Welcome to my blog! This is a site where you can keep up to date on my life as a full-time athlete in the sport of cross country skiing. You can expect regular updates throughout the year as I report on training, racing, life in general and maybe even some school. Sponsors, family, friends and fans: Enjoy!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I've met many a fine Haligonian in my travels.

I have just returned from my first visit to Nova Scotia, where I participated in the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax.  Before this tale unfolds, I feel I should mention the lead up to the Games and a race weekend where I had my best overall performance to date in my career.  Here is a quick recap of the Western Canadian Championships races that I sent to sponsors:

Day 1, Skate Sprint:  This was my main focus for the Championships, but due to some heavy training earlier in the week in addition to a hectic car ride the day before the race, my performance was off and I had to settle for 10th overall, and 4th U-23.  Despite how tired I was, I had a good semi-final and nearly qualified for the A-Final (top-6).  With 2 distance race days ahead in the cumulative mini-tour, I figured it would be tough to stay in the running after a 10th place the very first day in a race that is normally my strength. 

Westerns sprint action.  Photo cred: Lucas Jungmann

Day 2, 3.5km Classic Prologue:  An interesting distance that I haven't raced for 9 years, it was a bit of an unknown in terms of race strategy and result expectations.  I felt good out there and ended up surprising myself with a 6th place finish!  And only 17 seconds out of the win!  3 of the skiers who finished ahead of me were on the Canadian Olympic team in 2010.

Classic Prologue.  I told Pate I was going to ski it "like I hope to someday ski a distance race".  Seemed to have worked alright.  

Day 3, 15km Skate Pursuit start:  With a surprise result in the prologue, and with a few bonus seconds from a decent finish on the sprint day, I would be starting 7th, 49 seconds back, in the first-across-the-finish-line race.  Before this year, this race has been far from being an okay race format for me.  But yet again, I upped my season's best performance from the day before with my best ever true "distance" race result, maintaining my 7th place start bib, but in the process also passing all of the U-23 athletes who started ahead of me.  I became Western Canada's U-23 Champ!!!  I was ecstatic.  And still am.

Now back to my trip out to Halifax...

In possibly the best welcome/first impression to a new town, I stepped off my bus from the airport on a Saturday night in downtown Halifax amid a bustling crowd of 15,000 raving beneath skyscrapers and  sweeping spotlights to a rousing performance by Great Big Sea.  Is Halifax always this awesome!? Over the course of my Games experience, I found that the answer to this question is an unequivocal "aye".

A huge highlight of my trip to Halifax was our tour of the Alexander Keith's brewery on the final day of the Games.  We traveled back in time to the 1800s to experience some of Nova Scotia's finest ales.

After not quite enough rest after my good performances at Westerns, I perhaps made a bit of a mistake in training through fatigue resulting in a sore throat the week leading up to Canada Games.  After drastically cutting back training hours, my body was feeling good but the sore throat remained.

Leading into the first race of the Games, the 10km skate, I was concerned.  Morning of, however, the throat wasn't bad and I was ready to give racing a shot.  The race ended up going great.  I went for it off the start, hoping everything would hold together.  My hard start proved too tough to maintain, resulting in my 2nd 5km lap being 1 minute slower than my first.  But this was still good enough for 7th!  I was pretty stoked with the result and was optimistic for the other races.

The sprint day was my main focus of the Games and my main realistic shot to fight for a medal for team Northwest Territories.  Disappointingly, the body just wasn't there on the day to produce a top result.  Racing the 10km the day before and not being 100% healthy ended up being more detriment than help in its attempt to fire me up to sprint fast.  I slogged through the sugar snow to finish a distant 9th.

 Qualifying on sprint day. Photo cred: Lisa Patterson
 Qualifying on sprint day.  Photo cred: Lisa Patterson
After a valiant inside corner move in my B-final. Photo cred: John Sims

The final 2 races, the 15 km classic and the relay, ended up playing out much like my sprint.  My body just wasn't firing as normal and I wasn't able to pin down a good performance.  Some good rest and easy training is in order to recalibrate the 'bod before my season's final races as it is evidently a little out of whack at the moment.

Lots more racing to go this year, so stay tuned!

NWT Ski Team.  Good times with a group of swell Northerners.  Some of whom on the coaching staff were racers back in my early days in the Yellowknife program!  

Out for a run upon arrival in Van.