Those of you who have read some of my earlier posts will remember reverie on a theme of skiing in Finland here. Well yesterday was the day of the big race and boy did I get my comeuppance for that posting!
I was up at 6am, having my breakfast, a last banana and waxing my skis. I was collected at 6.45am and after collecting one other competitor we were off up to Lahti. Everything worked smoothly in terms of finding my numbered bib, where to put the stuff I wouldn't be needing until after the race, where was the start etc etc. I even managed to get a little union jack to put on my bib!
Then race time came along and we were off!! I have to say that going to Paloheinä and training is completely different from racing. There were lots of people to compete against yesterday. On top of that the terrain was a lot harder. I had no watch on so had no idea of how I was progressing until the last drink stop 5 km out. I found out then that I was on course to exceed even my hopes for the race and I set off with renewed vigour. However those last 5kms were meant to separate the weak from the strong with endless dips and steep climbs and by the final 3 kilometres I was running on empty and discovering hitherto undiscovered reserves of bloodymindedness. Then finally the last 1km sign came upon me just in front of the towers of the Lahti ski jump and I began the final tuck into the stadium.
And then it happened.
On entering the stadium the Finn in front of me fell over and legs screaming in pain and hanging on for dear life I somehow avoided him and squeezed myself over the finish line.
Poetic justice? I would like to think so.
Then it was done and I swore blind I would never ever do it again. However here I am the following morning thinking "hmm...maybe I could do the longer one next year". As the boss has correctly pointed out: I am crazy.
For the data nerds: In my first Finlandia race I was placed 267 out of a field of 802. My time for 32km was 3 hrs 4 mins and 58 seconds including the wait at the start. The fastest person was 1hr and 19 mins! There's a goal to aim for....