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Old July 27th, 2009, 09:55 AM   #1
SmileySk8s
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Default Northshore Inline- Duluth MN

I know many of you have skated the Duluth marathon. So from experience, what is it really like? How is the course (and how are the uphills and downhills, turns?)? What could a new skater expect, particularly in the recreational division?

This is my first season skating (I'm on Rad100s) and I completed the Chicago Half Marathon sunday, coming in at a modest 1:00:52. The hills on this course really tired me out. This was my first race. Now with my first event under my belt, I'm wondering about Duluth and whether I could do it. I'm kind of intimidated by this race though, hearing about the cold weather etc.

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Old July 27th, 2009, 02:20 PM   #2
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SmileySk8s - I have done Northshore and competed in the Chicago marathon today as well. In my opinion, Northshore is a little easier course than Chicago. The hills at Chicago today were a little tough because of the wind. However, for most skating races, the hills at Chicago are relatively mild. The great thing about Duluth is that it is a straight shot (start at one point and end at one point and not a lot of turning). In addition, the course from start to finish is mostly downhill (very slight, almost unnoticable). There are definitely a few rolling hills (especially a bigger one at the end), but nothing that should keep you from entering the race. In terms of the temperature, it is somewhat of a gamble. Last year, race conditions were great (temps in the 60s to start the race). However, two years ago, the temperature was down into the very low 30s. So, it just depends on what the "season" throws at us. If you can do a half marathon at Chicago, you could do Duluth. Trust in yourself, keep training, and you'll be fine...
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Old July 28th, 2009, 01:38 PM   #3
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I think I will repost this in the beginner section.... Thanks SkateMO for the reply.
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Old July 28th, 2009, 09:56 PM   #4
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The course is straight, with only 3 left turns near the finish. There're moderate hills along the course, but nothing intimidating. The infamous Lemon Drop hill about 2 miles from the finish is a little bit steep to go up, it could be tricky if you'd never skate hills before. It's about 30 to 40 ft tall. After Lemon Drop hill, it's all downhill for almost 2 miles. The slope is long enough that you still have to skate, so don't worry about speed going out of control.

If you can handle Chicago, Northshore should be piece of cake. It's actually one of the most beginner friendly marathon, while Chicago I would rate that as one of the most challenging.

Also expect similar pavement quality, except look out for tar snakes.

Also, regardless of the category you're skating in, make use of drafting as much as you can. It's easy to maintain paceline in Northshore, and often those who set the fast times are no necessary the fastest skater but the ones know how to skate with packs.
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Old July 29th, 2009, 04:53 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. I sent in my registration today. I didn't know which wave to enter because I didn't quite understand the time tables, so I chose wave 5. I figure if wave 5 is too fast for me, 6 will catch up and I can try to keep up with them.

Any special tips you have for a newbie to train for this?
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Old July 29th, 2009, 11:05 AM   #6
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I think the key is to get used to skating with others. It's hard (and almost impossible) to skate by yourself in Northshore. If you have a group to train with, that's good.

Throw in some hill training would help too.
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Old July 30th, 2009, 12:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmileySk8s View Post
I know many of you have skated the Duluth marathon. So from experience, what is it really like? How is the course (and how are the uphills and downhills, turns?)? What could a new skater expect, particularly in the recreational division?

This is my first season skating (I'm on Rad100s) and I completed the Chicago Half Marathon sunday, coming in at a modest 1:00:52. The hills on this course really tired me out. This was my first race. Now with my first event under my belt, I'm wondering about Duluth and whether I could do it. I'm kind of intimidated by this race though, hearing about the cold weather etc.
The first time i skated NSIM, i was in heaven, having experienced the most skatable 26 mles of my life. It is a treat! ANd if the course were not good enough, throw in hundreds of skaters at your level to work with in a paceline should you so choose.

Like SkateMO said, the hills in Chicagoland are not bad, it was the fact that they were into a wind that made them tough, imo (and his). Add to that that i skated them without the aid of a pack, and you have something to contend with...
Likewise, NSIM's are not bad at all, except LemonDrop Hill will get your attention, but it's over fast, and it's only one.
To prepare, i can only offer you what my first experiences were, when i skated it for first year in Advanced A Category. The start off the line was faster than i expected, and caught me off guard. And you will be worlds better off if you can hang in a pack and use the benefits of drafting to aid your effort. So practice modulating your pace. If you can skate a sustained average speed of say 15 MPH, start practicing skating short bursts where you ramp it up to say 18 MPH for a quarter mile or so. Be able to have these bursts of speed whenever and whereever and you will be able to hang with a pack as they speed up. Again, you do not want to lose your pack. You want to be able to stay with them. Also practice skating in a pack, and you will be able to do more comfortably during the event.
Other than that, just hone all your skills, and your stamina, and get ready for a great day of skating. Hope this helps, feel free to ask anything that's got you wondering...
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Old July 30th, 2009, 02:22 AM   #8
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I agree with "online inline" about staying with the pack...If you can hang with a group, it will be 10 times easier. I struggled big time at Chicago because I did the last 5 or 6 miles pulling a group of 1 or 2 skaters. Once you're in a pack of 10 or 12 skaters, maintaining a decent pace is relatively easy. The worst mistake you can ever make is "being solo." Once you're by yourself, it's pure endurance/heart to finish the race in a decent time...I skated with the pros in Chicago and my finishing time was very "average" compared to others (pro divisions - pro/masters/veterans). However, considering that I skated so much of it by myself, my time was actually pretty exceptional...my point in all of this is that it takes much more effort to skate by yourself than it does in a group...the difference is night and day. Good luck...glad to hear you signed up. It's a fantastic race...
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Old July 30th, 2009, 09:24 PM   #9
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The NSIM was the first marathon I did (in 2004) and I skated in wave 5 of the recreational catagory to boot. My experience in the middle pack of the rec skaters is that it is a slow to moderately paced sea of humanity on wheels. You should have no trouble finding a group to skate with. It was a surprisingly casual, social event. That far back, people aren't really racing, its just a huge group skate. Lots and lots of fun.

