May 17th, 2013
A couple days ago I did my third (or is it fourth?) track workout of the season. I ran three 400s, three 800s, and three more 400s. Times were almost exactly what I was hoping for: 69, 68, 70, 2:24, 2:22, 2:20, 68, 68, 69. And I have been out for a couple of longer (~10 mile) runs this week that have felt easy but fast. I am still a long way from running as fast as I hope to this season, but so far all signs are good. I have a 10 mile tempo run scheduled this weekend, and with school ending soon, I can really start to ramp up my mileage over the next few weeks.No comments
May 11th, 2013
I have run a couple workouts with my brother this spring, and I will probably run a couple more. This is fun, as I enjoy beating up on my brother, although I have a hard time pacing well when Kris in in the picture–our first workout was supposed to be level three, but I went out too fast on the first couple intervals and could not maintain pace.
Anyway, another benefit of running with Kris is that he had an excellent summary of my season last year: I peaked for the Muddy Moose. This year, I clearly did not. I won’t be able to race again for a while, but I expect to be a lot faster at my next race in early June.
Today represented progress. I ran a little over seven miles on hilly terrain at 6:00 pace. This isn’t amazing, certainly, but it was a solid workout, and I think I did a decent job of staying in level three (or at least running a consistent pace the whole time).
Hopefully I will get on the track again with my brother this week, and work on my leg speed. The plan calls for a lot work on level three and separate work on leg speed, and not worrying about putting it together until July. Time will tell if it actually works.
April 30th, 2013
I raced the Muddy Moose Race last weekend. I ended up 3rd, in about 1:40. This is on the slow end of the times I have run there in the past (between 1:36 and 1:40) excepting last year, when I ran 1:28. This year the course was even faster than it was last year, but I was not. Josh Ferenc went out hard and ended up winning the race, and Jim Johnson, who was just behind me last year at this race, was trailing him. I could see Jim until about 6 miles, and at that point I was on pace to nearly match last year’s performance. But then I lost sight of Jim, and with that contact I lost motivation. I had neither the mental nor the physical capacity to compete–I have no doubt that if anyone had managed to catch me, they would have dropped me hard in no time.
I do have a list of excuses:
My longest run to date has been 10 miles.
I have missed a few days of training to take care of my knee, which has been very tight post-training all spring.
I have had a weird lingering cold that has cost me a couple more days of training.
I had eye surgery two weeks ago, costing me more training, and also making me very paranoid on some sections of the trail (needing to take care of my knee didn’t help the paranoia much either)…
Anyway, I will probably have more excuses this year. But so far, there is absolutely nothing to indicate I can’t have the best running season of my life this summer. So, as I did two years ago, I am going to write my goals here:
5 km in 14:32 or better (this would be the fastest 5km by a 35+ NH resident at an in-state road race). Failing that, I at least want to set a PR (sub-14:44).
I also want to break either my 5 mile or 10 km PR (both would be okay too). My best 5 mile race to date was in college, on a short course, so this probably works out to sub-24:50, but I will count anything under 25 flat as a road PR. And my 10 km PRs are 31:36 (twice) on the road or 31:21 if you include track races.
The basic plan is to hold the mileage down while doing some biking as cross training, and to make the intervals longer (400s when I would have done 200s, 1000s when I would have done 400s, long threshhold workouts instead of mile repeats), while also spending more time developing comfort at faster than race pace. We’ll see how it goes.
April 10th, 2013
Yesterday was my first hard running workout of the season. I am a little behind last year (partly because the snow lingered a bit longer this year) so instead of easing in I did a relatively hard opening speed session: Five sets of 200m/200m/400m at about 33-33-70, all with 200m recovery. I was actually hoping I could run the 400s a bit faster but it was not going to happen.
Anyway, I woke up today with some pain in my knee. It is fine when weight bearing, but is tight and a little painful when unloaded and bent. Which means that (today at least) I could have run on it with no problems. But instead I chose to go for an easy bike ride. About an hour, and I resisted the urge to go hard (since that is a good way to hurt the knee I was protecting). Anyway, maybe being cautious will pay off. It is likely that I could get away with running through this pain, but one of my goals this year is to stay injury free–because two weeks off in the summer hurts running performance a whole lot more than one day in the spring.
March 25th, 2013
That was the story for me this weekend at Craftsbury. 19 seconds out in the prologue, and then 21.65 seconds out in the sprint qualifier. I really thought that I could do better than that, but less than halfway around the 1.5 km course I could feel Cole Morgan closing, and he passed and dropped me from 15 seconds back. He wasn’t even on the podium for the qualifier. I did sneak into the rounds with 24th place, but was up against Cole, Tim Reynolds, and Patrick Caldwell, so I quickly realized that I was not going to the semifinals. I finished in 5th place in my heat, about 120 meters behind the winner.
