The Birkie was not only the pinnacle of my season, it was also the ULTIMATE ROOMMATE GRUDGE MATCH. Which I won, by the way. In case you forgot.
But, we made a pact that we would also do the Rangeley Lakes Loppet the following weekend, so that whomever lost the Birkie would have a shot at revenge, and whomever won it could spend the whole week worried about getting their fluke victory exposed (that would be me).
However, Cary ended up torpedoing this plan on Wednesday night by getting SMOKED by an SUV riding home. He texted me from the hospital like it weren't no thang, but when he was still there 24 hours later and using phrases like "can't eat solid food for 6 weeks," I realized that I had just won by TKO.
This was actually really sad, and if you see him you should not jokingly hit him in the mouth. You should also check what your car insurance covers for other people injured in an accident, because he's hitting a six-figure medical bill pretty easily and that'll be getting paid by someone else's car insurance and/or bank account.
Just a PSA.
Ok, serious time is over.
With Cary out, bailing seemed totally reasonable, but PRO SKI-ORIENTEER ALEX JOSPE came to the rescue with a carpool offer, and away we went to the land of frost heaves.
The perks of traveling with a PRO ski orienteer are PRO waxes and in exchange for lodging, Alex hooked me up with the good stuff right before the race started. Ahhh yes. 30 degrees with high humidity and rising temps? The good stuff was gonna be extra good today.
The race started and I performed my usual strategery of getting totally boxed in on a narrow trail and letting everyone fast get far, far away from me. Then around the 2k mark I started getting impatient, freaked out, and blew whatever plans I had to "start slow" by passing a ton of people in the next five minutes. But it's so fun!!
Eventually I tagged onto the back of Alex's group, which was going sloooooow. All the lead women were at the front, and they didn't feel like pushing it with 45k to go while they were "winning." Behind them were some dudes that were just happy to be there, and behind THEM... was me and some other dude. Passing on the trails at Rangeley is more or less impossible, so we hung out.
Finally at the 8k feed there was a bit of a shuffling and I was like, PEACE OUT, ladies (as is my nature) and tried to ski away from them. Two more k's of pushing it and my 20 yard lead on them was up to... 20 yards. Dang.
Soon though we transitioned into a downhill, and my rocket skis and relative fatness allowed me to bid adieu to them for good.
I caught onto another group and remember thinking that I was working quite hard the climbs and quite not-hard on the descents. Obviously in a 50k you want to be WORKIN HARD all the time (recovery? huh?) so I attacked on the next downhill with my doped skis and gapped everyone.
Being full of adrenaline, I then proceeded to ski too damn hard right up until the 25k/lap mark, where I realized that I was only halfway done and there were two guys trailing me by all of 10 seconds. I decided to use some "strategery" and wait for them.
The work was being done by a Dartmouth kid who had no desire to share it. I do not think he was big on "strategery." I did not mind. We were FLYING!
He did at least 90% of the work between the 25k and 40k mark. We passed easily 10 people during this time, only one of which (Nat Lucy) could even manage to pick up our draft. The other guy not pulling (Roger Prevot) was thrilled by these developments and super chatty, which made me happy, because talking to someone while skiing at 20mph in a draft feels like really awesome psychological warfare.
I'm pretty sure that "Dartmouth Kid" was also using the no-feed strategy in this race, which is why at the 40k mark he pretty much stepped aside on a hill and was gone a few seconds later. Roger, Nat and I pressed on. I realized that I was, for the second week in a row, at the 40k mark of a ski marathon and not feeling totally useless. Rock climbing is the new strength training, apparently.
On the big, windy climb at 42k or so, Nat got gapped, which was pretty much amazing to me since he's been beaten me 100% of the time for the last ten years. Perhaps my 25-year age advantage is finally starting to defeat his OLD MAN POWER.
Roger and I soldiered on and continue to pick off blown up college kids. It is possible that I am on my way to having my own old man power, because I was TOTALLY FUNCTIONING at the end of the race and THESE DAMN KIDS were NOT. Get off my lawn!
I did most of the work for the last 5k and I was 99% sure that Roger wasn't going to sprint against me. I attacked him at the end anyway, because citizen ski racing is serious bidness, and I hate being able to stand up at the finish line anyway. It "worked," and I somehow ended up finishing 14th overall.
I decided I needed to put my skis away ASAP before I stopped peaking and returned to reality. Off we go into bike season!
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