Thursday I had a good run, taking advantage of the dry roads to run my fastest 4.2 miler yet. I paid for it pretty dearly the next day. My Achilles tendons and calves are very sensitive to bump-ups in distance or speed with the Nike Free minimalist shoes I'm using. They pretty much demand a forefoot strike with a bent knee. I don't seem to experience any knee pain at all, a primary purpose of using these shoes. But calves get punished, as they must absorb impact with eccentric contraction. Running for now is only a remedial activity to boost bone density. I can take as long as I want to boost speed and distance. I may though, at some point, invest in a more traditional cushioned running shoe for some speed workouts. I'd like to benchmark a mile. I think I would regret benchmarking a mile in the Nike Frees. I would continue to do my short 3-5mi runs in the Frees to save my knees and do occasional longer or faster runs with more cushion. I wonder if the form I am beginning to adopt would go to crap as soon as I put a cushy shoe on?
Saturday, I had another superb workout. DaveP, SteveG and I headed up to Waterville. They remain 100% groomed with no thin spots. A perimeter loop was looking like a good challenge. Richard Brown and Keith Button showed up at the same time. Since Dave and I were likely to pummel each other, Steve opted to ski with Rich and Keith. A bunch of other cyclists were there too.
Dave and I set out on a counter-clockwise loop, just like I did solo a couple weeks ago. It is easy. You go out the Village Trail and take all right hand turns until you get back. The Village Trail was now in excellent shape, the best I've ever seen it. Most years it doesn't even open. Once we hit the climbs, Dave lit it up. He didn't let up until after Criterion. I thought surely I doomed myself trying to stay with him.
Skiing the Perimeter CCW is sadistic because you must climb Beanbender (normal skiers descend it) and Tripoli Rd (biggest climb) is saved for last. Dave put me up front on Beanbender. Grooming was immaculate, but the glide wasn't the fastest. There's no way to "soft-pedal" up Beanbender. It buries you no matter what.
Dave led the charge up Cascade. I wondered how he never seems to slow down. The switchbacks down were in mint condition. Dave put many seconds on me there, as I haven't mastered parallel ski turns around hairpins at speed.
I ended up leading around Moose Run/Wicked Easy, at a firm tempo pace V2ing. We had three more climbs after this. Dave charged up Osceola. Interestingly, we had gone past 2hrs and I hadn't imploded yet. I usually implode at the 90min mark on hammerskis with Dave.
On Tripoli, Dave and I agreed to switch off pace setting on the false flats. I set pace for the first 300ft, then Dave did the next 300ft, then I finished off the final 200ft of vertical. Yeah, I got stock with setting pace for 500ft of climbing. Why does setting pace mess with your head so badly? Anyway, I figured this was our last major climb of the day, so why not empty the tank on it? Dave always appreciates that in a way only endorphin junkies can understand. We both stood cross-eyed for a minute upon reaching the summit at Thornton Gap. My triceps very nearly seized up. On the descent, I had to yell at two women who had a loose golden retriever in the trail. The dog ran right in front of me going 20+ mph. And they looked at me like what was my problem.
A final short climb up Pipeline meant we were home free. I was still going pretty strong gliding back into the Nordic Center. I was quite psyched how well I felt for the last half of the workout. I'm pretty sure my average effort was higher than during the Lake Placid race last weekend. Dave and I managed to pummel each other into a stupor during this workout. No chemical substance were needed. We skied 44km in 2.9hrs moving time with over 4000ft of climbing. This was 16 minutes faster than my perimeter ski a week ago, and I said that was my hardest workout to date. Sure hope this helps me on the bike in Tucson in four weeks.
I had a dual agenda at Waterville. They had a pair of Atomic World Cup skate skis that were pretty close to what I needed. I asked them to hold them for me until Saturday. They are 190cm long, hard/cold rated, with 65/2.8 flex numbers. A 190/hard is probably a bit too much ski for me, but the factory tested flex of 65 is within my range.
I brought in my broken race skis and the rock skis I used. Peter did the "card test" for flex on a deck made for this. My rock skis are permanent marker labeled with 76/3.0, which would be very stiff for my weight of 165 lbs. I'm skeptical of that number and don't know it's origin. My race skis were not marked but felt much softer. Both pairs are RS:11's I bought used from private parties. I was surprised to see my race skis were actually stiffer than my rock skis. The race skis are 2cm shorter too. Then we put up the new World Cups. These were squarely in between the two pairs of skis I've grown to like. That was a deal clincher. With a 20% season pass holder discount from a non-inflated starting price and free transfer of bindings, I got a decent deal. Now I have to prep the bases and get some time on them before Rangeley.