Boulder Lake was a really hard race this year. The conditions were my worst kind, cold and very slow. I’m a technical skier, not a power skier, and tend to do better on technical courses with lots of transitions and fast conditions where I can really work the course and take advantage of the speed. There was none of that at Boulder. It’s a fairly flat, easy course and the conditions favored strength and power, not finesse. I also have not really felt ready for racing. Training has not been what it should to get into racing shape. I knew this going in and intended to just ease into it, but warming up it was so slow I knew I was going to have a challenge and I was right. I don’t know how I did it, but a few K into the race I managed to stick my ski pole between my legs and suddenly found myself spread-eagle and on my face. This confirmed my suspicions that this was going to be one of those days. A good sized group went by me, including Cheryl DuBois. At least I didn’t trip anyone else up. I scrambled up and caught the group that passed me fairly quickly and got in line. I figured I’d best just chill out with them and see how I felt. I started to move up the group a bit with the guy in front of me. He passed Cheryl at the front and I followed him. He pulled the two of us up to two other guys and the four of us skied together for a bit until one of them started dropping back. I was behind him in the back and when I saw the gap forming I asked him if he was letting them go and he said yes and let my by to go after them. I caught them up and the three of us skied together for quite a while. I tried pulling my share and seemed to be able to contribute a bit despite not really feeling up for it. We slowly worked our way up to another group of three that included Carolyn Bramante. It was a pleasant surprise to see another woman. The six of us then skied together for quite a while, trading pulling at the front. It was a really nice group. Halfway through the last lap the lead guy started to pick it up and got a small gap. I was second in line with Carolyn behind me. I tried my best to close the gap but after awhile it was clear that it wasn’t going to happen. I called back to Carolyn that I couldn’t get him. She said she was tired but would try and took off. I was hoping I’d be able to hang on but couldn’t and lost them. In the process we’d dropped the two guys in my first group and it was just me and John Hopkins then. What little uphill there is on that course is at the end of the loop and I was just too tired to ski them well and John pulled away right at the end and I crossed the finish line alone.
Part of what made the race so hard, in addition to my lack of energy, was the cold. When I fell I got a bunch of snow inside the left side of my glasses and then developed a huge icicle right in the middle of the lashes on my right eye so I could hardly see a thing most of the race. There’s no downhill on that course to rest on and mess with my eyes to clear my vision and I couldn’t afford to slow down and lose my group so I just had to put up with it. By the end of the race the icicle had gotten so big that it clinked the lens of my glasses when I blinked. My whole face felt like it was covered in ice and I’m sure it was from snot, frozen energy drink, frost, and snow left from my fall. I could tell that I was starting to lose it on the last lap when I started to feel chilled, a sure sign my body was done. This was confirmed on my warm-down when I just couldn’t keep warm and decided to just go in and get some chili. I didn’t feel quite as dead as I did after my first big race back from retirement when I skied my guts out at Seeley Hills 42km, but close. I feel just wrecked today and most of my joints hurt. It took a full two weeks after that race at Seeley until I felt normal again. I hope it doesn’t take that long to recover this time, but I’m going to have to monitor myself closely. I’m thinking no intervals this week and may even have to evaluate how I feel before racing this weekend. I don’t want to have a repeat of the over-trained state I got into two years ago. My plan is to just ski easy and do some good stretching and maybe even a massage and see how I feel at the end of the week.