Monday, February 02, 2009


What an awesome weekend! I’m sure the City of Lakes Loppet organizers were thrilled to have temps above 40 on Saturday for more of their family events and then in the low 30s on Sunday for their main races.

This was only my second x-c ski race. As soon as I got off the bus I was literally looking around and listening to people – trying to get a lay of the land and gain some insight from some of the more experience skiers. Scott did the 10K as his first race ever and he summed it up perfectly;

I was like a fish out of water pre-race. It was so close to something I've done a million times but so far.
For me, it’s weird to go from running races where you see tons of familiar faces, to a ski race where I might recognize 2-3 people – if that. But I think that is just something that adds to the uniqueness of this whole experience. And it’s definitely a unique experience when you train by yourself or with a handful of people on perfectly groomed courses and then try to race 800 people on narrow trails through mashed potatoes. That’s the best way to describe much of the course – especially the hills.

I was a little worried that I had the wrong wax on. I based wax on Friday’s forecast and then it got warmer than expected on Saturday, so it wasn’t as cool on Sunday. But I stuck with what I had, FastWax LF Blue, and it seemed fine.

Just before the start, I decided to use my stopwatch even though there aren’t any mile markers like in running. I know with wave starts that sometimes it can be hard to figure out your final time because the race clock starts with wave one. Now I’m glad I did this because it appears I was given the wrong chip. At first I thought it was a little odd that my name wasn’t read off, like all the others skiers, as I crossed the finish line. It wasn’t that big of deal and I proceeded to change clothes and grab some soup. 15 minutes later I hear my name being announced. Sure enough, the results have me finishing in 2:17 even though my clock showed 2:02.

Obviously, I don’t have a lot to compare those results to, but I seemed to be moving up on a lot of people in the wave ahead of me. So I’ll take that as a positive. Also, I averaged 3:46 per KM or like 6:05 per mile, which seems pretty quick compared to my training paces.

With that said, I still have a ton of work to do. Going from the top 5% of running races to the top 40% of skiing races is very humbling. I did find it kind of interesting that this race was made up of 81% men. That seems disproportionately high. Where are all the women at?

Even though I had a great time during my race, my favorite part of the weekend was taking my (nearly) 8 year old daughter with me on Saturday. After picking up my packet she participated in the kids’ carnival as well as the Minne-Loppet. She earned her first blister and her first medal. It makes me super proud to see her out there.

Quote of the Day;

“Skiing the Birkie was an amazing experience! I feel the best I have ever felt in my life.” - Mary Krook, First-time Birkie skier


Adam said...

My ... uh ... friend ... has looked at the finishing statistics by wave, and he says that your 2:02 puts you in the 95th percentile for wave 6, and ought to earn you a solid wave 3 placement for next year, unless your Birkie time moves you up higher. However, since the COLL seedings are based on recorded times, if you want to get things straightened out, send a note to (my coworker). By the way, a 2:17 is about the 70% percentile for wave 6, and would most likely move you up to wave 4 next year.

Chad said...

Adam, it sounds like your "friend" looks at skiing results like I do running results.

I did email COLL yesterday and got a very quick response from Rick. It sounds like they'll correct it for me.

How'd you feel about your race?

Adam said...

I guess you were in wave 4 - never mind the wave 6 comments. Rick said that your chip swap was one of 7 timing errors for all the timed events. Lucky you!

I was pretty happy with how things went. The weather and course were the best ever. There were at least 6 distinct snow conditions on the course: man-made granular, man-made packed, natural hard packed, natural sugary/mashed potatoes, scratched up ice (north shore of Cedar Lake), natural slush (various underpasses and sunny spots). So everybody's skis were bound to work somewhere!

I lined up at the front of wave 2 and went out pretty hard. That was fine for a while, but then I faded and gave up a couple minutes on the lakes, finishing in about 1:45.

Pacing in a ski race is still a tricky thing for me. Maybe it's because the conditions have so much to do with your speed that you can't just dial in a pace and stick to it. Or maybe it's that ski courses tend to be pretty technical so the effort level has to go up and down.