March 28th, 2012
Last Saturday I raced the 50 km at Canadian Nationals. And I am just now recovered enough to blog about it! It was actually a better day than it might have been; after a week of absurdly warm temperatures it actually froze Friday night, so that the course was much faster than it had been all week.
I was given bib 22, and got off to a decent start, one of maybe 40 skiers in the lead pack as we neared the end of the first 5 km loop. The loop there ends with a big downhill, which I hadn’t previewed that day. Halfway down I realized that when the snow if fast, it is a tricky hill. And I was in the middle of a huge pack! I didn’t like the line I was taking, but there wasn’t much choice. And then two skiers went down right in front of me…but somehow I emerged unscathed. Over the next couple of kilometers I found myself at the front of the chase pack as a group of 20 or so skiers pulled away with Alex and Devon leading them.
During the third lap I was passed by much of the chase pack, and I lost more time during the feed that lap (since I was unsupported I had to carry all my fuel with me, which cost me some seconds here and there). And my back was cramping badly, so that I thought about dropping out, though I didn’t give it any serious thought.
Over the next couple of laps I realized that my back felt better when I was skiing on my own, rather than in a pack. I went through the halfway point in about 31st place, but feeling good, and while I didn’t speed up, I held pace, which was better than most skiers. I slowly passed skiers as they got tired.
Over the last two laps I caught a small group that had a couple chasers I had seen early in the race and a couple of skiers who had been dropped by the lead group. I went into the last lap in a group of seven. Not fancying my chances in a downhill and sprint finish, I went to the front and tried to break as many skiers as I could. Soon it was down to just three of us. At about a kilometer and a half to the finish, I started to make a move on the outside and planted my pole between my legs. I didn’t break it, but I crashed and lost about five seconds. This is what happens when you are exhausted from racing and start to lose coordination. Anyway, the two skiers I was with got away from me, and I was not able to ski the final downhill well enough to catch up.
I ended up 18th on the day, not what I was hoping for when I picked that race to end my season, but about as good a result as I had any reason to expect.
In the aftermath of that race I was so exhausted that I have picked up a cold. I hope to shake it soon and start training for running season in earnest.