Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Speed Skating Race Take 2 - The Marathon

So this past weekend I was able to take part in another speed skating event. Rather than the more traditional 2 up Olympic style event this would be a mass start marathon event. Apparently in the speed skating world a marathon is anything over 10km, with this one being around 10.1km (I think). 26 full laps.

In this style of event you have your timing chip on and start in a mass group. Due to its length, a super speedy start isn't totally important, though people did get off the line as quickly as they could.

The day before I had been working on my cross overs in the corner. This is where speed is built in speed skating and an area I just could not get a hold of. Thankfully I got some one on one lessons that really helped. I am not where near good at cross overs yet, but I am now approaching the point where I can get them without feeling like I will fall over. The trick being a speedy cadence (gee that pops up on my blog a lot) going into the corner and crouching low.

Due to being in a crowd to start the race, I avoiding attempting cross overs. I didn't want to trip anyone up. After a few laps I was mostly by myself and decided it was worth the risk to give it a try, as this was a for fun race anyway. And wow, what a difference. The speed you can carry through a corner with cross overs is significant.

The wind was high and picked up throughout the race. It was strong on the front straight pushing you right down the ice into the first corner. It was wicked on the back stretch, so carry that speed from the front and through the corner was essential, otherwise you suffered all the way to the second corner.

I did try to do my cross overs in both corners but I found that I was quite tired fighting the wind going up the back straight and therefore just didn't have the secure footing I needed to feel safe.

After about 3 km I could really feel my aching lower back. I am still working on proper form . Luckily the strong wind allowed me to stand and stretch a bit before committing to a tuck going into the wind. A couple of laps like that helped a lot.

My race stayed pretty much the same throughout. I was initially skating with two other guys until they pulled away. At about 7km in a woman passed me but was only able to pull away by about 50 meters or so and held station. I suspect it was during some of my stand up and stretches where she caught up to me.  I summed enough strength to hold my tuck through the final 2 km, though, and repassed her and on the final lap caught up to and passed one of the guys who I had skated with initially.

I wish I could say I skated out of the final corner on the last lap strong and pushed hard to the end, but that would be fantasy. Well i did push hard, but my legs were shaky and my form was shot. Still I crossed the line for my longest skate race ever (previously it was 5km) in a time of 29:26 and 11th out of 15 total skaters. The winner had a smooth time of 22:18. Considering my best 5km time from the last few years has been over 15 minutes, I think this has been a great improvement.

I followed this event with a 5km easy run and 2100m in the pool. Man, it is tough being a triathlete some days.  

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