«  

2015: Great Bear Chase 10k Classic XC Ski

The past year since the last edition of this home area event, except for the month of December 2014, has seen me ski at least a few kilometers every month we have had moderate to really good or excellent trail conditions. While signing up for this year’s edition didn’t cost me any brain cell at all, I had neither really put in enough quality base miles simulating the Great Bear Chase course conditions nor had I skied longer than 8k in the weeks/months leading up to retain my initial registration for 25k classic. The decision to drop down to 10k classic still didn’t cost any brain cell nor extra work either — thanks to the handy/magic work of dear friends, Cynthia and Angela.

Given that I only do two ski races per calendar year and given that I had chickened/wimped/pansied out from one of them — Book Across The Bay — that is more of a party than a race already, chickening/wimping/pansying out again would have given my dear friends a lot more fodder and material for one of their upcoming books, A Beginner’s Guide To Guilting and Heckling G. However, participating in the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon and racking up close to 40 miles in a week’s stay in sunny California about five weeks ago did leave me a bit of sharp pain in the lower left calf which, along with not so warm weather in February, significantly limited my attempts at outdoor activities.

All kidding aside, it’s not every day that a home area event comes along with as many benefits as this one does: long running and well established, managed and reputed event, a chance to sleep in my own bed (or couch) and/or avoid hassles of driving to a distant town, being with dear friends and community members before/during/after the event, and observe seasoned skiers and their techniques and learn from it. Missing it, except for extremely unavoidable reasons, would leave me with a lot of regret and headache.

