Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday Night Sprints #2

Owie! This one hurt. Warming up, I immediately recognized my skis were uber slow, especially on the downhills. I waxed with a colder HF. But I wonder if more is going on that just that. I used my race skis tonight. They are RS11's, just like my training skis, but I think they may be one notch stiffer. At 192cm, they may be too stiff for me. They surely felt different than the skis I've been on all season so far, yet they are identical model. I definitely need to sort this one out before the bigger races.

This time we seeded based on last week's result. I was in row six just like I self seeded last week. Also like last week, there were bus loads of kids there. It was a new course format that I could not figure out warming up. I prayed that those I followed did not lose contact with those in front of them, and somebody up front knew where they were going. I immediately lost ground on the double pole start, maybe five or six came by. We were not in tracks. It was a slight downhill, and my slow skis were no doubt a contributor. Two skiers tangled just after the skating began, with at least one going down. I was far enough back to avoid it. I held my ground for a while on the first of two laps, but man, it sure seemed like there were a bunch strung out way ahead of me. Things split up, and I was at the back of the third group.

We ventured onto part of the golf course that has no lighting, a section I haven't seen used in Tuesday night races before. The ground there undulates something fierce. It was the most unnerving feeling not knowing if your ski was going to plant 4" high or 4" low. The snow was super moist too with temp in the mid-30's. It very quickly packed down and became hard and less edgeable.

In the second lap, I passed six skiers. One stayed on me along the straight away across the back of the course. I tried to hold him off at the line, but I think he just edged me out for 22nd place. The clock appeared to die again. I estimate my race went 4.86km in 14:53 minutes per GPS (I was too busy trying not to hurl instead of hitting the lap button right away). No results yet, but I was told I was 23rd to finish out of at least 70 that started. Another clean race for me with no crashes or close calls.

Warmup, race, and post race tempo laps

This course was much flatter than last week, and I felt like I was flailing half the time. I need those hills to level the playing field some. It was also too short, about 30% shorter than last week. Looking at the heartrate data, I was just getting warmed up when the race was over. I should have done some more rigorous efforts before the race. My HR might have responded a little more quickly at the start. I probably wasn't recovered from last week's skiing either. I logged 98.5km, most of it on the weekend at a rigorous pace. Nearly 100km is a new weekly PR skate skiing for me. After taking Monday off and working late, it was good to get a superb endorphin fix in. I probably won't fall asleep until 3am tonight.

On a side note, I posted some time ago about Omega-3 supplementation for asthmatics. I have not used my albuterol inhaler in about six months now. The true acid test is intensely anaerobic efforts in cold air. These last two weeks at Weston have not produced a single wheezy inhale. I am essentially asymptomatic, going on six months now, for the first time in my life. Can't say for sure it's the fish oil I take twice a day, but my asthma went from frequent nuisance to non-existent. Recent studies suggest it is not so much a lack of Omega-3, but a huge imbalance of Omega-3 to Omega-6. Americans get way too much Omega-6 in their high fat diets. Perhaps I could acheive the same effect by drastically cutting Omega-6 fat sources out of my diet.


Luke S said...

Stiff skis probably didn't contribute too much to slowness. Control issues, maybe, if you felt like you were having any. I don't know what the conditions were like, but if the snow was really moist in the mid-30's you might have been on too fine a structure. Without an aggressive structure or a rill in really wet conditions a lot of suction is created between the ski and the snow.

Alex said...

The structure of your ski matters a lot more than the wax you have on it, especially in very cold or very warm (like last night) conditions. If you only have one pair of race skis, it is best to have a universal type of grind, or just stick with what came from the factory, and then use hand-structuring tools to change the structure to match the conditions. Use a metal scraper to take some base material off and smooth out the structure in the extreme cold, and a riller of some sort (toko, swix) to add structure in warmer temperatures.

The more serious skiers will have at least two pairs of skis - one for really cold conditions with a very fine, linear grind, and one for warm conditions, with a very agressive grind and probably some big linear rills going down it for moisture control as well.

For rillers, the Toko riller does a pretty good job, as it just presses the rills into the ski, that then get scraped out next time you wax. The Swix riller will cut into the ski base, and is great for when you want to permanently alter the structure of your ski.

The flailing you felt can be aleviated with a lot of no-pole skate work, to smooth out your stride and increase your balance...

Hill Junkie said...

Thanks, all great advice. The RS11 skis I raced are still relatively new. They've been through 6 or 8 wax cycles, so maybe they aren't fully permeated with wax yet. They actually have more structure with the stock factory grind than my worn training pair of RS11's. I'm hesitant to venture into the realm of rillers.

I had my second race skate clinnic with Andy tonight. Was challenging to stay worm, but he kept us moving. Every drill exposed nothing but weaknesses. My biggest problem as a cyclist is keeping the hips forward, lower leg bent. I want to apply my over-developed cycling muscles. Everything else sucks too, but if I can fix this one thing, I'll at least waste fewer kilojoules melting snow with my skis.

Alex said...

6-8 coats of wax is probably enough, but the more wax you put into the skis, the faster they will get. Make sure to have a couple layers of really cold wax (swix CH4, toko blue with hardener powder, start green, etc) to harden up the base a bit, and a couple layers of molybdenum or graphite wax as well. If you've got the dollars to burn, getting some pure fluoros into your bases will also make them faster, just for having been ironed in. The ideal situation is to hotbox your skis after stonegrinding... something to think about for next season =)