I've managed to successfully avoid Tuesday night races all winter. They tend to be pretty soft, which isn't so good for my left shin/calf combo that might have compartment syndrome going on, so avoiding these races worked pretty well to keep the rest of my season going smoothly. Of course, missing out on the Tuesday night fights, which is where the real racing goes down every week, means I did not have the credentials to line up where I did, which was somewhere around the third row. I tried to tell myself it would be this soft and disgusting for everyone out there, and that I would actually have an advantage being light so I could float over the snow, but boy did it suck anyway.
Andy counted down to go time, and when we got moving, for some reason I was really taken aback by just how much snow (and goose poop) was flying into my face courtesy of the folks ahead of me. Ugh! I got gapped quickly, but then people slowed down on the flats, and I hopped into the tracks and double poled for a bit, until I realized I was getting gapped again, so I floundered around pretending I was skating when really what I was doing was drowning - should have had a snorkel!
By halfway through the first lap, I was trailing well behind the lead group and their followers, and Bob Burnham, Marc Jacobson, and Terry McNatt caught up to me. I hung in their draft to Mt. Weston, although there wasn't much to be said for drafting when we were all lurching around the mashed potatoes. Then Bob stumbled, and since I was in last, I skied up on him and then had to come to a stop and then he got going again and I was gapped. Damn. Luckily, this time I was chasing people who were my speed, as opposed to that front group, which is NOT my speed, so I caught back on by the corner thats in the dark. Bob and I had figured out that the tracks were waaaaay faster (and easier!) on the downhills, so we were zipping along merrily double poling where we could, but by the time we finished the second lap and started the third one, I was letting a few too many gaps open up - its so easy to lie to yourself and say "oh, I'll catch them on the next slight downhill, my skis are better" - this is never actually true. Once you start that talk, you're done.
My calves were blowing up pretty bad, so that the floundering around bit was getting increasingly painful. I was noticing that I was looking behind me far more often than I was looking ahead and trying to close the gap, and I knew that was it for this race. Bob and Terry reeled in one more skier, and I tried not to tip over, as we finally finished that hellfest. Even double poling wasn't efficient, because your poles would just sink and keep sinking into the muck. The goose poop was holding up better than the snow, for sure.
But, at least I did one race - that weekend stuff hardly counts, its way too easy compared to Tuesday night slushfests. Gotta do at least one of these a year, even if it leaves me dry heaving at the end with my legs on fire. Now I remember why I didn't do any of these yet!