After a whopping 2.5 weeks off I guess I'm fully "back on it," with the 3rd race in eight days. Because I don't spend my time as a desk jockey just so I can go out and do base training at night, you know? Not when I could do some damage to my lungs and lower my self-esteem, all in an efficient 13 minutes!
So yeah. Tuesday night sprints, race #2. The natural snow enabled us to race a "new" course, as much as anything is ever new at a place as small as Weston. We basically tacked on some fast flats to the top of the course, and one fairly dark pass behind some trees, to make a 2.3k loop. The race ended up only being two laps, for no apparent reason -- flat and fast and short, even by Weston standards.
My 12th place from last week earned me a third-row start spot, and my feel-no-pain fast-twich start earned me 6th position in line going around the first turn. So far, so good, now to just hang for a scant five kilometers...
The lighting on the outer loop wasn't great, and with the 34 degree snow it was wet and packing HARD. Footing was tough in the poor light, and I was once again feeling some pretty extreme burning sensations in my shins and calves. This time, though, I was a little more distressed, because COME ON, I did ONE HOUR of no pole skiing LAST WEEK, can I please be in shape already??? sheesh.
So the legs were a-burning just like always, but I was still sitting in line in 6th, feeling pretty bad, but with only two laps to race I didn't need to hang on long. We finished up one lap and I was still there.
Then my stomach informed me that it was NOT down with the current level of exertion, as it compared to the length of warmup and recent Clif Bar consumption. There was no bargaining with it -- it owned me. In the space of 30 seconds I shuffled backwards in the pack and then immediately fell off the back of it. Another failure to stay with the lead group -- good thing we're in the first half of January still... right?
Recognizing defeat I slowed a bit to try to put myself back together, but the problem with cracking after 7 minutes of a 13 minute race is that you haven't really dropped anyone yet. I quickly picked up two more guys on my tail. Deciding that I needed all the recovery possible, I pulled aside with about a k to go and double-poled. As they went by, I saw the one at the back had an oddly-shaped head. Quite possibly, there was a ponytail under that hat. Girls wear ponytails. Despite its regularity, I do not like getting beat by girls, and definitely not when it's mano-a-chicko in the last k. Regaining some motivation, I hung grimly onto her draft.
Because of my stomach issues I'd kind of given up swallowing, so I was drooling some phlegm out of my mouth with each breath, if I'd only had a beard some really gruesome things could've started collecting. What I'm trying to say is that I was completely on the rivet here, and 100% dedicated to not getting bloused. With 200 meters to go we went through the dark section, then into the light before the last downhill. I moved up the outside for all I was worth, gliding into the lead as we tucked for a few seconds. The previous leader went to move into my draft, and just to prove that I am way too serious about Tuesday nights I immediately skated across the lane, Tour-sprint-style, hopefully leaving him in the wind for just a bit longer.
Then I flailed really hard, finished 10th, and my lungs are still screwed up as I type this a day later -- so screwed up I actually skipped tonight's workout because I was worried about it. Thirteen-minute nordic ski races are the most painful thing in the world. See you next Tuesday!
Oh, and it turns out it wasn't a girl, just a high school kid with long hair, after all that.
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