Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tales of the Craftsbury Marathon

Marathoners recovered enough to draft up their war stories from the Craftsbury Marathon.  Winter returned to the Northeast Kingdom just in time to mess up the wax call with 5-6 inches of fluffy white snow on top of old, wet icy stuff which made for some interesting waxing.  First up is John Sakalowski's story, found on his blog at:  John's Story

Next up is Bob Burnham's:

Craftsbury…  Let's see.  The challenges:
I released my product after 2.5 years at the robot company on Thursday with first shipment next day.  It was all out for our team for weeks.  Still not fully installed, but it was a goal, so not much training outside of weekends.  Late night Thursday night with field team clinical training this week and many lunches of pizza and other notable negative training meals.  However, I did refrain on the many beers the last night and Friday PM.  Drove up through a blinding snowstorm to stowe arrived late but with Ann and my skis waxed and the recommended base VG35 stick binder.  Both Toko and Swix said that was the iron in, but being nervous I had managed to check weather and the accurate Craftsbury on site report from a buddy suggested 7 inches of powder the last day.  Missed the late Fri. PM Craftsbury report that explained you should switch to klister binder.  (Sort of the 5.15 AM time led me not to check email and the need to beat the traffic in the next dreaded snow drive.

Jims ski was delaminated during his frenzied wax as he had little time during school.  Full thickness delamination of his only good last college race skis.  So quickly gave him my training skis, with klister residue to be cleaned.  Panic begins to edge around the fatigue of driving and too little sleep.  We patch up but we are then tired and slower in the AM and leave about 20 min late.  Drive fast through icy roads and snowing, then hit the gripped driver drill on the super highway called the famed Wolcott road.  No passing for 10 miles so we crawl with 5 other cars towards Craftsbury at 20 MPH.  Now down to 1.20, but hey still time and we nail the one of last spaces in upper lot.  Quick change, skis and such and start to talk with all the masters.  Klister and binder are in the air, but many continue with stick binder.  Everything from blue to red klisters and same for covered stick wax.  seems to be 2 inches of groomed powder, but the tracks are hard, sometimes icy, sometimes glazed (where skied), sometime windblown (murphy's).  Some klister reports say slow, Jamie is using purple rex power grip, so in an effort to test I ski with jimmy.  Jim says his green klister covered is ok, but not fast or terrific kick.  I had two waxes covering the base binder with ironed in extra blue.  Tried several stick waxes, then tried the blue power grip.  Power grip was just about as fast, so we quickly decided.  Mash thin power grip into the base/extra blue to add some tough klister component, then add swix extra purple covered with extra blue.  45 or 50 for panic additions at start.  Scrambled with clothes and such Ann Jim and I test and all want more wax, but I have to remove my braces inside.  Run in, Ann runs in afterwards with 5 min to my start.  Her boot has delaminated.  Jamie leaving hears Ann moaning for tape and give me his silver duct tape.  I super quickly peel 3 layers handing them to Ann and wish her well.  She has an added 5 min to tape her boot and add 45 wax.  Panic at full throttle now.  Fly down to the start in a tuck, jump in tracks take off my little wax bag and voila.  Ann has all the wax that are above extra blue.  (She has 4 waxes and I had the other 10.  Swore I had 45.  So fumble and grab the extra blue in a nice track as Ollie is gabbing like there is plenty of time.  Scratch on thin coat as he then Ollie state 90 seconds.  Grab cork for 5 second rub, put on skis one with too little wax in the rush and the other with the earlier combo.  Turn skis sideways and let  jimmy in front of me.  Get poles on with 30 seconds to spare.  Darn I could have done a medium coat on both skis.  Knew it would slip later.   If I had just unplugged Ollie's microphone while running by.  Guess not.

