I will admit, I was more worried about the Long race than the middle - the long would involve much more skiing and much less navigating than Saturday, and Ali is a really fast skier, even after her three-year hiatus from ski racing. She's been tearing it up running, after all, its not like she isn't fit, its just that England doesn't have snowy winters. So, I was a little nervous. I was less nervous about Erin because I know she hasn't been skiing as much, and there would be less navigating. There was a little bit of stress surrounding this event since the guy who was redoing the map doesn't like reading emails, so wasn't necessarily on the same page as everyone else, but luckily things went off relatively smoothly - the start was only delayed twice because the courses weren't set yet. We got there early, since Ed had to set up his O-truck, and I helped where I could and then headed out on warmup #1. Kent Shaw was out taking pictures in the blizzard, and took some of me warming up.
Then they delayed the race for the first time, so I took a break, and then it was back on, so warmup #2 got underway.
I started third, four minutes behind Ali. This gave me a definite advantage, since I'd be chasing, and thats just easier, mentally. I started pretty conservatively, because I knew it would be long - the advertised length was 11.3km, but it ended up being ~18km for actual skiing distance, which made for a long slog in falling snow. Pretty, but not fast. I was clean to 1 and 2, going around to the right for both of those, and 3 was also clean, although I was debating about the route to 4. I ended up going with the lefthand route, staying down by the marsh to avoid extra climb and then going up the snowmobile trail to get to the control. I saw Ali coming down as I headed up, so I knew I was closing, and the advantage of being the chaser kicked in. I took the groomed trail to the corner and cut across the marsh on the dotted trail, then went to my left to get to 5 - After crossing the road, I saw Ali again, and I knew that I had gotten even closer. Now I just had to keep skiing this hard and not make mistakes!
A relaxed start.
I decided to take my skis off and run up the road, to the right, to get to 6. I don't think this was very fast, although my splits don't regard it as a mistake, but I think the better route would have been to go around on the lake, in retrospect. Ali made a mistake on her way to 6, and I could tell I was the first one there, since there were no tracks in the fresh snow. YES! I took the route along the lake to get to 7, and crossed the road at the last possible point, again just looking to not gain any elevation, and trying to ski as hard as I could. I kept telling myself to remember to use my abs, since my arms were a little tired with all this V2, and that worked to make me go even faster. 8 was the map exchange, a little confusing since it wasn't marked as a finish circle, but I figured it out. I grabbed a cup of sports drink to go, and zoomed off to 9, but I found that my motivation was waning now that I had passed Ali (and put 4 minutes on her, since I started 4min back). 10-12 were a little slower, but I was able to rein in my increasing desire to lie down and rally for the last two controls, posting the fastest finish split of the day (and we all know that is what counts), even beating all the boys. My splits claim that I made no mistakes, which is really rare for an orienteering race, but it basically means I put together an almost-perfect race - super hard effort, and clean on the navigation front! Long distance champion!
More important than the US championships, however, was the Valentine's day couples' cup. I bullied Ed into racing, and he did admirably, second place on the green course, so we took home a box of chocolates as champions of the sweethearts.
He couldn't race the M21+ class because he'd seen the course already from hanging controls, which is why he just did an open green course.
Lori came up for the weekend, with Presto, and figured she'd give ski-o a try. She managed to not be last on Saturday, but Sunday was a bit long for someone who hasn't done much skiing...
I tried to get Presto to pull me, but he wasn't having any of it. I guess if I were 15 pounds, I wouldn't want to pull a human, either.
CSU won the club competition!