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Mullin's 2018 City of Lakes Loppet Freestyle Report


Say, where did last week go?  Between prepping for my Birkie Adventure presentation for Cyclova (check out the schedule of upcoming events you won't want to miss here) and Woolly Bike Club stuff, I kinda missed out on writing a race report.

So now I'm a race removed from this one already.  Thus, in an effort to catch up and not fall further behind, you get the shorter version this time.  Somewhat.

Prep

I didn't sign up for the race until probably Wednesday.  When I heard they were running the full point to point race I decided I wanted in again.  CoLL was my first marathon race when I got back into skiing in 2009/2010.  I did two years of the Loppet before the weather got pretty crummy and the race turned into the Loopet Loppet on the man made loops at Theo.  I skipped one year I was registered for and hadn't registered since.

Now since I hadn't done it in the last few years and they have pretty well spelled out wave qualification criteria I knew I was going to get assigned a random wave start.  That meant wave 3 for me in this case.  That really didn't bother me as I was really just interested in paying for an excuse for a good marathon pace workout.

A few inches of snow during the day on Saturday and pretty cold overnight meant more cold waxing.  I opted for the stiffer Rossignol's again which have more of a universal grind on them than a cold grind.  But my Fischers with the cold grind are softer and really only run well in the powder and there just wasn't that much snow.  Despite starting in wave 3 the snow was pretty firm everywhere so I was happy with my choice.  If the Birkie is looking cold in a few weeks and the trail is still as firm is it is now I'll be getting a ski grind on those Rossi's before the big dance.

Race

Again, racing out of wave 3 I figured it was going to be mostly a day for solo skiing and a lot of passing.  I did notice that Dan Gjertson was going to be in my wave so I was kind of hoping we could make a tandem and ski through the field.  He blasted off the start line though and a km into the race I knew I couldn't hang with him.  He went on to beat me by EIGHT minutes.  Two more wave 3 skiers also took off ahead of me in the opening few km and I never saw them again.

Pre-race "game face".  I've been digging the Frost Tape this year.  3 races with below zero start temps and my face hasn't suffered.  Definitely worth picking some up for the cold races.


I enjoyed the race as best you can when you are working hard for two hours.  The opening 8km on the back 9 are pretty challenging.  Lots and lots of climbing in there.  The first two times I did this race I pretty much blew up before leaving that section.  I managed to work hard this time without blowing up which was nice.  My HR was definitely spiking in there though touching 178 and 179 on the climbs.

The next 7km are pretty flat as you roll your way through the front 9, then over across Wirth Lake twice before entering the flower gardens.  All through here I was counting people I had passed.  I was up to around 110 by the time I got off of Wirth the second time.  I never really felt held up by all that passing, though it did take its toll as I usually had to get off the best line to go around people or do little bursts or double poling.  I lost track of people at that point, but post race math on the results says I passed 215 people on the day.

Into the flower gardens it gets climby again, but now the trail is generally just one skier wide.  Here I definitely did get hung up some having to wait until the top of a climb to make a pass.  It was what it was though.  I didn't freak out about it and always thanked people when I had a chance to pass.

As we crossed over into the Quaking Bog section I thought I was about done with the climbing.  I forgot a few hills though.  I was ready to be down onto the lakes, but kept finding "just one more hill".

Swinging down onto Brownie finally I knew that I had about 12km of pancake flat lake skiing left.  This is where starting out of wave 3 was a real bummer.  Despite the wind generally being out of the north, it still sure seemed to be in my face enough.  And there wasn't anyone to share the load with.

The lakes were generally very firm so it was fun and fast skiing not counting the wind.  The worst part though was getting to the south end of Bde Maka Ska (formerly Calhoun) where the snow was drifting onto the trail making it painfully slow and then we had to turn and go the last 3km or so directly into the wind.

Analysis

Subjective
When I finished I felt pretty good about my race.  I went hard the whole time.  I never felt like I let off the gas.  I didn't bonk, was pretty wiped at crossing the finish line.

Objective
Objectively, it seemed like my times were quite a ways off from other people I'm normally around.  The Birkie Predictor says it isn't terrible, but it just seems... off.



Its hard to say what might attribute to that.  Not skiing with the normal people?  Being held up a little?  Not peaking like everyone else?  Slowish skis?

What's Next

At the time of this writing I have already finished what's next.  6 days after CoLL I raced the PreBirkie 42k Freestyle.  That is the next race report to write...  stay tuned.

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