Wednesday, March 14, 2007

First Ride

I think it's time to prepare the skis for storage: the geese are flying, maple sap is running, heard a robin today, and it got up to 55 degrees. And it rained. Hard. This is death to snow and it was going fast.

So I did the only sensible thing I could do: go for a ride! Got the bike out, pumped up the tires and did 4+ miles. Nothing big, just one of those take a spin before dinner. It felt amazingly warm in fact I think I over dressed. The rain had stopped but I still got soaked with all the water on the roads.

Yup, season's are a chang'n

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Driving Lessons

Joshua, my number 2 kid, has just got his permit and today was the first time for me to take him for a drive. We get into the car and start to pull out of the driveway. Karyn (kid #5) is calling to me. Joshua rolls down his window and asks, "What do you want?!" in that way in which only a big brother can. "Where are you going?" she asks. Thinking he's going to give her a smart answer, he says, "to heaven!" I think it's time to get out of the car!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

3/10/07 Osceola Race

Wax. I was worried about the waxing. Waxing can be as easy or complicated as you want to make it, but it's basically read the thermometer and pick the wax. It's all about matching the snow type and temp with the right wax. But Saturday was going to be hard: Friday night 19 degrees, Saturday morning change from sunny at 30 degrees to cloudy with rain at 42 degrees. Frozen granular? Wet? Cold? Warm? What was it going to be? How the heck to you wax for that?!? I picked a Swix LF8 for around 32 degrees and hoped that would do it. Turns out this was going to be my biggest problem.

Kathy and I were able to distribute the kids around to various places and escape at around 7:15am to head for that town of Osceola - that if you blinked you'd miss it. We got on the the thruway and I had to do that terrible fearful thing: turn on the windshield wipers. It was raining. Rain and skiing just plain sucks. But after a while we seemed to have moved ahead of the weather front and got there under partially cloudy skies. Would the skis be sticking to the snow? Would I have to change the wax there? Would they be fast? That's all I could think about. Kathy went off the 'warming hut' (I never seem to get warm in this hut) to sign me in and promptly found out that Nick wasn't going to race because he was going to have to be chief timer. My gracious wife said that she'd do the timing and told him to go have fun.

I had packed pretty efficiently so it was a lot easier to get to the range to zero my rifle. The moment had come. I set my skis down on the snow and stepped into the bindings. They were very fast! My skis practically took off by themselves as I skied off to the range. We'll that was a relief! Took my zero shots and I didn't even have to adjust the sights. New ammo so I wasn't sure how that would work, but things seemed to be good.

With the temperature rising and the sky darkening I wanted to get this show on the road. Since I was to start second, I got my wish. Since this was a 10km sprint, we went off in 60 second intervals. Kathy sent people off with her clip board and stop watch. I took off skied up the little hill by the range, across the field and down into the woods. The racer ahead of me was coming out of the woods, the opposite direction! 'What's this about', I wondered. He asked which way was the right way! I told him to turn around and follow the orange flags.

I felt something was wrong - I kept sliding a lot, kind of like biking up hill in mud with lots of leaves - was getting no purchase. In skate skiing you roll the edges sideways and push off of the flat part. No doing here. The odd thing was that it didn't feel icy, but I was sliding all over the place. And my poles - I'd plant my poles and they slip out from under me! This was not going well. For the next 2.5km I felt like I'd never been skiing before with poles and skis sliding in all the wrong directions.

Finally reached the top of a hill and tucked down for a quick run. Now I've been working the hill thing. Got this fear of going too fast, but also realize this is a great way to take the pressure off my leg muscles for a few seconds, and a way to grab some time. I had been working on going faster at Lake Placid and it worked really well. I'd been down this hill before and knew what it was like at the bottom. Built up speed. Oh man this is fast. This is really really fast. Started to struggle to get things under control. The course started get some up and down motion. My left leg started to part with the rest of us and in slow motion I spread eagled off the trail into woods - WHAM! Face plant. Arms and legs buried under the softer snow. I spend what in race time seemed forever to get out - snow everywhere. Brush off, get the rifle back into position and head back out on the trail. So on top of feeling like a clutz on a slippery surface, I'm now shaken by the fall. I struggle over the next .5km to steady myself. Ahead I see one of the racers on the shorter loop come out of the woods and fall on flat ground! So it's bad for everyone.

Get to the range, whip off my rifle - today's goal is to shoot faster - and... the rifle is covered with snow. Can't see through the sights! Blow and blow and blow snow off. Finally, it's all off and I only knock down 2 out of 5. Not good.

Back out on the loop and continue to slid around. Come back to the hill. This time I've got a full blown snow plow going down. Half way down I decide to tuck in and pick up speed. WHAM-O! I go down again! This is not my day. The range goes better this time, hit 4 of 5 in the standing, so only 1 penalty loop. This was very good.

Would you believe that I fell AGAIN on that hill? This time I noticed all the body marks on the trail and knew I wasn't alone. This time when I fell I noticed someone's clip laying in the trail. These clips aren't cheap so I pick it up and slide it down my shirt.

Down the long flat stretch towards the finish, this kid passes me. I jumped into the double track lane for classic skiing and start double poling and I actually start to catch up to the kid! We hit a slight hill and I've got to go back to skating. Slip and slide across the field and into the finish. *Whew* glad THAT's over!

And that's the last race of the season! Would have been nice to get some more races in, but that's the way the snow falls. Overall I was pleased: did my longest race at 15km and survived, felt like I got a better handle on the mental aspect of the race, made some huge improvements in nutrition, skating technique is getting better. Areas to focus on are leg strength, need to run more this summer - like training for 10k runs.