My time at US Nationals has come to a rather unexpected close. It was a tough call, but after today’s debacle of a 15k I decided that further racing would just set me back. The smarter choice was to head back to Craftsbury for some rest and recovery.
Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. Headed into Nationals was the fittest I’ve seen the GRP men this season. Both intensity sessions were good and everyone was healthy. Things were looking solid. But after traveling to Rumford, illness hit and I woke up the first morning with a sore throat. I was not alone – Pat too was fighting something off.
Thinking I could get in front of the bug and salvage the week, I sat out the sprint in favor of rest. By yesterday my sore throat was gone and things were looking up. But, as Pepa was quick to tell me, fighting off illness takes its toll on the body. The immune system engages and saps far more energy than one might expect. I had high hopes for the 15k, but it was obvious soon after starting that I was not operating at full capacity. Each time I “went to the well” or tried to push up a hill I fell further and further back. By the end I was resigned to skiing at threshold pace just to make it to the finish.
I have mixed feelings on finishing the race. On the one hand, I’ve only dropped out of one race in my career and it still bothers me to this day. On the other, it’s not smart to thrash yourself by completing a race that has taken too much out of you. No doubt, it’s a fine line. Had I dropped out, I probably would have stayed in Rumford and raced tomorrow’s 30k. Not a smart move given that I have nearly 3 months of racing left. At some point during the race I must have made the semi-conscious decision that I was done racing for the week, so finishing was the least I could do.
Now that I’m home, I feel a bit better. I’ve been looking forward to the 30k skate all season, but as Will O’Brien (Pat’s dad) told me on the ride home, it’s a long season and there’s no use getting bent out of shape about one race. I just have to wait until the Lake Placid SuperTour to race again.
Good luck to everyone tomorrow and Saturday. I wish I were there alongside you.