Martin's training this year hasn't been of the legendary proportions we remember from when he lived here. He's working full time now, he's traveling for business, and he has very important people taking up time in his life, including the new little sweetie pie living in his house.
But the Kungsledenrännet rolled around again this month, and that's his race. 80k in the Lapland region of northern Sweden, it's a two-person team race and he and his teammate always win. Will they be able to pull it off again this year, on more normal-person training? Read on, for his full report!
Today is the last day of my first year as a semi-retired marathon skier. Semi-retired, because two weeks ago I skied Kungsledenrännet, the 80K team skate race between Hemavan and Ammarnäs in the Swedish mountains. With half the training hours of last year, I was curious to see how long I would last. I bonked hard after losing my support team in Vasaloppet ten years ago. Was it time to meet the wall again?
While I have dropped a lot of volume, I have done my homework on skate skis. Several workouts without poles and lately also V2ing up mountain sides with Elise in a pulka. No long workouts though. Only a handful of two-hour workouts and never longer. Enough?
Bam, and off we went straight up a downhill slope. My team partner obviously had forgotten that we agreed to go out easy, and didn't seem to hear me when I begged him to slow down. Bubbling lactate five minutes into a three-hour race – not good. The gap we had created was soon closed when my legs didn't get rid of the painful acids.
Was the good feeling I had felt in the last couple of workouts before the race merely an illusion?
No, after an hour my body finally woke up and triggered me to go to the front of the pack and push harder. A few minutes later one team fell off and three teams became two.
The remaining team stayed with us down the fastest 3K I know of in a ski race, from the high alpine region down to the tree line with a maximum speed of 74 km/h this year according to my GPS watch, and over the 10K lake with breaking crust. But then they faded. On the way up above the tree line again we gained minute after minute on the cramping guys and I knew we would make it if only I would last.
Other years I have pushed and pushed no matter how close to red I was, because I knew there was always a reservoir to save me. Without that confidence, I avoided red and could actually enjoy the last hour more than other years. In this way, I finished less destroyed than what I have done in the last few years.
Apparently, the best before date of high training volume is at least one year. Next year will tell if it is two years or longer.