One Athlete's Mind
Last weekend wrapped up the last Haywood NorAm race weekend of the year at Mt. Orford, Quebec. Having been racing Nationally for several years now, it was nice to be going to a new domestic venue where I had never been before, as it doesn't happen that often these days. We had a solid week of training leading up to it getting to know the trails, which was nice because there was so many! Definitely a little narrow in places, especially for Sunday's 20km skate mass start, but very fun all the same.
It was a 2 day race weekend, first one of those since before Christmas, and started off with a 10km classic individual start on Saturday. It was a unique race in that it was one lap of a 10km loop (usually it's 2x5km or 3x3.3km), so it had a bit of a different feel to it. I was feeling pretty good going in, and was pretty happy with the race overall. I hit a bit of a wall (figuratively) about 4km in where I was really feeling the pain and fatigue from going for it from the start, but after fighting through that for a few hundred meters I managed to get the feeling out of my head and was feeling good and strong again. I ended up 17th Open Men, 10 seconds out of 13th, so it was quite the close race.
Day 2 was the aforementioned 20km Skate Mass Start, and it was quite the race for me. The race began and 5km into the race I got into a good pack, chasing the leaders. My race had been feeling great and at the 17km mark, the beginning of a long, 2km climb on the last lap, I decided that after the next corner I was going to put in a big attack and try to drop the pack I was with. Not two strides later however, someone behind me had skied over my pole and broke it. Normally when this happens you ski another 50m-100m and there is someone on the sidelines to give you a new pole. Not in Orford. I went on to ski that 2km climb with one pole, because there was no one on that section of the course with spares. Obviously, this was the end of my great feeling race, and when I finished I was crushed. To race 17km as hard as you can only to have something completely out of your control end it like that is a tough pill to swallow. But about an hour after the race I started to see clearly again, and realized that I had a great 17km race, and at that point where it all went to hell, I was feeling so good I was ready to attack and blow the pack apart. I later looked at the results and learned that had my pole not broken, I would have finished up around 10th place, 2 minutes 20 seconds behind the winner. That would have been my first top 10 at a NorAm, and 2:20 off the lead is closer than I've ever been in a 15km race, and this was a 20km. So while it was a devastating race, it had some pretty positive undertones.
We stayed in Quebec for one last night before packing up, driving back to Ottawa and then flying home to Thunder Bay on Monday night. I now get some much needed down time after 8 weeks or so of a serious travel and racing schedule. I'll be here in Tbay for the next 4 weeks getting in a nice big training block before heading to my last races of the season. Those will come mid March with the 2012 Canadian Nationals in Mt. St. Anne Quebec. This will be my first time repeating a Nationals (my second Nationals in 2007 were at the same venue), so I'm looking forward to getting back on those race trails.
Until next time,
"A Man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes."
- - Mahatma Gandhi
Jordan Cascagnette, Student-Athlete, Ski Coach