Long story short: good glide and inadequate kick.
Instead of obsessively waxing multiple pairs of skis, I tested grinds on Friday and prepared a single pair with a fairly open structure. On race day morning, I corked seven thin layers of kick wax on my boards.
Warming up, I could stride right up the bridge on the Flatland Loop. But three k into the race, I went off the back of a big group of skiers as we climbed the rollers leading out to Porter Mountain. Instead of striding, I had to herringbone up them. And I walked that awkward walk a lot for the remainder of the day.
It wasn’t all bad. I could stride the easy grades OK, but on anything steep, I was out of luck. Sections that were no problem last year were a trial today. To no avail, I stayed right on top of the kick zone, but was quickly in no man’s land.
Fifteen k in, I bowed to the inevitable and stopped to apply blue extra, the warmest wax I’d brought with me. It worked for a few k and then I began slipping again. While my glide improved as the day went on, I never had grip.
On my second lap, Duncan Douglas passed me on the flat after the Cascade Loop feed. He was skiing smooth and relaxed, everything that my skate technique is not. The next skate competitors were minutes back.
At 27 k, I added kick wax again, but it was more of the same. From then on, I focused on going hard anywhere that was flat, keeping a positive attitude, skiing smoothly, and .
The track wasn’t any help, as all the uphills were mush after the skate waves passed over them. The technical downhills were a horror show of ruts and berms with no discernible line. On the second lap, the last big downhill on Ladies’ 5 ate me up. The Hill Junkie wasn’t the only guy who broke a ski out there, as I passed someone limping in to the finish with a Madshus flapping.
All told, the fall and rewaxing easily cost me 10 minutes. But I finished with a smile and none of the stomach cramps that I traditionally accrue in the last 10 k of a ski marathon.
On Sunday, my buddy Colin and I dug our cars out of the ten inches of snow that had fallen overnight, and went back to Mount van Hoevenberg. We hooked up with the Berkshire Boys, and Ed Lis and Joe Korzenecki of Peru Nordic.
As if we hadn’t punished ourselves enough the day before, we went up Russian Hill and Ladies’ 5 a couple times before cruising over to the biathlon side. After three hours, I called it a day and drove home.