Frostnip and Nationals: Houghton Recap

Now that I have sufficiently thawed out after Nationals, I can post a little blog update!  APUNSC had an excellent run; we were especially dominant in the long classic race and the skate sprint at the end of the week.  Rosie Brennan won three races, and both our women’s team and men’s team represented at least half of the top 8 finishers in the classic mass start.  Most importantly, no one had to go to the clinic for frostbite, and I may have had the only peeling cheeks on the team (much to my chagrin as a Fairbanksan).

 

Houghton’s weather did not disappoint.  Those of us in need of some real winter after an oddly warm early season certainly got our wish.  We were all treated to a giant dose of wind, snow, and cold temps; meat and potato pasties with extra buttery crusts started to look fantastic.  They’re good forty below food, as my dad would call it, and they’re incredibly popular in the upper peninsula of Michigan.

 

I started out with a non-spectacular 11th in the 10k skate race; incidentally I also nipped my cheeks that day and did a whole downhill holding my nose because I was concerned about frostbite.  My Fairbanksan roots are cringing thinking about it, not least because I used to thrive on slow snow.  At least the classic sprint was a good redemption.  It was the longest sprint race I have ever done, which was great for someone who prefers longer classic races anyways.  I definitely felt like I was doing a 5km in the prelim, like I was stuck in a slow rhythm and had no spark. In the rounds my patience served me well.  People were running out of steam at the end of each heat so I was able to outlast them, and I managed to pull off a 2nd  place overall.

Rosie and I in our classic sprint final, photo: Christopher Schmidt

Rosie and I in our classic sprint final, photo: Christopher Schmidt

 

The 20k Classic race was my best ever mass-start at nationals, but I would have liked to be able to hang with the pack longer.  I had fast skis, but not quite the stamina to scamper up the hills like Chelsea and Rosie did.  I ended up in 5th and I am very proud because I never gave up when the gap formed.  My persistence took its toll though; that evening all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and have someone feed me ice cream.  Instead we went to the banquet to hear Thomas O’Harra named to the Junior Worlds team.  We also celebrated Lex Treinen’s 2nd place in the 30km!  Lex’s podium also happened to occur on his birthday, so we had to get him some cake and celebrate.

For a while my speedy boards and I were leading the race... also I really enjoy downhills.  Yes that's a smile.  Photo: Christopher Schmidt

For a while my speedy boards and I were leading the race… also I really enjoy downhills.  Yes that’s a smile.  Photo: Christopher Schmidt

 

I am so happy to be on such a fun and tight-knit team right now.  This is such a fantastic and positive environment to train and race in, and it makes a huge difference in how well we can perform.    On the skate sprint day our boys took 2nd and 3rd, Rosie won again, and Chelsea and I got 4th and 5th.  Our whole team was out cheering for us and I could hear them every time we got to the finishing stretch.  It means a lot to hear people yelling for you like that, it gives just the boost of energy and confidence that you need at the end of a long week.  We’ll all be cheering this morning for Rosie Brennan… Not only did she win 3 national titles this year, but she is racing in tomorrow’s World Cup in Otepaa, Estonia.  It will be exciting to wake up and see how she did!

Fun times with teammate Andre Lovett, also a fellow Alpina athlete.  We were watching the junior girls rounds at the end of the last day, and it was really awesome to see Lydia and Taryn tear it up! Photo: Karen Smith

Fun times with teammate Andre Lovett, also a fellow Alpina athlete.  We were watching the junior girls rounds at the end of the last day, and it was really awesome to see Lydia and Taryn tear it up! Photo: Karen Smith

 

This weekend there are two really fun things going on in Alaska; there are Besh Cup races in Fairbanks and an adventure race in Valdez.  I am down south getting ready for a two-day race series complete with river crossings, very little snow, and $3,000 on the line.  The classic course may be flat enough to double pole, it’s also supposed to be snowing and raining out, so it’s definitely going to be an interesting race tomorrow!  

A little water there, luckily they've got some pallets on it!

A little water there, luckily they’ve got some pallets on it!

In Fairbanks the skiing is perfect, the races are shorter, and people are picking up their Besh cup t-shirts right now.  The shirts were designed by yours truly, so make sure and stop by Trax Outdoor Center to pick one up!

Hot off the press this evening, this year's Besh Cup shirts are soft and comfy with a really sweet design... you don't want to miss this! (more shameless self promotion, but this time it's for my design so that makes it okay)

Hot off the press this evening, this year’s Besh Cup shirts are soft and comfy with a really sweet design… you don’t want to miss this! (more shameless self promotion, but this time it’s for my design so that makes it okay)

To hear how Valdez racing turned out, and for a fun APUNSC update, it might be a good idea check my blog again on Monday… have a great weekend!