New year’s marathon

31 Dec

Let’s be clear. A marathon on skis isn’t half as tough as one on foot. My plans for today were actually to go much further, but I was tired and didn’t get up early enough to start my half day’s work on time to permit that.

Once today’s reduced professional obligations were covered, I headed out to ski at half past one. Didn’t feel very good, and to make matters worse I started out with an unknown skier who wanted a race. Since today was supposed to be long and slowish, I repeatedly pulled out of the track to let him pass. But each time he got in front of me he then slowed down to an uncomfortably plodding place.

Finally, when he started running into the back of my skis I yelled back that I found him tiring and said he really could pass me if he wanted to. No response. Coming up to one of the bigger climbs on the route I made signs that I would be stopping to take a moment’s rest. He then piped up to compliment me on my pace and headed on. I realised then that he was actually a nice guy. Since I didn’t really want to stop, I then tried to stay about 50 meters back to avoid triggering his slow down reflex. Seemed like he just liked to ski with other people.

From then on we skied a few meters apart but managed to stay out of each other’s hair. At the next big climb he turned around and I kept going. My goal was to check out the trail pictured above. I had been avoiding it because from the picture it looked bumpy and from the topo maps savagely steep in places. But it still appeared to be the best currently prepped connector between my house and the route of the 90km Grenaderløpet race I will do in February.

The picture and maps didn’t lie. The trail was a wild ride both coming and going. I nearly gave up at one point and resigned to fall but then a skier coming the opposite direction suddenly appeared to make me rethink that plan. Shame is a powerful motivator. And you usually have more control than you think you do, provided you don’t panic. So I picked my trajectory through the bumps at more or less full speed since trying to snowplough was ineffective and resulted in even less control. Came back out upright and unscathed on the return trip feeling relieved.

Happily there didn’t seem to be rocks to avoid since the snow cover was quite thick. So, it looks like the route is viable. I hope next time I go through it I’ll be able to use my training pair of racing skis instead of my slow, beat up touring skis that I’ve relegated to gravel use. Those will go even faster, but since they’re lighter and narrower I’ll have better control.

Headed home the way I came. My back was sore at the end. Diagonal striding was what hurt, not double-poling. Tried to do as much as I could of the latter. Finished the slightly more than a marathon in 3:34, with a 12.36 km/h pace. Total elevation gain was 833 meters. Not going particularly hard, using slow skis and not feeing good I still wasn’t too far off my target pace for the Grenaderløpet of 13.1 km/h.

Trip details:

  • Wax: Blue Extra
  • Style: Classic
  • Distance: 44.2km
  • Temperature: -5C

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