10k mass start skate at Prospect. The starts here are always narrow (in this case, five people wide), so I was lucky to have a good seed and start in the third row. After the race, I heard these people saying that the start was chaos, and I remember thinking to myself, what are they talking about? It was so relaxed! Anyway, they blew some sort of alarm thing and we all went, and I quickly put myself near the front and ready to draft. My poles were stepped on a couple times, but no chaos that I noticed. Settled happily into fifth, I tried to draft, and found myself pretty much unable to do that--I was working harder than I wanted to down the hills, and this was when I realized how much the snow had changed between the time when I tested skis and my race. Oh, well, the skis weren't too slow, and I thought maybe I'd have the energy to keep them moving.
The first three km were pedestrian, and although I could tell the pack was bunching behind us thanks to the slow pace, nobody was challenging me for my spot behind Adele Espy of Maine Coastal Nordic. That girl is having a breakout season. The course starts to climb around 3km, and I felt like my V1 wasn't moving fast enough to keep up with other people's V1s, but my V2 was not nearly powerful enough to keep me moving up the hills. This resulted in a much higher tempo than the girls ahead of me, and I could tell the toll that was taking. Near the top of the course, still sitting in fourth, it was like my legs suddenly checked out. No heavy breathing, no massive accumulation of lactic acid, just suddenly losing my ability to ski fast. We had a slight gap on the field, so I moved sideways because I knew Jess and Hilary were behind me and I wanted them to get around, and after they did I skied in the middle of the trail again.
Lost a lot of time going down the squiggly hill and then the fast one, I really hate losing time on downhills, since I normally excel there. The course then shoots up a fairly steep hill in the stadium, that is slanted severely to the right, and I've always find it very awkward to ski. At this point I was barely hanging on to the back of the second pack, and when the course tipped downhill again I lost them. The race got hard at this point, I knew I wanted to catch back up to that pack, but I just couldn't do it. As we headed back into the woods, girls started passing me, and I really wanted to ski with them, but I just couldn't go any faster. I was able to kind of work the steep awkward hill in the stadium coming through the second time, but it was too little too late, I finished 19th, well below where I would have liked to be. Checking my garmin after the race (I hide this thing in my spandex above my boot while I race), my heart rate was never out of level 3... I know I have the fitness, I just seem to be unable to tap it. Well, one last chance at an eastern cup and then its done.