So It Begins

Heartbreak Hill

Heartbreak Hill, January 2014

Today I “officially” started training for the Boston Marathon with a 10-mile run through the snow, along the race route and up Heartbreak Hill.  The snow cushioned by footfalls, fogged up my glasses, collected on my jacket and soaked through. But it was a nice and the few runners I saw out there all had big smiles

I had been running regularly through the fall, a counterpoint to the ski specific training. And I’d been having some hip and knee problems, so I had backed off running a bit around the holidays.  Massage, strengthening and stretching has hopefully gotten that under control.

So today, I clicked it up the recovery/survival pace I had been running to something quicker.  And things went okay.

The Marathon only 3 months away.

I hope the weather improves by then.

Tuesday Night Sprints #2: Monsoon Gore-tex Edition

Last week it was crazy cold. This week it was raining. Skiers appeared in the clubhouse with looks of despair on their faces. Some simply sat down at a table, still in their street clothes, and heaved a sigh and wondered why they were even there.

I was excited for some reason. Maybe I was expecting to do better with the slow slog conditions. Maybe I was just happy to be out there.

I started fast. Pushed hard the first lap. Was pretty sure I had gone clear with another skier. But something wasn’t right. I was too tired too quickly. My skis had gotten slow. Really slow. I was struggling to hang on in our group of four. Couldn’t even recover at the back and finished last man in the bunch.

But I learned a few things.

Never run anything warmer than red at Weston. I had put on Toko AX 135 “special World Cup” wax mixed with a little HF red. But Weston snow is so dirty because it’s made with Charles River water. Anything warm picks up all that dirt in a lap.

Ditto for structure. The coarse linear rill just picked up more dirt. My warm up skis were way faster.

Last, I still don’t have much high end. Not enough to do 5 km all out. It should come on in a bit. Until then, I have to ski a little smarter.

Tuesday Night Sprints #1: Arctic Vortex Edition

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The Weston Tuesday Night Sprints kicked off this week in typical fashion. It had rained hard the day before, followed by the Arctic blast that froze everything up. I was afraid of what the course would be all ball bearings and death cookies.

But the Weston guys, in their sturdy Pisten-Bully, ground it all up, sprayed some fresh snow on top, and we were good to go. Due to construction work, the course was different this year. They had laid out a 1.6 km course like intestines, coiled into the limited real estate that could be covered by the snow guns. We lost the ascent of Mt. Weston, bypassing instead by the right side, up a hill that proved to be more difficult than it initially appeared. There was hardly 100 meters of straight before we hit a hair pin. And, despite the good job they had done grooming, there were still boilerplates of ice hidden away under the snow.

And it was cold. 8 F with a windchill that took it to low single-digits.

I wasn’t nearly as cold as I thought I’d be during warm-up. But on the line, in the race suit, with a slight sweat from the warm up, I froze my ass off.

Then we were off.

Three laps. A short one to start out. It spread out pretty quickly. Doubts of my form faded as I skied easily in the front group. I drilled it with one lap to go, but didn’t go all in. Just enough to go clear with Frank, tire myself out, and get gapped by him coming to the finish. He skis the hard icy stuff so quick and smooth. I have to learn how to do that, too.

It was a good start to the racing season. No falls. No damaged equipment. No frostbite.

 

 

 

MSA: Final Ski of 2013

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I debated it. It was going to be cold. I was tired from four hard days of skiing. I had a long drive ahead of me. But I was awake earlier than planned and thus succumbed to peer pressure and headed out for a 7:15 AM ski.

It was minus 8 F. Only one other diehard showed up. We skied for just under an hour. Ten cold kilometers with ice forming on my jacket and face mask. I think this is the coldest I’ve ever seen.

At one point I felt like I had been skiing forever. That we were the last two skiers on an earth covered with snow and we would just keep skiing like that. Forever.

It was quite beautiful really.

Happy New Year.