Yesterday was the first race at U.S. Nationals, the Freestyle Sprint up in Anchorage, Alaska. The race started at 10am (the sun rose at 10:12). So we piled into the van in the morning, and it felt like we were going out for a midnight drive it was so dark! But it wasn’t a midnight joy ride… it was morning, and we were on our way to do some cross country ski racing!!!
It was a chilly morning so I bundled up and headed out to test my race skis and to ski a hard warmup. I tested my skis, and picked my fastest pair and gave them to my coaches to put the super-secret powders on before my race. I took the other pair and skied for about an hour with a bunch of sprints and speeds and intervals before the race. By the time I lined up at the start to do the qualifying prelim I was hot and ready to go! So I got the countdown and took off onto the racecourse. I went as hard as I could, and crossed the finish line with the taste of blood in my mouth and legs made of jell-o.
I had qualified 17th, so I would be advancing into the rounds in the afternoon. So I skied a quick cooldown and headed into the lodge to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and relax for a few hours before the afternoon racing.
I warmed up again, and headed to the starting line again… only this time it wasn’t just against the clock. The quarterfinals are heats of 6 skiers, and only the top 2 move on to the semis (plus there are just 2 lucky losers for the top bibs in 3rd place in all the heats).
Skiers to their mark, skiers set… BANG!!!! And we were off! I felt strong and full of energy heading out of the stadium and up over the big climb. I settled comfortably in 2nd place heading down the fast downhill into the stadium… untill Ida had used my draft and sling-shot right around me at the bottom of the hill. I wasn’t too worried because I had felt so great heading up the hill, I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to pass her back. But the time came to pass her back and my body had hit a wall, and I couldn’t shift into that extra gear that I needed. So I didn’t advance to the semis. Bummer.
But its a busy week, so time to look forward and move on! Tomorrow (Monday) is a 10 km freestyle race, and it will be my first distance skate race since my last leg surgeries, so I am super excited for that! Also, its supposed to start warming up here starting tomorrow into the upper 20’s!!! YAHOO!