2012 Como Championships Race Report

Photo courtesy of skinnyski.com
Hey Folks! 
Happy New Year! I cracked open my CyclovaXC inbox and found this wonderful write-up from Ben Mullin about the 2012 Como Championships! This is EXACTLY the type of stuff I love to read (and post on CyclovaXC)! It's great to hear about how people's races went! I'm looking forward to a tremendous 2013 racing season (Ben's already got the jump on us), and hopefully I'll have at least 2 people doing their write-ups from the Sisu race. I have to say that Ben Mullin might be the favorite among the CyclovaXC guys who are competing there, it's either going to be him or Dallas (I'll be a half hour behind these two). Again, have a happy new year, and please turn in your car keys before you begin any celebrating this evening! Here's Ben's write up:

By Ben Mullin

My last ski race was 363 days ago. I have been skiing quite a bit, but have only included a few threshold level efforts. Nothing like a little 10+km race to blow out the cobwebs. Yup, that hurts.

After the big snow and then the big rain Como was a disaster and the City of St. Paul declared they were not going to groom again until we got more snow. We did get a few dustings and with the help of a few industrious folks with shovels and tarps and the city groomers the trails turned out pretty good. The new snow was mixed in with the old ice and turned into a nice wide skate deck that was reasonably firm. There were a few soft spots from the shoveling, but that is much better than bare ice or cart paths.

Being winter break for many collegiate skiers the field was pretty stacked with a bunch of fast kids. St. Scholastic had six guys there and there were a handful of other schools represented as well. In the end 18 of the top 21 spots came out of the 18-29 age group. I had no intention of competing with them anyway. My goal was to see some solid improvement over the past few years. I’m still dreaming of the glory days of high school, but in reality I’m happy with improvement and a step towards competitiveness.

The mass start free style race started with a field of about 80 men. I managed to skirt around the one cartwheeler I saw. Man I felt great the first 2km. And then I didn’t. I said blowing up with 7km to go sucks. Ben Jonjak countered with what he claims is a Bjorn Daehlie quote, “The problem isn’t the early pace, the problem is the blowing up.” Well said.

Well needless to say, I wasn’t used to skiing hard and fast. I started hemorrhaging time pretty quickly. Someone would come up behind me, rest for a minute and then go around and gap me. A short ways into the second lap when I was passed by someone who looked in less skier shape than I did I decided it was time to toughen up and actually catch a draft. About 2 km later after a few of the leading women  passed us I was recovering better and decided to catch a draft off of a young lady from St. Scholastica and left my initial inspiration behind. With a little over a km to go I decided it was now or never and passed her back. I actually managed to close the gap down on the three guys in front of us to just a few seconds but ran out of race to catch them. I’d like to say I threw down a Northug like finishing sprint, but honestly the finishing straight was the softest part of the course and I was happy I kept on my skis.

Racing hurts like hell, but it is so much fun. Some number crunching and fancy spreadsheet macros later and it was definitely my best race of the last few years. I’m still not competitive yet, but I’m heading the right direction. I’m signed up for another 69km of racing in the next 14 days so I’m hoping to race myself into, well race shape.

See you on the trails.

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