The end of March came and I had one more race that I had signed up for. My motivation going into it was not especially high. I was feeling a little tired, not in the best racing shape and my focus lacking slightly. Thoughts of just passing on the last race of the year, the 30km U.S. Distance Nationals race, did pass through my mind a time or two. Finally, after giving myself a good kick in the pant, I came to my senses and realized that I had the opportunity to race with an amazing group of skiers. I was already at the venue and had already registered for it. Of course I was going to race.
Now onto the weather. Eighty degrees in March is not something I am use to. Nor is it something that race organizers are planning for when hosting a ski event at the end of March. After a year with limited snow, or snow followed by days of rain, a week of nearly 80 F weather was not what any of the skiers or event organizers were hoping for. This is where I take my hat off to all of the MANY volunteers and organizers at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. They did what I thought was impossible. They held all the races of spring series, including the women's 30km and men's 50km race. It was all done on a 1.5km loop, but they did it. I never thought they would be able to make it happen.
Having committed to helping with the Adaptive races earlier in the week, (which I will report more on very soon), I was left with only one race to choose from. The 30km skate race. A skate race, which is much more in my favor than classic, and a longer distance. Not a bad event for me to sign up for. So I did.
It wasn't my best race of the year. But it was an experience like no other I have ever had in Nordic or biathlon racing. A mass start 30km race, twenty laps on a 1.5km loop in warm and pretty sloppy conditions. The conditions ended up being the most challenging part for me. Hard and fast conditions always favor my kind of skiing. Slow and sloppy conditions are a bit more challenging, which was what I found during the race. The small loop made for great cheering the entire way and easy to take multiple feeds. I had a crew counting laps for me, which turned out to be priceless. I think I might still be out there if it wasn't for them.
I finished 29th place. A bit behind where I would have liked to have been but in tough conditions in a very competitive field, not terrible. This race turned into a mental battle for me. Even though the loop was very small I found myself alone on the trail for good portions of the race. Keeping my pace up during these times was a tough struggle, especially since it was a 30km, where the pace isn't crazy fast, but you still need to be moving at a good clip. Knowing that I wasn't having my best race and that nothing was really on the line, as far as where I finished, made it hard to just keep going at time. But I did. I was proud to win that mental fight with myself. I stayed in the game and crossed the finish line. It is a race that I will remember, not because of my place or time, but because of what I overcame inside of myself to finish it. You really do learn something new every time you put that race bib on.
|Oh so tired...|
|Just keep skiing.....just keep skiing....|