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Northshore Inline Marathon Report

skatey-mark's picture

OKay - this is try #2 (IE lost my first report...  Grr....)  Typing this in the hotel room, watching a little tv and chilling out before the awards presentation in a couple hours...


Artem, Dave, & I flew into Minneapolis and arrived around 10:30.  Erica also flew in, and her flight got in around 11:20.  We hung out and waited for Erica to arrive, then all shared a rental car to drive to Duluth.  We got checked into our hotel -- we're staying at the Radison this year, which is still within walking distance of the DECC and much cheaper than the Holiday Inn Express where we stayed last year.  The DECC is the hub of all things NSIM related this weekend...

We headed over to DECC and picked up our registration packets.  (Erica had a slight problem with hers, but it got fixed fortunately!)  Then we walked around the expo, which was busier than I remember it being last year.  Picked up a few odds & ends, and Dave & Artem both got molded for custom boots.  Dave got another pair from Jason McDaniels, while Artem opted for Simmons.  After they finished, we went to get dinner at Pizza luce, which was EXCELLENT.  They even had many vegan options to choose from, which made Erica very happy.

After dinner, we went to a Walgreens and grocery store to get food for the morning, then headed back to the hotel.  Got a few things ready for the morning, then went to bed around 10:30.  Surprisingly, I was able to fall asleep before too long, and didn't really wake up during the night.


The alarm went off at 5am, which was rough!  But we got ourselves out of bed and got our stuff together.  We headed over to the DECC, where buses were waiting to take us up to Two Harbors (where the start of the race is.)  As we're walking over, we feel the occasional raindrop...  Uh Oh...  Of course, we had checked the forecast before we left and it looked the rain was pretty much a certainty, so it wasn't a big surprise.  We get on the bus, and it's about a 30 minute ride.  I'm scarfing down what food I'm able to...  (Chocolate muffin, banana, and a 32oz Gatorade.)  We get to the start about an hour early.  Plenty of time to get skates on, warm up, and scarf down some more food.  (About 3/4 of a Snickers Marathon bar, and a Gu gel.)  Eventually, they're announcing that people REALLY need to be lining up.  I take off my warmup pants & jacket, stuff them in my gear bag, and take it to the gear truck.  Then, skate up to the wave a area...

Dave & I were both in Advanced Wave A.  Erica raced Pro Women, which started right in front of us.  Artem was in Advanced Wave B, which was right behind us.  Soon, the waves ahead of us started and we found ourselves up at the start line.  It's raining pretty good now.  Then, the air horn goes off and our race starts!

Like last year, there was quite a bit of chaos at the start...  At least 3 separate pacelines going down the road, merging and unmerging....  This lasted a bit longer than last year (when I was in wave B) though.  I'd say maybe 30 minutes, and even after that it was not uncommon for a whole sub-paceline to step out, move up, and re-merge.  (Or just go all the way to the front.)  I found myself having to jump out quite often and work my way back towards the front, lest I end up getting further and further back in the pack.  My strategy, like last year, was to stay near the front -- within the first 10 people in the pack.  I was able to do that for the most part...

The pace was HARD.  I felt like I was working harder than I was last year.  I haven't looked at the heart rate data yet, but it will be interesting to compare it to last year.  Occasionally, someone would push the pace even harder or try to create a gap.  (This also happened a little more often than last year.)  Each time, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to hang on, but somehow managed.  These did take a toll on the pack though.  I was too focused to pay attention to how many people were behind me, but towards the end of the race, the pack was MUCH smaller (like maybe half the size it was last year.)

Like last year, I also found myself wondering if the pace was sustainable or not...  I frequently looked at my watch to see how much time had elapsed and would say to myself "okay, only 1 hour left"...  "okay, only 50 minutes left..."  etc, etc...  I've hammered all-out for an hour or so before, so going into the race I figured I could probably go all-out for the duration of the race.  By the time we hit mile 20, I was feeling rough!  But I knew there wasn't much left, so just gritted my teeth and pushed on.

Now, I've been nursing a shin injury since the NYC 100k.  Fortunately, it did not bother me at all during the race.  (It is bothering me now, after the race, though....)  My back was pretty sore from my desperate attempt to milk every bit of draft I could.  And my legs were of course quite tired.  Any time the pack slowed a bit to where I could stand up and rest my back was like heaven!

