I showed up for this race hoping to lay it all out there, seeing just how fast this heart of mine could ski a 10K on hard/flat tracks, but the ski gods had other plans and must have felt I needed more work on my passing skills and tolerance for slower people blocking the tracks/trail.
After parking in Washburn by the finish line and getting registered, we caught a ride on the bus over to the starting line in Ashland. Originally, I had signed up for the first wave, but at the last minute after temporarily losing confidence in my technique/ability, I decided to start in the second wave so I wouldn’t get left too far in the dust. I think this “shaken confidance” might have been mistake number one and was somehow tied into mistake number three… Lesson learned, “No matter your skill level, never sell yourself short. Always start as close to the front of the pack as possible…”
Then, mistake number two, instead of warming up my heart like I should have been doing prior to the race, I decided to get in line at the porta johns with only 15 minutes prior to race time. After standing in line for 10 minutes it finally occurred to me that maybe I should do the math… 20 some people in front of me and less than 5 minutes to the start gun with the average person spending upwards of two minutes in the john…? The math wasn’t working out in my favor but thankfully about that time I spotted a couple cedar trees out behind the tent that weren’t being used… Lesson learned, ” look for a tree prior to getting in line for
Mistake number 3 was getting to the start chute way too late. By the time I arrived after my trip to the cedar trees, there were thousands of people standing between where I was, and where I should have been. I have never had so many slower people in front of me at once. Only four sets of tracks and thousands of people standing in them blocking the way to what I had hoped would have been my fastest 10K ever… There was no way of busting through that blockade of people for the first mile or so. It was total gridlock in slow motion. It was hard work keeping my track/road rage in check while I skied on top of one person’s skis after another in slow motion. I am proud to say I managed stay sportsman like, even though during the first mile of the blockade, the thought of full contact xc skiing crossed my mind more than once. Lesson learned, “instead of being blocked by others, show up on time and get a proper starting position towered the front of the pack so you can be the one doing the blocking…”
With barely enough room between the tracks to pass, I lost count of how many times I was hit by someone’s poles as I squeezed my way past. Thankfully I was able to stay focused on getting through the blockade without tackling anyone in front of me. For the better part of 2
Somewhere around mile 3, people in the tracks started thinning out enough that I was able to get in the tracks and stay in them, finally realizing a little speed between jumping from track to track as needed to get around the few blockers that remained. By mile 5 I had passed thousands of people and finally had clear tracks to do what I had come to do and that was to go as fast as my heart would push me on those skis.
I think the last couple miles may actually have been a couple of my fastest miles on skis yet but we will never know because Garmin decided race time was a good time to update my watch so I have no splits to review… When I turned the watch on at the starting line it went into update mode… Thanks, Garmin… This is the third time I have not been able to use my watch for a race because you decided it needed updates at the starting line…
All and all this was a really fun race, and more importantly, my heart never missed a beat or came close to running out of steam. Despite mistakes made leading to the slow start of this race, my heart was still able to land a finish in the top 20% of the few thousand skiing this event. I call that a win for my heart on any day, a loss for heart disease, and a testament to the effects a heart-healthy lifestyle has on chronic disease. The lifestyle we choose determines our health…
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