For me Rumford is similar to that favorite old t-shirt that has seen you through many days. It may be a little worn but it has good character and you can be sure that its going to fit.
Last week Rumford hosted the US nationals and most of the nations elite racers came to do battle on Black Mountains time tested ski trails. As we pulled into town the snow situation was a bit grim (4-5km loop, man made) but our fears of getting dizzy on the same loop all week were quickly remedied as the natural snow fell on the first day of racing. I should have known better than to worry. Maybe the Chisolm Ski Club cut a last minute deal with mother nature.
Most times that I've raced at Black Mountain I've stayed in the Bethel area about 20 minutes south of Rumford. The drive up to the mountain always seems a bit longer than you thought it was going to be, an unfortunate surprise when you're a bit overhydrated. Your arrival may be slowed by the ski trail/road intersection that guards the entrance to the parking lot, and then if your lucky enough to make it through this obstacle you only have the spectator filled walking bridge to overcome before you find sweet relief in the Black Mountain lodge restroom. Many mornings of racing begin with this ritual at Rumford.
At the front of the pack last week were four outstanding athletes. Carl Swenson and Katja Ivanova dominated the skating events, while Wendy Wagner and Kris Freeman took top honors in the classic events. Our nations best are looking good as they head to Europe to do battle on the World Cup. It's also time that the US ski community should start pressuring US immigration for Ms. Ivanova's citizenship. Anyone that has lived here for going on 5 years and is in our National Guard has my vote for full citizenship. Not to mention that she would make a nice addition to our international butt kicking effort.
I accomplished something last week at the races that I'm proud of. I started and finished every race. Saturday, the 30km classic. Monday, the 10km skate. Tuesday, the 10km classic. Thursday, Sprints. Sunday, the 50km skate. The races are a bit hazy in my memory and my body is trying to regroup but I feel good about having made it through a full week of intense efforts. I didn't win any medals, or prize money, but I'm happy with what I've accomplished so far this year.
Two years ago I had some bad problems with sciatic pain in my back and legs that left me unable to ski, run, or sometimes even walk. Nightime was the worst as the pain seemed to increase. I would often stay awake all night from the pain that at its extreme felt like someone trying to drive a medal spike into my hip joint. While I had grown accustomed to explaining to my college professors that I would be missing classes because “I was on the Ski Team”, my reality changed to explaining to my professors that I would be late for class because I couldn't hobble fast enough or had to use the elevator because I couldn't climb stairs. This went on for almost a year and a half before I started making progress towards being healthy again. So to be back out there now racing and training is pretty sweet. Come on Rumford, do I at least get a pin of some sort?
Sorry that this entry is a bit jumbled but I'm actually writing this as I try to get out the door to my next racing adventure. I'm headed to Quebec and at this very moment my car won't start because it was negative twenty degrees here in Fort Kent, Maine last night. “On the road again, hope my jetta will get on the road again.” Salut! est bon chance pour moi!