I started the first training camp of the year with serious race anxiety. My stomach was in knots, I was overly jittery from consuming too much coffee, and I was just trying to stay relaxed. It felt like the World Championships and my life was on the line at the same time because in a way it kind of was. We were starting our US Ski Team Bend camp with the Pole Pedal Paddle; a race combining five sports (alpine, Nordic, road bike, run, kayak, and run) during six legs. The women’s team was competing in two teams so we would each race two legs. I was teamed up with Holly and Liz while Kikkan, Sadie, and Jessie made up the other USST women’s team. My nerves were out of control because I was starting the race for our team with a mass start alpine run. The last time I had alpine skied was at least three years ago and this course description featured huge ruts, giant corners that could launch you into the woods, and other aggressive racers ready to take you out. After that I would be doing a downhill bike race with sections where it was possible to reach 65+mph! Fortunately Liz dressed me up in a ridiculous looking alpine outfit making it impossible to take anything too seriously, the sun was shining brightly, and I was ready to step out of my comfort zone and have some fun.
And about two seconds after stepping into my alpine skis and checking out the scene and I started having a blast. It was an awesome race and an extremely chill atmosphere. Kikkan and I started the alpine leg in the Open women’s team wave of 40 or 50 teams including quite a few middle aged women and lots of costumes. One look around the start line gave me confidence that I wasn’t going to get knocked out by a competitor. The course was a lot more relaxed and the crazy turns never appeared. About halfway through the run I remembered how to alpine ski and my biggest regret that I was too timid, especially after I heard that Kikkan beat me by almost thirty seconds in a two or three minute run…oops! I tagged Holly who skied a 6km Nordic leg and took the biggest crash of the day with a face plant into woods after trying to dodge some carnage on a 180 degree corner. Holly tagged me and I biked 26 miles from Mt. Bachelor into Bend. We lost 3000′ of elevation during the ride but it was a very hard race and a real leg burner. I got passed by a couple intense looking racers on TT bikes but I was mostly passing people riding all kinds of different bicycles. My favorites included the guy on the full suspension mountain bike towing a child carrier and the two ladies wearing hot pink tutus and rocking a tandem cruiser. When I reached town I tagged Liz who ran the 6mile running leg. She got a bit off course, though, and ended up running at least 7.5 miles. Liz tagged Holly who kayaked a very very tippy boat and did an awesome job staying dry. She flipped during both of the practice sessions with the boat but the third time was a charm and she killed it in the race. Holly tagged Liz back who quickly recovered and ran an 800meter sprint to the finish. It was an exciting race and a really fun team event to kick off the new training year. Thanks to Rebound PT of Bend for sponsoring our teams! Here are some pictures from the race thanks to the coaches. Check out the USSA Nordic facebook page for more pictures from the PPP and our camp.