Thursday, March 27, 2008

Night before the Grand Traverse

So I spent the day working and getting the final pieces for the equipment we would need for the race. We double checked the times we would need to be up in Crested Butte. Checkin at 9:00, PreRace Meeting, and then the GEAR CHECK! The equipment list is a bit long and if you don't have something they make you get rechecked before the race. The fastest racers somehow get away with pretty light weight clothes and gear. Our packs this year are pretty light considering all the stuff we'll have. I'll get an official weight once the water is full.

I took my skis down to Jesse Crandall the ski coach who said he would wax them for me. While I was down there we started looking at his gear for the race. The gear is a great topic of discussion as many of the racers are from the area. What type of skis are people using. Rondonee or a light backcountry/downhill ski with heavier plastic boots seem to be popular. We are just using light waxable skis. Not the lightest but not too bad. Jesse had a bigger pack than last year. He had several secret weapons that he quickly told me about. He swore me to secrecy of course.

So I think I have everything...... Maybe. Hope I have enough food......

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Weekend before the Grand Traverse

Well not a whole lot going on. Just trying not to get a cold. During the week I just got in the gym and ran on the treadmill some. I was a little tired from the 50K so I did some short runs early in the week.

Saturday we went to Mill Creek near Gunni and did a couple of laps with the BIG hill. It was about 15 mi according to Scott's GPS. A good work out and we carried most of our stuff that we needed for the tour.

Sunday we crust skied at Hartman Rock. With the crust building you can skate just about anywhere on top of the crust. It was very good until is started to warm. We skied for a couple of hours and maybe 10 or so miles.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Scott goes for a big run

Well Scott decided to go run the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim three weeks before the GT. He planned to go out out Saturday, run it Sunday, and come back on Monday.

A student had talked him into it. I had specifically said NO more RUNNING. But I let him go anyway. He hadn't been to the canyon before and the student didn't really know the trails too well.

So anyway, Scott came hobbling back Monday. They took the bright Angel trail down and couldn't make it all the way up the North rim due to the excess of snow. He didn't know there was a shorter trail that the Bright Angel the Kiabab..... So he ended up running 43 miles and took 13 hrs. He wasn't quite ready to run down the steep trails.

So he has pretty much recovered but no I've put my foot down and definitely no more running until after the GT! Here is a picture of him crusts skiing at Hartmans....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

50 km Classic ski race 3/15/2008

So this weekend I did a 50km (31mi) classic ski race. I decided Friday night and quickly waxed my new classic skis. OK, they weren't new but some old skis that our fine ski coach here at WSC had laying about and sold to me cheap. I had no problems with my insulin as I did during the Super Tour. It was fine when I left town and fine when I started the race. I just ate a GU every 45 minutes with plenty of water. For a map go to

I used these skis on a 10km race last two weeks ago and they worked pretty well. In the 10K race they were a little slow coming down the hill so I probably lost a minute on the guy ahead of me. I ended up coming in pretty close to the winners. I was the first "citizen" but there weren't many citizens (obviously no one real fast showed) as the race was not publicized much.

So the 50 K started in Crested Butte at the High school at 8:00 and basically did all the Nordic trails that the Crested Butte Nordic center grooms and some twice. The area near the high school is called the Town Ranch or "Poop Loop" as dogs are allowed on it. There are more dogs than people in CB by the way. When I waxed my skis, all the Internet weather reports were giving the temperature readings for CB at around 20F at 8:00 and warming to 30 around noon when I would probably be getting done. So I started off by putting wax rated for 20-32F but then luckily decided to put some on that was rated 14-25 on last. This was a good thing because the car said it was -1F as I drove into CB so my wax would be a little slow but not terrible.... I quickly put on some green kick wax on for the colder temperature also. It was actually kind of good that it was cold with fresh snow because when you used wax on Nordic skis if it is warmer or icy it is hard to get the wax to stick.

Classic Nordic skis are cambered so that as you stand on both skis the part in the middle under your foot doesn't actually touch the snow. This is where the kick wax goes. When you ski, you have to do a "oingo boing" move (as they teach the kids) of bouncing to compress the ski on one foot so that the wax will stick to the snow, you can push off and glide on the other ski. This is repeated and off you go with your pole pushing on the opposite side of the ski that is kicking. People that are really good at this can go very fast and if the wax is right can kick and glide for quite a ways and climb very fast on hills. Another issue with these types of skis is to make sure you are the correct weight to compress the ski.

So I put on an extra jacket a the start. I shouldn't have because I got toooo hot on the first lap around the flat poop loop and stopped for a couple of minutes to take it off as we came past the start and headed off toward a more hilly section. You may want to note that there are lots of dogs here when it warms and my jacket is now on the ground. My kick wax was working well and my glide wasn't too bad in the cold weather.

We skied for an hour or so over some pretty big hills (one trail is called Mordor so it must be bad) and a bit of flats before we had to walk or ski on the icy road across town to another section of trail by Peanut lake. Here we did two laps with some hilly sections. I was in 5th here (OK only 8 people showed for this one but the first 4 were moving pretty fast). The two guys just ahead of me were just a couple minutes up and I planned to stick with them and maybe pass them if they got tired. I finally caught one of the guys but the other had a burst of energy and sped up (he actually won the Super Tour last week)! My shoulder began to twinge and I was having pain when I pushed with my left arm. My legs were tired but not too bad. I finally climbed the last hill on this section and now had to go down a automobile road down to the Nordic center where there were some more trails. I saw that two of the guys had skied in the fresh snow on the side of the road. I skied for a minute but there was gravel so I walked ran the rest of the way. I lost a couple of minutes on the guy ahead of me but I didn't want to trash my old skis....

