Friday, March 11, 2011

Masters World X-C Ski champs Whirlwind

Pretty incredible ski day at Sovereign Lake, Vernon to finish this weeks events at the Masters World X-C Ski champs. The temp was around -5C with good snowy tracks for the women's 30-km classic race.

I was getting better with waxing for these conditions with Coach Corey helping with the final touches. Lots less squeamish than I was for my first race on Sunday. .

Marg taking the lead at the 4-km hillclimb - photo Kim Maser

Fast women's start with 3 of us merging for the lead. I hovered back, noticed one skier already slipping a little. I coasted behind Mae Hooper, a local Vernon skier, to get thru the flat section. At 4-km I jumped into the next track and went my pace up the climbs making a clean break. The cheering section was motivating with their cowbells and cheers.
I maintained a good pace passing all the older skiers that started ahead in 5-min age category intervals. I gave cheers as I passed by and had many returned. One comment being "you go you youngster!" The volunteers were also awesome with many cheers. Cool to hear Euros cheering in their home languages hoping they're saying good things!
sporting the MitoCanada suit at the final daytime awards

After the calm first 10-km loop, I had a fun time on the very twisty and hilly last 5-km loop. It was getting warm as the sunshine was hitting this section of trails. Hearing cheers from clubmate Joan, I threw my toque towards her (as she was trying to take photos!). Losing the toque helped keep me cool.

As I was just completing the first 15-km course loop, I was passed by a speeding Russian bullet on the flat section. She was from a 5-year younger age category and had already bridged my 5-min head start. I clung on for, oh, 200 metres! I might have held her pace for awhile longer on a climb. She made me look like I was standing still!

The tracks were getting a little softer though still good enough for a great time skiing. On the last 5-km loop on the steep climbs, I ran herringbone up in the middle of the tracks. It was the easiest way with the sunny conditions.

I totally enjoyed myself out there :) and held off anymore youngsters passing me.

a happy threesome of Canadians for the 30-km classic race

I just hollered "J-E-R-R-Y !!" and the Moose was coming for me
Short recap on my 10-km race Monday... HARD!
I had no expectations except that it would be a fast race with fast women... and it was!

Grip and glide were awesome. Off the start at the merge, my skis were trampled on, with me not being aggressive with getting into the tracks. Sheila Kealey from Ottawa and Leslie Hall from USA took off already 20 metres ahead of a pack of four of us. My pack's quick pace gapped me by 5 metres. I worked to tag on just as the pace eased slightly. So, I took the lead on a climb and never looked back.
I worked hard double-poling on any descent. Hard enough to take bronze & 3rd place! At the finish I just hung over leaning on my poles gasping for air & recovering from the effort. Wow! I hadn't gone that effort in awhile. It felt good!
Check out the wicked VIDEO below!!!

video from Blaine Penny & BIG cheers from Team MitoCanada

It was cool to be selected to the relay team (for Wed) based on my 15-km results Sunday and 10-km results Monday. The glitch with the selector not knowing if I'd be back from my whirlwind daytrip Tuesday to Vancouver... assigned my position to an alternate. This put me in an awkward position race morning... though Jessica, the alternate, was understanding and I was able to race.
The team comprised of Ottawa's Sheila Kealy Leg 1 classic, me Leg 2 classic, my old Vancouver roomie Carolyn Daubeny Leg 3 skate and fellow Edmontonian Nancy Burden Leg 4 skate.
Nancy Burden starting Leg 4 skating

Very tough conditions for my leg as flurries came down with a strong headwind. The tracks were not visible in places. The 5-km classic loop was super flat! I did the best I could and our team held 3rd after a very strong USA team and not far off the Russian team.

Laurie Murray just finished her classic leg.
Albertans Clark Shipka and Mary Young cheering

Relay Team Canada - Carolyn, Sheila, Nancy, Marg

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Mito Suit Has Good Energy!

It's a special feeling representing a good cause and getting to sport their colours in an athletic event. I was excited to wear the MitoCanada ski suit at the Master World X-C Ski Championships today at Sovereign Lakes in Vernon, BC! Blaine Penny, one of the PLPP skiers I met, is the instigator behind creating awareness and raising funds for mitochondrial disease. More about this cause can be read here.

Blaine caught me just before the race testing skis

So much exciting about the champs... the organization is superb, our own lane assignments for starting within 20 lanes, racing in my age category the first time 45-49 year olds, the enthusiasm meeting masters from all over the world...

The women's category races started 5 minutes apart with the younger age groups first. I was just in place in the 19th lane on the first row when I realized I left my GPS sitting on the bag check-in table 50 metres back. With 1 min to race start, I sprinted back to get my GPS, put it on and dash back to my starting position with 20 seconds to go, phew! Best sprint warmup as once our starting flag was down, I had a great double pole start. I actually eased up abit when our lanes merged as I wanted to go the pace of the lead skiers, and be cautious of any breathing difficulties at the high altitude.
After 2 km, I realized I was at a pretty comfortable pace and my skis were faster on the descents than the lead skier. I knew I had to commit to taking the lead and possibly skiing solo. I jumped into the passing lane and went hard. Either someone would go with me, or I'd get a nice break. I broke away... and stayed away slowly passing skiers from the earlier starts. Had to focus on keeping my heartrate high and breathing low.

I was all smiles and laughter when I passed a huge cheering section of people, some with cowbells. Really motivating! The conditions were superb... a little snowy... warm air temp around -4C... and the scary warm blazing morning sunshine had hidden behind a snow squall. The course was quite fun rolling gently up and down for the first 10 km. The last 5 km had the Montezuma hill that was seemingly endless interspersed with fun twisty descents. The crowds cheering definitely helped keep me moving on that last bit of climbing.

Best part was I had both excellent grip AND glide the whole race. It is such a great feeling to race on skis that worked 100%, a tricky balance to get. MAJOR thanks goes to Coach Corey who helped refine my ski wax before the race until the skis were gripping well. These humid conditions are challenging to wax for.

Corey's Ski Group with Silver Star's Jerry the Moose

For accommodations, I really wanted to stay at the lower elevation in Vernon at 1140'. The ski area is up at 5500'. I was fortunate to get to stay at a local jade sculptor's place just west of town.

monument of Kalamalka Reflections in front of the library

getting to see jade sculptor Deborah Wilson in action at her home studio