E Load / E Mend Marathon Series Race Report: 2007 Keskinada
By: Team XCOttawa (2007/02/19)
Before we get into detailed race reports we must thank the people who helped us out this weekend. Without them, we wouldn't be as successful. First coach John did an excellent job with the wax. We tested extensively Saturday morning, then as the weather patterns changed during the day John made the sacrifice to test again before 6am Sunday morning so that we would have time to make changes should it be needed. Then he spent the rest of the day handing out feeds. That's dedication! Thanks John.
Next on the list of essential help, were the dozen people that provided us with feeds and spare poles; Jim McCarthy, Diane Thurber, Andrew Wynd, Arno Turk, John Renie, Mark Doble, Dana Mersich, Erika and the Dustin familly.
Thanks to everyone who was out on the course cheering and encouraging us, it really helps! Big thanks to all the Keski volunteers who manned the feed stations, and made the race run smoothly.
This was my first Keski - yes, despite being an Ottawa native, I've never done the long course (the only one I consider the 'real' Keski). I've always been sick or away at other races- this year I was determined. But I was also determined to help out our team Keski specialist, Karl, as I know I'm not in competitive race shape for a 50k race.
The start was good - Karl went in front, into the vicious wind, and I tucked in behind. Less than a kilometre in, I decided that Karl really should not lead this thing into the wind, so I jumped around him and led for about 3k, when Brian came and took the lead. Karl stayed tucked behind me and out of trouble for the first small lap (about 9k), until the groups formed and the field spread, so I figured it was a job well done. So when I got pushed off the back and lost a mini-group as a result of taking a feed too slowly and not having my head up, I found myself alone. I skied alone from the bottom of Pinks Lake to the turn-around at Penguin, when I got caught by an Estonian guy. He apparently didn't really like working hard, because he refused to go in front of me. So I led him away up from Penguin to Mica, all the way from Mica to Champlain (except for when I made him pass me, only to have him pull over after less than 1k in front), all the way back to the top of Pinks, where he burned me off. Then I foolishly waived a feed from trusty Arno, and then bonked 3k after that, with about 7k to go. MAN that last few k were slow. I was CRAWLING. I finished up and realized that my good friend and female Keski winner, Brooke, was catching me - fast. Phewph. Held of the girling at least!
Anyway, it was a fairly successful first Keski - I feel like I helped out a bit, and once I was alone, and found a good, smooth rhythym. The feeds were excellent (SO MANY THANKS to Dad, Coach John, Dana, Diane, Mark, John R, Arno, Erica), and I was able to keep going pretty hard out by myself for most of the race. In all, a good effort. The Parkways were HARD, though!! Sheesh. I finished 15th overall - not the best, but not terrible.
So, how did it go? Thatís the question everyone asks, so that is the one I will try to answer succinctly.
Start. This went very well. My skis were good and I was able to get to the front and had some very nice help from Tom who made sure that I wasnít doing too much work at the front. Thanks Tom!
Middle: I kept myself near the front, but didnít do all the work myself. Steve Cyr pushed the pace on the big climbs and spread things out nicely. I was involved in a collision with him, which is always annoying, but certainly could have been worse. Neither of us broke any equipment and the leaders (Steve Hart, Erik Carleton and Cyrus Kangarloo) were kind enough to let me catch back up. Unfortunately for the always tough to beat Mr. Cyr, his knee was hurt forcing him to abandon.
End: While I felt good going up Black Lake Hill, I started to struggle when we got to the top. I did my best to stay with the lead group as long as I could, trying to avoid a long and lonely trip home on the Parkway. At Kingsmere I simply couldnít stay with them any longer, no matter how hard I tried. Those guys were strong, tough and fast. I congratulate them! After that a new challenge was upon me: to get home as efficiently as possible and without losing too much time. I definitely had very muscles seizing up from time to time and the general feeling of extreme fatigue that everyone who has done races of this type is keenly aware of!
So there it is, another Keskinada under my belt. Thatís a total of 6, not including the 4 times I did the 30 or 25 in my younger years, the first being in 1989. Whatever the figures, I am WAY behind many other people like Sheila, and also my father, who has done almost every one since 1985. Hats off to those types, who give us all more goals to chase!
The womenís race was one of the most exciting I can remember. Often women get separated and mixed up with various packs of men, but this year most of the top women contenders (Brooke Gosling, Magi Scallion, Nikki Kassel, Megan McTavish, biathlete Marie-Pierre Parent and myself) were skiing together with a group of men for the first 20km or so. I found the pace comfortable, and kept my eye on XC.comís Brooke Gosling, who has been having a stellar season, narrowly missing going to the World Championships this year.