The course only has two "real" hills in it, bother within the last few miles of the race.  We hit the first hill and I knew I was in trouble.  I normally should be able to cruise right up a hill like that, but I was struggling...  Still I was able to claw my way past a few people and reposition myself near the front.  (About 10 back, as usual....)  People now were starting to get even MORE aggressive about jockeying for position in the pack, and I was getting less able to reposition myself.  More people inserted themselves in front of me, and I was getting further & further back.  I picked a couple very bad places to try to move up -- in both cases, the pack was on good pavement, but the other lane was SLIPPERY.  I ended up making my position worse in both cases....

We came up on the final hill, which is about 1/2 mile from the finish, and I was probably 25-30 people from the front.  I really struggled up that hill, but made up some ground.  On the downhill, I tried to get behind another skater so that we might make up some more ground...  But he didn't want me pushing him from behind -- probably wary of the turn at the bottom on potentially slick pavement.  So I passed him on the inside of that turn, and started some deep double-pushes to try to make up some more ground.  I make my way around another bend in the road, and the finish line is now in sight!  Not enough time to pass anyone else, but I keep pushing and finish as strong as I can.

I hung around the finish and watched some more people come in.  My legs are shaking they're so tired.  Brain is still a little fuzzy, but I'm starting to feel a little more normal.  I see the women's pro master finish, which was an exciting 3-way sprint!  I chitchat with a few people and glance over to the finish line, and who do I see coming up?  ARTEM!!!  Artem, looking very strong and finishing with the leaders from the Advanced Wave B!  We hung around a bit longer and watched Dave (who was having a bad race day unfortunately) cross the finish line.  Then we retrieved our gear bags, got our t-shirts and headed back to the hotel.  There, we got cleaned up and dropped out bearings into some baby oil, so that they might race another day as well.  Then, off to lunch at Pizza Luce again.  (Food was excellent this time as well.)

After lunch, we headed back to DECC to check the results.  The pro results were not posted yet, but we did find the results for the Advanced skaters....

Artem took 6th (out of 85) for men 30-35!

I took 3rd (out of 85) for men 30-35!!!!!!!

My first podium finish!  Woohoo!!!!

I definitely could not have gone any faster today...  I was pretty much "spent" at the finish.  I'm quite happy with the result, although it would have been nice to have a little more left in my legs for those two hills at the end.  Oh well -- gives me something to work on for next year!

 I didn't think to check what my finish was for the whole Advanced field, but I think it was probably around 25th.  I'll be sure to check when we go back over to DECC to watch the awards.  I'll post that info later, as well as any other interesting information that comes up...

- SM -


eebee's picture

What a great finish!

Wow, Artem - 6/85 and Mark - 3/85!! Podium finish! Congratulations. I can only imagine how happy you are about that. Thanks so much for the quick report! Look forward to hearing more and seeing photos of course. I'm brimming with pride! That's such great news, Mark. Well done!
roadskater's picture

Excellent Report from Duluth MN Northshore Marathon

Great report Mark! Sorry you lost some text. I hate when that happens with IE. The site has a warning when about to leave the text screen (this happens a lot on my notebook due to some touchpad junk), but sometimes I still lose text by hitting Enter or whatever.


Please keep us updated on more news of Roadskater.net folk, Erica especially, since we missed her this year at Tanglewood. And of course we want to know about Marcia, too, and other Empire folk.


Thanks for an exciting report from the pack! Skateylove, Blake

skatey-mark's picture

Northshore results posted

Just checked and the results are already online!  (Although I think the pro female results are screwed up, because erica isn't listed in there...)

Anyway, looks like I took 32nd...  Interestingly, my time this year was 1 within 1 second of my time last year!



- SM -

Jack's picture

Way to go Mark

Great report as always and congrats on the fantastic finish, sounds like a tough race!

You've had a great year, and obviously, trained very hard for it.


timv's picture

More Kudos for Mark

I'll add my attaboys for the great performance and the fine report too. And way to go Artem! It sounds like you guys  hung it all out there, and the efforts really paid off. Thanks for letting us know!

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