Ok, so I learned my lesson..or so one hopes! With a long drive to race #2 (of 3) for our nat’l points ranking-8 hours in blizzard conditions-I elected to rely on the course map posted on the internet. Earlier that day I’d decided to cancel my "SportFaith" bible discussion group at the speed skating oval so I could make that meeting. But when I got there to inform my friends, I saw that the world cup team made a quick trip back from Europe and was leaving the very next day to go back over the pond. With 2 jet lag episodes to contend with in less than a week it seemed crazy to me, but I was happy to see the gang. Of course several told me they were coming to the as yet to be cancelled event...soooo how could I abandon them?! That meant skipping the meeting and on race day that proved critical.
Th race started well. I used my fast skins, the shorties that are quite bald. I settled into 2nd place behind the "Burner" and was gliding without effort. Next came a short downhill and then a long skate section. Time for this xcskierboy to shine! Actually, I let Stan pull me along after awhile, but I knew I was burning much less energy. At the first transition both Stan & I were stalling as neither of us wanted to break trail in the fresh snow (I made a remark to this & Stano confirmed our shared strategy :).
When I put my "climbers" on though it was like hitting the brakes. I’d waxed my skins, but used a colder wax than the temps called for. For some reason this had the opposite affect and slowed the skins to no glide at all! With no glide I quickly went from 1st to 5th. Yet when we started climbing, those wall to wall skins really paid off and I worked my way back up to 3rd. That was especially true on the 2nd long major climb. I easily reeled in Stan and broke away from 3 other skiers. However, things were about to change.
As I made my 2 major descent in dreamy blower pow, I was clearly in 3rd, but had a hard time seeing the little red seismic flags our Canuck races use. Europe uses nice big wood stakes that are close and clearly visible. Somehow N. American race organizers think that skimo has an orienteering component and we’re responsible to find our own way. At the point I got lost, several others I talked to almost did too, but probably b/c they made that pre-race meeting had an idea of where the course was supposed to go. Unfortunately, I didn’t. I missed the last climb going right, when I should have gone left.
The feeling I had as I skied back was utter demoralization. I can’t describe how deflated I was. 2 weeks prior after coming in 3rd at the Dogtooth, I’d made it a (not so secret goal now) secret goal to end up 3rd in the rankings. I wasn’t so sure that I’d go to World’s next year, but if I could achieve a ranking that high, I’d have to go...and I was getting excited. Nothing like having a difficult goal to shoot for, even if you don’t make it, your life is still energized. Now however, all that energy was sucked out from me.
So here I am a couple days after the event. In time the depression will go away and new goals will be set. The tough thing now is we all have to wait 4 weeks for our next race. I still feel like such a rookie in this sport and if we’re ever going to close the gap between us and the Euros we gotta race more. I looked into going all the way down to the Powder Keg in UT, but it wouldn’t be good for family time. I’ve missed a lot of Anna’s xc races and there’s a big one in 2 weeks just 5 min. from my door at the nordic centre. So I’ll do that (30 km skate) and the nat’l master’s champ the Monday before. I’ve hardly been doing any xc this year and it’ll be fun to fire up the skinny’s again. Gotta keep that race intensity hurt capacity going. Just wish we had more skimo races around here (and better marked courses).