Summary of training activities since the last race
# Date and time Activity details
Device, Distance, Time, Pace, Speed, HR
Cadence, GCT, Vertical Oscln, Stride Length, Training Effect, NGP, Grade, rTSS
Weather notes
01 2015-02-04 07:58:00 Stanford University Avenue Run (US » CA » Santa Clara County » Palo Alto » 94301)
Garmin 620, 3.18 mi, 0:38:32, 12:07 min/mile, 4.95 mph, 147 bpm, 2.60
150 spm, 7.90 cm, 313 ms, 0.89 m, 12:04 min/mile, 0.20%, 35.2
48 F, 0 mph, 48 F, 87% humidity; clear skies and sparse clouds but comfortable
02 2015-02-04 20:43:00 Mountain View → Palo Alto Run/KRG 2015 Run #04 (US » CA » Santa Clara County » Mountain View » 94040)
Garmin 620, 4.64 mi, 1:11:07, 15:19 min/mile, 3.92 mph
131 spm, 0.80 m, 13:41 min/mile, -0.20%, 51.3
55 F, 6 mph, 55 F, 94% humidity; clear skies and sparse clouds but comfortable
03 2015-02-06 18:50:00 The Hill – Warm Up Run (US » CA » San Mateo County » Redwood City » 94062)
Garmin 620, 0.23 mi, 0:03:18, 14:16 min/mile, 4.21 mph, 143 bpm, 1.30
138 spm, 7.50 cm, 294 ms, 0.82 m, 10:59 min/mile, 0.00%, 3.40
64 F, 14 mph S, 64 F, 77% humidity; cloudy and rainy
04 2015-02-06 18:59:00 The Hill Run (US » CA » San Mateo County » Redwood City » 94062)
Garmin 620, 3.98 mi, 0:52:11, 13:07 min/mile, 4.57 mph, 166 bpm, 3.90
144 spm, 7.80 cm, 287 ms, 0.85 m, 12:11 min/mile, -0.60%, 47.0
64 F, 14 mph S, 64 F, 77% humidity; pouring rain, warm except when exposed to gusting winds in open areas
05 2015-02-06 19:53:00 The Hill – Cool Down Run (US » CA » San Mateo County » Redwood City » 94062)
Garmin 620, 0.72 mi, 0:09:38, 13:23 min/mile, 4.48 mph, 154 bpm, 2.10
117 spm, 6.80 cm, 304 ms, 1.03 m, 13:05 min/mile, 0.00%, 7.20
63 F, 16 mph SSE, 63 F, 83% humidity; pouring rain and flooded roads
06 2015-02-11 18:03:00 KRG 2015 Run #05 (US » MI » Houghton County » Houghton » 49931)
Garmin 620, 3.57 mi, 0:41:46, 11:43 min/mile, 5.12 mph, 157 bpm, 3.50
131 spm, 7.60 cm, 312 ms, 0.89 m, 11:17 min/mile, 0.20%, 43.7
10 F, 19 mph NNW, -8 F, 72% humidity; cloudy, windy and snow
07 2015-02-12 17:32:00 Classic XC Ski: Michigan Tech Trails (US » MI » Houghton County » Houghton » 49931)
Garmin 620, 0.83 mi, 0:12:10, 14:43 min/mile, 4.08 mph
13:28 min/mile, -0.20%, 8.70
1 F, 7 mph W, -11 F, 77% humidity; partially cloudy but bitterly cold
08 2015-02-15 14:43:00 Houghton Run (US » MI » Houghton County » Houghton » 49931)
Garmin 620, 4.21 mi, 0:41:48, 9:56 min/mile, 6.04 mph
163 spm, 0.99 m, 9:31 min/mile, 0.20%, 61.6
1 F, 3 mph SW, 1 F, 54% humidity; sunny and beautiful
09 2015-02-18 18:05:00 KRG 2015 Run #06 (US » MI » Houghton County » Houghton » 49931)
Garmin 620, 3.00 mi, 0:36:00, 12:00 min/mile, 5.00 mph
60 F, 0 mph, 60 F, 60% humidity (Indoors)
10 2015-02-21 13:02:00 Classic XC Ski: Michigan Tech Trails (US » MI » Houghton County » Houghton » 49931)
Garmin 620, 3.20 mi, 0:44:29, 13:55 min/mile, 4.31 mph
12:41 min/mile, 0.00%, 36.9
7 F, 5 mph NNW, -3 F, 72% humidity; partially sunny but not too cold
# Date and time Activity details
Device, Distance, Time, Pace, Speed, HR
Cadence, GCT, Vertical Oscln, Stride Length, Training Effect, NGP, Grade, rTSS
Weather notes
11 2015-02-22 08:15:00 Houghton 10k Run (US » MI » Houghton County » Houghton » 49931)
Garmin 620, 6.37 mi, 1:05:41, 10:19 min/mile, 5.82 mph, 167 bpm, 4.7
156 spm, 8.50 cm, 284 ms, 1.00 m, 10:10 min/mile, -0.30%, 85.6
-11 F, 10 mph NNW, -30 F, 69% humidity; cold but partially sunny
12 2015-02-24 18:03:00 Classic XC Ski: Michigan Tech Trails (US » MI » Houghton County » Houghton » 49931)
Garmin 620, 2.71 mi, 0:45:04, 16:39 min/mile, 3.60 mph, 146 bpm, 2.60
16:15 min/mile, 0.00%, 22.8
7 F, 18 mph NNW, -12 F, 66% humidity; very windy and cold
13 2015-02-25 18:00:00 KRG 2015 Run #07 (US » MI » Houghton County » Houghton » 49931)
Garmin 620, 5.25 mi, 0:52:00, 9:54 min/mile, 6.06 mph
60 F, 0 mph, 60 F, 60% humidity (Indoors)
14 2015-02-26 17:31:00 Houghton Medium Run (US » MI » Houghton County » Houghton » 49931)
Garmin 620, 8.92 mi, 1:31:28, 10:15 min/mile, 5.85 mph
159 spm, 0.98 m, 9:43 min/mile, -0.10%, 131.70
3 F, 16 mph WNW, -16 F, 65% humidity; sunny and not so cold for the first half
15 2015-03-02 17:43:00 Houghton Medium Run (US » MI » Houghton County » Houghton » 49931)
Garmin 620, 10.12 mi, 1:48:25, 10:43 min/mile, 5.60 mph
159 spm, 0.94 m, 10:16 min/mile, 0.00%, 140.40
19 F, 7 mph WNW, 10 F, 62% humidity; sunny and pleasant
16 2015-03-04 18:04:00 KRG Run 2015 #08 (US » MI » Houghton County » Houghton » 49931)
Garmin 620, 3.25 mi, 0:33:29, 10:19 min/mile, 5.82 mph, 166 bpm, 4.50
162 spm, 7.90 cm, 290 ms, 0.97 m, 10:04 min/mile, -0.30%, 43.80
1 F, 15 mph WNW, -18 F, 71% humidity; cold, snow but pleasant on the way back
17 2015-03-06 15:15:00 Houghton Short Run (US » MI » Houghton County » Houghton » 49931)
Garmin 620, 3.31 mi, 0:31:35, 9:33 min/mile, 6.28 mph, 171 bpm, 4.40
163 spm, 9.00 cm, 262 ms, 1.03 m, 9:29 min/mile, -0.60%, 46.50
25 F, 21 mph W, 10 F, 58% humidity; sunny and a bit too warm

