The first race I did this season was the 20k Elk River race in late December. There had been a couple earlier races I could have done but didn’t feel mentally ready to do one. The season can get really long and I thought it was better to pace myself. I figured I needed to race at least once before TC Champs and the Elk River race was the last one before it. 20k is a bit longer than I would’ve like for a first race but the timing was right. My only thought for the race was to just get one under my belt and see how it felt. I purposely didn’t think about who else was there or what place I might get or anything like that. I just wanted to ski my race, so that’s what I did. This is not the same as ignoring other racers. You still need to pay attention to what they are doing and how you might strategize things, but if they are going to fast for you, let them go. If they are going to slow for you, drop them. If they are going a nice pace, work with them and see if you can use the pack to ski faster. So that’s lesson #1: pay attention to others and strategize, but ski your own race. You can’t control how others ski and you shouldn’t let them control you.
The second race was the TC Champs 15k classic at Battle Creek. I planned to ski my own race again, and I did, but I was a little excited and went out too fast. I was leading for the first 1k when I tripped myself up around a corner and went down on my butt. Many people went by and I dropped way back. Then I settled down and found my pace. I was able to catch a couple people on my second lap but could’ve done better if I’d been smarter at the start. So that was lesson #2: keep yourself under control at the start, it’s better to finish strong than to suffer much of the race after starting too hard.
The third race was the TC Champs 10k skate at Theo Wirth for the pursuit start. I was only a few seconds behind Kim Rudd and Kathleen DeWahl was right behind me. It didn’t take us long to catch Kim and the three of us skied the entire race together, which was great. I felt good and it was fun to have a nice group. Kim and Kathleen dropped me at the very end but I still had a very nice race. The three of us had the fastest times of the day and I’m sure it’s because we were pushing each other. So that was lesson #3: find a nice group to ski with if you can since you tend to ski faster in a group.
Stay tuned; more lessons coming soon!