Boston Vasaloppet 2014

boston vasaloppet 2014 weston ski track csu

After a two year hiatus, the Boston Vassaloppet was back at Weston Ski Track.

It’s a low-key, family-oriented race put on by the Swedish American Economic Alliance with the promise of blåbärssoppa and semlor for all finishers.

We lined up for the delayed start:  a mix of adult racers, fast juniors and new skiers, for 4 laps of the 2 km course.  It was a bright sunny day with good stick wax conditions, but it was warming fast and the course was mostly flat, so kick was of minimal concern.

I wasn’t expecting much in terms of competition.  I recognized all the threats, and I was thinking mostly of the workout and maybe some nice prizes for a victory.  And of course…the tasty treats at the end.

I went out fast and pulled a small group clear on the first lap.  By the second lap, I had whittled it down to just one other skier — a CSU junior who I knew was strong, but didn’t expect to hold on over the distance.  By the third lap, my upper body was getting tired. I tried to remember the last time I did an Ercolina workout…and had to go back to some time before Mont-Sainte-Anne.  The course was mostly double-poling and, with all my efforts going to running and striding,  I had been focusing on anything but.

Coming through for the final lap, I heard Andy yell at the junior, “Don’t let the old guy do all the work.  He could be your grandmother!”  I pulled off and let the boy take a pull.  I tried to get clear on the last hill, but it was too short and I was slipping too much.  With a kilometer to go, he took up the pace.  I was going anaerobic in my arms.  We threaded our way through the traffic of lapped skiers.  I was coming unglued.  After pulling him around for 3 laps, he was now pulling me…and pulling my arms out of their sockets.

He gapped me going into the final downhill.  I tried to close up and gained some ground, but there was no way I would pull him in before the line.  So I coasted in for another second place.  I was frustrated for a moment or two.  The course wasn’t hard enough to be decisive to my advantage.  I needed more hill and striding. This young skier — also a rower — towered over me, a mountain of upper body muscle.  I suddenly felt old and washed up.

Then I saw how happy he was, posing for photos with a crown of elderflowers on his head.  I congratulated him and reviewed the race, explained my strategy, where it had fallen apart, where he had done well, and what he could do better next time.

I skied a few more laps to cool down, then I ate 3 hot dogs, 2 semlor, some blabarsoppa and a bunch of coffee.

I love this race. Even if the competition isn’t very deep. Even if I’ve never managed to do better than second place.

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