Alarm went off at 3:55, and I’m lying there wondering why someone set my alarm for the middle of the night and whether it’ll shut up on its own. Out the door by 4:01, even at 4am there are cars in the damn rotary around the masspike, what are they doing, where are they going? Too much thought for this hour.
A couple hours later, when my brain can function at a slightly higher level than just focusing on not falling off the road, I get bored. Start taking pictures, playing with my sunglasses, scrounging for breakfast foods in my car. I found that if you put an orange lens over one eye and a clear one over the other, it takes about 3 or 4 seconds before your eyes stop freaking out and adjust. And then they do it again when you take off the glasses. Wasn’t there some physics experiment where they gave a guy contacts that flipped the world upside down, and he was totally freaked out when he took the contacts out after his eyes adjusted and the world went upside down again? Eyes are some resilient pieces of magic, how the hell did something that complex ever evolve?
Many hours later I’ve arrived at the outdoor center. The course starts with some rollers then a downhill, longest one in the course, a couple good twists and turns, some flat along the bottom, then three hills of some consequence, separated by more rollers, before you roll into the finish. I have this theory that you don’t make up that much time on uphills, unless they’re super long, because everyone is going pretty slow, relatively speaking. Where you make up time is the crests of hills and the flats and transitions. So that is where I put the hammer down, no real point to going anaerobic on the long climbs and have nothing left for the flats, if you’re trying to ski a controlled race.
Lined up with Lucy Garrec from Burke, we take off and she tries to get ahead of me but I use my superior mass to block her and take it into the hill first. I could hear her breathing down my neck going up the hills, but by lap two I’d dropped her and passed Trina Hosmer, so I was feeling pretty good about life. Never really picked it up that much, but I was recovering well after the climbs, and skiing pretty smooth despite loose conditions and stiff skis (the grind was great, flex no so much). I’d used an ancient Norwegian trick, its called “pacing oneself”, and it worked surprisingly well. Finished the race and felt good about it, turns out I ended up third, behind Elsa Sargent (Dartmouth) and Rosie Brennan (US ski team).
I didn’t feel like going home after the race; I’d just driven 4.5 hrs, I wasn’t going to turn around without more skiing. There is an unwritten rule that you have to ski for longer than the one-way leg of your trip to the snow, so I whiled away the afternoon on the Craftsbury trails and had a lovely time skiing with myself, before heading back to the southern flatlands.