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Recollections of a misspent youth, or, what I did this weekend.

“Hey Mike, what did you do this weekend?”

“Not much, went to Anchorage, competed in the second-largest cross-country ski race in the United States, drove home.”

“And I see you’re still alive.”

“I am indeed. Thank you for noticing.”

–          Imagined dialogue if someone asked me, “Hey Mike, what did you do this weekend?” and also noticed that I was still alive.

So, my List of Important Things held mostly to form. I managed not to die, I tried to be competitive, paced myself fairly well, and still managed not to die. I went up Saturday morning, which helped me to take my mind off of the event. I still needed to figure out what kick wax to use for my skis. Kick wax goes on the underside of the ski right under the foot area, and provides grip, whereas the tips of the skis have wax to make the ski glide – cleverly called glide wax. I stopped by a local ski store and they had recommendations for which wax to use. Saturday featured more snow, and I had been on the wrong side of bad kick wax – snow collects and sticks to the bottom of the skis and makes any kind of headway impossible. I was worried, but confident in the “pro” advice. Saturday night I focused on carb loading. Fortunately, I found out that this means eating lots of carbohydrates, as opposed to carburetors like I had been anticipating. Was not looking forward to that. So, stuffed with whole grains, I tried my best to sleep.

Moderately successful, I did have some pretty good pre-race jitters on Sunday morning. I forced myself to eat early and often, and hydrate accordingly. I arrived at the event early to check the snow conditions. It was a balmy 10 degrees at the start, and overcast. I was worried about more snow, which inevitably slows everything down. In my race, the 25k Classic, I was in the very first wave with 49 very competitive others. So, a little bonus pressure. I wasn’t shy – I went straight to the front of the line. I got a good clean start and was the first to the trails, then on the uphill got passed by a group of college team skiers and a few other, obviously experienced veterans with good techniques. I vowed never to wear spandex, despite the alleged speed advantage, then held my own for the miles that followed. The sun came out and it was gorgeous. I skipped all the rest stops and just double poled, like I had anticipated. I felt like I nailed my diet, which was nice. Wasn’t hungry, wasn’t thirsty the whole race. My race started at Alaska Pacific University and went to the Coastal Trail, finishing with a long uphill slog into Kincaid Park.

I finished with a time of 1:49 something, so was pretty far off my estimated time of 90 minutes, but the fresh snow made it slightly slower, and it was squishy for double-poling. My back (I knew it would) started to stiffen up like crazy near the end – just in time for the 2k climb into the finish. I started the hill about a minute and a half behind the guy in front of me, but couldn’t catch him at the finish – he beat me by 5 seconds. He was in my age group, too. Ugh. The hardest part was that I had no idea of where I was in the course. I could only go by time elapsed, and there I thought I would do better. So, I was a little slow, but finished not absurdly far away from my goal.

I finished 21st of 144 skiers in the Men’s 25K Classic race. I was secretly hoping to be in the Top 10 before the race, and any chance of that was dispelled in the first five minutes. I recalibrated my goal (during the race) to be in the top 20, and I was only 5 seconds out. There were a lot of very good skiers in the race, and I found out later that a guy next to me in another lane at the starting line was an Olympian. Turns out he was faster than I was…

So, next time I want to train more long skis over the weekends, and pay particular attention to diagonal skiing. It was a gorgeous Sunday, and nice to be outside. I have to remember that I’ve only been skiing for less than four months, so just doing a ski race is pretty neat.

I think I ate for two hours straight when I got home, and overall, I was rather pleased to manage not to die.


One Response to “Recollections of a misspent youth, or, what I did this weekend.”

  1.   Angie Says:

    SQUIIII! I carb loaded this weekend as a supportive gesture. Glad to see my sacrificial efforts paid off! PIZZA FOR THE WIN

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