Sunday, February 10, 2008

It's been a while

It’s been a long while. My excuse is that my darn computer has been acting up and I've been out of internet access for about a week. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Since the last update I've had five races. Two not so great races, and three better races. Currently, I just got home from Colorado and New Mexico. We left last Wednesday, January 30th, for Crested Butte, Colorado. Crested Butte has been hammered by the weather! They had nearly 7 feet of snow when we got there and probably got another two or so while we were there.

Crested Butte was the highest race that we had been to by that point, coming in at just under 9,000 feet. The start of the race as a pretty large climb to get up on this plateau that we would do laps on. The plan for the classic race was to take it out easy, so we wouldnt 't blow up on the hill, especially at elevation, and pick it up when we hit the plateau. That plan didn't work out so well for us. Raph had the best result of the day for the men's team, placing 10th. Max was 14th, Andy was 17th, and I was 23rd. I definitely was not the best that we could have done. So we stepped back and re-evaluated our race strategy.

The next day, for the 15k skate, the plan was to go out much harder and really throw down once we hit the flats. That seemed to work much better. I went out fairly early, ahead of most of the really fast guys. The splits were going really well right off the bat. After the first lap I was just 4 seconds out of the lead, for the first 23 people. The next split I got, about 3k later I was 7 seconds in the lead! Perfect. All I had to do then was worry about everyone starting behind me. The third lap was the hardest. I fell back quite a bit from where I was. I had a really hard time keeping it together for the last kilometer or so. I ended up 15th that day. After talking to the coaches, I guess I was running in the top 10 for a while, until I fell off the pace the last kilometer. Oh well, lesson learned. The team did much better the second day. Raph was 5th, Andy 10th, and Max was 18th.

The next day was a recovery day, or it was supposed to be. I got to go tele skiing on the mountain with the Alpine team. What a workout tele skiing is on different gear, chasing fast alpiners, through powder, at 10,000 feet or more. To say the least, it was a blast, and a good workout! The resort at Crested Butte is pretty sweet. There are three different bowls that you have to hike out of that have some really nice steep terrain with lots of powder. It looks like it would be a pain in the ass to patrol. After about 4 hours of chasing the 'piners around the mountain my quads were giant knots. I wish I could have got all my money's worth out of that full day ticket, but I could hardly turn.

That night the snow kept coming down. We received a foot or more that night. Too bad I had to spend that day recovering for the next races it would have been nice to go tele skiing again. The alpine team couldn't train gaits, so they went and hit up all the fresh snow. I guess by about 2:30 every thing was tracked out. The most interesting thing that happened around the hotel that day was that all the snow and ice slid off the roof on the back side of the hotel and creamed someone's car! Those poor guys came back from a great day on the mountain only to find that their car was pretty much totalled under a ton of snow.

After spending a week in Crested Butte the team split up; the alpiners went to Taos while we headed to Red River, New Mexico. On our way to New Mexico we stopped at the Great Sand Dunes. This was my third trip out to the Dunes, but still really cool! This year there was still a lot of snow in the mountains behind the dunes. It made for some really cool photos with the contrast between the sand and the snow.

It was bitter sweet to be back at Red River. Nice because I won a race here last year, but on the other hand the town is a little funky. The first night we were there the waiter was really weird, to say the least. It was a relief to get out of that restaurant. Don't go to Timber's Steakhouse if you are ever in Red River, and if you do end up there DON'T sit up stairs. You will just get barraged by complaints of having to walk up the stairs. Thankfully we were able to cook our own meals the rest of our stay in Red River and didn't have to deal with the locals too much.

Anyways for the first time traveling this season we had sun the entire time we were in a town. It seems like every other place we have been to we get one great sunny day then the rest of the stay is overcast and or snowing. In Red River the course starts at 10,000 feet. It is the highest course on the RMISA circuit. This year in Red River we have a 10k classic and a 5k skate race. Luckily I felt acclimated right away. I could hardly feel the lack of oxygen. The classic race went well, I ended up 15th. We did fairly well as a team, Raph was 7th, and Andy was 10th. Alright, but we still felt like we could do better.

The next day was going to be crazy. A lot of us hadn't raced a 5k for quite some time. On top of racing such a short race it was going to be even more interesting at 10,000 feet. The plan was to take it out faster than the 10k but still keep from killing our selves on the first hill then hammer the rest of the course. The race went by soooooo fast! There wasn't any time to think. Pretty much all that was going through my head was, "GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO, rest, breath, breath, GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO". Then it was over. I started 10th, so my goal was to finish in the lead. I just missed my goal by 7 seconds. I finished 12th, just 3.6 seconds out of the top 10. UAA had a really good day that day. Raph was 2nd and Andy finished 5th! The men's nordic team tied for second that day with Denver, 4 points behind Colorado.

On our way back from New Mexico a few of us stopped at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. We hit the Garden right as there was some great low angle light hitting the West side of the fins. It was really fun having my new camera there. When the light went behind the hills there was still enough light to get some great black and white shots that really brought out the textures in the fins.

Well, it's getting late, I'd better sign off. Pictures will come soon.


John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

Hey, Paul.. Nice post! Sounds like a great trip and some solid racing. Congratulations! Sorry I missed you in Anchorage. Looking forward to some pictures when you get a chance.