KeskiDads - My 3rd (and fastest) 25km Classic
By: Randy Storey (2005/02/25)
Canadian skiers are largely funded by the Bank of Mom and Dad. If you aren’t a ski racer or parent of one, you may wonder why it is that parents allow their children to spend hundreds of hours gliding on skis at their expense. Seems silly... almost as crazy as those racing suits they wear. Well a year ago XC Ottawa athletes asked their mothers to share their thoughts on having a ski racer in the family in the SkiMoms Series and now it's time to hear from the Dads that recently did the Keski.
For the third year in a row we, my friends and I, find ourselves in Ottawa at the Keski Loppet. Sam and I are entered in the 25km Classic and Gil, the identified ADHD Phys. Ed head from the school we all taught at, is entered in the 50km Classic. Jim is also along as moral support, trainer/coach and refreshment getter. Sam and I are the oldest at 60+ and Gil is the youngster at under 50. Besides being secondary school teachers and coaches we share the love of skiing. So here we are again ready to test ourselves against the hills of the Gatineau. Our abilities and stamina have been tested to the limits in the previous years and we expected nothing less from this year's Keski. You would think that as teacher/coaches we would come to the meet prepared and ready for the task at hand as we would have expected from our student athletes. As many of our students have put it in the past- 'NOT'.
Our preparation for the event starts well in the early winter by talking about when we should send in our entries. Will we do it early to take advantage of the discount? We then get to the important part of the preparation such as discussing when we will leave, where we will stay, where we should eat this time, and if we will skate on the Canal, on Fri. or Sat. It is too bad that the Pre-Keski Dos and Don'ts List hadn't come out earlier, then maybe we wouldn't have done more Don'ts than Dos in our prerace preparation!
Training for the event personally involves skiing myself into some sort of shape - weather and snow conditions permitting. This year they were not totally permitting as we lost many valuable days to extreme cold, rain and then icy conditions. Thinking about and wishing to ski doesn't count toward conditioning as I have found out over the years. We did however manage to find one of the local trail systems that was skiable the weekend before and get in some distance and hills. We also got out there once more the day before the 6 hr. drive to Ottawa. (Maybe not enough recovery for our aged legs.) It is not good but what can you do? Much of Sam and Gil's skiing consists of 'bushwacking' on snowmobile trails around the Sudbury Basin and a little groomed trail skiing at the Capreol XC Club. Mine is the reverse. No matter how much we do each year to prepare, the Keski up-hills are still long.
One of the other problems we have yet to sort out seems to be the Start, specifically getting there on time. What with the last minute clothing adjustments and calls of nature there have been some near misses but no disasters. Unlike last year I managed to get away cleanly at the start and pass the ladies who had managed to wheedle their way towards the front of the pack in the holding area to get a front row start position. I was able to get around them within the first 500m with only a couple of 'taberhuits' on the way by them.
The third time over the course certainly for me made it seem more enjoyable and go by faster. 'SEEM' is the operative word here. Once on the course the equipment that I had borrowed from XCOTTAWA racer and my son Craig Storey performed supberbly. The Vauhti waxes provided flawless grip and glide on the Karhus. If only I had the legs to get them up the hills a little faster. Maybe I should have borrowed a younger set of legs too!
This year during the ski I was more aware of my surroundings, some of the scenery I hadn't even noticed on the previous years, and of some of the skiers around me. Once back onto the Parkway on the return leg and after Craig had checked up on my progress, I became aware of a young skier, a teenaged boy, and I used him as my pace setter. I had faster glide on the long downhills (it had nothing to do with my weight) and so would pass him, but on all of those long gradual uphill climbs he would go chugging passed me. This went all the way to Mont Bleu hill. Subconsciously I had been trying to save something so I would not have a repeat of last years snail crawl up that &*%^^ hill. He provided me with some incentive, as true to form he chugged past me once again on the up-hill. Try as I might this time I could not catch him before the finish line. When I checked the results later he had beaten me by 10 secs.
We will be back next winter, as long as Craig will wax our skis and there is snow on the ground, the Keski has become part of winter for us. Watch out teenagers! Oh yeah, we got to skate of the canal the night after the race - all the way to Dow's lake and back!