The 15 km classic, though, was the reason I went for the weekend. I was a little nervous about wax, but ended up racing on the same thing I did in the prologue (Swix Special Red with a smidge of VR 60 under the toe). The wax (and my skis) were great, running fast on the double pole sections and climbing well. I started 17th but was into about 12th by a kilometer and a half into the race. By 3.5 km, I had 6th place in my sights, and at 6 km I was in 5th place. At 9 km Zach Caldwell told me that the podium was within reach, but I was exhausted by then and the skiers ahead of me turned it on for the last lap. I continued to pull back a couple seconds from Scott Patterson, but was much closer to being caught and relegated to 6th place than I was to catching him.
I ended up with the 4th fastest split of the day, 21.4 seconds off Patrick Caldwell (and so closer to a win than I was in the sprint). It is a validating result, showing that I still can put together a good ski race. But it takes me at least three months to develop my ski fitness. At this point, if I actually want to put together I decent ski season, I am going to have to start rollerskiing in earnest in late September, and I don’t know that I see myself doing that…
March 22nd, 2013
I am finishing my ski season at the Craftsbury Spring Tour. I finished second in the overall here two years ago, and when I saw that they were holding the series again at a time when I could come, I was excited. Then I realized there was only one distance race (instead of two, like last time). So I have known that there is no chance of me winning the weekend.
Still, I have been feeling good about my ski fitness, so I thought that against a field full of racers who are justifiably tired after long seasons, I might manage some decent results.
So far, so good. I was 7th in the prologue today, ahead of several skiers who probably ought to feel embarrassed about losing to me. It was a tough course–the 3.75 km loop here actually has a bigger max climb than the 5 km. I felt pretty good on both the descent and on the climb, and while losing 19 seconds in a 10 minute race is hardly something to brag about for most people, I am the only 30-something, the only father of two, and the only person with a full-time job in the top 10, so I am going to be happy with the result.
Tomorrow, I just need to be top-30 in a field of 37 and I can advance to the rounds in a sprint for the first time in many years. The course looks good for me–I can imagine making it to the semi-final round! We’ll see…
March 3rd, 2013
I finally managed to win a race today! This makes my fifth Ski to the Clouds victory, and it was by a solid margin.
Given my season, I was not counting on a victory. This was especially since Bret Bedard was also on the start line, and over the past year or so I think I entered today 2 and 5 in head-to-head races against Bret, and worse when you consider only skate races.
The game plan to was let someone else lead on the first 4 km loop, and indeed to avoid leading until at least a kilometer into the climb, then attack on one of the “flat” sections and open a gap. But off the line no one even tried to get the lead, and being in bib 1 (and the four time defending champion) I felt obligated to set the pace. I skied very controlled, just fast enough to discourage anyone else from passing, at the front of an 8-strong pack. When we got to the climb, I attacked a bit right from the start and fairly quickly shook everyone but Bret. Then I pulled over and let him lead. It wasn’t too bad skiing behind him, but I don’t think I could say I was relaxed. He pulled for quite a while. I was thinking of abandoning my plan for an attack at 1 km and waiting until nearer the finish (which was moved a bit farther up the mountain this year). Indeed, I was thinking quite a lot. With all the new snow, the trail was narrower than usual and passing was very tricky–in a sprint, having the lead when the line came into view was going to be a huge advantage.
As I was sorting through all these thoughts, Bret pulled over to let me lead. I obliged, and I took over at about the same pace. But he slowed for a few strides to collect himself. I made a quick decision to return to plan A and I upped the pace. He broke immediately, and I steadily opened a gap over the next several minutes. After perhaps five minutes of leading, I looked back and saw that I had a gap of over 30 seconds. I tried to ski my own race, but I checked a while later and found that the gap was up to a minute. Even at that point, I felt I was not skiing very fast and I pushed hard to make sure that I stayed out of sight as much as possible. I was very nervous about the longer course.
Countless time checks and regrettable glances over my shoulder later, I came to the old finish line. From the site of the old finish line it was less than 200 meters to the new finish line. Still, it hurt to go that extra distance. I suffered across the line, making no effort to look good for the finish line camera.
Bret crossed about 1:45 later. I put on a jacket (they delayed the coach with the warm clothes bag so for a change I had warm clothes to put on) and skied down. 36 minutes up, 9 minutes down. It feels good to have a victory to point to this year, and to once again be able to claim that I am a professional cross country skier (the race pays prize money).
February 17th, 2013
I raced the last Eastern Cup today. Or rather, I raced the first 9 km of the 10 km skate race. Up until that point it was going well. Will Sweetser did my skis again, and while I gave him a pair with a grind that was a bit warm for the cold, blowing snow, they were my favorite pair of skis and they were climbing great. According to the splits I was battling with eventual winner Bret Bedard for second with a couple of kilometers to go.
