Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Powdery Powder Keg

All my "training" (ok ok, it was really just going skiing, which I would have been doing anyways) paid off on Saturday, March 15. After a sleepless night and a jittery early morning, the starting gun finally went off and I was participating in the first race of my life, the Black Diamond Wasatch Powder Keg. It was a beautiful, clear and very cold morning at Alta, and around 2 feet of snow had fallen in the preceding two days, giving everything a great wintry feeling.

Before the race I watched all the people who really looked like they knew what they were doing... mostly gaunt, spandex clad men with seriously customized ski boots and skis that looked like they would blow away if a good gust came through. I learned to tape energy gel packets to my pack straps and to wax my skins for uber-glide. Mostly I just tried to hold down my breakfast as my pre-race nerves made my stomach do flip flops.

The first climb was quite an experience. I started too fast and after a few minutes thought maybe I would throw up or pass out. Pain and discomfort invaded every centimeter of my body. Towards the top of that first climb, I started to feel better, and by the time I was peeling my skins I was having fun. The skiing was actually really good, and I only wished I could have enjoyed it. It was all about speed though, which meant good form and sweet turns went out the window in favor of wide-stanced, pole outrigger, screaming quads, get to the bottom ASAP style.
Things were going great until the third climb, when my old skins started acting up. I was using my older pair of skis, some really beat up Black Diamond Havocs, because they were a bit lighter than my current skis, the BD Verdicts. This meant that my skins were old (actually much older than the Havocs) and the glue was tired and iced up easily in cold temps. The left skin betrayed me on that third climb, when my ski slid forward and the skin stayed put, getting snowy where it should be sticky and leaving me scrambling and cursing beside the uptrack, rubbing the glue in an effort to revitalize it. The same thing happened twice on the final, fourth climb, adding to my anxiety and frustration, not to mention minutes onto my time!

I skated across the finish line, legs and lungs burning, and knew I was hooked. I didn't know what my time was, or how I had placed, but I knew I had just pushed myself in a different way than ever before, and I LIKED IT! I was already mentally shopping for some light boots and race skis before I even caught my breath.

Well it turned out I placed second, and my time was better than anything I had done in training, despite my skin issues, so I was really happy. I rewarded myself with a gigantic cheeseburger and beer before noon.

As I mounted the podium I was impressed and inspired by my race-mates. The woman in first place, Wendy Wagner, beat me by almost 20 minutes and is a former US Olympic Team cross country skier, while the woman in third, was not far behind and mounted the podium with her baby on her back!

1 comment:

sha said...

Jasmin - you're an inspiration...congrats on a finish well earned. Tommy just introduced me to your blog. I miss our early morning adventures, let's get out and play soon.