After Craftsbury, I was really looking forward to Rangeley--a relatively flat, fast, skate 50km. I must have jinxed myself, because it was anything but fast. My time for the Craftsbury race was 3:18, on a difficult course with no kick wax. My time for Rangeley was 3:17, on a relatively flat course, skating...
Less snow fell than had been predicted, but it was still pretty soft. I was trying to pick out the girls in the pack, by 1km I realized I was in front of them all. This was a good start, because it was possible that I could end up in a pack of masters skiing faster than the next pack that had girls in it. Granted, that involved skiing fast enough to keep up, and I couldn't tell if I'd started too fast thanks to the adrenaline rush.
Within another half a kilometer, I could tell things weren't going well. I was floundering in the deep snow, unable to find a rhythm, over-exerting myself and generally just skiing stupid. Hannah Dreissigacker caught up to me around 3km, and while I wanted to ski with her my body had other plans. I was still skiing badly, expending far more energy than I wanted to, and despite knowing this I couldn't stop flailing about. My calf/shin combo that has been bothering me since returning from Europe started to cramp up really badly on the first climb, possibly due to the soft snow and possibly due to me having forgotten how to ski smoothly. By the time I hit the first feed station (6km) I was already thinking about dropping out and curling into a fetal position in front of the heaters in the tent.
Then Colin passed me, and suddenly I had someone to complain to about my calf being so cramped up, and it came out in this pathetic little whiny voice, and then I felt even more sorry for myself, why was I doing this, it sucked, it hurt, my muscles were rebelling against me, wah wah wah. Luckily he'd passed me near the top of a hill, and going down the hill I noticed he wasn't going very fast, so I skied back up to him and rode his draft for about 10km. Things started to look up as I began skiing within my comfort level, concentrating on skiing smoothly and stopping the flail. Of course that couldn't last, so going down one of the hills, I was looking at my waterbottle belt trying to get a gel off the strap, and I fell in a hole. I don't know how that hole got there, with that much snow on the trails, but I definitely tried to taste my skis, gotta say the raspberry cliff shots are far tastier than the fischer ski flavor. Colin, good friend that he is, was doubled over laughing at me.
After that I started to yo-yo, catching on when I realized it was windy and I didn't want to ski this alone, slowly falling back on the hills, and finally a pack caught up to me, Colin looked back and saw girls, got scared and took off, and I was skiing with a new pack. This one had Kathleen Maynard and Kelsey Allen, Kelsey was floating right up the hills being as small as she is, but we dropped her pretty hard on the downhill back to the stadium. The flats were the hardest part, it was all I could do to just churn along in V1. I came around the lap and Ed was there with another water bottle, I had finished most of the first and three gels that past lap, I was feeling good, although more tired muscularly than I thought I should have been.
I skied with Kathleen and an older guy until about 29km, when I noticed that my V2 wasn't moving anymore. I had to think about every motion that goes into V2 to make it a fast stride, but it didn't help, I was starting to yo-yo, and this lasted for about a km before I gave up and decided to just ski my own race. By 30km, things were not looking too good, I was moving backwards fast, and my shoulders and back were more tired than they've been since the tricep cramps in Switzerland. I was thoroughly puzzled, because I had eaten a lot of food over the first 30k, and a massive breakfast and a late dinner, I should have had plenty of glucose doing its thing but I definitely felt bonky. I came into the feed at 31km and I stopped by the picnic table and had a little feast, drowned it with a couple cups of drink mix stuff, and took off up a hill.
It sucked. The food hadn't kicked in yet, and I was just done. Kelsey passed me, a couple more masters passed me, then Linnea Rooke passed me. I started a chant in my head "just keep skiing". I stopped saying that at one point and I actually stopped skiing. If there had been a way to drop out at that point I would have dropped out. But by the bottom of the hill, another 5km into it, I started feeling a little better, there was a little pep back in my stride. My upper body still felt trashed, but I was able to get around it by using my legs more. I started one of the middle climbs that is long enough to see ahead, and I saw a big group and got motivated, a little tiny bit. I just concentrated on keeping the rhythm going, no power going through it but if I could turn it over I could get to the top. By the top I'd passed a bonked Colby kid, a bonked Dartmouth guy and a bonked Bates guy. I saw the 40k sign and I was motivated instead of discouraged. Heading into the last climb I saw Kathleen up ahead, and I kept turning it over, trusting that I'd catch up by the top, I did, and put some time on her, I hoped it was enough to get me through the flat last 3km, because I knew I couldn't sprint. One more master was eaten up in my pathetic charge and then Kathleen caught back up to me on the flats, and there was nothing I could do about it. Whatever fight I'd started with was long since beaten out of me.
I was so glad to be done with that race, it was about an hour longer than I had been planning on finishing, and I was wiped out. There was a little hill from the finish to the tent, Ed pushed me up, now that is service. We went for a "cooldown", until I realized I was too cold and he had to push me down the hill too. Definitely difficult conditions, but a helluva lot better than Craftsbury. Skiing on Sunday was a far better way to spend my time.
Linnea, bringing home the hardware in the 25k.
The proper way to enjoy a big snowdump (hint: the answer is not "ski 50km").