On Friday morning I made the trek to Coleraine, MN for the NCAA qualifiers that were held this weekend. We left early in the morning so we could get a chance to ski the new classic course before the race on Saturday. When we arrived at Mt. Itasca I changed and prepared for a training session. Since it was the day before the race we trained about an hour and inspected the classic course. I felt like the course suited me well since there were some long striding sections, which I feel are my strength in classic skiing. After inspecting the course we packed up and headed to the hotel where we met the rest of the team which came up later in the day. I definitely felt spoiled in the hotel we stayed at this weekend. Upon arriving in our room I noticed two plasma screens and a shower with five shower heads. I knew I would be getting a good night of sleep for the race!
Soon enough the next morning came and we were sitting at the continental breakfast fueling up on bagels, oatmeal, and other carbohydrate rich foods. After breakfast we all went back to our rooms and prepared for the race. As we were about to leave Jed called me and said the race had been delayed an hour due to the cold. In skiing there is a rule that if it is below -4 you cannot race. Once we arrived, we tested our skis and told Jed if they were good or not. In classic skiing you use two types of wax. The glide wax is put on the tips and tail. Just like in the name this wax is made to help you glide. The other type of wax is called kick wax. This wax goes under your feet. When you compress the ski the wax will grab the snow and allow you to propel yourself. I proceeded to test my skis and gave Jed the thumbs up. I warmed up for around an hour of easy skiing and threw in a few harder efforts to get my heart rate up. You never want to warm up to a point where you feel fatigued. As soon as my warm up was done I grabbed my race skis and headed to the start line. I went out quick, but not so hard that I would blow up. Soon enough the main climb came. I started striding and felt strong. Jed was on the climb giving me time gaps and cheering. When I went by him he told me I was 15 seconds behind the Michigan Tech’s new Swedish skier named Oscar. I felt that if I skied smooth I could take back the time on the second lap. When the second lap came around Michigan Tech’s Norwegian skier passed me. He was going very strong and I just did not have it in me to hang on to him. Later I learned that he won the race. In the end I ended up 11th on the day. It was definitely not a good day for me but not a horrible race either. With the race over I need to focus my attention on the skate race the next day. I consider myself a better skate skier so I expected to have better results.
The morning routine is the same regardless of what kind of race it is. When it was my time to race I ripped on off my training clothes and stepped in line and waited for my start time. I went out smooth and soon came to the wall. The wall is the main climb in the skate course. It is about .5k long and very steep. This climb definitely makes or breaks several skiers races. On top of the climb Jed was standing and yelling that the time gaps were tight. I tried to find that extra gear but I just didn’t have it this weekend. With 2k to go I gave it one last burst to make up as much time as possible. When the results were posted I ended up 8th. It was a bit of a disappointment but 4th through 8th was 4 seconds. The weekend was nothing special by any means but it was not horrible either. Last year my best race would still be worse than my worse race so far this year. That just goes to show how training pays off! I want to give a huge congratulations to Kelly for dominating the women’s college race by almost a minute! She definitely found that extra gear this weekend. Next weekend we race in Cable, Wisconsin. I am super excited for a 15k mass start skate race. I hope I feel strong and have some great races. The goal is to be in Maine for NCAA championships at the end of the season! Thanks for reading!