One Year Ago: The Final Metrodome Marathon Revisited

paceline

Kara, Tom, David, Ron, and Andy

One Year Ago:

It has been a year since the elation and sense of accomplishment that came with being a part of the winning team in the final Metrodome inline marathon. Few people will miss the Dome race as much as I will. In the final four Metrodome inline marathons I finished fourth, second, second, and first. Something about my skating style and technique (or the lack thereof) made the Dome’s flat, slick, and curving course the most favorable of the season.

But it isn’t just the skating that I miss. I miss seeing the couple that skated together for an hour a night; I miss the out of towners coming for a skate; I miss seeing people from downstairs sneak up the stairwell to “ooh and awe” as our paceline flew by; I miss the dollar bill in the trough; I miss the intervals; I miss Chet yelling “three in a paceline;” I even miss the creepy old guy who always had something inappropriate to say.  The Dome was as much a social endeavor as an athletic one.  During the outdoor season we arrange group skates with skaters of the same skill level and skate for hours.  At the Dome you could skate a few laps or few miles with any skater, and any skater could try to skate with you, even just for a few laps.   The first time I was able to skate a lap, just a lap, at the same speed as the “big boys” was quite a thrill.

Race Day:

In past seasons I recall putting on my skates and looking around being intimidated by the out-of-town hot shots and prominent national skaters in attendance.  That was not the case in 2013.   We had done all we could to be ready for the race; we knew we were prepared; we knew our bearings were well oiled and our wheels cleaned.  We knew we were going to win. There was no doubt.  “We” consisted of Tom and Kara Peterson, and David Sarmiento of Adams Test Team, and me and Ron Marfori of TWINCAM.  That team had been assembled about a week before the marathon.  The bug had been put in our ear that we could either skate together in the team event or skate against each other in the individual race.  I would have preferred to have won both!  But I made it a condition of our agreement that we all skate just the team race so I wouldn’t be tempted to try.

Prior to the race teammates discussed strategy and tried to get a sense of what the other teams were thinking.  I didn’t care.   At the Dome, strategy goes out the window the second you see someone to chase.  Our chief competition was Pinnacle.  That team was composed of some of the best skaters in the country: Ty Fidler, Bill Numerick, Steffen Howard, Chris Mackowski, and Jimmy Blair.  Inline message board had been abuzz for the month leading up to the event, dissecting possible teams and outcomes.

Standing at the start line, second in line behind Kara, I looked over my shoulders down the course behind us waiting for our opening and to hear “Go.” I was still looking behind me when I heard “Go.” By the time I turned around Kara was already 10 feet away. That was how it started – full speed to catch up.

The plan was to skate steady laps near one minute. That didn’t happen. When I heard “Go” I could see Pinnacle entering the straightaway. They would be right behind us. What an incredible advantage for them to have us in their sights. At that point, it passed through my mind that our best strategy could be to go slow, skate with them, and just have our last lap be faster than their first lap or fight it out after a late water stop. But we didn’t train that hard to go slow. We struck out setting a stiff pace. Our spotters were telling us, via whiteboards and screams, the distance between Pinnacle and us.

Early it was 9 seconds- they were all over us.  I imagined them just coasting behind us biding their time. But within a few laps 9 second grew to 17 and then held there awhile. Then it doubled to 34; they were half a lap back – they could no longer see us and had lost our draft. It held in the low thirties and then we saw a Pinnacle skater on the right side of the course standing up breathing heavy. Had he crashed, had he taken anyone with him, were they okay, what happened? They were down to four. In a matter of seconds we knew the results of the race were no longer in doubt. Within the first few miles of the race our pace had been too much for some of the best skaters in the country. Four of their five skaters had finished in the Top 20 in Duluth. Only one of ours had. But they were no threat to us with only four skaters and we knew it.

At that point it was difficult to remain focused; we had won, but we still had to finish. Stay upright, don’t click skates, don’t screw up the water stop, don’t let a slower paceline crash into us. Don’t screw up.  Focus.

It is a long race and skaters settle into a rhythm, but even at an average speed near 23 mph it can be monotonous.  We stopped looking at the board and our cheering sections began to realize what we knew as soon as we saw a wayward Pinnacle skater. We carefully avoided other pacelines in the near silent Dome. I didn’t hear any music until I heard “Jump” midway through the race as I was leading the paceline down a sunny straightaway.  Some members of our team were content to draft behind Pinnacle a couple of times during the race, and our lap times would creep up.  Another slow down was caused by an aborted water stop.  We came around the final corner before the water heavy on the brakes, but when we turned the corner there were two teams stopped and one team entering.  We sped back up and came back in a couple of laps later.