I got to the Nordic Center and just had to go up a big hill, make a loop and come back. I was getting ready to be off the skis. I finished in 4:19:03. It was pretty fun race in a pretty town but had some sore areas in my legs that hadn't been sore this year skiing, my shoulder was sore and I had a couple blisters on the tips of my toes. I took the town bus to the car at the high school and picked up my jacket. Someone was nice and hung it on a sign. I also noticed as I put it on that some dog wasn't nice and had lifted his leg on it. OH well I was cold.....

I went and had a pita and came home. We skied a short ski with Anne and the kids. Julian in the backpack and Lila skied or rode in the sled the next day. Then Scott my GT partner showed and we skied a quick lap. I wasn't that much worse for wear.... Just a bit sore in the gluts and hams....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Super Tour Ski Race-Carboloading the hard way or no guts no glory 3/8/2008

So I decided to do the Super Tour this year (3/8/08). I was busy getting everything together for the race the night before so I could leave town before 6:30 to get to registration in Crested Butte (28 mi north) by 7:00. It was a little more planning as avalanche beakons, shovels, probe poles needed to be taken. I was also trying to decide which skins to use. My shorted ones or the full ones as there was a big hill climb of about 2000ft. It got to about 10:30 and I was a bit distracted and decided to test my sugar and give my self an injection of the long acting Lantus insulin. I gave myself a shot and then began putting my stuff away and noticed that I had my short acting Humalog insulin in my hand..... Hmm did I really just give myself 15 units of fast acting insulin????? Sheesh! In case you didn't read my previous posts, the insulin goes into the blood and rips the sugar out of your blood and into the cells causing the sugar level to drop. Normally for a meal like dinner I would take 5 units. If I really took all that and went to bed I may not wake up (ever see Momento?) or wake up in the hospital. So I decided I'd better eat something. So I ate a bowl of cereal and a bagel with peanut butter. Now I had to stay up and make to make sure..... So after about an hour and a half I tested my sugar and it had dropped to about 100. I must have taken the humalog.
So I ate some more. some yogurt and a power bar and some other stuff. I told Anne that I was setting my alarm on my watch and if I didn't get up to well you know....maybe call someone with a glucose IV or give my a shot of glucagon. I did wake up and ate another power bar and another bagel. When morning came around I must have eaten more than I needed as my sugar was quite high. I took some insulin, skipped breakfast, and headed out to Crested Butte. What a night-not much sleep!

The super tour ski race is a 22km race that starts above Crested Butte, CO just above the ski area. The race started off on level to slightly downhill terrain for the first few miles to the old mining town of Gothic. This particular day the trail was a bit icy with crusty snow on the sides. Most of the faster guys and gals had lightweight Nordic gear (I had pretty light stuff also) with no metal edges. I fell a few times and nearly ran a skier through when he tumbled on a hill in front of me. I just skied around him and lifted my ski over his flailing poles. I wasn't in a huge hurry here but was catching many people. It was hard to pass as the trail was very narrow with deep powder on the sides.
The trail passes the old mining town of Gothic turned into a alpine biology lab (Rocky mountain biological laboratory). Then it climbed a little up to the turn off to the 403 trail and climbs very steeply. I stopped here and put on my skins. I brought my full length ones. They climbed admirably if not a bit heavy. I was just ahead of Dave Wiens, mountain biker extraordinaire from Gunnison and all around nice guy. We chatted and I knew sooner or later he would probably pass me as he has quite a motor. I stayed in front of him until near the top and could see him as we climbed the last hill to the very top. So I must be doing pretty good. The guy at the check point said I was 7th or 8th place out of 70 or 80. Hmmm not bad. Especially as I wasn't exactly packing as light pack or skis as others.
Along the steep climb the organizers had set out chocolate bars, mini snickers bars, other candy and the ever important "shooters" or air plane bottles of various whiskeys and other fermented beverages. I probably should have grabbed a couple for the next part of the race.
No Guts-No Glory!
I got to the top and assumed (never assume) that the ski trail followed the bike route and took my skins off. I had mountain biked this trail many times--always in the opposite direction that we had skied. The guy at the start said it could be tricky in Nordic gear. It can't be so bad. Well it was so bad. The trail went straight down the mountain. It was comparable to a good blue run at a ski area. It was only about 5 ft wide in good spots and went down a long ways. I tried to snowplow a bit but my skis were so old that the plastic edges were pretty much not doing anything and I kept going faster and faster. OK I'll just ski in the powder off to the side as I began to pick up speed. Big mistake. It wasn't powder at all but sun crusted snow. I spectacularly crashed many times. Most of them would be on the most popular list on YouTube. I chickened out and put my skins back on as they would help slow me down. I later learned that the winner had left his on. So I lost a few minutes taking them off and putting them back on. I was passed here by a few guys barreling down in a snowplow and screaming as they passed. With my skins on I made good time the rest of the way on the steeps. Since I had full skins on I didn't have much glide on the less steep places down lower so I had to take them off losing more time and getting passed by a few more people. The rest of the trail was down hill with only some shorted steep sections and a few small hills. This went easily and I finished in one piece in 15th place. I was encouraged that I had climbed with out a ton of effort and stayed close to some really good skiers and had skied the flats faster than most. Now the downhill part was frustrating.... At least the down hill on the Grand Traverse would be on a ski area so it is much wider.