can eat when you know the closest track and a good trail for long runs? Anyway, I found both of those last two things. It is about a 9 km bike ride to the track owned by Leiden Atletiek, a club I may end up joining. They have a beautiful and well-maintained eight lane outdoor track. I did ride about 18 km yesterday just to get there, as I did not remember exactly where the track was. And no one I asked even knew there was a track in the area – which is no surprise given that the track is hidden with residential neighborhoods on one side and a big urban woods…


Wow! Blogging has been slow this month. So I will make a quick summary. I raced Loon Mountain a few weeks ago. I had an unremarkable race to end up third. I like to think that I could have at least scared Ryan Kelly for second place (instead of being a minute back) but I didn’t, and Josh Ferenc was untouchable another 20 seconds up. And last week I raced the Bill Luti, bringing home my third title in that race with another so-so effort: a younger runner led me through the mile in 5:00, and then dropped like a rock even as I had a lousy second mile up the hill. The big event of the month was running the Pemi Loop with Kris. We have both had our eyes on this ~33 mile loop with ~10,000 feet of vertical for many years, and finally decided to go for…

Mt Washington

I have been slow to report on the Mt Washington road race, but it is still worth writing about. In many ways it was actually a boring race. I went out hard on the first couple hundred meters of flat, sharing the lead, fell to 11th when the climb started, and passed about one person per mile until I reached four miles. Just past mile five, former winner Rickey Gates passed me back, and so I finished in 8th place. I was 30 seconds behind Rickey at the finish, and almost a minute ahead of 9th place, so there just wasn’t much drama (unlike last year, where I passed Dan Princic in the final minute). It was, however, a great day. I ran up the hill in 1:05:55, a little over 30 seconds under my previous best. I have been pretty tired the last couple days in a way that…