It’s a wooly jumper kind of day! It’s a forced rest day today. The race organizers for US Nationals have postponed the classic sprint race for a day to let temperatures warm up here in Houghton, Michigan. The temperatures are in theory above the FIS race limit of -20C (temperatures are hovering around -17C) but there is a constant 50km wind blowing through which is making the temperature feel more like -27C. Tomorrow the temperatures are meant to rise a little but honestly I don’t see it happening, nor do I think they should have delayed the race a day. For the whole week it’s meant to be bitterly cold so I don’t think delaying the races has any benefit for us. It just postpones the inevitable a little longer.
So yesterday was the first race of US Nationals. A 15km skate on a 7.5km loop. I think that perhaps it’s the first 7.5km loop I’ve ever raced on for a 15km race and it definitely was a challenge getting my head around it. The loop style I think presents a few harder challenges. 1) It means that you have an extra 2.5km of course to remember and memories. 2) You ski the course less in your warm up and pre-race which mean you aren’t as familiar with the feel of the hills and corners and where you need to go hard or can rest. 3) Overall the course is skied in less, which means it’s slower and less packed.
So I had some big expectations on myself for yesterday’s 15km and the 30km race coming up. I really want to hit a top 15 and be in contention for a big result. Yesterday’s I was feeling solid and ready but not quite 100% maybe 95%. I feel like I was just missing a bit of energy and pop. I started strong but not crazy and my first split early on had me in 9th. I was on track for my goal! But towards the end of the first 7.5km loop I faded. I just coasted and stopped skiing aggressively like I normally do. I slipped back to 28th Luckily I wasn’t too far from the stadium and lapping through. As I lapped through an athlete was starting and I managed to sit on the back of him for a while. I settled myself into his rhythm and then after a major climb I kicked it finally back into gear and properly raced home!
I ended up 48th. There isn’t any room for coasting at US nationals or sloppy racing. I was 4 min behind the winner, however the athlete that won is a local and won by 50seconds to 2nd place which is unheard of. I was disappointed with my position and end result. However I am not shattered by the result. I think it was a solid race but not spectacular. I have a lot to work on and need to find that 5% more pop again but I hope the sprint will help pull it out and reawaken me for the 30km.
I’ll keep you posted with how the sprint ends up for me! Fingers crossed I make the top 30!
Train hard, rest easy, live for the moment