XC Skiing race 3:32:17  49.22 km (4:19 / km)
Was it cold??? Cold enough that all my Garmin registered was the distance.... Something weird happened with the watch. It seemed to work the entire race (I don't check it much), then I couldn't stop it at the finish. I finally took my gloves off, just as it died. It is really odd that it knows the distance I travelled, but the route, HR, and all other data seems lost.
I started in wave 6. Not knowing where to go, what to do, etc., I went down to the tent near the start with the wave 2/3 skiers from the cabin I stayed at. Nice bunch of people in the tent, but we were all frozen. I think I was in the tent for 35 minutes before I went out to dump my gear.
Attire: jacket, 2 wicking LS tees (one with windstopper), gloves, 2 pair of tights (both lightweight), light pair of wool socks, overboots, COLL buff and a light hat. Cold cold cold at the start, especially the digits, but mind was off that once the gate raised.
Following the advice of the AP sages, I positioned myself well. Center of the gate, first row. The gate flew up and I started poling like crazy. Like a crazy slow person. Maybe I should have practiced this more. I was probably in the front 20%, but 20% is a lot considering my location at the gate. OK, so my initial position is set, time to settle in and manage the first part of the race. I put in a good effort trying to regain a little of what I lost at the start before the powerlines. Started passing wave 5 people before we even reached the powerlines. What did they do over the last 10 minutes??? Did they start late, or just dead slow? Probably a combination.
The powerlines: In my mind, I thought the powerlines were going to be a 3k slog up the steepest hill god put on the planet. In reality, they were quite a bit overhyped. I did a little V1, and some birkie shuffle, but after the first large effort, it seemed more like a series of rollers. I wish (hindsight) I would have pushed harder here, it seems like everyone had a better split than me. I am thankful that I learned the Birkie shuffle. When I was stuck in hill traffic, I reverted to this heart saver. It almost seemed like I was cheating.
My skis felt good. Map black, two layers of LF4 and one of HF4BW. Magic sauce. I was getting great glide, good slide on the hills, and rockets on the downhill. I found myself not wanting to shed speed and being a little rude as I transitioned to the uphills. I hit a few poles, stepped on a few skis, and probably sucked the last drops of energy out of people with low tanks as I attempted to squeeze/rocket through some tiny gaps, giving as much warning as I could with my frozen lips and chin.
On to OO: The talk at the cabin and online was look out for ruts and be wary of snowmobile hill. Skis still felt good, and I finally recognized portions of the course as I reached highpoint. Still felt strong. Birkie shuffling past people and occasionally making a hill pass or 10. The ruts didn't seem bad, so I just let the skis fly on the downhills. I barely missed a wipeout on one of the downhill s-turns. People littered everywhere, but I focused on a path and skirted through. Luck ran out as I hit a later downhill turn at a lower speed. The woman in front of me spun out, I overcorrected a bit and went down hard. Torqued my knee pretty good and later determined that I yardsaled my waterbottle. I got up OK, continued on, but the fighting spirit took a temporary hiatus. It took a good 3-5k before I put the knee pain in the back seat and didn't notice it anymore. Snowmobile hill was approached with caution (more than required) and went by with no issues. The fall and recovery really hit my time. 24 seconds per K slower on this section.
OO on: OO to the finish is more downhill than up, but the uphill sections are not trivial. Add in the classic skiers, and the course gets crowded. It was nice to see Crusher supporting Foxshadow. I scared her once after OO as she wasn't looking for me and I didn't recognize her until almost by her. She spotted me 150 yards off coming in to mosquito brook and gave me an awesome welcome. I guess she was handing FS warm gu, jealous.... mine were like jolly ranchers. I continued to pass and push with one more spectacular, knee jarring superman wipeout! Came around a corner to see carnage all over the course. A little zig, a little zag, a sigh of relief, then I caught my tip.... luckily I fell in a mound of shaved corner snow, but it did put a chill on the lower frontal area as it almost pulled my tights off... One big hill out of OO, one big hill into MB, and on to the 39k zone and it's crazies. Should have stopped for some Jagermeister, as the gu was chilling me. On to the B-less B hill. I didn't know I had passed it until it was gone. On to 77, where I took the coldest banana that I have ever had and felt my core temp start to drop. I skated out and started to feel a little off. I kept telling myself to plug away, plug away. Reality is that I was still passing droves of people, but seeing the hill took me down a notch. I focused on the next 5 yards and before I knew it, The hills were gone. From 77 hill on felt great. I think the lessons I took helped me with V2 alt the most. I was whipping by folks again, passing both before and on the lake, and a few on mainstreet. I passed 183 people from OO to the finish. I did a little V2 on mainstreet, but then reverted to V2alt as I didn't want to faceplant in the last 50 meters....
What a great FIRST Birkie, capitalized to emphasize more to come.... This is THE sport for winter fitness. I am a little sore yet today, but nothing compared to an AR, and the post marathon hobbles I have seen at work the Monday after.
One note, I took a nice blow to the ankle playing soccer on Wednesday. Two big cleat marks and a blood stained foot. Didn't notice it from the point I put skis on until the second I took them off. I finished strong, but then hobbled off the course like a broken man. I just mention this as it was going to be my post event excuse if I tanked. It struck me as odd that an injury could not be a factor, almost like playing XBox with a broken leg.