A couple days before Mora I got to thinking about the racing experience: a discrete period of time in which I’m unplugged from the reality of life. While racing I turn off my phone. I won’t respond to any texts, emails, or calls. I won’t have real conversations with anyone or stop and rest. I can’t google whatever I want. In fact, I won’t be thinking much about anything to google. I’ll be focused on skiing hard, racing my competitors, and staying on my feet. I’ll interact a bit with the other racers, volunteers, spectators, and Bruce taking photos, but for the most part, I’ll be alone inside my head. For a couple hours I’ll be a little bubble weaving around some lakes, woods, and fields in a little section of land in central Minnesota, completely oblivious to the outside world.
Once again this year I registered for the classic race. While my training wasn’t bad, I wished to have a bit more time on snow and feel more prepared- not unlike any other year. I didn’t dwell too much about the race in the couple days before, but was a bit worried when I tweaked one of my ab muscles shoveling the day before now that winter has finally arrived.
With the cold weather predictions of most of the race hovering around zero, I decided to wear two layers of long underwear/spandex under my racing suit. I had all this on, plus my warm-ups and a down jacket when I went to warm-up. Needless to say, I got toasty before the start. This kept me warm in the port-a-potty line and right up until the start. I had put my skis down in the second row and after taking off my warm-ups only made it back there with three minutes to spare. This also helped keep me warm. I never felt cold out there as I’ve finally learned to do two layers under my racing suit at these temps.
In the starting line I looked around for all the other yellow bibs indicating my fellow female racers. Mora has always done this one right- and continues to do so- making the women easily identifiable. The gun went off immediately after the National Anthem was complete without a countdown which seems to happen every year so we were all ready. The start didn’t seem as fast as previous years and I tried to keep Josie in my sights as I skied around a couple other women.
|My bro (in the green flying fungi suit in the middle and me, second women's bib to his right) at the start. Photo: Bruce|
|Trying to keep Josie (far left in the Fast Wax suit) in my site (I'm in the women's bib behind my buddy Dave in the red Finlandia hat). I'm still holding hope that one day I can ski with Josie! Photo: Bruce|
|Kerrie Berg. Photo: Bruce|
After going by the Nordic Center, I was skiing by myself feeling like the entire classic field was ahead of me. I knew this wasn’t true but I never looked behind me- only ahead. I could finally settle some. In the first winding section, I would look back to see if any yellow bibs were close. A couple skiers passed me and always I waited with baited breath to see if this was a white bib or a yellow bib. Part way through that winding section a yellow bib passed me. She was skiing in the tracks and I out of them. We skied evenly side by side for a couple kilometers, neither of us saying anything to each other, each thinking our own thoughts.
|Josie- always smiling- even through her face tape. She's my S-hero and part of my motivation to train so much. Photo: Bruce|
|Chris Broderson. He tells me I'm his motivation to train so much:) Photo: Bruce|
|OK, I really thought I was going to be in a photo with Chris cause Bruce was right there around the time when he passed me- but he just passed me so fast he was already out of the frame! Photo: Bruce|
Now I could see that I had indeed gapped some time on Chris as well as the fifth place woman. The tracks on the north-south part of the trail were bomber fast compared with everywhere else. I kept trying to push the pace so to not let others catch up with me. I mostly skied out of the tracks but occasionally jumped into the tracks. Often conditions felt slow and my hands hurt but otherwise things weren’t so bad. I tried to keep the work rate high. I finished almost four minutes behind the guy ahead of me.
There weren’t too many people to catch in the last few kilometers. I felt bad lapping some skiers who still had another whole lap to go- it would be a long day for them but perhaps they weren’t so much in the bubble and therefore weren’t pushing the intensity and focus for that long.
|Finishing with my ice beard. Photo: Bruce|
My bro had a good day, too! He finished 13th in the classic and got his first horse.
|My bro back on form. Photo: Bruce|
|Bubble bursting talk with Josh Doebbert (on the right) where we both agreed it was faster outside the tracks. Photo: Bruce|