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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

MyTour of Anchorage

Now that I got photos back of me in the race it is time for my side of the story. Michael Dinneen Photography takes photos of everybody in the Tour every year and I purchased these photos of me and the girls on line. If you know somebody else who was in the race you can find them by going to the Tour of Anchorage results and getting their bib number and then going to the following website:

Anyhow, the theme of my race this year was that everything that could go wrong did, and yet, in the end, it all turned out great. First of all, I did not expect great things because on Kodiak we had no snow to train on, and then I got REALLY sick about 4 days before the race. I was a coughing, dripping, sudafed haze mess in the days before the race, and came close to just bagging it. I actually learned that sudafed makes your heart race when you ski - so the day of the race I did not take any.

On race day I showed up at the start to collect my bib at 8:25 and the lady told me that my start time was at 8:36. I did not believe her at first, I thought the start was at 9:36, and then I had to really rush to get to the start in time. No warm up and I pulled up at the back of the pack as the starter said '10, 9, 8. .. ...Go!'

Since I was sick I had decided to go really slow anyway, and I let the front pack go. I ended up in the no man's land between packs. I was in the process of creating a small pack with 2 other skiiers when I hit a rock or piece of metal so badly that it cut thru my ski base and I fell down. After that I could not catch the other two and I just took it easy and waited for another pack to catch me. Skate ski races are sort of like bike races in that drafting is essential and I knew my race would be a lot easier if I was part of a pack. Last year I did the whole race alone and I did not want to do that again.

The pack that caught me was all the top women skiiers. I have never skiied in a pack with so many women before and it was kind of cool. I heard them commenting on it too - I gather it is unusual to have so many women in a pack. At first there were just 2 of us guys. Our pack rolled along and actually reeled in the 2 lone skiiers I had started out with. The kid in blue, bib # 414 (who we reeled in), turned out to be 14!

As a pack we were among the first along the track and anywhere where no one had skiied yet was super slow. So if you pulled out of the line to pass you had to work really hard to go by because you instantly slowed down. The slow snow was caused by hoar frost on the new groomed trail. So I just stuck it out at the back of the pack and enjoyed the ride in the draft. Really, once part of the pack you barely had to work to keep up. And I will note that the last 4 of us in the bottom photo ended up first in the group at the end of the race (all of us in the top photo). The pack did break up at the end when we got to the hills near the finish. At the end it was a sprint to the finish and I could not get by the lady in blue (bib # 430) and she beat me by .4 seconds. She won the women's race!

Anyway, this year I learned that 1) warm up before races are way overrated and that there is less nervous tension before a race if you show up 10 minutes beforehand (not that I'll ever be able to do it again on purpose). 2) You do not really lose all that much time taking it easy and just skiing with good technique. I bet if I was not sick and had 'HIT IT' I would have, at most, gained only 4 minutes or so. 3) On snow training is also over-rated, I do not think I was at a disadvantage this year at all, and that climbing mountains on tele skiis is excellent training. But, I will add my 'skiing in a pack' technique was terrible and I kept on skiing on everybody's poles - so maybe some practice drafting in a pack is in order for next year. 4) Racing sick is OK during the race, but afterwards you cough for a week. Patrick

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