*A note from the editor before we begin: you may be thinking, why is this blog post a week later than promised? Well, we are getting into winter when there is a lot less going on, so the blog will be switching to a bi-weekly schedule for now. You’ll still get fun updates about all the cool things the US Team members are doing, just slightly less often. With that said, read on about the World Cup in Switzerland!
Thomas’s review of the weekend!:
A dream come true! After participating at the World Cup races in Latvia 2017 and the Czech
Republic 2018, I finally got the chance to compete at another World Cup – this time in the
jersey of TeamUSA!
The weekend got kicked off by the relay in the Madrisa ski area above Klosters. The start of
my race was fine, although I suffered really hard on the uphill parts of the course. Greg on the
second and Ricardo on the third leg performed well and our overall performance led to a 19th
GPS-replay, first leg (Thomas): http://www.tulospalvelu.fi/gps/20221001_WCF_RM1
GPS-replay, second leg (Greg): http://www.tulospalvelu.fi/gps/20221001_WCF_RM2
GPS-replay, third leg (Ricardo): http://www.tulospalvelu.fi/gps/20221001_WCF_RM3
On Sunday, the middle distance took place in the Drusatschawald next to Davos. After a
good start, I made two major mistakes, which cost me around five minutes in total. The
terrain was amazing and the course a challenge for all the athletes. Ricardo delivered a
similar performance: good speed, but unfortunately some costly mistakes. Greg chose to
abandon his race halfway through the course to safe some energy for the long distance.
The long distance on the final day demanded everything of the competitors. 9 miles, an
ascent of 2000 feet, 36 controls and five drinking stations already says a lot about the course
and the challenge. I started fine, found a good rhythm and could truly enjoy the beautiful
terrain. After an hour and a half however, my body reached the limit and for the last 40
minutes of my race I was just fighting my way through the stones and steep climbs. Greg,
Ricardo, and I had once again very similar performances. After over two hours of running, we
reached the finish within less than 40 seconds!
The overall experience of the weekend was better than I’ve ever imagined. I’m already
looking forward to next year’s international competitions (and maybe the World
Championships in Flims…?)!
Here is a write up from Greg about his experience of the Long:
So after the middle a lot of people were asking me about what had happened and what was going
through my head when I stopped. The error was pretty simple; I didn’t understand how the mapper had
generalized and walked into a parallel error. Once I had made the mistake I was standing on a hill feeling
about as far from a race mentality as I can imagine. I just felt like I was standing in a field in Switzerland.
I had almost no clue where I was and wanted to be removed from the race. I thought that I could at least
salvage the long the next day so I stopped. Once I started running I saw the houses and started making
sense of the things around me. I felt some motivation to get back into the race since really there wasn’t
much left. But my legs were going to the finish and I was decided.
Later on talking with Timo we went through what exactly was going on in my head. I kept telling him
that I didn’t have the race mentality then. He responded, “Again with this racing stuff. You handle far
more technical terrains in Pennsylvania on your own all the time, with autogenerated maps, and no
flags. You could just take this event as someone finally putting out flags for a training.”
And like that a switch flipped in my head. I had always been so focused on how I haven’t raced enough
to compete here. But I’ve certainly trained enough to take these events as another training session.
So the morning of the long I wrote two reminders on my arm: “Stay positive” and “Just another
training”. On the cable car ride to the top I only felt excited to run a truly savage course that some
friends had designed and put out the flags for. I was so happy to have the chance to run there.
The change in mentality was obvious from the very start. Everything was flowing better. As Jagge said, I
slowed when I recognized trickier entries and ran faster when I could. I was enjoying the process of a
brutal long and looking forward to the physical challenge awaiting me.
Between 8 and 9 I was with a Ukranian and Latvian who I let run on their own. My mind initially told me
they had caught up to me and I was running horribly. Then I got a glimpse of their bib numbers and
realized I had caught them. Stay positive. Things weren’t as bad as I thought. Throughout the course I
continued to have moments when I was expecting to be caught by some faster runners, but I kept
looking at my arm. Stay positive.
Starting at 18 I started making some very simple mistakes. My mind was going so I took another gel, but
I let the mistakes go. It was just another training after all.
Until 27 I had run almost completely alone, but at 27 and going into 28 I finally caught a train. My legs
were starting to cramp and the uphills were getting even more challenging. When I caught the train I
was reminded that I was not the only one suffering. In fact I seemed to be handling the hills better than
them. Stay positive.
At 28 I finally saw Ricardo. I probably should have trained up with him and the others there, but I’m
quite used to running alone. So I didn’t. It wasn’t a conscious choice. I just kept running where I wanted
to at the speed I could.
I finished the race actually outsprinting the Slovakian who had caught me. I was hurting, but I was
surprised that I still had a bit of energy to dig into.
Ultimately I can see that I need more physical preparation to race longs at a competitive pace. But I
walked away from this race very happy. I did what I could that day and changed the inertia from a very
negative race the day before, which is no easy task.
I am quite excited to take more “races” with this approach. As long as I can remember and in every sport
I’ve taken seriously, I’ve almost always trained better than I’ve competed. So I guess the question is:
Why do I keep bringing MY competitive approach to races if I do better taking them as training and
stepping stones on a journey? I suppose because that’s what I’ve learned. But really I have no idea. Just
need to keep exploring and experiencing.
Next blog post will be a Masters Nationals recap! Stay tuned…