So on the Friday before the race, after a night on the bus which was so rough it would make riding a cow feel comfortable, we were rewarded somewhat by a completely blue sky which showed the race course overlooking a very scenic frozen lake. This small reward was slightly diminished by just how cold it was again. -26°C over night and not warming up terribly much over the day it was certainly another day of discomfort when skiing, particularly on the downhills. For those not in the know, when the temperature is so cold it makes skating very slow as the snow is so dry and abrasive that not even a ski base slides smoothly across it. At these temps it is more like sand, where it even crunches and squeaks under foot just the same as the dry hot sand on an Aussie beach. Testing skis is more about which provides the least resistance, but the harsh fact is that nothing runs very well in these conditions making skiing a hard slog.
A hard slog is actually a good way to sum up how Saturday’s 15km Mass Start felt. The cold symptoms had cleared up a lot, with just the unpleasant cough and splutter ever now and then with my lungs clearly were not appreciating the high volume flow of super cold and dry air. The temperature had warmed up to -18°C which is just enough for the race not to be cancelled (-20°C limit) but even at -18°C it still hurts your lungs on a good day, not to mention other parts of your body! With the aim of holding onto the main pack for a good part of the race disappearing before my eyes early on, I had absolutely nothing in me to alter the outcome. After being sick I just felt lethargic and not able to reach that top gear that I had the weekend before in Austria. I was still hurting, but I have definitely been able to put myself much deeper in what is now so commonly known as ‘The Hurt Box’. I was completely aware that I should be able to punish myself that little bit more but it was as though the muscles would not respond and this I can tell you is one of the most frustrating feelings I have had to deal with as an athlete.
The result therefore was disappointing. Last weekend I had felt like I was right on form and then this weekend I felt as though I could