This past weekend was the 38th annual American Birkibeiner in Hayward, WI. I am very fortunate that Brian has been living in Hayward for the past 5 years. Brian and I arrived on Saturday evening after a bumpy flight from Aspen and a changed ticket into Minneapolis on Friday. We were originally scheduled to fly into Madison, WI to race the Capitol Square Super Tour, however the race was cancelled due to 100,000 protesters expected on the Capitol Square. Brian was able to negotiate with the airlines and get our flight changed for free! So we went back to Minneapolis and I got to see some friends and visit with Lahti for about 12 hours.
Once we got to Hayward we planned out our busy Birkie Filled week. I knew I was racing the Birkie over a month ago and so my training was all geared towards the goal of finishing my first 50K in over 6 years. Brian and I planned two intensity days and lots of easy days. There are times in the year when I absolutely love the "peaking plan" I use. I train hard for three weeks and then get a week to "rest" and rebound back stronger for my key event. The truth is that the plan is much more complicated then that but I have been using the same training pattern for the past couple of years before a target event and I knew it would work.
I went into the Birkie believing in my plan, feeling great about my preparation, and excited about my support team and equipment. What I couldn't control however, was the weather. I watched as the forecast got colder and colder for Birkie morning. I prepared my clothing and feeding plan to best meet the chill. I filled seven feed bottles and wore mole skin on my face. The morning of the Birkie the temperature was still -12 at the starting area before the race. By the time the race was started and my wave was preparing to take off the temperature rose to -6. Any other Super Tour or National race would have been delayed or canceled unless the temperatures rose above -4.
Earlier this winter I have had a few races to practice for my longest race in a long time. At Nationals we had a 20K skate, at the City of Lakes it 30K, then the Owl Creek Chase was only 21K (but at 9,00ft!). I had everything in those races go wrong. I filled my feeds, I broke a pole, and I crashed at the start and bonked.
On Birkie Morning everything went right! I nailed my warm clothing and face protection, I nailed my ski selection, I nailed my warmup, I nailed my start, I nailed my strategy, and I nailed my training and feeding. When everything comes together the sky is the limit!
I skied to my first American Birkie win setting a new course record. I couldn't believe it and best of all Brian was waiting for me on the far side of the finish line. How could I not have skied my heart out towards is smiling face and open arms.
The Day was perfect and it feels good to have everything run so smoothly!