It is only two weeks until the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski marathon in Hayward, Wisconsin and the training thus far has been an adventure. First, the Midwest was hit with paucity of snow. Skiers had to turn to running or other work out options. Finally we received some snow, so this past weekend has been crammed with as much skiing as possible as you never know how long the flaky white stuff will stick around.
Fischer skis has graciously helped out the effort with a loaner pair of skis. I arrived home a couple of days ago with a giant box at my front door. Although I have a good pair of skis, they are not equipped for racing and are more for touring.
It will be interesting to see how a good pair of skis affects my time as I did the Birkebeiner three years ago with my touring skis. I also had shoes that were falling apart and kept together with duct tape. I have had these shoes since high school and they started falling apart months before the race. I did not want to buy new shoes so close to the race as I feared it would lead to blisters, so I fixed them the old fashioned way.
I met a few people at the race thanks to my duct tape shoes. One group said they had to come over and meet me after seeing my self administered duct tape job. This year I also have a new pair of Fischer cross-country ski boots, so I will be better prepared.
Last weekend I hit Blue Mound State Park near Madison for a day of cross-country skiing and this weekend I hit the Blue Trail on the Nordic Trail System at South Kettle Moraine. This 9.2 mile trail is the perfect training ground for the Birkebeiner as it is a rugged up and down trail similar to the grueling nature found on the Birkie Trail.
Of course it is much shorter, but if you can do the 9.2 mile trail three times without collapsing, you will be ready for the Cable to Hayward race in Northern Wisconsin. I did the 9.2 mile course a total of five times over the weekend and also through in a 7 mile trail at Lapham Peak.
On Friday I was halfway through with the second 9.2 mile loop when darkness fell. There was no moon, and I stupidly forgot my headlamp. In a recent blog interview for the Lazy Traveler Jettsetter, I declared the headlamp my must-have packing item. I can’t believe I did not follow my own advice. This experience shows why I should have had it in my fanny pack. I crashed twice and was very happy to see the light for the parking light.
On Sunday, at almost the exact spot I ran out of light on Friday, it began to rain. I did not think it was possible to rain at 34 degrees. I saw that it was in the forecast, so I tried to get up there early to beat the rain. I almost did, but not before having to ski in it for 4.5 miles. It is no fun being drenched at 34 degrees, but the strenuous activity kept me warm.
The 33.5 mile or 54 kilometer Birkie classic Marathon is an adventure, so it should come as no surprise that the training for it will likewise be a thrill. Next week I plan to head up to northern Minnesota to continue my training where I hope to be in an area cold enough where I will not get rained on. I will continue to acclimate to my Fischer Skis and hope to beat my time of 5 hours and 54 minutes.
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