On Friday evening at 6pm I signed up for the 50km classic race at the Noquemanon Ski Marathon in Marquette. I hadn’t even thought about doing the race until I was in the Superior Done where the pre-race expo was taking place. Once I got there I turned to Dan and said, “Hmm, maybe I should sign up. It could be fun.” So 15 minutes later I had a race bib in my hands and was on my way home to get my skis ready. I called my brother Matt who was also doing the race and my dad at home in Minnesota for wax recommendations. I headed down to my basement to pick my skis and soak in a few layers of flouros and a green klister binder.
The next morning while driving to the start I got more and more excited to race again. I had only been on skis once since US Nationals and that was for a skijor race two weeks before. The temperature was a whopping 0F but hardly a cloud in the sky when we arrived. I corked in about 10 more layers of Swix VR 30 onto my race skis and went out to warm up. While standing on the starting line I couldn’t help but smile because it felt so good to be on skis again!
The gun went off and we headed up the first hill and then it was into the woods for the next 49 kilometers. The first few minutes of the race were awesome because I realized I had fast skis and being around so many other racers is just plain fun! I settled in with a pack of about 6 guys and was feeling good. Throughout the next 10km or so I stayed with them but after a while our pack split up- some fell behind while others pulled ahead. From then on my goal was just to ski relaxed. At one point I looked up in time to see the trail marker at 36km and was like, “Oh my god, I’m only HERE!? I still have 36km to go!” After that slight panic I tried not to pay too close attention to those signs anymore and just focus on skiing. For the next 9km my focus was on getting to the halfway point at county road 510 where my friend Joe was waiting for me with a water bottle of energy drink. I drank about half the bottle and took a Hammer gel and that put a little spring back in my step. I was still feeling pretty good but around 15km to go my kick wax started to wear off so I was having a hard time kicking up even the small hills. On top of that my triceps started to cramp up a bit and get tired because of all the double poling. With about 8km to go I caught Hilary Patzer out of the corner of my eye on a downhill. She caught up to me with 5km to go. After 50km of racing it came down to the final kilometer. Hilary pulled away from me in the last stretch to take the win and I finished about 40 seconds behind her in second place. I crossed the finish line exhausted and sweaty but happy! Hilary and I hugged and congratulated each other and headed into the Superior Dome for a change of clothes and a donut!
It was such a great day that I already signed up for my next marathon- the City of Lakes Lopped in Minneapolis on Sunday!