After four years of pregnancy, nursing, and care of two babies, I had hoped that this would be the year to finally get back into shape enough that I might get back to some kind of competitive sporting event. Although my fitness for racing was a bit questionable for the Mount Washington Cup, the great thing about Citizen's races is that it really is just a chance to get out there and test yourself, but you don't need to have a bunch of experience to just have fun.
After a winter of pristine snow conditions at Bretton Woods, everyone was a bit disappointed to see rain in the forecast the week before the Bretton Woods Nordic Marathon and Mount Washington Cup. Luckily, a winter of nearly daily snowfall had built up a substantial base, and we could survive a few warm days. Not so fortunately, though, a couple days of big melting and rain created an ice jam on the Ammonoosuc River just outside of the Nordic Center that created quite a mess. Bretton Woods staff had to scramble to clear the flooded areas in preparation for their biggest event of the year. And they pulled it off .
Because of some wet areas, both the Marathon and the Mount Washington Cup had to be rerouted and shortened somewhat, but the courses still proved quite challenging. My husband participated in the Marathon while I stayed home with Bridget and napping Timothy. Sunday was my turn to race.
Despite best laid plans, between sick kids and vacations, my cross-country ski training had dwindled in the last month, but I had made a decision to do the Mount Washington Cup, and with only some ego at stake, I really had nothing to lose in giving it a shot.
My cousin Becky, her husband, Mark, and daughter Casey joined us for the weekend of racing as well. All three are experienced triathletes, but new to cross-country skiing. It was great to have some friends on the course, and seeing them race together as a family was great inspiration to me. They are a perfect example of the family that makes it a priority to get outside and be active and have so much fun doing it.
I had taken a skate ski lesson and I had tried to ski as much as I could before the race. I knew from my bike racing days that I needed plenty of food and drink to fuel up before the race. I knew I need a good warm-up to get my heart rate up and my muscles warm before the race. But on the start line, I realized that I really didn’t know what it was going to be like. I knew that it was going to be a bit chaotic as over 100 skiers barreled into a trail that narrows to a width that just barely accommodate two skate skiers. But I didn’t know where exactly I’d stack up in all that.
As we started, I quickly found out. Everyone was double-poling in the elbow-to-elbow positioning. I rarely double-pole, and I wasn’t making a lot of headway. As soon as I could, I began to skate, but people were just streaming past me. The bike racer in me didn’t want to give any ground, so I just skied to the side enough to let them pass. My heart was racing, but I just tried to keep focused on the trail.
By the time we got to the hill by the Eisenhower Wayside Park, the crowd of experienced racers had passed and I flip-flopped back and forth with a few people. I quickly realized that my downhill skiing experience was going to be to my advantage… although my momentum slowed down on the uphills, I could pass some tentative skiers on the downhills. But it was a long slog up hill before I got there. Rolling Dark Forest, up Peter’s Path, and then up and up and up Beech Hill and Clinton. It seemed to take forever to get to the top of Sebosis.
And what a relief it was to cruise down Sebosis. The right onto Stumpwalk took me into a bit of unknown territory. I don’t ski it often because it is usually left ungroomed. But it was a rolling downhill that brought me out onto the bottom of Cornonary Hills, then I knew it was just a cruise back to the Nordic Center. Out on the golf course, the snow got heavy and wet, and I was glad that the snow had held up so well so far.
What a treat it was to see little Bridget scooting around on her cross-country skis as I crossed the finish line. Still running on the adrenaline of the race, I was happy to watch her as she demonstrated to me how fast she could go.
The 12.5 kilometers took me just over an hour, and I ended up 30th out of the 36 women who raced. Cousin Becky’s daughter Casey was second in her age group, followed by my friend Amy’s niece Rachel, who was third. It was great to see the smiles on their faces as these teenage girls adorned their medals, and even more wonderful to know that a taste of success would be just what they needed to keep racing on their radar. And yes, not only did Casey beat me, but she beat both of her parents as well! It’s amazing to think that one day I’ll just be trying to keep up with my kids on the trails and slopes.