Me and Dzangel

Me and Dzangel
RMC 5K 2007

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Birkie recap

Good morning! Sven here again. Time for another infrequent update. About that. It's my long weekend. That means I have off from 3:00 p.m yesterday (Friday) until 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Like a mini vacation for me. I plan to make a few more entries and then update this at least twice per week. Probably just ramblings about my training or what ever else enters my tiny and confused mind. I promise. Just hold me to it!
Okay, back to my Birkie musings. I have had a month to think about this and have come up with some thoughts. Nothing concrete here. Just guy feelings and intuition about what went wrong on a day with perfect conditions.
Why did I ski my slowest race in years? One of my slowest ever?
First and foremost, I over estimated my training. Wow! I thought I was in much better condition than I truly was. I got out on my skis 8 times last season prior to the Birkie. Some skiers do that in 2 weeks. That took me almost 3 months. Part of it was my fault. I broke a ski at last years event and along with it the boot and binding. I waited until early January to replace them. I missed the great early snow we had. I was running but that doesn't replace the ski specific training. I did get in a couple of long ski workouts but they just can't compare to skiing on the Birkie course.
Second, I under estimated the toughness of the course. I'm not sure how I can forget how tough that course is, but I seem to wipe it out of my mind from year to year. The hills! Man, I just totally forget how many, how steep and how long they last. The first couple miles and the run across the lake into Hayward are flat. That is it. Maybe 5 out of the 31 miles are flat. And that might be a generous estimate. The hills just killed me this year. I actually stopped to catch my breath at the top of a couple of them. I have never done that before.
Third, my skis. I'm not making excuses. I just think my skis weren't suited to me. I used my replacement skis. The sticker on them lists them as being flexed for a 161-181 lb. person. I am right at the top of that scale. Now add my clothes, a Camelbak full of water and I'm over that. They seemed slow all season, no matter the weather and/or wax. Was it a factor? I'm not quite good enough to say yes or no but my older skis never seemed to have given me this problem.
Going back to the training aspect, I can see I need to work on my endurance. At least ski specific endurance. I looked at my finishers certificate which has splits from a couple spots on the course. Between the 9K split and about halfway I dropped almost 1 minute per kilometer. It wasn't a case of going out too fast either. I felt good at the start and actually took it easy. I just had no endurance. Not enough time on the snow. If I had maintained my pace I would have finished in under 3:20:00. That was close to my goal time. A difference of 40:00 to my 3:57:51 finish!
So, here are my solutions. First, get out on the snow as early and as much as possible. I know Mother Nature has a lot to do with that. But no excuses. I have a couple of pairs of skis and I'm pretty careful when the conditions are marginal so I need to get out as soon as the trails are groomed.
I am also thinking about doing some roller skiing beginning in late summer/early autumn. I don't have any, yet! I do have some inline skates and these would work. Just now as ski specific. We have some good places to use either one. Low traffic back roads and some paved paths. If I got roller skis with the inflatable tires I could use them on the nearby rail trail. If I want to do well and try to better my time and possibly PR I need to seriously consider this option.
I need to work harder on my endurance all year long. Longer runs. Longer bike rides. Race more often and more consistently. I usually get in a ski race or two before the Birkie. This year I did a 5K trail run. Poor substitution. I am considering some epic bike races and maybe an ultra trail run this summer. If I can carry this through the year it would be a great help.
Last on my list is some new skis truly fit to me. The last time I bought skis and had them fit to me was 2000? Maybe. I think they would help. Plus, the psychological benefit is undeniable, at least to me. Look and feel fast? It helps to make you skis fast.
So, those are my thoughts. I have almost a year to carry through on these thoughts and plans. First I need to find the time off to do the race. No open vacation that week for 2011 where I work. We'll see how that works out. Working weekends makes it hard to get the time off.
One year. I better get to work.
More....soon......I promise.

Friday, March 12, 2010

2010 Badger State Games Trail Run

Whoa.! Two posts in less than a week! New territory for me. This is the first of a few race recaps from this past winter. I thought I better get them out while they are still somewhat fresh in my memory.

On February 6 I ran the Badger State Winter Games Train Run. Now, usually I would have done the marathon xc ski event at nearby Nine Mile Forest. Unfortunately I had to work the 3pm-11pm shift this day. Trying to fit a 2 1/2-3 hour xc ski event in before work just wasn't in the cards. Another case of not enough hours in the day for my playtime. The 5K trail run was a better time fit. The race started at 9:00 a.m. and with awards and time to get back for a shower and lunch before work I had a little wiggle time.

The race was held at Wausau School Forest just outside of Mosinee, WI. It was held on groomed snowmobile/ski trails. I wasn't sure what to expect for trail conditions since I had never run on anything remotely like this. Would it be hard? Powdery? Slippery? No idea.