Funny how I was somehow panicky while skiing in a huge line of masters.  Wonder why?  Duh.  Ok kick, but not for the first ICY track and hoping for some windblown powder.  Real threat  of powder out on far reaches of the loop but alas the snow stops.  Trying to move up with super-fast skis, I at least twice, fly up to a row of super slow masters in the one 20 person line and go to jump in to a large gap only to almost run into a master catching me from the track.  Super embarrassing, but could not figure it out.  It was like passing a runner with a road bike and suddenly you turn in and they run into you. Duh again, track matters a ton and I use that later.  Turns out my skis have a huge speed advantage in the skied track, but other tracks are way slow, so momentum only gets me so far.  End up leading a lot on first lap and half as the group of cagey veterans can catch me on the uphills with less the super kick and I dust them on the downhill.  However, who wants to let them slog in front of me and nobody will let you in this mega line.  Chris Osgood and I start to switch off and we drop the whole pack going down after Ruthies and this time he leads me.  Many are 25 K so that group falls apart and only one catches me.  Knew I had wasted way too much on the uphills and only marginal kick.  Duh broken shoulder, no DP training and I had wasted lots of nervous energy especially given no marathons in 24 months.  Hmm.  still skiing fine with Chris and we trade based upon ski advantage.  Ruthies up third time, my right shoulder (separated) and right elbow both just give out.  It really feels bad when that kicks in.  My old Achilles is now a bit sore as is my old XC  hamstring pull from 30 years ago.  They will hold, but I have to be careful and not just trash my legs or they will implode.  Ugh arm was fine, 30 yards later my arm is gone.  Chris later asks, you were there then you were gone.  Where did you go? Skied Ruthies easy with one arm testing the other a few times.  Learned to tuck downhill with right arm straightened and that helped it a bunch.  Continued to ski with my right arm doing 10% and left 90% losing time like crazy, but the DP is still ok as my skis now have much less wax. At least my wind is good.  Going to quit at 3 laps as this is ridiculous and I will ruin myself on lap 4.  Finish 3 laps feeling ok accept for injuries, but decide to ski up to the feed and my left elbow gets really sore.  Gee skiing with one arm has a side effect.  Feed and nobody is behind me so I ski off doing a straight armed, straight leg circa 1975 DP.  It works neither arm is sore.  Decide to ski short loop and see.  Cruise along and the icy hills are getting everyone.  Two guys come back from in front me the quadriplegic mess?  I can sort of hobble with high temp kick out of the track on any icy uphill, find a more powdery track on moderate hills to stride carefully and easy DP with 90% power from core.  Sort of works and I pass them both easily on going on the downhills leading to Elinor's and they are well out of site by the bottom.  Decide to just ski with whatever works as long as I am not getting worse.  Just easy skiing.  Alex is now catching me based upon when I saw her at the last feed.  Have unexpected help on last hill, my legs push down more and my wind is great.  Hey super easy skiing for 50 minutes has its advantages.  Going up the last 4 k Alex catches me.  She is slipping as much as I am, but racing hard and she is hurting and I am of course not really winded although expect all 4 injuries now hurt again.  However, I ski with Alex for about 2 K which helps as she skis so nicely.  let her go to her final silver medal and cruise in 15 seconds behind.  Survival and somehow held off the Charging Mr. Faltus.  First time ever I do not run back out on to the course to see Ann.  ICE rest and guess what, I was ok the next day for a gentle family skate with Ann and Jim in the PM.  Had to skip the drive to Rikert though.  Ice is amazing, but I did a lot and of course remain concerned for the Birkie and Fossavaten.  

Fatigue, Panic, suffer, crafty veteran, survive, finish, heal, rebirth…
That is the saga.  Type 2 fun at best.

