Thursday, February 23, 2012
Staying on course for the Wednesday Night Series has not proven to be so easy for me this year. That makes two out of three for skiing off course. Once again, my fault but perhaps this time with a little bit of caveat: it was dark. Wednesday was my birthday and I wasn't all too psyched about passing on a night at Silver Gulch Brewery for a celebration dinner--putting that off until later but I lined up feeling not too bad. Did a mid-day run for half of my warm up, and then skied about half the course once I got there. Once again, perfect temps, 15 with an inch or two of fresh, light snow on the trails. The course seemed pretty straight forward, stadium hill, bypass, White Bear to Sonot cutoff, back, then first part of Warm-up and then take the cutoff at the bottom of the hill up the hill and back into the stadium. Piece of cake, right? Several of the usual suspects (Tyson, Kramer, Edic, Baker) weren't there but I'd have my hands full with Arvey, Lokken, and Kaufman in the mix, plus several others who are always right in there, like Holton, and newcomer Dash H. We started off in a mad dash up the hill, with Ben a little J3 scampering into 2nd place. Dash, the early leader took the first wrong turn, down East Ramp and all we could do was signal, no bypass! So it was me and Dave heading down the hill into White Bear, but I could feel the pack of 5 or 6 right on the tails of my skis. Don't look back. Down the long descent toward the 3.2 km Sonot cutoff, it was down to just 3 of us. My skis felt fast so I took the lead--half way in and I'm Leading? My 54th birthday?! I led most of the way up to the Moilainen turn, and relinquished to Max, who usually has faster skis. Mine were running great! (hadn't re-waxed since Sunday's race). I tucked tight into the hollow by the biathlon range and held my own. At the hump, before the climb out of White Bear, Max let up a bit and I figured okay what the heck let's go. Hammered fairly hard up the hill--trying to pace and keep breathing in check a little--when not one but two guys came stomping past, they were flying! What the heck?! Oh, couple guys from Estle's training group doing some uphill intervals. Settled back in on the switchbacks and tried to catch a breath for the sprint home. Had a gap too, into the stadium and down the hill. Then the lights went out. I had only an instant to react to the trail split, straight and left or straight. Both in the dark. We've had 3 or 4 races this year with that hard left, and none with the straight, so I went on autopilot and took the hard left. Took a sec to realize my error as I ran into the tape across the trail--presumably orange but looked black! Whipped around and hopped onto the other dark trail just time to have Max slip by. I about gave up but tucked in behind him and Dave as we went up the hill. Dave moved first, about 3/4 of the way up. I moved but it was too little and he pulled away to win by a couple of seconds, 17:40s or 50s for 5.5K? Something like that. Gahh. We went over the course but the only way I'd have figured it out would be to have had lights or to have skied it beforehand. The good news is that I feel great heading into March, best in years. And it's all in fun anyway.