Sunday, February 28, 2010

Birkebeiner XC Ski Race

Birkie 2010 is in the books. #7 in 9 years. I finished about as expected. A little slower than I'd have liked, but that's racing, we always would like to be faster!!

I've done other marathons (30 mile) xc ski races. I use the skate technique vs. classic or stride.

The Noquemanon and The Great Bear Chase.

I'm a very average skier for my age group that skis these races. How that compares to the average citizen, well, I'd think I'm in very low % that can put down a 3-4 hour ski race. The courses are not flat, either. The Birkie is known for it's grueling, never ending hills.

Trail Elevation

Start to OO
OO to Finish
Birkie Skate Course 729 m (2392 ft) 669 m (2195 ft) 1398 m (4587 ft)

Started skiing somewhat serious about 13-14 years ago or so. Just had a pair of waxless classic skis that I'd throw on every chance I got. Did most of my skiing back then in the evenings. Going out after the kids were in bed or close to it. Many nights skiing by the light of the moon, breaking trail out in a little used county park near Appleton, WI.

Went out west for work one winter and took the family and spent some extra time downhill skiing on Mt. Hood. They were selling some of their xc rental gear cheap so I picked up a skate ski package, boots, poles, skis and bindings. $100.
My good friend from PA sent me a VHS tape of Bill Koch explaining how to skate ski. I'd watch part of it, throw on the skis, go to the local golf course and try what I watched on the tape. By doing this over and over, I taught myself to skate ski.

After 1-2 years of this, I decided to enter a ski race, but not just any race, a 30 miler in the UP of MI. The Noquemanon, or the Noque for short.
I just decided to try it, never skied a race before and figured "why not?"
It about killed me. Deciding that I had gotten into skiing to lose weight and just stay fit, I figured why eat breakfast, or much anyway? Why use sports drinks or any of that stuff? My goal was just to finish, so no big deal, right?
I bonked toward the end and somehow drug myself across the finish line where my wife and youngest son met me. David about carried me to the car and I took a shower at the motel and went straight to bed, shivering like I had a fever. Slept about 10 hours.

After that, I started reading up on things and got a little better in all areas, from skiing to nutrition, to recovery.

Right now, after skiing 5-6 Noques, 7 Birkies a Great Bear Chase and many shorter races, I think I'm done xc racing in general. Just not the same rush and excitement in it....and the pain climbing those hills is not fun anymore. Seems the endorphins just aren't doing what they used to do. I used to lift weights, but after moving to a smaller condo and leaving the weight set at the house (we're moving back this spring) I stopped lifting. I could really tell I need get back to lifting to improve my upper body strength. Without strong arms the legs have to do all the work.

I like the endurance part of it, but not so much the race....the requirement to do something that just isn't fun. It used to be "fun" in the sense of the challenge. No more pre-race jitters and excitement now. As with most things I get into, I do it for a few seasons and move on to other things or explore different aspects of the sport.

Like with mountain biking, I don't like to race that much anymore, for the same reasons, but I like to ride different areas of the country and try out different trails.
I also roller-bladed 5 marathons back in the day.
Did the first one in 1998-99 or so. Roller blading was a natural activity to take up in the summer to compliment skate skiing. Since that time, roller skating equipment has come into vogue.
I have to admit, I have a real nice pair of both roller blades and roller skis of which I haven't used either ones for 4-5 years. Once I started mt. biking, they got pushed aside.
I need to sell that stuff or use it once in awhile.

Will probably to the same with xc-ski racing as with mt. biking. I'll keep doing it, for sure, but will experiment how I enjoy it the most.

Don't like to be in a rut, doing something for the sake of just doing it. I want to really enjoy it, not just go through the motions.

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