Well, Feb. 16 has come and gone… a date I marked on my calendar way back in October 2013. I had originally registered for the 51 km skate ski race at the Gatineau Loppet (what was I thinking) but luckily I was able to switch my registration to the 27 km event.
The 27 km skate ski race was the perfect distance for me. One that didn’t require hours and hours spent out skiing but challenging enough to motivate me to get out and ski. I’ll come out and say it – I’m not a skier. I kind of have a love/hate relationship with it. I thoroughly enjoy the hard work-out but I also dread it, I enjoy the feeling of having gone for a longish ski but I also fear the ski as well. (So exactly what was I thinking when I signed up for the 51 km in October…)
Over the course of 27 kilometres on Sunday, I managed to hit every emotion possible: fear, elation, despair, relief, pure joy and a bit of anger. I suppose this is normal for a long endurance event and it’s a sign that I was pushing myself hard enough for my brain to get angry and to suggest that I should pack it in. Luckily I didn’t listen and instead I just kept on focusing on the kilometre markers along the trail.
Really the entire event is so well organized that it just went off perfectly. Many thanks to my pals from the Natural Fitness Lab group for their advice and tips on the day of (and all the help in advance with lessons and encouragement) and of course to Marc who got me out skiing and kept me motivated. And a huge thank-you to Josée – without those long weekend skis I wouldn’t have been able to do this – thanks for pushing my hard Josée!
As for the race itself – there isn’t much to say. I really just skied at my own pace. I was conscious of not “blowing up” so I might have been a bit slow at the beginning but I think this strategy worked out because I was able to catch and pass a number of people on trail 7 and on the parkway back to the finish line. I do think it would have helped to have skied the 15 and the 7 beforehand but since these are classic-only trails it wasn’t possible to do so.
Immediately afterwards I wasn’t sure I’d like to do the event again. But today (and even last night) I’m feeling as though I’d like to give it another go. If anything, registering for such an event helped me get out the door and get skiing. I know that for next year I need to practice my climbing technique and really try to work on getting a flatter ski. But as with anything, all in due time and ultimately the most important thing is to enjoy the process.
Skiing for me is all about getting outside in the winter s0 on days when I don’t feel like going or when it is crazy cold – I simply don’t go. This balance works perfectly for me – I don’t feel “forced” to ski and can do it for pleasure. I can continue to enjoy it and use events like the Gatineau Loppet and the great folks I’ve met through Natural Fitness Labs, Marc and Josée to motivate me to get out and soak up the brilliant winter sun and have some laughs along the way.
Up next is the Mad Trapper snowshoe race on Feb. 22 (considering doing the 10 km….).