Megan pushed the pace up the hill after the P5 turnaround, but the group was able to stay together: the parkways were extremely windy, so you could get lots of rest sitting in the back of a pack. After that, the rather large pack was being led mostly by Dev Paul, Brooke, and me. Dev kept us entertained, and certainly did his share of the pulling! Since the 53km course climbs for the first half, and the second half is gradually rolling downhill, I was worried that some of the women at the back would be fresher and able to hang on for the rest of the race. At about 28km, to break up the pack, we pushed the pace up Blacks Lake hill, and towards the top of the climb, Dev, Brooke, and I had nice gap. This took a bit too much out of me, so cresting the top Brooke and Dev got away. Nikki Kassel soon joined me, and we skied together, picking up Dan Murray, and then Dev Paul at about 35 km, a nice small group that worked well together. From this point on, I felt really good and my skis were super fast. My energy levels were great, helped Iím sure by my careful attention to drinking E-load and eating Clif shot gels (one on the startline, and three during the race). I tried to break away from Nikki after Notch (43km), but it didnít work, and I figured my next hope of getting away was the climb at about 2 km from the finish on trail 5. I was right behind Nikki going into the climb, felt good, but as soon as the hill reached a steep pitch, my quads turned into rocks and my legs refused to move, but I managed to coax them into an awkward ďcoachesí skateĒ, and Nikki got away. Once the grade became less steep I could ski again, and managed a strong finish for 3rd place. Overall I was happy with my race, and determined to figure out how to climb steep hills without a quad lock, since this has happened before!
This year was my second Keskinada 50. The first one, however, was three years ago, so again I didn't really know what to expect! The strategy, therefore, was once again to play it by ear.
I had my fairly typical start, losing a bit of time in the double-poling, but getting back onto the front pack before people farther back started splitting off. Unfortunately, on the way up, I accidentally broke Craig's pole; sorry, Craig! Once I was with the pack, I found that the pace was quite reasonable, thanks to Tom and Karl in the front, and with the draft all I had to do was sit in place and make sure to stay with the group if any gaps started to form.
This worked well until the climb up Pink's. My one-skate was strong, but offset tired my legs very quickly, so I let the lead pack go a bit. By the time we got to Mica for the first time, I was skiing in a pack with Brian, Don Farley, and Paul Tolomiczenko, keeping the leaders in sight. We were changing leads fairly often, due to the wind Ė very, very noticeable on flats and the tops of hills Ė and we dropped Paul by the time we got back to Mica.
Sadly, my weak legs for offset struck again on Black's. Brian was leading, and going just a little bit too fast for me, so I lost about 10 seconds by the top of the hill, and never gained it back. Skiing alone, I kept Brian and Don in sight most of the way out and back to Black's, but it was much more tiring. Paul caught me again at Huron, and I couldn't stay with him. Jeff Cameron then caught me going back down to Mica, and I skied with and then near him all the way to the turnaround at St-Raymond. After the turn, though, my legs had pretty much seized up, as they'd been threatening to do ever since going down Black's, and I started moving at a snail's pace. Ian Murray, who'd been nowhere to be seen on the flats, blew by me over the top of the hill on trail 5. Fortunately, no one else was near enough to take advantage of my bonk!
My big question on race morning was whether or mot to race. Tuesday I started to get sick, and I did not ski all week. Sat I tested skis, and waxed up a pair of race skis. The plan was to warm up Sunday morning and then decide if I would race. I seemed ok in the warm up, and decided to race. Realistically I would have had to feel quite bad to not race.
The start was fine for me. I stayed out of trouble and tried to avoid any obvious dirt and rocks. The first loop was a fairly leisurely pace, and I was able to ski with the lead group. The turn off from the parkway to the trails was a bit of a train wreck, with 4-6 guys going down on the sheet of ice on the corner. I was able to avoid the carnage.
The star of the second lap the pace picked up, and I got dropped off the back of the pack. I was hoping it would break up into 2 packs, but it didnít, and I was stuck skiing by myself up Pink Lake hill. At the top I could see 2 skiers had been dropped off the back (Ian Murray and Phil Villeneuve). I worked hard to catch up to them, but wasnít able to until the downhill into P5. We skied together briefly, then Phil dropped out.
I skied most of the rest of the race with Ian, with him doing most of the work. I was hoping we would be able to pick of some guys who started to fast, but the didnít happen (for me anyway). I skied with Ian until about 48k (just before Hickory), then he skied away from me, and I started to fade. At that point it was just about finishing, and hoping to not get passed, and no one did. Ian put 3 minutes on me, and he was able to pick off a few skiers.
Overall I was happy with my race and 11th place, even though a faded at the end it didnít cost me any places.
