Just recently I've ended my half-decade guitar playing hiatus. I picked up Somppi's ghetto, 3/4 size classical guitar and started strumming out some mind-blowing, gut-wrenching tunes. At first I was cautious, not remembering a single song, but soon my finger memory served me well and every song ever written by Blink 182 came back to me, slowly but surely. Below is a little clip of me playing an old favourite. In rehearsal I was much better; doing technique analysis afterward pinpointed some major flaws in my form.
As for the Sibley Ski Tour 20 km Mass Start skate race on Saturday, it was a very good day for me. Off the start I busted out some ballsy frog-skating to get ahead of the masses and I led the first 2km or so. I decided leading was pointless, so I stopped and was consumed by the pack, where i sat for the next 10 km or so. The pace was, in general, very leisurely. Lots of chatting and chilling. No one wanted to lead on the flat course, as it would just waste energy. Somppi did a bit of an attack to test how he was feeling at around the 6 km mark, but soon after decided to rejoin the peloton.
Once we were rid of Steeff and the other old-school 50km skiers at the 20 km turn-off, the real racing began. The pace increased minutely and remained at this slightly speedier state for a couple kms. With 6 km to go Chris Hamilton made a small attack on a hill but ended up fading because of it. By the top of the hill he got passed and very shortly thereafter was dropped hard. At this point Phil put his head down and launched a formidable attack that would last about 3 km. During these 3 km I dug deeper than I ever have before in a distance race. About 15 minutes before this attack I took a stock gatorade feed from race personnel. Throughout Phil's punishing 3 km I had gatorade induced barf taunting me at the back of my throat, threatening to forfeit my chance of winning. Eventually Phil abated since he couldn't shake myself, Somppi or Luke. He moved to the side to rest a bit in our little pack. The pace eased, much in my favour because I was losing energy sources HARD while Phil was doing his thing. The rest of the race can be summed up by the words "uncertainty" and "hesitation", because of the never ending, winding flat section that led up to the finish. None of us NTDCers knew when to start our powerhouse sprints. Somehow Viljakainen knew where the finish line was, so he surged forward on a slight grade. Trying to follow, us 3 NTDCers were obstructed by a 10km-skiing Jackrabbit and our chances at victory vanished (mine had already vanished around the 15 km mark...). In the end it was Luke, Somppi, Phil, Myself (within like 5 seconds) and then Chris Hamilton another 2 minutes or so back.
For me, very good indications of my shape. First time I have ever been able to stick with these guys in a distance effort, and this race was also my first skate race of the year (just ended up being like that I suppose...I do prefer classic over skating though...distance-wise anyways...I'm gunna stop with the "..." now...). I still have hope of becoming a half-decent distance athlete.
Anyways, my writing is stale. I'm tired, hungry, scared and should really hit the hay.
Someday soon I will write something deeply compelling and meaningful to skiers and possibly to athletes in general. I'm even throwing around the idea of starting up my own website this spring...but that is a story for another time.
So until then, TAKE CARE!