Well what a difference a week can make. In Bozeman things were looking grim, and then in the space of 36 hours, winter turned on the jets and we got covered in a blanket of snow. Going from barely any snow to great skiing is always a huge energy boost and makes me eager to head out the door each day to train!
After a week of awesome training I packed my bags and boarded a flight to Alaska to spend the holiday season with my girlfriend and her family. As an added bonus there was some races I could jump in, but I’ll get to that later.
So if you aren’t familiar with Alaska and the city of Anchorage it’s a fair way north. 61 degrees North in fact, which means at this time of year it’s sunny for 5 hours a day. Yep it doesn’t get light out till 11:00am and sets by 4:00pm. So it’s not a great idea to leave your curtains open and go with the “I’ll get up when the sun does” approach. When I pack my bag each morning for training there is always one extra thing I pack now, a head lamp. It’s not a necessity but it helps. Alaskans have overcome the lack of light by creating kilometres of cross-country trails that are lit. Even the running trails and bike paths throughout the city have lighting.
It’s not super environmentally friendly but if they didn’t have the lights plus freezing temperatures outside, it’s not very enticing for anyone to step out for a jog or a walk.
So no, don’t bother packing sunscreen.
Last weekend Anchorage had two Besh Cups. Basically the state racing series. It was another great opportunity to do some racing in a “no pressure” atmosphere. That being said all of APU and the University of Alaska, Anchorage teams joined in. The locals joke it’s harder to make the A finals of the sprints here than it is at US Nationals. They are not far from the truth, the podium each day was stacked with past winners.
The sprint races started in the morning, so naturally in the dark and took the whole day. There was a huge turnout for the event, which was great. The sprint course was actually two laps of an 800 metre loop with two solid hills in it. Even though it sounds weird it actually made for excellent racing and by far the best sprint course I have done this year. I qualified 14th and was stoked to move onto the knock out stages. Because of the volume of junior races there was a huge gap between the time trial and heats for senior men so I actually went home for 3 hours and relaxed. It’s not often you get to go home and have lunch and a shower between heats! I was in a tough heat with two other very fast skiers. I was really happy with how I raced the heat but both times I made a move to attack I was blocked by first place. I lunged for 2nd but in the end was 3rd in my heat. Sadly the organisers were selecting the two “lucky losers” (the fastest two athletes not in the top two from each of the heats) by bib ranking from the time trial. Everywhere else always times the heats and just picks the actual fastest but here they selected bib numbers and sadly 11th and 12th moved on.
The next day was a 15 km skate and I was really focussed on skiing a good race and putting myself in the top ten. On the first of three laps things were going really well. I was sitting 3rd and feeling solid. However as the race progressed I started to fatigue fast and I hit the wall with around half a lap to go. Just spent. I limped across the line in 16th. I’m frustrated at myself for not pacing better. Being at low altitude is easy on the body but I always forget about it racing and it cost me. Luckily it’s a good lesson to learn early in the year for a race that doesn’t matter.
It’s Christmas time here and I’m really looking forward to it!
Train hard, rest easy, live for the moment.