Relative to last week's Geschmossel, waxing for the White Mountain 30k up in Jackson was pretty damn easy. Everyone pretty much agreed that a heated-in hardwax binder was the way to go, cover it with the kick wax of your choosing, and you'd be good to go.
So of course I went with a klister binder, because gosh, I'm so frightfully clever!
The reasoning was, my upper body is weak, and I love striding with bomber kick. Thus I should set myself up with awesome kick. And I did have awesome kick... but it turns out that climbing a hill with great kick is only about 5% easier than climbing it with bad kick. And having slow skis for a course with a lot of double-poling (a.k.a. every non-FIS classic race in the world) is really tiring and demoralizing.
So I trudged around for 30k thinking about how stupid I was.
As usual, I lined up conservatively deep in the field, because it's a 30k and I wanted to start slow. But then the gun went off, and I remembered holycrapitsaracegettothefront! In my defense, Hannah Dreissigacker, the eventual women's winner, passed me at about the 0.2k mark, and it set off all my "you can usually ski with the fastest woman" alarms that were based on doing marathons in March. Turns out in January, I can't actually ski with the women's leaders, but damned if I didn't try.
The other problem is that moving up is FUN! Every time a track opened up I would jump it to it an accelerate, because I'm good at skiing, right? I sure felt good at skiing. My brain would never lie to me.
I knew I was good at skiing because I easily passed a whole bunch of masters that I ordinarily struggle to beat on the first long climb. Me and my klister binder, we are so good at skiing! Granted I was working really, really hard at the 2.5k mark of a 30k, but that's ok, I've got awesome kick!
Then we got to the first of many wide open flat sections, they all passed me back, and I pretty much imploded. Because I'm good at skiing!
The first half of the course is the hilly half, so I should have been doing well here and paying for it later, but I was sufficiently wrecked from my itsaracegettothefront! start that I could barely get out of my own way. Groups of guys would come up behind me, and I was so sure that I was holding them up with my meek uphill shuffle that I would just get out of the track and wait while they skied past. I give up. I'm not good at skiing!
After a quick plummet down the ranks to the upper 30s, I recovered a bit, and all the fast people had passed me, so things got better, mainly because we were doing a bunch of descending and a little wax drag doesn't matter at 30 mph.
Unfortunately, the course ends with 12k on the Ellis River Trail, which is mostly flat and breaks me every year. Hey, I have an idea, let's put Colin on a trail with lots of long straights, a weak upper body, slow skis, and see how many times he looks back in 12k! Uh... about a million.
Surprisingly, I only lost two places on the whole trail, and thanks to my extensive looking-back I knew that a large group was closing on me in the last 5k. By this point I had made peace with my suckage and was ready to hurt some more, which was good, because the only time I could pull away from them was by scaling the climbs as frantically as possible. My good ole klister binder was still there, slowing my skis down with every glide, but at least I could get up a hill when I needed to.
I ended up holding the front of that group off by only six seconds for a totally mediocre 41st place. Fortunately Linnea has barely been skiing this year, so I didn't have to deal with anything like "her doing well." Instead we slunk off to Gunstock like the pathetic cyclists we are, to spend the whole evening complaining about our hip flexors and then somehow turn back into athletes in the morning for the Gunstock Winter Triathlon. Good thing you don't use hip flexors for running...
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