As everyone has said, the hills are rolling for most of the couse; almost every up-hill is preceeded by a down-hill to build some speed. Provided the weather is cooperative its a great course to learn about marathons on.
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Old July 30th, 2009, 09:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alyosha View Post
The NSIM was the first marathon I did (in 2004) and I skated in wave 5 of the recreational catagory to boot. My experience in the middle pack of the rec skaters is that it is a slow to moderately paced sea of humanity on wheels. You should have no trouble finding a group to skate with. It was a surprisingly casual, social event. That far back, people aren't really racing, its just a huge group skate. Lots and lots of fun.

As everyone has said, the hills are rolling for most of the couse; almost every up-hill is preceeded by a down-hill to build some speed. Provided the weather is cooperative its a great course to learn about marathons on.
Do you remember your time?
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Old July 30th, 2009, 10:28 PM   #11
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SmileySk8s - Just a word of advice, don't be intimidated by "times," even if you get a response from "Alyosha." Times taken out of context won't help much. For instance, my time at Duluth last year was 10-times better than anything I could do on my own. Drafting makes a world of difference. So, you can't look at times and guage where you will fit in at (unless you've done races before and you factor in drafting estimates). My recommendation would be to start in the middle of the pack and see where you fall in after a mile or two of skating. Good luck
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Old July 31st, 2009, 04:31 PM   #12
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My recommendation would be to start in the middle of the pack and see where you fall in after a mile or two of skating. Good luck
I'm kind of wondering about wave 5. Will there be skaters drafting in a pack/paceline? Or is it more a group skate free for all....?
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Old July 31st, 2009, 04:44 PM   #13
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The further down you go (in terms of waves), the less "paceline-like" it will probably be. For instance, at every race, there are always a few people that register that have never skated in a pack. Thus, as you get with less experienced skaters, the comfort level goes down and fewer skaters will actually bunch up together. With that being said, you should have no problem finding someone to draft off of. My only point in the above statement is that the packs become less and less "efficient" as you move further back in the larger group. So, my recommendation would be to push yourself pretty hard at the start. Skate at almost maximum effort for the first mile or so. After a mile or even a 1/2 mile, you should start to see some pretty good "lines" forming. Grab onto a group that you feel comfortable with and see what happens. If you fall off, someone else will be behind you and you can skate with them...Whatever you do, draft off of someone. Skating by yourself is much, much harder.
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Old July 31st, 2009, 05:05 PM   #14
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I'm kind of wondering about wave 5. Will there be skaters drafting in a pack/paceline? Or is it more a group skate free for all....?
Probably yes, but not everyone. And pace is probably not as erratic as 1 through 3.
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Old August 3rd, 2009, 02:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Do you remember your time?
It was about 1:34, which is, incidentally, my best marathon time. But, as noted, take it with a grain of salt. For instance, I was unemployed and sort of depressed that summer, the only thing that took my mind off my crappy circumstances was to skate; so I spent a lot of time on the skates and was in great shape by September.

I spend most of the race jumping from paceline to paceline. Starting towards the back of the race, in the middle of (probably) over 1000 open skaters, there is always a faster group to catch up to. I would jump into a paceline and, when I found it to slow, would catch another one a little further up.
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Old September 5th, 2009, 01:14 PM   #16
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Two week countdown!
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 05:53 PM   #17
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So, my recommendation would be to push yourself pretty hard at the start. Skate at almost maximum effort for the first mile or so. After a mile or even a 1/2 mile, you should start to see some pretty good "lines" forming. Grab onto a group that you feel comfortable with and see what happens.
I followed your "game plan", as this was my first marathon and I was placed in the 7th wave. I started at the front of the wave and took off hard. After a few minutes there were 5 or 6 of us catching up to the back end of the 6th wave. As we moved left to pass we formed a line. Then we just started blowing by the solo skaters in that wave. All was good as the leaders rotated back, and even my first time in front was going great. As I peeled off to rotate back, the guy behind me warned me not to slow down too much. But that is such a vague term. Needless to say, I did slow down too much and could not catch them again.

I still miss them.
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