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Candeleight Ski, Snowshoe, & Fat Bike Event on the Stower Sevel Lakes Trail - This Saturday, Jan 30!
Marine O'Brien Race 25km Skate
Having skied for Forest Lake in HS, O'Brien was my second home for six winters. In the five years I've been back to ski racing again this will be my fourth attempt at the MOB race. Being my "home course" I've been hoping to have a great race here. So far it hasn't happened. In 2013 I was boots on the ground in the US for less than 24 hours after a week in Taiwan, 2014 I had the crud, and last year in 2015 I pulled a double header with the Seeley Hills Classic and a company holiday party Saturday before the MOB race on Sunday.
Going in to this race I've been feeling good. My company party was on Saturday evening again, but I preceded it with an easy course preview instead of a race. Conditions were about the same as last year, sketchy. Coverage was mostly there, but there were some thin areas that I expected to get chewed up throughout the race. It was also very lumpy and getting any flow was going to be a challenge.
I waxed up my well used B skis not wanting to turn any of my other skis into B skis. My B skis are on the softer side and originally had a cold universal grind on them. I'm guessing they have less structure now. I followed the Fast Wax recommendations as I pretty much always do. The exception this time was that I decided to forego any top coat. So two coats of LSF-20 followed by two coats of HSF-20.
I got to William O'Brien with plenty of time, got my bib, took a rest break, got a good 20 minute warm-up in with 3 pick-ups, and got a spot on the actual starting line.
|You can see me poking my head out just left of center. My double pole off the line wasn't that fast apparently.|
The race plan was to take it out hard to get a good spot in line and then see where things went. I got a decent start and slotted into 10th and was skating by the time we hit the trail center. Compare that with last year where I didn't have a single skate until well over 1km in.
Things seemed pretty hot all they way past the tunnel. I was hanging on to the back, but I was definitely working for it. Just after the tunnel things started to break up a little bit with a few leaders pulling away and a couple of us coming off the back a little. I relaxed up the first climb into Turkey Loop following someone who sounded like they were struggling. I passed them at the top and quickly caught up to Andy Schakel.
|Just about ready to start skating already.|
I continued to push on skiing with Andy and one other guy through the Rolling Hills Savanna Loop, but I was playing catch-up after every downhill. As we exited Rolling Hills and made our way to South America the extended downhill really got me unhitched.
|Coming through the lap.|
What happened instead was I got passed. Despite having considerably better technique, the guy who passed me just kept marching up the trail and I could not hold on. It was a little extra incentive to keep my effort up despite being pretty much alone on the trail otherwise.
|The only other CyclovaXC representative, Mike Phernetton coming through the lap.|
I'm fairly bummed about the results. I felt good today and kept my head in the game, but I just didn't have the right skis and wax. I'd like to think I could have held on to the chase pack and finished somewhere in 5-10 that were all between 1:18 and 1:19.
|Coming in to the finish.|
|SISU and Seeley both had strong results. Both were also longer.|
First is thinking about getting those B skis reground. I felt a couple of catches while skiing today and the bases definitely show some new structure. I had been thinking about it anyhow and now for sure.
But race wise I'm doing the Nordic Spirit in Duluth next Sunday. I've only skied at Spirit once, and that was probably 20 years ago. The race is also only 26k so another sub marathon effort. Hopefully a little redemption.
Less than four weeks to go to the Birkie.
|See it wasn't all bad, I was still smiling after the race.|
The firm, smooth trail that I had pre-ridden 30 minutes ago was gone. I decided it would be worth the effort to get closer to the front where the trail conditions would would be much better. I began picking my way through a few riders at a time until I reached the gap between the fast group and the slower group. I recovered for a few minutes then began worked up to effort level that I could sustain for the day. The rail trail grade was consistent, but the changing trail firmness made it difficult to settle into a pace. I tried to focus on effort at and cadence rather than speed. Upshifting in firm sections, and downshifting for sections of soft snow. This was very similar to the testing I had done at the Stower Seven Lakes trail near my home. After the first three miles I began executing my food and drink plan.
|That moment when you drop your GoPro and get the best picture of the day|
|Cover all your exposed skin with vaseline or dermatone on -18 days or you'll get frostbite|
In my SISU report, I said I was signed up for the 22km race at Seeley because I wasn't sure I could pull off a classic marathon. One of the reasons I wasn't confident is I'm worried about missing the wax for the day and having to double pole and/or herringbone the whole thing. As I was looking at the forecast on Tuesday it was for race time temps in the single digits above zero which means kick wax is a bit of a no-brainer. So I decided to switch to the 42km. And every time I checked the forecast the rest of the week it got colder and colder. I think the temps at the start ended up being around -6F. It warmed all the way up to -5F at the finish.
