The Weston Tuesday night sprint series has started. With it, my training for the 2010 cycling season has commenced. I became a skatey-skier a few years ago as a means of maintaining fitness over winter. Learning the technique has been a slow, humbling experience. I continue to improve. Like golf, you could spend a lifetime perfecting the technique. My technique has a long way to go to catch up with my cardio ability carried over from the bike. I suspect as I get older and my VOmax wanes, I will still have the potential to get faster skating on snow. Technique is that important.
Tuesday night was the first test of my progress this season. A large crowd assembled for the first race of the series, over 80 skiers. We were seeded based on our average points earned per race last season. I was number 42. I lined up in row 10, half way back. There were 5 lanes. This meant there were over 40 skiers starting in front of me. One of my nemesis, BrettR, was two rows ahead of me. Better than behind me, so I could keep an eye on him.
We get the start, and I quickly double poled over the skis of the guy in front of me. That hasn't happened before. Maybe the double pole sessions on rollerskis this fall are paying off. The course was coned to take us up the flank of "Mt Weston." This turned into a major cluster. It was steeply off-camber and caused intermingling of poles and skis. Poles were broken in this race, and I bet it happened here right after the start.
A minute in, I hadn't even gone hard enough yet to get my cardio up. There was that much traffic in front of me. I could see Brett way up, maybe 10 guys once the Mt Weston traffic jam thinned out. My glasses were painting a bullseye on that orange jersey. I started to rapidly pass guys as we headed out on the long straight away. At the hairpin turn on the far end, I caught up to the three man group Brett was leading. I took the inside line and drilled it hard. Brett had no idea it was me. This part of the course was all natural snow and was deep, loose granular. It had nice glide, but the softness sucked the life out of you. There was slight headwind heading back on the straight away. I could not let Brett latch on. It is also slightly downhill here, so drafting really matters. Brett was going to have to earn closing down the gap I created.
I finished the first lap, now in no-man's land, without any of the guys I passed latching on. I could see Jamie with Marv in his draft well up ahead. I never beat Marv last year, and I thought if I could at least catch them, I'd be doing pretty good. I put in an unreal effort to catch them. Brett was still dangling not far behind me. It took most of lap two, but I caught them and recovered for a while.
Jamie maintained a pretty tough pace, and after the hurl threshold efforts I already put in, I decided to sit in until the finish. Marv seemed content to do the same. The finish area at Weston is groomed very wide, as much as 100ft. Lots of room to spread out and sprint to the death. I was pretty much redlined, so I wasn't sure where sprint energy was going to come from. Jamie's tempo was like half mine. V2'ing, he took massive strides. That's gotta be more efficient. I could V2 only the slower parts of the course.
I used the initial downhill to run up in Jamie and Marv's draft, then went all-out to the right. Marv drifted back, and I could not make any ground on Jamie. I finished in 17th place overall, beating at least a few guys I haven't beaten before. I didn't even get girled, a first at Weston, but fast girls are at nationals this week. Colin was still catching his breath when I came through the finish, so I figured I had a pretty good race. I finished the 4.85km race in just under 16 minutes.
You can suffer seriously hard in a short effort like that. It was easily the hardest effort I put in since the Mt Mansfield hillclimb last August. I plan to get most of my intensity training over the next two months on snow. It is wicked fun and a change of modality in obtaining the endorphin fix.