A pair of quick trips to the Michigan Tech Nordic Ski Club and Down Wind Sports — former unsuccessful, and the latter easy and successful thanks to dear friends Heidi and Emily — to rent out a pair of skis for Amanda were followed by a short trip up north to Calumet to pick up the race packet. And a successful packet pick up was very soon followed by a hearty pre-race carb loading feast at the Christine-Stephen Handler residence with many a dear friends and Christine’s parents. A sneak peak into a rabbit hole called waxing technique was the last thing before calling it an early night.

6.32 miles, 1:22:18, 4.60 mph, 13:03 min/mile, 170 bpm
Splits: 12:51, 13:32, 12:23, 12:50, 13:54, 13:34, 3:21
Garmin Forerunner 620 and WP GPX Maps plugin for WordPress


The race day morning came, as it has done for last many now, at an easier pace but did so with a rather unexpected (at least to me) snowfall. Start/Finish area, being more open and unprotected, seemed windy, blistery, and cold. Having seen and chatted with many a friendly faces, it was nice to very many of them go off on their merry ways in their respective events. Unlike last year’s comedy, I didn’t miss the start of my event. The trail/snow conditions fit my current skill set very well — slow enough to keep me mostly upright on slopes, and good enough to help me make up any time/distance I had lost to passers by in hill climbs. The pace throughout the course was fairly consistent — well below 14 min/mile (apologies to my dear friend for having lied about it past mile two) and would have been much better had I not fallen down as many times as I did by spending the aforementioned quality time training in simulated course conditions OR had I made time to strength train a few more times over the last several weeks.

Personal goals for the event (in order of importance)
## Goal Result
01 Keep a dear friend in sight for the length of the course, and make sure they get their goal Yes
02 Finish the race without bodily injuries — either to myself or to anyone else Yes
03 Keep the number of falls to zero No; 7-8
04 Improve upon the current PR for this distance: 2:13:26 (2.70 mph, 22:13 minutes/mile) Yes; 1:22:18 (4.60 mph, 13:03 min/mile)
05 Improve upon the current PR for this event: 2:13:26 (2.70 mph, 22:13 minutes/mile) Yes; 1:22:18 (4.60 mph, 13:03 min/mile)

With about 200m to the finish line, Brockit‘s ever popular Orange Helmet showed up on my head without which, I am quite sure, my finish wouldn’t have looked nearly as good. If not for dear friend Sam‘s kind offer to store it in his warm jeep, my winter jacket would have felt like a sheet of ice. And if not for Amanda’s suggestion to stop by the Calumet High School for a pasty nourishment, I would have missed checking out the official results and in turn, missed out on collecting the materialistic memorabilia symbolizing my first ever podium finish in a ski race that came a few years ahead of its time. The post-race activities included the said hearty pasty meal, chats and discussions with dear friends that stayed back for longer than planned to see me get the aforementioned materialistic memorabilia, hanging out with Hannah and Matt Abbotts’ baby daughter for a few minutes and an uneventful ride back to Houghton on what most certifiably was the best skiing day of my life so far.

