Sunday, March 05, 2006

"Great" race? yes and no..

against all logic, the 4 of us got up early, put on our gear and race bib numbers, and headed off to the ski race. 30km- almost all uphill for 10km, followed by mostly downhill for the last 20km.
We lined up in our pen with wave 4. based on watching people during warmups and seeing their bib numbers, I could tell that seeding ourselves in wave 4 was a likely a tad optimistic. the annoucer told us that there were 875 entrant- less than usual due to the dearth of snow leading up to the race, then the excess immediatley prior. he also mentioned that racers had come from far-away places such as wash, dc. most of the people are locals, but people do come from all over, and the lead wave had the subaru factory team. each wave started with a couple minutes after the preceeding one- off we went and started the long, steady climb to the summit. a couple of kms into the race it was obvious it was going to be a tough race for me. climbing on skate skis is never easy for me, but I felt especially out of it today. awkward technique, sub-optimal fitness, altitude, and having skied several hours each of the 2 previous days ensured that I felt pretty weak very quickly. after about 3 km I saw Drajem about to pass me, and I paused to chat with him. I thought he'd like to comisserate about the brutal humanity of it all, maybe even talk about how much we want to quit, but he wanted no part of it. so, while he skated off into the distance, I was left to suffer in my private hell of half walking, half skiing. the kilometers were passing slowly, but not so the hordes coming up from behind. it was equal-opportunity discouragement- men, women, old-timers, young girls and boys and worked their way past me.
Eventually I made it to the fisrt "soup station" at 10km. no soup to be found but I grabbed a little gatorade and chocalate and headed off towards the downhill section. this part was reall fun. fast straight sections with the occasional swithback. now I was passing people instead of being passed, and it was nice to covers the miles with minimal effort. 20 km seemed to come in no time, and as the trail flattened I made it to 25k. I left that checkpoint determined to finish strong, but as soon as I started going it was obvious my body was telling me it had had enough. So even thought the terrain wasn't that tough I ended up struggling on every little hill. Som epeople on the side encouraged us- telling us that there was only 1km to go. again I committed to cranking out the last bit- I tried to figure out how long a km should take me but couldn't calcualte it with my tired brain. A half km later I could see down below us the town of Truckee and I figured we'd have a final descent. I expected some relatively gradual switchbacks but instead the trail started aiming steeply down- a few tight fairly steep sections followed by a very steep long downhill across the finsh line. on one of the final hairpins a woman missed the turn and crasdhed into the snowbank. distracted by her and with tired legs, I found myself missing the turn as well, smashing thru the snow bank. no harm done , I untangled myself, and made my way to the steep final hill. along with a few others I gathered myself and mostly snowplowed down, very happy to be finshed. In the end I finshed in 2:32, good for 391st place, in the top half at least. drajem had finshed 10 mninutes earlier, and todd came in perhaps 15 minutes later. we grab bed some chilli then walked up the hill to encourage khalil, who had gamely stuck it out despite struggling on the fast downhills. it really is a fantastic event, and I'm glad I did it, but I do wish I could have actually skied a lot more of the hill. - marc


Blogger gwadzilla said...

I read the post falsely using Kahlil's voice in my head as the narrarator

great race!
sounds like a great time
how did you do on the targets?
that is a different event

12:59 PM  

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