Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Craftsbury Ski Marathon – A long ski with my sister

In 2011, I completed my first ski marathon at Craftsbury…skiing side-by-side with my sister Jenny.  It was quite the calamity, with sub-zero temperatures, poor waxing, and one of my boots breaking during the race.  Oh, and there wasn’t much snow to train on that winter before the race, and the course was changed to a 4-lap course around a loop that was pretty icy. 

So, this year my sister and I decided to once again sign up to ski together.  This was aimed at being a fun long ski together, not a competition, so we signed up for the ‘recreational wave’.  Brian was supposed to ski with us, but he unfortunately got the flu the week leading up to the race, so he stayed home.  With a lack of snow this winter, neither of us had much training – so this was shaping up to be similar to our 2011 experience. 

Fortunately, Jenny’s in-laws live close to Craftsbury, so I not only had crash space, but I got to hang out with Jenny a bit, and see my nephew Calvin also.  Upon my arrival, the first order of business was waxing my skis to avoid that difficulty from 2011.  It was likely going to be similar conditions as 2011, with an icy course, and near-zero temperatures. 

Jenny and I put on the final layers of waxed and tried to stay warm as we watched the competitive heats go off.  By the time I stripped down to my ‘race outfit’, which was still a ski jacket and ski pants, I was instantly chilled.  Jenny pushed the pace a bit out of the start, to be sure we weren’t caught up behind unstable skiers.  The loop started off with about 4k of rolling downhill, so I was frozen immediately and started to get grumpy and nauseous, and struggled to keep up with her.  It took me until 7 or 8k into the first lap before I could finally feel my hands and my toes were starting to thaw out.  At that time, finally I was chatty and Jenny and I started to really enjoy the day.

We were lapped by the lead man early in our race, so throughout the first loop we had guys flying by us most of the time.  But, we skied next to each other as best we could, lapping the junior skiers who started 10 minutes ahead of us.  After our first lap, the tracks cleared up a bit as the juniors were finished and Jenny and I could ski together…it felt just like when we used to train together in high school, so we were both having a blast.  The lead female passed us 7 or 8k into our second lap, so I knew we were skiing strong even though this was a social event for both of us.

During our 3rd lap, during a 2-way section on the trail, I found the only other person I knew out there, Joe Holland, another local ultra runner, and we both let out a cheer.  A few kilometers later, Joe (who I’ve shared many miles with during ultras) flew by us with a comment about ‘how I was skiing pretty well for a runner’…and I yelled to him that he runs well for a skier, as he zoomed out of sight.  It lifted my spirits to see someone else from my happy place of trail running.  And before we knew it, Jenny and I were passing through the start/finish, and heading out for our last lap.

Now, not having skied much this winter, the aches and pains were starting to become apparent.  My back was a bit stiff, and my elbows felt like they had tendonitis.  But, Joe was waiting in the lap zone and skied the first few kilometers of the loop with us – showing the support that us trail runners love to give each other.  Jenny and I both were feeling the distance, but I was pleased to not be slowing down.  I think that unofficially, we both just wanted to ski faster than we had 2 years ago, with almost identical conditions.  Although we weren’t competing then, nor were we now, we were competing against ourselves, and it felt great to finish and glance at my watch – seeing that we had finished about 20 minutes faster.  That’s a testament to being in better overall shape (due to lifting and rowing this winter), but it still felt great to finish faster. 

All in all, it was a wonderful day.  Craftsbury Outdoor Center somehow made amazing conditions out of almost no snow…it was impressive to ski along clean snow with deep, well-set tracks – I almost forgot that there wasn’t any snow anywhere else.  It was also great to have a sister that I can share long epic adventures with, I am so blessed to have an active and outdoorsy family.  I was pleased that my endurance held up and that I had a wonderful day of skiing.

- had breakfast before the ski, banana about 1/2 before we started
- 4 gels (at 12.5k, 19k, 25k, 37.5k) - about 400 calories
- 5 cups of energy drink (at 12.5k, 19k, 25k, 32k, 37.5k) - about 500 calories
Net total - 900 calories and 5 cups fluids. 

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