With family obligations on Friday evening I opted to glide wax my skis on Thursday evening. Given the weather trend it wasn't likely to be wrong anyhow. I put two layers of Fast Wax HSLF-10 in, followed by a layer of HSF-10. I did one more layer of HSF-10, but that last one I mixed in some Toko X-Cold powder. I've used the same formula in the past and found it good. Today was no different and I found my skis running well all day.
For kick I ironed in and smoothed out a layer of Swix VG35. My plan was to then try either Rode Special Green, Multigrade Blue, or Swix VR30 at the trail. On my drive up Saturday morning I realized while driving through St. Croix Falls that I left my wax box on the wax bench. I had the Multigrade and VR30 in the car though, just no cork. I figured I could bum a cork from someone so it wasn't a big deal. Ultimately I went with 3 thin layers of Multigrade Blue. It kicked like roller skis for the first 15k or so. By the time I was done through a combination if it wearing off, me getting tired, and the track being pulverized I wasn't kicking nearly as well.
Clothing wise I was well prepared. Sporthill windbriefs and Smartwool socks to start. Then my new Swix RaceX Bodywear Windpant baser layer. That stuff rocks. I've had "cold issues" this year but not since I got those, not even today. On top I put on some light weight arm warmers I normally use during fall running season under my lightweight Smarwool baselayer. CyclovaXC ski suit of course. I kept my vest on for this race as a wind proof layer to keep my core warm. A windproof baselayer probably would have been enough in hindsight (not that I have one). Topped that all off with some slightly thicker than normal windproof gloves, moleskin cheek patches, gobs of Dermatone, last year's Seeley hat, and my CyclovaXC buff. I wear the buff all the time now (all the time being defined as when I'm skiing). I'm a huge fan of buffs now and its always good to display more team colors. I'm not sure there are any left at the shop, if there aren't harass Ben Jonjak about getting more.
My warm-up this time was pretty short. I'm not sure if you knew it was cold out. Tommy and I skied north about 1km and did a couple of short hard efforts. Before those I was COLD! Afterwards I felt much better and was ready to line up.
|Splits are Boedecker, Fire Tower, Boedecker, OO, and Gravel Pit|
|A huge thank you to Kelly Randolph of Once In A Blue Moon Studio for being out and taking fabulous pictures as always.|
My subjective analysis was a little mixed. While I was happy I was able to push the pace early and not bonk late, I wouldn't say that I felt strong the whole time. Despite knowing that the long race field is full of studs I was sort of disappointed to finish 41st. A gap of only 2:22 to Tommy wasn't too bad again. I could have raced a little smarter, but thankfully didn't suffer big consequences for my error in judgement.
Crunching the numbers though it was another solid race. The best race by the numbers in fact. If I limit my correlation algorithm to only use people who were 50% or less back in each race it cuts down a little on the variation you get further from the pointy end. The people at the pointy end are usually pretty consistent.
|Still a bit of scatter comparing classic to skate. I highlighted myself as one of the highest above the line indicating Seeley was the better race.|
Predictions and correlations aren't the same thing as actually racing, but this is definitely positive reinforcement that I'm doing the right kinds of things.
Getting over sore classic muscles is step one. I'm pretty wrecked one day after the race. Hip flexors and back are both well worked over. Thankfully my toes which hurt pretty bad last night are mostly good today.
