People keep asking me how the 2011 Birkie went. And maybe by seeing how long it took me to write-up a final race report will tell you how it actually went. After a week and half of being asked how it went, I have found myself answer with “well, it came…and….it went.”
I have done a total of 16 Birkies/Kortes. I have skied the Birkie in 52° with women wearing just their bras and I have skied it with six inches of fresh snow covering the course. I have also skied it when there has been nothing but ice and one year I didn’t ski it because it was flat-out cancelled.
But I will tell you this…I have never skied it when it has been so cold at the start. Don’t get me wrong – most Birkies start out cold but end up with some sweet temps at the end. The 2011 Birkie…not so much.
I got out of the car at McNaught road to ski in for my warm-up. The outside temp in the car read -12°. Alright, I thought, I don’t mind the cold and I’m sure once I get skiing I will be just fine. I skied in on a hard, fresh groomed Birkie trail and thought to myself, “see, I’m already toasty.”
That didn’t last long. I had to strip down to my race outfit 15 minutes prior to my start so that I could get into the start gate and ready. That is when everything went south. By the time the gun went off I was frozen to my core and I couldn’t feel my toes. I wasn’t too worried because I figured I would be sweating by the time I got to the other end of the power lines.
Well, the power lines came and went and I was till cold. I actually felt like I was shivering while I was skiing. I was never worried about being cold but I was worried with how I was feeling. I wanted to ski the first half conservatively so that I had something left in the tank when I came out of OO.
It is amazing how at one k you can feel good and feel strong but by the very next K you are worried, hurting, and wondering how you are going to finish the race. That is how I felt throughout the whole thing. This hill I felt good, that hell sucked, this section I feel strong, that section kick my butt. It was an up and down roller coaster Birkie (pun intended).
I hit OO and exchanged my frozen water bottle with a warmer one from Nikole and I told her that I couldn’t get warm. She said don’t worry, no one can. Well that made me feel somewhat better. I typically enjoy the OO to Mosquito Brook section. Its rollings hills and I find that I can get into a pretty easy pace. Not this year. I had fast skis and that was about it. I would catch and pass people on the down hills only to have them pass me and then ski away from me on the flats.
After Mosquito Brook I took my time climbing the hills and I made sure I took care of myself so that I had something left on the lake. The lake came and I managed to pass one skier. Ya hooo. By the time I hit main street I had absolutely nothing in the tank. In fact I could barely glide out on one ski I was so tired and I think I double polled it the last 50 meters.
I crossed the line with another sub 3hr race…barely. My brother summed up my Birkie the best…”you looked like shit at the finish but I’m proud of you.” It truly was my hardest Birkie yet and I’ve never been so glad to see the finish line.
You get what you put into your training. This years Birkie resembled what I put in. I skied quite a bit but I also rode quite a bit. And when I was skiing I was thinking about biking. Chalk this Birkie up as base training for this years bike season.
It was fun. It was great to be with family and friends. It was hard yet filled with the same amount of emotion and sensation that the Birkie always brings. But, it was the Birkie that came and went.