Praise be to the Good Lord and life’s blessings, and thanks be to

the organizers, Swedetown trails crew, sponsors, volunteers, law enforcement officials, timing folks, photographers, media personnel, community members, fellow racers, and more for putting on a memorable event, and my good friends — the Abbotts (Kathy and Mike), the Blakes (Amy and Scott), the Boissevains (Margi and Paul), the Brewsters (Katie and Brian), the Bunkers (Kris and Kate), the Carlsons (Abby, Cassondra, Josh, and Justin), the Carmeans (Jess and Tim), the Chards (Amy and David), the Durochers (Bridget and John), the Eles (Sarah and Stephen), the Engstroms (Christine and Jaime), the Fredricksons (Lynda and Dave), the Gracis (Kara and Sam), the Handlers (Christine, Rob, Shannon and Stephen), the Kramers (Mandy and Jim), the Lehtos (Tammi and Chris), the MacDonalds (Cynthia and Bruce), the MacInnes’ (Elizabeth and Scott), the Meyers’ (Jeanne, Ted and John), the Obermanns (Catherine and Tim), the Ontls (Kelly and Todd), the Oppligers (Shawn, Emily and Doug), the Pergers (Liz and Dr. Warren), the Rasners (Amanda and Donald), the Resslers (Dee and Tom), the Richards’ (Carrie and Dr. Bob), the Salos (Karen and Dan), the Smigowskis (Christina and Tim), the Stenvigs, the Stickelmyers, the Tervos, the Vendlinskis (Andi, Jim and Rick), the Vertins (Melissa and Joel), the Vizankos (Kelly and Steve), the Watrous’ (Liisa and Matt), the Weathers’ (Stacy and Bryant), the Wilmers’ (Kelly and Stephen), the Youngs (Amber, Christine and Michael), the Zerbsts (Kristen and Ron), team /var/run (Nancy Banfield, Josh Myles and Amy Blake), Keweenaw Running Group, Houghton Police Department, Jim and Randy in Cardinal Hotel, Adam Griffis, Dr. Alex Mayer, Amanda O’Toole, Amy Madsen, Ashley Ames, Ashley Miller, Dr. Bryan Suits, Ben Wittbrodt, Caleb Wendel, Chelsea Fagan, Christopher Schwartz, Dr. Daniel Fuhrmann, Darcy Donnelly, Erin Kauppila, Greg Reed, Jeff Brookins, Jeffrey Toorongian, Julie Ruotsala, Julie Springsteen, Katie Temple, Kelly Wooten, Kelsae Eliszewski, Kim Green, Krista Kasuboski, Kristen Schmitt, Kristin Thompson, Laura Mlynski, Lauren Schaefer, Lauri Keteri-Smith, Leah Tollefson, Lianna Miller and Benjamin Ciavola, Lena Widman, Louisa Raisbeck and Jesse Cleaver, Lynette Potvin and Matt Manders, Lynn Czarnecki Makela, Lynn Geisler, Mahesh Shastry, Marc Rea, Maria Janowiak, Marine Foucher, Mark Mehler, Matt Mlinar, Mary Webster, Michael Babcock, Mike LaMotte, Shreya Kumar and Randal Harrison, Ray Sharp, Rebecca Anderson, Ryan Towles, Riccardo Tortini, Robert Larson, Dr. Robert Weidman, Sam Roache, Sarah Bird and William Atkinson, Sarah Conner, Sarah Menassian, Sarah Stanek, Scott Gibbs, Sue Peterson, Tony Schwenn, and more (in and outside of my community) — for the often unexpected, undeserved, unrewarded acts of constant encouragement, and offerings of constructive criticism, tested tips and tricks to improve myself as an athlete.