I had some old shoes with sheet metal screws in the sole for traction but I didn't really think these would help. I thought even if the trail was firm I would still be sinking in a little with each step. I decided to run in my new Brooks Cascadia 5 trail shoes and see just how well they would do. Looking back it was a good decision.

I got to the event site fairly early and picked up my packet and went back to the car to get ready and stay warm. The weather was nice for early February. Sunny, mid 20's and moderate winds. I'll take that any winter day in central Wisconsin.

A little before the start I headed out for a short warmup to check out just what I would be running on. I hit the trail and was pleasantly surprised. The trail was very firm and gave more traction than I was expecting. This looked like it would be lots of fun!

I lined up just before the 9:00 a.m. start and tried to stay warm. It was a small field and looked pretty diverse. A few serious runners, middle of the packers, Moms and Dads with kids in tow and a few folks just out for some fun and fresh air.

The gun went off and away we went. I held back a little at the start to see how the field would work out. I usually go out way too fast and didn't want to do that today. I let the leaders string out and settled into a comfortable and steady pace. By the first turn the leaders were out of sight. I couldn't believe they could run that fast on the snow!

I kept my steady pace and tried to pick off a couple runners ahead of me. The trail remained firm and footing wasn't really much of an issue. It was mostly flat with some small ups and downs. Nothing too tough. After passing a few runners I got stuck out there in no mans land. I had a couple runners behind me and could see one or two ahead of me. I didn't have a GPS and there weren't any mile markers so I had no idea where I was on the course. I tried looking at my watch and gauging the distance by elapsed time. Not too scientific!

I finally caught up with a runner near what I assumed was the end. I could stay with him but just didn't seem to have enough to pass. I could pull even and then we would hit a small hill and he would pull just a step or two ahead. I was just grateful to have someone to pace with and pull me along. We came out of the woods and I could see the buildings near the start/finish line. I knew I didn't have enough to pass the fellow I was running with so I just put my head down and pushed the final yards to the finish line.

I headed to the car to change and then to the finish area for some water and fruit. Results came up fairly quick and I was surprised to see I had taken second in my age group with a 24:14. Not fast and there were only 5 in my age class but I felt happy with my results. Considering the level and quality of my running it was a bit of a surprise. My original goal was to stay under 8:00 miles so I beat that too!

I stuck around for the awards and headed out so I could get a shower and some lunch before work.

It was a great day for a winter run. Beautiful weather, a nice crowd, well organized, awesome trail and Tammy was there for some much needed support.

Next time I'll recap my 2010 American Birkebeiner and try to figure out what went wrong and what went right.

Gotta run.....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Winter Wrap Up

Time for another infrequent post. Still working on updating this on a more regular and frequent basis but something always pops up. I guess that's why we have goals, right?
So, it's time for me to reflect back on the end of winter -I hope!- and how my training went. Or in the case of this year, my lack of training.
I just looked at my Buckeye Outdoors training log from the beginning of the year to today, March 9. Then I went back and compared the same time span from last year. The differences weren't as surprising as I thought they would be.
I ran 35 times this year versus 18 last year. Pace wasn't much different but my average run was over 2 miles farther.
I biked on the trainer 5 times versus 12 times. Average speed was down almost 3 mph from last year but distance was up about 1 mile.
My main focus for this time of year is always cross country skiing and the Birkie. If I go back to the first outing of each season there is a HUGE difference, at least to me. I got out for the first time this season on January 6, 2010. Pretty late and there was snow earlier. Why so late? I just never got around to getting new boots and my skis replaced from last years crash at the Birkie. I had skis I could use but no boots. Plus I just didn't have the extra cash for new boots and skis.
Last season I got out for the first time on December 8, 2008. Almost a month earlier. We had great early snow and I took advantage of it. I had skied 7 times last season by the time I first hit the trails this season. HUGE difference again.
I skied 15 times before the Birkie last season versus 9 this season. Plus, I raced once at the Badger State Winter Games. This season I didn't race on skis until the Birkie. I think that makes a difference in that it forces me to suffer a little at Badger State. The course isn't as tough but it is a marathon distance and it is time spent on the skis.
I think the main difference between this season and last is that I way over estimated my fitness level going into the Birkie. I thought I was ready for a sub 3 1/2 hour race. Wow, was I wrong. Last year I went in with no expectations or goals. Just have fun and finish. It looks like if I want to get a PR and race serious at the Birkie next year I need to train harder and more specifically. It remains to be seen just how serious I want to be.
I did do a few races early this year and I'll talk about those in my next post. Hopefully in a few days. I'll talk about my Badger State Winter Games trail run, the Birkie (of course!) and Point Bock.