Craftsbury Marathon and Boulder Mountain Tour
This is a bit of a longer post so that I can update you on the past two weekends of racing and traveling, so feel free to skip around!
The past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind with four marathons in three weekends, in three different states, from east to west. Traveling and racing this much starts to take a toll and these are a few things that I like to do that helps minimize the impact. Most importantly, if I am flying, or driving more than four hours, I don’t consider travel days as recovery days. They often include waking up early and traveling all day, which is not easy on the body. I try to keep my eating schedule as normal as possible and to drink plenty of water with electrolytes. However, as you might suspect, I am starting to feel quite tired and I am ready to have a few weekends off to reset and recharge for the Birkie!
The last two weekends or racing were both in places that I love, Vermont and Idaho.
Craftsbury Marathons: 40 km Classic and 27 km Skate
First up was the double weekend in Craftsbury for the Craftsbury Marathon and SuperTour. I was excited to head up to Craftsbury and spend time with my former GRP teammates and catch up on all the updates from their traveling and racing.
The first race on the schedule was the 40k classic and it looked like it would be a klister day with a similar field as last year; me, Caitlin Patterson and Ida Sargent.
My motto this year is to be brave. I am not a huge risk taker and I like to play things safe in races, which often ensures a decent outcome, but it also holds me back from really finding my limits. I decided that in every race I entered this year, I was going to take a risk and race like I had nothing to lose, because I don’t! It is less about wanting to win and more about racing uninhibited.
Photo courtesy of Philip Balena.
I went into the 40k knowing I wanted to push myself and see what happened. After one lap of the race, I decided I was ready to go and I put in a surge which left me alone off the front. I still had half the race left to ski but I told myself to keep pushing and if I blew up so be it. I managed to keep it together and ended up with a gallon of maple syrup for my efforts.
Photo courtesy of Philip Balena.
I was incredibly sore after the classic race and had my doubts about whether I could hang with the more competitive SuperTour field in the 27k skate the next day. Only one way to find out! I told myself to just hang on to the lead group as long as possible and not let myself give into fatigue. I survived a painful early surge by Margie Freed, and surprised myself by staying connected to the top six much longer than I anticipated. I was starting to feel like maybe I could do more than just hang on.
Unfortunately, I caught an edge and crashed on the downhill before the major climb and got disconnected from the lead group. Even though I got up quickly, it was all I could do to catch back up to Sarah Goble, who had also been separated, and we worked together to try and limit the damage. Sarah and I are close friends and there is something special about working together, while also pushing each other to the limit and loving every second of it. Sarah got the best of me that day, and I ended up 6th overall. I was proud of that result, not just because it tied my best SuperTour result, but because I fought hard and enjoyed every moment of the race.
I love racing in Craftsbury and as always I was sad to leave. I barely had time to catch my breath before I headed back to Idaho for another of my favorite races: The Boulder Mountain Tour.
Boulder Mountain Tour:
Four days after the Craftsbury races, I was headed up to the midpoint of the BMT course to test skis with my friends from BSF Pro who were also in town for the race. I try to keep my ski testing as simple and efficient as possible. I like to test pairs against each other, starting with the skis that are the most similar to each other. Once I have narrowed it down to two pairs, I do a glide out to confirm if the ski that feels the best is actually faster. The conditions were a bit tricky, since it had been raining the past two days and there were a few inches of wet fresh snow on the trail. I was not entirely confident in my ski choice, since the conditions I tested in were not entirely the same as what the conditions would be on race morning. Nothing felt fast, but I worked through my process, reminded myself that all of the top women were all in the same boat, and went with my gut.
After testing and pre-race, I headed to the BMT Expo to pick up my bib and spend a couple hours sitting at a booth chatting with friends and meeting new people. It was great to catch up with people I knew from a wide range of places, including parents of former college teammates and family friends, and update them on my racing. One of the highlights of the expo was signing a postcard for a young girl who is learning to ski on the same trails that I did in Hailey. I feel very self conscious having my picture on a postcard, but it felt special to potentially be someone that girl could potentially look up to.
Photo courtesy of Jody Zarkos
And then it was race day. The women’s field was incredibly strong and any of the top seven could have won. I was a bit flustered on race morning and didn’t feel that focused, motivated or energetic. As we lined up at the start, I didn’t feel confident about my chances of winning against the field, but within the first few kilometers of the race, I felt my mindset switch from “why should it be me?” to “why shouldn’t it?”
I saw Mariah Bredal take a feed about a kilometer before the Prairie Creek aid station (~10k) and my first thought was “uh oh.” I knew she would have last year’s narrow 4th place finish front and center in her mind, and would be out for blood. Mariah and I have often bonded over our lack of natural sprinting ability. Usually our strategy is a battle of aerobic attrition - go hard and go early and try to break people before the finish. And that’s exactly what she did, putting in a massive surge at Prairie Creek. I went with her, and soon enough we were alone. We took turns in the lead, knowing that our only chance to stay away was to work together and keep the pace high since the majority of the race is downhill.
It was clear she was stronger and fresher, and soon I just settled into survival mode, thankful for each kilometer that ticked by. I knew that if I was with her in the final stretch I had a chance to sprint for the win. I put myself in the best position I could for the final sprint, but Mariah was stronger.
I was very happy with this race. Of course I wanted to win. To miss out by 0.34 seconds is kind of brutal, especially since I have dreamed of winning this race since I was a kid. But I also know that I did everything I could and even being that close is incredible. I felt like I was racing at a higher level and with so much enjoyment that it is hard to be disappointed. The BMT has such electric energy and I hope that I can come back again next year!
The best cheer squad around - my sister and parents!
For now though, I am looking forward to some rest and recovery before (hopefully) heading back to Hayward for the Birkie.