Yesterday was the 30k National Championships here in Sun Valley.... which is about twice as long as I have ever raced before. Going into this race I have been a bit worried. For the past two months I have been pretty much doing race after race allowing for not much "training". What that means is I can't remember the last time I skid 30k in one session... let alone skid more than an hour and a half in one session. I have done plenty of long sessions over the year- but I was struggling to wrap my brain around racing 30K AT ONE TIME! I think my teammates were actually getting annoyed of me asking "what should the pace feel like? Should I be in pain? Should I be suffering as early as 10k?" Not to mention we are racing at altitude, and the course has more than enough climbing- so that threw the experience even more curve balls. The answer to all these questions was different from person to person. But the one piece of advice that seemed consistent with every person was that a 30k is like reading a book- you have the good chapters and the bad chapters. You may feel like crap at 20k and feel like a champ at 25k. You may start cramping really bad at 27k and still manage to finish with a hard punch. In order to get the whole story, you have to read through all the chapters... there is no skipping.
Skiing in the lead pack for the first half of the race- Nat Hertz photo
So this is exactly what happened. I went in with a blind eye and had a ball!! I decided I was just going to try to hang onto the lead pack for as long as I could. This year I have been working a lot with my distance racing and things have come a long ways since last year. There is still a lot more to work on- but yesterday I finally got to try it out. The first half of the race I got to ski with a group of 6 girls. Kikkan, a swedish girl skiing at Utah, Diggins, Holly, and Morgan Arritola and me. As we approached the steepest pitch of the last long hill on the second lap I wasn't able to hang on any longer. The good news is one of my other teammates, Fitz was also just off the pace of the lead pack- so I got to ski the remaining two laps with her, before she ditched me in the final climb on the last lap.
Pack still together on the first lap- Dave Wheelock photo
It was fun though. There is a lot that can happen in a 30k, and your head can take many directions of thought. From "holy crap- now I know what they were talking about when they said your muscles would cramp", to "I can't wait for that coke feed", to "one last time up this hill Sadie, you can do it". Good fun- I am excited for more tries!
Today we have a day off, and then tomorrow the true Spring Series starts. 2.8k prelim, 10k mass start classic, day off, Classic Sprint, and then the final day will be a race up the alpine hill.
Doing some training with the ladies in the sun.
Five of the APU girls, and Chandra Crawford are staying together at the Sun Valley Inn. We have been having lots of fun entertaining ourselves between the races. It is always fun at the end of the year to "enjoy the experience" a bit more. With less pressure on the racing, and more focus on the celebration, you are able to soak in the sun and truly live it up!
Pre-race dinner w/ our bath robe gowns
Keep the sunshine coming!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
After arriving in Sun Valley late last night, we were awoken by quite the surprise. Not only was it no longer storming like it was on the drive up from Boise last night- but the sun was-a-beaming down! I have been to Sun Valley once before when I was super young, so I have never skid the race courses before, but we headed out for a sneak preview today. From what I have heard it dumped about two feet in the last couple of days, so the snow was soft- but the skiing was awesome! It was amazing out, warm enough to ski without jackets and pants- something I haven't done for quite some time now. I can't even remember the last time I did a workout without my jacket... maybe on Eagle Glacier last summer. This is why I love the west so much though, makes me miss home a bit :)
Our first race is the 30k on Sunday, so from now until then we will try to acclimate ourselves and prepare for the fun races later this week!
Keep the sun coming!!
Friday, March 18, 2011
What a great video by Kikkan Randall about skiing. It has been fun to get to know Kikkan over the course of this year from summer training to racing on the road with her in Europe. I truly am inspired by not only the way she skis, but also by who she is. I am lucky to be able to train along side her and learn from her as a racer and a person. This video is just a little glimpse into the life of "Chikkan Randall"
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I am finally starting to catch up on life since just recently returning to Anchorage after nearly 4 months straight on the road. I feel like for the past month I have been in a dream... where everything is moving so fast and its just too good.
Some of the US ladies after races
During my two weeks in Oslo for the World Championships I was in such a daze that I struggled to really let my emotions catch up and feel how amazing it was. Once the week of racing started... everything started moving so fast that I couldn't keep up. I couldn't even describe anything from the week other than AMAZING. It is hard to put words to what it feels like to ski through a tunnel of at least 10,000 people screaming at the top of their lungs. The feeling is just amazing. All I could think was how lucky I am to be involved in the sport that I am.
Giving my autograph to my first fans :)
One of the german skiers and I joining the celebration out in the woods on our recovery ski
Fans, Fans, Fans
Great spectating from the roof of the athletes cabin
World Champs Womans Squad
The Norwegians are incredible. They are so passionate about the sport, they just love it. The majority of my races fell on days that it was so foggy you couldn't see much further than 5 feet in front of you. I imagined this would hold back some spectators... but with no fail all the norwegian fans were still out there screaming their faces off into the fog. I am convinced they had no idea who they were cheering for, or if they were even cheering for anyone. Maybe they just screamed straight for two hours. Regardless, they were still keeping the spirit going.
Warming up in the fog
Me on the big screen
Besides the sprint race I got to start two other races during the week. The 10km classic and the Team Sprint.
The 10k was awesome. I started bib 26, so pretty early. The course was by far the hardest course I have ever skid.. so I just went out and tried to ski hard from the start. I kind of knew there would be a point where I would blow up... but I was hoping the noise of the fans would keep me going. Which is exactly what happened. I crossed the line in first place as I came in before many of the lead skiers- but I got to sit in the leaders chair for a while, which was super fun. I have never gotten to sit in the leaders chair before, and yes it is just as comfy as it looks :)
A clip from the TV of me crossing the line in 1st place
Relaxing in the Leaders Chair
Two days later I got to start the classic team sprint with Kikkan. I have done one team sprint before nearly 3 years ago. I have to say this team sprint at World Champs was an entirely different race though. These girls went out my top speed sprinting pace from the start. Team sprinting is difficult because you have to race 3 times in the Semi-Finals. Then if you make the A-Finals, you do the same thing again, 3 more hard efforts. I was a bit nervous, knowing I would have to save some energy for such a long race. Semi-finals were great. Kikkan and I managed to gradually move up through the race and come in 3rd, moving us onto the finals. When the A finals came around 45 minutes later, I struggled a bit more. By the last lap of the finals... the wheels started to fall off. It was all I could do just to get to the finish to tag Kikkan. We still managed to finish 9th at the end of the day, which was fun. I think with more endurance training, this could be an awesome race for us. It sure is tons of fun though. Gives you six chances to ski right in there with some of the best sprinters in the world.
Kikkan and I with some American Spirit :)
Team Sprinting in the fog!
As the week concluded, it was so sad to leave Holmenkollen. THinking back to two months ago, when I first got named to the team, so many people told me this was an experience I would remember for the rest of my life. They were right! Not only was it amazing to be part of it, and get right into the heart of ski racing- but it was incredible to watch everyone else. Skiing around the trails on recovery days with Kikkan and listening to everyone chant her name was just inspiring. I think besides their own norwegian skiers, Kikkan may be their next favorite skier. Also watching Bjorgen and Northug do their warm- ups around you and then going on to working their magic in front of your eyes... its just something you can't appreciate in full until you see it in person.
Thanks to all the Norwegians for making it truly amazing- as well as all the americans who came over and cheered. Also thanks to all the people who sent good luck over facebook or emails, it was so fun to have so many people following!!
We took a trip to the Ambassadors house midweek. Here is World Champs announcer, and good friend Peter Graves with Holly and I
Introduced into the world of World Cup racing in Drammen, Norway- introduced to World Champs racing in Holmenkollen.... I think I may be the luckiest person alive :)
From here I chill out and train for 2 weeks here in Anchorage before going to my final week of racing in Sun Valley for spring series.
Joining the true norwegian style with my new Onesie
Thanks to all the coaches and wax techs for making the week rock!!