I didn't run long, but I did run sub-8min miles for the first time. Aerobically, I could probably run a 6min mile, but I would damage every piece of connective tissue in my body. I'm still running with the Nike Free's, and even these short, easy runs make my calves and Achilles tendons hurt. It will take me several more weeks before I can add distance and speed to my workouts. Each run does become less painful. My hips no longer hurt during running. This run managed to nicely tenderize my calves for skiing a few hours later.
Conditions were superb at Weston. 28F, no wind, and very fast packed powder. Fast is usually not that good for me, as it brings out the worst of my flailing technique. It is fun though. I minimally fussed with my skis.
A huge crowd assembled at the start, a record number in fact. Last year I could finish in top twenty with a smaller group, so I seeded myself in row 7, four per row. LukeS was ahead of me in my lane, and two rows up was BrettR. Warming up, Brett commented that he applied more-expensive-than-cocaine pure fluoro wax to his skis. We tend to go neck and neck at Weston. I guess use whatever edge you can gain. Conditions certainly favored him, since he is more efficient at speed.
We go off. A few young guns staged further back bolted ahead. That meant going into the initial oval, I was more than 30 places back. The start was quite civil. I didn't see any crashes, but plenty of skis and poles were being crossed. I quickly started picking guys off. Beginning lap 2, Colin passed me. Hmm, he must have started way back to just now pass me.
I caught and passed Brett in lap 2. Brett stayed glued to my ski tails. I continued to flail away and bridge gaps, recover a bit, then pass the guy or two I caught. Luke skied away from me at the start. It was great to sit in his draft for a while when I caught him. He could really nail the 180 turns and accelerate out of them, but towards the end of lap 2, I made a move to pass him on a hill with Brett in tow. Jamie Doucett captured a great photo just after this move I believe. Did Brett ever come up to take a pull? Noooo! But he did bark orders for me to close gaps and stay in the slipstream. I was dying, making good progress, so I was willing to accept the status quo for the time being.
Me with Brett and Luke in tow. Photo: Jamie Doucett
I could gap Brett on the climbs, but he'd always get back on. On lap four, I made a killer move. I slayed Mt Weston, leaving Brett behind two guys I passed and gapped. I thought that was a deal clincher. I quickly caught two more guys but was too gassed to pass them. They slowed a bit, and before I got to the clubhouse, Brett was back in my draft. I figured I had one more chance to gap Brett for good at the club house climb. I punched it again, but near the top I got too close to a female skier and she skied up on my pole tip. I nearly pulled my arm out of the socket and came to an abrupt stop. So much for gapping Brett. He was right on top of me now. I had been pulling hard for 2.5 laps, so I forced him to come around. Maybe I could take him at the line, but that was a slim chance since it was mostly a downhill approach.
I was seeing cross eyed by the time we came around the last barrel, so I threw out the white flag. I think Brett drilled it anyway, not knowing if I was gunning for him. I finished with 5.6km and 16:27 on the Garmin. This was good for 19/89 place overall, with Brett in 18th. Respectable finishes for both of us with such a large group. I skied for another 45 minutes after the race to finish the night with 25km.
It's been a long while since I maintained that kind of intensity. My metabolism was jacked all night. I don't think I slept more than 2hrs, even though I was in bed 8hrs. I could have slept better after drinking two Starbucks darkroast venti's!