Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mama said there'd be days like these... Nationals - Race Report #2

Well the relative glory of Tuesday's bronze medal was tempered by an unsuccessful outing yesterday...

As previously mentioned, yesterday's race was a 7.5km skate race.  Our category drew a late start (1:15pm) which was a bit different...  I am used to racing in the morning.  I liked it actually...

The conditions were challenging - snow was falling fairly heavily all day so the course was very soft.  The light was very flat and the course was strewn with sitzmarks (a jaunty x-c term for an ass-shaped divot in the snow caused by a wipe-out.)

This sounds like a list of excuses just waiting to be trotted out... in fact these things didn't bother me too much and had little to do with my eventual undoing...

The race was 2 x 3.75km laps...  I had completed one lap before my troubles began.  Things were going fairly well I figured...  I had only been passed by one skier (the bullet train known as Nitta from the Land of the Rising Sun - he went on to win this race as well.)  I felt decent...  was working hard but had gas left in the tank.  

So, enough suspense... my crash was of the low velocity variety, but would have received high marks for awkwardness.  It occurred in the stadium - the flattest, easiest and, coincidentally, most public, part of the course.  I don't know why I dumped it there....  I must have hit a hole in the snow, or caught an edge or something.  I rose from the snow ASAP (as you do when you eat it in front of 100s of people...) and headed out of the stadium towards the next hill on the course...  once the adrenaline of the wipeout (and the embarrassment) subsided I was faced with the steepest and longest hill on the course.  Unfortunately, I also found myself fighting a fairly large dose of pain from my back.  I had twisted quite awkwardly during my faceplant...  and now climbing the hill was proving to be almost impossible.  I stopped a couple of times (much to the chagrin of several spectators on the side of the course) and tried to restart, but I was making almost no progress on this hill.  Ultimately, I elected to stop.  DNF.

I proceeded tentatively to the medical tent where I was diagnosed with a pulled/strained spinal erector muscle.  I was fairly relieved that it wasn't a slipped disc or pinched nerve or some such terrible sounding back ailment (I have no experience with back trouble so I was significantly worried.)

Race diagnosis = disappointing.  I have failed to finish a race one time before...  that time I passed out from heat exhaustion so the decision was out of my hands.  This time I decided to quit.  Choosing to quit is a different animal... one that lives with you for a while.  Unfortunately, this pain may live with me for a while as well.

Race Lessons:

- Some days you will fail.  Remember how much you hate it and channel it towards kicking ass the next time.
- Turn the page.  Like an NHL goalie that lets in a bad goal - forget about it or get ready to watch another one go in.

So, with this sage advice in mind:

- tomorrow's race is a 1200 metre Sprint - a time trial first thing in the morning, seeding, a semi-final, and a final (if all goes well.)  This is actually the event I have been looking forward to the most for the week - it is exciting - first to the line wins (no interval start).

Whether I can perform tomorrow will be the question.... my back still hurts.  I got an initial treatment in the medical trailer from Mikhail (an RMT associated with our Para-Nordic Team) which calmed the spasms and gave me some relief.  Today I had a 60 minute massage from Mary-Beth at Peak Performance in Whistler - she really concentrated on the area and loosened it up quite a bit.  I have spent significant time in the hot tub and have also spent about 30 hours with my fingers crossed.

If it hurts too much I won't make it to the semi-final so I don't think there is a big risk.  If it goes well I will still only have to ski 3 x 1200m.

Wish me luck - hopefully tomorrow's post will be a little more fun.  

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