Lap Splits

1. 57 2. 57 3. 57 4. 56 5. 59 6. 57 7. 56 8. 55 9. 57 10. 57 11. 57 12. 57 13. 56 14. 59 15. 58 16. 57 17. 57 18. 57 19. 59 20. 56 21. 56 22. 59 23. 59 24. 59 25. 57 26. 61 27. 61 28. 58 29. 62 30. 56 31. 60 32. 59 33. 59 34. 63 35. 58 36. 57 37. 58 38. 58 39. 56 40. 59 41. 62 42. 57 43. 59 44. 57 45. 60 46. 60 47. 60 48. 60 49. 58 50. 59 51. 60 52. 61 53. 58 54. 59 55. 59 56. 59 57. 62 58. 60 59. 61 60. 65 61. 61 62. 68 63. 63 64. 58 65. 55 66. 57 67. 57 68. 59 69. 58 70. 56

Setting the Record (again):

Then the story became whether or not we would break the course record that was just set by Paul Dyrud, who had skated a couple of seconds faster in the individual marathon than Ron and I had the year before.   I recall passing Ron and saying “seven to go,” as I picked up the pace. Ron and I trained together intensely and he knew what I was thinking. He said: “the record is out of reach.” I don’t think I said it, but what I was thinking was: watch this.

I pulled the last set of laps and they were as fast as our first laps. I recall Ron screaming from the second position: “56!”  They were not words of encouragement, they were not celebratory. They were a warning – the team was redlining.   I wasn’t – I was having too much fun. To hear that the Sarmientos and Petersons of the world were struggling behind me only made me want to go faster. I sunk lower and pushed deeper, the breathing behind me grew heavier and more intense. “We are going to lose someone” I heard Ron say hesitantly, but he was holding strong. The next time by he screamed “56″ again and this time he sounded ticked. He came by me on the right, which took a great deal of exertion that late in the race at the speed we were going. He got in front of me and stood up. The team regrouped and took a breather, we skated that lap in 58 seconds.

When I felt everyone had caught their breadth enough I moved past Ron and the beating continued. With only a few laps to go there was no sense leaving anything in the tank: let’s haul. We crossed the line three wide on what was the final lap of the race, then we skated two more laps at full speed just in case the lap count was wrong. When we heard Connie yell at us to get off the track we finally stood up. I stopped in a stairwell and watched my teammates skate away patting each other on the back, I watched my friends still out there racing fly by, I accepted congratulations. I felt like I could have grabbed a drink of water and done it all again.

My first night skating at the Dome was in late February of 2008.  I recall my fastest lap was a 1:33.  It would have been inconceivable that first night to contemplate standing on the podium a few years later.   It took many years to skate a single lap time below one minute, and we had just skated 70 laps averaging fewer than 59 seconds – for the second year in a row.

I skated away and took it all in. I sat down next to the scorer’s table to cheer for all my friends who still had a ways to go.   I was cajoled into putting my skates back on to take a few photos. Everyone was checking their stop watches and telling us we hadn’t broken the record. They stopped their watches when we stopped. But we had skated two extra laps for good measure. We knew.

What did we win? Well, for me, it was a Butterfinger milkshake…and few things have tasted as sweet.

 

In the voice of Nancy Kerrigan: Why?

The Dome didn’t need to be torn down.  It was not structurally deficient. It was not a dilapidated jalopy.  It was good enough for the Superbowl, the World Series, the Final Four, the Prep Bowl, the Special Olympics, and many a skater.  But it wasn’t good enough for Ziggy.  He wanted to make more money by selling more private boxes and personal seat licenses.  The New Jersey real estate mogul purchased the Vikings at a deep discount, then hoodwinked tax payers into buying him a shiny new toy.  But Ziggy didn’t get rich buying – he got rich selling.  Once the new stadium is built and the value of the Vikings has doubled he will likely sell the team and make a hefty profit, but Minnesota tax payers will still be paying.  Tax payers will be out nearly a $1,000,000,000.00.  Dems who outwardly rail against corporate welfare were all to eager to hobnob with Ziggy and his cast of characters and GOPers who claim to be budget hawks caved quicker than the Dome roof in a snowstorm.  The rest of us are just left to pay yet another egregious bill.

Original Race Day Coverage:

It was a day for record breaking and impressive performances to start the 2013 inline season at what was likely the last Metrodome Inline Marathon.

Paul Dyrud of Hoigaards and Melissa Dahlmann of Adam’s Test Team took home top honors for the Pro Individual Marathons, and Adam’s Test Team (with the addition of Andy Uttke and Ron Marfori) smoothly glided to a record breaking victory in the Team Time Trial.

