February 13, 2013

O The West

The west is my favorite place to train, race, and hang out and I have been so lucky this year to be able to frequently return home as we have had some many races in the area. After a long trip to the Midwest, I could not have been more happy to return to Utah where the sun was shinning day after day. I brought my good friend and former Dartmouth teammate Erika Flowers home with me so we could have our own little training camp as we both chose to take the weekend off of racing and recharge. We kept ourselves busy!
Erika and I at the freestyle World Cup

We went to the Freestyle Aerials World Cup at Deer Valley. There is a girl flying high in the photo if you look close enough
We had some outstanding weather and did some good workouts at Soldier Hollow working on all those things we didn't do so well at Nationals.  
It was a massive all-west junior race the same weekend so we did some cheering after our own training sessions. 

We even got to do some sun tanning!

But before long, the week was over and it was time to hit the road again. We drove to Aspen and met up with some of my other teammates for one of the most brutal race weekends of the season. If it wasn't for the fact that Aspen is so nice, I don't think anyone would continue to show up for this challenging weekend.
Girls enjoying the sunshine and mountains of Aspen

Taking a PowerBar break, so important when skiing above 8,000 ft

We hit up the Ice Age center and learned all about the animals that once lived right there in Snowmass and the fossils that were discovered to tell us all about it. 

Pretty awesome place!

Skiing in the Aspens in Aspen!
The weekend called for snow all week so we were unsure what we were up for. The weekend started with a sprint qualifier, meaning we only race one time around the sprint loop. It happened to be a blizzard, making the skiing slow and the waxing tough. Sprinting at 8,000 ft is really something to begin with then you throw in some new snow and it turned into some suffer fest.

Failing to get kick in the blizzard

I survived however and took the win with Lauren in 2nd and Erika in 3rd!

We got to rest for about a half hour or so before we had to turn around and race a 5k classic. It is really hard to recover at such high altitude so this made for a long and challenging day of racing. Fortunately, the snow stopped and the skies even cleared a little making for some more enjoyable racing.
I was able to put the bad feelings lingering from the sprint behind me and take the win!
The next day was the Owl Creek Chase, which is by far the most difficult race I have ever done. The course meanders its way over two small passes starting in Snowmass and finishing in Aspen. It is only 21km but takes well over an hour, which is really slow for that distance. The altitude is punishing so any mistake can be very costly and the number of hills make it easy to push too far too early. I was hoping the race would be a little easier this year since I knew the course and am in better shape, but I am starting to think there is nothing that will make that race easier. It turned into a nice day which I am very thankful for. The race broke apart quickly due to the number of hills, but I found myself comfortable in the front pack. After topping the first pass I did my best to relax and take in all the sports drink I could, however, I maybe was a little too relaxed, not paying attention to the others and was subsequently dropped on some rolling terrain. Realizing my mistake, I worked hard to catch back up, but never was able to catch the leader and likely wasted too much energy in the process. In the last 5k I was really suffering and was passed by one other girl leaving me finishing in 3rd.

Owl Creek Chase Podium
The race was so hard that I had no choice but to use the elevator in my Aunt and Uncle's house that they so graciously let us stay in for the weekend (Thanks!) and after eating some food I attempted to walk downstairs to use the bathroom and fell right down the stairs as my legs were not up for that. The good news is that I know I am fitter just from completing that race!

Erika and I attempted to drive home Monday morning, but this terrible noise coming from my car made me worried so after much deliberation I decided to stop in Glenwood Springs to have it looked at. The prognosis was bad....there was no way we were going to make it home in that rig. So we spent the afternoon wandering around town waiting for the car to be worked on. We were lucky that they were able to get all the parts in town and actually do it right then. The races in Aspen paid out in cash so when we returned to the car shop to pick up my car and pay, I pulled out a wad of large bills. After some funny looks, I realized they must have thought I spent my afternoon robbing a bank to pay for my car so I had to explain I had won some races and could pay for my car because of it. So as we drove out of Colorado in the sunset, I was back at ground zero, a fixed car, but no winnings to bring home. 

It was a fun time however and I am very thankful for my Aunt and Uncle to support me with the help of some housing and to Nick Brown for helping us out with waxing!

Next up, I am headed to Madison to race some city sprints around the capital building!