Skate skiing race (Rangeley Lakes Loppet) 2:46:16 47.13 km (3:32 / km) +771m 3:16 / km
Forecast was for rain or sleet, and we ended up with sleet, which was the better option. So, I chose skis that would be running better when it got wetter, later in the race, and I'm glad I did. Q2 on the 1998 Fischers, with jetstream new snow over a mix of toko HF red/yellow. They were good; comparable to the other girls I was skiing with and way faster than the masters around me. Unfortunately, fast skis are only as fast as the skier on top of them.
Rangeley got a foot of snow on Thursday night, so it was super soft. I knew this would give my calf some trouble, and I was right - the first 10km weren't happy, but the calf wasn't exploding, just uncomfortable. I had to focus on putting my left ski down in an already-skied rut, so that I wouldn't be pushing off and having my ski sliding backward. Ugh. But I could ski, and when it started to sleet, the snow began to pack down a little better.
By about 5km in, I was in a pack with the top five women, a few master men, and the girl who won it last year was setting the pace. She would occasionally try to go a little faster, but the two Dartmouth girls (Steph Crocker and Izzy Caldwell) and I were on slightly better skis, so Sabra couldn't get away. She led all the way to nearly the top of the long straight wind-tunnel hill of death; you could tell she was trying to pull off the trick of just skiing away from us, but Stephi wasn't about to let that happen, and she'd close any gaps, pulling the rest of us. We dropped Mary Stewart somewhere around 15km, which was nice - one less to worry about!
After that wind-tunnel hill of death, the pace increased, we also hit more hills. It had been pretty relaxed until then, and I took a pull from 21-25km, just to slow things back down to a comfortable pace for me. As we came through the lap - only 25km left! - I noticed that my arms were pretty shot. Damn. I have a lot of skiing left. Stephi took the lead again and we managed to drop Sabra on one of the long uphills; she caught back up with the help of a master skier on the windy downhill, but I knew what was going on. Once you start to yo-yo, you're toast.
After the feed at 32km, I took another pull, and made a mistake here. I was hoping to drop Sabra again, so went entirely too hard. My legs were starting to get tired, too, not good in soft snow, and I burned many matches going up those winding hills. When I finally slipped back in the paceline, I was tired, and I knew it. Steph and Izzy still looked relaxed, and I knew it wasn't long before I was a goner. It happened at 40km, at that wind-tunnel of death hill. I let a gap open up, and suddenly there was a lot of wind in my face and a lot of heavy breathing and my legs felt way heavier. I saw Stephi upping the tempo up front, and knew I couldn't close that gap when they were attacking each other, but since I had a small gap on Sabra (30s?), I had to keep pushing. Those last 10km were agony, but I kept reminding myself to use my core, and nothing cramped up. The last two km were just mind games. "You can do anything for eight minutes. Go faster! she's going to catch you!".
I held Sabra off, finishing 2-3min behind Stephi (winner) and Izzy, and a minute or two in front of Sabra. It was super fun to ski in a pack of women for so long, and I was really appreciative of the guys in our pack not jumping between the girls, except to help us close gaps. In other words, I actually had fun at the Rangeley marathon!
Fueling strategy: huge (900kcal) breakfast, gel on the start line, 3/4 of a bottle of heed and 5 half-glasses of heed and 2 of water. Seemed like enough; I definitely still had some food in my stomach starting out, but not enough to be uncomfortable. No bonking, no cramping, and I think the tiredness was more due to the fact that I haven't done any distance skiing since December than poor fueling.