Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Tuesday Night Smackdown

Most Tuesday nights during this season formerly known as winter CSU runs a 5-10k race at Weston. Most Tuesday nights I attend. Last year I got beat down every Tuesday night, which rapidly became something not worth of blogging about. But this year is another year, right? Maybe I'm in better shape, maybe I'm not -- but either way, all the master blasters are a year older. Advantage: Colin.

Sadly I did a little research on what my elderly opponents were up to and it seems that while I was bike racing they were doing time trials at Mont Sainte Anne. Advantage: Master Blasters.

Well anyway. Tonight was the first chance to see how we'd match up, and despite the record temps Weston had plenty of its famous ice-slush blend on the ground so it was racing time, five laps of a 1.4k or so course. The remarkably orderly self-seeding lineup put me in the 3rd row, with only eight people in front of me -- unlike cross, skating skiers take up far too much space to make squeezing lots of people into a row feasible.

I may have forgotten to mention that I arrived at Weston at 6:45, and the race started at 7. I got to ski exactly one warmup lap and then stand around in the lineup for a few minutes before going to race pace. This is commonly known as a "recipe for disaster."

Things finally get rolling and I managed to stick in around 9th on the first lap. There's a nice warm breeze coming up the the fairways which promotes drafting -- so I tried to sit in as much as I could and get acclimated to the periodically anaerobic efforts I was doing. After one lap, still 9th and still in contact with the front -- so far so good.

On the second lap we started using the full course, which meant Mt. Weston and 3 hairpins per lap. This is where the drafting started to become a two-edged sword -- being at the back of the lead pack meant I got an extreme accordion effect for each slowdown, so I could really rest on the straights but then had to really sprint to stay on when we accelerated out of corners. Very cross-ish. If I had been more confident of my ability to ski with the leaders I would have moved up to 2nd-4th to reduce the yo-yo, but I was too surprised that I was hanging on to ski aggressively.

Around and around we went. Sprint, rest, sprint, rest. I thought for sure I was dropped several times, but the wind on the straights was making the leaders reluctant to pull so a few other stragglers and I were able to keep dragging ourselves back on. At one point Jon Peterson (not the CXer) and I both got dropped by a 30 yards or so, but he pulled us back most of the way and then I pulled/leapfrogged to get back to the pack. I think he made it too, and I think we had about 8 people there.

During the whole process I was gradually building a stomachache, the kind of sick feeling anyone who has done anaerobic workouts without a warmup should be familiar with. It always ends with feeling extremely queasy -- the only question was, would the race end before it hit me?

The answer was no. I hung on until the last time up Mt Weston, I got yo-yo'ed one time too many and while I was sprinting desperately to get back on the nausea hit me and my brain just gave up. If I'd kept hammering I would have probably been dropped anyway and I would have booted, and I'd rather not be known as "the guy who threw up after getting smoked by people twice his age."

I dialed it back a bit and gave up hope of being in the final sprint, but someone else dropped off the main pack at the end and I outsprinted him for 6th. I felt horrible, but I performed decently -- a pretty big change from last year, where I felt horrible and skied horribly. Or maybe I still suck, and I was able to draft my way into contention. Guess we'll have to wait till next week to really know!

8 comments:

Anonymous 1/09/2008 10:44 PM  

I'd love to try racing. as a former college hockey player, current cxer and terrible traditional nordic skier... estimate the degree of difficulty for me please.

Christopher Tassava 1/10/2008 12:33 AM  

Now that's some real racing! Pictures?

Colin R 1/10/2008 9:46 AM  

Christopher -- no pics I'm afraid, it's a night race and everyone with a camera is actively participating. Just imagine a bunch of poorly lit skiers thanks to crappy cameras not handling the lighting very well.

Anon -- degree of difficulty in racing, or degree of difficulty in racing well?

Anyone can race. Nordies are friendly, no matter how much you suck, no worries.

The problem is that if you suck at cross, you got like 20% slower than fast people. If you suck at nordic skiing, you go 80% slower. So the fun factor of getting smoked is a little questionable.

Anyway, anon, I'd say that if you can ski 10k without stopping then you can do a race and you'll have fun. If you can't ski 10k without stopping, take a lesson.

As for degree of difficulty, we threw many a novice skier on skis for the first time in January on my college club team and all of them were able to race a 10k by the end of the year without dying.

Luke S 1/10/2008 9:09 PM  

Hey colin-I'm in your fantasy nordic league. I'm the one who manages to do OK without having any points. (explain please?)

In any case, I'm looking forward seeing how we match up on Sunday at Weston. I'm assuming thats what you meant by sprints. I'm in the EHS qualifier race in the morning, so I'll probably be pretty fried, but we'll see.

To anon-Anyone can learn how to skate ski in a winter if they try. If you live in the Boston area, get to Weston, and within 2-3 weeks you should be able to beat at least someone in one of those Tuesday night races. Then work your way up to those 10k's Colin is talking about, they have a few more hills.

Anonymous 1/11/2008 9:01 AM  

I can't ski for poo... but I can skate real good.

do they rent?

Colin R 1/11/2008 9:41 AM  

yeah, they rent at Weston.

anon = Feltslave. Fo sho.

Luke -- I'm looking forward to the icy mess Weston provides on Sunday. You might beat me in the 5k but I like my chances in the sprint :)

Anonymous 1/11/2008 1:39 PM  

feltslave? who dat?

Colin R 1/11/2008 1:51 PM  

A dude I know who matches all the information you've dropped about yourself quite accurately.

But perhaps I'm wrong.

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