Yesterday’s final race of World Championships, the 50 kilometer mass start classic, was brutally hard. My pre-race plan was patience, but I did not do a good job of accomplishing that goal. On the first lap I made some good lane choices and ended up at the front of the field. Then some guys started making moves off the front, and I said to myself “everybody has to go this fast if they’re going to chase us down, so I might as well do it in a breakaway.” In retrospect, that’s not true. It’s harder to ski off the front. In my next mass start my goals will include a specific section of the pack that I want to ski in.
After one lap our “breakaway” was back in the group. I still felt relaxed and comfortable. I made it feeling good for four and a half laps (37km). Then I started to fade. My energy still felt good, but I was struggling to ski the pace of the leaders and got dropped off the pack. I didn’t lose a ton of time until the last lap when I started dealing with cramping. At one point my abdominal muscles locked up, and I had to stop skiing to stretch it out. By the end of the race I had dropped four minutes and twenty seconds to the leader and finished in 27th place.
I believe this race represents a step forward for me. I was able to stay with the lead group for longer than I have in any other 50k, and I finished a couple of places better than I have in any other 50k. However, I believe my energy and fitness were better than 27th place. I used too much energy early in the race. I am looking forward to another opportunity in two weeks in Oslo where I can apply the lessons I learned yesterday.
I didn’t get any pictures from the race yesterday, but I did take this one beforehand. Erik Bjornsen did surgery on his suit to prepare it for the hot weather (I just raced in a T-shirt).