Lyndsay Meyer and I made a quick trip up Hayden this morning before work. Such a fun ski!
After 11 years of living in the Roaring Fork Valley and being in awe of Mt. Sopris daily, I finally got Ian to the summit yesterday. He’s never been motivated to hike or ski the mountain as he prefers to mountain bike the amazing trails at the base, but I mentioned it late Saturday evening and he jumped on the opportunity. The weather wasn’t pleasant with high winds and not much in the way of sun, but once we determined the snow was stable we went anyway. We don’t have many early mornings without the kids so when my parents took them overnight, we had to take advantage. It wasn’t my fastest trip up and down Sopris but it was my favorite (despite a little whining on my part with my crappy skiing).
I thoroughly enjoyed the suffering of coming back to my first skimo race of the season yesterday at Sunlight. It’s not always fun to push that hard for over two hours, but yesterday was different. Racing along with friends makes the suffering more enjoyable.
I worked hard to race my own race and stay within my limits. With work and coaching, I’ve spent more time on my skate skis this season with some skinning sessions in between. I had no idea where my fitness was but figured the race was the best way to find out. I was pleasantly surprised with where I’m at in January and am motivated to get out for more training.
Jessie Young came from behind for the win with Lindsay Plant close behind in 2nd and myself in 3rd. I’m looking forward to another battle next weekend at Powderhorn.
**Update** Check out my good friend Jeffrey Kapahn’s photos from the weekend. Jeffrey and I go way back to Vail – he’s a super talented photographer and a jeweler (he designed my wedding ring!)
If the La Sportiva Irwin race was my reintroduction to skimo racing, then the Wyoming Randonee Roundup was a full immersion. Three races in two days definitely put me to the test. Whether it was denial or pure naivety, prior to last weekend I had convinced myself that I hadn’t lost my endurance despite not racing in more than a year. I’m not sure if it was a lack of endurance, missing my top-end race pace, or the lack of articulation on my ankle, but by Sunday’s race at Jackson Hole I was a bumbling greenhorn.
Racing began on Saturday morning at Grand Targhee Resort on the Idaho side of Teton Pass. In the past, the Targhee race has been on Sunday after nationals at Jackson on Saturday. Therefore, I’ve never been fresh for this race but this year I felt a little stronger. I reached the top of the first climb just over a minute off of Stevie Kremer–about where I expected I would be. Despite a cartwheeling crash and a small hike back up for my pole, I came into transition with Stevie still there. Although I could see her for much of the second climb, she was already gone by the time I reached the top of the boot pack and transitioned for the second descent. Starting the last climb, I told myself to keep doing what I could do even with Stevie almost four minutes ahead. After a final frigid tuck descent to the finish, I came in under three minutes back.Racing at Snow King
After the Targhee race, there wasn’t much time to do much but eat, hydrate and get back over to Jackson for the circuit race at Snow King right that started at 6pm. Snow King is small mountain with just two lifts, but it’s a great resource for Jackson locals as they allow uphill traffic all hours (Jackson Hole does not permit any uphill traffic except for the race). Forest Dramis, Cary Smith and Pete Swenson set a fun course of about 6-8 kickturns, a boot pack and a descent through some gates. We completed the circuit for 3 laps with a small uphill finish. It was very spectator-friendly and great to have so many people heckling and cheering us on. After just 23 minutes of racing, I finished 41 seconds behind Stevie. That girl is fast!
After an early bedtime, I woke up Sunday morning feeling a bit off but ready to get race #3 over and done with. I was nervous about the weather as it was forecasted to be very cold with lots of wind. And for once, the weather people were correct. The base of Jackson Hole was mild but it was -9 degrees at the top. At the start I stuck to Stevie’s tails as long as I could but I found myself slipping back after about 12 minutes of racing. By the time we reached the top of the first climb I was over two minutes back. Telling myself to race my own race just like I did in 2012, I continued to push myself and managed to pass a few men. Although Stevie continued to put a little more time into me with each ascent, I stuck with the guys I’d been racing around for a while and we created a small gap over a chase group.
Coming into Corbett’s Couloir, the wind was fierce and my hands were numb (despite having hand warmers in my gloves) so I stopped to add over-mitts. We all knew we had to suffer through the short climb to the top of the tram so we could descend back to the bottom of the resort and get out of the wind. I went into survival mode at some point and was happy to begin the long ski down. Normally I enjoy the final climb of the race. But this year, with a lack of snow, the skin track was almost non-existent and I struggled to get a flat ski on the snow with my bad foot, causing me to slip every other step. And this is where I went backwards. Frustrated and feeling defeated, I almost dropped out with just a few kickturns left. I forced myself to keep going and finally I made it across the finish line almost 13 minutes behind Stevie and over 20 minutes slower than 2012.
I was so relieved to be finished – it felt like I had raced a six-day expedition adventure race. But I was also frustrated with my performance. It sounds silly to complain when I finished in 2nd place, but performing to the best of my ability is more important to me than my standing. Having a bad race comes with the territory and it happens to all of us. For a few hours after the race I had decided I didn’t need to race again, but eventually I felt motivated to train harder, do more physical therapy and get myself back in the game.
Big ups to Stevie and John Gaston, who completed a clean sweep of all three races in pretty convincing fashion. They’re both going to be hard to beat this season. Full results here.
I took the day off my skis yesterday and then went back to racing on Wednesday night for the first of the Highlands Skimo Series. Over 25 people showed up for the race, including lots of first-timers, which was great to see. My legs were certainly tired, but thanks to a wrong turn by a bunch of the field, I finished near the front. Next up I’ve got the Sunlight Heathen Challenge on Saturday. I hope and trust all this racing will help get my fitness back to where it used to be. Hope to see lots of you this weekend!
To say I was anxious for my first race back would definitely be an understatement. I was concerned about my ankle being ready to race, if I remembered how to transition quickly, if I had any fitness and if I would just completely implode. Thankfully, catching up with so many of my SkiMo friends before the race helped calm my nerves and get me into the right head space at the start line.
Despite a very short warm-up, I worked hard from the gun to get on the skin track as far up as possible and as close to Stevie Kremer as I could. Stevie quickly started to open a gap (as I fully expected) so I pushed myself to keep the separation small while still trying to race my own race. There were a few moments in the first ascent when I thought I might hurl, but I managed to push past it without leaving any surprises for the racers behind me.
Keeping Stevie in my sights, I completed the the first two ascents and descents. By the third and final climb, I started to feel better and closed the gap slightly (of course, this may have been because Stevie slowed since she knew I couldn’t catch her, but I’ll just pretend it was all from my effort). The final descent reinforced how much I need to get out and train on the downhills but I was really happy to be finishing in second place, just three minutes behind.
In the end, it was a great day of racing at Irwin Lodge. Bryan Wickenhauser, Dave Ochs and the rest of the crew at Elk Mountain Events put on a spectacular race along with La Sportiva and Irwin Lodge. A special thanks go out to JD and Everett of Sportiva for their support!
Full results can be found here. Congrats to John Gaston who won the men’s race, and then sprinted back to Aspen where he won the Aspen Uphill that night–impressive! Next race is January 4-5 in Jackson!