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!