Kris Freeman, three time Olympian, the standard for distance skiing in the U.S. for the past ten years and my training partner on the Stelvio Glacier last month, drove over from his home in Thornton, New Hampshire this morning to do a two person head to head roller ski race against me. It was a big enough occasion that we got Zach AND Amy Caldwell out to support the session. Here they are talking about Kris’s blood sugar (He is Type 1 Diabetic.) before the session.
The race was 15 kilometers. Unfortunately we could not do the same course that I did last month because of road construction. We devised a similar course, also modeled off of the Olympic 15 kilometer trails. The course was five kilometers very flat, five kilometers uphill and five kilometers with a mix of rolling and flat. We were on matched roller skis. We were under explicit instructions from Zach to race hard, not to play tactics.
The expectation I had for the race was for Kris to push and stretch me on the flat sections and for me to push him on the hills. He led most of the flat first five kilometers, but I was able to stay with him without much difficulty. I then led the entire five kilometer hill in the middle of the race. As planned, I was able to push Kris. However, I blew myself up in the process. I lost contact with Kris at the top of a downhill. I was nervous about the high speed and I didn’t stay as close to him as I should have going down the hill. On the next uphill he put in an impressive move that ballooned the gap to several hundred meters. I was suffering, and Kris continued to pull away for the rest of the race.
I was very disappointed after the finish to have been beaten so clearly. My confidence was shaken. After having talked about it with my coaches, I am feeling better now. The reality is that Kris was very good today. He was probably world class, as he often has been this time of year. Against a big field, my effort may not have looked as bad as it did against one guy. I also expect to be better when the season starts in six weeks and certainly by the time to Olympics roll around in four months. I will have better energy and better high end capacity after a lower training load and more intensive training.
Zach supported the session by riding his bike with us. Amy drove a car along behind us with spare poles, clothes and drinks for the finish. Zach got some good video. I’ll post it on this site once he gets it up.
Here is Kris on the cool down:
It was nice of Kris to make the two hour drive from his house so we could do the race. He also delivered my skis, poles and bindings which he carried back from Europe for me. I think we both got a lot out of the session.
This afternoon I went to Gunnar Caldwell’s (Zach and Amy’s son’s) cross country running race. Zach and I had photo wars, which I always lose.
Gunnar is in fourth grade and racing against eighth graders.
The kids he’s racing against are twice his size. Here are the two fastest kids in the race:
Gunnar finished an impressive eighth place.
I would guess Gunnar weighs at least ten pounds less than the next lightest competitor.
Gunnar’s pacing was very good as the first time I saw him he was near the back of the pack. He’s clearly got his dad’s smarts about racing.
I’m looking forward to watching him in four years in the same race. He’s going to crush the filed.
The race was held in an apple orchard.
Zach and I went back out for an afternoon skate technique session, but my energy was a little low and we didn’t accomplish much.
I also organized and cut down my incredible number of poles. Thanks Madshus for the wonderful support!