Getting to Senior Nationals and kicking off the first race four days ago occurred without any hang-ups. Traveling from Alaska to Michigan went smoothly, although it did take awhile. I flew to Anchorage and spent the night before heading to Minneapolis (on a direct flight, score!). The team then spent the night in Minneapolis before driving to Houghton in snowy conditions, which took almost another eight hours.
The first race of the week was on Sunday (the 4th)- a 15k skate. The conditions here have been fairly cold, windy, humid and snowy. I’m used to the cold part, but certainly not the other three conditions. During the 15km I dressed super warm and was comfortable racing- except that my cheeks got really cold and have been feeling tender ever since. Logan and Reese Hannamen’s parents were cheering on course and on the first lap yelled at me ‘to cover my cheeks’. The next time I saw them they told me that my ‘cheeks look better’ along with their other, more standard words of encouragement. It was funny to hear cheering that consisted with reports on how my skin was looking.
Along with getting cold cheeks I felt pretty strong racing and finished 7th overall, which matches my best US National skate distance result. I really enjoy the courses here and like how they flow, but Tuesday I really struggled to stay focused throughout the race. I had a strong last 3km and that’s something I’ve had issues with in the past- so I was glad to end the race on a positive note.
In the Classic sprint yesterday my coach and I decided to have me sit out from the race to allow my lungs and immune system to completely recover before the 30km race coming up. In previous years I have never sat out races, but this fall I have been having a trend of racing then getting a chest cold and cough two days following the hard effort. We figured it was a better idea to play it conservative, as there are still lots of races left in the season.
All week the Alaska Pacific University women have been strong with three in the top five during the 10km skate and Rosie and Becca taking 1st and 2nd in the classic sprint yesterday. I’m hoping the APU men and myself can get at their level later this week.
On a different note- before leaving for Nationals I fit in a single morning of bird hunting, which I had been looking forward to all fall. It was a crazy good day. We found a flock of about 20 sharp tail grouse, then later came across another group of ten. The grouse were sitting under the wind blown snow below the surface until we nearly stepped on them- then they would come flying out from underneath the snow. It was exciting, but I definitely missed a lot of birds. Next summer I am forcing myself to shoot some clay pigeons so I don’t embarrass myself next fall.
Next race: 30km Classic Mass Start! Thursday. You can watch live results here: