Last night found me back at Weston for another round of crit skiing, er, ski drafting, er, short track nordic, er... whatever. A flat ski race with lots of drafting.
This time around we had Bret Bedard in the mix, a guy who looked like he might be the next (the first?) great American skier when he was in High School. Why he's in Boston, I have no idea, but it was basically a race for second place with him there.
We got started and I had another typical 15 minutes warmup going on so I grabbed onto the back of the lead masters pack (Bret was already dropping everyone) and set about finding a rhythm. After a lap or two I started to feel ok, the problem was that skiing at the back of a train of seven people was making the accordion a harsh mistress. On one hand I could rest all the way down every straightaway -- but on the other I had to sprint like crazy out of each corner/climb to get back into the train. I decided I had to move up. You can't "animate" the race from the back.
After two attemps to move out of last that failed, I actually had someone say "please don't ski next to me." While I realize that he was trying to say "either move up or stay in the line, don't go halfway by me and potentially get in my way" it still goes down as one of the silliest things I've heard in a mass start ski race. In any case I motored up the next straightaway, moving past one... two... three... oh crap I'm at the front.
As soon as I hit the front it was obvious to me I couldn't get away, the gentle breeze coming up the fairways felt like a gale when you were skiing into it at 15 miles an hour. Everyone happily sat behind me while I worked 10% harder.
After a lap or so Jon Peterson passed me and I slipped back to second in the group. This should have been the ideal place to be, but I was starting to feel the effects of a hard effort at the front and a mediocre warmup. After another lap hanging in second things were starting to feel pretty bad in my stomach -- so like the giant wuss that I am, I stood up and let most of the group by. Sure, I got to let my stomach and muscles rest for a bit, but it was a completely stupid move to make with less than 5 minutes left.
The good part was that I got to recover quite a bit while tail-gunning, the bad part was that when it strung out on the last half lap I was in no position to do anything about it. I passed one guy on the last climb and just missed catching Rob Bradlee at the line, ending up 6th. A slight improvement from last time, but man, if I could just warm up and actually go 20 minutes without feeling naseous, then we'd really have something.
Anyway in true master blaster fashion I've overanalyzed my race and already have a far too specific plan for next week. Tune in next week to find out how it goes!
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