Day 3 was supposed to be great. Day 3 was when I was supposed to classic ski. Admittedly, I was a bit intimidated by the 7.5 K distance, but I knew I could do it with a little grit and stubbornness.
Race day 3 was not great. I think I still may be traumatised. However, there is a silver lining to every cloud, right? But I have to tell you about the cloud before we get to the silver part.
First of all, we had originally thought the race was in the morning and had planned on driving home right after. I was very much looking forward to getting home. So, that was a small disappointment. A few other weird things happened that morning-I can't quite remember, a glass breaking in the sink or my ski boots not cooperating. Just strange things that made me kind of wonder: maybe we should just drive home right now. Part of me wishes we had, another part-the crazy competitive, athletic side of me-was glad we didn't.
The Para Nordic standing women were the last event to run that day. This meant that the three nicely groomed tracks had been obliterated. There were bits of track here and there, smooshed together or completely wiped out. There were a lot of lumps and bumps and so much fluffy snow since it had snowed the night before. Eighty percent of the time I had no idea if I was skiing in the right direction. It was a course that required us to go around three times and I was totally tempted to take my skis off after the first loop and walk away. The only thing that stopped me was the crowds of people lining the edge of the tracks, cheering me on. I couldn't take my skis off in front of those people and just quit. So, I continued on, through the mess that used to be a ski racing tracks.
It was exhausting. Sure in a fitness sense, but more so in a mental sense. I had to concentrate so hard just to keep moving. Every time we entered the stadium we past the loud speaker where the announcer was blasting away about something and every time we skied by I lost track of Coach T's voice. Without the tracks, it was difficult to keep moving. A lot of the verbal cues we had practised were completely useless. Coach T would tell me to snow plough with a particular ski when going down a hill, presuming the other foot was in a track. Half the time I didn't know which foot was where and if it was even in a track. Sometimes I would just snow plough with both feet and help in the further destruction of the ski tracks. Falling wasn't even a concern anymore; just going straight, or right or left when necessary, was. Aside from my own sheer stubbornness, the people lining the tracks in the stadium cheering really kept me going. Even though I was the last athlete to come in, there were still people waiting for me-people I didn't even know. This was so different from when I used to swim. The stands would empty out and races would finish spectatorless. Despite the lack of tracks and one of the most frustrating things I have ever done, finishing that race with people still there restored some of my drive. The experience was difficult, but it was still rewarding. Not only do I now know that i could complete pretty much course, but I had managed to score some points for the province of Ontario which will go to ranking Ontario overall in the country. That is pretty cool.