Saturday, March 13, 2010

She Speaks - Kirsten on the Great Bear Chase

Kirsten's post on the Bear Chase:

Just thought I would add my 2 cents (plus or minus a few). I felt pretty relaxed today. I knew that we were not going to be heroically fast; we are novice racers, after all. Our goal today was to finish our chosen race, and to be able to call ourselves, "Bear Chasers"! To me, the start was rather comical. We decided to start at the back of the pack, right in front of the sweep. I figured that this way, we would not hold anyone up, and if we felt perky, we could just make a game of passing people, one by one. (I did get to do some of that today, it was fun!) We did not cross the start line until almost 2 minutes into the race, there were that many people ahead of us. Then, until everyone spread out, it was just impossible to start up on pace. This took awhile, because the Powderhouse hills were especially challenging, what with all of the slush piled up everywhere! Dicey. Finally, it did spread out, and we could start our rhythmic striding out toward the bear loops. I had my music on the whole way, favorite tunes loaded into the ipod. That made morning extra fun. Skating along to all of the upbeat tunes from Tom Petty, Boston, Zepplin, Sting, Sheryl Crow, and SambaGuru. Every time that I felt just a little tired, a new tune would come on and that would be just the boost that I needed to get me farther down the trail. The whole atmosphere of the race just charged me up; all of the people all with a sole purpose, all out, breathing the fresh air, moving, working, at one with this God-given beautiful piece of nature we call the Keweenaw. It was awesome!
It was really cool to have aid stations. This alone makes me want to race more! People handing you drinks and bananas. Wow! "Here, take nourishment"...but wait, I haven't finished my workout..."here, have some water!" Well, OK, if you insist!! Gee. A person could get really spoiled in a hurry...I think I became spoiled after the first aid station! Makes you want to hurry up and find the next one. After the aid station at the bottom of the bear loops, I settled into a nice rhythm that was just a tad faster than Charles'. It was at this point last weekend that I had told him that if the rhythm was right that I was going to go with it. The rhythm was right. The new skis that he bought for me (Atomic World Cups) took over. (Thanks, Bill!) They are so light and fast. It was pure joy.
When skiing up the birch loop (red jacket), I was thinking about the upcoming dreaded Flamingo Hill. When I got to the top of birch, I came around the corner to find three skiers (the "course police") directing skiers AWAY from Flamingo hill! Oh joy! "You mean we don't have to ski Flamingo hill?!" "Oh, sure, you can ski it, go ahead, ski it now, we'll watch you!" "Oh no, that's quite alright, I'll take this pleasant surprise as a gift, thank you!" That fact alone zoomed me down the next part of the trail. On Tamarack, I was finally passed by the top three racers in the 50K (now the 44K). Hi-ya, Hi-ya, Hi-ya!! They were FAST.
The course route had changed due to the melting snow and rain, rendering parts of the original course un-skiable. I now know why they did not make us climb the sledding the bottom of it is now a lake! Thank goodness for re-routing. However, I was under the impression that we had to do Powderhouse not only before the bear loops, but after as well. So, when one lady skated up from behind me and asked, "is the finish coming up soon?" I replied, "oh no, we still have to do a whole series of hills first!", and let her pass, knowing that I needed to conserve for those hills. Right then, Kari Lyle passed by going the opposite way (she was done and was headed out to meet Paul) and shouted, "You're almost there! The finish is right ahead!" "You mean we don't have to do Powderhouse again?" I yelled. "NO! They took it out!" After that, I kicked it into high gear, and passed the lady that passed me, coming into the finish "Olympic style" for a time just under the 2-hour mark. Yippee! I want to do it again!
Special thanks to all of my friends who encouraged me (Terry, Deb, Dennis, Kari, Paul, Theresa, Jeff, David, Rick, Lori, Arnie) and especially to hubby Charles, who always encourages and supports me, and waxes my skis to perfection without question or complaint!
All the best in good health,

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