I hit the first ski race in the Weston training series Tuesday night. It quite possibly was the coldest Tuesday night race on record. Temperatures likely dipped into the single digits by 7pm. The wind was howling. And for good measure, all of the snow guns were going full blast. When it is that cold out, the guns can make snow at an incredible rate. It comes out like sleet, driven by the machine and high winds. It couldn't be avoided on much of the course. Good times.
After warming up three laps, we got quick race instructions, then lined up. We'd be doing three laps, which was nearly 5km by my GPS. These short ones hurt harder. The course was a total mixed bag. There were a couple sections of ball bearing granular over boiler plate, some random small glazed ice patches, ankle deep mashed potatoes, and a whole bunch of in between. Overall, the course was not very fast. The deep snow making areas took a lot of power to muscle through.
Continuing last year's format, the race is broken up into two fields, since a single field was getting too big. My two-year finishing average is about 18% back overall, so that stages me just ahead of the midpoint of the first field. I was reluctant to stage where I belonged, as I feared my own all-out flailing on portions of the course. I wanted to hide in the back. The course was groomed pretty wide, and I found only some of the icy patches warming up. You don't always get to pick your line when going full throttle during the race.
Several skiers failed to keep the P-tex side down. Part way into the first lap, a guy went down right in front of Marvin and I around a turn. That caused an immediate gap that hurt badly to close back up. A little while later, another kid found one of the icy patches I discovered warming up, and he splayed out right next to me. Now I was getting paranoid.
On lap two, Victor came around. Or at least I'm pretty sure it was him. Most skiers left very little skin exposed. You have to go by size and technique. Alex (again, I think) popped into the mix too. Impeccable form gave her away. I'd do ok if I could hang with these two for another lap and a half, I told myself. Several others were clinging on, and each time we took the Mt Weston bypass, there were multiple attempts to gain positions. I held my spot, coming scary close to the hurl threshold. Yeah, that's why I put up with having my eyes shot-blasted out of my skull by snow guns. I wanted the intensity that only a competitive environment can push you into.
On the third lap, another kid came around me. I hoped he wouldn't fade and then let a gap open from Victor and Alex, as I didn't have any more gap closing reserve left in me. On the finishing grade however, he must have found a patch of ice and took himself out. That kind of sucks 50m from the line. I narrowly missed that one too.
Not sure where I ended up, but I probably did ok relative to my peer group. I was pretty happy to escape unscathed, but do really need to work on my cornering. I skied for several more laps afterwards, since I could finally feel my fingers again. Finished with about 21km in 1:20hrs. Hopefully Weston can make and stockpile a bunch of snow this week. None in forecast, and it looks like more warm rain again this weekend. I don't do trainers. Weston is my primary midweek cardio workout.