Third Story is Jamie Doucett's:

Craftsbury 2017 – My Kingdom for Some Kick
Having just read John Sakalowski’s excellent report on Craftsbury, mine is the antithesis of his.  Lisa and I arrived at Craftsbury in the afternoon after  I had set up 2 pair of test skis at home with 4 different wax combos to test so I could try to dial things in.  Except it was snowing…..hard….filling the tracks which had wet, glazing, icy stuff on the bottom.  The new snow was sucking up moisture from all the days of warm weather like a sponge and so two of four wax selections ended up causing high heels out in the woods and the other two provided zero kick.  I messed around a bit covering wax with colder wax, which helped, and then with all the discussion of possible icy conditions applied klister binder to my klister skis just in case and decided to take the Zen approach and not fret about conditions given that they would be completely different in the morning.  
Lisa and I headed over to the Village House Inn for dinner with Alex and John and then spent a quiet evening reading and yacking.   
Morning always comes too early on race day, but with Kate churning out our respective race day breakfast preferences as we were joined by the rest of the gang at least we'd be well fed. We then cleaned 6 inches of fluffy snow off the car and headed over to the Center early to snag a wax bench and get started dialing things in.  After retrying all my test skis I arrived at a decision and got started on Lisa’s and my skis.  I peeled off the hard wax binder and replaced it with Toko green klister binder nice and thin, then Rex ProGrip purple and Toko blue for Lisa, which she liked on her soft skis.  On mine I had ProGrip purple, Ski Go Purple and that wasn’t so good, so I added Toko Red and covered with Toko Blue, all put on pretty thin.  I didn’t want to ice up anywhere with the new snow.  Pretty solid kick and so I went with that.  And, my skis felt fast.  Nice!!  Almost everyone had something different on their skis, from John ‘s Swix combo of 45 and 40, Alex’s Rode Multigrade, to klister covered combinations (Peter Harris) and whatever Mark Doughty begged off of Zach Caldwell to my mess.  Interesting day given new snow, relatively warm temps and progressively glazing tracks.  One nice thing however was that we didn't need to put on many layers of clothes or gloves this year since it wasn't hovering above 0F this year.
My goals for the day were not to get dropped at the start since I start slowly and to feel better than I did last year where I was almost done in at the end of the first lap.  That was a long day indeed.  The start went well and as things got sorted out I was dangling off the back of a long train that included Jim Fredricks (doing the 25km), Bob Burnham, Robert Faltus, Chris Osgood and several others.  Perfect.  Peter Harris passed me up one of the bigger hills and then went right out the back on the downhill with slow skis.  At the bottom of Elinor’s Hill where you pop back into the tracks going back into the woods I was still in a tuck while 3 guys in front of me were double poling and I doodled right by one of them.  Beautiful!!  Skis were fast!  
Then began the first of 4 climbs up Ruthie’s Run and some minor slipping here and there.  Hmmmmm, a nagging feeling about insufficient wax crept into my mind.  However, it wasn’t too bad and the train with Robert’s white suit was right there in front of me for the rest of the lap.  On lap two the long train had broken up but Robert and 3 – 4 others were again just a ways in front and I was reasonably content.  That nagging thought was a bit stronger after struggling a bit more on Ruthie’s, but getting in the less used right hand track helped a lot.  But more slipping caused me to shorten my stride and beat on my arms more than I wanted.  Lap 3 would be tough.  I could stop at my warmups and slap on some Toko yellow like I did last year.  But that might cost more time than it was worth.  I pressed on, always chasing Mr. Faltus.  By Murphy’s Field Robert had gapped me and was maybe 45 sec. ahead.   Press on and use your fast skis where you can.   The third trip up Ruthie’s got much harder.  Alex came by skiing strongly, although we both slipped and got out of the tracks in the same stretch.   Alex said she was shuffling, but she was shuffling lots faster than I was.  Shuffling replaced striding.  Ok, this is getting hard.  What happened to my kick?  The wheels were falling off so time to nurse the old buggy home.   Here and there the track had snow in it and I could stride.  Then it was glazed and I’d slip a lot.  I started looking for where pole baskets had flipped a little snow onto the track so I could kick off of that.  Where is that next downhill so I can rest.  Peter Harris caught back up, still kicking effectively, striding right past and I couldn’t hang with him very long.  Darn!
Lap 4 was all about getting home, one section of the course at a time.  I sure enjoyed those downhills but on the uphills it was a struggle.  As Robert noted, it was all about looking for kick.  Mark Doughty was next to come by.  Zach’s klister/hardwax concoction was working pretty well.  I hung with him through some downhills and then they disappeared up the trail a bit more on each uphill.  Then Ed Lubin went by on the last series of uphills and I lost another place in M7. I shuffled up the last couple hills back to the center and mercifully was done.  
So another long, slow day at Craftsbury.  In retrospect I just went too thin with the wax so I could maintain fast skis.  They were fast all right but kick helps at a place like Craftsbury.  Conditions changed and that did me in after a good first 2 laps.  So, not a horrible day…..no bonk, but geez it sure would have been nice to to stride and not shuffle.  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Sr. Nationals Photos