And then, after I had come through all of the tricky corners on the final decent, and was about to start attacking the final short climb, I crashed. I can’t tell you why…I didn’t hit anything, or get bumped, nor did I have time to process that I was off balance and start to correct. Rather, I was suddenly sliding along on my stomach, and then I was hit by the skier who had been drafting me (and who lost at least four places himself when I caused him to crash).
After we untangled, he took off, and I tried to chase him. But I couldn’t. It took a few seconds to realize that my ski was broken. I had to run up the hill in a herringbone, and then kick my ski around a bit in order to get it flat. I double-poled down the hill, suffered through some corners, and had to double pole up the final (very short) hill and into the finish, All in all I think it is safe to figure that I lost around a minute, maybe a bit more, which would have put me in third place, and within striking distance of the win.
Or course, it is one thing when something outside your control causes you to lose a race–a skier crashes in front of you, your ski catches a rock, a course official directs you the wrong way–and another when you just can’t manage to stay on your feet. There is something gratifying in knowing that I might have had the fitness to win today. But ski racing isn’t about fitness, it is about getting to the finish line fastest. And once again, I was not the fastest person to the line today. And with the fitness I had a few years ago steadily evaporating, I am starting to feel I will never win a race again.
Which isn’t to say that I won’t be out on the Eastern Cup circuit again next season. I was one of only six men over the age of 22 who showed up this weekend. But I love racing. I can say that with confidence now–I don’t just love winning, I love racing, pushing my limits, and helping others push theirs. And so, for the rest of this season, and next season, I will be out there, racing as best I can.
February 16th, 2013
I raced today in the Eastern Cup at Quarry Road in Waterville, ME (which was moved from Augusta–in fact I only realized that at about 9:30 last night when I was double checking directions). It was a 15 km classic mass start. With most college skiers at a carnival race, and Patty Caldwell elsewhere, I was the top ranked skier and started in the front of the chevron start.
I had a bad start, managing to fall to 6th place in the first 100 meters. After that I slowly moved up to a tie for 3rd place. I had great skis during the first lap–Will Sweetser did my skis for me. He sanded the bases in a way he insists makes them not zeros, but it seems like the same thing to me. Anyway, around 2.5 km I got a bit tangled with Jordan Fields. It took us a couple seconds to separate our skis and poles, during which time Welly Ramsey and Alex Schulz got a little lead on us.
I held on to 3rd place, with the two in front of me slowing putting distance on me, and starting to open a gap on 4th place, for the rest of the lap. Then Alex seemed to slow, and I caught him, and was making ground on Welly as well. For most of the second lap I thought that I had second place wrapped up. But the snow stopped falling, and the tracks got skied in, and everyone’s kicked deteriorated. Since Welly had the same thing on his skis that I did, it is hard to claim that mine weren’t good. But I had a hard time kicking them–not so much because of the skis but because I just don’t have the fitness to make skis work well unless they are perfect–and as I said, no one’s skis were perfect. Anyway, Alex dropped me again during the third lap, and I had to fight to stay in 3rd place.
But I held on for my first Eastern Cup podium of the year. It wasn’t the victory I was hoping for. And while it will be my best Nensa points race of the year, my points are getting steadily worse and it seems unlikely that I will ever be the first seed, even in a lightly attended Eastern Cup, ever again.
But who knows, maybe I can pull out a victory in the skate tomorrow. Stranger things have happened.
February 12th, 2013
Over a week ago now I skied the Eastern Cup races at Stowe. I brought my family as well, so it was an interesting packing process:
skis, boots, poles…
hat, gloves, sunglassess,
suit, warm-ups, drink belt
other clothes, toothbrush, okay I’m done.
20 baby dolls…car seats for 20 baby dolls…no we can’t bring those…brief meltdown,
20 baby dolls in a large picnic basket, each doll carefully arranged to be sitting up.
a couple of bathtubs and rubber duckies for the babies
Trunkis (kids suitcases that double as riding toys) filled with clothes and miscellaneous stuff
swim gear, sleds, Chariot, snowsuits, more skis boots and poles, hats, neckwarmers, mittens (NO I WANT MY OTHER MITTENS)
The races themselves went okay. I was 16th and 18th. Last year I was still a top 10 racer against the full Eastern Cup + College field, but that seems to no longer be the case. I could argue that the modified course (this was pre-blizzard, so there was very little snow) didn’t suit my strengths, but I am not convinced I have a lot of strengths left for courses to suit…
On the plus side I really felt like I was racing. I went out hard, hammered the climbs, worked the transitions, and had something left at the end to really push to the finish. And I enjoyed the feeling of pushing really hard for about 25 minutes, and feeling properly spent at the end. But it will take a while to get used to finishing this far down on the results list.
And realistic or not, the goal for next weekend is to win one of the races, since I should finally be racing a field with no top college skiers.