One Athlete's Mind
Last weekend marked the beginning of the domestic race season here in Canada with the Haywood NorAm races at Sovereign Lakes near Silver Star BC. Having spent the last 2 months visualizing the race courses at Sovereign and thinking about these races, I was super excited to gauge my fitness against my competitors for the first time this year, and to see how hard I could push myself. Being my first year in the Senior Men's category I was very excited to see how I compared to the rest of the men in the country (as well as some highly ranked americans).
The weekend started off with classic sprints, and was a bit of a disappointment for me. With sprint racing, only the top 30 qualifying times advance to the heats. By the time I left the start line on Saturday, having done my usual warm up routine, I knew something was a little off. My body just didn't seem to want to let me ski as fast and efficiently as I have been in training, so my qualifier felt like 3 minutes and 43 seconds of panicky movements instead of the controlled powerful motions that I have been practicing all Fall. Sadly, this resulted in my having the 33rd fastest qualifying time in Senior Men, meaning that I missed out on the heats by 0.9 seconds. I was definitely bummed about not qualifying for my first sprint heats in Senior Men, but I knew I still had one more race to do the next day. So I made some quick notes to debrief from my race Saturday morning, and then began thinking about the next race.
Sunday's race was a 15km classic individual start race. Having already done a time trial on the same course the week before, I knew what to expect from the course, and I knew how I wanted to ski it. The race was 3 laps of a 5km course with lots of long climbs that were great for striding. I started out pretty hard, wanting to get into a good rhythm that I could hopefully hold for the full 15km. But on the second lap my mind was starting to become aware of the fatigue my body was starting to feel, and I had a few minutes where my technique started to falter a bit. Thankfully I was able to regain my focus, my energy came back and I was able to finish strong. I wound up finishing 25th in Open Men, being my first time getting a top 30 result in Open Men in a NorAm. I was also 17th Canadian, and 8th Cdn Under 23, so I was pretty happy with my result. My biggest goals for the year involve being one of the top Under 23 Men in Canada this year, so I will always be watching those results as well as my overall Open Men results.
Monday morning we took our times packing and cleaning up our condos before hitting the road for the next races in Rossland. We pulled in to our new accommodations here in Rossland around 6pm last night. This morning we headed over to the race venue to check out the courses, and I took the opportunity to test some new skis against my old ones. We have a few more days of training this week before the second NorAm races this weekend. Saturday will be a skate sprint, followed by what we are all expecting to be a very sketchy 15km skate mass start race on Sunday (80 guys + skate mass start + super narrow trails = carnage).
Immediately following Sunday's races the team and I will empty out our condos, jump in the van and head to Kelowna for our last dinner together before we all go home for Christmas early Monday morning. I'll throw up another post once I'm back in Penetang to recap this weekend races.
When I wrote my last post on my blog here I was hoping to make my blog posts a little more frequent... I guess this goes to show this is a bad time of year to make a goal like that.
After the Pancake run a few weeks ago, the team and I continued our final preparations for the race season, and on November 30th we traveled from Thunder Bay to Silver Star for our last mini training camp of the year. This is also the beginning of our early season racing trip, with the first NorAm (North American) races taking place this weekend in Silver Star. The races this weekend will come in the form of classic sprints on Saturday, and a 15km classic individual start on Sunday. This will be my first season competing in the Senior Men category, so I am very excited to see how I stack up against the fastest men in the country! Following the race on Sunday we will be driving to Rossland BC for the next set of NorAm races taking place the following weekend. And then after that, I'll be home for Christmas!!
With my first week on snow almost at an end, I must say I have been pleasantly surprised by how well my new techniques that I developed over the summer on rollerskis are translating onto snow. This is something that can prove to be difficult at times, so I'm very happy with how my actual on snow skiing is coming along. Yesterday the team and I did a classic TT (time trial) just to get any pre race jitters out and to experience racing on snow before we get to do it for real on the weekend. This TT may have been by best ski racing experience I've ever had, so I am now even MORE excited to see what I can do in the NorAms. In the past my biggest problem in distance races had been that when I get tired, my technique would completely fall apart. And for anyone who knows what that's like, you know that it is basically impossible to continue skiing fast when this happens. Because of this, I made it one of my goals over the Summer/Fall months to really address this problem, and after yesterday's TT I think it's safe to say that I have achieved that goal. I think when you reach a certain point of fatigue in a race, there will always be a little bit of technique breakdown, but I have definitely improved on this drastically over last year!
Today the team and I are taking an easy day to relax in Vernon, both to recover from the past week of training, and also to reset our minds to race mode and start mentally preparing for the weekend. Wednesday to Friday will be spent on the race courses testing skis and doing what we need to do to give ourselves the best chance of racing fast. And then come Saturday, it's race time!
I may do another post later this week if anything overly exciting happens, but if not check back early next week for a recap of the races!
Jordan Cascagnette, Student-Athlete, Ski Coach