Everything was on pace for US Biathlon Nationals. Among all the indecision making of February I eventually landed on a solid plan. One that involved a lot of trips to the shooting range and some back to back race pace sessions. And yet with the first race on schedual for tomorrow in Truckee, CA I'm just sitting here in Northern Maine waxing my race skis for a marathon. The logistics of the past six weeks has been about as stable as playing with quick silver. To summarize, here is why I'm not out west and what I've been doing and plan on doing instead.
US nationals were supposed to be an opportunity to get back into the sport and make a case for the next training season. Some of that was a success. I had several successful combos sessions. Last week had four race pace sessions crammed into five days. This included a time trial. I chose the one day when the weather seemed like it would be functional. That is, less gale force winds, and temps above the legal limit. This mostly came true. It rained on the way up to Fort Kent, but held off for the rest of the morning. The snow was a little slow to say the least. This was slower than the snow in Nove Mesto, CZ. I may have well have been racing on Elmers kind of slow. It made for a not so fast 10km. The point was to have a race like situation. Which was a success. I missed one target in the first stage and proceed to clean the last three. This is good news, but where was that 95% shooting back in December on the WC?
With some high intensity sessions under the belt I was back into race shape. Physically anyways. When I heard the the snow conditions in Truckee were on a downward slope and the threat of cancellation was brought up I was't as frustrated as normal. A part of me still cringed at the thought of checking in for a flight. Even if it was out of Presque Isle. After being so committed to making the trip happen I pulled the plug on it at the last minute. With just over 24 hours before my flight I made the call and decided not to race US Nationals. I'll never know for sure, but the thought of a ten day trip for three races that may or may not happen on a 1.5km loop of snow just wasn't appealing enough. There was little to no snow in Europe this year and even less in the western US. So where is winter 2014/15?
This is where staying home and racing in the east became a foreseeable option. The Sugarloaf marathon is this weekend. This is the same marathon I raced last year. It's a nice closed in course with a slightly unique profile. More than anything it's with driving distance and there's no lack of snow issue to be dealt with. The physical shape is a little unknown right now, but that's okay. These races are just fun to show up to at the last minute and suffer through. Some old friends will be around which adds to the weekend.
Other than that I would like to complain about the wind. Seems most everyday this past month in Northern Maine has been wind blasted. It's intimidating when you're trying to start a work out and you can't even here yourself think. Much less trying to zero. It's a good thing it's not roller ski season otherwise we would be dealing with tornadoes (fact: wind always blows against you when on roller skis). The cold temps are okay. The trick is load on the extra layers and keep moving.
Racing has been at a minimum since January. I did the 21km double pole race in Limestone and par took in the infamous Stockholm Winter Carnival. I don't want to brag, but I took two wins in the 100yd and 220 yard ski dashes. It was fun to see so many people skiing and using the school trails. And slightly less nerve racking for the racing side as it was back in 1992.
Realistically the racing season was over after Euro Champs in late January. Officially it will be over after the 44km race this Saturday. The WC field is finishing up the season in Siberia right now. I wish I was there to be a part of the scene, but in all fairness this was not the season to do so. I could go on but that will have to wait for another day. This could be a good spring for crust skiing provided the wind hasn't blown all of the snow off the fields.
Will try to have some more pictures up by the weekend.