I flew straight back to Anchorage, Alaska after Europe and the plan was to recharge, refocus and as one of the Australian coaches said to me “head to my happy place”. Over the course of the two weeks that’s exactly what I did. The conditions in Anchorage were almost perfect for training. No there weren’t endless kilometres of skiing there but what they had was really good quality skiing with some of the best trails I’ve been able to ski all year. That’s all thanks to their ability to make snow exclusively for the cross country trails. But the best part was that there had been a lot of melt out, so if you didn’t fancy skiing finding dry running trails was simple and again spectacular. Everything seemed to set up nicely while I was there. The weather turned to perfect blue bird days but with cool enough temperatures that the snow never melted or softened.
While I was there I was keen to train but to also take a mental break from training and racing and just enjoy doing something creative and stimulating. I love to work with wood and build things and so I basically spent any spare time I had at Laurens Dad’s wood shop, building a shelf/shoe rack unit for Lauren’s entryway. I think sometimes when you are constantly on the road just focussing on Nordic you can really lose perspective on how things are really going so getting regrounded and just forgetting Nordic for a time was great. Plus it was just really nice to spend some time with Lauren again and relax at home there in Alaska.
After two weeks of quality Alaskan time I headed down with Lauren for Spring Series in Sun Valley, Idaho. It’s the last set of races for the year and there is always a great, relaxed atmosphere there. Everyone is focused and racing hard but at the same time very mellow and not too intense about their performance.
For the first few days I stayed with Tom and Tim, both great guys who work for the Sun Valley Ski team. It was great to catch up with Tom who had lived with me a bit over the last Australian Winter. I took the time to go on a few more runs and to really enjoy the sun! It was getting up to 15C during the day in the valley, which I loved!
After a few days of staying with the boys I moved into team accommodation with BSF and started to gear up for the races! Saturday was a 15km classic, It was a perfect day with sunny, clear skies. I wasn’t feeling great before the race but I liked the course and was hoping things would come together once I got moving. I was right and I had a great race out there. It’s one of the first races I really felt good in for months! Being back at altitude really helped too I think, I was just able to be controlled but also push really hard. I finished the race stocked with how it went and just excited to feel good again! The result was slightly worse than I expected. I finished in the 40’s when I was expecting to be more around the 30-20 mark but I was still really happy to of just felt like me again!
The next day was a skate sprint on a very flat course. There was just one downhill that lead into a hairpin right hand turn which was sheet ice, followed by a very long uphill finishing straight. After the corner and into the straight was basically where the race started. The corner seemed to make a lot of difference between good and bad results. I had really solid race and almost caught the starter in front of me, which is pretty rare for me in sprints and generally means I skied well. I was really pleased with how I skied minus one little off balanced moment around the corner. I was pretty excited about the TT and thought I might of made top 30 for finals. Frustratingly I skied well but so did 40 other men. I came 41st but 1.75 seconds moved me to 29th. Only 12 seconds separated the top 42 men so it was very tight racing and I was on the wrong side of the bubble. However it’s great to walk away from the last sprint of the season feeling like things came together finally and that I felt good for a second day in a row was even better! Clearly my little break in AK was just what the Doctor ordered!
Tomorrow is the 4x5km relay, which should be a lot of fun.
Train hard, rest easy, live for the moment.