Last Sunday I competed in a 30 kilometer mass start Finnish Jr. Championship skate race in Ylitornio. The conditions were great, around -10 Celsius and sunny too. In Ylitornio there are big hills that are so perfect for skiing, one of the climbs being a little under 3.5k in the 10k loop. I started 40th of the over 80 man field. I was a little bit worried about starting in the middle but the pace at the beginning was not so fast which allowed me to move up quickly and get in a good position to just sit in the pack for a while. All the best Finnish Jr. Skiers were competing in this race and I was really excited to be racing right next to them. A large majority of the field stayed together up the first 3.5k of climbing and stayed together through the next big climb and the rest of the loop, which was rolling hills. I was getting feeds every 5k by the school coach here and my sister who is visiting me. My teammate and I skied next to each other for more than half of the race and we both helped each other out by giving room for feeds. Then the next loop started and we separated into a group of about 10 at the top of the climb. We all stayed together through the rest of the loop. I was feeling great, I felt like I was working very efficiently and I felt quite fresh at this point. The final loop is where one of the Finns really picked up the pace and separated himself from the field; then another went off the front to try to catch him. I was feeling very good at this point and decided that I had to do whatever I could to stay with them, so I picked up my pace and tried to catch up to them. At the top of the climb I was close but not quite skiing with the two off the front of the stretched out field. It took me the descent and a part of the next climb to catch up with them. After the second climb I got one last feed and I knew where the rest of this race was going to sort itself out at. There was a smaller hill at the end of the loop before going into the stadium to finish, and I was pretty sure that the sprint would happen there. We had about 4k or so until that point so I just tried to ski very efficiently and focus on keeping my technique correct in this long race. As we got closer I was pretty well recovered from the climbing and I was still feeling great. Then we rounded the corner before going up the final hill and all three of us started to throw down what left we had. I managed to make a small gap going up the hill and went down the quick descent into the stadium, then it was flat for a few hundred meters to the finish. At the turn into the finish I glanced back and saw that I still had a small gap, I could not believe that it was happening and it was so unbelievable to cross the finish line first in a Finnish Jr. Championship race. After the race I had to go to doping control which was a new experience for me and then an interview too. For my ski club, Sotkamon Jymy, it was a great weekend. The day before, the relay team also won gold in the 5k mixed Finnish Jr. Championship relay. I really prepared for this race carefully, but I could not have done so well without my coach Kevin Brochman. My training has been filled with short sprints and about one day a week I do longer intervals with the team. Then I did the same things I do to prepare for a normal race except I tried eating more the few days before the race. With lots of rest I was in the best shape I had been in and everything just came together perfectly that day.
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March 11, 2009 at 5:40 pm
Great work, Joe. Congratulations. I’ll see you this summer at the Midwest REG.