It takes a community to raise a child?
As I have mentioned many times before, the community in Fairbanks is very supportive and everyone believes in you. There are many races in and around Fairbanks, by foot, bike, and ski, come summer come winter. Every summer there is this marathon called the Equinox. It's very famous in Fairbanks and everyone participates in one way or another. If you are not in the race, you are very likely to stand by the side of the trail watching it, handing drinks, baked goods or alike to the runners. There is another race in the winter time called "White mountains 100". Basically a 100 mile ski race in the white mountains. That is pretty hardcore. We went to see the start one year and it was so much fun to see everyone prepare before they departed. We have several friends who participate in this race almost every year. Such great spirit.
When W moved away from Alaska we had spent one winter in the new cabin. I actually can't remember how we transported us to work that winter. I do know for sure that the rest of the winters my main transportation was by ski. Biking works too, but the bike path by our cabin doesn't get plowed regularly and if you have ever biked through deep snow with a mountain bike you definitely know that it takes up all of your energy. Also, if you don't winterize the bike with this "winter fluid" and the temperatures drop to 40 below, the pedals wont catch and they just go around and around and you are standing still.
Sometime during the start of one winter I decided to sign up for a ski race. I thought it would be a cool thing to do, especially this one. It's basically up a ridge, along the ridge and then switchback turns to get back down in the end...on cross-country skis. They recommend that you have some type of expertise in cross-country skiing before you sign up. To increase my milage before the race I mostly skied during lunch break and also to and from work. In the evenings, instead of skiing straight home, I skied on all the various trails we have to add up the mileage. The actual ski race was in mid March, and after Christmas happened you could definitely tell that the afternoons and evenings got lighter and lighter, to my advantage because as you might know, I am terrified of the moose. I also skied with a backpack, after all, I am a newbie and I want to bring an extra down jacket, base layers socks...and my camera. This race is completely unsupported, well aside from one aid station at mile 14 (22km).
My goal for this race was not to win, obviously, but to make it. I can ski fast, well not that fast but a pretty decent pace. But I rather ski less fast, so I don't sweat, and I love to take pictures. So not surprisingly, I was the last person to finish the 25 mile race, but that is ok, because at least I made it, and that was my goal. After the fact I also realized that hey, I just did my first marathon, ever, but on skis. I haven't even run a marathon.
When I woke up the morning of the race the first thing I did was to check the temperatures. And it was not looking good, well i had already checked the weather forecast and waxed my skis accordingly. Come race day the temperature read -26F, that is -32C. Great. But I am used to skiing in cold weather so in reality it wasn't really a big deal.
As the sun rose it casted its warm rays on my face and I forgot about how cold it was. These trails are snowmachine trails, so not really the type of ski trails that you might encounter in a more "normal" ski race. I think i smiled the whole way, well, until the end. I accidentally took a wrong turn and wasted some extra time trying to figure out where to go next, the downside of skiing solo in a small race, you are on your own. Overall the skiing was pretty good. Once you got up on the ridge the views were amazing, and you definitely understood why they want you to have done some technical skiing before hand. And yes, the switch back turns they talked about, yeah they were definitely 90 degree turns going down. It was fast and if you didn't turn, well, hopefully a tree would catch you before falling down the side of the ridge.
Have you ever done something that felt out of your league?