Our final race in Nove Mesto went much better for me. I skied faster than any of the other women, and had a better day on the range. In prone I shot (0, 1), which is only the second time I have ever "cleaned" (0 misses) in a race, and also reflects how I shoot prone in practice. In standing, I shot (4, 2). I was not confident or steady at all on my first stage and just shot poorly. But I really pulled it together for the second stage, and although I still missed two, I executed the process really well; they were five good shots, in a good cadence, with fast work on the range. The trip did not go as planned with our races getting canceled, but it was still a positive experience and another trip like that in the future, without insane weather, would be valuable.
After wrapping up the final race in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, I woke up at 4am and began my journey back to the US. I had a hop flight from Munich to Amsterdam, and then a larger "hop" from Amsterdam to Minneapolis. Upon arrival in the great Midwest, our GRP wax tech, Nick, picked me, my giant 63-pound ski bag, and my rifle up at the airport and delivered "us" to the lovely home of my teammate, Gordon, where the rest of my teammates had been based for the St. Paul SuperTour races. After refueling on yogurt, crunchy vegetables, vitamin C-rich fruits, and other such foods from which you are deprived during air travel, I went to bed immediately (at 7pm).
The next morning, the journey continued onto Wisconsin for the American Birkebeiner ("Birkie") ski race.
|Me, Caitlin and Maria all skiing together in the 2013 Birkie|
|The GRP's green suits are easy to spot in the 2013 elite men's start|
In the days leading up to the Birkie I rested as much as possible in preparation for the 50k marathon, so when Saturday morning came around I was feeling restless and ready to go. It was about five degrees with gusting winds, which called for thick long-underwear layers and vaseline all over my face. I stayed with the lead pack of 8 women until a $500 sprint bonus pulled them ahead of me around 22k. Then I made a glory move and caught back up by about 28k! It may have put me a bit over my head though, because when the first men passed us at 31k and some of the top women caught their draft, I had no energy to even try and get on that train. So then I skied the next 18k by myself, getting slower and slower, until my teammate Caitlin made a heroic comeback and caught me on the windblown lake a little over 1km from the finish. She was going about twice my speed at that point and put 1:30 on me in the last kilometer!
I was so proud of myself after the race just to have finished. And I was happy with my 9th place result too. I don't know which felt longer--or worse on the legs--, Nove Mesto to Hayward or Cable to Hayward. But one was significantly more rewarding!!