A little expired

I wouldn't say that keeping on top of the blogging world is my strong suit, but I'll try to update on the last month and half's 'happening's' none the less.

Since returning from Europe at the end of January, there was an unwanted break in my domestic racing season. I had the option of traveling straight to Eastern Championships from Munich, but opted to come home, recharge and race the Canadian Birkiebiner instead. I was really hesitant with this decision at first because aside from the U23 ladies returning from Europe, all my team mates and competitors were racing in Ontario. Choosing to come home and race a 55km loppet didn't seem like a bad idea, and I'm sure either way it would've worked out, but this way I was able to recharge and try something new! The Canadian Birkiebiner took place in Edmonton and is a point to point race with plenty of feed stations along the way. Marlis, Annika, Coach Chris, his bro Matti and I headed to Edmonton to first feast at La Ronde in downtown Edmonton and of course to race the Birkiebiner!

Skiing a section of the course the day before the race. Great weather! I didn't ski the race with a pack to make it a 'legit' Birkie - but had I done so, this would've been my pack of choice.

Conditions were spectacular... the day before the race! The morning of, the fresh snow and warmish temperatures rolled in and made for some really tricky waxing conditions for classic. All I kept telling myself was to just 'put your head down and go'. I paid attention to my heart rate monitor for the first 1.5hrs of the race, keeping my heart rate checked into zone 3 and making sure I was feeding enough. After that, however, I completely lost track of time and was engrossed in getting after each kilometre.

The last 10km of the race were the most painful but the most fun. 10-15 kilmoetres is my usual distance of racing (the most I had done before this race was 30km), so it seemed to blow by after already having completed 45km. Trying to push your body harder when it has already been at lactate threshold for 3 hours proved to be a challenge I had never faced before. I increased my tempo and was gaining ground, but my heart rate stayed stagnant for the duration of the race.

Side note: Conversation the night before the race 
Heidi: How long do you think this is going to take us? 
Chris: Aaaahhmmmm, 3 hours. 3:15 max

3 hours and 50 minutes from the time the gun signaled the start, I crossed the line as the 5th finisher and 1st woman. It was a lot longer than expected, but I honestly had no idea it was taking me that long during the race. I stopped looking at my watch because it was proving to be more distracting than anything! The Birkie veterans merited that these were the slowest conditions they had every skied in so it made my time a little more justified.

The next set of racing brought me to Grande Prairie for the Western Championships. I'm really getting to know my province of Alberta these days! Skate sprint went really well for me, I won the qualifier and the heats. I was joined by Alysson Marshall in second and Kate Brennan in third for an Academy women's podium sweep.
Alysson and I go 1-2 on sprint day

The following day brought tricky waxing conditions and a 10km classic race. Not my strongest suit, I ended up 6th today and know I could've skied a lot more efficiently and tried out a different pair of skis. I know my fitness is there, I just needed to focus on skiing the race better technically and more aggressive.
Getting in touch with my Alberta roots. Grande Prairie style.

The final day of three races back to back in this miniTour was a 15km skate race, pursuit start. They combine your times from the previous two days of racing and with the added time bonuses, you are given a handicapped start time from the leader. I started in 5th position today, 1:08 behind the leader. Let the hunt begin! I was able make up time ahead of me as well as 2 positions to finish with the fastest time of the day and 3rd overall in the MiniTour. It was a great weekend of racing in Grande Prairie. Great vibe, organization and race format!
Final stage 15km skate podium. Amanda Ammar, Alana Thomas and myself.

Celebrating my birthday with staff at Buff in the comforts of CrazyWeed restaurant. Then off to Nipika for more cake and chill time.
Kate and I enjoying the warm conditions and Nipika vibe.
Racing returned to the loppet scene last weekend for me. I celebrated my 22nd birthday the week before at Nipika and finished off a great week with a 10km classic race in Lake Louise. It was an awesome event to return to because this is where my racing career began. Rippin' around the 1km track on the lake is apparently all it took for me to be hooked into racing. Who knew it was so simple? I guess I just really love skiing. The weather was wreaking havoc on the roads for the drive up, but the grooming staff did an amazing job at the race site and the track was firm and groomed by race time - the weather cleared up too! I finished as the 2nd racer overall and first woman. Such a fun event to come back to and really reminded me of the pure joy of going hard on the race trails and feeling that gratification at the end.
Rebecca and I all smiles at the start of the Lake Louise loppet. Loving the bibs.
In the start gate - Cred: Daniel Patterson
Classic sprint qualifier Cred: Daniel Patterson
Back to Canmore for the most recent racing action at the Alberta Cup racing, Saturday being a classic sprint and Sunday a 5km skate. The weather. Was. Amaaazing. Perfect blue skies and Canmore glory for the classic sprint day. Classic sprinting hasn't been my strongest suit this winter and I was really focusing on skiing the transition sections well today. That said, I'm happy that it paid off with winning the qualifier. It was a long wait for heats to start in the afternoon because the volunteers were working around the clock to pack as many ages and racers into today as possible.

A HUGE thank-you to all the support Rocky Mountain Racers put into pulling off a great weekend!! For the heats in the afternoon, the sun had softened up the course a bit and meant it was time to switch to klister. I used my classic skis for my quarter final round, but opted to double pole for my semi final and final heat. It was a good opportunity to try it out and worked well in my semi and final, even though I could've played my line choice a bit better. I ended the day in 2nd, behind Alysson Marshall and Sarah Beaudry took bronze.

Right off the start - Cred: Daniel Patterson
Sunday! 5km skate race. I swear this post is almost over. Solid day for me today. I am really happy with my fitness and how this weekend turned out. Both the classic sprint and 5km skate events will repeat themselves at the Canadian Nationals in Whistler so it is good to use them as a tune up. I won today's race by 27sec over Alana Thomas and Julia Ransom took third.

The season has almost come to a close, but not before we finish off with the Nationals! The next week and a half will be a big focus on classic sprinting and volume training to get me primed to end my season with best performance possible.

Thanks for checking in! Adios Amigos

In other news... 
Flower Power! Hailey and I decked out in flower prints for the Flower Power themed Soroptomist International fundraiser. Women helping women. The funds raised help this dedicated group from the Bow Valley district support other women.
Zoe Roy and I out for an afternoon flight with a friend in his Cessna
Scoping out the plane before take off
 I've been working on my bread baking skills. Fresh baked sour dough!