A couple of weekends ago I attempted my first marathon ski event at the Rangeley Lakes Loppet. I have never done a 50K ski race before and didn't really know what to expect. I had been skiing up to this point every weekend for 2-3hrs at a time. I would usually ski a pretty good pace but never at race pace. I also have been battling with being exhausted all the time and don't really know why. I also didn't really know how that would affect my performance.
The fun began the night before when we were getting a nice big snow storm. I needed to wax my skies but didn't really feel like sitting out in the heavy wet snow putting on two layers of wax. I decided that I would get up early and do it in the morning before the race.
The drive to the race was more than interesting. Most of the roads were still very snow covered and made the trip very slow and slippery. The temps were climbing and the forecast was for mostly sunny with temps well above freezing.
Once there I passed on warming up and just sat in my truck and rested before the start. I wanted to save every bit of energy I had for the race. I was bringing with me 1 bottle of Gatorade and a few Hammer gel packs, plus there were aid stations with water and Hammer Heed at every 10k or so. I figured I should be set.
The mass start went off with near 100 entrants and I was smack in the middle of the pack. On the first downhill turn a skier took a tumble and took out everyone behind them. I had nowhere to go and fell on top of 3 other skiers. Then 4 other people happened to fall on top of me. Not much fun already and it's only been less than a minute of the 3+ hour race. I had to wait a while before getting going again and had to maneuver my way through a large field now with most of them slower than I was.
The conditions were not easy at all to say the least. Rangeley had gotten 2+ feet of snow the night before and it was just starting to warm up. That meant very soft, wet, slow snow. It made things very difficult indeed to ski on. As the race went on I managed to pass a lot of slower skiers and made my way back to mid pack. I had grabbed a few small cups of fluid at the aid stations while still skiing which was fun on the first attempt and ended up giving myself a bath. As I made my way back to the start which was the first of two laps I started to really wind down and getting really tired. I thought that I could either quit now and say I did the 25k in good time or I could continue on, punish my body and see how far I could go. Well of course I continued on. I hate quiting. I really slowed down on the next 5k and was passed by at least 10 skiers that I had initially passed in the beginning. When I hit the first aid station I was totally exhausted. I didn't think I could go on and I told them I need to rest for a while. I pulled off and stood there taking in some liquid and gel. I decided to continue on and make try to make it to the next aid station. It was then I realized the next one was a ways off and I had to climb a major hill. I knew I was going to be in trouble. The next 10k or so was a blur and I was passed by a lot of racers. I would ski for 2k or so and then stop and rest. Finally I was passed by, what I figured, was the last of the racers and I pretty much walked up the last hill before the aid station. When I got there I collapsed on my poles and told them I was done and couldn't take another step. They helped out of my skies and sat me down on a chair. I just sat there for a while trying to get the dizziness to go away. Finally one of the aides drove me back to the start and I was done for the day.
The rest of the day/night was a blur to me. I did have to drive myself home, which was very tough to do in my current state. I did stop in Farmington for some food and that helped some. That night I felt really sick and only slept a few small hours. I was just to exhausted and in too much pain.
So in all I skied somewhere between 35 and 40k. I liked the course a lot and I would probably attempt it again next year. I do hope though that next year I will feel a whole lot better and will actually be able to finish.