Saturday, 31 March 2012

30k classic, wax debut and econ catch-up

Canadian Nationals wrapped up last weekend with the long distance classic races. For me as a Senior Woman this meant a 30k classic, a race I had been looking forward to all year. 30k is the longest official distance women do on the world cup (loppets are often longer) and there is usually only one 30k race on the Canadian domestic schedule each season. I love distance racing and with only one shot at the big 30k this winter I really wanted to make the most of it!

For me, Nationals began with a big rush of excitement (see previous post) and then started to slide downhill. I had a good but not magically good 5k classic race, an abysmal 10k skate and then a mediocre sprint race. The rest of my race season had gone exceptionally well, as well as it was going in even my wildest dreams through summer and fall training but by March, I was starting to run out of gas. The 3 individual races at Mont Sainte Anne were a struggle as my body was just not at the level it had been in January or February but I don't think I was alone or special in this. Lots of people were "fried" as we say in skiing and lots of people who had been behind in the earlier season were throwing down amazing races. To me, this is why we bother having so many races a year over several months; the results are not the same every time and there is always the chance that it will be your turn to have that magic day where skiing feels effortless and the result exceeds your normal.

The morning of the 30k was beautiful. It was sunny, just below zero and there were lots of people out to spectate and cheer the racers on. Good energy at a venue is always a treat. I decided to make myself forget how worn out I had felt leading into the 30k and focus entirely on enjoying the day and skiing the best race I possibly could. I arrived at the start line with great klister skis (thanks to the Nakk wax crew and Salomon) and felt ready to get the day going. The race got off to a clean start and I eventually settled into skiing with Amanda Ammar from Canmore.

30k start. Merci a Bernard Pigeon pour la belle photo!

The race was 6 laps of a 5k course and thank goodness for this! I'm a fan of multi-lap races and this one was extra great since Nakkertok had set up a few really amazing cheering and feeding sections. My personal favourite was way out on the loop where the Nakkertok T2T gang was stationed. This is a bunch of seriously awesome young skiers who were doing some fantastic cheering. I basically had no choice but to ski well and push my hardest just to keep pace with the quality of the cheering! Just a little further up the trail was the university men's crew who had already finished their 50k and somehow had endless energy left for wild cheering. I mentioned them in the team sprint recap as well and I think they somehow managed to up their game for the 30k - I don't even know how this was possible.

Amanda and I took turns pulling each other around the laps until she started to drop me near the end of the 5th lap. I died pretty hard on the 6th lap (luckily the cheerleaders were still out to keep me from falling over) but managed to hang on and finish the day in 13th. It certianly wasn't my fastest or most impressive race of the season but I skied absolutely the best I could on the day and had a bunch of fun doing it. I crossed the line exhausted but satisfied and very happy to finished my race season on a high note!

After Nationals I had planned to head back to Ottawa to catch-up on my duties as a teaching assistant at Carleton (yes I do have a job that is not skiing!) but made a last minute decision to detour through Vermont to do some waxing at spring series. Yes, waxing. My parents thought this was odd too. Nakkertok was supporting a group of skiers from Nakkertok and Skinouk and our second wax tech had to bail at the last minute. It didn't take much convincing for me to put off marking 75 econ assigments for a few more days to go hang out in Vermont instead.

This was my first experience doing real race waxing and what a day it was! The first race was a classic sprint on a man-made, heavily transformed track which had frozen to near ice overnight with steadily rising temperatures all race morning. As a southern Ontraio girl I pride myself on my ability to both apply and ski well on klister but doing it for someone else's race skis or adding a hardwax over top is a different story. I was fairly honoured that Mike allowed me to test the grip (test, NOT come up with recipies - he did all that) and then help apply it too. I learned a few cool new skills and I think the skis ended up working fairly well judging by the feedback from our 8 racers. Prepping skis for a single shot skate race the next day was a relative breeze.

I found it fun to be at a race where the focus was not on myself and my racing. My body was dead tired but I still love ski racing and the ski community so I was happy to be present and able to try and help someone else have a great day. Also being able to eat large amounts of bacon and eggs for breakfast on a race day was pretty awesome. Waxing takes energy too!

Post waxing recovery fuel.
I'm back in Ottawa now and finally catching up on the stacks of marking I have to do for my job as an economics TA. I powered through grading 75 assignments in the past 2 days and proctored a midterm on Thursday night so the fun will continue into next week! I expect to be spending epic amounts of time at my local bridgehead coffee shop drinking too much coffee so feel free to stop by and say hi if you are in Ottawa. I love a break from work!

My world for the next week. And then again for exams in April.
Thanks for reading this epic and happy last day of March to all!

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