A bunch of Cross Country skiers crashed the Alpine slopes yesterday to preview the course for the hill climb. It was really fun to see everyone out there, and it was sunny and slushy.
The Classic Sprint races were an interesting thing for me…I realized that I had finally reached my point of being D.O.N.E. (Definitely Over the Nordic Experience). I was fully mentally and physically burned out from such a long and intense season. Unfortunately, racing without my head or heart invested in the outcome doesn’t produce great results, and I had this crazy guilt complex going for not wanting to race and feeling secretly relieved I was done after the semis. And it’s embarrassing for me to admit that I was so mentally done, because normally I’m always along for the ride. However, being burned out on racing doesn’t mean that I wasn’t still having a fun time being in Cali with my ski buddies and living with my team! So I decided I needed to find a way to get really excited about racing again so I could survive the final stage of the tour. More to come on this later.
Luckily, we had a chill day before the climb to rest up and recover from the last three days of racing. I got a massage from Sonja Harris, which felt amazing! If you’re ever in Truckee and need work done, I definitely recommend going to her: http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/Sonja.Harris.Massage.Therapy.530-587-0556
This morning, for the race it got colder, windy, and it snowed. Which was both good and bad, because the hill climb was SO HARD, and slush would have been a nightmare. But with the wind whipping snow sideways across the top, there were drifts to plow through and everyone’s poles kept getting blown around! To quote Sverre Caldwell: “After taking a quick poll of athletes and coaches after the race, I feel safe in saying that almost everyone would be happy if this event did not exist.”
I needed a lot of help getting psyched up for the race while still having fun…hence the crazy makeup. I think it’s really important to be able to laugh at yourself once in a while and not take things too seriously, so yesterday Erika and I tried to go thrift shopping for fun outfits. Turns out most places are closed on a Sunday afternoon. No suprises there. But we DID find some super loud makeup, so Sophie, Erika and I did the race with ridiculous eyeshadow, lipstick and glitter on. I definitely got a kick out of making people laugh all morning.
Once the race started, I started to feel excited because I recognized that my body had that good feeling again. And racing with good energy is pretty much a MILLION times more fun than racing on fumes. So then I had to calm down because I knew that at this crazy high altitude, pacing would matter a lot and blowing up in the middle of hill climb is just about the most painful thing you can do. I tried to be patient and slowly started reeling people in, working with Rosie a lot during the second half of the climb, which was sweet. I ended up crawling my way into 2nd place on the day and 5th in the mini-tour, and Liz won the Tour while also posting the fastest climbing time. On the boys side Erik Bjornsen won the Tour and Kris Freeman won the climb.
But although it’s always nice to have a good race, I found myself appreciating the effort of the climb more than any number on a sheet of paper, and celebrating other people’s great efforts much more than my own. Liz had a fantastic race, Sadie had a much better hill climb than last year, Erika was motoring up the slopes, Erik Bjornsen won the overall tour and had a great week in general. It’s been so fun to see people have PR’s and just good race experiences!
Wait a second! Getting to the top was hard enough, but getting back down the mountain was a crazy thing as well. It was so gosh darn windy and blowing snow everywhere, that I stood straight up while going downhill and almost came to a stop. I also fell down a couple times. Then I tried to snowplow a huge path through the drifts for the men (A hill climb is hard enough without deep snow, doncha think?) but with the wind I doubt my efforts to be helpful resulted in anything. So I settled for cheering near the base, and it looked like all the racers gave everything they had, which is always a cool thing to watch.
Last but definitely not least, Skyler Mullings has been putting together some really great videos of the races, so if you’re curious what the action and courses look like, here’s the link! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6UB_sD5TdQ For all the videos, click the “Far West Nordic” channel. And a big thank-you to all the volunteers out there, rain, snow or sun, making this happen!