The Lappe 24hr Relay was a very long, tiresome ordeal.
Basically, Andy and I set a new 24hr Mixed Pairs record, skiing 455km in just under 24hrs, breaking the previous record which was held by our coach Timo and his wife Becky for 10years. Together we averaged lap times of 16:35 on the 5.27km course (which we made 86 rounds of), which works out to be a 19.14km/hr pace.
The conditions for the event were alright, we were hoping for a nice icy track to speed things up, but instead found ourselves skiing on some relatively new, dry, groomed snow. Fortunately, the sun was out on Saturday which helped speed the track up and then glaze as temperatures dropped in the evening. Before the event we figured we’d have to average just over 18.5km/hr in order to beat the record – which is no small feat. After being out to Lappe for a ski on Friday, I was somewhat skeptical as to whether we even had a chance at it. Skiing 400km was our goal heading into the event, not really having anything to base our expectations on other than wishful thinking and ego.
From gun we were crushing it; Andy was averaging about 22km/hr while I was holding our goal pace of 18.5km/hr during the first 13-ish hours. Our rotation had Andy skiing 3 laps (15.9k) then me skiing 2 laps (10.6k). This went on from 11am to 2am. During that time I was feeling kind of nervous; even though we were both feeling really good skiing at this pace, I was still worried that we were skiing too fast too early, that one of us would bonk, cramp up, that something bad was bound to happen. I mean, we both figured skiing a fast pace at the start, as long as you kept it around threshold, would pay off since slowing down in the later stages is inevitable. But still – this was too crazy, how were we skiing at a pace that would put us at 500km come 11am Sunday?
Well, we found out early Sunday morning when the night shifts happened. As it turns out, skiing 40 or 30km straight at 2am, after you’ve already clocked over 250km isn’t exactly a blast, and that you can’t hold the same pace as when you’re rotating on and off every 40minutes. We fell off pace quite a bit. I went from skiing 16:30-17:00 laps to 17:15-17:45 laps, to 18:30-20:00 laps. Andy had a tough time too, hitting the wall pretty hard at what became the end of his shift.
Fortunately though, our quick early pace had put us in a good position for the rest of the event. Despite the serious rough patch in the night, we were still on track for a record, and with the sun rising we got back into rhythm, switching 3-2 laps, then 2-1, then 1-1 as we got to end and were really starting to wear out.
This was a pretty extreme experience for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt as deadbeat as I do now. The real tipping point in how awful I felt was probably during my 2am, 30k haul (note: longest women’s race on the WC is 30km, and at this point I’d already skied almost 120km) when my legs started to feel dead and slow, my body wouldn’t respond when I tried to ski faster, and my heart rate was steady at 150bpm whether I was climbing or “recovering” on a downhill. I’m so glad I didn’t pass out, although I did almost puke several times during the waking hours of the day, passing out on course would’ve been bad. Also bad was how unappealing any/all food was during the 24hr. I literally had to force myself to eat every time I came in from a shift; trying to choose things that would sit easy in my stomach and get me through the next few hours. In general I think I did a pretty good job, but I still ate a lot less than I thought I would/should – ah well, at least I’ll have leftovers!
And that’s about it… Other NDC skiers Scott, Ben, Jack, and Evan, teamed up for the 4-person relay and skied the most kilometres of the event – totalling 494.47km, while Erin and Alannah were part of a Women’s team with 6 other local female skiers. NDC staff Timo, Vic, and Eric were also part of open teams, getting in those last official k’s of the year to put on the Kilometre Board.
Anyway, apologies for the lack of pictures. I was too busy suffer-festing to take any. Timo posted several to the NDC Twitter during the event though. Also, here’s the link to the results, you can check laps by clicking on team names.
Well, I’m feeling pretty wrecked right now. Walking is okay, but standing up and climbing stairs is a little rough… thinking is also hard. I guess my brain doesn’t function well with less than 2hrs of sleep in 40hrs + 24hrs of relay-ing. Thanks to the Hardwood parents who made pledges to support our team for the event, to Grant who will generously be pledging us 20c/kilometre skied, and to Reijo who is awarding us 250$ for breaking the record this weekend.