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North Shore Inline Marathon 2007: Scattered Memories of a Wheel Sucker :-)

skart's picture

Arriving to 50 degrees in Duluth on Friday was quite a change to the 90 degrees weather in North Carolina... Luckily, the Internet world was buzzing with the forecast of chilly weather for a while and I was fairly ready to cope with it. Still, it’s been a while since I have skated in a 30 degrees weather and I was not sure about several things, the biggest of them all – wheels.

I came to Duluth with a set of hardest Matters (yellow) and was really concerned that they might turned out to be too hard for the cold pavement. Therefore, my first order of business upon arrival was to get a new set of wheels. I decided to settle on the medium hardness Matters (white) since I am really used to their profile… I picked up the wheels and my race package at the expo at DECC. 

The rest of Friday was uneventful. I did, however, have a great pasta dinner at Bellisio’s, which nicely rounded my weeklong carbo-loading cycle. :o)  

Saturday morning was cold. I got on a bus around 5:50 and arrived to the start line at 6:40… It always throws me off how long it takes to get from the finish line to the start. I needed to warm up.

Instead of putting my skates on and warming up that way, I opted for running. It always gets my blood flowing and I was hoping it would keep the cold wind to its minimum. :o) After a good warm up, I changed into my layered “cold-weather” outfit and put my skates on. This year I had a whopping 3 minutes between having my skates on and the beginning of the race. :o) I was ready to go though.  

I saw some familiar faces at the line but was still not sure what to expect. Seeing how the pro women blasted off the line, I suspected that my wave would be getting off the line fairly quickly also. And then there was the countdown… and we were off! 

The beginning of the race was FAST! I did take a few cautious moments to step over the mats so I found myself losing ground to the front of the pack. Still, I settled behind a small pace line and we slowly bridged to the majority of the front-runners.

Looking at the results, it seems that about 7 people were able to step on the gas and disappeared behind a bend before we caught them. Oh well, we had our own race to enjoy.  I found myself fairly far in the back – around 20th position. I was not thrilled about that but the pack in front of me looked pretty strong and I did not believe there was a chance of it getting split. I decided to wait.  

The first 30-40 minutes of the race the pace was great! It was hard enough to string the pack out, so there were no four pace lines going side by side, but comfortable enough for staying with the pack.

I did skate over a couple of tar snakes and almost lost it once. However, I was able to keep my composure and get back up to speed. My heart did sink for a moment when I was not sure if I was able to save it though. :o) Once we passed the second water station, the pace dropped significantly.

I kept glancing on my GPS just to find the speed jumping from 13mph to 19mph rarely touching anything above that. People in the front were struggling going against the headwind but for those of us who were sucking wheels in the back, it was almost a leisurely pace. Many were standing up, stretching their backs and enjoying the scenery. :o) I guess there are races where you can do that after all. :o) 

Right around that time we caught up to one of the Pro women that had been dropped by her pack. She tried to get a little bit of our pack’s draft only to be harshly kicked out. I understand that there are “no cross drafting” rules for Pros but it was sad to see people being almost rude to her when it was clear that she could not hurt our “snail” pace, and the only thing she could gain was getting to the finish line a few minutes earlier (not being a contender in her race anymore).  

Right before the last water stop I found myself quite far in the back. Probably, around 30th position. I decided that it was time to move up since the first “hill” was coming up… I stepped out of the pace line and started accelerating to get to the front. Surprisingly, I did not find the headwind being as bad as I thought it was…

I was able to get up to speed quite easily and by the time I was at the front of the pack I had 5-6mph on them. I decided to just keep going… I guess you could say I attacked the pack at that point, :o), gaining 50-60 feet on them. This caused a little bit of a chase and 20 seconds later we were all together again. 

Once the pack got on the highway, people went crazy. They were jumping in and out of the line trying to advance. At the same time, people in the front were monitoring their movement, yelling “on the left” or “on the right” to warn the leaders of potential attacks.

The last ramp saw the biggest acceleration of them all with people scrambling to get up as quickly as they could. I definitely cannot call myself a good climber but I gave it all.

Quite a few people passed me so I found myself around 20th in my pack. It was only a short downhill and a left turn before the finish line so I was very careful to pick the shortest line and was using every opportunity to accelerate. I sprinted all the way to the finish line only to be able to finish in the top 10 of my pack. 

I ended up placing second in my age division, which is a great result for me! Overall, I had a great race and will be definitely coming back for more. :o)

Comments

eebee's picture

Way to go, Skart!

2nd in your age division! Well given how young you are (relative to me, anyway) that's fantastic! Good idea, running to warm up. And in that cold weather, maybe standing around in skates for only 3 mins at the start line is the way to do it :-)

roadskater's picture

Skart Rules in So Many Ways

Yo, skart, what a great read. And what a great result. All that hard work and pain paid off in a big way, and matched with your experience and intelligence, it produced a huge achievement! Congratulations on your ability to observe, quantify and sense intuitively what was happening, and on blending that with lots of training and unshakeable will!

We missed your bright smile and enthusiasm (and strong pack conservation instincts and generosity) at the Tour to Tanglewood. I'm quite sure the ladies looked around to see if you might magically appear as well. Nevertheless, we knew you were in top shape for a great result and are really happy to hear such a positive outcome.

More on the Tour soon, as we catch up on sleep, let the whole body swelling go down (ha), and for me, as I get some of the photo editing done! Hopefully next year the dates will not conflict!

So it's off to the NY100K next? Or will you wait for A2A or something else?

eebee's picture

Northshore Inline Marathon 2007 Video

Somebody posted these on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLKfPfdwwRE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGPXRS8By5U

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WU9zOEJvsU4

Thank you to bhclew for posting those so I could get my adrenaline pumping here in my cubicle. The lead pack skaters move like mesmerizing works of art.

And Skart...'pacelines'??! Those are more like MOBS!! I guess that's what happens though, when you have the whole road to play on

:-)

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