CSU is out in Utah braving the elements, some of which doesn't look too tough! 

Rob's report on sprint day from the front:

What a difference a day makes!  In less than 24 hours we went from -10 F to 35 F and raining.  What?  The famed Pineapple Express started pumping in Pacific ocean moisture yesterday afternoon with a steady snow.  This morning it was simple waxing with many waxes working.  Kathy and arrived at 6:45 and started testing.   Toko Red stick turned out to be our favorite.  

The race format today was a classic sprint.  That meant an individual qualifier starting at 9:00 AM.  Our first male  starter was at 9:30.   The wax was great, but just before our last male starter at 9:57 the snow changed to rain and of course a cold stick wax went from great to  useless.  We slapped on some Toko yellow stick and he made it through with decent skis.

The rain continued and the snow transformed and it was time for full panic-wax mode.  Just to make life extra challenging the wax trailers were placed this year about a quarter mile from the stadium area.  Do you know why we have all those running workouts in the sand at Kern Camp on Cape Cod in the summer?  To get ready for running through soft snow from wax trailer to the stadium.  Carol and Lucian took a blue tarp from our house and rigged up a hillbilly style makeshift tent in the stadium and we moved a bench and waxes and tools up there to cut down on the running.  Our crack wax team of Gunther, Eric, and Brad had prepped hard wax, klister, and zero skis.   Those with zeros generally preferred those once the rain started.  Meanwhile I was scrambling with Gunther to klister up test skis and send Kathy out for more testing.  We ended up with Toko red and yellow klister covered with yellow stick, but then when racers needed extra kick on the rapidly icing tracks we added more red klister and some silver too.  Everyone had acceptable skis given the crazy conditions.

At Sr Natls the top 30 go into heats, and then the next 30 juniors (under 20) go into another  full set of heats.  Perhaps it was a blessing for our skiers that none made the heats as it alternately sleeted, snowed, and poured rain all afternoon.  Several of us went back to watch the heats in the afternoon, but no  one made it all the way through before retreating home to sheltering roof and a cup of hot tea.   Laura Appleby paced it perfectly by missing the heats by 0.01 seconds!

With the huge field each second in the results had 10 to 15 finishers.  Yow!

For our guys:

Calvin Bates 148
Jackson Hardin 166
Oliver Snow 184
Will Rhatigan 241

For the gals:

Laura Appleby 100 (4th U16)
Kirsten Miller 172
Gabby Vandendries 179
Lilly Bates 186
Hannah Rieders 193
Madeline Rieders 198

Again, there were many CSU veterans competing.  Of special note were Corey Stock in 37th, and Julia Kern in 23rd.  Julia won her quarter final, but just missed out in her semi on the A final.  She ended up 7th overall and 6th American.  

Tomorrow is a rest day which we all could use.  On Tuesday we have a 10K mass start classic race for the boys and a 5K classic mass start for the girls.   Forecast is for snow tomorrow and Tuesday with temps in the 30s.   Sounds like more fun waxing.