Theoretically this coming weekend is the Marine O'Brien race. I'm not signed up yet given the questionable conditions. Snow doesn't seem likely this week either. I'll see what the organizers have to say and go from there. Registration is closed for the Three Rivers Rennet and the Noquemanon is a long haul. I'm hoping O'Brien is a go.
|Join the "night shift" on your fat bike at the Woolly Trails!|
|The map of the amazing Woolly Fat Bike Trail network. Note the Trailhead location at the west end of "Big Oak", noted by the red "T" symbol.|
|Groomed Woolly singletrack - a fat biker's dream... Photo Credit: 45NRTH|
|Too much text... a picture of Cory Kending and Ben Jonjak at the start of wave 2 to break things up.|
|Dennis Kotcon racing to 7th overall in the 42k Classic|
|Not looking too bad at 6.5k after climbing to the to of Peltonen Passout the first time.|
|Breaking up the text again with a picture of Tommy Krenz getting it done.|
|Leading the pack into the Hilltop House Aid Station for the second time.|
|All these words... how about a picture of Big Steve Edling hamming for the camera as usual.|
Initially I thought that I hadn't really bonked, but looking at the HR data it was falling and the pace was climbing so it would definitely seem like a bonk. Strava has a pretty cool Flybys feature where you can play back your events along with others who were in or around you at the time. Recently they've added a time ahead/behind feature. The image below shows me and Scott skiing within 15 seconds of each other for the majority of the race until about 21 miles (33.5k) where it suddenly started growing until he finally beat me by almost a minute and a half.
Back to my race. The race got kind of lonely at that point. There were a few classic skiers to pass and I was in the vicinity of the Elite waver who had hung around for the last 15 k or so. Eventually I left him behind and descended into the city landfill or whatever that is. I could see the steep climb out of it and knew I had reached that last climb that Duane had warned me about. I gutted it out and turned the corner, and was rewarded with the rest of the climb. Ugh. That last climb was brutal but I made it and finally found the indian statue Duane promised me was the mark of the "its all downhill from here" point. A little lumpy bumpy trip down the hill and into town and I was done.
So how did I do? Subjectively, that was probably the most fun racing I've had since I started skiing again. The wave start allowed me to have the confidence to go out with the lead pack and my training has provided me with the fitness to be one of the final people to be dropped. Working with the pack and thinking about my own tactics was cool. Normally I've been spit out the back early and time trial the rest of the race.
It felt good to push harder than I have before. The ability to go hot and then recover all while maintaining efficient technique was a nice change. I had a little stomach discomfort most of the race and I probably could have eaten more which may have delayed the bonk. I didn't have a solid fueling strategy and post race I calculate I only consumed about 350 calories (1.25 bottles of Tailwind + most of a GU). A 50% increase would have likely been better assuming it was digesting.
|Ben Hugh Jonjackman|
Objectively, my spreadsheet tells me it was a solid improvement. As a reminder I'm using what I believe the City of Lakes does (or did at one time) in taking the results from two races and correlating times based on people who did both races. This allows you to map one race time to another. Sort of. There are lots of caveats and exceptions so it isn't perfect, but taken with the appropriately sized grain of salt it can identify trends.
That shows that surprisingly this wasn't my best race ever. That is what I would have told you before I ran the numbers. A number of the short early season races last year were theoretically better and Pepsi Challenge was about the same. The number I really focus on though is the mapping of this result to the Birkie. In this case my correlated time is 2:53:51. That would have been 236 male last year. So close to Elite wave.
Another way I looked at the results for this race was to map out the finisher place of both races. It tends to make a decent line as SISU was pretty stacked with a solid field. In the plot below I'm the red dot well above the line which indicates the SISU race was much better. I highlighted all of the results of people I finished ahead of that qualified for the Elite wave this year. All pretty positive and pointing in the right direction.
So I'm still very happy with the results. I'm not yet satisfied where I'm at though and am really excited to keep on the same track I've been on so far this season with hard workouts and getting the engine in even better shape in just 40 more days.
|Steve McCormick enjoyed giving me crap all weekend about my spreadsheets so he gets to go after all the data!|
This weekend is Seeley Hills Classic. I'm not quite yet confident enough to try to pull of a classic marathon so I'm signed up for the 22k instead. I raced it last year and had fun hanging with the main pack for about the first 6k. This year I'm hoping to go further with the contenders.
|Thank you to Starr for all of the awesome photos of the race.|