My keski was quite different from the race that I thought that I would be doing when I registered for the 50km 2 weeks ago. I ended up switching into the 30km race since Canada Winter Games are in two weeks and it takes quite a bit out of you to do a 50. I started in the C wave, 8 minutes behind the rest of the B wave that held all of my other competition in the 30km. I therefore decided to treat this as a 30km individual race which is a new thing for me as the longest individual race I have ever done was a 15km. My race plan was to race relaxed for the first 20-25km and then pick it up then as I didn't want to repeat the bonking that I experianced in the Easterns 30km. It was a great race (only one wipeout!), and it was quite fun picking my way up through the ranks. I finished with enough energy to sprint to the finish and ended up beating my arch rival Chris Mamen, who was in the B wave, for 1st place.... all in all a great event.
I usually feel a mixture of excitement and dread as the Keskinada approaches. I enjoy the race but have yet to feel like I have finished as well as I should. Usually I end up bonking or have major calf cramps for the first half or some other incident. I decided to approach this year's race in a more casual way. I didn't pick it as one of the important races of the year but of course I still wanted to do well.
It started out great as I raced in a group with Sheila, Brooke Gosling, Magi Scallion and a bunch of men. I stayed with them for about 20 km or so and then lost contact after leading up the first part of the hill after the turn around at P5 (I guess I went a bit too hard!). I worked hard to catch back up and then lost contact again and found myself skiing up Blacks Lake hill all alone. I tried to find my own pace and finally settled in with a skier going a good pace for me at Champlain. I skied with him all the way to the 45km mark (at the bottom of Pink Lake hill) and was feeling really comfortable. I was in 5th place at this point and was starting to think I was finally going to have a good Keskinada result!
Then I stuck my pole between my legs and fell right on top of it, breaking it in half. I lost my nice little group and found myself alone with 1 1/2 poles. There also didn't seem to be anyone around to get a new one from so I skied at least 2 km with 1 pole before I found a very nice lady to lend me one so that I could finish the race. I had to stop while she took it off and handed it to me and while I was doing that, a big group passed me and in it was the 6th place woman! I quickly put on the pole and tried to get on the back of the group but my legs were not cooperating. I think they thought I was done racing since I had stopped and were rebelling against starting again! I skied alone for a bit and then was caught by another woman. I decided I could stay with her to the end and go for 6th but when we reached the dreaded Mt. Bleu hill she easily skied away from me. At this point I was feeling dizzy and hungry (I should have eaten 1 more Clif gel!). I managed to get to the top of the hill and saw some friends of mine at the side of the trail. Justin Faulkner held out his hand and said..."do you want a frozen Turtle??" I reached for it hungrily and it was the best tasting turtle I have ever eaten (chocolate one of course!) I found out later that he was saving it for the person who looked the most in need....I guess I won that competition!
I felt better after swallowing the gooey mess of caramel and chocolate and tried to ski hard into the finish. Next thing I knew, I was playing ostrich in the snowbank (narrowly missing a tree). After the difficult job of pulling myself out of the snow I dragged my snowy self into the finish line in 7th position, where Craig took care of me in my drunken-like state!
While the end result of my Keskinada race may look to be another disappointment, I was actually quite happy with many aspects of the race. I had a good start and felt like I could have finished strong if I hadn't had the misfortune of breaking my pole! I guess I'm 90% of the way there! Maybe next year. :)
The race began for me with a good start and I slotted myself into around 8th spot near the back of the lead pack. I was able to move into the lead around 2.5k with Tom and Karl close behind. Unfortunately a patch of ice at the turnoff towards Asticoo took me by surprise and I slid out causing several other skiers to fall. Luckily the size of the lead pack allowed the other skiers and I to get back on and into the race.
At the start of the climb towards Pink Lake Steve Cyr picked up the pace dramatically and caused a break with himself, Karl Saidla, Erik Carleton, Steve Hart, and Cryus Kangarloo in the lead pack. I attempted to ski from 7th onto the back of that breakaway but was unable to close the gap. I then settled into a group with Donald Farley and Ed McCarthy.
On the Black Lake Hill Ed dropped off and Don and myself skied together, pushing hard and eventually passing an injured Steve Cyr. At the 42 km point Farley was leading and we were in 5th and 6th position but he began to slow a little. I was increasingly worried that we would be overtaken by chasing skiers but was unsure whether I could finish strong by passing and gapping Farley. Fortunately Paul Tolomicenko passed us at this point skiing an incredibly strong pace and I was able to draft him to the 49km mark and put in 3 min on Farley and the next 3 finishers. As always the final climb tested my pain tolerance as the sudden increase in effort set my legs on fire but I was able to hold it together and finish in good form in 6th place, a very satisfying result.
