“How long is this actually?” Rob Bradlee asked me as he pulled alongside me.
“Five miles. All like this,” I grunted as we dug in to the hill.
The Climb to the Castle always involves sleep deprivation. Between a late arrival the night before, and the 8 AM start so as not to inconvenience paying customers for the Whiteface Toll Road, I got around five hours’ sleep the night before.
With the race scheduled for Saturday, my family came up for the fun. Joe Korzenecki rode to the start with us as the sun came up. We drove past some elite skiers warming up by skiing to the toll gate from the base of the mountain. Yeah… how else would one warm up for a five-mile climb with eight percent grade? Ski up the rest of the darn mountain first.
This year, I succumbed to the siren call of the wheel doping gods and ran a pair of Woodskis. They weren’t the fastest boards in the race, but they’re an improvement on my Marwes. I take no moral victories from being on slow rollerskis.
Instead of being dropped within 100 meters, I stuck with Rob, Joe and several other skiers for well over a mile – and kept them in sight even when they pulled away. What, you were expecting an account of jaw-dropping, Freeman-like prowess? I’m not fast, that’s why I write!
The big issue for me in this race is pushing the pace. Mostly, I rolled in my level three happy place, going hard but not redlining my heart rate in a 5 k running race. In the last 500 meters, I put in an all-out acceleration. It’s like I have this fear of blowing up. With no place to recover, is it OK to feel this way? This year, I’ve done my hard intervals on foot or on classic rollerskis. Maybe it’s time to go hard on skates.