2004


Report - Lindsay X. Dyck

 

 

Next Year ...if weather permits!

Wow, only my second try at the Défi last year, and a time of 6:13. I should have been happy, but I wasn't. You see I coasted the last 25 km and could have gone under 6 hours had I pushed myself. Well, I wouldn't make that mistake twice and could hardly wait for the 2004 edition to set things right. I was so eager to go that I registered in November of 2003... And now for the rest of the story...

My approach for 2004 was well thought out. To build my cardio, I ran all winter and spring. My buildup was such that I ran the Demi-Marathon de Montréal in April, and the National Capitol Marathon in May (4 hours 25 minutes is pretty good for the first running). I can tell you that running for 26.2 miles (42 km) is quite the 'défi' as well.

In addition, I upgraded my equipment. I was skating on a pair of RollerBlade Lightning 07s. These are nice skates for fitness, but the frames are a bit weak and the boots don't allow for much of an outside edge for the double-push. I purchased a 5x84 mm frame in the spring and trained on it for the season (those bumps and cracks are sure minimized by this setup). Then I purchased a set of Powerslide R2 boots in September and started work in earnest on the double-push. I was now set to make my mark. Or at least that was the plan...

The week of 11-16 October was difficult to endure. While tapering and slowing down my training, I couldn't help but remain transfixed by discouraging weather forecasts... 90-100% chance of rain. I was sure things would clear up and we would have a nice day. Then on Friday morning... forecasts for sun in the morning with a 40% chance of rain in the afternoon. Perfect, there is no afternoon if you complete the Défi in under 6 hours. BUT, Friday evening the forecasts changed again: rain during the night, ending in the morning... accompanied by strong winds...

Well, we got exactly that and conditions were pathetic to say the least. The strong winds which had been present for several days already, created a thick layer of leaves and small branches on the route. The rain turned this covering into a slippery mess defying words. The strong southwest wind made the early and final stages of the Défi very difficult. In places where tree cover was minimal skating was quite the task. And the rain, oh the morning rain. The ideal way to turn bearings into a sandy, squeaky, murky mess...

6h00, and the start is given. I was cautious at first, made my way near the front of the masses and skated at a steady pace. Having completed the wet Défi of 2002, I knew that I was able to master the elements. The slippery conditions were difficult, but the double-push was helpful in maintaining some sort of speed despite it all. A record time was out of the question... We would simply make this another 'long skate' and wait till next year for better conditions.

But then things changed for the worse, again... Near the 8 km mark, I caught up to a group of skaters negotiating a series of sharp turns, and went down hard trying to slow up and avoid them. I tore up my knee quite well but continued on... The only problem was that I had twisted quite a lot while going down and hurt my back as well. This became more apparent as my now modified stroke (most likely from my sore knee) gave me more and more difficulty. I was now having a hard time performing a double-push, and even a classic stroke was giving me trouble. But old soldiers don't give in...

My voyage continued, nonetheless, until the 3rd checkpoint. By then my back pain was becoming too much for me (I was having difficulty pushing up even the smallest bumps in the path). There, I sat down, took off my sand- and mud-caked skates, and waited for a lift back to the Verdun auditorium. My year of preparations and planning was over...

Many thanks to Benoît St-Germain for giving me a lift back to the start and to the entire organizing team for their great work throughout a trying day.

Bravo to all who attempted, completed a part, or completed all of this year's Défi.

I'll be back next year, if the weather permits...

Lindsay X. Dyck, #2


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