Saturday, March 14, 2009
Bretton Woods race report
The Bretton Woods ski marathon today was
the pinnacle of my classic racing career, despite this being my first classic race. It can only go downhill from here. Why? 1) We had absolutely stunning bluebird skies over the Presidentials, 2) we had wicked fast snow conditions, 3) my kick was the best I've ever had for klister (my basis for comparison is pretty small), 4) I didn't bonk, cramp, dehydrate, or explode a binding, 5) and I placed 13th overall and 3rd in my age group!
#5 needs some qualification. First, all fast skiers enter the 50K, I just did the 25K. Second, this was the first year of this marathon. Third, there was intense competition for ski bodies including the Junior Olympics, the J2 festival, and the NCAA championships.
The race itself was wicked fun. I waxed my skis last night with Rode Chola and Rode Blue klister, but was told to cork in a hard kick wax over the klister; I left that until this morning. Easy enough. Except I couldn't cork at all because there was too much friction to rub the cork up and down the ski. Even worse, my cork got stuck in the Klister and little bits of cork were now in my wax! Hmm. I went for a little test run but the starting area around the Mt. Washington Hotel was so flat that I couldn't really tell if I had any kick (I need a hill for that). There was a little pile of snow off to the side so I skied up this and it seemed ok but I kind of freaked out so went in applied a warmer klister (Rode multigrade). No iron, no torch, no blow dryer. And no time because the race was starting in about 4 minutes.
The start was interesting...and not very competitive. After about 2K, I was the tail end of the lead pack, and whoever was behind me was way behind me. I double poled much of the beginning and did some striding over the few steep sections in the first 10K. Somewhere in that 1st 10K was a long, gradual climb which I double poled entirely. This was followed by a wicked fast downhill on what is probably a logging road or gas line or something because it was straight-edge straight. Unfortunately we had to take a 90degree turn before reaching the bottom and start climbing again. The #12 finisher, Anna Schulz, came out of nowhere (did she start late?) and passed me just before this turn. I did a little more striding on this climb but still mostly double poling. I totally dropped Anna on this climb (I say this facetiously; read on). The top was around 17K; I thought this was it for climbing and it would be downhill to the flat area around the hotel but I was surprised at the last 5K, which was a real roller coaster with short steep ups, twisty turns, right angle turns, and some fun downhills. I fell twice on the final descent, this last one allowing Anna to pass me with about 2K to go. I guess I hadn't dropped her! And props to her for negotiating around my splayed carcass and skis on the tight turn. The final 2K was all double poling and a few more downhills. I was double poling hard toward the finish but noticed the runout after the finish line was only about 18-20 feet and thought that I'd never be able to stop in that short of a distance since I can't hockey stop (at least in public), so I actually snowplowed across the finish line! I went and changed into dry clothes and then watch a few 50K finishers, including Colin Reuter, who gave me great racing advice a few posts ago.
The organizers of the race put on a first class ski marathon. Behind the finish line was a tent with two monitors, one showing the real time 25K finishers, the other the real time 50K lap times and finishing times. Wow was that kewl! Following the race, there was a sit down lunch in the Presidential Ballroom of the Mt. Washington Hotel. And free beer from Sam (thumbs down) and the Woodstock Brewery (which is really Shipyard) (thumbs up). For the raffle, they stuck a huge sheet of paper up with bib numbers. If your bib number was on there, you won a raffle prize; probably most bibs won a raffle prize. The prizes were quite good. I won a swix jacket that looks like something I might wear snowmobiling in Rangeley. For the awards, they only announced the overall winners. For the age group prizes they just said come on up and collect your award (a Mt. Washington Hotel pint glass). Good stuff. Too bad word will spread and ruin any chance of repeat 3rd-in-age-group next year.