Congratulations to all of the skaters who showed up to support this final event, and thanks to all the volunteers who made this possible.

Click here for the photo gallery. (Courtesy of Lance Velander)

dsc04095

Race #1: The Pro Individual Marathon

The morning began with a strong individual pro race performance by Paul Dyrud of Hoigaards, who beat the dome record set last year by Ron Marfori by just 12 seconds, finishing in 1:09:28.

Dyrud skated the first 20 laps, or so, of the race in a large paceline that repeatedly drew the ire of Dome staff for having more than five in the paceline. Dyrud then dropped the hammer and sped on ahead, lapping the entire field all by himself. It will be exciting to see how his hard work on ice translates to the road races this year – well done!

Melissa Dahlmann of Adam’s Test Team handily won the women’s marathon, getting some redemption for her loss to second place finisher Morgan Mickey in Chicago last season.

dsc04094

Race #2: Half Marathon & Recreational Marathon

In the Recreational Marathon, Paige Burgeson finished in a great time of 1:20:56 to take top honors for the women (would have been 6th place female pro), and Edgar Tellez-Castil took first for the men in 1:13:59.

In the Half Marathon, Heather Luberts finished in 44:01 for the women, and Ted Petrosky finished in a sub40 time of 39:17, with young Ryan Mullery nipping at his heels. Great job by Rowdy Larson in the junior division, finishing in an impressive 43 minutes.

paceline

Race #3: The Team Time Trial

The days leading up to the team time trial had been full of intrigue and speculation as to who would come out on top in the battle between Adam’s Test Team and the out-of-town challengers, Pinnacle. Unfortunately, the race itself was rather anticlimactic from that standpoint, as things were clearly over within the first 12 laps of the race.

Pinnacle started out first on the concourse and looked to be a strong team including Ty Fidler, Bill Numerick, Steffen Howard, and Jimmy Blair. Adam’s Test Team, composed of Kara and Tom Peterson, David Sarmiento, and Andy Uttke and Ron Marfori, was released in what initially looked to be a very unfortunate position, as Pinnacle had Adam’s Test Team within their sights. Pinnacle was unable to capitalize on there advantage of having a rabbit to chase, however, and quickly fell behind Adam’s very strong initial 56 second average lap pace. Within their first 15-20 laps, Pinnacle then dropped one of their racers and Adam’s quickly caught them, squelching any question as to their continued domination of this race.

Now, the only question that remained was whether the combined forces of Andy, Ron, David, Kara and Tom would have enough to take down Paul’s new record from that morning. With five laps to go, it seemed as if the record might be out of reach, but several of the gents laid down some blistering final pulls, pushing teammates to ramp back up to the 56 second average at which they had started the race. As Tom Peterson said afterwards, “that was HARD!” Their efforts paid off, however, as they finished in first, with all five team members, and the final dome record of 1:08:54 (a sub 59 second average lap pace).

It was also great to see the 10 teams representing various local (and not so local) folks: Adam’s Test Team, TWINCAM, Adam’s Town Team, Max Muscle (x2), Hoigaards + Max Muscle, Pinnacle, Rainbo, Team Ugly (with a mixture of various folks), and the all female team of Speed Revolution’s Roll Model. It was great to see skaters from Illinois, Wisconsin, California, and Georgia among others, making the trip one last time.

Final Team Standings:

  1. Adam’s Test Team – 1:08:54
  2. Pinnacle Racing – 1:10:56
  3. TWINCAM – 1:13:29
  4. Max Muscle/Hoigaards – 1:15:06
  5. Team Ugly – 1:17:35
  6. Adam’s Town Team – 1:19:54
  7. Max Muscle 2 – 1:23:40
  8. Max Muscle 3 – 1:27:17
  9. Speed Revolution’s Roll Model – 1:33:23
  10. Team Rainbo – 1:33:34

Double Duty:

The following skaters deserve special acknowledgment for completing both the Individual Events & the Team Marathon:

Christina Condon-Numeric
Penelope Streicher
Galina Snegireva
Edgar Tellez-Castil
Earl Kendall
Steve Meisinger
John Schenko
Jack Wussler
Larry Kaufman

For full race results, click here.

Click here for the photo gallery.

Again, our thanks go out to the Metrodome race organizers, the volunteers, and all those who made this event possible. It will truly be missed…by some. I heard others volunteering to light the fuse!

Race Day Musings:

  • Quote of the day: Rayna “lawn tractor?”

Click here for the photo gallery.

57

57

56

59

58

57

57

57

59

56