It was pretty balmy today, only -5 this morning instead of -16, I could feel the change just walking out to the car. My nose hairs didn't freeze together! They'd shortened the 10km skate to a 5km, and they ran it on the classic course which has less gnarly downhills and shorter uphills that are more gradual, although they felt pretty steep to me. I guess when its this cold, the slow skis make everything feel steep. After acquiring some ipod speakers for our wax trailer, it was go time. I have been on the edge of my seat ready to race, and I was psyched beyond psyched to be finally standing on the start line. Ski racing woooooot!
I was in the F seed (did you know they had seeds all the way back to J??), which wasn't a bad spot since my skis were running faster on snow that had been skied in, but it was so far back that I would be continually passing people, giving myself a false feeling of fastness. I started 15 seconds behind Meghan Killigrew, a Stratton Mountain skier who is really fast, usually, so I figured if I could catch her it would be a good race. I started out with a fair bit of gusto and had to rein myself back a little, knowing that the first hill would kick me if I didn't take it back a notch first. My skis were remarkably fast on the flats and downhills, but they were quite grabby any time they were on edge. This meant that I tried to stay light on my feet, almost as though I were skiing in slush, to get up the hills. It sort of worked...
By the middle part of the first hill, a girl from Gustavus Adolphus, who had started 15 seconds behind me, caught me. The trails are wide here, so passing isn't a problem, and I tried to stay with her. I actually passed her back on the downhill, but we started climbing again and she dropped me just after going through the stadium completing loop one (I think of this course in three loops, each coming back into the stadium and then going out to do a different loop). I caught back on after the first downhill of the second loop, and then we started climbing what I consider the steepest hills of the course, and I couldn't hang. I heard her coach screaming at her that she was having a great race, and I wish I'd hung with her, but I couldn't move going up those hills. Near the top of the steep hills on the second loop I caught Meghan, who was starting to double pole, I've been there, its no fun. I came zooming into the stadium and was pleased to note that my body was going through the motions my head was telling it, despite my lack of oxygen. The word "stacked" was in my head, that was how I wanted to start every kick in my V2, stacked on top of my feet and ready to apply the power, and that word made me feel very in control, smooth, powerful. It was good.
I came through the bridge heading out on the third loop, and that first uphill was deathly slow. I tried to stay light on my feet, and I reeled in another two girls by the top of that hill. I knew I had to give it everything here, the transitions were starting to take a lot of thought to ski them well, but I was pleased with the way my body was responding to my head asking it for more power. I caught a Dartmouth girl going down one of the sweeping fun downhills, now I was really moving, it certainly hurt but I wasn't going to let up this close to the end. I came through the tunnel back into the stadium and didn't see anyone else in front of me, and V2ed hard over the last hill under the spectator bridge. A long downhill and then it was the final push into the finish. Hard race, and very few spots to get a break. I was happy with it, though, and glad that I had been able to race it according to my plan. I was smiling once I caught my breath after the finish, happy to have gotten to race, happy to have raced well.
They post the results as they come in, electronically, as you finish, so I started looking for my name. And kept looking. Finally, in 64th place, I saw it. WTF. It is not fun to feel that you've skied a good race and then see that you're just as slow as last year. What bothers me the most is how much it bothers me that I'm bothered by the result, if that makes sense. I skied a good race, a hard race, and I should just be happy with that. The end result was 66th, the exact same place as last year, and the exact same percent back as last year. YARGH! is what I have to say to that!
Tomorrow they are hoping to hold the 10km classic race. I will be asking more of my body, and gosh darn if it isn't going to give it. I am ready.