39 races, 10 countries and 5 months later

By April 13, 2013 No Comments

Well…that’s that! It’s over. I am back home now, super excited to get some quality time with my family and friends in Minnesota! It was a long, long season, with so many awesome memories and experiences (see the “here’s what I think about the last 5 months” post for more information on a season-wrap up).

Sylvan with Liz and Gus chasing dogs in the background

We ended the season with a crazy hard race – the 30km classic mass start, in sunny temps above 50 degrees F and slushy snow that got softer and slower each lap! And I’m famous for overheating in races, so although I wore only a t-shirt and had no hat or gloves, I had to get ice water sloshed on me to survive the last lap. In a way, it was very fitting to have such a tough race at the end of a long gritty season, just to end it right.

Sadie and Bird (Kris Freeman) (Liz Stephen photo)

The race was made tactically challenging by having ski exchanges. You could change twice if you wanted/needed to, but the penalty was about a minute, because it was an extra loop to get to the pits. The podium finishers (Liz, Kikkan then Rosie) didn’t change, and skied away from the rest of the field in an impressive race! It would have been smarter not to change, but after two laps I felt like I didn’t have a choice as the kick was wearing down. So I made the exchange with 10km to go, getting dropped from the pack I was skiing with in the process. It took me the entire rest of the race to fully catch up, and in a sprint off I just barely snagged 4th place. So I suppose there may be hope for me as a classic sprinter…as long as there are 29km beforehand!

Sophie, Erika, Me and Molly (Lilly Caldwell photo)

Then the next day us SMS ladies went out to cheer for the boys and man the feed station in the woods. We got a real kick out of how much thought our boys put into marking their feed bottles: either they wanted to make it REALLY easy for us, or they didn’t trust us to put the right mixture in. Hah!

It'd be pretty embarrassing to mess up something this well marked

Tahoe Donner put on one last BBQ, and it was really bittersweet for me to see all my ski buddies one last time before going home. I was so darn ready for some chill time, but at the same time, these guys are my family too, and it’s going to be weird not having them around for the next month.

Good thing the next season training starts in only 4.5 weeks 🙂

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