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Mullin's 2018 Seeley Hills Classic Race Report


Seeley Hills is sort of the Midwest classic championships.  There isn't a freestyle option that day.  If you are there to ski you are there because you are going to classic.

Race Prep

Training

I almost exclusively race freestyle, but I still love to classic ski.  Every year I say I should do more of it.  This year I have done way less.  In fact, I think the race may have been my fourth classic ski all year.

I had some great classic intervals on Monday.  It took a little bit, but I felt like I was really finding my stride.  At that point I was not committed to the race.  It looked like I had an impending work trip that would interfere with racing the following weekend so I was leaning towards it.  But it was also going to be stupid cold again and my classic boots are not very warm.

Then Wednesday night, per my last report, I crashed HARD doing the Wednesday night race.  Hard enough that I thought I might have broken some ribs.  Again.  After two days of not doing anything though I thought maybe it wouldn't be too bad so I committed to going up and racing.  In the -8 degree weather.  For the long race.  Making good decisions.

Wax

Pretty straight forward there.  More Start Green.  SG10 and MF10.  Make those skis SHINE!


Kick is also pretty straight forward in these conditions.  I started the thread on the Midwest Nordic Facebook group anyhow and there were some interesting opinions.  Ultimately I ended up waxing up my second skis with two options so I could test.  Swix VR30 on one ski and Start Green Synthetic on the other.  About 45 minutes before the race I took them for a quick spin.  Both had bomber kick as you might expect.  The Start ski felt a little freer during the glide though.  A little Rode Green Special over the top of the Swix helped, but still didn't feel quite as good as the Start.

Pretty simple, but lots of options.  Generally something green though.

Back to the van and three thin coats of Start went on the race skis and I sat in the car to finish my "warm-up".

Oh, and kicking around on my test skis, my ribs HURT.

Clothing

Pretty much identical to the week before at SISU.  The only addition was a new pair of fuzzy over-boots to go over my classic boots.  That turned out great as my feet were cold, but never painfully cold which was a significant improvement.

Race

No big strategy this time.  The goal was a nice long 42k (well 38k since they shortened it because of the temps) hardish ski.  A marathon paced workout I paid $80 for if you will.

Standing in the sunshine at -9F about 8 rows back at the start it actually felt pretty nice.  Clearly it has been pretty cold around here for a while.

The gun went off and the field rolled out.  I got pinched out as I had been in the right hand lane and when the start area transitioned into the trail that track disappeared.  I lost a few places while trying to find a new opening to slot into.

This sort of worked out as one of the first things you do when heading north on the classic trail is bomb down a pretty big hill that has a few turns in it.  A big field on classic skis that can be kind of sketchy.  Since I had to wait to slot in a little break had formed and I had pretty clear trail ahead of me so I wasn't going to get taken down when anyone ditched it in front of me.

After that you have a big climb before things get sorted out well.  Unfortunately for me that is where the race start adrenaline wore off and I noticed how much my ribs hurt.  I was just a few seconds off the back of a big group that looked like a bunch of people I wanted to ski with.

Despite making an attempt I couldn't close the gap down.  I could stride reasonably, but any attempt to put any power into a double pole or kick double pole was agony.  Sharp shooting pains in my rib cage.  Slowly the field just pulled away from me.  Then the field behind me started streaming past.

One benefit is I did get a chance to have a short chat with someone who said they enjoyed my race reports.  Despite asking their name, I'm completely blanking on it now.  Sorry about that, but hey Tom!  Or was it John?  Dang it.

As we neared the turn around at the high point I was trying to decide if I should just soft pole it back to OO and go sit in the car and wait for everyone else to finish.  Things were starting to feel a little less terrible at that point though.  The pain wasn't quite as bad and folks were starting to come back to me.

The Strava Flyby really shows the story of the race.  About a mile strong, then fading quickly, then finishing strong.


There would be some flatish stretches where I wouldn't gain an inch on the people in front of me.  Then we would hit a downhill and my skis were just ripping fast.  I'd close the gap significantly and then we'd hit the next uphill and my striding would finish the job and I'd start looking at the next person.

By the time I got back to OO I must have finally fatigued the pain receptors and they stopped firing.  Sort of a "well if you want to be an idiot and aren't going to listen to us, we are going to stop telling you about the injury".  Since it didn't hurt any more I just soldiered on.

I was actually having a good time being later in a race and clearly feeling much better than those people I was steadily passing.  I guess there is some advantage to being in so much pain early in a race you can't push your aerobic system??

After hitting the turn around at the south end and catching a few more folks on the way back north I kept thinking each corner I went around I was going to find Picnic Table Hill and the signal that I had one climb left and a shot downhill to the finish.  Turns out there were a lot more corners and climbs that I remembered.

The end did eventually come and I was glad to be done.

Analysis

Subjective

Well, I probably shouldn't have done that.  I'm glad I finished strong, but I probably would have been much better served to let my ribs heal instead of trying to race on them.

Objective

I didn't expect much out of the comparison out of my Race Comparison Tool, but it turned out to be not as bad as I figured it would be.  I'm glad to see that even for what I thought was a not so great race I'm still competitive.



What's Next

Getting healthy!  I finally skied again on Wednesday evening.  Well, it looked like I was skiing anyhow.  There was very little power in my upper body.  I'm feeling pretty good on Thursday.  Or maybe its I'm feeling less bad.  Rib injuries are silly things that can take a long time to feel better.  Sadly I know from the last three times I hurt them.

I'm optimistic that I'm sufficiently on the mend because I am going up to the Noquemanon in Marquette in a week no matter what.  I'm looking forward to the race and then a bunch of rad fat biking up there.

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