When you are in your first years of high school racing 5k's are the main distance you do. When I was racing in Alaska most of the season we did 5k's with a couple 10k's mixed in. As you get to your later years of high school 10k's become the norm and 5k's start to feel pretty short. A 15k seems like a massive distance. We did one 15 every year, a bunch of 10s and some 5s. Once you hit college 15k becomes the standard distance, and 10k's start to feel like 5s used to. When I see 20k now I look at it the same way I looked at 15s when I first started doing them. So a 5k at this point feels almost like a sprint.
But that's what they had us doing in Crested Butte. We had some crazy weather for it too. It was dumping snow when we first arrived at the venue, but stopped pretty quick after we got there. Then about 15 minutes before the men went out it started dumping again. There was an inch of powder on the course when we started. When the girls went out it was a full blown blizzard.
I kind of botched the warm up today. I didn't even get on my skis until less than an hour before the race. I also recently ran over my watch with my car and haven't replaced it, and I didn't charge my phone overnight so it was dead this morning. This meant I had no way of telling time besides asking people so I was doing that a lot. The shorter the race, the more crucial the warm up, and warm ups generally require you to ski at various effort levels at a specific amount of time before your race. I like to have a lot more than an hour before a race this short, but I just wasn't on it this morning. I did get a warm up it just wasn't ideal.
Because of all the fresh snow everyone knew that the tracks would be fastest, and that whoever skied in front would be essentially breaking trail and thus doing a lot more work than everyone else. When the gun went off I tried to maneuver my way to the front of the group, but not first place, as quick as possible but there was really no getting around everyone so soon. Once the pack thinned a little it strung out into a big single file line, because nobody was willing to get into the other lane and go through the fresh snow. I stayed where I was for that reason. My kick wax was slipping too so I had to be careful when I tried to make a move.
I had the advantage today of knowing the course quite well because we skied the exact same course that we did last February where I won the USCSA RMC race. When we reached a gradual slope about 1.5 km in I decided this was the time to pass some folks. Everyone in front of me began striding so I hit the unoccupied left lane and double poled my way up the climb past a bunch of guys, and made contact with the front group of about 10, who were mostly NCAA racers.
This course is not an easy one, with undulating terrain basically the entire time and one massive climb right at the halfway point. Once I'd caught the front group I immediately began struggling on the short, steep climbs because my wax was slipping. I either herringboned or double poled. Once we hit the big climb in the middle I had just barely lost contact with the front but was within a second or two. I struggled on the big climb but was able to cut the sweeping right corner by hopping out of the tracks. Around 2/3s of the way up my wax suddenly was sticking really well so I was able to keep with the group. But at the top I was super tired and really struggling sustaining my pace.
Through the rest of the race I was fighting for position with a few other guys just off the back of the leaders. At the end of the course there's a steep climb that's longer than the rest (except the really big one at the halfway point), and then it's a long downhill right to the finishing lanes. On this climb I felt strong and got past a UNM guy, and pulled right behind the day's early leader, who for some reason decided that doing the race on skate skis and double poling everything was a good idea. I drafted him on the down but then he fell so I went around him. The UNM guy was gaining on me in the finish but I beat him on the line.
|Me vs. UNM at the finish|
Results from today can be found here.