One Athlete's Mind
After just writing an article for my team to recap Nationals, I thought I'd go straight into this blog post while the writing juices are still flowing. (***Side note, I'll put a link up here sometime next week for anyone who'd like to read that article.***)
March 17th - 24th marked my last week of racing of the 2011/2012 season. The 2012 National Championships were held in Mont Sainte-Anne Quebec, home my the 2007 Nationals as well. This was my first time repeating a Nationals venue so it was pretty cool to go back to Mont Sainte-Anne and race on the same courses as five years ago. As usual, the week got underway with the Team Sprints/Club Relays. These races were held in Quebec City on the Plains of Abraham where it became pretty clear that snow was going to be an issue that week. The stadium was full of rocks and dirt in the snow, and the 200m warm up loop was half under water already. Despite the conditions, the races commenced and I teamed up with my Hardwood teammate Bob Thompson. It wasn't a stellar day for us, having not advanced to the Final,. but to me that race was just a means to tune the body for the upcoming individual races, so we weren't overly bummed.
Two days later I was back on my race skis, this time at Mont Sainte-Anne for a 10km Classic race. My feelings about this race were kind of that of my whole season this year. I had a strong race, keeping my head on straight and fighting all the way through, but just didn't quite have that elusive "great race feeling" I've been looking for since December. I finished 29th Overall, and was the 21st Canadian which isn't bad by any means, but I know I could have been top 15. Day two of individual racing was...a bit of a gongshow (not a term I usually use, but most appropriate, PG term I can think of haha). This was a 15km individual start skate race starting around 2pm. Usually racing in the afternoon is OK, but under the scorching sun and well over 20 degree temperatures, it was a tough slog through the slush to say the least.
Two days following that sufferfest was the skate sprints which thankfully were moved from the Plains of Abraham back to Mont Sainte-Anne (by this time in the week the Plains likely resembled Frosty the snow man after standing in a sandbox in mid June for a day or two). The race organizers did a great job preparing the course for the sprints at Mont Sainte-Anne, however despite the fast conditions I miss qualifying for the heats by 3 seconds. It was following this race that I made my goal for next year to qualify in the top 30 in every sprint race I compete in.
Finally, two days later, was the race I was waiting for, the 50km classic mass start. As a first year Senior, this would my first time racing anything over 30km, so I was very anxious to see how I would fair. Looking back I'm surprised I slept the night before, having been bouncing off the walls at our house and playing "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey on the piano as much as I could (I learned it during my downtime during the week, I was proud of myself haha). But anyways, back to the 50km... My starting position had me in the 6th row which was a bit of a let down, but luckily my lane got off the start quickly and by 200m into the race I was up in the top 15 or so. I skied the first 4km feeling awesome and surrounded by the red and white of the National Team suits, when we hit the biggest downhill on the course and I went down. Hard. Since it was 8:30am the track was still nice and icy which meant speeds probably pushing 60-65km/h, which made for a long, hit-by-a-bus type feeling crash. As you can imagine, those who stayed on their feet were immediately well ahead of me by the time I was back up and moving again, but knowing that I still had another 46km of racing to do, I decided not to panic and to go my own pace. It wasn't helped when a couple of my buddies who crashed with me decided to go hard to try to catch up to a pack, but I knew that if I skied controlled like I knew I could, I'd likely be seeing them in an hour or so. And sure enough, after they put probably a minute into be, 30km later one of them started coming into view again. Thanks to my calmness after my crash I was able to catch, pass and beat him in the end by over 3 minutes. In my last lap (5km laps) I caught the other guy I crashed with, along with 3 or 4 other guys who had gone out too hard, and almost had two more when I crossed the finish line in 22nd place. Had I not crashed I am fairly confident that I would have been in the top 15, so that's a little hard to accept, but I am still super happy with how I skied my first 50km race. And if it wasn't hard enough to be my first 50km, I ended up skiing that last 46km completely alone, so that made me feel even better about how I raced it.
That night all the skiers headed into Quebec City for the Banquet, and then out to experience the City's night life. Sunday afternoon we got everything packed up, waved goodbye to the snow and started the trip back to Thunder Bay. I'll be spending the next week here, doing some random training and having some post season meetings, and then next Wednesday night I'm off to Penetang!! The plan is spend April and maybe a bit of May in Penetang before returning to Tbay to start the 2012/2013 training season, but we all know how quickly plans can change!
Since this is my season wrap up post, I'd just like to say thank you first to all my sponsors and supporters (see sponsors tab above) for all of your support this year. It's thanks to your support and my dedication to the sport that I am able to do what I do, and it's an honor to have you guys on Team Jordan!! And to everyone who reads this blog and follows my life's adventures, it means a lot to know there are people out there who care enough about what I'm trying to accomplish to follow my endeavors, so again, thank you all so much for your support!!!!
Until next time,
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world, there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were all meant to shine as children. It's not just in some of us it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same, as we are liberated from our own fear."
- Marianne Williamson
It's been a while since my last post, so despite it being a fairly tame last few weeks, I thought I'd do one more most before my last set of races of the year.
After returning home from the NorAm races in Orford QC I was pretty beat, which ultimately led to my developing a cold once I settled into being home. But unlike last year in February when I got sick, I was able to take that time to really let my body recover, and a few days later I was back on the trails. It's been a great couple weeks of training, feeling better every day. I had a couple race efforts just after I came back from being sick and they did NOT feel good, so I'll admit that was a little unsettling. But since then I've been able to get a bit of volume in and my last couple intensity sessions have felt much better. So with Nationals just around the corner, my fitness is definitely moving in the right direction!
I'll be leaving Thunder Bay on Wednesday of this week and flying to Mont St. Anne QC which will be hosting the Canadian National Championships this year. These Nationals should be pretty interesting for a number of reasons. Being my 7th Nationals that I've competed in, this will be my first time repeating a Nationals venue ('07 was the same place), so I'm looking forward to seeing how much of the trails I remember (I was smaller then so I'm hoping the hills won't seem so big now :)). With the timing of the races this year, Canada's World Cup team is supposed to be racing, as well as some of the top young Norwegians and a handful of French skiers too (one of which was the Silver medalist in the 2006 Olympic Sprints), so I'm really looking forward to racing some of the top international athletes as well as the usual domestic racers. And finally, being my first year as a Senior Man, I'll be doing my first 50km race!!! (for those of you back home in Penetang/Midland, that's about the distance from Penetang to Barrie). The longest race I've ever done is 30km, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how I handle an extra 20km haha.
Following Nationals I'll be back in Tbay for another 10 days or so doing some season wrap up type things, and then it'll be home to Penetang for Easter weekend and a few weeks of recovery time.
Until next time,
Happy March 12th!!
"Gold medals aren't really made of gold. They're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts."
- Dan Gable
Jordan Cascagnette, Student-Athlete, Ski Coach