Monday, January 26, 2009

Another cold Intensive Training weekend

In past years, the Intensive Training weekend was an event where a person could hone their techinque and improve their overall fitness for the American Birkebeiner ski race, an event that several attendees including the WoodFondlingBarrister (event founder) have skied in the past. These days, its pretty much an opportunity to drink beer, play some cards, complain about the food and accommodations, and ski 16k or so per day.

This year a 16k day was a bit of an accomplishment because the high temps all weekend were hovering just above 0F (-18C). RonO, the ManFromSnowyLegs, and I arrived at the cabin late Friday night and I was escorted to my room, "an intimate suite with a lovely lakeview". An apt description from a realtor perhaps, but reality was somewhat less inviting as you can see from the photo. On the positive side, I had not used my inflatable down pad and sleeping bag since my last kayak trip in October and felt just a touch of longing for my tent pitched on an Apostle island. The MFSL, being a native of Australia, mentioned that he didn't know much about poker. The KingOfIronwood Island, with a look on his face much like a timber wolf that stumbled upon an injured fawn, offered to sit next to him, help him out, and provide valuable coaching at the poker table. It didn't turn out as His Majesty planned however, because when the night ended most of the King's greenbacks were in the MFSL's pockets. Poetic justice for sticking me with the walk in closet, in my opinion.

Upon rising Saturday morning, we realized that the thermometer was at -10F (-23C ) and decided that we would hit the trails when it got to 0F. I also realized that the reason I got the walk in closet bedroom was that so the King could announce, "Olson's out of the closet" when I strolled out to the living room. Not that there's anything wrong with that. 0F arrived about 11:30am and we were off for the Rock Lake trails. The trails were groomed meticulously, the crowd was slim, and the sun was shining brightly. About the only drawback to the day was that it was colder than hell. But other than our frozen beards (and we won't go into detail about what exactly was frozen) it was fine afternoon. We all did take something away from the weekend, other than the King's money, however. I realized that I wasn't in as horrible shape as I thought and think I can actually complete the 10k race I signed up for this upcoming weekend. The MFSL perfected his downhill technique and RonO learned a thing or two about pacing, crucial info since both of them are racing the 25k City of Lakes Loppet on Sunday. The other thing that is driven home everytime a person ventures out in this cold weather is that once out in the weather it just isn't that bad. That is crucial reinforcement for those of us who live and savor winter in the north country.

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