As with any race spanning this distance and length of time it is as much a mental game as a physical. The long distance ski racer walks a fine line between skiing too slowly and risking a poor result, or skiing to quickly, producing too much lactic acid and blowing up before the end of the race. This year I feel that I walked that line well, which resulted in a good result and strong finish.
Andrew's currently en-route to Sapporo for the World Championships, but he had this to say about his race...
Basically after all the excitement of watching the morning races, it was hard to wait until 1pm to race himself. He was a bit tired by then!
The start went well, and he lead right from the gun with 2-3 people in-tow. After 1km it was Andrew leading to US skiers. He did all the work until 5km, when the other 2 got antsy and past him, only to realize how windy it was at the front and how much harder it was skiing out there. Neither one lasted at the front for more than a minute, or took another pull. To keep the pace up Andrew stayed at the front until the final downhill where he went wide to avoid the rocks and dirt and one of the other cut the corner on the inside. From there the other guy did a nice job of blocking and Andrew couldn't squeeze by at the end. It was a solid effort to get ready for Worlds, not an all out race going for the win.
Great for the first 200m, then frustrating. That's how I can sum up my race.
Now a broken pole didn't mean the end of my race. I struggled into the wind across the field with one pole, trying not to get too excited or frustrated. Megan sorted me out as I was on the wrong side of the trail and at the top of the first hill just after 1km Diane Thurber handed me my own spare pole, and it was even the right hand - THANKS!
The broken pole meant that I had gone from top 20 to top 200 in a very short distance and was at least a minute off the pack I wanted to ski with after only 3minutes of racing! Not how I had forseen my start.
With a new pole in hand I calmed down a bit, and set to work trying to get back on the lead pack or at least a group I could ski with. I could see the leaders 500m ahead as they turned onto the parkway as I was only halfway across the field. Their pace looked relaxed, and that got me believing I could catch back on. I did not want to ski alone!
I needed a plan. I knew I couldn't just blast my way up there and then hope to finish 53km after that. I would have to pace it a bit. Catch a pack, sit at the back and recover for a bit. Sounded smart, so I picked up the pace, kept my panick and agression in check and picked my way through the field. By the parkway at Pink's I was 30s down on group of 3-4 skiers and I had been pulling another skier for 5km. But I was suffering stomach cramps for the effort and before I could get on them they skied away on me as I was forced to relax on the uphill. After a few minute recovery over the top I resumed my attack. It was getting tough to ski fast by myself into the wind and to believe that I could still be catching up. On the way down to P5 I was glad to see I wasn't too far back, but realistically it would be a huge effort again to make up that ground.
Halfway up the underpass hill Chris Mamen pulled up, slowed to let me catch on and pulled me up to a few 53km lead pack stragglers. The pace was great, and I was hoping Chris had been somehow unfortunate enough to be stuck in the B seed of the 53km race. Unfortunately that bubble burst when a few kms later Chris turned off for the 28km.
When I couldn't see them at Mica I slowed a lot. I couldn't chase alone anymore and I was glad to be caught up by another skier and decided to work with him. We skied together until Black's where we were joined by 2 others; Marcus Boyle and Gilles Berube. From there I planned to sit in, so my share of the work, relax and enjoy the day. The pace was still decent and we were still working towards the finish with >20km left. It was fun again!
All was good in the pack until Champlain were I my vision was blurry and my legs suddenly felt rubbery. I realized that I hadn't revised my feeding plan as well as I should have given my hard early efforts, and maybe that was the reason for how I felt. I got a feed from John and Mark as I headed back to Black's and drank most of 500ml trying to prevent a real shutdown. From then on I would struggle, drink every chance I could and ski relaxed all by myself until 50km.
I paid the price for trying to catch up and failling. It wasn't a huge bonk, just a real decline in pace from 38km on. I enjoyed the day, even though only 0.4% (200m out of 50km) had gone according to plan.
Read Other 2007 Keskinada Reports..
- E Load / E Mend Marathon Series Race Report: 2007 Keskinada by Team XCOttawa
- Keski Report #1 - Keski This! by Parham Momtahan
- Keski Report #2 - A Year of Firsts. by Randy Storey
- Keski Report #3 by Zoe Panchen
- Keski Report #4 by Matthew Ellis
- Keski Report #5 - How do you evaluate a good race? by Steven Paradine
- Keski Report #6 - My Keski Hero! by Ron Lorenson
- Keski Report #7 - Character Building by Matthew Ladd
- Keski Report #8 - There are a lot of hills in the Gats! by Isabelle Saint-Laurent
- Keski Report #9 - Unique Event. by Mike Caldwell
- Keski Report #10 - Last Cow out of the Chute by Jo-Ann Holden
- Keski Report #11 - Birthday Race to 2nd Place. by Erik Carleton
- Keski Report #12 - Dealing with Illness. by Jean Roussel